Jul 192011
 

Why not call the present political system a ‘cuntocracy’? It is most certainly not a democracy—at least not the type any one would want.  We need a new name for not just what our leaders do to us because of greed and stupidity.  We need an accurate irrefutable term for all of society’s organisation as an undesirable but innate feature of the effects of the power hungry.  We need a term who’s very existence will drive the science of self-understanding in a way that returns power to the ordinary people—giving them a voice and a simple way to talk back to those who pose as leaders but take us nowhere.  If people in power object: it’s working.

But what are our base assumptions? Well, there is probably only one ‘law’ that we could say social science ‘discovered,’ and this seems to have been axiomatically engendered by sheer flippancy. This was Lord Acton’s statement (in a letter to a Bishop) that all power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. No one has thought to extrapolate our one law further to establish its social determinants. You are simply not allowed to.  We can adapt Acton’s Law into: all power tends to create cunts and absolute power creates total cunts.  If power and cuntishness are thus implacably entwined we can say that they would form a metaphysical pathos.  An inescapable trap of becoming a cunt awaits the power hungry: fate and vanishing freedom, confusion or loss of values, emotional colouring whether they are aware or not.  If you really believe that you rather than all the others should be in control the result is pessimism and fatalism towards all else, including analysis of the situation.  This trap gives rise to a functional rationality to keep the illusion going: the cuntocracy.  Max Weber’s concept of the inescapable ‘Iron Shell of Bureaucracy,’ or Marx’s ‘Barbarism’ as the incurable ‘leper of civilisation’ point to its social psychology.[1] PDF

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Jul 072011
 

Britannia Hospital, by Lindsay Anderson, is a social satire, a bleak metaphor for British society in the early 1980s, an allegory of Thatcherism (and a prophetic vision of Cameronian Britain). Strikes, police violence, police corruption, riots, all present in daily life today, and all represented in this black comedy. In the hospital’s 500th anniversary year, Britannia Hospital administrator, Vincent Potter (played by Leonard Rossiter), is desperately trying to restore order prior to a visit by the Queen Mother, who is coming to open the Millar Centre for Advanced Surgical Science. Meanwhile, in an effort to produce a supreme being — which he calls Genesis — Professor Millar himself (played by Graham Crowden), is secretly conducting Frankenstein-like experiments on human cadavers. With the British government’s failure to provide funding for hospitals, the new Centre is being financed by the Japanese company, Banzai Chemicals, the owners of which are also present for the special day. Intermittent telephone services and a faltering electrical supply add to Potter’s frustrations, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. An undercover team of journalists (led by Malcolm McDowell, the rebel public schoolboy from If . . . ) are about to stop at nothing to uncover Millar’s clandestine project, and there is a growing number of protesters (including many of the staff) at the main gate demonstrating against the preferential treatment of the hospital’s private patients, including an Idi Amin-type African dictator (Val Pringle), who has installed most of his aides and servants in the hospital too (Anderson’s original inspiration for the film came from the staff of Charing Cross Hospital in the 1970s who refused to treat private patients). The kitchen staff go on strike when they learn that the food for the special guests has been ordered from top London food specialists Fortnum and Mason. Potter wins over their union representative by promising him an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List …

See also: LINDSAY ANDERSON – A Celebration (1994)CB FILMS

Jun 072011
 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IpxjE53bn4

(First segment above) In this third and final episode, Curtis’s compelling video essay explores a pair of uniquely modern occurrences: our growing understanding of genetics, and the changing theories about the role our genes play in both our development and the way we interact; the rise of computers, particularly in the last two decades, which has seen a murderous land-grab for the precious minerals – specifically, copper from places such as the Congo, which is rich with the stuff – and how they inform political policy and the balance of power. Curtis explores the dehumanising effects of political power and computers suggesting that corruption extends even to the materials from which our computers and other electronic gadgets are made, with the control of mines in places such as the Congo resulting in civil unrest, genocide and the appearance of despotic regimes. Meanwhile, the theories of influential biologists, from Bill Hamilton onwards, help perpetuate the idea that we’re all “soft machines”, driven by the impulses of our genes. Even a trait as apparently unique to our species, altruism, can be explained in practical terms – “A gene would destroy itself in order to allow its future self to survive,” we’re told. Curtis concludes with the assertion that we’ve all willingly adopted the idea that we’re genetic machines, and that we’ve done so because it explains why there are so many dreadful things going on in the world – things that we’re powerless to stop. . . Except we are never powerless to rebel against the machine and change things for the better, are we …?!
‘I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never be conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man’s meaning.

Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.’

Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate

 

May 312011
 

Part 2 of Adam Curtis’s compelling video essay All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace. In this second programme in the BBC 2 series he considers how humans have been ‘colonised’ by the machines they have built, the rise of the notion of the ‘ecosystem’, Jay Forrester’s ideas of feedback loops, and exposes the crucial fallacy in the idea of self-sustaining machines. It turns out these are not viable alternatives to existing power structures, despite optimism about Twitter-organised revolutions and suchlike. Brilliant, visually compelling ‘sociopolitical theatre’ with closely argued theses you need time to absorb and think about carefully (most of us, anyway!)

