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129

A New Common Sense

9
terms
4
notes

Williams, A. and Srnicek, N. (2016). A New Common Sense. In Williams, A. and Srnicek, N. Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work. Verso, pp. 129-154

130

[...] Capitalism did not emerge all at once, but instead percolated to a position of dominance over the course of centuries. A large number of components had to be put in place: landless labourers, widespread commodity production, private property, technical sophistication, centralisation of wealth, a bourgeois class, a work ethic, and so on. These historical conditions are the components that enabled the systemic logic of capitalism eventually to gain traction in the world. The lesson here is that, just as capitalism relied upon the accumulation of a particular set of components, so too will postcapitalism. It will neither emerge all at once nor in the wake of some revolutionary moment. The task of the left must be to work out the conditions for postcapitalism and to struggle to build them on a continually expanding scale.

—p.130 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek 4 years, 5 months ago

[...] Capitalism did not emerge all at once, but instead percolated to a position of dominance over the course of centuries. A large number of components had to be put in place: landless labourers, widespread commodity production, private property, technical sophistication, centralisation of wealth, a bourgeois class, a work ethic, and so on. These historical conditions are the components that enabled the systemic logic of capitalism eventually to gain traction in the world. The lesson here is that, just as capitalism relied upon the accumulation of a particular set of components, so too will postcapitalism. It will neither emerge all at once nor in the wake of some revolutionary moment. The task of the left must be to work out the conditions for postcapitalism and to struggle to build them on a continually expanding scale.

—p.130 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek 4 years, 5 months ago

(noun) preponderant influence or authority over others; domination / (noun) the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group

132

ow was it, then, that capitalism and the interests of the ruling classes were secured in democratic societies largely devoid of overt force? The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci answered that capitalist power was dependent on what he termed hegemony – the engineering of consent according to the dictates of one particular group. A hegemonic project builds a ‘common sense’ that installs the particular worldview of one group as the universal horizon of an entire society. By this means, hegemony enables a group to lead and rule over a society primarily through consent (both active and passive) rather than coercion.

—p.132 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago

ow was it, then, that capitalism and the interests of the ruling classes were secured in democratic societies largely devoid of overt force? The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci answered that capitalist power was dependent on what he termed hegemony – the engineering of consent according to the dictates of one particular group. A hegemonic project builds a ‘common sense’ that installs the particular worldview of one group as the universal horizon of an entire society. By this means, hegemony enables a group to lead and rule over a society primarily through consent (both active and passive) rather than coercion.

—p.132 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago

(also known as the window of discourse) the range of ideas the public will accept; used by media pundits; derived from its originator, Joseph P. Overton (1960–2003),[3] a former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

134

The combination of social alliances, strategic thinking, ideological work and institutions builds a capacity to alter public discourse. Crucial here is the idea of the ‘Overton window’ – this is the bandwidth of ideas and options that can be ‘realistically’ discussed by politicians, public intellectuals and news media, and thus accepted by the public. The general window of realistic options emerges out of a complex nexus of causes – who controls key nodes in the press and broadcast media, the relative impact of popular culture, the relative balance of power between organised labour and capitalists, who holds executive political power, and so on.

—p.134 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago

The combination of social alliances, strategic thinking, ideological work and institutions builds a capacity to alter public discourse. Crucial here is the idea of the ‘Overton window’ – this is the bandwidth of ideas and options that can be ‘realistically’ discussed by politicians, public intellectuals and news media, and thus accepted by the public. The general window of realistic options emerges out of a complex nexus of causes – who controls key nodes in the press and broadcast media, the relative impact of popular culture, the relative balance of power between organised labour and capitalists, who holds executive political power, and so on.

—p.134 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago

difficult to control; unruly; irritable and quarrelsome

134

The neoliberal hegemony in the United States, for instance, came about by linking together the interests of economic liberals with those of social conservatives. This is a fractious (sometimes even contradictory) alliance, but it is one that finds common interests in the broad neoliberal framework by emphasising individual freedoms.

—p.134 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago

The neoliberal hegemony in the United States, for instance, came about by linking together the interests of economic liberals with those of social conservatives. This is a fractious (sometimes even contradictory) alliance, but it is one that finds common interests in the broad neoliberal framework by emphasising individual freedoms.

—p.134 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago
136

[...] once a postcapitalist infrastructure is in place, it would be just as difficult to shift away from it, regardless of any reactionary forces. Technology and technological infrastructures therefore pose both significant hurdles for overcoming the capitalist mode of production, as well as significant potentials for securing the longevity of an alternative. This is why, for example, it is insufficient even to have a massive populist movement against the current forms of capitalism. Without a new approach to things like production and distribution technologies, every social movement will find itself forced back into capitalistic practices.

—p.136 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek 4 years, 5 months ago

[...] once a postcapitalist infrastructure is in place, it would be just as difficult to shift away from it, regardless of any reactionary forces. Technology and technological infrastructures therefore pose both significant hurdles for overcoming the capitalist mode of production, as well as significant potentials for securing the longevity of an alternative. This is why, for example, it is insufficient even to have a massive populist movement against the current forms of capitalism. Without a new approach to things like production and distribution technologies, every social movement will find itself forced back into capitalistic practices.

—p.136 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek 4 years, 5 months ago

a slogan refering to globalization popularised by Margaret Thatcher; means that the market economy is the only system that works, and that debate about this is over

137

Today, one of the most pervasive and subtle aspects of hegemony is the limitations it imposes upon our collective imagination. The mantra ‘there is no alternative’ continues to ring true, even as more and more people strive against it.

—p.137 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago

Today, one of the most pervasive and subtle aspects of hegemony is the limitations it imposes upon our collective imagination. The mantra ‘there is no alternative’ continues to ring true, even as more and more people strive against it.

