“Communist Realism”, by Mark Fisher

 

Today marks nine years since the publication of Capitalist Realism by Mark Fisher, a concept and work that he would apply and build upon in his analysis of culture and politics thereafter. Summed up briefly as “both a belief and an attitude … that capitalism is the only viable political/economic system, and a simple restatement of the old Thatcherite maxim, ‘There is no alternative’,” Mark was interested in discerning fractures in this logic and, indeed, to really move towards breaking through it. Here, we republish “Communist Realism”, originally published on his k-punk blog and on the Repeater Books blog during the British general election of 2015. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Normal capitalist realist service was resumed on Thursday, on the BBC Question Time Leaders Special. With the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens absent, horizons contracted, expectations lowered, we were once again asphyxiating in the Oxbridge-Westminster bubble. This was most obviously signalled by a discursive exclusion: “austerity” was never mentioned, so we were back on the arid terrain of a debate the terms of which were set by England’s austerians in 2010. The question, once more, was: who would cut the deficit quickest?

Miliband further deflated the mood – I think deliberately – by explicitly ruling out a “deal” or a “coalition” with the SNP. Given the right wing press’s scaremongering, Miliband’s denying that a deal will happen might have been necessary in order to make the conditions for such a deal possible. Any equivocation would surely have been seized upon by the right wing media, and relentlessly used to stoke up the fears of voters less likely to vote for Labour because of the prospect of a coalition. The audience members imploring Cameron and Miliband to be honest about possible deals were as ingenuous as those who hailed the programme as a triumph of participatory democracy. Neither leader could “be honest” about how the vote is likely to go on Thursday because that very speculation could change what actually happens. Such is the state of our current “democracy”: everything is distorted by media projections, by politicians’ (second) guesses as to how voters may behave in response to those projections, a whole phantom science of feedback.

Baudrillard: “Polls manipulate the undecidable. Do they affect votes? True of false? Do they yield exact photographs of reality, or of mere tendencies, or a refraction of this reality in a hyperspace of simulation whose curvature we do not know? True or false? Undecidable.”

For most of this campaign, Cameron has given every impression that he far rather be tucking into country supper than demeaning himself hustling on the hustings.

Defending the status quo is not as energising as tearing it down, and comfortable Cameron never had the class resentment-jouissance that drove grocer’s daughter Thatcher to battle trade unionists and old school Tory grandees alike. For him, it’s a career, not a mission. Cameron has never seemed like a man burning with conviction; he comes across more like the captain of some public school cricket team who whose main motivation for winning is to remind uppity comprehensive kids who’s boss. On Thursday, Cameron finally went into bat for his class like he meant it.

He needs to. This election is pivotal. Either the Tories can “finish the job” of looting and pillaging everything working class struggle built, or they themselves could be on the brink of destruction. The Conservative Party haven’t won an overall majority since 1992. It’s difficult enough keeping this party of opportunists, quislings and crazies together at the best of times; if they fail to win again, will even Boris be able to prevent meltdown? And with the Tories in disarray, the right could finally be forced off the centre ground that they won and radically re-defined under Thatcher.

Pumped up, calmed down

In front of the BBC cameras, Cameron’s performance wasn’t quite as slick as his upper lip, but he discovered a poise that he has seldom mustered in the past few weeks. The problem with Cameron getting pumped up last week is not only that it looked pathetically forced (his claim that he was “pumped up because I am” was a transparent deception as well as a tautology. He was “pumped up” because Tory backers demanded that he at least gave the appearance of caring). The more serious issue is that such displays of simulated passion undermine Cameron’s key appeal, which has to do with projecting casual authority: what David Smail, writing before Cameron came onto the scene, called “[t]he confident slouch of the hands-in-pocket, old Etonian cabinet minister.” Cameron’s accent, his posture, his smirk, convey a consistent message: relax, I’m in control, defer to me. When he strays from this “ease and familiarity”, he risks looking angry and/ or uncomfortable, and apparent affability gives way an affronted sense of class superiority, as in the “calm down, dear” incident.

