Category Archives: Revolution

“The Market” and the potential Counter-Effect on Radical / Subversive / Revolutionary Thought (with links to posts on Russell Brand, Adam Curtis, Stephen Hawking, Paul Mason, Akala, and The Tarnac 9 (or 10))

A nagging doubt that continues to linger after reading/hearing/viewing what might be considered to be radical/subversive/revolutionary works in the form of films/documentaries/podcasts/books, etc., is that can such works actually be so radical/subversive/revolutionary if the owner of such works simply profit from them through the controlled and controlling system of “the market?”

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Basically, if what you want to change is the present system (and it’s worth clarifying that what’s being discussed here is the present post-industrial Westernised system of capitalism based on the rampant consumption of goods), then how can you hope to do so whilst profiting from it – because bringing the system down will ultimately disrupt that source of profit.

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Surely, there has to be some sort of self-sacrifice on the part of the owner of the works, where rather than merely accepting royalties, etc., and using them to fund cars, multiple properties, holidays, pension funds, and the like (which serves to uphold the status quo of the present system), the profits are used in a way in which they are directed against the system itself – use the money to do the things that the system will never do.

It seems logical that to subvert the system you must first cease to consume all else than that of the very basic necessities (food, clothing, housing). This might (depending on geographical location) mean a household imposing its own limits of expenditure, where a figure acts as a barrier to excessive spending, and that all other monies above that figure are used in altruistic ways – and not in the current “philanthropic” way that sees money given to charities only for it to be reduced from a person’s tax bill (and note the inefficiencies of charities in their handling of donations). No. Instead, this form of giving should very much be plentiful, anonymous, and given freely and willingly.

The question is, will anyone be willing to do so?

Links to previous posts (lucky dip):

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Leaps of Imagination, Like When You Were a Kid

Having the chance to flick through old tales once read as a child, or variations of them, has led to a profound thought: why not just solve the world’s problems by employing a child-like “leap of imagination?” An evil stepmother infiltrates a queen’s bedchamber disguised as a nurse (queen just given birth so she’s a bit knackered and off-kilter) – now, yep, fully aware of the portrayal of gender, here, but the writing of the tale nothing to do with me (adaptation of Grimm’s tales???), and if it were I’d probably opt for some sort of gender-ambiguous setting (open pronouns and stuff) – and then this nurse/evil stepmother just assumes control of the situation, no border checks taken place, no visitors’ pass scanned in the hall, just basically a total bypass of security protocols.

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So, what if the average thinking-person who worries on a daily basis about the inequities of life, wishing that they could end wars, humans mistreating other humans (whether individually or as past of a corporation or country), and who views hunger and water poverty as completely reversible given a bit more emphasis on compassion and a lot less emphasis on profit, starts to assume the same sort of control, but obviously, not with the same wicked end in mind as the evil stepmother/nurse person?

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Watching yet another documentary that tries to pick its way through the “this is not a conspiracist tale but you’d better wake up” waters of contemporary views about “leftist, liberal intervention tactics” (Ethos Movie) left the impression that, well, it shouldn’t have to be all that hard to effect change if you really want it. What I do most days is think of a problem, say lack of access to clean water for a good deal of the world’s population, and then start to work through the layers of things that would need to be done in a conventional, ordered sense (contacting politicians, NGOs, etc.), and then think about how the shortage-of-water problem is often caused by corporations that are deeply embedded in the political scene, so that, really, you know before you start that things are not going to be easy after all, and then that’s kind of depressing and debilitating, and then the mind starts to drift and something comes along as a distraction and then it all seems too much because you’re just one small person in what seems like a huge system of unfairness.

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But here’s the rub. Breaking that feeling of uselessness could actually be simple to achieve by employing the Grimm Practice (that’s what I’m calling it – GP for short). Think of a solution, and make it so. Now, the suggestion at the end of Ethos Movieis that we as consumers, as a starting point, can choose where to spend our money, and in doing so can provide incentive to corporations (but this could also be applied to governments, but that will be attended to in another post) to act responsibly, ethically, and basically, as good human beings (because a corporation is made up of humans). My very simple suggestion in this regard is to set up a system of an international boycott on the purchasing of any and all items from corporations that exploit people for profit. The boycott can be levied according to how much a corporation needs to change its ways – one day per year just to keep it in check; one week per year to push the message harder; and so on, until the people see that corporations change their ways.

