This academic article is concerned with precariousness and cultural work. It aim is to bring into dialogue three bodies of ideas – the work of the autonomous Marxist ‘Italian laboratory’; activist writings about precariousness and precarity; and the emerging empirical scholarship concerned with the distinctive features of cultural work, at a moment when artists, designers and (new) media workers have taken centre stage as a supposed ‘creative class’ of model entrepreneurs
A 2012 interview with the Italian philosopher, who expresses his views on the economic crisis, capitalism as a religion (Benjamin), the role of history in European cultural identity, “bio-politics”, the “state of exception”, and the fate of contemporary art (“trapped between the Scylla of the museum and the Charybdis of commodification”).
Six short texts from a book published in 2012 (Anti-developmentalist Perspectives) largely based on talks given in 2009-2010 on the topic of the need for a transition from the economically, environmentally and spiritually unviable city-centered system of globalized capitalism to a new territorial dispersal of human society and productive activities, attaining a higher synthesis of the restoration of the liberating aspects of the city (freedom, public space) and the traditional virtues of the “territory” (local production, self-sufficiency) that can only be brought about by an anti-capitalist revolution.
Notes on the current crisis, considered in accordance with its ancient medical definition as “the culminating point of an illness” (Hippocrates) whose symptoms are “loss of memory, dissolution of classes, individualism, narcissism, degradation of language, functional illiteracy, fear [and] domestication”, along with ecological, urban and political crises on a planetary scale, which cannot be overcome by traditional political or trade union means but require the constitution of neighborhood communities resulting from “desertion or exclusion”, and a dual urban/rural focus, at first dominated by the urban struggle, that aims at “de-urbanization” and defense of “territory”.
An examination of the history and significance of the concept of “progress”, its origins as an expression of the Enlightenment’s battle against religious bigotry and ignorance, its transformation into a “new [scientific] superstition” characterized by indifference to nature and the worship of technological change, and its current status as “a threat to the survival of the human species”.
A transcript of a 1995 talk in which Michéa discusses the continuing relevance of the ideas of the self-proclaimed “tory anarchist”, George Orwell, featuring: Orwell’s concepts of “generous anger” and “common decency”; the moral bankruptcy of the “totalitarian intellectuals” whose desire for power was rooted in resentment; the left’s disastrous “uncritical approval” of “the mechanization” and “unlimited modernization of the world”; and concludes the talk with a call for a “critical conservatism”, which Michéa characterizes as “one of the necessary pillars for any radical critique of supermodernity and the synthetic ways of life” it is imposing on us.
Miguel Amorós discusses the French riots of 2005, which he considers in the context of deindustrialization and the permanent exclusion of the underclass from the labor market, who were then stigmatized as a “public enemy” “in order to obtain the absolute submission” of the rest of the population, observing that the slums are “the laboratory for spectacular domination where the social management of the future was tested” and “political experiments were carried out in vivo that were later applied to all domains of society, when all of society had been transformed into a slum” and “the cities were being evacuated to provide accommodations only to tourists and elites”.