Tag: criticism

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Laissez Fairyland – making the intangible less tangential by Annieli

Here we present a simple solution to see that a fad is the result of the same type of behavior that causes any other good to be purchased. It is the characteristic of the good, and the interaction of the various agents with their neighbors that causes the peculiar pattern of behavior that is called fad.

Is Reaganism such a good and as a commodity is its commodity fetishism available for analysis beyond its intangible assets. Yet Reaganism is tangible and attempts to memorialize the commodity extend materially far beyond the cinematic and the televisual nature of the Great Communicator. The fad of VooDoo(sic) Economics is a useful example of how to discuss intangible assets as forms of virtual capital. The production and reproduction of the Reaganist myth is its own market. Its production of character/reputation and trust/reciprocity is of course legendary and its diffusion to the North American form of teabaggery continues with the institutional support of right-wing venture capital like the Kochs.

In the United States, commentators frequently equate supply-side economics with Reaganomics. The fiscal policies of Ronald Reagan were largely based on supply-side economics. During Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign, the key economic concern was double digit inflation, which Reagan described as “Too many dollars chasing too few goods”, but rather than the usual dose of tight money, recession and layoffs, with their consequent loss of production and wealth, he promised a gradual and painless way to fight inflation by “producing our way out of it”.

An example of fad economics occurred in 1980, when a small group of economists advised Presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan, that an across-the-board cut in income tax rates would raise tax revenue. They argued that if people could keep a higher fraction of their income, people would work harder to earn more income. Even though tax rates would be lower, income would rise by so much, they claimed, that tax revenues would rise. Almost all professional economists, including most of those who supported Reagan’s proposal to cut taxes, viewed this outcome as far too optimistic. Lower tax rates might encourage people to work harder and this extra effort would offset the direct effects of lower tax rates to some extent, but there was no credible evidence that work effort would rise by enough to cause tax revenues to rise in the face of lower tax rates. … People on fad diets put their health at risk but rarely achieve the permanent weight loss they desire. Similarly, when politicians rely on the advice of charlatans and cranks, they rarely get the desirable results they anticipate. After Reagan’s election, Congress passed the cut in tax rates that Reagan advocated, but the tax cut did not cause tax revenues to rise.

As against this, the commodity-form, and the value-relation of the products of labour within which it appears, have absolutely no connection with the physical nature of the commodity and the material relations arising out of this. It is nothing but the definite social relation between men themselves which assumes here, for them, the fantastic form of a relation between things. In order, therefore, to find an analogy we must take flight into the misty realm of religion. There the products of the human brain appear as autonomous figures endowed with a life of their own, which enter into relations both with each other and with the human race. So it is in the world of commodities with the products of men’s hands. I call this the fetishism which attaches itself to the products of labour as soon as they are produced as commodities, and is therefore inseparable from the production of commodities.

– Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I

As one can perhaps see, the transgressive role of the State in the struggle among classes will become the key problem for making this critique work as will the impending institutional arrangements making that State ubiquitous and global.

“”In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.

-Ronald Reagan

Reaganism was a political perspective in the United States based on a friendly-seeming, grandfatherly-type ex-actor telling us that government could do no good, and then proceeding to become the head of the executive branch of the United States government, drastically expanding the public debt as he saw fit. Why anyone believed it is beyond us.

Prominent lies promoted by Mr. Reagan include:

The “free market” is always more efficient than the government at providing solutions to problems. (See universal health care)

The “government” is incapable of solving a country’s problems (See Hurricane Katrina)

Some woman somewhere on welfare had a Cadillac and a color TV. (He made this up).

Hardworking blue collar Americans should hate suffering poor Americans for eating their tax dollars instead of working their asses off for giant corporations themselves. (See trade union)

The “rich” are a beleaguered and overtaxed suffering demographic. (Who pay well for political campaigns!)

In Britain, there was a very similar political movement referred to as “Thatcherism,” named for the Iron Lady who advocated the same principles. The impact of this was slightly less than that of the States.

