“This seems to me a fine sort of mood characterization for the postmodern trajectory. A sense of vertigo before all this information.” Rick Roderick on the postmodern condition has a (perhaps non-coincidental) resonance with Fisher’s characterization of students in the neoliberal era.
This excerpt from Capitalist Realism, from the chapter on "Reflexive Impotence," is one that always comes to mind when talking about the changed conditions in this historical phase. Before we begin though, a quick note on this term "Capitalist Realism." Mark Fisher characterizes it as a death of imagination, where no alternatives to the current way social reality functions are seen as possible, realistic, or preferable. I think it is important to understand that he is not being prescriptive, like saying "we solve this problem by wildly denying the current state of affairs and insisting that alternatives are indeed possible." Perhaps that is part of what a response can entail, but this short book is more of a mood characterization of our current population-level structural crisis.
In terms of theorizing social change, capitalist realism is a hard pill to swallow if you realize it's a diagnosis of what we are up against. A lot of times people are like, "oh that's capitalist realism" as though we can get around capitalist realism by just changing our (explicit) beliefs or not saying capitalist realist things. That is not the point though. At least not for me and why I am sharing this. The point is how anti-intellectual, scripted, and consumerist student (and also activist) culture is today. Because I taught at a university for three years as an adjunct, and have organized in a variety of contexts, I can say that this following mood characterization is a good description of what we are up against at the cultural level. Although he talks about it in terms of "disciplinary societies vs. societies of control" (Deleuze) the relevance of this also relates to the difference between service-sector workers today and industrial proletarians in previous centuries.
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