Nobody I know really wants to talk about what’s real and what’s impersonal: debt bubbles, how the economy has changed from the 70’s. I listen to people blab back and forth trumpeting their precious opinions like no one’s every been as clever and witty as they are…so naturally any conversation a person could have about politics results in each person trying to drown the other person out. When will they realize that politics has nothing to do with their egos, or what they think is fair or normal. And then they’re have the gall to call socialists idealistic…when it’s them who think that the world runs on the axis of their own opinions. The only thing capitalism does is transform things and they’ve decided to make a stand for some arbitrary distinction in a moving world. God bless their precious little opinions and the people made them feel like they’re the center of the universe. Honestly I imagine that’s how you effectively rule a democracy: encourage everyone to have opinions but keep changing the society as a whole so nothing serious enough or informed enough can really affect its operation.
Two very important ideas that Taoists think about the universe: 1) Everything is always and already changing into everything else, and 2) Ideas, thoughts and words do not actually exist. Blending ideas 1 and 2 together, because everything is changing, what we consider real is only our version of reality. By the time you’ve wrapped your head around something, it’s already changed into something else. We can look at someone and call them a man or woman, but that’s only temporary. So take with me this idea that because everything is temporary, what you think reality is says much more about what you think it is rather than what it is.
From that idea, let’s go to capitalism. Like everything else, capitalism doesn’t exist. It’s a system of thoughts that people keep in their heads. It’s an idea, and like all other ideas, illustrates what the viewer thinks the world is like but not what the world is like at all. So what does it take to make a turkey sandwich? A turkey, food for the turkey, a butcher, wheat, a baker, a truck to bring them all to you, and let’s not forget, the sun and the existence of a planet that can support life on it. But if you were to ask someone else, they’d say five dollars and someone to make it for you. Money is in it’s own world. It doesn’t care about the forces of creation that bring breakfast to it. It’s very, very possible to walk around capitalist society and not know that your food and that your life by extension is powered by the sun, and you think that you power your own life because you’ve managed to earn these strange green, cottony pieces of cloth called “dollars”. And that’s the reason why we’ve got this environmental crisis, it’s because we’re too busy believing that money is real but don’t know enough about the lives of bees, ants and trees.
so TLDR – Capitalism is barrier to actually understanding the forces of creation. Dollars don’t even exist. We made them up. When people confuse reality for fiction in their love lives, it can be painful. When people confuse reality for fiction and then base the operations of their society upon it, disaster will come.
I would also say that the problems with political correctness are as follows:
1) It forces you to speak not from your own experience, but from a “mutually” agreed upon image of races. I think this is repressing freedom. You speak from the outside in, society first, then you, rather than you first, then society. Those images may not even be correct, we may just be choking on simulacra.
2) For fear of saying the wrong thing, it keeps people away from the real struggles of real people. If we were to ask a polite gathering of liberals why ghetto black people stay poor and ghetto and black, if they didn’t actually know, they’d come up with bullshit, rather than admit that they don’t know. It penalizes ignorance and encourages speculation.
Okay so yes I and many others can see how self-care oozes with neoliberal values, but I certainly don’t want the opposite and then claim that it’s revolutionary in some way or another. A lack of self care doesn’t make you a rebel, this isn’t the Salt March, no one gives a shit if you eat nothing but Doritos for a year. I think what you have to do is to take the bait but not the hook, ie you should take care of yourself by eating kale and running and going outside more and all that good stuff without ever believing that just doing those things solves the health issues where you live. We have to get properly postmodern about health. If things don’t have pure essences, then kale and yoga aren’t inherently “ideological” to use Zizek’s language.
I mean hell, health is a class issue that poor people should definitely get behind. We need to take back health and fitness from personal responsibility. Jesus Christ there is nothing wrong with eating more vegetables and going to the gym. Self-care is only bourgeois because the bourgeois have the time to afford it.
I’m not sure about these claims that “capitalism wants this” or “ideology wants that”. I can see pretty clearly that yoga and meditation and mindfulness teach people to treat themselves before treating the world, and it’s become a bit of an upper class thing to go to yoga and be seen in your activewear, and you want people admiring your gains so I can see how it maintains the functioning of capitalism. But bodegas and food deserts also serve capitalism in an opposite direction. Dependency on your corner store makes you a return customer, and there’s a lot of money to be made in an apathetic people who are letting people swindle them out of their health. Who wins, the capitalists promoting health, or the capitalists promoting ill health? I’m struggling with this language of capitalism “wanting” things. Honestly just sounds like a lefty reification of The Market.
