31 October 2006

The thoughtform

(bloody hell, I'm in logorrhea mode today, aren't I?)

Anyway, a thoughtform that could encapsulate the culturesphere of the revolutionary and post-revolutionary era is The Unborn Goddess. Unborn because we only have the vaguest idea what she will look like yet. The Revolution will be her labour pains, the world's second workers' state her birth.

We'd better start evoking her quick. The other side are lifting their game.

You're looking at one, mate

A character like Parsons could hardly avoid the FBI. From the early 1940s he was watched because of suspected communist affiliations, though we are left to speculate on what a communist occultist would sound like.

- from an article on the man who took Ron Hubbard's ass to the carwash.

First practical ideas

It is common belief that corporations function like the magical concept of an egregore - which is, I believe, a being created by magic with a will of its own. If you choose to take that literally, or just think of it as a good metaphor for the unstoppable logic of capitalist accumulation, it doesn't matter. (The metaphorical use goes all the way back to the Communist Manifesto itself, where Uncles Karl and Fred compare the modern capitalist to the Sorceror's Apprentice, who made Magical Mistake #1 - summoning what you can't banish.)

If we start from this point of view, and we accept what Tony Cliff said that to defeat an enemy you must become symmetrical to it - then we need some kind of "egregore" (or cultural metaphor for struggle) equally strong on our side. One problem is that the traditional collective nouns used by revolutionaries for the new being that will overthrow the old order - "the working class" or "the proletariat" - have had most of their power sucked out of them by seventy years of misuse by Stalinist filth. These will have to be replaced. (For those who don't come from my political tradition: Stalinism bears the same relation to legitimate revolutionary socialism that $cientology does to magic.)

Some of our comrades have already begun saying "the tribe of the workers" - mainly because that resonates the most strongly with the actual consciousness of the actual workers right now. This brings up one of our major obstacles. This new "thoughtform" - the new "culture of resistance" - is impossible to simply extrapolate from anything current. But we do know that its seeds lie - somewhere - in the cultures of resistance currently sprouting everywhere around the world. These seeds are the birth of consciousness. Anywhere where a worker or an oppressed person starts thinking and acting for themselves, in social solidarity, there lies one of these "seeds". And the more these ideas catch on among their peers - to put it another way, the more potent the spontaneously arising memes - the more likely that they will be vitally important for the future.

It is fundamental to the idea of magic that it works backwards as well as forward in time (a shoutout to the Paradox cultists out there). So, any magic which aims to manifest this thoughtform will have to work forward in time from actually existing struggles, trying to connect them with a process going backwards in time from when the New Culture already exists. It is one of our articles of faith that the seeds of the New Culture will come only out of active, collective struggle on both physical and conceptual levels against the Corporates and their thoughtforms.

Project 1 of the Chaos Marxism current is, therefore, expressed in political jargon: to envision and help build a new oppositional culture of workers' resistance. In magical jargon: to invoke and materialise an entity with the power to neutralise the corporate egregores. The first practical steps will must be involved in the actually existing struggles of the moment, seeking always to identify the "seeds of the New Culture" and to encourage them to flower. At the same time, magical work to reach into the future, and attempt to manifest the fully-evolved form of the New Culture - the form that will neutralise and supplant the corporate thoughtforms - right here, right now, in our memespace and our physical reality.

ETA: I forsee this as having two communications. Firstly, evoking the New Culture "backwards in time" through artwork and agitprop. Secondly, to invoke the personality of... the person who can "channel" the thoughtform into the present day, and make it manifest by connecting it with physical reality. Marxists say "Bolshevik cadre" - occultists say "adept" or "priest". As my mentor put it when I complained to him about my shyness - "I'm a hermit by nature myself. But I do the social thing because it's necessary for the work."

Feedback for the win!

One of our devoted readers complains that a lot of the writing here is "full of incomprehensible jargon". Sadly, this is a real problem. Made even more problematic by the fact that I'm trying to use two (traditionally) mutually contradictory forms of jargon at the same time. Some in the audience will know what "Gramscian hegemony" or "the negation of the negation" mean. Others will know what an "egregore", a "banishment" or "metaprogramming" are. Virtually no-one seems to know both sets at the same time. Which is why, on this blog, I am trying to evolve a new language. Not a new jargon - because the whole point of what I am doing is that it must be accessible to people without a university education or, indeed, the time to read books on a regular basis. This may be a path strewn with up to three miles of broken glass.

