Ontology as ideology: A critique of Butler's theory of precariousness
In the past decade, political philosophers have increasingly deployed the concepts of interdependency, equality, and vulnerability to critique contemporary society. Widely popular both within and beyond academia, these concepts offer normative anchors enabling the critique of neoliberal ideals of individuality, independence, and resilience in the name of a more egalitarian society. Consequently, although many scholars denounce violence in existing society, they abstain from denouncing human beings’ interdependency, equality, vulnerability, and precariousness. To the contrary, these concepts are treated as grasping our fundamental, ontological condition. Indeed, their capacity to resist neoliberal illusions of atomistic independence purportedly arises from their ability to reveal the hidden truth that neoliberalism otherwise conceals: that human beings are ontologically interdependent and equal. This truth, then, is said to carry its own ethical principle, demanding the realization of equality through political action. The use of these concepts today thus mobilizes more than an ontology; it also offers an interpretation of existing society—as deviating from and concealing ontology—and a politics that seeks to organize society in accordance with ontology.