Sean Cubitt on Mon, 6 Sep 2021 03:28:25 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Covid and the crisis of neo-liberalism

sorry to hear about the wrist injury John: hope the gardening's good.
On population: 1. if you're right, abandoning the one-child family policy may be the most significant political decision of the first part of the century - both the policy and its termination might appear autocratic?  2. is the problem the whole population or the fact that a tiny percentage have accumulated all the wealth and use it to launch rockets and otherwise consume resources at scales far beyond most people? The food problem could be sorted simply: eat the rich.

Gary: thanks - using socialism as shorthand for not-individualist was sloppy: de Sousa Santos is a good corrective: 'The hopeless fear of the powerless majorities stems from the fearless hope of the powerful minorities' he writes, and might be describing any tech trillionaire, whose optimism is warranted by their wealth. There's a maybe over-detailed argument to make whether this tech-optimism is hope or just planning - Bloch wrote the 'hope would not be hope if it could not be disappointed, the obverse of which is that hope is always for something utterly different but utterly unknowable -- which is part of de Sousa Santos' argument when he adds in his final lines the necessity 'for the future to become possible again'

Hope is the sense that a future other than this is possible: the politics of hope is making the conditions for its possibility - not, and I think this is the core of his critique of revolution and reform, a project, a projection, projecting present ideas and practices onto the future.

Mouffe and Rancière both argue that politics really occurs only when some part of the world that has been administered but never allowed to speak demands a voice. Today, migrants are not thinkable in the same terms as citizens: if we rebuild our systems to allow them to speak (vote, whatever) we have to rebuild fundamentally. If we begin to think that places, bioregions, reefs and oceans can no longer be administered without a voice, the challenge is even more profound (and takes us far beyond democracy/autocracy as the sole polarity in politics)

It's certainly true we also have to unveil the lie of discourses of freedom: we are ontologically ecological beings; and historically obliged to work in order to eat; as Galtung wrote 50 years ago, structural violence is measurable in the distance between potential and actuality: the structural racism of climate change, to return to John's point, not to mention the structural racism of pandemic vaccine politics, proxy wars, extraction industries, waste dumping and if Jon Beller's right of the entire computational network and its economy all demonstrate that freedom is at best the privilege of a tiny minority. That each of them, as Vincent indicates, is also prisoner of debt - the emblematic machinery for controlling the future under finance capital - shows how deeply the harness of consumer choice has worn in

making possible by conviviality, to make possible a commons (not to return to Eden): disappoinment would not be disappointment if it could not retain a germ of hope


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Today's Topics:

   1. Re: Covid and the crisis of neo-liberalism (John Hopkins)
   2. Re: Covid and the crisis of neo-liberalism (Vincent Gaulin)


Message: 1
Date: Sun, 5 Sep 2021 11:31:47 -0600
From: John Hopkins <>

I would suggest that the starting point (contrary to your 'first step') is an
examination of the problem of human population numbers. Life consumes energy to
maintain itself. This fact cannot avoided. That consumption can be optimized and
minimized, but humans, in the process of engineering optimization, have
optimized some localized populations' consumption of energy to maximize their
viability, which ends up maximizing energy consumption.

Date: Sun, 5 Sep 2021 11:08:17 +0100
From: Gary Hall <>

Can socialism accommodate such a
nondualist, nonseperablist ontological framing? Or does it require
transforming socialism almost out of all recognition by imagining it
very differently? Which I guess is part of what is being pointed towards
in this discussion of freedom and democracy in the context of the
'failure of the West'.

It brings to mind the argument Boaventura de Sousa Santos makes in The
End of the Cognitive Empire: that Westerncentric concepts such as
socialism and even democracy have ?exhausted? much of their ?mobilizing
efficacy?. As far as he is concerned we have to move past such
modernist, left-liberal ideas of politics - what he refers as
?variations of the same critical thinking?. For an ontological,
radically relational politics of the kind capable of embracing the
non-human it?s not alternatives that are necessary but ?rather an
alternative thinking of alternatives?.

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