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zhao
08-12-2009, 11:44 PM
I will probably end up buying this Capitalist Realism book, as I'm sure it includes plenty of good analysis, clever arguments, and amusing concepts. But reading Woebot's review (http://www.hollowearth.org/blog/2009/12/capitalist-realism.html) of it, 1 passage stood out more than the others (some of which were also eyebrow raising), and fits all too well with what i have been thinking for a long time:

People used to make music because they wanted to touch the stars, stick it to the man, tear up the place, chant down Babylon, explore new possibilities**, or to lose themselves in Dionysian abandon on the dancefloor. Now they do it to be a "big man" or "a famous person" or "rich" or - and this is the most pervasive and specious example of Capitalist Realism with regards to music- "a career".

The "non-mainstream" has been afflicted with its own strain of Capitalist Realism. The extremely unhealthy embrace of business concepts like "the long tail" and "narrow-casting" has wiped out the underground's ability to communicate universally, fostering as it does self-serving enclaves ever decreasing in scale. We might not sell shed-loads of records - but we know what our market is! So many small label bosses now view themselves with a certain amount "professional" pride as respectable small businessmen.


It is actually not quite clear if this was a paraphrase of the book, or Woebot's own woeful moan inspired by K-Punk. The latter seems more likely, but it doesn't matter for what I am about to say. More important than the obvious questions such as which People-Who-Wanted-to-Touch-the-Stars and Left-Lipstick-Traces he is idealizing ---- does this passage not exactly describe the motive and modus operandi of these "Anti-Capitalist" bloggers and theorists??

The K-Punk brand is instantly recognizable, friendly in that "yes everything sucks, i know how you feel" kind of way (not to mention oversized type), and non threatening with plenty of low-culture entry points. It integrates multiple components (other related critical projects), facilitates communication within a synergetic network (of bloggers), and has been carefully built over the years, carving out and cornering a niche market, gaining momentum and strength. Well aware of the dangers of Brand Dilution, K-Punk realized that it was necessary to distance himself from and discredit those with different ideas on how to combat Capitalism, and especially those who are less bitter and miserable: all these "pot smoking dads". Brand consistency throughout all levels of operation has helped the one man organization grow and prosper, driving an ever increasing readership, toward the kind of return that the publishing of this book or the praise from Zizek represents.

There is of course absolutely nothing wrong with utilizing what ever means necessary to get your ideas out there, and corporate marketing and branding strategies are some of the best means available given the context. But to use them while condemning others for using them, assuming a smug air of superiority, this is simple hypocrisy.

It is shaping up to be a real success story indeed: one anonymous blogging entrepreneur pulls himself up from the bootstraps, and through hard, persistent work, was able to stand out from the riff raff, gain notoriety in the public sphere, credibility within academia, as well as praise from the heavy weights. ( even though I haven't yet read the book I have followed enough of the blog to know a thing or 2 about how it works, and has worked)

So are there no alternatives*? According to K-Punk and his ilk, pretty much no (besides a bit of obligatory verbiage about "intellectual improvement" -- in order to even better articulate the lack of alternatives, no doubt). Because ultimately they are of course not interested in real rebellion, revolution, changing the world, or alternative methods of existence. They are not interested in solutions, only in convolutions. In fact, the last thing they want to do is point to any ways out. Quite the opposite: the obsessive analysis of Capitalism and its omnipotency is designed to be solipsistic, to exist within a closed system. For only when there is no way out can the theorizing continue. Only when there are no alternatives can they keep crying wolf about the lack of alternatives.**

The world is a huge place, with countless different philosophies and ways of life, innumerable realities. But it is in the interest of these theorists to discount all of them except theirs, and paint a claustrophobic view of a dark world dominated by Capitalism. All the while reveling in the trashiest hollywood and honey mooning in Euro Disney.

A friend all of you know said the last time i saw him: what would K-Punk do if another May 68 was to happen? Or if he was somehow made to confront the realities of what is happening in the Congo, instead of sitting in the comfort of his home playing "i am cleverer than you" games? the only answer, the only thing he would and can do, is to shut up and disappear.

At the end of the day, it is a Big Lie. Even more hypocritical than the US leftist intellectuals Chomsky called out a while back (they wave Open Border flags fully knowing, and are only willing to do so fully knowing, that what they say they want will never become reality), "critical" theorists like K-Punk are themselves 100% Capitalist, depend on Capitalism for their survival, and deifies Capitalism in the name of criticality. The well built machine of circular logic makes perfect sense within its own frame work. It skillfully seduces you, and makes you blind to the emptiness and profound lack of meaning in its center. But a few of us see through the clever Bullshit: his real goal is self agrandizement -- to be a "big man" or a "famous person" or "rich" or "a career"***.



*Of course there are. Creativity can transcend; spiritual disciplines can get rid of psychic vampires, end addictions, build true independence; direct grass roots political action can have positive effects; new organizational models hint at the obsolescence of old power structures; love breaks down all barriers... But most of these the critical theorists are not interested in. The opposite: they are against many of these things, especially spiritual disciplines and other "New Age Kooky Kalifornia Bullshit".

**Again, not saying that K-Punk's stuff is completely without value. (Entertainment value)

***Nothing wrong with these motives what so ever. We all want attention, me and my own ego certainly not excepted. But when considered with K-Punk's project, the disingenuousness is a little hard to swallow.

poetix
09-12-2009, 10:04 AM
Of course there are. Creativity can transcend; spiritual disciplines can get rid of psychic vampires, end addictions, build true independence; direct grass roots political action can have positive effects; new organizational models hint at the obsolescence of old power structures; love breaks down all barriers... But most of these the critical theorists are not interested in. The opposite: they are against many of these things, especially spiritual disciplines and other "New Age Kooky Kalifornia Bullshit".

Ah, there's the beef. I did wonder.

Let's consider the question: to what extent, if any, is the way in which k-punk has drawn together and consolidated a public distinguishable from the PR model of publicity? Inversely, to what extent is the PR model of publicity distinguishable from other forms of making-public that have gone before it (18th-century political pamphleteering, say)?

What are the specific characteristics of the PR model? (Capitalist Realism has a few things to say about this, in fact).

One thing I would note is that it's comparatively unusual for those involved in PR-style self-promotion to decisively reject communication, to insist on talking only to those who themselves have something of value to say. PR people will work to neutralise, mute or tune out hostile voices, of course, but they're usually more than happy to engage with inane ones.

The activities Zhao lists as "alternative" are not, by and large, alternative ways of convening a public for ideas: they're other more or less worthwhile things one might try to do instead (or at the same time). Writing and publishing blogs and (short, polemical) books is a particular kind of activity: it's about practising a rhetoric, and setting up a context of critical reflection in which the content of that rhetoric can be taken up and modified. That is a form of political activity; or, at least, it's a form of activity that intersects with the political (possibly less frequently and significantly than anyone involved in it imagines).

Is convening a public for ideas an intrinsically anti-capitalist activity? Does it become one if the ideas are anti-capitalist ideas? No and no (the latter is a point that Zizek's made repeatedly: capitalism and the dissemination of anti-capitalist ideas - along with ostensibly anti-capitalist "lifestyles" and "spiritual disciplines" - are compatible to the point of symbiosis). At the same time: isn't an anti-capitalism without a common tongue, without ideas and the rhetorical means to consider them, rather easily disarmed and reduced to infantile negation? And aren't ideas without a public equally easily reduced to mere notions in the silly heads of private individuals?

zhao
09-12-2009, 11:09 AM
Let's consider the question: to what extent, if any, is the way in which k-punk has drawn together and consolidated a public distinguishable from the PR model of publicity?

your phrasing suggests that there are differences in the process or method, but whether there are or not is less important than self agrandisement and the increase of "market shares" clearly being the goal of what he does, and the fact that this real aim is hidden under the make-believe one of "destroying capitalism".


One thing I would note is that it's comparatively unusual for those involved in PR-style self-promotion to decisively reject communication, to insist on talking only to those who themselves have something of value to say. PR people will work to neutralise, mute or tune out hostile voices, of course, but they're usually more than happy to engage with inane ones.

unless unflinching tough solidarity, image of the lone blogger, is an essential part of the brand.


The activities Zhao lists as "alternative" are not, by and large, alternative ways of convening a public for ideas: they're other more or less worthwhile things one might try to do instead (or at the same time).

neither. the activities i listed were meant to be examples of alternatives to the behavioral modes proscribed by commodity culture. they are concrete things in opposition to Capitalist Mind Control, activities which can help to cleanse ourselves of artificial desire, rid our bodies of alien entities, and overcome enforced alienation. for example ancient spiritual teachings of the world supply each one of us with powerful weapons to combat oppressive systems (Captialism is by far not the first oppressive system people fought against).

the point is that there are many many real physical things we can do to become free, or at least free-er, of Capitalism -- but people like K-Punk are more than disinterested: they are against them, ignorantly writing them off as "new age fads". Preferring to revel in Capitalism instead while endlessly bitching about it.


capitalism and the dissemination of anti-capitalist ideas - along with ostensibly anti-capitalist "lifestyles" and "spiritual disciplines" - are compatible to the point of symbiosis). At the same time: isn't an anti-capitalism without a common tongue, without ideas and the rhetorical means to consider them, rather easily disarmed and reduced to infantile negation? And aren't ideas without a public equally easily reduced to mere notions in the silly heads of private individuals?

Zizek's idea of "spiritual disciplines" being able to be so completely co-opted by the system as to become a part of it shows how much he knows about spiritual disciplines -- not much. We are talking about comprehensive physical, mental, spiritual disciplines which have been used for thousands of years to fight oppressive power and its influence, and he thinks they can be co-opted by a social system which is no more than a few hundred years old? and why, because all he sees are yuppies in Slovenia going to trendy Yoga classes? he is in many ways a very intelligent man, not when it comes to this.

you are right about the importance of communciation of course. and i would also add collaboration to that:


When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion. ~Ethiopian Proverb

but K-Punk and his kind are not interested in building community of like minded people to fight Capitalism or create viable alternatives is he? the only thing he is interested in is Self Agrandisement. that and deifying Capitalism as an invincible sky-net-esque Super Monster which is IMPOSSIBLE to defeat -- so long as he can convince people of this, he can continue bitching about it all the while reveling in it.

but like i said, i don't think K-Punk's work is without value. and i hope my pointing out of its hypocrisy and fraudulent aspects does not take away from anyone's enjoyment of it, or keep anyone from being inspired by it.

edit: damn i can't decide to start using caps or leaving it all lowercase like usual.

vimothy
09-12-2009, 11:17 AM
People used to make music because they wanted to touch the stars, stick it to the man, tear up the place, chant down Babylon, explore new possibilities**, or to lose themselves in Dionysian abandon on the dancefloor. Now they do it to be a "big man" or "a famous person" or "rich" or - and this is the most pervasive and specious example of Capitalist Realism with regards to music- "a career".

