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The Moral Critique of Consumerism

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The world is fallen; depravity reigns. What was once whole falls apart — nations, families, consumer electronics. They don’t make them like they used to, back in the old days. Planned obsolescence drives a frenzy of waste and overconsumption — a shameful, degrading spectacle (behold Black Friday!) The primitives — the ones who want our civilization reduced to ashes — are correct. We are wicked, sinful; we have forgotten want and hardship, and the values of things, and the moral law of Nature. Let there be a crash and a downfall, to awaken us from this torpor!

So the story goes, anyway.

The moral critique of consumerism is a tremendously popular narrative; yet it presents itself as subversive and oppositional. In this it follows many discourses of hegemony: American individualism, Evangelical Christianity, “politically incorrect” casual racism and misogyny, and so on. In fantasizing its own oppositionality, it invents dreadful and overwhelming foes, usually of two sorts: either satanic megacorporations or the overwhelming weight of human ignorance.

I’m trying to describe this moral critique in detail, and demonstrate its inadequacy, because it has somehow become a given that everyone subscribing to it must perforce be a “leftist”. If so, then “the Left” is a politically vacuous term, nothing more than one subculture among many — which may well be true. There are other, better words to describe emancipatory political engagements, though most of them — “Marxist”, “communist”, and the like — are not supposed to be brought up in polite company.

The major failings of the moral critique are fourfold.

1. Scope

We are told that “we” consume too much, and waste too much; but the “we” used here is blind to its own nature. By “we”, this discourse means “first-worlders”: the targets of this critique and its intended audience. It is an analysis developed in first-world conditions, and speaks of first-world phenomena in the language of first-world ideology. It does not, however, see itself as such — its proponents would readily assert that “we” means “humanity”, all of us.

The universalizing gesture is thoughtless and almost automatic, as these things tend to be. Following it to its conclusions, we encounter crudities, absurdities, atrocities. “We” consume too much; therefore, we must all make equal sacrifices, regardless of our share in the actual consumption. And even if the share is tiny? Well then, it’s still split among too many mouths to feed. The grim spectre of “overpopulation” emerges from the argument here, followed by a ghastly entourage of half-imagined, half-implied eugenic horrors.

The little, innocuous “we” does a lot of work here. In bringing humanity together in harmony, in levelling difference and antagonism, in sweeping away history and context, it enables — encourages — making the exploited pay for the excesses of the exploiters, whom they outnumber by orders of magnitude. And if they have nothing left to pay with, well then, they must give their lives. Their sacrifice will be remembered.

Perhaps you think I’m squeezing too much genocidal intent from the innocent tiny “we”. In fact I do not see this intent in it at all; I am trying to follow the course of thought it outlines to its final possible conclusions. It is enough to say that this universalism of levelling (Russian has a beautiful word for it, “uravnilovka”) could plausibly lend itself to justifications of genocide. We do not need to prove that empires are predisposed to pursue their social and economic needs through the eradication of troublesome populations; the last 200 years of history alone provide ample evidence. It has happened, it is happening and it can happen many times over, and the “universal” “humanity” of the beneficiaries of empire has been a justification time and again.

Very well then, but what if the critique is aware of this? What if it carefully avoids the universalizing “we”? Three counterpoints remain.

2. Idealism

While the critique of consumerism proceeds from observations of material reality, its underlying structure is not actually materialist. This is blatant if we take a look at the language it uses: words like waste, greed, excess, lack of self-control, the imagery of orgies or lavish feasts, of fat as a signifier of immorality, of spiritual decadence all feature prominently in its repertoire. Disgust at certain kinds of bodies, which are taken as visible signs of this Gothic excess, is a pervasive theme. The intersections of anti-consumerist moralism and discipline of the body are extremely complex and I doubt I can do them justice here. What’s significant for us is to note that such strategies are typically unthinking extensions of the ways in which control and surveillance of bodies is performed by the dominant ideology. Thus, for some decades now, we find an unstoppable profusion of vulgar pieces of “theory” and “social critique” decrying the insatiable appetites of undisciplined consumers: teenage girls, children, poor people of colour with flatscreen TVs, homeless people with cellphones and so on.

