The LeftEast interview with the American Marxist cultural theorist Fredric Jameson appeared a few days before the election, and its title — “People are saying ‘this is a new fascism’ and my answer is – not yet!” — has a different resonance now. There’s no indication of when, where, or how the interview was conducted, although some problems with the text suggest it was transcribed from a recording. In particular, there is the puzzling comment on the ideological maneuvers of one “Mrs. Teacher.” Presumably what Jameson actually said concerned a certain former British prime minister.
Jameson seems to indicate that identity politics led to the decline of the American labor movement, which I sure hope is another transcription error — because seriously, no, just no. The remarks on Ernesto Laclau make me hope that he’s written something substantial about him, or will. Otherwise, the only passage that’s made any impression over a couple of readings is the concluding exchange:
FB: Finally, do you think that the time of “big ideas” is over?
Jameson: No! This goes back to the 1960’s and the conviction that “big ideas” tend to be oppressive and undemocratic. It’s true that we don’t have any “big ideas” right now, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be looking for them. Adorno had an excellent analysis of the spread of empirical thought, especially American and British empiricism and he compared it with nominalism where you cannot see things dialectically. I think this is also a feature of post-modernity, but what I noticed is that people who don’t want to talk in terms of post-modernity or Marxism just say – that’s telling historical stories. I would conclude the other way around. The way to come back to “big ideas” is to look at the world historically. In this respect, history is a big idea. Calling for new ideas is calling for “big ideas”. Practice “instrumental thoughts”, as the Frankfurt School called them, is fixing little things, but not innovating. Whatsoever, nominalists and empiricists won’t be able to fix even the little problems that they claim to be interested in fixing.
This probably bears supplementing with a little Griemasian diagram with room for what we face now: the sudden, massive systemic convulsion of capital’s death drive on steroids.