What is the perspective which underlies this model of combined and uneven development and which it offers beyond itself? What does this have to do with making sense of movies about the end of the world and our reversion/conversion to cavemen, gas-obsessed barbarians, walking corpses, insane loners in an empty city? And what foothold does it give for a radical politics posed against late capitalism? First, it is a perspective onto the ways in which we see neither a simple monolithic advance – or reversal, at times – of history as progress nor a scattered patchwork of different time scales, historical projects, and their resultant organization of bodies and moneys. Rather, it is a properly dialectical conception of real abstractions, in this case between political geography and visions of where the world historical project is going. Specifically, it considers the consequences of the intersections between such a monolithic perspective (the march forward of global capitalism through and toward liberal democracy as a way to weather the increasingly severe economic, ecological, and sociopolitical crises bound to emerge) and the zones which can never be seen by it as other than barbaric pockets of anti-modernity, lingering vestiges of intolerance, superstition, and simpler times to be celebrated for their “authentic diversity” while folded in under certain strictures of extractive market relations.
This isn’t to say that one perspective or the other, either the unified teleology of capitalist progress or the competing and incompatible micro-visions of different historical trajectories, is more or less true. Rather, the point is to grasp how the unified vision only gains consistency through its relationship to what cannot fit into it and of how it provides an ideological backdrop for the material shaping of a world that will preserve those unwelcome zones. In other words, decisively not “flattening the world” and welcoming all equally into the financial fold, but providing the narrative of that as the cover story for an opposite practice.
3. If this odd collection of instances, this anti-canon of shared apocalyptic dreams and nightmares, are an inconstant lens onto how things are, they are also a path to be followed to what may be. They are concrete fashionings not of how things will go (the real possibility of zombie holocaust remains unlikely) but how we might like them to, kickbacks against the horror of the endless same, projections out from the barely detectable of this conjuncture to a conjecture of where this leads us. With this comes, necessarily, a revision of what apocalypse can or should mean, and an insistence on readying ourselves for the role we will have its coming to be.
So forget enlightenment, forget the worry of starting in the dusk and losing our way. Let's willfully begin at midnight, with the singing of and about the dark times.