anderson in Mars & Medak 2019

ibrary ended up in this crisis, we re-trace their development
starting with the capitalist modernization around the turn of the 20th century, a period of
accelerated technological innovation that also birthed historical avant-garde. Drawing on
Perry Anderson’s ‘Modernity and Revolution’, we interpret that uniquely creative period
as a period of ambivalence toward an ‘unpredictable political future’ that was open to
diverging routes of social development. We situate the later re-emergence of ava

can reclaim the legacy of the avant-gardes by seemingly doing
its exact opposite: refusing innovation.

1917 – Industrial modernization,
revolutionary subjectivity




In his text on ‘Modernity and Revolution’ Perry Anderson (1984) provides an
unexpected, yet the cogent explanation of the immense explosion of artistic
creativity in the short span of time between the late nineteenth and early
twentieth century that is commonly periodized as modernism (or avant-garde,

t fully integrated into the exigencies of capitalist accumulation and
3) a fundamental ambivalence vis-à-vis the future social formation – capitalism or
socialism, state or soviet – that the process of modernization would eventually
lead to. As Anderson summarizes:
European modernism in the first years of this century thus flowered in the space
between a still usable classical past, a still indeterminate technical present, and a
still unpredictable political future. Or, put another way, it arose at

(Global Footprint
Network, 2013). And the environmental inequalities within countries are greater
than those between the countries (Piketty and Chancel, 2015). Unless by some
wonder almost non-existent negative emissions technologies do materialize
(Anderson and Peters, 2016), we are on a path of global destabilization of socioenvironmental metabolisms that no rate of technological change can realistically
mitigate (Loftus et al., 2015). Betting on settling on Mars is equally plausible.

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