Thursday, August 26, 2010

The boomers still want to have a debate about whether their values were right or not, whether they were  liberating or anti-social. Did sexual freedom unleash a new era of expression and female autonomy, or did it destroy the family? Did cultural hedonism overthrow the shackles of wartime austerity, or un-do the very basis for community? How about this, boomers: maybe it was neither. Maybe casual sex is neither life-affirming and liberating, nor immoral and self-destructive, maybe it's just casual. And maybe the bored 30-year-old smoking weed in front of an action movie is neither sticking it to the man, nor falling into the crevices of a broken society, but simply trying to forget about his boring job. Could it be that the real legacy of the boomers is neither anarchy nor utopia, but a sort of masturbatory tedium of people wondering which itch to scratch next? This is what Mark Fisher defines as neo-liberalism's "depressive hedonia... constituted not by an inability to get pleasure so much as by an inability to do anything else except pursue pleasure."
We need more bridges out of the arbitrary moralistic language of values, and into the political-economic language of institutions, governance, ownership, consumption and work. Part of this involves recognising how those bridges have been strategically dismantled since the 1960s, such that advertising and managerialism generates a closed loop of economics and psychology (centred around the self, desire, incentives, dreams, identity, efficiency etc), which remains safely insulated from sociology (centred around inequality, power, government, authority etc). People who either praise or criticise the legacy of the 1960s, but only in terms of what it meant for the individual, have not found a critical position external to that of the boomers themselves...
 Will Davies at Potlatch

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