In Marxist philosophy, however, the term Cultural Hegemony describes the domination of a culturally diverse society by the ruling class, who manipulate the culture of the society – the beliefs, explanations, perceptions, values, and mores – so that their ruling-class worldview becomes the worldview that is imposed and accepted as the cultural norm; as the universally valid dominant ideology that justifies the social, political, and economic status quo as natural, inevitable, perpetual and beneficial for everyone, rather than as artificial social constructs that benefit only the ruling class

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24, 2012:  Carlene Cahill of Petersburg, Virginia, holds up a set of signs she made during a Tea Party Patriots'

                    We live in a Tea (Party) service economy

The embodiment of those social constructs in the past decade are our pseudo-revolutionary objects of derision and humor, the teabaggers (aka Tea Party patriots and its libertarian factions). Cultural work has been often times difficult for many since its socially embodied labor derives from a multitude of divisions as well as a variety of controversies often dialectically dichotomous and intellectually challenging: for example cultural studies versus political economy approaches to critical theory. This is too small a space to solve the problem (it can be solved) but to point to some rudimentary examples like the personality Cult of Reagan to show the need for ecumenical approaches to critical analysis.

Come below the fold to see if we can’t disentangle the whole mess:

OCTOBER 27, 1980 More than two dozen papers drop Trudeau’s comic strip Doonesbury “The Mysterious World of Reagan’s Brain,” a week-long sequence that runs on the eve of the 1980 election. One of those papers, The Indianapolis Star, receives 850 calls of protest before it agrees to reinstate the strip.

Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up: The Media Landscape After the Culture War by Annieli

Every war seems permanent as does every revolution until it ends which requires much in the way of interpreting rather than explaining the victory to the vanquished, even in mediated spaces that can digitally define cultural landscapes. How possible is it to consider Walter Benjamin’s (http://www.digplanet.com/wiki/Theses_on_the_Philosophy_of_History) point on the failure of historical materialism “To articulate the past historically does not mean to recognize it ‘the way it really was.’ It means to seize hold of a memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger”? More specifically how do we treat cultural danger as presented in the (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme) meme of “Culture War” and how can we incorporate Marxist analysis to remediate or reconcile the memories that emerge in momentary crisis that obscure the critically real history embodied and assess their actual danger or risk.

Landscapes have that same problem of memory, as actual experience of an expansive and contemplative view of a world or as saved representations of concrete and abstract journeys through those same worlds. The first is individually ontological whereas the latter is a social ontology representing and reproducing an historical relationship to others in a cultural context. Both involve human labor at various scales but it is the crises of value and meaning assigned to those experiences that inform global discourses of war and environment on an unprecedented scale and scope. Today’s culture wars find themselves waging these combative discourses in a media landscape (http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/media-landscape_b37736) or Medienlandschaft.

The phrase culture war (https://www. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_war)represents a loan translation (calque) from the German Kulturkampf. The German word, Kulturkampf, was used to describe the clash between cultural and religious groups in the campaign from 1871 to 1878 under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck of the German Empire against the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. In American usage the term culture war is used to claim that there is a conflict between those values considered traditionalist or conservative and those considered progressive or liberal. It originated in the 1920s when urban and rural American values came into clear conflict. This followed several decades of immigration to the cities by people considered alien to earlier immigrants. It was also a result of the cultural shifts and modernizing trends of the Roaring 20s, culminating in the presidential campaign of Al Smith. However, the "culture war" in United States of America was redefined by James Davison Hunter’s 1991 book Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. In this work, it is traced to the 1960s. The perceived focus of the American culture war and its definition have taken various forms since then.

“The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism. One reason why Fascism has a chance is that in the name of progress its opponents treat it as a historical norm. The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are ‘still’ possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge–unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable.” Walter Benjamin (1940)

In such historical landscapes who are “cultural workers” and what does cultural work as contrasted with cultural objects look like, is it different of the same as all kinds of work and what kinds of value does it produce or more directly can individuals produce “particular kinds of independent and critical reflexivity modelled on the autonomy of the work of art” (Bennett 2011, and Bennett 2009) Societies exist in such landscapes and their collective experiences are often organized or reproduced as mass spectacles, either actual or mediated and consumed in a variety of ways, often driven by tragedy or circumstance.

A well-ordered society would like the bodies which compose it to have the perceptions, sensations and thoughts which correspond to them. Now this correspondence is perpetually disturbed. There are words and discourses which freely circulate, without master, and which divert bodies from their destinations, engaging them in movements in the neighbourhood of certain words: people, liberty, equality, etc. There are spectacles which disassociate the gaze from the hand and transform the worker into an aesthete.

