Saturday, 13 December 2014

How to read Mythologies

The Mythologies 

There are three concerns in the mythologies; language, culture, & ideology. The concern with language derives from Saussure. Culture from Levi-Strauss. Ideology from Marx. Each of the mythologies takes as its focus an aspect of culture (wine, film, travel guides, etc, etc). Each considers the language of that aspect of culture (object or concept) and how it communicates with us (how it structures how we read it, how it positions us, it's rhetoric). Each shows the ideological systems at work in this specific language of culture. Each mythology expresses this triangular relation of culture-language-ideology [Levi-Strauss-Sassure-Marx]. 

Typically the textual structure of each mythology follows the culture-language-ideology pattern (wine, the rhetoric of wine, the ideology of wine) which could almost be paraphrased as 'artefact x positions us in way y because ideology z'. 

Myth Today

The concern of Myth Today is the lesson of all the Mythologies. It tries to answer the question 'what do all these individual mythologies add up to'. Barthes' answer is rather remarkable - and it is worth reading Myth Today carefully more than once for this reason - myth is the language of capital itself

Myth Today could be seen as an attempt to outline the grammar of this language of capital. The culture-language-ideology triplet could be seen as the syntax of this meta-language of myth. The mythologies themselves are so many figures of speech within it. The specific aspects of culture discussed are its nouns. The rhetorics of culture illuminated in each mythology are the verbs of this meta-language. Culture, language, ideology are its registers...

It is worth remembering that this meta-language of capital has only one object, you the reader, and only one tense, the infinite present, because when it speaks it intends to weave us into a world that we are to understand we cannot change because it has always been this way and always will.  

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Moral Panic & Folk Devils: Labour Party & NHS

The Labour Party have been gifted a great weapon by the Tory privatisation of the NHS. A demonising gun to make the Tories 'The NHS profiteers'. 
The Labour Party could end right here, right now, the Tory Party as a possible governing party by constructing them as a folk devil. A folk devil that could never be trusted with even a single finger of power over the fate of the NHS
A moral panic about NHS privatisation (rather than NHS institutions as is now the case) would stygmatise the Tories forever. 
It would be a simple task for the Labour Party to make a stand on the NHS & to promise an end to 'marketisation'. Especially as the end of neoliberalism in 2008 makes this kind of financialisation prohibitively expensive anyway. 
Such a strategy comes with a ready made thing to apologise for [which Labour often seem to believe is necessary]: i.e. continuing the 'marketisation' programme of Margret Thatcher. Which can now be presented as a terrible error that the Labour Party volubly own up to. Allowing, of course, all problems & scandals in the NHS of the period 97-2010 to be blamed on Thatcher & Blair's mistaken belief that Thatcher's 'marketisation' was both reasonable & kind [Blair just couldn't imagine that the Thatcher reforms were designed to be so harmful... is the line to take]. 
The Labour Party would need to commit to undoing all the ‘marketisation' efforts since Thatcher but that would not be a hardship given how much additional cost they have placed on the NHS (& with the Cameron-Clegg privatisation this increase in total cost will only be seriously exacerbated). It would have the additional benefit of marking a very clear division between the Labour Party and the Tories (whether in Blue or Yellow ties) which would help to overcome some of the ‘they're all the same’ discourse they electorate are trapped in.
The essential point for the Labour Party to convey is that no one could believe that the Tories, especially when in a minority government, would actually be so barbaric as to privatise the NHS & set the UK on course for the brutal horrors of the USA's medical capitalism. How could a typical person in the UK even begin to imagine that? The people responsible for such a barbarity would display such a monstrous inhumanity that they could hardly be considered people at all [which of course they are not they 'are lower than vermin']. Yet no human would want to think of others in this way & in this mis-recognition of Tories as people by us lies their terrible power to do harm. 
The NHS & the health of everyone in the UK, everyone, is imperilled by the anti-NHS Tories. This should be the clear & simple message of the Labour Party because not even Cameron could Flashman his way out off that.


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