The Burnout Society

In The Burnout Society, Byung-Chul Han characterizes today’s society as a pathological landscape of neuronal disorders such as depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, borderline personality and burnout. (…) Driven by the demand to persevere and not to fail, as well as by the ambition of efficiency, we become committers and sacrificers at the same time and enter a swirl of demarcation, self-exploitation and collapse.

“When production is immaterial, everyone already owns the means of production: him- or herself. The neoliberal system is no longer a class system in the proper sense. It does not consist of classes that display mutual antagonism. This is what accounts for the system’s stability.”

Subjects become self-exploiters:

“Today, everyone is an auto-exploiting labourer in his or her own enterprise. People are now master and slave in one. Even class struggle has transformed into an inner struggle against oneself.”

The individual has become what Han calls “the achievement-subject”; the individual does not believe they are subjugated “subjects” but rather “projects: Always refashioning and reinventing ourselves” which “amounts to a form of compulsion and constraint—indeed, to a “more efficient kind of subjectivation and subjugation.” As a project deeming itself free of external and alien limitations, the “I” subjugates itself to internal limitations and self-constraints, which take the form of compulsive achievement and optimization.

— from Wikipedia (yeah well ok if it’s good enough for Žižek, it’s good enough for me).