Friday, January 30, 2009

I Love This Kid!

I first found out about Mr. Kor because he listed himself as a follower of James O'Meara's blog. His list of sites which he follows (which inlcludes my semi-moribund Frickin' Good Culture art blog) made me privy to such interesting stuff as Momus' livejournal and Spike Magazine. As far as I can discern, Mr. Kor, who also goes by Mad Max Quorum, is a Danish artist who produces deliciously low abstract digital videos and rants of a radically PoMo, metapolitical nature. I was greatly impressed by his thoughts here and here. I hope we see more of his stuff and possibly even his comments on my little, lonely isle of cyberspace. Hear, hear to the new generation of smart ass, art schooled, metapolitcally minded yute who are breaking with mainstream liberal orthodoxy and scaring the shit out of the entrenched culture classes!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Out with the Old... Again

Stewart Home writes in The Easy Way to Falsify Your Credit Rating:

The God of modernity is not the God of the Old Testament. There is no God but God, and in the twentieth-century he was sent to the back of a dole queue, that is until "Islamoprotestant" neo-traditionalists reinvented him as a movie director. The 9/11 hijack script followed the cultural logic of slasher movies, where the invisibility of the killer is used to overcome the non-representability of evil. If all sides in the post-9/11 "conflict" feel or felt able to invoke God as justification for their actions, then they must necessarily configure each other as emissaries of Satan. It doesn't matter whether or not they've seen The Exorcist or The Omen, they've absorbed the scripts by osmosis. Religion has been Hollywoodised. A lust for dramatic crises has been mixed with a conservative desire for crisis management, that assimilates and defuses the threat of free and spontaneous human activity.

The reader can take away two conclusions from this passage:

a. The "War on Terror" and the seeming conflict between Western secular, modern, liberal democracy and Eastern traditional, theocratic Islam is another false dichotomy, stylized and determined by the power elite as a cover from the actual workings of reality. Or rather, a guise used to prevent people from making their own conclusions as to the workings of their external reality. This can also be termed a false narrative and has been called such things as "the clash of civilizations." From the Western perspective it is usually expressed in absurd statements such as, "They hate us because we are free." From the Islamic side it usually comes across as simply, "They're infidels!" The false narrative of the Terror War is the logical next step from the false narratives of the Cold War and the two World Wars previous. Because America needed an enemy to legitimize her unipolar role as police-officer-to-the-world, there is much that is even phonier about the Terror War narrative than with the previous narratives. With the Cold War there was an actual race for global hegemony and both sides were equally equipped in terms of weapons and technology. Contrast this with the disproportionateness of the current "conflict." Then there is the matter of the identity of the enemy itself. By all accounts, Al Qaeda is what the US media and political regime uses as an umbrella term for any Islamist insurgent group fighting against it. Of course, the fact that they are dealing with Fourth Generation Warfare and a multitude of groups and individuals (many of whom hate each other as much as they hate the United States) who are only aligned by a general ideological framework defined from the outside is never mentioned in mainstream discourse on the Terror War because it would undermine the ability to pigeonhole the situation into easily consumable terms. The more one looks at the Terror War, the more it seems to be collective delusion set up by a bored MIC in need of an outlet for all their weapons left over from the Cold War and, again, legitimation. At the very least, the whole "conflict" is being determined entirely by the cultural terms of late modernity, namely simulacra. This certainly includes the way the Other side is viewing it as well. Along with Home's comments on the Hollywoodization of religion, consider the very unIslamic behavior of the 9/11 hijackers prior to the attack. Clearly they were imbued with a very modern sensibility and viewed their task as hand as such. This was not the mindset of a traditionalist, rather it has all the markings of a modernist: creative destruction, material excess, letting losse, and the labor value theory applied to the spiritual realm.

