Brian Holmes on Tue, 17 Jan 2017 00:14:44 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Nancy Fraser: A Triple Movement? Parsing The Politics...

On Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 8:54 AM, <> wrote:

> The right accuse progressives of being hypocritical for empty
> moralising or 'virtue signalling' when it comes to the interests
> of working people. The basis for this is that by an large the
> establishment left, Labour and the Democrats went along with a
> lot of NeoLiberal policies for the past 30 years that have been
> disastrous.
> The center left made its claims to a moral high ground over the
> right based on its support for the interests of liberal emancipatory
> forces. The common ground. They can only play that tune and ignore
> the economy for so long.

I read Fraser's "Triple Movement" article when it came out, and
listened to several of her lectures on it. It's interesting but the
lines above capture exactly the problem she avoids. As the Sixties
morphed into the Nineties, the emancipatory left became part of
a three-way compromise. Extractivist, or if you prefer, warfare
capitalism was yoked to a welfare state that increasingly served
the professional classes (and was increasingly supplemented with
personal debt) while emancipatory idealism proliferated in all
kinds of urban/cultural safe spaces (including cyberspace, as Adam
Curtis points out so well in his recent film). Intellectuals of
Fraser's generation "claimed the freedom of contract" and focused on
"recognition rather than redistribution," while the neoliberal state
of which they were a key ideological component pushed hyperconsumption
at home, global supply chains abroad and all-out war whenever there
was a blockage on resource or labor extraction. Now there is a
full-fledged crisis where diverse forces in society are seeking
protection from a whole range of threats: joblessness and poverty,
accelerated automation, the consequences of war, looming ecological
catastrophe. The crisis makes Fraser's position obsolete on the left
- and the proof is, there is now a very nasty movement toward social
self-protection on the right, very literally incarnated in the US
by the gun lobby and philosophically expressed by the cynically
self-interested lecture of Hans-Herman Hoppe that was referenced by
analoguehorizon in the earlier thread. It really is worth listening to
that lecture, by the way.

The urgent question is: How to articulate an emancipatory vision of a
partner/protector state?

> What is missing from the picture is class. What is needed is class
> solidarity that rejects the divisive language of the right and works
> for real economic reform.

Labor and the Dems have always promised that another round of technological
innovation and global trade would bring prosperity for all races and
classes. Obama made the same claim, like a too-late Tony Blair. Now in the
US the liberal middle classes face an imminent existential threat from the
armed right (like, concealed carry on college campuses), their favorite
state jobs and social services are getting slashed, automation is about to
cut professional services in half, and they/we are getting really worried
about climate change. So where's *our* self-protective movement? The
minorities with whom the liberal mainstream claims alliance are still
largely poor and thereby partially disenfranchised, and a whole lot more
are now streaming over the borders as the extractivist warfare state
destroys neighboring societies. We, by which I mean the progressive urban
middle classes of all genders and skin colors, need to formulate a
pragmatic and feasible eco-socialist mixed economy that can integrate
recent immigrants, disenfranchised minorities and most crucially, the
abandoned working classes that just lurched to the right. Although it
should aim for a mixed economy, this has to be a state-led project, because
the only way to produce lots of non-automatable jobs that heal rather than
destroy the environment is through collective investment. That means deeply
transforming the neoliberal state, and not just taking it over for
professional-class advantage as the Democrats and Labor did. I reckon we
have one transitional election cycle to launch such a project, which cannot
just be an ideology or a theoretical Marxist pipe-dream, but has to draw on
the existing efforts of scientists, engineers, agriculturalists,
economists, industrialists, politicians, social movements and cultural
producers in order to bring a whole lot more people on board and actually
get to work. Without such an effort we are all going to be stuck with the
fascist solution to the crisis of neoliberalism.

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