Presenting the Tories as the nasty party has been counterproductive, the fake letter of support from small businesses devolved into yet another Thick of It farce, but Thursday’s flooding of the audience with Tory supporters posing as undecided voters worked. Cameron was back on home territory: the bizarre inverted world of English capitalist realism in which referring to a global banking crisis was desperate reaching for excuses, and austerity was the only possible course of action for any prudent government. (The best thing about New Labour was Alastair Campbell – a skilled operator and a technician, an expert on how to win ground on a hostile media terrain. It’s hard to imagine that, if he were still running things, that Labour would have been ambushed like they were on Thursday.)

A picture of discontented new wealth

Under the questioning of businesswoman Catherine Shuttleworth, Ed started to look like a supply teacher who had earnestly planned an interesting and informative lesson, only to find out that the kids just wanted to humiliate him, whatever he said. The Tory narrative of Labour profligacy was once again established as a self-evident truth that only a fool and/ or a brazen liar would contest. This narrative was all the more convincing when it was re-cycled/ re-cited by a “concerned businesswoman”, “struggling to survive in a tough climate”. The subsequent exposure of Shuttleworth as a probable Tory plant will not erase the impact of her TV encounter with Miliband, if only because complaining about the audience not only implicitly concedes defeat, it makes Labour look like sore losers.

For the moment, let’s believe Shuttleworth’s story that she isn’t a Tory. (Although note that even the DM whitewashing is carefully worded: Shuttleworth only denies that she’s ever been a member of the Tory party, not that she’s a lifelong Tory voter, which is of course impossible to prove or disprove.) The question then would be why she should be so ready to blame hard times not on the government which has been in power in the last five years, but on the government which was in power when she actually built and grew her business? Miliband’s pitch – Labour is all about supporting small business owners – is part of a strategy that could be fruitful in the long run, since it could break the alliance between small business and corporate capital which has been so central to the installation of capitalist realism. But Shuttleworth’s response to these overtures shows that breaking that alliance will be a long and hard struggle. She immediately started bleating on behalf of Tesco – as if Tesco didn’t enjoy its greatest success under New Labour, and as if its downfall wasn’t a direct consequence of the very corporate tyranny that Miliband was moving to attack?

Reflexive cringe

While Miliband was correct not to capitulate to nonsense about Labour overspending, it was clear that Labour has left it far too late to challenge the dominant narrative. On the face of it, Labour’s acquiescence in the austerity myth has been inexplicable. Paul Krugman writes of:

the limpness of Labour’s response to the austerity push. Britain’s opposition has been amazingly willing to accept claims that budget deficits are the biggest economic issue facing the nation, and has made hardly any effort to challenge the extremely dubious proposition that fiscal policy under Blair and Brown was deeply irresponsible – or even the nonsensical proposition that this supposed fiscal irresponsibility caused the crisis of 2008-2009. Why this weakness? In part it may reflect the fact that the crisis occurred on Labour’s watch; American liberals should count themselves fortunate that Lehman Brothers didn’t fall a year later, with Democrats holding the White House. More broadly, the whole European centre-left seems stuck in a kind of reflexive cringe, unable to stand up for its own ideas.

You say “reflexive cringe”, I say “reflexive impotence” … Labour’s slowness to respond to the crisis was not merely some failure of judgement or strategy; it was a consequence of how deeply capitalist realism had saturated the party. There was no question of Labour using the crisis to impose its own programme, because, by 2008, it didn’t have much of programme beyond capitalist realism. Everything had been set up for a corporate appeasement, and there were neither the organisational nor the intellectual infrastructure to come up with anything new. Capitalist realism wasn’t something that Labour was waiting out and planning to overcome, one day; it was embedded as an effectively permanent baseline set of conditions – conditions which receded from visibility even as they imposed strict limits on what could be said and thought.

