Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category
Historic Meeting Between Coatesim and Oslerism.
Discussing the finer points of dissident Lambertism.*
“Now that’s the way to deal with the Zinovievite-SWP Spy-Wrecking Centre!”
Liquidationists secretly work out hidden agenda in the Dolphin.
The Faction In Primitive Accumulation of Cadre.
“What Rough Beasts Slouched Towards China Town – Wonky’s?“
Photos from The Strop
Imperium. Perry Anderson. Critical Thoughts. New Left Review. No82 (New Series) 2013.
“American capitalism has resoundingly re-asserted its primacy in all fields – economic, political, military and cultural – with an unprecedented eight-year boom.”
Perry Anderson. Renewals. 2000.
“(New Left Review’s Relaunch)…scandalised many by demanding from the left a lucid registration of defeat ‘No collective agency able to match the power of capital is yet on the horizon’ Anderson noted……These judgements stand.”
Susan Watkins. Shifting Sands. 2010.
“In contrast to the economic structure, the political structure cannot be expanded indefinitely, because it is not based upon the productivity of man, which is indeed, unlimited. Of all forms of government and organisations of people, the nation-state is least suited for unlimited growth because the genuine consent at its base cannot be stretched indefinitely.”
Hannah Arendt. The Origins of Totalitarianism. (1)
The “unprecedented” American boom ended in Autumn 2008. But despite the absence of what Anderson has called an “answer to the prolonged slow-down of the advanced capitalist economies that set in forty years ago” America remains, post Soviet Collapse, the uncontested, hegemonic, global authority. (2) American power reaches outwards across the globe. This is not just grounded on the attraction of its economic strength, cultural appeal, or technological advances. An active exercise of domination is at work.
Within this received wisdom on the left, the Special Issue of New Left Review, Imperium, sets out to present the “outlook and continuity of objectives” of the “administration of empire, the thinking behind this rule. It also aims to “asses” this vast field, centring on what is decidedly not a “poverty of strategic theory.”
To former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, writing in 1997, U.S policy goals must be “to perpetuate America’s own dominate position for at least generation and preferably longer still; and to create a geopolitical framework” that can evolve into “shared responsibility for peaceful global management.” (3) By contrast, for Anderson, in 2002 the US’s objectives unfurling before the rather less peaceable invasion of Iraq, were described as part of a “structural shift in the balance between force and consent within the operation of American hegemony…” (4)
The present study is only the latest, then, of Anderson’s efforts to understand the leading role of America in what David Harvey has labelled the “new imperialism” and the global dominance of neo-liberalism. Following indications signalled by Robert Brenner he looks further into history to explain the particular form that the American state has taken. Imperium begins by stating, “Since the Second World War, the external order of American power has been largely insulated from the internal political system.” The focus is therefore on the “narrow foreign-policy elite, and a “distinctive ideological vocabulary” of “grand strategy.” (5)
Imperium concludes with, and starts from, the following historical narrative, “In the course of four decades of unremitting struggle, a military and political order was constructed that transformed what had once been a merely hemispheric hegemony into a global empire, remoulding the form of the US state itself” (Page 110 Imperium) Included in the Special Issue is a study of the above American “literature of grand strategy”, Consilium. We discover (to no particular surprise) that it is soldered around the idea that the “hegemony of the United States continues to serve both the particular interests of the nation and the universal interest of mankind” (Consilium Page 163)
These were the long years of the global fight against the Soviet Union. For Anderson the USA, he concedes, graciously or not, “was indeed an electoral democracy, did confront a socio-political system that was not” (Page 33 Imperium). During those decades the country has witnessed domestic opposition to “imperial force”. This, volatile, “constraint”, the limited “public tolerance” of foreign expeditions (we immediately think of the aftermath of Vietnam) has played a role. It continues to shape the decisions of the Obama administration. (Page 108. Imperium)
But behind this is there is, as he has commented on the second Obama Presidential victory an “all-capitalist ideological universe – a mental firmament in which the sanctity of private property and superiority of private enterprise are truths taken for granted by all forces in the political arena.” The Democrat President cannot ignore the culture that feeds Obama’s Republican opponents. One feature stands out, a domestic “nationalism peculiar to the United States as the capitalist superpower in the struggle with communism, intensely more hyperbolic than that of any Western society.” (6)
Outside this native soil there is little alive that is capable of offering a serious political challenge to policies dictated by the “new regime of accumulation” and the “liberal-capitalist order”. Gloomily in 2002 he talked of ‘resistance’ as “chaff in the wind.” In 2007 Anderson had a brief flicker of hope in “spectacular demonstrations of popular will” the World Social Forums in the first half of the last decade, and a “patchwork of resistance”. But they could not halt, “a further drift to the right” as a “new Concert of powers has increasingly solidified.” (7) Read the rest of this entry »
Strange Days: Cold War Britain is a three part series shown on BBC.
