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Showing posts from September, 2009

Žižek on Cultural Studies.

“Some moths before writings this, at an art round table, I was asked to comment on a painting I had seen there for the first time. I did not have any idea about it, and so I engaged in a total bluff, which went something like this: the frame of the painting in front of us is not its true frame; there is another, invisible, frame, implied by the structure of the painting, and these two frame do not overlap – there is an invisible gap separating the two. The pivotal content of the painting is not rendered in its visible part, but is located in this dislocation of the two frames, in the gap that separates them. Are we, today, in our post-modern madness, still able to discern the traces of the gap? Perhaps more than the reading of a painting hinges on it; perhaps the decisive dimension of humanity will be lost when we lose the capacity to discern this gap…to my surprise, this brief intervention was a huge success, and many following participants referred to the dimension in-between-the-tw…

The “New Capitalism” and The “Dialectics of Failure”.

In recent years there has been a spate of news reports on the ‘new economy’, the shifts in corporate structure and the resultant transformations in the nature of employment. Richard Sennett, in a series of works on the culture of “new capitalism”, has attempted to map the connection between large-scale trends in corporate structure and the employee’s experience of work and self. The operational logic of this new capitalism isn’t new; for Sennett (1997, p. 161) the novelty lies in the innovative organizational structure of business, which seemingly flouts Marx’s thesis that the concentration of production goes hand-in-hand with the concentration of capital. In the world of new capitalism, once stable corporate bureaucracies have become increasingly “flexible” and “highly mobile” enterprises, ultimately less secure in their position (Sennett, 1997, p. 161). In turn, Sennett argues, work has become subject to recurrent metamorphoses, engendering more uncertainty and instability in the w…

Punk-Style and Sub-Cultural Theory.

The role and significance of sub-cultural style and its relationship to mainstream culture, moreover its political connotations have been an area of contention within sub-cultural theory. A seminal account of sub-cultural dynamics was postulated by Hebdige who drew on theories from disciplines diverse as Semiotics and Anthropology. Hebdige considered sub-cultural style to be grounded in the re-appropriation and subversion of the mainstream cultural order by alienated groups. This implies that style itself has a political dimension and that sub-cultural style is innately politically challenging (effectively or not) within the power relations of society. The task of this paper will be to shed further light on Hebdige’s theory of sub-cultural style as a form of re-appropriation and insubordination, building up from the theoretical antecedents to an application of the theory to punk subculture. Additionally, I will evaluate Hebdige’s thesis on the nature of sub-cultural style and its pol…

European Cultural Hegemony and Australian Aboriginals

The relationship between the indigenous people of Australia and their native lands are essential to their traditional culture. The colonization of their nations by Europeans has lead to a destruction of this relationship and therefore of indigenous cultural practices and norms. This process was predicated upon European cultural norms and established a cultural hegemony of European culture over indigenous culture. The effects of this cultural hegemony by mainstream Australia can be observed through a series of social indicators. Therefore these social indicators can be used to demonstrate the nature of cultural hegemony on the indigenous peoples of Australia.

Cultural hegemony is a concept designed by the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci (Ganguly-Scrase, 2003:55). Gramsci argued that a dominate group, could not retain power by threat of physical coercion alone, but also needed to retain control of the superstructure, i.e. of Ideology and belief systems (Gramsci, 1988: 193-4). The Europ…

Liberalism and Colonialism.

The first major wave of European colonization was initiated after the discovery of the Americas by Columbus in the late 15th century. The Colonization of these new lands was at first justified by the catholic nations as their duty to proselytize Christianity. Therefore their domination of the indigenous population was alleged to be of a great service to them, saving their souls from eternal damnation. This ‘Civilizing’ project was also used in an adapted form by British liberal political philosophers to justify their nation’s own colonization and empire building. Liberalism is a political philosophy that developed during the age of Enlightenment, noted for its ideals of individual freedom and rights. Two of Liberalism’s most prominent advocates; John Locke and John Stuart Mill supported the practice of colonialism. The rationalization of colonialism by Locke has been argued to represent the bankruptcy of western liberalism and its purported universal respect for human rights. To asce…

The Latin War and Rome's Expansion.

Rome was forged in violent struggle. Wedged between often hostile cities and civilizations from the Etruscans in the north, to Hellenistic cities of the south, Rome seemed to be forever poised between conquest and destruction. Aristocrats of the late republican period lauded their ancestors for their military discipline and glory. The frugality and duty of Cincinnatus appointed dictator and invested with Imperium while plowing his field, was held in great esteem by Cicero in the first century before the Common Era . This nostalgic conception of early Rome may not be too far removed from actuality. Roman history was dominated by almost perpetual warfare, but Rome’s might came not from mere force of arms. Tactical alliances and integration of defeated enemies provided the manpower necessary for empire. This strategy, which established and perpetuated Roman hegemony, was in large part developed by the political settlements enforced after the Latin War of 340-338 BCE. These settlements t…

A Quick Take on Ricardo’s Theory of Comparative Advantages.

Adam Smith’s famous analogy of the “invisible hand” was first articulated in regard to the superiority of the market in comparison with import tariffs to protect and augment the national economy. However, Smith’s discussion of the benefits associated with free trade between nations was limited to the theory of absolute advantage. Put simply, if another nation can produce a commodity more efficiently than your own, it is more advantageous to trade then to continue on with inefficient industry. It wasn’t until David Ricardo developed his theory of comparative advantages that free trade between countries came to be considered beneficial in a wider number of contexts. Even if there is no complementary absolute advantage, in terms of inverse production superiorities, Ricardo argued, it can still be more profitable for both parties to trade. The theory of comparative advantages, given its wider applicability, is often taken to be the strongest liberal argument in favour of free trade. Thos…