—p.137 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago
139

First, utopian thought rigorously analyses the current conjuncture and projects its tendencies out into the future. Whereas scientific approaches attempt to reduce discussions of the future to fit within a probabilistic framework, utopian thought recognises that the future is radically open. What may appear impossible today might become eminently possible. At their best, utopias include tensions and dynamism within themselves, rather than presenting a static image of a perfected society. [...]

In elaborating an image of the future, utopian thought also generates a viewpoint from which the present becomes open to critique. It suspends the appearance of the present as inevitable and brings to light aspects of the world that would otherwise go unnoticed, raising questions that must be constitutively excluded. [...]

—p.139 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek 4 years, 5 months ago

First, utopian thought rigorously analyses the current conjuncture and projects its tendencies out into the future. Whereas scientific approaches attempt to reduce discussions of the future to fit within a probabilistic framework, utopian thought recognises that the future is radically open. What may appear impossible today might become eminently possible. At their best, utopias include tensions and dynamism within themselves, rather than presenting a static image of a perfected society. [...]

In elaborating an image of the future, utopian thought also generates a viewpoint from which the present becomes open to critique. It suspends the appearance of the present as inevitable and brings to light aspects of the world that would otherwise go unnoticed, raising questions that must be constitutively excluded. [...]

—p.139 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek 4 years, 5 months ago

the opposite or counterpart of a fact or truth; the side of a coin or medal bearing the head or principal design

141

The obverse of hope is disappointment (an affect that is today embodied in figures like the young ‘graduate with no future’). Whereas anger has traditionally been the dominant affect of the militant left, disappointment invokes a more productive relation – not merely a willed transformation of the status quo, but also a desire for what-might-be. Disappointment indexes a yearning for a lost future.

—p.141 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago

The obverse of hope is disappointment (an affect that is today embodied in figures like the young ‘graduate with no future’). Whereas anger has traditionally been the dominant affect of the militant left, disappointment invokes a more productive relation – not merely a willed transformation of the status quo, but also a desire for what-might-be. Disappointment indexes a yearning for a lost future.

—p.141 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago

a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments

144

Building a postcapitalist world is as much a technical task as a political one, and in order to begin thinking about it, the left needs to overcome its general aversion to formal modelling and mathematics. There is no small amount of irony in the fact that the same people who criticise the abstraction of mathematical modelling often adhere to the most abstract dialectical readings of capitalism.

—p.144 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago

Building a postcapitalist world is as much a technical task as a political one, and in order to begin thinking about it, the left needs to overcome its general aversion to formal modelling and mathematics. There is no small amount of irony in the fact that the same people who criticise the abstraction of mathematical modelling often adhere to the most abstract dialectical readings of capitalism.

—p.144 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago
146

[...] The direction of technological development is determined not only by technical and economic considerations, but also by political intentions. More than just seizing the means of production, this approach declares the need to invent new means of production. A final approach focuses on how existing technology contains occluded potentials that strain at our current horizon and how they might be repurposed. Under capitalism, technology’s potential is drastically constrained – reduced to a mere vehicle for generating profit and controlling workers. Yet potentials continue to exist in excess of these current uses. The task before us is to uncover the hidden potentials and link them up to scalable processes of change. [...]

—p.146 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek 4 years, 5 months ago

[...] The direction of technological development is determined not only by technical and economic considerations, but also by political intentions. More than just seizing the means of production, this approach declares the need to invent new means of production. A final approach focuses on how existing technology contains occluded potentials that strain at our current horizon and how they might be repurposed. Under capitalism, technology’s potential is drastically constrained – reduced to a mere vehicle for generating profit and controlling workers. Yet potentials continue to exist in excess of these current uses. The task before us is to uncover the hidden potentials and link them up to scalable processes of change. [...]

—p.146 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek 4 years, 5 months ago

(noun) construction (as of a sculpture or a structure of ideas) achieved by using whatever comes to hand / (noun) something constructed in this way

149

The result was that Chile’s effort to build a cybernetic socialism largely had to repurpose existing technologies in order to stand any chance at being successful. It was a sort of bricolage approach, using what was available and cobbling together something new.

—p.149 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago

The result was that Chile’s effort to build a cybernetic socialism largely had to repurpose existing technologies in order to stand any chance at being successful. It was a sort of bricolage approach, using what was available and cobbling together something new.

—p.149 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago

relating to a church parish; having a limited or narrow outlook or scope

151

It is worth recalling that before the logistics revolution, transporting goods was a physically demolishing task for the bodies of workers. The automation of this labour is something to be applauded, not held back for parochial reasons. For all these reasons, logistics therefore presents an important transition technology between capitalism and postcapitalism.

—p.151 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago

It is worth recalling that before the logistics revolution, transporting goods was a physically demolishing task for the bodies of workers. The automation of this labour is something to be applauded, not held back for parochial reasons. For all these reasons, logistics therefore presents an important transition technology between capitalism and postcapitalism.

—p.151 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago

(noun) a judicial decision or sentence / (noun) a decree in bankruptcy / (verb) to settle judicially / (verb) to act as judge

152

How, then, can we distinguish between technologies that are bound by their limits and technologies whose properties offer potential affordances for a postcapitalist future? There is no a priori way to determine the potentials of a technology, but we can still establish broad parameters to adjudicate on the potentials of a technology, and to apply these in thinking through the specific aspects of individual technologies.

—p.152 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago

How, then, can we distinguish between technologies that are bound by their limits and technologies whose properties offer potential affordances for a postcapitalist future? There is no a priori way to determine the potentials of a technology, but we can still establish broad parameters to adjudicate on the potentials of a technology, and to apply these in thinking through the specific aspects of individual technologies.

—p.152 by Alex Williams, Nick Srnicek
notable
4 years, 5 months ago