Posts Tagged ‘Marx’

I May Be A Fool, But I'm Nobody's Fool

13 Jun


Karl Popper


Unfortunately, all too predictable long before the November election. Chicago pols don't fall far from the tree. But any MSM reportage?

Nah, not a chance. Sadly, America continues to succumb to primitive stages of iron heel fascism, pure and simple, 21st century style. Jack London had it right.

And so was Huey P. Long, who is to have first articulated this American truism, evident today in both parties, depending on who's holding power at the time of the observation, "Sure we'll have fascism here but it will come as an anti-fascist movement." So with Obama's crackerjack collusion with big business along with enforcement of his health care apparatus in controlling the entire population, we who are not blind followers of a political party are obliged to point this out.

Josh Singer at 5:18pm June 13 wrote:
Fascism? I thought Obama was bringing socialism!?! Maybe you guys mean "7th Day Adventism"...?

The National Socialist Party, my friend, was a leftist, fascist power grab, fascism defined as corporatist government, and Obama has moved in that direction more than any president since George W. Bush. I'm sorry Josh that your level of understanding my language consists of labels and quick quips, but digging into the roots of political ideology reveals some very interesting tracks and pedigrees. You should shore up on the classics a bit more, or at least strengthen up your arguments. Just because I hang out with rock and rollers like yourself on occasion, and you've observed how inadequate I am to that task, doesn't mean I haven't spent my own time peeling back the onion of historical audacity and intrigue...

You seem to be a son of Plato, and in my book, that's not a good thing. I would explain, but this space is tragically limited, don't you think? But see Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies, if you appreciate a good start. Disagree with me, but don't take me as a fool. I may be a fool, but I'm nobody's fool.

I apologize Josh, if my writing seems to exert an air of nastiness, but that's not my intention. I write deliberately. take it or leave it, but I live among ideas, while personalities, at this stage of my life, not so much. Guess that's always been the case, but ever more profoundly in my middle 50s than ever...

And Plato, the philosopher king, strikes at the origins of despotism, at the origins of dictatorship straight through Marx and Hegel. I prefer the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, however flawed we citizens be. The struggle among self-owned individuals is far superior to any Dear Leader we have ever had the displeasure to witness...

Unfortunately America has long lost her way...

Don't adhere to the left, and don't adhere to the right. But based on those observable and theoretical principles addressing the way of all flesh, I am certain in my own mind that Obama is making things quite worse, either intentionally, or in poor judgment. And thus I say the same about those Democrats who now cling to their book on Marx.

SWILL: Economy But One Strata In Whole Geology Of Troubles

23 Feb




Date: 23 Feb 2001 03:07:35 +0000


Reading more from Article 3:

The SI also inherited a nineteenth century conception of materialism from the same sources. This legacy prevented SI critique from appreciating the complex alchemical processes which take place between subjective and objective facts (specifically the potent and complex role of existentialism and human psychological necessities which ensue from it). It is specifically this incomplete conception of materialism which gives rise to the naive revolutionism which anticipates that revolution follows dutifully on the heels of revelation—that human belief, perceptions and will follow meekly behind a radical description of the world. The uncomfortably ill-defined relationship of situationism with communist and anarchist blocs also derives from this unfinished work. This discomfort with other leftist bedfellows is in fact serious enough to raise questions about whether situationism is in fact compatible with these other traditions at all (or rather—vice versa).

Rebunk: I might caution against the use of the term "existentialism" in this instance, evoking as it does yer Sartres, Camus', Merleau-Pontys and the rest of yer "Temps Modernes" gang, especially when I think you're referring more to Keirkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky (have we discussed Heidegger ever?)

Ghe word Existentialism should definitely appear in the said declaration because it is a word which we cannot afford to lose to the enemy. However, I shall try to think of a phrase to add which briefly defines what is meant by it so that, as you say, it is distanced from the dreary likes of Sartre and Camus. As for Heidegger—wot a friggin kraut wanker he woz, eh? A genius without doubt but I'd sooner not have to actually go mince myself in any of that shit if it can possibly be avoided. (shoulda mentioned Husserl in there somewhere too—just to annoy the "antifascists").

Rebunk: These thinkers also have something in common with the young Marx, pre-autocritique Lukacs, and all of Korsch in the centrality that the notion of alienation holds within their work. If we can find some form of unification here—whose seeds exist in the work of the Frankfurt School; Kube has already mentioned Reich and Fromm, and I'd like to add Adorno and Benjamin...