b. As Home notes, "The God of modernity is not the God of the Old Testament." This is because the latter is long dead, pronounced as such by Freddy Nietzsche all the way back in the 19th century. The current protestations against secular society by Muslims and Christians alike is simply because these misbehaving ingrates are a bit slow on the pick up. The fact of the matter is that liberal secular society is the one on wane and is dying. So if modern secular liberalism is in its final throes, that means that religious society must have died a while back. That is why these idiots are frothing at the mouth for Armageddon and actively trying to bring it to fruition. They know they are old hat, more out of date than a gramophone. The very fact that they are either fermenting environmental collapse or nuclear war shows that they don't even believe their own nonsense. After all, why should mere mortals tamper with God's plan if it is inevitable? For another example, take the Christian Zionist attachment to Israel. A true Chrisitian traditionalist would never lend allegiance to a nation-state created by the godless United Nations. This is because Israel can only be created by God himself, hence Orthodox Jews are intensely anti-Zionist.

1. The other fundamentalists in this equation are the modern fundamentalists. Christopher Hitchens, Martin Amis, the Euston Manifesto crowd, and those dyed-in-the-wool neoconservatives who cut their teeth on issues of Partisan Review, that handy journal of literary high modernism. These folks believe fervently, dogmatically so, in the liberatory aspects of secular liberalism, the representative democratic republic, and the welfare(-warfare) state. The thought of these things coming under intense scrutiny by a new generation with new ideas, by the dawning of a new era, scares them very much and has put them in a corner where they are lashing out. While I would happily have all the Abrahamic nutjobs kill each other off and leave the rest of us in peace, these irrational rationalists, illiberal liberals, and dogmatic skeptics worry me just as much.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Missed Opportunities

The current issue of Harper's contains a very interesting review of Timothy Snyder's book on the Archduke Wilhelm of Austria, member of the Hapsburg dynasty, who attempted to forge and reign over an independent Ukraine. Wilhelm is described, along with Henryk Józewski, as believing:

passionately that the state shouldn't seek to impose a cultural identity on its citizens, and both were prepared to risk their lives for the idea of pluralism. This makes them romantic heroes for our times as well as true Europeans.

Of course Harper's, despite being the pinnacle of print media for the left-leaning intelligentsia, is trying to make the comparison between Wilhelm's politics and those of the European Union. The EU, it should be noted, is really trying to regain independence for Europe by trying to out Americanize the Americans. This is not too dissimilar from the way former British colonies would flaunt their Britishness, hence the penchant for cricket in the West Indies, as if to say, "It's okay. You can go now. Your work is done."

But Wilhelm's politics were probably much closer to an anarcho-nationalist imperium or Alain de Benoist's 'Europe of 1000 flags.' The article goes on to describe what could be interpreted as Wilhelm's attempt at a form of national communism:

Broke, an exile in republican Vienna and Bavaria, he drifted into the shadowy world of royalist conspiracies. He started a newspaper that bore as its slogan "Ukrainians of all lands, unite!" and a masthead featuring a Ukrainian worker with a hammer and sickle. Wilhelm offered himself as the only man capable of reversing the tide of Bolshevism. He enlisted the help of the most dubious partners, including syndicates of extreme right-wing German nationalists, to whom he proposed shares in the trade of the yet-to-be nation in return for the cash required to install himself. His effort, in 1924, was foiled by an anti-monarchist movement, which organized its own effort to topple Stalin. Predictably, this rival movement was a failure, resulting in a massacre of Ukrainians

There is no doubt that the Archduke was motivated by self interest and a desire to claim his title as ruler of a sovereign nation. Descriptions of his personal life show that, like many aristocrats, he was possessed of a certain libertinism:

Although Wilhelm enjoyed dressing up in women's clothes and visited male brothels in Paris, sometimes in the company of his valet (a police report stated that Wilhelm frequented "assiduously" establishments on the Left Bank with Arabic names), he appears also to have acquired a mistress.

Despite this seeming egoism, there is now doubt that Wilhelm was intensely serious about an independent, sovereign Ukraine. The article states that the Hapsburgs:

"did love" their ungrateful subjects, a love that "was cosmopolitan, indiscriminate, selfish, unreflective, and thus in some sense perfect."

