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Heiner Müller’s instagram courtesy of n.1edicoes

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The Moral Left

The political (read: economic) bankruptcy (read: extra-economic) of the Left has made a necessity of virtuousness (read: morality). What used to be the Moral Right (and under Reagan the Moral Majority) has been displaced by the Moral Left: this is everything from LBGT to the Green rights of environmentalists and… exactly where its hem begins to fray is the bruited-about Crisis of Value, in other words Crisis of Middle-Class Values. The rights of the family are of course complicated by families of nonhetero albeit heterogeneous makeup. The rights to property are complicated by rights of access, for example, of copyright to knowledge: all coming under the swelling sphere of the commons.

The point here is: the Left used to be about policy, now it is about a moral stance; while the Right has policy like an iron bar that it cannot pass.

What is hateful in this and disastrous for an oppositional, not to say critical politic, is the caving of the notion of value itself, which is now tethered to the somewhat redundant operation of capital, where so many other options of funding are now so much more readily available and applicable, new venture capitalism and entrepeneurship having become a game for the very wealthy and the very stupid. The question as to whether these are mutually irreducible categories is overtaken by the political bankruptcy and unwillingness of the Left to enter discussions at an intellectual advantage–in case it is accused of Rightwing privilege.

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Douglas Lain of Zero Books interviews Slavoj Žižek

Marx’s labour theory of value: there’s something strange about what Žižek calls Lain’s metaphor of the “good Christian boy” who wants to believe.

And there’s something strange about the circularity of Žižek’s argument, as a populist philosopher, about the horror of the Left’s reactiveness to the Right’s activation of erstwhile Leftist policy platforms for, exactly, their populism: Marine Le Pen’s stand on easier access to healthcare and greater support for pregnant mothers, for example. (But then these can be seen as what Michel Houellebecq calls “nativist” concerns (in Submission): encouraging the put-upon ‘ethnic French’ populace to up birthrates, live longer, than immigrant sectors.) Žižek is saying something when he reports the comment of a friend: now the Left moralise, where they used to politicise; and the Right politicise, where they used to moralise: immigration is a moral and humanitarian issue for the Left; it is a political opportunity that the Right exploits. … Žižek’s call for the self-criticism of ‘us’ “progressives”, what does it mean?

We should spend less time judging statements like his, that if he could have he would have voted for Trump? And more time doing what?

It might get close to Nietzsche’s critique of reactive politics and affirmation of active policy … but is stymied by Hegelian dialectic and Lacanian (inbuilt) negative disavowal, the double-negative logic of not not affirming.

What the Left could use is some Nietzsche. I used to think not, but Nietzsche’s excoriation of those who set their values on a continuum orientated towards the best cover up value judgements that are from the start moral interpretations, moralisations.

The Left’s looking for a better way than the Right is only to perform the Hegelian dialectic dance of if you go that way, than I’ll go this way.

Here’s the link to the interview. See what you think. LINK.

…as for the labour theory of value and Žižek’s call to “de-substantialise” it, isn’t this precisely what is assayed in Anti-Oedipus (along with a critique of Lacan) and A Thousand Plateaus by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari?

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“it’s a time of opportunity because it’s a crisis”: RIP Mark Fisher 11 July 1968 – 13 January 2017

listen to Mark Fisher here

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defaced theatre: Théâtre Hardelot

Andrew Todd’s 388-seater Elizabethan theatre on the grounds of Château d’Hardelot cost €6m. That is in answer to the graffiti of the National Front, about which here, and but for which it wouldn’t be here.

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on an auspicious day some of the emperor’s closest friends mutter their suspicions

link here

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stop the signing of the TPPA

