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<nettime> what if we were all right but all wrong?
Alex Foti on Sun, 30 Aug 2015 14:15:15 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> what if we were all right but all wrong?


dear 'timers

what if politically all the traditions and identities we come from and
belong to were all important contributions to countercapitalist change
but each taken in isolation failed to address the burning issues
of our times: radical democracy vs repressive austerity, migrants'
rights vs closed borders, civil and social equality vs neoliberal
and partriarchal inequality, climate-concerned humans vs fossil
capitalism, all in a very fissile geopolitical situation where war is
the norm and secularism is in retreat.

i mean, all the green, red, social-democratic parties are floundering
everywhere (corbyn notwithstanding;), xenophobic/fascist parties are
sprouting everywhere, but with the notable exception of Barcelona
and Madrid we have failed to come up with something new that unifies
the people around the digital vanguards of the precariat and
eco/socio/queer strands in urban movements and civil society.

Ecology and the environmentalism have yet failed to turn the climate
movement into something more than a special-interest movement, i.e.
into a vision for a society that is less carbon-intensive, i.e. less
capitalistic. However, after the lull since Copenhagen in 2009, there
has been a renewal of interest in this civilizational problem, in
anticipation of the Paris COP UN summit in December, see Obama's
climate bill. It's telling Bill McKibben of 350.org is now supporting
Bernie Sanders, the old Vermont socialist. Politically after the
European zenith reached first with Fischer then with Cohn-Bendit,
the Greens seem to have been condemned into decreasing irrelevance
as the economic crisis progressed and CO2 concentration rose in the
atmosphere beyond 400ppm.

Autonomy is enjoying a great intellectual renaissance and expansion beyond
its old peninsular origins. It's the brand of marxism that has best
withstood the test of time. It poses the problem of state power and how to
build from below a constituent alternative. Autonomous marxism is leninist
while being egalitarian (a hard feat;) Having shifted its emphasis from
factories to cities, and from industrial to social labor already in the
late 70s, the autonomists were best posed to analyze the informational
transformation of production and the productive precarization of society
from a marxist point of view, in the 1980s and 1990s. In general, if you
want a marxian theory of the state, it's either gramsci or negri. gramsci
is of course laclau's godfather and has thus inspired the latin american
brand of populism: chavez, morales, correa (zapatismo comes from yet
another source - structuralist marxism and peasant anarchism) - for all its
successes in the 2000s, the last regional redoubt for communism on earth
with a humane face, the land of che and fidel is also showing
fast-decreasing returns in the 2010s.

Where laclau's legacy is really prominent is with Spain's Podemos which
have a created a new populist synthesis of gramscian elements and
antielitist sentiment derived from the 15M indignad {AT} s movement, which has
first ouflanked the red left, then catalan independentism, and is now
seriously threatening the PP-PSOE duopoly in the upcoming fall elections.

More traditionally marxist parties like eurocommunist (formerly also
trotskyite) Syriza have failed to defeat germanic austerity once in power
and have splintered along ideological lines. In fact, from Togliatti to
Tsipras, hegelian realpolitik is a temptation hard to resist for communist
leaders (btw, communism tends to be not keynesian). However, only marxism
has a social and political  theory of inequality, so that we have to go
back there if we want to defeat friedmanites for good and redistribute the
fortunes of digital oligopoly. Picketty's huge success (and
POSTCAPITALISM's early strong sales - acquired Italian rights five years
ago;) are testaments of the fact that you can't think an alternative future
without socialism, provided it can be disassociated from its industrialist
connotations, most evident in China for its environmental repercussions (to
paraphrase lenin, china is communist party plus globalization)

Anarchism has been the greatest rediscovery of the antiglobalization
movement. Today, after 1999 and 2011, antiauthoritarian, antistate,
cyberlibertarian sentiment is best embodied by Anonymous and the (third?)
life of the black bloc. Hacking and rioting are the only weapons we've got
against overwhelming government power, they say, and they ain't wrong.
Anarchism's turn toward contemporary economic anthropology with David
Graeber is one of the most interesting intellectual developments coming
from the area that gave Occupy to the world. However, not all is well with
circle A. The legacy of horizontalism has effectively blocked popular
decision-making in spite of large mobilizations in the wake of the 2011
revolutions, refraining from electoral participation can of course be a
two-edged sword, but especially syndicalism, the labor discourse of
anarchism (think Pouget, Rocker, the IWW) has failed to to go beyond
marginal sections of the labor force, with the exception of Spain's CGT
(which is however denounced by diehard CNTists as reformists) and Sweden's
two anarchosyndicalist federations.

Communism stresses international solidarity, just as anarchism preaches the
abolition of borders. These have been major sources of non-catholic
sympathy to the desperate plea of refugees and migrants trying to land in
Italy and Greece, or stranded in Hungary by a reactionary government. The
Great Recession has made Europe more nationalist and racist just like after
the Great Depression. And it's easy to blame immigrants for unemployment.
We have to be very careful because the battle for the soul of Europe is
being fought on migration and we have to develop a new internationalism
(transnationalism?) fast. Red and black antifas are increasingly important
to fend off neofascist threats to migrants everywhere across the fucking EU.

Genderism is the only strand of radical praxis that has reaped one success
after the other since Act Up first made the LGBT community political, and
gay and queer prides started spreading across the world in 1990s in a civil
rights crescendo that has brought gay marriage to the US, France, and even
Ireland (not yet papist italy, though). Homophobia is markedly on the
decline in North America and Western Europe (although not in Eastern
Europe) in a way that xenophobia is not.

So anarchists, autonomists, ecologists, queers are right in what they say
and fight for, but they are also all wrong, because if they don't unite
neoliberals and fundamentalists will defeat each one by one. We need a new
intellectual synthesis, a new political philoposophy, a new, less
intellectual and more popular, way of doing politics.

What we need is for each country and city, and then Europe (and the world)
as a whole, progressive populist fronts each with its idiosyncracies, but
held together by a simple ideology uniting the disparate demands and
traditions of the "post-left" into a coherent discourse that is able to
play and win the people vs the oligarchy game. If you look at the
coalitions that won municipal elections in Barcelona and Madrid, you'll
notice important differences with respect to the various ingredients and
urban movements that have backed the two new women mayors (Colau and
Carmena). What's important is that we ditch our ideological past to forge a
new, necessarily contradictory, unity that is able to wield power and beat
the eurocaste. It's better to be more than half right and win, than to be
totally right and lose;)

i close with a mini-poll: Tsipras or Varoufakis? T or V?

my vote: V




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