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  Talk Elections
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  History (Moderator: True Federalist)
  The 'Conservative turn' since the late 1970s
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Author Topic: The 'Conservative turn' since the late 1970s  (Read 1295 times)
Tetro Kornbluth
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« on: May 26, 2013, 02:38:21 pm »

This thread - sorry for the somewhat academic title (but then again the 1970s-1980s was full of such turns) - was inspired by this conversation here:

Why do people - especially scientists who dip their toes in social science - always seem to think that we are now living through TEH MOST EXCITING TRANSFORMULATION ERA EVAR!!!111? I? I don't see it personally. This is - except in regards to technology - an incredibly conservative era compared to any time between 1920 (or maybe even the 1890s) and 1979. And I don't see much cultural change on the horizon, growth or not.

The Forward March of Labour Halted. No question mark.

That, of course, is a major cause of that. I wouldn't deny that. Not the only one though.

I don't disagree, but these things all link up. The death of Modernism, for example.

I think most of us can agree looking at history there in the 'west' (wherever that is) there has been a Conservative and Culturally shift over the last 30-40 years. This has corresponded imo with a period in which 'popular' and 'high' culture (if those distinctions even mean anything or were just the bastard creation of Victorianism and Modernism) have mostly been stagnant and uncreative especially when compared to before. This is hardly a new insight, in fact it is so common place that even Vanity Fair wrote an article on this last year though their emphasis was solely on, o/c, public culture and fashions. So a question then, or at least a discussion point, How are these cultural and political trends connected? What has caused this? How do we get it out of it, assuming that we can? I certainly see no great cultural revolution on the horizon at this minute and despite the crisis, all political movements seem to be playing out their worn and predictable scripts just more shrilly than before (Hello Tea Party) or as irrelevant as the pre-crisis recent (Hello Occupy movement).

I think here I would like to give an intellectual example before going:
A while back I read the French Annaliste historian, Fernand Braudel's Civilization and Capitalism Volume III which is an overview of the Early Modern period and the development of what was then called Capitalism. As economic histories go, it is good oversight although as a discipline much has changed since the 1970s when it was written (as happens in academic life - there's not a single mention of 'networks' or 'globalizing'. And very few of 'markets' and when they do occur they tend to refer specifically to stock markets). But in his epilogue he makes an interesting argument, having developed a lineal narrative which jumps from Venice, Sevilla, Amsterdam and London over three centuries and takes in Mexico, Peru, Brazil, the Carribean, West Africa and Bengal (among others) he starts to speculate on the nature of capitalism and in particular whether it is soon to dissapear*. Now Braudel was a liberal, not a Marxist and his economic analysis was not specifically Marxist, talk of the class struggle is mostly absent but... could you imagine any historian or any intellectual writing that now? Hell, what does that even mean? Does anyone even know anymore? Braudel certainly didn't. He never once mentions - in the best Marxist tradition - what it was to be replaced with**.

(* - Just to show how anachronistic this is to modern eyes, to back up his argument he quotes Herbert Marcuse. Yes, that's right)
(** - This story I often use in other places to argue against those who like to backup their arguments with ephemeral and difficult to define concepts especially if they are of recent vintage)
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2013, 05:47:58 pm »

Proper post(s) later (perhaps), but, yes... this is an important topic. The palpable sense that society is moving in a particular direction (forwards) that was so characteristic of the bulk of the 20th century (and to which Modernism was basically 'just' a cultural and artistic expression) has gone completely. In fact it's gone so completely that people often need to be reminded that it was even ever there.
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2013, 05:49:40 pm »

And, of course, Modernism is something that happened in the past, which says everything. As does the fact that the very idea of Modernisation as a historical process is now widely understood to be wrong (as proven by the Iranian Revolution, one of the most important events of the 20th century for that very reason).
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afleitch
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« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2013, 06:01:52 pm »

The idea that 'high culture' ever drove anything is a fallacy. Those who pine for 'something' to happen to cause a cultural shift (because they want something to get invested in, attach to or oppose for their own personal development) should be rightly ignored.
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Tetro Kornbluth
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« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2013, 07:28:37 am »

The idea that 'high culture' ever drove anything is a fallacy. Those who pine for 'something' to happen to cause a cultural shift (because they want something to get invested in, attach to or oppose for their own personal development) should be rightly ignored.

I'm not too sure for this actually (though it depends a lot on what you mean by high culture). I would certainly argue against any viewpoint which states that cultural products are merely epiphenomen of material or technological causes and are thus unimportant - or that they merely 'reflect' society (whatever that means) or the individual in question responsible for the work and don't influence the perception of it.