Another reader (damn, forgot I was screening comments - you'll be able to see it later) said something like it was "nice to see magi actually doing something". Well, that's the whole point, isn't it? Now that we have the basic ground rules of the project sorted out, the question is how to form a link between the theory and the practice. Any vague ideas that I have will be posted here.

Just an idea to leave you with. Magicians know full well that under the surface of ordinary every day reality lies a seething mass of the inexplicable and the ineffable. And yet, they seem to turn up their noses at looking closely at where the majority of this world's population spend most of their waking hours - working some horrible day job. Perhaps practical magic crossed with union organisation could possibly be Project 1.

30 October 2006

Manifesto v. 0.9 vel Liber MCMXVII

(edited 2010/04/09)

Chaos Marxism is an anticapitalist memetic-combat current.

We see dialectical materialism (and its physical manifestation, revolutionary socialism / classical Marxism) as close akin to other projects and techniques of consciousness change such as public relations, psychology, and "magic(k)(!)" or however it's being spelled this week.

Global corporate rule is a reality on the material and on all ideological planes. You can only defeat an enemy by becoming symmetrical-but-opposite to it. The symmetrical opponent to global corporates will be a global organisation of the industrial and service-industry workers, whose psychic energy and surplus value is the nourishment of the corporate entities which determine our current consensus reality.

Capitalism is a vampire and we are the Slayers. We seek the coming to full consciousness of the majority of the world's population. This will take the form of the transformation of the worldwide proletariat into a "class for itself" - or to put it another way, the manifestation of a collective world thoughtform which can kick the corporate egregore where it really hurts. This might well happen by organising a collective of what Paul Slazinger calls Mind Opening Specialists. A cadre party of the Leninist type, properly understood, is a magical order. We must remember Lenin's magical motto - "patiently explain".

We are the bastard children of Aleister Crowley and Rosa Luxemburg. Trotsky built our hotrod and Robert Anton Wilson souped it up. We declare eternal war on all cliques and shibboleths. We are prepared to chase this thing through all the words in the world. What we do is the only important thing.

Magick is serious business. Therefore, we are prohibited from ever taking ourselves too seriously. We are not interested in wasting time explaining to vulgar materialists why magic is neither a fraud nor useless, any more than we are interested in explaining to mealy-mouthed liberals why dialectical materialism is not responsible for the horrors and crimes of Stalin, Pol Pot etc. We see no reason why fascist filth should enjoy such apparent street-cred among metaprogrammers, when the project of October 1917 had the potential to be fundamentally world-changing than anything that the goosestepping jackasses of the 1930's could have imagined.

Anyone who endorses these ideas and is actually prepared to do something about them is one of us and is invited to become one of the writers of this blog. This manifesto is subject to radical change without notice.

A quiz for our readers:

Quote 1:

The human species, the coagulated Homo sapiens, will once more enter into a state of radical transformation, and, in his own hands, will become an object of the most complicated methods of artificial selection and psycho-physical training. This is entirely in accord with evolution... Man will make it his purpose to master his own feelings, to raise his instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent, to extend the wires of his will into hidden recesses, and thereby to raise himself to a new plane, to create a higher social biologic type, or, if you please, a superman.

Quote 2:

Nothing exists except as a relation with other similarly postulated ideas. Nothing can be known in itself, but only as one of the participants in a series of events. Reality is therefore in the motion, not in the things moved. We cannot apprehend anything except as one postulated element of an observed impression of change. We may express this in other terms as follows. Our knowledge of anything is in reality the sum of our observations of its successive movements, that is to say, of its path from event to event.

Can you tell which of the above was written by a magician and which one by a Marxist revolutionary? (Before examining the links and without using Google, you cheating sons of suitcases.) It's worth noting that they were written in the same year. More proof that we're going the same place by different roads.


