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April 22nd, 2014 / 10:00 am
Technology & Vicarious MFA

Cultural Violence Illustrated

Inequality continues to take dramatic new forms, evolving and building on itself at the speed of transaction and at an inconceivable scale with a voided structure that can be more easily compared to a feudal economy than an economy of the 20c Post War period of American power.

Simply put, the executive apparatus, the class of people who make choices about macro-level economic issues, has separated itself completely from both the economic and political realities of the vast majority. The CEOs, presidents, and political operators are detached, free-floating, performing acts for misunderstood objectives, with widening negative consequences for all.

What came before is lost: the problematic spritual-capital collectivism of national, region, creed. In place of a cohesive economic unity {a community of value (real markets), products (good unadorned by pathology), and political arrangements (labor)} a new system has grown, indeed ballooned, in the psychic space invented by the entertainment and advertising industry. The propaganda war has turned inward, aided by technology and economic turmoil. The fiction of the self, invented to sell ‘a better self’ through consumption, has become an overwhelmingly opaque reality. Screens. Screens. Images. Anxiety. Screens.

The main  cultural apparatus (the popular internet, nu Hollywood, the decaying education mechanism) operating fully within the mental and spiritual spheres of the median population, has broken us: torn us from the value of our own lives. We only know how to want, spend, and regret. We don’t value our work. Social media is the most corrosive example of this free intellectual labor we perform for no obvious rewards.

A war is being waged on the lower classes–not by the upper classes–but by their corporate and digital proxies. It is antagonism without contact or will. It is the need to produce growth. It is the internet of extreme wealth re-shaping the workforce to self-perpetuate extreme wealth. It is a CEO with billions of dollars in cash and zero allegiance to any human concern. The job of apocalyptic hemlmenship is described in terms of accountability and yet there’s no way to fail. This of the banking crisis. Thnk of the GM recall.  No crime can be committed in the name of legal profits. A CEO is as hollow and formless as the company bank account he services. A ghost for the machine.

The concern for quality of life that should be central to every human mind, every unit of political agency, every voice and self, is a fuzzy memory. All is willful digression. All is a distraction from sickly, obvious exploitation. All is a re-enactment of the ritual trauma performed on the weak by the strong. Violence is the way power is de-personified. The way blame is diffused and brutality is outsourced. It is the hand of the market, coated in steel and accelerated into the face of the weakened.

These ends were not a forgone conclusion. This happened because people let it happen. It is not human nature, or the free market that compels cultural violence. It is a fabric of negligence, a network of greed, and deep layers of guilt. The rich, insulated from the poor, fear both the poor and their own machine for subjugation. A bloated cloud of psychic tar. Loss of power, loss of control: the modern specter haunting all cultural actors. This horror, this dream of total hopelessness, is some’s idea of a good plan, well executed.

Someone’s power dream. Someone’s ideal political vision. But probably not yours.