Felix Stalder on Tue, 17 Jan 2017 00:18:32 +0100 (CET)

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

On 2017-01-16 18:17, Keith Hart wrote:

> Nancy Fraser is right to be ambivalent about Polanyi's relevance for
> the last half century or today, but like him she has a weak grasp
> of world society's movement and direction; she also needs a more
> precise formulation of the problem and its periodization.

I agree, but to some degree, that's an unfair charge because neither
-- as far as I understand them -- attempted anything close to world
systems/ society theory. Polanyi, to my limited understanding, was
confronted with the rise of the radical left and right confronting
laissez-faire capitalism, a struggle which the right eventually
one. What's Polanyis enduring contribution, in my view, is to make
understandable why the response to ravages of unbound capitalism
could swing between far left and far right. If we see them both as
protective movements then the difference to many might have been much
smaller than it might appear from the point of view of political

Fraser's concerns are about understanding how the emancipatory
movement she has been most directly involved in -- feminism -- could,
in a different way, also move from the left to the right, from
protection to marketization (here she thinks of Sheryl Sandberg's
Lean-in strand of feminism, or of Clinton's for that matter).

I think both as an analysis of the Clinton/Blair/Obama project, which
made neo-liberalism cool again after it lost some of its appeal during
the late Thatcher/Reagan-BushI years, and as a way of rethinking
progressive visions it's fair enough, even if, US-centric.

> He was not clear whether ‘disembeddedness’ is just an ideological
> fiction of liberal economists or ever actually happened in history.
> Politicians need money and money men need political cover. They have
> been in bed together for centuries, maybe always. Markets have thus 
> long been embedded in states and their social structures.

I'm not sure if "disembeddedness" means that the economy becomes
separated from society and no longer needs the state. This would be
impossible for the reasons you mention.

What this means, in my view, is that the logic of the economy (profit
making) overrules all other logics/values systems that exists
within a society. Thus "disembeddedness" that are are no longer any
countervailing forces any more.

> The anti-colonial revolution was a seismic upheaval of unprecedented
> significance for world society in the decades after 1945. Its scope
> vastly exceeds the “social struggles” of the post-war period. 
> Developmental states sprang up almost everywhere at this time -- in
> the industrial West, the new post-colonial nations and the Soviet
> bloc – with the aim of raising ordinary people’s purchasing power and
> the public services available to them. This and the collapse of
> colonial empires were the last world revolutions; neoliberalism from
> 1979-80 was their counter-revolution.

I never though about this, that neoliberalism might also be seen as a
counter-revolution not just to the unions and civil rights movements
of the 1960s, but also to the anti-colonial struggles that went on at
the same time.

If that was the case, then the success of that project was globally
a much more mixed affair than at home. Latin America, it was mostly
successful, I presume also in Africa (?), but not at all in Asia.
There, all "tigers" where, and in the case of China still are, typical
developmental states. And they are set to run the show.

I think Trump and the hard-right (old-school military-industrial
complex) are hoping to form an alliance with Russia against China,
the developmental state if there has ever been one. In the mean
time, China's president is in Switzerland, signing new trade deals,
apparently having learned, so the commentators, that he has to offer
something to the nations he wants to integrate into his alternative
world structure that, by and large, excludes the US and the Western
institutions built up after WWII. In other words, he learns to behave
like a real hegemon, just at the moment when the US seems to have lost
that skill.

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