New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Faux Real

January 09, 2017 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Politics, Randall Amster

What’s in Your Worldview?

by Randall Amster

We had to know this was coming. It was always here, but now it can be seen more clearly through the unvarnished lens of protofascism. Retrenchment and revanchism arrive with a new pitchman, selling rollbacks disguised as opportunities and promising to reclaim that which has been lost after decades of social progress and cultural liberalization. This isn’t a “new normal” but rather an old one reemerging, and the only sort of normality it represents is that which is perversely defined by a type of mass insanity.

Things have been heading in this direction for a long time now, but the pace obviously has accelerated in the digital age. The lamentations about the demise of truth and the advent of bogus “news” are legion, as are the observations about the omnipresence of technology and the implications thereof. But all this hasn’t happened to us — it has veritably been demanded. Obscured by the handwringing and finger-pointing is the deeper reality of a culture obsessed with on-demand indulgences, no matter the cost. (more…)

The Working Dead

December 09, 2016 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Politics, Randall Amster

Signs of Life in Making a Living?

by Randall Amster

I’ve noticed a subtle shift in recent years that seems relatively minor but is perhaps quite revealing of larger trends. People rarely seem to ask the question anymore, “what do you do for a living?” Instead, it’s usually expressed in more transactional terms as, “where do you work?” or “what’s your job?” By itself this appears insignificant, except that when coupled with more macroscopic shifts in the nature of employment across a wide range of fields, it says something about the erstwhile notion of “making a living.” Indeed, with increasing routinization and the advent of 24/7 technology, work is becoming less about our living (as in, someone pursuing their “life’s work”) and more about trying not to let it kill us.

With all of the post-election analysis about the issues of the “working class” as a determinative factor, we now find ourselves in a liminal space between the reality of economic dislocation and the fantasy of redemption. How much disbelief needs to be suspended in order to buy the notion that (a) outmoded industrial jobs will literally be coming back, and that (b) a billionaire real estate magnate is the one to do it? The burgeoning Cabinet picks and associated rhetoric should be all working people need to read the tea leaves. As such, we are steadily traversing the fine line from fake populism to genuine dystopianism. (more…)

Catching the Drift

February 06, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Ecology, Randall Amster

Can We Avoid Getting Swept Up in the Winds of Disenchantment?

by Randall Amster

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the news cycle, as if it actually represents reality and merits our continuous attention. But it’s largely a “bad news” cycle that we’re talking about, and in consuming
it one can hardly avoid the conclusion that “the sky is falling” — a notion that’s coupled with a hegemonic “unless” that asserts “the end” can be averted only through more devices of the war-austerity-exploitation sort. Simply put, the mainstream media cultivates a dualistic ethos of despair/fear and resignation/capitulation that is difficult to resist, and yet is one that must be resisted if we are to retain the capacity to imagine a better world and work toward its realization.

I struggle with this dilemma on a daily basis. To unplug from the incessant negativism of the news crawl is to fall “out of the loop” in short order and to be lost in the myriad conversations of our lives that devolve upon “hot topic” and “currently trending” references. It also makes it difficult to comment on said news in order to offer analysis, critique, or even points of reference that will resonate for readers outside the avowed Luddites in our midst. Thus, in order to be relevant, it seems as if we need to be at least conversant with the “devil’s in the details” quality that makes up the news of the day. (more…)

Waking Life

March 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Randall Amster

You Don’t Need a Clock to Know What Time It Is

by Randall Amster

With each passing day, the news grows increasingly grim. In recent weeks alone, we’ve seen women’s rights under assault as reactionary forces seek to turn the clock back by decades. Half a world away in Afghanistan, corpses are defiled and more are brutally created, without even their ages or innocence sufficient to protect them. Meanwhile, back at home, Congress passes and President Obama signs a new law that further restricts the ability of “we the people” to say or do anything that might stem the tide of the insanity. It’s all such a familiar tune, one that plays out with flawless precision in nearly every turn of the news cycle.

Meanwhile, the blogosphere buzzes along, chronicling the morass and the madness with vigor. The headlines read like an excruciating autopsy of democracy and justice in the late, great United States — and a horrifying blueprint for how to decimate that portion of the planet’s inhabitants who have the misfortune of living atop, amid, or around something that we covet. Naked fascism here and wanton destruction there, with each solidifying the other in our hearts and minds as the gears of consumer culture blithely grind about their business with clocklike precision. Tick: the Dow Jones goes up! Tock: another celebrity melts down! And hardly anyone seems to really know what time it is… (more…)