If only these wasteful and self-centered consumers could be reined in, the argument goes (and the further we move from the prototypical image of a good white “middle class” “hardworking” citizen of the US empire, the more forcefully selfishness is attacked as the origin of sin) — and simultaneously, if the excesses of immoral CEOs, bankers and so on contained, and checks put on their greed, or the most criminal ones tried and jailed, the world might be restored to a state of balance and prosperity. Again we see how social antagonism, this time the fact of class, is obscured, and all are made equal in the anti-consumerist imagination. This has the effect of strengthening ideologies which rely on similar stories of cross-class cooperation and unity in hard times; that is to say, nationalist ones. We’re not talking about the nationalism of anticolonial liberation here, either — you’ll recall we’ve restricted ourselves to the first world.

Let us look at the flipside for a second. What of these awful, bloodsucking executives, these billionaire thieves? The contention of anticonsumerism is: they are greedy, and have been encouraged by a system that promotes and rewards their greed. Note again the primacy of an ethical flaw; presumably for every Bernie Sanders there is a nice, cuddly Steve Jobs, the philanthropist and champion of the downtrodden (please disregard their own abuses of workers — the other guys are so much worse!)

What is lacking, according to the moral argument, is integrity and principles. But if you listen closely, it’s possible to discern a subtle note of conspiracism with regard to these “banksters”, these “parasites”, this contagion upon the otherwise healthy social body. Is it too bold to suggest that this is where Adbusters starts reading like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? I don’t think it is.

The moral critique may be interested in material effects, but it shows little concern with material causes. Malicious and evil economists are responsible; laws of political economy are not. Ethical actions of individuals are paramount; political involvements of classes barely register. The world is wounded grievously by our sins — but it can be healed through principled acts. This is quite literally the stuff of fantasy literature.

3. Production vs consumption

The critique of consumerism, insofar as it acknowledges processes of production, relegates them to a secondary role. Abhorrent working conditions, neo-enclosures, the dissolution of communities, impoverishment, inequality — all this is ultimately the fault of excessive consumption. What a monumental sense of their own importance these first worlders have! Every time an American buys a bag of chips, a rustic and charming fishing village is obliterated.

This may be a bit of a cheap shot, but it’s not innacurate. Anticonsumerist critics, even as they affirm their own “guilt” and “complicity” in exploitation, ascribe to themselves a special leading role in the fight against it. Thus it becomes important to avoid the evil companies and support the moral ones, to practice ascetic living and raise awareness. This is also where concepts of a return to nature take center stage — if the world is corrupt, we must withdraw from it, growing our own food and not taking part in the exploitation of others. The bitter irony is that the only people able to drop out and go off the grid on a whim are those who have already benefitted from the spoils of empire in vastly disproportionate ways. Removing oneself from the fallen world is also another idealist gesture, a search for a site of calm and purity, untainted by worldly filth and suffering. Sites like those can only exist within the larger context of an advanced empire; the labour and active participation of all its citizens are not required, and room is made for dropping out, so long as it does not constitute a material threat.

It’s time to state the obvious. I’m a Marxist. I accept the labour theory of value and its descriptive potential with regard to a capitalist economy. I believe that society is driven by various class antagonisms, and in capitalist society the primary antagonism is between the owners of the means of production and those who are forced to sell their labour — or give it away for free, as the case may be.

It should be fairly clear, therefore, why I reject the primacy of consumption. The fundamental, formative social forces arise from the mode of production dominant in that society. The mode of consumption is certainly of interest as a symptom, but its causes are to be sought in definite and traceable movements of people, labour, capital, state power and so forth, not in the intemperance and poor moral character of imperial citizens.

4. Racist bullshit

Recall my nasty mention of “the primitives” at the beginning. These phantasmatic noble savages are enlisted in support of anticonsumerism, as the models to which we should aspire. They value — well, insert whatever the particular critic’s hobby horse is here; family, community, nature, sexuality, spirituality, or all of the above. Actual peoples, or rather the distilled ethnographies and anthropologies of these peoples, are paraded in support of the anticonsumerist arguments: behold the pure primal society, before the advent of moral corruption.

This is racist garbage in the first degree. Typically we think of racism as vicious and hateful, but this variety — exotifying and belittling — is probably more insidious and more pervasive. “Real” noble savages as well as invented ones in works of fiction take turns performing this function. When employed in this manner, they are people no longer; they are rhetorical props. Even when the stories about them are not complete and utter fabrications, misinterpretations and appropriations, they seek to elevate decontextualized pre-industrial norms and societies to a pedestal of moral purity. The desire to turn back history, to escape its grinding gears and live in contented simplicity, is undeniable. It is also racist as fuck — by positing a state of childlike innocence and blessed harmony with nature, it is rather a chain of beings, on which the white Euro-Americans are highly evolved angels, and the “savages” — one step removed from animals.

