Pseudo-Marxist Ideology Can Pop Up Anywhere!

To those people in Sydney that occasionally like to get drunk at the Strike Entertainment Quarter at 122 Lang Road, Sydney (see here), one may have noticed they have placed a laser tag center there.

Now, as someone that once was more than happy to enjoy a game of laser tag, I found it interesting. Especially when their really, really cool video showing their arena happened to have a nicely EBM-Industrial-ish backing track (watch the video here).

This looked, to me, like a fun thing to do next time I was in Sydney.

And then I read their hideous excuse for a “plot.” Apparently their storyline centers upon “the battle for Sydney” being fought between “the resistance” and “the corporation” (anyone want to guess who the bad guys are?).

Many years ago, the people of this planet lived in peace and prosperity. But as is always the case with mankind, we wanted more. Desire created consumerism, consumerism created industry – and industry poisoned our world.
The signs were there, but they were ignored until it became too late. By the year 2030, global warming had accelerated out of control, and droughts had ravaged the land. Water began to disappear, and people became scared. Despite Government assurances, they feared for their survival – and the Great Water Riots began.

Oh dear… now isn’t this an insightful and intelligent piece of literature! [/sarcasm]

Even Cyberpunk literature of the 80’s could come up with some demented butchery of Frankfurt School critical theory to support its dystopian vision of the future. But ever since the constant plummetting of prices for computer equipment began making everyone a Capitalist (using the Marxist definition of the term), Cyberpunk’s technophobic corporate-statist nightmare has fallen greatly out of fashion amongst the advocates of Cultural Marxism. Even a libertarian like myself likes Cyberpunk, assuming it doesn’t gloss over the buddyness between State and Corporation.

But lets look at the quote and dissect it, shall we?

“Many years ago, the people of this planet lived in peace and prosperity…”
And then, it was ruined when “Desire created consumerism, consumerism created industry – and industry poisoned our world.”

So apparently, we managed to reach peace and prosperity without BEFORE industry came about! I wonder how that happened. Any ideas?

Note the title of this piece; “pseudo-Marxist” ideology. The “pseudo” is important, because this kind of narrative would make a Frankfurt School Marxist blush with embarrasment. The Frankfurt School argued that it was industry which created consumerism rather than the other way around! And Marx, for one, never scorned industry itself; he saw production as a natural (even automatic) process which humans engage in.

So, industry poisoned our world. What about the clean technology industries? Subsidy-sucking whores they may be, but they are still industries. There are plenty of clean industries which do not poison our world and scientists are coming up with a myriad of ways to clean up even dirty industries.

Even according to the ‘establishment’ scientific consensus the whole “global warming creates drought” fear is irrational. For all water that evaporates from some area, it will eventually rain down in another. And also, in the usual ‘ice-cap melting doomsday scenario’ preached by the more demented environmentalists, Australia will not have problem getting more water. Why? We’ll mostly be under water if the ice caps melt. The tropical areas will probably get more rainfall too.

Now, one can hardly expect a laser tag center’s backstory to be the height of good literature, but if I were to play a game of laser tag I would like to play a game without having a terrible, childish, badly-researched shallow-parody-taking-itself-seriously of Neuromancer shoved into several of my orifices. Actually, comparing it to Neuromancer even in a most unflattering light is an implicit insult to William Gibson.

And of course, one final point must be mentioned. A Laser Tag center uses multiple products, all of which are developed by industry and sold for profit. Indeed, the products required for this kind of entertainment are the same kinds of devices the old Cyberpunk literature feared would cause a corporatist dystopia. The game consumes electricity and thus contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. And Strike Bowling Bars are probably owned by a large firm as well.

Just like James Cameron using a massive amount of corporate finance and technology to make an anti-corporate, anti-technological film and selling it to customers in the hope of making a profit (Avatar); we have in this laser tag center a prime example of The Man Is Sticking It To The Man (in order to make a profit!).

Is that kerosene fog or hypocrisy that I am smelling?

14 thoughts on “Pseudo-Marxist Ideology Can Pop Up Anywhere!

  1. You’re reading a bit much into it. I think they’re just trying to make a buck from the global warming angle, just like Richard Branson. If he really believed that we’re about to destroy life on Earth because of CO2 emissions he’d hardly be building a fleet of rockets for space tourists, would he?

    If you must analyise ‘the narrative’, it’s not pseudo-Marxism, rather it’s classic eco-Socialism. Marx said industry was good provided it’s owned and controlled by the workers (in reality this meant the State). This has been pretty much debunked by the relative efficiencies of USSR/East German and Western industries (think Trabant versus Mercedes), and is not really a sustainable argument any more, though a few odd-bods like John Passant persist with it.

    So the leftwing crowd had to find another excuse to hate capitalism. They found it with environmentalism, and leapt upon it. The narrative changed to all industry being bad because it ‘destroys the planet’, and consumerism is also bad because it leads to industry. There’s still a strong element of anti-capitalism of course, but now it’s broadened to being anti-industry too.

  2. Yeah, you see this type of thing all the time. It’s pretty annoying.
    It certainly seems to me that some bad philosophical ideas dominate in our culture, many of which have dominated for thousands of years now.
    To me, the storyline of that laser game is just another example of the fundamental problem, which is a belief in original sin and altruistic ethics.

    James Cameron may be a good movie maker, I think he’s quite a perfectionist which I believe is a very good quality especially for an artist, but I think his political ideology is terrible and I also think it shows in the pathetic storyline of a movie like Avatar.
    I’m hoping Avatar 2 won’t be a big hit.

