26 December 2010

The Remergence of Ideology in the Young: technology and resistance.

My generation, those born just before or just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and those generations after; those whose’ experience of the world is wholly formed through the internet and the absence of fear of annihilation, those whose education has been wholly Post-Modern. We were supposed to be the truly relativist generation, and we are; a true product of our upbringing. However that seems to be changing, the relativist point of view is subsiding into a marsh of idealism, a resurgence of dreams and action. Its impossible to sit at the computer and watch videos of the young literally fighting for the right to return to free-of-charge education and not see an ideology or belief in the hearts and minds of this so called generation-X.
If one is to watch this little speech, from some 15 year old toff (most have probably seen it, but bear with me) you can see a real passion burning. Watch it (again) now, but pay special attention at 4:05 minutes in:

For those that missed it he says:
“Hundreds of people joined a facebook group, school students joined a facebook group in solidarity with RMT members on strike. …”
This is an important sentence if we are to understand the reemergence of idealism within the young. What he says here is something quite profound. He accepts the equality of the virtual support of the RMT to be equal to the physical support of joining the picket lines. The speaker recognises no inferiority in communication and mobilization through online resources; particularly one website normally slandered by older generations as a waste of time and minds. This may seem like a tiny point, however I would argue it was fundamental to understanding our and future generations outlook on the world; a natural equality between virtual and physical realities. This inherent understanding of new mediums of communication harbours a newness, an ability to fight through channels and systems never before imagined or understood.
Despite this, in the face of the hike in university tuition fees, we see the young’s move out of relativism returning to an old paradigm of idealism; a socialist one.
The problem with socialist protest is it takes positive freedom to heart; its belief in “right” at the expense of others and their beliefs. It understands sacrifices must be made in order to achieve victory. And in so being it is, and has always been, a first and unknown step towards Totalitarianism. Those born in previous generations, those who badge themselves as socialists or otherwise; those who the young resistance look up to and have turned to, stemming from their own lack of experience in ideology, are the failed revolutionaries of old. Those the young are turning to for guidance are those whose’ methodologies for change essentially predate the first world war.
Our generation understands this new world in away those older generation can not comprehend, and can never fully relate to. As we have seen from our young speaker above we have the potential to open new modes of communication and resistance. Yet to date we have continued to take to the street like our fathers and mothers did to fight the poll tax. Yes they won that fight, but nothing since. We must shake off the shackles of old forms of resistance and look into ourselves to understand what can be done now. We must not let ourselves be haunted by the methodolgies of the past.
As Billy Bragg notes:
This is the first generation to have the opportunity to create a form of socialism that is not tainted by totalitarianism. Those of us who fought the Tories in the dying days of the last century should listen and learn.”
When Marx wrote Capital everything was so expensive as to out price the majority of society. Now, now we must grapple with the rise of Free. The companies of the internet have turned to and embraced free and it doesn’t take a giant leap of faith to envisage the spread of this phenomenon. The world has changed; we are new, to respond in any way other than a new one is but futile.
Perhaps its time to understand that media representations of violence, and of images of the young dressed as the old, turns away many, and instead perhaps we should try and win friends and not enemies. To win the hearts and minds of all classes and all creeds, to not alienate any group, and let them ride with us. Free at the point of entry needn’t be a cause for only the few or for the righteous, it should be a priority for the rich and the poor, it represent our collective future. No one must be left behind. Everyone has the potential to believe, no casualties are acceptable.

We are the generation that can make this happen. 

Not our answer.


