Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Zizney's Newest Release: "Now Is The Time Of Lobsters"

Today we do not know what we have to do, but we have to act now, because the consequence of non-action could be disastrous. We will be forced to live ‘as if we were free’. We will have to risk taking steps into the abyss, in totally inappropriate situations; we will have to reinvent aspects of the new, just to keep the machinery going and maintain what was good in the old—education, healthcare, basic social services. In short, our situation is like what Stalin said about the atom bomb: not for those with weak nerves. Or as Gramsci said, characterizing the epoch that began with the First World War, ‘the old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters’*.


It belongs crawling up the screen in flourescent letters to a Carl Orff pastiche.

* Needless to say, Gramsci said no such thing:

Ondata di materialismo» e «crisi di autorità».] L’aspetto della crisi moderna che viene lamentato come «ondata di materialismo» è collegato con ciò che si chiama «crisi di autorità». Se la classe dominante ha perduto il consenso, cioè non è piú «dirigente», ma unicamente «dominante», detentrice della pura forza coercitiva, ciò appunto significa che le grandi masse si sono staccate dalle ideologie tradizionali, non credono piú a ciò in cui prima credevano, ecc. La crisi consiste appunto nel fatto che il vecchio muore e il nuovo non può nascere: in questo interregno si verificano i fenomeni morbosi piú svariati. A questo paragrafo devono essere collegate alcune osservazioni fatte sulla cosí detta «quistione dei giovani», determinata dalla «crisi di autorità» delle vecchie generazioni dirigenti e dal meccanico impedimento, posto a chi potrebbe dirigere, di svolgere la sua missione. Il problema è questo: una rottura cosí grave tra masse popolari e ideologie dominanti come quella che si è verificata nel dopoguerra, può essere «guarita» col puro esercizio della forza che impedisce a nuove ideologie di imporsi? L’interregno, la crisi di cui si impedisce cosí la soluzione storicamente normale, si risolverà necessariamente a favore di una restaurazione del vecchio? Dato il carattere delle ideologie, ciò è da escludere, ma non in senso assoluto. Intanto la depressione fisica porterà a lungo andare a uno scetticismo diffuso e nascerà una nuova «combinazione» in cui per esempio il cattolicismo diventerà ancora di piú gretto gesuitismo, ecc. Anche da questo si può concludere che si formano le condizioni piú favorevoli per un’espansione inaudita del materialismo storico. La stessa povertà iniziale che il materialismo storico non può non avere come teoria diffusa di massa, lo renderà piú espansivo. La morte delle vecchie ideologie si verifica come scetticismo verso tutte le teorie e le formule generali e applicazioni al puro fatto economico (guadagno ecc.) e alla politica non solo realista di fatto (come è sempre) ma cinica nella sua manifestazione immediata (ricordare la storia del Preludio al Machiavelli, scritto forse sotto l’influenza del prof. Rensi, che in un certo periodo, nel ’21 o ’22, esaltò la schiavitú come mezzo moderno di politica economica). Ma questa riduzione all’economia e alla politica significa appunto riduzione delle superstrutture piú elevate a quelle piú aderenti alla struttura, cioè possibilità e necessità di formazione di una nuova cultura.

ZizneyCorp seems often to get ideas here:

We know today that the old world is dying and that we are seeing the struggle for a new world. In the past the German people conducted worldview struggles with great intensity. The same is happening today. ...We know of no other time in history and no other nation on earth that can claim such a fanatical army of proclaimers of an idea.


What is it ? It’s television. It’s a program on television. A little span of time. How does it work? It’s a little span of time made friendly by repetition. In a way, it doesn’t exist at all. Just what does, then? A certain ability to transmit and receive and then to apply layers of affection and longing and doubt. Two abilities: to do a very complex kind of work, involving electrons, and then to cover the coldness of that with a hateful familiarity. Why hateful? Because it hasn’t anything to do with a human being as a human being is strong. It has to do with a human being as a human being is weak and willing to be fooled; the human being’s eagerness to perceive as warm something that is cold, for instance; his eagerness to be a part of what one cannot be a part of, to love what cannot be loved.
- George S. Trow, Within The Context of No Context

Commodity Fanaticism II

At the start of this essay, I suggested that I did not want to offer an argument against Mad Men as much as an account of my journey of trying to reach its aesthetic destination, a route I clearly never found. But when it comes to matters of taste, discussing love or hate – or even its more moderate forms of like and dislike – feels like a provocation to argue, a trigger toward picking a fight. I know when I read a negative account of a show that I love, I often feel personally attacked and want to defend the object of my affection and, by extension, myself. Tastes may be culturally determined and reflective of underlying social structures, but they feel personal and authentically part of our identities. What we like shapes who we are, and criticizing something we love feels like an insult...

...Reading a positive piece of criticism for a text you love feels like a validation of your experiences, and helps you appreciate new nuances and depths. But as I’ve been writing this, I have had a hard time understanding the precise function of a piece of negative critical analysis. I’m not writing to provoke anger toward me or my opinions, even though I’m sure I will, nor am I trying to condemn or dismiss the show’s many supporters, even as I critique that which they love.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekly Menagerie

The honoured sage Jacques-Alain Miller:

Has Obama already lost? By not choosing Hillary as his partner – in the instances of his spouse, who is quite a pitbull herself – he paved the way for McCain to drive right in. Thanks to Palin, McCain is back in the race. Sarah impassions America, she brings a new Eros to politics. If Obama wins, she has better chances to be his challenger in four years. If it's McCain, Hillary will be his number one adversary. In any case, a new race of political women rise to power.

Once upon a time:

22 August 1730 We hear that at the late Assizes held at Bridgwater, an indictment was preferred against a sow-gelder, for attempting to spay his wife; but she refused to prosecute, and acknowledged her forgiveness of him, and desired the Court would do the same: However, the Court remanded him back to prison, and, for the sake of the good women in general, ordered him to remain there till he could give 400£ security for his good behaviour during life.

The occasion of this vile attempt, was this: The sow-gelder being in company with several other married men over a pot of ale, they all join’d in complaint of the fruitfulness of their wives, because of the charges brought upon them thereby; and asking him, whether he could not do by their wives as by other animals, he said he could; and they all agreed their good women should undergo the operation, provided he would begin with his own: This, with a great oath, he undertook; and going home, by violence gagg’d and bound his wife, and laying her on a table, made a transverse incision on the side of her belly; but after much puzzling, and putting the poor woman to great torment, he found there was some difference between the situation of the parts in the rational and irrational animals, and so, sewing up the wound, he was forced to give up the experiment. The woman in her first agonies appeared strenuously against him, but being recovered by the time of the trial, was so generous as to forgive him, and plead for his pardon, as above.

I remember to have read one instance (if I mistake not) of the Duke of Cleve’s sow-gelder, who actually perform’d this operation on his daughter, whom he suspected to be young with child by an inveigling courtier; but as he went through-stitch with his work, so his Prince went through-stitch with him, putting him to a cruel and exemplary death for so inhuman an action. (London Journal)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Big Society: Alan B'stard at Mussolini's

"Piers Lonsdale, Financial Journalist of the Year - Piers Fletcher-Dervish, nonentity paying for lunch."

First broadcast on February 5, 1989. Plus ça change...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Glen Ford on Obama.

White Supremacy Is A Praxis

Why the Wire should really be studied and then taken off television

In my opinion, The Wire is neo-colonialism propaganda television. Yes colonialism occurs domestically and particularly in our urban areas....What [Ishmael] Reed has traditionally argued, and I’m sure I’ll be corrected if wrong, is that shows like The Wire and Hollywood’s work in general are normally devoid of Blacks being able to move off the plantation physically or mentally..

Housing crisis hits blacks hardest.