With respect to Woebot, this is bullshit.

Mr. Tea
09-12-2009, 11:28 AM
Well I'm pretty sure Mozart (for example) enjoyed being a "rock star" in his day. The explosion of no-mark celebreality numpties over the last decade or so notwithstanding, it's hardly as if celebrity, stardom and groupies are phenomena exclusive to recent history.

I also don't think it's impossible to want to make art for art's sake while enjoying the more tangible or worldly benefits it can bring if you're popular.

zhao
09-12-2009, 11:31 AM
Ah, there's the beef. I did wonder.

that may be the most visible or obvious incident, but it runs deeper and longer than that.

i have always been interested in critical theory, taking classes outside of requirements in Uni and all that. but ever since i started studying that stuff i have felt deeply conflicted about it...

scottdisco
09-12-2009, 11:32 AM
At the same time: isn't an anti-capitalism without a common tongue, without ideas and the rhetorical means to consider them, rather easily disarmed and reduced to infantile negation?

fair point.

funnily enough, i don't think k-punk is a fan of http://www.zachariel.nl/graphics2/nl%20no%20logo%20cover.jpg

(may be wrong)


Well aware of the dangers of Brand Dilution, K-Punk realized that it was necessary to distance himself from and discredit those with different ideas on how to combat Capitalism, and especially those who are less bitter and miserable: all these "pot smoking dads".

here's some beef, right here.

like the covers, sharp lines, strong colours, clean.

http://www.cinestatic.com/infinitethought/uploaded_images/odwcover-710632.jpg

http://www.frieze.com/images/front/mm_owen.jpg

is this out yet Poetix?

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_osEBUdkOInQ/Scwt25JxbiI/AAAAAAAAAAs/PUIeJ6kTbxY/s320/Cold_World_cover_72.jpg


Preferring to revel in Capitalism instead while endlessly bitching about it.

i may be wrong here, and i could've misread him, but this reminded me of the time k-punk went to bat for (Rupert Murdoch's) SKY on his blog some time ago, in opposition to the BBC. i think a few New Left Review heads did this back in the day as the fearful beastie that was SKY would hopefully clean out the Augean stables of the Atlanticist British/High Tory/Auntie establishment (so the thinking went).

sorry rather OT but just thought of this upon reading what Zhao said here.

massrock
09-12-2009, 11:39 AM
Credit to swears.

http://www.dissensus.com/showpost.php?p=201662&postcount=187

A cheap shot, but funny.

poetix
09-12-2009, 11:44 AM
Book's been out a little while. There's some "spiritual discipline" right there, for them as can read for it.

poetix
09-12-2009, 12:25 PM
k-punk against the licence fee (k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/archives/003029.html) (2004)

k-punk in the kastle of sky (k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/archives/010280.html) (2008 - this episode was the seed of a section of Capitalist Realism on call centres)

A point worth bearing in mind here is that much of Capitalist Realism isn't concerned with markets as such, but with the marketisation of things that aren't markets and can only be treated as markets by systematically deforming them from the inside out. This is a fairly common complaint of people who've worked in the English education system (or indeed any of our public services). A lot of what the book's about is the damage wrought by the imposition of market dynamics as a kind of reality principle.

"Capital" is not a synonym for "money", and "capitalism" is not a synonym for "markets".

massrock
09-12-2009, 12:28 PM
Maybe this is really obvious, and possibly a bit unfair, but might a preoccupation with 'diagnosing our predicament' not sometimes be a reflection of a more personal situation unrecognised, or disavowed ('it's not me - it's capitalism'), as such, projected outwards? Not to imply that there aren't real social, economic, political, cultural issues, but if the very 'disease' that produces and maintains the macro symptoms of 'capitalism' goes un-addressed in the individual, maybe all that can be done is to replicate it. Physician heal thyself, innit.

I guess someone like k-punk would (predictably I suppose) actively reject such a reading of the libidinal impulse behind his 'project'.

poetix
09-12-2009, 12:34 PM
All projects are workings-out of libidinal problems. The interesting ones work their way out to somewhere new.

Mr. Tea
09-12-2009, 12:39 PM
All projects are workings-out of libidinal problems. The interesting ones work their way out to somewhere new.

Ha, could the word 'project' be expanded in scope to include things as big as:

the Third Reich,
the Soviet Union,
the Cultural Revolution,
the New American Century? (this one actually is/was a 'project', of course)

Sorry, being a bit flippant...thought it might be worth mentioning anyway.

zhao
09-12-2009, 12:40 PM
Maybe this is really obvious, and possibly a bit unfair, but might a preoccupation with 'diagnosing our predicament' not sometimes be a reflection of a more personal situation unrecognised, or disavowed ('it's not me - it's capitalism'), as such, projected outwards? Not to imply that there aren't real social, economic, political, cultural issues, but if the very 'disease' that produces and maintains the macro symptoms of 'capitalism' goes un-addressed in the individual, maybe all that can be done is to replicate it. Physician heal thyself, innit.

I guess someone like k-punk would (predictably I suppose) actively reject such a reading of the libidinal impulse behind his 'project'.

the personal is of course undeniably the political, but then again there are cases of the enemy being after one's own precious bodily fluids.

but what you describe can probably be found in every case: the critical impulse of course stems from an initial personal dissatisfaction or mal-adjustment to surroundings. those for whom the status quo serves well are usually not against the status quo.

vimothy
09-12-2009, 12:43 PM
Let's consider the question: to what extent, if any, is the way in which k-punk has drawn together and consolidated a public distinguishable from the PR model of publicity? Inversely, to what extent is the PR model of publicity distinguishable from other forms of making-public that have gone before it (18th-century political pamphleteering, say)?

What are the specific characteristics of the PR model? (Capitalist Realism has a few things to say about this, in fact).

Go on...


One thing I would note is that it's comparatively unusual for those involved in PR-style self-promotion to decisively reject communication, to insist on talking only to those who themselves have something of value to say. PR people will work to neutralise, mute or tune out hostile voices, of course, but they're usually more than happy to engage with inane ones.

Hmm, a convenient distinction. CR engages with hostile voices, but cuts off the inane ones; PR does the reverse.

You know, it is hard to read Mark's farewell to Dissensus as anything other than the desire to lock into a properly solipsistic mode of "resistance", where the philosopher-radicals leave the world and all its stupid morlocks behind and go off and perfect their hermetic codes in peace. Reminds of something Nick said in response to K-Punk during an argument about capitalism at Hyperstition:


"Yes, there are interesting discussions about capitalism to be had, but not here" - absolutely classic. We answer back - bastards!!! - Not a problem you'll find in the K-Punk bunker.

But this action has a theoretical determinant—this is not mere rejection, but also a politics—right? That seems like a big stretch to me.

massrock
09-12-2009, 12:47 PM
the Third Reich,
the Soviet Union,
the Cultural Revolution,
the New American Century? (this one actually is/was a 'project', of course)

Sorry, being a bit flippant...thought it might be worth mentioning anyway.
Flippant maybe, but that is kind of the thing. Being especially careful to distinguish 'our predicament' from 'mein kampf', at least as far as this plays out in public and one has influence, you know?

massrock
09-12-2009, 12:50 PM
LOL, I think we just compared k-punk to Hitler.

scottdisco
09-12-2009, 12:55 PM
but with the marketisation of things that aren't markets and can only be treated as markets by systematically deforming them from the inside out.

obviously a sensible point.


Yeh, Murdoch's papers and channels are to some extent influenced by their proprietor's interests. But so what? I for one find the Times less alienatingly bourgeois than the Guardian (used to love all Burchill's digs on this when she was there!).

I know everyone's going to spit on me for saying this, but isn't Murdoch rather like Thatcher in that you might not like him personally, but can you really say that Britain was better BEFORE he arrived? I still remember the sneering and complacency about the arrival of satellite from the elite; 'as if we, with the best TV in the world, need THIS.'

(my emphases.)

hmm.

Vim OTM

scottdisco
09-12-2009, 01:00 PM
@Poetix, thanks for the links, clearly i misremembered quite what k-p said about the BBC, for some reason in my mind i had thought up some epic Perry Anderson-style attack on Auntie from him (!)

if i may plug another blogger book

http://www.atomicbooks.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/5e06319eda06f020e43594a9c230972d/3/3/3313v67.jpg

massrock
09-12-2009, 01:12 PM
but what you describe can probably be found in every case: the critical impulse of course stems from an initial personal dissatisfaction or mal-adjustment to surroundings.
Right, nothing wrong with critique or expressing dissatisfaction with external circumstances.

What I mean, and as I say this might be a bit unfair but still, is that a preoccupation or obsession, building an identity around this, after a certain age at least, coupled with an aggressively dismissive attitude to towards 'silly spiritual' approaches, might sometimes be indicative of more personal issues that could be tackled. I mean understanding that circumstances are unsatisfactory is one thing, but understanding what actually makes you feel dissatisfied inside is another, for instance.

those for whom the status quo serves well are usually not against the status quo.
That's interesting though because I don't think privileged or powerful people can be said to be more satisfied, fulfilled or happy because of their privilege. What happens usually is that they express that in different ways - abusing those below them on the social strata, or starting wars, maybe. The fundamental issue remains the same though.

Mr. Tea
09-12-2009, 01:20 PM
"I for one find the Times less alienatingly bourgeois than the Guardian."

Haha, excellent - another one falls foul of Tea's Law: 'Use of the word "bourgeois" as a handy catch-all smear is pretty much the most bourgeois thing you can possibly say'.

