Tag Archives: Capitalism

Units

I am not together with time

Not togetherness brought on by common desire of liberation and love and lust

For one blended mass

But against an anxiety or failure,

An anxiety of failure, an anxiety at the inevitability of failure no matter what

No if or how or when we do as we do we must always do.

Be more,

Be on the move, extending our skillsets

Capabilities to success

To

This for

That

There is no solution

There is no positive program

They are words dead and immobile and insincere in their warming homely logic,

Evaporating from lips as one more cold porcelain urn tips out ash on an anonymous body of water and small brass plaques explain “She loved this place”

You have freedom from  toxic death outsourced and displaced to elsewhereland,

A freedom of the comforting and comfortable and comforted conforming cabals of five-story new-build keycard entry apartment apparatus

Floating heavy in the foggy twilight of plenty

The money bubble vexing, veiling every boxed, dead life.

Dead and live again

Dead and live again

Shuffling from nine to unit time of five and back again.

Out  through the long concrete grass

Out into the hinterland

Passed out into units units units

Trading estates and enterprise zones,

Amputated labour

Prosthetic capital

Anxious again awaiting the call

You must always be on the lookout for opportunity 

And maybe then to be motioned, ushered upwards towards brochure-red brick unit with white plastic door,

With white plastic window frame and

White plastic interior design photoshopped

Ushered into the concentric circles

Occasional trees off a trunk road and roundabout,

Arterial road and roundabout.

Trunk and artery and roundabout and cul-de-sac

You are re-located attractive package to transmit you and yours back and forth,

And back and forth from nine to unit time of five and longer now

Back again, your image metastasising

Your unit grows.

Slowly overproducing the image of you

Slowly overconsuming the image of you

Slowly, slowly

Imperceptibly larger by the day

The fat little tumor of your unit

You will be all you can be

In your hallways and on your stairs and by your beds the photographs hang like fascist totems.

Silent smiles and nods to nuclearity

To still-born sanity and regularity

Of you and her and her and little-then-larger his and her replication of you and her and once and once and twice again in the delivery room you wait.

On the factory floor you wait.

In the call centre cubicle you wait.

In the open plan office you wait.

At the transport hub you wait

I must always be ready.

And you are all you can be

But your memory will not outlast time

Your cells will destabilise

Your unit will destabilise

Your mind will run out

And time will outlast your children too

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Rioting and social meaning.

Without wanting to add to the enjambment of talking heads filling the airwaves, proffering immediate reactive grist to the 24hr news mill, I would say a couple of things.

That roaming, swarms of teenagers and young people, male and female, and, crucially black and white (despite the shameful, racist attempts by the right wing press and commentators to paint this as exclusively “black” behavior) should rampage through large swathes of London engaging, primarily, in the looting of shops for private gain, is instructive of the nature of the events themselves.

This is to say that these riots differ fundamentally from the riots in Brixton, Toxteth and Broadwater Farm in the 1980’s which were clearly identifiable as caused by an antagonistic and racially toxic relationship between the police and impoverished urban communities.  Where those riots involved the communities at large and of all ages, whereas these seem to involve, almost exclusively, the young.

The economic dimension of the trouble cannot be overlooked, although the simplistic “liberal/underlying social causes/deprivation” vs “reactionary/lazy shiftless criminality” binary does little to illuminate and everything to obscure.  The overriding visual trope of the events has been of young people looting goods/money etc… that would be inaccessible to them normally.

To escape this kind of binary, addressing the riots on a systemic level may be more fruitful.  This is to say, that the economic paradigm which Britain has wedded itself to since the dissolving of the post-war settlement in the early 1980’s, promotes and enforces one single frame of identity, behavior and measurement above all others:  Consumption.

This is to say that one’s primary identity is that of consumer, the country’s economic success (and that of it’s politicians) stands and falls on levels of  consumption and consumer confidence.  When consumption falls, we are, de facto in a state of crisis.

The individuals engaging in the mass looting of electrical outlets, sports shops and jewelers are engaging in behavior which is reinforced by the culture in which they have been surrounded throughout their lives.  This is not as those on the right fantasise, the “black gangster” culture, rather the culture of capitalism itself.

This outbreak of violent, acquisitive psychosis is not an aberration, rather an entirely foreseeable consequence of a society and economic system which teaches, above all, that one’s entire social role, achievement, life as such is defined by one’s role as consumer;  by what, how and the extent to which one can consume.  When the means (capital) to achieve, what Veblen termed Conspicuous Consumption is placed out of reach either by lack of educational or employment opportunities, economic depression etc.. and yet the cultural drive to consumption, perpetuated by the advertising, marketing and media industries persists, the inevitable  dissonance which follows always has the potential to turn violent.

Unfortunately, all that this seems to have achieved is to provide the reactionary Right with precisely the excuse they need to further step up surveillance, militarization of urban space and retrenchment of civil liberties.  The worrying trending of #sendinthearmy over the last couple of days is, likewise indicative of this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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