May 07, 2005

war in the age of artificial stupidity

For a few moments, just a few, on Thursday night, something like the Real seemed to creep into the seamless postmodern simulation of Toneeeland.

Too much emphasis has been put upon Blair's lying. A propensity for mendacity would hardly be unique in Blair's profession, yet there is something quite distinctive about Blair's mode of dissimulation. It is this that is the defining signature of Blairism; quite obviously, the reasons that Blair is in danger of becoming 'the politician of the age' have nothing to do with policy. Yes, we are all familiar with the hedge-the-bets worst-of-all-worlds Third way administratomania, but these are symptoms of the Blairite pathology, not its substance. Blair's messiah complex has combined with postmodern lawyer plague to produce an innocynicism that is insidiously corrosive at all levels of the social.

As a messiah-lawyer, Blair has little concept of what it is do anything. His lack of concern about the decline of manufacturing industry in Britain arises as much from his postmodern bewilderment about material production as it does from any 'modernizing' affinity with the deterritorialized etherization of postmodern capital. As a failed lawyer turned politician, Blair thinks of work as essentially to do with the production of appearances. Labour is semiotic or not at all. Manufacturing labour is far too materially recalcitrant to be smoothly inducted into New Labour's power- and bullet-pointed empire of signs. Lawyer plague means that it is no longer a question of corporate responsibility (old skool left), nor individual responsibility (Thatcherism) but corporate irresponsibility. Blair, like Clinton before him, has turned lawyerly-evasion into a political art.

The concrete effects of Blarism innocyncism are a generalized demoralization. We're all encouraged, subtly and not so subtly, to give up any convictions. The result is a nation that, following its leaders, is far more concerned with 'being seen to do things' than it is with actually doing them.

What has fueled the rage against Blair is the discrepancy - undetectable to him, because he really is the 'first victim of Videodrome', the puppet-slave-ideologue of Kapital, necessarily unaware of the idiot mechanism that speaks through his mouth - between the clean and bright, if increasingly facile, appearances and the rotting real. Iraq is only one dimension of this. Everywhere you look, the semiotic pollution of Capital - the consultancy detritus clogging up every available surface with mindless Chris Morrisesque-slogans of spectacular vacuity that surely have never, never persuaded anyone of anything - is collapsing uncomfortably into the material pollution of disintegrating social structures and depleting natural resources.

On Thursday, in Sedgefield, Blair looked genuinely shaken. Not 'shaken', i.e. not pulling one of his off-the-shelf boil-in-the-bag cheap actor routines, but genuinely taken aback. I like to imagine that, for a few moments, the bad AI running his brain had broken down, and he was forced to contemplate the sheer waste his life has been: all those compromises, all those strained smiles, all those mission statements, all those ends-justify-means cover-ups, the Kelly 'suicide', the Iraq dead, the public services decaying.... What had it all been for?

Of course, within half an hour, the Artificial Stupditity programme was up and running again, the promises being reeled off, tomorrow, tomorrow, you and your families, always a day away....

Speaking of cheap actors and the flotsam and jetsam of Cruel Britannia, I hope you've all read Morley's savaging of the Gallagher bros (interior decorators for hire). 'Oasis seemed designed by a mid-1990s rockist committee desperate to conceive a simple-minded rock'n'roll band with a tidy messiah complex, faking faded psychedelia, and daintily echoing the appealing cuddly-druggy lines of the Beatles: a rock group out of a world where the Cavern opened up onto Carnaby Street and the guys wore Union Jack jackets and the girls wore pretty little things because they were pretty little things who made you go all lovey-dovey. John Steed would be their manager, David Bailey snap them, and Harold Wilson give them gongs. All would be well with the world, and the 21st century would be as conservatively fab as the 1960s.' Yessssssss!

Posted by mark at May 7, 2005 04:44 PM | TrackBack