Angela Mitropoulos on Mon, 19 Mar 2018 02:01:48 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Troll factories in some shitty St Petersburg office?

I tend to agree with Eric's remarks in this thread. But just to add: 

Brian Holmes wrote: 

>This is the endgame of the neoliberal program for the total makeover of society

Except that neither Trump nor Farage, nor Putin for that matter, are neoliberals. 

Nor are the Mercers. Cambridge Analytica and the Mercers began their involvement in the 2016 Presidential elections by supporting the Ted Cruz campaign - a far Right theocrat. Then they switched to Trump, in my opinion a fascist in sensibility and 'instincts' if not in replete doctrine. Prior to this the Mercers were financiing Breitbart which, like Bannon, who is a fascist, and also likes to bang on about how bad liberalism and neoliberalism are. 

It is one thing to identify a conspiracy - they exist in mundane form, they are called private contracts. Nothing remarkable about those. The problem arises when it comes to explanation, including more or less implicit explanations of why a group of three guys in a room end up wielding power or influence. Conspiratorialism is explaining the impact of contracts by virtue of the very existence of contracts, a cartoonish, individualist and ultimately egocentric explanation about how the world works that might work for, say, a documentary or in journalism, but it is not an analysis that would enable or facilitate making change. Maybe it would persuade some wealthy benefactor to fund a Left-wing think-tank, which is a worthy goal, I suppose, but would not mean very much since the sheer existence of a think-tank is not an explanation for why its Thinking has any influence or does not. 

Re: analoguehorizon's comments. There is a lot in Mirowski's work that is interesting. But his methodology and exposition barely rises above tabloid description and a Whig history of Great Men Who Do Stuff. Describing a meeting and drawing links to another meeting or influence remains descriptive; worse, in the absence of an explanation to the contrary, it implies or supports a conspiratorial explanation by treating the mere fact of associations as meaningful without explaining why they are meaningful, have effects (or not). I know a lot of people find Mirowski valuable, but imo (particularly going by how his work is often  taken up) his work too easily lends itself to the worst kind of History of Ideas and Great (white) Men. 

In any event, the Mercers, Trump, Bannon, Cambridge Analytica ... are not neoliberals and using that term to describe them is not just remote from any capacity for explanation of their influence and power. In this case it's also a basic descriptive failure. There are better versions of the links between Trump, the Mercers and the far far Right around. Some of them suffer from the same problem of simply outlining associations. But at least they get the basic description right. 

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