Burchill, also, a tiresome self-satisfied wannabe-working-class inverted snob.

padraig (u.s.)
09-12-2009, 01:40 PM
Maybe this is really obvious, and possibly a bit unfair, but might a preoccupation with 'diagnosing our predicament' not sometimes be a reflection of a more personal situation unrecognised, or disavowed ('it's not me - it's capitalism'), as such, projected outwards?

that is unfair, full stop. however, it's esp. pernicious in this context b/c it's an ad hominem attack that has long been hurled against radicals of all stripes. ted kaczynski comes to mind as an extreme case; before he was caught the media romanticized the hell out of him, this mysterious revolutionary figure. then once it came out he had a beard and lived off the grid in a cabin in the woods in Montana, he was "crazy". it was an unhappy childhood, an inability to make friends, etc - anything but his actual - agree or not - critique (tbc I'm not defending the man or his actions, just pointing out the way in which this charge - that it's merely personal problems - is used to undermine & marginalize). I don't doubt that the personal plays a role in everything, how could it not? I don't care one way or the other about k-punk but it's unfair to suggest that he or anyone else is motivated simply by bitterness - you've no idea, nor do I - as well as a convenient way to sidestep whatever they have to say.

vimothy
09-12-2009, 01:43 PM
A point worth bearing in mind here is that much of Capitalist Realism isn't concerned with markets as such, but with the marketisation of things that aren't markets and can only be treated as markets by systematically deforming them from the inside out. This is a fairly common complaint of people who've worked in the English education system

I think (hope) that I can speak to this.

For those that don’t know, when Labour came to power in 1997, they wanted ramp up spending on education. To do this, they looked around for an intellectual framework that might justify their policies to the public and to the sector itself. The “marketisation” of education under Nu Labour should be understood as the product of a particular strain of politicians and their desires (improving social welfare; keeping power), and a number of theoretical, academic worldviews (namely, school effectiveness and school improvement (http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t714592801)). Meat meets machine—like the Bolshevik revolution or the use of the Gaussian copula model to price collateralised debt obligations.

Among other things, politicians understood school effectiveness and school improvement as explanations for how they could use indicators to justify spending increases to the public. If everyone is improving on their performance measures, then—to torture this metaphor some more—the return on investment is good and we are making a profit. The public will love us. We will get re-elected. The theory provides intellectual cover for policy decisions (increasing spending on education) and a framework for evaluating their success.

So the “marketisation” of education turns out to have been carried out for fairly traditionally leftist goals, as well as the generic aim of political survival. But these purposes notwithstanding, to what extent did the reforms really “marketise” education? It all depends on what you mean. Labour expanded education as a proportion of government outlays, which is not normally how one goes about reducing the influence of the state and increasing the influence of markets. What they did was try to some extent to do something that is comparable to what markets do. They tried to make improvements quantifiable. Like a company’s net profit, a school’s league table position or value added score tells us whether they are a winner or a loser, successful or unsuccessful. And so we hope that something like market discipline is introduced into the equation. Of course, the reality is actually pretty fucked up. But education should not be confused with an actual market. The "marketisation of education" is just a metaphor (if a popular one) that describes its reorientation along performance-based lines in order to justify spending increases. It is not literally true. There is no market for education that wasn’t there before New Labour took power. There is no market for education inside the state-dependent school system.

vimothy
09-12-2009, 01:46 PM
Oh and,


He argues, convincingly using the theory of Marxist economist Christian Marazzi, that when the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 20 points on October 6th 1979, a shift was made to the Post-Fordist industrial climate and employment was increasingly out-sourced.

Really?

hucks
09-12-2009, 01:59 PM
There has been a marketisation of health, though, with private providers being invited in, patients being given a choice of hospitals to go to, hospitals being "paid by results" (which weren't results at all, but quantities of operations carried out). This all happened at the secondary care level (ie hopitals) not primary (GPs) or pubic health.

scottdisco
09-12-2009, 01:59 PM
I think (hope) that I can speak to this.

[snip]

nice one Vim, very interesting.

must admit i was earlier thinking specifically of controversies around PFI and the NHS when Poetix mentioned market metaphors (and market knowledge carried over from private sector 'gurus' coming into the public sector etc) intruding into the public sector; any health professionals have two c on PFI?

padraig (u.s.)
09-12-2009, 02:28 PM
I think (hope) that I can speak to this.

I'm curious as to what you'd have to say about the privatization of prisons (Wackenhut etc), transportation (i.e. British Rail or the FNM in Mexico), utilities (i.e. Bechtel's misadventures in Bolivia), etc. the first category are a huge business in the U.S.

I dunno about whether any of them represent true markets or whatever. I also dunno about a term like "marketization". but most of what I've read over the years suggests that perfomance suffers w/privatization and the main benefit - efficiency, cutting costs, etc. - often doesn't materialize either.

poetix
09-12-2009, 02:29 PM
So far as I can remember, the Tories were enthusiastically introducing "choice" into the education system somewhat before the election that brought Labour to power; there I think the basic idea was to use the principle of competition to drive efficiency (the Tories, unlike Labour, wanted to spend less on state education). Neither they nor Labour ever wished to introduce a real market into education (although the Tories come closer to it, with ideas like giving out "vouchers" that can also be used to purchase private education), but "marketisation" in this context is not literal transformation into a market.

The system we now have, with league tables and intense competition between middle class parents for places in the "best" schools, has several market-like properties, but none of what you might call the "good" ones.

crackerjack
09-12-2009, 02:36 PM
So far as I can remember, the Tories were enthusiastically introducing "choice" into the education system somewhat before the election that brought Labour to power; there I think the basic idea was to use the principle of competition to drive efficiency (the Tories, unlike Labour, wanted to spend less on state education). Neither they nor Labour ever wished to introduce a real market into education (although the Tories come closer to it, with ideas like giving out "vouchers" that can also be used to purchase private education), but "marketisation" in this context is not literal transformation into a market.

The system we now have, with league tables and intense competition between middle class parents for places in the "best" schools, has several market-like properties, but none of what you might call the "good" ones.

this seems right to me. the idea behind much of the rhetoric was that education would operate like a market, without actually being one. good schools would prosper, and poor ones (i.e. ones parents didn't want their kids to go to) would lose numbers and eventually change their ways, or close.

vimothy
09-12-2009, 02:41 PM
But the adoption of the tennets of school effectiveness and school improvement and the heavy swing towards a "culture of performativity", as they say round here (not in the ANT sense--in thet sense of the regime of league tables and testing) was a New Labour thing.

I used to work for an academic who was mapping (a la Bourdieu) the field of School Leadership. I've read hundreds of pages of interviews with senior civil servants, politicians, academics and practitioners, and they were all pretty clear about this.

poetix
09-12-2009, 02:43 PM
Sure - I mean, it was one of my dad's pet groans that after the first Labour election victory, things actually unbelievably got worse (in terms of levels of govt intervention and managerialist crapola) in education.

vimothy
09-12-2009, 02:54 PM
Kind of ironic that despite all the bluster about making education function more like a market, New Labour seem to have, if anything, made education more bureaucratic and managerialist.

In any case, I'm not convinced that the analogy is helpful. NuLab messed with the incentive structure and largely got what they should have expected: and education system geared towards teaching people to pass exams, and then patting itself on the back and noting how good its students are at passing exams.

It reminds me of the Wire. It's all about the stats, at the end of the day.

crackerjack
09-12-2009, 03:11 PM
In any case, I'm not convinced that the analogy is helpful. NuLab messed with the incentive structure and largely got what they should have expected: and education system geared towards teaching people to pass exams, and then patting itself on the back and noting how good its students are at passing exams.

It reminds me of the Wire. It's all about the stats, at the end of the day.

Not wholly true - it was also about pushing as many late-teens as feasible into higher education.

Mr. Tea
09-12-2009, 03:20 PM
Not wholly true - it was also about pushing as many late-teens as feasible into higher education.

God, how did anyone with half a brain ever think this was a good idea?

I'm sure you've all read about the report that came out the other day saying that a degree adds only £100k to your expected earning potential over the course of a lifetime...

(...cue vim's anecdotal tidbit that a humanities degree actually subtracts from your earning potential!)

Not that how much money you stand to make is the best indication of the value of higher education, but it's surely an important part of it and an indicator for the value of less tangible benefits (or the lack thereof).

Martin Dust
09-12-2009, 03:22 PM
With respect to Woebot, this is bullshit.

I'd agree, unless we are talking X-Factor.

crackerjack
09-12-2009, 03:25 PM
God, how did anyone with half a brain ever think this was a good idea?

I'm sure you've all read about the report that came out the other day saying that a degree adds only £100k to your expected earning potential over the course of a lifetime...

(...cue vim's anecdotal tidbit that a humanities degree actually subtracts from your earning potential!)

Not that how much money you stand to make is the best indication of the value of higher education, but it's surely an important part of it and an indicator for the value of less tangible benefits (or the lack thereof).

Right, but their ideas were shaped by massive youth unemployment in the 80s and a concomitant rise in crime.

Mr. Tea
09-12-2009, 03:46 PM
Right, but their ideas were shaped by massive youth unemployment in the 80s and a concomitant rise in crime.

Sure, but wasn't that mainly to do with the collapse of traditional industries like manufacturing and mining? I.e. a mass-laying off of working-class people (mainly men, I guess) whose kids, a generation later, would probably not be able to afford a university education anyway, what with the abolition of grants, the introduction of fees and general rise in the cost of living, especially rented accomodation.

My complaint is not a novel one: just an observation that going to university has become a middle-class 'rite of passage' and that it's necessary to have a degree for many kinds of jobs - many kinds of totally ordinary jobs that wouldn't have required one a generation ago - as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy due to the fact that 'everyone has a degree these days' (and an enormous concomitant debt).

crackerjack
09-12-2009, 03:50 PM
I'm not disagreeing with you - I just think making exams easier was as much to do with reducing youth unemployment stats as convincing parents their kids had all excelled at school.

Gavin
09-12-2009, 03:53 PM
People used to make music because they wanted to touch the stars, stick it to the man, tear up the place, chant down Babylon, explore new possibilities**, or to lose themselves in Dionysian abandon on the dancefloor. Now they do it to be a "big man" or "a famous person" or "rich" or - and this is the most pervasive and specious example of Capitalist Realism with regards to music- "a career".

