www.nettime.org
Nettime mailing list archives

Re: <nettime> the green and the black digest [seymour/byfield x2, hart]
Benedict Seymour on Sun, 9 Nov 2008 21:58:19 +0100 (CET)


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

Re: <nettime> the green and the black digest [seymour/byfield x2, hart]


Hi Ted, nettimers, parents, etc

(Q: Why is it that everyone feels the need to record their infants' 
reactions to Obama's rise to power? Could it be that only a child could 
fall for the santa claus style narrative of a magic post-racial 
everyperson who perenially shoots down capitalism's crumbling chimney 
with a bag of special presents for everyone and we all live happily ever 
after? Zizek was right, we need kids to believe in xmas - and in social 
democracy - on our behalf).

But that's by the by. Apart from the fact that we've all been here 
before, with the Jacksons and Dinkins and Blairs and Mitterands, all the 
shades of 'new, improved social democracy' that took us up the 
neoliberal garden path and dropped us by the truckload into the mass 
grave - or the 'bad ass' horror of the policy - troop surge in 
Afghanistan, Pakistan next; healthcare stuck on its corporate-friendly 
downward trajectory; taxes stuck at Reagan-era lows, bailouts for the 
rich, nothing for the evicted - there is the basic social democratic 
myth that if we get on the Obama superhighway (formerly Clinton Freeway, 
Kennedy and Johnson turnpikes etc etc etc) to happy land then systemic 
racism will evaporate. Obama represents the end of a certain kind of 
identity politics, its radicalisation into a deracialised 'non-identity' 
politics - but this is not progress or dialectical overcoming, it is the 
consolidation of a bad idea, and betokens a further repression of class 
consciousness.

Obama supporters did show an awareness that race is used to divide 
(white middle class Obama voters are the very people who benefit from 
this division); on the other hand the basic deal went unchallenged, the 
racially stratified system now divides workers very effectively without 
having to play the race card at this political level of representation. 
That most white working class voters went republican is an index of 
Obama's silence about and complicity with the current economic assault 
(look, he's having meetings with Waren Buffet, Larry Summers and Paul 
Volcker - the phrase 'bad ass motherfuckers' certainly does spring to 
mind). As usual, the right - in this case Palin/Mccain - was more 
willing to use the 'w' word. Obama was as silent on workers' plight as 
the 'manifestations' have been noisy about his victory. This is no 
grassroots social movement. Of course people go out on the street to 
celebrate, they danced in the streets when Mitterand came in after years 
of right-wing govt in France, my neighbours pounded the floor when Blair 
came to power (cue the wave of 'emotional openness' that was Princess 
Diana's die-in; if you like this kinda thing, you should definitely 
check out the 1930s, a real heyday for irrational emoting!). But look 
where all these got us, look how little they contributed to the 
formation of real social movements against the depredations of 
neoliberalism. Why would one want to get behind the latest in the long 
line of bozoes, whatever the colour of his or her skin? Why overstate 
the potential in a symbolic celebration of the ascendancy of a slightly 
different form of racism?)

I give Obama about a year, though probably less - soon liberals will be 
moaning their asses off about him and we will have to listen to the 
tedious process whereby they set about choosing their next 
'plausible-to-a-child' candidate to lead us all to smurfville. 
Meanwhile, it's terrifying to think what he can get away with that a 
McCain couldn't - watch as 'real change' segues into 'they'll take it 
from me'.

Returning to Foti's latest effusion, it's sad that what passes for an 
intellectual forum is so silted up with zombie 'ideas', but to see 
neo-idiocies like 'eco-keynesianism' join the mulch of non-thought makes 
one wonder what people on this list wouldn't tolerate. Eco-war and 
eco-imperialism? Does anyone really think that the last decades weren't 
already a form of military Keynesianism? Do you believe that 
'monetarism' every really reigned in pure 'free market' form? Did you 
miss the massive expansion of state spending (on prisons, war, bankers?) 
Nettimers wrote earlier this year about the need for americans to 
'tighten their belts' and eat less steak, but in reality we need to 
refuse eco/keynesian austerity and insist that capital takes the fall 
for its crisis this time. When i read this stuff i have to wonder if 
some nettimers don't secretly wish the poor would just die off so they 
could enjoy the social democratic road to techno-Oz unencumbered. Is 
their enthusiasm for this week's neoliberal fix a sign that the current 
situation threatens to make their strategic pontificating as redundant 
as Obama and Bush's disgusting 'altruism'?

I wont offer 'my' 'own' 'vision' - I leave the vision thing to the 
social democrats who have such a strong need for utopian decor when they 
restructure the capitalist cage. But i do think that we need a real 
social movement, capable of proposing its own projects and navigating 
toward a non-capitalist 'solution'. This is something I fear the 
Obamathon does not contribute to making more likely. I hope (against 
'hope') that popular disappointment will see energies and aspirations 
flow in a non-fascist direction. The last week suggests that we 
shouldn't be too optimistic.

Ben

> Re: <nettime> scattered thoughts on Obama's green empire and black
>
>      Benedict Seymour <ben {AT} kein.org>
>      t byfield <tbyfield {AT} panix.com>
>      Benedict Seymour <ben {AT} kein.org>
>      t byfield <tbyfield {AT} panix.com>
>      "Keith Hart" <keith {AT} thememorybank.co.uk>
 <...>


#  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