Felix Stalder on Thu, 14 Jun 2012 18:54:56 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Nightmare or Opening? the Soros perspective.

Dear Brian,

there were surprisingly optimistic undertones to your analysis. I was
wondering where they came from. Until the very end, there reference to
Polany made it clear.

>In fact, this has ever been the problem of capitalism, not since Adam
>Smith but since the days of Malthus and Ricardo. To understand that
>genealogy, and a lot of other things, I can only recommend rereading
>my favorite anthropology book, Polanyi's Great Transformation

What I take from Polany is a critique of liberal capitalism. In his
view, the fetish of the free market leads to a dis-embedding of the
economy from social relations. The resulting abstraction is inherently
unstable and destructive (polluting the environment and destroying the
social), hence there is a need to re-embed the market in the broader
society, that is, balance the profit-seeking drive against other human
concerns. In the last consequence, this points to what Keith Hart
calls a "human economy".

For Polany, it was the right that was doing the dis-embedding and
the left that doing the embedding. In other words, it was the left
that was saving capitalism from the folly of its own most ardent
proponents which, in turn, would pin all remaining problems on the
left's interference with the holy principles of the free market.

The question then becomes, who can articulate a theory of re-embedding
and which is the social class than can mount the political pressure
to implement the necessary policies. In Polany's days, this was, I
assume, Keynes and the working class rising towards middle class
status. The result was the post-war social-democratic (soziale
Marktwirtschaft) consensus on both sides of the Atlantic.

But what would that mean today? The theory, in my view, can only come
from a rethinking of the commons. This is done at the moment with
great energy and enthusiasm, but we are at the very early stages.
While lots of progress has been made in the recent years, we are at
least 10 years away from any coherent perspective on this. And who
would be the social class that carries this vision?

Normally, I think the work that is done around rethinking the commons
is fantastic and it makes me very hopeful. But I fear a little that it
will be put to the test much too early. At the moment, we have a lot
of micro-practices, but nothing that can scale, or even nobody that
can articulate how to scale it.

But a re-embedding of the economy will be done. After the next crash,
the neo-liberals will be out for good. But what then? The commons
movement is not ready yet, the traditional left is not up to the
task. The new right, in Europe at least, is very active, combining
traditional nationalism with new direct democracy absolutism.


--- http://felix.openflows.com ------------------------ books out now:
*|Vergessene Zukunft. Radikale Netzkulturen in Europa. transcript 2012
*|Deep Search. The Politics of Searching Beyond Google. Studienv. 2009
*|Mediale Kunst/Media Arts Zurich.13 Positions. Scheidegger&Spiess2008
*|Manuel Castells and the Theory of the Network Society.Polity P. 2006
*|Open Cultures and the Nature of Networks. Ed Futura / Revolver, 2005

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