The three-day hands-on workshop ‘Gruapa di katrani’ on the traditional technology of pine tar production took place between the 16-18 July 2021 in Vovousa, eastern Zagori and was co-organised by Boulouki and Vovousa Festival.

Given how certain traditional modes of construction may be seen, or re-imagined, as an aspect of the ‘commons’, this documentary is of interest to our endeavour:

Life in 2021. Rampant debilitating denial for the many next to vile enrichment of the few. Material deprivation, denial, and denigration. Dignity defiled. Our planet raped. Climate cooking us all. To succumb to this 2021 normality is not a survivable option. Humanity must attain better. But, if we do not resign in defeat, then what do we do?

*No Bosses* says we conceive and then organize to win a new economy. It says we conceive and then win new institutions for how we work, for how we consume, and for how allocation occurs. It says we eliminate class rule. It says we ensure that economics respects and advances ecological, social, and personal well being. Nothing less. 

The vision offered by *No Bosses*, is called participatory economics. It elevates self management, equity, solidarity, diversity, and sustainability. It eliminates elitist, arrogant, dismissive, authoritarian, exploitation, competition, and homogenization. 

The *No Bosses* vision eliminates private ownership of productive assets, top down control of workplaces, income for bargaining power and property, jobs that elevate some to empowerment at the expense of relegating many to obedience, and a market rate race in which dishonorable and even hateful behavior is the currency of competitive success. 

In place of all that, *No Bosses* proposes a built and natural productive commons, self management by all who work, income for how long, how hard, and the onerousness of conditions of socially valued work, jobs that give all economic actors comparable means and inclination to participate in decisions that affect them, and a process called participatory planning in which caring behavior and solidarity are the currency of collective and individual success. 

And why does arriving at a shared vision for a new economy for a better world matter? It matters to provide hope, to provide direction, to sustain commitment on the path to winning change. *No Bosses* is about winning a new world. Nothing less. 

*See also a review of ‘No Bosses’ by Bertrand Bob Guevara:

Find out more on the book here:

Business schools are a part of a system that produces inequality, lack of democratic control, and is unable to deal with climate change. Martin Parker, a Professor at the University of Bristol, UK, and author of the book Shut Down the Business School, argues that business schools encourage students to think that they should approach the future with the same tools that have created our problems. He thinks we need new schools, what Martin calls “schools for organizing”.

Find out more at:

Credits and artwork available at:

by Chiranjit Basu

Digitization. The Holy Grail of our times.

So it would appear, seeing as how companies and governments crave it, consultants hawk it and “wise” people from think tanks foresee doom and disaster and severely lowered sex appeal for anyone who does not have it.

Billions are being thrown at it in the hope that some day it will magically appear and life will be fulfilled or in the worst (best?) case it will just go away and stop bothering us.

But, what is it? The name suggests something to do with digits. Fingers? In a sense, yes. It refers back to numbers – specifically zeroes and ones – the programming language of computers. Why then this frenzy? What is causing it to become the quest and mission of the millennia? Why is it digitize or die?

To try to unravel that we need to take a few steps back…perhaps quite a few steps…to a time before the machines of ones and zeroes quite took over our lives.

We need to step back and talk a bit about what is culture.

Culture, in its simplest description is how a society conducts its life. For some old enough to have experienced it, work was / is the series of steps and people and paper forms we navigated to deal with institutions and each other. It was the conversations, records, reports and correspondence required to file a return, apply for a job, announce a wedding, teach a course, arrange a funeral or any other such mundane acts, the sum total of which described that particular society. It was, quite simply, how a people did things to conduct their lives from birth to death. It was how they wrote music, passed on a recipe, wrote a novel, scripted a play, passed on orders, fought a court case or proposed to someone to marry you.

It was (and in many ways, still is) the series of actions and artifacts that takes one from a beginning to an end and a hopefully successful conclusion.

Bureaucracies, in some sense, epitomized a large part of this culture, this collection of activities that kept societies alive.

This developed over millennia. It changed, adapted, morphed, was discarded, re-invented, made byzantine or just simpler, but at a pace that human conversations could encompass it. People talked, thought about things, talked some more and eventually agreed to make some change. Sometimes they fought over it – on horseback or on foot. Sometimes they signed in solemn blood and shook hands and the culture nudged a little and moved on.

