Tag Archives: politics

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)…


What Would This World Look Like? #Trump #BoJo

Here’s a very short post, for a change. It may be nice to pause, amidst the political goings on of the moment, simply to ponder the following. In a world where it is possible, although not altogether plausible or desirable, for Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump and Boris Johnson @BorisJohnson to become head of state, respectively, what would such a world look like?

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Would it look like this? Might The Donald reach across the Atlantic and smack a big wet one on BoJo’s fleshy lips? Worse things could happen, don’t you think?

#VoteWhatever (it probably doesn’t matter anyway) #PoliticsIsDead

(ooh… Soul II Soul)


Dismalandic

It does make you wonder what was the inspiration behind the temporary art project, Dismaland…

It’s kind of hard to think…

Oh, yeah…


Politics: Unworkable in Its Current Form

Just two examples relating to the current political landscape are enough to highlight the fact that politics is unworkable in its current form. David Cameron’s tax avoidance is most depressing and marks, in a way, if you think about it, the shift to a terminal phase for “Late Stage Capitalism,” although that probably requires a further post in order to make that point clear (watch this space).

The equally depressing state of U.S. politics is the other such example, where it appears that U.S. voters will end up with a Republican nominee who is to face, amongst other things, charges that his “Trump University” scheme was fraudulent, and a Democrat nominee who, it seems, is being hounded by the F.B.I. with respect to the “email server” scandal.

When you trace back through history to see the efforts of people who wanted politics to be about effecting change for the good of the many, and there were a good number, it is obvious that today’s political climate is not worthy of the name “Politics.” As such, citizens across the globe need to think about solutions to this current problem.


Shielded: @david_cameron

A brief search of the internet (well, Google) with the search term “petition over cameron tax avoidance” seems to falter around the middle of April 2016, where it appears that all interest in the Prime Minister’s financial affairs falls off a cliff. Either this shows a massive shift from anger to apathy from the British public, and if that is the case then I suppose we all get what we deserve with respect to a figurehead who publicly condemns others for tax avoidance activity whilst employing similar tactics with respect to his own financial affairs, or there is something else at work.

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Interestingly, the headline below is dated Friday 8th April 2016 but when you search the internet using the above term the first few pages bring back results dated no later than 13th April, a mere five days after the scandal hit the tabloids.

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In what universe does such a huge news story suddenly stop being big news? In our universe, apparently. Anyway, in an attempt at working towards a kind of politics that ceases to be about the exploitation of the masses for the benefit of the few, here’s a link to a 38 Degrees petition (click this underliney bit) calling for the PM to resign for deception and conflict of interest, which sounds fair enough. Politics in its current form is unworkable and needs a radical overhaul. A Prime Minister who lies to the public is not a Prime Minister, unless the apathy of the public allows it to be so.


.02 Some Thoughts Whilst Conducting Research at the David Foster Wallace Archive (2016) Whilst Also Coping with a Beach-balling Apple Mac (which is more than just a tad annoying)

Here’s a question: How is it that a film like The Big Short can be made without there being a huge backlash of the really-miffed sort from the general viewing public who are presumably paying to be entertained, but who in the very recent past have had their lives affected in the most profound way by the very events that this film depicts? I sat stupefied through the whole thing, wondering if this was the Hollywood equivalent of having someone (here comes a Wallace reference – well, being at the archive and all it feels like the right thing to do) waggle his or her dick (making sure to be inclusive here, as it may be a real or synthetic dick for our purposes) in my face (dick waggling thought courtesy of Brief Interviews, “Signifying Nothing”). I mean, it felt, whilst watching, as if a whole bunch of Hollywood execs, and maybe even Pitt and Carell, et al, and even the author guy, Michael Lewis, had clubbed together to combine their not inconsiderable might in order to produce a huge metaphorical dick with which to smear, repeatedly, across the faces of the viewing public, mine included.

"The Big Short" New York Premiere - Outside Arrivals

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 23: Actor Brad Pitt, writer Michael Lewis, actor Ryan Gosling, chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures Brad Grey and actor Steve Carell attend the “The Big Short” New York premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on November 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

And this is entertainment? Being given an explanation of the events that led to the greatest financial meltdown of all time, in a really dumbed-down way just so that we actually understand it, which in itself relies on humour and irony so that we won’t mind being talked down to, and that we might even laugh along at the film’s laughing at us, ironically? Events that have brought about so much pain and misery to millions of people across the globe – we’re supposed to be entertained by this (whilst raising huge sums of money for the actors, producers, distributors, etc., through the process of paying to watch the film)? It makes me wonder what it would take to raise the masses from their slumber, if films such as The Big Short can be made, and can then go on to be a “box office hit,” a vehicle of popular culture filmmaking that taunts its intended audience with a kind of “look-at-you-you-dumb-shits” (pause that doesn’t work with conventional punctuation because I’ve taken liberties with hyphen usage here) “we-even-have-to-explain-your-miserable-lives-to-you-in-the-simplest-of-terms-because-you’ll-pay-to-watch-the-story-of-how-your-lives-got-to-be-so-miserable-whilst-we-rub-our-giant-metaphorical-dick-in-your-face” way. I, for one, want a refund, and although I didn’t exactly pay for the movie (it was provided as a form of “free” entertainment because I’d paid for something else), I will be writing to the film company and demanding that they refund me the cost, whatever that may be.


.01 Some Thoughts Whilst Conducting Research at the David Foster Wallace Archive (2016) Whilst Also Coping with a Beach-balling Apple Mac (which is more than just a tad annoying)

And this one is weirdly topical and very fresh as it discusses an article that is actually quite recent, rather than discussing something that was put out months ago.

The interview with President Obama in The Atlantic begins:

“Friday, August 30, 2013, the day the feckless Barack Obama brought to a premature end America’s reign as the world’s sole indispensable superpower—or, alternatively, the day the sagacious Barack Obama peered into the Middle Eastern abyss and stepped back from the consuming void”

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Feckless is an odd word with which to describe any American leader, given their access to power, both real and imagined. The article continues in an odd tone, in that it is hard to figure out its purpose – just what is the article supposed to make us think of Obama and his time in office? As above, where we have to contend with the deliberate paradox set up by the journalist of whether Obama is feckless or sagacious (because he really can’t be both), the article continues to tread a line somewhere in the middle of viewing Obama as a Spockian genius or as just a complete dick-wad.

Perhaps this is, in part, Obama’s own doing, where his awareness of his own image and of how he will be perceived by future generations, a very real aspect of Obama’s narcissism that comes out in every interview, somehow limits his appeal in the here and now – he’s all about the future, so how the f*** can you judge him today, stupid? Maybe it will take decades to figure out his legacy, but depending on what happens next in American politics, it might not seem all that important after all.


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