The "non-mainstream" has been afflicted with its own strain of Capitalist Realism. The extremely unhealthy embrace of business concepts like "the long tail" and "narrow-casting" has wiped out the underground's ability to communicate universally, fostering as it does self-serving enclaves ever decreasing in scale. We might not sell shed-loads of records - but we know what our market is! So many small label bosses now view themselves with a certain amount "professional" pride as respectable small businessmen.

The problem with Naomi Klein/Adbusters/much of anarchism (at least the studenty brand in the U.S.) is that its criticism is largely aesthetic. I don't have a problem with critiquing capitalism on an aesthetic level (indeed, I think this is what Kpunk does best), but the critique has to move on, or you end up with the quotation above, all elitism and romanticism about how things used to be better (or at least kewler), no class component, no way towards larger movements and mobilization. The huge risk is that it descends into how lame hipsters/jocks/yuppies are, individualist hipper-than-thou griping with an edgy anti-capitalist lining. Che Guevara T-shirts to the next level.

Kpunk flirts with this, sometimes gets beyond it. I haven't read the book, but for what it's worth I think criticizing a writer for promoting their book to their blog audience is pretty silly. I don't know how big this Zero Books alterna-brand is in the UK but it's basically unknown in the states, so I don't think you can fit it into some "long tail" hypocrisy. Anyway, the revolution will require some sexy branding and graphic design, right?

The above quote above is telling, a problem that I have with K-punk (though I realize this is Woebot talking) is the nostalgia for the Keynesian socialist state and the cool underground music that went along with it. It's complete romanticism -- the above quotation was never true, and is a gross simplification wrapped up in a fair amount of unexamined nostalgia for youth. I mean, the two paragraphs contradict each other just on the face of it.

vimothy
09-12-2009, 04:06 PM
Not wholly true - it was also about pushing as many late-teens as feasible into higher education.

Well, yeah. That's what I said. Isn't it?

Mr. Tea
09-12-2009, 04:09 PM
Che Guevara T-shirts to the next level.


Ha, I like this line. Rage Against The Machine CDs eBayed in favour of 'hauntological' dubstep...

Gavin
09-12-2009, 04:09 PM
Possibly not related-enough, but this might be of interest to some: http://theactivist.org/blog/ironicality-101-adbusters-war-on-your-little-sisters-flannel-leggings

massrock
09-12-2009, 04:10 PM
I don't doubt that the personal plays a role in everything, how could it not? I don't care one way or the other about k-punk but it's unfair to suggest that he or anyone else is motivated simply by bitterness - you've no idea, nor do I - as well as a convenient way to sidestep whatever they have to say.
I hope he does have something to say.

I've read k-punk blog since the start, more or less, and often it's entertaining (yeah) and provocative and I have full respect for the chap. I also look forward to reading CR, but at present I would have to agree with zhao's assessment that ultimately there is nothing much there, and neither is there really meant to be because the discourse exists in a symbiotic relationship with it's supposed enemy. So the monologue runs on and on and it's sort of semi-compelling if you're not paying too close attention and want to be hypnotised, but really it's going nowhere and saying nothing. Maybe it's a zen thing...

He's not the only one, there's lots of voices out there like this, many of them apparently seduced by their own supposed cleverness or erudition or whatever.

It's not about 'personal problems', everyone has personal problems, that's not an accusation or grounds for dismissal. And it's not about anything like being 'motivated by bitterness'. It's the simple fact that a view of the world, or more importantly in what way you 'diagnose' it's condition and what you think should be done about it can very much be determined by personal states of being (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual), claims towards cold (!) rationality notwithstanding. This is true for all of us, obviously it does become more apparent with public projects where a person's focus, biases and preoccupations are writ large. If you are to presume to 'diagnose the state of the world' and offer your plans for it, I'd say it's important to at the very least acknowledge this. So when someone like Zizek rails rhetorically against such personal actions as taking responsibility for health where possible, or when the sorts of things zhao talks about as 'spiritual disciplines' are dismissed as unimportant or kooky, I think that's telling.

vimothy
09-12-2009, 04:10 PM
I just think making exams easier was as much to do with reducing youth unemployment stats as convincing parents their kids had all excelled at school.

I agree with this. It's a complicated issue. I certainly don't think that it's only about getting reelected. Improving social welfare was a definite motive, certainly from thet academics, but also from the politicians and career civil servants. At least, that's the impression I got.

I don't think that it has been all bad, either.

crackerjack
09-12-2009, 04:10 PM
That's what I said. Isn't it?

Not in actual words, no. Did you use some invisible font between the lines?

Gavin
09-12-2009, 04:11 PM
Ha, I like this line. Rage Against The Machine CDs eBayed in favour of 'hauntological' dubstep...

Dubstep was never anti-capitalist in the U.S., it was(is?) a mixture of disaffected drum-and-bassers and IDM geeks, knit together with a love of weed.

vimothy
09-12-2009, 04:18 PM
Not in actual words, no. Did you use some invisible font between the lines?

I didn't use the exact same words, no, but there's no way that you can detach the performance culture from its social welfare function. They are the same thing. "No--it was also..." The two are one.

padraig (u.s.)
09-12-2009, 05:57 PM
It's not about 'personal problems', everyone has personal problems, that's not an accusation or grounds for dismissal. And it's not about anything like being 'motivated by bitterness'. It's the simple fact that a view of the world, or more importantly in what way you 'diagnose' it's condition and what you think should be done about it can very much be determined by personal states of being

fair enough then. you see what I was getting at though.

massrock
09-12-2009, 06:52 PM
fair enough then. you see what I was getting at though.
About what though?

I dispute that it's an ad hominem attack, it's a reaction (observation really, and presented as such) informed by and addressed to the content (or lack of), (mystifying) approach and antipathy towards certain available paths of action and resistance that I see evident in what are publicly displayed communications. It's not someone's secret diary.

And I would (do, I should hope) approach the views, motivations and conclusions of anyone who would propose to have a diagnosis of 'our predicament' in a similar way. Politicians, journalists, the catholic pope, bloke down the pub, you know, anyone. It's got nothing to do with the supposed 'radicalism' or 'marginality' of a particular position, far from it actually. But why would self-proclaimed 'radicals' be immune to the human issues that colour the thinking of just about everyone else? You know they're not.

Anyway, I do hope the book is good.

massrock
09-12-2009, 06:59 PM
Kaczynski though. I'll admit I don't know all that much in depth about the case but is it relevant that some (which?) sections of the media romanticised him up to a point? Was this before he killed anyone? You don't think his actions had something to do with how he was subsequently treated and portrayed? I mean I sort of see what you're saying as regards ascribing motivations purely to psychological causes and negative perception of marginal lifestyles or whatever, that's a problem, but is there actually no truth in that (the roots of his views) and in any case can you really disentangle this from what he did and how most people would view that morally? Depending on what you believe he did do, I suppose, but killing people can tend to reflect badly on someone's credibility. From my point of view (and limited knowledge) this is someone who did come up with some rather skewed conclusions and who could have done with examining his own motivations a little more closely.

Not to imply this is really related to the discussion at hand, just it was mentioned.

padraig (u.s.)
09-12-2009, 07:14 PM
It's got nothing to do with the supposed 'radicalism' or 'marginality' of a particular position, far from it actually.

no, it has everything to do with that. with the context, as I said. it's the same tactic as claiming that feminists are just women who hate men b/c they can't get dates. anyway, you say that's what you meant - fine, leave it at that.


But why would self-proclaimed 'radicals' be immune to the human issues that colour the thinking of just about everyone else? You know they're not.

this isn't at all what I said or meant. which you know, of course. I do like the gratuitous "self-proclaimed". a classic underhanded dig.

poetix
09-12-2009, 07:34 PM
Anyway, the crucible in which what will become a work of art and thought burns is brimful with nameless impurities; it comprises obsessions, beliefs, infantile puzzles, various perversions, undivulgeable memories, haphazard reading, and quite a few idiocies and chimeras. Analyzing this alchemy is of little use.

Alain Badiou, Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism

Mr. Tea
09-12-2009, 07:43 PM
I do like the gratuitous "self-proclaimed". a classic underhanded dig.

But exactly how radical is K-punk, for example? I mean, really? He's well known for singularly failing to advocate any kind of action against the kapitalist system he constantly excoriates in polemical blog posts (and now a book as well), in fact he goes as far as to airily dismiss the very idea altogether.

So suppose by some miracle he sold a few million copies. What would his new disciples accomplish by taking his words to heart - start their own theory-heavy politics blogs? Refuse en masse to pay their licence fees, if they live in the UK? Start buying the Times instead of the Guardian? I can't exactly see it bringing global Kapital to its knees, somehow - but others have intimated that this isn't really what he wants at all, as it would mean the evaporation of his raison d'etre.

What I'm saying is, how 'radical' are you really if all you do is think/read/write radical thoughts? Especially in a more-or-less liberal society where you're not risking your personal safety or liberty by doing so.

padraig (u.s.)
09-12-2009, 07:44 PM
the romanticization of of course his - anyone's - actions have something to with how they are subsequently treated. to be claim otherwise would be ridiculous, which is why I didn't. and everyone, or the great majority of us anyway, can do with more self-examination. but the conclusion was that he didn't kill people because of ideals (however much you or I or anyone may disagree with those or his tactics) but because of again, difficulty to socialize. again, I don't doubt that the latter influenced the former, but insanity & bitterness over personal shortcomings are two charges - warranted or not - that often been leveled at anyone with unusual ideas. but really you're not this dense, you know exactly what I mean.

and, it is off-topic but you're telling me that this is rootless:

The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. They have greatly increased the life-expectancy of those of us who live in "advanced" countries, but they have destabilized society, have made life unfulfilling, have subjected human beings to indignities, have led to widespread psychological suffering (in the Third World to physical suffering as well) and have inflicted severe damage on the natural world.

to be sure, there is a lot of bullshit after that (& some valid stuff, & some stuff that is either valid or bullshit depending on your POV). it's a one-sided view - & "disaster" is hard to agree with - but not rootless. anyway, OT.

zhao
09-12-2009, 07:58 PM
...

padraig (u.s.)
09-12-2009, 07:58 PM
But exactly how radical is K-punk, for example?

