Tuesday, June 19, 2018


"Stuart Hall and Us" (Forte) (my emphasis in red):
"Using Gramsci, Hall pointed out that class interests are not reflexive representations of immediate needs.  The aesthetic appeal of conservative ideology is its veneer of loss, masochistic austerity, and nationalist redemption.  Where there is loss, there is something to be regained. Hall saw this in Thatcherism:

    “…Thatcherism, as an ideology, addresses the fears, the anxieties, the lost identities, of a people.  It invites us to think about politics in images. It is addressed to our collective fantasies, to Britain as an imagined community, to the social imaginary.”

The feeling of loss is not necessarily a basic need, but it is also not ‘false consciousness.’  What becomes clear in “Gramsci and Us” is how the political vision of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Donald Trump can be both revolutionary and reactionary:

    In our intellectual way, we think that the world will collapse as the result of a logical contradiction: this is the illusion of the intellectual – that ideology must be coherent, every bit of it fitting together, like a philosophical investigation. When, in fact, the whole purpose of what Gramsci called an organic (i.e. historically effective) ideology is that it articulates into a configuration different subjects, different identities, different projects, different aspirations. It does not reflect, it constructs a ‘unity’ out of difference.

Conservatives have a long history of appearing contradictory and inconsistent.  Their ideological peculiarities are not simply a ‘Rorschach Test’ that comfortingly reflects people’s needs.  The right uses contradiction to bring together different class interests under one banner. It reinvents the timeless conservative vision, hiding its reactionary character, and presents it as something new.
We've just seen some of this in Ontario, where Ford basically refused to present a platform, but appealed to a vague unease that something was fundamentally wrong with Ontario (the sense of loss is always that things used to be better, and have gone inexplicably off the rails).  Needless to say, The Clarification ought to allow us to apply similar analysis to the 'left', which is more or less conservatism + virtue signaling. It is instructive that the current American wailing over the plight of Central American children separated from their parents doesn't address the root cause of why they are in the United States (or why the US has immigration laws on the books which it refuses to enforce, in order to create an undocumented army of labor that is intended to drive down the cost of labor), which is based on bipartisan actions by the American government in places like Honduras and El Salvador. Conservatives have been quick to point out that 'liberal' concerns for the plight of children didn't apply when Barry was doing it (the difference between Barry and Trump is that Trump boasts about what Barry hid), or when mothers (or fathers) sentenced to jail are separated from their children, or when children lose a parent who dies fighting one of the illegal and immoral Wars For The Jews.
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