Thursday, January 23, 2014

artificial political negativity of the Cathedral is a primary capitalist control mechanism...,

libcom |  It was in the ideological sphere as well that the third major protest, that against massification of the black community, was resolved. Although authentic Afro-American particularity had been undermined by the standardizing imperatives of mass capitalism, the black nationalist reaction paved the way for the constitution of an artificial particularity.[44] Residual idiomatic and physical traits, bereft of any distinctive content, were injected with racial stereotypes and the ordinary petit bourgeois Weltanschauung to create the pretext for an apparently unique black existence. A thoroughly ideological construction of black uniqueness — which was projected universally in the mass market as black culture — fulfilled at least three major functions. First, as a marketing device it facilitated the huckstering of innumerable commodities designed to enhance, embellish, or glorify "blackness".[45] Second, artificial black particularity provided the basis for the myth of genuine black community and consequently legitimated the organization of the black population into an administrative unit — and, therefore, the black elite's claims to primacy. Finally, the otherness-without-negativity provided by the ideologized blackness can be seen as a potential antidote to the new contradictions generated by monopoly capitalism's bureaucratic rationality. By constituting an independently given sector of society responsive to administrative controls, the well-managed but recalcitrant black community justifies the existence of the administrative apparatus and legitimates existing forms of social integration.

In one sense, the decade and a half of black activism was a phenomenon vastly more significant than black activists appreciated while in another sense it was far less significant than has been claimed.[46] As an emancipatory project for the Afro-American population, the "movement" — especially after the abolishment of segregation — had little impact beyond strengthening the existing elite strata. Yet, as part of a program of advanced capitalist reconstruction, black activism contributed to thawing the Cold War and outlined a model to replace it.

By the latter 1960s the New Deal coalition had become obsolete and it was no longer able to fully integrate recalcitrant social strata such as the black population.[47] The New Deal coalition initiated the process of social homogenization and depoliticization Marcuse described as one dimensionality. As Piccone observes, however, by the 1960s the transition to monopoly capitalism had been fully carried out and the whole strategy had become counterproductive.[48] The drive toward homogenization and the total domination of the commodity form had deprived the system of the "otherness" required both to restrain the irrational tendencies of bureaucratic rationality and to locate lingering and potentially disruptive elements. Notwithstanding their vast differences, the ethnic "liberation struggles" and counterculture activism on the one side and the "hard hat" reaction on the other, were two sides of the same rejection of homogenization. Not only did these various positions challenge the one-dimensional order, but their very existence betrayed the inability of the toally administered society to pacify social existence while at the same time remaining sufficiently dynamic.

The development of black activism from spontaneous protest through mass mobilization to system support indicated the arrival of a new era of domination based on domesticating negativity by organizing spaces in which it could be legitimately expressed. Rather than suppressing opposition, the social system now creates its own. The proliferation of government generated reference groups in addition to ethnic ones (the old, the young, battered wives, the handicapped, veterans, retarded and gifted children, etc.)[49] and the appearance of legions of "watchdog" agencies, reveal the extent to which the system manufactures and markets its own illusory opposition.

What makes the "age of artificial negativity" possible is the overwhelming success of the process of massification undertaken since the Depression and in response to it. Universal fragmentation of consciousness, with the corollary decline in the ability to think critically and the regimentation of an alienated everyday life[50] set the stage for new forms of domination built in the very texture of organization. In mass society, organized activity on a large scale requires hierarchization. Along with hierarchy, however, the social management logic also comes into being to (1) protect existing privileges by delivering realizable, if inconsequential, payoffs and (2) to legitimate the administrative rationality as a valid and efficient model. To the extent that the organization strives to ground itself on the mass it is already integrated into the system of domination. The shibboleths which comprise its specific platform make little difference. What is important is that the organization reproduces the manipulative hierarchy and values typical of contemporary capitalism.

Equally important for the existence of this social-managerial form is that the traditional modes of opposition to capitalism have not been able to successfully negotiate the transition from entrepreneurial to administrative capitalism. Thus, the left has not fully grasped the recent shifts in the structure of domination and continues to organize resistance along the very lines which reinforce the existing social order. As a consequence, the opposition finds itself perpetually outflanked. Unable to deliver the goods — political or otherwise — the left collapses before the cretinization of its own constituency. Once the mass model is accepted, cretinization soon follows and from that point the opposition loses any genuine negativity. The Civil Rights and Black Power movements prefigured the coming of this new age; the feminist photocopy of the black road to nowhere was its farcical re-run.


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