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Socialism may just Save the World (for now) – only very slightly, and not directly, linked with The International Adam Curtis Society series of posts

In light of the Covid-19 stuff that’s going on right now, there are three things worth pausing over:

Commonality. Knowing that this virus does not appear to discriminate brings the possibility for renewed connection. Maybe life’s too short to hate. It’s probably too valuable to keep doing things the way we have. Wars, weapons, greed, etc., all seem fairly crass at a time like this (yet their effects are long-lasting and far-reaching).

Community. Though there are always stupid people amongst us, the vast majority of things I’m seeing and hearing about are tales of positivity – people being kind and compassionate to one another. People willing to help others in a time of need.

Communication. Fortunate that we do not have to live within our own limited bubbles, modern technology offers the chance to connect and engage with like-minded people around the globe. Feeling that there are others who think, feel, care the way we do can bring great comfort.

And as capitalism ceases to function (though, perhaps, temporarily), brought to its knees in a matter of weeks, it’s worth reflecting on the derivation of the three words above. They are all linked. In many ways they are lynchpins of capitalist society (certainly the latter two), yet society seems reluctant to acknowledge this fact. Anyhoo… stay safe, comrades.

We are The International Adam Curtis Society.

We know no boundaries.

With love,

President Matthew Alexander…

(The International Adam Curtis Society series of blog posts will not use imagery, web links, or anything other than the written word to convey its message. Distraction and entertainment is not our goal.)


Roosevelt Diggin’ the Commie Vibes- The International Adam Curtis Society series of posts

The central tenet of Adam Curtis’ The Century of the Self (Part One): Happiness Machines is that Freud’s theories around human ‘drives’ are used to underpin the Capitalist system throughout the 20th century – appeal to the most base elements of humankind and you can sell them all the stuff you wish (and profit financially in the process). Curtis documents facts around Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, who influenced big business in the U.S. in all manner of Freudian thinking around ideas of consumerism – not mentioned is Ernest Dichter, a disciple of Freud’s, who functioned in a similar manner. Now, this is one way of going about things, using marketing, advertising, public relations, and so on, to influence consumers, but it’s condescending at best, and just plain manipulative at worst. Edward Bernays’ daughter, Ann, sums this up as the planned wedding together of democracy and Capitalism, in order that it be inconceivable for anyone to think that democracy could ever survive without a Capitalist system to protect it.

Curtis positions Roosevelt and the ‘New Deal’ in opposition to this, stating that Roosevelt understood the benefits of not treating members of the public as ‘passive consumers’ – Roosevelt preferring to engage with the masses as ‘active citizens’ capable of thinking for themselves (and of the needs of others). Now, Roosevelt was no saint (his ‘deal’ did not apply to all citizens, obviously), but what Roosevelt actioned/approved/sanctioned during this period is akin to the early years of Lenin’s Russia (though starting from a much more advanced position, technologically and ideologically), and thus I find it very hard for anyone to argue against the fact that Roosevelt used the mechanisms of Communist thought to lift the U.S. out of the doldrums it found itself in during the 20s and 30s. Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ was born of Leftist thinking, a crazy bastard-child of democracy and socialism. Comrade Roosevelt’s vision underpins the logic of Communist ideals – the P.O.T.U.S. ensures that state funding provides work, and security, and prospects. That’s not how Capitalism works. That’s not how the ‘markets’ wish to operate. F.D.R. was RED. That’s for sure. Discuss.

If you have stuff to say about Adam Curtis’ works, or have ideas that spring from them, you should email: Matthew.Alexander@liverpool.ac.uk

We are The International Adam Curtis Society.

We know no boundaries.

With love,

President Matthew Alexander…

(The International Adam Curtis Society series of blog posts will not use imagery, web links, or anything other than the written word to convey its message. Distraction and entertainment is not our goal.)


We Just Accept It – The International Adam Curtis Society series of posts

The current Covid-19 goings-on offer a moment’s pause, with which an entire planet could choose to consider alternatives to the way we do things, both politically and socially. When Adam Curtis (in the same interview with Russell Brand that I mention a couple of posts back) says that ‘we know that, and we just accept it… it’s normal’, in response to events happening around us that we feel we have no control over (in this instance the arms’ industry supplying weapons to a country that allows it to bomb another country), can we imagine a time when this kind of apathy will cease to be so?