In other words, Wilhelm would have been a very laissez faire Prince, leaving the task of organizing the social, economic, cultural and political structures of the country to the Ukrainians themselves, while the monarchy would provide the backbone of stability and symbolic authority. Funny how common sense, self determination and self interest work together.

The Pet Rock Presidency

With Obama officially in the White House, legions of idiots in this country are all hopped up on hope and his approval ratings are going through the roof, all before he has actually done anything, of course. As such, it seems that his Hopefulness has much in common with the pet rock, bullshit toy par excellence of the late modern era. See that's not just any rock one can pick up off the ground, it's a pet rock, get it? And this new administration it's really different from all the previous ones, especially the Bush and Clinton ones. Can't you feel the change happening already? It's even stronger than that high I got from smoking banana peels.

Hot on the heels (and discarded peels) of this massive delusion, the Church of Feel Goodism has issued another communique. Good to see that the Hollywood liberals are intent on proving me right when it comes to characterizing their psychosis. However, I am a little saddened to see Miss Richie leaving the celebutante league for their antithesis. I was hoping that the oppressive vapidity and unquenchable thrist for decadence displayed by those moneyed members of my generation might actually develop into something truly Bacchanalian. Anyway, here is Sean Jobst on what we can expect from the New Boss:

The masses have succumbed to the hysteria surrounding the inauguration of Barack Obama as the next President of the United States. The calamities of the Bush administration have conditioned them to accept with open arms anyone who raises the slogan "change". The very mention of this slogan has sent them into a whirlwind of giddiness. But what is behind all the hype? Are the masses deceiving themselves in believing Obama represents change?

There is much to the fact that Obama was the first Democratic candidate in a long time to receive even more corporate money than his Republican challenger. There is much to the fact in his voting record, which is certainly not a record of one who challenges the system. One can best understand a politician's true motives and interests by examining their corporate money-trail and their own voting record.

Despite all his rhetoric about ending the war in Iraq, when has he decisively struck a blow to the Bush administration or even attempted to do so? He has said nothing about ending the American military presence in Iraq, and will actually escalate the conflict in Afghanistan. This is because he still operates from the common interventionist framework, such that to question American intervention overseas is anathema.

Where is he in criticizing the Israeli crimes in Gaza? Or the Palestine issue in general? He has demonstrated there will certainly be no change in American support for Israel. This is shown by his rhetorical and voting record, his kowtowing before AIPAC, and nomination of the Israeli dual-citizen Rahm Emanuel for the crucial post of White House Chief of Staff. Indeed there is much to the fact that Emanuel was his first appointment, as if to assure AIPAC that it will be business as usual.

Only the rationale for these interventions will alter, as they will now be given the guise of "humanitarian" concerns. They are fundamentally designed to perpetuate the interests of the American financial elites, and assumes an utterly patronising attitude which proclaims one global standard which trumps distinct cultural traditions and historical institutions.

Once again the delusion that America has a moral obligation to spread its ideas and institutions across the world, that nations with their own traditions nevertheless yearn for the globalised mono-culture based on profane market concerns. A mere playground for the multinational corporations to rape the land and plunder resources at will, of course with the connivance of governments in the "third world".

There will be an expanded role of internationalist organisations to provide the legitimation of such interventions. NATO will be expanded to serve the interests of American elites in the crucial region Zbigniew Brzezinski termed "the Grand Chessboard". The U.S. government will continue to rely on mercenary forces drawn from their "allies", to secure the resources of Eurasia for American corporations and serve the broader crusade against Iran.

Of course all this shall occur under the conniving eye of the United Nations, an ineffectual organization if there ever was one. All the protests about "national sovereignty" will mean little with the emerging Global State. Words are utilized to connotate different things to different people - the masses or the intellectual elites. To the elites "change" merely refers to a change in rhetoric, while the fundamental paradigm shall remain the same.

