ephemera 8.2., 'Alternatively', is now online.
In its focus on alternatives, the latest ephemera issue addresses one of the main tasks that critique has (to) set for itself: to counter political paralysis of any kind, construed by the right and left, by pointing at the false logic behind it, indeed, by means of the formulation and practice of alternative logics.
There are many ways of organizing social life other than on the basis of and dictated by the kind of free market or neoliberalism that reigns in large parts of the world. In other words, this issue, its editorial specifically and its contributions in their own way attempt to delegitimize the notorious post-communist 'There Is No Alternative' logic of thinking (TINA).
At the same time, this issue also warns against the defeatist way of thinking represented by the casting of commodification as a totalizing force that leaves nothing beyond its grasp. While this threat is real, to portray consumer capitalism thus is a process of abstraction that is not only politically paralyzing, but can even be construed as conformist, like any belief in 'this is how things are', like TINA.
To suggest that things can be otherwise, the shift of perspective might be an important part of alteration (the act of producing alternatives), including shifting our perspective on how to appreciate alternatives. That is, rather than attributing appreciation based on the potential for realizability, the editorial suggests that alternatives might prove politically enabling precisely because they seem unrealizable. Alternatives understood in this way do not function as different solutions but as different problems; not as alternative answers to the same questions but as alternative questions opening up for new answers. Whereas any alternative solution keeps the problem which it solves intact, an alternative problem breaks with and delegitimizes the existing solution. It divides, twists and thoroughly subverts established Truths as well as breaking the ground for new ways of thinking. As such, the moment of alteration transforms the horizon of the given by way of giving us new questions to ask.
The issue opens with Adrian Mackenzie's article on productivity systems that are put forward in the self-improvement literature. In the second article of this issue, Simon Lilley addresses the problems that charity work encounters in times in which philanthropy is pressured to take the form of business. The issue continues with a note written by Matteo Mandarini on the Italian political thinker Mario Tronti, in particular his text Politica e destino, which deals with the relation between politics and fate. Jason Del Gandio's note discusses the emphasis on alternatives in the context of to the proliferation of alternative organizational forms and the associated plurality of struggles that recast Marxism as the only alternative to bringing about (a certain kind of) social change.
Alex Callinicos' book The Resources of Critique is reviewed by Michael Rowlinson. De Angelis' The Beginning of History: Value Struggles and Global Capital is reviewed by Peter Fleming. In his review of an edited volume that discusses the thought of Antonio Negri, Erik Empson engages, among other things, with the challenges in suggesting alternatives to received wisdom, as embedded in theory as well as practice, in this case Negri's dedicated attempt to renew the revolutionary spirit and imagination.This issue concludes with a double review of the The Dictionary of Alternatives (Parker et al., 2007). The dictionary offers a rich list of alternatives to pursue, different paths to opt for in our search for the other and the better. The first review, written by Daniel King, focuses on the role that the book could play in the community of critical management-scholars. The second review is written by Alan W. Moore and brings to the fore the utopian aspect of alternatives.
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