Joseph Rabie on Mon, 6 Sep 2021 13:24:48 +0200 (CEST)

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

In “Face à Gaïa”, Bruno Latour states that we have to identify the irreconcilable enemy against whom we are at war. The enemy all point to here is capitalism, capitalists and the ravages that they cause.

Wars have been waged and lost against capitalism before. The USSR ultimately lost their’s, though according to Guy Debord in “La Société du Spectacle”, the Soviet regime simply proceeded to replace it with state capitalism - which has made it easy for the oligarchs to absorb. In China, communism and capitalism “coexist” in a delightful yin-yang, in which it is clear which of the two has the upper hand. In Israel, the kibbutzim have been privatised.

Peaceful, theatralized protests by ecological groups have limited effect, as Brian pointed out recently. More direct forms of action, such as the destruction of property, (like Richard Powers fictionalised in “The Overstory”) have generally been stamped out by repression, dismissed as “terrorism” to boot. There have been victories: projects have been stopped by public protest, but this has not put a dent in the thrust of capitalist “progress”.

One might argue that capitalism’s war has been going on for more than five centuries, though for many of the people writing on this list - who in all likelihood live comfortably and cannot really consider ourselves among the exploited - this is an abstract reality.

In capitalism’s war against the planet, capitalism can, ultimately, only lose. Though strictly speaking, calling it “war” is a misnomer, since as a metaphor for rapacious exploitation, the term is limited. Capitalism doesn’t intend to destroy anything, that’s just misfortunate collateral damage. One can imagine that the capitalists have a contingency plan - knowing the likely outcome - a plan that it is far more sophisticated than hunkering down in bunkers.

Beyond naming the enemy, planning for war raises a series of issues. What is the objective? Saving the planet seems a “reasonable” goal. What is the balance of forces between capitalism and its opponents? For the moment, the answer is measured in laughter or tears. What strategy might one bring, to what battlefield? If one is planning to win, this has to be better than hope…


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