So. Summing up.

I reject the moral critique of anticonsumerism in favour of the materialist critique of political economy.

Anticonsumerism turns Marxism on its head, and in doing so, it also discards its anti-capitalism. In rejecting the best available materialist critique of the system, it seeks refuge either in visions of “capitalism with a human face”, or of a spiritual reformation, or perhaps technological advancement that will make our assumptions about the material world obsolete. Very dizzying and exciting, to be sure; while anticonsumerism blazes off into a future of silvery crystal spires and human moral perfection, we stodgy communists are left behind in the dirt and the muck of what actually exists. Not a nice place to be, but at least we can meet each other here, face to face, and agree on what we see, instead of dreaming up a shimmeringly white community that never comes, nor should.

Written by unhaunting

July 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Posted in ethics, politics

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fear

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There is, as I recall, a monster in the Moomin books. Just one. She’s called the Groke in English (it was Buka in Polish — a nonsense word, but vaguely spooky, like a ghost going “boo”). She is a sad, unsightly, tremendously lonely thing, a sort of spirit of winter. Wherever she walks, she leaves a trail of hoarfrost; whatever she touches freezes and dies. She wanders around in December, when the nights are long and the woods seem to creep closer to the home. She lingers on doorsteps and looks through the windows.

The Groke is not an avenging daemon, or a malevolent deity. She’s not an allegorical representation of evil. She’s just very, very cold and alone. All she wants is to get closer to the light and the fire inside. She can’t, of course — she’d just put it out.

Ever since I’ve read those books as a kid, this has been, I think, my basic idea of a monster.

A monster is someone we’ve left out in the dark and the cold.

boo

**

Should I bring up the gendering of monsters? Medusa, Tiamat, Shelob, Erzsebet Bathory? This has been done; I would not like to present the idea as my own. But monster-men are always pitiable, redeemable, tragic; monster-women are utterly alien. The Black Goat of the Woods with her Ten Thousand Young. Living it up on welfare, no doubt.

**

I can’t help thinking of Lovecraftian horror as boring, and in an odd way, self-undermining. You can try making the connection between his virulent racism and his vast, fearsome, incomprehensible alien intelligences from Outside; it might be tenuous, but not wholly unjustified. Mostly, though, it’s that they are simultaneously mad gods of the starless void beyond human ken and huge ripped dudes with an octopus for a head. You can’t have both.

The most productive horror, for anyone who doesn’t live in a little rainbow-hued soap bubble, is not that of the alien, but of the familiar. And the most useful horror, I feel, is the horror of the commodity.

**

There is something that lives in your house; no — dozens of somethings. Their origin is unclear. Many forgotten, yellowed tomes speak fearfully of their histories, drenched in blood and suffering, of the horrific rituals of human sacrifice performed to bring them into this world. Serious, reasonable people pay such stories no mind. The things just sort of appear, and aren’t they useful? Aren’t they pretty? Aren’t they meaningful? Aren’t they necessary?

Sometimes, just before you fall asleep, you think you can hear them whisper to each other.

Written by unhaunting

May 29, 2013 at 11:42 pm

Posted in politics, words

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The paranoid mode

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Comrade Osbourne elaborates upon the paranoid mode

There is an article I’d like you to familiarize yourself with before we start, The Paranoid Style in American Politics. I believe that Hofstadter correctly identifies a phenomenon, but being a huge blundering liberal who couldn’t recognize the development of historical forces if it jumped out of a roadside ditch and kicked his ass, his analysis remains somewhat lacking. Still, I believe we should take a close look at conspiratorial and “paranoid” modes of speech and action.

The mode of thought that I’m going to call “paranoid” consists of a particular relation to power and meaning. These two things aren’t interchangeable, exactly, but they’re closely related: social and economic power always goes hand in hand with power over meaning, the ability to dictate the significance and “actual” content of words and events. As I’ve written before, those who fully accept the meanings given by Power are said to be “realistic” or “serious”.

Most generally, the paranoid mode is a misapprehension of power. To read a text, event or situation in a paranoid way is to fail to grasp its political dimension, but not by depoliticizing it, but the exact opposite — imbuing it with an excess of meaning. I’m sure you’ve seen and laughed at this or something similar before; it’s a prime example of the paranoid mode.

