Towards a New Mainstream

Thank you for flying with transnational commodification

we shall shortly be arriving in mayhem

if there is anybody on board who can impersonate a pilot

it would be of comfort to the other passengers…

Never have these lines from Nick Land’s 1992 theoretical-fiction Circuitries seemed more acute. After 2011, it would be perverse for anyone to talk about the end of history any more. It was as if, after a prolonged period of emaciation, history has been bingeing. The density of world-historic events in 2011 was such that it seemed almost impossible either to keep track of them, or to believe that they had all happened in one year: the Arab Spring, the death of bin Laden, the Breivik atrocity, the Japanese tsunami, the riots in England, the Euro crisis, the emergence of the Occupy movement. We are in the midst of almighty, and perhaps unprecedented, chaos. The world has never been more interconnected, but parliamentary politics has never seemed more impotent. The globalised systems connecting the planet are vectors for financial contagion, not channels for expressing collective agency. There are no credible experts. Mainstream economists have been radically discredited, not only by their failure to predict the financial collapse of 2008, but their complicity in it. Professional politicians designed for an era of supposedly post-political administration, in which nodding compliance to business was all that was required, are unable to adapt to the new conditions, in which imaginative thinking, decisiveness and charismatic interventions are at a premium. In an attempt to orientate ourselves, we seek historical parallels. The most ominous is, of course, the 1930s, with the prospect of Europe slipping from neoliberal consensus towards internecine and perhaps ethnocidal conflict. While politicians flail and bluster on a collapsed centre ground, the far right are ready to ‘impersonate pilots’ for populations that are bewildered and shell-shocked by everything that has happened since 2008, and intensely anxious about what it is to come.

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