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.
The level of confusion thus introduced is very high. At one point, casting about for areas of unity between the working class and the poor, Williams expresses her hope that restaurant owners will oppose Trump’s draconian border measures in order to better secure immigrant labor. For those still trying to keep score, the restaurant owners are somehow working class, while their immigrant laboring employees are somehow not. Nevertheless, at certain junctures Williams cannot resist taking up the cause of “white trash” who are maligned by elites but not, by her own definitions, working class.
Living in a girl’s body, everyone seemed to be telling me — teachers, relatives, adults I didn’t even know; tabloid headlines and nightly news anchors; people I didn’t want to believe, and people I did — meant that violence was your birthright. How could you trust anyone who touched you, who desired you? How could you trust your own desire, when desire could lead you so easily to trauma or a bad reputation or even death?...
So I did what made the most sense at the time: in a world that told me a girl could not desire, I dreamed myself into boyhood. If a boy kissed a boy — if a boy let a boy kiss him — no one had to lose, no one had to submit, no one had to be asking for it, or for whatever came next. You could just — kiss.
And so, to dream of boys, I dreamed of myself as a boy — or of two boys together, my own sense of identification tied down to one, or fluttering lambently between them. In another time and place, I might have wondered if I was alone. In the world of Newsies fanfiction, I knew I wasn’t.
Although an interesting cultural artifact, the idea of female-authored gay slashfic has been pretty inexplicable to me, but Sarah Marshall clarifies matters.
The opposition to Trump has divided into two camps: one that pines for a reversion to the mean, a painless transition back to incrementalism at home and see-no-evilism abroad; and another that recognizes the very rot that let a man who is both Fool and Lear in one howling figure stumble into the presidency. This latter faction, which ranges from the modest social democracy of Bernie Sanders to a far more radical and openly anti-imperial left, sees in the present crises an opportunity to wrench back some kind of national democracy from imperialism. It sees the fact that the United States has, for nearly two decades now, spent $250 million a day on war as both a crime and an opportunity to redirect those resources. (To put that figure in perspective, it would be enough to operate a modest regional hospital for a year.)
The first configuration is what I came to call the Vampires’ Castle. The Vampires’ Castle specialises in propagating guilt. It is driven by a priest’s desire to excommunicate and condemn, an academic-pedant’s desire to be the first to be seen to spot a mistake, and a hipster’s desire to be one of the in-crowd. The danger in attacking the Vampires’ Castle is that it can look as if – and it will do everything it can to reinforce this thought – that one is also attacking the struggles against racism, sexism, heterosexism. But, far from being the only legitimate expression of such struggles, the Vampires’ Castle is best understood as a bourgeois-liberal perversion and appropriation of the energy of these movements. The Vampires’ Castle was born the moment when the struggle not to be defined by identitarian categories became the quest to have ‘identities’ recognised by a bourgeois big Other.
The privilege I certainly enjoy as a white male consists in part in my not being aware of my ethnicity and my gender, and it is a sobering and revelatory experience to occasionally be made aware of these blind-spots. But, rather than seeking a world in which everyone achieves freedom from identitarian classification, the Vampires’ Castle seeks to corral people back into identi-camps, where they are forever defined in the terms set by dominant power, crippled by self-consciousness and isolated by a logic of solipsism which insists that we cannot understand one another unless we belong to the same identity group.
I’ve noticed a fascinating magical inversion projection-disavowal mechanism whereby the sheer mention of class is now automatically treated as if that means one is trying to downgrade the importance of race and gender. In fact, the exact opposite is the case, as the Vampires’ Castle uses an ultimately liberal understanding of race and gender to obfuscate class. In all of the absurd and traumatic twitterstorms about privilege earlier this year it was noticeable that the discussion of class privilege was entirely absent. The task, as ever, remains the articulation of class, gender and race – but the founding move of the Vampires’ Castle is the dis-articulation of class from other categories.
Excellent work from the late Mark Fisher, well worth the longer read. As it happens, I found this link from a cite in a recent column by Nick Cohen, so now I have to go and take a shower.