Thursday, November 30, 2006

Nicky Hager: Late-Capitalisms True Punk Rocker
Published on 1st Dec on Scoop

The fetish we call “freedom of speech” is resolutely defended in particular, we note, by the liberal right. Yet this creates a very uneasy tension. The pretence of the rational, utilitarian individual, very much aware of how things really are is contrasted heavily against the embodiment of the renounced belief in the fetish. We the public readily and eagerly (pretend to) accept the reality regurgitated weekly in the tabloid (and mainstream) press – a self-increasing spiral of production which perpetuates the very market it is responsible for creating, generating in the process of all manner of titillating, facile shite that many claim, we have the “right to know” – no matter how distasteful it is.

Hager playing the NZ media like Nintendo, is NZs answer to Malcolm McLaren, a rude, brazen punk with little regard for the public, politicians, the media or the truth. According to McLaren, “Stealing things is a glorious occupation, particularly in the art world”. Clearly we observe Hager at the peak of his art form, it’s hard not to admire his gall. The creation of a narrative that can topple political parties, must have the marketing gurus in a right tiss. In a world where the public gobble up any and all debris dished up to them by the braindead media - we deserve Hager, we need him and, we created him.

We live within an era of ambiguity between surplus-value and surplus-enjoyment. At the apogee of post-industrialism, a directionless society generates and consumes its own myths bringing forth into existence Marx’s vision of late capitalistic production – production creates the need for the consumption of the products it creates. Nicky Hager embodies this irony of capitalism. It’s hypocritical of those individuals who would enjoy the spoils of the fetish of freedom of speech, the West’s most overrated idea, whilst sneering at Hager. The great irony of capitalism, predicated on freedom, is that its most adherent proponents compulsively re-enslave themselves to its spoils. (cp. US’s entrenchment in a war against the "theft of enjoyment"). One can't help but wonder at the intellectual moralising of those that worship this fiasco. It's called freedom people, and it has you in chains.

In respect of Truth, it is irrelevant. Truth isn’t what Hager is about, Truth isn’t what anything is about. Truth is always balanced against the compulsion to enjoy. The stronger consumptive desire deprives us of autonomy turning us into clowns; it dresses us like babies and shoddier still – renders us manipulated, craving and drooling puppets.

The idiotic jouissance over Hager’s book is contra-posed against libertarian capitalistic ideals manifest in our so-called free “society of consumption”. We are obsessed with celebrity and scandal, we applaud individualism and freedom, we condemn governmentally imposed orders, yet seemingly the loudest cry of injustice regarding the Hager incident comes from the very group defending such idealism – no doubt because it has toppled their champion. I’m reminded of the old Marxist claim: capitalism unleashes a contradictory dynamic that it cannot contain. The ultimate obstacle to capitalism is capitalism itself.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Wednesday Morning Ramble, 29 Nov.

Seeking my muse, or in order to find inspiration to write about this I browsed PCs blog - the fatuous nature of a lot of his content usually irritates me enough to write, for that I guess he deserves thanks. Sure enough I found inspiration in footnotes titled Saturday Morning Ramble, 25 Nov. The informal blog begins with this rather facile truisim (paraphrased).

As the world becomes more technologically, scientifically and economically advanced ... what?

The overweening gleeful pride in this statement almost made me gag. And so an inspired rant begins.

I was reminded of my drive from Canberra to Sydney after meeting with my PhD supervisors in late August this year. Scrub and Australian gum trees skirt the road for hundreds of kilometres until you hit the hideous chain store corridors and seemingly endless "nappy valley" subdivision developments that is Sydneys 1.5 hour commute exurban sprawl. At one point, during the drive, I glanced at the road shoulder. The verge was littered with empty plastic and glass bottles, plastic bags, confectionary and fast food wrappings, all manner of trash. Kilometre after kilometre this continued. People (Australians), with absent regard, simply toss their rubbish out of their vehicles as they speed along at 110k towards Sydney, creating a roadside rubbish tip.

It makes me think this unrelenting march towards technological, scientific and economic utopia is ultimately a race to process as much natural resource turning it into eventual landfill (or highway verge) fodder as quickly and efficiently as possible - and this is supposed to be a good thing. I notice Walmart is entering the Indian market - in a bizzare kind of uroborian feedback cycle - the west sells the same shit back to those that produce it and steel the profit from the exercise.

