“The half-life of disaster” by Brian Massumi




ISE Director Brian Tokar recommends this article from Brian Massumi, who translated Deleuze & Guattari’s 1000 Plateaus and several later writings of theirs into English. Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

As a counterweight to the conditions of precariousness fostered by disaster capitalism itself, certain key economic sectors are allowed to consolidate through mergers. These quasi-monopolistic movements are tolerated, or even encouraged, in the name of securing the economy’s future stability. This has been significantly the case in the energy sector, with policies friendly to centralised production and quasi-monopolistic ownership designed, for example, to revive the nuclear power industry or to kick-start capital-intensive pseudo-green “alternatives” like biofuels and the mythical “clean” coal – precisely the kinds of choices that will render the global situation even more precarious in the long run by making a mockery of attempts to rein in global warming, and by setting the stage for future generations’ Fukushimas. As long as disaster capitalism reigns – which no doubt will be as long as capitalism itself reigns – the world will be caught in a vicious circle: that of responding by increasingly draconian and ill-advised means to a threat environment whose dangers the response only contributes to intensifying.

The only way out is to militate for an alternate interlinkage: between global anticapitalist political contestation and a renascent environmental movement with opposition to nuclear power at its heart. A political ecology up to the task would embrace the human-nature hybridity, in all its complexity, but toward a new alliance designed to step outside the vicious circle. Also required is a realisation that the affective turn in the functioning of political legitimation that has come with the media saturation of global culture is likely irreversible. An ecological alter-politics must also be an alter-politics of affect.