I am considering writing some kind of "Chaos Marxist Manifesto" - a very basic list of starting points around which I could begin to start attracting an actual intellectual/practical current. Thoughts?

27 October 2006

The different between art and propaganda....

...is the difference between a sigil and a manifesto. In other words: the artwork has had just enough of its own construction obscured to become (as TS Eliot put it) universal, an aesthetic object; but still embodies the original intent.

Propaganda and agitation are transitory, art is eternal - its effect is therefore more diffuse but potentially far deepr. Andrew Eldritch's "Vision Thing" was about Bush41, but it works equally well as an indictment of Bush43 - if you know how to look at it. Both are necessary in our struggle for change.

I think I'm reproducing insights from Trotsky's Literature and Revolution in a new form. Whatever, the question is to what use this insight can be put.

25 October 2006

Taking CM public

I think I have gotten to the point with these ramblings that they would benefit from being exposed to public ridicule. But the question is (as with so much of what I can do) where is the audience that would at least hear me out before throwing me out?

The socialist blogosphere is full of vulgar-materialist philistines and wannabe academics who sneer condescendingly if you start talking in metaphorical language and think their clique politics is somehow important. The magickal blogosphere, on the other hand, is full of pampered lumpen-intelligensia who, on one hand, talk about changing the world and then discuss their badass ritual for getting John Kerry elected and why using the term "Zionist" is antisemitic I shit you not. Both sides have their clique dogma going on - the best I can say is that the socialists make me want to *headdesk* slightly less. There is of course a third option - academia - if I decided I never wanted to actually do anything again. On the other hand, it's the best-paid option.

As it stands, I think there are about three people in the world who really get what I'm trying to do with this. Perhaps they have ideas on how I could begin getting intelligent feedback. As it stands, I might have to bite down hard on my impatience, and actually start creating facts on the ground, as my mentor - a veteran socialist and instinctive magician - puts it. When this stuff is working then it will be impossible to ignore.

24 October 2006

This is why we need Chaos Marxism.

A contributor to Generation Hex (see sidebar) gives us his thought on how to fight corporations on the astral plane. Interesting as far as it goes - that advertising is in fact a form of magic (to put it another way, mass psychology) is a vitally important insight, and the ideas he puts forward of how to conduct "magickal attacks against the corporate egregore" (i.e. damage the brand) are good ones, if somewhat stating-the-obvious for seasoned anticapitalists.

But sadly at the end it collapses into bog-standard liberal politics:

The best magick is practice. Your money is your voice. Try not to buy corporate products. Buy local and independent. If you're buying designer clothes, don't wear labels. Cut them off or blot them out. There's no way to stop supporting corporations completely. the luxury of the first-world is supported by the cheap labor of the third. But support good businesses, and don't give your money to the bad ones. Educate people about the worst corporations, and strike the egregores in their inevitable moments of weakness.

Not one word in this article about the fact that the "egregore" feeds on profit, and that profit is produced by its employees. In fact, not one word about the employees of the corporation at all - the people who do the real things that are "the thoughtforms channels onto the physical plane", to use the jargon. These people talk about smashing imperialism and capitalism, but are still under the brainwashing control of the entities they want to fight, in that they still systematically ignore the entity's weak point - the point where it feeds, the very interface between logosphere and meatspace. The point of production.

If this article even suggested that trying to raise consciousness among the employees of the corporations was even a possibility for action, then I would be delirious with glee. Also, the bullshit idea that small businesses are somehow not bloodthirsty psychic vampire entities shows where these people are coming from - i.e. wannabe small businesspeople themselves. It's just a systematic blindspot to the ways in which the thoughtforms that they fight actually derive their sustenance from the physical world.

04 October 2006

How the materialist method of cultural analysis works

Black Sabbath were a band made up of working-class kids from Birmingham. Their guitarist lost the tips of two fingers while working in a sheet metal factory. After that, he tuned his guitar down three semitones to make it easier to play. This led to the Sab's trademark deep, dark, nasty sound, which became the basis for a million impersonators and emulators (and also to Ozzy's awful reality show, but never mind that).

