James Duesterberg at The Point:
The political imagination of the last thirty years has largely been shaped by the paradoxical belief that, as Margaret Thatcher put it, “there is no alternative”: that beliefs themselves are powerless to change the world. Life in the post-industrial West would be the happy end of history, and thus of ideologies, a calm and dreamless state. But the world into which we have settled has begun to feel cramped, and its inhabitants are increasingly restless. It is no longer possible to deny that there is a dream here, and it’s starting to seem like a bad one.
Since 1979 the divide between rich and poor has widened, while real wages for the non-managerial work that most people do have fallen and economic mobility has decreased. “Think different,” Apple urged in the Nineties: words of wisdom, to be sure, for the new economy, although the rewards seem to concentrate in the same place. Apple is 325 times bigger than it was in 1997; the average real wage for college graduates hasn’t increased at all. Like postmodern theory, Apple’s slogan makes “difference” into an opaque object of worship, a monolith or a space-gray smartphone: something intelligent but not quite human. “Think different,” not differently: the point is not to change your mind but to contemplate something else. Meanwhile, as the Silicon Valley tech giants grow ever more “different,” we sit around thinking about it in the academy, and living it on our phones. Tech executive or Uber driver, we find ourselves stuck in what Hito Steyerl calls “junktime,” an empty expectancy, somewhere between work and play and going nowhere.