Study finds median wealth for single black women at $5.

Let's just blame black women for everything.

However, that people are often complicit in degrading themselves is also in “The Wire” at points. And in this very key season where we were looking at these kids, we were very careful to include the parenting. With the exception of Randy’s foster mom – and telling you it’s a foster mom – and ultimately Colvin and his wife, taking their empty nest and making a place for Namond, the parenting is abysmal.

We were issuing a challenge on the other side. All of these societal hypocrisies may be true, and all of their reduced expectations and reduced need for these kids from West Baltimore in terms of the greater economy, the greater society, may be true. And we may be marginalizing them from birth. That does not absolve you, in the sense of being parents with personal responsibility, personal choice, from exercising your own demand for dignity and existential purpose and relevance for you and your kids. We were saying both simultaneously.

There’s a lot to indict the school system in Baltimore for. But the other thing that has to be acknowledged is, they’re not inheriting kids who are coming in in the same situation as in the counties, black or white. These county educators that want to apply county solutions – and also lay people who want to comment on the Internet about how, “If the kids would just do this” or “If the school system would just do that” – it’s really ignoring a fundamental thing that I think Season Four did say, which is that a lot of damage has already been done, even in these kids’ earliest years, clearly.

Ashley Todd. Bethany Storro. Laetitia "Daughter Of The System". Brianna "Mother Of The Game".

These post-racial White Men are too weakened and decadent from mingling to save black folks from themselves. Try as they might. They need purification. Renewal.

It's not enough just to have all the money and power, they need also love, gratitude and adoration:

David Simon:

There's two little pieces of the American myth that get sold a lot. One of them is if you're more clever than the next guy, if you build a better mousetrap, if you're slick, if you're smart, you'll succeed in this country. And I think that's true. That part of the American myth is not myth. The business climate has changed a lot and the economy has changed a lot, but that's always true. That's capitalism. The other part of the myth that I think has been proven a lie in the past 20, 25 years is that if you're not smarter than the next guy, if you're not slick or clever, but if you're willing to get up every day and work your ass off and come home and be a citizen and be committed to your family and your job and whoever you work for, there will be a place for you, and you won't be betrayed. And I think that has been proven to be a lie.

Slavoj Zizek:

And I can tell you this from my wonderful experience here, you want a shocking story you will hear it. How did I become here a friend, a true friend, am not advising anybody to do it because it was a risky gesture, but it worked wonderfully with a -with a -with a black, African-American guy. No? How did I become? We were very friendly, already, but not really, but then I risk and told him, it’s a horrible thing I warn you, is it true that you blacks you know have a big penis, no? but that you can even move it so that if you have on your leg above your knee a fly you can Boff! smash it with your penis. The guy embraced me and told me dying of laughter “now you can call me a nigger.” Like when blacks tell you “you can call me a nigger” means they really accept you no?

John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me:

By dark I was away from the beach area out in the country. Strangely, I began getting rides. Men would pass you in daylight but pick you up after dark.

I must have had a dozen rides that evening. They blear into a nightmare, the one scarcely distinguishable from the other.

It quickly became obvious why they picked me up. All but two picked me up the way they would pick up a pornographic photograph or book – except that this was verbal pornography. With a Negro, they assumed they need give no semblance of self-respect or respectability. The visual element entered into it. In a car at night visibility is reduced. A man will reveal himself in the dark, which gives an illusion of anonymity, more than he will in the bright light. Some were shamelessly open, some shamelessly subtle. All showed morbid curiosity about the sexual life of the Negro, and all had, at base, the same stereotyped image of the Negro as an inexhaustible sex-machine with oversized genitals and a vast store of experiences, immensely varied. They appeared to think that the Negro has done all those “special” things they themselves have never dared to do. They carried the conversation into the depths of depravity. I note these things because it is harrowing to see decent-looking men and boys assume that because a man is black they need show him none of the reticences they would, out of respect, show the most derelict white man. I note them, too, because they differed completely from the “bull sessions” men customarily have among themselves. These latter, no matter how frank, have generally a robust tone that says: “We are men, this is an enjoyable thing to do and to discuss, but it will never impugn the basic respect we give one another; it will never distort our humanity.” In this, the atmosphere, no matter how coarse, has a verve and an essential joviality that casts out morbidity. It implies respect for the persons involved. But all that I could see here were men shorn of respect either for themselves or their companion.

In my grogginess and exhaustion, these conversations became ghoulish. Each time one of them let me out of his car, I hoped the next would spare me his pantings

Tuesday, October 19, 2010



Blame it on the housing crisis, a lack of jobs, the banking debacle, taxation, national debt, inflation, a power surge from developing nations. Whatever it is, the economic prospects of the American middle class are not what they were three years ago.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Social Media And Value

McLuhan noted that people like the feeling of being "plugged in" when they watch tv. And even after the introduction of vcrs, viewers would very often watch the broadcast of a film or programme of which they owned a tape they'd never watch - watching in the schedule was always more compelling, watching conscious of the fact that millions of others are watching too.

AMY GOODMAN: Put everything together for us, from Angela Merkel talking about the end of multiculturalism—even what that means, "multiculturalism"—to the mass protests that are taking place in France and beyond.

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: I really think that usually we Europeans are a little bit arrogant, like we are the model of tolerance and so on. Now something horrible has happened, and what is really worrying is that it’s not only the countries, the parts of Europe, that we usually associate with intolerance, like southeastern Europe, Romania, Hungary and so on, it’s even the very models of tolerance—Netherlands, Norway and so on.

What really worries me is—I will say something very simple, almost commonsensical, that, you know, for me, I’m here always for censorship. Through democracy, tolerance, in an authentic sense, means that you simply cannot say certain things publicly. You are considered—you know, like if you say publicly an anti-Semitic, sexist joke, it’s unacceptable. Things which were unacceptable ten, fifteen years ago are now acceptable. And what I really am worried about is how the far right, what was twenty years ago the domain of the far right, is setting—even if they are a minority, they are setting the general agenda.

The typical rhetorical trick here is in two moves. First, you of course condemn the far right—"no place in our developed democracy." But then you add, "But they are addressing the real worries of the people," and so on and so on. So, in precisely—that’s the dirty sophistic trick—in order to prevent hatred outbursts, we have to control the situation. You know what is significant about Sarrazin, the banker, that you mentioned? You know that he was politically close to social democracy.

AMY GOODMAN: Which means?

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: Which means that they—really, the extreme right imposed their topic onto everyone. But let me tell you now something which may surprise you. I, of course, don’t accept this horrible logic—we have to do it more modestly to prevent real outbursts—but I think there is a failure in this standard, liberal, multicultural vision, which means every ethnic group, whatever, to itself, all we need is a neutral legal framework guaranteeing the coexistence of groups. Sorry if I shock someone, but I think we do need what Germans call Leitkultur, leading culture. Just it shouldn’t be nationally defined. We should fight for that. Yes, I agree with right-wingers. We need a set of values accepted by all. But what will these values be, my god? We neglected this a little bit. You know that it’s not just this abstract liberal model: you have your world, I have my world, we just need a neutral legal network—how we will politely ignore each other.

My second point would have been that it’s absolutely crucial how this anti-immigrant explosion is linked to the withdrawal of leftist politics, especially in the matters of economy and so on. It is as if the left, being obsessed by the idea that we shouldn’t appear as reactionary in the economic sense, that is to say that "No, no, no, we are not the old trade union representatives of the working class, we are for postmodern digital capitalism" and so on. They don’t want to touch the working class or so-called lower ordinary people. And here right-wingers enter. Do you know, the horrible paradox is that, apart from some small leftist fringe parties, the only serious political force in Europe today which still is ready to appeal to the ordinary working people are the right-wing anti-immigrants? So you see, we, the leftists, we have no right, absolutely no right, to take this arrogant view of offended tolerant people who are horrored—no, we should ask the question, how we enabled what is going on.


