Effective local blogging (3): creating the interface between Habermasian ‘lifeworld’ and anti-hegemonic narrative
I am too serious a socialist thinker to waste time reading the right wing blogosphere. I have, however, been made aware that my previous post on the development of the leftwing blogopshere did meet with some criticism from that benighted quarter.
I have of course no doubt that all those reading my article did so fair-mindedly and completely, and so have therefore been at something of a loss to work out how such criticism might have come about; my argument was, as ever, coherent, well made and impeccably sourced, so there can have been no issues to pick at in terms of the consequent recommendations for solidaristic action.
However, on reflection, I concede that the post may not perhaps – especially for a relatively uncultured and epistemologically naïve audience – have given sufficient specific guidance on what might be the precise content of the emerging leftwing local and regional media, itself set within its wider ‘web’ of local and then wider actions.
Here, therefore, I seek to provide such further guidance. This is apposite enough, since in the initial stages of this leftwing media development programme there will inevitably need to be some centralized guidance on what kind of content can or cannot be authorized in the developing local publications; there is little doubt that a central committee will need to be established to co-ordinate the programme and provide editorial control over all local ‘blogs’ and their allied multi-media developments (and needless to say, it is likely that I would need to play – however reluctantly – a key role in this committee, possibly as its founding General Secretary).
Fundamentally, the remit of any new localized ‘cell-based’ but centrally co-ordinated publication, whether electronic or hard copy, will be the creation of an effective interface between the existing ‘lifeworld’ and the development of an appropriate register of anti-hegemonic discourse.
By ‘lifeworld’, I refer to the post-Husserl Habermasian conception (‘Lebenswelt’) of a set of socially and culturally sedimented linguistic meanings, shared in their current form by the working class and its hegemonized identities (and sets of identities).
Into this existing set of shared understandings of how the world operates, it is necessary to ‘infuse’ the appropriate set of Marxian conceptions both around the essential nature of capital/labour relations and the consciousness of the working class as an objective entity in relation to capital. In turn such conscientization will lead to the development of a renewed ‘Lebenswelt’ in which class struggle becomes both more desirably and feasible through solidaristic local and then wider action.
Perhaps a concrete example of this process may assist our more epsitemologically challenged readership.
Clearly, in today’s shared ‘lifeworld’ the proletatiat has been subjugated through the realisation of a mass media enculturation project (cf the Lacanian concept of ‘jouissance’, if you will) based on glamourised notions of romance.
To grasp this is a useful starting point for all the centrally driven local publications aimed at, in the medium term, creating a renewed revolutionary spirit within the working class. Each new publication should therefore contain at least one ‘romance’ story, written in the appropriate register (cf. the ‘Mills and Boon’ phenonemon, and the rise of Heat Magazine), but with elements of Marxian teaching and concientization woven into the fabric of the story, along with other elements (in the shape of minor character and secondary plot devices) aimed at challenging some of the more reactionary theoretical and practical digressions offered up by the so-called ‘post-Marxist’ left.
Plot lines for these ‘romances’, and accompanying sample of dialogue, for submission to the putative Central Revolutionary Activist Publishing (CRAP) committee will therefore be along the following lines.
First, all such publications will have three central ‘romantic’ characters in a triangular love/Marxist doctrine triangle. Though some variation may be authorised in time, initially one character, whom in the first editions should generally be called Malcolm, will both be something of an overly orthodox ‘reductionist’ Marxist (cf. Althusser), and believe himself to be ‘in love’ with Barbara, a headstrong and occasionally incomprehensible ‘post-Marxist’ firebrand with a mysterious background in psychoanalytical dabblings and a penchant for referring to The Big Other, sometimes in French.
After some twists and turns of appropriate local invention, but usually involving plans for a strike, heavy handed tactics by state agents, and some telling revelations about the intellectual relationship between Zizek and Lacan, Malcolm should be betrayed by the ultimately unreliable Barbara, only to be rescued from a fate worse than Compass-based liberalism by the strong, steady presence of Ethel, whose character should be developed subtly from the first strike meeting onwards and slowly revealed not just as brilliant in the sack (as is Malcolm, after an unsure start) but also to have a mature intellectual grasp of both the basic immutable tenets of historical materialism and of the capacity to adapt tactics to this particular historic bloc, in addition to a ready grip the use of discourse as a subtle but powerful counter-hegemonic device.
In this way, all such ‘romances’ will have an in-built structure reflecting the essential dialectical thesis-antithesis-synthesis played out by and through the central characters. The following sample dialogue also pertains.
It was then the realization hit Malcolm, as fiercely as that recent blow on the back of the head from an agent of the state, in which he now fully understood that violence was always and irredeemably inherent.
Yes, yes, he thought. Ethel was the one. Ethel was the one who really understood the dynamic relationship between the ideological superstructure and the essential economic base, and how surplus value was really at the heart both of the so-called postwar economic miracle (as Jessopian ‘spatio-temporal fix’ in the principal form of the welfare state) and now more so much more clearly in ‘raw power’ form in this latest crisis of capitalism.
‘Oooh, Ethel’, he swooned, as she folded him in her womanly arms, strengthened by years of proletariat toil, and held him against her beating heart of socialist endeavour.
‘Ethel, tell me again about the relationship between Rosa Luxembourg’s incisive vision of how the working classes can come together in revolutionary force, and the somewhat later but, you suggest, no less relevant, writing of Gramsci on intellectual and moral reform within a temporal nation-state context.
‘Take your overalls off, comrade’ whispered Ethel, huskily, Poulantzian in her growing desire for unity between socialists. ‘I need to feel your Lukacs compendium’.
Malcolm moved closer, and as the sun dipped behind the horizon, far to the well metaphorical left, Ethel gasped: ‘Now that’s what I call entryism by the Hard Left, comrade’.
I hope this helps. All romances should introduce light Shakespearian comedic relief about two thirds of the way through. Unless otherwise authorized, this should be in the form of two well-meaning but bumbling professor figures, whom you should usually calls Professors Louffe and Maclau ,who will tend to mix up neo-liberal and pseudo-radical concepts a lot, and will often be ejected from strike scenes by the workers, and this often by the seat of their pants.
In later US-set versions of the Central Committee’s work, the professors should generally be thrown out of a saloon-bar style doorway into a muddy unpaved street, while in the more socially realist British tradition they should generally end up in one of those big refuse collection bins the Conservative Council hasn’t collected for ages.
At least one professor should emerge, crestfallen with a leaking Kentucky Fried Chicken box on her/his head but flattened down into an approximate mortar board shape, to create symbolic image of her/his intellectual immersion in the detritus of capitalism, and what mortar boards are used for in the socialism-building trade.
There will be one other important character in all of the romances. This will almost invariably be a wise, avuncular figure, generally a rural Labour councillor known for his occasional but hugely insightful blogging. This character will pop up frequently to gives sage advice on the need for a focus on praxis even in the heat of events, and will generally be able to distil his interpretation of recent events in the novel, both in terms of intellectual development and strike practicalities, into less than 5,000 words, though he should be allowed longer if it casts him in a particularly noble and heroic light.
In the subsequent film versions, this character should generally be played by left-leaning Hollywood A-Listers George Clooney and, when he gets too old, Johnny Depp. On no account should Sean Penn be involved, because he is silly.