In August 2018, Labour’s John McDonnell called on Twitter and then in a press release for the relaunch of the Anti-Nazi League. Citing the success of Tommy Robinson and Boris Johnson’s Islamophobic likening of Muslim women to letterboxes, the shadow chancellor said, "Maybe it’s time for an Anti-Nazi League type cultural and political campaign... The ANL pioneered highly influential cultural movements like the Rock Against Racism, which attracted tens of thousands of people of all ages to anti-racist festivals and protests.” The response was predictably partisan: the New Socialist was in favour, Dan Hodges against. Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, complained that McDonell was plotting against parliament. ‘McDonnell believes – and says so – that true democracy is on the streets. This seemingly well-meaning tweet needs to be seen in that context. In government, ‘the street’ would be a key weapon in the hard left armoury.’Read More
There are different methods of celebrating an anniversary. There is that which looks back with pure nostalgia; a soft, uncritical reification that half expects time to repeat itself. It is safe to say that the vast majority of anniversaries are celebrated in such a way.
Then there is the method of commemoration that looks forward, that intrinsically understands history as a constant process, unfolding in this way or that depending on who pushes, who is pushed, and whether they are willing to push back. Not events as blueprints, but as ruptures and openings though which we can see a different future.Read More
In early 1940, just before he attempted to escape to Spain from Vichy France, the Marxist theorist and art critic Walter Benjamin penned his Theses on the Concept of History. In twenty numbered paragraphs, Benjamin sketches his vision of the task of the materialist historian. In contrast to the historicist, whose method consists of merely adding “a mass of facts, in order to fill up a homogeneous and empty time,” the materialist historian employs a “constructive” method (XVII), piecing together the “tradition of the oppressed” (VIII) from the rubble of the catastrophic past into a “constellation” (XVII) that most accurately reflects the fragmented character of modern reality.Read More
The artist behind Zeal and Ardor isn’t American. He’s Swiss, albeit of African heritage. Manuel Gagneux was prompted to begin the project by a 4Chan post. In an interview with Noisey’s Kim Kelly, he claims that he used the message boards as a starting point for his own musical experiments:
I used to make these threads where I would ask for musical genres, one would post “swing,” and the other would post “hardcore gabber techno” and I’d fuse the two and make a song out of it in 30 minutes. One day someone said “n*gger music,” and the other said “black metal.” I didn’t make the song then, but it stuck with me, and I thought it was an interesting idea.Read More
Recent years have seen an application of the Marxist concept of uneven and combined development (UCD) to the study of cultural and aesthetic production. With a few exceptions, however, this application has been limited to the medium of literature.
This panel interrogates the framework of UCD and aesthetics through questioning the nature of the relationship and expanding said framework into music and visual art. It also discusses the relationship between aesthetics and the geographic changes of neoliberalism.Read More
One of the problems of the weak avant-garde is in its tendency to reject the spiritual and existential origins of art itself. This dynamic can be found both among would-be “art entrepreneurs” and among progressive artists (who wrongly believe their role is to demystify art and all that surrounds it). Both, in the end, are the Thomas Gradgrinds of contemporary art.
The Austrian art critic and Marxist Ernst Fischer, building on Frederick Engels’ “The Role of Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man,” invoked art’s pre-history in his 1959 book, The Necessity of Art. Largely a polemic against the cultural policies of “communist” Eastern Europe, Fischer attempted to describe how the origins of art were “magic” – the product of a great leap forward in human consciousness. The mastery of tools produced in humans a social knowledge – the abstraction and generalization of the world.Read More
The world must know. The world simply must know, must be shaken by the shoulders until it collectively acknowledges that something like the Monks can exist. That there can be such a thing as “avant-garde garage rock,” and that it can be played by active American G.I.’s increasingly alienated with the army. It needs to know, fifty years to the calendar month after the release of their only album.
Ten years back there was in fact something of a surge in interest around the Monks. A documentary was made, a tribute album was put out featuring the (International) Noise Conspiracy, the Fall, and a few other recognized inheritors of the garage rock sound.Read More