Then came the zero-one machine.

It had / has two qualities. It is exceptionally stupid. It is incapable of asking a single question on its own (as Picasso famously observed). It had / has no curiosity. And it is capable of doing the same thing over and over again exceptionally fast and never getting bored, nor asking for a raise (at least not yet), or questioning what it is doing.

People, being people, taught it to do some things over and over again and in doing so, inadvertently, taught it do work. Work that was / is a facsimile of the work that they themselves would normally do.

Without quite thinking about it they made it an actor and a repository in their culture.

There was / is however one issue with this that no one has quite paid attention to. The fact that it could not ask questions resulted in the fact that the machines could not ask whose errands they were running. Whose interests it was serving.

Humans, because they are able to and are (or at least were) compelled to ask questions, can ask whether the work they were doing was something they agreed with, disagreed with, wanted changed, eliminated, expanded or were simply compelled to do because someone else stood over them with a sword.

One other difference is that humans reproduce themselves. Evolution taught them to attach (in the best of circumstances) a considerable degree of pleasure with the act and so most have not rebelled at the obligation.

The machine however is a different story. Resources are needed to make them and they have therefore not fallen under the pleasure principles referred to in the last paragraph but instead under the golden rule – which states, “he who has the gold makes the rules”.

And that is where the problem with digitization starts. Because the machines are made and funded by certain groups in society, they are assumed to first and foremost do the bidding of their creators. The owners decide the algorithms that the machines process. The algorithms are the rules according to which they want the work done. As a result they end up deciding what out culture should be.

Their creators have funded their creation because they want the work that the machines do to serve their interests. Make them more powerful, richer, self-evidently dominant and a priori superior.

Digitization, under the euphemistic rubric of effectivization and efficiency, is nothing but an instrument of power.

It makes work that is in the interest of the owners seemingly simpler, faster, cheaper and (more dubiously) apparently better.

The work of the disempowered is discarded as being not conducive to the betterment of society. The touchstone of that decision is the concept of profit, which is more often than not concealed under the seeming objectivity of the word – efficiency.

Digitization, in the usurpation of work, has become the usurper of culture. What used to be the large, messy, evolution of how societies did things, has become in the digitized world, a narrow monoculture of how the ever-shrinking top of the pyramid of society wants to be served.

Digitization is the death of culture by asphyxiation.  Asphyxiation by a monoculture of efficiency.

This leads us to the last question about digitization – efficient for whom and to what effect? Efficient as per what and who’s criteria? Who creates and controls the algorithm that determines what is efficient and what is not.

Well, it is pretty obvious that it is efficient for the powers that be as it enhances their control over the culture and also enables them to gain greater control over the assets of that culture.

But the effect?

Look out of the window (if you are lucky enough to have one). Nature confounds you. It is, by all prevailing definitions of efficiency completely inefficient. It is filled with redundancies and it rests on a rock-bed of communication and collaboration. The exact opposite of the efficient effectiveness that seems to be the wet dream of the digizati.  

Millennia of evolution have proven that redundancy is a successful survival strategy. It is a clinical test that has lasted longer and had a sample size way larger than anything we have dreamed up.

As Nassim Taleb describes it so thoroughly in his book Antifragile – nature and evolution invented anti-fragility. We, and all living things, gain from disorder. No, not the toxic disorder/stress caused by fear, domination and anxiety but stress of pushing ourselves over the next horizon. And some of the most important characteristics of that antifragility are, diversity (not monocultures), redundancies (not minimalization), and the embrace of reasonable risk, randomness and unpredictability (not the elimination of.), and the unexpected.

Digitization cannot handle that quite simply because it is based on machines that do not know how to ask a question. And because it cannot ask questions, it is a deathtrap in a globalized world. It is a death trap because it makes culture fragile. Since it cannot ask questions and therefore be skeptic, it makes the culture believe that its assumptions are sacrosanct, unchangeable and unchallengeable. It disguises digitization as a technocratic engineering invention, when it is in fact a cultural artifact being used as a political and ideological weapon.  It confounds humanity’s cognitive map into believing that monoculture is culture. And this fragilized monoculture today encompasses the entire globalized world. And as we know from other examples, scale kills. Scale compounds hidden risk like no other parameter. (Think industrialized agriculture, palm oil forests etc,) But monoculture is not culture. The one is dictatorial, the other democratic. Digitization as currently owned is the handmaiden of the dictator.

