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Re: <nettime> Reframing the Creative Question
Felix Stalder on Thu, 19 Mar 2015 13:41:03 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Reframing the Creative Question

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On 2015-03-15 07:03, Brian Holmes wrote:

> I think David is right that the Left should neither ignore the
> "creative class," nor simply heap a now-conventionalized scorn upon
> it. It is urgent to develop an intellectual/artistic culture and a
> "structure of feeling" (as Raymond Williams used to say) that can
> turn people away from narcississtic involvement in the
> middle-management functions of affect manipulation, and toward the
> new solidarities.
> The creative classes have so much affective and intellectual agency
> that they/we could change the world tomorrow - if only it were
> possible to desire that change today.

Hi Brian,

I hear you, I'm totally with you, and a good deal of my work is spent
on that.

Cultural critique can be effective, in the best of all worlds, in the
face of a hegemonic project, that is, as a way of deconstructing and
undermining the cultural consensus that makes the current form of
dominance effective through the manipulation of desire rather through
to the use of repressive force.

But, I increasingly have my doubts. Are the current forms of power
still based on cultural hegemony, that is, on the control of desire
through "soft power"? Sure enough, to a certain degree they are,
and for everyone who has been watching how the German media are
dealing with the Syriza government (in lock-step with the German
government) can see good old "ideological state apparatuses" at work.
It's impressive. And, if that fails, like yesterday in Frankfurt,
there is enough repressive power around to deal with it.

However, it seems to me, that power is increasingly functioning
through non-hegemonic forms, that is, it is no longer seeking some
measure of consensus from those who are governed. I think it was the
Finnish prime minister to said something like "we don't chance policy
based on elections" which is just a somewhat more blunt way of saying
that there is no alternative, whether you like it or not.

Behind this is that power has taken on the form of "network power" (a
notion suggested by David Singh Grewal). It operates through setting
the conditions of interaction, without specifying what interaction is
to take place. Of course, the conditions are biased towards favoring
certain outcomes, but the main thing is that once they are set and
people/firms/governments are interacting within these conditions,
there is no need to enforce them. Since the alternative to abiding to
the rules would be to end the interaction. And this, from the point of
view of a dynamic, flexible system, aka the world today, unthinkable.

Once the conditions are set, the network protocols established, there
is no need to generate consensus anymore, since the choice is between
existence under terms created by others and non-existence. This is why
nobody in their right mind, or with any empathy left, advocates that
Greece exits the Euro. Or, on a smaller scale, why even people who
hate Facebook and everything it stands for, are still using Facebook.

This makes cultural critique somewhat futile, or, at least, it needs
to shift towards another plane.

All the best.


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