Technological, scientific and economic advance blurs the senses, it distorts our sense of place within the world. It separates us and socialises away our connection with nature. The ultimately doomed project, apollonian idealism, is the driver of technological, scientific and economic advance - the re-birth of tragedy, hedonistic out of control desire surrenders to technological gadgets and the faux status symbols that fill the chain stores. It has turned us into clowns, made a circus of civil society, it dresses us like babys.

Western society knows by seeing. This perceptual vice is at the heart of our culture responsible for producing everything from monstrocities of titanic proportions to the electronic baubles and trinkets that consume us. Our attempts to distance ourselves from Darwinian waste and squalor drive us toward clown-like idiotic ritualised behaviour overtly emphasised in late-capitalisms consumptive society. Browsing with serious concern the endless array of crap we consume which don't actually meet or satisfy any actual need but indeed create the need they claim to satisfy.

The great irony of Capitalism, predicated on freedom is that its most adherent proponents compulsively re-enslave themselves to its spoils. (So much so that the US are now entrenched in a war against the "theft of enjoyment"). One can't help but wonder at the intellectual moralising of those that worship this fiasco. It's called freedom people, and it has you in chains.

Friday, November 17, 2006

New York Magic

I'd do anything to get to this.

If you are in New York - don't miss it, do not miss it! Weller truely captures the essence of a generation, from late 70s punk (The Jam), thru the 80s (Style Council) to the current rock revival with his solo work.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Black Out

As I drove my son home from swim squad tonight I (indicated then) pulled into a lane just in front of a morbidly obese brain-dead male driving a very new and expensive looking Mercedes Benz two door sport version - I mean the guy was so fat I'd have sworn someone had rammed a Humvee up his arse. I was (just) doing the speed limit. It really irritated him that I didn't accelerate away with the torque that no doubt his mostly pointless piece of German engineering could. So much so that he sat about a metre or two surging closer every now and then towards my towbar as we continued the short journey home.

I laughed to myself knowing he wouldn't dare risk hitting me, I could tell he cared a helluva lot more about his wanky status symbol than his health for a start. All this rekindled my wonder as to what would become of the ignorant, impatient obese in the coming long emergency. Fat and can afford to be tasteless is in for a shock.

Something I noticed in the news this evening confirmed the almost fatalistic course of events now unfolding subtley before our very eyes. The lights went out across Europe today in an unprecedented continent wide power outage - and the world barely blinked an eye.

Richard Duncan (2000) argues we are at the beginning of what he calls the olduvai slide. Marked ostensibly by the escalating violence in the middle east, the Jerusalem Jihad, we are at the beginning of ever increasing dysfunction across global energy markets. Financial markets will follow close behind.

The power shortages in California and elsewhere are the product of the nation's long economic boom, the increasing use of energy-guzzling computer devices, population growth and a slowdown in new power-plant construction amid the deregulation of the utility market. As the shortages threaten to spread eastward over the next few years, more Americans may face a tradeoff they would rather not make in the long-running conflict between energy and the environment: whether to build more power plants or to contend with the economic headaches and inconveniences of inadequate power supplies. (Carlton, 2000)

The electricity business has also run out of almost all-existing generating capacity, whether this capacity is a coal-fired plant, a nuclear plant or a dam. The electricity business has already responded to this shortage. Orders for a massive number of natural gas-fired plants have already been placed. But these new gas plants require an unbelievable amount of natural gas. This immediate need for so much incremental supply is simply not there. (Simmons, 2000)

Civilisation came to an abrupt halt (albeit a shortish pause) for most of Europe today. A cold snap encouraged millions of Germans to turn up the heating causing the electricity grid to collapse "like a house of cards" the guardian reported.

"One power company chief said the continent had been close to a total blackout"

Duncan argues Industrial Civilisation is beholden to electricity. What will modern cities be like to live in without electricity? Millions of people packed likes sardines into highrise apartment complexes - inherently everything connected to this way of life utterly and totally depends on electricity. Yet the average punter is totally clueless in regard to the complexity, the fragility and the implications of electricity and large cities.

The reliability of the worlds electricity networks is faltering. As an individual, and in light of Duncan's compelling argument, I urge you to consider what you might do.

Richard Duncan's Olduvai Theory