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If, say, a company like Starbucks (just for example) saw not one person cross its thresholds to buy its products for an entire day (anywhere in the world) it would likely start to change its ways (exploitation of low-paid workers; prices paid to coffee growers; the effects on communities where coffee is taken at a fraction of the price it will eventually retail at; and stuff like that). Now, if the opposite is true, that Starbucks turns round and says “fuck you, do this again and we’ll have to lay-off many of our workers,” what I’d say is ramp up the boycott action until it comes in line, which it will be forced to do (rather than go out of business altogether, which happens when a company’s turnover is 0 ($£€, etc.)). And here, we see the power potential at play. The Grimm Practice puts power in people’s hands. Don’t overthink things. Don’t analyse the possibilities endlessly (because that is debilitating), simply use the tools that we now have at our disposal – the internet to spread the word, social media to chart our successes, and our disposable incomes to withhold from those corporations that do not act in the interest of humanity as a whole. Vote GP.

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Current Adam Curtis Obsession #1

Tying in with a recent article on the “unstoppable rise of veganism,” a podcast of Russell Brand’s interview with Adam Curtis, “Do We Really Want Change?,” offers a potential route forward from the seemingly destined-to-fail calls for change that we have witnessed over the last decade or so, whether the Occupy Movement in the west, or the ripples of revolution around the middle-east.

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Curtis identifies an actual, though brief, moment in history that resulted in monumental change, and which came from the Civil Rights movement in the southern states of the U.S.:

“White activists and black activists joined together and they spent years giving their lives, and in many cases literally, up to trying to change the world, which they did, and they surrendered themselves to that” (0:22:20 – 0:22:30).

Curtis details the success of the movement and the subsequent failure of the New Left as the rise of “individualism” takes hold, disrupting the coming together of groups of people, instead spreading the message that to be “true” to yourself is the real “goal” in life and that from that (being an individual) the world will change as a result (which it hasn’t). So, with veganism on the rise (around 1% of the U.K. population is believed to be vegan) is it time to recognise that when veganism is most challenging and difficult that it is at its most effective?

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What I mean, here, is that the growing trend for multinationals to assimilate veganism into their practices (many of them dubious in nature) is perhaps yet another example of individualism working for the benefit of the corporations and managers of capitalism. The capitalist model has tapped into the fact that being vegan is not always easy (you can’t just nip into any old shop to buy a snack without inspecting the contents of that pack in the first place (and even then you need to be clued up to the names that are used to describe the ingredients).

So, instead of the practices of old, where (and this is true, I’ve heard many a vegan testify to this) vegans would meet with other vegans to discuss foods that they can eat, sharing knowledge, and maybe even discuss activism and the like (perhaps they can be called We-gans), “new vegans” are being presented with a rich array of products that save them from having to do so, thus removing some of the discomfort and inconvenience of having to “go out of your way” to source information. In doing so, vegans are being kept isolated from one another in that there is a lack of incentive to grow the vegan community (perhaps they can be called Me-gans) – instead, becoming individual vegans, just as the markets require us to be.

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A great example of this has to be McDonald’s new “Vegan” Burger, which reads like a contradiction in terms, or just a really sick joke. One of the largest killers of animals on the planet asking vegans to come into their “restaurants” and sit side-by-side with carnivores? Bizarre, but true. The motives behind the launch of the McVegan can only be linked to profit, for there can be no ethical reasons behind the decision, as the animal slaughter continues unabated.

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So, try not to get too excited at veganism going “mainstream” because you may just get what you didn’t ask for. Instead, think of the myriad ways that you, in your small but perfectly capable way, could disrupt carnivore practices. You could write about it, talk about it, or just do something about it (pouring super glue in the locks of McDonald’s doors as you pass a closed store (making sure that it was dried in time that no McD’s employee would suffer any harm in the process) would be illegal and childish, of course)…


(Still) Troubled by #MrRobot and the #Infinite Loop of Insanity

On the 4th or perhaps 5th time of watching, Mr. Robot, Series 1, episodes 1-3 still do not disappoint, and so the question remains… at what point will the show start to fail its subversive underpinnings and come crashing down to reveal nothing but rubble with no sign of the essential footings required to maintain the kind of integral structure I’d once imagined was possible? (Architecture metaphor?).

