Thursday, 15 March 2012


"Thought-provoking but ultimately frustrating
liberal critique of unfettered capitalism,
which balks at pushing truly radical solutions
commensurate with the scale of the problem"


i fight a belated departure and delayed trains
to undertake a 10-mile round trip
to the basement of the bmi in margaret street
i am there to catch a free preview of 'the four horsemen'
courtesy of the birmingham film co-op
beyond the aerobic exercise of biking to and from stations
was it worth my while?
well, yes and no
yes because there is some interesting and insightful analysis
from at least some of the talking heads
who prop up the rather lame narration
there's dear old chomsky
cutting laconically through solid steel like a laser beam:
"terrorism is what they do to us, not what we do to them"
there's another smart talking head who shines a spotlight
on the role of deliberately cultivated public apathy
a manufactured consent which condones the evils of entrenched power
there's a compelling critique of the decadence of western society
as it reaches the final stage in the inevitable cycle
of the rise and fall of empire
the bread and circuses of ancient rome
reinvented as celebrity chefs and multi-millionaire sporting icons
but there is more than one problem with the four horsemen
maybe it's just me
but i'm left unsure of exactly who they are meant to be
at the beginning i mentally jot down:
famine, poverty, war and death
by the end ninety odd minutes later
this list seems to have morphed into:
financial greed, violence, poverty and resource depletion
should there be room for doubt?
and the core point?
the take-home from watching the film?
well, having spent the best part of the evening
criticising the workings of capitalism
the talking heads ultimately reveal their true allegiances:
reform the parasitic financial and fiscal systems
which have become corrupted by (bad) neoclassical theory
using the insights from (good) classical economic theory
and all will be hunky dory
that's it! problem solved!
no mention of who might undertake these reforms
no consideration of the likelihood of a voluntary transformation
to a fairer, more democratic system
whereby the powerful surrender their ill-gotten gains
no recognition of the inevitable end point of a system
that rewards ruthless competiton and penalises altruistic cooperation
funnelling resources to the most reckless and ruthless
and starving the rest
barely a mention of the mainstream media propaganda offensive
which normalises the unthinkable
of course no consideration of the other species we share this planet with
which are relegated to mere 'resources' to be consumed by humanity
no hint of a more radical critique
which screams for the system and its institutions
to be confronted and dismantled
only a wildly optimistic parting shot
extolling the virtues of taking the trouble to educate oneself
about the workings of the system
positing the internet as a powerful tool for such a process
and declaring the possibility of a "bloodless revolution"
("to understand something is to be liberated by it"
yeah, try convincing a third world freedom fighter
try selling that one to a resident of homs!)
as for the apocalypse
we are left to guess at the unpleasant details
although we are told by a former aide to colon powell
that royal dutch shell strategists envisage a 'messy' denouement
as we scramble for fast dwindling resources
thank you for that insight
and welcome to camp bastion, folks!

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