I’m in a trance, I don’t ask questions

Following Wendy Brown, I argued that capitalist realism can be understood as a kind of dreamwork. In this dreamwork, briefly interrupted in 2008, the banking crisis is some repressed trauma which is known about but never confronted, a Real that the dreamer stays asleep to keep avoiding. Capital is the dreamer here, and, insofar as capitalist realism is sustained, we remain figments in its dream. Yet capital is also our dream, which, Matrix-like, has constructed the virtual reality in which we think we live from our energy, our desires and our fantasies.

You would think that mention of the banking crisis would produce some cognitive dissonance when set against the narrative of Labour profligacy. If there was a global financial crisis, how could Labour also be responsible for the deficit? No doubt, part of the success of the “Labour did it” story is due to the hold of folk politics. A narrative about incompetent politicians maxing out the credit cards is easily digested; it’s far more difficult to assimilate the opaque and abstract mechanics of finance capital. But one of the most valuable insights in Philip Mirowski’s Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown comes from his account of cognitive dissonance itself. Referring to the work of Leon Festinger, the social psychologist who worked extensively on cognitive dissonance, Mirowski reminds us that cognitive dissonance is not a threat to false beliefs. On the contrary, cognitive dissonance is a mechanism by which false beliefs can be maintained when confronted with evidence that directly disproves them. In fact, as Mirowski writes, Festinger’s crucial claim was “that confrontation with contrary evidence may actually augment and sharpen the conviction and enthusiasm of a believer”. Mirowski quotes Festinger:

Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart…suppose that he is presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that his belief is wrong; what will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed, he may even show a new fervor about convincing and converting people to his view.

This points to a relationship between desire and belief that has been posited at least since Hume and Spinoza’s critiques of religion: we believe in part because we want to believe. But we also want to believe because the belief has become core to our subjectivity.

If you get too burnt you can’t come back home

The great mystery of neoliberalism is to what extent its advocates “really” believed it. Was it ever anything more than a ruse to restore ruling class power and wealth? Of course, the answer to this partly depends on which advocates we are talking about. It’s possible that certain key proselytisers for neoliberalism never believed it, and only opportunistically fixed upon it as a way of destroying the “red bases” of working class power. With others, it’s more likely that a belief was aided by the desire to believe. This desire was motivated by economic interest, of course, but also by certain libidinal satisfactions: the pleasures of seeing the working class defeated, of seeing the poor and vulnerable stripped of social security. For a certain English petit-bourgeois sensibility, Thatcherism was the equivalent of a riot: a jubilee of destruction, a temporary autonomous zone for a reactionary desire that feeds off suffering and misery.

And as I was standing by the edge
I could see the faces of those led pissing theirselves laughing
(and the flames grew)
Their mad eyes bulged their flushed faces said
The weak get crushed as the strong grow stronger

The funeral pyre will be re-lit if the Tories win on Thursday (bring some paper and bring some wood/ bring what’s left of all your love for the fire), and after five more years, there won’t be much left … The NHS will have been gutted, sold off by stealth; education will continue to be asset stripped, ripe for yet more corporate plundering … the most vulnerable will be pushed further into destitution, women and children first …

This is why Cameron’s android smoothness, like Boris’s bluster, is so crucial for the Tories. It is a cloaking device, obfuscating the project, keeping the gibbering libido hidden behind a humanoid face and a calming, plummy voice. Imagine if Gove (who’s been pushed back into the attic for trying just too hard to be one of the posh boys – so vulgar, so nouveau) – imagine if Gove, with his defrocked pantomime dame pout, his lickspittle lips smacking with the class hatred that only a class traitor can feel, imagine if he were leader….

By contrast, Cameron’s strength is that it is hard to work up much class hatred for him. People that wealthy and privileged are like rare beasts: something you hear about but rarely encounter. In fact, I’ve seen more pandas in the flesh than old Etonians. You also get the sense that Cameron has no particular animus towards the poor – it’s rather that the experience of poverty is so remote for him that he simply cannot understand it, except as some theoretical possibility. The poor are pixellated background characters in the blearily cheerful steampunk simulation that Dave projects: everything’s fine so long as you don’t look too closely.