You can't understand metal unless you realise that it came from white working-class kids in England who worked in factories and wrote songs with titles like "Paranoid" even though they didn't actually know what the word meant. Similarly, you can't understand reggae unless you know what Jamaica was like in the 1970's and why. But that's another story which I'm not qualified to tell.

Sadly, you also have to understand how the record business works to understand why the longer a band goes, the more it is led to compromise what made it great in the first place in the service of producing saleable product. Black Sabbath are sadly neither the worst nor the best of bands in this regard - one of these days I will post about Yes, one of my favourite bands for a long time, and show how their addiction to record company largesse led them into all sorts of unpleasantness.

03 October 2006

The big secret

One of the best supported findings of social psychology is that if people can be induced by rewards, threats or a sense of obligation to act contrary to their beliefs, it is the beliefs that are more likely to shift in the direction of the behavior, rather than the other way around.

I took this from an article on a therapy cult. But the way cults operate is just a boiled down and spcied-up version of the way in which all authoritarian society operates. (Indeed, cults work very similarly to jails or concentration camps, except that people are kept in by moral pressure instead of guns).

Conversely, the idea that beliefs follow social action is a profoundly materialist insight. If people can be led into betraying everything dear to them if you take them along it a little at a time (viz. Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four), then conversely someone's world can become vaster and more full of possibilities if they just get a few positive reinforcements for taking action in their own interests. Success breeds daring and failure breeds passivity.

The final link between social psychology and Leninist political practice must be that to really change the world, and the self, all this has to happen on a democratic-collectivist basis. On your own, you can only figure out how to fit into the world better, not wield any power over it. Conversely, an authoritarian-collective can only act like a jail.

Metaphors bite

If there needs to be some kind of sober, feet-on-the-ground, I'm-a-simple-railway-worker-mate-I-don't-understand-this-cultural-studies-crap excuse for this blog, let's put it like this: metaphorical, narrative language can help people understand real although intangible forces better than intellectual jargon.

Case in point: the horror novel Wetbones by John Shirley (original screenwriter for The Crow and follower of "Bob"), 1993. The article by the author linked to above explains one of the major themes of the book - it explains addiction and the personality damage caused by addiction in terms of invisible monsters which feed on pain and degradation - and in terms of people who serve these invisible monsters. Interestingly enough, we're not only talking about chemical addiction here - we're talking about emotional dependance and abusive relationships, on the personal and on the personality-cult level.

(As an aside, the infallible litmus test of whether an organisation is a cult or just a bunch of idiots is whether initative is accepted and praised, or whether intellectual and/or emotional dependence in a leader or a leadership clique is encouraged. In other words, the difference between proletarian-activist and pettybourgeois-moralist-religious consciousness is totally independent of whatever the actual dogma of the group might be.)

Anyway! I feel that the book loses some of its cool near the end. The author in the essay linked above says something like he was avoiding people accusing him of preachiness, and decided to ramp up the horror-story aspects of the book rather than to carry on with the socio-economic commentary. A huge pity - because the guy comes very, very close in the novel to actually making his story of invisible psychic worms a discussion of alienation under capitalism.

Case in point: Tom Prentice, the title character discussed in the author's essay. A struggling author who is offered the big break of his life (plus the opportunity to have lots of dirty sex with a hot girl) in return for distracting his mate from investigating the aforesaid invisible-worm-worshipping cult. Later, feeling remorse, he says something like "they've turned me into my worst nightmare". Something which has undoubtedly been said by every working writer in Los Angeles at some stage - including John Shirley. (I am reminded of that guy who wrote Alf, who was making $5,000 a week and spending $6,000 on heroin. Also of the short story A Working Religion by Larry Sulkis, also a SubGenius.)

Here, the invisible worms are almost redundant. It's the mere fact of compulsion under capitalism which leads Prentice to sell out his friend. If he wants to write, he has to sell his writing. Which means his work, what is most important to him, is no longer his own. (Sex with a hot woman is of course also just another "fringe benefit" of having a prominent place in a corporate institution.) Marx's concept of alienation - where our work, what makes us actually human, is turned against it by the necessity of participating in a cash economy - is demonstrated in all its horror here. Marx himself described capitalism as a vampire - I suppose an invisible worm is an updating of that, for an age where everyone and their sister things vampires are k00l. Like any other addiction, commodity fetishism first creates the desire, then continually not-quite satisfies it.