The government doesn’t understand the TPPA just like you. The Prime Minister is not your representative, he is your friend and equal. A likeable guy. I pay him to be your friend, a likeable guy. You pay him too. He’s a nice guy. Tim Groser doesn’t need to know what’s in the TPPA. Smarter guys than him, experts from overseas, have put this deal together and as a country we’d be stupid not to sign it. I knew Tim as a kid. He was a likeable kid. I wonder what his mother would say. But as a country we are not signing it. Representatives New Zealanders have elected are signing it on Thursday. Have New Zealanders elected these representatives and have they elected them to sign the TPPA? Is the signing representative of a consensus? These are academic questions. If you object to something your government is doing, there are channels to get your voice heard. Just as if you object to something your neighbour is doing you can complain to the council, which is obliged to, I feel like repeating that, obliged to respond. The Right Honourable John Key does not respond to any individual complaint because he is not answerable to anyone. He is not Robert Muldoon: he is not his own man. He is a man who belongs to the memory of a likeable kid, like Tim Groser, who as an adult and as the Prime Minister of New Zealand has put in place strategies to ensure his ongoing likeability. He is a bully about this. He will not be remembered. He will be liked. We’d be stupid not to. Why wouldn’t we sign? Why wouldn’t we like him? He is like us, likeable, just richer. And the Prime Minister. Elected. Part of the government. Representative. Signing on our behalf. Signing on behalf of our better selves.

What I feel like doing at this juncture is nothing. Inaction. Not industrial action, striking. But nothing. Not declaring, not striking, not acting, not accusing, shaming, judging, educating, but stopping what I am doing, whether I am driving the bus, tending the aged, signing the deal, any deal, selling the house, writing the paper, reading the paper, writing the article, talking, walking, teaching, arresting, selling, buying… stopping.

Who is protecting your job if you stop too?

On this day, stop your car. By all means take your keys. Turn off your computer. Walk away from your desk. Stop believing in social media as a tool for social activism. Turn off your phone. Leave your phone alone. Everything that ties you to this world of action is also a link in the chain binding you to the actions of your elected representatives. Who will sign. Who think it is better to act. Stupid not to. Stop.

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if hubris

is the spirit of tragedy, it is alive in statements like the following, from Ted Livingston, founder of Facebook competitor, Kik:

“This is a race to build an operating system for the world, period.”

– from here

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I wanted to check how you feel today?

less than 1

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the comprehension gap: why we don’t know what to say about the election – or what to do about the climate

…the wind is strong again today and gusty and blowing in from the West. Why mention the wind? because the climate is fucked-up-edly weird.

I was sorely tempted to vote for the Climate Change candidate on Election Day.

Everyone we know is running around saying not only is the climate wrong so is the vote! Flat-back-headed fker returned with an historic majority – last time this shit happened was in the twenties. People really don’t know what to say or what to think about this. Which is really interesting … to me. Because it means a lot of people are completely out of touch with … the majority!

There is also the complete disarray and political stupidity of the Labour party, the head honchos of which stood down the smart and logical candidate, David Shearer, eighteen months before the election, at which time they were polling at around 30%. Putting in Cunliffe (a name the spelling of which you don’t want to mess with) cut the vote for Labour by 10% immediately – and as Josie said on the TV3 panel on Saturday night (worth a look some time – on demand), if the party wants votes it needs to mean ‘labour’! the workers’ party! representing those who work against the managers and executives and bankers – people like John Key.

My theory is that a gap has opened between government and nation because public policy is now handled by private companies and organisations and institutions, privately owned, that is. Implementation of policy – even when it is in the public’s interest or that of a group inside society – is separated from government and government cannot be called to account for its poor or ineffective implementation. This happens – this gap opens – because of the insistence that every factor and element of public life, of political life, and maybe even of life itself, is run by a market. Schools and universities, for example, now report on learning ‘outcomes’ – this is exactly the same as productivity. The model in question is that of a competitive marketplace: schools and universities are allocated funding according to how competitive they are – measured and compared by how productive they are of ‘outcomes’. They are still funded, I hear you say, and that funding comes out of the public purse, from tax-payers. But now they have to compete for funding, they have to be run like businesses.

What has this got to do with the gap between the government and the governed? The neoliberal market-led model has been so successful that the governed don’t recognise that they are under the governance of markets because this is the way the government has constituted them, this is how the government deals with the governed – by making them into markets. School children constitute the market for education just like supermarket-shoppers constitute the market for Signature Range products.

Of course, the markets are in turn governed … not by public interest or national interest but by the interests of share-holders. This new abomination ‘stake-holders’ only appears to take the place of those with a financial interest in the ‘outcome’ – it really stands for ‘consumers’.

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