I don't know. not very, it would seem. I said I don't care about K-punk either way. I'm not interested in defending him. personally I think armchair theorizing w/o any kind of investment is fairly useless. but it seems there many valid criticism to be made w/o simply chalking it up to a writer's personal problems.

massrock
09-12-2009, 08:07 PM
no, it has everything to do with that. with the context, as I said. it's the same tactic as claiming that feminists are just women who hate men b/c they can't get dates. anyway, you say that's what you meant - fine, leave it at that.

The context is me making an observation in a particular case. I'm telling you that when I say that it is has nothing to do with the 'radicalness' or 'marginality' of a position. As I say 'far from it', maybe even 'quite the opposite'. It might have something to do with solutions not actually being sought, however.

And it's not a 'tactic', I'm just saying what I think. Don't imagine that because you are stuck on the 'political' (in this case defending the 'radical', whatever that is, a rather abstract and nebulous notion I think, and against what, my clearly highly conservative and reactionary views?) that everyone is always and only playing that game. Ooh, somebody is using 'tactics' to try and 'marginalise' these poor somewhat widely read and relatively influential pop-crit-theory-writers who everyone agrees are completely like 'radical' (not self-proclaimed as). Towards what nefarious ends i don't know, but they are using 'tactics' and stuff. I'd better get in there and police the scene.

this isn't at all what I said or meant. which you know, of course. I do like the gratuitous "self-proclaimed". a classic underhanded dig.
Is it good to be a 'radical'? Is there something shameful about being a self-defined radical? Is it better to be deemed a radical by one's opponents? One's pals? Who gets to decide what is radical? I don't know, but I'm not sure why you think this is a dig of some kind. Should I just say 'radicals of all stripes' and assume that everyone knows what that means and agrees it's a de-facto good thing?

that is unfair, full stop. however, it's esp. pernicious in this context b/c it's an ad hominem attack that has long been hurled against radicals of all stripes.
'Radicals of all stripes'.

Mine's a Red Stripe.

poetix
09-12-2009, 08:16 PM
We recognise radicalism in thought and action when a root that was hidden and sheltered is exposed and split. When someone claims that something is "radical", they may be making a claim for themselves ("see how radical this thing is that I like! See how radical my liking this thing makes me!"), but they may also be trying to indicate something other than themselves, something more interesting than their own miserable personality. In the latter case - when the person doing the pointing is not merely an attention-seeking narcissist (although they may be that also) - it's obtuse to keep staring at the finger rather than attending to the thing it's pointing at.

zhao
09-12-2009, 08:35 PM
...

massrock
09-12-2009, 08:51 PM
insanity & bitterness over personal shortcomings are two charges - warranted or not - that often been leveled at anyone with unusual ideas.
This hasn't escaped my notice, and also it is worth asking where the 'insanity' comes from in the first place and what defines it.

The thing is that in terms of the blog it so often seems to go nowhere, or that the finger points at nothing if you like, and maybe it doesn't really want to. But we'll see.

As I did say, it's not about 'personal problems'. But good old human stuff nonetheless, nothing horribly damning, and the very same kinds of foibles can be and no doubt are productive and creative in other ways.

'Warranted or not' though, see it's tricky, but I don't think it's valuable to avoid truth just because something that sounded similar was wrong.

massrock
09-12-2009, 08:56 PM
The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. They have greatly increased the life-expectancy of those of us who live in "advanced" countries, but they have destabilized society, have made life unfulfilling, have subjected human beings to indignities, have led to widespread psychological suffering (in the Third World to physical suffering as well) and have inflicted severe damage on the natural world.
Industrial Revolution, Capitalism, Patriarchy.

We took the wrong step years ago...

Gavin
09-12-2009, 09:20 PM
What I'm saying is, how 'radical' are you really if all you do is think/read/write radical thoughts? Especially in a more-or-less liberal society where you're not risking your personal safety or liberty by doing so.

This is such a tepid critique, though, just really disingenuous. From what I understand, Kpunk was active in union organizing, but was frustrated at how ineffective it was at accomplishing the goals he felt important. His project, which he seems to share with others writing for Zero Books and elsewhere, is to THINK through the impasse of traditional left politics and perhaps offer alternative forms. To disassociate thought (and reading and writing) and acting is completely false, designed to shut down discussion, not further it.

I believe poetix's advice about examining his arguments instead of these bizarre, clearly envious, fantasies of how he does or does not conduct himself in life to be a far more productive angle. "What are you DOOOOing?" How the fuck do you know what he does?

There IS something to how certain forms of left activism is a supplement of capitalism (Zizek has written loads on this), but whether Kpunk's ideas are or are not should be argued. Obviously no one (self included) has read the book.

scottdisco
09-12-2009, 10:16 PM
From what I understand, Kpunk was active in union organizing, but was frustrated at how ineffective it was at accomplishing the goals he felt important. His project, which he seems to share with others writing for Zero Books and elsewhere, is to THINK through the impasse of traditional left politics and perhaps offer alternative forms. To disassociate thought (and reading and writing) and acting is completely false, designed to shut down discussion, not further it.

good point.


I believe poetix's advice about examining his arguments instead of these bizarre, clearly envious, fantasies of how he does or does not conduct himself in life to be a far more productive angle.
(my emphasis)

eh? what? all of us? envious? really?


There IS something to how certain forms of left activism is a supplement of capitalism (Zizek has written loads on this), but whether Kpunk's ideas are or are not should be argued. Obviously no one (self included) has read the book.

also a fair point.

zhao
09-12-2009, 10:25 PM
that is unfair, full stop. however, it's esp. pernicious in this context b/c it's an ad hominem attack that has long been hurled against radicals of all stripes. ted kaczynski comes to mind as an extreme case; before he was caught the media romanticized the hell out of him, this mysterious revolutionary figure. then once it came out he had a beard and lived off the grid in a cabin in the woods in Montana, he was "crazy". it was an unhappy childhood, an inability to make friends, etc - anything but his actual - agree or not - critique (tbc I'm not defending the man or his actions, just pointing out the way in which this charge - that it's merely personal problems - is used to undermine & marginalize). I don't doubt that the personal plays a role in everything, how could it not? I don't care one way or the other about k-punk but it's unfair to suggest that he or anyone else is motivated simply by bitterness - you've no idea, nor do I - as well as a convenient way to sidestep whatever they have to say.

interesting you voiced no objection when people had an unfair go at me by bringing up my childhood in relation to my critique (if it was that) of scientific empiricism in the Mysterious Thread. not going to guess the reason...

Mr. Tea
10-12-2009, 12:16 AM
interesting you voiced no objection when people had an unfair go at me by bringing up my childhood in relation to my critique (if it was that) of scientific empiricism in the Mysterious Thread. not going to guess the reason...

That's because you've mentioned your upbringing again and again and again (seriously, I'd go back and search your old posts if I could be bothered) and because we'd have to be idiots not to make some connection between that and your equally well-known attitude towards the scientific worldview. It's not like we snuck into your room and read your diary while you were out, is it?

padraig (u.s.)
10-12-2009, 12:57 AM
The context is me making an observation in a particular case.

that's not the context, that's the actual statement. but either way, I said "fair enough" once explained yourself more clearly. point stands in general anyway, separate from what you meant.


Is it good to be a 'radical'?

not necessarily. I didn't say it was. there's nothing inherently good or bad about it.

I was using "radical" as shorthand for any thinking that's unusual or unpopular, not just politics, i.e. Galileo or early Christians. or the use of psychiatric incarceration as a tool against dissidents in the U.S.S.R. it was a general observation.

padraig (u.s.)
10-12-2009, 12:59 AM
interesting you voiced no objection when people had an unfair go at me by bringing up my childhood

I can only concur w/Tea that you're the one who brought it up first. many times. specifically as a reason why you had a better understanding of the spiritual (if you'll go back, I believe - if I'm not mistaken - that people actually called you on this at the time).

zhao
10-12-2009, 03:58 AM
poor k-punk... bearing the brunt of everything i disagree with the theoretical approach and what i dislike about "these sorts of people"...


the discourse exists in a symbiotic relationship with it's supposed enemy.

more specifically, i think the kind of symbiosis here is parasitic.

OK.

"We" are all in this together (both dissident types as well as the rest of the population of the first world, who, at the risk of being condescending, maybe do not realize the extent of their slavery) -- we all want less injustice, less dehumanization, less "mind control"; and for those of us who are a bit more extreme, to more or less "destroy capitalism".

what makes these theory types think their "work" is so effective toward this goal? what is K-Punk's ultimate approach - to cleverly mope in isolation?

theory is excellent at describing the problems in detail and meta-detail. not much else.

seems to me it takes not only the mind and its analytical faculties, which are actually in some ways probably less useful to the task at hand, but also the heart and the "soul".

Capitalism is not so much afraid of reason. reason it can absorb easily. i think empathy and intuition and re-connection with ourselves and each other, through which we realize that we actually don't need all the bullshit Capitalism makes us think we need, i think this is what the system is afraid of.

finally, image of our enemy as an invincible, omni-present and omnipotent entity which is impossible to defeat, encompassing every aspect of reality, so much so that there is no more an "outside" -- i think this is giving Capitalism a little too much credit.

sure the permissiveness of neo-liberalism is not what it seems, sure pluralism in the arts signal a fake freedom, all of these things i agree with, and enjoy reading the dissection of these dynamics -- but sometimes it really is as simple as switching off the TV. giving up driving. and spending one's time not working and not consuming.

there are loads of things people can do, and they ARE doing them, to defy the way of life pushed onto them ---- EVEN PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT READ POST-STRUCTURALISM.

and this is what i mean by these theory types not being interested in what they claim to be interested in (destroying capitalism) -- if you just sit and do nothing and try to empty your mind 1 hour each day, you can immediately start to wake up from the hypnosis of Capitalism. it takes dedication and discipline, but it can be as simple as that, to start pushing away psychic vampiric forces, and to re-claim your Self. -- but these theory types would never realize or admit to this simple truth, preferring to blah blah blah on and on in circles.

zhao
10-12-2009, 04:05 AM
That's because you've mentioned your upbringing again and again and again (seriously, I'd go back and search your old posts if I could be bothered) and because we'd have to be idiots not to make some connection between that and your equally well-known attitude towards the scientific worldview. It's not like we snuck into your room and read your diary while you were out...

right. i am open about my past, and i have already made the connection myself, between my world view and background.

so it was still a weak ass bitch move on the part of you know who, and you 2 barking next to her, to attempt to discredit my argument.

anyway, lets not get side tracked.

luka
10-12-2009, 06:43 AM
i would like to see kpunk writing sci-fi novels. i think he would be quite good at it. his concepts are more suited to that field than to theory i think and it would force him to make his prose tighter, less journalese....
i might buy this book for old times sake though.....

vimothy
10-12-2009, 10:37 AM
I didn't use the exact same words, no, but there's no way that you can detach the performance culture from its social welfare function. They are the same thing. "No--it was also..." The two are one.

