October 10, 2011

No Empire Monday

"The decline of Empire has begun and the revolution against it is in progress." - from Empire, M. Hardt and A. Negri
In Trainspotting, the main character, Mark Renton, decides to go clean and quit heroin. He is successful in doing so, and tries to "choose life" like the regular people he sees around him. Why, I am not sure.

Eventually Renton gives up his addiction, and looks forward to a 'better' life of mindless consumer addiction while living a culturally approved script.
"I'm going to be just like you: the job, the family, the fucking big television, the washing machine, the car, the compact disc and electrical tin opener, good health, low cholesterol, dental insurance, mortgage, starter home, leisurewear, luggage, three-piece suit, DIY, game shows, junk food, children, walks in the park, nine to five, good at golf, washing the car, choice of sweaters, family Christmas, indexed pension, tax exemption, clearing the gutters, getting by, looking ahead, to the day you die."
This is what he quit drugs for? This is what we have traded our freedom for? It is no wonder the masses are growing restless, and are beginning to challenge notions of Empire. The dream of democracy, and a better life has turned out to be a bit of a nightmare for millions of pacified workers.

People are working more and more for less and less, and are not happy about it. Negri and Hardt in their book Empire, have good news for these victims of contemporary global capitalism. They say that capitalism, "although seemingly impervious to anti-systemic challenge, is in fact vulnerable at all points to riot and rebellion."

Maybe the Mark Rentons of the world will find that consumer addiction and adhering to the regular life script can be as hazardous to your health as hard drugs. But rather than go back to heroin, perhaps they will join a protest somewhere, and hit back at the dead end choices we are offered by the men behind the curtains.

Perhaps they will say no to the addictions of capitalism and stuff, and gain their freedom through living simply. Perhaps rather than support it, they will help bring the Empire down.

The Empire is falling--they always do--and when it does, The People will resume control. Together we will create better, more sustainable and equitable ways of doing things.

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