Elizabeth A. Povinelli

We can now say with some certainty that one advantage of the Cold War was that it placed many of the complexities and contradictions of economic problems within a clear and singular binary between capitalism and communism. On top of that, arguments in favor of one or the other had massive geopolitical blocs backing them, and the sheer scale alone was enough to draw any economic argument into the tide of one side or the other. This made it only natural for dominant narratives following the dismantling of communism to profess the triumph of capitalism. However, it is only now ...

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What if history actually did end with the fall of communism and the end of the cold war, as Fukuyama claimed, and we are now enjoying some kind paradise of liberal democracy with no better political framework to strive towards? Or, what if a recognition of exploitation and social inequities actually is leading to a massive workers’ revolution that will reclaim the means of production and lead to a more equal distribution of resources and power—whether Marxist, democratic, or otherwise? Indeed, we are unsure whether we are still inside of an idea of progressive social emancipation and human self-realization that defined the modern era, ...

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How do we invent bad criteria for rotten infrastructure, the sliding of norms to the always incomplete and the already broken? The hack, the stupid fix, the patch—these are songs sung out of holes and faults and leaks. We are only now discovering that the limits to our endurance are actually far more constitutive than our daydream fantasies of a wholeness based in currency that already functions perfectly well as toilet paper. This is past the Romantic tradition of inspired cataclysmic becoming and inside of its ruin only because it’s just not how things work out for most people who ...

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In Poland, the Law and Order Party has fired a curator for promoting Jewish themes. A Catholic Nationalist is chief adviser to American president-elect Donald Trump. Hungary’s right-wing government threatens the Lukács archive with destruction. Modi’s BJP arrests a college student president for insulting “Mother India.” Theresa May replaces paintings in 10 Downing Street with framed pictures of her own quotes. The curtain rises on the second century since the Russian Revolution to reveal a lifeworld beset with problems shocking in their undead familiarity. It is true that the future is unknown and invisible, but not everything invisible and unknown contains ...

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Art cannot solve the problems of 2017, Alexander Kluge says to Hans Ulrich Obrist in this issue, but it can start solving the problems of 2036. Though it may begin in the affective work of mourning, art moves towards a rational archeology and a realistic anticipation. We could call this “futurist realism,” a vision of the coming decades as a series of problems to be solved, rather than as a source for transcendent salvations or damnations of whatever fashion. Unlike the ecstatic or dispirited futurisms we are accustomed to, futurist realism looks forward with no false regrets. Bad-faith futurism, by ...

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