The second section was broadcast last night.
The BBC describes it as follows, “Dominic looks at the front line of the conflict as a newly prosperous Britain of consumerism was pitched against the Soviet ideal of communism.”
Historian Dominic Sandbrook, the presenter, is a master of supercilious superficiality.
The Great Contest (Isaac Deutscher) was played out in the UK in the late fifties and sixties between the ‘Guardian reading’ CND – all solemn and po-faced – and the threat of imminent nuclear war.
Britain’s main contribution to fighting the Cold War was pop culture (the Beatles) of, and there were some missiles somewhere. There was James Bond to help us, and John le Carré (whose name Sandbrook managed the hard task of pronouncing ‘la‘ Carré) to muddy the waters.
Strange Days had some serious real-life stuff, with the Soviet blackmailing of British Navel Attaché John Vassall for his gay sexuality.
Strident left-wingers presented Play for the Day, which were little more than class war rants. Joining the Communist Party of Great Britain, one clip was reeled out to show, was a serious commitment, not far of becoming a Jesuit.
Come 1968 and the ‘seventies and Communism turned groovy.
We had the evidence of Rising Damp’s Alan Guy Moore (Richard Beckinsale) to demonstrate it.
In the battle between the Ideal Home exhibition and Nikita Khrushchev capitalist consumerism had the edge.
Who needed left-wing politics when you had white goods?
Now there are reasons to think that some of Sandbrook’s underlying arguments tilt in the right direction.
Sandbrook is, if the word is appropriate for somebody I’ve only just heard of, well-known for arguing that the 1960s far from being a decade of Revolution were conservative.
In the New Statesman (2005) he stated,
…anywhere you look you can find evidence that belies the myths of permissiveness and revolution. Was there really a cultural revolution? A million people rushed out every Saturday to buy the latest hit singles; but two million men and boys went in pursuit of fish, and a staggering 19 million people pottered about the garden.
It is indeed striking that you can meet people (Coatesy writes as somebody who actually was part of the counter-cultural left in the early 1970s) and who, on the basis of a few trips to the Roundhouse think they were part of this ‘cultural revolution’.
Those of us who were (and I know some of them as well) were acutely aware of how much a minority the ‘counter-cultural left’ was at the time. We had only to see the reactions of other people in pubs to tell us.
But that’s as far as it goes.
Sandbrook has apparently never heard of the New Left, anti-Stalinists and a lot more.
Despite these (and many other) gaps Strange Days tries to be too clever for its own good.
Sandbrook has faced charges of plagiarism in the more recent past.
Strange Days is just pastiche politics.
Ali G Discourses with Richard Seymour, and Laurie Penny.
Our old comrade Richard Seymour and Laurie ‘Penny Red’ have been well fit getting down on this with guest, Mr Ali G.
Extracts from A discourse on brocialism
On Russell Brand, iconoclasm, and a woman’s place in the revolution: a dialogue with Richard Seymour and Ali G on the question of how to reconcile the fact that people need stirring up with the fact that the people doing the stirring so often fall down when it comes to treating women and girls like human beings.
