The Commodification and Re-Claiming of Trust: ‘Does anyone Care about anything but the Price of Oil?
The commodification tendencies of neoliberalism continue to enter new realms. From the environmental world, throughout communal institutions and into our bodies, neoliberalism is in the process of commodifying the final frontier of our subjectivities and relationships – our hopes and who we trust. What may have once been considered as ‘spaces’ outside the sphere of commodification, images of a better world and cooperation crossed the personal and communal frontiers and included visions of peace, safety and trust. These are none other dimensions of what may be defined as ‘societal sense of trust’. Trust operates both on the societal and personal level. However, this sense of trust has now been enclosed, commodified and transformed into individualised ‘self interest’. That is, rather than believing that we can trust those around us, we feel a constant sense of scarcity and competition. We refuse to trust those around us because we feel there is not enough to ‘go around’. This sense of scarcity often dominates our subjectivity and has become a defining feature of both the political and personal spheres. This may provide insights into why nations such as Australia are experiencing record levels of growth but turning their backs on refugees and the displaced. Despite this, new spaces of trust continually emerge, breaking down the commodifying logic of neoliberalism. This rupturing takes many forms including refugee and peace activism and creates non-commodified spaces of cooperation and hope. Such non-commodified spaces depend on an open and mutual distribution of trust that does not exclude, but rather expands as it is shared. Consequently, these spaces of trust can be described as social or ‘cultural commons’. Within these spaces, people care about much more than the price of oil.
Keywords: Neoliberalism, Trust, Commons, Hope
Dr. James Arvanitakis
Associate Lecturer, Social and Cultural Analysis, University of Western Sydney