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A Failure of Imagination

Sometimes, it seems, we are consumed by visions of the future. I think this is a learned behavior as capitalism, at this point in time, seems obsessed with selling us a shinier, technologically enhanced version of ourselves. Techno-fetish lust abounds and the never ending cycle of new product introductions continues unabated. Everyday there are countless technological devices that bring to the mix unnecessary new features or styling.

There are moments, however, when the national (or global?) psyche bubbles up and we are forced to face our demons. Iraq is ever present as is global warming. Corruption, corporate greed, and the list goes on and on. We try desperately to hide in our personal mediascapes but we can't escape the real world.

This week there was an item that kept popping up. The Ministry of Defence in the UK released a report about future threats. The report outlines the use of such technologies as neutron, biological, and chemical weapons. More interesting is that it discusses social class imbalances and even raises the spectre of a Marxist revolution.

The meager descriptions of the report got me thinking about this clip regarding the movie, The Children of Men:



Slavoj Zizek is one of the great thinkers of our time and lays it out for you in black and white about how the real story in the film is the background or the situation. To me it is the nagging sense that everything in the techno-present isn't rosy and outside of our mediated bubble things are beginning to disintegrate.

But I am not really interested in what the film reveals as these fears we openly express everyday or, in the least, surround us in a subtle mediated hum.

The more interesting concern is that our governments are unable to envision a new world and instead prepare for the worst. Yet "the worst" that is "probability-based, rather than predictive" is actually the made-for-film simulacra/parable of what exists now.

It strikes me as wholly plausible that late capitalism, as Zizek reports, has run its course and instead of investing in new paradigms (that could do a hell of lot more to saving the planet, for instance) the vision lingers in a pitiful old-school utter villainization of alternative economic and social models.

This reveals that those in power are of a generation trained to be in their place (often narrowly defined, uncreative roles). They are so uncreative, in fact, that they can't even see that a real defense would be to attack the inequality and the existing system - not their country's own citizens. Needless to say, it is time for visionaries to put forth their imagined realities.
gregory turner-rahman