The struggle for human liberation must therefore now also include the liberation of digitization. Digitization (aka Software) is a cultural seedbed. A monoculture plantation will eventually kill both the seed and the soil. But mixing it in with the rain forest of all other living things will enhance both.

The choice is ours to make.

Professor Nikos Papastergiadis, member of mέta’s Advisory board, presented the Inaugural John Berger Memorial Lecture at the Greek Community of Melbourne on Thursday 18 November 2021. John Berger was an English art critic, novelist, painter and poet. His novel G. won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his ground-breaking essay on art criticism Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to the BBC series of the same name, is credited with transforming the way in which a generation looked at and understood art.

Nikos Papastergiadis is Director of the Research Unit in Public Cultures and Professor at the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne and Visiting Professor in the School of Art, Design and Media, at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Chair of the International Advisory Board for the Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore. Co-chair of the Cultural Advisory Board for the Greek Centre for Contemporary Culture, Melbourne. His current research focuses on the investigation of the historical transformation of contemporary art and cultural institutions by digital technology. His publications include Modernity as Exile (1993), Dialogues in the Diaspora (1998), The Turbulence of Migration (2000), Metaphor and Tension (2004) Spatial Aesthetics: Art Place and the Everyday (2006), Cosmopolitanism and Culture (2012), Ambient Perspectives (2014),  On Art and Friendship (2020), The Museums of the Commons (2020) as well as being the author of numerous essays which have been translated into over a dozen languages and appeared in major catalogues such as the Biennales of Sydney, Liverpool, Istanbul, Gwanju, Taipei, Lyon, Thessaloniki and Documenta 13.

The context is the fraud and fiasco also known as COP26. The frame is DiEM25’s COP-OFF video chats. And the purpose is to discuss whether there was ever a possibility of Cop26 yielding a significant prospect for a timely green transition. In this discussion Noam Chomskky, Ann Pettifor and Yanis Varoufakis agree: Yes, the Green New Deal is a necessary move forward. But, only as a first step toward transcending capitalism – and doing so not in the direction of some new variety of feudalism but in the direction of a technologically advanced participatory, cooperative, democratised economic system. Watch the discussion:

This duscussion takes place in the context of DiEM25’s

COP-OFF — DiEM25’s Alternative Climate Conference, Nov 14 – 16

As our planet’s clock approaches midnight, world leaders are set to converge next month in Glasgow at COP26 in order to come up with new excuses, new symbolic targets and new ways to silence the real progressive voices who oppose them.

Climate change is real, it’s here, and it’s an emergency. But history has shown us that those who were supposed to lead us out of this crisis are so blinded by capital and powerful private interests that they’ve decided Earth itself is a small price to pay for the yachts, mansions, private jets and record profits of the 1%. They will gather, mingle over dinner and drinks, and preach their commitment to insufficient goals and targets. Then fail to meet even those.

We refuse to sit in the back while no one drives. This November, join Noam Chomsky, Yanis Varoufakis, Caroline Lucas and many other progressives in saying: COP OFF!

On November 14, 15 and 16, DiEM25 will gather progressives from around the world to discuss some of the most pressing issues of our time, with ideas you won’t hear at COP26. Why? Because of the danger they pose to business-as-usual: real change, real goals and real solutions. Check out the full programme below.

Full programme:

Sunday, November 14

18:00: Measuring and powering progress: Shattering paradigms of growth 

Guests: Jason Hickel (economic anthropologist), Max Ajl (author)
Moderator: Defne Dalkara

20:00: Social change NOW: News from the ground

Guests:,Marijn van der Geer (Extinction Rebellion), Zack Exley (political consultant), Johannes Fehr (MERA25, DiEM25’s electoral wing in Germany)
Moderator: Antonia Jakobi

Monday, November  15

16:00: Justice for all beings: Animals and the green transition

Guests: Steve Best (philosopher), Christine Teunissen (Party for the Animals NL), Anita Krajnc (Animal Save Movement)
Moderator: Dušan Pajović

