A grey day in Londres, and the language of rights and responsibilities seems just as grey. But I am thinking about them nonetheless. Clouds have their uses, and so do the apparently dull concepts of previous political ages. In Londres at the end of the world, when either all ages must end or a new one begin, we are tasked with the grim job of sorting through the festering waste of the language of the past, looking for the building blocks of the future. Nobody has provided gloves.
A compañera I met over coffee the other day told me that nearly all waste sorting in Londres now is done by Eastern European migrants. They are often paid less than the minimum wage, and can sustain themselves only by living in the most squalid of accommodation. Naturally they are unable to complain about dangerous or unsanitary conditions. The less privileged literally sorting through the waste of the more privileged. The possible metaphor for our search for political language occured to me only as I typed here, and perhaps it could be seen as offensive. I am, after all, very privileged in many ways. But our poverty is in the political resources we have to draw upon, the knowledge or lack thereof about alternatives, the lack of political critique encoded in culture, critique seen by Marcuse as present through most of written Western history and now gone. We are reduced to one dimension.
The bureacratisation of life under neo-liberalism must, I thought for a long time, finally provoke mass resistance. And so it did, in the form of Brexit. That is, the resistance could become real only by latching onto a fantasy, a future that did not exist. It seems to me that this confirms a lack within our culture. Where are the resources with which to build a real future? My frustration with the TV series Mr Robot was that, despite being clearly inspired by anti-capitalist struggles, it largely refused to talk about politics in an open way. Censorship could not work better than this targetted marketing.
One of the redeeming features of Londres is that the sheer diversity it contains increases the possibility of critical culture. Yet it often exists only as a possibility. It is easier to imagine the end of the world…