Aug 022013

Unsere monatliche Auswahl frei zugänglicher Netzartikel. Thema im Juli: populäre Kultur, nationale Stimmung.

Es ist so eine Sache mit der populären Stimmung: Als Zeitgeist durch Medieninspektion rasch greifbar, durch Meinungsumfragen mit einzelnen Antwortvorgaben leicht erzeugt, beim Kontrast mit viel beschriebenen früheren historischen Punkten offensichtlich – aber was bedeutet das? Hilft einem das bei der Analyse der gegenwärtigen Lage weiter? Eine kleine Fallstudie:

Robert Stacy McCain schreibt im konservativen »American Spectator«

»Popular culture has been so corrupt for so long that many young people are incapable of making any distinction between vice and virtue, categories that sophisticated people are expected to reject as old-fashioned, if not altogether obsolete or, indeed, hatefully oppressive.« (»The New Abnormal«)

Formuliert werden diese Zeilen aber anlässlich der Nachrichten über den New Yorker Bürgermeister-Anwärter Anthony Weiner, über dessen private Vorliebe, Sex-Botschaften und -Bilder über das Netz mit anderen Frauen als seiner Gattin auszutauschen, die US-amerikanischen Zeitungen gar nicht oft genug negativ berichten können.

Tod Lindberg hält im liberal-konservativen »Commentary« fest:

»Domestically, if ever was a moment for a resurgent radicalism, surely it came in the aftermath of the financial meltdown of 2008 – yet no serious proposal for systemic change to make us happier, wealthier, and freer has sparked the national imagination. Democracy and capitalism, American-style, remain in force. Yet no one in America, left or right, seems to think our system is healthy.« (»The Depressed Hyperpower«)

Selbst wenn das stimmen sollte (was nicht der Fall ist), hat diese populäre Stimmung offenkundig keinerlei Auswirkungen auf die politische Situation. Weshalb sollte man sich dann Gedanken über die vermutete »Depression« machen?

Ähnlicher, älterer Fall bei Perry Andersons kleiner politischen Parteiengeschichte der USA in »New Left Review«, hier über die Regierung Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) und ihre Ablösung durch Ronald Reagan:

»The keynotes of the Carter Administration were tight money and deregulation, to weaken labour and strengthen business. In Congress, the Democrats lowered the capital-gains tax and raised the payroll levy, while – in one vote after another – rejecting reform of health care, indexation of the minimum wage, consumer protection and improvement of electoral registration. At the Fed, Volcker was entrusted with a hard deflation. Neo-liberalism was now in the saddle. The short-term cost for Carter and his party was high, when the steep interest rates that were Volcker’s cure for inflation provoked a severe recession. The electorate was not grateful. But a larger problem lay in the lack of an ideological message from the Democrats capable of embellishing the turn in any terms less dour than the need for belt-tightening. Something more alluring was needed.

Reagan’s victory in 1980, as decisive as Roosevelt’s in 1932, met the requirement. Neo-liberalism found its popular supplement in an optimism of national reassertion and moralism of individual self-reliance, laced – if not excessively – with faith in the Bible. This was an ideological encapsulation with which the Democrats were hard put to compete. Though they had pioneered the neo-liberal turn, they were handicapped by identification with the order that had preceded it, in which they had so long been the dominant party.« (»Homeland«)

Unterschiedlich verteiltes »popular supplement«, aber ziemlich übereinstimmende Politik – immerhin zur Ablösung von Regierungsparteien ist das Populäre wohl gut.

David Graeber hingegen möchte im linksliberalen »Baffler« das, was er »dominante Ideologie« nennt, frontal angehen:

»Why not a planetary debt cancellation, as broad as practically possible, followed by a mass reduction in working hours: a four-hour day, perhaps, or a guaranteed five-month vacation? This might not only save the planet but also (since it’s not like everyone would just be sitting around in their newfound hours of freedom) begin to change our basic conceptions of what value-creating labor might actually be. […] After all, this would be an attack on the dominant ideology at its very strongest points. The morality of debt and the morality of work are the most powerful ideological weapons in the hands of those running the current system.«

Deshalb will er folgendes Prinzip zum populären Sentiment machen: »Submitting oneself to labor discipline – supervision, control, even the self-control of the ambitious self-employed – does not make one a better person. In most really important ways, it probably makes one worse. To undergo it is a misfortune that at best is sometimes necessary. Yet it’s only when we reject the idea that such labor is virtuous in itself that we can start to ask what is virtuous about labor. To which the answer is obvious. Labor is virtuous if it helps others. A renegotiated definition of productivity should make it easier to reimagine the very nature of what work is, since, among other things, it will mean that technological development will be redirected less toward creating ever more consumer products and ever more disciplined labor, and more toward eliminating those forms of labor entirely.

What would remain is the kind of work only human beings will ever be able to do: those forms of caring and helping labor that are at the very center of the crisis that brought about Occupy Wall Street to begin with. What would happen if we stopped acting as if the primordial form of work is laboring at a production line, or wheat field, or iron foundry, or even in an office cubicle, and instead started from a mother, a teacher, or a caregiver? We might be forced to conclude that the real business of human life is not contributing toward something called ›the economy‹ (a concept that didn’t even exist three hundred years ago), but the fact that we are all, and have always been, projects of mutual creation.« (»A Practical Utopian’s Guide to the Coming Collapse«)

Ob Graeber nicht weiß, dass diese Botschaft – »caring and helping« – auch die mütterliche oder väterliche, jedenfalls lehrerhaft-priesterliche Kernbotschaft der katholischen Kirche ist, die bislang wenig dazu beigetragen hat, für Änderung zu sorgen? Populärer Stimmung ist Graeber wohl näher, als er selbst annimmt.