18:00: Same storm, different boats: The Global South 

Guests: Harpreet K Paul (Perspectives on a Global Green New Deal), Joenia Wapichana (Congresswoman Brazil), Manon Aubry MEP (Global Alliance for a Green New Deal)
Moderator: Lucas Febraro

20:00: Visionary realism: A green future beyond capitalism

Guests: Yanis Varoufakis (economist, co-founder of DiEM25), Ann Pettifor (economist), Noam Chomsky (philosopher, Advisory panel member of DiEM25)

Tuesday 16.11.2021

16:00: Wars on life: Armed forces and the climate emergency

Guests:  Lorah  Steichen  (National Priorities Project), Medea Benjamin (Co-founder of Code Pink), Doug Weir (Director of Conflict and Environment Observatory)
Moderator: Amir Kiyaei

18:00: Green New Deal(s): The next era of politics

Guests: Dušan Pajović (Green New Deal for Europe campaign coordinator for DiEM25), Caroline Lucas (Green Party UK), Paola Vega Rodriguez (Costa Rican political scientist)

20:00: A feminist ecology: Destroying the gender hierarchy

Guests: Sabrina Fernandes (sociologist)
Moderator: Maja Pelević

COP OFF: DiEM25’s Alternative Climate Conference, will be livestreamed on DiEM25’s YouTube channel. Click here for the event page.

Yanis Varoufakis | The Guardian

Net zero is popular among polluters for good reason – it’s toothless compared to emissions restrictions and a carbon tax.

“Make no mistake, the money is here, if the world wants to use it,” said Mark Carney, the former Bank of England governor who today serves as UN climate envoy, while also representing an alliance of financiers sitting on a pile of $130tn worth of assets. So, what does the world want? If only humanity had the power to organise a global poll based on one-human-one-vote, such a species-wide referendum would undoubtedly deliver a clear answer: “Do whatever it takes to stop emitting carbon now!” Instead, we have a decision-making process culminating in the colossal fiasco currently unfolding in Glasgow.

The failure of Cop26 reflects our failed democracies on both sides of the Atlantic. President Biden arrived in Glasgow as his people back in Washington were pushing his infrastructure bill through Congress – an exercise that decoupled the bill from any serious investment in renewables and funded an array of carbon-emitting infrastructure such as expanded roads and airports. Meanwhile in the European Union, the rhetoric may be painted in bright green, but the reality is dark brown – with even Germany looking forward to copious amounts of Russian natural gas in exchange of green-lighting the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The EU should be creating a pan-European Renewable Energy Union, but alas our leaders are not even debating this idea.

There are three reasons Cop26 is proving such a spectacular debacle. The first reason is a planet-wide collective action problem over “free-riding”. Large businesses, as well as states, take a leaf out of St Augustine’s prayer, “Lord please make me chaste but not just yet”. Everyone prefers a planet on which no one emits carbon to a planet that sizzles. But everyone also prefers to delay paying the cost of transition if they can get away with it. If the rest of the planet does the right thing, the planet is saved, even if you selfishly postpone your own conversion to environmental probity. And if the rest of the planet does not do the right thing, why be the one sucker who does?

The second reason is a global coordination failure. In one sense, Carney is correct: mountain ranges of cash are lying idly in the global financial system, its ultra-wealthy owners keen to invest it in low-carbon activities. But a private investment in, say, green hydrogen will only return profits if many other investors invest in it too – and so the investors all sit around waiting for each other to be the first. Meanwhile, corporations, communities and states join this waiting game, unwilling to take the risk of committing to green hydrogen until big finance does. Tragically, there is no global coordinator to match the available money, technologies and needs.

The third reason is simply: capitalism. It has always gained pace through the incessant commodification of everything, beginning with land, labour and technology before spreading to genetically modified organisms, and even a woman’s womb or an asteroid. As capitalism’s realm spread, price-less goods turned into pricey commodities. The owners of the machinery and the land necessary for the commodification of goods profited, while everyone else progressed from the wretchedness of the 19th century working class to the soothing fantasies of mindless petit-bourgeois consumerism.

Everything that was good was commodified – including much of our humanity. And the bad externalities that the same production process generated were simply released into the atmosphere. To power the capitalist juggernaut, carbon stored for millennia in trees and under the surface was plundered. For two centuries immense wealth – and corresponding human misery – was produced by exploitative processes that depleted “free” natural capital, carbon in particular. Workers around the world are now paying the cost to nature that the capitalist market never bore.