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There’s just no other word for it. Subversive. That’s what it is. It’s just so subversive in its first incarnation that it’s almost impossible to fail to notice its subversiveness. So, what went wrong with Series 2.0? A question I’ve been grappling with all summer, and until attending a Rosi Braidotti masterclass I’d imagined I’d be struggling with such a question a good while longer.

But now a glimmer of hope.

Perhaps there’s a need to apply Deleuzian principles in order to make sense of the shift from subversiveness to a kind of style over substance? But, better check back later when more reading has been done…


(Still) Troubled by Mr. Robot_2.0 – Symbolism #MrRobot #HackingRobot

Episode four of Mr. Robot, Season Two, provides a piece of symbolism that may or may not be pointing towards one of the greatest unexplained, and largely unreported, events of the 21st Century. It is hard to say whether it is, or whether it isn’t, because the show is quite confusing with respect to the messages it sends out (see most of the previous Mr. Robot posts for an expansion of this thought).

The show probably gets away with this very piece of symbolism because it takes place during a dream sequence, and so, the weird, dreamy kind of stuff taking place perhaps softens the effect. But still. To have a high-rise building suddenly collapse in free-fall, in New York of all places, seems kind of bizarre, and it must have crossed the producers’ minds that adding such a scene references the collapse of World Trade Center 7.

WTC7 is rarely mentioned. So much so, that there is even a campaign to raise awareness of its collapse. Now, whether you’re into “conspiracy” theories or not is beside the point. A skyscraper collapses at around 49:40 of episode four. It suffers no damage. It just collapses in free-fall. When you see it you think: demolition. Given that it is widely recognised that buildings do not just collapse in such a manner, and that WTC7 is believed to be the only building to have ever done so, in New York on 11th September 2001, are the producers directly referencing this event, or is it just a coincidence?

There is probably a whole range of possibilities here. But here are two that I grapple with on an almost daily basis.

  1. Mr. Robot is a vehicle for expressing subversive thought, and it speaks to those who long for an alternative to the present capitalist system of Western industrialised nations. Referencing WTC7 in this way is a reminder to not believe the mass media, and to recognise the ways in which it manipulates current events to fit with the propaganda of the dominant ideology (or something like that).
  2. Mr. Robot wants its viewers to believe the above statement. Because most viewers stream the show as and when they choose, there is a record of those viewers (those who are meant to lean towards the sentiments of statement A). Here, there is the potential for a Minority Report kind of tactic – recognise those with conspiracist/anarchist/revolutionist/whatever leanings, and monitor them (or worse).

Or it could just be a TV show, and there’s nothing more to say than that.


(Still) Troubled by Mr. Robot_2.0 #MrRobot #HackingRobot

So, where to begin with this one? For those interested, there are previous posts that cover Mr. Robot Season One and such things as metaphors and references; White Rose; is any of it real?; and the end of consumer-debt society.

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Well, the trailer is out and things are set to get darker in the world of Mr. Robot, and Sam Esmail seems to have full control of his project, but the one thing that is still being wrestled with, and that has not fully been shaken off since first binge-watching season one, is: at what point will Mr. Robot and its anarchic sensibility be corrupted by the inner-workings of a “Hollywood” system that rarely engages with such subversive forms of fiction, or is there scope to consider that the eventual, and perhaps unintentional outcome of the show will be a nationwide, perhaps even part-global raising of the collective state of consciousness to such an extent that people will start to wake up to the fallacies (freedom (generally), autonomy, the capitalist model and “democracy” as fundamentally linked, and so on…) of contemporary life in, primarily, post-industrial cultures?

Or is there nothing more to it than that it’s just another form of contemporary media that keeps us glued, zombie-like, to our screens? Surely not…

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Anecdotally, is the Insurrection Coming? #Brexit

This is an important question and, anecdotally, from opinions garnered from those within both Leave and Remain camps, public opinion seems to reflect unprecedented levels of dissatisfaction felt with politics in its current late-capitalist mode – hence my notion that #PoliticsIsDead (click the pictures if you want, and stuff)

 

So, is the Insurrection on its way? Is there, as the Tarnac community is alleged to have suggested, a Coming Insurrection? It seems wrong to sit by and watch as economies shuffle from one disaster to the next, as has been the case throughout much of the present capitalist model, arguably. But do the people have the will to mount an insurrection?

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I guess we’ll see…


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