  3. Yeah, Cameron’s populist films, like ‘Avatar’, do well, whilst his serious stuff, like a documentary on Exodus, gets little attention! That second film claimed that the Greeks have a Minoan carving that depicts the events of the Red Sea, with Moses teaching the Egyptians to swim, as it were (they all failed). Serious stuff, and generally ignored. If it is a record of that event, then Exodus would be about 1,500 BC.

  4. Papachango,

    I agree I was probably reading too much into it. But still, the fact that this kind of narrative can be used so blatantly, without any irony of all kind, is a touch troubling.

    Also, I clarified the bit about “pseudo-Marxism” in the actual rant (by saying that Marx himself, and his Frankfurt School descendents, would think it laughable). I know it isn’t actual Marxism.

    Tim R,

    I agree. The preponderance of leftist tropes even in casual media etc. is ultimately due to the underlying prominence of Christian-style narratives (we humans are but sinners, our flawed human condition is the result of sinning against X, this has alienated ourselves from X, we must repent and change our ways by serving X (rather than ourselves) to return to harmony with X) within our culture. However, the fact our cultural establishments are so heavily dominated by the left is another part of the problem too.

    James Cameron’s Terminator 2 is a brilliant film about the value of human life. Avatar, apparently, has the exact opposite message (“Humans are EEEVIL!!!”).

  5. Some humans are evil. Avatar had good humans as well as evil humans. I thought it was an okay story and I work for a mining company.

  6. District 9 was better.

    To me the point of a story is to have realistic characters who have their own motivations and then leave it up to the audience to decide whether their motivations justified action or not.

    I would have liked Avatar a lot more if “Unobtainium” was a cure for cancer and the head of the corporation’s wife was dying from cancer. That’s the kind of nuance that exists in the real world. You can still convey a political message without simplifying the story to a Disney movie.

    I have never gotten around to finishing Atlas Shrugged and I think one reason is because even though it aligns with my own morality I haven’t found the characters all that deep. Either someone is a brilliant self-interested genius or they are a stupid parasite.

    Returning to the original topic, though, I imagine the person that wrote the storyline wasn’t paid much, if anything for their trouble so I don’t blame them for it being terrible. I have more problems with it than the ideology, though.

  7. Shem,

    It gets worse. The original script of Avatar specified that there was NO Unobtanium under the hometree; that was just an excuse to justify blowing up the hometree in the first place. The real reason they blew up the hometree was merely to terrify the tribes into compliance.

    You are right that Atlas Shrugged’s characters are not the deepest; the characters exist pretty much for the purposes of serving the plot, which in turn exists for the purposes of making deliciously blatant social commentary. It is a matter of taste though, so I can understand why it isn’t your taste.

  8. Many years ago, the people of this planet lived in peace and prosperity.

    The theme that things were better in past years (the good old days) is found in every generation. Only the reason for the presumed decline varies.

    I’m pretty sure it’s a personality factor. Optimists believe things are getting better, pessimists that they are getting worse. The optimists are able to rely on objective facts (things are genuinely better) while the pessimists need something else to explain it.

    Monty Python had a bit to say about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue7wM0QC5LE&feature=fvsr

  9. There are less intelligent but good characters in Atlas Shrugged, it’s really not as black and white like people seem to think. eg/ Eddie Willers, Cheryl Brooks or the “Wet Nurse”.
    Ayn Rand wasn’t trying to be realistic per se, that’s the job of documentary makers or jouranlists, not artists. But the fundamental aspects of human character that she focuses on as being essential are derived from reality. She described her style as romantic realism.
    In addition, the main characters Dagny and Rearden both have a major flaw and they learn their lesson throughout the book.

    The Fountainhead’s Gail Wynard is a flawed main character and becomes close friends with the main good guy, Roark.

  10. Fair enough, but to be ‘pseudo’ anything you have to pretend to be something you’re something you’re not. I don’t think they’re pretending to be Marxists at all, except maybe some of the really radical ‘Marxists for the Planet’ types.

    If anything I’d call them ‘pseudo conservationists’ – their concern for the environment is just a more convenient, socially acceptable form of anti-capitalism.

  11. (Plot spoiler warning)

    Didn’t those three ‘less intelligent but good’ characters all meet with bad ends? One ended up stuck in the desert on a broken-down train, one committed suicide and another was shot. Whereas all the heroic ‘men of the mind’ made it to Galt’s utopia unscathed.

    In general I like Rand’s social commentary, but here the plot is a bit one dimensional.

  12. I wonder if you can predict characters from their names? Gail Wynard starts off as a stormy character, and ends up as a whiner. Dominique starts off as a domineering lady, and ends up quite raucous! Any other name-as-character links?

  13. John Galt is a God-like figure. Cuffy Meigs is aggressive and pugilistic. Bertram Scudder likes to fire missiles at corporations… but that last one might be a stretch as I don’t think Scud missiles were invented when Atlas Shrugged was written… 😉

  14. Thanks papachango for completely misrepresenting my position when you say:

    ‘Marx said industry was good provided it’s owned and controlled by the workers (in reality this meant the State). This has been pretty much debunked by the relative efficiencies of USSR/East German and Western industries (think Trabant versus Mercedes), and is not really a sustainable argument any more, though a few odd-bods like John Passant persist with it.’

    Actually Marx was about the withering away of the state. now I might be an odd bod but nowhere on my blog do defend the Stalinist dictatorships. In fact if you had actually read my blog you’d see my politics is drawn from the state capitalist tradition, ie that the Stalinist regimes were (and those still existing in one form or another) are essentially capitalist in nature with the state as capital/boss.

    But misinterpreting my position means you can dismiss it, and me too.

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