23 August 2012

Things as They Are, III

You don't have to, as I once did, live in Baltimore for a spell to see that things are messed up. But it seems to help. David Harvey, for instance. Or, somewhat to my surprise, Francis Fukuyama; who draws upon his time spent in Baltimore in discussing The Wire, and how the show constituted writer David Simon's critique of the American socio-political landscape:

"Our conviction that social policy is doomed to failure increasingly demonstrates the parochialism of our national discussion. The fact that North Americans have been largely brain-dead on this issue for much of the past generation has not stopped people in other parts of the world from innovating. Poverty rates and inequality have dropped over the past decade across Latin America,.... What these countries have that America lacks, surprisingly, is not just innovative policy, but a much greater political consensus that some degree of strong government action—and, yes, wealth redistribution—is necessary to undermine the nexus of drugs, poverty and crime. Americans, by contrast, have had to sneak redistribution through the back door by means of artifices like subsidized mortgage lending—a path that was neither efficient nor, as we have seen, safe for the economy as a whole. The country needs to address the problem of the underclass forthrightly and on its own terms."
* * * *

In relation to my thoughts of earlier, Mark Fisher on the "Time-wars" of our current day...

"No doubt this chronic shortage of time goes some way to accounting for the stalled and inertial quality of culture in recent years. The neoliberal gambit was that the destruction of social security would have a dynamic effect on culture and the economy, liberating an entrepreneurial spirit that was inhibited by the red tape of bureaucratic social democratic institutions. The reality, however, is that innovation requires certain forms of stability. The disintegration of social democracy has had a dampening, rather than a dynamic, effect on culture in highly neoliberalized countries such as the UK. Fredric Jameson’s claims that late capitalist culture would be given over to pastiche and retrospection have turned out to be extraordinarily prophetic.

We’ve grown so accustomed to repetition and recycling that we no longer notice them. Yet it’s no surprise that this is the case. New cultural production requires a use of time that communicative capitalism is profoundly hostile towards. Most social energy is sucked into the vortex of late capitalist labour and its vast simulation of productivity. Innovation depends upon an absorbed (rather than distracted) drift; but it is increasingly difficult to muster the attentional resources necessary for such immersion. Cyberspatial urgencies – the smartphone’s flashing red light, the siren call of its alert – function like trance-inhibitors or alarm clocks that keep waking us out of collective dreaming. In these conditions, intellectual work can only be undertaken on a short-term basis. Only prisoners have time to read, and if you want to engage in a twenty-year long research project funded by the state, you will have to kill someone."

Via Gonzo (circus).

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