Fundamental to a paranoid reading is the assumption that the words, actions, signs and portents being read stand for something else, and that it is a direct, one-to-one correspondence — allegory, in literary terms. Gaga’s song has a “surface”, false meaning, and a “deep”, true meaning, which is mind control, and only that. While I would maintain that texts can usually be read in multiple, often contradictory ways, the paranoid reader denies this — there is the true meaning, all else is misdirection. That meaning is hidden from the casual eye, but accessible to those who have been initiated into the shady workings of Power, and taught to interpret the symbols in the correct way.

The True Meaning, according to the paranoid reader, is there because there is likewise a true meaning to the entirety of the world, obscured beneath the spectacle of appearances and illusions that we experience as reality. The hidden, unconscious content of the world is conspiracy — whether a single overarching one, or an intricate network of interlocking and interdependent malicious plots, or a little of both — it matters little.

Where there is a conspiracy, there are conspirators: the Masons, Catholics, Jews, Communists, Jesuits, Russians, “the gays”, “the transsexual empire”, the bankers, the Templars, lizard people from outer space, make your pick. They are mysterious, secretive, inscrutable, disturbingly sensuous or seductive, devoted to an incomprehensible and evil cause. They wield unbelievable power over matters both momentous and mundane. They aid each other covertly in innumerable ways, circumventing the normal workings of society.

By now you might be thinking, okay, so this leads directly to the postmodernist argument against grand narratives, right? There is no single Truth of the World, just an endless free interplay of signifiers? Well, yes and no. The paranoid mode is “correct” insofar as we can say that society at every level is infused with relations of power, which work in ways that aren’t necessarily obvious. These relations, however, are not hidden or secret — they are palpable and obvious to those whom Power works upon. They may not have the language or theoretical apparatus to express it, or be able or permitted to speak about it, or they may be more or less wrong in expressing how all this works exactly, but the naked, shameless, direct, brutal facts of oppression are perfectly clear to them — and visible to everyone else, even if they are usually conceptualized as “just the way things are”.

The paranoid mode is also wrong about the Conspiracy. There isn’t one. Oh, sure, conspiracies of various kinds happen all the time, but the logic of history and society is not conspiratorial. This is purely a matter of Occam’s razor — entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity. It’s just not necessary to posit a Shadow Council of International Bankers that meets in secret to keep the Third World poor and subjugated, when imperialism, material interests and ideology — all of which are in plain view — suffice as an explanation. The secret dealings of the powerful, like some of the provisions of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, may be obscured for some time from most people, or from certain populations, but history shows that they do not tend to stay secret for long.

(In more abstract terms, I disagree that there is a “truth of the world”; there is a material, objective reality and there are better or worse theories and conceptual frameworks that we use to make sense of it. Meaning, however, is not a property of matter or its relations, but a product of society.)

The paranoid mode is by no means uniquely or specifically American, but it achieves its fullness in the political discourse of the United States. This may just be because of the world hegemony of the US, and the fact that whatever occurs there is so extensively documented, disseminated and visible to everyone. It may be a characteristic of empires, or capitalist societies under some conditions, or just a consequence of very typical cognitive biases; most likely all of these factors play a part and are mutually reinforcing.

Birtherism, McCarthyism, shitty jokes about how “Bush did 9/11″ and countless other manifestations of conspiratorial thought proliferate in US discourses. The jokes themselves are interesting — on their face they are dismissals, but the obsessive and insistent manner of their repetition is surely meaningful. Without speculating too much, I’d hazard a guess that they often fuction as a way for the joker to reassure themselves, which means that the idea of conspiracy — this, that, or the other one — remains an ever-present possibility.

It’s also worth noting that whether or not a belief is paranoid can be dependent on context. Trutherism is a specifically American conspiracy theory, but certain elements of it are also widely believed all around the world. In places where the US has used covert operations and intelligence agencies to advance its interests, this is hardly surprising. The belief itself may be mistaken, but it arises from different conditions and should be treated differently; it may have aspects of the paranoid mode, sometimes expressed in age-old antisemitic tropes, but not in the same way as it does in the US.

The most famous writer of American paranoia is probably Pynchon, especially in The Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity’s Rainbow. If you’re interested in a detailed, literary examination of all things paranoid, I really can’t recommend Lot 49 highly enough. Rainbow is, frankly, fucking unreadable, but in its constant multiplication of possible meanings, false meanings, connections, hidden truths, half-baked theories and outright bullshit, it carries the paranoid mode to its extremes; arguably, it’s a text that deliberately sets out to frustrate and infuriate the paranoid reader in all of us.

