Lexicon for the Provisional Future(s)

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There is a stark difference how future is perceived nowadays and some 30 years ago. From the outset of 19th Century the idea of modernity was characterized by a firm belief in the unstoppable technologic progress that was considered the main vehicle of betterment for all mankind. This view of a glorious future is evident from the development of science fiction to the founding of a new science – futurology. Now, with the advent of postmodern thought this idea of progress was challenged and, eventually, destroyed. But, this change is less of a shift that occurred solely within the realm of ‘epochal conscience’ and more a transformation within the economical circumstances. The so-called welfare system (no matter one of ‘western democracies’ or the ‘really existing socialism’) was based on the possibility of planning the economical growth, and it is precisely this horizon of planning that was destroyed with the prevalence of neo-liberalism. In terms of everyday life this becomes evident with the generalized precariousness. Therefore, the future is not anymore some techno-utopia that enables more and more free time for the people – since the labor processes are left to machines and robots – but a perpetual sameness of the effort to keep one’s head above the water. Future in neo-liberalism stands only for the next down payment, or the next work-day. The only mentioning of future is to be found in terms of natural catastrophes, the destruction of environment or the inevitability of an upcoming economic contraction. (more…)

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