Just now watching "The Commuter", from the Philip K. Dick anthology series Electric Dreams, I am amused to note that the creepy "perfect" town of Macon Heights is portrayed by Poundbury, the famously real-life Dickian exemplar of the dangers of confusing utopian simulacra with a better life.
Poundbury, in the outskirts of Dorchester is a toytown for Prince Charles. Here his architectural views have been given reign. It is an ‘unashamedly traditional’, low, zoning-free faux Georgiania, of car-less dream alleys and not-too-high towers, a market-town fantasia... The paths are gravel for appearances’ sake, for the sake of the picture: that gravel spreads and is a nightmare for pushchairs does not matter.
Many of the 25-year-old exteriors of Poundbury have been constructed with fake bricked-up windows, emulations of the real avoidance-mechanism dating from the 1696 Window Tax.
In Poundbury, strict rules disallow illuminated signs, or clothes-driers, aerials, metres, air extractors, ventilation openings, dustbins, solar cells being visible from the street. And yet here are unwindows, a facile and putrid kitsch homage to a devastating, unsanitary and hated repressive measure, that condemned people to unventilated darkness, is a tasteful detail.
Here, the bad picturesque lives, or is at least undead.
It's unsurprising our media are choosing to focus on the Tiananmen Square thing and a fair amount of content provider wank about his "common touch", rather than his orchestrating a wage freeze during an economic boom, privatising everything that wasn't nailed down, deregulating everything else, generally selling out ALP policy and the party base while cozying up to the moneyed elite, marching in lockstep with US imperialism, and providing the inspiration for Blairism. But as you're supposed to say something nice at such times, let's celebrate his legacy as being that he has forced the bilious commissars of Newscorps, and Coalition scumbags themselves, to say something nice about a Labor politician the day before an election; that must feel like swallowing an echidna tail-first. And then we can go and cozily ignore Hawke's contribution to getting us to precisely where we are now, when we give government tomorrow to the charisma free Hawke clone who is the best we can hope for these days.
Neoliberalism is neo because, unlike classical liberalism, it proceeds logically from the dismantling of the labor theory of value. In terms of class, this means writing out the working class, and substituting as its pertinent tri-fold structure the wealthy, the middle class, and the poor. The wealthy are described as wealth makers. The middle class are economically autonomous, and the poor are government dependents.
Class, which used to indicate a position in the spheres of production and circulation, becomes, in neoliberalism, a proxy for income.
Politically, income is a very weak guarantor of solidarity. The search for solidarity turns elsewehere – to various identities, which, in the absence of a robust sense of production and circulation, take on the primary roles in structuring our lives, and thus the politics concerning our lives.
Thus society is understood to consist of three groups: investors, consumers, and dole bludgers. This neatly makes explicable the inability of Americans, and, increasingly, everyone else, to understand what class means, and why it matters.
On the internet, there’s a small but dedicated group of people who believe that Donald Trump is secretly trans... Of course, it all goes much deeper than the Trumps. They’re only part of a secret elite Satanic trans cabal. Everyone in the higher reaches of power is trans, from the British royal family to pop stars to TV anchors. Why isn’t entirely clear. Because they hate nature, because they hate God, because they’re mimicking the androgyny of the Baphomet, because they’re just perverts. (The theory is also somehow linked to the idea that all animals not mentioned in the Bible are actually fake – zebras are just painted donkeys, gorillas are men in suits, sloths are animatronics, and so on.) But the truth is plain to see, and the investigation continues. Soon, all will be revealed.
This is a fairly stupid, bigoted, and dangerous theory. It’s also far more believable than the idea that Donald Trump is a secret deep-cover Kremlin agent.
The blockbuster model has reasserted itself and as usual seeks to muscle everything else out of the way. At the height of corporate capitalism you pay full price for bad movies improperly projected in ugly theaters whose business is selling large sodas at a 1,000 percent markup.
To rub it in, the large theatrical chains have implemented reserved seating policies, which, by slowing down ticket buying at the box office, herd filmgoers into making electronic purchases for which they have to pay an additional fee. Reserved seats are antithetical to moviegoing, which traditionally and democratically has been first come, first served. You could move to a different seat if a weirdo (or anybody) was sitting too close. This new nonegalitarian system is fancy and inappropriate. It takes too long and it huddles people together. Let’s just go to the opera at this point, instead of seeing The Girl in the Spider’s Web pinned in place next to someone texting “wyd?”
I was stunned. The Russians had almost certainly intercepted the phone call. That was hardly surprising–in these jobs, you have to assume that any number of governments could be listening in if you’re on a non-secure phone. What was new was the act of releasing the intercepted call and doing it so brazenly, on social media–the Russian government had even tweeted out a link to the YouTube account. Doing so violated the unspoken understanding among the major powers–we collect intelligence on one another, but we use it privately, for our own purposes. A Rubicon had been crossed–the Russians no longer stopped at hacking information; now, triggered by the threat of Ukraine sliding out of their sphere of influence, they were willing to hack information and put it into the public domain.
From the memoir of an Obama minion, extracted at Mondoweiss.
So long as we, the outliers, insisted that we had something to offer, that our world, where we formed enduring relationships outside the tax code and the sanction of church and state, where we created and took care of families of lovers and friends and strangers alike — so long as we insisted that this world was richer, more sustainable, more loving in so many ways than the insular world of Fortress Marriage, we got nowhere. Only when we exchanged our lofty ideals for conventionality was our struggle embraced. Only when we sought to exchange, in the words of the assimilationist attorney William Eskridge, “sexual promiscuity” for “the potentially civilizing effect” of state-sanctioned marriage were we accepted — as if a community risking their lives to care for their own in the face of church and government condemnation was not the very highest manifestation of civilized behavior; as if marriage “civilized,” to offer one of countless examples, Harvey Weinstein.