What kinds of spectacles effect these transformations? Do they bear a family resemblance to the manufacturing of consent where spectacles include all forms of mediated politics and of course the intersecting claims of “entertainment” as with Limbaugh the entertainer (“Okay, so I am an entertainer, and I have 20 million listeners”) as a form of reactionary cultural work. It would be easy to say the following if we could identify the “concrete historical context” and since there are multiple mediations, how would a dialectical method of analysis explain rather than merely interpret such products of culture with multiple tropes of cultural war contesting for domination.

In short, mass-mediated products are determined by various factors-the systems of ownership, the process of cultural production, the level of struggle, the state of consciousness in society at a given time, and so on. A dialectical method of analysis would involve studying all these factors within a concrete historical context so as to explain the multiple mediations that infuse a product of culture

For example, while dystopian, there are multiple ideologies at work in the following example of spectacular speculation where doomsday prepping and its media representations are in reality a capitalist industry that exploits the potential danger of refugees coming from cities to attack rural preppers in a variety of romanticized post-apocalypse scenarios. These narratives have a burgeoning market appealing to a variety of religious and political secessionists all with disposable income or transferable construction skills for survival. They become amplified by the seasonal and media driven rise in firearms purchases. All of these actions represent desires for a kind of aesthetic autonomy, however driven by social underdevelopment.

Ron Douglas, for example, has gathered enough supplies to keep his eight person family (two parents, six children) functioning off the grid for a year. His supplies can be broken into four categories: food, energy, shelter, and protection. He’s become such an expert that he is one of the founders of Red Shed Media Group, a business that organizes Prepper expos (40,000 attendees at $10 a person), has a hugely popular podcast radio program, and owns the rights to successful survivalist books.

Under the fold the concrete becomes either more wet or more abstract

FDL Update: Entries Restored, Comments Still Disappeared

My last entry at FDL, which is the last because I’ve been banned, has been restored to visibility.  As I pointed out in my previous entry, my account and diaries were flagged as spam and hidden from view.

FDL moderator RBG’s comment at the bottom of the entry suggests that he (or she; I don’t know RBG’s gender) was the one who banned me, but in truth, the decision to remove me could have been that of any one or all of the FDL moderating team.

FDL’s methodology in banning people was explained by Sebastos:

Deviousness of Firedoglake banning and blocking practices

I agree entirely, Rusty, about the sneakiness of banning without leaving any record. The same applies to this practice of temporarily blocking all of a banned user’s diaries by marking them as spam, then restoring access after several days. It sends a powerful message to banned users that they’re allowed on Firedoglake on sufferance, and that anything they write that offends the moderators can be removed at any time. Yet a casual visitor to the site notices nothing amiss, and even if informed that the diaries had been temporarily taken down, may not grasp the significance, and may even think the banned user is overreacting. It all serves to give an impression of greater openness than is actually the case.

The problem with gatekeeper blogs like FDL and Daily Kos is not only that they are overtly hostile to the left, but that they love to employ police state-style censorship to enforce their official policy of never actually challenging the right-wing Democrat Party.  Sure, we’re allowed to complain, so long as we dare do no more than that.  But step over a pre-drawn line, and one is gone.

Below the fold is the full text of my last entry from FDL.

Bloggers Behaving Badly: FDL Moderating Team

In follow-up to a post I made regarding an entry by Rusty1776 at FDL, I want to let people know that the site moderators have falsely removed the entry in question as spam and banned Rusty from posting.

Rusty’s entry, which in no way violated site rules, argued that it is immoral for Democrats not to issue a primary challenge to Barry Obama in next year’s election for the office of the presidency.  He was subsequently flamed by Bill Egnor, Rayne, RBG, Kelly Canfield, and a suck-up named newtonusr, who apparently took it upon himself to stalk Rusty across at least two threads with the intention of goading him to angry outburst.  The plan worked, and the moderators got the pretense they required to ban Rusty from FDL.

That this happened should not be surprising.  FDL is, like Daily Kos, Open Left, and other so-called leftist blogs, in reality a right-wing gatekeeper blog designed to neuter any real organization by the Left that is independent of the right-wing Democrat Party.  Its moderators have proven over and over again that their sole purpose is to maintain an online environment wherein people may complain about how bad the Democrats have become, but are not allowed to do anything beyond that.  People like Jeff Roby are similarly intimidated with the same tactics used to rationalize the banishment of Rusty1776, with the same message sent loudly and clearly: “You are here as window dressing for the veal pen.  Dare try to be or do more than that, and you are gone.”

