Dear Art Sluts and other interested parties
This is a conversation I had with Paul Reader on ACAM - an art practitioners e discussion group
I think it is has a couple of interesting ideas - neither Paul nor I are rabid ideologues and I believe are genuinely interested in real discussion rather than two people ranting from opposing soap boxes
If you like the ideas in this - send it around the world - I am sure others have had the same notions.
the ultimate aim is an international "buy nothing American day"
----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Reader " firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, February 07, 2003 6:39 AM
Subject: Re: [acam] FW: [CAOs] Fwd: FW: John Pilger's view
> The interest of this arts list in the current war-politic is fascinating.
> On September the 12th. 2001 I likened the attack on the WTC to the scene
> Star Wars where small machines find an orifice in the Battlestar. I said
> couldn't wait for the sequel; The Empire Strikes Back.
> Seeing the list of names now desperately protesting and trying to find a
> influence the situation, I realise that this is a time long in the making.
I have lived
> through 50 + years of increasing American influence. I like America as a
> and have quite a few American friends. Yet my experience of America in my
> own backyard has always been detestable and saddening. As a child I
> watched English tea shops and cafeterias close, to give rise to
> and fried chicken outlets. Coca cola replace Vimto. Chrysler took over
> (I grew up in the auto-industry belt of the English Midlands)
> By the time I got to art school I was 'taught' to understand why the New
> Art Scene was so important. Except that I now know the reasons other than
> the aesthetic rationale given at the time.
> Even in the 1950s I can remember my father indicating that Iraq was going
> a force to contend with. If it is an axis of evil, that evil is clearly
> economies dependence on oil obtained in unfair trade.
> It is times like this we do need to ask ourselves about the culture in
> participate, and what supports it. Protest is meaningless, unless we
> are prepared to change the way we live. Otherwise we are simply trying to
> absolve our conscience, while really being dependent on others making evil
> acts on our behalf.
> Today, artists can engage in media with far reaching influence. We are
> dependent on pandering to the tightly controlled mass media. The question
> though: What should an alternative culture (and economy) look like? and
> do we go about building it, from the bottom up, rather from the top down
> Paul Reader
I absolutely echo your sentiments, the American cultural empire is one of
the most insidious and indeed cunning in history.
There are two key features as to why
1) The pleasure principle - instant crude gratification along the path of
least resistence -
2) The commodification of everything which other more mature societies
consider sacrosanct - culture, language, health and education
But ultimately oil or no oil the USA is the only world superpower and one
can liken the post September 11, 2000 developments (Afghanistan and now Iraq) to the Romans sending a
couple of legions to put down a revolt by the Teutons in an outlying
Like many people interested in the arts, I want a better world, and things
can and do change - however there are some nasty flaws in the make up of
homo sapiens which both lead people to seek to build empires and places
enough fear or complacency in the minds of the masses to let them
I don't think anyone likes Saddam Hussein.
Personally I would love to see him ousted and die in agony like so many of
Iraq's unhappy population under his rule - but I don't want anyone else to
suffer for it
As far as I can see the current developments will not even achieve the
stated aims of the Bush regime - in fact if securing the oil fields and
reducing anti western terrorism are the tangible objectives - the exact
opposite will happen - as Grandfather Nelson Mandela so eloquently stated
So pro or anti US this war is an act of stupidity
As to creating a new world
Fight the hated empire using their own modus operandi
The British in India held their empire and culture to be the pinnacle of
human acheivement - they spoke of the white man's burden to civilise and
educate the heathen.
Gandhi and his movement used post enlightenment liberalism - the jewel in
the crown of Brititsh culture - as a weapon against their rule in India -
in effect he embarrassed them out of India - but his tactics would only work
where the enemy was capable of guilt and shame - it would not have worked
against the Nazis for example
A second arm to the campaign was the swadeshi movement - literally
translated - own country - Indian cotton and other fibres were shipped to
England and turned into cloth in the 'dark satanic mills' of Manchester,
Leeds and Sheffield - staffed by the equally oppressed British working class
and then sold back to the hand to mouth population of India - better and
cheaper than they could make locally - Gandhi spun his own simple clothes
and wore them with pride
Shaming the USA militiary industrial complex hasn't worked so far (though it
kind of did in the Vietnam war) but one thing is for sure - if there's no
money in it, they will go away
For those who go to the peace rally - see how many people are wearing Nike
shoes, Levi's jeans, drinking coke and smoking Marlboro cigarettes whilst
ranting against Bush's evil empire -
If you don't like what the USA is doing - boycott US based products and
companies - it can be bloody hard to do because of the impossibly complex
interweavings of trans national capital - but with the internet and the ease
of research and dissemination it provides - this is now much more possible
than it used to be - find out which companies are US owned and avoid them
There is already a buy nothing day - fine for the USA -
How about a Buy Nothing American day?
If it happened it would work
Corporate USA (who own the Republican party) will wake up and say - "the
screwballs have spoken" - (Quote from an episode of the Simpsons - we can at
least thank Matt Groenig and the USA for this)
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