Culture for the Future (Note #1)

the Cat here explains the class basis of contemporary national cultural production, as expressing the ideas and notions of class and racial superiority of the upper and upper middle classes. Hence Thatcher’s effective shutting down of fringe theatre through cutting their funding, and the acceptability of racist and sexist jokes by 1970s comedians. The ideal of the ruling classes is a national monoculture, whose cultural products are like those of Simon Cowell and Michael MacIntyre – bland, catchy, but saying nothing profound or controversial, or dealing with the real problems and issues of contemporary life. He also shows just how much of contemporary British culture is a foreign import, from fish and chips – Jewish, Chicken Tikka Masala – Indian, and good old rock’n’roll. The last is a mixture of Black American barrel house jazz and White Country music. This is the latest in a series of article the Cat has posted advocating a kind of cultural resistance to challenge the cultural stranglehold of the middle classes, and the way they have used it to legitimise their power and oppressive policies towards the working class.

Guy Debord's Cat

The cultural critic, Raymond Williams (1976), once said that “culture is one or two of the most complicated words in the English language”. Many people use the word “culture” to refer to specific artefacts or use it to refer to a set of rituals and customs that are practised by primitive tribal societies in the rain forests of South America or Central Africa. Some people use words like “cultured” to describe someone who has “good taste” in music and the arts. Such people will invariably come from upper middle class and upper class backgrounds and are acculturated at an early age to appreciate only those forms of culture, like classical music, opera and Shakespeare’s plays,  which have been consecrated by a legitimating authority (Bourdieu, 1989). Any cultural form that is produced outside this narrow band of cultural production will be regarded as vulgar by those people who regard their culture…

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