Thursday, August 11, 2011

The House Always Wins: Austerity Breeds Austerity, Repression Breeds Repression

I have not written anything about the riots/insurrection/looting in the UK for the simple reason that I do not know enough about the context and conditions (of course this hasn't stopped others from doing so). I to not plan to change that now, but I did find an interesting response about the backlash by Owen Jones, author of Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class. As Jones states:

And finally:

"The left - in its broadest sense - has to face an alarming reality. The right is now hegemonic on the main political issues of the day: the economy, social issues and law-and-order. As the right taps into a reservoir of anger and resentment in our divided society, it is harder than ever for the left to get a hearing on practically anything. Those who will suffer most will be those who the left exists to represent."

I do not agree with everything he says in this post, including that last line about who the left "represents", but I do think that he is onto something that goes beyond the riots. Deleuze and Guattari famously argued that capitalism functions by breaking down, by producing crisis, but I do not think that they could even imagine the current conjuncture. The current crisis has not lead to an examination or a contestation of capital, at least on a large scale, but a further entrenchment. Austerity and security are the watchwords of the day, and they function as a kind of perpetual downward spiral in which austerity breeds austerity and security breeds security. It is clear that neither of these things function, at least well: austerity will not restore the economy and security will not improve peoples safety. What they will do is further the centralization of wealth and state power. They function by not functioning, by perpetuating the permanent crisis that is contemporary governmentality. When power is grounded on fear, insecurity, and resentment, than the reproduction of fear and insecurity is a necessary function of maintaining power. 

When the house always wins it is time to change the game. 

Finally, I would like to recommend the following documentary. It is a little long in points, and could have used a few less music and protest montages, but it is still an interesting example of what youtube is capable of doing.


Nichelle said...

Thank you soooo much for posting this movie! I've been reading about the various prongs of the larger problem but I've never seen them linked so thoroughly and beautifully.

unemployed negativity said...

You're welcome.

On an unrelated note, I wanted to clarify that my point was not to agree with the idea of "riots are a catastrophe," far from it. That something, a riot, a protest, a blog, anything. could be used by the right hardly seems to be an argument against it. My point, the point that I wanted to pick up on, is that we are living through a reinforcing downward spiral of austerity and security, in which each reinforces the other. The failures of each of these strategies only reinforces the other. Overcoming this will depend on developing new tactics, tactics developed from the quotidian acts of refusal and resistance, not from condemnation.

unemployed negativity said...

Here are some interesting analysis of the riots themselves (rather than the aftermath)