Menu Home

The hollowness of cultural politics 

In complete agreement with this. From Riots and Political Protest, by Simon Winlow, Steve Hall, Daniel Briggs and James Treadwell, pg 7:

The idea that constantly challenging what are often incautiously deemed to be aspects of cultural hegemony is a political act in itself, insofar as it will clear away ideological obfuscation and allow latent organic politics to flow forth, is now revealing itself to be a fundamental error. In the absence of a coherent and unifying alternative, the endless iconoclastic deconstruction of various bits of liberal capitalism’s hegemonic cultural output is not inspiring political thought and action, but furthering the fragmentation, cynicism, pan-scepticism and symbolic inefficiency on which the system thrives (see Winlow and Hall, 2013).

They see this conception of ‘politics’ as leading to a fixation on the micro-social reality of everyday life which systematically occludes the macro-social field of politics.

I’m not sure if they’re saying there’s a necessary antagonism here – for what it’s worth, I don’t think there is – but I think the crucial point they make is about how one leads to the other. How do micro-political acts aggregate? This question is often swept aside, motivated by a hugely optimistic assumption that they just will, much like critiquing hegemonic cultural forms just will allow a politics of positivity to take shape.

Categories: Fragile Movements and Their Politics Cultures

Tagged as:

Mark

4 replies

  1. This is what interests people, I think: “the endless iconoclastic deconstruction of various bits of liberal capitalism’s hegemonic cultural output,” because they feel that they are seeing something that should be obviously rejected, but is somehow consensually accepted, so they continue to try to deconstruct in order to reveal… But it is practice itself that needs to change doesn’t it? Perhaps the ‘constant challenge’ shows the complexity, the moral reliance on things that we know should obviously be (morally) rejected, for personal habits or needs.

  2. I think that frames it as an individual challenge though, a personal mission to cut through the bullshit that surrounds the person, rather than a collective challenge to strive together to change the conditions that give rise to the bullshit.

  3. Absolutely. And so the endless deconstruction becomes the only activity. Changing the conditions disconnects one from the consensus that is the ‘hegemonic cultural output.’ That’s why Occupy promised so much because there were people not showing up to work, not going home to sleep, not cooking meals at home, somehow not using the city as a corridor but as a camp — the way so much social protest starts — and they could not re-orient towards new cultural coordinates. And the person caught up in endless deconstruction is probably doing their best thinking driving to work or cooking meals, propping up the hegemonic norms, even while feeling more and more complicit in them and ‘furthering the fragmentation, cynicism, pan-scepticism and symbolic inefficiency on which the system thrives.’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s