In the wake of the attack that killed over 80 people in Norway many have looked beyond the more obvious causes, like video games, hive-mind social democracy squeezing the life out of individual enterprise, and flagrant Islamism, to the links that crazy lone wolf Anders Behring Breivik had with European anti-immigrant political parties.

In the last couple of decades the European right has gained significant mainstream support for their agenda of racial purity through the proper channels and any association with Breivik’s excessive methods could damage their brand. Thus these moderate racists have been at pains to distance themselves from the Norwegian massacre.

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Art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer with which to shape it. (Vladimir Mayakovsky in Daintith et. al. 28)

Nearly a century after Mayakovsky’s death, when every outrage against bourgeois mores can now be seen at the Tate Gallery, such a sentiment seems more suited for a Quote of The Day calendar than a serious radical manifesto. Art is a hammer alright, a hammer, a box of nails, a six-piece drill set, and a lovely designer display case, all for $29.95 (though most likely $2,995). The very element that is supposed to give art its critical capacity – its irreducibility to political-economic functionalism – is the very thing that actually augments commodification. Art is the commodity par excellence for the very reason that its commodity status is explicitly denied at every turn a fact that is key to understanding whether art can have any real bearing on social change.

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Pandora hastened to replace the lid; but, alas! The whole contents of the jar had escaped, one thing only excepted, which lay at the bottom, and that was RHETORICAL AUDACITY. So we see at this day, whatever lame tendentiousness abounds, the Balls still remain to just follow through on rebranding bullshit as if it was the truth.  

Useless Idiots: The Leninist Avant-Reargarde

While Lenin and Trotsky can at least claim to have backed up their Viagra-infused braggadocio with some serious wet work, their ‘avant-garde’ cultural familiars amounted to little more than lukewarm flatus. Contrary to Žižek and Watson’s revisionism Lenin and Trotsky regarded their modernist hangers-on accordingly, half-heartedly pandering to them when it helped the Bolshevik brand but otherwise dismissing them with barely-disguised disdain[1], in the same manner Lenin dismissed his progressive liberal defenders as ‘useful idiots’. The disdain was well earned, as Andre Breton et. al. kept their art pretty distinct from their politics, with the former being largely avant-as-usual (ooohh, here’s a little anti-bourgeois Freudian frisson, ooohh, here’s the mildest of formal experimentation!) and the latter amounting to little more than manifesto-signing. This is most apparent when one compares the paragon of soft-Bolshevist modernism, Diego Rivera, to the unrepentant Stalinist daring of his contemporary, David Alfaro Siqueiros.  Read the rest of this entry »

Ben Watson, the Blakean wit and poetic insurgent extraordinaire, is a difficult man to pin down. Only utilising his slave name for the purposes of communicating and proselytizing at the frequency of Babylon[1], via the medium of Quartet Books and its suitably eccentric owner Naim Attalah[2] and Wire magazine he slips out of the grip of administrative positivism like a lubed-up marsupial mole. Under the guise of his nom de poesie, Out To Lunch, Watson has been responsible for the death of seventeen accountants and twelve welfare reports. Though Watson shares Žižek love of ‘radical’ totalising theory in the form of Hegel, Žižek’s less-than-absolute embrace of Bolshevism condemns him to soft-cock, academic leftism in Watson’s eyes (Art, Class & Cleavage: Quantulumcunque Concerning Materialist Esthetix [beeyatchh!]: 121).  Read the rest of this entry »

Given the dead weight of this legacy, embodied in the grey spam of Callinicos and his Army of Greyness, it seems impossible to believe that even the most Hermetically gifted cosmetic surgeon could make this hideous visage the life of any party other than the Party, or at least simply non-emetic. Calling Dr. Funky, bring 100 cc’s of zany intimidation, 1500 cc’s of pop culture cred and half a crate of Wild Turkey to the emergency room, stat! Slavoj Žižek, the self-appointed heir to the throne of Lacanian Psychoanalysis, whose staggering feats of amphibianism mean he can swim in the darkest pools of obscurantist theory and yet breathe the thin air of pop culture froth and bubble, come on down. Read the rest of this entry »

So you think you’re pretty hard and insouciantly radical, ay? So you thought writing epic poems to the passion of crack-fuelled wildcat strikes on sheaves of Derrida’s skin, with a pen carved from a bullet and with ink of bankers’ blood and absinthe, was pretty out-there? So you thought you could impress us as you snorted glass fibres while listening to Merzbow with dynamite strapped to your ass and a brick on the accelerator as the Body Shop warehouse gates loomed towards you? Then you are as reformist as a union bureaucrat’s beige underpants, because as compared to the po(li/e)tical apocalytechnics of Slavoj Žižek and Ben Watson’s Lenino-TrotskyismTOTHEX-TREME!!! Your ‘poetic terrorism’ is as a hamster’s belch to a magnetar. Read the rest of this entry »