the year 2005, everybody wants to be a lobbyist. Of course, when these
young, hip corporate pawns admit to you that they lobby for their company in
Brussels (home of the European Union), they usually do it under their
breath. It could be my rather unorthodox, punkish attire that sends signals
to their brains saying maybe I don’t like the lobby game, but, regardless,
it’s always the same “…and…and I lobby in
It wouldn’t have been worth writing an article had I not run into very many of these kids. They tend to be among the coolest cats at the club checking out the newest “cutting edge” house or techno. Fashion is extraordinarily important in this town, and so these people likely have dished out a couple hundred Euros on their costume for the evening: in order to represent that perfectly “cool” or “decontracté” look. Rather than ever seeming authentically cultural, it always looks like a vivid photocopy of what appears on MTV throughout the world. The extra effort put into being MTV cool by these lobbycrats effectively takes any semblance of “cool” out of their being.
course, they always want to speak English, as this is the most important
language for business. In order to stay on top of their performance, their
English must be groomed. Any time I try to steer the conversation in the
direction of French (hoping to perhaps improve my language skills in this
country where French is supposedly spoken) they respond again in English.
I’m sure other Anglophones have run into this in
I was placed in the unique position of being snuggled at a bar in between
two guys working for
You have to hand it to the corporate thugs in charge: they are always on top of things with their intelligence and cunning. The “offer a sweet job to a smart kid coming right out of college” maneuver works so well. “Do you want 50-75,000 Euros a year to come work for us in the “Public Relations Department?”
“Public Relations? Well that’s not my specialty. My degree is in finance, I don’t know if I….”
“Don’t Worry. We’ll Teach You!!”
corporate bosses don’t want to gamble with old people who might be more
skeptical and less flexible. In essence, what’s happening here is the
embedding of a whole new ideology and reality across
This is “synergy” at work. Corporations stopped selling just products a long time ago, because the real money is in selling lifestyles. Without the ability to link their logo to a cool and trendy life, corporations will ultimately sink in the neoliberal world. The winners will be the Nikes of the world who are most effective at getting people to pay 50 euros to advertise their logo on top of their head. The losers are those people who are just trying to do a public service and sell things we need like food, clothing, shelter and commodity. Thus we see that neoliberalism is nothing short of capitalism on drugs: the capitalism that got distracted by some wild and incoherent fantasy about how things ought to be.
Ultimately, I believe that people will prove too good in the end to let our
lives be determined by the “free market” euphoria. Perhaps if we work hard
enough at explaining to people that taking that train to
Matt Reichel is an American expatriate and graduate student in Paris specializing in international relations theory. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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