The Middle is Still Yours

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The most noticeable aspect of_ The Middle is Still Yours,_ or perhaps its principal feature, is that it does not quite seem whole. With regards to its aesthetics, communicative intention, and visual display, it contains seemingly disparate elements placed adjacent to one another, rather than cohesively tied together to form a visual whole. There may be merit to this claim. But there is also a narrative flow, enhanced and/or informed by the poster's mild discursiveness, that weaves the four block chunks of this piece together. If that much is not apparent, or at the very least, identifiable, then the content is likely lost to the vagaries of the form, and there is little point to proceeding step-by-step through the piece.

The linchpin of the varied/varying message is the rhetorical representation of severe geological and environmental trends as structural change. I do not know how much weight that term carries in scientific discourse, specifically that of climate change, but I am certain that it does not evoke and invoke all that it does to those familiar with or active in radical politics, critical texts, or history of political struggles. This is not an admission that the intended audience of the poster is confined to students buried deep in The German Ideology or active in at least one of Brown's student group's left of Brown Democrats. I think Brown's campus is an appropriate forum for this message precisely because so many students here have encountered the term through a number of potential courses or associations.
That being said, why make the allusion between the structural transformation of society, which would include a radical re-shaping of the systems of production and organization that condition social relations, and the structural changes on the earth's surface and composition? It is no longer considered a possibility, but a common-sensical notion, that capitalist globalization and global environmental trends are inextricably linked, and that the currently dominant global system of organization and production will continue to produce disastrous environmental patterns with severe implications for human life, human welfare, and the responsibility of societies and governments to respond to impending crisis in a creative and collective manner. The apocalyptic rhetoric aside, this is, I believe, a deeply ingrained altogether overly familiar idea in this country. Many of us saw Children of Men. Green consumerism prevails. Sustainable food is so, so sexy. We know already- go green, stay green, and continue to fight the good fight.

But there is still something lacking. Maybe we all sense that, maybe we don't, maybe we do but in different ways. The tasks of consciousness-raising and political organization, on many levels, are certainly not complete. We will have to continue to pool our collective talents and abilities together in creative and unprecedented ways to soften the blow of the impending disaster all the futurists and futurologists tell us is coming. But when climate change is measured, quantified, calculated and projected, how do we as receivers of that information truly respond in creative and unprecedented ways? Politics, industry, and climate change; dialogically and dialectically linked. Is this a matter of resource and access to the hallowed vaults of supreme technocracy, or is there something else, too? In a way this crisis of response hearkens back to Weber's crisis of modernity: how are we to fashion, let alone produce, meaning in our hyper-compartmentalized world? When you find yourself measured and laid out, to scale, between two points on our climate change map?

I view the bottom image as divided into four quadrants. To the left is the Bolivian government and the promise and hope of political alternativity that it presents. To the right are the multinationals, with their promise of creatively applied technology for the public good. Below, is the lithium, the resource. And above, is everything else human. As hopeful as the promise of the Bolivarian Revolution incarnate and Latin American socialism may seem, and as much as the conflict over the lithium reserves must be assessed in pragmatic as much as ideological terms, it is absolutely necessary to remember not to get caught in the middle or measured on both quantitative and ideological spectra. The promise, and hope, human possibility is to continue to use science and ideology in creative and unprecedented ways.

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