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Entries tagged "economy".

The 21st century: Stamokap Date: Wed Jun 29 00:50:40 CEST 2011

(On the question, brought up on Nettime, whether the current cultural politics of the Dutch government manifests "neoliberal fascism", the following reply to the mailing list:)

I would put it differently: It's a politics of conservative resentment mixed with politbureau capitalism.

The conservative resentment of the Dutch government is old-fashioned. It's new only in its outspokenness, breaking with a postwar consensus and political correctness of not attacking modern art for being modern art. For Zijlstra, the secretary of culture and education, the arts have been dominated by a small elite - read: art councils, critics, intellectuals - that superimposed its minority taste on society, making it a majority agenda. It is difficult to argue with this; unless one finds that those kind of places and projects should be funded that wouldn't be able to sustain themselves on the free market. Which is an elitist stance. One might consider it unfair that a ticket for an experimental music concert is subsidized while a musical isn't. However, the Dutch government's agenda is far from consistent in this respect. It wants to keep subsidies for operas and big museums untouched because they represent the "cultural heritage of the Netherlands". Zijlstra even mentions the flags of Dutch colonial ships in this context. (This strongly reminds of the outrage in Hamburg when the city subsidized the ship museum of a militaria collector with millions while heavily cutting subsidies for independent art projects).

Another problem for people working, in one way or the other, in or for the arts are the other people they are being forced into the same boat with: curators of contemporary art institutes, for example, who put the very same artists into their publicly subsidized shows whom they recommend, in their second jobs as private consultants, to art collectors. Or people paid a top salary for managing communal cinemas that run the same mainstream 'arthouse' kitsch as the other, non-subsidized movie theater in town. One is pressured to protest in the streets hand-in-hand with those people one would rather demonstrate against. The problem by itself is not that the arts are cut. The problem is how they are being cut, with almost everything being forced into shutdown or becoming "creative industries" that does not a highly illiterate, idiotic notion of "cultural heritage" and a completely deluded perception of "top art institutes".

Why is this not neoliberalism?

To take the railways as an example for political economics: In communism, the train system would be public property, there would be no 1st and 2nd class, and rides would be free. In socialism, the train system would be a state non-profit, and tickets would be cheap. In social democracy, the train system would be a state company, receive some public subsidy and have some contractual obligations to social discount tickets, but charge free market prices otherwise. In classical liberalism, the rails would be public infrastructure but competing private companies would run the trains. In neoliberalism, the rails, too, would be owned by by private companies.

If the current Dutch government would exercise classical neoliberal politics, it would cut the public funding of the arts, leave things to the free market and cut taxes in compensation. But this is not what is happening. Instead, taxpayer's art subsidies are repurposed into taxpayer's business subsidies. The advice of the "Top Team Creative Industries", lead by the business manager of Rem Koolhaas' bureau OMA, to the Dutch government boils down to subsidizing, instead of the art non-profits, economically promising Dutch creative industries businesses, service design companies for example, in order to strengthen their position on the global market.

This of course is just a small part of a bigger picture. Europe, and the Western World, is rapidly moving towards the model of Chinese politbureau capitalism. Governments now act as supreme CEO boards, public budgets are used as direct investment into businesses. But for the Western economies, this is not investment into macroeconomic growth, but a measure for preventing the ship from sinking. What started with bail-outs and nationalization of the financial sector has become a virus, or to be precise: a reverse Ponzi scheme, growing into the rest of the economy. Instead of mobilizing all production means for a military war, total mobilization for the global economic war.

The 21st century is turning into the perfect fulfillment of a prophecy written down one hundred years ago, state monopoly capitalism as described in Rudolf Hilferding's 1910 book "Das Finanzkapital" ("The Financial Capital").

Tags: art, economy, politics.
28th June 2011

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Tags 16mm, analog, art, book, cultural theory, deutsch, div, economy, education, film, gnu/linux, internet, literature, music, nederlands, neoism, performance, photo, poetry, politics, super 8, systems, theology, video.