Archive for the 'counter culture' Category

Left-wing podcasting is here

Paulitics: Paul’s Socialist Podcast

You can now click on the sidebar to be taken to the new official podcast companion to the Paulitics: Paul’s Socialist Investigations blog.

The podcast is devoted to presenting unique discussions, debates, news commentary and academic lectures to the public from a broadly left-wing or socialist perspective.  Occasionally podcasts will be hosted by myself and my lovely co-host (AKA girlfriend) Kimberlee.  At other times, the podcasts will feature academic or activist speeches or talks on a variety of subjects ranging from resisting the U.S. Empire to capitalism to media propaganda to philosophy to socialism and to many, many, other topics.  Notable featured figures that I’ve already lined up include Noam Chomsky, Alex Callinicos, Tariq Ali, Naomi Klein and Cornel West.

Episode #1 featuring Noam Chomsky is already uploaded and ready to go for your listening pleasure.  I did have one minor glitch with the podcasting host’s promotional material — the 10 second spot didn’t go where I wanted it to go, so it interrupts Chomsky for about 10 seconds before coming back to him (you don’t miss anything, though).  I’ll definitely iron out this glitch for Episode #2 which will feature a talk on empire and Imperialism by Alex Callinicos. 

You can subscribe to the Paulitics podcast in any of the following ways:

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 ← (the generic podcast RSS feed URL)

For more information (such as subscribing to the podcast even if you don’t have an iPod) go to the podcasting FAQ at the bottom of the page here.

A progressive counter-ribbon to “support our troops” [pics]

We’ve all seen the annoying “support our troops” ribbons like these ones below. Usually they can be found on the backs of cars of people who supposedly “support out troops” while the rest of us leftist heathens presumably have to be physically restrained from spitting and throwing stones at passing soldiers.

support-our-troops-yellow.PNG support-our-troops-legion.PNG

Or, conversely, there are also variants of these ribbons taken to their tacky and exploitative natural conclusion such as this wonderfully cheesy ribbon which, I kid you not, is actually a real product that some capitalist somewhere came up with:

Seriously, how many clichés can you fit into one image?

Scott Neigh had some interesting points talking about how we on the left can fight back against the right’s jingoistic, vacuous phrase “support our troops”.

While Scott Neigh’s points are definitely worth reading (as are all of his writings, for that matter), he concludes that there aren’t really any good, coherent counter-attacks against the “support our troops” trope. Specifically, Scott points out the problems with the current counter-attack “Support our troops: Bring them home”.

So, with that in mind, I took it upon myself to come up with a unique, concise and coherent counter-attack to the “support our troops” ribbon.

At first, I thought about simply translating the French anti-war ribbons like this one:

non-a-la-guerre.PNG

(translation: “No to war”)

But then I came up with this idea which is even simpler and hits even closer to the heart of what we on the left, I think, are actually wanting to say.

Most importantly, there’s no way that this ribbon could be more clear. It is, quite simply:

stop-killing-people-black-ribbon.PNG

~~~~

If you’re interested in posting the “stop killing people” ribbon on your blog or website, just copy the following html code and paste it wherever you’d like the image to appear (it won’t link back to this blog or this post).

Two quotes that are essential for progressives to know

These are two great quotes I serendipitously came across in the same day which I think all progressive comrades should have at their disposal to throw back and right-wingers in certain circumstances.

Scenario #1:

Right-winger:  “If socialism is so great, why hasn’t it become wildly popular?”

Comrade:

“It took us 5000 years to put wheels on luggage”
     -William McDonough, “The wisdom of designing Cradle to Cradle”

Scenario #2:

Right-winger: “socialism is dead” or “socialism failed” or “Marxism is irrelevant”

Comrade:

“Marx is definitely dead for humankind.”

Now this quote in and of itself isn’t such a great response until you mention that it was written by Itallian thinker Croce in the year 1907 — ten years before the Russian Revolution.  And Croce wasn’t the first to prematurely dig a grave for Marxism and, as Alan Maass notes, since people are still parroting this line, he clearly hasn’t been the last.

On the futility of governing pop-culture

Who ever said capitalists were intelligent?

McDonald’s and a cabal of capitalists have been pushing the Oxford English Dictionary for some time now to remove its official listing of the word “McJob” in their publication.  But, AFP wires are now reporting that that’s not enough for McDonalds et al.  They now are seeking to actually ‘flip’ the definition of McJob (an irony in and of itself) from it’s current definition of:

“an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector.”

And they want the new definition in the Oxford English Dictionary to read something along the lines of:

“a job that is stimulating, rewarding and offers genuine opportunities for career progression.”

Now, it is no secret that capital has for years saught to subsume pop-culture and trends under its aegis.  However, what McDonald’s et al are ignoring is the fact that to the extent that capital succeeds in this goal, it does so not by dictating and governing from above what ‘popular’ ought to look like, but by so-called “cool hunting” and the subsuming of what is already pre-existingly popular into a corporate programme.

When capital or any heirarchical structure attempts to artificially manufacture from scratch what ought to be ‘popular’, the results are often ridiculous (and painful) as demonstrated by this ad by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario:  

(WARNING:  For those of you who don’t live in Ontario or who have never seen this ad, I must caution you – watching this may cause seizures, dimensia, decreased IQ and/or temporary insanity.  Proceed at own risk!) 

The capitalists seeking to change the definition of ‘McJob’ therefore are ignorant of two things.  First, obviously, the Oxford English Dictionary does not, like the ‘Newspeak’ dictionary makers in Orwell’s 1984, actually make-up definitions and construct the English language.  It merely reflects the pre-existing usage of the English language.

And second: you may be able to co-opt culture jamming, as the raging success of MTV and “cool hunting” demonstrates, but you cannot govern popular culture from above as these executives are foolishly attempting to do with “McJob”.

As insipid and asinine as many of us may consider the bulk of pop-culture to be, it nevertheless is one of the very few phenomena (along side activism and dissent) in our culture which finds its genesis in genuinely grassroots movements.

And that is a dynamic power which no capitalist and no government can either suppress or govern.


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