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Thread: There is no good ethnicity

  1. #16
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    Something else occurred to me relevant to this last night while watching c4's shockingly exploitative Wed night line-up (the pre-Desperate Housewives line-up, natch, DH is brilliant obv).

    You are What you Eat, 10 Years Younger and Wifeswap are near relentless assaults on working class culture. While 'carribbean cake', we are told by the Mayor and multiculturalism enforcement squad, is a symbol of matriarchal care and community, cooking late night fry ups for your daughter and eating pork scratchings in the pub is, it seems, a symtom of individual pathology.

    The episodes of You are What you Eat that I have seen have always involved total, unyielding humiliation of working class people, in which the minnutiae of their lives - including, of course, their stools - are pored over by an accredited 'expert'. Last night's 10 Years Younger was similar, a kind of licenced snobbery in which a working class male was subjected to derision for not finding time for a punitively demanding regime of self-pampering. Ageing was itself pathologized, seen as a personal failing - and, with breathtaking speed, the victim was ushered off for cosmetic surgery. When he was later subjected to botox, we were told that 'of course this could be no subsitute for a brow lift.' Wifeswap is the most pernicious, because its formula is so depressingly inertial - every week, it seems, we are given a choice of working class slobbery and insanely focused despoticly regimented nouveau-riche/ established bourgeois aspiration/ ambition, both equally obnoxious and dispiriting.

    Now this is class propaganda, not because it attacks what is in effect working class ethnicity - these ways of living are depressing, self-destructive, etc (such ethnicity can and should never be defended). The point is that all three programmes unequivocally present all 'problems' as an issue of lifestyle choice. Drinking heavily is a matter of poor taste, looking old is the result of a failure to discriminate etc etc. Once again, the ideological veil is drawn, class as a structural pressure is spirited way.

    It's their fault, always.

  2. #17
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    K-punk wrote: But I WOULD celebrate class struggle - of course.

    LOL. Sorry, I put that all wrong. I meant that the mainstream media/ advertising/gliberalism would find it very hard to celebrate cultiral difference in Bhabha's sense, as hard as it would be for them to 'celebrate' class struggle. I'm all for a bit of class struggle meself.

    AS for the merchants of lack, i agree. There is no lack in the Real, as Lacan says.

    And i agree that sometimes difference blocks antagonism, but not always. Basically i don't see class difference as the key antagonism in the way that Zizek does. Laclau's idea of antagonism as constantly contested by various hegemonizing groups seems more useful.

    We definitely need a new language for all of this. I must say that Zizek's relentless attacks on the straw-man of multiculturalism, while invigorating at first, have only served to block off some interesting avenues
    that might have complicated and extended his own work (Then again thats understandable to an extent: cultural difference in Slovenia and cultiural difference in London or New York mean very different things). Gilroy's stuff on cosmopolitanism might be key here. His new book is great too, as blissblogger mentions somewhere.

  3. #18
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    Yes, new language --- the old Left language is liable to set off all kinds of alarm bells.... 'Revolution', for instance, is a term that has no more useful libidinal political function IMHO....

    Something else on this... A fascinating piece in the Bagehot column of the Economist (which is pretty much unfailingly excellent I think) on immigration, which argues that both Howard's Tories and New Labour have been fundamentally dishonest about it. No surprise there, but what is interesting is how they differ in their duplicity.

    Much as the Sun argued in the week, NL's dishonesty lies in the discrepancy between their Soft Fascist 'tough' posturing and their tacit connivance with under-the-counter if not to say illegal immigration, which has the effect of lowering labour costs and therefore keeping inflation down. But the Tories have fed the fantasy that the country is being inundated with shiftless layabouts and chancers.

    'A YouGov poll comissioned by the Economist last month found that 74% believed that too many immigrants were coming into the country. But voters were not in the least bothered about people who came explicitly to work. What caused the grumbling was not the idea that immigrants might be competing with them in the job market, but that asylum-seekers (who are forbidden to work while their claims are being laboriously processed) are cheats and scroungers who are overloading public services. The sort of immigrants flooding into Britain, in other words, are the sort the British claim to like.

    ... The biggest thing that has happened in Britain in the past decade has been the arrival of foreign workers, both well-off and poor, who have transformed business, culture, food and much else. Some people like them and some people don't; but they aren't, for the most part, the begraddled asylum-seekers and fruit-pickers the Tories would have people believe.'

    Quite.

  4. #19
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    when you say illegal immigration drives down labour costs - which labour costs exactly? teachers? doctors?

  5. #20
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    english tradesmen and labourers always complain about immigrants driving the prices down.

  6. #21
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    and so a few labourers and cab drivers keep inflation down? I don't think so.

  7. #22
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    What are you talking about? Everyone but everyone who has even the slightest knowledge of this matter accepts that there has been an enormous shift in the labour market in the UK because of recent immigration. Anyone who goes into central London can SEE it. It simply is not a controversial point that this has meant a supply of cheap labour which has kept inflation down. This is not to say that immigration should be restricted, however.

  8. #23
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    Multiculturalism has gone too far-part one

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  10. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    Multiculturalism has gone too far-part one

    and far more yawn inducing than our thread which actually made some relevant points.

  11. #25
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    if people start bumping old k-punk threads im going to grow to dislike mark. i dunno, seems wrong knowing what happened to him.

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