Time and again I’ve seen Americans, or people operating in a broadly American cultural context, instinctually leap to the paranoid mode as their basic concept of society. Disagreement, especially vocal disagreement about fundamental and unexamined values or questions of privilege, becomes a “concerted campaign” carried out by a “clique”, “coordinating” their “attacks” in secret, using “underhanded tactics” and so on. Some of these criticisms may have merit, others may come from a sense of wounded pride or entitlement, or from prior personal grudges, others still can be complete horseshit, because when a malicious conspiracy is perceived, it must be excised by any means, lest it corrupt the heart of the body politic and drain its vital fluids. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, because people can express their legitimate hurt and grievances in the paranoid mode, and it becomes difficult to disentangle the two.

What I’m arguing is simply this: the paranoid mode of discourse exists, and it insinuates itself into our political thinking. Fascinating as it may be, it is harmful and distorting. Please remain mindful of it.

Written by unhaunting

March 12, 2013 at 11:30 pm

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Let’s have a pleasant chat about taking your own life

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 Yeah, suicide. If this stuff triggers you, please stop reading! Seriously!

I really don’t think I’m an existentialist by any metric. I owe a lot to a high school teacher who either was one or had a really passsionate disagreement with the entire philosophy, I’m not sure. I picked up Kierkegaard and Camus on my own just because she seemed to think it was really important, and I wanted to know what was going on. Nietzsche, too, come to think of it, though it’s debatable if he counts.

For the existentialists, suicide was the ultimate ethical engagement with the world. The human condition, to them, was “absurd”: in the absence of divinely ordained meaning, our freedom is absolute, but every choice we make is rendered laughable by the grim inevitability of death. Thus, choice-of-death becomes the one that actually matters, a means to face the final truth of existence head on.

I think that’s garbage. Death is heavy stuff, but it generates no more or less meaning than love, or hate, or friendship, or the pursuit of knowledge. It is unique to the degree that any class of experience is; that it’s the final one is incidental. To say that Death’s scythe levels all other deeds like so much dry grass seems to me a tremendous offense to the living, a contemptuous rejection of the striving and strife that make up our lives. Note that I’m not out to “disprove” existentialism, or to distinguish very carefully between the existentialism of Sartre and that of Łukasz from second class, who spits upon the pointlessness of middle-school life. In this, as in most other things, I’m hopelessly reliant on gut feelings. My gut feeling: this is garbage.

(As a sidenote, it’s really sad and disappointing when people slightly familiar with existentialism — “I read the wiki article” familiar — act like they’re in on the stupid, tedious, pointless joke of existence. I can’t help but feel that your philosophy is somewhat invalidated if the only good it does you is make you feel smart and cool, rather than force you into intimate interaction with the ethical and epistemic texture of everyday life.)

I bring this up because I want to talk about suicide, and the first misstep would be to fetishize it as beautiful or righteous — something I feel existentialists fail to do — or to demonize it as hideous and repugnant. There are numerous cultural trends that aestheticize taking one’s own life, and they are all abhorrent. I’m also uninterested in how it relates to “courage”, even though every other novelist I can think of has a strong opinion on whether it “takes guts” or “is the coward’s way out”. I don’t give a fuck about a dispute so pointless and ill-founded.

What I want to consider is (some aspects of) the political content of suicide — the relations of suicide and power. This also means I’ll have to touch upon mental illness, and you have no idea of the kind of willpower it took not to put that in scare quotes. The conversation, after all, will revolve around behaviours that are positioned as “healthy” or “ill” — how this happens, and for what reasons.

I think it’s safe to say that “power” and “control” is a good framework to discuss this. Not the best one, or the only one, but one that illuminates several key aspects of suicide: how often people consider it when they’ve been deprived of meaningful choices, how it functions as an assertion of control over one’s life, a final “fuck you” to the disempowering realities of imprisonment, debt, destitution, loneliness, sickness, old age. I really doubt that there are very many people out there who, when faced with a desperate situation, haven’t thought, “hey, why not death?”

