My Photo


David Thompson
Blog powered by Typepad

« Elsewhere (86) | Main | Friday Ephemera »

February 19, 2013

Comments

sackcloth and ashes

Re: your first link, Owen Hatherley is a groupie within the so-called 'Socialist Workers Party' - in the news recently because the party leadership has covered up accusations of rape made against one of its own by a female member.

Ryan

Can leftwing pop music avert catastrophe?

Damn your archive. I lost twenty minutes of my life in the Graun comments. So much student angst and class war posing.

Pop music is now all 'Tory' (allegedly).

David

So much student angst and class war posing.

I tried not to get too entranced by the heated arguments over which forgotten pop band was more working class and therefore more radical and authentic. Many of the participants in those discussions seem to be thirty-or-forty-somethings, who, like Mr Hatherley, sound unhappy about the fact they’re no longer teenagers. And so, like, everything sucks, man.


Owen Hatherley is a groupie within the so-called ‘Socialist Workers Party’…

Imagine my surprise.

rjmadden

Pop music is now all 'Tory' (allegedly).

What does this 'Tory' pop music sound like? Does it have a good beat?

Sam Duncan

“Yes, these young titans of the left need the state to make them edgy and countercultural.”

That's why the Soviets invented rock'n'roll while all the Americans could come up with was the Naval Choir of Murmansk.

David

Last week, Mr Hatherley, who describes himself as “a Marxist of some sort,” shared his sadness that the hammer and sickle is now largely unfashionable due to its unflattering connotations. Apparently it’s good to have an eye-catching symbol of “class conflict and egalitarianism.” Somehow Mr Hatherley doesn’t register that those unflattering, indeed monstrous, connotations were an inevitable consequence of a monstrous ideology, i.e., of communism, with which presumably he has some sympathy.

[ Added: ]

The class-conscious Mr Hatherley also wants us to share a toilet and kitchen with people we may not like. Specifically, he wants us to “look beyond our obsession with private space.” Wanting your own living space, a little freedom from the tribe, is apparently an obsession, i.e., something bad and unhealthy. Rather than, say, a sign of not being a hippie or a student. Yes, “communes” are a good thing and “increasingly sensible,” according to Mr Hatherley, while “insularity” – which is to say, privacy and individual territory– is not. “Other ways of living are possible,” says he. Sadly, he doesn’t disclose whether this morally improving communal living is good enough for him.

[ Added: ]

TypePad’s spam filter is still a little twitchy. If anyone has trouble with their comments not appearing, email me and I’ll shake the damn thing loose.

Horace Dunn

From Hatherley’s piece about the hammer and sickle…

“For many, and entirely unsurprisingly, the hammer and sickle represents one thing – the one-party states that ruled several countries from 1917 to 1991, and that still rule a few – including, of course, the second-largest economy in the world. So, the [French Communist Party’s] reformers might well think, why should communists in the 21st century want to march under the banner used by the regime that starved and shot millions in the 1930s USSR…”

A more pertinent question might be why they still want to belong to a political movements whose ideologies created and perpetuate such horrors.

I sometimes wonder how aware the Guardianistas are of the sewer in which they swim.

Kerry

George Monbiot encounters the exotic underclass. Things go badly wrong.

I read 'exotic' as 'erotic' and was very confused.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

"Other ways of living are possible,"
For people who wish to live that way. Those other ways of living should not be mandatory, which is what one gets the impression Mr. Heatherley wants.

David

Those other ways of living should not be mandatory, which is what one gets the impression Mr Hatherley wants.

It’s an idea that his colleague Mr Monbiot seems suspiciously keen on.

David

Horace,

A more pertinent question might be why they still want to belong to political movements whose ideologies created and perpetuate such horrors.

Such people like to blather about communism in theory, not actual communism, i.e., communism in power, despite the obvious relationship between one and the other. Which may explain why Mr Hatherley lets us know that the hammer and sickle came after Marx, as if to spare Uncle Karl from any unflattering association with the horrors of his own dogma. Which is a little rich, given Marx and Engel’s own sadistic fantasies regarding “revolutionary terror,” the “murderous death agonies of the old society” and the “complete extirpation” of “reactionary peoples” – i.e., thee and me. Countless Marxist intellectuals – including Lukacs, Gramsci, Althusser and Hobsbawm – and of course Marx, Engels and Lenin - were pretty sure that their utopia necessarily required a little pushing and shoving… a little unpleasantness. Or as Marx and Engels put it, “When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror.” To read Marx and Engels - to say nothing of Trotsky and his enthusiasm for guillotines and the prospect of beheading people who didn’t wish to be communists – to read such material and somehow not grasp where that thinking goes isn’t just a failure of critical wherewithal. It’s a contrivance. A learned dishonesty.

