…Nothing will ever be as nice again, or as good, as it was when one was seventeen.
The paradoxes and contradictions of the post-industrial “occupy” culture, the anti-one-percenters, is a kind of resignation and despair that so many pleasures are intimately connected with a form of society they feel to be oppressive. Internet cable providers, Wi-Fi, Smart phones, the entire digital commons culture, social media and so on, seen to have been integral in the Arab spring and overall popular dissent: yet they are controlled by corporations against which they should be rebelling. The spectacle of simple living and the cult of nature, but surrounded by the debris of wants, desires, and the quest for authenticity bears melancholy witness to the paradox. There is no absolute escape, a turning back to what is seen as an idyllic past, and it is not even certain that the refugees from the power structure would so wish.
The Chris Hedges and Slavoj Zizek’s, Naomi Klein’s et alls are like Theodore Roszak and Charles Reich of the sixties. All attempts to establish a theoretical basis for the internal emigration of the malcontented to produce a City of God alongside the secular, market driven state. Effectively, we are talking of an industry of dissent, another Golden Calf and new variation of the old theme of idolatry. Unlike Saint Augustine’s massive construction of a countersociety, the current offerings are marked by impermanence, built in obsolescence. It would seem some religiou or philosophical imperative stronger than that gained from a reading of Kahlil Gibran, Hannah Arendt, Frantz Fanon, or Guy Debord is also required.
In fact, our society is even more pervasive than the bureaucracy of the later Roman Empire. No revolt can help much. The individual will have to live with their claustrophobia: the contemporary power structure looks positively benign when compared to the tyrannies of old. Brook Fram, the Egyptian monks of the Thebaid, are hardly a solution in an age when technology is forcing upon each of us an increased social responsibility. That such responsibility can seem crushing is undoubted. That it has to be assumed is a condition of life. The followers of Saint Anthony, after all, eventually emerged from their deserts to change and humanize society.