The aesthetics of protest

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The aesthetics of protest
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I hate them Guy Fawkes masks! I think a lot of the new aesthetics of protest is down to the dominance of activist-types who enjoy being part of a protest sub-culture as opposed to being one of the 'sheeple.'

Added to that, I think they are representative of a greater alienation permeating society, where the anonymous 'citizen' (Assange, Snowden etc...) is elevated onto a pedestal as the force for change, where we are all competing individuals who want nothing but to have our 'rights' respected (Against the 'totalitarian' NSA etc...). I don't think its a coincidence that the masks are of Guy Fawkes, an conspiratorial terrorist. 


Interesting points...the Guy Fawkes business is a real mish mash: his group were basically Catholic reactionaries as well....not that celebrating his torture and death is very seemly either. But probably most people are attracted to the mask mainly via the idea of rebellion against parliament, which (as Russel Brand is discovering) is one of the Holy Cows we are not allowed to question, since the only alternative (cf Robert Webb's reply to Brand) is the Gulag. 

Reply to Alf

'But probably most people are attracted to the mask mainly via the idea of rebellion against parliament'

 Stupidly I didn't really pick up on that as a possible motivation. I just bought that copy of the New Statesmen yesterday,first time I've bought it, anything particularly interesting in there? I was a bit disappointed, it seems to be pretty centre-left, whenever I've read the Guardian or Independent they seem to be far more radical.  I spent my whole train journey from Clapham reading the NS talk about how bleak prospects are for young people and for those trying to rent in London. I'm both of those, so it was pretty depressing.

Alf are you pro Brand? i'm

Alf are you pro Brand? i'm just curious, it seems fairly facetious to ask... i don't hate him, don't find it galling, have no real opinion on if his antics are unhelpful - but they do seem like antics, and i question whether i want to listen to a celebrity / someone who has so much without much merit, talk about freedom.

i don't know anyone who does this sort of thing, but yeah i hate the masks - they remind me of the scream movies more than guy fawkes. seems more like a pastiche of a sub/culture than anyone putting in any effort or love into what they do.


"Modern cynicism has been defined as an attitude of distrust toward claimed ethical and social values and a rejection of the need to be socially involved. It is pessimistic in regards to the capacity of human beings to make correct ethical choices"


Hi comrade communist.  The New Statesman may say that its sympathetic towards young people who can't find a job and can't afford to live in London - or even anywhere else comfortably!  But what does it want to do about this?  Vote labour?  Vote for Red Ed?  If you're ready to do that then you may as well shove your head in a gas oven and finish it all right now - if you've got enough cash for the meter that is!  Do The Statesman, or the Guardian or The Independent (independent from what? Isn't it a great independent mouthpiece for bourgeois clap trap? Doesn't it have an "individualised" but totally bourgeois point of view!) do these rags ever put forward any solution  to  all  the calamities that capital inflicts on us all, and on the planet, and on the aspirations of the young world wide? I think not. Instead they weep copious crocodile tears and hope for better days ahead after austerity has really kicked in, done its job, crippled health services and education, produced a class of permanently unemployed and unemployable wretches, and all to preserve the very system that caused the problem in the first place: capitalism itself.  


I feel sorry for young people today (I feel sorry for us all) who are faced with the bleakest future than can ever have faced humanity before.  Oh yes!  I know we had the 2nd. World War which was a bit of a disaster for humanity.  But that as least came to an end.  The blank emptiness and cruel miseries which decaying capital has in store as its final future delight will only end with the ruination of humanity and the planet itself as a place fit for human habitation. No wonder you are depressed comrade communist.  I sympathize.  But you are the future.  You and other young folk who are beginning to see that "something is wrong."  So, carry on thinking!  Discuss with friends.  Can the rot be stopped other than getting rid of its cause: Capitalism?  And don't get depressed. Organize and plan the way out: the great  escape to communism. Salutations! 