It’s a seductive thought, and brings a strange feeling of elation. I do have a choice! I can die! Even more exhilarating is to bring it up in conversation, perhaps awkwardly or half-jokingly at first. It’s a breach of taboo, and almost always sure to elicit strong reactions: the stock “there’s so much to live for”, the reverse-psychological “fine, see if I care”, the baffled silence, the anger, the nervous laughter. Many Catholics would still insist on not burying people who’ve killed themselves on consecrated ground — ostensibly because they died as sinners, but I can’t help but wonder: is it unease at this final assertion of control? Or perhaps a perverse way of honouring the choice to exclude oneself from the community of the living?

The mere suggestion of suicide can be wielded as a weapon, of course — an assertion of control not over yourself, but over those who care about you. It is difficult to separate the two, sometimes. Despair has a way of making you act in solipsistic ways; it draws you inward in a tight, suffocating spiral. You might find yourself thinking that your friends’ kind words and attempts to help are misguided, or mockery: surely everyone would hate you if they could see you as you see yourself, surely they’d want you gone. The hurt and terror they are expressing must be a cruel joke. It is difficult to assign blame, here.

I sometimes feel uncomfortable with traditional narratives of abuse because, being flawed in some essential way that I can’t help but think of as “Christian”, they don’t account for this kind of situation. Is it right to call the person threatening suicide “an abuser”? Is it right to call them “a victim”? Both and neither; there are several interlocking abusive dynamics in play, but seeking to place responsibility, as if in a court of law, is doomed to fail. Certainly “mental illness” is to blame — but how, really? Is mental illness some sort of contagion of amorality, similar to original sin? That is unacceptable drivel. And yet it definitely clouds our judgment and restricts our vision.

Personally, I believe in setting the highest possible standard for myself, but I also believe in mutual care. I don’t really get suicidal anymore, though there was a period in my life when I did; if I decided not to follow through, or not to offload those feelings onto others, it was mostly because I considered that cruel to them. (Also because I didn’t have any sort of rope sturdy enough to hang myself with.) But these feelings only went away when I started learning how to seek out and build something resembling positive, supportive communities — which may sound like big words for “Internet friends I’ve never met”, but these supposedly unreal people quite literally saved my life when nobody else would, so fuck you.

 

I was gonna put another section here, about martyrdom and its position in politics, but I feel like it needs a separate post. So I’m gonna leave you with this pointless and inconclusive ending for now.

Written by unhaunting

January 19, 2013 at 9:06 pm

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Some Remarks on John 14:2

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In my Father’s house there are many mansions,
all haunted. All mortgaged straight to hell
with debts of incoherent wails. The First Bank
of Blood and Bone and Sinew will accept payments
of chain-rattling, sobs, silences, knives flying
across the perfect kitchen along a thirsty arc.

The curtains flutter on a wind of idle whispers.
Doors creak. Sinks clogged with sticky ectoplasm;
you stick your hand in. It comes up gooey with memory.
Asbestos in the walls, shedding shards year after
year after year. Breathe in. Hold.

There is time, a surfeit of temporality, mingling
with the smell of cigarettes and boiled potatoes,
clinging to your clothes, eyelashes, pubic hair.
Pigeons have taken to perching on the rim
of the roof. Their eyes are red and mad.
The acrid smell of birdshit. The bedrooms have walls

but no windows. The walls have eyes. Warnings
scrawled across them in ketchup and raspberry jam,
dripping red to the spotless floor. “Not yours.”
“I remember.” “Run.” “I had no choice.” You learn
to walk past them, scrub them clean, repaint.
These are the skills of the living.

I go now, to prepare a place. Let me note, though,
that the current fad in heavenly architecture
is cloth and paper, and wood here and there. It falls to you
to prepare the spark.

Written by unhaunting

August 31, 2012 at 2:18 pm

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Okupanci

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Prawo, w majestatycznej swej równości (stwierdził dawno temu Anatole France) zabrania zarówno biednym, jak i bogatym spać na ulicy, żebrać i kraść chleb. Mylił się o tyle, że spanie spaniu nierówne: niektórych wystarczy zgarnąć do izby wytrzeźwień, przypiąć pasami i spuścić wpierdol; na innych trzeba nasłać chmarę policji po zmroku, z dala od kamer, ale na widoku przechodniów, i odseparować od zdrowej tkanki społecznej.

Walka z okupantem Warszawy trwa, nie będzie pluł nam w twarz.

Walka z okupantem Warszawy trwa, nie będzie pluł nam w twarz.

Trzy szybkie myśli, które mnie naszły.