9 December 2010

Free, Free & Free; a question of paradox

As Chris Anderson notes in the opening of “Free: The future of a radical price”, the notion of Free in the English language is, in essence, confused. Derived from two Latin words “Liber” (meaning freedom and liberty, Duh) and “Gratis” (meaning without recompense or no price, duh) the bastard that is English at some point stuck them together, their meanings distinct yet permanently connected. This collision of meaning still haunts the term, compounded further by the commodification of everything in the post-industrial capitalist west, the idea of liberty seems difficult to separate from understandings of economy (I’m hesitant to ‘deploy’ the word markets as its well loaded nah).
This confusion of terms is topical; the activists protesting the end of education (whoops, fell off the fence), seem unable or perhaps unwilling to separate the meanings. The argument to make education without charge, aka Free, is being tied totally to the idea of education being an instrument of personal and socio-political liberty. The two notions of free are osciliated between often at a speed of several switches per sentence.
Is this a bad thing?
Maybe not. The advantage of using the word free in the English language is that you get to play with which conception of free you are using, and that you can use one to benefit the other endlessly; after all Free is awesomely powerful. But its also awesomely dangerous; once you being to play with liberty you enter its deadly paradox; to even try to enforce liberty/freedom is to destroy it. It is the most fragile of ideas, broken by so much as a wrong thought.
The climate camp protestors, sorry, occupationary activists have to make a decision over what freedom they are fighting for; we all do. If their fight is economic then that is one thing. If however it resides within a question of liberty and ones entitlement to it then you run the risk of making the mistake of every revolutionary group since the dawn of civilization: excluding people, impinging others and prohibiting activities. As someone probably dead once said “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” and the same is historically true with insurrectionists and their claims to liberty.
To those who rightly support a gratis system of education I ask you to question the communist motives behind many activists and their supporters; do not be fooled by their claims to liberty. They are not righteous.
Afterall, there are good things that can be done with a non state-run education, there is a possibility of liberty with the opening up to the markets (whoops). Afterall many of the west’s most profitable companies charge nothing for their goods or services. Whats the point of this blog post? Same as crossing the road,
Obligatory picture of French revolutionary violence

3 December 2010

The Spirit of Perception Management

I REALLY like the term: “Perception Management”.
Its got a really nice white collar middle management kind of feel to it. You can imagine it being deployed in a customer services training session at a coffee shop chain or in advertising briefings. Well that’s because it is. But the term’s insidious roots lie in government departments who’s role is to “up the threat” of things in order to get populations to support their government and be fearful of things. After all, a population in fear requires a strong government to make them feel safer.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the uncompromising victory of Democratic Capitalism and the rise of the internet perception management by governments doesn’t seem to work so well. Mr Blair tried to tell us Sadam had WMDs and we should go to war. We didn’t believe him and we didn’t want to go to war (we still did though, but the point is we didn’t believe the perception that was being pushed on us). This is down to a plethora of reasons including independent news, governments own strategies to individualise their populations and the free and limitless access to information online and so on. The point however is that these big scare mongering tactics of governments aren’t so effective these days, we don’t believe what our governments tell us. Even this whole terrorism lark; we just do it buy it in the way previous generations feared what was behind the Iron Curtain.

So today whilst researching for an Essay on Truth I cam across a fantastic little blog on the “real truth” (which in itself is an amazing term). Here’s what its author, Mr J Adams has to say about himself on his blog: the spirit of truth

 “In 1991, during the first Gulf War, I had a prophetic vision of a future Mideast war and global nuclear Apocalypse in connection with my studies of long-wave patterns of history. This vision led me to uncover how Russia is underhandedly plotting to conquer the world via a surprise nuclear war against the West that will be started in such a manner that the misled world will blame 'The Jews' and America for causing the global holocaust of mass destruction. In reality, however, the Kremlin is guilty for this ultimate act of premeditated mass murder. I believe I'm here to prosecute the evildoers accordingly.”

This “straight-out-of-the-80s-bollocks” is like a super aggressive in your face perception management, or perhaps more accurately perception management. It reads like a man who is scared, scared of the lack of an enemy, a man who has to invent an enemy to allow himself to exist in the modern era; unable to cope with the fall of the war an a new analogue relationship to truth.

Despite being a right pillock, he has brought together some amazing Youtubes for his conspiracy theory. This is a great one. Presented as if the end of the world, this incredibly mediocre news story demonstrates a very interesting relationship between governments and truth.

I’ll be following this blog closely over the next few months.

Race to the finish.

2 December 2010

Breakdance Party

This week I found myself at the UAL student union in Holborn long after dark had engulfed the area. Having successfully evaded security’s questions over whether or not I was actually a student I entered a room full of people that looked like a cross between a film set and a beasties boys concert in the 80s.
It was a “break dance” party.
Whatever that is I am not quite sure, but it was less like:

and more like:

but where everyone was dressed more like:

Okay, maybe not quite like that, but any opportunity, right?

But what this mind boggaling event made think, was how strong is the relationship between ‘cool’ and Irony? There is no doubt in my mind that since the 80s notions of cool have been linked to ironic recyclings of more mainstream / past / ‘lame’ cultures, and that this practise is probably now more prevalent than ever. Those so called Shoreditch looks that go on to inspire high street fashion megaliths are located in so many times and localities that a single influence is impossible to pin down. The important point it would seem is that its not really what you wear, but the Ironic nature with which you wear it.
For those rubbish LCC students that like to attend break-dancing parties in SU’s; I am sorry.

Collaging Truth pt2

Digital Collage