The masses who believe they have voted for some revolutionary change, fail to recognize they are utterly subject to the basic assumptions of the system, such that they cannot accept any other reality other than their condition. The society has made it "chic" to support Obama, as seen in the proliferation of Obama-themed art. The masses fail to realize the implication of the same media which lied to them and manufactures their consent to serve the interests of the power elites, suddenly jumping on this Obama bandwagon. Their thinking is confined to the dialectic established by the system, with no tolerance towards those who question their basic assumptions.

There will be no efforts at monetary reform, to break the power of that cartel of private banking interests called the Federal Reserve to create money out of nothing. This system exerts global influence through institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. There will be no change to this massive concentration of wealth. The financial and political elites will continue to make decisions affecting billions of people, literally behind closed doors with such elitist organizations as the Council on Foreign Relations or Bilderberg.

Obama is not beholden to the people, despite all his populist rhetoric. Rather, it is all a game to deceive the masses and manipulate public opinion according to the desires of the Globalist-Corporate elites. There will be no investigations of 11th September, nor efforts to bring top Bush, Cheney or other leading officials of the previous administration to justice for their war crimes.

As for serving corporate interests, Obama has repeatedly voted for corporate welfare such as the "bailouts". He has stood against any efforts by common people to hold the corporations accountable, such as with the tort laws. Obama voted for the Class Action Reform Bill, which has made it much more difficult for workers or consumers to hold them accountable. The State will continue with its symbiotic relationship to Big Business and the banking interests.

The calamities of the Bush administration led increasing numbers of people to distrust the government, seeking to reassert the broad powers ensured to them by the Constitution against government. Statists reversed this trend by raising the mantra of "change", to condition the people into believing government is perpetuating their interests. But their civil liberties will be further eroded, as Obama voted to re-authorize the Patriot Act and supported the FISA warrantless wire-tapping bill.

Given the preceeding information, it is my firm contention that there will be no real change during the Obama administration. Merely the rhetoric will change, while the State continues to expand and increase its powers through interventionism. The corporations will benefit and so will the ever-influential Zionist lobby. To those who have fallen for all this hype, I can only somberly lament that they have been terribly deceived. To those who know better, it will be a sad reminder of the despicable state in which we find ourselves.

Real change can never come from within a political structure dominated by two parties with little differences, both beholden to the same interests and who have made politics a charade with their corporate wealth and selling out to the highest bidders. Rather, change can only come from those who reject this dialectic and have escaped the matrix.

I say this as an American with close connections to Europe, the son of an immigrant on one side and the great-grandson of immigrants on another. And I reiterate for those who struggle for Europe a nation, the prescient warning of another American with a European outlook, Francis Parker Yockey, that if Europe does not unite and pursue a neutralist policy within its own interests, then it risks becoming subordinated to American hegemonic power. The world certainly needs viable regional power-blocs which can provide checks on concentrations of power, which are dangerous for all - even Americans. We need a multi-polar world and not a Global Superstate.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Vile Young Things

These days taking pot shots at the print media is like shooting fish in a barrel. Nonetheless, I feel I should say something when the New York Times reviews a book in their Sunday edition which is then reviewed in the Sunday edition of the Boston Globe. This wouldn't be such a big deal if not for the fact that the New York Times Company owns the Boston Globe. Jaysus, lady, let up on the leash a bit will ya? True, the Globe review has the added appraisal of seemingly more interesting book, but with the plethora of books being churned out is there really any good excuse for this laziness? Whatever, either way the subject matter of Bright Young People provides me with a segue for a follow up to my post titled 'An Aristocracy of Idiots.' Feeling like that post was a bit on the rantish side and might have come across like some GOP radio hack railing against the undefinable liberal, I decided I would more properly define my opinions on Hollywood liberals and celebutantes.

