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Re: <nettime> The Vision Thing (was: Managerial capitalism?)
Brian Holmes on Thu, 21 Sep 2017 19:07:19 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> The Vision Thing (was: Managerial capitalism?)


On 09/21/2017 05:06 AM, Felix Stalder wrote:
This vision, I'm convinced, can only come from transformed relations
within the biosphere (be that sustainable socio-economies, perma
cultures or geo-engineering) supported by advanced technologies.

That's what I think too, and it's what I spend most of my time on these days (though probably more with the soft culturalism than the advanced technologies). Interestingly it's also what Alex Foti thinks, when you jump to the end of his book and read the last chapter. Way to go Alex, you're up to the minute.

Trumpism is a military-police-extractive industry reaction, based on the decadent dregs of Fordism plus the threatening detumescence of the white Anglo-Saxon puritan cock in the face of multiracialism and multisexualism. It could become an authoritarian regime, for sure, but only in the total absence of any pushback from the left, because Trumpism is structurally weak: it is casting aside its libertarian wing in favor of rising demands for state spending (notably due to the hurricanes but also the war lobby, huge contracts in the atom bomb industry, for instance). So the question is, what does pushback from the left side of the political spectrum look like?

Interestingly this is where Orsan's contributions run parallel to Alex's. Orsan is looking at the historical arc of a major sociological formation that was initially called "the New Class" when it was analyzed in the 1950s by a guy named Djilas, in a place, remember, that was called Yugoslavia. He saw that not workers, but cadres produced by the brand-new state educational apparatus were taking effective power in society. That idea about the power of educated cadres was transferred to the US in the Sixties when the huge state expenditures of the Kennedy-Johnson era (guns *and* butter, remember?) were effectively producing a new form of social agency, the manager, the knowledge worker, the media technician, the so-called "value intellectual" (fancy term for a pundit) etc. Conservatives who were not yet neoliberals became horrified when these new figures began inventing environmentalism, practicing alliance strategies with oppressed minorities and standing against the military-police sectors. After Djilas's concept filtered through as a way of analyzing what was going on, the most interesting right-left debates of Seventies were all about the possible destinies of the New Class (full disclosure, I wrote about this somewhere, http://threecrises.org/1968-black-power-and-the-new-class).

We know what happened: the neoliberal turn absorbed and repurposed this proto-revolutionary sector, so you got Jerry Rubin, the golden boys, the cognitariat, the California Ideology, the Flexible Personality, the whole anarcho-libertarian dreamland of the Nineties. 'Nuff said. Fast-forward to the present.

Trumpism is older people, middle class, smaller towns, the countryside, the resource fringe, the South - but not Southern cities. Cities all across the US are filled with precarious *and* middle-class youth practicing coss-race, cross-class alliance strategies - and reawakening old memories about those kinds of things in the process. At the urban level, Democratic mayors have no choice but to support them, because otherwise you get riots, work stoppages, non-compliance of all kinds. Check out the new book by Juan Gonzalez, Reclaiming Gotham, which describes the radicalization of progressive mayors in an arc extending from Occupy to the present (or just check out the extended interview with Gonzalez on Democracy Now, it's worth it). If you keep in mind that urban centers are not just the sites of potential racial conflict, but also the places where extreme weather events cause disasters that require social spending, then you can see where the pushback from the left could come from.

The New Class is dangerous when it shakes off its privileges and tries really broad alliances with one foot in the state and the other outside it. Trumpism is the perfect spur for that. And so is the current bankruptcy of the mainstream Democratic Party, which has left all kinds of holes for new actors to get in.

Different neocapitalist formations could arise from this shakeup and they likely will, both as country-specific patterns and as a patchwork of social forces within any one country. As the natural disasters hit and AI clears out the old concept of a job, new versions of social spending by the state are almost inevitable, and they will obviously translate into growth sectors for new kinds of corporations, or old ones. Trump is going to send the cash to his people in Houston and most of Florida and don't forget about the wildfires in the Northwest and the droughts in Montana and the Dakotas and this is just his first year. The terrain of the big struggle is actually about social spending. So the current question of the New Class is, can we put a vision into this state spending? Can we make a major pushback against the proto-fascists and drown the libertarians in their own proverbial bathtub? Can we build from below in ways that shape the inevitable institutionalization from above? Can we make Green Capitalism a much better reality than either Tesla or Musk or Schmidt would ever have dreamed?

I have the intuition that Alex's book may be structured to give an insight into how current class dynamics are leading in the kind of direction I've sketched out. But to say they are leading does not mean they will get there. Especially not in the US where anything is possible. A big war, a new figure of terrorism, an untimely but ever-more possible collapse of the Mexican state, a tremendous upsurge of armed militias, the Tweet to end all Tweets, these and many other "events" could give unstoppable power to the rightward turn.

Everything you read in the daily paper today is some kind of take, half-unconscious or disguised or explicit, on the gigantic struggle that is now taking place over The Vision Thing.

let's do it for a change, Brian

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