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The fortress city and what it may portend

A couple of months ago, I shared a disturbing extract from John Urry’s final book about what he termed the ‘fortress city scenario‘. There’s a powerful section in Naomi Klein’s recent book, No Is Not Enough, which illustrates the basis of this scenario in actually existing conditions & the manner […]

Politico-environmental crisis

In Naomi Klein’s new book No Is Not Enough, there’s a lucid overview of the intersection between political and environmental crisis. The role of drought in fermenting the conditions for the Syrian civil war was something which Marc Hudson first explained to me last year. From pg 182-183: The irony is particularly […]

The revenge practices of plutocrats

What do we think of when we imagine elites exercising their power? There are many ways we can approach such a question, with varying degrees of abstraction. But reading The Divide: American Injustice In The Age Of The Wealth Gap, by Matt Taibbi, has left me preoccupied by how they […]

The fortress city scenario 

A disturbing scenario from John Urry’s What is the Future? From loc 2996-3045: The final scenario involves the development of the Fortress City. Rich societies break away from the poorer into fortified enclaves. Those able to live in gated and armed encampments would do so, with much privatizing of what […]

What is platform cooperativism?

An admirably concise definition by Trebor Scholz on loc 432 of Uberworked and Underpaid: This term can be briefly described as follows: First, it is about cloning the technological heart of Uber, Task Rabbit, Airbnb, or UpWork. Platform cooperativism creatively embraces, adapts, or reshapes technologies of the sharing economy, putting […]

What does techno-fascism look like?

The emerging ideology of the tech-lords: A subculture within the industry that brought you Angry Birds is forming: the techlord. Techlords are the special subset of the nouveau riche who see themselves above the petty restrictions that apply to lesser people. They might feel that they possess an identity which is singled out for […]

The epistemology of democracy’s death

In the last few weeks, I’ve written a few times about the epistemological questions posed by post-democracy. This notion put forward by Colin Crouch sees transitions within mature democracies as involving a hollowing out of democratic  structures rather than a dramatic shift to non-democracy. As he described it in a […]

The Banal Reality of Democracy’s Death

There are two issues which have long fascinated me that seem more salient with each passing day. Our struggle to conceptualise long term social change from within (particularly the possibility of civilisational collapse) and the transition away from democratic government. Cinematic spectacle dominates the imaginary through we conceive of either, whether this is our […]

The lineaments of techno-fascism

A fascinating essay exploring the possible relationship between Nick Land’s right-accelerationism and possible future techno-reactionary movements: Nick Land, like Moldbug and many other neoreactionaries, typically shuns the term “fascist.” Admittedly, they have some good reasons to do so: despite NRx racism and authoritarianism, its political economy is closer to Lee Kuan […]

The bureaucratic origins of algorithmic authoritarianism

I just came across this remarkable estimate in an Economist feature on surveillance. I knew digitalisation made surveillance cheaper but I didn’t realise quite how much cheaper. How much of the creeping authoritarianism which characterises the contemporary national security apparatus in the UK and US is driven by a familiar impulse towards efficiency? […]

Donald Trump’s Words of Power

In an old essay about Heidegger’s conception of language, the philosopher Charles Taylor invokes the notion of ‘words of power’ to explain the power of Hitler’s rhetoric. Once we move away from a sense of language as an expression of individual meanings and purposes, we find ourselves somewhere entirely differently: […]

The Everyday Life of Incipient Fascism

I’ve long been fascinated by the question of what the descent into fascism feels like for those living through such a transition, how daily life changes (or fails to do so) as the fabric of the old order begins to unweave. There’s an insightful essay in the LA Review of Books which […]

Images of the end of capitalism

In various posts over the last few years, I’ve written about my fascination with images of civilisational collapse. Reading Riots and Political Protest, by Steve Hall, Simon Winlow, Daniel Briggs and James Treadwell, I find myself wondering if this fascination is in large part because of how ‘civilisational collapse’ and […]

The components of social democracy 

From pg 12-13 of Colin Crouch’s The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism: These then were the principal ingredients of the socioeconomic order that came eventually to be called social democratic, without initial capital letters:  1 – Keynesian demand management in which government action, far from trying to destroy markets, sought to […]