Now my metaphor is this—suppose the handful of degrees of initial chill is equivalent to the relative deprivation induced by material shortages, by the exploitations of captalism. It sets up a chain reaction of social relationships which may in their turn worsen such shortages or in some other way worsen social cruelties or suppress consciousness.
Not happy with this. "Alienation" is a very much parenthesised version of angst. It tends to constrain the idea, once again, in the dated and inadequate conception that only the issue of production, of capitalist class relations, is what matters in the attempt to realize a better way of life. It tends to distract from the notion of SIN—of the root of alienation in an imperfect response to inherited (and personal) karma (to use no-doubt wholly unacceptable terms to convey a virtually indigestible idea). Reich and Fromm, for all their fine points, did precious little to redress this either, although the psychoanalytic school has certainly come out with some juicy stuff in recent years (such as 'Sexual Personae' and some of its very dubious political conclusions, which I plan to discuss sometime soon). Moreover—what kind of people think of themselves as "alienated" these days? Iffy kinds of people. The fact is that a LACK of alienation is no guide whatever as to whether a person is living a good life or not, and nor, basically, is alienation. All we see in this phenomenon is whether some particular individual is currently relatively successful or unsuccessful in losing him or herself in activity / whether LUCK (as much as anything else) is providing an adequate supply of options at a particular moment.

Rebunk: Then we can relocate revolutionary nihilism in the drama of everyday existence. From this I would tentatively argue that radical change takes place not after revelation, either through the presentation of a utopian ideology or pointing out the poverty of current conditions of existence, but after grasping the mechanisms of real social relations and locating the energies capable of transforming them.

Jahwohl. We are not so far apart on this at all, but to hell with the "tentatively" part. However whilst I do not dismiss the role of capital (therefore would not neglect to pay cheques into my bank account if I had any) the nature of those energies which do indeed transform real social relations is incredibly more subtle, and enduring, than the fixation on mere class-economics has long suggested. A prog on tonights TV suggests to me an example—600 million years ago, the earth for some reason suffered a smallish dip in average temperatures severe enough that in time the sea began to freeze over as far down as Texas. Because the frozen snowy wastes were WHITE, they reflected a substantial proportion of the suns heat back into space thereby making the chill increase geometrically. As a result the entire world was soon frozen solid EVERYWHERE. This flipping of state was basically irreversible—even at the equator there is estimated to have been a kilometre of ice. No free water, no rain—just one big snowball planet under a cold blue sky. (in fact this condition probably lasted for 10 million years until volcanic greenhouse gases flipped it back out). Now my metaphor is this—suppose the handful of degrees of initial chill is equivalent to the relative deprivation induced by material shortages, by the exploitations of captalism. It sets up a chain reaction of social relationships which may in their turn worsen such shortages or in some other way worsen social cruelties or suppress consciousness. It is entirely conceivable for the consequent social conditions to not only perpetuate unnecessary material scarcities even after the technological means of ending them altogether has been brought into existence, but even of increasing atrocities of various kinds as well as denuding life of warmth in general and replacing it with ever-growing suspicion, or hedonistic distractions from emptiness and the rest. The world could be trapped in such conditions for ten million years after the original economic cause has long since been irrelevant. Oh yes it could.

We must eliminate the assumption that reversing such a scenario hinges upon crude mechanisms, or else (at least) to prosper within it we must. The economy is but one strata in a whole geology of troubles—all of which are entirely REAL.



The SI Is Not Sports Illustrated

20 Mar




Originally published Mar 20, 1997; this discussion took place in the founding days on The Spectacle SI listserv between Sam Hutchinson in italics, and myself.

I don't want to dis your friend too hard here, but are you kidding me? If we are going to set up such a silly Marx/Engels parallel, then undoubtly the most apparent Engels would be Vanegiem. Now I will go out on a limb here and say that the truest heir to Debord's paper throne was Malcolm Maclaren. I recognize punk as more than a passing fad. It was a very subversive passing fad... The only significant press time Situ theory has received since '68 was that insane summer of '77. Count the ego drive that inevitably destroyed the movement each was so critical in creating and you have the beginnings of a very subtle parallel to be drawn.

True. Bracken acknowledges this, but still draws heavily from the language of Marx, while like the original situ thinkers, rejects the Soviet model, and rightly so, doesn't say too much about the Chinese model, but loves himself a Chinese woman, or two, actually can rarely ignore the opportunity to add several Asians to his whistling sidecar.

I question this Bracken's thinking concerning Situ theory. Capitalist pig? Situationism was not Marxism. it grew from a distrust of Marxism as well as a distrust of capitalism and a refusal of the polar dialectic the two combined to create. anarchy, if it is good, attempts to break out of these convenient structures of left and right and find a new form, a new city, a new avenue to the conditions of freedom... What have we learned these past few days? Me, I have basically decided that situationism can not be revived. it would be like this "punk-revival" that is so big these days. in mimicing the stances and attitudes of punk, you essentially repress you ability to create new stances and forms. punk was a violent refusal to allow that freedom, the freedom to create new stances, the freedom to be revolutionary, to disappear from the zone that is, for lack of a better term. as Peter Buck once said of the early days of R.E.M.: "When we would go to New York and play, everyone was like, no, that's not punk. Punk is three chords and spitting. But we always saw punk as being able to so whatever you wanted, even if you wanted to be a folk-punk band..." I think we can easily substitute "situationism" for punk in all of the above sentences. To relive the exploits of the past is to deny a creation of a now. If we are to be situationists of a contemporary epoch, we must at least have the nerve to bury the remains of the past. Otherwise we are just necrophiles fucking a long dead corpse. To sum up: I don't live in Paris, 1968. I live in Atlanta, 1997.

