What’s so fascinating to me is that Jameson first proposes that postmodernism is going to be the cultural superstructure of this new technological infrastructure that Mandel is predicting, which we forget now. It was going to be based on robot factories and new forms of energy, and the machines would be doing all the work—human work was supposed to disappear. This is what everybody was anticipating in the late ’60s. Working-class politics will disappear when there are no more workers, and we’re going to have to think of something else on which to base inequality. And Jameson was describing the timeless, superficial culture that’s going to emerge when we have flying cars and nanorobots produce everything.
You could just imagine things, and they would appear. Of course, those technologies never did appear. Instead, industrialists produced a similar effect by outsourcing the factories—but that was the timeless, superficial illusion. Your sneakers look more high-tech today but were created using even more low-tech processes than before. So in Jameson there is this fascinating play of infrastructure and superstructure; the play of images becomes a way of disguising the fact that the infrastructure has barely changed at all.
What is the term “extremism” in the context of politics supposed to convey? Non-tepid? Non-mainstream? It’s a useless and harmful term and it needs to be ditched along with the left/right dichotomy, which ultimately grounds it, for the following reasons:
The left/right dichotomy is supposed to denote an extension of the center, normalcy, of political life. Terms like “far-right” or “far-left” or “extremism,” are used to describe huge departures from political normalcy, while at the same time reinforcing the claim that this normalcy is what grounds them—hence the spectrum.
However, political projects that are deemed “far-right” or “far-left” are actually questioning the legitimacy of that very center or alleged normalcy. So to categorize them as somehow branching out from a center they reject is inaccurate.
Unless you’re from Fox or other mainstream news networks, blanket terms like “extremism” or “far-whatever” render opposing ideologies such as Marxism or different anarchist sects and fascism or nationalism COMMENSURABLE, in that they are comparable just by virtue of their departure from status quo realpolitik.
Fascism and Marxism/anarchism are commensurable on NO SPECTRUM. They are not opposing ideologies because they are on opposite sides of a political spectrum (created by who, by the way?) but because the ideas are fundamentally at odds on their own grounds; e.g. in a Fascist society such as 70s Greece, anti-capitalist and even social democratic parties were ILLEGAL—completely erased from any relevant “spectrum,” and leftists were continually assassinated throughout the trajectory of this regime and others like it. Likewise no Marxist or anarchist society can tolerate platforms for fascistic ideas, regardless if how they go about preempting and fighting fascism methodologically differs.
Now, I’m very well aware that most people are going to continue using these harmful distinctions and awful terminology, but you should resist them anyway. This language is tacitly pejorative. If someone asks you if you’re far-left, say no. Unless you do acknowledge liberalism as the default way of arranging politics. Remember, just because it is the extant paradigm doesn’t mean it’s the default paradigm.
Agree with everything here. The rhetoric surrounding and including ‘extremism’ creates an environment where I am assumed to be an Obama supporter because of my supposedly ‘leftist’ ideals on this bullshit spectrum. It’s also the source of well-meaning, but realistically very stupid and naive, demands for ‘bi-partisan’ politics and ‘third’ or ‘middle’ way politics that try to find some happy medium between presupposed ‘extremes’.
If we’re going to have a political binary like left/right, I always like this opposition I found described in a book on Latin American politics (can’t remember the name right now): it claimed that the true opposition today wasn’t between left/right politics, but between neoliberal economic policies and social democratic values. That makes far more sense to me, personally.
I am writing this on the premise that you are a well-meaning person who wishes Occupy Wall Street to succeed. I am also writing as someone who was deeply involved in the early stages of planning Occupy in New York.
I am also an anarchist who has participated in many Black Blocs. While I have never personally engaged in acts of property destruction, I have on more than one occasion taken part in Blocs where property damage has occurred. (I have taken part in even more Blocs that did not engage in such tactics. It is a common fallacy that this is what Black Blocs are all about. It isn’t.)
I was hardly the only Black Bloc veteran who took part in planning the initial strategy for Occupy Wall Street. In fact, anarchists like myself were the real core of the group that came up with the idea of occupying Zuccotti Park, the “99%” slogan, the General Assembly process, and, in fact, who collectively decided that we would adopt a strategy of Gandhian non-violence and eschew acts of property damage. Many of us had taken part in Black Blocs. We just didn’t feel that was an appropriate tactic for the situation we were in.
This is why I feel compelled to respond to your statement “The Cancer in Occupy.” This statement is not only factually inaccurate, it is quite literally dangerous. This is the sort of misinformation that really can get people killed. In fact, it is far more likely to do so, in my estimation, than anything done by any black-clad teenager throwing rocks.
@destructuremal: That’s what Milgram and Zimbardo show: ACAB. [All Cops Are Bastards, for the uninitiated.] It’s not about exceptional circumstances within being a cop, being a cop is an exceptional circumstance that makes you terrible.