Old dreams

I’m fascinated by politics that proceeds in something like the following fashion: Over the last 40 years, capital has proven itself to be endlessly flexible in neutralizing, even commodifying, things that would seem to be opposed to it or that hold themselves out as having the capacity to elude it. These things are usually alternative lifestyles and autonomous political movements, which often receive some very unkind words (Badiou’s frothing about disabled black lesbian Jews for Jesus, or whatever he says, is typical). It follows then that the antidote to capital’s totalizing can be found in . . . the absolute structuring of the state. This sort of politics might even acknowledge the state’s always symbiotic relationship with capital and its repressive function, but nonetheless proceeds as if these can somehow be overcome, presumably with the correct kind of political will. The assumption is that the state’s totalizing impulse is open to alteration from the outside while capital’s axiomatization is forever closed, or, more accurately, that the state is continually forged anew by social processes while capital is immune from such antagonistic reproduction and instead is the purview of capital’s planning class. There’s a bleak resignation in this sort of politics, one that leads to a single inevitable political gesture: voting Democrat/Labour/Socialist.

I can’t see this faith in the mutability of the state as anything other than still-ill nostalgia for the Fordist past, a nostalgia that forgets that that past was killed by wildcat strikes and political refusals before it was buried by the ending of Bretton Woods and harsh monetarism.


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