Richard Seymour. To an extent, he genderfucks, he queers masculinity. He has his hair as a beautiful bird’s nest, and wears eyeliner. His comportment is very ‘effeminate’ in some ways. Part of his attractiveness, then, is that for all his sexual swagger and rigorous self-objectification, he isn’t conventionally ‘manly’.
Laurie Penny. I’d like to say, first off that there are many things apart from the hair and cheekbones that I admire about Brand. He’s a damn fine prose stylist, and that matters to me. He uses language artfully without appearing to patronise, something most of the left has yet to get the hang of. He touches on a species of directionless rage against capitalism and its discontents that knows very well what it’s against without having a clear idea yet of what comes next, and being a comedian he is bound by no loyalty except to populism.
Ali G. Crack cocaine iz destroyin’ our community, so when a bruva makes it through, he deserves our respect. So, let’s big it up for me main man Brand, who has been off da crack now for eight years!
Richard Seymour. So, in place of a unity in which the oppressed preserve a tactful silence, we need a complex unity, a unity-in-difference. This is what ‘intersectionality’ means to me. It is the only strategy that will work. We aren’t asking too much; we’re demanding the bare minimum that is necessary for success.
Ali G. You wanna know ‘ow I make diz country bettah? Iz simple, two words: keep it real!
Laurie Penny. That’s three words!
Ali G. Don’t be a spannah, it ain’t a real word. It’s short for innit, innit?
Richard Seymour My experience is that ‘brocialists’ don’t openly embrace patriarchy; they deny it’s a problem. Or they minimise it. They direct your attention elsewhere: you should be focusing on class. You’re being divisive. You’re just middle class (quelle horreur!).
Ali G. Me woz born in da heart off da Staines ghetto. Me woz failed by da skool system and hated every minute me spent in da classroom. In fact added together, dat time woz probly da most borin 3 hours of me life – altho me do still go to a skool re-union every second Monday at Staines Job Centre… As well as bein unemployed – i iz also got a lot off well important careers. As head of Da West Staines Massive, me control da most peace lovin and violent gang in da hole of Barkshire.
Richard Seymour. The system of patriarchy has a lot of material compensations and advantages to offer those who accept it and identify with it. To me, the rape jokes and misogynistic language – all this is straightforward symbolic violence, ascriptive denigration, and obviously linked to punishment for transgression. Whether knowingly or not, it’s an occasion for male bonding – the ’naughty’ laughter – and the production of a type of masculinity. It’s the exercise of a ‘privilege’ of patriarchy. Of course, not all men like or want such ‘privilege’. But for it to be effective, quite a large number of men and women have to accept its basic inevitability, its naturalness.
Ali G. Do you think all girls should try feminism at least once? ”
Richard Seymour. I think organisations on the Left should have explicitly organised caucuses of women, of LGBTQ people, of black people, and so on – and these caucuses should have real authority, they shouldn’t just be debating societies where issues that are ‘inconvenient’ can be hived off. They should make policy.
Ali G. If this talk teach you anything, it should teach you how to respek everyone: animals, children, bitches, spazmos, mingers, lezzers, fatty boombahs, and even gaylords. So, to all you lot watching this, but mainly to the normal people, respek. West side.
Richard Seymour. You get this weird thing with many brocialists (I think this is true of Brand to an extent) who are clearly hurt by dominant norms of ‘masculinity’, and who resist it to an extent. And yet they still basically identify with patriarchy at some level, they still enjoy its brutality – the rape jokes, for example. yet they still basically identify with patriarchy at some level, they still enjoy its brutality – the rape jokes, for example.
Laurie Penny. That’s the issue that I’ve seen raised time and again when it comes to powerful men within movements and sexism or sexual violence, or to matters of fair representation, often by those seeking to defend or excuse the violence, but not always
Ali G. But what harm has violence ever done?
Laurie Penny. Oh… death!
Ali G. Yeah, but apart from that.