On Love, Empathy, and Pleasure in the Age of Neoliberalism

In this, the age of late capital and neoliberalism, numbness is desired and the erotic is feared.

 

On Empathy. Empathy is a feeling and an enactment of intentional regard for others. It is a positively antagonistic and radical energy in an isolationist culture that promotes self-centeredness. Wenshu Lee, again, reminds us that present within neoliberal govermentality is an “isolating force.”

Empathy frustrates that force because empathy excites engagement: it is a liberating posture. If love is the elimination of the expansive spaces that may separate us, then empathy might very well be understood as the position we must take when the distance is cleared: the movement from the position of egotism to thoughtful concern of the other; the movement from our contented social locations to that of dislocation; the examination of our excess, access, and privileges as possible contributing factors for the denials, lack, and experiences of marginalization in the lives of others; analyses of our various oppressions and the ways we might also oppress.

Neoliberalism does not seek to wholly extinguish our affective energies, however. Instead, neoliberalism seeks to re-route our energies to other more valuable and profitable sources, namely, goods, and even “the good” when it too is profitable.

By Darnell L. Moore