Political aesthetics in an age of crisis by Nick Srnicek

“There is an odd and contingent conjunction of strands dominating the contemporary world. In the first instance, there is the fundamental ungrounding that pervades the world today — that is to say, the collapse of neoliberalism and its attendant hegemony over the social imagination. It is difficult to overestimate how significant this shift is, even if its full consequences have yet to be felt. This leads to the second important strand in our contemporary world: the abyssal void at the heart of alternative political thinking. While neoliberalism has seen its foundations collapse under the weight of its own contradictions, the ground below it remains uninhabited. Movements like Occupy have arisen, but have promoted inadequate localist and horizontalist solutions to global problems. Political science professor Jodi Dean pithily critiqued, ‘Goldman Sachs doesn’t care if you raise chickens’. Meanwhile, mainstream alternatives have remained wedded to obsolete visions of a capitalist golden age, advocating a return to the classical Keynesian economics of the 1960s. This of course ignores the changes in social composition, the changes in technological infrastructure, and the changes in the global balance of power.

These two strands — the collapse of neoliberalism and the absence of alternatives — can find their resolution in a third strand, which is a particular emerging approach to aesthetics. What is needed today is a reconfiguration of the basic political aesthetic taken up by leftists. More specifically, what is needed is an extension of our capacities for sensible imagination via the mediation of technological augmentations. In order to develop an alternative that is adequate to today’s complex societies, those on the left need to marshal the latent capacities of technology and science in order to envision a better future.

This is necessary, first and foremost, in coming to grips with the strange non-object that is contemporary capitalism. The economy is not an object amenable to direct perception. It is distributed across time and space; it incorporates property laws, biological needs, natural resources, technological infrastructures and more into its eclectic assemblage; it involves feedback loops, multicausal events, sensitivity to initial conditions, and other complex system characteristics; and last, but not least, it produces emergent effects that are irreducible to their individual components. As a result of this, despite everything written about capitalism, it still remains a mystery. The question to be tackled is how does one aesthetically represent a complex, structural entity like neoliberalism? Since it evades any direct perception, our vision of the economy can only emerge from the augmentation of the human cognitive system with various sociotechnical apparatuses.” rest @ http://www.aft3r.us/navigating-neoliberalism

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