August 10, 2010

America Goes Dark (turning out the lights) Krugman: The lights are going out all over America — literally. Colorado Springs has made headlines with its desperate attempt to save money by turning off a third of its streetlights, but similar things are either happening or being contemplated across the nation, from Philadelphia to Fresno. Meanwhile, a country that once amazed the world with its visionary investments in transportation, from the Erie Canal to the Interstate Highway System, is now in the process of unpaving itself: in a number of states, local governments are breaking up roads they can no longer afford to maintain, and returning them to gravel. And a nation that once prized education — that was among the first to provide basic schooling to all its children — is now cutting back. Teachers are being laid off; programs are being canceled; in Hawaii, the school year itself is being drastically shortened. And all signs point to even more cuts ahead. We’re told that we have no choice, that basic government functions — essential services that have been provided for generations — are no longer affordable. And it’s true that state and local governments, hit hard by the recession, are cash-strapped. But they wouldn’t be quite as cash-strapped if their politicians were willing to consider at least some tax increases. It started slowly, has sped up, and then we look around and wonder how we got here. Inequality is so extreme. We've forgotten it wasn't always the case that the super rich had everything. We don't...
The communist horizon In a talk in Rotterdam, Bruno Bosteels used the expression 'communist horizon.' The term comes from a Latin American communist--I can't recall his name (update from Bruno: Alvaro García Linera, Bolivia's VP). It's not a term of art or a concept. It was a syntactic element, not a point. But I find it evocative. A communist horizon: a vanishing point in our vision, a line we can neither reach, get beyond, nor evade. It can't go away, can't be eliminated. It necessarily and unavoidably conditions what and how we see. The communist horizon is Real, the condition and contour of our present condition. The mistake leftists make when they turn into liberals is thinking that they are beyond this horizon. They fail to see how attempts to proceed as if communism were absent, as if liberalism or democracy or capitalism all unfolded in their monstrous, exploitative, vampiric deception in a setting unconditioned by the pressing Real of communism. How much effort is expended on ideological repression of the communist horizon? on convincing people that too much is better? that failures of solidarity are virtuous? that banks matter more than schools? that the whole fucking thing is one massive joke and then we are all dead? All the lies that make the world go 'round have one purpose: obscuring the communist horizon, drowning our faith that collectively we can clean the environment, educate ourselves, feed ourselves, take care of our health, learn about the planet and the universe, create and preserve...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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