Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Nor yet good red herring: Autumn (5.1)

Solutionism: The fly-maddened urge to express as expostulation the self-evident and once-and-for all settling of an otherwise intractable 'issue of the day'. Solutionism expresses conditions where affliction and cure, appearing in dyadic form, function simultaneously as each other's competitor and co-dependent. The solution's struggle with its designated problem is structured ambivalently upon the persistence of the antagonist as sole income source. In the perfected form of the quagmire, solutionist remedies must appear within the register of kneejerk responses, cutting to the heart of the matter, wherein naturalised state-form capacity for executive action is set gladiatorially against representations of lesser but noisy environmental irritants (banished Erinyes-like products flitting about the abandoned junk left by previous state-form interventions). The solution proceeds from its assumption of an identity between symptom and cause, wherein crime is demonstratively caused by criminals, and then advances rapidly towards abrupt interventions: proscribing, denying, blocking, disrupting, severing, bombing, banning, demolishing, expelling, suppressing, preventing, unpicking, draining, clearing, sterilising, cleansing, separating, concentrating, enclosing, imprisoning. The origin of the solutionist compulsion is state-specific and authentically ideological but is sufficiently homologous to the calling down of divine retribution for its magical dimension to be considered as something of a recapitulation. Solutionist gambits are framed punitively, every solution non-identical to itself but mapping exactly onto the outline of its problem - the solution within solutionism is not identical with itself as a solution but uncloaks itself as a punishment, a smiting, of difficulty. As Horace might have observed, under conditions where the deus ex machina is never not invoked, the proliferation of miraculous exits only serves to develop a final, and strictly comic, stage of containment. Solutionism in practice deploys pre-strategic interventions, formally driven declarations of unconditioned principle bellowed into the void for want of anything else to announce, and seeming, all too implausibly, to 'meet the issue head-on' - a president of the USA is elected wholly on the basis of promising to build an impossible wall. Orchestrated to appear as the only option on the table, the solutionist solution is less a response to an identified difficulty than to the appearance of the difficulty within the public domain. Where facts tell and stories sell, every political intervention is designed as a mic drop, the means for making a quick exit at the moment of creating a stir. The pornographic desire for politics to function as the domain of  implausible lies renders every official and manager as inadequate to the role of mountebank. Discourse fails if it is attributable to those already employed as 'insiders'. Only mavericks of the para-establishment, as if coming in from the cold, may now get away with the outrageous bluffs that the spectacle requires for the task of papering across the abyss. Only the untrustworthy shall be judged trustworthy, only the incompetent are judged competent. We are now thoroughly instructed in how the terms of reversal shall be disclosed through the reversal of terms. Even if it is presented as a revolutionary cure-all, no solution is intended to survive to the stage of implementation.  The solutionist strategy is a demonstration of the ironic representation of competence, the mouthpiece represents the will to be 'all over this' in a 'competitive environment' comprised of nothing but those conventionally labelled difficulties that are all exclusively the 'very' highest priority. When policy announcements do survive into policy implementation, the solution is situated as a pole of orientation around which newly delineated and unintended tensions  crystallise only to almost immediately deliquesce back into inextricability - the true purpose of generating controversy through 'strong' narratives is the misdirection, and ultimately the exhaustion, of rivals. Curiously, solutionism, the mobilisation of populations around a pseudo-utopian content, mimics extremist tropes where 'radicalisation' is also hypostasised as a bad exit.  Down the line, some time after its triumphant policy roll out, any solutionist policy still attached to its financialisation abandons its utopian dimension and develops autonomously as a second order, target driven, institution for maintenance and management of the new iterations, new territories, new convolutions in otherwise eternalised relations of force: wars on drugs, wars on people-trafficking, wars on terror, wars of zero tolerance. Solutionism is cut-the-crap radicalism in a context of terminal moderatisation and failing economic negentropy. Even 'no magic bullet' and 'no easy answer' becomes a magic bullet and easy answer for defending the reified path along which 'problems' must be approached publicly. Solutionism, as with every fundamentalist resurgence, is a last flaring of the idea of agency before systemic relinquishment at the runaway of the community of capital. The measure to which subject formations have bound themselves into solutionist approaches, immediately answering symptoms with seeming elixirs (anti-fascism; anti-racism; anti-war; anti-capitalism) is the measure to which they have also internalised the managerialist logics, if not also the capacity, of state power.
The designation 'solutionism' is attributed to Evgeny Morozov in 2013 but the text here generalises the concept from the cut and paste piece 'Councilism, communism and communist critique' written as forum posts either on the anti-politics or glow worm discussion boards around 2008 and made into a pamphlet at about the same time. A re-written version of the text was posted here in 2012. The concept is weak but of mild interest in circumstances of political topsy-turvy.

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