Los Angeles is a city that should not exist. No desert was meant to hold an urban hub of this size. As its fifteen year (we may as well call it permanent) state of drought confirms, it is a non-location, a place that that manages to weirdly persist due to simple inertia over sustainability. The wildfires that grow in size and intensity every season, ever-encroaching into La-La Land, are not only general reminders of a planet that will soon be too warm to contain the current civilization; they feel like deep time retching up a virus contracted long ago. That it is also where the United States manufactures its ego, its own version of cultural relevance, is only too appropriate, as the recent burning of Malibu makes so very clear.
To say that humanity is alienated isn't just to state the painfully obvious. It is to describe a truth that applies so thoroughly, and to everything in human existence, that it almost describes nothing. We are alienated from ourselves, each other, our labor, our human-made and natural environments. We are, as Marx observed, not ourselves when we work. And as the logic of work as exploitation insinuates itself deeper into all aspects of life, we wonder, can we ever truly be ourselves?
Most in the American left have heard about this film; in all likelihood they have had it raved about to them. I wrote a few thoughts on why that might be and published them at Red Wedge:
Capitalism is an irrational system which refuses to see itself for what it is. Like an obnoxious trust fund kid slumming it at a dive bar, it cannot help but loudly declare how ingenious and deserving it is. Accepting its arguments for how things are and how they change is to accept the argument that there is some method underneath the layers of madness, that its opulence can somehow be separated from its exploitation, that it has something other than an ever-deepening inhumanity in its future.
“Don’t get caught up in the spectacle of Opposition. Oppose the spectacle.”
This is much easier said than done, since we are a generation raised entirely under the domination of the spectacle, without an counter-hegemonic workers movement from which we could learn and to which we could contribute. To date, all that we have had is an echo of a memory of a time when there was such a thing. We don’t yet know how to move toward what we need. All we can know right now is that we needn’t any longer cling to our routines, and even that is a debate.
Donald Trump wants The Expanse to be real. If there were ever a president who could watch a show about a solar system constantly at war with itself and miss the entire point, it is this man. Picture it: Trump, late at night, holed up in the President's Bedroom. Crumpled Big Mac wrappers litter the foot of the bed. The curtains are closed, the only light in the room is the ghostly blue of the television.
We write because we think. And we think that there are some things that need to be thought out loud. Thoughts crystallize when they are written down and put out into the world, even in a relatively informal way.
As regular collaborators across a variety of projects, we decided to start this blog as a way to strengthen our collaboration and work through ideas…