allan siegel on Wed, 14 Jan 2015 02:44:34 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Crisis 2.0 - the political turn (some comments)

Yes, there is a crisis, that shouldnât be a big surprise but what precisely is the crisis? A number of contemporary philosophers have been wading into this question for some time now; is it the crisis that marks a break with modernity? Quite possibly. Is it simply the economic crisis of 2008? No. After floating through years of fuelled by the illusions of the post-modern delirium weâre finding that it is not easy to get very far if youâre running on empty and the consequence finding ourselves stuck in something akin to an ideological vacuum. 

In fact what is being called the âcrisisâ is probably the result of the conflation of a host of historical factors: political, economic, etcâ So, to view the crisis in the absence of any substantial historical context is simply misleading. It is as if we can view the recent events in Paris detached from the legacy of French colonialism and the post-colonial turbulence that has continued to batter Algeria. We live in a global world still very much being buffeted by the decades of colonial and imperial hubris that has plundered the third world in any number of political guises. The horrendous blow-back from this is used to buttress the surveillance states now common in the West: high tech snooping tools, random police operations which provide citizens with a fragile, fleeting sense of security that is regularly shattered by unexpected violence and killings. Countless innocents are slaughtered without warning; police forces run amokâ 

It is yet to be seen whether the political movements in Spain or Greece can move their societies in a new direction beyond the neoliberal economic pincers - I certainly hope they can - but the fact that these movements exist is a testament to some tangible threads of historical continuity and a capacity to create new forms of political organisation. The fact is that in the belly of the beast the banks escaped like bandits with a free ticket to manage the next financial crisis while effortlessly plundering the U.S. treasury and there were no political entity/s or coalition of forces that could deter the neoliberal juggernaut. Were the banks and their bosses ever held accountable? A sad reflection on the manner in which the neoliberal mind-set has distorted not only the political consciousness of the citizenry but trashed the most basic forms of common sense.

Iâm not being cynical, really, just realistic; we cannot demand the impossible but we can manage to to insure that the next generation has the tools and the wisdom, to go beyond the ineptness, the corruption, and the greed the has polluted so many hard won democratic institutions and whittled away the parameters of a just society. Unless all the solid, meaningful efforts (in any number of disciplines, economic programmes or alternative and innovative practices) can coalesce into a political force able to out-manouver the status quo of the current political landscape weâre in for more stormy weather.


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