I realise I've not been explaining myself particularly well. I'm always torn between wanting to be precise, and not wanting to come across like a complete dick. And so probably doing neither.

I totally disagree with this,


God, how did anyone with half a brain ever think this was a good idea?

For instance. I think that it betrays some of the limits of the market metaphor. Qualifications are not money. If more people have them, they don't automatically become worth less. If we have lots of engineers, perhaps the wage paid to engineers will be less. But on the other hand, we have lots of cheap engineers building stuff, as opposed to lots of people working in call centres. In fact there are lots of very good reasons for policy makers to want to increase participation in HE. The problem is not the goal, but the methods chosen to achieve it.

zhao
10-12-2009, 04:14 PM
this just in via email from a friend who shall remain anonymous:


his most interesting moments are when you find him attacking things which (one could be forgiven for thinking) he embodies... the grey vampires, for example. isn't k-punk himself kind of a grey vampire?

What you ultimately brush-up against is a unwillingness to consider his own power-position in a serious way. I don't mean his tyrannical, pathological bitterness, etc, I mean questions like: What is the function of theory? Who is the theorist? And then again: What is the vision?

When you try and extract a political vision from k-punk, you don't really get much. Why? Because there is no concrete aim. Let's say, for instance, I had the vision of a single, democratic state in Palestine. It might be a fantasy, but there are things I could do: try and open up some liminal spaces, disrupt certain rituals, create some others. What you get here is a kind of negation (''this is bad'') and a kind of imaginary solution (''this is good, or was good...'') but that's about it. I suspect this is true of all of the Zero authors. They are all sort-of-whining artists (it's form of being, like hunger artists). There's something very British about it. The British love complaining.

It seems to me that the theory (''anti-capitalist realism'') is fatal politically. Real politics looks to the concrete, and means of intervention: in space, in rituals, etc. But in the end, capitalism is an abstraction. What you get here is an abstract opposition to an abstraction: rival aesthetics, antagonist ideological stances, and so on. But it remains, as some have said, parasitic on its object. This is where the critique of capitalism becomes very problematic. Because the concept of ''capitalism'' can be overdetermined into representing almost anything you want (the hardcore continuum, etc...) the partisans get backed into a position of pure negation. You are against capitalism - but capitalism is really just the name for what you are against. So it's circular. The junkie loves the needle. If I say I'm engaged, I'm engaged. If I believe I'm against it, then I am against it. And this is who I am: against this. And this is where the whole discourse becomes very self-serving, and ultimately, not about capitalism at all, but about the construction of a marketable, oppositional identity.

vimothy
10-12-2009, 04:18 PM
I suspect this is true of all of the Zero authors.

Even Daniel?


It seems to me that the theory (''anti-capitalist realism'') is fatal politically. Real politics looks to the concrete, and means of intervention: in space, in rituals, etc. But in the end, capitalism is an abstraction. What you get here is an abstract opposition to an abstraction: rival aesthetics, antagonist ideological stances, and so on. But it remains, as some have said, parasitic on its object. This is where the critique of capitalism becomes very problematic. Because the concept of ''capitalism'' can be overdetermined into representing almost anything you want (the hardcore continuum, etc...) the partisans get backed into a position of pure negation. You are against capitalism - but capitalism is really just the name for what you are against. So it's circular.

OTM.

zhao
10-12-2009, 04:31 PM
OTM.

much better than i could have.

if only i spent all that time on theory instead of music and design...

edit: nah.

Gavin
10-12-2009, 04:54 PM
Ok, that last paragraph is definitely worth mulling over, but there is a relevance of theory to politics.


Let's say, for instance, I had the vision of a single, democratic state in Palestine.

For "action" on this issue, there is are implicit (and explicit) ideas of what "democracy," "the state," "justice," "effective action," etc. This is where theory comes in -- to think about what these mean, to direct the energy in the best places. How do you invent rituals without theory? I have no problem with critiquing Kpunk's theory, but I have a problem with dismissing theory as somehow irrelevant to politics.

vimothy
10-12-2009, 04:59 PM
dismissing theory as somehow irrelevant to politics

Is that the real issue, though? Seems like the reverse is more pertinent...

Good to have you back, BTW, Gavin!

Gavin
10-12-2009, 05:09 PM
Is that the real issue, though? Seems like the reverse is more pertinent...

Good to have you back, BTW, Gavin!

There were some posts upthread that either implied or stated outright that thought is somehow distinct from action, and therefore pointless. What exactly do you mean by "reverse"?

Zhao, you would agree that certain theories inform your graphic design and music production, yes? Why not politics?


If I believe I'm against it, then I am against it. And this is who I am: against this. And this is where the whole discourse becomes very self-serving, and ultimately, not about capitalism at all, but about the construction of a marketable, oppositional identity.

Again, isn't this reading too much into the person? Is not writing a form of activity, not merely "believing" you are against something, but actively resisting?

What kind of "marketable oppositional identity" construction is going on? Militant dysphoria, is this not an attempt to theorize a non-marketable oppositional, if not identity, then subject position? One that is not merely anticapitalist, but withdraws from the entire dialectic? I don't know if this is possible, and I don't believe that any identity can be non-marketable (what is identity if not branding?), but again, I am not sure I see this going on in Kpunk's work.

vimothy
10-12-2009, 05:16 PM
There were some posts upthread that either implied or stated outright that thought is somehow distinct from action, and therefore pointless. What exactly do you mean by "reverse"?

What Zhao said above (quoted, in fact): that theory should not dismiss politics. Although, it certainly is the case that theory is not irrelevant. Like any good ant I know that "philosophers have only changed the world, the point is to describe it". Or something.

And did anyone really say that thought is distinct from action and therefore pointless?

Gavin
10-12-2009, 05:32 PM
What Zhao said above (quoted, in fact): that theory should not dismiss politics. Although, it certainly is the case that theory is not irrelevant. Like any good ant I know that "philosophers have only changed the world, the point is to describe it". Or something.

Well, what I see the Zero books stuff (what I am aware of anyway) as doing is dismissing a form of left politics that doesn't work any more, that assumes certain features of capitalism and liberal democracy are permanent. They aretheorizing different forms of, if not activism, then action. Maybe this is overreaching (to what extent are these forms of action no longer working?). This is clearly in the vein of certain Zizekian political ideas.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n22/slavoj-zizek/resistance-is-surrender


These words simply demonstrate that today’s liberal-democratic state and the dream of an ‘infinitely demanding’ anarchic politics exist in a relationship of mutual parasitism: anarchic agents do the ethical thinking, and the state does the work of running and regulating society. Critchley’s anarchic ethico-political agent acts like a superego, comfortably bombarding the state with demands; and the more the state tries to satisfy these demands, the more guilty it is seen to be. In compliance with this logic, the anarchic agents focus their protest not on open dictatorships, but on the hypocrisy of liberal democracies, who are accused of betraying their own professed principles.

The big demonstrations in London and Washington against the US attack on Iraq a few years ago offer an exemplary case of this strange symbiotic relationship between power and resistance. Their paradoxical outcome was that both sides were satisfied. The protesters saved their beautiful souls: they made it clear that they don’t agree with the government’s policy on Iraq. Those in power calmly accepted it, even profited from it: not only did the protests in no way prevent the already-made decision to attack Iraq; they also served to legitimise it. Thus George Bush’s reaction to mass demonstrations protesting his visit to London, in effect: ‘You see, this is what we are fighting for, so that what people are doing here – protesting against their government policy – will be possible also in Iraq!’

This is why I find the Keynesian nostalgia so strange, though I recognize that it's also infused with a mourning for modernism.



And did anyone really say that thought is distinct from action and therefore pointless?

I find that sentiment lurking in statements such as


What I'm saying is, how 'radical' are you really if all you do is think/read/write radical thoughts?

but I am not really interested in further castigating any one who is not really interested in thinking about this.

vimothy
10-12-2009, 05:41 PM
Well, what I see the Zero books stuff (what I am aware of anyway) as doing is dismissing a form of left politics that doesn't work any more, that assumes certain features of capitalism and liberal democracy are permanent.

Could you elaborate on that a bit?


I find that sentiment lurking in statements such as

Perhaps you are both talking past one another. Of course, the position you described (thought is pointless) is too much, but it seems to me that the how-radical-are-you quote is also asking, what does it mean to be a radical, and so is actually quite close to Zizek, above. Perhaps.

poetix
10-12-2009, 05:49 PM
Capitalist Realism is a book about a particular form of "realism": a particular set of interrelated notions about what reality is like, what the elements and relationships are that make up the "concrete" dimension with which "real" politics is allegedly concerned. The argument is that it is at the level of these notions - the "symbolic co-ordinates" of our shared ideological world - that the "real abstraction" of Capital has installed itself, limiting our sense of what is possible both culturally and politically. The question is then one of how to displace these symbolic co-ordinates, so that alternatives pre-emptively ruled out by capitalist realism become practically imaginable. There is an element of Kulturkampf and alternative canon-formation (k-punk's stock-in-trade, not that I think that's anything to apologise for) in this, but also an element of direct practical intervention: for example, the book calls for public sector workers to organise around a collective refusal to abide by the bureaucratic norms of target-setting, self-auditing and ersatz-marketisation.

poetix
10-12-2009, 06:21 PM
I should add that I think the questions of how to be radical, what makes one a real radical, what's the most radical way to carry on etc. are pretty uninteresting in themselves. Radicalism is something one predicates of ideas and actions primarily, and only secondarily of people. "Radicals" are those who adhere to radical notions or engage in radical activities. What makes those notions or activities radical is not the self-nomination of those who adhere to them as "radicals", but their power - such as it is - of striking at the root of some problem. It's infinitely more important to recognise and evaluate the radical potential of propositions than it is to judge the strength or consistency of this or that individual's adherence to them.

