[spectre] Jeremiah Day open letter

Jaromil jaromil at dyne.org
Wed Jun 29 21:55:44 CEST 2011

thanks Josephine,

the mail you forwarded by Jeremiah, together with Florian's account of
the situation, i think are texts worth reading at the moment:

On Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 5:20 AM, Heiko Recktenwald
<heikorecktenwald at googlemail.com> wrote:

> I am sorry, you are mixing two buzzwords, neoliberalism and fashism, that
> say more or less nothing.

I would put it differently: It's a politics of conservative resentment
mixed with politbureau capitalism.

The conservative resentment of the Dutch government is rather
old-fashioned. What is new is only its outspokenness: the break with a
postwar consensus, or political correctness, of not attacking modern
art for being modern art. For Zijlstra, the secretary of culture and
education, the arts have been dominated by a small elite - read: art
councils, critics, intellectuals - that superimposed its minority
taste on society, making it the majority agenda. And indeed, it is
difficult to argue with this unless one thinks that funding should
just go to those kind of places and projects that wouldn't be able to
sustain themselves on the free market. (Which _is_ an elitist stance.)
Yes, one could consider it unfair that a ticket for an experimental
music concert is subsidized while the musical isn't. However, the
Dutch government's agenda is not at all consistent in this respect. It
wants to keep the subsidies of operas and the big museums untouched
because they represent "the cultural heritage of the Netherlands".
Zijlstra even adds the flags of Dutch colonial ships to his heritage
list (which strongly reminds of the uproar in Hamburg when the city
subsidized the ship museum of a right-wing militaria collector with
millions while cutting heavily into contemporary arts).

Another problem for people in the arts is that they are now forced
into the same boat as those contemporary art institutions whose
funding should be scrutinized because their curators put the same
artists on publicly subsidized shows whom they also recommend, in
their second jobs as private consultants, to art collectors. Or you
are in the same boat with people paid a top salary as directors of
communal cinemas that run the same boring mainstream Hollywood
'arthouse' films as the other, non-subsidized movie theater in town.
In other words, you're pressured to protest in the streets
hand-in-hand with people you'd rather demonstrate against. The problem
is not necessarily that the arts are cut. The problem is how they're
being cut, with almost everything not fitting an utterly uneducated
notion of "cultural heritage" and completely deluded perceptions of
"top art institutes" being forced into the creative industries.

Why is this not neoliberalism?

If this were classical neoliberal politics, there would be just a
general cut of public funding, leaving things to the free market and
cutting taxes. But this is not what is happening. Instead, taxpayer's
art subsidies are repurposed into taxpayer's business subsidies. The
advice of the "Top Team Creative Industries" (lead by the business
manager of Rem Koolhaas' bureau OMA) to the Dutch government boils
down to subsidizing economically promising Dutch creative industries
businesses, for example service design companies.

Of course, this is just a small part of a larger development. The
bigger picture is that Europe, and the Western World, is rapidly
moving towards the model of Chinese politbureau capitalism where
governments act as supreme CEO boards, and public budgets are business
investment money. Only that for the Western economies, its not
investment into growth, but into preventing the ship from sinking.
What started with the bail-outs and nationalization of the financial
sector is now growing like virus into the rest of the economy. Instead
of mobilizing all production means for a military war, it's the total
mobilization for the global economic war.

It seems to be the perfect fulfillment of what Rudolf Hilferding
described in his 1910 book "Das Finanzkapital" ("The Financial
Capital") as "state monopoly capitalism".


blog: http://en.pleintekst.nl

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