The material existence of the modern human is bookended by time. Our start and our end. Professor Mark Fisher contemplates the cultural consequence of our precarious existence and frames the current cultural and social dynamics in a way that has me utterly captivated. We’ve traded the time afforded use by social safety nets won bloodily through the 20th Century and traded them in for a promise of dynamism that ultimately cannot be realized without those protections. In short the post-fordist push to claw back social gains has been the nudge that has sent us over the cliff.
The neoliberal gambit was that the destruction of social security would have a dynamic effect on culture and the economy, liberating an entrepreneurial spirit that was inhibited by the red tape of bureaucratic social democratic institutions. The reality, however, is that innovation requires certain forms of stability. The disintegration of social democracy has had a dampening, rather than a dynamic, effect on culture in highly neoliberalized countries such as the UK. Fredric Jameson’s claims that late capitalist culture would be given over to pastiche and retrospection have turned out to be extraordinarily prophetic.
What we’ve lost is not a romantic notion of quality time, or leisure time, but time to actually live and produce creatively. The result is a cultural millieux that isn’t just static – it is moribund. The rest of the piece is well worth a gander.