Category Archives: Culture

Rotten Meat

How does the mutiny in Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin start?

With a side of beef crawling with maggots that the ship doctor nonetheless declares fit for consumption by the crew.

The fairly obvious point Eisenstein is making is that insurrections start when the stench of the corrupt, rotting status quo becomes so overpowering that official narratives can no longer hide it. When people are asked to disbelieve their own eyes and noses, trouble brews.

As C.J. Hopkins recently noted, the Western elites face a similar moment. The neoliberal order stinks and the corporate media is in full deodorant mode.

The Brexit referendum and the election of Trump alerted the global capitalist ruling classes to the existence of another dangerous insurgency that had nothing to do with the Greater Middle East. While they were off merrily destabilizing, restructuring, privatizing, and debt-enslaving, resentment of global capitalism had grown into a widespread neo-nationalist backlash against globalization, the loss of sovereignty, fiscal austerity, and the soulless, smiley-face, corporate culture being implemented throughout the West and beyond. That this backlash is reactionary in nature does not change the fact that it is an insurgency … just as Islamic fundamentalism is. Both insurgencies are doomed attempts to revert to despotic social systems (nationalist in one case, religious in the other) and so reverse the forward march of global capitalism. The global capitalist ruling classes are not about to let that happen.

The corporatocracy wasted no time in dealing with this new insurgency. They demonized and hamstrung Trump, as they’ll continue to do until he’s well out of office. But Trump was never the significant threat. The significant threat is the people who elected him, and who voted for Brexit, and the AfD, and Sanders, and Mélenchon, and Corbyn, and who just stayed home on election day and refused to vote for Hillary Clinton. The threat is the attitude of these people. The insubordinate attitude of these people. The childish attitude of these people (who naively thought they could challenge the most powerful empire in the annals of human history … one that controls, not just the most fearsome military force that has ever existed, but the means to control “reality” itself).

The corporatocracy is going to change that attitude, or it is going to make it disappear. It is in the process of doing this now, using every ideological weapon in its arsenal. The news media. Publishing. Hollywood. The Internet. Intelligence agencies. Congressional inquiries. Protests. Marches. Twitter’s “advisory emails.” Google’s manipulation of its search results. Facebook’s “counterspeech” initiative. Russiagate. Shitholegate. Pornstargate. The ruling class is sending us a message. The message is, “you’re either with us or against us.” The message is, “we will tolerate no dissent, except for officially sanctioned dissent.” The message is, “try to fuck with us, and we will marginalize you, and demonize you, and demonetize you, and disappear you.”

The message is, “we control reality, so reality is whatever the fuck we say it is, regardless of whether it is based in fact or just some totally made-up story we got The Washington Post to publish and then had the corporate media repeat, over and over, for fourteen months.” If that doesn’t qualify as full-blown Orwellian, I’m not sure what, exactly, would.

The media war on “fake news” is a war on all those who dare call rotting meat what it is. In Battleship Potemkin, the captain dealt with the rebellious sailors by ordering a tarpaulin to be thrown over them, literally sweeping them under the rug, and then ordering a firing squad to shoot them. At the last moment, the firing squad refuses the order to shoot. The mutiny is on.

Attempts to throw a tarp over insurgent Deplorables are ongoing at Google, Facebook, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post and countless other guardians of the liberal regime. A particularly astute move is the effort to invest the counterinsurgency operation mounted by the corporatocracy and the organs of the Deep State with the aura of “Resistance.” But squelching dissent is a desperate measure that testifies to the fatal unraveling of the official narrative. It delays the final reckoning but cannot turn rotting meat back into living tissue.

Trump as Wrecking Ball

Orlov is always on the money:

There are some people in the US who wish for a better president: one who would actually fix things. But what if no such person could exist, even in theory? What if what the country needs now is a nice big swinging wrecking ball, to knock down all of the buildings that have become unsafe and should be condemned? You can paint your wrecking ball any color you like, so that it looks pretty while hanging still, but paint tends to rub off on first contact with the brick walls of reality. In the end, all that matters is that the condemned building collapses. Once it does, it becomes possible to clear the rubble and build something better in its place.

