I suspect that this will be to the taste of very few people who read this. But I think that this—and Marshall Berman's (1982) All That Is Solid Melts into Air http://books.google.com/?isbn=0860917851—is well worth your attention. One way to approach it is to note that back before 1500 humanity's collective technological and organizational possibilities grew at a proportion rate of something like 0.04% per year. Now they grow at 2% per year. Thus changes in what we can do and how we can organize ourselves to do it that used to happen over a 50-year timespan now take place in one revolution around the sun. Thus "modern" people must continually reinvent and reinvent ourselves in a way very foreign to all of the memory of our past historical experience. What are the consequences of this? Humanist late-twentieth century New York CUNY Marxist took a stab:

Marshall Berman (1984): The Signs in the Street: A Response to Perry Anderson https://newleftreview.org/issues/I144/articles/marshall-berman-the-signs-in-the-street-a-response-to-perry-anderson: "‘To be modern’, as I define it... ‘is to experience personal and social life as a maelstrom, to find one’s world in perpetual disintegration and renewal, trouble and anguish, ambiguity and contradiction: to be part of a universe in which all that is solid melts into air. To be a modernist is to make oneself somehow at home in this maelstrom... to grasp and confront the world that modernization makes, and to strive to make it our own.’ Modernism aims ‘to give modern men and women the power to change the world that is changing them, to make them the subjects as well as the objects of modernization.’ Anderson is willing to accept this as a vision of 19th-century culture and politics, but he thinks that it is irrelevant to our century, let alone to our day.... I could assail Anderson’s reading of modern and contemporary history in plenty of ways, but it wouldn’t do anything to advance our common understanding. I want to try something different. Anderson’s view of the current horizon is that it’s empty, closed; mine is that it’s open and crowded with creative possibilities. The best way to defend my vision might be to show what this horizon looks like, what’s actually out there as I see it.... A massive black woman gets on, bent under numerous parcels; I give her my seat. Just behind her, her fifteen-or-so-year-old daughter undulates up the aisle, radiant, stunning in the skin-tight pink pants she has just bought.... They continue an argument.... The mother still won’t look, but after awhile she lifts her eyes slowly, then shakes her head. ‘With that ass,’ she says, ‘you’ll never get out of high school without a baby. And I ain’t taking care of no more babies. You’re my last baby.’ The girl squeezes her mother’s arm: ‘Don’t worry, Mama. We’re modern. We know how to take care of ourselves.’ The mother sighs, and addresses her packages: ‘Modern? Just you take care you don’t bring me no modern babies.’ Soon I get off, feeling as happy and whole as the girl in the bus. Life is rough in the South Bronx, but the people aren’t giving up: modernity is alive and well...

#noted #politicaleconomy #notebookslouching #2019-10-28