I got through the SI anthology, it was a whopper of a book. Gives you insight into the group and its objectives. The writing in the late 50s were almost utopian. The core ideas of Detournement were there and the ambiences of spaces were quite exciting but as they got into the sixties they refused to let their imaginations get the better of them and instead were pragmatic as it was supposed to be a revolution of everyday life not another power swap or representation. So it got a bit dry and it made their eventual break up seem like a breath of fresh air. They didn’t want to be another group of like minded individuals falling over each other in communal agreement but instead be critical and dynamic. That is hard as groups tend to agree with each other and socially bond which can make critical discourse difficult. They tended to break with groups and individuals booting them out of the SI if they disagreed sharply. Was this to remain pure? All it did was create splinter groups but at least the SI remained set on its objectives and denied many groups of authenticity. The real problem is the whole idea of being authentic and having a goal with no definitive end. The core idea is to undermine current spectacle based society trying not to become a spectacle oneself and get recuperated into the system. Making radical ideas remain radical. That is hard.
The other day I was thinking of change as a gradual process that is absorbed (to the SI this is recuperation) and I have no problem with that but when you think of the Obama rally for change it seems only to manipulate the majority to gain power and really has America changed? I can’t really say as I am not living day to day in that country but the idea of change is very powerful and the idea of it is also the core of the SI. Possibly the SI wanted absolute change ie revolution. Obama wanted a change of government and got it by appealing to the masses. The SI wanted you to change, ie all of you to take power not give it to a representative but really take it and be responsible. What that creates is up to everyone.
Just a few slogans to finish: I am free under lock and key, I am change.
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Reading the SI anthology and it got me thinking about gangs, there was a short excerpt on gangs and the desire to consume goods but the issue of not having the money and the inevitable conformism of members. Not all conform of course but go against “the system” or eventually get a revolutionary conscience, this was lauded in the article on youth. They want you to think about over throwing the current system. With hip hop a lot of the rebellious behaviour created a market, not unlike the rebellious nature of the youth movement in the 60s that created a market for new musical styles and subcultures. It really amazes me how morph-able capitalist culture is. This helps bring about change. What I really want to know is why is it so slow on gay marriage or military conflicts etc? The new right wing centric culture that seems dominant is really at odds with what the average person thinks or believes. Why? I remember an article about a demonstration in the UK that Brian Eno gave a rather grave assessment of spending on war in Iraq and Afghanistan. He used conservative tactics such as spending to outline how wasteful the wars were.
I can remember the youth culture from my day and the desire to dress in designer sports clothes and gear. This desire was something I was personally was at odds with at the time, I couldn’t see how stealing stuff was going to lead to a richer life. Richer as in satisfying and creative. I was also hopeless at stealing goods, I was good at getting spray paint and had multiple tactics for its acquisition but only that I desired to be creative with spray cans. They are pretty cheap now probably because I have a job but really they are, most cans were $20 or more now you can get a basic can for $4. The desire for up market goods were mainly a Sydney thing as in Melbourne graffiti artists wore heavy metal gear or flannelette shirts. Things have changed now of course but it makes me wonder why the desire was so strong that a lot of crews eventually became professional criminals and some even stopped painting. Ram raids, bank jobs etc mostly lead to jail time.
Hip Hop is the most obvious of the culprits after money and status, the rap industry is huge but its success financially is its least rebellious point. It is just entertainment at the end of the day but when you see ChuckD talking he is rebellious by nature but it isn’t so much to overthrow the system but to change the system. That is the difference with a lot of rebellious culture. I personally like change though I am probably a bit set in my ways now. The SI wanted total change from the bottom up whereas a lot of culture in late capitalism moves into mass consciousness and then the change happens. TV shows that popularise gay culture, media that supports the ending of war we need to take Jello Biafras statement “Don’t hate the media become the media” to a whole new level. It is always a fight and at the moment in Australia we are losing to a conservative government but the push and pull of culture goes on whether you are wearing a designer brand or not.
Really appreciate the support, my work from last month has found a new home!