To clarify, the Bright Young People were essentially the prototype to the living dead we call celebutantes today. These include people like Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Nicole Richie. There is one more stage of development between the BYP and the celebutantes but I will get to that later. In the mean time, it should be stated that the BYP (and by default the celebutantes) are the antithesis to the Hollywood liberal. To start with, the BYP included some of the Mitford sisters who were either fascists or communist. Secondly, the weltanschauung of the BYP/celebutantes is entirely opposed to that the Hollywood liberal. The BYP and the celebutantes see their wealth, privilege, media exposure and the occasional esteemed last name (note: this doesn't really apply to the celebutantes as being heirs to atrociously corporate hotels or The Man Who Ruined Motown are hardly what one would call esteemed) as a license to bypass all those troubling things boring, normal people deal with, such as: literacy, coherent thought and speech, and the ability to behave in a reasonable fashion in public. The way they see it, the world is their oyster and standards of human decency don't apply to them. As such they are entitled to all the pleasures the world has to offer and in the most decadent way possible because... well, just because they can. As such, the reign of the celebutante is a form of inverse aristrocracy as they are generally far dumber and far less capable of producing anything of worth than members of the general public. While the BYP may have shared the same attitudes and outward apprearances, as James O'Meara has noted they used to speak with improper english because they felt they owned the language, they still hung around with various artists and writers of the time, so in effect they were still aristocrats on the surface for being in close proximity to actual culture. So how did we get from there to here? The missing link is, of course, Andy Warhol and the denizens of the Factory.

While stupid people take Warhol's misquoted "15 minutes" bit to essentially mean "every dog has his day", Warhol was really taking democracy to its logical conclusion. The people who hung around the Factory were generally junkies, prostitutes and weirdos who in the social order of things would be considered beneath the general public. They didn't really work, some were mentally unstable such as the famed Valerie Solanas, and none really contributed to society in any way other than taking up space, and this is why they were such perfect subjects for Warhol's art. Warhol intended and succeeded in making celebrities out of people who by all other accounts were utterly worthless. As such, Warhol was saying that anybody, even the lowest segments of society, could achieve media exposure and thus fame and thus legitimation within the Spectacular society. This is where consumer capitalism, atomized individualism and a democracy which claimed that every person had a voice which should be heard was heading and did, in fact, end up. Consumer capitalism made commodities out of people, the totality of visual media made it so these human commodities could be consumed as images, atomized individualism provided the disconnect from any external realities and democracy provided the justification that anyone could achieve this level of hyperreality.

So there you have it. And now on to the Hollywood liberals, who as we shall see, are actually infintely worse. So while the celebutantes, like Warhol's studio hands and the Bright Young People before them, use their celebrity and wealth to escape from the responsibilities of reality which most people take for granted, the Hollywood liberal finds that his or her celebrity status has elevated their realness. The celebutante phenomena is really an exercise in mass solipsism, but the Hollywood liberal believes that because people like the movies they are in, either because they are decent actors or because they are pretty, they are more real than normal people and in a greater position to change the world around them. In my humble opinion, this is a far more frightening delusion than thinking the world ceases to exist when you close your eyes. The Hollywood liberal finds that the hyperreality they inhabit elevates their humanity rather than diminishes it and rather than being personalized commodities which we, the consumers, can either identify with, hate or lust after, they are role models and/or spokespersons for various political causes. Now there is certainly nothing wrong with actors having political opinions or even expressing them. One has to give it to Vanessa Redgrave who thanked the Academy for not being, "intimidated by the threats of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums", and the late Paul Newman's social enterprise continues to be an example of positive capitalism. But these were people with political opinions who happened to be actors. Being in the public light does not make one worthy of extolling the virtues of whatever feel good, moralistic bullshit is hot this year. In fact, no one should extol such ludicrousness, they should read a book instead and stop submitting to the tyranny of image.

Social Structures Cont.

