It is sweeter to wander with the wretched and outcasts than to sit crowned with roses at the banquets of the rich
Elisee Reclus

Sunday, November 20, 2005

More fun with over-consciousness?

There seems to be an upsurge in the use by capitalists of images from the (visual) history of opposition to capitalism. I doubt there is much sophistication in this domain, more lazyness and cliche than an attempt to de-claw and accomodate The Angel of History. There is no history for the late-capitalist. It's all this day's thing. What's selling? What's in fashion? Will a red flag sell a beer, a bank account,a mobile phone? - all examples of Soviet communist-style adverts witnessed by The Ruinist. At least it can be amusing and you can play with it. I failed to snag myself a copy of the huge poster in the cheap clothes store Peacocks in the Elephant shopping centre. Featuring two ladies dressed in furs and fancy dresses, Czar-chic, more Romanov than Bolshie, they clutched red flags in their hands as history was replayed here as merely a bunch of things Russian. I would have put a bottle of vodka in their others hands, but it wasn't my call. For that you need to go to the Soho bar called 'Revolution' that features more from the I-Spy Book of Russia. It's a 'Vodka-Bar' so the faux cyrillic of the brand nicely rounds out the cliche.

But I'm teasing you here as I've been holding out for the big one. You should go to Dean Street, home of Marx in his later years and now the home of RedVeg, a fast food burger bar that uses in its livery Lenin, Ho Chi Min, Marx and Guevara all in one! A free magazine called LifeScape that I conveniently picked up at the counter fills me in on the deal, featuring as it does, a double page interview with the owner of the joint:

Lifescape: What is the concept behind RedVeg?
RedVegMan: We use the Vietnamese (red) star. The iconistic/revolutionary imagery shows the flipside of the coin to the aggressive fast food chains.
Later...RedVegMan: In the future we would like to franchise out. I could see RedVeg in every big town in England and eventually in every high street.

I myself, if I had the money, would happilly eat here for the rest of my life and bask in the pure absurdity of the place. My chips and breaded mushrooms were wolfed down like a hungry peasant under the eyes of a disapproving Lenin, burger in his hand. It's like Disneyland for the political animal. The main ride is a rude one but it's a headfuck! If you remain a pretty dour wounded beast, unable to believe that Marxist superheroes can be used to sell vegetarain burgers, then don't go there. You'll end up inside. Either the nick or the mental hospital. If you can laugh at the difficulties of consciousness that I'm trying to type about here then go get your Greek Salad.

When Disneyland arrives for real in your home country...
Maybe these realist images are redundant here in the western world? Do they lack meaning and relevance because everything seems okay for those with a little, little bit, that our fantastic social democracy with neo-liberal tentacles makes Revolution unnecessary. Or because like any image here, they are just one of one million other images without a social context that we will encounter on any one day. In Latin America, for example, Guevara portraits or red flags or Marxist murals still inspire political movement(s). Regardless of the nonsense of hierarchical Leftist politics, there remains a potency with these symbols and images. But then in, say, Bolivia, the contradictions don't really need to be pored over too much. Privatising the rain water? I bet they'd laugh for a bit of our funky subtle Western contradictions. If they could, they could come to Waterloo, to the bar called 'Cubana' where Cuban Revolutionary chic is painted large and machine guns hang on the wall next to portraits of Fidel. You can drink cocktails called 'Molotov' or 'Revolution' containing their house rum Bacardi, an imperialist brand subject to an international boycott by those in solidarity with Cuba. Our Bolivian friends would no doubt enjoy the large proclaimation on a wall of Cubana, 'Venceramos', an emotional cheer made in solidarity with all poor people of the world that 'we will win!'.

Having fun with over-consciousness? Are we having fun yet?
I'd like to return to the problem or solution of Exodus and may well do that. As we try to desert the integrated spectacle of modern living, the pointed discrepencies about 'Who knows' or 'Who cares' about the catastrophe of capitalism for the human and animal species, may yet be resolved. 'Political' consciousness may really only turn out to be a regime of knowledge that binds us to power. A specialist subject that moves us away from the Zen simplicity that we are not living out the ideas that are in everybodys heads. They may not be either consciousness or false consciousness, they may just be only us. This idea would save a lot of bloodletting.

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