Excerpts from Electric Degeneration, Degenerate Press' semi-weekly e-zine, free and ad-free. A full episode contains sections for music reviews, upcoming events, blasphemy, classifieds, and anything else we feel like saying. If you'd like to subscribe just contact us.
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We're headed to Austin this weekend to confirm or deny that town's
rep as the music capitol of the U.S. Personally I have doubts as I'm
spoiled living here in Atlanta but we'll be back next week, same
batty time, same batty channel, with a full report.
I have a feeling this will be the last gasp on the capitalism topic,
but I'm not holding my breath. Get ready for a lungfull from
In response to degenerate CW: I am afraid my argument has been misunderstood. CW moves from quoting me ("This is not the first time someone has made a statement liken to, "freedom, as a process, does not tend to produce individuality, autonomy, diversity, but rather conformity, enslavement, and homogenization"") to comparing my ideas to those of slave owners and other exploiters. This error could have been easily avoided if the entire sentence had been examined - the "freedom" I was criticizing is the materialist illusion of freedom (license) in the form of wanton decentralization and libertarianism. CW writes as if there were only one definition of freedom, the one supplied by the dominant capitalist culture; I am attempting to question this definition and offer another one. CW says, "There's a difference between individuals making
good-bad-or- "average" choices and socio-economic systems making the
decisions for them. No one is forced or brainwashed into buying or
not buying a Whopper." This is exactly the assumption I am not
willing to make - that capitalism's "freedom" is fully human
oriented. Yes, the capitalist rails for free markets, for freedom
>from the regulative power of the society, the state, the
community, art, education, and cultural forces of all sorts. This is the anarchic side of the system. But it has a twin that travels behind the chaotic freedom capitalism creates and that twin is a harsh regulative principle laying hold of everyone who participates in the free market. Certainly the capitalist regime will question whatever authority it must to open up a space for itself; but rest assured, the vacuum is quickly filled by materialism, which acts as the new authority, defining and limiting choice, affecting and reshaping opinion, orienting human life away from whatever was of value prior to capitalism's growth. Is anyone forced to eat or not eat a Whopper? I ask in return, did anyone force a Scotsman to wear tartan plaid? Tartan is part of the Scottish cultural heritage and has a meaning within that system - the names of the clans are attached to the patterns, etc. No one person invented it - it simply was passed on from some time in the past and picked up an historical significance along the way. In earlier times, I imagine a Scotsman's gear to certain events would have always involved the plaid. So, did he have a choice? Could our Scot have shown up at a caber toss sans his colors? It was more convenient to follow convention and live within the Scottish culture if one was a Scotsman. Meaning, a fellow's effective choices about dress were limited within that culture and predefined for him. Plus, there would have been some social sanctions for wearing incorrect clothing - perhaps ostracism, gossip, inability of others to identify his clan affiliation, and so forth. I would say this represents a form of force - social force. Analogously, we do not normally eat Whoppers because of any clearly thought out set of reasons (which fully conscious choice requires), but because it is convenient to do so, because many others do so, and because choosing not to do so would set us apart from the others or cause us more work. And those who choose not to eat Whoppers are choosing to eat something somewhere, and unless they grow and process their own food, they are going through a similar process at the grocery store. They are still well within the grasp of the social force
exerted by the system. There is a network of conditions that help
condition choices and socio-economic factors always direct the
masses. The modern masses are an expression of capitalism itself -
they would not exist in present form without it.
In the case of the Scotsman, his culture was the product of a complex historical process blending artistic, religious, political, and martial elements. In our case, our culture is the result of an obliteration of former cultural forms replaced by an implicit materialism, metaphysical and practical, that values only economic efficiency and the process of commodification. Capitalism creates a de facto unelected government. All cultures, in fact, do this, but capitalism's unelected government is at odds with the government established in our Constitution. Simply, they represent two different sets of values, two different cultures. Our
true government was founded on a principle of tolerance; materialism,
meanwhile, has no use for other approaches to life - it desires
monopoly over action and lifestyle.
CW says, against all conventional government, "The real answer lies in a system where individuals can freely unite, or act alone depending on their preference, and hold companies, bosses, governments, and individuals directly accountable for their actions." I say the only effective means at this point in history for holding, "companies, bosses, governments, and individuals directly accountable" is by open, democratically elected government itself. Capitalism, in its role as shadow government, seeks to do exactly what CW wants (but does not
understand) - by-pass government, law, tradition, culture in favor
of "direct action," handing out rewards and punishments like a lynch
mob that recognizes no higher principle or authority. And like a
lynch mob, the materialist system will have to be broken up by a
variety of means and its entanglements in legitimate government will
have to be neutralized. The problem is not government per se, it is
capitalism's hijack of it.
CW: "ask those who survived Stalin's Russia, what
happens when centralized power, including it's lobbies, and it's interests, begins to decide what's best for the people. The people know what's best for themselves, they know best how to spend their time and money." Power can be abused. That is one of the sadder aspects of corporeal existence. But it does not follow that since some forms of
power are reprehensible, all forms of centralization are damned
>from the outset.
Centralized power in the hands of representative government, for example, may prove necessary if human rights are to be upheld in the
prevailing Social Darwinist climate. Centralized power in America
the monopolies, regulated financial policy and took the economic fate of our country (and the world) out of the hands of a small cabal of men. It redistributes wealth to a tiny degree and so provides some basic services to those who could not otherwise benefit from them. It passed and enforced the Voting Rights Act and Affirmative Action. (None of which the capitalists like, by the way.) To be sure, power always has an
evil side but,
channeled by authentic values and restrained by law, its beneficial side can appear as well. "Who am I, and who are you, and who are they to determine what's
right for anyone." This seems to be a popular thing to say when
confronted with ideas one dislikes. Who am I to determine what's
right? I am a philosopher; it's what we do for kicks. I see it as a
responsibility basic to all humans to have some interest in the dirty
ol' question, "what is the good"? I would say that it is CW's responsibility to come out of the hippie dream long enough to do something other than merely complain that The Man won't let him smoke his weed, that I had the audacity to question the cherished mythology
of the atomized individual and the red, white, & blue belief in
"better living through doing whatever the fuck strikes me as cool at
the moment regardless of whom it might affect." True freedom is not
license. Capitalism peddles license and winds up delivering a life
of enslavement to cheap, meaningless trinkets and even cheaper ideas. degenerate RVI
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