Reply to Fred

I appreciate the sympathy Fred. Hearing that the youth is the future makes me both optimistic and a little anxious if im honest- knowing that we have the possibility to change things or perhaps even the responsibility to do so leaves nowhere to hide- your post kinda reminded me of when I was studying Sartre. Often despair or stoic conformity can appear more attractive than political struggle.

no need for despair

Didn't Sartre express a "stoic conformity" to Stalinism, dressed up of course in a variety of often confusing art forms? Confusing for the audience and reader that is. For how did he manage to make himself appear so avant-guard while being such a phony communist?    Leftists can be so clever and so sly with their tarted up bourgeois modernisms. We should beware!  


Also beware the romantic attractions of despair.  Look what happened to Emma Bovary.  Despair can present itself as an attractive because self-indulgent escape.  But it has its dangers.  Real genuine psychological despair and depression are another kettle of fish altogether, and such psychological conditions are to be deeply sympathized with.


But - to say the opposite of what you said - rather than despair and just giving up presenting themselves as better than political commitment, isn't it the other way round?  The solution to much despair actually lies in serious political commitment. For,  not only does this provide the possibility of influencing life and the future in the here and now, it gives us the strength and the confidence to believe that we can change things for the better if we work together.  And at that apocalyptic moment the solace of despairing loneliness is seen for the self inflicted misery it really is  and may dissipate. Solidarity is good.  The mask is revealed as just a mask.

The masks were designed by

The masks were designed by illustrator David Lloyd and came to represent protest after being used as a major plot device in the 1982 anarchist comic book V for Vendetta, which of course was adapted into a film in 2005.

From Wikipedia: "The story depicts a future history of the United Kingdom in the 1990s preceded by a nuclear war in the 1980s, which has left much of the world destroyed, though most of the damage to the country is indirect, via floods and crop failures. In this future, a fascist party called Norsefire has exterminated its opponents in concentration camps and now rules the country as a police state. V, an anarchist revolutionary dressed in a Guy Fawkes mask, begins an elaborate, violent, and intentionally theatrical campaign to murder his former captors, bring down the government, and convince the people to rule themselves."

So you see, the Guy Fawkes masks have nothing to do with Guy Fawkes really. They especially have nothing to do with Catholic reationaries. Also, dare I ask...what would be so wrong with blowing up parliament?

Blowing up parliament (in

Blowing up parliament (in England) would be to destroy an interesting building which we can use for better purposes in the future.  Not so sure about the Capitol though! 


Reading Communists's Nov.6 post again I realize there's more to it than I thought. I mean the masks thing. I didn't know there was a new "aesthetics of protest" around or that there were such things as "sheeple". Just as I  didn't know there were "patriotic communists"   (Just a joke!  Or is it revenge?) Nor  do I know who Russell Brand is though his name comes up quite regularly on this forum.  In fact, in terms of being influenced by the latest fads of British, or even Americsn tv, I escape completely. Am I lucky or missing a deep and significant cultural experience? But its clear that TV does have a large influence on the content of people's' thoughts.  Think about Russell Brand not Pannekoek and stay alienated! That's the message.  

Are we as members of the ICC

Are we as members of the ICC forums ever going to stop antagonizing the youth/working class over the stupidest little issues? Some kids are wearing Guy Fawkes masks, gasp! They think it's cool that a catholic reactionary wanted to blow up parliament! Oh no!

They're setting cars and libraries on fire! NOOOOOOOOOOOO

Are Guy Fawkes masks a sign of the SMC???


Fuck Russell Brand though, seriously.


nice choice

Suddenly remembering that you can, I looked up Russell Brand on the Internet.  Finding photos of him I was shocked and horrified (the two always go together) to realize that he was the guy I saw a bit of in some film a few weeks ago.  He was dressed only in underpants then and arguing with a policeman about something.  His pathos and self-pitying attitude reminded me of Norman Wisdom  (nobody under 70 will remember who he is/was) so I hurriedly changed channels. 