Dismantling capitalist realism

But let’s return to Mirowski’s summary of Festinger’s research:

Philosophy of science revels in the ways in which it may be rational to discount contrary evidence, but the social psychology of cognitive dissonance reveals just how elastic the concept of rationality can be in social life. Festinger and his colleagues illustrated these lessons in his first book (1956) by reporting in a neutral manner the vicissitudes of a group of Midwesterners they called “The Seekers,” who developed a belief that they would be rescued by flying saucers on a specific date in 1954, prior to a great flood coming to engulf Lake City (a pseudonym). Festinger documents in great detail the hour-by-hour reactions of the Seekers as the date of their rescue came and passed with no spaceships arriving and no flood welling up to swallow Lake City. At first, the Seekers withdrew from representatives of the press seeking to upbraid them for their failed prophecies, but rapidly reversed their stance, welcoming any and all opportunities to expound and elaborate upon their (revised and expanded) faith. A minority of their group did fall away, but Festinger notes they tended to be lukewarm peripheral members of the group. Predominantly, the Seekers never renounced their challenged doctrines. The ringleaders tended to redouble their proselytizing, so long as they were able to maintain interaction with a coterie of fellow covenanters.

Mirowski makes an analogy with proponents of neoliberal economic doctrine, who – far from abandoning this doctrine after its discrediting in the crisis – held to it even more doggedly. This is what Miliband faced on Thursday. Blank stares of mesmerised true believers seven years after the saucers didn’t arrive. Shuttleworth’s interjection like some Manchurian Candidate trigger, provoking automaton-applause …

This shows how difficult the task of dismantling capitalist realism will be. A whole process of deprogramming, involving new narratives, new libidinal attractors, as well as new ways of sharing knowledge, will have to be undergone. While this is certainly a formidable challenge, it is something that is already underway and which we can intensify quite quickly.

Of particular importance, it seems to me, is a popular demystification of economics and “the economy”. The austerity myth has only seemed credible because of a widespread economic illiteracy – an illiteracy I very much share. Economics functions now much as theology functioned in the medieval world – as an intricate and elaborate system of concepts, objects and reasoning that is closed to non-initiates. We need something like a Reformation in/ and against capitalist economics – the equivalent of the Bible being translated into English. I think this could be done, not by a series of large-scale conferences, televisions, or films – although of course these wouldn’t hurt – but virally. Small groups of people, including at least one individual who is an expert in economics, could get together and talk through some key concepts and principles, major economic events, etc. This could take place in private homes, in universities and colleges, in social clubs … In addition to everything else, this would also serve the function of reviving sociality, of re-building a class consciousness that has been dissipated by the individualising tendencies of neoliberalism and communicative capitalism.

Communist realism

Back to Thursday, here’s “entrepreneur” Chris. “A ban on zero hours contract would prevent me from running my small business …” Well, would it now? We’ve heard many versions of this plaint over the last few months, from businesses big and small. What this amounts to is saying that, these businesses cannot function without super-exploiting workers, and they cannot function without indirect government subsidies (with benefits supplementing low wages). Hold on a minute: didn’t the capitalist realists make their “hard decisions” to close down nationalised industries on the grounds that they weren’t viable and they were draining too much public money?

We need a new, communist, realism, which says that businesses are only viable if they can pay workers a living wage. This communist realism would reverse the capitalist realist demonisation of those on benefits, and target the real parasites: “entrepreneurs” whose enterprises depend on hyper-precarious labour; landlords living it large off housing benefit; bankers getting bonuses effectively or actually out of public money, etc.

