david turgeon on Fri, 15 Mar 2002 04:53:27 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> a sedimentation of politics?

From: Newmedia@aol.com
>But, what are the new conflicts?  The CONFLICTS of the PRESENT?

it's funny you ask this question precisely.  following the cato press 
release i forwarded to nettime yesterday (which btw was originally posted 
on politech) i was able to read the reactions of a few readers who had some 
well researched comments to make mostly against the original post, & the 
reply of the original author who rebuked some of the points made, pointing 
at a cato-sponsored, pro-SUV study (illustrated by pictures "courtesy of 
ford"), but mr. taylor's reply itself was so opaque (to me) & seemed to 
lack such crucial points that the only comprehensible arguments mr. taylor 
made were about how science was "more than a show of hands" & how 
environmentalists are this & that:

"I am, by the way, amused by the manner in which some environmentalists can 
turn on a dime in the various science debates."

not to make a big fuss of his opinion of environmentalists (& please 
understand this as a simplified schematic), but let's continue mr. taylor's 
opposition of libertarianism vs environmentalism.  they both seem to be 
onto something (compared to the more popular parties which seem to be 
creatures of the past), but neither has actual political power, though you 
could say the former is to say the least quite inspirational to the way 
political parties are used by corporate rule.

surely, most parties in democratic countries have very similar platforms & 
only slightly different styles.  it would be delusional to believe that the 
democrat administration would have not waged the same war as the 
republicans.  it's likely they would have looked somewhat apologetic about 
it rather than claiming religious lucidity, which is a notable difference 
(particularly on the diplomatic front), but not a crucial one.

one of the reasons why i was in québec city in 2001 was to protest against 
what i see as a sedimentation of political life.  the fact that one or two 
center to right parties in any given democracy can no longer be dislodged 
by anything but capital power seems to me quite medieval.  it has been easy 
so far for politicians to tell activists that they should get in politics 
if they wish to change things.  but the politics themselves are saturated & 
inaccessible, & that's to me one of the key reasons why governments are so 
weak to change the course of things as of late, & why protests are about 
the only way left for a concern citizenship to make itself heard.

the only way out would be a replacement politics, but the only new arena we 
know is called global economy (or Empire, to make booksellers happy), an 
area which has been seized by the neoliberal agenda, itself influenced & 
fueled by aforementioned libertarian studies.  the true countering power is 
not "the left", it's called the greens.  the traditional left is often 
happy with keeping its hands in its own politics & unions from within the 
corporate rule; the greens are however directly addressing corporate rule, 
corporate abuse & corporate warmonging.  it's tempting to continue the 
"left-right" symmetry, but it seems alarmingly obvious to me now that the 
crux of the debate in today's "real" politics is between a short term 
enjoyment of individuality & a long term enjoyment of the environment.

but "individuality" & "environment" here must be seen as very abstract 
complementary values; to me, the environment (as a political value) 
encompasses everything from simple ecology to urbanism to free health care 
to diplomacy to 1-to-1 economy to etc.  the "idea of green" to me is 
something which goes far beyond greenhouse effect & company.  (one could 
talk of "conservative", not as in "entrenched in our good old ideas" but as 
in "conserving the present in hopes of the future".)  on the other hand, 
the idea of individualism is also a very complex sentiment which cannot be 
expelled or abstracted out without devising a brave new world in the 
process.  there is no opposition here but there is obviously a conflict.

certainly as with any modern mind, one would hope that a modern country has 
these kinds of debates between the long term & the short term, & on a 
global scale; but they are blocked by a seemingly natural sedimentation of 
politics which happens as party lines mesh into one another to the point 
where they are just white noise taking the whole of the space, unable to 
die out as all life eventually does.  perhaps in fact the conflict after 
all is that of mortals vs immortals.  the fabricated personnification of 
the corporation & the party as a unique eternal entity, contrasting with 
the creative faillibility of our kind.  hard not to see this whole war as a 
matter of religion then, the religion of an eternal structure of domination 
to be used in the same way by different people throughout the ages.

have a nice day
~ david

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