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Re: <nettime> McKenzie Wark: Birth of Thanaticism
Alex Foti on Sat, 17 Oct 2015 16:53:59 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> McKenzie Wark: Birth of Thanaticism


   blown away by this piece. i usually favor the term fossil capitalism,
   because similarly to mandel-jameson's late capitalism somehow hopes to
   consign it to a primitive past.
   in my mind (since 'inside out' a pop metaphor) two people fight for
   audience in the assembly of the self, the rational progressive who
   thinks that if we get done with neoliberalism we can recombine social
   production, market production, government production in a
   climate-neutral and fairer, empowering way (for instance, for all BP's
   nefariousness, there's major investment out of fossil and into solar),
   and the 1999-2011 insurrectionary black hoodie, who hates the state and
   the corporation in her/his bones and only returns fully human when
   congregating with similarly riot-prone, post-civilizational anonymous
   anarchists, steampunkers, genderbenders, guerrilla garderners, u catch
   the drift.
   btw are you reading POSTCAPITALISM by mason? like in klein, there's
   usually a subtle conflation between overthrowing neoliberalism (which
   we haven't yet managed to do, although the hegemony of elites is no
   longer there thanks to 2008 and 2011) and outlasting capitalism.
   Politically, i think today there's a popular majority in advanced
   capitalism to shelve neoliberal austerity cum financialization and end
   thanaticist subsidies to Big Carbon. I mean if old glories like sanders
   and corbyn can be standard-bearers of social populism in the heartlands
   of market conservatism, then there's hope for socioecoqueer political
   change all over the place, no matter the superstructures of $/[EU]
   banking and international monetary arrangements.
   However, civilizationally, it's not hard to be struck by the bleakness
   of our predicament as the human species. Just before reading this
   article by mckenzie wark, by coincidence i read on new scientist this
   truly  review of thackara by Bruce Sterling (which stands as an essay
   in its own right):

   ARE WE WORTHY?

   Before 2008, "next economy" books were a dime a dozen. They've been
   thin on the ground lately, but John Thackara has just published one of
   a decidedly different bent.

   An incessant traveller, thoughtful listener and the former
   "symposiarch" of the legendary Doors of Perception events of the 1990s,
   Thackara is a beloved figure in sustainable-design circles. A guru of
   labs and think tanks worldwide, he is painfully aware of the crises
   facing the world in 2015.

   Most new-economics gurus would crassly motivate their readers to get
   rich quick online. By contrast, in How to Thrive in the Next Economy,
   Thackara tackles our planet's most basic survival topics -- preserving
   soil from erosion, supplying clean water and keeping people sheltered,
   fed, healthy and mobile. There's a light dusting of digital here, but
   for the most part, the author sternly confronts every major
   environmental issue that has worsened in his lifetime.

   As Earth's situation gets more perilous, we don't wise up and reform,
   we just embrace our myths ever more tightly. So Thackara sees little
   promise in political solutions. Likewise, private enterprise cannot do
   much because it is laced into a fatal straitjacket of optimising return
   on investment, even if that means levelling forests and blackening
   skies.

   As Earth's situation gets more perilous, we don't reform, we just
   embrace our myths more tightly"

   Thackara's inconvenient mathematics expose our planet's decline, but
   despite his ill-concealed dread he stoutly refuses to "head for the
   hills with a truckload of guns and peanut butter". That prospect
   obviously tempts him, but a guru should not become a doomsayer and
   abandon the world. Somehow, humans must "thrive", although by
   Thackara's reckoning, thrive means surviving with about 5 per cent of
   the energy and resources most Westerners avidly consume.

   It's hard to talk rich, heavily armed people into sacrificing 95 per
   cent of everything they have grabbed, but Thackara thinks that it is
   necessary, physically possible and a praiseworthy moral effort.

   His book is full of examples of people who already manage such a
   pared-down life: Lagos kiosk traders, Indian jugaad tinkerers, Central
   American cooperative farmers, Danish bike sharers and the like. These
   marginal, sociable groups seem obscure and humble, mostly because they
   tend to avoid the focused, malignant attention of governments and
   markets.

   So, argues Thackara, if these ingenious refuseniks haven't been
   methodically crushed by our dominant, ill-conceived legal and financial
   systems, others might indeed thrive, or at least do better by copying
   their thrifty ways.

   In my own wanderings, I have also encountered under-the-radar activist
   groups, such as Brazilian Gambiologia tech-art hackers and Serbian
   pirate street-marketeers. So I share Thackara's awareness that
   "material poverty" is a relative thing. If you've got a few thousand
   calories along with a dry spot to sleep, a backpacker's simplicity is
   not as bad as bankers would have you believe.

   In fact, I'm quite a fan of Thackara's bonhomie, ingenuity and can-do
   designer abilities; if the two of us were marooned on a desert island,
   I bet we would have a rather jolly time of it. However, as Henry David
   Thoreau found out beside Walden Pond, the worst problem with noble
   simplicity isn't the lack of cash, status and shiny appliances. It's
   the monotony.

   Even if this "thriving" life is doable, where's the aspiration, the
   ambition, the raw possibility? They've all been trimmed back by 95 per
   cent, because bold swagger and transformational technology will no
   longer do on the wounded surface of our fragile planet.

   Anyone reading Thackara's book will certainly get a much improved idea
   about what genuine 21st-century mass poverty will look like. It will be
   crowded, chatty and socially networked, yet still very poor, and with
   no ladders upward.

   It will also be very threatened, because any angry gang of mountain
   bandits with Toyota trucks and machine guns could easily conquer a
   peaceable eco-village co-op.

   As for states and markets, their power and malignity isn't withering
   away, it's intensifying. The radical niche and attic life Thackara is
   describing here is being crushed by most powers that be rather than
   ignored or encouraged, much less allowed to sweep over us in a vast
   wave of profound transformation.

   Frankly I wonder whether humans deserve a position in a thriving
   economy. Given our résumé as a species, who would hire us? Any wise,
   sceptical alien would notice that plankton, grass, ants and termites
   all do a much better job at saving Earth than humans. If we raucous
   anthropoids really want to save a planet, we should probably try to
   upgrade Mars or Venus, low-rent planets that we weren't born on.

   If we could sit still in our rooms like coral polyps, we wouldn't be
   killing the coral reefs. But we are killing them, and troubled spirits
   like ourselves will never rest content with what we ought or ought not
   to do. This book is a thoughtful plan for a better and very different
   world, but it's one that we don't deserve, can't have and won't get.
   
   So how is the bios vs thanatos class struggle gonna play out? my
   question to you, dear net-timers.

   luv n rev
   lx

   On Sat, Oct 17, 2015 at 3:59 AM, Brian Holmes <[1]bhcontinentaldrift {AT} gmail.com> wrote:

     Well, 20 years after the Californian Ideology, at least we have
     three good concpets:

     -thanaticism
     -the inhumanities
     -the antisocial sciences

     Like a good cyber-communist, I'm just gonna put 'em in my bag and
     use 'em.

     thanks, BH

<...>

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