Here, it may surprise you, but I still have sympathy for Obama. But in my view, one of his greatest failures is not Afghanistan. There, the situation is very complex. I don’t know what I would have done. It’s how he reacted to the oil spill. You know why? Because he played this legal, moralistic game, as if the—you know, like, I will kick—we know where—BP, they will make—sorry, but in a tragedy of these proportions, you cannot play this legalistic game who is guilty and so on. You should start asking more general questions. BP is evil, but are we aware that it may have happened also to another company? So the problem is not BP. The problems are much more general—the structure of our economy, why are we living like this, our way of life, and so on and so on. I think that this is the problem today. I’m saying this ironically as a leftist. We have maybe even too much anti-capitalism, but in this overload of anti-capitalism, but always in this legal, moralistic sense: ooh, that company is using child slave labor; ooh, that company is polluting; ooh, that company is—that company, whatever, is exploiting our universities. No, no, the problem is more fundamental. It’s about how the whole system works to make the companies do this. Don’t moralize the problem, because if you moralize it, you can say in the States whatever you want. Already in the movies like Pelican Brief, you remember, no problem, big company, even the president of the United States, can be corrupted. No, this excess of anti-capitalism is a false excess. We should start asking more fundamental questions.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How far back does this lash go?

So now Working Girl - a movie so brutally misogynist for its period that one could see women coming out of the cinema in tears of rage when it was released - is an example of feminism, narrating and valorizing "women's liberation" and "emancipation".

Even to suggest the film is a "co-optation" of feminism is flatly absurd; it doesn't even pretend to deal in "emancipation" or "liberation", but is rather unmistakeably a tale of upward mobility and the conservation of family and country: the American dream.

Tess is not a victim of patriarchy but of snobbery. Her working class identity is associated with the preservation of "traditional" values including gender hierarchy which the decadent upper classes have allowed to weaken; she will carry into the world of wealth and privilege an infusion of the homely virtues ordinary folk have safeguarded while the liberal establishment has gone off on its innovating excesses. (Her chosen radio network matches her, in contrast to the mad cosmopolitanism which endangers American purity and empire.) Women enjoy too much power in the world Tess seeks to enter, not too little; the achievement of her goals is entwined with the restoration of dominant masculinity in an unhealthily feminized milieu. Hers is a standard, populist quest of the Hortatio Alger type with the usual brer rabbit con artist modifications. That the protagonist is female registers reality and facilitates the anti-feminist backlash features of the story.

The anti-feminist backlash features are central and emphatic. Working Girl is a film about replacing Sigourney Weaver's threatening woman-with-a-phallus with Melanie Griffith's adoreably compliant subordinate - destroying that wicked woman who buys her own handbags and putting one who receives them as gifts from men in her stead. It is a film which strips, humiliates, pillories and expels a traditional female scapegoat for the sins of capital to cleanse the patriarchal establishment which emerges from this ritual benevolent, meritocratic, (that efficient market magic revealing true values as in Trading Places) but also an honest and upright realm of stable and honourable "family" businesses, where heritage is respectable and worthy, and in which there is a place, and rewards, for women who know how to be helpmeets. Working Girl - what Griffith is, like Jamie Lee Curtis before her, and what Sigourney Weaver, a wealthy woman employer, is not - operates an archaic fable with Wagnerian ideas of gender rendered as cutesy contemporary: the merger brings together Petty Marsh and Dewey Stone, an eternal story to restore the timeless balance that has been disrupted. The narrative revives the flagging male's potency and demotes "the woman on Wall Street" from partner to entry level with the same sequence of gender-elaborating events.

One oughn't overlook the principal purpose of all this restoration, this modifying of the glorified volatility and mobility celebrated by Trading Places five years earlier. The film's conclusion consists of a powerful plea for the natural right of intellectual property, and it is this plea to which the expulsion of the scapegoated masculized woman gives affective intensity. Baring and whipping the "bony ass" of the fraudulent uppity woman and advancing the concept of the unique, individually produced Idea is a single gesture which secures the troubled and threatened world of US capital via the culture industry - dominace in software (in content, ideas, images) is what will defend US capital from the Japanese lords of hardware (as Griffith/Tess defends Trask from Japanese takeover). Restoring fatherly authority in the American House is (as is typical) a duty to protect the nation from foreign menaces (the villainess is fluent in German), and this is bound up with asserting the right to exploit, endlessly, without restraint, images of women. The cult of Intellectual Property requires the defamation and destruction of feminism, replacing it (caricatured as the reign of a corrupt, lascivious, unscrupulous female despot, Marie Antoinette, Catherine the Great) here with a kind of philogynist patriarchy, because white supremacist patriarchy and its core proprietor Individualism are necessary to both its theology and its practise.

The future promised by this restoration and redirection of "progressive" history is hardly disguised, with a denouement eroticising overwork as the narrative climax eroticised dull business dealings: they haven't even time to sit down to breakfast together, these weary lovers. In less than ten years they will be Pfeiffer and Clooney glamorousing a condition wherein employers' demands on successful professionals endanger their children and don't even leave them the energy to kiss.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Category Error Epidemic

Just the kind of ethnographic data Harvard's been waiting for: "a pedagogical device for theorizing black-on-black criminality, which is the subject of a course taught by Harvard Professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr." It is that indeed. And no pastime could be more joyful to the courtier clerk Wire fans than theorizing black on black criminality.

Ishmael Reed makes the point that is absolutely blocked, rendered genuinely incomprehensible, by the dominant ideology of interpretation:

Of course, Simon’s defenders point out that some middle class blacks appear in the series, but those blacks are not the reason that people tune in. [italics added] They like the shootouts and the drug sales and the underclass gangs fighting each other.

The whole real historical process of material and ideological production and consumption, (once again that is: ideological and material production; this means production that is both ideological and material), of value creation, exploitation and capital accumulation, of socio-cultural reproduction, of which this spectacle commodity is a part, is ignored by professional interpreters of texts of this kind, just as the new breed of academics working on genre romance ignore the fact that, along with much else of course, these are books of one hand, and this is inseperable from all else they are and do, how they mean and produce ideology.

Colbert. “Should we actually rebuild New Orleans. Why not just scrape it off into the Gulf and start over? It was an old city. Put something fresh in there, like a theme park, you know. The theme is Black People. Because white people love watching black people. They watch your shows.”

Simon: “That is amazing, isn’t it?”

Colbert: “Isn’t it? Lots of white people watch your shows which involve black people going through hardship. Why do you think white people do that?”

Advertisers And Desires

In relation to Naomi Klein's remarks about the demands for diversity of her 90s dissident campus politics becoming a "gold mine" for advertsers and the saviour of global capitalism, the ad here, 1963 Ebony can remind us that in the Cold War era, there was a precedent for this expropriation.

The text of this Apex cosmetics ad is also worth quoting for a reminder of an era before the white bourgeois-narcissistic, solipsistic assumptions dominating bourgeois dissident "political theory" and punditry now had become respectable:

We cannot live with ourselves until we learn to live with eachother.

If a century was not enough to wipe out the sin of centuries, then it must be done overnight.

Anyone - black or white - who had felt the hot, sick knot of anger in his stomach when his child asked the inevtable questions, knows that it must be done.

And it must be done because it is right. Not for political purposes, not for economic reasons, not because other nations are watching us, not even to keep the peace: but simply because it is right, and there can be no compromise.

Prejudice may not end, but it can be put to shame. Injustice can be made despicable. The time must come in this country when the words "segregation" and "integration" have nothing to do with the division of people.

The time is now.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Golovinski Redux

Speaking of "conspiracies" and theories regarding them.

