Monday, 12 January 2009

Fascism or Bureaucracy?

What little joy I've been able to reap from the barren plains that was the second half of 2008 (yes yes other than from my children, blah blah blah) has still come from that Eddie Izzard Star War Canteen Lego Dramatisation that I first encountered and blogged about, oh, three months ago.

Students in my seminars this term will know exactly what I mean, but here's a reminder:

I could watch that over and over again. And I have been. But I can finally put my finger on what I really like about it: it is the narcissistic injury, the puncturing of omnipotent phantasy. The undoing of the Nietzschean Superman by the Everyman or, rather, the anonymous face of Bureaucracy.

Well, of course it is, Shitforbrains! Such 'insight' is hardly worthy of even a few bytes of an increasingly crowded cyberspace. But what's interesting, for me, is where my sympathies lie here. Now, normally, I would revel in such a fall. I want to be there, feeding Nietzsche's Superman the kryptonite enema. (Does one 'feed' an enema? Clearly more research is needed here...) But here I'm definitely on Jeff Vader's side. Maybe it's because I am the Dark Father now. But I definitely feel like I'm getting slapped with a wet tray by Mr. Steven's minions.

So what's wrong with that? Well, it means that I've got some phantasies of omnipotence of my own. An inner asshole I need to come to terms with. But we knew that. No, I can't kill catering with a thought. What it really means is that the choice we all face is now, finally, clear. If we can choose not to be governed by the will of the Superman, does that mean that we are condemned to be ruled by the mediocracy of the bureaucracy?

But I can't credit for this insight, this sagaciousness. We were discussing these very ideas -- narcissism, authoritarian tendencies, anal aggression, the transcendental signifier, you know, as you do -- in a seminar last month. (The fact that I cant' remember which seminar, for which course, is symptomatic of my state of being last term. And maybe my teaching in general?) And one student, in some frustration, blurted out, 'So, that's my choice? Fascism or bureaucracy?'

Brilliant. Succinct. And completely right. Remind me to give an 'A' to whoever said it. (If it was you, I'm sorry; I must be repressing the knowledge that most of the really intelligent things said in my seminars are said by other people.)

So, is that the choice? Well, at least it feels that way at the moment. I haven't decided if that says more about the structure of power and authority in our culture, or my own mental state. Or both. I'll get back to you. Maybe I need to go back and read more Bakunin et al.

(Now I've done it. I'll have to come back to that Bakunin article at some point...)


  1. I NEVER made the Vader/Father connection before now.
    There is something inherently Narcissism-puncturing about people mistakenly believing you're called Jeff.
    Brillant video!

  2. I know. It's hard to be a Force of Evil when you're name is Jeff. I guess.

    I didn't make the 'Vader/Father' connection either. Until I made Sarah (that would be my wife) watch it for the first time when we met.

    'Wait until you see what happens in The Empire Strikes Back...' I said.

    'Does Vader tell Luke that he's his father?' she asked, innocently.

    'What?!? How did you know?!?' I asked, incredulous.

    '"Vader"? Dutch for "Father"? that's supposed to be some secret?...'

    'Oh. I guess not then...'

    Silly us...