Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Flexibility and resistance

Though I don't think the coining of "altermodernity" is helpful, Micah White makes a good point in this essay:
Could it be that while we’ve been smashing boundaries and crossing borders, consumerism has quickened its global expansion by piggybacking on our identity-blurring efforts?
And now, entering a new era of humanity where postmodernity is slipping into altermodernity, we find that the binaries we rejected are not only blurring but finally collapsing. Unable to say with any certainty what is real or virtual, human or animal, organic or genetically modified, some wish to resuscitate again, but this time with nostalgia, the failed antimodern project of shattering distinctions. While the chorus – composed now of cyberpunks and activists joined by capitalists and technocrats – rejoices in the indistinguishable difference between online and offline, organic and synthetic, man and machine, the most crucial distinction of all – that between resistance and complicity – is collapsing as well. Unless we can discover a way to critique the system without furthering the system, we shall be lost.
One is tempted to say, No duh. Capitalism thrives on constant change and on circulation, not the rigidity of binary oppositions and the structures and hierarchies derived from them. Capitalism promises the chance to perpetually remake the hierarchies around terms that favor you; that's why so many can be induced to participate and support it -- they internalize resistance to capitalism into the system as healthy competition.

Resistance is always becoming complicity because of the labile nature of capitalism; it changes to co-opt resistance practices and make them lifestyle products. Thus subjects have to keep moving without necessarily becoming flexible in the post-Fordist sense and useful to capital as incubators of cool. The practice of resistance becomes the constant, inflexible thing, even though the specific nature of what is resisted must always be changing and perhaps intensifying. We must be ever flexible in our permanent resistance to novelty as an end in itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment