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The Global Class War & The End of Capitalism Go Mainstream


The Ouroboros eats its own tail.

“We thought the markets work. They’re not working.”—Dr. Nouriel Roubini

I have always maintained that the global future will ultimately be a socialist one, but it was not easy to “keep the faith” after the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the (seemingly) robust (dot)economy of the Clinton years. However, these days Marx’s predictions for voracious end-stage capitalism seem well-vindicated by what we’re seeing take place in Greece, Israel, Iceland and especially in England. The system hollowed itself out from the inside far faster than I ever would have thought possible in 1999.

So as someone whose politics have been more or less wildly out of step with American mainstream opinion for my entire life, I have watched with great bemusement at the surprisingly Marxist-tinged rhetoric that is now being espoused in places like TIME, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes. It doesn’t get much more “establishment” than these venerable publications, I think you’ll agree, which is why they’ve always been such credible markers of where the cultural conversation is headed.

Try this one for size. Joel Kotkin writing at Forbes, “The U.K. Riots And The Coming Global Class War”:

The riots that hit London and other English cities last week have the potential to spread beyond the British Isles. Class rage isn’t unique to England; in fact, it represents part of a growing global class chasm that threatens to undermine capitalism itself.

The hardening of class divisions   has been building for a generation, first in the West but increasingly in fast-developing countries such as China. The growing chasm between the classes has its roots in globalization, which has taken jobs from blue-collar and now even white-collar employees; technology, which has allowed the fleetest and richest companies and individuals to shift operations at rapid speed to any locale; and the secularization of society, which has undermined the traditional values about work and family that have underpinned grassroots capitalism from its very origins.

All these factors can be seen in the British riots. Race and police relations played a role, but the rioters included far more than minorities or gangsters. As British historian James Heartfield has suggested, the rioters reflected a broader breakdown in “the British social system,” particularly in “the system of work and reward.”

In the earlier decades of the 20th century working class youths could look forward to jobs in Britain’s vibrant industrial economy and, later, in the growing public sector largely financed by both the earnings of the City of London and credit. Today the industrial sector has shrunk beyond recognition. The global financial crisis has undermined credit and the government’s ability to pay for the welfare state.

With meaningful and worthwhile work harder to come by — particularly in the private sector — the prospects for success among Britain working classes have been reduced to largely fantastical careers in entertainment, sport or all too often crime. Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron’s supporters in the City of London may have benefited from financial bailouts arranged by the Bank of England, but opportunities for even modest social uplift for most other people have faded.

Forbes. That’s right, that was from Forbes.

On the Project-Syndicate website, and widely covered and quoted elsewhere (including TIME), Nouriel Roubini (aka “Dr. Doom”), the NYU economist who became a high-profile “big brain” pontificator after he accurately predicted the global economic meltdown a few years before everybody else, asked “Is Capitalism Doomed?

Usually, when such thing is posed as a query, the answer in the text tends toward the affirmative. Roubini writes:

So Karl Marx, it seems, was partly right in arguing that globalization, financial intermediation run amok, and redistribution of income and wealth from labor to capital could lead capitalism to self-destruct (though his view that socialism would be better has proven wrong). Firms are cutting jobs because there is not enough final demand. But cutting jobs reduces labor income, increases inequality and reduces final demand.

Recent popular demonstrations, from the Middle East to Israel to the UK, and rising popular anger in China – and soon enough in other advanced economies and emerging markets – are all driven by the same issues and tensions: growing inequality, poverty, unemployment, and hopelessness. Even the world’s middle classes are feeling the squeeze of falling incomes and opportunities.

To enable market-oriented economies to operate as they should and can, we need to return to the right balance between markets and provision of public goods. That means moving away from both the Anglo-Saxon model of laissez-faire and voodoo economics and the continental European model of deficit-driven welfare states. Both are broken.

The right balance today requires creating jobs partly through additional fiscal stimulus aimed at productive infrastructure investment. It also requires more progressive taxation; more short-term fiscal stimulus with medium- and long-term fiscal discipline; lender-of-last-resort support by monetary authorities to prevent ruinous runs on banks; reduction of the debt burden for insolvent households and other distressed economic agents; and stricter supervision and regulation of a financial system run amok; breaking up too-big-to-fail banks and oligopolistic trusts.

Over time, advanced economies will need to invest in human capital, skills and social safety nets to increase productivity and enable workers to compete, be flexible and thrive in a globalized economy. The alternative is – like in the 1930s - unending stagnation, depression, currency and trade wars, capital controls, financial crisis, sovereign insolvencies, and massive social and political instability.

Below, Roubini interviewed by the Wall Street Journal:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Mountain Dew Mouth’: How soft drink consumption affects your teeth
08.17.2011
10:42 am

Topics:
Current Events

Tags:
Mountain Dew mouth
Soda pop


 
Yesterday I posted an infographic of the effects of soda pop consumption on the human body. One of our readers sent in these photos that are allegedly of a die-hard and life-long Mountain Dew drinker.

Here’s what he says:

“If you’ve never seen what pop can do to teeth, here’s some (kind of blurry) photos of “Mountain Dew mouth,” taken by my girlfriend of an acquaintance. The fella pictured was not yet thirty at the time, and soon after had all his teeth removed.”

Of course this could also be what happens when you drink soda ll the livelong day and NEVER BRUSH YOUR TEETH, but what do I know?
 

 
Thanks, Lepus Rex!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Queen Valentine: A Romance in Two Worlds,’ new occult novel by Jason Louv
08.17.2011
08:42 am

Topics:
Books

Tags:
Jason Louv
Queen Valentine


 
Dangerous Minds pal (and former contributor) Jason Louv returns with a new novel titled Queen Valentine: A Romance in Two Worlds. This is Jason’s fourth publication after Generation Hex, Ultraculture and Genesis P-Orridge’s Thee Psychick Bible, which he edited.

Ray Tesla caught up to the author via email at R.U. Sirius’s new blog, Acceler8or.

RAY TESLA: So what is Queen Valentine?

JASON LOUV: It’s a novel exposing the supernatural underworld beneath New York, as seen through the eyes of a young woman who’s lost her soul working in advertising, and ends up stumbling into the world beneath. It’s a bit like Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s The Coming Race mashed up with “Mad Men.”

RT: Can you say more?

JL: Well, the premise is essentially this. In the middle ages, the people of Europe took it for granted that non-human beings — often called the Sidhe or the faery folk — were as real as humans, and regularly trafficked with the human world. Just like “modern” people sometimes claim to see UFOs or to have been abducted by aliens, in the middle ages people often claimed to have happened upon secret Sidhe kingdoms, to have been abducted to faerie land, or to have had their children swapped for faerie babies. That’s where we get a lot of European mythology from. And then we stop hearing about them as soon as the Inquisition and then the Age of Reason come in.

So the question is, what happened to those beings? And the answer in the book is, well, they did what lots of displaced people do. They emigrated to New York, or the settlement that became New York. And they’ve been living in secret catacombs and warrens underneath the city ever since, in their own shadow version of the city and shadow economy — along with their evil half, the Unseelie, who are like creatures created by pure nightmare energy. And after four hundred years, the Unseelie are tired of hiding, and they want to make a bid to subjugate the human side of the city.

RT: What were your main inspirations writing this?

JL: Having been involved both in advertising world and the supernatural underworld of New York.

RT: You’ve previously written about consciousness expansion and magic (Generation Hex, Ultraculture, Thee Psychick Bible) and about the transforming effects of technology on the soul. Do you see this as a continuation or a departure from those topics? Why the switch to fiction?

JL: Definitely a continuation. There’s only so much truth you can express about the hidden corners of reality in non-fiction or essay form before people start wondering if you’re making it up. The threshold is very low. With fiction, hopefully I can put it all in there and instead of that nagging voice in your head while you’re reading it being “I wonder if he made this up,” it might be “I wonder if any of this is actually true?”

RT: So are you saying there’s actually coded occult information in Queen Valentine?

JL: No. Certainly not.

RT: You’ve also written about transhumanism and posthumanity. Does that tie in with the book?

JL: In a way. The book is in many ways a critique of transhumanism from the perspective of the original guardians of the earth, the nature spirits who’ve had to adapt to our technological progress and find a way to live in the cracks like any diaspora culture. A lot of the tension in the book revolves around the different responses from different factions of the Sidhe to the direction humanity is going. There’s also a lot of satire of the Faustian need for physical augmentation. I don’t want to give too much away, but the crux of what’s being discussed is whether humanity will be allowed to manifest the kind of nightmare future that it seems to be hellbent on creating.

Read more at Acceler8or.

You can get a physical book or the Kindle edition at CreatESpace.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Flaming Lips meet Lightning Bolt (in space)


 
This is one for the noise cognoscenti out there. Two of the best modern rock bands in America come together for a collaboration (full title: The Flaming Lips With Lightning Bolt EP) and the results are pretty unusual - though not necessarily more than you’d expect. ‘Cos let’s face it, it’s highly unlikely that the genesis of this project was a desire to push either of these acts further up the charts. I’d like to think it had more to do with a shared love of acid-burnt neon psychedelia.

The clue may be in the song titles. “I’m Working At Nasa On Acid” and “I Want To Get High But I Don’t Want Brain Damage” are the first two tracks and the Flaming Lips’ main contributions, being the kind of bass driven psych-garage we’ve come to expect, but now with a whole extra layer of fuzzy noise on top. The remaining two tracks are reworks of the first two by Lightning Bolt, which feature even more noise and, of course, the furious drum chops of Brain Chippendale. These reworkings are called “NASA’s Final Acid Bath” and “I Want To Get Damaged But I Won’t Say Hi”.

The EP has been released on 12” mixed-color vinyl (some copies feature translucent vinyl mixed with black) but because of its limited nature was only shipped to some shops a few weeks ago. It’s likely to have completely sold out. If you really want one, I say get in touch with your local decent independent record store and ask if they can get it - failing that it has already turned up for sale on eBay. In the meantime though, here is the lead video introduced by Wayne Coyne, and the other 3 tracks:
 
The Flaming Lips and Lightning Bolt - “I Want To get High But I Don’t Want Brain Damage”
 

 
The Flaming Lips and Lightning Bolt - “I’m Working At NASA On Acid”
 

 
Lightning Bolt and The Flaming Lips - “NASA’s Final Acid Bath”
 

 
Lightning Bolt and The Flaming Lips - “I Want To Get Damaged But I Won’t Say Hi”
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Incredibly creepy meerkat mask


 
Calling all budding horror directors! Looking for a unique, bizarre and terrifying mask to adorn the face of your killer? Then look no further - this is the Elliot’s Costume & Fancy Dress shop of Belfast’s “meerkat” mask. It’s based on the really fucking annoying “Compare The Markets” adverts in the UK. Here’s one:
 

 
So you see, it would also be giving your killer a satirical, anti-consumerist twist. And horror critics love that kind of shit.

The mask can be yours for only £8.50GBP - if interested, you can order it here
 
Thanks to Patrick Baston.
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Lady Gaga’s epic new video overshadows lousy song
08.16.2011
11:51 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Lady Gaga
You And I


 
The song is depressingly conventional. It could be Shania Twain or the Dixie Chicks - you know, MOR country music. But, the video is a slick machine, sexy, beautifully shot, and so outclasses the song that they seem to come from different universes all together.

This is what happens when an artist is expected to constantly up the ante while running out of fresh musical ideas but still has a terrific sense of theater. Huge disconnect.

Oh, I nearly forgot…the song is called “You And I” and it was produced by Mutt Lange, who a DM friend just reminded me is Shania Twain’s ex. Thanks Tim. Now it makes a little more sense, but it doesn’t make it any better.

Brian May on guitar.

Oddly, I can’t find any information as to who directed this mini-epic. It’s like a mash-up of Peter Greenaway, David Fincher and, as DM reader Framk noted, Matthew Barney.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
El Ritual in ‘Bikinis y Rock’
08.16.2011
09:54 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
El Ritual
Bikinis y Rock


 
Mexican psychedelic garage rockers El Ritual play “American Woman” in the 1972 movie Bikinis y Rock.

Where are the bikinis? All I see is a bunch of stoned freaks and a shitload of hair.

El Ritual were a short-lived but seminal rock band in the early Seventies Mexican music scene. They sound great in this clip.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Lee Hazlewood in the recording studio 1968
08.16.2011
08:13 pm

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Tags:


Chatelain, Hazlewood and Robinson.
 
Filmed in May of 1968 for French TV show Bouton Rouge, this short documentary gives us an intimate look at Lee Hazlewood during a recording session for the song “She Comes Running” at CBE studio in Paris. It’s nicely done.

CBE is a highly regarded recording studio founded in 1966 by Georges Chatelain. State-of-the-art when this footage of Hazlewood was shot, CBE was the first studio in Europe to feature eight track equipment and most of France’s premier pop stars recorded there.

During the video, Hazlewood addresses a person named Jack (who he also calls “the boss”). That’s Jack Robinson, an American who had moved to Paris in the Sixties and ended up studying engineering and production under Chatelain’s tutelage. He co-produced “She Comes Running” along with Hazlewood. Robinson still continues to produce music in Europe, unstoppable at the age of 73.

Lee Hazlewood at work with James Burton on the red Telecaster; Hal Blaine on drums.
 

 
Thanks to Ronnie Sweeting for the Burton and Blaine info.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Syrians swiping and trashing portraits of al-Assad


 
The destruction of a dictator’s likenesses has always proved symbolically powerful, whether it’s a Haitian kid taking a pick-axe to a Jean-Claude Duvalier poster in 1985 or Libyan protestors shoeing the televised image of Muammar Gaddaffi more recently.

