thinking about postcapitalism

4168CHYVRPLOwen Hatherley at The London Review of Books:

The point Mason reiterates again and again is that in the struggle between postcapitalism and its alleged neoliberal enemies, ‘everything is pervaded by a fight between network and hierarchy.’ This is perhaps the issue on which he differs most from Srnicek and Williams. The first part of Inventing the Future mounts a critique of local, self-organised, non-hierarchical politics. Srnicek and Williams prefer to call it ‘folk politics’, though it seems as deeply enmeshed in the internet and its social networks as the futurism they advocate; more so, in fact. The participants in folk politics, like Mason’s young networked individuals, prefer ‘the everyday over the structural … feeling over thinking’. Their exponents can be found in Occupy, 15M in Spain, the Zapatistas and most forms of politics predicated on direct action: immediacy is all. In folk politics, ‘the importance of tactics and process is placed above strategic objectives,’ so that the mode of communication – whether the face-to-face deliberations in a protest camp or the use of social media to organise – becomes a fetish, and political content secondary. So far as Srnicek and Williams are concerned, the idea of being the change you want to see in the world practically guarantees that change won’t take place.

Why does folk politics apparently thrive in the networked world of contemporary protest? Because, they claim, it creates a warm glow, a sense that you are indeed ‘doing something’, reinforced when a minor battle is actually won: ‘Small successes – useful, no doubt, for instilling a sense of hope – nevertheless wither in the face of overwhelming losses.’ The ‘key challenge facing the left today,’ they write, ‘is to reckon with the disappointments and failures of the most recent cycle of struggles.’

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