For the October 5 event “After the End of History,” organized with artist Joshua Citarella as part of his forthcoming Rhizome commission, “zoomers” from several online political communities associated with the ”Post-Left” were invited to describe their vision for the next 25 years, and the internet’s role in this. These will be shared at the event and published on Rhizome.org. The first in the series, this text is published pseudonymously by two representatives of the “leftcom” movement. The second article in the series represents an anti-civ egoist Communist point of view.
Published as part of the Info-Wars program thread, which explores new forms of political thought that are emerging online.
We seem to be obsessed with differences between the “generations” and we consider the various terms we dream up for said generations as critically important to our political analyses. Words like “boomer” and “millenial” have become ubiquitous in our everyday language, and are uttered mostly with a level of derision and resentment. The next generational category that everyone seems to be simultaneously obsessed with and confused by, whether one is a member of it themselves or not, is the zoomer. “Generation Z” to be less colloquial. While I’m not in the least bit interested in the vague cliches or stereotypes ascribed to “my generation,” (or even this method of classifying a population in the first place) by marketing teams and political analysts, I still consider it important to at least start my brief account of the present state of things and the future with the reluctant establishment of an axiomatic presupposition that in general, the “zoomers” display a kind of political malaise that is, qualitatively at least, totally unique and unprecedented.
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the publishing of Francis Fukuyama’s infamous book The End of History and The Last Man, and the period of supposed economic prosperity of the Clinton era, our global social situation has looked, frankly, like anything but Hegel’s end of history, and the prevailing method of Capital management and governance in the west often called “Neoliberalism” has looked like anything but the political and economic actualization of Hegel’s absolute idea. Even Fukuyama himself has admitted recently that we may still be at some kind of historical crossroad. At the present moment, the 21st century has had a small number of magnitudinous, globally felt events that make this self-evident. On September 11th, 2001, in the very city in which I now both reside and publicly speak these words today, a dreadful atrocity was committed that shook the very center (literally) of the Western capitalist world and made it look arguably even more vulnerable than it did during the most contentious moments of the cold war. In 2008, our bankers and investors caused millions of ordinary families to lose their homes and livelihoods through their impenetrably silly and careless financial games, and then kept themselves afloat with taxpayer money. On August 12th 2017, in my little hometown, right before my very eyes, hordes of white supremacists took to the streets, screamed racially charged chants at locals and students, violently beat up two (probably more) of my former classmates, and even killed a woman. But you all know this already. These events were all devastating and disheartening in their own right, but what really characterizes the series of dents being made in our collective confidence in the existing system is the unspoken, but nonetheless very present acceptance among people, especially the “zoomers,” that the worst is yet to come. It hangs over us like a big clammy gray cloud on a dismal humid day on the East Coast. The rise of racist populism globally, the increasingly alienating and dystopian methods of worker control and surveillance that continue to be devised by silicon valley, and of course the existential threat of an ecological crisis are very real and frequently cited examples of what we are psychologically bracing ourselves for. In short, The Zoomers know the next 25 years are going to be rough.
It is all well and good to complain about symptoms, but no trip to the doctor can be called complete without a diagnosis and a prescription. While it would be totally inappropriate for me to turn this particular thing into a rabble rousing call for revolution, I will nevertheless attempt to present possible changes that I would like to see in the next 25 years (as that was the prompt for this whole affair). I won’t ask for much. My shamelessly zoomer-ish pessimism makes itself known here. First, in these confusing times I would urge everyone, especially people my age, to start trying to view politics as a phenomenon that can exist, and always has existed outside of the next electoral race, outside of CNN, and Fox news, outside of the drab and intimidating Concrete structures of Washington DC. A willingness to view our present situation historically and to make ordinary people, aka the working class a focal point of analysis is critical to understanding the world in a practical way. And as much as people may scoff at this, a serious consideration of the idea that the epoch of Capitalism is necessarily either a historically transitory system, or a historically lethal expression of a human death drive is becoming increasingly hard to escape. No reason to beat around the bush here. A globally resurgent Communism might be this species’ only hope of getting out of the next 25 years in one piece.
As Luxemburg stated in her Junius Pamphlet, “Bourgeois society stands at a crossroads, either transition to Socialism or regression into Barbarism.” This is equally true today, as capitalism presents humanity with an increasingly pressing question: whether or not to be dragged into that infernal abyss. It is only through a necessary struggle in which the working class exercises against the ruling class that humanity could destroy the thing which is currently driving its destruction. This choice is being made in front of our eyes.
Now, for my fellow kids, to whom I say greetings and salutations. To the lonely and radical high schooler online posting memes, proudly proclaiming that you will not work in a factory just because it is a co-operative venture, writing essays about the abolition of every social phenomenon you can possibly dream up while still remaining so ironically caught in the ecstasy of digital communication (as described by Jean Baudrillard); I understand you, I support you to a degree, and I want nothing more than to unequivocally say “Godspeed” and “Good luck” to you. But I urge you to remember that behind every feature of human society you may (regardless of justifiability) wish to eliminate, ultimately there is still just nature and humans. To roughly quote a lyric from my favorite song by The Smiths “Cemetry Gates” (which is itself derivative of a 1942 play “The Man who Came to Dinner”), they are humans with “Loves and hates and passions just like yours.” Warily keep these humans (humanity in general) in your mind when you are tempted by anti-humanistic (whether this is an intentional sentiment or not) radicalism merely for the sake of radicalism and not for the sake of a real commitment to human emancipation. This is of course not to say we should vaguely “forgive” anyone, especially not the most quote unquote “deplorable” actors in our society and in history just because they are people, but in general, a rejection of a basic humanistic character to your analysis ultimately only exacerbates an existing alienation that is ironically not recognized in the first place by the detractors of humanism. Your place in the struggle as a human subject is valid!
Marx famously once said: “Men make history, but they do not do so as they please.” The youth of today might be hopeless and surly as ever in its various, justified, neuroses about the future, but perhaps as the capitalist edifice continues in its decadent decline and begins to show itself more and more as something suited to end up as nothing more than a dreadful relic of the past, today’s young people will be the ones forced to make history in a totally new and unseen way, whether they like it or not. Maybe the internet, a product of the existing social order, a place we spend so much time on, will become more than a place for stupid subversive memes. Perhaps it will be the medium through which the seeds of the transcendence of the very social order from whence it was born will be planted. You never know. One thing’s for sure. One day we will be the ones saying “Salutations! How do you do fellow kids!”
“Info-Wars” is made possible by the generous support of Seth Stolbun and The Stolbun Collection.