Arcylic and computer collage on canvas
25 x 20 cm
Self Portrait (Mustique)(2002)
Lithograph on Fabriano paper
24 x 19 cm
“My entire career, I’ve only really worked with the same subject matter. The trousers may change, but the actual words and subjects I’ve always chosen to write with are things to do with isolation, abandonment, fear and anxiety, all of the high points of one’s life.” – David Bowie
So, I could get into detailing all of things i disagree with, but RR is just sort of great unto himself – and who doesn’t love listening to an academic with a strong southern accent discuss Baudrillard. Of course, enduring questions will always be relevant – and unfortunately, questions of virtual reality and the real will be relevant long after we are dead and gone… For those lit crit masochists out there, this is probably around twenty years old, so it’s like a little theory and america time capsule. You can see RR struggling with the definition of the – or The – Post-modern…There is a lot of overreach here, but with perspective it’s easy to pick out questions and subjects for further discussion.
So, have at it. It’s a fun ride (if you’re into this kind of thing…).
Common sense. It’s a double (actually triple) entendre. Brand is considered “common” in the English class system (yes, even though he is rich now) and is offering what I consider common sense political – and even spiritual – analysis. There is a third meaning as well to those familiar with Thomas Paine.
Of course, nothing he’s saying is new. Many have said it before and many are saying it now, but few have the access to media Brand has, and even fewer have his following. In media terms, his audience – the audience he carries around with him if you will – far exceeds even the most popular television show’s audience on its best night. For example the finale of Breaking Bad garnered a 6.6 million audience share. As of today, Brand has 7,366,715 followers on twitter – and I think it’s safe to assume that number represents a fraction of his fans worldwide who aren’t following him on twitter.
Not only is he articulate – often eloquent – concerning our current situation as humans on a planet increasingly controlled by corporate power and the politicians they pay for, but he has every skill needed to deal with media “journalists” and all of the various and sundry lackeys of the elite who populate our popular media landscape.
Aside from being a skilled debater (he would make a joke here), he is extremely quick-witted and capable of encapsulating complex thoughts in pithy “sound-bites.” While he has many other skills perfectly suited to communicate through the media, his most important trait is his humanity. Simply put, he cares about other people and believes people generally tend toward good impulses rather than ill. Again, there are others who appear in the media who still have their humanity, but Brand can communicate it better than most. They used to call it, “the common touch.”
So, who cares? Well, I guess it depends on who you are. Most people on the left have been trying to communicate some variation of these ideas for quite a long time now, with very little success. The prominent left’s reaction to Brand’s interview with Paxton is a testament to how fractured and divisive the left has become – and an object lesson in what some lefties do with their access to the media. Of course, some of this is airing dirty laundry, but now is as good a time as any if a certain faction of what’s left of the left wants to be on board for any actual popular resistance, let alone “lead” it.
Mark Fisher discusses these issues and how Russell Brand matters in his article, “Exiting The Vampire Castle.”
On December 5th, 2013, Doug Henwood interviewed Fisher for his radio show and podcast Behind the News. Though there is a bit of academic language thrown around, I think he does a nice job of summing up the way I would. Essentially, he supports what Brand is doing in the media, rejects divisive “indentitarianism,” calls for putting class firmly in the center of left discourse, and for getting back to practicing solidarity and common cause.
I want to end here, but because we are where we are, it seems more of a whimper than a bang. These calls have been made before (though I sense more energy building behind the critique of identity politics). The truth is, we have to call out even those calls, because after a certain point, talk and theorizing will beget even more talk and theorizing if that is the bulk of left “action.” I am not diminishing the need for those things; in fact, acting and theorizing are not mutually exclusive – but we will eventually have to do the hard organizing work they did generations ago, because about half of us will have very few other options. This isn’t a static situation by any means. There will be another manufactured crisis. It will be worse than the last one. The same corporations will be responsible.
The elite have embraced Neoliberalism and are using a series of policies based on that economic philosophy to organize the entire world in their image. It is a world where everything is commodified, i.e., made into something that can be bought or sold, where everything owned by the public and everything for the public good is privatized and only exists to generate profit, where no one has privacy and everyone is a number.
While capitalists of the past may have had visions of world domination, it would be difficult even for them to conceive of how much capital has been consolidated and what those capitalists (yes, mostly in the form of corporations) have been able to do with that capital. They are utilizing a neoliberal agenda that enacts and enforces laws using politicians and global organizations to reorganize the very structure of our lives. From food and water to oil and jobs, from education to housing, our lives are being reshaped by global capital. This is the threat. This is what is happening before our eyes. They have more power and wealth than has ever existed in history and they are using it on people in the same way all over the world.
