Viewing posts tagged bourgeois ideology

20

For March Against the Mainstream Media Day


The Editor (apparently he edits the whole of human society) has uncovered Suki's true identity.  Instead of being just another inoffensive wannabe employee, she's actually...

"Eva Saint Julienne, last surviving member of the Freedom Fifteen. Hmm, self declared anarchist, is that right?"  His tone is patronising.  Non-mainstream political principles are a quaint and amusing affectation.

"The Freedom Foundation has been monitoring Satellite Five's transmissions," says Suki, pulling a gun on the smug bastard, "We have absolute proof that the facts are being manipulated. You are lying to the people."

"Ooo, I love it," he giggles, still in the same tone of amusement, as though he's listening to hilariously naff dialogue in a period drama, "Say it again."

"This whole system is corrupt. Who do you represent?"

The Editor is self-aware enough to know that, for all his power, he's a slave himself.

"I answer to the Editor in Chief.... If you don't mind, I'm going to have to refer this upwards."

Suki looks up, to see what the Editor is referring to.

"What is that?" she asks.

"Your boss. This has always been ...

29

Midge walks into the Gym.  You get the sense that it's not the sort of place the old Midge would've visited.  The old Midge would've been scared of the self-defence crowd.

The new Midge is all swagger, in his shades and his shiny jacket.

"Waiting on the Sarge?" he asks the room full of silent, watching, bemused, singlet-and-sweatpants-wearing blokes.  "He's been held up. He asked me to have a little chat with you."

This is a lie.

"I learned a secret today. The secret of success. Thought I'd share it with you."

Midge has been learning all sorts of things.  He's been quarry in a quarry, hunted through a rocky wilderness on another world, stalked by carnivorous beasts.  He chose to survive at all costs.  He killed... not just to survive but for fun, for revenge, for a feeling of power that - one senses - is entirely new to him, a new experience in a stunted and powerless dead-end life.  Of course, in the process, he adopted the viewpoint of the beasts.  The logic of tooth and claw.  The logic of 'fuck you, I'm all ...

Punishing Viewing

Something I wrote a while ago, somewhat rewritten.  I'm re-posting it to mark the release of 'The Mind of Evil' on DVD.  In brief, being in colour doesn't make it any better.


There is a very old idea about ‘human nature’, that we are born with certain social characteristics already implanted or programmed in our brains, usually inherited from our parents and ancestors. You will find this idea laced throughout the whole of modern Western culture. Ruffians and villains in Conan Doyle are often said to have "vile antecedents". Oliver Twist is incapable of being a pickpocket because, despite being raised in a pauper's orphanage, he is a middle class child displaced amongst the scum classes. Similarly (because J.K. Rowling is nothing if not studiedly unoriginal) Harry Potter is filled with love just like his late mum, despite being systematically emotionally and psychologically abused up to the age of 11.  I could go on at great length.

This conception of human nature (please take the quote marks as read whenever I use that phrase) is directly and inextricably linked to class, and to questions of social role, crime, etc. It is still claimed ...

Categorically Speaking

Kant's categorical imperative is an expression of the bourgeois liberal ideas of the 18th century, expressed as morality.  It is progressive in the sense that it attempts to derive morality from Reason.  It is part of the Enlightenment.  It also expresses the new, universal promises of the bourgeois revolutions in that it universalises (i.e. "All men are created equal").  It is based on the principle of universality.  What you do must apply to all people or it fails to be truly moral. 

However, it is also based on a bourgeois notion of rights.  The concept of 'rights' is a product of the rise of bourgeois property/trade relations.  One brings one's rights to the market place and, on that basis, one participates in the putatively level playing field.  For Kant, one negotiates the conflicts between these rights on the basis of contractual clauses.  If the Party of the First Part undertakes to do such and such, the Party of the Second part will be understood to be obliged to do so and so.  It is this which finally inverts the universality of the notion into an ...

Homage to the Future

I'm currently re-reading George Orwell's best book Homage to Catalonia.  It's one of those books I re-read every few years.

I came across this lovely, compact, resonant passage:


I am well aware that it is now the fashion to deny that Socialism has anything to do with equality. In every country in the world a huge tribe of party-hacks and sleek little professors are busy 'proving' that Socialism means no more than a planned state-capitalism with the grab-motive left intact. But fortunately there also exists a vision of Socialism quite different from this. The thing that attracts ordinary men to Socialism and makes them willing to risk their skins for it, the 'mystique' of Socialism, is the idea of equality; to the vast majority of people Socialism means a classless society, or it means nothing at all.


Orwell saw the essential nature of Stalin's Russia better even than Trotsky.  A state-capitalist bureaucracy, with the role of private capitalists taken instead by an equally-exploitative class of managers.  He also saw that Stalin's Russia was not socialist, since the essence of socialism is the abolition of an exploiting class, not its replacement by a new set of exploiters.

However ...

It Came From Uranus

I finished reading Stephen Baxter's Doctor Who novel The Wheel of Ice today.  The novel had its moments.  There is one description of an attack upon Zoe by a group of 'blue dolls' - fabricated avatars of an ancient artificial intelligence - that is rather well done.  The blank black eyes and needle teeth are fairly routine but there is something oddly disturbing about the descriptions of their paddle-like hands.

On the whole, however, I found the book rather uninspired.  The phrase I just used - "ancient artificial intelligence" - says a lot about the book's use of somewhat familiar tropes.  There seems to have been an attempt to evoke the 'base under siege' / 'humans in the future' formula so often said to be typical of the Troughton era... but with the 'siege' coming from within the colony.  However, Baxter is perhaps a little too interested in the technical details of the solar system.  We get an awful lot of scenes where the action stops dead so the characters can explain neutrinos to each other, or describe the chemical composition of Titan's atmosphere.  There's also a lot of stuff about how a ...

Harry Potter and the Labour Theory of Value

Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. 
- Marx & Engels, The Communist Manifesto

In this post, I noticed that Star Trek portrays the society of the future as essentially capitalist (in all but name) despite the fact that the people of the Federation have 'Replicators' that can summon material objects out of pure energy. Such a development of the forces of production ought to have banished scarcity of any description, thus also banishing any need for the exploitation of labour, the extraction of surplus and the existence of class, along with many other features of capitalism which persist (open or half-hidden) in the Roddenberry/Berman utopia.  In short, given the technology it possesses, the Federation ought to look a lot more like 'the Culture' of Iain M. Banks' (though, actually, the Culture is as much a liberal vision as it is socialist or anarchist... with its dependence upon the benevolent dictatorship of super-smart AIs ...

Enterprise & Initiative

Star Trek is liberal bourgeois to the bone.


Show me more of this Earth thing called "shopping" 

The Federation is supposedly post-capitalist, post-money, etc., yet it has many of the important hallmarks of advanced capitalist social organisation. A highly organised and stratified division of labour, a deep separation between workplace and home life, work shifts, career promotion, private nuclear families, a socially-separate education system providing training and qualifications, a professional liberal media, massive military expenditure (of resources if not money), hierarchical political and military arrangements combined with liberal ideology, a separate political class, etc. In one of the films, someone even mentions "opinion polls".  So, the Federation clearly has what looks like a capitalist state, capitalist superstructure and capitalist social arrangements.  What of the economy?  Well, they still have privately owned and run restaurants, for example, though supposedly people run them for the love of it… and in DS9, the Federation people mesh perfectly into the economy of Bajor, with its Ferengi businessmen, etc… to the point where you have Federation officers trading goods and paying credits for booze. When they want to make a ‘darker’, grungier version of their utopia, they take characters from the ...

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