Santiago / Valdivia: | Berlin:

* Developed in the context of Transmediale 2021/2022's research workhop called "Research Refusal," we were commited to this between November 2020 and April 2021. In that period we published some outcomes in the form of short writings in the Notes section of this Webstide. Please find the abstract to this research commitment below.

Refuse to avoid post-capitalism’s uncertainty in academic research — a call to embrace uncertain objects as a way of critical and politically active inquiry

If the model upon which neoliberal academic industry lies, restricts the scope of any research to the certainties that confirm its own legitimacy, we ask if academia should’t refuse to remain within such boundaries. Hence, we propose to find in the Chilean case —perhaps the place where that model was originally tested (Harvey 2005)— a broad topology of inquiry:

In many ways, it was the unprecedented success of the left and the counterculture in the 1970s that forced capital to respond with neoliberalism. This was initially played out in Chile, after Pinochet’s CIA-backed coup had violently overthrown Salvador Allende’s democratic socialist government, transforming the country — via a regime of repression and torture — into the first neoliberal laboratory. (Fisher 2018: 424)

The objects we thus invite to discuss constitute indexes of all that the unidimensional (non)imaginary imposed by capitalist realism has excluded (Fisher 2009). There are three moments that allow us to assess this diagnosis: a) the 2019 Chilean social uprising that provoked an unprecedented referendum to discard the constitution enforced by the neoliberal dictatorship; b) the 1988’s referendum that allowed the country to end Pinochet’s regime and return to democracy; and c) Salvador Allende’s democratic socialist project from 1970-1973.

However, instead of focusing on the certainty of these milestones, we will conduct critical research centered on uncertain objects; that is, aesthetic and technological processes that while linked to those events, allow a deeper inquiry into marginal reactions confronting neoliberalism. Consequently, we propose to dive into three layers: a.1) the radical aestheticization that took over the streets of Santiago during the social uprising as a materialization of the cultural and social critique that sustains the movement; b.1) a kind of cynic realism (Žižek 1989) that underlay Chilean cinema during the “transition towards democracy” — period that deepened the dictatorship’s radical neoliberalism —; c.1) project Cybersyn as an attempt to transform Allende’s program into a system for the cybernetic exchange of economic and social flows (Beer 1981; Foucault 2002; Galloway & Thacker 2007).

Accordingly, by tackling these uncertain objects through a critical essayism that is both performative and speculative (Lury and Wakeford 2012; Wilkie et al 2017), we will uncover some of the refusals veiled by capitalist realism’s certainties, in order to show how these oppositions to neoliberalism account for a tectonic movement which is today probably global.

Key References

Beer, S (1981). Brain of the Firm. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Fisher, M (2018). No Romance Without Finance. In: Mark Fisher and Darren Ambrose (ed.) K-Punk. The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher (2004 - 2016), pp. 419-425 . London: Repeater.

Fisher, M (2009). Capitalist Realism. Is There No Alternative? Winchester: Zero Books.

Foucault M (2002). The Order of Things. An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. London: Routledge.

Galloway, M and Thacker E (2007). The Exploit. A Theory of Networks. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Harvey, D (2005). A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kittler, F (1997). The World of the Symbolic - A World of the Machines. In: Kittler, F and Johnston, J (ed.), Literature, Media, Information Systems, pp 130-146. Amsterdam: OPA.

Lury, C, and Wakeford, N (2012). Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social. New York: Routledge.

Wilkie, A, Savransky, M, and Rosengarten, M (2017). Speculative Research: The Lure of Possible Futures. London: Routledge.

Žižek, S (1989). The Sublime Object of Ideology. London: Verso.