As I've mentioned previously, the Big 3 were not solid fortresses of ideology and often complimented and adopted aspects of one another in the struggle for hegemony. For one such example, consider the Casa del Fascio designed by Giuseppe Terragni as a municipal administrative building of the Fascist regime. Terragni was a member of the architectural association Gruppo 7 who, like the Futurists, represented the most avant garde elements of Italian Fascism. Their style was called Italian Rationalism and was essentially a school of the International Style which was to later dominate the architectural landscape of the victorious postwar West. As Diane Ghirardo writes in her essay Politics of a Masterpiece: The Vicenda of the Decoration of the Façade of the Casa del Fascio, Como, 1936-1939:

Because Fascism offered itself as an entirely new and modern phenomenon, it could readily align itself with modern architecture, amply buttressed by references to the "romanitá" and "mediterraneitá" that these contructions presumably projected. In practice, this meant that architects such as Terragni, Adalberto Libera, Mario de Renzi, and Giuseppe Pagano could design solely within their own aesthetic restraints, confident of no official interference and, occasionally, as with Sabaudia and the Stazione S. Maria Novella in Florence, with polemically active support from the regime.

Today the Casa remains very modern looking and could easily be mistaken for a trendy office building or even an affordable boutique hotel.

As Sheri Berman describes in The Primacy of Politics the regime also established, "the hugely popular Dopalvoro, or Leisure-Time Institute, which provided large numbers of Italians with opportunities for education, sport and recreation." Effectively this was the State-sanctioned and directed pursuit of happiness and leisure. While still authoritarian, this is not exactly the drab and grey version of fascism were are normally presented with. Of course, this was when the political movement was also rather independent and Mussolini had yet to become a dupe of the Nazis whose relation to art and architecture were rather reactionary and corny when compared to their Italian allies. Then again, the subtle homoerotic imagery of some of it may hold some relevance for those who get their kicks from uniforms and orders.

So in closing, there was much about the New Italy which was sleek, avant garde, urbanite and sexy. And while not wanting to sound like that slimeball Jonah Goldberg, much they had in common with their liberal opponents.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

An Aristocracy of Idiots

While watching the "news" on the death of John Travolta's, son (what can I say? Dude looked like a lady) being presented with the same seriousness and importance as the continuing slaughter in Gaza, I got to thinking about celebrity culture and the political role it plays. As such, this post is really my take on something James O'Meara wrote about previously on his excellent blog.

It seems that liberals, despite already having cultural hegemony over the ruling classes and ideological control of the MSM, find that having a famous spokesperson for their ideas helps further the various causes and attitudes they espouse. I recall the first antiwar protest I consciously attended on a beautiful autumn day on Boston Commons. As a burgeoning socialist of 16, I was taken in by all the various factions in attendence with their literature tables on display. One of the speakers was Howard Zinn (of course), and I was pleased to witness his speech as I recalled my father telling me how he was arrested with him at a protest against the Vietnam war. The only other speaker I remember was Tim Robbins. He gave a particularly obvious speech about how waging war on Iraq would be a mistake and was morally wrong. He also reminded the audience that Islamic radicalism was equally detestable as if some of the left-liberal folkies in attendence were seriously considering Qutbism.

Looking back on the whole thing, I still wonder was specific credentials Robbins' possessed that put him in the same category as people like Zinn or Chomsky who have made their living writing about politics. Perhaps it was Robbins' role in the Clinton era cinematic masterpiece Arlington Road where Timmy boy plays a silly individualist who fears the benevolence of the Federal government and actually has the audacity to bomb an IRS building (the horror!!!). Jeff Bridges plays Robbins' neighbor, a emotional mess of a college proffesor who can't stop crying about his dead wife who was killed trying to murder an entire family of backwoods folks who, again, had the audacity to fear the benevolence of the Federal government and were stockpiling arms.

If this is all it takes to be a spokesperson for the Church of Feel Goodism, I nominate Ice Cube for a seat on the UN's Human Rights Council for his role in the The Battleship Potemkin of establishment liberalism: Higher Learning. For those who haven't seen it, this movie has everything one could possibly want in neoliberal agitprop: evil peckerwoods, noble Negroes, acoustic guitar playing LUG's, hippie douchebags, an angry, black prof who wants to show his students just how privileged they all are and a group of neoNazis played by Jewish actors.