But the concept of communist realism also suggests a particular kind of orientation. This isn’t an eventalism, which will wager all its hopes on a sudden and final transformation. It isn’t a utopianism, which concedes anything “realistic” to the enemy. It is about soberly and pragmatically assessing the resources that are available to us here and now, and thinking about how we can best use and increase those resources. It is about moving – perhaps slowly, but certainly purposively – from where we are now to somewhere very different.

BLACK FRIDAY SALE! 50% off selected titles

We’re offering 50% off selected titles in our Black Friday Sale!

Check out the titles below:

The Adventures of Owen Hatherley in the Post-Soviet Space
Owen Hatherley

“Daffodils for Wordsworth. Deprivation for Larkin. A trashed tower block surrounded by a toxic landscape pocked with rust-pitted Ladas in a forgotten oblast 2,000 miles from Moscow for Hatherley.” – Jonathan Meades

 

 

 

Regeneration Songs: Sounds of Investment and Loss in East London
Alberto Duman, Dan Hancox, Malcolm James, Anna Minton

“A compelling range of passionate voices that together shine a powerful spotlight on the realities of East London’s regeneration, providing a kaleidoscopic compendium of stories behind the generic gloss of the developers’ hoardings.” – Oliver WainwrightThe Guardian

 

 

From A Whisper to a Shout: Abortion Activism and Social Media
Elizabeth Kissling

From A Whisper to a Shout takes a closer look at four organisations, and how they are integrating feminist tactics, social media, and political strategies to challenge abortion stigma and promote abortion access.

 

 

 

Notes From the Sick Room: Illness in Music, Literature and Art
Steve Finbow

“… a bricolage of ideas that coheres as a sort of image, a story of the necessity of ill health in our lives.”– Medical Humanities

 

 

 

Specters of Revolt: On the Intellect of Insurrection and Philosophy from Below
Richard Gilman-Opalsky

In Specters of Revolt Gilman-Opalsky argues that the world is haunted by revolt, by the possibility of events that interrupt and disrupt the world, that throw its reality and justice into question.

 

Max: It Should Only Be
Peter Berczeller

It’s the 1980s. Max is a forty-something neurosurgeon with a secret: he has discovered a way to induce suicide in laboratory rats. And now he’s going to track down the band of Nazis who killed his father, and make them the first human subjects of his new technique.

 

 

The Living and the Dead
Toby Austin Locke

“… a challenging and intriguing counterpoint to the modern embrace of the static and the tangible.” – Foreword Magazine

 

 

 

The Isle of Minimus
M K L Murphy

A neon mirage from the heart of the sandblasted Nevada wasteland, a panorama of crazed dictators, dreamy acrobats, the urban warlords of Hollywood, video game cults, rogue airshow pilots, feral tourists, minituarised landmarks, opium dens, pop art, nuclear war, architecture, music, money a story of limitless scope and spectacle.

 

 

Ode to Broken Things
Dipika Mukherjee

“It sounds like fantasy, looks like science fiction and reads like a political thriller with a literary bent.” – The Telegraph

 

 

 

Anti Politics: On the Demonization of Ideology, Authority and the State
Eliane Glaser

“A short but no-holds-barred attack on the retreat from politics with a capital P… Convincingly argued and eminently quotable…” – Morning Star

 

 

Red Set: A History of Gang of Four
Jim Dooley
“Dooley has been the most patient, informed, balanced, investigative, reasoned and reasonable listener. He has swung his literary sword with both abandon and care, cutting through without drawing blood. He has made us all look far better than we perhaps have deserved. Well, not really – we were fabulous. I expect that to shine through in this book for all his readers to marvel at.” – Hugo Burnham, Gang of Four

 


Infinite Resignation 

Eugene Thacker

“Scholarly advice for dark times.” – The New Yorker

“Provides a metric ton of misery and a lot of company.” – New York Times

 

 

Advertising Revolution: The Story of a Song
Alan Bradshaw + Linda Scott

“… a fascinating study of a key episode in our recent cultural history.” – Jeremy Gilbert

 

“Fear and Misery in Neoliberal Britain”, by Mark Fisher

On the week we publish K-Punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher,  we republish this k-punk post “Fear and Misery in Neoliberal Britain”. Originally published in 2010, its “compressed and condensed” experiences of life under capitalist realism will still resonate today.

