…a corollary to Dmytri’s post today
Public pressure to demand legislative reforms is the conventionally condoned response to government overreach in democratic countries. Governments are thus naturally always positioned against the accumulation of such pressure. Throughout history they have honed various means to carefully channel and disrupt the coalescence of public outrage. A superb tactic in that regard is the stigmatist scenario.
A person or group is produced to represent some aspect of the contemporary unjust state. This person catalyses public interest and discussion. The public will invest in the story and fate of the person, investing the urgency of their general dissatisfaction with the political condition into emotional association with the stigmatist’s predicament.
The stigmatist will rise and fall, and rise and fall again, and up and down the public emotion will echo and roll. These tides of emotion are the forceful emanations of an ocean of disillusioned passions. This ocean connects us all. The moral compulsion to empathise with the stigmatist is abused by the information organs of the state to dissuade us from articulating and asserting our communal interests. The real-life actors playing themselves in contemporary high-media theater are used to produce an enthralling narrative which tragically reconfirms the rule of law.
The Rule of Law, a set of governmental bureaucratic protocols has functioned, in many individual cases, to protect people from injustice and persecution. But the real stability generated by the Rule of Law is the maintenance of real material dominance over the economy by a class who also employ the government. Here we see another form of high media theater, high-legal drama, an extremely popular genre from american television where the contortions of stigmata twisted on the semantic rack of constitutional writ make for exquisite socio-technical agonism.
Did we ever need the rack to ensure liberty or justice? The people look forlornly to the government to repair itself, forgetting that once repaired ,the government will proceed, as before, to act appropriately against their interests.
The news-screens flash the latest glamourous glimpses of the stigmatist trapped in a garish and infuriating form of high media theater. The disillusion scatters like shrapnel through twitter feeds and comment threads. Public outcry and pressure are valuable, but in addition to the semantics of dissidence, the emotions produced therein can be appreciated more generally to convey the people’s deep-seated disillusion with the notion that the government can ever work in their interest.
Stiigamatists, and the rack on which they are laid out, are not necessary to improve the general human condition. To counteract high-media theater, we may need a materialist theater of economic or social fictions, which, as it transfixes, also functions to remind and resonate the common needs of the people against the polarizing and individualizing tactics of government administration.
It is important, in addition to caring for the stigmatist, to appropriate and divert the energies catalysed in the high media theater built around them towards cultivating cultural forms which genuinely, methodically, and carefully produce other ways of community, other means of social collaboration and sharing which can take over the stabilizing functions of the state. As Dmytri implied in his post, the aim is not to reform governments, but to work towards making them unnecessary.