AuthorTopic: “If the Engine Ever Stops, We’d All Die”:Snowpiercer and Necrofuturism  (Read 6519 times)

Offline knarf

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“Ifthe engIne ever StopS, We’d All dIe”7is desired, the fact that it is obviously not desirable is perversely taken as theproof that necrocapitalist misery is necessary for social order and stability. As Mark Fisher writes:If  capitalist  realism  is  so  seamless,  and  if  current  forms  of  resistance  are  so  hopeless  and  impotent,  where  can  an  effective challenge come from? A moral critique of capitalism, emphasizing  the  ways  in  which  it  leads  to  suffering,  only  reinforces  capitalist  realism.  Poverty,  famine,  and  war  can  be  presented  as  an  inevitable  part  of  reality,  while  the  hope  that  these forms of suffering could be eliminated easily painted as naive utopianism. Capitalist realism can only be threatened if it is shown to be in some way inconsistent or untenable; if, that it is to say, capitalism’s ostensible “realism” turns out to be nothing of the sort.Necrocapitalist  practices  are  thus  reinforced  on  the  level  of  ideology  by  a  wonderful  and  terrible  double-bind  of  perpetual  threat:  things  must  be  this  necrocapitalist  because,  if  they  were  not,  our  society  would be even more necropolitical and wretched than it is now. That is:  necrocapitalism’s  own  horrors  are  perpetually  taken  as  proof  of  necrocapitalism’s necessity, even    its  own   self-prophlyactic. We   ingest the poison to keep ourselves from becoming even sicker. Elsewhere in Capitalist Realism Fisher extends this point by way of Badiou:Lowering our expectations, we are told, is a small price to pay for   being    protected from    terror    and   totalitarianism. “We   live   in a contradiction,” Badiou has observed:a  brutal  state  of  affairs,  profoundly  inegalitarian—where  all  existence  is  evaluated  in  terms  of  money  alone—is  presented  to  us  as  ideal.  To  justify  their  conservatism,  the partisans of the established order cannot really call it ideal  or  wonderful.  So  instead,  they  have  decided  to  say  that all the rest is horrible. Sure, they say, we may not live in  a  condition  of  perfect  Goodness.  But  we’re  lucky  that  we  don’t  live  in  the  condition  of  Evil.  Our  democracy  is  not  perfect.  But  it’s  better  than  the  bloody  dictatorships.  Capitalism  is  unjust.  But  it’s  not  criminal  like  Stalinism.  We   let   millions of  Africans die   of  AIDS, but   we   don’t    make    racist    nationalist declarations like   Milosevic. We   kill
Gerry Canavan8Iraqis with our airplanes, but we don’t cut their throats with machetes like they do in Rwanda, etc.The   realism here   is  analogous to  the   deflationary perspective of a depressive who believes that any positive state, any hope, is a dangerous illusion (5).In this way Fisher suggests that moral critiques of capitalism thus have the opposite effect to what one might expect: they reinforce, rather than undermine, the appeal of hurting others to perpetuate the social order. Rather, he suggests, we must focus on pragmatic critiques of capitalism that show its supposed “realism” to be self-refuting, as these are the only sorts of critique that might break the spell.NecrofuturismThe  reading  of  Snowpiercer  that  follows  attempts  just  such  a  demonstration.  In  particular,  I  propose  a  new  category  called  necrofuturism  to  denote  those  capitalist-realist  anticipations  of  the  coming decades that anticipate the future as a devastated world of death, and yet simultaneously insist that this world of death is the only possible future.    Necrofuturism arises    from   the  juncture of  two  superficiallycontradictory propositions:(1)  CAPITALISM WORKS. As   ˇi˛ek    writes of  capitalistideology’s self-understanding:“capitalism itself is presented in technical terms, not even as a science but simply as something that   works: it  needs no   ideological justification, because its success itself    is  its   sufficient justification ...   Capitalism is  a system  which  has  no  philosophical  pretensions,  which  is  not  in  search of  happiness. The   only    thing    it  says    is:  ‘Well,     this functions.’ And if people want to live better, it is preferable to use this mechanism, because it functions. The only criterion is efficiency” (25).But also, and at the same time:(2)   CAPITALISM DOES NOT WORK. Bogged down    by   its own  self-destructive  tendencies,  capitalism  is  producing  a  broken future.

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NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)


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