TOTW: Mainstream Culture and Politics

  • Posted on: 7 October 2018
  • By: thecollective

This week we're taking a look at mainstream culture and politics. How are things looking from your point-of-view?

What is your relationship like to mainstream culture and politics in and outside of anarchism?

Is it by choice or because of other obligations, like work, family, and friends? Should anarchists be more and less involved in these more mainstream cultural and political activities? What does participating vs. spectating vs. keeping track of look like? How is your anarchist practice defined by the mainstream (the news cycle, the topics of the day, popular culture)? Is your affinity group organizing around mainstream issues? Is it selling out, just surviving, getting to know your enemy, or simply becoming what you hate?

And on the other end, are you distancing yourself from mainstream society and it’s day-to-day grind? What does that look like and how has it been? What can anarchists learn from this?

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Comments

I've been trying to get through to these idiots for years - since 2009, every year I've asked the US govt to surrender to the anarchic internet - that's nine times!
All they have to do is release all the Drug War prisoners and bring back the PAM FutureMap website to handle the rest. I know the USG doesn't represent the whole " Military-Entertainment-Complex " ( for want of a better term ) but when they surrender to us then the rest of the world should quickly follow suit.
If I could only find some really egotistical anarchists, sure in their innate superiority!
Alas - everywhere I look I only find defeatists, retreaters and craven cowards.
But I still have faith in our victory - for the last fifty years technological-determinism has been working towards anarchism.

It's definitely useful to pay attention to mainstream politics in order to understand context. Watching and understanding the evolution of the mechanisms of social control is important for - to use a buzzword - praxis. I prefer to understand macro trends rather than individual news stories.

But christ on a crutch there are so many anarchists caught in the trap of oppositional politics. That's the reason why there's are anarchists in the DSA, for example. This politics is full of contradictions that are brushed aside because whatever's happening on the news at any given moment is THE MOST IMPORTANT STRUGGLE! It's what happens when one allows the MSM to frame their worldview. This fallacy is spectacle 101. The high school stoners pictured above have a much better grasp on this than the participants in any given anti-oppression workshop. The current political moment is revealing how limited crimethinc's approach of vague anti-authoritarianism tackling the issue of the day is. Anarchist language has been generalized while the content has been watered down to the level of homeopathy.

p.s. I still really like crimethinc's in depth historical pieces. They do shine in the right light.

Also listen to working Class History podcasts

Its going along fine, don't interfere, the laws of entropy will deal out what has to be reaped in the end. We'll enjoy our compassionate nihilist individuality and essential beingness above the libidinal ignorant hordes, nursing them when we can, killing them with kindness and empathy, just to spite the tyrants!! The masses will be better of in the end if we give them free licence, and our consciences will be impeccably immaculate and noble In the process. Live and let live for the eternal Now!

I pay attention to any signs of life, even something as limited as DSA, which now has over 50,000 members (30%-40% of them active).
But the Mainstream is busy whooshing down the vast Toilet of History, and few people have any grasp of the deeply radical changes needed to avert this. Fewer still are down for what I'm doing, which is why I can have hundreds of square miles of forest to myself.
If something the Mainstream Media would cliché as "mass mysticism" began, then I would REALLY take notice.

i listen to npr on the way to work. that's enough to keep tabs. the bigger problem is that i still have to go to work! or more to the point, that i have to go AND the job doesn't offer any opportunity to expropriate skills/materials and get away from it all. this occupies my thoughts more. i'd rather learn skills, any and all of which have uses. my current job, and most jobs, are in conflict with this. organizations, including radical ones, are counter-dependent and annoying. organizations don't teach skills either--they just demand your name and attendance. organizations are like jobs. on a similar note, sure, fight the proud boys, make them eat pavement, but the cops are still telling you all what to do and determine how it's gonna go. npr = nazi public relations. cops/npr/klan hand-in-hand. don't fuck with any of it too much.

You have to be aware of these things to see the state of society and look for those small opportunities to take advantage of. Yet things like the prison strike get minimum attention. Political parties used to have a broad spectrum of views . But now it it is just the moderates and left or right. Libertarians, Greens, and DSA will not fill in this void. Sad to see that letter writing and book stores are dying out.

FAr better to read the news from the previous week when it loses its energy and can see the trends

I'm all about that sweet, sweet russian propaganda these days!

I mean, sure, they don't ever criticize Putin but he's so Game of Thrones with his public executions and poisonings and death squads, etc. SO last century, what else is there to say?

But watching Chris Hedges rant about people shooting up in the elevator of Trump's derelict casino?! THATS SOME MURIKA!