Raz: fajnie byłoby myśleć, że władze miasta Warszawy czują się egzystencjalnie zagrożone przez kilkanaście osób z antykapitalistycznymi hasłami. Interwencja była tak absurdalna — dziesiątki policjantów, trzynaście spokojnych i nieuzbrojonych osób na chodniku — że przechodzień, którego na miejscu spotkałem, pytał mnie, czy tu kogoś zabili. Niestety, nie widzę tu panicznego miotania się konającego systemu, ani głupiej decyzji, która źle wygląda w mediach (na punkcie mediów, “społecznościowych” i zwykłych, jestem potwornie cyniczny, za co obwiniam Guya Deborda). Dla mnie to całkiem racjonalna strategia reagowania nieproporcjonalnie wielkimi siłami na nawet drobne zaburzenia “porządku społecznego”, szczególnie w samym centrum stolicy i tuż przed tymi zasranymi mistrzostwami.

Media i tak powiedzą akurat tyle, żeby wpasować się w oficjalny dyskurs — że może interwencja przesadzona, ale wina jest po obu stronach, bo przecież jeśli miasto odmawia zgody na zgromadzenie i protest, to musi mieć dobry powód, prawda? Nie wiem, czy możliwe jest jakieś “przebicie się” w tych mediach z przekazem, że przestrzeń publiczna należy do wszystkich po równo. Każdy głos, który chce być dopuszczony do mainstreamowych środków przekazu, musi zakłądać z góry, że jedyną mającą prawo istnieć ideologią jest liberalizm — inaczej zostanie zagłuszony lub obśmiany. Liberalizm uważa przestrzeń publiczną za irytujące zło konieczne i myśli przede wszystkim w kategoriach przestrzeni prywatnych, dlatego też bez trudu przychodzi mu uznanie całej Warszawy za coś w rodzaju prywatnego folwarczku prezydent Gronkiewicz-Waltz, do spółki z różnymi agencjami nieruchomości.

Więc interwencja policji nie była wiadomością dla mediów, tylko dla okupantów i innych elementów wywrotowych. Chodzi o zwyczajne zastraszenie.

Dwa: bardzo boję się przeszczepiania na nasz grunt amerykańskich haseł o 99% społeczeństwa. Bardzo, bardzo się tego boję. “99% społeczeństwa” to chwytliwy slogan, ale fatalna analiza i każdy, kto przygląda się losom Occupy Wall Street, widzi, że niezdolność wielu Amerykanów do przekroczenia tego hasła ma fatalne skutki. Bo — nie wgłębiając się nawet za bardzo w analizę klasową — według liberalnych sympatyków Occupy pod 99% podpada przecież też, dajmy na to, policja. A to już jest wymaganie od bitego solidarności z bijącym.

Trzy: powyższą krytykę oferuję w duchu wsparcia, a nie żeby nabić sobie jakieś ideologiczne punkty. Dobrze, że okupacja jest, i ważne, żeby była jak najdłużej. Najlepiej tak długo, aż nie będzie potrzebna.

Written by unhaunting

May 29, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Posted in poland, politics

Tagged with , ,

na niskie ciśnienie najlepsza gazeta pe el

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Dzisiaj po polsku, bo się wściekłem.

Dwa lata temu policjanci przyszli sobie na Stadion Dziesięciolecia i zastrzelili Maxwella Itoyę. “Czemu, ach, czemu”, pytają spłakane dzienniki tudzież gazety, “czemuż musieli dopuścić się nadużycia władzy, czemu, laboga”, a odpowiedź jest przecież taka prosta. Bo mogli.

Po dwóch latach prokuratura potwierdza, że mogli, umarzając śledztwo, a gazeta.pl dodatkowo uspokaja wątpliwości, bo przecież “padł strzał”, a kula “pechowo” poszła w tętnicę. Policjanci to przecież nieledwie niemowlęta, których obchodzić się z bronią nigdy nie uczono, a strzał padł sam przez się, zły traf i wola Boża tak chciały, rozejść się.

Warto powtórzyć, że Stadionu Dziesięciolecia już nie ma. W jego miejscu stoi ogromniasty nocnik, i to nie byle jaki nocnik, bo narodowy. Żeby ten nocnik postawić, stary stadion trzeba było wyburzyć, a ludzi, którzy tam trudnili się drobnym handlem — w dużej części imigrantów — wykurzyć. Ciekawe, że tak się z woli Bożej złożyło, że policjant jednego z tych imigrantów zastrzelił, bo inaczej nie jest jasne, czy imigranci zrozumieliby, że w imię narodowego nocnika muszą wynieść się gdzieś, gdzie nie będą kłuli w oczy. A że poniosą na tym konkretne materialne straty? Cóż, dla narodu trzeba się poświęcać.

