Social Dissonance, 107–146


Alienation From Below: Phantom Subjectivity


In the previous chapter I explored how individual experience is always mediated by social relations, and suggested that therefore our consciousness must find the resources to challenge the commodification of individual experience in practice by understanding its involvement at the level of the totality.

But our experience is also determined by subpersonal mechanisms that we are only just beginning to grasp. What has historically been understood as the ‘individual’ is being radically questioned from many angles today, including neuroscience, virtual realities of various kinds, and, most importantly, technosocial interconnections such as consumer algorithms from the likes of Google and Facebook which shape our tastes and behaviours. Although in light of these changes there is no way to go back to previous conceptions of the individual, we still need to account for the processes which, under contemporary conditions, continue to produce faith in the self. Social dissonance, after all, is driven partly by the conflict between these ‘dividualising’ trends and the continuing naturalisation of personal experience understood as the proprietary right of individuals.…