Take Al Franken as another example. Never very funny as an actor, he recently won a senate seat in Minnesota under rather dubious circumstances. Again, the question remains, just what exactly are his qualifications? Of course, the point could be made, and I would certainly agree, that politicians simply work to grease the gears of a system responsible for all the awful shit people who actually work for living have to deal with on a daily level, from the most petty to the greatest atrocities. If this is the case, the point of political qualifications is a moot point and the best a politician can do is to slow down the gears of oppression and ineptitude as best they can, hence Dr. No.

Nevertheless, even with the qualifications for holding public office at gutter level, liberals continue set the bar even lower than previously thought possible. Consider the talk of appointing Caroline Kennedy to fill Hilary's senate seat. Here is a woman whose only credit is her name. Yes, the famed Kennedy mantle. Only in America would a group of parvenu bootleggers with run of the mill Democratic party politics be considered something akin to a royal family. Not that I hold any royalist sympathies, but historically aristocrats were cultured people with intense knowledge of the sciences and arts. No, I don't think Teddy or Caroline would be able to hold their own with Oscar Wilde or W.B. Yeats. Even the dearly departed Jack Jr. failed his bar exam twice. Just take Caroline's recent interview with the New York Times, not exactly an enemy of the Northeast liberal establishment. The woman can barely articulate a sentence without a distinctly out of place, dare I say Midwestern, "yuh know." One also gets the impression that her politics are wholly formed simply by the fact that she's a Kennedy and the Kennedys are solid liberal Democrats. And I'm sure her ludicrous support for gun control, which includes supporting an expired ban on assault weapons, has nothing to do with the fact that her father and uncle were shot to death. Yes, those Kennedys, progressive in name only, representing everything entitled and corrupt one would expect from an entrenched political class.

Of course, liberals don't need to explain themselves or even vie for candidacy in elections (yuh know the much vaunted democracy they claim to uphold) because they are simply correct. They are secure in their moral absolutism, born from the same intellectually underdeveloped maniacs currently wading through body parts over a hill of sand, and don't need it tainted by the litmus test of logic or rationalism, things they also supposedly uphold. So despite perpetuating the cult of celebrity normally associated with such underclass items as tabloid rags, this is in fact the new elite. So, yuh know, you better wise up.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Structures, Society and the Big 3

As astute observers have noted, the 20th century saw the formulation of 3 totalitarianisms: Nazifascism, Communism and Liberalism. While it is generally agreed upon that Nazifascism was defeated in 'The Big One', it was only the most anti-modern and illiberal elements which were vanquished. Just as the fall of the Berlin Wall ostensibly heralded the defeat of Communism, one sees liberal democracies embracing the security state as soon as the postcommunist era is announced. While Nazifascism and Communism were defeated ideologically, politically and economically, elements remained and fused with the last totalitarianism. Hence the liberalism of today is not the liberalism of Locke or Emerson, it is a mix of Reaganite/Thatcherite neoliberalism and social democracy, the so called Third Way of Clinton, Blair, and [most likely] Obama.

European social democracy in the postwar period has its origins in a few places, but the form it evolved into up to the late modern era can be traced back to the Federal Republic of Germany. As the abstract to Eucken's 'Social Market Economy' and Its Test in Post-War West Germany by Siegfried G. Karsten explains:

Walter Eucken's paradigm of a "social market economy" and "Ordnung" provides a framework for a functional free-market mechanism, which not only accommodates development and change, but which also assures human dignity and freedom, as cornerstones of the Kantian moral universe. Eucken places special emphasis on the integration of economics with "order" and "justice," in a synthesis of negative liberty and positive freedom and of Rawls' and Nozick's theories of justice. Adam Smith's laissez faire economy does not assure a competitive economy, he holds, and will evolve into monopolistic practices, interventionism, and distortions of price relationships; but "structural" and "regulating" principles will facilitate a functionally competitive economy with a compatible social policy, characterized by a flexible price mechanism and stable policies. This "social market economy" would provide goods and services efficiently and also eliminate poverty and the maldistribution of income and resources.