Another case in point: another main character, believing his daughter to have been murdered, relapses into crack addiction. We follow him into the nastiest ghettos in Los Angeles, seeing close up exactly what grinding poverty and addiction have done to those most vulnerable. It's not clear whether Shirley is suggesting that drug addiction is responsible for all the horror he sees, or whether it is an understandable response to being the throw-away remnants of society, the "dark depths" of a city which is supposed to be "shallow". (Well, everything looks one-dimensional if you only look at the surface.) But it's obvious that addiction and oppression go together. Crack is the modern-day opium of the masses.

I thought the book would have been more powerful if they hadn't made the invisible worms parasites on all forms of addiction. That ideology suggests that if humanity could just make itself somehow psychically immune, we could all be making our own decisions and surely everything would be better. That avoids the dark reality that perhaps reality is like it is because that's how people want it. Or more precisely - that addictions, whether to chemicals or to abusive personal relationships or whatever - are a natural reaction to the world the way it is. Unlike in the novel, no-one is forcing anyone into drug-heaven or mind-control relationships. Those are simply lifestyle options which seem rational responses to the world-as-it-is. We work jobs which force us to switch off our individual personalities to the extent necessary to do something worthless to us but profit-making to a boss. We come home and all the entertainment options available also want us to "go to sleep", to not be aware, to forget. Heroin and charismatic religion are only more concentrated forms of the basic logic of how our whole culture works.

The point I wanted to make was that these cultural metaphors sometimes make the reality of how the cultural superstructure of how capitalism work far more understandable to ordinary people than jargon-words like "alienation" or "false consciousness". If people were to act as if there were invisible worms which wanted us to fall asleep, to not be aware, to waste our energy doing things that were useless to us, to be fixated on consumption rather than activity for its own fault, they might be able to combat the real forms of ideology more effectively. As long as we all remember that these are metaphors, of course. We don't want to make the mistake of the British weird-fiction author Lawrence Miles, who expressed a metaphorical view of the world to his psychiatrist without making it clear that it was a metaphor and came near to being put on antipsychotic medication for his trouble.

So perhaps if this blog and my whole intellectual project have a theme, they are to translate the categories of Marxist analysis, via the narrative images of modern media-culture, into forms which everyone would be able to understand and use, for purposes of psychic self-defence. If there's any problem with John Shirley's vision, it's that he doesn't make the step past individual to collective solutions. Like any good petty-bourgeois (or SubGenius, for that matter), Prentice's happy ending is to sell a movie script while living as a hermit in a caravan in the desert. If we all did that, of course, who'd deliver the groceries or build our computers?

01 October 2006

Out of my book

(Random jottings made on the subjects which form the theme of this journal over the last year and a half.)

The place to build cadre is in the class struggle. Cadre must be "go-betweens" between spontaneous working-class self-activity and Marxist theory - they must be able to both apply theory to give leadership to the struggle, and learn from the struggle to develop the theory.

We are all psychologically damaged by being brought up in class society. But as social beings, we can never be fully healthy while we live in that fundamentally unhealthy society.

As Marxists, we don't want to run off and create a "perfect utopia" in which to be fully human. We want to mobilise the vast mass of humanity to change humanity right now.

Our job is to become conscious ourselves and to lead the class in becoming conscious. This means that Marxism is a form of magick as defined by Crowley - "the art of changing consciousness at will".

Our effectiveness as cadre is limited by the mental blocks placed in us by family, school and society to make us good slaves (or, if we come from a ruling-class background, good slavedrivers). But we won't relieve these blocks by sitting around playing with mental symbols and images. All we'll do is reproduce class society with the categories changed. We'll start thinking of ourselves as "the enlightened" compared to mindless sheep, or if we're really screwed up, the mud races.

As Lukacs said, the soviet is the end of alienation. The proletariat becomes the subject as well as the object of history.

Lame wannabe occult-fascists are all so impressed by Hitler and his mates changing the world 1933-45. What's wrong with the way Lenin and his mates changed the world 1917-1924? Because we are influenced by ruling-class elitist notions, a political movement which brought the masses to power doesn't seem to "count".