These struggles may seem slight in retrospect, but you can hardly blame us media narcissists for believing that we were engaged in a crucial battle on behalf of oppressed people everywhere: every step we took sparked a new wave of apocalyptic panic from our conservative foes. If we were not revolutionaries, why, then, were our opponents saying that a revolution was under way, that we were in the midst of a “culture war”? ‘The transformation of American campuses is so sweeping that it is no exaggeration to call it a revolution,’ Dinesh D’souza, author of Illiberal Education informed his readers. ‘Its distinctive insignia can be witnessed on any major campus in America today, and in all aspects of university life.’

Despite their claims of living under Stalinist regimes where dissent was not tolerated, our professors and administrators put up an impressively vociferous counteroffensive: they fought tooth and nail for the right to offend us thin-skinned radicals; they lay down on the tracks in front of every new harassment policy, and generally acted as if they were fighting for the very future of Western civilization. An avalanche of look-alike magazine features bolstered the claim that ID politics constituted an international emergency: “Illiberal Education” (Atlantic Monthly), “Visigoths in Tweed” (Fortune), “The Silences” (Macitan’s), “The Academy’s New Ayatollahs” (Outlook), “Taking Offense” (Newsweek). In New York Magazine, writer John Taylor compared my generation of campus activists with cult members, Hitler Youth and Christian fundamentalists. So great was the threat we allegedly posed that George Bush even took time out to warn the world that political correctness “replaces old prejudices with new ones.”

The Marketing of ID

The backlash that identity politics inspired did a pretty good job of masking for us the fact that many of our demands for better representation were quickly accommodated by marketers, media makers and pop-culture producers alike — though perhaps not for the reasons we had hoped. If I had to name a precise moment for this shift in attitude, I would say August of 1992: the thick of the “brand crisis” that peaked with Marlboro Friday. That’s when we found out that our sworn enemies in the “mainstream” — to us a giant monolithic blob outside of our known university-affiliated enclaves — didn’t fear and loathe us but actually thought we were sort of interesting. Once we'd embarked on a search for new wells of cutting-edge imagery, our insistence on extreme sexual and racial identities made for great brand-content and niche-marketing strategies. If diversity was what we wanted, the brands seemed to be saying, then diversity was exactly what we would get. And with that, the marketers and media makers swooped down, air-brushes in hand, to touch up the colors and images in our culture.

The five years that followed were an orgy of red ribbons, Malcolm X baseball hats and Silence = Death T-Shirts. By 1993, the stories of academic Armageddon were replaced with new ones about the sexy wave of “Do-Me Feminism” in Esquire and “Lesbian Chic” in New York and Newsweek. The shift in attitude was not the result of a mass political conversion but of some hard economic calculations. According to Rocking the Ages, a book produced in 1997 by leading U.S. consumer researchers Yankelovich Partners, “Diversity” was the “defining idea” for Gen-Xers, as opposed to “Individuality” for boomers and “Duty” for their parents.

Xers are starting out today with pluralistic attitudes that are the strongest we have ever measured. As we look towards the next twenty five years, it is clear that acceptance of alternative lifestyles will become even stronger and more widespread as Xers grow up and take over the reins of power, and become the dominant buying group in the consumer marketplace. ... Diversity is the key fact of life for Xers, the core of the perspective they bring to the marketplace. Diversity in all of its forms — cultural, political, sexual, racial, social — is a hallmark of this generation [italics theirs] ...

The Sputnik cool-hunting agency, meanwhile, explained that .youth today are one big sample of diversity” and encouraged its clients to dive into the psychedelic “United Streets of Diversity” and not be afraid to taste the local fare. Dee Dee Gordon, author of The L. Report, urged her clients to get into Girl Power” with a vengeance:, “Teenage girls want to see someone who kicks butt back”; and, sounding suspiciously like me and my university friends, brand man Tom Peters took to berating his corporate audiences for being “OWMs — Old White Males.”

- Klein, No Logo

The target that Zizney Corp appears designed to attack and destroy is the affiliation of a certain key sector of culture industry workers to altermondialism, the massive, global, internationalist opposition to capitalism and ruling class aggression that peaked before 9/11. This sector, after all, was able, and willing, to give a lot of good press, truthful reporting, and publicity to anti-capitalist struggles; it put a lot of tools into the hands of activists, including clear explanations and information about capitalist praxis. Among intellectuals allied to this movement, Naomi Klein is the chief enemy - never openly attacked, though subjected in the beginning to Zizzian insinuation - and most of Zizz' rants do to her hit tract No Logo exactly what Golovinski and his Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion did to Maurice Joly's Dialogue in Hell.

No Logo is very much a contemporary Dialogue in Hell, that is, an explanation of the capacities of capitalist ruling class to expropriate, and turn to their own ends, the energies and life not only of humanity as producers of commodities but of humanity as cultural and intellectual producers and dissident political agents. Joly showed how Napoleon III's government could transform the theories, images and institutions of classical liberal democracy to the ends of despotism; Klein shows the ruling class proprietors of transnational capital adopting and adapting the theories, images and networks of dissident democratic diversity in much the same way.

Why, in other words, were our ideas about political rebellion so deeply non-threatening to the smooth flow of business as usual?

The question, of course, is not Why, but Why on earth not? Just when they had embraced the “brands, not products” equation, the smart businesses quickly realized that short-term discomfort - whether it came from a requirement to hire more women or to more carefully vet the language in an ad campaign — was a small price to pay for the tremendous market share that diversity promised. So while it may be true that real gains have emerged from this process, it is also true that Dennis Rodman wears dresses and Disney World celebrates Gay Day less because of political progress than financial expediency. The market has seized upon multi-culturalism and gender-bending in the same ways that it has seized upon youth culture in general — not just as a market niche but as a source of new carnival-esque imagery. As Robert Goldman and Stephen Papson note, “White-bread culture will simply no longer do.” The $200 billion culture industry — now America’s biggest export — needs an ever-changing, uninterrupted supply of street styles, edgy music videos and rainbows of colors. And the radical critics of the media clamoring to be “represented” in the early nineties virtually handed over their colorful identities to the brandmasters to be shrink-wrapped.

The need for greater diversity — the rallying cry of my university years — is now not only accepted by the culture industries, it is the mantra of global capital. And identity politics, as they were practiced in the nineties, weren’t a threat, they were a gold mine. “This revolution,” writes cultural critic Richard Goldstein in The Village Voice, “turned out to be the savior of late capitalism.” And just in time, too.

(This process has obviously improved and accelerated, guiding the latest expansion of capital, and the account needs updating to take in social media where "virtually hand[ing] over... colorful identities to the brandmasters to be shrink-wrapped" has become even more direct.)

There is almost nothing in Zizz's purportedly dazzling, original "critique of liberalism" that is not stolen whole from Klein's bestseller, (where it appears much more modestly as reportage), absurdly gotten up in HegeloLacanian jargon for an appearance of pseudo-complexity and supernatural woowoo, and vitiated by infusion of reactionary, fascistic, misogynist, racist assumptions and nuances, in order to work propaganda in two directions, as did Golovinsky: one, to propagate the reactionary, racist, misogynist, fascistic ideas enunciated and insinuated to the sector of the audience receptive to that, as Golovinksi's Protocols disseminated anti-Semitic mythology by attaching it to fragments of a serious and persuasive critique, and two, to taint the analyses in Klein's (and other) work by association with these nuances for those who are not receptive, as Golovinksi discredits Joly's critique by linking it forever with anti-Semitism. Zizney Corp is the lead ideologue to the white male left in academia and culture industry furthering the project whose features include smearing Klein's analysis of ruling class strategy as "populist" "conspiracy theory" that is "intrinsically fascist" on the one hand and proposing on the other that her analysis (misread as a critique of something other than its actual object, university students' critique of mass and academic culture in the 90s in North America) identifies identity politics' and multiculturalism's "complicity with capitalism" (complicity is the sinister twin of compatibility or the state of having been expropriated) which justifies white supremacist revanchism (the "Leftist Plea for Leninist Intolerance" followed by another "Leftit plea for Eurocentrism"), demands recognition of the "universalism" of Yerupeen imperialsim, and associates white supremacy with all progressive, "egalitarian", revolutionary, and emancipatory politics. (In a typical propaganda piece, ZizneyCorp alleges in the New Humanist those petty bourgeois, ultra-right racist dominionists Chris Hedges calls Christofascists in the US are really the active agents of "the natural passions of radical politics," being "class resentment, anger, passion, collectivity.")

