I posted a response to Lambert Strether’s commentary on the Boston Bombings on nakedcaptalism. I reproduce an edited version of it here.

I somehow have a problem with this focus on “the narrative” that many commentators – Lambert included – seem to use:

First, I want to put forward the concept — and I know this may come as a shock to you — that the official narrative is not always completely trustworthy. And I won’t even have to mention WMDs, or any discourse that ends in “-er.” Then, I want to put forward another surprising idea: There are many narratives that are not trustworthy, even if unofficial. Finally, I’d like to raise some issues of method, or at least issues about method.

This narrative fixation seems to me to be a post-modern affectation. A bit twee the Victorians would sniff.

I agree to a certain point: What we deal with – within the heads of the real people (your cab driver and barber, Lambert) – is a profound mystification. They are somnambulised into performing their daily rounds without a revolutionary thought, which might proceed to action, in their heads. This is of course supported, even caused, through the propaganda of the power structures.

But what the ‘awakened ones‘ (read that as ironic) realize (sometimes to their own frustration) is that these structures and systems are there to exert power. Power, as Max Weber described it, is the ability to have your own way, your will, in spite of opposition.

As per Lambert’s piece about Robert Johnson

I guess the way I’d put it in a metaphor is it feels like there are an awful lot of the elite that know this system is not wholesome, and they’re all standing on the deck of the Titanic looking in each other’s eyes, and they’re asking a question with their eyes, “Are we going to help this navigator? Are we going to help this captain get off the ice? Or are we going to get the food and the jewels from the safe and put them in our lifeboat?” And my sense is that most of them are trying to get stuff into their lifeboat, and that system isn’t going to cohere.

If we are faced by an oligarchy that is tending to steer the ship toward the rocks – or at least not working to keep it off the rocks – then we should expect it to hit the rocks. When that happens the people will rise up, and will be confronted by that power system violently. The only question is how this will play out.

And I believe that when confronting the real power in the system, the aroused people will face violence both privately from the oligarchs and publicly from the state. I think you can already see this in legal impunity of many corporate citizens and the misuse of power in surveillance and security state. I fully expect us to have a scene again in the future where US polices forces fire upon unarmed citizens.

Whether or not this will galvanize more action or more soma drinking is still, for me, an open question. After Kent State, the yuppies went into soma drinking.


Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>