This is why it is so important for genuinely independent blogs and activism sites to be independent of the Democrats, or for that matter, any political party.  As long as the Left remains tied to political parties, it remains subservient to the ambitions and interests thereof.

If there is anything positive about this latest abuse of power by a self-proclaimed liberal blog’s moderators, it’s that its agenda is now official, and now publicly exposed.

UPDATE BELOW THE FOLD

The implausibility of the narrative.

When politics gets to a point where there is no reality and we the people are only offered a story written by and for the villain with one face, politics becomes poetic faith. Our choice is between two sides of the same face. We emotionally invest in the choice believing that the pols we’re offered are going to win the day for we the people. We expect the reality of oppressive governance to end, everything will be groovy, and hopey changiness

will once again rule the land of the free and the home of the brave. Yes we can!

         

Wanted: “Reality”-based criticism of President Obama

Crossposted at Daily Kos

    Of all the screwed up things the Republican party and their Corporate Media enablers have done maybe the worst is the souring of the debate on whether President Obama is doing the right thing or not. When the “faithful” opposition in American politics is more concerned with ACORN and socialism than it is with Corproate malfeasance or the corrupt status quo, it just isn’t worth debating with, but that debate is necessary and our system does worse without it.

    Similarly, the left has been conditioned by the raving right to interpret ALL criticism of President Obama as an attack on him. Many on the left see activists who criticize Obama as if they were joining in on the hyperbole, and they fear that Obama, and Democratic majorities, might fall if pressure from the left and the right becomes overheated. These people are often the loudest defenders of Obama, but are they really helping his cause?

     I firmly believe that we MUST, as activists and voters, be able to hold President Obama and the Democratic party accountable, otherwise they will walk all over us. In order to do this, we MUST be able to constructivly criticize our leaders, and since the right wing of American politics long ago left the reality based world, it is the left which must provide this criticism. The problem is, will others on the left allow it to happen?

    More below the fold.

WWYMNHHO: Adolfo Bioys Casares, The Invention of Morel

cross posted from The Dream Antilles

Wonderful Writers You Might Not Have Heard Of (WWYMNHHO) is an occasional, erratic, idiosyncratic series.  It’s like an island that floods at high tide and migrates in the turquoise sea.  Sometimes it appears.  But I digress.

Photobucket

Adolfo Bioys Casares (1914-1999)

Adlofo Bioys Casares’ 1940 novel The Invention of Morel is a short gem.  Jorge Luis Borges, Bioys’ mentor, wrote in the prologue, “To classify it (the novel) as perfect is neither an imprecision nor a hyperbole.” And Mexican Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz wrote, “The Invention of Morel may be described, without exaggeration, as a perfect novel.”  Given this kind of praise, it seemed imperative to read it.

I have no intention of spoiling this book by revealing the plot.  I will tell you this much: Morel is a person and not a mushroom, and the invention is his, it is not that he is invented.  This is the kind of thing that happens when better translators than I render La Invencion de Morel as something other than Morel’s Invention.

The narrator has escaped from a crime to an island with peculiar tides.  He hides.  Sometimes there are two suns; sometimes, two moons.  Events appear to repeat on the island; perhaps there is some fatal disease there.  At some point, Faustine appears and without ever talking with her, watching her carefully from a distance, he falls in love with her.  It is a love of the idea of a person, a love for an image of a person, a love of a phantom.  It’s not quite real, but it’s very deeply felt.  And Bioys manages to convey this mystification, if it’s fair to call it that, beautifully.

There is more, much more to this.  But it’s just not fair to give it all away.  If you’re going to read the book, try to avoid the Wiki on the book and the one on Bioys (though I’ve linked to them).

The book is only 103 pages long.  You could gobble it up in an afternoon or evening, or you could read it in small bits over a week, as I did.  There is enough going on to ponder that a slow reading can be especially enjoyable.

Adolfo Bioy Casares was born in Buenos Aires, the grandson of a wealthy landowner and dairy processor. His parents were keen alphabet enthusiasts, which explains their choice of his initials “ABC”. He wrote his first story (“Iris y Margarita”) at the age of 11. He was a friend and frequent collaborator of Jorge Luis Borges and wrote many stories with him under the pseudonym of H. Bustos Domecq. He won the Gran Premio de Honor of SADE (the Argentine Society of Writers, 1975), the French L├ęgion d’honneur (1981), the title of Illustrious Citizen of Buenos Aires (1986), and the Premio Miguel de Cervantes.

Enjoy.