Counterculture vs. Culture
I did a little conversation with RU Sirius over at The Raw Story, as the third part of a series he was doing with Tom Franks, Joseph Heath, and me. The stuff I said to him makes less sense out of context (I was to react to the conversations he already had) but here’s a taste:
There’s this unspoken effort in these discussions to figure out who is living in whose world. It’s an artifact of postmodernism, really: is the counterculture recontextualizing the overculture, or does the overculture contextualize the counterculture? Who is living in whose frame? And if we’re stuck in the other guy’s, can we quickly conceive a new frame that puts us on the outside and them on the inside?
So a culture jam is really that. This Marlboro ad, with my addition, becomes an anti-corporate ad. Hahaha. Or this airplane, crashed into your building, becomes a weapon of war and your building becomes a symbol of your vulnerability. It’s all a big symbolic argument, occasionally expressed through very real media, like blood.
The problem you guys are batting around all goes back to Marx’s critique of Hegel. The argument between left/right, counterculture and culture, means nothing if the on-the-ground humans (the workers, in his vernacular) aren’t taken into account. It’s no more real than an argument on Crossfire. The Enlightenment fucked us up in that it led us to believe that dialectics led to truth. Two people arguing honestly from opposing points of view are supposed to be able to resolve their debate to a synthesis. But that synthesis may not be connected to reality, at all. Two politicians can argue about whether the tax code should have 40 or 39 lines, while the child starves from lack of rice.
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