Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Repost: Hickman on Savage Capitalism

We seem oblivious to the fact that we live on a planet with finite resources, and like zombies in an endless frenzy, a swarm-fest of ever darkening movement we continuously squander what little remains of the future that our children will inherit. Like mortal gods we dream of machinic intelligences and transhuman enhancements as if the very taste of flesh in our zombie mouths were not enough to stay us against the terrible truth of our own extinction. [...]

Kierkegaard argues that individuals who do not conform to the masses are made scapegoats and objects of ridicule by the masses, in order to maintain status quo and to instill into the masses their own sense of superiority. Is there a hint of political correctness here? Are not our free spirits, even the great comics themselves under attack, the one’s for whom thought itself is a weapon against mediocrity? Do we not see that creeping spirit of failure everywhere? The eye that hides its guilt, its secret resentiments against life and light? The ones who would rather hide in the darkness of their anger and bitterness, seeking to tear down their enemies through sheer hatred and spite, accusation and critical acumen as if the power of rhetoric alone could triumph over the truth?

Berardi warns us that the delicate balance between man and his machines is over, we have become the victims of our own merciless creativity and the dividing line (“bifurcation”) is one between “machines for liberating desire and mechanisms of control over the imaginary“; that, in our time the “digital mutation,” the very force of technology as an automatism is moving through the social body like a swarming ravenous beast feeding on what remains of the social psyche (Franco “Bifo” Berardi. precarious rhapsocy (Automedia, 2010)). Sociologists like Zygmunt Bauman will tell us this is nothing but the effect of the “liquid times” we are living in:
the ‘liquid’ phase of modernity: that is, into a condition in which social forms (structures that limit individual choices, institutions that guard repetitions of routines, patterns of acceptable behaviour) can no longer (and are not expected) to keep their shape for long, because they decompose and melt faster than the time it takes to cast them, and once they are cast for them to set. (Bauman, Zygmunt (2013-04-16). Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty (Kindle Locations 42-45). Wiley. Kindle Edition.) [...]
Our statesmen, policy makers, and globalist hypermedia think-tanks and yes men live under the sign of “plausible deniability”: a form of organizational cynicisms that allows them to escape the guilt of their own actions through a sense that the world is so complex no one individual or group can possible know or understand the crucial information needed to provide a solution to our existing crises. As Phillip Mirowski will remind us even our activists have no clue: the neoliberal worldview has become embedded in contemporary culture to such an extent that when well-meaning activists sought to call attention to the slow-motion trainwreck of the world economic system, they came to their encampments with no solid conception of what they might need to know to make their indictments stick; nor did they have any clear perspective on what their opponents knew or believed about markets and politics, not to mention what the markets themselves knew about their attempts at resistance (Mirowski, Philip (2013-07-09). Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown (Kindle Locations 6511-6514). Verso Books. Kindle Edition.). As Zizek will remind us:
The threat today is not passivity, but pseudo-activity, the urge to “be active,” to “participate,” to mask the nothingness of what goes on. People intervene all the time, “do something”; academics participate in meaningless debates, and so on. The truly difficult thing is to step back, to withdraw. Those in power often prefer even a “critical” participation, a dialogue, to silence-just to engage us in “dialogue,” to make sure our ominous passivity is broken. The voters’ abstention is thus a true political act: it forcefully confronts us with the vacuity of today’s democracies. (Zizek, Slavoj (2008-07-22). Violence (BIG IDEAS//small books) (p. 218). Picador. Kindle Edition. 218) [...]
In his novels of despair and hopelessness, Michel Houllebeq tells us that poet and philosopher alike must delve ‘into the subjects that no one wants to hear about. … Insist upon sickness, agony, ugliness. Speak of death, and of oblivion. Of jealousy, of indifference, of frustration, of the absence of love. Be abject, and you will be true.’ Beneath these words is a deeply moral thought: the vital thing is not to be against happiness, but against unthinking happiness; optimism that edits out the parts of living no one wants to hear about. That is the task – to stay awake to the world, without despair. It may be impossible, but (thankfully) there is no way of knowing. ‘You cannot love the truth and the world’, claims Houellebecq in the same essay. (Jeffery, Ben (2011-11-16). Anti-Matter: Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism (p. 90). NBN_Mobi_Kindle. Kindle Edition.)

Source: S. C. Hickman, "Savage Capitalism: The Culture of Denial in a Precarious Age," Dark Ecologies blog, June 15, 2015, accessed June 30, 2015, http://darkecologies.com/2015/06/15/terminal-capitalism-time-labor-and-the-infosphere/.

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