The passage I’ve pasted below — the introduction to a presentation, which was entitled “‘We’re not all in this together’: Public Space and Antagonism in the Wake of Capitalist Realism” — was intended to be a kind of minimally fictionalised phenomenological tuning-up exercise, to give a predominantly non-UK audience a sense of what it has been like to live in the UK under capitalist realism. Everything here is based on genuine experiences, although some experiences have been compressed and condensed, and the experiences are not necessarily mine.

Now: The swipe card doesn’t work. The machine senses anxiety, you’re sure of it. It knows the card is not yours. You try the card again. Nothing. Same red light. The card isn’t yours, but you should have access to the building. You had to borrow someone else’s card because it is only possible to get swipe cards between the hours of 9 and 1 and you are working at these times.

Someone is behind you. You feel uncomfortable. Will they notice that the card does not belong to you? You try the card again. Again nothing. Red light.

Your phone rings. You struggle to get it out of the bag. By the time you have it, the call has gone through to the answering service. You see that the call has come from another of your employers. A familiar anxiety grips you: what have you done wrong now? But you have no time to worry about that at the moment.

You try the swipe card again. At last, the green light comes on. You’re through the door.

Rushing down the corridor. Which floor were you supposed to be on? You rifle through your bag until you find the documentation. You should be on this floor, but at the other end of the corridor. You walk towards the room number. But suddenly your progress is blocked. There is a no entry sign: an office that cuts the corridor in half and through which there is no access.

It’s a nightmare topology. Every time you seem to get close, another obstacle appears. You will have to go out of the corridor, down the stairs and up to the next set of stairs, facing a number of swipe card-access doors on the way.

By now the five minutes you hoped to have before you start is evaporating rapidly.

By the time you reach the room you were heading for, you are already late. You log-on to the computer. Or you try to. The log-in is rejected. You try again. No luck. Then you remember: you’re trying a log-in from one of the other institutions that you work at. It’s difficult to keep track sometimes. You remember the correct log-in, quickly scan one of your email accounts. See an email from an administrator. Have you filled in your bank details form? Yes, you’ve filled it in, you think. Weeks ago. But of course you can’t be sure — maybe you only thought you had filled it in. Have they lost it? Flash of anxiety: will I not be paid this month? Last year, when you filled in all the same forms that you have to complete again this year, you were not paid for a whole fifty-hour contract, until you pointed out the mistake. Will the same thing happen again?

But there’s no time to worry about this now.

You have a room of seventy students waiting to be taught.

Such is life in the UK’s bloated and over funded public institutions.

Welcome to Liberty City. The busier you are, the less you see.

Ten years ago: the New-Path Institute

The psychiatrist asks you if your mood has improved.

You say no.

The psychiatrist says that the dose needs to be increased.

You don’t respond. You can’t. The drugs you’re taking and the condition you are suffering from give you the cottonhead response time of a zombie. The psychiatrist feels very far away, like you are seeing him through a fish-eye lens.

You don’t need to respond. It’s not about your responses.

Besides, there’s a sneering voice in your head constantly shouting at you.

Of course the drugs wont work.

Of course you won’t get better.

Because there’s nothing wrong with you.

Just give up.

But that’s easier said than done.

The best you can hope for is a coma.

After the consultation, you return to your bed. Everything feeling very heavy, as if a crushing undersea pressure is bearing down on you. You lie on the bed, absolutely convinced that this is the truth — the raw unvarnished Real. Strangely, that remorseless glacial sense of certainty does not lessen your anxiety or bring you any relief. You cannot rest, even though you are catatonically immobile. Your heart is pounding. Jackhammer thud out of a Poe story. It gets faster and louder until the only thing louder is the voice in your head.