With Klein's Shock Doctrine - the title and theme of which has proved to be the most genuinely useful neologism of recent memory - Zizney labours even more openly at expropriating the analysis for reactionary ends. In First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, Klein is evoked to set up Zizek's predictable assertions that the great US bailout of finance was an instance of "communism", that the lead clique of the US ruling class are "utopian" Marxists in disguise, that the "idea" of socialism/communism is irredeemable, that there is truth to "trickle down" economic theory, that the Left's "inability to offer a viable global alternative was again made visible to everyone," (this was "the Left" "made visible to everyone" by Zizz himself at his Communism conference, that is, Zizney Corp itself), and that "it is as if recent events were staged with a calculated risk in order to demonstrate that, even at a time of shattering crisis, there is no viable alternative to capitalism." ZizneyCorp's contribution to this staging - the astroturf substitute for the grassroots critique of neoliberalism and position in opposition to it whose chief public advocate is Klein - is not negligible, though how much it contributed to the deflection of public fury can never be calculated apart from the whole any more than how much one special effects team contributes to the success of a film can be calculated in isolation. But ZizneyCorp evoked the authority of Kant alongside Klein to fashion a hip accessory for the passivity to which the Zizney consumer is always predisposed, and a flimsy but serviceable enough formula (these are disposable ideologettes anyway, they don't have to be built to withstand wear or stress) for shaming ridicule of resistance, importantly reminding the loyal Zizney consumer that what was at stake here was his own masculinity: "When we are transfixed by events such as the bail-out plan, we should bear in mind that since this is actually a form of blackmail, we must resist the populist temptation to act out our anger [like the "ranting" Naomi Klein and her calls for shock resistant opposition] and thus wound ourselves. Instead of such impotent acting out, we should control our fury and transform it into an icy determination to think - to think things through in a really radical way, and to ask what kind of a society it is that renders such blackmail possible."

The consolation of the great white mind's, the German Spirit's, omnipotence, is offered as ever to soothe the wounds of emasculation dealt by the ruling class to its courtier clerks; "Immanuel Kant countered the conservative motto 'Don't think, obey!' not with the injunction 'Don't obey, think!' but rather 'Obey, but think!'" It will be enough for ZizneyCorp's audience, clinging to comfort though downwardly mobile, boiling with resentment easily redirected at the uppity others, to think of some way to interpret the bailout for its own feeling of satisfying mastery, just as it can find ways to interpret the women's liberation movement or black nationalism in ways that flatter itself; this transformation by (heroic!) re-thinking, re-interpretation, re-reading is offered as the most advanced mode of revolution, the state of the art white male European petty bourgeois mode, the very "mirror and metaphor" politics of abstraction Klein came to recognise and renounce, offered by ZizneyCorp as so dignified and so much better than the vulgar material praxis of the degraded others, it succeeds as the anti-capitalism of these fools.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Shorter Critiques of Feminism

Where have all the fascinating women gone?


Apparent abdication of any systematic political thought.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Hairless Pinkish Scapenannies In More Beloved Familiar 'Toons

It gets progressively worse; at least Bellafante in Time correctly identified the producer of Ally MacBeal. But each time this complaint is recycled in recent decades, women, feminists and feminism are more openly demonised and increasingly isolated as scapegoats to absorb blame for misogyny, women's exploitation and objectification, and men are increasingly pictured as powerless, though ever willing, to rescue us. The ever less veiled implication is another mass culture style re-telling of the Fall, as lately in von Trier's Antichrist: that men's loss of mastery - the loss of the noble "breadwinner" role - is the result of (and also invited) uppity, selfish women's ill-advised revolt, the current predicament of feminism and women being the self-inflicted degradation that has always been that inevitable fate of which the patriarchs warned should women insist on refusing the benevolent protection of the natural ruling class. Eventually this descends to: "What Walter and others miss is the fact that the old categories we used to try to explain the oppression of women: misogyny, patriarchy, objectification and so on, do not exactly capture the more complex logic of self-exploitation," as alleges Nina Power, ambassador to women from Zizneyland. One could call this David Simon Feminism or Michael Medved Feminism.

Feminism: It's all about me! Time Magazine 1998

What a comedown for the movement. If women were able to make their case in the '60s and '70s, it was largely because, as the slogan went, they turned the personal into the political. They used their daily experience as the basis for a critique, often a scholarly one, of larger institutions and social arrangements. From Simone de Beauvoir's Second Sex to Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique to Kate Millett's Sexual Politics--a doctoral dissertation that became a national best seller--feminists made big, unambiguous demands of the world. They sought absolute equal rights and opportunities for women, a constitutional amendment to make it so, a chance to be compensated equally and to share the task of raising a family. But if feminism of the '60s and '70s was steeped in research and obsessed with social change, feminism today is wed to the culture of celebrity and self-obsession.

...much of feminism has devolved into the silly. And it has powerful support for this: a popular culture insistent on offering images of grown single women as frazzled, self-absorbed girls. Ally McBeal is the most popular female character on television. The show, for the few who may have missed it, focuses on a ditsy 28-year-old Ivy League Boston litigator who never seems in need of the body-concealing clothing that Northeastern weather often requires. Ally spends much of her time fantasizing about her ex-boyfriend, who is married and in the next office, and manages to work references to her mangled love life into nearly every summation she delivers. She has fits in supermarkets because there are too few cans of Pringles. She answers the question "Why are your problems so much bigger than everyone else's?" with the earnest response "Because they're mine." When Ally gets any work done, how she keeps her job, why she thinks it's O.K. to ask her secretary why she didn't give her a birthday present--these are all mysteries. Ally probably wouldn't seem so offensive as an addition to the cast of Seinfeld, but because this is a one-hour drama filled with pseudo-Melissa Etheridge music and emotional pretense, we are meant to take her problems more seriously than George Costanza's. "Ally McBeal is a mess. She's like a little animal," notes Nancy Friday, a sex-positive feminist if ever there was one. "You want to put her on a leash." And what does Ally's creator David Kelley have to say about Ally as a feminist? "She's not a hard, strident feminist out of the '60s and '70s. She's all for women's rights, but she doesn't want to lead the charge at her own emotional expense." Ally, though, is in charge of nothing, least of all her emotional life.

As if one Ally McBeal character were not enough, America is discovering another, the heroine of an enormously hyped novel called Bridget Jones's Diary, by British author Helen Fielding. The book, a best seller in England for months, is a sometimes funny but ultimately monotonous chronicle of a year in the life of an unmarried thirtysomething London editor whose thoughts never veer far from dating, the cocktail hour and her invariably failed attempts at calorie cutting. A typical Bridget reflection: "Cannot face thought of going to work. Only thing that makes it tolerable is thought of seeing Daniel again, but even this is inadvisable since am fat, have spot on chin, and desire only to sit on cushion eating chocolate and watching Xmas specials." Few women alive haven't dwelled on relationships or their appearance, but most manage to concern themselves with other things too. The problem with Bridget and Ally is that they are presented as archetypes of single womanhood even though they are little more than composites of frivolous neuroses.