Mr. Tea
11-12-2009, 12:06 AM
This is such a tepid critique, though, just really disingenuous. From what I understand, Kpunk was active in union organizing, but was frustrated at how ineffective it was at accomplishing the goals he felt important. His project, which he seems to share with others writing for Zero Books and elsewhere, is to THINK through the impasse of traditional left politics and perhaps offer alternative forms. To disassociate thought (and reading and writing) and acting is completely false, designed to shut down discussion, not further it.

I believe poetix's advice about examining his arguments instead of these bizarre, clearly envious, fantasies of how he does or does not conduct himself in life to be a far more productive angle. "What are you DOOOOing?" How the fuck do you know what he does?

There IS something to how certain forms of left activism is a supplement of capitalism (Zizek has written loads on this), but whether Kpunk's ideas are or are not should be argued. Obviously no one (self included) has read the book.

I think it's a valid critique. I mean, it's one thing to point out what's wrong with the current system, and K-punk is very far from being alone in this - people do it from all ideological angles: far left, social-democratic, conservative, far right, fundie Christian, Islamist, anarchist, libertarian, whatever. But it's quite another to offer any kind of solution, or even to point in the general direction of where you think a solution might lie, albeit eventually realised by someone else. I'm not the one trying to "disassociate" thought from action; it's KP and his acolytes who seemingly disparage the very idea of action in its entirety! Like gek-opel, who used to employ his considerable sophistical skills in arguing that anyone who actually got their hands dirty and tried to do anything about the various injustices around the world was merely perpetuating the globalised po-mo capitalist status quo, and therefore part of the problem rather than the solution. Clearly, humanity will be saved by posting arch comments on an internet forum, or not all.

As far as what KP himself does, no I don't know what he's up to on a daily basis because I'm not one of his fanboys. But he does blog extensively, so it wouldn't be too hard to find out what he's doing if he chooses to write about it.

Unless you're offering at least the glimpse of a glimmer of some practical alternative to the reality you're eloquently railing against, you run the risk of looking like a very erudite left-wing Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells, all sound and fury and not much else.

Mr. Tea
11-12-2009, 12:23 AM
what does it mean to be a radical[?]

Good question. It occurred to me that most of the time you hear the word used on the news, it's as a description of a group like al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah...groups whose ideology is obviously ultra-conservative when considered in modern liberal-democratic terms, but who fully deserve the appellation 'radical' because their agenda is a restructuring or transformation of society 'from the root up'. Much the same could be said of the 'radical right', in the sense of those truly fascist regimes that were revolutionary or transformative in nature, rather than merely an extreme form of traditional conservatism.

nomadthethird
17-12-2009, 01:56 AM
O lord...

My sides hurt.


I've read k-punk blog since the start, more or less, and often it's entertaining (yeah) and provocative and I have full respect for the chap. I also look forward to reading CR, but at present I would have to agree with zhao's assessment that ultimately there is nothing much there, and neither is there really meant to be because the discourse exists in a symbiotic relationship with it's supposed enemy. So the monologue runs on and on and it's sort of semi-compelling if you're not paying too close attention and want to be hypnotised, but really it's going nowhere and saying nothing. Maybe it's a zen thing...


This right here...exactly. I've enjoyed the k-punk blog and in general I've always figured it's a good read. But I also find that I very rarely agree with what the guy's saying if I let myself think through the rhetoric.

The best/most engaging writers aren't necessarily the best thinkers. It's often the reverse, I've found. People who can think very well often can't write for shit, and it's probably because they're more interested in getting the concepts and facts straight than they are interested in making pretty sentences and playing word games. Often writer types think that playing clever word games *is* thinking well, but it isn't. It's masturbation. Maybe it's creative and fun. But it isn't necessarily brilliant even if it's well- or persuasively written.

Good communication based on brilliant strategy and keen intellection is another story.

Edit: Also, Padraig, I don't know anything about k-punk as a person so I can't comment on that. But I think that there are some people here who have consciously put themselves on a "radical" perch, who behave and speak as if they are in a position to arbitrate matters of whom and what is proper politically, as if they know what's best for everyone the world over, and this unsurprisingly gets peoples' backs up. Anyone who's going to do these things has to be prepared to be held to the same standard they're meting out--it's only fair, no? I agree with Zhao in some respects here: if you're going to put yourself up on that pedestal, don't be surprised if people try to knock you down. And in k-punk's case, I don't think it's too difficult to do--he's just some guy journalizing himself a New Media career in watered down academese based on pop culture and the damned Junior Boys. He's really got nothing on me, or anybody else I know, politically. I can think of tons of people whose opinions and influence on the world I think of as much more "radical", and none of them are leftist academics, fwiw. None of them are bloggers, either.

mistersloane
17-12-2009, 02:29 AM
Has anyone read his one about Michael Jackson? That's the one I want to get for Xmas.

Attelaawabe
20-12-2009, 11:09 AM
They are that I hate the recent car commercial where the guy picks up a mime and drives him until he says "Wow". He should have just run over him. I would have bought one

Martin Dust
20-12-2009, 12:05 PM
My mate described the book as coffee table Baader Meinhofism :)

poetix
20-12-2009, 01:25 PM
I missed the bit where he called for the blowing up of coffee tables.

Martin Dust
20-12-2009, 01:53 PM
I missed the bit where he called for the blowing up of coffee tables.

I don't think it was a literal statement.

scottdisco
20-12-2009, 02:04 PM
I don't think it was a literal statement.

thanks for clarifying, i'd never have guessed
:rolleyes:

meanwhile, this


If there was any doubt that capitalist realism has survived the bank crash - or that capitalist realism has nothing to do with 'realism' as such - one need only look at the recent (entirely predictable) display of government cowardice in the face of the RBS directors.

is good

woops
22-12-2009, 10:10 AM
i would like to see kpunk writing sci-fi novels. i think he would be quite good at it. his concepts are more suited to that field than to theory i think and it would force him to make his prose tighter, less journalese....

I agree and I think you should do the same Luka.

luka
22-12-2009, 10:14 AM
i tried a couple of times....


http://smokedglass.blogspot.com/


http://degradationceremony.blogspot.com/


not sure what i think of that stuff

comelately
25-12-2009, 10:53 PM
i think empathy and intuition and re-connection with ourselves and each other, through which we realize that we actually don't need all the bullshit Capitalism makes us think we need, i think this is what the system is afraid of.

I agree with this, I think. But if it is mainly the middle-classes getting together to do this, and accompanying it with a bunch of extra-curricular activities/networking that may infact somewhat contradict their spuritual practice of 'empathy and reconnection', then I think Zizek's critique is more powerful than you're suggesting.


Zizek's idea of "spiritual disciplines" being able to be so completely co-opted by the system as to become a part of it shows how much he knows about spiritual disciplines -- not much. We are talking about comprehensive physical, mental, spiritual disciplines which have been used for thousands of years to fight oppressive power and its influence, and he thinks they can be co-opted by a social system which is no more than a few hundred years old? and why, because all he sees are yuppies in Slovenia going to trendy Yoga classes? he is in many ways a very intelligent man, not when it comes to this.

As it goes, I'm friends with several shamanic dance teachers who, although based in Croatia, are about to have a New Year workshop in Postojna (Slovenia) - maybe I will ask them about their customer base. I actually broke my Zizek virginity today, because I had came to the hypothesis that that the spiritual linguistic concepts, underlying assumptions etc within the spiritual community I participate in strongly reinforces class structures and capitalism.

Although complete 'co-option' may be an exaggeration, isn't Zizek nonetheless making a fairly powerful point? If not, why not? Old spiritual texts contain advice for leaders on how to best control their subjects, do they not? Can you give some examples of how spiritual disciplines have been used to fight oppressive power? I'm not saying they don't exist, just curious as to what examples you would give. Should we all be joining Judo dojos?

just looked at my FB feed - **** ******* became a fan of Divine OM Trio and Sterling Income Management LLC. All part of the Tao babee!

luka
26-12-2009, 07:29 AM
As it goes, I'm friends with several shamanic dance teachers who, although based in Croatia, are about to have a New Year workshop in Postojna (Slovenia) - maybe I will ask them about their customer base. I actually broke my Zizek virginity today, because I had came to the hypothesis that that the spiritual linguistic concepts, underlying assumptions etc within the spiritual community I participate in strongly reinforces class structures and capitalism.

speaking of facebook, i just stole the above quote for my status.

comelately
26-12-2009, 12:02 PM
speaking of facebook, i just stole the above quote for my status.

Beautiful! I still prefer my 'helping women to squirt' quote, but it's good to diversify.

zhao
26-12-2009, 02:17 PM
of course any system can be used for any purpose.

most of the enlightened zen priests in japan were pro-militarization and pro-fascism late 19th and early 20th century. Tibet has been in the shackles of an oppressive hierarchy for a long long time under the absolute rule of the lamas.

but also, Buddhists have been persecuted all over Asia through out history, and Buddhist teachings have been used in countless instances as a direct means to counter state control. the temples were in essence seperate economies in remote areas which existed outside of government jurisdiction, and the powers have always been threatened by their autonomy.

look, I'm no historian and far from being any kind of expert on this subject. but the anti-establishment history of buddhism is long and rich. in China, in Vietname, in Thailand... etc.

nomadthethird
12-01-2010, 09:00 AM
The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. They have greatly increased the life-expectancy of those of us who live in "advanced" countries, but they have destabilized society, have made life unfulfilling, have subjected human beings to indignities, have led to widespread psychological suffering (in the Third World to physical suffering as well) and have inflicted severe damage on the natural world.


I meant to respond to this weeks ago and I forgot.

This quote neatly sums up why, although I agree with many of the criticisms of globalized market-driven social organization that come from the crit theory perspective, I ultimately have a hard time with the idea that nu-Communism is the "answer" to all of the world's problems, so that if we only go back to a purer conception of communism and stick to it we'll create a "better world". Communism as a movement was very vital and produced all sorts of productive anti-State interventions in its early days, no doubt about that. But everything about it, from its ethos to its concepts of Capital and labor, are simply not as relevant to today's society as they were during and in the early years post-industrialization. The world was smaller then, more manageable, and easier to draw into focus as a "whole". Economic structures were simpler, more localized, and different in many key respects to ours today. The globe is huge now, and even in becoming more like "one" world it's become entirely too complex a network to theorize into political compliance. Learn from Marxism, take your inspiration, but move on, in other words.

