“From ancient Greece, we have a name for the intrusion of the Excluded into the socio-political space: democracy.” – Slavoj Zizek
She wasn’t asking for somewhere to live. She was just asking for enough money to buy some breakfast. But everyone just kept walking past and the angrier she got the wider the berth they gave her and the faster they moved past her.
“I’ve been here since five this morning,” she said. “I just want some coffee and something to eat.
“I didn’t choose this life, you know.”
I didn’t choose this life.
With these words words she unmasked the dismal ideology of neoliberalism, that destroyer of lives and crusher of souls.
She did not choose to be sitting on a corner opposite Melbourne Town Hall asking passers-by for a few coins so that she could buy coffee and a muffin. She did not choose to experience homelessness, insecurity, unemployment, exclusion.
The neoliberal myth rubs salt in her wounds as she is effectively told that she is where she deserves to be in the order of things. ‘Beggars can’t be choosers’ is the deeply offensive doxa that rings in everybody’s ears. It’s convincing. It takes on the appearance of common sense even. It seeps deeply into our consciousness, assuring everyone, from the very rich to the very poor, that things are as they should be.
Audre Lorde, the great poet and theorist, reminds us: “The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations we need to escape but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within each of us.”
And so we give our passive consent to an unjust status quo that relegates and residualises human beings. Except when we are confronted with the concrete realities as opposed to the ideological fictions they are obscured by. Then we begin to think. And question.