EAT LIKE AN IDEALIST! – the ASSASSIN association of musical marxists reader (Book Review)

EAT LIKE AN IDEALIST!1]
Micheal Tencer and Andy Wilson (Ed.)
the ASSASSIN
association of musical marxists reader
Unkant Publishers, London 2015
ISBN 978-0-9926509-2-6

When I tell any Truth it is not for the sake of Convincing those who do not know it but for the sake of defending those who Do.
William Blake

In this loud volume swansong the Association of Musical Marxists puts its no-money where its mouth is, not for the first time. As a physical thing, the anthology is luxurious and awkward: a seductive riot (uprising, downrising, community fireworks display etc.) of Day-glo, a distracting wealth of graphic charms in an outsize paperback whose shape and weight resist distracted or any other sort of effortless reading. The hardest thing about reviewing the book was opening it on a small desk next to a desktop computer. Read it on the bus and your neighbour has to try hard not to read it too (which may well be part of the point). This is mentioned only because it has something to do with the reason a review, as opposed to an annotated track-listing, can be written at all: the anomaly whereby the mutual non-resemblance of 200+ textual and visual components is so untainted by diversity – let alone editorial broad (as in ‘Church’)-mindedness – that something can be said about the whole.2
As will surprise no-one who ever saw things two or more of the contributors made before, the agent binding their un-like materials together is the same one implied in the name of AMM publisher Unkant. Namely, practical disdain for the Mind-Thing dualism figureheaded for 200+ years by Kant of Koenigsberg3.

Yes, we dislike Kant for separating the ‘best’ in us from animals…
[…]
…on the one side, those who want to turn Marxism into a new school of refined and
educated opinion, reified ex
pertise and formalist BS; and, on the other side, us.4
By elevating imagination to a separate sphere, cultural idealism actually quarantines it, and prevents it having a productive relationship to scientific and practical endeavour.5

These axioms are not so much reiterated as played out, tested, over nearly 500 pages of entangled prose polemic, verse polemic, flyposters, flyers, musical scores, historical research, postcards, comics, exegesis, memoir, t-shirt design, book cover design, correspondence, conversation, drawing, collage, complete pamphlets, paint spatters and found things. [Read more →]

Notes from Non-Existence – Brexit vs. the Proletariat

Your country’s dead man, but your continent is soiled
– Triple Negative, Schengen Wasteman

Jay Gould may or may not actually have said ‘I can hire half of the working class to kill the other half’, but the proprietors of the UK have tested the theory successfully with their EU referendum. Not that you would know it from reading the Guardian, the Financial Times or even, sad to say, Counterpunch and the rest of the Left-wing blogobubble, where a chorus of Influencers is celebrating the 18th Brumaire of Nigel Farage.

Let me make clear what I don’t mean by that. Of course the likes of John Pilger, Michael Hudson, Tariq Ali and too many others to list are right in principle to celebrate a slap in the face of the EU manageriat and its unctuous cheerleaders. Who other than actual Eurostipendiaries would deny that the EU is an anti-democratic managerial machine built to hammer home labour discipline (sorry, ‘Competitiveness’) and ease cross-border financial looting?

But the point here is not really about whether or not the satisfaction of symbolically slapping a robot outweighs the harm done by an anti-immigrant plebiscite. What cries out louder for correction right now is the myth that the ‘leave’ vote is a victory for THE working class over ‘metropolitan elites’ and incorrigibly Scottish Scots. This matters a lot, because the metropolitan, multinational working class is being told by all sides, and at the worst possible moment, that actually we don’t exist. Worse still, myths like this tend to become self-fulfilling. Which is not to say they come true, but they become truisms to the point that they start having real effects. Like that old chestnut, ‘immigrants are to blame for other workers’ immiseration’, which we’ve just witnessed in action. [Read more →]

A Cry Against Help* & 13 Prostheses on Carelessness of the Self

Psycho-historian Chris Millard has described the clinical invention of ‘self-harm’ as a category so narrow that most cases actually treated (eg. overdoses of non-’recreational’ drugs) don’t count.** The term ‘self-harm’ becomes shorthand for young white women damaging their skin, which they do for standardized personal reasons. Impersonal reasons and anomalous personal ones are sidelined in the diagnostic process, along with atypical patients and nine tenths of the ways of physically assaulting the abstract self.

So much for the exact words.

But figurative speech serves social policing in strange ways. If the literal meaning has leaked out of self-harm over the last four decades, it has sunk deep into ordinary social management in the meantime. [Read more →]

Continuous Crisis – Historical action and passion in Antonio Negri’s Insurgencies

Judicial hermeneutics
The truism that history is written by (or rather, on behalf of) conquerors is more respectable now than ever before among Sunday supplement intellectuals.  The reason  (where it goes beyond a simple, resentful wish to damn historical analysis per se as ‘irrelevant’) seems to be that victors’ history is easily opposed to that of victims, that ill-defined class in whose name a towering moral authority can always be claimed.  If it does nothing else, Antonio Negri’s book on constituent power, recently published in English as Insurgencies, wrecks this convenient opposition.  Its Italian title translates as “constituent power: essay on the alternatives within modernity”: in the shadow of this concept, Negri outlines a modern social and political  counter-tradition which, though defeated again and again, never attains the saintly glow of victimhood, for it has never acknowledged its project to be finished with.  From Machiavelli’s citizen millitia to the LA rioters of 1992 [1.], these historical agents refuse to become patients represented by the politics of empathy. [Read more →]

SAY FEAR IS A MAN’S BEST FRIEND

You add it up it brings you down

A preoccupation with management of risk has often been observed in post-millennial culture’s efforts to express itself. The immediate past and future, however, almost belabour the point that this is not some marginal, hysterical obsession: at its disposal is all the apparatus with which constituted power’s deadly earnest will is done. April Fools’ Day 2003 heralded the third week of a total war waged pre-emptively on the pretext that a subaltern state’s remaining industrial capacity could be used in unauthorised slaughtering ventures (something true of any such infrastructure in the world). Meanwhile Britain awaits the passage of more legislation encouraging counsellors and other police to intervene, as the Home Secretary puts it, ‘before bad behaviour becomes criminal behaviour’. Blunkett’s Anti-Social Behaviour Bill deserves special mention, in fact, for its doubly anticipatory structure. The trigger for therapeutic enforcement is behaviour ‘likely to result in members of the public being intimidated, harassed, alarmed or distressed’. Here the problem is twice removed into the future tense, once in the wager ‘likely to’ and again the way ‘alarm’ and ‘distress’ imply as yet unaccomplished cruelty.
[Read more →]

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