Saturday, April 08, 2023

Looking through the kerfuffle over Dylan Riley's piece on SVP for Sidecar, and I got sidetracked

Ajay Singh Chaudhary

Ok, I absolutely should be writing but damn that Dylan Riley blog is getting really ungenerous readings. There's plenty of bits I don't love and I think he's setting people off with using terms that have become sacred but the central arg is correct: climate politics is zero sum.

It's a short thread, 4 tweets, and the last two are on the main page, and just below he retweets Isi Litke

still spots open for my in-person  @BklynInstitute  course on utopia, which begins next monday night!! (fourier, morris, bloch, adorno, marcuse, le guin, robinson, jemisin, jameson, jennie livingston, &c.) 
Imagining Utopia: Politics, Planning, and the (Im)Possible (In-Person)
With a pic of Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights

Dystopias abound in the contemporary landscape—in literature, on screen, in our diagnoses of the present. From the zombie apocalypse to planetary catastrophe to nightmarish visions of gender disciplining, dystopia is today a particularly salient category, a popular outlet for imaginations of (im)possible political futures. But the utopian genre, older by over a century, appears to have been all but eclipsed by its unsettling counterpart, even relegated to a pejorative: the utopian as politically naïve, escapist, nostalgic, irrational, dogmatic, and, ultimately, unrealizable. While the latter designation perhaps misapprehends the actual value and aspirations of the genre, what are we to make of this apparent retreat from utopian thinking—in both our cultural and political imaginaries? For whom, and in what form, does utopia remain—or stand a chance of becoming—a fruitful category for contemporary politics? 

In this course, we will engage the project of utopia in its various forms and functions—as regulative principle, diagnostic tool, speculative exploration, and concrete political intervention. Beginning with Marx’s admittedly ambivalent relationship with the utopian socialists of his era, we will work our way through writings by Thomas More, William Morris, Oscar Wilde, before expanding our conversation to include twentieth and twenty-first century thinkers for whom the utopian impulse was vital for a Marxist politics—including Ernst Bloch, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, Fredric Jameson, and Mark Fisher. How did these writers and thinkers situate their visions of utopia in relation to emancipatory movements past and present? Along the way, we’ll explore literary and other cultural expressions of utopia, with a focus on utopian literature’s close affinity with feminist and queer theory in works by, among others, Shulamith Firestone, Ursula Le Guin, and Jennie Livingston. How does the figure of utopia allow us to envision a world that might be otherwise—at a time when crisis and catastrophe dominate our imaginations of the future?

Course Schedule
Monday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
April 10 — May 01, 2023
4 weeks

Isi Litke teaches at the intersection of politics and aesthetics, with particular interests in 20th century avant-garde movements, critical theory, visual studies, and the politics of memory. She is currently working on several writing and curatorial projects related to the sculptor Jacques Jarrige and the architect and filmmaker László Rajk Jr. She holds an MA in Political Theory from Princeton University and an MSc from the Oxford Internet Institute.

So I go to google and it leads me to Valerie Goodman Gallery

Collector's limited edition book Jacques Jarrige with Candleholder
(1/50), 2022 
Printed book and aluminum candle holder
2 x 11 x 10 in

The special collector edition of our book Jacques Jarrige includes a specially designed candle holder in steel. The candle holder is packaged in a folio in 4 parts to be easily assembled. Edition of 50

This mid-career survey of the works of Jacques Jarrige marks the 12th anniversary of my fruitful collaboration with him.
At the heart of Jacques’ practice is the moment of encounter: between the artist and himself, his material, his audience—between the audience and a work or process. In this spirit, I invited seven contributors with different backgrounds and sensibilities to write about their own encounters with Jacques and his work. Their texts form the backbone of the present volume, which unfolds in five sections.

In Section I, curator and art historian Glenn Adamson describes the French decorative arts world from which Jarrige emerged and draws the reader’s attention to art movements, particularly surrealism and Art Brut, whose aesthetic and intellectual sensibilities are reflected in Jacques’ work. Isi Litke then reflects on a series of exchanges with Jacques that took place over the course of 2021, concerning his early encounters with art and the process of finding his voice and vocabulary as a young artist....

Valerie Goodman Gallery is a high end design store on the upper east side. Jacques Jarrige makes lamps and coffee tables. The only thing on the page with a listed price is a a pair of side tables for $18,000, expensive for furniture but dirt cheap for art. Art galleries spend more than that on frames for one show. 

I found a podcast with Chaudaury and Litke. I made it through 4 minutes. Gentrification makes a desert and calls it peace.


In short, the SVB collapse is a beautiful, almost paradigmatic, demonstration of the fundamental structural problem of contemporary capitalism: a hyper-competitive system, clogged with excess capacity and savings, with no obvious outlets to soak them up. It must be emphasized that the current vogue for ‘industrial policy’ – quite pronounced in both the Biden and Macron governments inter alia – will do nothing to address this underlying issue. The immediate practical problem with a new round of investment in which the state seeks to incentivize capital is clear enough. The investors will want their quarterly returns. Why would they tie up capital in vastly ambitious projects, to promote the green transition or increase investment in health and education, which will have long time horizons and uncertain returns? More importantly, even if such a strategy were workable, would it be desirable?

...The problem is that neither the Biden administration, nor the neo-Kautskyites, have a credible answer to the structural logic of capital. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that Bidenomics in its most ambitious form were successful. What exactly would this mean? Above all it would lead to the onshoring of industrial capacity in both chip manufacturing and green tech. But that process would unfold in a global context in which all the other capitalist powers were vigorously attempting to do more or less the same thing. The consequence of this simultaneous industrialization drive would be a massive exacerbation of the problems of overcapacity on a world scale, putting sharp pressure on the returns of the same private capital that was ‘crowded-in’ by ‘market-making’ industrialization policies.

How might the US government react to this conjuncture? The response would likely be increased state support, which might take the form of monetary juicing leading to asset bubbles (what Robert Brenner has described as ‘bubblenomics’) or direct profitability guarantees. But this would only exacerbate the phenomenon of political capitalism. That is, directly political mechanisms would become increasingly necessary to generate returns.

What would be an adequate response to this dilemma from the standpoint of a humanized society? The main point is that no socialist should advocate an ‘industrial policy’ of any sort, nor have any truck with self-defeating New Deals, green or otherwise. What the planet and humanity need is massive investment in low-return, low-productivity activities: care, education and environmental restoration. Capital is incapable of doing this. It seeks ‘value’ which these sectors struggle to produce. The underlying reason is obvious: neither health, nor culture, nor the umwelt function very well as commodities. Thus, as Oskar Lange had already intuited in the 1930s, gradualism cannot work. The commanding heights of the economy – in this period, finance – must be seized at once. Any other strategy will lead either to the cul-de-sac described above or to massive capital flight. Under current conditions, half-measures are self-contradictory absurdities. Blather about New Deals and sepia-toned ‘Rooseveltologia’ should be exposed for what it is: a backward-facing obstacle to the establishment of socialism. 

Blather all you want about New Deals, sepia-toned ‘Rooseveltologia’ and socialism; the fact remains that to get anything done in a zero sum game you need dictatorship, one-party rule, etc. Dictatorship is not utopia.
And on Monday I'm back in the wood shop working on frames for art galleries on the upper east side.

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