Yes, what I'm talking about could be called "occult Marxism". Or better yet, "cultural and psychological Marxism". Engels proposed that the class struggle had to be fought on the political, industrial and ideological levels. I propose to add the cultural and psychological levels (or at least point out that they're vital subsections of the ideological).

We already strive to create an International Working-Class Opposition to capitalist society in political, industrial and ideological struggles. We have to create a cultural and psychological opposition as well.

Current "Marxist cultural theory" is not actually Marxist at all. It uses Marxist categories and insights to analyse culture, but that's not Marxism. Marxism is a guide to action above all else. If it doesn't give direction for how a Leninist party should operate on the cultural sphere, then it's not Marxism.

The contradiction of capitalism is that music-as-self-expression is powerless because it becomes a cultural commodity. But music-as-commodity, in itself, has the double-edged nature of all commodity production – it can give rise to a cultural proletariat, the gravediggers of the system. Then again, music-as-expression-of-social-reality… that

Similarly, the psychological mission of a Leninist party must be to deal with any personal issues that might be holding cadre back from either working efficiently as a communist, or unhappiness in their extra-party life. (Yes, there has to be one. We must keep this distinction clear, or we'll run into the trap of becoming a Fred Newman-style mind-control cult.) The mission of psychs and counsellors in capitalist society is not to make you happy and healthy, it's to make you docile and conformist.

A society split on class lines leads to a human psyche split on class lines. The "thinking self" regards the subconscious as an unruly beast that has to be whipped into line, while the subconscious tries sabotage the thinking self whenever it turns its back. Sounds familiar?

- the Leninist party has to build on Lukacs' insights to organise counter-hegemonic cultural movements. The SWP(B) did this well with Rock against Racism - but I don't think it was theorised anywhere. When the current leadership talk about Respect building socially and culturally in the immigrant communities in Britain as well as politically, I think it's where they're getting. The anarchists and rad-libs do something similar with "culture jamming".

- the Leninist party has to train its cadres to function well as psychic units; to be able to cope not only with the political work of a cadre as outlined above, but to handle the balance between this and leading a "real life" in the nasty class society we live in. Vital parts of this will have to be identifying and dealing with personality damage which hampers one's abilities, to build towards creating an "undivided personality", in which binaries within the psyche are neither compartmentalised, nor subordinated one to the other; party work and "real life", conscious and subconscious, past and present, etc.

The definition of "personality damage" is anything which creates contradictions in the psyche. Of course we'll never really fix this before socialism. We don't aim to create a perfect, whole human being (which can't happen outside a perfect whole human society); but we want the individual party worker to become AWARE of the contradictions and to not see them as natural and inevitable.

The Universal Consciousness Process as developed by Martin Cornelius seems to work well as a quick and nasty method of integrating sections of the psyche. However, we need to figure out some method of tracking progress which doesn't rely on the bullshit Scientology "scales of consciousness".

Our mission is to RE-INTEGRATE human culture by resolving its contradictions: between bourgeois and prole, public and private morality, humanity and nature, "workers and science" (as Rosa Luxemburg put it), mind and body. First the vanguard party becomes conscious and aware of this. Then we aim to build this consciousness in the whole class. Actual work in the working class is the FIRST DUTY of the party, because it is the first step to integrate "workers and science" in the macrocosm, and thinking and feeling self in the microcosm.

We work for integration of humanity on all levels and in all spheres. We work on the cultural and psychological levels from a strictly materialist framework. The psyche stems from its real material experiences and perceptions, not the other way around. BUT we have to continue the struggle on all levels. We work for a "scientific esoteric Marxism" - materialist and scientific but based on transformation of culture and psyche along with the rest of human reality.

Because the material takes precedence, we must change the real world before we become fully human. But we change the real world in the process of becoming fully human. There must be a vanguard which leads, but we can't change the world until the vast majority are on the right track, since ONLY the vast majority can change the real world. Elites and minorities can only reinforce and perpetuate the division of humanity into classes and therefore the division in the psyche.