Later, you say to a nurse:

So that’s what the treatment amounts to? Drugging and incarceration.

They nod. In the background, someone is howling.

Now: Rush away to one of the other places you work. You are supposed to photocopy some texts.

But by the time you arrive in the corridor, all the doors are locked. No one there.

This is the second time this has happened. Last time the photocopier wasn’t working.

You should have come earlier today. But there wasn’t time then.

Defeated, but trying to ensure that the two-hour round trip is not a complete waste of time, you go to the library, using the temporary swipe card that you were given because your contract has not been prepared yet. You take some books off the shelf and try to check them out. No dice. Your library record has not yet been prepared.

Can you come back later?

Yes, you can come back later.

On the train home. Claustrophobia-inducing crush. You’re so anxious about having your iPod or your phone stolen that it would almost come as a relief if they were.

Exhausted, still standing up because there is no space to sit, you think about reading the book in your bag. But the temptation of the free paper is too great. Its headlines fix on your tired mind like predators that have eyed a stricken animal. The little oedipal-celebrity narratives hook you in. Everything collapsing into the universal form of the tabloid. Idle chatter subsuming all other news. Politics as a family soap opera. Nothing going on except ambition, intrigue, envy. You’re bored even as you are fascinated.

Six years ago: In the office of the occupational therapist.

You are being asked to prove that you are mentally fit.

Because — as the Human Resources manager kindly pointed out — you have suffered from stress in the past. (The thought flashes through your mind — not that they cared when you were suffering.) But now people are concerned.

The anger that you’ve been showing towards management can only be a sign that you are unwell. A little unbalanced.

Don’t worry. No one is attacking you. We’re all here to help.

You say to the occupational therapist:

If I say management is conspiring against me will that prove I am mad?

Now: Stepping over the vomit, you remember too late: only a fool would go out into a provincial English town centre late in the evening. It’s night of the living dead out here.

Screams that sound like they come from the Dante-damned. And that’s just from the people who are enjoying themselves.

The lurching zombie threat of violence simmering.

Try not to catch anyone’s eye.

When you go by Accident and Emergency, you see all the walking wounded, and some who are not walking. All the casualties of the UK’s many happy hours.

You remember a doctor saying that twenty years ago, the night shift was so boring that the medics would engage in wheelchair races with one another. Not anymore. Not with all the knives, gun crime, fights, alcohol-related accidents, stomach pumps…

And all the superbugs breeding in the wards…

You reach home, switch on the TV. Emollient patrician voices crying crocodile tears. Public services to be massively cut back. 30%, 40%.

A new age of austerity.

Aristocrats and millionaires telling us: we’ve all got to do our bit.

We’re all in this together.

Competition: Win our Post-Soviet Space Bundle!

 

To celebrate the launch of Owen Hatherley’s The Adventures of Owen Hatherley in Post-Soviet Space we’re giving away a bundle of books on architecture and the history of the Soviet Union. One person will win a copy of The Adventures of Owen Hatherley in the Post-Soviet SpaceDouglas Murphy’s Nincompooppolis: The Follies of Boris Johnson and John Medhurst’s No Less Than Mystic: A History of Lenin and the Russian Revolution for a 21st-Century Left.

All you have to do is name Owen Hatherley’s faithful companion as seen on the book’s cover. Let us know by retweeting this tweet and commenting the dog’s name.

T&C:
Competition closes end of day 19 November 2018.
Open worldwide.
Enter by following Repeater on twitter, liking and retweeting this tweet, and commenting with the dog’s name.
Multiple entries allowed.

 

Tariq Goddard on Jean Baudrillard and the 1980s

In this quarter’s edition of Spike Art Magazine, Repeater publisher Tariq Goddard discusses why Jean Baudrillard is the key thinker of the 1980s.