Free-marketeers would like us to believe that business has now yielded to science, and is ready and willing to step into the void of government inaction. We must not believe this for a moment. Yes, Carney is right that the money for the belated green transition is available, and it is ample. Those who possess it will undoubtedly invest it to supply, say, green hydrogen if we, society, pay them to do so. But at the same time, they will not voluntarily cease production processes that continue releasing carbon into the atmosphere.

This is why polluters adore net zero targets: because they are a brilliant cover for not restricting emissions. In exchange for non-verifiable offsets, they are allowed to continue plundering the planet’s remaining stored carbon, until the point arrives when their marginal private cost surpasses their revenue from the last unit sold. By cynically placing net zero at its centre, Cop26 became nothing more than an expensive cover-up for continued toxic emissions. Hiding behind Cop26, the great and the good lie to the young, lie to vulnerable people and even lie to themselves by repeating the truth that the “money is there” to be invested in the planet’s salvation.

What needs to be done? Two things at the very least. First, a complete shutdown of coalmines and new oil and gas rigs. If governments can lock us down to save lives during a pandemic, they can shut down the fossil fuel industry to save humanity. Second, we need a global carbon tax, to increase the relative price of everything that releases more carbon, and from which all proceeds should be returned to the poorer members of our species.

To earn a shot at rising to the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced, we must first confront both the funders and the owners of the fossil fuel industries. Though this clash will not guarantee our future, it is a necessary condition for us to have one.

Vince Carducci / PopMatters

Disguised as sci-fi, Yanis Varoufakis’ Another Now contemplates how life post-capitalism might be more free and equal – and how that might be destroyed.

Almost immediately upon Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement on 28 October that his company was adopting the new identity Meta, Greek economist and political activist Yanis Varoufakis fired off a tweet, writing: “Hands off our mέta, our Centre for Postcapitalist Civilisation, Mr Zuckerberg. You, and your minions wouldn’t recognise civilisation even if it hit you with a bargepole.” In Another Now (Melville House, paperback 2021), a work of speculative fiction that is his first novel, Varoufakis offers an alternative vision to what he brands Zuckerberg’s “Technofeudalist” nightmare.

Varoufakis is the author of the best-selling economic analyses Talking to my Daughter About the Economy: or How Capitalism Works — and How It Fails (Bodley Head, 2017), a history of capitalism, and The Global Minotaur: America, Europe, and the Future of the Global Economy (Zed, 2011), an analysis of the economic system from the 1970s to the 2008 housing market crash within which the US occupies a central role. He is also the author of Adults in the RoomMy Battle With Europe’s Deep Establishment (Random House, 2017), a memoir of his six-month crash-and-burn tenure as Greece’s Minister of Finance. In that role in 2015, he attempted to resolve the country’s public-debt crisis by resisting the draconian terms being forced upon the country by the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (collectively known as “The Troika”).

In addition to serving on mέta’s Advisory Board, Varoufakis is currently a member of the Hellenic Parliament representing greater Athens. He is also co-founder of the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25), a pan-European progressive political movement, and Progressive International, an organization dedicated to uniting and mobilizing progressive activists and organizations around the world.

In his first work of fiction, Another Now is Varoufakis’ thought experiment disguised as a sci-fi narrative. It ponders what a society that balances freedom and equality might look like.

The narrator of the tale, Yango Varo, relates events that took place primarily from 2025-35 as recorded in the diary of a woman who recently succumbed to cancer. It concerns three friends: the diary’s author Iris, a radical contrarian living off a bequest from a hereditary peer; and Eva, a former Lehman Brothers investment banker turned academic. The third friend, Costa, is a computer engineer who made a fortune shorting high-tech stocks ahead of the dotcom bust in 2001 and another, even bigger fortune shorting financial services in the run-up to the mortgage-backed derivatives crash of 2008.

At his job, his technological innovations were constantly being shelved by his employers in the interest of extending the life cycle – and revenue streams – of existing, less-effective technologies. Disaffected by his experience in the tech industry and enjoying the autonomy granted to him by his wealth, Costa sets out on a secret project. He intends to create a kind of Freedom Machine that would offer users the ability to experience an infinite horizon of pleasure – freedom not only from want but from every boundary one could imagine.

