- In this post, I attempt to describe the zone of indeterminacy into which those cast aside by austerity have been and are to be consigned. The point, I submit, is that the neoliberal austerity state seeks to marginalize them and keep them from political organization and the potential control of the state.
The Western welfare state is, when contrasted with neoliberal austerity, arguably a facilitator of human development and maximized life. Collective taxes pay for collective services and when corporate taxes are placed at an appropriate level, all factions of society pay their fair share.
But, as previously written, the Beneficiary in neoliberal austerity is placed into a zone of indeterminate exclusion in which their social citizenship is blocked in a process that favours the Producer. The state’s governing apparatus is directly responsible for this process.
It is this zone that I am concerned about here. It is here that the state transforms from a facilitator of maximized life to a limit concept. It is one in which the governing paradigm of power vs. powerless becomes intensified once again. There are those inside and those outside, placed into their own sphere. The two spheres contrast. They may overlap but they do not meld into one another. It is not accidental. It is a governing tool.
This zone of indeterminacy is where the state has designed a political coma for those Beneficiaries whose social citizenship has been blocked. They are not politically alive and yet not politically dead. Residents of this zone in neoliberal austerity regimes include excess labour, those who cannot or choose to not achieve social citizenship via production and those dependent on others. In this zone of indeterminacy, the residents remain part of the neoliberal austerity state but no longer claim social citizenship (political life) within it. The Leviathan, the sovereign composed of millions of bodies, Thomas Hobbes used to describe the undivided state remains intact. This, I submit, must be among the reasons why in 30 years of neoliberalism, the state has not imploded despite a generalized retreat from welfare spending and a focus on market competition.
To be clear, this does not suppose that the Western welfare state is the only, the best or the final facilitator of life. It is however, a tool that can be used to facilitate and maximize life and arguably has been, in varying degrees, since the Second World War. Power interactions and the facilitation of maximized life potentially occur during every interaction — but the Western zeitgeist locates the welfare state if not at the core than just off-centre of the life limitation vs. facilitation debate. This is why I give it such prominence here.