While we were shopping, Guardian 2002:

It is, perhaps, not surprising that a myth of equality has developed in recent years - an assumption that everything has been won. New Labour flaunts its female-friendly credentials while women everywhere enjoy the fruits of feminism's efforts: they do brilliantly at school and university, get on the board, are paid the minimum wage or more, feel good about sex and contraception and abortion, are aware that they don't have to take violence or sexism or abuse from men. Furthermore, we now talk of liberation in all sorts of ways: we "take care" of ourselves with ever more indulgent products; we give ourselves "me time", whether it's shopping or pampering; we take responsibility for our flaws with cosmetic surgery; we embrace pornography and stripping as liberation.

But perhaps we need to look at how liberating these "freedoms" really are. While many British women have been sitting back, convinced that enough has been won, have we been taken in by a huge con trick? Has feminism been hijacked by people with something to sell?...

Destiny's Child's 2000 chart song Independent Women might sound like kick-ass liberation ("The shoes on my feet, I've bought it/ The clothes I'm wearing, I bought it/ The house I live in, I bought it/ The car I'm driving, I bought it"), but really, it's women's lib by credit card. Shopping itself has been fetishised into women's greatest pleasure, and the most empowering thing you can do for yourself is to go to a beauty therapist. A woman recently quoted in a television report about New York nail bars said, "New Yorkers have more respect for themselves than women in London: they spend time making sure they have their nails right and so on." She had been sold the story that manicures were not about dodgy cuticles, but self-respect. As L'Oreal would say, it's "because you're worth it". I must respect myself; after all, I wash my hair with Fructis.

Similar justifications lie behind the rise in cosmetic surgery (up 50% in the past five years in Britain): that it makes women feel better about themselves, complete, free from their flaws. While women flock to surgeons to have gruesome operations with often calamitous consequences, while cosy Boots the chemist offers injections of poison to paralyse expression muscles in the face, the surgery spin meisters sell it as a quasi-feminist act to take control of your body. "If implants make a woman feel better about herself, why not?" wrote Jan Breslauer in Playboy.[sic]

When feminism went nuts. The Times (London) 2009

These are truly boomtime girls, part of that first generation to beat boys at A level, outnumber them at university and often out-earn them in the workplace. A decade of national prosperity won them that feminist ideal: economic equality. But, as Professor Michael Sandel argued in his recent Reith Lectures, we have allowed expanding markets to define our moral limits. Certainly with lap-dancing clubs, as with 24-hour drinking and liberalised gambling laws, the question for new Labour was never whether these were desirable to us as a society, only do people want them, is there demand? If the answer is yes, they must be good. And those who oppose them must, by definition, be anti-populist fun-suckers.

And during the boom years, the language of women’s liberation was ransacked by companies trying to flog us stuff. Suddenly feminism wasn’t about rights or social advances, but shopping. Self-worth now came in a shampoo bottle — “Because you’re worth it”.

Liberation was brunch and designer bags as in Sex and the City. As Maureen Dowd, the US columnist, put it: “Feminism has been replaced by narcissism.”

The most unlikely things are now classed as “empowering”: buying shoes, taking a pole-dancing class, having a boob job, sending a snap of your breasts to Nuts magazine, entering one of the beauty contests newly revived across British campuses. That these are the kind of dumb-ass submissive practices long performed for male view, is, it seems, coincidental. Feminism 2009 means acting out male masturbation fantasies — because you want to.

Feminism is mindless hedonism. The Telegraph 2010

But there is a serious problem with the mindless hedonism that grew out of Girl Power and learnt its morals from Sex and the City, a problem which Natasha Walter examines in her new book, Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism.

Walter, for those not up to speed on the feminist canon – and who is, these days? – wrote The New Feminism, published in 1998, which delighted in the progress that had been made towards an equal society. ''Here's feminism as phoenix, as blazing torch lighting the way to a new century,'' wrote Michele Roberts in a breathlessly enthusiastic review. Now all that optimism has turned to dust. Living Dolls analyses the increasing sexualisation of feminity and the extent to which young women are led to believe that their bodies are their only passport to success.

Far from relations between the sexes flourishing emotionally and physically, against a backdrop of mutual respect, understanding and equality, a generation of young girls is interpreting liberation as the right to behave like top-shelf models. These women, interviewed by Walter, are also committed to no-strings sex, celebrating one-night stands as notches on their designer handbags. For them, STDs are almost a badge of honour, eating disorders commonplace and men who talk of love and commitment are sneered at for "going soppy".

... "It's my choice," is now an argument-clincher for any kind of louche behaviour.

Ouch. Was this what their mothers fought for? Of course not. Freedom, combined with economic independence, may have proved a poisoned chalice, one that has made women more unhappy than ever before. Is it all feminism's fault, some are asking – among them Martin Amis, whose new novel, The Pregnant Widow, is based around the wretched story of his late sister Sally, who was unable to control her own drinking and promiscuity. To him, she was a victim of liberation.

A few years ago feminism was dismissed as boring and earnest, something espoused by women in dungarees, that sartorial symbol of a movement that felt the need to hide women's femininity, not celebrate it. These days, the very word feminism has become so besmirched that is is now referred to as the f-word. But, with the turn of the new decade, a slew of books is attempting to recast, or revive, the almost-deceased debate about women's place in society, among them Ellie Levenson's The Noughtie Girl's Guide to Feminism and Kat Banyard's The Equality Illusion. These books will be lucky to find any kind of readership, when even intelligent young women choose Katie Price as their role model.

Price is unashamed of surgically enhancing her body in order to make herself more sexually and commercially desirable; she epitomises everything Walter bemoans. Price hasn't got a good degree, or a stable marriage, but she has made a pile of money out of her grotesquely exaggerated charms. This, it seems, is where feminism has led us: down a cul-de-sac lined with lap-dancing clubs and the right to pole dance.

("Because you're worth it" - the pros really do know what they are doing.)

Now Zizzneyism seeks, as part of it's Yerosupremacist praxis, to present these white solipsist, clichéd venemous, reactionary assaults on women and feminism as radical leftist "critique of consumerism" and despicably "upbeat feminism" just as it seeks to sell white solipsist, venomous, reactionary assaults on poc, anti-racism and anti-imperalism as radical leftist "critique of liberalism" or "liberal multiculturalism". Because these absurdities are vulnerable to accuracy of reportage and historiography, those genres of intellectual product are attacked as degraded positivism, egoist obsession with "the body", particularism, risible post-colonial post-modernism, and Hegel's idea of the "primitive" (African fetishist) stage of the human prior to Islam. What is promoted in their place is a kind of "theorising" that consists of looking arduously pensive, like Jane Fonda and Richard Nixon, as if lifting mountains with one's mind (so weighty are the thoughts and ideas being produced behind that brow), and then intoning. banalities. and. mass. culture. references. very. slowly.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

from: Leslie Marmon Silko, Almanac of the Dead

Vampire Capitalists

Marx was the first white man La Escapìa had ever heard call his own people vampires and monsters. But Marx had not stopped with accusations. Marx had caught the capitalists of the British Empire with bloody hands. Marx backed every assertion with evidence: coroner's reports with gruesome stories about giant spinning machines that consumed the limbs and the lives of the small children in factories. On and on Marx went, describing the tiny corpses of children who had been worked to death - their deformed bodies shaped to fit inside factory machinery and other cramped spaces. While the others dozed, La Escapìa sat up in her seat wide-awake. She could not get over the brutality and all the details Marx had included. She could never have imagined tiny children wedged inside the machinery just to make a rich man richer.