Therefore, no-one can be really sane until everyone's really sane. Everyone who's serious about building a sane world has to unite the only force which can do that - the working class.


Watson suggests that we look at culture from the producer’s viewpoint. Fair enough. In the realm of material production, Marxists want the collective organisation of the proletariat to expropriate the bourgeoisie. The interesting thing about the mass-market music industry is that composers and performers are in a different class situation (as opposed to the pre-Bach times, when they were the same people).

Performers are “skilled tradesmen” whereas composers are “new middle-class”, like writers or computer programmers. The difference between music and writing is the necessity for the performer as an intermediary (where the composer is not her own performer). Both of these become proletarianised the second they sign a major-label record deal – a “slavery and theft” contract as Robert Fripp would put it.

The less successful professional musician/writer sells her product as a pure commodity (advertising copy, tech writing, jingles, Muzak, etc) as something to directly contribute to commodity production or distribution – thus, this kind of music is a means of production in itself.
The more successful professional musician/writer sells her product as art – a final commodity
The “star” sells her product as above – and also is required to commodify her personality as part of the art-commodity, the Benjaminian “aura”.

The cultural commodity has a dual nature: as a commodity and as a means of communication – a bearer of meaning (symbolic or imaginary).

Socialists sell their newspapers on the streets, for which anarchist fucktards mock them. But they do that because that way the working-class fund the distribution of the ideas contained in that print commodity, which are supposed to lead to the destruction of commodity culture altogether. The socialist newspaper is thus ideally a kind of virus in the system, but sustained on the same logic as the system itself – the ideas contradict the commodity format. Ideally this should be possible for the anti-ideological artwork as well.

An idea can be distributed formally (as a cultural commodity) or informally (as gossip, rumour, a joke, an urban legend, a computer virus, “samizdat”, or like Samara’s video in The Ring).

The worst thing in the world is someone who treats an anti-commodity as if it were a cultural commodity (which confers a symbolic status on the purchaser).

Fripp says: “Mass culture lies to us for money; popular culture tells us the truth”. To put this in a Marxist frame, this is the difference between a pure cultural commodity and an anti-ideological cultural commodity. It’s a pity that Fripp is backed all the way into his petty-bourgeois view of the world (where everything would be all right with the market economy if only those capitalists would act like nice people rather than vampires!)

What I really want is some way to unify revolutionary socialist political activity, analysis of “arty fringe of mass culture” music and narrative, and my own output of music. I had to choose one to make my living from – I made a judgement call that I was most likely to strike a balance between money and time for my own priorities.. This was a judgement that the subject position of an academic (cultural new middle class) is more appropriate for political action than that of a self-employed professional musician (cultural petty-bourgeoisie). As it stands I work as an unskilled librarian (cultural proletarian).

The seductive thing about the professional musician’s life is the opportunity for “star status” – for commodification of the personality. This is of course a reaction formation for the personality damage I suffered in my childhood – I want my personality validated by the adoring gaze of the Other.

I have to write for “my people” because no-one cares if I write for myself. “My people” are obviously radicalised young-to-middle-aged overeducated white women. So be it.

Cultural analysis boils down to “how it works” – discussion of what meanings the cultural artifact embodies, and how it puts them forward. Marxist analysis goes past this to connect this to the circumstances of production of the artifact. But Marxist practice would have to subsist in reverse-engineering – that is, usuing our knowledge of how cultural artifacts work to produce anti-commodities of the type mentioned above. (If we say that that’s not possible, that you can only produce anti-commodities “by accident”, that’s a “surplus value” formation in the cultural sphere of the type that Zizek talks about – a hangover from the idea of artwork as commodity.)

Ben Watson says that Frank Zappa’s albums work as anti-commodities – your mileage may vary.



- It would produce theory as well as practice; criticism as well as original work.
- It would struggle to organise the cultural workers.
- It would "speak the truth" of the struggle of the working class, conceived in its broadest outlines.
- It would turn "listeners into musicians, readers into writers".


- Its theory would develop hand-in-hand with cultural theory as above.
- It would aim to help the working class "speak the truth" to themselves.
- It would turn analysands into analysts; just like the Lacanian tradition.