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Re: <nettime> Reflections on Florian Cramer & Angela Nagle, discussion
Florian Cramer on Wed, 7 Mar 2018 17:46:00 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> Reflections on Florian Cramer & Angela Nagle, discussion


Hello Kristoffer, David,

Actually, I had tried (but may have failed) in my own contribution to the debate not to make any firm distinction between "subculture" and culture at large. This is why I had pulled in the "high-brow" examples of Simon Strauss and Götz Kubitschek, the examples of fascist modernism, or that of Peter Sotos whose recognition spans underground music/publishing and institutionally recognized contemporary art. The same is true for Laibach; however it wasn't my intention at all to frame them as right-wingers. It's just a historical fact that their highly ironic music and visuals, just like those of the band DAF/Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft, were misunderstood, in the 1980s and early 1990s, as pro-fascist by the many neonazis who went to their concerts. 

It is conversely true for the American "Alt-Right" that it doesn't only manifest as populist meme culture, but has made major efforts to present itself as an intellectual discourse, for example in the publications of "American Renaissance", in Richard Spencer's websites that emulate academic journals and hijack the language of cultural theory (demanding "safe spaces for white Americans" and the like) and of course in the recent popularity surge for Jordan Peterson (someone Angela Nagle and I addressed on the transmediale panel, too).

If my memory doesn't fail me too badly, then both Angela Nagle and me tried to focus more on the subject matter of transgression. Transgression isn't exclusive to what is conventionally called "subculture" at all, but a leitmotif in modernist and contemporary arts, in social, political, sexual and media activism, to name only the most prominent areas. What both of us tried to reconstruct is how transgression has never been an exclusive property of the political left, but has been propagated and practiced on both extremes of the political spectrum, or - better said - in discourses whose politics were, often intentionally, ambivalent. Here, we both referred to Sade as a forerunner (whose ambivalence of enlightenment and its other had already been analyzed in Adorno's and Horkheimer's "Dialectic of Enlightenment).  

Kristoffer wrote:

>  But this doesn't make them harmless of course, and actually creates a public sphere even more prone to manipulation through those who can indeed legitimise certain views over others as well as a scribing power to a form of quantified affect, where opinions with more followers, more data etc increasingly looks like valid knowledge.

This is precisely the deadlock - where the only two philosophical alternatives are either Popperian or analytic philosophy rationalism, where an argument is only valid when it is logically consistent, or post-Nietzschean/post-Heideggerian/Sloterdijk-ian affect and "Stimmung". Politically, this translates into the binary alternative of liberalism (in the original European meaning of the word, i.e. in the sense of Adam Smith, Popper and their successors) and populism/fascism.

Florian

On Tue, Mar 6, 2018 at 7:39 PM, Kristoffer Gansing <kg {AT} transmediale.de> wrote:
David Garcia wrote:
>  A questioner towards the end of the discussion asked if Cramer and Nagle could talk more about affect and affective politics.. more about the emergence of movements and how sub-cultural energies today mobilised. Which the questioner added is  ?also a question of power that is able to legitimise these subcultural sentiments in ways that enable them to enter into the political mainstream.. I?d like you to address the strategies, sentiments within subcultural politics. It was a very good point but sadly it arose to close to the end.. Perhaps we can take up this challenge here?

Thanks to David for taking the time to transcribe and comment on this dense discussion. Together with Daphne Dragona, I was responsible for organising this and felt that the atmosphere during the event was one of great attention and sense of urgency in terms of the audience wanting to have more of a say. Due to time constraints and two very talkative speakers, this didn't happen as much as it should have but it's nice to see the discussion continuing here. Since I was the one asking the question David mentions at the end, I can't but to help to step in and elaborate on this further. While I agree that one should not ascribe intrinsically progressive values to subcultures, I think it is important to situate the rise of the academic study and idealisation of subcultures in a historical context. Adorno and Horkheimer in all glory but what the British culture studies approach did was to take pop culture seriously as a thrust against the idealisation of high culture. One might say that th
 is was snobbish academic appropriation of popular and working class cultural movements - but today the impact of this can also be seen in how academia has become more accessible to many, where being in a subculture and researching it at the same time might even be a viable option.
Also this question of being in a subculture needs to be better addressed as I felt that Florian and Angela were in their critique of the cultural studies take on subcultures, actually themselves committing the mistake of taking subcultures too literally, while in fact the Birmingham school and co. would not essentialize subcultures to the degree that I felt was being done here. As if a subculture does exist in almost a static way, easily recognized by its symbolic language and styles, rather than something that is always transitory and, especially in the digital age, can be plugged in and out to at will. This is for me where the affective aspect come in, as I believe there are much more subcultural sentiments being circulated today without people behind them assuming a 1:1 identity with them. But this doesn't make them harmless of course, and actually creates a public sphere even more prone to manipulation through those who can indeed legitimise certain views over others as well as a
 scribing power to a form of quantified affect, where opinions with more followers, more data etc increasingly looks like valid knowledge. To just start addressing some of the "challenge" that David mentioned...

best,
Kristoffer

PS. David ends saying that this discussion is not posted prominently on the transmediale website: in fact it is not more or less prominently posted than any other event of the recent festival since we didn't yet publish anything on specific events or even yet publish the videos. so for now, the audio documentation is there in a database structure like all the other events.




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