Reification is a society-wide process where one person assumes something is real that isn’t. Like you say about nature, we think about “the market”. The market wants this, the market wants that, but it’s bigger than that.
To reify something is like to cast it into law, to make it permanent, almost like you’re taking ephemeral, concepty air and turning it into rock. It’s like to make something real. It’s important to note that when reification isn’t a solitary activity; so using a famous example from Althusser, when you’re walking down the street and you hear a police siren and a man yell “Hey you!”, when you turn around, you are reifying the policeman’s right to yell at you.
But how would I explain this to a small child with a concussion? I would say that the adult world is no more delusional than the children’s world. We still have invisible friends, we just call them commodities.
Postmodernism means A LOT OF DIFFERENT SHIT, so hold on to your buttholes, kids. Let’s start with what it is not: modernism. Modernism is also another word that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, like artists, historians, philosophers, etc, but I’m gonna go ahead and keep talking because fuck it!
Modernism is basically everything from 1600 to 1975. In this fucking time period people had a number of interesting beliefs, like that there is an objective truth, that people can be trusted for being rational actors, there are universal features across different cultures, people have things called “rights” and it’s fucked up when you violate them, and there isn’t a problem that science can’t explain, and that European civilization is the same thing as progress. All of these ideas are outcomes of the biggest circlejerk in all of history, The Enlightenment, when all the rich-ass nice guys from all the corners of the land decided to say fuck religion’s control on society, and fuck the king too, I can think for myself and I want to live in a society where decisions are made by thinking them out.
Post modernism is not that. Postmodernism calls all of that a sham. Objectivity, truth, rights, progress, all illusions. Postmodern critics like Foucault point out that the truth is always the truth of whoever’s in charge, and postmodern artists like Andy Warhol usher in a new age of thinking about meaning as a whole. An easy way of thinking about postmodern is the difference between parody and pastiche, or mashups, if you can’t be fucking bothered to learn a new fucking word. Parody is using a piece of media in a place where it’s not supposed to be and this clash between what it’s supposed to be and where it is is what’s funny. So if I were to sing the Star Spangled Banner and replace all the words with how much America sucks, that’s parody. But if I were to take the Star Spangled Banner and just use it any time at all in any other location, like in a mashup, that’s pastiche. In pastiche, an object’s essence is depleted. It no longer has any rules for how it can be used.
So in general, you know all those BIG ideas you have that organize every other idea you have? Stop using them, shred them into pieces, now they’re only as good for their scrap parts. That’s postmodernism. (Also another reason why deconstuctionism is called deconstructionism!)
Articles like this appear around the internet every time a new movie becomes big. Critical theorist bloggers preach to not be swayed by the new movie, don’t go to see it, don’t enjoy it, it is actually a piece of capitalist media aiming to subvert your anti-capitalist spirit with false messages. The Interview is about the impotency of communism, American Sniper overflows with imperialist sentiment, Django Unchained is a world where collective revolution is impossible, false consciousness abounds. The remedy for this, the bloggers remind the reader, is a different ending where revolution, properly executed according to a specific theoretical outlook, resolves the conflict of the film. I don’t know what these writers are expecting, it seems like none of these bloggers can enjoy a movie without it ending in revolution or class struggle done specifically as they would like it, because as soon as they hit publish other bloggers pile on in to take cracks at it and to accuse the author of false consciousness themselves, because apparently being anti-empire for the wrong reasons is as bad as being a stormtrooper. This is what happens with false consciousness arguments: everyone who’s not you must be brainwashed. And these types of articles ignore the actual sentiments the movie is trying to appeal to. Would you really see a version of Star Wars spent in the countryside teaching the countryfolk revolutionary theory? (Wait, wrong crowd, I mean, I know WE would but how about normal people? Who want to see explosions and something exciting?) And then the author writes back arguing the specifics of their point until I’ve lost interest and then the whole thing repeats itself in a couple of months, while the movie makes millions at the box office. I think we need better tactics.