In light of the observed rise in social instability and populist politics that has emerged recently even in some of the world's oldest and presumed stable democracies, this paper reappraises the role of the neoliberal political and economic consensus in fermenting popular discontent. While this is very well trodden ground the paper approaches the issues from a wholly new direction, specifically addressing how exposure to the destabilizing conditions of the present can be seen to have negatively impacted on the neurological functioning of many of the disenchanted and distressed of the current era, generating chronic negative emotional arousal and an associated impact on the capacity for rational thought and conduct. This condition of mental and emotional fugue, it is argued, has also rendered growing numbers more susceptible to marginal and radicalizing discourses, largely extended and amplified via social media, and not least the emotionally charged overtures of populist politicians. Against a backdrop of increasing insecurity, transformative changes to work and living conditions precipitated by neoliberal policy and the digital revolution, together with the epochal crisis presented by the global pandemic, it is argued that the task of understanding the deep and fundamental causes of social and political fracture have rarely been more urgent.
- Biosocial theory