El Feo was sent by La Escapìa's elder sisters to take stock of her political views. El Feo wanted to know how she knew this man Marx wasn't a liar like the rest of the white men. La Escapìa shrugged her shoulders. She wasn't trying to convert anyone. Tribal people had had all the experience they would ever need to judge whether Marx's stories told the truth. The Indians had seen generations of themselves ground into bloody pulp under the steel wheels of ore cars in crumbling tunnels of gold mines. the Indians had seen for themselves the cruelty of the Europeans toward children and women. That was how La Escapìa had satisfied herself Marx was reliable; his accounts had been consistent with what the people already knew.

From that point on, the words of Marx had only gotten better. The stories Marx related, the great force of his words, the bitterness and fury -- they had caught hold of La Escapìa's imagination then.

La Escapìa used to walk for hours around and around downtown Mexico City, in a daze at what she was seeing -- at the immensity of wealth behind the towers of steel and concrete and glass, built on this empire for European princes.

In the filthy, smog-choked streets with deafening reverberations of traffic jammed solid around her, La Escpaèia had laughed out loud. This was the end of what the white man had to offer the Americas: poison smog in the winter and the choking clouds that swirled off sewage treatment leaching fields and filled the sky with fecal dust in early spring. Here was the place Marx had in mind as "a place of human sacrifice, a shrine where thousands passed yearly through the fire as offerings to the Moloch of avarice." La Escapìa really liked the way Marx talked about Europeans.

El Feo kept quiet but nodded vigorously at the right places. La Escapìa was going to make him pay through the ears for acting as go-bewteen for the elder sisters. The elders just wanted the land back; they didn't want to hear about "revolution." While he was listening to La Escapìa talk about Marx and the cities of werewolves and England's dead children, El Feo had already been formulating his report to the elder sisters. He would advise them to listen: La Escapìa was on to something important.

Monday, October 04, 2010

All People Are Pigs But Some Are Piggier Than Others

I was very glad to see Lenin has some criticism of Zizek today, though of course I don't view Zizz' Klan anthropology as so much less serious than those baboons which got Lenin out in his nightshirt with a flaming torch to get the old geezer fired from the LRB that it can be dismissed as just corny comedy. Though it is that, surely, too, and significantly.

Next Act: One of the crusaders to cleanse the LRB of racist animal imagery wrote recently in the Guardian that "The near-hairless pinkishness of pigs makes them easy targets for human comparison." Are we not pigs and brothers? Well yes you are clearly "pig", but "human" is pink. (It has not yet occurred to this Marxist culture critic that anthropomorphised pig imagery in modern mass media has contributed to the construction of the race ideology which enables "pinkish skin" to function as a sign, for her, of "humanity" to the Authority of which she remains in uncritical thrall).

This is not all just bad cabaret because it is part of a praxis: white supremacist patriarchy is a praxis. And a praxis is not merely the combination of some ideas and a few actions guided by them. It is the unity of theory and practise. In the case of Zizz' and Zizzians' white supremacy, the praxis is the unity, the interconnected functioning, of employment discrimination, the control of budgets at public and private cultural institutions (universities, publishers) and their monopoly by a personally white male Euro-American and politically white supremacist clique, and the discursive violence issued by this same clique, which is abundant, and produced in multiple genres, which specifies, refines, elaborates the theory of this praxis, which justifies it, describes its fantasies to seduce recruits and flatter members, endows the relations produced with images and forms and fragments of narrative, portrays the nightmarish phantasmagoria of its avoided alternatives. That is, the praxis of white supremacy is the unity of the real exclusion of black women and communists from the concrete resources of culture production, the erasure of black women and communists from history and silencing in public fora and the publications monopolised by male white bourgeois dissidents, and the presence of their caricatures (the product of despotic control by the white caricaturists) in the mockery of that exclusion accompanied by the laughter, self-contratulation, mutual support and bonding ("network") of the protagonists of this praxis. Together this is the praxis of white supremacy; it is determined by class, its core structure, and as a superstructure this praxis reproduces race and hierarchy and in turn superintends and sustains class, the base from which it springs. And thus the first act of the practitioners when defending this praxis is to dismember it and insist on considering each facet, act, text, and utterance in isolation and relating only to the subjective intentions and experience of the individual practitioner closest to it.

Anyway, this praxis is the context for the latest Zizz clique intervention in the Guardian, by Zizz himself.

So today Zizz offers his signature fare, a lurid racist pageant in his usual landscape where all human subjects are white and all non-white human figures are objects over what to do with which white people argue. And today, perhaps in honour of Adam Kirsch whose slightly modified wraith has provided him with a meat puppet for his self-promotion (otherwise he would have had to perhaps attribute this to "Arthur Feldmann, a Viennese-Jewish writer"), concludes with a blatantly anti-Semitic provocation about regressing from Christian love to loyalty to "the tribe". This after offering Robert Brasillach as the model for "liberal multiculturalism".

For those who still don't understand how this multidirectional digital-age propaganda works, here's the picture:

Zizek understands the heterogeneity of the audience which forms in a few clusters.

Brasillach is offered as figure of "liberal multiculturalism" (all actually existing progressives and leftists, of whatever ethnicity, are presumed named by this figure) ostensibly to condemn it for its secret "intolerance" (its purported exotic touristic posture) and for one section of the audience it will be received so. But in the guise of the invidious comparison Zizek is really floating the suggestion of Brasillach as the appropriate model for the mainstream, the majority of Guardian readers. The denouncement of the Brasillachian nature of the Guardian readers is a conman's form of recommendation to them. The "moderate anti-Semitism" - described to restore the ever fading mythology and vocabulary to the kind of vigor that Zizz has worked for years to inject into an enervated anti-Semitism - is then justified in the concluding paragraph: it is of course the figure of Judaism evoked as the tribalist chauvinism to which Europeans are made to "regress" from their advanced Christian universalist perfection by the advent of contaminating, non-Christian others. It is Zizek's good fortune that the current context will allow some readers, if they wish, to identify the pagan tribalism to which multiculturalism has forced Europe to regress from it's Universal Christian love as Islam, or some vague conception of self-segregating brown others.

As usual, instead of arguing for any of his contentions, Zizek treats them as already proven and promotes his fantasy by the reptition of images and analogies. His tactics have a distinctly visual culture quality: he does not condescend to make an argument, but he will make vivid - he will help his reader picture - his fictional world (like Carl Schmitt and all the contemporary pulp fiction authors inspired by his visions). That easily-pictured quality that he will produce with a monotonous loop of caricature and cliché will substitute for the increasingly obsolete activity of convincing and the deployment of traditional rhetoric. (Recall his confusion of the meanings of what is "easily imagined" with regard to the "end of the world" and the "end of capitalism". He aims to make his Yerosupremacist phantasmagoria "easily imagined" the way the absurdities of Hollywood films are and therefore "believable" in the same way.) Edward R. O'Neill described this tactic:

In the absence of any detectable method, a dizzying array of wildly entertaining and often quite maddening rhetorical strategies are deployed in order to beguile, browbeat, dumbfound, dazzle, confuse, mislead, overwhelm, and generally subdue the reader into acceptance. Example after example is supplied, but the principle that makes them examples is not itself given.

In Zizz' Guardian piece today we find:

On today's market, we find a whole series of products deprived of their malignant property: coffee without caffeine, cream without fat, beer without alcohol. And the list goes on: what about virtual sex as sex without sex? The Colin Powell doctrine of warfare with no casualties (on our side, of course) as warfare without warfare? The contemporary redefinition of politics as the art of expert administration as politics without politics? This leads us to today's tolerant liberal multiculturalism as an experience of the Other deprived of its Otherness – the decaffeinated Other.

(For the moment, I'll resist the temptation to explain the idea of the malign arising from Zizek's list of "malignant properties" - caffeine, fat, alcohol, war, sex and people identified by Zizek as alien.)

