Croissants, Capital, Commons, Crisis + Community – A (cr)edible theory of arts, livelihoods and resistance ?!
Let’s imagine running a bakery and producing something your friends, community and strangers alike love to eat; And people are willing to trade you something for your work to make it. To do that, we have some limited options in our currently – let’s admit- deeply troubled society:
1. You could start a privately-owned shop, and hire a team.
2. You could organize a collectively-owned shop.
3. Other options do not technically exist ( with perhaps a few rare exceptions that require a set of conditions that probably rely on the fact that these first two options exist. We might return to investigate if we have time. )
Neither of these 2 options are inherently evil. Both will function successfully to produce something that people want ( and/or need ), and provide people with a livelihood and an economic structure to live … especially given the situation of our captured, commodified world(s).
In the over-cooked languages and contexts we use to describe these models of operation: one would be called “capitalism”, the other could be called “socialism”, “communism”, “commoning”, “collectivism”, “anarcho-syndicalism”, “platform cooperativism”, etc, etc… But for our purposes, and to avoid all the complex terminology, infinitely elaborate theories, loooong-winded debates, entrenched ideologies, and blood-soaked history, let’s just call them both forms of exchanged goods and services. And in each example delicious croissants are traded – most likely – for tokens of value.
( *new* book, more info @ maxhaiven.com )
We wanted to preface a conversation about art + money + livelihoods, with our ridiculously simplistic croissant-making scenarios in order to investigate the intriguing research that Max Haiven has done to imagine some hypothetical “beyond” and “against” financialization … and other forms of… praxis and production.
A little contrary to a somewhat reasonable desire that we may wish to “abolish” economic system(s), in these predatory neo-liberal endgame times, XLterrestrials perceive an urgency to defend artists’ livelihoods, and all other labor. Rather than abandoning our “means of survival” in exchange for some theoretical dream/hope for some alternative future horizons of creativity and living together, providing for our needs, and navigating the ( frequently treacherous ) situations.
Not to say that those (newer) horizons could not be an interesting goal or utopian ideal, but from “a baker’s perspective”: robbing the workers at either bakery to achieve that future scenario appears to be a terrible leap of logic, faith and unacceptable injustice.
There seems to be a misconception that mercantile livelihoods are something akin to cut-throat corporate krapitalism + infinite -doomsday- growth, and this may be causing plenty of confusion in finding the emergency exits.
Take note: all you bakers caught in the dizzying transformations of digital culture and imperialist winner-take-all monopolies, we may need this bakery analogy for the ugly disruptions that are currently reaching a boiling frog moment ! All those net titans + cyclops + vampires who are sucking all our livelihoods, rivers, soils and cities dry!
Granted, our times require massive transitions, but many such proposals from the left-oriented appear to imagine the sacrifices of the left, as their impossible starting point.
To be Cont.
XLt ALERTS :
WARNING : INTENSE!
- UNE AUTRE FIN DU MONDE EST POSSIBLE -
Speaking of our urgent times, this article below from Christophe Bonneuil – French historian and research director at the CNRS – was one of the more interesting things we’ve read recently on the threat of of our collapsing civilization and habitat.
And we’ve been hearing lots of people waving some kind of white flag in the air or sinking into a paralyzed state, and saying we are doomed, times up. But Bonnueil says that would be “romantic”. Now is imperative to organize against those worst possible outcomes that fascism and corporate tyranny (z.b.) would otherwise relish and deliver to your doorstep.
And in terms of “art” and “financialization”… We are more inclined to say now is the time that arts + activism must be very strategic about our own TOOLS OF FINANCIALIZATION… Our projects need to thrive and we need money flows at our disposal… to defend ourselves … AND to implement and realize other possible worlds, and other possible ends.
Money is still a resource. And we can aim to transition out of its current parameters ( ie. its corporate-chartered death grip on society ), but while its still circulating in the systems, even as they fall, it is a medium and a tool… like telephones, bricks, vehicles, bicycles, code, wood, food, water, etc.
” Climate and collapse: Only through the insurrection of civil societies will we avoid the worst “
Translation of an interview of Christophe Bonneuil, French historian and research director at the CNRS, by Ivan Du Roy for BastaMag, published on October 16th, 2018. ( Translated by Crystelle Vu – Edited by Julian Oliver).
Nov.8th – Blätter’s Democracy Lecture, Richard Sennet, Andrej Holm, Francesca Bria at HKW, Nov-9-11 Berliner Gazette’s program on A.I., Nov. 18th – Bits & Bäume Conference…. James Bridle at Nome Gallery, etc etc…
Quote of the Week:
“Digital transformation” is the new “structural adjustment”
A good transition for analyzing the industrial A.I. and algorithm hype that will be hitting Btropolis next week in both the corporate and “intellectual” left conferences.
More Than A Footnote:
This post is our own XLT follow-up to an evening workshop hosted by Supermarkt Berlin called Art After Money, Money After Art: Creative Strategies Against Financialization with Max Haiven, Tatiana Bazzichelli, Elena Veljanovska, Lenara Verle, Ela Kagel … and close to 20 participants.
And they already posted some follow-up notes themselves which can be read here…
And we think it will provoke much further strategic thinking about art and economies… and Max Haiven’s book will likely provide more insights and practices that can be expanded upon … linked above with the book cover foto.
Thx to Supermarkt, which has been exploring “platform cooperativism” and all sorts of angles on alternative economies in the realm of cultural practices. Check their schedule for more on these themes!