Troubled Relations: Defining the Successor Ideology

A “peculiar species of authoritarian utopianism sweeping through the ruling institutions of American life, which I have termed ‘the Successor Ideology’”[1] is emergent in liberal democracies throughout the West. In various forms of identity politics, culture wars, NGO complexes[2] and institutional capture, a sociocultural logic is nascent, struggling to fully form into a coherent multiplicity of organisational and political structures. Through Rudi Dutschke’s formulation of a long march through the institutions, the successor ideology represents a bridge between systems of liberal government and neoliberal business practice and a metastatic superstructure of cultural revolution.

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The Evolution of Metropolitics

Metropolitics as a phenomenon is a convergence of various trends and forces: international urbanisation and the development of a vast precariat class between and within cities; the growth of telepresence technologies and vast networks centred around social media and cloud computing; international security architectures like the Five Eyes as well as private surveillance structures; the logistical revolution; and cosmopolitan culture as a growing element in socio-political cultures i.e. the development of a post-national ethic.

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Metropolitics

“Metropolitics, a rootless, placeless and increasingly timeless politics concerned with the dissolution of barriers to speed”[1]. Virilio describes a new mode of politics within the modern city as a post-Leviathan beyond the space of the nation-state. Metropolitics is a politics in the tradition of the friend-enemy distinction, yet its enemy is abstract. Barriers to speed constitute its primary locus of action, being the means through which these are sped up or eliminated altogether.

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Sleepwalking Into Managed Decline

Looming global recession has encouraged a typical response of returning to normal, whether that be in the form austerity measures to keep national debt-to-GDP at “reasonable levels” and increasing interest rates to control inflation or introducing pro-growth measures to reduce cyclical turbulence. Similarly to the 2008 crisis, a prescribed toolkit is being used with similar expectations of potential success. However, there appears to be little questioning of the assumptions which suggest the global economy (and advanced economies in particular) can return to historical growth levels (including the meagre growth of the 2010s).

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Time, Place & Becoming

Our postmodern age is bringing forth a spatio-ontological shift that moves from expansion and negentropic escape (i.e. the capacity to expand order into new territories through colonisation, global interconnection and technological oversight) to an inertial position characterised by homogeneous geoscapes through the “global city” and metropolitics as the closing of the frontier. These are the spatial borders of what Escobar calls Globalistan, a configuration of “‘no places’ or ‘cities of nowhere,’ places that are ostensibly public but definitely non‐communitarian”[1]. While the growth of urbanisation and the development of city hubs suggests a growth and expansion in the normal operations of capitalist accumulation, the extremity of city growth and the demographic projections of urban dominance change this nature. Expansion is no longer geographic but instead temporal and ontological.

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Successor Ideology and the Cathedral

The video posted of Adam Posen[1] (a well-known monetary economist deeply tied to the variety of neoliberal think tanks, central bank committees and academic fellowships) stating that support for manufacturing industries and onshoring of productive capacity are a “fetish for keeping white males with low education in the powerful positions they are in” is perfectly indicative of the ideological networks of which Posen is a member. It shows the embedded nature of the successor ideology (woke ideology, post-neoliberalism, identity politics, etc.) and its tentacular reach, as it easily seeps into establishment institutions and policy-making networks.

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Death of a Country

The death of Queen Elizabeth II signals the tolling bell of the United Kingdom, from empire to island. Amongst the nation is both a yearning sadness for a monarch representative of the remaining vestiges of duty, stewardship and historical connection, while at the same time a deep ambivalence as the cultural and economic destruction of Britain happened under her rule. As a figurehead, much of this cannot laid at her feet but at the same time there was never any indication of revulsion at the “evolution” of Britain. They needn’t dissolve Parliament or become actively political to criticise the direction of the country. But it never happened, with each speech proclaiming the remaining greatness of Britain and the strength of its national character. What this evoked was a similar feeling to American exceptionalism: a proclamation of being the greatest nation on earth while a vast underclass is starved, drugged and ignored and wealth seeps out into tax havens and coastal gated communities. Such greatness is a mask for national decline and widespread anomie.

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Agricultural Conspiracy: The Coming Battle

The spate of industrial fires across food production and packaging facilities in the United States sparked a conspiratorial reading of events. A pattern of fire during an existing food crisis and a growing awareness of the tenuousness of food supply chains has led to suggestions that these are not random events but planned sabotage[1] that extends central control of food processing systems and forces consumers into a food serfdom. Equally, there are suggestions that this is simply a Baader-Meinhof phenomenon and that the extent of fires in production and processing facilities have always been relatively high[2].

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The Conjuncture Continues

The Bank of England’s announcement of a recession in the last quarter of 2022 and the next in 2023 has been met with suspense rather than disbelief. It was more an inevitability considering inflationary pressure, a weakened labour market and tepid growth post-pandemic. But compared to 2008, the last recession in the UK which was met with bank runs, a debt crisis and the devaluation of assets (mainly housing), this recession is more an example of exasperation. The years leading up to 2008 had seen consistent growth levels and upward real wages[1], while the years leading up to 2022 had seen minimal growth, real wage stagnation and an asset price boom which did not filter down to the general populace through taxation or distributive allocation. This recession then is a continuation of the norm, of misallocated and unproductive capital expenditure (exacerbated by years of quantitative easing) and the reduction of wages as a ratio of profit or value.

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Difference and Politics

The everydayness of politics both brings forth issues of where the domain of politics sits and how such analyses overcome falling into banality as “everything as politics” devolves into inconsequential argumentation. Further, it raises questions of how one escapes or partialises themselves against battles for hegemony. A domain of politics has become increasingly fluid as issues surrounding art, ethics and identity become fodder for culture wars and key determinants for the production of new constituencies. Everything is a game of power in this sense.

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