The geographic location of this system is no accident. Germany, located in between the East and West of Europe, synthesized the values of individual freedom and liberty found in West Europe and America with the communal and collective values of Russia and Scandinavia. While some see social democracy as a middle ground between Marxist socialism and capitalism, the social justice and centrality of community in this system is more aptly traced to the ethnocentric, communal conservatism of the continental Conservative Revolution. Hence, the folkhemmet in Sweden has its origins in the thought of Rudolf Kjellén. Kjellén's views are clearly a major influence on the Nazi theory of volksgemeinschaft . Though a few stages of separation away, perhaps this is the "Nazi bedrock" of the West German state which the enfants terribles of the Baader Meinhof gang referred to?

This theory of the state and society as an all-inclusive whole can also be found in a few places among the big 3. One such place is Kojeve's updated theory of Hegel's universal and homogeneous state, which he saw as fulfilling the aims of communism through capitalism. Giovanni Gentile, intellectual father of Italian Fascism, had a similar idea of the role of the state. As Giuseppe Parlato explains in Giovanni Gentile: From the Risorgimento to Fascism from Telos #133:

To Gentile, totalitarianism meant inclusion, the union of the whole, the overcoming of divisions on all levels. From this perspective, the fact that Gentile invited many intellectuals to participate in the Italian Encyclopedia did not signify generosity and political independence, but rather was consistent with his defined plan. For Gentile, the fact that antifascism should be incorporated into the great project of the state was the culmination of the totalitarian thrust, irrespective of the fact that antifascist forces were still opposed to the regime. Thanks to him, these forces were cooperating with the regime.

In the United States, the New Deal marks the beginning for the totalitarian turn of liberalism. Essentially a progressive form of Italian corporatism, though Roosevelt had no intention of incorporating his opponents into the system, it was instituted to save capitalism from itself. With the state on overdrive and a war economy in the works, the population was drawn together under the blanket of a top-down populism and civic nationalism which would be a mainstay of the Democratic Party up to Carter. This era of managerial democracy was articulated by Lawrence Dennis and later James Burnham. While many New Deal programs would be eliminated in the postwar era, the notion of society as an impersonal mass that needed to be managed survived and evolved.

One such place where this idea blossomed was in architecture. Again we see an overlap with the other members of the Big 3, as all modern architecture has its roots in the Bauhaus school whose members were influenced by revisionist Marxism and first forumlated the notion that society could be molded and made more just by the buildings in it. Other famous and successful high modernist architects had connections with fascism and Nazism. Le Corbusier was involved with the Vichy regime due to an interest in planisme and Philip Johnson, a disciple of Father Coughlin, was thoroughly enthused with Nazi Germany for among many reasons, "all those blond boys in black leather."

So in postwar America one has uniform, utilitarian housing projects to promote equality among the masses and expansive, Brutalist corporate and government buildings to project the notions of efficiency and power held by the rulers. Just take this quote and accompanying picture from The Nation's review of a book on HUD director Robert Clifton Weaver.

Robert Clifton Weaver had been a prominent economist, a longtime advocate of fair-housing laws and a member of the country's black intellectual elite ever since the days before the end of segregation. President Lyndon Johnson had appointed Weaver to head HUD after the agency was founded in 1965, making him the first black cabinet official in American history. And it was Weaver who had dedicated the new HUD building three years later, its Brutalist architecture still cutting-edge and the idealism of the Great Society still fresh.

Then in the beginning of the 21st century, we have all the spoiled leftovers of the big 3. From Communism and Nazifascism, an oversized, absolutist state whose notion of legitimacy is based simply on the fact that it exists and can imprison you for questioning it. From liberalism, the continual exploitive aspects of capitalism including the abandonment of manufacturing for a service industy: everybody selling hamburgers and handbags to eachother but nothing of actual worth. From social democracy, a bloated system of welfare, while a living wage for workers, free university tuition for those who are smart enough to get in but can't afford it, and national healthcare remain out of the question. And from Communism and liberalism, a generally accepted consciousness which treats human beings as they should be rather than the way we are. Oh, what a nice grab bag we're left with from all of yesterday's parties.