Povratek pozabljene frankfurtske kritike kapitalizma in obuditev človeškega dostojanstva

Stuart Jeffries ima zelo dober komentar v Guardianu o tem, kako je iz Fukuyaminega  “konca zgodovine” (brez vprašaja na koncu) prišlo do Badiouvega “ponovnega rojstva zgodovine” in kako lahko to “tranzicijo nazaj v preteklost” odlično pojasni frankfurtska kritika kapitalizma. Po eni strani gre za kritiko kapitalizma kot nepovratnega trenda v individualistični konzumerizem, kjer družba razpade iz družin kot osnovnih celic zgolj še na posameznike, od katerih vsak zgolj zadovoljujeje svoje lastne potrebe. Pri tem pa mu asistira industrija s pop izdelki in oglaševalska mašinerija s popularizacijo debilizirajočih vsebin in izdelkov. Po drugi strani gre za kritiko kapitalizma, ki odvzame dostojanstvo posamezniku, kjer se posamezniki samodegradirajo, samorazorožijo in samouničijo. Posamezniki postanejo le še nepomembni osebki v masi, ki nimajo prav nobene možnosti vpliva na maso in na tok zgodovine. Dostojanstvo posameznika se degradira le še na (na videz) prosto potrošniško izbiro, ki pa jo v resnici diktira industrija.

No, zadnja finančna kriza kot kulminacija dolgega cikla tržnega diktata in globalizacijskega pritiska je z nenadno ozavestitvijo te degradacije, tega odvzema dostojanstva posameznika iz naftalina spet potegnila to 80 let staro kritiko kapitalizma. Gibanja kot so Occupy Wall Street in vzpon skrajnih levičarskih strank širom Evrope in Latinski Ameriki ter Sandersove ideje demokratičnega socializma v ZDA, so obudila zavest posameznika kot človeškega bitja. Pokazala so, da posamezniki ne želijo nujno biti degradirani zgolj na amorfne delce v kolesju zaključene zgodovine (kot piščanci v veliki industriji piščančjih krilc in filetov za MacDonalds), pač pa da želijo s svojimi akcijami in interakcijami spet vplivati na vrtenje kolesja zgodovine. Zgodovina zanje ni nujno zapečatena. Če izvoljeni predstavniki ljudstva tega trenda upora, tega hlastanja po oživitvi človeškega dostojanstva, ne bodo želeli uslišati, se jim lahko zgodi marksistična revolucija. …če seveda tega revolta ne bo pasiviziral digitalni konzumerizem.

But the times that Fukuyama supposed were eternal came to an end, thanks not to revulsion at the prospect of an eternity of boredom, nor in disgust at a dignity so degraded it could only be expressed by one’s shopping choices, but due to an old-school capitalist crisis.

“What is going on?” asked the Maoist French philosopher Alain Badiou in The Rebirth of History in 2012. “The continuation, at all costs, of a weary world? A salutary crisis of that world, racked by its victorious expansion? The end of that world? The advent of a different world?” Badiou was writing about the unexpected consequences of the global financial crisis since 2008, in particular movements such as Occupy and Syriza. He might have added the failure of the US to “democratise” Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Bolivarian socialist renaissance in Latin America. Through such movements people demanded what they had been denied under neoliberal capitalism – recognition, or what Lambert called dignity.

Hence the slogan devised by Occupy activist and anthropologist David Graeber: “We are the 99%”. Hence too Occupy Wall Street’s “experiment in a post-bureaucratic society” – an attempt at realising anarchism in a system that affected to promote, but effectively denied, the possibility of people seeing their actions as the universally respected expression of their own autonomy. “We wanted to demonstrate we could do all the services that social service providers do, without endless bureaucracy,” Graeber told me. Denied recognition by the system, the anarchists of Zuccotti Park found that in self-organisation, and thereby achieved a sense of solidarity.

In his 2009 book Valences of the Dialectic, the American Marxist philosopher Fredric Jameson argued that when the fitful apprehension of history does enter people’s lives it is often through the feeling of belonging to a particular generation: “The experience of generationality is … a specific collective experience of the present: it marks the enlargement of my existential present into a collective and historical one.” In this, Jameson was disinterring one of the Frankfurt School’s most fruitful thoughts. Walter Benjamin dreamed of exploding the continuum of history; the experiences Jameson described involve that dream’s realisation. The homogeneous, empty time Benjamin associated with the onward march of capitalism and positivism is halted, albeit briefly, and replaced by a more experientially rich and redemptive notion of non-linear time. That, at least, is what Jameson took from Zuccotti Park.

In that rebirth of history about which Badiou wrote, Marxism made a comeback. As did Frankfurt School-style critical theory. […]

In the nightmare of consumption that is Tate Modern’s gift shop, for instance, there is now a huge section called critical theory. Here, the Frankfurt School no longer has a monopoly on the term – critical theory involves all the disciplines that Lambert once had in his library. A mini-boom in popularising critical theory books – graphic guides, dictionaries, biographies – was one consequence of the global capitalist crisis, as was a renewal of critical sociology premised on the Frankfurt School heritage.

In our age, to be sure, anyone reviving critical theory needs a sense of irony. Among capitalism’s losers are overworked, underpaid staff in China, ostensibly liberated by the largest socialist revolution in history, but driven to the brink of suicide to keep those in the west playing with their iPads. The proletariat, far from burying capitalism as Marx predicted, are keeping it on life support. “The domination of capitalism globally depends today on the existence of a Chinese Communist party that gives delocalised capitalist enterprises cheap labour to lower prices and deprive workers of the rights of self-organisation,” Jacques Rancière, the French Marxist and professor of philosophy at the University of Paris VIII, told me. “Happily, it is possible to hope for a world less absurd and more just than today’s.”

And our world is absurd. “When every person in a train carriage is staring at a small illuminated device, it is an almost tacky vision of dystopia,” argues Eliane Glaser, author of Get Real: How to See Through the Hype, Spin and Lies of Modern Life. “Technology – along with turbo-capitalism – seems to me to be hastening the cultural and environmental apocalypse. The way I see it, digital consumerism makes us too passive to revolt, or to save the world.”

Vir: Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian

One response

  1. Pravi mali dragulj tale prispevek. Nekaj vrstic je za zapisat, kot npr. tale:“Technology – along with turbo-capitalism – seems to me to be hastening the cultural and environmental apocalypse. The way I see it, digital consumerism makes us too passive to revolt, or to save the world.”

    Dodal bi samo, da globalni odpor mogoče še bistveno bolj od levice (ki je v veliki meri kontrolirana in korumpirana) prihaja nekoliko nepričakovano iz desne. V Evropi se to kaže kot preporod nacionalnh konzervativnih strank od Le Penove Front nacional do Putina v Rusiji, v ZDA pa kot težnja k povratku k “avtentičnemu kapitalizmu” oz. temeljem ameriške ustave in njenim svoboščinam, ki so bile resno načete z zakonskimi spremembami po 11/9 in z razvojem oligarhičnega finančnega kapitala in klientelistične države.

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