If critical theorists would move away from reformulating the words and works of their Masters and spend a lot more time looking at concrete political situations (without the ironic shrug and eyebrow raise of mainstream outlets like The Daily Show), they may be able to build a new conceptual framework that would produce important interventions in whatever way would be most productive *now*, not a century ago. I'm not pretending I have a grand plan. But maybe that's the problem--the fact that too many people are obsessed with a "final solution" approach. Instead of one grand plan, how about a trillion small but manageable plans that eventually add up and form a network? If a very simple "nomadology" strategy can work for Al Qaeda, essentially a bunch of random nobodies from the middle of no-man's land with few resources fighting a world power--it can work for anyone. And I don't mean the violence and terrorism, I mean the type of organizational infastructure they rely on for their survival.

What bothers me most about the new Left is the crippling nostalgia they engage in and that most of their theory is steeped in. That used to be the Right's problem--idealizing the past and referring to some bygone era where everything was simpler and better--not ours. But now it seems to be an equal opportunity employer of everyone along the political spectrum. This is something K-punk is usually, and ironically, good at diagnosing, given his own rather hard to miss propensity toward idealizing-mythologizing the recent past.

Instead of trying to revive media that were popular and productive 150 years ago, why not cultivate whichever new ones are at your immediate disposal? Along these lines, blogs are a good start. But internet access is still (largely) the privilege of the middle class in developed countries. I am convinced that there are people all over the world who want to be truly informed of political events and situations, but there's just nowhere to go for reliable information that isn't actually infotainment sold and controlled by a venture capitalist.

I hope we can all agree that the younger generations suffer from a lack of awareness more than anything else. So that would be a good start: fix that. Make youtube channels full of free videos about what's going on in the world. Distribute free newsletters, emails, webzines, whatever. Show people the ways in which market-driven government and social organization are failing the entire world. Explain to them that there are things they could do in their own communities all the time--and I don't mean buying Fair Trade, but helping unionize, starting foodbanks, shelters, using grants and local municipal funds for social programs, etc.--and then lead by example and DO THEM YOURSELF. Don't just lament that grassroots efforts are dying off, make them work, show young people that they CAN move past branding themselves through music taste/consumer goods and/or spending all day on Facebook into meaningful action. One step at a time, though. Drop the bogus "all or nothing" self-defeating circular logic and the macho bluster.

A recent study demonstrated that online interactions don't have the same effect on a person's behavior and choices as real-life social interactions. This confirmed what I'd always felt to be true: using the internet is fine, but the way you use it matters. It's an excellent tool for building real life interactions and networks, but if you don't take it to that next level, research shows that you really won't have "a social network" that affects peoples lives in the same sense as you would in real-life between friends and acquaintances. It seems that the Zero Books people are trying to do this, and that's something. They just seem to be woefully off-message to me. I haven't read but bits and pieces of them yet, so I can't say for sure, but the style of thinking in both seems very limited in reach and scope.

Classic Leftist problem: getting hung up on semantics and endless repetition of formulating the problem with respect to the Elderstatesmen of theory, while the Right continuously innovates and breaks barriers. Many many people know what the problems are, they just need something to latch onto. Sadly, the Right gets to sit and watch the Left implode due to internal strife and floundering logical inconsistency (the way many feminists promote a view that devalues female labor and minimizes the intellectual and sexual parity of women in the name of paternalistic tisk-tisking about sex and sex labor comes to mind...).

More than anything, the Left needs to learn to pick its battles. Does Al Qaeda sit around endlessly debating obscure quotes from dead Philosophers or discussing that really awesome record? Probably not. Another suggestion: spend less time complaining about inane and trivial things like vibrators and who is more authentic in their anti-the Man zeal, and more time doing anything, anything in your community to make things better for people who have it worse off than you. Wavy Gravy said you'd passed the acid test when you finally realized this through your actions, how to make things better for people around you who have it worse off...(yes I just quoted Wavy Gravy in an online rant) The left needs to re-take the frikkin acid test already, metaphorically at least.

I already know what I want to do: make sure that I advocate against racism, sexism, classicism, anti-gay bigotry and other problems that exist in the biomedical sciences. I don't want to rail against some generalized Capitalism or World for the benefit of a Big Other that doesn't exist or care about me even if it does, but in one slice of the world that is manageable to me, in my everyday life, all day, all the time. That's going to take dedication, hardwork, and most of all patience. But I know that if I do the right thing for long enough, other people will follow. And if they don't, at least I'll have tried my best.

What I see when I look at the contemporary Left is a bunch of spoiled brats who think they should be able to chant down Babylon, or whine it away, or *suffer terribly* until God's Kingdom suddenly gets ushered in but without any skin off their backs. I've been guilty of it myself at times. But it's a fantasy. Grow up. Build something.

luka
04-12-2011, 10:33 AM
LOL, I think we just compared k-punk to Hitler.

this is a good thread isnt it. when did dissensus become so middlebrow and how exactly did it happen? me absuing k-punk didnt help and the dsf exodus didnt help either. its sad though. even zhao and vim are very lucid and cogent here.

luka
04-12-2011, 10:35 AM
As it goes, I'm friends with several shamanic dance teachers who, although based in Croatia, are about to have a New Year workshop in Postojna (Slovenia) - maybe I will ask them about their customer base. I actually broke my Zizek virginity today, because I had came to the hypothesis that that the spiritual linguistic concepts, underlying assumptions etc within the spiritual community I participate in strongly reinforces class structures and capitalism.

great moments in dissensus history

zhao
26-03-2012, 04:19 PM
so i've been making my way through quite a few of the Birbeck university lecture podcast series. a lot of the Zizek ones, many other good ones like the Jodi Dean one on the Communist Horizon, Peter Burke on the Social HIstory of Knowledge, etc, etc. with some being more interesting than others obviously.

and then i thought what the heck, i'll put our personal differences aside (and forget absurdities like his stance on hiphop), and give Mark Fishers' one a go.

ok so this is not even about any kind of personal beef at all. i follow him on twitter, he has had many interesting posts in the past on the blog, and i am willing to learn from his strengths and ignore his weaknesses. whatever.

but can someone tell me exactly what is this pile of stuttering meandering meaningless mouth-shit???

http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2011/01/capitalist-realism-is-there-no-alternative/

honestly.

baboon2004
27-03-2012, 10:43 AM
it's funny when you hear someone speak - he doesn't sound at all as I'd imagined. Not a great lecture though...

grizzleb
27-03-2012, 03:13 PM
Hmm. I found it reasonably cogent, suggestive more than anything else maybe, but he kind of makes that clear at the start of the talk. He's basically saying that there's pernicious psychological processes at work in the acting out of managerialism writ large, and trying to articulate that there's something paradoxical about bureaucratic processes generally in which efficiency is the supposed object but where box-ticking creates pointless work for everyone involved.

Mr. Tea
27-03-2012, 03:30 PM
there's something paradoxical about bureaucratic processes generally in which efficiency is the supposed object but where box-ticking creates pointless work for everyone involved.

Sounds reminiscent of Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy (http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/iron.html):


In any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people:

First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

Heard of it on here first - might have been quoted by vimothy, can't remember.

craner
27-03-2012, 03:31 PM
I had no idea that Zhao had "personal differences" with K-punk. This thread completely passed me by.

zhao
27-03-2012, 03:37 PM
trying to articulate that there's something paradoxical about bureaucratic processes generally in which efficiency is the supposed object but where box-ticking creates pointless work for everyone involved.

this is basic common sense no? anyone who has ever done taxes know exactly the pain-in-the-ass inefficiency of bureaucracy.
in fact it has become a defining character. so much so that Kafka kind of made a career writing about it 100 years ago.

also things like the contradiction between the "free" market's rhetoric of customer satisfaction and the reality of planned obsolescence, etc.,
which works exactly against the proposed goal of customoer satisfaction have already long been very well articulated.

what does Fisher add to the table? besides proclaiming both "students" and he himself to be "depressed"??
and what does all this specifically have to do with capitalist realism in 2012? (more than in the sense that EVERYTHING has to do with capitalism)

grizzleb
27-03-2012, 04:19 PM
Yeah I think you're right really. Just saying that it's not really very difficult what he's saying, whether it's particularly insightful is another matter.

IdleRich
27-03-2012, 04:54 PM
Dunno, quite enjoyed that talk. He's much better sounding human than he is generously handing down pearls of indisputable wisdom from his blog. I liked the stuff about depression - fits in quite well with the thing that Comelately linked to with Ziziek saying that the emergence of buddhism as a coping mechanism in the business world (and elsewhere) is a result of and problem with capitalism. I'm not sure I'm completely sold on either argument but I reckon there is probably a grain of truth in each case. Some people surely are being told that their refusal to accept the parts of the modern world they don't like is a symptom of a psychological disorder. Although I'm sure that's not the reason for all psychological disorders. I suppose it's not a particularly new claim either.
Whether now really is a unique chance for a new system though... not convinced but he has to either say that or give up, which is pretty impossible for him to do cos it would mean embracing the capitalist real he's just railed against.

baboon2004
27-03-2012, 05:48 PM
i think there's a strong link to the thread on religion/Dawkins. Capitalism is modern-day religion in the West, in the sense that it's the organising principle for everything, and in that provides the limits of most people's worldviews (it is a struggle to think outside it, those who protest are treated in much the same ways as heretics/disbelievers are in 'traditional religion'; definitely asserting that they are mad/psychologically imbalanced is one part of this treatment)

e/y
16-12-2012, 09:51 AM
heh

zhao
14-03-2013, 09:01 AM
Capitalism is modern-day religion in the West, in the sense that it's the organising principle for everything, and in that provides the limits of most people's worldviews (it is a struggle to think outside it, those who protest are treated in much the same ways as heretics/disbelievers are in 'traditional religion'; definitely asserting that they are mad/psychologically imbalanced is one part of this treatment)

im going to post this on facebook. what is your screen name on there again so i can credit you?