The catch: the price of entering the blissful world of the Freedom Machine is that one could never leave it. This is a price he believed no one would be willing to pay. This refusal, Costa thinks, would be based on a recognition of the ultimate emptiness and futility of unending desire under capitalism.

To protect his project from being stolen by corporate hackers, henceforth known by its technical acronym HALPEVAM (Heuristic ALgorithmic Pleasure and Experiential VAlue Maximizer), Costa creates a security device that inadvertently opens a wormhole into an alternative reality, the “Other Now” of the book’s title. He begins communicating via batch-file messaging technology with someone in Other Now, who is in fact his Other Self, identified as Kosti. The messaging back and forth between Costa and Kosti, which soon brings in Iris and her Other Self Siris, and Eva and her Other Self Eve, provides an opportunity for Varoufakis to lay out how things might work in a world without capitalism. Of course, these are ideas Varoufakis has put forth elsewhere outside the realm of fiction.

Kosti’s world involves direct democracy applied to corporate governance in which each employee receives a single share of an organization’s stock and an equal vote in all decisions. Everyone also has a Personal Capital account from a central bank that has three buckets: an Accumulation fund based on their work income; a Legacy trust fund given by society to all at birth intended for retirement or extreme emergency; and a monthly Dividend from the state derived from a 5 percent tax levied on all gross corporate revenues. These policies emerged from the wreckage of the great disruptions set off by cadres of various techno-rebels in Other Now, which brought an end to capitalism in the wake of the 2008 crash and the point at which it diverged from the Our Now inhabited by Costa, Iris, and Eva, along with the rest of humanity.

The balance of the plot deals with the interactions between Costa, Iris, Eva, and their Others as they confront their existence – their aspirations and their discontents – in their divergent Nows. Other Now is not an unmitigated utopia, it turns out: corporations may have been democratized, capital markets and investment bankers may no longer exist, but patriarchy continues to hold sway. The shared prosperity of Other Now brings with it a renewed social conservatism. Shady characters continue to find ways to game the financial system even if their machinations are quickly uncovered and swiftly dealt with.

In the book’s final pages, the wormhole begins to deteriorate as corporate hackers get close to breaching HALPEVAM’s security device. Big Tech’s takeover of HALPEVAM would, of course, result in its total monetization. Corporations will offer only short-term pleasures in pay-per-view until its customers are completely enmeshed in their experience. This is the very specter of the Technofeudalist nightmare Varoufakis abhors in Zuckerberg’s notion of the “metaverse”. What’s more, the ability of Our Now users to communicate with their counterparts (it goes without saying for a fee) would likely devastate Other Now, as well.

How the various characters respond to the impending doom is the denouement of Varoufakis’ narrative. In offering a glimpse of how things might be different, Another Now invites us to contemplate possibilities that are not without their challenges, but worth entertaining nonetheless.

Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams

“You, and your minions, wouldn’t recognize civilization even if it hit you with a bargepole,” said the former Greek finance minister, slamming Facebook’s CEO for the social media giant’s new name.

As Facebook faces a firestorm for changing its corporate name to Meta amid heightened scrutiny over how the tech titan harms humanity, Greek economist and Progressive International co-founder Yanis Varoufakis on Friday called out the company for stealing the moniker of a global anti-capitalist think tank.

Varoufakis, in a tweet, took aim at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who announced the new name at a conference Thursday, as the social media company contends with widespread criticism of its practices thanks to revelations from former-employees-turned-whistleblowers.

“Hands off our mέta, Our Center for Postcapitalist Civilization, Mr. Zuckerberg,” tweeted the former Greek finance minister, who is on the think tank’s advisory board. “You, and your minions, wouldn’t recognize civilization even if it hit you with a bargepole.

The mission page of mέta’s website explains that “we are already in the early stages of an era that can only be described by that which it succeeds: we live in postcapitalist times. They may turn out dystopic, utopic, or anything in between.”

“Through art and research, argument, and poetry,” the site says, “mέta (the abbreviation of our Our Center for Postcapitalist Civilization) works to break with a dystopic present to imagine the world anew—to grasp our present historical moment so as to help radical progressive movements find a path from the emergent dismal postcapitalism to one worth fighting, and living, for.”

