Discussing the critique of “the new communism” in the Guardian recently, Stuart Jeffries wrote that the fear is that “nasty old left farts” such as Jacques Rancière “will corrupt the minds of the innocent youth.” In conversation with Jeffries, however, Rancière himself defends the relevance of his and his contemporaries’ thinking in 2012, explaining:
“The gravediggers are still here, in the form of workers in precarious conditions like the over exploited workers of factories in the far east. And today’s popular movements – Greece or elsewhere – also indicate that there’s a new will not to let our governments and our bankers inflict their crisis on the people.”
Visit the Guardian to read the article in full.
This morning, Paul Mason appeared on Democracy Now! for a long discussion about the Eurozone, austerity, and the protests that are about to sweep Greece as they await another massive bailout. Drawing from his recent journalism for the BBC and his new book Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions, Mason highlights the deeper unrest that is the source of these protests, and points toward the often ignored human costs that underlie the riots that otherwise dominate our mainstream news-cycles.
What doesn't make so many headlines is what is happening to real people. We're living in a time where the world has, in the last couple of years, erupted in a way many people thought they would never see again since the 1960s. The underpinnings of this new global unrest are, from Cairo to Greece to NYC to Albuquerque, people are sick of seeing the rich get richer during a crisis- that's what they're sick of."
Visit Democracy Now! to listen in full and for a complete transcript of the interview.
In a thought-provoking video interview with Oliver Laughland for the Guardian, Paul Mason elaborates on how technological development and the banking crisis have "nullified" the ideological impasse of the past 30 years, and how the decodified, radicalised youth springing up in its wake are beginning to tear up decades of stagnation with a new, networked form of activism.
"It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism" – so wrote Fredric Jameson in Archeologies of the Future, and this, for Mason, best sums up the "Roveian Reality" which shaped the popular imagination since the 1970s:
The social theorist Mark Fisher calls this "capitalist realism"... There is no alternative to the reality you can't escape from- the reality of marketisation, neoliberalism, the individualisation of people's lives, the retreat of a generation in between the two earbuds of the iPod, into a cocoon... I think Fisher, in that concept, really succinctly put his finger on what the intellectual zeitgeist of, broadly speaking, the Left, had been for 20 years.
An extract from Paul Mason's Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions is published in the Guardian's G2 supplement today. Mason explains the role of technology and the importance of the network in recent global unrest.
Social media and new technology were crucial in shaping the revolutions of 2011, just as they shaped industry, finance and mass culture in the preceding decade. What's important is not that the Egyptian youth used Facebook, or that the British students used Twitter and the Greek rioters organised via Indymedia, but what they used these media for - and what such technology does to hierarchies, ideas and actions.
Here, the crucial concept is the network - whose impact on politics has been a long time coming. The network's basic law was explained by Bell Telephone boss Theodore Vail as early as 1908: the more people who use the network, the more useful it becomes to each user. (The most obvious impact of the "network effect" has been on the media and ideology. Long before people started using Twitter to foment social unrest, mainstream journalists noticed - to their dismay -that the size of one's public persona or pay cheque carried no guarantee of popularity online. People's status rises and falls with the reliability and truthfulness of what they contribute.)
Paul Mason comments on the way in which the global crisis has been dealt with by politicians in a discussion with Gillian Tett for the Guardian.
It's a problem of the sclerosis of politics. I despair of the level of political leadership ... Never in any of the policy actions do you see the seeds of the new, the basis for a new version of capitalism
Asked whether the reforms introduced by European governments will be effective in tackling the crisis, the author of Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed and the forthcoming Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions answered that in all likelihood in the next months we will see "the emergence of mainstream politicians saying this far and no further, protectionism, roll back the free market." In his view, the situation will quickly reach the boiling point:
I was leaked some bank research and the sliding scale of banks that went bust was so frightening I decided it was impossible to report without causing panic.