A couple of years ago, when thirty or so local students gathered down the road to wave their communist paraphernalia – including hammer-and-sickle-banners – they looked quite ridiculous. Though I couldn’t help thinking they might at least have had the courtesy to be more honest. Declaring a taste for communism – declaring oneself a Marxist - is rather like saying, “If I had my way, I’d control you and ruin the lives of everyone you care about.” And the people who say such things don’t seem to appreciate the fact one has shown some restraint in not punching them insensible. As I’ve said before, I’d imagine there’s quite a large overlap between (a) Marxists and (b) people who want to dominate others but were really crap at sports.

I sometimes wonder how aware the Guardianistas are of the sewer in which they swim.

Given the typical investment of emotion and ego in the idea that Left Equals Virtue, what would they stand to gain from a flickering of realism? Better to continue not noticing certain things, only more so.

AC1

>"Other ways of living are possible,"

Translated means, "I've decided to try and ban the way of life you've currently chosen."

Horace Dunn

David:

“Better to continue not noticing certain things, only more so”

Well quite. Which is why they spend so much time whittering on about inconsequential matters. Hatherley even argues the superiority of the hammer and sickle over the swastika on the grounds that the former means something (the factory worker and the peasant) while the latter doesn’t. It’s all so much blah but suits the Guardian mentality because it serves to distance their bunch of vicious thugs (the commies) from the other crowd (Hitler) even though the similarities far outweigh the differences.

I was also amused by this from the same article:

“But what does the actual hammer and the actual sickle symbolise today? Unlike the cross, the hammer and sickle is limited in its technological application. Not much work in factories is done with hammers; and since the green revolution [sic], sickles aren't much in evidence in agricultural production either.”

Yes, that’s right – the hammer and sickle no longer have the same symbolic applicability because human progress and technology have freed workers from hellish production lines and back-breaking life-long toil in the fields. Something to thank capitalism for, perhaps? For some reason Hatherley doesn’t go quite that far.

Rob

Funny how the teenage trot thinks communal living is a problem for the government, and not the public (by implication of his exclusion of them). Clearly the public demand communal living but are prevented by a totalitarian government.

Personally I would love to live involuntarily in a property shared with a psychopath, two students and a single parent with seven kids by five different fathers. Who wouldn't?

David

Mr Hatherley doesn’t have the excuse of being a teenager. He’s in his thirties.

Spiny Norman

...(b) people who want to dominate others but were really crap at sports.

The same could probably be said of Western converts to Jihad.

sackcloth and ashes

'Hatherley even argues the superiority of the hammer and sickle over the swastika on the grounds that the former means something (the factory worker and the peasant) while the latter doesn’t'.

The swastika means nothing, Owen? Tell that to the Indians. It was the symbol for Hinduism and Jainism thousands of years before the Nazis appropriated it.

I'm trying to decide which Owen is the more stupid - Hatherley or Jones?

Horace Dunn

Sackcloth

In fairness to Hatherley, he does mention in passing that the swastika is associated with Hinduism. It's my précis of his argument that gives the impression that he's ignorant of the fact. His contention is that the swastika "literally represents very little". I think that by that "literally" he means to say that it doesn't represent anything literally or pictorially that is relevant to the political movements in question.

As for your question about the comparative stupidity of the two Owens. Well, it seems to me to be such a near run thing that it makes no difference.

Mr. Saturn

Only in this weird world we live in is the "revolution" government subsidized.

David

And speaking of collectivism and its advocates, there’s also this.

So. Should those non-academic peasants be “nudged” into making the approved life decisions, as determined by leftwing academics and their leftwing academic reviewers, or should they just have their autonomy taken away by the state? Such are the questions for Professor Sarah Conly in her book Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism.

Conly’s next book is titled One: Do We have a Right to More Children?

Some on the left seem to believe that human beings are, or should be, indistinguishable from bees. Or livestock of some kind.

Simen Thoresen

Good find on 'Against Autonomy'. It all hinges on the belief that government in aggregate does better than the individual. That's how you explain why taxes are good (government spends money wiser) and why control is good (government rules better).

Once you are there, then more government is obviously more better.

