Dan S. Wang on Mon, 30 Jan 2017 00:13:33 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Digital leftism in a globalised world?

Alexander, a late reply to your original post and later:

>>Can we please raise the quality of postings on this forum to at least
>>slightly above the junior high school level?

>>Best intentions from Cape Town

I accept your best intentions. A provocation in a spirit of impatience and
with a sense of urgency is just what I want now. Thank you. That said, you
went to a different junior high than I did.

Also, having sorta grown up with/on nettime, I can say that some, maybe
even a lot, of what I can say about neoliberalism comes from the years of
discussion that happened on this list. I'm talking about since when I
first subscribed in '98 or so, when the movements that emerged to
critique, contest, and confront the orgs imposing the, yes, what many
called neoliberal restructuring of state economies. Those orgs included
the IMF, the WTO, and the roving bodies of bankers, finance ministers, and
heads of state that assembled for regular meetings and one-off gatherings.

Seattle crystallized the antagonism. We were on one side‹an
anarchic-but-organized Movement of movements, a kind of pan-Left, global
in composition. Our enemies were titans of global reach, organization and
influence. Into this came the attack of 9/11, which of course induced and
enabled an imperial flail for the better part of the next decade. Obama
supposedly tried to reimpose some sort of managerial order to the chaos,
and not very well. But his presidency, in turn, exposed and revitalized
the ugly career of anti-black racism within US society. Of course, that
race-based hatred of Obama was led at times very notably by none other
than Donald Trump.

So, yes, a lot has changed since the rising neoliberalism of twenty years
ago. The neoliberal order and the corresponding term, have suffered
blunting since then‹now there are many vectors invested with considerable
power and neoliberalism is just one that the others cross. YeahŠthat
period when people in nettime worlds (including myself) were reading
Empire to make sense of the pessimistic, retrograde imperium of Bush and
his neocons. As for the neoliberal orgs since, their power has contracted
some, partly due to the economic meltdowns brought on by their own
contradictions. The limits to their power seem to have been exposed.
Massive banks and financialization are worse than ever in some ways, but
the neoliberal frame has also suffered in the priorities of state, at
least in the US, relative to the advance of the security state and all its
associated industries. The ideological residue of neoliberalism remains
for sure, especially in mainstream economy-speak. Particularly in the tech
sector, where language valorizing market "disruptors" still holds sway in
a sector driven at least as much by the demands of the
military-surveillance state as by the needs of the retail consumer.

Okay, so it's different time; more than anything, the question of whether
Trump is "neoliberal" or "anti-neoliberal" reveals our jumbled global
moment. There are variously coherent sets of concepts and vocabularies
that make sense of different operations and different sub-logics of global
capital, while the whole falls ever further into an overall incoherence;
this incoherence is of course mirrored by tremendous chaos on the ground.
The Left worries about the proper meanings of various terms and labels,
how to accurately discuss various people or issues. These are not
unimportant. But as we do so, the Republicans have accepted this
intellectual incoherence as the price of power. There is no way they could
win otherwise‹the conservative coalition in the US is a patchwork of
differing priorities and emphases, not all of them in mutual alignment.
This is at once their strength and their fragility.

I agree with you and Piketty about taxation being the proven mechanism for
blunting the accumulation of capital/power (same thing in the US).
Conveniently for proganda and consciousness-raising efforts, we now have a
billionaire tax cheat in the White House. As Americans face their own
looming deadline for filing annual tax returns on April 15, this issue has
the potential to galvanize the millions once again. Conveniently for the
already-assembled movement of Movements‹larger and more varied
subculturally and generationally than what we saw in '99‹this same man is
a sexual predator, a virulent racist and xenophobe, a climate liar, and a
political panderer of supreme corruption.

To issue a clear and sustained demand to, say, raise taxes on corporations
and 1% incomes,  under the conditions of a churning and multi-faceted
opposition will be unlikely. A tax strike by ordinary people might be more
available as an action, closer to the spirit of the war resisters
tradition, ie denying the government $$ to murder‹but that's a different
message, not synonomous with the egalitarian project and not necessarily
light years removed from the anti-tax, anti-government position. So even
on the level of a taxation solution to the runaway power and wealth of the
1%, the Left has its own internal contradictions to resolve.

If those practicalities of movement politics are not your thing, and this
is only about what would be the properly or faithfully Marxist position,
then you will have fallen into the trap you called out others for, i.e.
not seeing the morass of terminologies as a blockage. Because I think
there is a clearer definition in play, usefully so, for "neoliberal" and
than there is‹considering the complexity of capital and its hydra-headed
crisis (only a few years ago we could say "dual crisis" and know what we
were talking about; now there are too many to count, all somehow
interlockedŠ)‹for "Marxist." I mean, speaking as a MarxistŠ.

All best from Madison,

Dan w.

Instagram: type_rounds_1968

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