www.nettime.org
Nettime mailing list archives

Re: <nettime> what now for the Next Left after onset of the Great Recess
Alex Foti on Tue, 23 Sep 2008 13:29:56 +0200 (CEST)


[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: <nettime> what now for the Next Left after onset of the Great Recession?


Dear Patrice, Lotu5 and All,

I share your sense of urgency. I think the focal issue today is how to
reappriopriate/redistribute/autonomize the enormous social
productivity that since the 80s has been appropriated by capitalists
and rentiers via the financial system now grumbling. The mighty US
investment banks are no more. Only goldman and morganstanley survive
but as commercial banks, so they can have their backs covered by the
fed in case of further meltdown.  I mean a cursory analysis of last
week's FT headlines should convince everybody this is the worst
economic crisis in 70 years, as geopolitical and social crises
compound and amplify economic disruptions as we hit the ecological
ceiling (something we could forget about during the great depression):

11th hour scramble to save Lehman, Crisis on Wall St (sept 15)
US firefight swtiches to AIG, Banking's Black Monday
Credit panic hits historic levels, Global banks in crisis
Central bankers in fightback (sept 19)

The latest headline gives us the reason why this is a Great Recession
and not a Great Depression: the central bastards who have been
preaching the mantra of monetarism, wage-discipline and market
self-regulation are now rushing to to provide monetary expansion and
therefore liquidity to the beleaguered US financial system. In
contrast to the early 30s, monetary powers are not standing idle to
see banks go bust but nationalize financial institutions and inject
money in the system, i.e. the fed-treasury whiteknight rescue of the
US financial industry, equivalent to some huge amount in excess of €1
trillion.

Doug Henwood will tells us better, however I found the basic
hydraulics of the crisis well explained in THE CREDIT CRUNCH by Graham
Turner (Pluto). As regards my structural interpretation of the Great
Recession in historical perspective (and of the daunting political
bifurcation that opens before our eyes), I immodestly refer you to
http://www.leftcurve.org/LC31WebPages/Grid&ForkTable.pdf

We should be clear that this is an overaccumulation crisis caused by
massive deregulation and negative redistribution: three decades of
market excesses, credit-fuelled consumer expansion and
business-friendly policies have finally come to an end. Neoliberalism
has met its final demise. Hayek and Friedman are now finally buried:
the policies advocated by the shock therapists have finally dug the
grave of laissez-faire. It will be decades before that corpse is
unearthed again, if at all.

This is a crisis like the 30s and harbors similar dangers, namely
global fascism, militarist, ethnonationalist, genocidal. Since this is
also a biocrisis, it will be ecofascism, regaling given economic and
ethnic elites with mastery over their own lives as they send billions
to their deaths: if you ain't got an suv, you drown, this is the
ecofascist message that New Orleans sent to the world. Precarious,
creative, migrant labor must win higher income share and expanded
leisure at the expense of capitalist elites, while compelling the
state to redistribute social productivity, but it will need the
equivalent of last century's radical industrial unionism to do so. At
the same time we have to make sure that redistribution is not about
fuelling our carbon addiction (like in the old-style keynesian
expansion), but spent for social activism, public welfare, economic
innovation and grassroots redesign of production, energy,
transportation systems. The conflicts over social power will be huge
about whether to assert a radically progressive agenda or a radically
reactionary one. We'll see conflicts within and among regions of the
world like we haven't seen in decades, if not centuries.

Anticapitalist instances of resistance and offensive (i.e. the
Seattle-Genoa-Rostock movement) have not structurally transformed
capitalism: they have dampened the darwinist ravages of neoliberalism
and caused in response the emergence of a sort of Ethical Capitalism,
similar to the Welfare Capitalism of the 20s. Now that the money is
gone, CSR capitalism will meet its antecedent in the dustbin of
history. In fact, the Great Recession holds promise for radical
transformation but we gotta be clear about what it is about. If we
next leftist radicals want to act in defense of the biosphere and
remove the capitalist causes of climate change, while maintaining the
digital civilization that common labor, information and knowledge has
created, I think we should use revolutionary means (civil disobedience
and direct action) for ends that are ultimately reformist: a new urban
environment, a new welfare system, a reregulated labor market,
strongly curtailed capitalist freedoms: NGOs and civil sociiety won't
do it in our place. In other words, anticapitalism is likely to
trigger fundamental ecosocial reform, rather than the revolution. This
is because the present capitalist crisis is not caused by social and
political constraints imposed on accumulation and domination (such as
in 1917-22 or in 1968-73), but rather by the lack of regulation from
above as well as effective resistance from below.

Also in the ideological fight with the right and in the ideological
competition with liberals, as a label anticapitalism just doesn't cut
it. In fact, it's already being appropriated by trotskyists for old
New Left parties that cater to the protest vote but don't change the
fundamental hierarchical structures of politics in the direction the
Next Left has been experimenting with since Chiapas and Seattle. We
need a new social organization (the One Big Heretic Union) and a new
(pink, black, green) political ideology for the anticapitalist
movement, which, lookin at it from the perspective of malmoe's Klimax
vs E-On street block or the night's battle by the Hilton last week, is
in a nutshell the interbreeding of the autonomous, anarchist, antifa,
queer, vegan tendencies that have been brewing over the last two
decades in metropolitan subcultures. I think next leftists can better
expand their radical action and build alternative structures for
society, if social liberals and green capitalists prevail over
nationalist authoritarians and military-carbon corporatists in the
present historical bifurcation. For example, it would be very
counterproductive for us all if McCain-Palin were to be elected
instead of Obama. But if Darth Vader does prevail in northamerica and
europe, the nurturing and defence of our free spaces of autonomy and
reciprocity would have to be done in a different way from what we're
used to. If the west becomes a 100% police state in charge of
protecting elites and property, the political and organizational
efforts of the heretics will have to be gargantuan to match the threat
that is being posed to human equality and life on earth.

ciao for now, lx

On 9/17/08, lotu5 {AT} resist.ca <lotu5 {AT} resist.ca> wrote:

> I have been thinking about this a bit in the last few days, and actually
> feeling like some of my current projects are a bit frivolous in light of
> the severity of what seems to be happening.
 <...>


#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: http://mail.kein.org/mailman/listinfo/nettime-l
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} kein.org