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Desire

If desire is a two-faced machine—at once capable of producing a different world and perpetuating current forms of violence—we must aim to grasp it as clearly as possible. Indeed, the disentanglement of desire from capitalism and oppression remains the one master-key perpetually out of reach. Now, in lockdown, some desires are forced to remain unfulfilled, like consumption or contact, whilst others are amplified, like the demand for a basic income. Cognitive activity has been temporarily rid of its immediate valorization, and this gifts us that adolescent time needed to be truly honest and think collectively. In this recalibrated awareness, we should rigorously scrutinise our desires, making sure we never desire a return to normal. 

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Compiled by Rita Aktay
8 Essays

Forty years ago, I remember shouting, “No future! No future!” with some young British musicians. I thought it was the provocation of an unlikely avant-garde. Now, everybody thinks that the future is over; now, the sentiment aligns with a conformist position held by most of humankind. “No future” has become common sense, and this is why cynicism is expanding in contemporary culture, in contemporary political behavior. Futurism was the expression of a society that expected something from the future, and of a society that truly felt the warmth of community, whether encapsulated in the nation, the family, or social ties to working communities. All the above was the reality of lived experience a hundred years ago. No more! Today, the nation is a nonexistent thing. The dissolution of the nation is an effect of the pervasive digitalization of information and of power based on information. Do you think that Google belongs to the United States? Not at all. The United States belongs to the territory of Google. So does Italy, and France, and so on.

We live in a moment of profound cultural deceleration. The first two decades of the current century have so far been marked by an extraordinary sense of inertia, repetition, and retrospection, uncannily in keeping with the prophetic analyses of postmodern culture that Fredric Jameson began to develop in the 1980s. Tune the radio to the station playing the most contemporary music, and you will not encounter anything that you couldn’t have heard in the 1990s. Jameson’s claim that postmodernism...
The “Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics” (MAP) 1 opens with a broad acknowledgment of the dramatic scenario of the current crisis: Cataclysm. The denial of the future. An imminent apocalypse. But don’t be afraid! There is nothing politico-theological here. Anyone attracted by that should not read this manifesto. There are also none of the shibboleths of contemporary discourse , or rather, only one: the collapse of the planet’s climate system. But while this is important, here it...
→ Continued from “Culture Class: Art, Creativity, Urbanism, Part I” in issue 21. PART TWO: CREATIVITY AND ITS DISCONTENTS Culture is the commodity that sells all the others. —Situationist slogan Soon after the collapse of the millennial New Economy that was supposed to raise all boats, Richard Florida, in his best-selling book The Rise of the Creative Class (2002), instituted a way of talking about the “creative class”—the same class put center...
And pairs that cannot absorb one another in meaning effects Go backward and forward and there is no place —Lisa Robertson, “Palinodes” No one lives in the future. No one lives in the past. The men who own the city make more sense than we do. Their actions are clear, their lives are their own. But you, went behind glass. —Gang of Four, “Is It Love?” Over the past few decades, it has often been said that we no longer have an addressee for our political...
“How could the masses be made to desire their own repression?” was the question Wilhelm Reich famously asked in the wake of the Reichstagsbrandverordnung (Reichstag Fire Decree, February 28, 1933), which suspended the civil rights protections afforded by the Weimar Republic’s democratic constitution. 1 Hitler had been appointed chancellor on January 30, 1933 and Reich was trying to grapple with the fact that the German people had apparently chosen the authoritarian politics promoted by...
I. Why “Violence”? Brexit, US elections, Russian elections, Georgian elections: after so many political disasters, the limits and goals of emancipation seem to be blurred. Yet they have to be reinstituted again in the midst of a most dispiriting situation—when the Left has fallen into the trap of populism, when liberals resort to conservative moralism, when neoliberals claim avant-garde subjectivity, and when a reversion to tribalism is mistaken for anticapitalism. Reactions to the...
Another conversation threw up a fascinating image: “During our regular night shifts, the general manager used to be abrasive with any worker he saw dozing. He used to take punitive action against them. One night, one hundred and eight of us went to sleep, all together, on the shop floor. Managers, one after the other, who came to check on us, saw us all sleeping in one place, and returned quietly. We carried on like this for three nights. They didn’t misbehave with us, didn’t take any...
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