Ktoś mi pewnie zarzuci szukanie spisku. Ale chodzi właśnie o to, że spisku nie było i Itoya nie musiał zginąć. Skoro już jednak jakiś zbir go zabił, to się świetnie dla władzy składa, bo można na tym zbić niezły symboliczny kapitał. Na pokaz załamujemy ręce, biadolimy, szukamy winnych, a w podtekście: nie fikaj, nie stawiaj się i nie utyskuj na narodowe nocniki, kloaki, wychodki i sracze, bo patrz, jak to się kończy. Groźba? Nie, nie, skąd, my nikomu nie grozimy, po prostu czasem się tak nieszczęśliwie zdarza.

Nie szokuje mnie specjalnie, że gazeta kropka pl tego nie widzi, bo dziennikarz jest od tego, żeby pisać rzeczy, które się sprzedają, czyli innymi słowy rzeczy sprzedajne. “Sprawa zasługiwała na wyjaśnienie”, pisze dziennikarz, pióro w nocniku umoczywszy, i czeka, aż ktoś mu to wyjaśnienie pod nos podetknie: oto niezłomny poszukiwacz prawdy. Ale mimo że nic nie wiadomo, to jednak wiadomo (najwyraźniej), że “to oczywista bzdura”, że była to rasistowska zbrodnia.

Tu jednak trzeba pogratulować dedukcji, bo “rasistowska zbrodnia” może istnieć tylko wtedy, gdy rasizm uważa się za zbrodniczy. Kiedy jest na porządku dziennym, wpisany w funkcjonowanie telewizji, policji, literatury, prawa, mowy codziennej, państwa i Unii Europejskiej, jak można w ogóle mówić o zbrodni? Gdyby Europa wierzyła w zbrodniczość rasizmu, nie stawałaby na głowie, żeby Andersa Breivika uznać za niepoczytalnego wariata, zamiast wyznawcę bardzo spójnej, bardzo konsekwentnej i bardzo zbrodniczej ideologii.

Nikogo w Polsce specjalnie dziś nie obchodzi, jak wyglądał kolonializm w Nigerii, przecież my nie kolonizowaliśmy, my jesteśmy naród przez historię uciśniony, mamy czyste ręce, itd, itp, więc w kategoriach rasizmu myśleć nie lubimy i nie umiemy. Ale kiedy przyjeżdża do nas z Nigerii Maxwell Itoya, i kiedy jakiś oprych strzela do niego, to o rasistowskim lub nie charakterze tej zbrodni nie decyduje to, co oprych sobie myślał, kiedy strzelał — bo kto do tego dojdzie — tylko to, w jaki kontekst ten strzał się wpisuje, i to, jak na to reagujemy. Bo jeśli reagujemy poważnym kiwaniem głową, kiedy mówi, że on tylko wykonywał swoją opryszą pracę, bo kazali trochę przycisnąć imigrantów na bazarze, to godzimy się na to, że ktoś taką pracę musi wykonywać, i że może jest nieprzyjemna, ale konieczna.

Ciekawe, kto z nas powie to samo o Robercie Dziekańskim. Jeśli wierzymy, że rasizm jest zbrodniczy, to obie te śmierci traktujemy może nie identycznie, ale z identyczną powagą. Nie chce mi się teraz grzebać w archiwach i szukać, co o Dziekańskim pisał Piotr Machajski, jeśli cokolwiek. Ale wszyscy pamiętamy, co i w jaki sposób pisały wtedy umiarkowane, rozsądne, obiektywne, liberalne, centrowe, mainstreamowe media, pod które gazeta kropka pl z pewnością podpada.

Rożnica między tamtą sprawą a morderstwem Itoyi pokazuje wyraźnie, że centrowy “obiektywizm” jest w Polsce (i gdzie indziej też) rasistowski. Nie dlatego, że po kryjomu przybija piątkę Dmowskiemu z Hitlerem, ale poprzez selekcję informacji i sposób ich przedstawienia. Rasizm naprawdę groźny to ten, którego na pierwszy rzut oka nie widać, i o którym mówić nie wypada.

Written by unhaunting

May 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Posted in poland, politics, racism, words

Tagged with , , ,

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