What is Hollywood, you ask, dear children? A quorum of whores babbling endlessly on about fucking while the bordello is razed for a penny arcade -- Paul Bern

Friday, October 29, 2010


The proliferation of special interests fostered by multiculturalism is [...] conducive to a politics of 'divide and rule' that can only benefit those who benefit most from the status quo. There is no better way of heading off the nightmare of unified political action by the economically disadvantaged that might issue in common demands than to set different groups of the disadvantaged against one another. Diverting attention away from shared disadvantages such as unemployment, poverty, low-quality housing and inadequate public services is an obvious long-term anti-egalitarian objective. Anything that emphasizes the particularity of each group's problems at the expense of a focus on the problems they share with others is thus to be welcomed.

The devil's deal that was struck when some on the left chose to pursue "the politics of identity" as a quixotic revolutionary strategy, when the certainties of the Soviet and Maoist wave functions collapsed, was more or less adaptive & opportunistic. They, perhaps unconsciously, perhaps cynically, viewed people as consumers in an ideological supermarket, no longer bound to each other by hard class boundaries, class being an unsexy, limiting idea in the consumerist spectacle. The whole impetus became spectacular, to make certain sub-classes visible as an end in itself, to create ever-fluid Coalitions of Visibility that never had to achieve any actual political goals. The too-clever Era of Brechtian politics had begun for reals.

Brecht: "They include an expectation which is justified by experience but, in the event, disappointed. One might have thought that ... but one oughtn't to have thought it. There was not just one possibility but two; both are introduced, then the second one is en-stranged, then the first as well."

And so politicians became producers and actors of epic theatre, because after all, the play should not cause the spectator to identify emotionally with the characters or action before him or her, but should instead provoke rational self-reflection and a critical view of the action on the stage. This, of course, only becomes a problem when faced with certain ideologies that are NOT KIDDING or post-modern about anything, like for example Chinese Capitalism or nativist neo-fascism, and who have minimal interest in the traditions of epic theatre.
In her book La tentation obscurantiste, the French journalist Caroline Fourest presents an interesting hypothesis regarding the advance of what we call leftwing culturalism. She notes that the two great prototypical points of identification for the European Left during and after World War II were the anti-totalitarian struggle on the one hand and decolonisation and anti-imperialism on the other. For a long time they were able to co-exist without conflict; but, following the important growth of Islamisms in the Islamic countries and among Muslim immigrant groups, the Left found itself divided according to which of the two principal causes was considered most important. If the anti-totalitarian struggle was considered crucial, people tended to turn against Islamism as yet another form of totalitarianism from the inter-war period. But if the anti-imperialist struggle was considered paramount, the tendency was to support Islamism as a legitimate challenge to Western imperialism, at first in the colonialist version and subsequently in the globalised version. This latter choice naturally opened up the Left to culturalism. This turns out to be a twofold problem for the hardline, multi-cultural left wing: culture means at once too little and too much. On the one hand, it is very important, in that it provides an individual with an identity and therefore the right to political care and protection – conservatism built into the culturalist concept of culture. On the other hand, the Left has historically maintained that culture has no meaning, for it is economic and social conditions that are the critical determining factors. Yet at the same time, this Marxist doctrine is behind the multiculturalist idea that all cultures, irrespective of how anti-democratic and anti-liberal they are, can a priori co-exist in the same society. This duality is naturally a constant source of confusion for hardline leftwing multiculturalism. Culture is at once an immutable source of profound identity and at the same time a purely surface phenomenon based on economic determinants. It is naturally impossible for both to be true.
But why worry about it? Let's take that nice mediterranean cruise to Heideggerian quietism with Godard!

No comments: