the chic-sters

Is there an alternative to free market capitalism? The issues that are feeding dissent have not faded. In fact, the global tendency for “austerity” measures will only reinforce them, since austerity as put into practice is a tax on the poor, effectively a transfer of wealth from disadvantaged to the wealthy, the financial sector in particular that needs alms of the lowly to correct its mistakes, build the famous “firewalls” that will permit a kiss-off and booting out of the poorer peripheral nations after they have been buggered and abused.  Despite the cycle of consumerism, there is a radical counterculture that transgresses the boundaries between liberal American culture and radical politics, and is filling or flowing into the cracks caused by the stress fractures and frittering away of the nation state ideal, technological unemployment, and Wall street picking over any dead and dying carcass to fill their coffers.

---The wooden box in the photograph, with a light inside and an open door, is an art installation--a political art work, explains the artist, 30-year-old Francesco Arena, born in Brindisi. Arena has reconstructed the prison cell on Via Montalcino where Aldo Moro was hidden in Rome for 55 days, or until his murder thirty years ago. The room is accurate down to the exact size and interior decor, with gray linoleum on the floor and a plywood divider creating two claustrophobic cells. Inside also are a chemical toilet and toilet paper, pen and a ream of paper, a bottle of mineral water, a fan, a tiny bed, a little table. The disquieting installation is on view in a chic new Roman art gallery on Via Somalia owned by the Nomas Foundation, set up by an art collector couple, Stefano Sciarretta, 47, and his wife Raffaella Frascarelli, 43. In the installation, called "3.24 sq. m.", "the spectator is always an accomplice," writes critic Stefano Chiodi. Arena's container evokes the myriad mysteries still surrounding this whole event, whose full workings are only now being understood. Read More:

From Andrew Potter ( see link). Basically written from the position of a liberal reformer that critiques a kind of false transgression at the edge of excessive artifice. A frontier where kitsch and the truth stare at each other. It does show the force of suffocating social constraints that neuter transgressive tendencies:

We are by now all familiar with the concept of rebel consumerism: the way the desire to stand out from the crowd, to not be one of the masses, drives the increasingly rapid turnover of trends in consumer culture, from music to fashion to sports to social causes. But as the various strains of the counterculture congealed into the jello-mould mass mainstream consumer culture from the late sixties through to the late 1990s, it became easy to treat almost all forms of consumer-based status-seeking as variations on that same theme — shoehorning the subversive political posturing of the antiglobalists, the mumbled ironies of the hipsters, and the earnest authenticities of Portlandia into the same explanatory schema. And it works, for the most part. But what gets lost along the way are the more wonderfully conceited variations on that general theme….

Aron Kay. Read More:

…One such example is the phenomenon of radical chic. We all think we know what it means: the guy at the Santana concert in the Che t-shirt, or the dude who wears the kaffiyeh in your International Development class. But as coined by Tom Wolfe, radical chic had a more pointed reference. It didn’t refer to your standard-issue undergraduate-level political agitation, but rather to the distinctively frivolous form it takes amongst the upper classes. For Wolfe, the point was to lampoon the especially preposterous ways the rich engage in radical chic only insofar as it raises their social standing amongst other members of Society. Wolfe’s classic example was Leonard Bernstein hosting a fundraising party for the Black Panthers.

Ben Shahn. Read More:

But what if? What if there is radical upheaval, and five years from now there is no more public corporations, globalization is dead, colonilism is finished, rogue states are nice guys n’ gals and politics is straight as an arrow? What happens to commodified dissent? How do Naomi Klein and Michael Moore recycle themselves? Probably, there will never be such a world. Corporations might vanish, but it seems that some form of oppressive control is our lot. All roads to Hell are paved with good intentions. State Socialism collapsed and is not the answer. Ultimately, the hope lies in a re-awakening of a new version of the pioneer spirit that will pitch this global industrial plutocracy, intrinsically undemocratic, technocratic management, into the same deep hole that Communism got sucked into. The best we can ever hope is for individuals and approachable businesses and business models engaged with one another out of free will based on self-interest with a coating of community consciousness.

The argument of Potter and say Thomas Frank is that rebel culture can be equated with social capital.It can be a conservative ideology in that whoever accumulates the most social capital is perceived to be hipper, cooler, permitting a climbing up the social ladder and the assumption that social capital is transferable to business capital. Dissent is a commodity. The general mechanics are intuitively correct, but the devil is in the variety of the species that leave the game, rejoin, drop out, etc.

---As Manning would have it, at the time of his assassination, Malcolm X had all but abandoned Black nationalism, and had instead become a pragmatic, liberal humanist, with social democratic political leanings. As several critics have already pointed out, this character bears a striking resemblance to Manning himself. Paraphrasing Patrick Moyniham, although Manning is unquestionably entitled to his own opinion, he is not entitled to his own facts. And the fact stands that the document that most clearly reflects Malcolm’s political philosophy and programmatic orientation at the time of his death was the Program of the Organization of Afro-American Unity. This program is without question a revolutionary nationalist program.--- Read More:

There is not much economic  in radical economic and political change, at least in the short term, so this may explain these compelling but incomplete theories of which the

ence of nihilism is both an advantage yet also a reinforcer of existing tensions. Ultimately, there is no reason to rebel if  reform is the only goal. Hence, the argument tends to navigate towards a concept whereby counter-culture in the West is only an expression of deviancy, which downplays the issue of spreading radical cultures of dissent which are real.

Potter: You don’t get a lot of radical chic anymore — the upper classes are too busy still trying to be cool. But every now and then something happens that reminds you that no one does absurd politics better than the rich….

The girl reminds me of the Bauhaus, the la-di-da costume parties they held, the way their ideas were incorporated into fascism; also this image of polarities reminds me of Zimbardo's Stanford experiments... click for image source

…Take a look at the top of this post of the Girl in the Green Hat, who became the poster child for last fall’s Occupy Wall Street Movement. There’s a lot to love in this picture: for starters, there’s the who-gives-a-fuck smirk on the girl, contrasted with the grim, no-funny-stuff look on the cop’s face. But most of all it’s the goofball outfit on the girl: the hoodie, the hair, and that awesome hat. Thanks in large part to this picture, those hats became part of the standard uniform of occupy protesters around the world. Read More:

Counter culture is more of a decision not to participate. The Timothy Leary drop out idea. – when William Burroughs advertises Apple Computer is that a drop-in?- But its not necessarily radical culture which is anchored in a more profound desire for change. True dissent and not deviance labeled and peddled as dissent. True dissent is incarnated in an energy that is often destructive and violent.

Ron English. Click Image for Source

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