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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Crisis, Chaos & Kairos

Jodi Dean wrote an insightful piece for Al Jazeera a couple of days ago that describes the shifting field of global capitalism in the face of crises, chaos, and what some might call the kairos of the multitude. She outlines several broad theses that describe just how fragile the situation has become. These changes are distinct yet interrelated.

 These include but do not exhaust such fundamental realignments such as; the limits of capital's totalization, processes of de-ruralization thru economic expansionism have proven just how totalizing neoliberalism has become.

The vast numbers of people dwelling in the slums has made a system which organizes the direct dispossession of entire populations explicit and increasingly visible, the crises at home and aborad in the Eurozone have rendered impotent the abilities of Nation-States or Supranational entities to control the many headed hyrda of an economic system churning, spiraling and oscillating according to its own laws, like the sorceror who can no longer control the spells he has cast. And in the final analysis:

[P]opular forces worldwide have moved quicker than anyone could imagine from the defensive to the offensive. The initiative clearly passed this year, 2011, from the transnational elite to popular forces from below. 

The entire terrain of global politics has reached a point of Manichean extremes, yet each of these decisive moments occurs within seemingly hybrid, zones of indifference. New, increasingly dynamic and undeniable publics are emerging, converging and coalescing. True, they may not be as articulate those in '68 or '89 in terms of theoretical or hermeneutic frames for interpreting their resistance. Yet, one thing has become clear. People would now rather opt for an alternative, no matter how uncertain, ineffable and enigmatic it remains, then re-weld the links of enchainment to the status quo. 

Dean herself puts it best at the penultimate point of the post: 
Now all this has changed. The global revolt underway has shifted the whole political landscape and the terms of the discourse. Global elites are confused, reactive, and sinking into the quagmire of their own making. It is noteworthy that those struggling around the world have been shown a strong sense of solidarity and are in communications across whole continents. Just as the Egyptian uprising inspired the US Occupy movement, the latter has been an inspiration for a new round of mass struggle in Egypt. What remains is to extend transnational coordination and move towards transnationally-coordinated programmes. On the other hand, the "empire of global capital" is definitely not a "paper tiger". As global elites regroup and assess the new conjuncture and the threat of mass global revolution, they will - and have already begun to - organise coordinated mass repression, new wars and interventions, and mechanisms and projects of co-optation in their efforts to restore hegemony.

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