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Re: <nettime> World at War? Counter-revolution and Unbalanced Multipolar
Brian Holmes on Sun, 31 Aug 2014 17:42:06 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> World at War? Counter-revolution and Unbalanced Multipolarism



Alex, it's always great to read your all-embracing visions (though
actually what we are living through now is more like a Bruce Sterling
novel than a William Gibson one). Anyway, I would like to go a little
further with the closing points:

In Ukraine, American and European interests seem to diverge. For
all the tension built in East Asia by signs of Chinese expansionism
and Japanese militarism, with the downing of the (second) Malaysian
passenger jet, it is Ukraine that is sending the shivers down the
spine of the global economy.

Since 2008, and above all, since the euro-crisis came online and
never went off, what's happening is - for the 90s generation anyway
- THE UNTHINKABLE: the end of the predominance of the economy as
such. Globalization was the globalization of money, period. Even the
Revolution in Military Affairs was a sales pitch for new technology,
and the Iraq invasion of 2003 was a business plan for the extractive
industries. Since 2008 growth in the West has been radically stalled,
the US recovery is a mirage, the German miracle is unsustainable in a
devastated EU, and the chatter of web 2.0 can't hide the ravages of
technological unemployment. Brad DeLong, who was a Clinton economist,
now talks of the Greater Depression instead of the Great Recession.
For Euro-American neoliberalism this is an anthropological change.
The idea that a kid from the neighborhood can't score a million with
a killer app or a new real-estate scheme is the end of an era, the
fall of homo delirius. In the void, all interests diverge and entirely
new forms of human motivation start vying for some space in the
ideological vacuum that human nature abhors.

But the real threat to an already imbalanced multipolar geopolitical
system (historically the most war-prone, think the Napoleonic
era or Belle Epoque) is ISIS apocalyptic aggressiveness (uniting
popes and ayatollahs in their hostility to it), its mix of media
sophistication and barbaric determination something that seems to
occur on a different historical time-scale different than the one we
normally use to make sense of modernity.

In the twilight of the universal equivalent (Dollardammerung) the
question of a life-project becomes the huge overriding existential
issue, on which the tattered left is almost totally silent after the
cocaine and cynicism of the long credit-boom. Multipolar eras are all
about grabbing territory, but the real-estate of the heart is just as
important. Western intellectuals and political-artistic vanguards are
paralyzed by our impotence in the face of both oligarchical control
and climate change, while the ISIS jihadis are storming heaven. In the
Former West right now I only see two beacons: Podemos in Spain and the
Negro Summer of Ferguson, Missouri. But we need a sunrise, not a fire
in the night.

In the end, Realpolitik and the radical democratic aspirations
unleashed by the Revolution will clash, as they have always had in
the past. War is a way to normalize revolution, to discipline its
wild outcomes. Historically, war has also been the tool of choice
for every expansionary ideology. For ISIS to lose, Assad, Sisi, and
Erdogan can't win.

Yeah, we on the radical left have seen the ways that war neutralizes
and normalizes revolution, no question about it. Right now Kerry is
calling for a global coalition against ISIS. Reboot the global war
machine, empire-style. But who would pay for it? The Saudis of course,
the same way that Japan paid for the Grand Coalition of the first
Gulf War, the one that opened up the era of neoliberal globalization.
Let's hope it doesn't happen, because then Assad, Sisi and Erdogan
do win. The spectacular religious barbarism of ISIS is a dart to the
heart of the disenfranchised militants and intellectuals here in the
Former West. What is our answer to multipolar chaos? What is our life
project?

restlessly yours, Brian




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