The network versus the hierarchy

This essay was published in Griffith Review: 64: The New Disruptors.

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‘IT IS EASIER to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.’ So wrote the critical theorist Frederic Jameson in New Left Review in 2003, attributing the sentiment to an unnamed ‘someone’ whom posterity, with nothing else to go on, has decided to call Frederic Jameson. But its provenance aside, this bleak observation does capture something of the political mood in the two decades spanning the millennium. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and subsequent disappearance of its foundational ideas from democratic political discourse left liberal capitalism looking less like the winner in a battle between ideologies than ideology’s opposite: if not the expression of human nature itself (as many on the right were apt to claim) then at least the best that humankind could do. Francis Fukuyama came forward to say that capital-h History had reached its terminus, and everyone on the left had a good old laugh. But as Keating, Clinton, Blair and Schröder set about giving a more progressive aspect to the process of neoliberal globalisation, many socialists internalised his conclusions.

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