The existence of decaf coffee doesn't demonstrate anything about Zizek's contentions regarding the "logic", effects and aims of "multicultralism" and "political correctness". It is one of these "examples" - a metaphor, a figure, a vision, offered to help you picture it, in place of evidence. Like the rats who are offered as "examples" of how Jews infiltrate and contaminate Germany. But Zizek has found ways of disguising the crudeness of this old-fashioned technique by wrapping it in a hip jargon and flexibilising its amenability to interpretation. You can personalise it. His rats are not just rigidly Jews; they are also the reflexive ironic exposure of the rat metaphor of Jews - not rats and Jews but "rats" and "Jews" - from the point of view of critique. Even more usefully, they have been made interactive so that a portion of the audience disliking the whole topic of Jews can read them as, say, Arabs if they like. The most pernicious aspect of this incessantly deployed tactic is to accustom readers to forget the distinction between it and argument, and to become very suadable, and irrational, indeed.

One of the most abrasive aspects of Zizek's racist revisionism is his repeated insistence that "multiculturalism" is an invention and posture of (guilty, touristic) white liberals, when every reputable historian traces the bulk of theory and practise of contemporary multiculturalism as political praxis and policy to the Black Arts Movement and Black Power in the United States, the chief early theorist being Amiri Baraka. But Zizek (like his acolytes) is relentless in erasure of the subjectivity, history and concrete reality of those he considers Other to what he calls the "white culture" of aryan Yerup, black Others especially. Everything but evil itself - from democracy, materialism and "the egalitarian emancipatory tradition" to the Haitian Revolution and cultural pluralism - is expropriated by him and tagged the property of Yerup by virtue of being the works of uniquely creative white bourgeois intellectuals.

So in lieu of offering any argument for his assertions, embedded in assumptions, regarding the political landscape and the origins, aims, practise and "logic" of "multiculturalism", which could never survive a serious historical inquiry, Zizek droningly repeats a series of clichés whose familiarity is intended to incite a sense of agreement - of recognition of truth - that substitutes for the sensation of being won by a persuasive case. The reader is to be induced to "believe" that what Zizek contends is insightful and observant simply as a kind of overflow of the feeling of familiarity aroused in her by the images "African athlete", "Asian doctors", "rap music", "the cultural values of the host society", and of course those "politically correct" (implicitly) women who are "fearful" of "harrassment" and who, Zizek has elsewhere told us, persecuted him "in the States" for "visual rape", though we never did find out the issue of his ordeal.

The parade of stereotypes, placed in proximity, as the painted backdrop to the "liberal multiculturalists" Zizek stages who have themselves legitimised and even created the chauvinism of the xenophobic ultra-right (itself advanced as a figure for recognition rather than a concrete reality described), do the work of ingratiating and demand assent from the reader. Zizek sidles up to his readers and bombards them with these clichés demanding nods of agreement.

But he is like the chessmaster playing on many boards at once, but instead of having the luxury of making different moves on each board, his every cliché has to serve as a move in several different games. When he evokes "today's Brasillachs, some of them even Social Democrats," who want to restrict immigration with "reasonably racist" policies, some of his readers will remember that this is the position he himself advocated in his books and interviews and understand he is therefore offering himself as "today's Brasillach", for the applause and approval of some. Others, who do not like Brasillach, can conveniently forget his books and interviews and accept this comparison as a form of condemnation of immigration restriction which posture they applaud. Both those sections of the audience are those disposed to approve the author and identify with his position. Still others place the author as an opponent or figure of contempt and ridicule. Some of these can accept Zizek as an extremist and ultraleftist (as he himself characterised Badiou) or a crazed Marxist, making an exaggerated and slanderous comparison between Gordon Brown say and Robert Brasillach, advocating policies which Zizek himself has elsewhere denounced as so utopian as to expose their proponents as egotist beautiful soulists.

But the result is that nothing emerges from this but the newly minted and reinvigorated stereotypes and figures, the white "liberal multiculturalist" Leninino rightly envisions listening to Bach on a gramaphone while reading Hegel, an Other with a ghetto blaster whose implied blackness here can serve for foreign-ness in Zizzneyland, the Asian doctors and Indian computer geeks, the wimpy Brasillachs who haven't the balls to go all the way, seize power, be bold, act, change everything, like Zizzney keeps saying he's about to and never seems to find the time for.

All this is such a dense tangle of what is confused and imprecise and insinuating, but at the same time equipped with an applause light and mined with disincentives to criticism (every possible objection is warded off by implying its association with something odious like racism, hypocrisy, fear), that one is too exhausted by it to bother to object to the brazenly Nazified anti-Semitic effrontery of the final paragraph.* And somehow it has been insinuated that if anyone is to blame for all this, this last bit included, it is Jews, multiculturalists from time immemorial who in one way or another have forced Christian Universalism's "regression". So it is there, stinging still, offensive, infuriating, but a little less surprising than the last time. And one recalls how exhausting it was to fight with the defenders of all this in the past, and how viciously Zizzians will attack anyone who objects to his racist texts, and really how comfortable his whole readership, even those who voice a disagreement or criticism now and again, are with his Yerosupremacist scheme, ready to celebrate his rehashing of the oldest anti-Semitic formula as a laudable "philosophical engagement with Judaism", prompt to recycle his recyclings of crude Hegelian and Stirnerian fables of spirit, and all this is encouragement to let it pass. Ten years of letting it pass and we have a very different environment than we had before.

Someone mentioned to me the other day Jimmy the Greek. Now this person obviously thought he was a victim of political correctness avant la lettre, but brought him up as a milestone to measure the distance travelled to today, because even this person who is somewhat indoctrinated in bigotry finds the discourses of the present frightening. How did it happen? It wasn't magic. It wasn't simply ordained from on high and in an instant all humanity was remade to suit the wishes of Rupert Murdoch. It was produced by a praxis.

* I post this entry from Victor Klemperer's diary often but it's worth tacking on here again as reminder:

Yesterday afternoon – we had just returned very tired and hot from the flower show, I had peeled off and was making coffee – there appeared in cycling clothes, with sandals and shorts, grey with green turn-ups, a yodelling lad, Wengler, and stayed for hours. Everything spoke against him, but he is such a thoroughly decent fellow that one finds him likeable even at the most catastrophic moment. He had spent several weeks on holiday in Italy. He thinks Fascism or rather the Italian fascists more human than the Nazis. He relates as vouched for, that a few weeks before the beginning of the Spanish counter-revolution, General San Jurjo, who was later killed, had discussions in the Adlon Hotel in Berlin and that there are German officers with Franco’s Moroccan troops. He believes the victory or defeat of the Spanish Popular Front decisive for the whole of Europe and says quite seriously, thoughtfully, without any pathos, as with a weighed-down conscience: ‘One really should go there and help them; but I can’t even shoot.’ Later he complained how disagreeable it is for him to start teaching again on Tuesday.

That is Wengler. Johannes Kühn, however, whom I always took to be a man of integrity and a genuine thinker, professor of history Johannes Kühn has written a short article in the Dresdener NN (16th August) on the 150th anniversary of the death of Frederick the Great. In a hundred lines he twice calls him emphatically ‘a Nordic-Germanic man’. His philosophy is out of date and unimportant; behind it stands the Germanic belief in things higher and beyond this world; his inclination toward French culture is the Northern German’s typical longing for form and the South. – If one day the situation were reversed and the fate of the vanquished lay in my hands, then I would let all the ordinary folk go, and even some of the leaders, who might perhaps after all have had honourable intentions and not known what they were doing. But I would have all the intellectuals strung up, and the professors three feet higher than the rest; they would be left hanging from the lamp posts for as long as was compatible with hygiene.

16th August, 1936