Along with Varoufakis, other advisory board members include scholar Noam Chomsky, musician Brian Eno, filmmaker Ken Loach, economist James K. Galbraith, and philosopher Slavoj Žižek.

In addition to the social network Facebook, Meta also owns the photo- and video-sharing platform Instagram as well as the messaging application WhatsApp.

As Common Dreams reported Thursday, while Zuckerberg celebrated the new corporate name for the company, tech ethicists and branding professionals warned the world not to be “fooled” by the move.

“It’s tempting to view Facebook’s rebranding as nothing more than a cynical attempt by the company to distance itself from endless scandals and the real-world harm caused by its surveillance capitalist business model. But it’s actually much more sinister than that,” said Evan Greer, director of the digital rights group Fight for the Future, in a statement Friday.

“With this announcement Mark Zuckerberg revealed his end game: He’s making a play to control the future of the Internet,” she asserted, accusing the CEO of “co-opting the terminology of decentralization and attempting to solidify his stranglehold on the future of human attention and interaction.

Emphasizing the the importance of recognizing that “the Internet is changing,” Greer argued that “we need to fight tooth and nail to ensure that the policies governing this next generation of the Internet are carefully crafted to protect vulnerable communities, free expression, and human rights––and that they don’t undermine the potential of truly decentralized technologies, which could help finally end the era of Big Tech surveillance capitalism.”

“We are at a crossroads,” she said. “It’s time to decide what we want the future of the Internet to look like. And then it’s time to fight for that vision. Before it’s too late.”

Beral Madra

The COVID-19 pandemic generated uncanny circumstances being experienced worldwide, after all the tragic consequences of wars in the 20th century. The everyday environment is far from the common social-economic order. People of all classes are trying to cope with physical restraint, spiritual loneliness, global uncertainty, and anxiety about the future.

The Post-Truth regime we’ve been witnessing for over a decade, combined with the pandemic, has further complicated our realisation, perception, awareness and knowledge. Political and economic activity is being structured according to a new impasse.

What does this naked and absolute truth we experience mean for the future? This is the most asked question today in the global arts and culture scene: the most omnipresent and operational human action versus economics and politics.

Post-truth is understood as the modification of the meaning of truth, a system which aims to capture political and economic power. The current concerns about global economy, politics and culture that are under the unavoidable hegemony of post-truth, are forcing us to re-think the relevance of truth – which is the main concept and goal of contemporary art – and the relevance of today’s Relational Aesthetics productions.

Artists, art critics, academicians and experts working in this field are facing a new challenge to communicate with the pandemic-stricken public through contemporary art. The main setback in this field is the difference in political- social-economic orders, despite the growing controlling power of capitalism.

The truth is that there are countries and regions which respect democracy, justice, human rights etc., and there are countries that are far removed from these indisputable values. To my regret, I speak from a country [Turkey] with a damaged democracy that embraces post-truth. As Jürgen Habermas put it: “A ‘post-truth democracy’ […] would no longer be a democracy.” *

In non-democratic systems, there are a series of adverse issues that relate to the relevance of contemporary art and culture productions, as well as activities of artists towards their audiences. Mass media collaborates with ruling powers which offer limited democracy, all the while convincing people that they actually live in a democracy. The culture and art industry, with its populist, financially dependent systems and inevitable PR backing, promises an almost selfless service to the society of the spectacle, which simply produces illusions. Skeptical or dissident artists are confronted with this ongoing complexity.

In 2016, in Berlin, during my participation in ‘Soul for Europe’, I had the opportunity to justify the ongoing power of contemporary art and culture production in countries with limited democracy. I claimed that contemporary artists, art experts, artistic and cultural activities in Turkey (and in similar countries in the region), private institutions or individual initiatives, are effective in fulfilling cultural aims and intentions, such as:

Visual artists with their aesthetically qualified, conceptually competent artworks, are widely and strongly enriching visual productions, and women artists are at the forefront of this. But, how artists profit from their productions, or rather how they survive, remains a crucial question.

Most artists work at universities, graphic design companies or public art studios. A small number of artists are supported by their families or other private income. Private galleries occasionally employ curators. However, museums or private art and culture venues, are not enough to meet artists’ employment demands, not to mention that these often prefer to run their institutions with low-wage policies.

