Jeremy Gilbert, University of East London
8 October 2019
Something ended around 2016, as Trump, Brexit and Corbyn became central topics of everyday political discourse. Ever since the early 1990s, mainstream politics in the English-speaking world had been dominated by the success of the neoliberal politico-economic programme, and a cultural agenda that promoted socially-liberal, cosmopolitan, individualistic values. Theorists had claimed that we were now in an epoch of ‘postmodernity’; even that we stood at ’the end of history’. But the truth is that this was always just another phase in the long history of capitalism. That phase has ended now for various reasons – such as the rise of social media and ‘platform capitalism’ – leaving us in a turbulent situation characterised by the rise of new forms of politics on the right and on the left: from the alt-right to Corbynism. What these different forms of politics share is a rejection of the authority of the professional political class, that has managed our societies on behalf of finance capital and Big Tech since the 1970s. But what can replace that authority and the culture that it endorsed? What are the dangers and opportunities facing us in this new era, after the end of the ‘long 90s’?
Jeremy is Professor of Cultural and Political Theory at the University of East London. His most recent publications include Twenty-First-Century Socialism (Polity 2020) and Hegemony Now : How Big Tech and Wall Street Won the World , co-authored with Alex Williams (Verso 2022).He writes regularly for the British press (including the Guardian, the New Statesman, open Democracy and Red Pepper) and for think tanks such as IPPR and Compass.He has been involved with both mainstream party politics and extra-parliamentary activism throughout his adult life, having been an active participant in the social forum movement of the early 2000s as well as active for many years in trying to build links across the ‘soft’ and radical lefts of the Labour Party. Jeremy is an an advisor to and participant in a range of ongoing projects such as The World Transformed and the New Economy Organisers Network. He has also participated in many cultural projects, particularly connected with music and sonic culture, and is a founder member of Lucky Cloud Sound System and Beauty and the Beat, two successful and respected collectives that have been organising regular dance parties in East London since the early 2000s, at many of which he still regularly DJs.Jeremy also maintains a lifelong commitment to public education outside the academy, currently hosting Culture, Power, Politics, a regular series of free open seminars and lectures.