The Rise of the New Dumb

October 29th, 2010 | 6 comments

A new project — resurrection of authoritarian analysis, but with a twist, taken from the Good Doctor, Hunter S. Thompson: the Rise of the New Dumb.

The only ones left with any confidence at all are the New Dumb. It is the beginning of the end of our world as we knew it. Doom is the operative ethic. – Hunter S. Thompson

The New Dumb

(1) The inability to comprehend basic maths. That lower taxes cannot provide more services. That lower taxes for the wealthy will not result in more plasma screens or digital gadgets for the average lumpenurbanite. That lower taxes will not reduce car traffic. That lower taxes will not cure cancer, or make you lose weight. That the reduction of taxes has little to do with the size of government, which demonstrably increases under all politicians and parties whose main platform is to lower taxes.

(2) Analysis of the lumpenurbanite. A new class of the Dumb. In which the urban periphery views the city core as the playground of sexual fantasy and violence, where the cheap clothing accessories, made in global sweatshops, can be displayed as symbols of urban power. And this urban power exists; it elected a Mayor whose entire platform culminates in the negation of the city, with no positive vision of its future other than as a parking lot.

(3) Properly, all movements of the New Dumb are not politics. The New Dumb seeks to negate the space of the polis. Speaking in tongues, carrying weapons, obliterating spaces of gathering, destroying means of human-powered transport — these are all movements against the political in its generality, the heritage of the space and time of speaking and gathering collectively, the polis.

*Note to self: will write further on this claim vis-a-vis Rancière’s notion of politics as dissensus. What I suggest is that the New Dumb is not producing dissensus, but actively seeking to cleanse the political of such. It is a new police order or distribution of the sensible that aims to render the political terrain impassable.

(4) Analysis of this Mayor, in which the politics of the negative become a fetish, physically displayed, outwardly, in the slouch of the body. Negative politics in which the scapegoat is the apparatus of administration and election itself. The bodily affect of the negative is physical largesse, which is the sign of what is to come: bureaucratic bloat. Listen not to the words — look at the belly. That there is a certain irony in an elected Mayor who wants to “stop the gravy train” and yet appears to have swallowed it, whole. This is analysis of affective politics where power resides in a centralized body (see Massumi and Dean).

(5) This Dumb Politics encompasses a destruction of the city core, and its transformation into a fantasy playground for the car culture of the lumpenurbanite. The city is a parking lot, a highway, a place for the expression of suburbia’s expressive resolution of what it views on television of the Big City – the horrors, gleefully watched, of mob violence, cop culture, whores & drugs – by making it more real than Real. Which includes, as a positionless political platform: the negation of cyclists and bike lines; the negation of public transit; the negation of non heteronormative cultures (if not peoples); the negation of immigrant populations and neighbourhoods. The city core is to be transformed into a Fat Playground. Once tooled as the shopping centre for illicit pleasures, the city will be blamed for its ills and immoral being, as corruptor of the youth. And so He struck down Sodom and Gomorrah — in His Hysteria.

(6) When HST ran for Sheriff in 1969, his second campaign promise was to change the name of Aspen to Fat City. HST saw it coming, and wished to head it off at the pass by calling a spade a spade, and by doing so, allowing the symbol to denigrate itself. His campaign points (which I believe were entirely serious) included:

1. Rip up all city streets with jackhammers and sod the streets at once.

2. Change the name Aspen to Fat City. This would prevent greed heads, land rapers, and other human jackals from capitalizing on the name ‘Aspen’. These swine should be fucked, broken, and driven across the land.

3. It will be the general philosophy of the sheriff’s office that no drug worth taking shall be sold for money. My first act as sheriff will be to install on the sheriff’s lawn a set of stocks to punish dishonest dope dealers.

HST realised that the only way to resist the New Dumb is to become an opposition so radically unpalatable that it cannot be swallowed. To become the vicissitudes of a radical pleasure — not a consumable pleasure of patriarchal violence and property. Outright, organised, elected, autonomous Freak Power.

(7) The Rise of the new Dumb is explicit. Like early 20th century Fascism, it wears its heart on its sleeve. We can all see it coming. It has a platform. It is destructive, and above all, selfish. Incredibly selfish. It appeals to the most selfish, senseless attributes of the human condition: to defeat minor, bureaucratic power through the assumption of a power more destructive and violent than all that came before; to overcome the complexities of the world by rendering it into banal, childish terms; to ignore the world’s dangers by remaking it as a pleasure dome; to target and scapegoat all those who not only refuse to live inside the bubble, but all those who would tear down its catastrophic illusion.

(8) The New Dumb revels in its stupidity. It signs off without content, it signals no argument, it has no reasons, it just operates blind, steering through life like a consumer with a free credit card. It only has its exit, in the end, to play. This exit must be refused, lest it take all of us down with the ship.

Rob Ford (to CBC’s As It Happens): Pardon me? I can’t talk to you right now—I’m really, I’m on a really tight schedule, so I hate to be rude, but I gotta let you go, and we can chat another time. Really nice talking to you, all the best, buh-bye.

(9) Which is worse — an organised Fascism hellbent on overtaking the world while methodically exterminating its opposition, or a disorganised Dumb hellbent on destroying the world in its mass stupidity? There is no equivalence here; there is no worse than worse; there is only the Worst for our times, and as such, it ought to be taken with pitchforks in hand, and fought without quarter.

Rise Freak Power.

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    6 Responses to “The Rise of the New Dumb”

    1. […] The Rise of the New Dumb « fugitive philosophy […]

    2. The Rise of the New Dumb: Freak Power vs. Toronto's New Mayor, Rob Ford http://bit.ly/aOORAH #teaparty #robford #rightwingdumb

    3. […] try to make sense of — and resist — emerging social and political trends like “the rise of the New Dumb,” “cultural fascism,” and the corporate mobilization of proudly uninformed groups […]

    4. Shrewd, sharp posts from @fugitivephilo on "the rise of the New Dumb" http://bit.ly/aOORAH & "moloch's multitude" http://tinyurl.com/272ucxx

    5. […] As for the youth? A good point is made here, that winning the youth vote begins with respect. According to blogger AW Reeves, parties need to “talk about urban issues and green infrastructure; building better public transportation and supporting the arts; the importance of local and healthy food; of civic engagement, political participation, and the importance of taking pride in where you live.” In short, the issues of youth are, perhaps, more progressive and varied than those of mere education. I agree. I would’ve said the same in the mid-1990s when Generation Y came into voting age, but hey, we were too busy organising on cultural and political levels an entire collectivist movement. However, it is worth noting that education is always defunded in proportion to the neoConservative increase in prisons. Education is a broader issue than just youth; it has to do with creating an enlightened citizenry. Without it, we welcome in the Tea Party mentality of the New Dumb. […]

    6. […] is where it’s at.” Max’s column couldn’t have come closer to my own last post; it hits upon similar points concerning an increased culture of stupidity (and short-term memory). […]