By the 80s Jean Baudrillard appeared to want to interpret the world in different ways and not to change it. Having already abandoned the role of philosopher as activist and turned away from the kind of work philosophers were expected to do, in his case integrating Marxism and Freudianism in order to revolutionise our self­-understanding and effect political change, Baudrillard evolved into a radical sceptic. In doing so he embraced the 80s zeitgeist…

Read the full article in Spike Art Magazine #57 here. Buy Tariq’s latest novel, Nature and Necessity, here.

Repeater Books at Unsound Festival

Last month Repeater’s Director of Marketing Tamar attended Unsound Festival in Poland with our authors Paul Rekret and Ryan Diduck.

The main Repeater events were a Mark Fisher reading group organised around the forthcoming collection k-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher (2004-2016), a panel on the aesthetics of field recordings with Paul Rekret, and a talk by Ryan Diduck on his book Mad Skills.

In his review of the festival for Cult MTL, Ryan Diduck described it as having:

 unimpeachably cool programming, airtight organization and access to some of the most unconventional and remarkable venues, including an ornate synagogue in the Jewish District, a decommissioned salt mine and a sprawling Soviet-era hotel called the Forum.

You can also check out our full range of fantastic music titles below:

Advertising Revolution: The Story of a Song, From Beatles Hit to Nike Slogan
Alan Bradshaw and Linda Scott

“… a fascinating study of a key episode in our recent cultural history.” – Jeremy Gilbert, Professor of Cultural and Political Theory at the University of East London.

 

 

 

Red Set: A History of Gang of Four
Jim Dooley

“The definitive history of Gang of Four, along the way explaining why their music meant so much for the embryonic leftwing ideas of their dedicated followers…” – openDemocracy

 

 

 

Mad Skills: MIDI and Music Technology in the 20th Century
Ryan Diduck

“Do you like electronic music and Marxism? You’re in luck… great for gearheads and anyone who resents the rise of black-boxed control mechanisms.” – Pitchfork

 

 

 

 

The Turkish Psychedelic Music Explosion: Andalou Psych (1965-1980)
Dan Spicer

“… as a knowledgeable and thoughtful overview to a scene which is now more accessible than ever, this serves as a perfect introduction.” – The Wire

 

 

 

Under My Thumb: The Songs that Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them
Rhian E. Jones and Eli Davies

Vogue Books of the Year 2017

“…a book that arms us with the clarifying arguments we need in this moment.” – Jessica HooperFrieze

 

 

 

Down With Childhood: Pop Music and the Crisis of Innocence
Paul Rekret

“…takes the reader on an exhilarating tour through the recent history of pop music and politics” – The New Inquiry

 

 

 

 

A Memoir: From Oran to Marseilles
Maurice El Medioni

Maurice El Médioni (born on 18 October 1928 in Oran, Algeria) is an Algerian Jewish pianist, composer and interpreter of Andalusian, Rai, Chaabi, Sephardic and Arab music. This book contains his original handwritten memoirs, translated by Jonathan Walton.

 

 

 

The Music of the Future
Robert Barry

“Robert Barry’s excellent, exhilarating, free-ranging study relishes, and invites the reader to bask in, its sea of scholarly research and the idiosyncrasies and connections it yields.” – David StubbsReview 31

 

 

 

Triptych: Three Studies of Manic Street Preachers’ Holy Bible
Rhian E. Jones, Daniel Lukes, Larissa Wodtke

“This book rightly asks a lot of the audience and in exchange delivers a lot back to them – just like The Holy Bible.” – Guy Mankowski3am Magazine

 

 

 

Post-Punk Then and Now
Mark Fisher, Gavin Butt and Kodwo Eshun

“… skilfully maps a range of critical perspectives on post-punk, particularly those that fit into the vein of Capitalist Realism.” – Guy Mankowski3am Magazine

 

 

 

Smile If You Dare
Ramzy Alwakeel

“As well as a keen critical edge, it is equipped with an undisguised mad love for the source material, a sense of passionate abandon induced by the tragic/ecstatic synth-pop that pours out of the speakers.” – The Wire