I'm not pining for anything really, I'm trying to understand shifts in historical consciousness which can be identified in the late 1970s.
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Beet
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« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2013, 07:43:17 pm »

Well it's clear what happened in China. Mao Zedong, who happened to helm the CCP during the time of the great definitive crisis (1937-1949) passed away in late 1976. With him went the only real bulwark of communism in the People's Republic. It was only a matter of time before the argument would be put forward (and prevail) that if communism truly was a scientific doctrine as it claimed, then it would "seek truth from facts."

David Ben Gurion passed away in 1973. Francisco Franco and Chiang Kai-shek in 1975. Josef Broz Tito and the Reza Shah in 1980. Every Soviet leader who was in line for the succession and an adult during World War II, between 1980 (Kosygin) and 1985 (Chernenko). These were the people who came of age when there 'was a palpable sense that society was moving forward', established themselves during the great trials of the mid-20th century, and held their countries' political evolutions in a seemingly invincible freeze during their lifetimes.

The great inventions and dramatic breakthroughs that created the sense of progress reached its maximum velocity in the period 1880-1920 or so. The great crisis (1914-45) prevented many of these new innovations from being fully exploited and implemented. This finally occurred (in the West) during the Long Boom (1945-75). However, after the breakthroughs were exhausted, productivity growth inevitably slowed down. The seeming new frontiers (space travel, atoms for peace on an industrial revolution style scale, supersonic air transport) never materialized. Only the microchip revolution allowed the sense of progress to continue on a diminished scale.
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Del Tachi
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« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2013, 08:26:59 pm »

History is always more interesting in retrospect.  In a few decades, social commentators will look back at the early 21st Century as a vibrant, ever-changing period in our history...just like they have done with every other historical era. Roll Eyes

As far as why fashion and popular culture have remained relatively stagnant over the last two decades, much of it has to do with the rise of personal technologies.  The presence of the Internet--a medium in which the user is able to "pick and choose" his content much more so than was ever imaginable with radio or television--has destroyed the power of the elite and corporations to determine social tastes and fashions.  Popular culture is now a hogsmosh of very different, often contradictory tastes and styles--and this often gives the illusion of a stagnant popular culture due to the lack of fads or crazes that are able to infect large numbers of people in the way that they were during the days of traditional media. 

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tweed
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« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2013, 09:24:31 pm »

can't we just be vulgar and claim that the conservative turn in culture is, in the last analysis, reducible to the increasing concentration of capital and the reverse-redistribution of the neoliberal counterrevolution?
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Tetro Kornbluth
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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2013, 06:22:37 am »

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I'm not talking here about Asia.

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I never said otherwise.

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LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

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I'm not talking here about 'traditional media' and I would really question that despite the greater variety and options now there are actually more 'styles' available in practice.

can't we just be vulgar and claim that the conservative turn in culture is, in the last analysis, reducible to the increasing concentration of capital and the reverse-redistribution of the neoliberal counterrevolution?

No.
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Beet
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« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2013, 04:04:01 pm »

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I'm not talking here about Asia.

You cannot speak meaningfully of the conservative turn since the late 1970s without including Asia. It would be like trying to talk about the Reagan Revolution without including California. Asia participated in the conservative turn of the late 1970s, and arguably it affected more people in Asia than in the West. Chen Yun's speech at the Central Work Conference on November 12, 1978 was arguably the turning point of the period, alongside the Iranian revolution. It also came just six days after the resignation of Iran's last civilian prime minister; on the same day (November 6), the longtime leaders of Iran's democratic opposition emerged from a meeting in Paris with the Ayatollah completely capitulated, publicly agreeing to an Islamic government. Less than a month later (December 2) was Zia ul Haq's fateful speech declaring the Islamization of Pakistan.
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LastVoter
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« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2013, 04:03:07 am »

I think Soulja Boy Tell'em's corporate backed success made me realize that modern culture is just a bunch of trolling, and nothing of value being created. 70's were a paradise
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PR
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« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2013, 06:05:49 pm »

My contribution to this thread-some stats on corporate media ownership:

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More: http://www.globalissues.org/article/159/media-conglomerates-mergers-concentration-of-ownership#VerticalIntegration
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Wherever you want to go, you can't go there!
Angry_Weasel
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« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2013, 10:31:37 am »

Despite studying "modernity" and what came after it and its significance for several years, I have come to the conclusion that I know not much more than when I did when I decided to ponder the idea that certain promises that were made in my at the beginning of my parents' generation never materialized (there would be free health care, have flying cars and live in domes). I think what is more important than figuring out why society seems to have stagnated culturally, politically  and perhaps even scientifically (though I am doubtful about this as perception of stagnation in this field simply is the bleed over of the former). Is whether something like this has happened before and what, if anything we can do about it and whether or not its a good thing. Could this part of history be like 1815(when conservative thought reached a grand zenith only to be washed away a generation later in tsunami or cultural and scientific change) or 325 (when a new extremely conservative order heralded and age of perpetual and eventually Apocalyptic and almost permanent decline)  ?  


I think I should have said just this-

What does it all mean?
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