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Authentic Hope in the Twilight of Failed Neoliberal Capitalism ⋆ Epeak . Independent news and blogs

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Each group of speakers at the Open Labs fora on “Cities that Learn” in Mexico City explained their unique methodology and shared success stories for political organizing. (Photo: Michael Meurer)

In the wake of the most backward-looking presidential campaign in modern US history, it is now clear that we live in what the late sociologist and philosopher Zygmunt Bauman described as a “retrotopia,” a society in which fear of the future has caused mass nostalgia for a past that never existed. The current retrotopian movement is a reaction to an institutional politics, on both the left and right, that for nearly four decades has posited the future as an inevitable continuation of globalized neoliberal capitalism.

In spite of being packaged in the guise of 24/7 wired modernity, this vision of the future is horrifying to voters because it is a formulation in which they do not matter. Tayyab Mahmud, director of the Center for Global Justice at Seattle University School of Law, notes that as the “iron hand of the state works in concert with the hidden hand of the market” to maximize profits worldwide, people increasingly feel like pawns at the mercy of deeply impersonal global forces over which they have no control. Nearly 1 billion people, Mahmud reports, are already considered to be a form of “surplus humanity” for whom modern capitalism has no use. Even for those who might not feel immediately threatened, incessant resource wars, the seemingly ubiquitous threat of terrorism and apocalyptic environmental degradation create a sense of subliminal dread about the future.

Donald Trump was the first major US political figure to talk consistently in the hyper-nostalgic language of retrotopia, and he did so using overtly racist, sexist and xenophobic appeals to paint a vision of a society in which the power of white men would once again be resurgent. This strategy, though not sufficient to secure the popular vote, resonated with tens of millions of anxious voters who heard in Trump’s…

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