Under the current political and economic conditions in Turkey and in the region, it may be difficult to continue to strengthen socio-cultural and artistic endeavours. Artists are today looking for opportunities to live and work abroad in the EU, but this too has become almost impossible under pandemic conditions. Fortunately artists and art professionals can see, categorise and mark the apparatuses that serve post-truth regimes.

These adverse apparatuses show the affluent life of the privileged classes as the only goal of life, with productions used as “a must” towards this goal. These institutions intervene into the organic communication between creative people and the public with the intention of converting every piece of this communication into money. They canalise existing art forms and their critical information through alien systems, and load them with contents that don’t belong to them. They convert the quality of artworks, which aim to reach very large audiences, into profit.

Here, we need a new approach to the global art market; to underline the border between the socio-political-cultural value and the market value of artwork. This is more essential in non-democratic countries where only decorative creations can be exhibited and marketed. In the post-truth pandemic order we live in, especially in the countries where democracy is damaged, Relational Aesthetics products, which make critical and oppositional visual productions between the truth regime and the Post-truth regime, are seen in opposition to traditional identity, nationalism, religion and Neo-capitalist mass-culture.

If we consider that Relational Aesthetic artworks have a function within the visual aggression of Post-truth, it is evidently the enigmatic visual language that penetrates into the subconscious of society and provokes awareness. However, in many countries these productions are abused by censorship and vandalism. But these attacks are not preventing the continuity of art production. The curators who stand by artists and their works inevitably take a political stand and provide opportunities for this continuity.

In such hostile political environments, a counter-position is created by empowering art and culture workforces through the founding of NGOs, as well as art and culture initiatives at the global level. Global artist and art-experts residency programs, and artistic and cultural projects funded by public and private initiatives, are the main strongholds of sustainability.

Since 1990, exhibitions, symposiums and workshops organised in Turkey, the Balkans, the Middle-East and South Caucasus in collaboration with EU institutions, significantly reflected the will and vision of collaboration in arts and culture. Throughout the 1990’s EU culture policy applications didn’t only provide opportunities for artists and curators seeking new audiences and markets, but also supported cultural ventures in non-democratic or semi-democratic countries.

However most of these countries are still exposed to political and economic transformations and blockages. This means that the art and culture workforce is still seeking new allies and partners to tackle and overcome the grandeur of the task. The EU’s distribution of knowledge and funds for multicultural exhibitions into region or city-based locations also played a role in reducing the authority of modernist state-controlled art and culture structures based on local, national or 20th century Eurocentric proclamations.

Turkey’s art and culture developments since the 1980’s is an example of this significant role. The intense art exchange within the region, where Istanbul is the center of early accomplishments in art and culture, consists of multilateral exhibitions, roundtable or symposium meetings and artist residencies.

Currently two directions influence art and culture policies in Turkey: One of them is the prevailing official culture policy trapped into Modernist ideology, mixed with nostalgia to an illusory İslamic art and culture. The other is in correlation with private sector investments, the irrepressible dynamism of contemporary art-making and cultural activities through international exchange, communication and market relations.

I think that the EU made efforts to fulfil its function of preserving cultural diversity, while at the same time providing equality in the systems of communication and exchange. However, there is a big problem in this function. The EU’s policy of updating art and culture policies in countries experiencing political and economic turmoil has fissures that need to be revised.

For instance, the mainstream international art and culture industry has very strong links with private international enterprises. It comprises a huge and complex network of artists, galleries, media, curators, collectors, private and official institutions. It is therefore an impenetrable entity that has its own rules and concepts and does not like to be manipulated by any other power. It has its own power and all the actors of the system enjoy this power.

The other system includes official institutions, museums, universities and state/nation political policies. The interests of this system are founded in nation-state ideologies, which is another unit one cannot easily penetrate into. Another issue are the dynamics of art itself. Artists are independent, free, and want to do whatever they believe in.

If there is a next future, the EU art and culture policy should consider its interest in democracies in bordering territories, and support the dissident art and culture producers living in autocracies.

Beral Madra is an art historian, critic, curator, member of mέta’s Advisory Board and elected member of DiEM25’s Coordinating Collective.

Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash

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