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Archive for March 28th, 2011

the thick now of modernity

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Modernity is the name that a culture gives to itself (its period as a metonym for itself as a whole) when it experiences the present thickly. It names itself in terms of an infinitely expandable, yet blank, present periodicity rather than any non-abstract referent.

Just how thick modernity is is captured elegantly by the appearance of phrases such as “post-modernity” or “late modernity,” which suggest a now so thick that it has phases or even outlives its own end. If something ended in order to give on to postmodernity, it is something not much more than the now that precedes our present even thicker now.

Written by adswithoutproducts

March 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Posted in temporality

what’s the alternative? counter-cyclical action not cuts, obviously

with 10 comments

From Perry Anderson’s absolutely massive – and incredibly interesting – piece in the LRB on Lula this week:

When, midway through his second term its test came, he handled it with aplomb. The crash of Wall Street in 2008 might be a tsunami in the US, he declared, but in Brazil it would be no more than a ‘ripple’ – uma marolinha. The phrase was seized on by the press as proof of reckless economic ignorance and irresponsibility.

But he was as good as his word. Counter-cyclical action was prompt and effective. Despite falling tax revenues, social transfers were increased, reserve requirements were reduced, public investment went up and private consumption was supported. In overcoming the crisis, local banking practices helped. Tight controls, holding multipliers of the monetary base well below US levels, and greater transparency had left Brazilian banks in much better shape than those in the US, protecting the country from the worst of the financial fall-out. But it was concerted, vigorous state policy that pulled the economy round. Lula’s optimism was functional: told not to be afraid, Brazilians went out and consumed, and demand held up. By the second quarter of 2009, foreign capital was flowing back into the country, and by the end of the year the crisis was over. As Lula’s second mandate came to an end, the economy was posting more than 7 per cent growth, and nature itself was smiling on his rule, with the discovery of huge deposits of offshore oil.

The point of course is to increase consumer demand by increasing, not cutting, public spending in a crisis. Demand leads to growth, growth to jobs, jobs to more demand, more growth, whatever. Not all that complicated. As long as we’re going to be playing the capitalist game with its episodic crises, there’s only one way to handle the dips and it’s this one…. that is, the one we’re not doing.

Thus we’re on the streets…

UPDATE: Would love to hear what my few but treasured Brazilian readers think about the article as a whole, if they have time enough and interest to read it. And one particular point of idiosyncratic interest… Where can I find out more about the following?

In the arts, explosive forms continue to be produced, though they are now far more liable to neutralisation or degradation into entertainment: Paulo Lins’s novel Cidade de Deus reduced to cinematic pulp by an expert in television ads…

Written by adswithoutproducts

March 28, 2011 at 11:58 am

Posted in americas, crisis