The world we're in today would be a lot better if this was actually true.

-S

David

Simen,

It’s actually surprising to have it announced quite so explicitly. Such people are usually rather coy, at least at first. The basic argument is that, because people don’t always make decisions that prove to be in their own best interests, as determined by X, then a committee of similarly flawed people should be given enormous and intrusive power to decide on behalf of all other people, about whom they can be even less realistic, and on whom they can impose their own flawed assumptions and sadistic power fantasies.

Behold leftwing academia, where reason never sleeps. And where authoritarian urges are rarely out of fashion.

[ Added: ]

And of course the book is presented as if it were daring and countercultural, when in fact its basic attitude is shared to some degree by many of the author’s peers and much, if not most, of our political and media class. Taking away our choices now seems to make up the bulk of political activity. It’s what the modern self-declared “liberal” does – sooner or later he or she will tell us that coercion is good for us, because we simply can’t be trusted. And so, rather conveniently, our betters must take charge.

Fran Marini

re. Art School Marxism, have a look at this BBC2 film from 1981. The section from 10.35 onwards is a gem. It also shows how bad many of these bands were...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSpCWJnnWVI

David

Fran,

Um, are you sure that’s the right link? I mean, cyborg bra drills are all well and good…

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

Cyborg Bra Drills sounds like a good name for a band.

David

Ah, that video makes more sense. Of course now I'm having a goddamn Eighties flashback...

[ Added: ]

Oh wow. This is hilarious. My favourite quote (so far):

You can’t, sort of, get into this idea of, sort of, creating the revolution in one song, you know. We may sing a song about the problems of a guy being unemployed but that’s not gonna change the class structure of Western capitalist society.

I suppose what’s really funny (or faintly depressing) is that much the same noises are still being made, three decades later, and by very similar people.

Anna

I suppose what’s really funny (or faintly depressing) is that much the same noises are still being made, three decades later, and by very similar people.

Don't laugh, David. The communist revolution is coming. They just need to find the right three chords.

peter horne

"So. Should those non-academic peasants be “nudged” into making the approved life decisions, as determined by leftwing academics and their leftwing academic reviewers, or should they just have their autonomy taken away by the state? Such are the questions for Professor Sarah Conly in her book Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism."

Heh, she's funny, except...
…surely she’s proved her own thesis by making a bad decision and writing a bad book, so she of all people shouldn't be allowed to make choices for others, therefore her thesis is incorrect, except in respect of herself in which case it must be correct…or something…
I'll get my coat.

rjmadden

Behold leftwing academia… where authoritarian urges are rarely out of fashion.

I'm actually lost for words. She's arguing for totalitarianism.

David

I’m actually lost for words.

It’s a helpful reminder of how some minds work.

When people propose social “improvements” that entail mass coercion and enormous restrictions on other people’s autonomy, and which imply that human beings are best treated as livestock - and do so at length despite the most glaring moral and logical objections - then it’s unlikely they’ve arrived at these “improvements” via altruism or simple intellectual error. It’s more likely we’re dealing with someone who feels a psychological need to impose on others. A kind of rationalised spite.

AC1

>It’s more likely we’re dealing with someone who feels a psychological need to impose on others.

I disagree. It's an inability to imagine the other even exists i.e. a socipath.

David

What’s remarkable isn’t that another leftist academic has proudly displayed her authoritarian inclinations; God knows, that’s common enough. What’s striking is the degree to which Conly’s basic worldview is shared, at least in part, elsewhere. It seems to be common currency, especially among so-called liberals. There’s a heated thread about the book over at MetaFilter, in which the merits of coercion are being discussed. They’re building a better world, you see.

[ Added: ]

And of course the Guardian’s Jill Filipovic tells us, quite emphatically:

Somehow, big food companies have convinced us that drinking a 32oz soda is a matter of personal liberty, and that the government has no place in regulating how much liquid sugar can be sold in a single container.

Yes, apparently those evil food companies have – somehow, nefariously - made some of us consider the proper role of the state and whether it should have any business telling people what to eat and drink, and how much and where. That must be it. How else can we explain the fact that not everyone agrees with Jill Filipovic? Because “every socially conscious person” must agree with Jill Filipovic.

JeremiadBullfrog

"Conly’s next book is titled One: Do We have a Right to More Children?"

--I initially thought this was a joke. But no...

The comments to this entry are closed.

For Amazon US use this link .

Your filthy consumerism supports this blog.

Blogroll