[-empyre-] Artists Against Oligarchy?

marc herbst mherbst at ucsd.edu
Fri Apr 24 17:53:32 EST 2009

nick, thanks for the links.
nick wrote.

"And how to do this in a way that
does not simply fall into the arrangements of precarity and immaterial
labor so favored by neoliberalism?  "

Perhaps practices seemingly framed by precarious arrangements are a  
way through to a counter class composition.
Agreed though in that embracing of the precarious position puts the  
onus on the precarious to not just be a neo-liberal subject.

As per your race/class comments... here in LA many of these  practices  
are best exemplified by immigrant community survival patterns. Look a  
little deeper.

Joseph wrote.
" confess I'm not overly impressed, when artists consciously 'respond'
to crises, in their art. "

Ithica Hours might not be an obvious artisitc practice, but it is one  
interesting and impressive response to a crisis. Artists, plumbers,  
underground economists, bakers and the glorious miasma of identities  
have the capacity in little and big ways to tilt at windmills

On Apr 19, 2009, at 9:13 AM, joseph tabbi wrote:

> I confess I'm not overly impressed, when artists consciously 'respond'
> to crises, in their art. At best, direct action by artists can be
> ludic, like the artful protesters outside the limo of the
> multi-billionaire in Don DeLilo's Cosmopolis, traveling by fits and
> starts, inches and yards, all day, across lower Manhattan. The
> protesters are at times right outside his car, banging on the hood,
> and the randy rich young man in the limo calmly watches them on his
> TV, even as he monitors holdings on screens and conducts his daily
> routines of business and pleasure in the back seat.
> I agree with Davin that 'big government' is really the only force
> capable of reigning in, and perhaps breaking up, the big banks and the
> oligarchs. And now, again, in America we have an oligarchy don't you
> know. The thing to watch when it comes down to finance, is the
> distribution of wealth. The rest as far as I can understand, is smoke
> and mirrors. (Viz. the repeated and so far largely ineffective
> bailouts of AIG and Bank of America and others - as sophisticated and
> opaque a governmental intervention as one could ask for, when a good
> old-fashioned break-up might have solved the 'too big to fail'
> syndrome.)
> That trillion (plus change) alloted, mostly to rescue banks 'too big
> to fail'? That schtupp of 'real money' (Jim A) is precisely balanced
> by the trillion in bribes remarked in an early thread. The trillion
> 'here' IMPLIES the trillion 'there' - unless someone (or rather, some
> governmental group) reigns in the ones who sustain a culture of
> bribes. And we're not talking just about stacks of hundreds bundled in
> Jack Abrahmov's briefcase either: the international oligarchy is not
> made up of thugs, but is overall a rather 'genteel' and seductive
> bunch, as depicted in a recent cover story in The Atlantic by a former
> IMF guy who dealt with the oligarchs in Russia, Ukraine, Indonesia,
> Argentina - all the old neo-capitalist hot spots. He says in the
> article, if you look at the numbers only, the situation now in the
> U.S. is exactly the same as it was in the recent past with these more
> blatant oligarchies and banana republics, and the response (if the
> U.S. were a less powerful nation that didn't pay its debts in its own
> currency) would be a selective arrest of the oligarchs or an FDR style
> break-up of the trusts.
> I also like Jeff Pierce's idea, of closing the Fed. But in any case
> this all comes down to personal politics, don't it? Good for purposes
> of discussion, but for purposes of 'action' there need to be lines of
> communication, knowledge of the ropes, and influence with those having
> the power (and willing/able to use it) to act at the scale needed. Art
> actions are good at *disturbing* lines of communication, but those
> disturbances happen generally at the level of individual consciousness
> and sense experience, and occasionally through mass media if and when
> they are understandable on terms set by... mass media. Art actions are
> not directly operative. Only policy can do the trick, n the place
> where action needs to happen, to be effective (effective of change in
> the present). Or force where policy fails.
> Instances where art has directly influenced action and changed (even
> improved) the lives of millions are rare. But is Uptain Sinclair an
> artist, when he is depicting the old Chicago Stock Yards, or is he a
> very effective propagandist?  (An old saw, I know, I know...)
> Out last night in my neighborhood, I saw a bumper sticker back behind
> a Chicago bar. It used some nice graphic effects to write out the
> words, Buck Flagoyovich. Very artistic. But that came after Blaggo got
> bucked by the Fitzgerald prosecution team and impeached by the U.S.
> Senate.
> Here again, in a different register, it's necessary I think to sort
> out changes in areas that cannot affect one another directly: on one
> side there are changes in consciousness and sensibility - which can
> have long-term and unpredictable effects that, at some point, have to
> be considered by politics, such as whether a constituency believes
> flogging is right, or kings are natural, or money is necessary
> (Davin). On the other side, when the political and the politicians
> gets/get around to accomodating these kinds of deep changes in
> sensibility, the accomodation will happen through policy, not because
> of direct action by artists. (I suppose.)
> Joseph
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

More information about the empyre mailing list