May 252011
 

Ayn Rand

In this first episode Adam Curtis, documentary-maker extraordinaire, tracks the pernicious effects of Ayn Rand‘s ideas on American financial markets, particularly via the influence on Alan Greenspan, the US economist who served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States from 1987 to 2006. It was Greenspan who persuaded the newly elected Bill Clinton in 1992 to let the markets grow, and cut taxes, and to let the markets stabilise themselves with computer technology. Although the Asian miracle had lead to long-term growth in South Korea and other countries Joseph Stiglitz began warning that the withdrawal of money from the Eastern economies could cause devastation. Curtis shows that the economic crisis that befell the Eastern countries such as Indonesia (under Suharto) and South Korea was a direct result of Rand’s ideas leading to the transfer of control foreign financial investment from politics to banking institutions leading the housing bubbles to burst, causing large financial losses in the East. However, after each country agreed to IMF bailout loans, foreign investors immediately withdrew their money, triggering massive economic disasters. To avoid a repeat, China decided to control America’s economy via similar techniques. The belief in America was that computers could stabilise the lending of money and that this would permit lending beyond what was actually sustainable, leading ultimately to the 2008 collapse due to a similar housing bubble.

See FILMSALSO SEE OPENING SEQUENCE below

May 222011
 

The Death of a Bureaucrat (1966) is a difficult-to-find film made by one of Cuba’s most famous Directors, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea. It tells the story of a young man’s attempts to confront bureaucracy and red tape. When a well loved sculptor is accidentally killed by the machine he created to mass-produce busts of nineteenth-century revolutionary hero José Martí, his family decides he should be buried gripping his union work permit (Carnet card) as a symbol of his dedication to Castro’s cause. Unfortunately, when his wife goes to receive her pension, the paperwork cannot be completed without her dead husband’s work permit. Distraught, she enlists her nephew to exhume the body and so begins a maddening paper trail that ends in a hilarious climax exposing the insanity of bureaucracy. A mixture of slapstick comedy and paranoid nightmare. See FILMS

May 052011
 

The FBI’s War on Black America is a documentary exploration of the lives and deaths of people targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO programme targeting organised efforts by African-Americans to secure their civil liberties and basic human rights. The FBI’s War on Black America offers a thought-provoking look at a government-sanctioned conspiracy, the FBI’s secret counter-intelligence programme known as COINTELPRO, a concerted effort to subvert the will of the people to prevent the rise “of a black Messiah” that would mobilise the US’s African-American community into a meaningful political force. This documentary establishes an historical perspective on the measures initiated by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, which aimed to discredit and connive at the assassination of black political figures and forces of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Combining declassified documents, interviews, rare footage and exhaustive research, the film investigates the US government’s role in the assassinations of Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, and Martin Luther King Jr. and asks were their murders the result of this concerted effort to avoid “a black Messiah”?

Reviews: Combining declassified documents, interviews, rare footage and exhaustive research, it investigates the government’s role in the assignations of Malcom X, Fred Hampton and Martin Luther King Jr. The film reflects the rigorous research which went into its making, and portrays the nation’s unrest during the period it recounts. Sally Barber, All Movie Guide

“History tells us that whoever is in the White House, the secret arms of government are always at work, carrying on their deadly practices of surveillance and worse. The film, ‘FBI’s War on Black America’ by Denis Mueller and Deb Ellis is therefore important as a warning and as a call for all of us to be watchful in defending our freedoms…” Howard Zinn

“In this illuminating and compelling expose, Mueller and Ellis chronicle the long, sorry and enduring history of black disenfranchisement during a period of social upheaval, racial conflict and revolt in America. Foregrounding COINTELPRO, the FBI’s covert program of disinformation, counterinsurgency, and deliberate and systematic violence against and oppression of civil rights and black nationalist organizations and leadership, The FBI’s War on Black America anticipates the George W. Bush government’s “dirty tricks” and renewed assault on civil liberties and working people home and abroad.” Michael T. Martin, Ph.D, Director Black Film Center/Archive, University of Indiana

See FILMS

May 052011
 

A Parting Hymn is in some respects a tribute to the political party that once seemed to be a voice for the poor and the working classes, the embodiment of fairness and solidarity. On the other, it recognises the very real death of the Labour Party, while unashamedly making the case for socialism (however lonely a voice that might be in a post-Thatcher/Blair era). Labour’s core supporters along with the party’s deepest-held principles have long since been sold down the river  and this film explains just how the electorate have been deceived, used and ignored in the interests of power, and the holding of office at almost ANY cost. From the makers of ‘Precious Few Heroes‘. Written by Jack Foster; Executive Producers, Alan Hunter & Claire Morrow; With thanks to Chris Silver and brought to our attention via Bella Caledonia


Apr 172011
 

Short (1975) French TV documentary (cine-tract) in which women respond to Agnès Varda‘s question ‘What is it to be a woman’?. Against a blank screen a group of women — who appear to be preparing for a school reunion photograph — answer the question in turn, denouncing the macho-oriented society which has conditioned them since infancy, and revindicating their right to exist as individuals in their own right. This short cine-pamphlet captures the passion of the feminist movement of the 1970s.

Documental para televisión en el que las mujeres responden a la pregunta “¿qué es ser una mujer? Agnès Varda, a través de este corto considerado como cine-tract (o cine panfleto), da algunas respuestas posibles.Sobre un fondo blanco, mujeres puestas en fila como si posaran para una foto de la escuela, van tomando sucesivamente la palabra. Denuncian la sociedad machista que les ha condicionado desde la infancia y reivindican el derecho a existir como individuos de pleno derecho. Este cortometraje es representativo de la violencia de la reivindicación feminista de los años 70. See FILMS