The new tATu single “220” has apparently been causing some controversy among fans, which is pretty incomprehensible, as it’s wholly excellent. I don’t think I’ve mentioned their last single, either. I saw somewhere that they thought its video carried an anti-abortion message, which is disappointing; we may have to count them out as leaders of the cybernetic communist revolution. It’s a pretty great video, though, all giant concrete structures and soviet goth uniforms:
I think the only thing that could make Girls Aloud better would be if they started filming their videos in Britain’s decaying industrial heritage.
On the way out after a talk on Arendt last week, a friend turned to me and said, “so, I guess you’re pretty pissed off.” And indeed I was; I’m not especially knowledgeable or enthusiastic about Arendt, but she’s certainly more interesting than her American epigones (but I repeat myself; are there any Arendtians anywhere but America?). Arendt, with her anti-modern republicanism, was not in any straightforward sense a liberal; yet, with American Arendtians, the topic always comes back, sooner of later, to the special excellence of the American political community. Or, rather, the hypothetical excellence of the American political community because, of course, all Arendtians agree that politics is in grave danger: the social always lurks, waiting to swallow it up. In last week’s Arendtian extraveganza, this protectiveness towards the political took the form of enjoining people to forget the tartuffery of “social democracy” now that George Bush threatens something much more important: the Constitution! Read more↴
I’m in favor of abortion or, in the rather impoverished language of contemporary debate, I’m pro-choice. That would include the choice of art students to artificially inseminate themselves and then induce miscarriages as part of their work. But a lot of the response on the internet to Aliza Shvartzs’s artwork has been of the “I’m as pro-choice as anyone, as long as women don’t make choices I disagree with” variety. I think it’s a real weakness of the pro-choice position that abortion is so often spoken of in hushed terms, treated as unpleasant, tragic, something awful that must, perhaps, be allowed in some circumstances when entered into with the proper degree of gravity. But this isn’t really a pro-choice position at all; treating abortion as somehow an especially grave matter buys completely into the pro-life position that there’s something wrong about abortion (indeed, the idea that you can have an abortion, but only if you treat it with the requisite degree of moral seriousness, is not conceptually different from the idea that you can have an abortion, but only if you are the victim of rape: it depends on a misogynist distinction between “responsible” and “irresponsible” women). For more on this see an old LBO post by shag, and this excellent post on the current controversy.
The connection between imperialism and fascism has been frequently made, by Trotsky and Césaire among others. So it’s always helpful to see pro-imperialists making use of classic fascist tropes. Not that it’s all that uncommon; another obvious example is Nick Cohen et al’s curious belief in a powerful elitist group of “bruschetta-eating liberals,” a translation of the US right’s “latte liberals,” by which they mean “Jews.” It’s a little bit puzzling; I mean, I guess the objective fascism of supporters of imperialism is overdetermined, but I’m still a bit surprised to see it manifested so clearly in the discourse of people who believe themselves to be anti-fascists. Is ideology really so simple and so effective?
The minor flap over the Hilary Clinton Walmart videos seems like an interesting example of the role of cynicism in ideology. My first response, like I imagine a lot of people’s, was standard-issue cynicism: she’s being paid by Walmart, of course she’s going to enthuse about them; it doesn’t mean she really believes it. But of course this response precisely misses the point. Clinton’s feigned enthusiasm is an accurate expression of her position because it doesn’t reflect her “true” internal beliefs. That is, her willingness to pretend to be a devoted fan of capital is due to the fact that she actually is a devoted fan of capital.
This, I take it, is the point of Žižek’s idea of overidentification. When I first heard of it, I had trouble distinguishing it from an idea of taking people seriously in order to expose their hypocrisy, an extraordinarily dull liberal position. No, ideology is not about hypocrisy or lies, a gap between what people say and what they really believe. On the contrary, it is the belief in this gap which is ideological, and an ideology that functions so effectively we rarely notice it.