In the end, this may turn out to be their greatest weakness. If exploited and oppressed people understand the same thing being done to them is being done to their brothers and sisters around the world, they can begin to talk. When they talk, they can begin to organize, and then together we can fight the corporate power that exists only to exploit for profit. A worldwide class war perpetrated against working people demands worldwide solidarity and organizing.
Unions like the IWW with international aspirations never really achieved their goals. Now, the consolidation of capital by a relative few corporations and individuals using the same set of policies all over the world may have created the conditions for the first actual worldwide movement of people to come together and with one voice say, “basta!”
Over the last thirty years, The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies has grown from small group of disaffected conservative law students into an organization with extraordinary influence over American law and politics. Unknown to the average citizen, this group of intellectuals managed to monopolize the selection of federal judges, take over the Department of Justice, and control legal policy in the White House. How did this happen? How did right wing law professors with radical ideas move their theories into the mainstream of legal thought? How did Federalist Society members shape national policy for the “War on Terror,” reverse the Supreme Court’s direction on civil rights, chip away at a woman’s right to choose an abortion, win free speech rights for corporations to bankroll elections, and leave the United States as one of only two countries in the world that have not signed the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Children? How has this group garnered broad acceptance of the idea that we should interpret the Constitution according to its original eighteenth century meaning, rather than as a “living” document? This book goes behind the surface of legislative and court battles to explain how law is really made. It’s about how ideas and ideology drive law, policy and politics. And what both conservatives and liberals alike can learn from the rise of the Federalist Society.
Click anywhere above to read a Q&A with the authors
Click above for Doug Henwood’s Left Business Observer Radio show/Podcast called “Behind the News”. Many great interviews. Start with the October 17th show, where Doug interviews Jodi Dean and Kshama Sawant.
Doug Henwood also contributes to The Nation. I have many “issues” with The Nation, but Doug Henwood and a few others like Jeremey Scahill are solid. Max Blumenthal is doing great work as well.
Here is an example of Doug’s clear vision of “The New Economy” and its cheerleaders before 9/11 and before the manufactured crisis:
Click anywhere below to read the full article at truthdig:
“It is not a new story. The rich, throughout history, have found ways to subjugate and re-subjugate the masses. And the masses, throughout history, have cyclically awoken to throw off their chains. The ceaseless fight in human societies between the despotic power of the rich and the struggle for justice and equality lies at the heart of Fitzgerald’s novel, which uses the story of Gatsby to carry out a fierce indictment of capitalism. Fitzgerald was reading Oswald Spengler’s “The Decline of the West” as he was writing “The Great Gatsby.” Spengler predicted that, as Western democracies calcified and died, a class of “monied thugs” would replace the traditional political elites. Spengler was right about that.
“There are only two or three human stories,” Willa Cather wrote, “and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”
The seesaw of history has thrust the oligarchs once again into the sky. We sit humiliated and broken on the ground. It is an old battle. It has been fought over and over in human history. We never seem to learn. It is time to grab our pitchforks.”
Click anywhere above to read the full article at truthdig
Izzy quotes from Wikiquote:
There must be renewed recognition that societies are kept stable and healthy by reform, not by thought police; this means there must be free play for so-called subversive ideas – every idea subverts the old to make way for the new. To shut off subversion is to shut off peaceful progress and to invite revolution and war.
I.F. Stone’s Weekly (1954-03-15)
Every time we are confronted with a new revolution we take to the opium pipes of our own propaganda.
I.F. Stone’s Weekly (1963-01-21)
I sought in political reporting what Galsworthy in another context had called “the significant trifle” — the bit of dialogue, the overlooked fact, the buried observation which illuminated the realities of the situation.
The Haunted Fifties (1963)
The fault I find with most American newspapers is not the absence of dissent. it is the absence of news. With a dozen or so honorable exceptions, most American newspapers carry very little news. Their main concern is advertising.
The Haunted Fifties (1963)
A certain moral imbecility marks all ethnocentric movements.
I.F. Stone’s Weekly (1967-08-03)
All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.
In a Time of Torment, 1961-1967 (1967), p. 317
Lifelong dissent has more than acclimated me cheerfully to defeat. It has made me suspicious of victory. I feel uneasy at the very idea of a Movement. I see every insight degenerating into a dogma, and fresh thoughts freezing into lifeless party line.
I.F. Stone’s Bi-Weekly (1969-05-19)
I thought I might teach philosophy but the atmosphere of a college faculty repelled me; the few islands of greatness seemed to be washed by seas of pettiness and mediocrity.
I.F. Stone’s Bi-Weekly (1971-12-14)