It’s been a spring and summer of brave protest in Syria, and a bloody crackdown by the country’s president Bashar al-Assad has resulted in the deaths of more than 1,600. A squad of Madrid-based Syrian expatriates have taken a cue from fellow protestors in the Arab world and offered their own show of solidarity.

No portrait of Assad in a Syrianair office is safe now. Oh, and sorry, trash-bin.
 

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Come to Daddy: A Virgin Prunes primer
08.16.2011
03:24 pm

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
Virgin Prunes
Gavin Friday


 
“Like a crazy singer in a band that’s lost the words.”

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I think the Virgin Prunes are THE most underrated group of the post-punk era. Go ahead and do your worst. What about _____? Or ______?  Or _____?

What about ‘em? Sorry, but I’m right. No band with their theatrical power and musical genius has been so wrongly overlooked as the Virgin Prunes have been for the past 30 years.

The main reason for this gross miscarriage of cultural justice is simply because their albums were extremely difficult to find until seven years ago. Unless you bought the expensive limited edition import vinyl pressed in France and Italy when they actually came out in the early to mid-80s, you were pretty much shut out of enjoying the din glorious of the Virgin Prunes. You probably weren’t going to encounter much, if anything, of the Virgin Prunes’ output in a used record store, either. People who owned those albums, even those who slimmed their record collections down considerably over the years (like me) held onto them. They were not common on Limewire or Napster. Not only were they rare and coveted albums, they were glossy, darkly glamorous and obscenely weird objects d’art in their own right.

I think another reason for their obscurity has to do with the (mostly) misinformed notion that the Virgin Prunes were a goth band due to their “Pagan Lovesong” being a big dancefloor hit at places like London’s Batcave discotheque (which is admittedly where I first heard them myself). Being lumped in with bands like The Specimen, Danse Society, Gene Loves Jezebel and Clan of Xymox hurt their credibility with rock snobs, but their scary, intimidating noise/art rock had more in common with Faust, The Pop Group, The Birthday Party, Public Image Ltd. or Throbbing Gristle, certainly, than it did with Sex Gang Children. The goth label was, and is, an unfortunate one for the legacy of the Virgin Prunes to bear and is still a barrier to proper critical re-appraisal of the group’s work. The goth label didn’t exist when they started.
 

 
Another excuse that they’re still so unknown and underground after 30 years have passed is that their work is simply not for everyone. Motherfuckers are evil sounding. If you don’t like an evil-sounding racket, get back to your Carpenter’s albums—quick—and just keep moving. These guys might damage you for life. If Satan himself had a band, they would sound like the Virgin Prunes.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall. Mirror, mirror, I’ve seen it all…”

It’s been remarked often that the Virgin Prunes are the reverse image of U2. For those of you who don’t know it, Dik Evans, original Virgin Prunes guitarist, is the brother of The Edge and the members of both groups grew up as friends in Dublin. Quoting from the Wikipedia entry:

The band consisted of childhood friends of U2’s Bono. Lypton Village was a “youthful gang” created by Bono, Guggi (Derek Rowan) and Gavin Friday (Fionan Hanvey) in the early 70s, where every member got a new identity and where they could escape from dreary and predictable Dublin life and be anything they wanted to be. It was both lead singers Friday and Guggi who first gave a teenaged Paul Hewson his alter-ego and world-famous moniker “Bono Vox of O’Connell Street,” later simply “Bono.”

U2 were the good boys, the Christians. The Virgins Prunes were feral and downright demonic.
 

 
And did I mention the whole smearing “chocolate” on their faces and simulating sodomy onstage thing? The ritualistic, fetishy transvestite infantilism of the live act put a few people off, too. Below, meet the “Pig Children.”
 

 
The music heard on their albums New Form of Beauty and If I Die I Die (produced by Wire’s Colin Newman) can perhaps best be described as “insane” and “disturbing,” yet it’s always somehow still “beautiful” (in a very broad definition of the word, I grant you). The best comparison to the Virgin Prunes sound would have to be Bauhaus, although that’s just getting you into the ballpark, so don’t make too much of it. The Prunes exist in their very own, very singular continuum. Theirs is the sound of tightly controlled chaos. Rubbery, almost metronomic bass. Pounding primitive drums. Eerie tribal percussion effects and trippy tape loops. Bone-crunching guitar riffs. Dark, apocalyptic lyrical matter and three wailing weirdo singers including a mentally handicapped young man. Their music was the stuff of nightmares. The perfect soundtrack to a bad trip.

Aside from their louder, more violent music, the band could make Eno-esque instrumentals like “Red Nettle” and “Mad Bird in the Wood.”  As freaky as these dudes were, they were also great musicians with a lot of range. They were capable of recording profound and subtle tone poems like… “Suck Me Baby”:
 

 
More new forms of beauty from the Virgin Prunes after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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