It is very easy, when so entrenched in a system, to think that there are no alternatives. Only a month or so ago it would have been unimaginable to consider approaching a bank with the idea that you’d like to not pay your mortgage for a bit, and to not bother with any charges or auto-default settings being applied to your credit rating. Yet here we are.  Obviously, Coronavirus has had a huge effect on the banks’ thinking, here, but pause over this for a while and begin to understand that if mortgage and loan payments are not of vital importance now, why where they so in the past? And why should they be in the future? And why should we fret over such stuff when there are billions of people for whom food and shelter are not standard items?

Yes, we need rules to live by. I’m not advocating for absolute chaos. But do we think that we could learn to not accept things the way they are? Do we see beyond the construct of wealth, and debt, and profit, and greed? Can we see past what we are taught to believe is ‘normal’?

Once more, if you have stuff to say about Adam Curtis’ works, or have ideas that spring from them, you should email: Matthew.Alexander@liverpool.ac.uk

We are The International Adam Curtis Society.

We know no boundaries.

With love,

President Matthew Alexander…

(The International Adam Curtis Society series of blog posts will not use imagery, web links, or anything other than the written word to convey its message. Distraction and entertainment is not our goal.)


Theaster Gates – Amalgam

On at Tate Liverpool as a special exhibition, Theaster Gates’ Amalgam ebbs and flows in the way it conveys the horrors that U.S.A. administration policy visited upon the people of Malaga, a small island off the coast of Maine in the early 1900s.

There are, however, some joyful elements to take from Gates’Amalgam, and it will be up to each individual to find these.

The smell of the Ash pillars is one such element. Get up close. Press nostrils to the wood. Inhale the uniquely vibrant stench of death.

The other element is contained in Gates’ multi-media film that runs on loop.

For a few brief moments two individuals stare (at one another). The look is (enough). The connection pure. This, for anyone who has ever felt it, is the moment a heart feels (like it’s to burst). As you catch another’s stare. Something fixes (the gaze). It is a back and forth. (It is). And you are lost, if only for a brief spell. Unable to look away. Almost unable (to breathe). All else fades (from view). And upon averting one’s gaze, for that has to happen at some point, that person seems to live within you. They are all (you see). The memory of features (imprinted). Recalled (at will). A vital presence. Carried (within). Felt )without(.

malaga_frame_27_1

(For my friend).


The Left has Run Out of Ideas – The International Adam Curtis Society series of posts

During conversation with Russell Brand (Under the Skin, 2017), Adam Curtis suggests that the reason the Left is so ineffective at the moment (and he’s saying that way before the catastrophic 2019 General Election result) is that it has simply run out of ideas. One of the things The International Adam Curtis Society should do is to rectify this by way of fashioning ideas, both everyday and revolutionary, in order to give direction to Leftist thinking.

Here, I am mindful of Lenin’s work to transform a fairly basic country, ravaged by war, into a progressive and innovative one, and of Lenin’s adaptability as situations unfolded that had not been accounted for. The general goal of Lenin’s was to create a society where the majority felt free from oppression and where people were respected no matter their background. And for a time it worked. But as with all things that run contra to the interests of the wealthy elite (used only because this term will be readily understood – I do not class them as such), they are rarely left to prosper.

Here, though, I take heart rather than brooding in feelings of despair. If the events in Russia following the 1917 Revolution sparked so much panic amongst nations devoted solely to Capitalist progress (again, a word used with full awareness of the irony of these conjoined words), then it is clear that a nerve had been touched. I tend to agree with Adam Curtis when he says that post-revolutionary Russia, for a brief time, became a most inclusive place, full of potentiality. And though these are early days in the formation of The International Adam Curtis Society (IACS), I am sure that such potentiality will be found again. The Left may well have run out of ideas, currently, but there is a rich source of inspiration to be revisited.

Again, members are actively being sought, so if you have things to say about Adam Curtis’ works, or have ideas that spring from them, you should email: Matthew.Alexander@liverpool.ac.uk

We are The International Adam Curtis Society.

