Radicalism, past, present and future
Over recent years, it seems ‘radical’ has become a dirty word. In the wake of the anniversary of 1968, and with books and films galore about the romance and failures of revolutionary life and thought, it seems we’re comfortable with radicalism as an object of nostalgia, but less willing to understand its contemporary legacy – and its trivialisation.
Culture Wars is exploring radicalism – past, present and future – in an attempt to understand a lived tradition as well as how certain ideas filter through the culture. Having focused on past ‘Radical Thinkers’ and the legacy of 1968, touring from Iran to Haiti, investigating the role of ideology and demise of the traditional Left, we turn towards two contemporary variants: ‘political Islam’ and the environmentalist movement. These reviews and essays constitute a critical investigation of what shapes contemporary attitudes towards the future.
Culture itself is now our counterculture … or it can be and must be if we still entertain any hope of combating the boorishness and buffoonery eating away at our life, public and private alike. It is time for a groundswell. We need a new protest movement centred around the notion that we must demand more of ourselves and each other, that we cannot be satisfied or complacent in the face of the culture of trash besieging us on all fronts.
We are now facing the prospect of a world without need, a world in which suffering can become a thing of the past and some stronger semblance of equality can be easily realised. We can help forge a world in which the current paradigm of capitalism, based on individualism and conspicuous consumption, can fall by the wayside.
The music takes its temper and tempo from the sea, with its growling timpani thunder and the swirling chromatic whirlpools of strings. The sea also represents both the site of the Dutchman’s fateful aspiration and his current prison and jailer.
As a metaphor for how we all operate under the politics of offence, forced into becoming increasingly careful of our words while our material reality travel in different directions - it’s difficult not to feel as though the obsession with young Muslim women lacking autonomy in forced marriages is something of a displacement activity for a denuded sense of agency across the West – DV8’s physical theatre offers a genuine insight.
Tower Hamlets didn’t suffer so badly from the riots compared to other areas of London, probably because of this tight-knit community of which Bayjoo’s young men are part.
The radical Left in Greece has always considered the European Union as the watchdog of European capital and a barrier to developing a different model of development and progress for the Greek people. Nevertheless, when the moment came, for the first time in 30 years, to challenge this burden, they seemed to consider the situation unbearable, and were afraid to step forward and lead.
‘These are living and breathing social documents that talk of human beings speaking to other human beings. The language and mode of expression is radical, bold and strident. And I think it relates to what we’ve already discussed…that artists saw themselves as part of a much bigger change that some sections of society were attempting to bring about.’
Ethical concerns can just as easily be motivated by an evasion of responsibility, as they can by a desire to capture the displacement of people from history-making. The absence of people in documentary photography can be an accurate picture of the position of the people in contemporary society, but this absence can also amount to an attempt to evade the question Where are the people?
If the terrorist has become a cultural staple, Told By an Idiot are determined to chip off the old schlock. Torn from their original settings, these examples no longer seem stock villains. They stop functioning as plot-driving antagonists; those that afford heroes their heroism.
Similarly theatrical is the recognition that the human body is a symbolic site - be it dancing in the confines of kettle-raves, sportsday in Topshop, the spontaneous choreography of facing an armoured police line, or being violently dragged from a wheelchair. Indeed, when Cameron decries ‘the mob’, he is like a particularly insensitive critic, failing or refusing to grasp the nature of a very complex and energetic ensemble piece.
Hind effectively conflates Kant’s notion of public reason as a scholarly ideal with the whole idea of public participation in politics. The effect is to restrict severely what counts as properly ‘public’ participation, and even public opinion.
The implication of Ferraris is that the incessant focus on limits of all kinds today is about the idea of, the necessity for, limits per se rather than specific limits themselves. Any attempt to argue that such and such a particular limit – the ‘tyranny of oil’ – can be overcome – with biofuels - will be countered almost immediately with another limit – a claimed shortage of land.
The implication is that genuine revolution has become impossible in a world governed by its media. Perhaps the best any public outrage can hope to muster is a Twitter campaign or a Facebook petition. And what do they choose to achieve? A festive chart-topper for Rage Against the Machine. It’s hardly Tiananmen Square.
He is amazed to see not only that information was omitted, but that this operative fabricated the details of a whole play Dreyman and his cohorts were supposed to have written for the 40th anniversary of East Germany’s founding.
Hamilton starts his chapter on ‘denial’ by recounting the tale of the ‘cognitive dissonance’ suffered by a 1950s doomsday cult whose apocalyptic predictions failed to materialise; an ironic choice for a thinker in a tradition which has consistently predicted (as yet unrealised) ecological disaster since the 1790s.