The minute you engage with those lobotomites, you've already lost. Unless it affects me, its spectacle.

neil postman’s “amusing ourselves to death,” is a good read and still an accurate assesment of today’s media landscape.

i don’t think it’s good to externalize our central nervous systems by amplification so continuously throughout the day and blue light invading night and sleep.

the news presents a heightened reality.

i’ve turned a lot of it off. and i regularly travel.

speaking to those around me still plugged in on the daily (their ages don’t even matter) people seem very narrowly fearful of the world. traveling has helped shape my understanding of people and cultures. most of my fears are gone. the world isn’t such a scary place. we’re staring at a light screen looping projections of an unreal world and it’s as mentally warping as a funhouse mirror. most of the time life for average people is pretty banal. the fear induced is misplaced, miss-directed. it’s so disproportionate to actually lived experience. i find people irl much less hostile, helpful and polite, and not so polarized as we see and are told they are online.

i once read an article years ago and someone wrote that “all culture is to become advertising.”

a complex society is hard to manage. it cannot be predicted. that’s why we hear about ‘pre-emptive’ measures to corral and control. fear keeps people in their place. risk aversion is a helpful loophole to profits the same as dopamine and FOMO. they both can be gamed, and gamed well (sadly).

i see us coming to some cultural stagnation. a world that changes to keep everything in its place to be the same is a world where people seem increasingly powerless over their lives.

and that means life loses its meaning.

so, the news/media?

we are presented a bunch of abstract information for which it is impossible to act on.

A great point! You're totally on to something but the good news is I don't think it's a fixed state. I'm actually able to swap between these mindsets and feel them quite distinctly. When I'm outside, away from the devices for many hours or even a few days, my dynamic thinking and perception of my surroundings sharpens up and it "feels right", presumably something closer to our hunter/gatherer brains optimal state.

The devices induce a sort of trance state over time, your anxiety is triggered more easily and abstract analysis seems to improve a bit for me, good for writing and deep thinking. But generally, my thinking gets sluggish, defaults to hostility and can't cope as well with sudden changes in the environment. Similar to being sedated, various "downer" drugs.

So I can control this to some extent because I'm aware of it but the implications for mass society are pretty obvious. Our devices are likely intense to keep us in a torpor while the world burns, therefore only longterm disruptions to the power grid would break the spell in any meaningful way.

^intended, not intense

Didnt read the article,

Just wanted to say I love you guys because you're legit and every comrade needs hope that the "movement" is alive. I'll never quit - or give up - and I hope you dont either. I even love Emile.

*emile pouts, takes selfie, and then begins furiously typing on keyboard*

I've had to withdraw from most mainstream real-world spaces because of surveillance, security measures, and intolerance for anything that deviates from a very narrow norm. Only times I engage are literally survival-oriented. Internet's a different matter because I can still hide and pick my spaces to some degree. But the tide of conduct codes has made these spaces increasingly difficult as well. I use mainstream news and academic writings because there just isn't enough alt stuff to understand the state of the world with. It's usually easy enough to edit for bias, though infuriating to read.

It's still possible to have conversations with individuals but it's very difficult to encounter them outside the groupthink of consensus culture. On rare occasions where I can get normies on their own, it's easy to get through to them to some extent. Most of them have shit lives and it only takes a little nudge to get them thinking about the reasons for this. But the more political types are locked into groupthink and any challenge to what they believe produces an outpouring of rage and personal attack. Same thing whether they're Fox News-heads and Trumpers, idpol "left", or neoliberal "centre". You disagree with them = you're a criminal, a threat, evil, should be locked up etc. Seems even worse on the internet than online. I've not yet had a useful discussion with normies on news comments or Reddit-style sites, and I've mostly given up trying. I've actually had more useful discussions on the chans, where at least people say what they think.

I joined a voluntary group helping sick people just to get out of the unreal network world of disconnected people in little screen bubbles. Even the groups religious beliefs is nothing to me, my nihilism can have me singing along the morning gospel song heartedly so that I am accepted more readily, and they don't pry into my real nihilistic atheist view, anyway it has nothing to do with the job at hand, in a way the religion is just a morale boosting tool for them, in the same way my scepticism is for me, as long as the sick are taken care of, nothing else matters, most of all paradoxes. Its fun getting out amongst the common people and connecting with their banal yet interesting lives.,.

An excellent read is "Natives" by Akala published 2018. Just finished reading it. For people outside the UK, this book presents a perspective not broadcasted on mainstream media. It's an articulate well-written book which flows with some nicely positioned sarcastic humour.

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