I wouldn't change a single syllable above. Bravo! Why can't Bracken fathom this? I think he was off on some island, too conservative, too young, or just too damned preoccupied with books and scholarly pretensions, and therefore not a part of the punk scene to admit that the world has screamed past 1968. But then, I'm not a textbook revolutionary. I'm an observer observing the observers, executing bad policies, that is to say, putting to death bad policies I have tested and found wanting....and as my doubts are eyeball high, the jury's still out given the book I'm just been paid to typeset, it's probably best for me to duck from this discussion for now.

At this point, I don't think any of us on this list are revolutionary. I bought this computer.

To your point, Sam, I shelled out big money on this upscale computer so that I could join the world of blips and bleeps, to face the fears of the future with ev'ry article of faith I have to exploit my need to communicate from the best beaches of childhood memory to the most stormy seashores chanced by aman in search of the most valuable one liner ever heard in the English language, and live out a simple life making simple choices, one or two maybe a few at a time, but I certainly do not feel qualified to speak for, or against, this bustling deaf world at large, except in spoonfuls of salt or vinegar meant for beggars and brothers who prove themselves not on the field of battle but upon the waves of friendship. I'm not neither parrot, nor paratrooper, sheep or wolf, victim or executioner until I have no other choices. It's time we realized that we cannot control the entire world with a well-placed verb, noun, or screaming decibel of a three-minute song, but it is the almighty decimal point that is being propped up by controlling powers pacing strategically around the globe that must be analyzed, attacked, and destroyed in due time. But most of us don't want to be around when that happens.

Bracken drives a Beemer, or is it a Volvo? I have no problem with that, and neither does he, obviously, but why if a typewriter is a revolutionary's best friend, tell me in the name of Bill Gates (my own nominee for Anti-Christ of the hour), does buying a computer make one "unrevolutionary"? This is one aspect of the materialism/born with nothing, die with nothing question I have never quite understood, although in some respects I feel the same burn because my wife has a tendancy to want to buy a new house, or the latest anything all the time. I confess to a degree the same desires, but mine are generally focussed entirely on software and hardware, and of course books. I don't need clothes or car. My house is satisfactory except for the inner city warzone where it's located keeping me juiced on paranoia with a nearly debilitating fear to tread outdoors.

Anyone taken as an individual is tolerably sensible and reasonable—as a member of a crowd he at once becomes a blockhead.Friedrich Schiller

The question of Marcus is a tricky one. He was my introduction to the SI and I agree that it's a great read, but on re-reading him last year in the midst of hundreds of other people's versions (I kid you not, I can send the 8-page bib.!), it is clear that Marcus either knows little about the politics of the SI post- '62 and/or glosses over many things in order to push his 'bohemian losers' line. There is a certain aestheticism and romanticism in Marcus' account that renders everything in the book as simultaneously crucial, vital, necessary and doomed, marginal, pointless. From what little I know of Len Bracken, I think he's just taking these kinds of qualms and magnifying them (in best pro-Situ fashion) into a stance of unwavering enmity.


Friedrich Schiller

I think you are probably right about this. The only flaw in this argument however is Bracken's own romanticism about everything Debordian to the point that he disagrees with damn near anybody who publishes an opinion concerning his master, so that his own opinion remains prominent in the minds of any potential acolytes. I rely upon Bracken's real life example in these matters because he is my strongest closest contact with all this revolutionary posture, and I'm new to the specifics of the SI, despite have been an independent rebellious sort while struggling for self-awareness for much of my life. Bracken, like myself, is a sports enthusiast, although I'm way past my prime. Yes, I had read Lipstick Traces, already. Still have my original hardcover on the bookshelves. But Bracken is local. He stormed in wearing this Debordian crown of thorns. He claims a certain pride of Debordian discipleship, so I'm sure he would not appreciate these "non-dialectical" details of his life coming off my keyboard, but to me the reality is that everything is dialectical or nothing is dialectical. I do not understand this solipsistic need to get social approval for one's revolutionary postures. Either one is revolutionary or one is not. The label is nothing but air and alphabet. Aestheticism, however, is not among Len's own bag of tricks, except as it regards his own personal hygiene and that of women. Is the situationist spiel merely a thinly disguised front for bagging women, I ask. With Bracken, it seems so. I hardly think the SI is Sports Illustrated. But thanks for the perspective...


"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""