We know no boundaries.

With love,

President Matthew Alexander…

(The International Adam Curtis Society series of blog posts will not use imagery, web links, or anything other than the written word to convey its message. Distraction and entertainment is not our goal.)


What does Art do?

Depending on where and how you view art, and then again, what type of art you’re viewing, the effect it has on a viewer might be different. I can recall many standout moments from established, world-famous galleries, such as the Tate Modern showing of Rothko’s ‘Four Seasons’paintings, or Bourgeois’ ‘Maman’, for instance.

But what about the pop-up shows, the shoestring-budget shows, the ones where selling stuff isn’t the primary objective? Well, after mulling one of these shows over for a couple of weeks I’ve come to the conclusion that the main effect I experienced is that of thinking… What am I meant to think? Am I being guided by the artists to think? Or am I thinking anew because of what I’ve seen? And even… what have I just seen – what’s its purpose?

And thinking is never a bad thing, so, the overall result on a person’s psyche must be impactful at the very least. If it stays with you, as this show has, its effect will be long-lasting and far-reaching (assuming that I’m not the only one still thinking about it (the show)).


The International Adam Curtis Society – Inaugural Post #AdamCurtis

As self-appointed President of The International Adam Curtis Society, I reach out in a gesture of goodwill to worldwide admirers of Adam Curtis’s works. Join the society, and help, as a collective, to push the next phase of human evolution by engaging with Adam Curtis’s works via the written word. Specifically, the task of all society members is to break free from the constraints of ‘hauntology’ and ‘individualisation’ – both terms that Adam Curtis uses to describe the stuck state all of Western society finds itself in.

As President I will direct the society’s agenda on a monthly basis, seeking engagement from members in the form of guest blog posts, tweets, etc., that will appear, initially, as part of the textual silence project until a dedicated website can be set up. Such writings will discuss aspects of Adam Curtis’s works, with the aim of shattering the widespread public apathy that currently exists, and which leads, inevitably, to a kind of atrophy induced by a rapacious capitalist system that seeks to nullify all existential threats to its existence.

The work you are tasked with as a member of The International Adam Curtis Society is serious and you are unlikely to reap any reward from it in your lifetime. However, remember Adam Curtis’s comments on The Civil Rights Movement of 1960s’ America, where he remarks that people the world does not know the names of are the people who did the real work of the movement. Such work is arduous. But it is important. Follow in their footsteps. Be glorious in word and deed. Seek nothing in return, other than a better world for all human and non-human animals.

In the spirit of past movements a Manifesto will be drawn up, but this will take time. Meanwhile, take the following memory of mine as the foundation from which all action shall spring:

Growing up as a child in 1970s Britain, born into a working class community, and regularly exposed to the glitz and glamour of American TV programmes, a devastating blow was dealt to me as a five or six year old. It was the realisation that I would never grow up to meet my childhood hero: Captain Buck Rogers of the 25thCentury. This may sound laughable, but the dawning comprehension that I would need to live for over 500 years (an impossible task) shattered my childhood, thrusting me into a period of seriousness that exists to this very day (and yes, I soon realised that he was a fictional character, but nevertheless, it’s the spirit of the memory that I want you to retain). And so the spirit is this – it is that we can live free from imposed boundaries, we can reach for new worlds, we can concentrate human intellect on a far larger goal than profits and trinkets, and that we can utilise the age of technological advancement to resign late stage capitalism to a footnote of human evolution. Fear and hate and discrimination and violence and profiteering have no place in this quest. Love and empathy and understanding and peacefulness and commonality, for both human and non-human animals, must be our guiding light, here.

If you wish to join The International Adam Curtis Society, comment on this post in the first instance, or send an email to Matthew.Alexander@liverpool.ac.uk. And remember… we are about to create something new in the world, where power struggles, the language of war and hierarchies, the practices of profiteering have no place.

We are The International Adam Curtis Society.

We know no boundaries.

With love,

President Matthew Alexander…

(The International Adam Curtis Society series of blog posts will not use imagery, web links, or anything other than the written word to convey its message. Distraction and entertainment is not our goal.)


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