Class vs Identity

Could it be stated more clearly:

Our identity is the least important thing about us. And yet, it is the thing we have become most committed to talking about. From the standpoint of a left politics, this is a profound mistake since what it means is that the political left — increasingly invested in the celebration of diversity and the redress of historical grievance — has converted itself into the accomplice rather than the opponent of the right. Diversity has become the left’s way of doing neoliberalism, and antiracism has become the left’s contribution to enhancing market efficiency. The old Socialist leader Eugene Debs used to be criticized for being unwilling to interest himself in any social reform that didn’t involve attacking economic inequality. The situation now is almost exactly the opposite; the left today obsessively interests itself in issues that have nothing to do with economic inequality.

Only one quibble: The “Left’s” preference for pseudo-diversity over economic justice is not an oversight or a mistake. It reflects the reality that since the late ’60s, the “Left” has been captive to the interests of entitled, social climbing yuppies, the perfect exemplar of which is Hillary Clinton. It’s not a bug but a feature.

Céline


How can one fail to see that everything denounced by Céline at the end of the Thirties is true and even worse since then?

Quite. And the current squalid kerfuffle over the publication of his retroactively criminalized pamphlets merely adds to the evidence of how little the country that claims his genius deserves it. But then, what country could possibly stake a legitimate claim to Céline, the quintessential vagabond, the man who seemed to have a knack for making himself unwelcome wherever he went?

To really appreciate Céline, you have like him to lack roots in the modern world, to be a traitor to every party, to be intellectually and culturally homeless. Céline’s made himself an untouchable out of dogged loyalty to what he saw, touched, heard, smelled, tasted. His undoing was the the result of his steadfast refusal to lie. You sense that this refusal did not arise from some abstract moral principle. It came from artistic pride. Céline refused to lie because he was an aesthete of the highest order, uninterested in finding beauty by keeping his head upturned and contemplating the heavens but possessed by a fury to give form to the chaos encroaching from all sides. The lesson of his work is that beauty is not in the world but in suffering it, in enduring it, in voyaging to the end of the night.

Along with Nietzsche, he is one of the, perhaps, handful of writers who matter to me.

Uncommon


Liberalism is the contemporary form of aristocratic pretension–it’s what the better people are obliged to profess in order to pass themselves off as quality.

The panoply of liberal tropes have one thing in common: the pretense to uncommon moral refinement. Being a liberal consists largely in making a display of your exquisite sensitivity. This is often referred to as virtue-signalling and it is, but it is important to be clear about what precise virtue liberal virtue signalling signals. Invariably, it is the possession of an uncommon sensitivity to the plight of the uncommon, which liberal rhetoric designates as “marginal.” Liberal fervor is at root a fervor to achieve uncommonness, to be recognized as special, as a member of an elite.

Today, the easiest way to achieve this uncommonness is by professing support for the empowerment (phallicization) of women and the disempowerment (castration) of men. The very perversity of this position guarantees its exclusivity. You notice this quality of perverse exclusivity in everything that liberals profess to value, be it food, art, clothes, cars, or beer. Even when liberals admit to liking things that ordinary people like, they make a point of encapsulating their appreciation in irony. The commonest, kitchiest things are rescued from their commonness and consumed uncommonly, in a way that is superior to the way ordinary, dumb mortals consume them.

The paradox of how liberals, who are predominantly white, can profess disdain for white men is resolved if we understand that liberals see themselves as exempted from that debased racial category by virtue of their morally superior sensibility. For liberals, hatred of white man is not self-hatred but a means to achieve elevation above the commoners.

Likewise, the seeming paradox of privileged liberals posing as victims of “patriarchy,” racism, and “heteronormative” prejudice is resolved when we understand that what liberals understand by oppression is their lingering sense of their own phoniness. This is what the peasants have to answer for–that they make liberals feel bad about themselves. The entire liberal project is essentially an attempt to legislate the normalization of phoniness.

The liberal nightmare is that one of these days the commoners will rise up and force their inclusion in political discourse, which to liberals would be tantamount to ravishment. Perhaps this ravishment is something liberals secretly crave, hoping it would free them from the narcissistic prison of their hoity-toity uncommonness. That would explain the liberal obsession with sexual harassment, an obsession that combines an exaggerated estimation of the hysteric’s allure with a covert longing for a rough man to rescue her from her frigid loneliness.

