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Re: <nettime> Forms of decisionism
Brian Holmes on Sun, 17 Jul 2016 23:32:18 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Forms of decisionism


On 07/17/2016 09:35 AM, Felix Stalder wrote:

But what if, this system is like the Soviet Union, unable to reform
itself, sticking to its ideology and forms of organization, despite
mounting evidence that the problems it tries to solve are getting
worse, rather than better?

This is a possible pathway for the future of the world-system. And a perfect description of what we see before our eyes.

Just a few years ago, the argument was about whether the Western powers could stave off the rise of China with an "interimperialist collaboration" (those were the terms of a great Arrighi/Harvey debate in the New Left review, which is worth rereading, issues 32-33). Now the question has shifted. Can any historical bloc emerge that is capable of reshaping an entropic world order, one that is collapsing but nonetheless chaotically energized by the increasing social injustice of climate change?

 I think from a cultural point of view,
one urgent task could be find ways of making this higher complexity
intelligible and expressible, through new ways of seeing, feeling and
acting that, as a bottom line, encompasses all living forms. To make the
task even more complicated, these cultural innovations need to in tune
with political and economic fights, and must contribute to reorient
technological development towards more sustainable horizons.

You have just stated the great twenty-first century project on which increasing numbers of thinkers are gradually converging. This is still a very limited phenomenon of enlightened consciousness. But it is driven ahead by the very real global collaboration on doing something about climate change, not just at state level, but much more, from diverse ranks of civil society, growing impressively every day.

In my view, actually carrying out such a project would be a historically new form of decisionism. Its sovereignty is dispersed. It shapes state forms from outside. It requires the creation, mostly from scratch, of ethical and moral worlds able to resist the continual incitements to corruption and violence produced by ambient decay. It is based on solidarity through the perception of fragility. And that is exactly why it needs a cultural politics of perception.

Crisis theory, for me, has never been teleological. No one knows where a crisis leads. The pathway is created as you walk it. That's why not so long ago I was saying that it's best to internalize the crisis, to take it in, until it radically shakes your own expectations, your own norms. A return to normal, a new growth wave that merely exacerbates the damage that Fordism and Neoliberalism have already done, is of course possible. That's what all the major forces of American society are pressing for even now. But it will not happen because the contradictions of the former orders are already unbearable. What might happen is, of course, that the crisis itself just gets unbearably worse. The capacity of parliamentary democracy - or neoliberal oligarchy for that metter - to provide a solution looks extremely low. And such a complex pattern of social change could hardly emerge from the kind of "decisionism' that Carl Schmitt was calling for in the 1930s. Still, the unlikely yet urgently necessary exit from the current state of affairs requires some form of decision, albeit dispersed, a decisiveness that is ethical and moral, scientific and in some sense probably religious as well, before and *in addition to* being political. That's what I was trying to get at. I'm totally encouraged that you went forward along the same lines.

> Not a great call to arms, I know. Sorry.

We don't need a call to arms. They are in abundance.

Thanks for such wide-ranging thoughts, Brian

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