So I was thinking about "self pity" and wondered if it was a characteristic that goes with leftism or the radical bourgeoisie, in so far as there can be a radical bourgeoisie these days.  It sort of makes sense. Because if you can't actually embrace the politics that indentify capitalism as our big number one world wide menace these days - threatening not only all human life but the planet too - then you are reduced to feeling sorry for everything and everybody in a dumb kind of way. Dumb because you feel impotent, and, having no escape, and no solution, are brought eventually to feeling sorry for yourself. So self pity sets in. Something like that. 

But there's no self pity to be seen among British Tories who are unabashed by their relentless bashing of the working class as they hold our class responsible for "the mess we're in" and keep on making us pay. As if the way out of "the mess we're ALL in"  (don't miss out the  ALL!) can somehow be "bought" like other commodities. It can't of course.  And that's a positive. Sort of. Al least it means the crisis can't be bought off, and'll just get worse and worse and we'll be forced to look  for our working class solution to the mess and try and organize it and do it, or just give up and die. Nice choice eh?  NB And if you think the commies gathered around Red Ed will do any different than the Tories  when back in office, you're wrong! 


  So Merry Christmas to the SMC.  And, for those not in the know, SMC mean subterranean maturation of consciousness - in the working class that is.  This is something many of us hope and sometimes believe is taking place right now. For others its a nice idea without any justification in reality.  Nice choice eh?

SMC on libcom

Joseph Kay wrote:
...we are strong when we do the patient groundwork of talking to workmates, agitating, educating, organising. This kind of activity is much harder to injunct or bludgeon into submission. Like a mole, much of this work is subterranean, unseen, unglamorous. But when it does break the surface, it can't easily be repressed, because - to mix my metaphors - it has roots. We don't need to pose this argument as a hypothetical: in the 3 Cosas Campaign we have a clear example. The IWGB workers won partial concessions in a two-day strike, and responded by announcing a three-day strike to win the rest. If highly precarious, low paid, casualised, outsourced, and in many cases migrant, workers can self-organise and win strike action, then many others can too.
  This is a quote from a recent blog on libcom about the universities.  The blogger is talking about the subterranean development of consciousness is he not?  Good point about "roots". Good point about precarious workers including migrants being able to self-organize. 

I'll second that Fred. For years I lived far from the madding crowd in a Cornish town of 1,500: I had no TV nor did many of us. The 'poorest' couple (in bourgeois reckoning) were my best friends, in a small dwelling 'added on' to one of the 700 year old buildings.

We played music every night in their living-room/kitchen, which was often packed with pipers, box players: such real wealth.

The train up to London (£17 return) would roll into Paddington ...we're talking 25 years ago. On the left, on the high Victorian brick wall in huge artistic script was painted/sprayed : 'ARISE ! ye un-good Prols from your TV sets: YOU are watching Big Brother'

At the time a profoundly true 'reversal' of Orwell ... but now .... bugger me if people are not watching 'Big Brother' on Big Brother ... angels and ministers of the Lord etc...

The silver medal goes to graffiti that was at at the end of our road sprayed by an anarcho-co-squatter: ' It doesn't matter who you vote for, The Government always gets in'


Hi AS.  It's always a

Hi AS.  It's always a surprise to get your latest autobiographical update, but I wish too that you'd commented on Joseph Kay's remarks about the subterranean maturation of consciousness. After all, it isn't often that libcom commentators find common ground with left communists is it?  And I wondered too what might be your own position on the SMC - are you a believer, agnostic or atheist.  Its a bit of a silly question really, but then I'm sort of only posting this because the forum seems to have got stuck in the doldrums, with unresolved questions lying around uneasily, hoping someone will deal with them.  And comrade Kay did address a serious matter after all, didn't he, which should warrant a response from somebody somewhere at this time.  If we can't be bothered to pursue our own emancipation I doubt anyone else will do it for us!  Even at Christmas.