Money Talks


The pressure to make gender a commodifiable choice testifies ultimately to capitalism’s drive to endow money with the ultimate power to define reality. In 1844, Marx had already understood this:

That which is for me through the medium of money–that for which I can pay (i.e., which money can buy)–that am I myself, the possessor of the money. The extent of the power of money is the extent of my power. Money’s properties are my–the possessor’s–properties and essential powers. Thus, what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness–its deterrent power–is nullified by money. I, according to my individual characteristics, am lame, but money furnishes me with twenty-four feet. Therefore I am not lame. I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honoured, and hence its possessor. Money is the supreme good, therefore its possessor is good.

Today we see just how far this power of money to nullify reality can extend. But we also see how the putative Left, which at its inception defined itself in virile opposition to capitalism, has become the primary agent of capitalism’s effeminizing corruption. For today the Left stands for nothing but the “progressive” normalization of moneyed indulgence and its freakish outcomes.

The Incurable


Disorders that in Freud’s time were still recognizable as disorders are today validated as forms of dissidence. Symptoms that testify to the diminished or wholly absent authority of the father are inverted into willful acts of disobedience against long-extinct patriarchal norms.

As a consequence, neurosis has become not only incurable but undiagnosable. The hysteric today is a model of the “strong” woman, the mother-dominated, inadequate male, a model of sensitivity. What used to be neurosis is now “marginalization,” which calls for “inclusion” and a strained intellectual effort to canonize deformity and flaccidity.

The result is a phallophobic culture that anathematizes its own traditions, devalues men and manly virtues, and insists on demoting reality to the status of a social “construct” subordinated to the self-esteem of snowflakes, morons, perverts, and shrews.

Listless and infantilized men and women may well imagine that technology has finally enabled them to become wholly artificial, genderless, and disencumbered of all inherited cultural and biological limitations. They have no inkling of where the indulgence of this fantasy will deliver them. For the artificiality they seek is itself a phantasm, an ego ideal constructed by gnawing self-hatred. The dream of the “post-human” can only yield a succession of ever-less-than-human until it finally reveals itself to be a death wish.

Liberal Ascent


You can track liberal ascent by sampling the effluent spewed out by the entertainment industry. Norman Lear’s anti-working class All In the Family (1971) is as good an indicator as any of when the cult of liberal virtue signalling achieved supremacy in this country.

All In the Family captures perfectly the social dynamic that propelled the rise of boomer liberalism: the need of upwardly mobile yuppie aspirants to make a public spectacle of their separation from their working class roots. Archie Bunker was a caricature of the working-stiff deplorable. Meathead was … well, Meathead was Rob Reiner playing himself, the prototypical future member of the sanctimonious liberal elite.

Liberalism was and continues to be a means to class segregation. It is snobbery cleverly disguised as sentimental concern for the “excluded,” a category nicely calibrated to not include the disowned working class.

Liberalism’s remarkable achievement was to make the total disenfranchisement of the working class a “progressive” cause. The consequence is that the working class has been left no means of political expression other than the nihilistic embrace of illiberalism. The working class has become subterranean, out of sight, out of mind, except on those occasions when a fissure opens and the stench of the deplorables wafts forth from underground in the embodied form of a Donald Trump or a Roy Moore.

Culture Will Be Phallocratic or Not at All


My ambition is to fully exploit the rhetorical devices of poststructuralism–invariably employed in the promotion of queer theory, feminism, multiculturalism and related liberal intellectual excrescences–to reveal and demolish the sentimental moralizing on which these positions covertly rely. Postructuralism has copped a bad reputation because of its all-too-close association with these perverse liberal projects. But in every instance these resentful attempts to subvert the authority of the phallus unwittingly demonstrate its indispensability. Liberal naiveté consists in the assumption that the revelation that “normative” categories and practices rest on unequal power distribution fatally undermines them. I overturn this assumption. Given that no civilization worthy of the name has ever existed exist without the unequal, phallocratically administered distribution of power, “oppressive” norms and hierarchies prove to be fundamental. What should concern us as a culture is not the various phony phobias hurled at critics of liberal “diversity” (homophobia, transphobia, etc.) but the naturalization of the prissy phallophobia that threatens to reduce what remains of Western culture to a pile of malformed shit.