Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Notes on Personality

Gary Tedman

Speaking from what is thought as probably 'further left', the trouble with 'Michael Moore' as a media personality is that he always seems to, in a way that is a bit belligerent and proselytising, to question the sincerity of his political opponents. While this may be true of the bigwigs he attacks who are in the fold of the professional politicians, it is, I submit, usually not so true of the ordinary Republican voter.

"I know that's a comforting story to tell yourself, and if John Wayne were still alive I'm sure he could make that into a movie for you."

[See http://politicalaffairs.net/article/view/9335/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PoliticalAffairsMagazine+%28Political+Affairs+Magazine%29]

The suggestion Michael Moore makes that they are 'comfortable' believing that they can always 'pull themselves up by their own bootstraps' is in this sense probably inaccurate. Often ordinary or struggling to rise Republican voters will see any failure they make as a personal failure and take it on board as such, even to the extent of killing themselves and possibly their own near family too. This has happened not once and is terrible and seems selfish of course, but it is not really insincere.

Setting oneself up as Mr Sincere is to set oneself up as a kind of saint figure (perhaps we could also stray here into questions of cult of personality). The 'saintly' is not really a very popular figure in modern times amongst progressively thinking people, but the bourgeois media loves to portray, whenever it must, the left in precisely this light as its main representative: a humanistic, holier than thou, belligerent clever clogs.

Perhaps, indeed it is likely that, Michael is also himself a victim of this; this trap of his Press. It is his job after all, it is the way he makes a living, there is bound to be some kind of sacrifice for what he achieves.

Likewise, in the UK, whilst I had sympathy and agreed with much of what Arthur Scargill said and did during his period in the spotlight (miners strike), I did not much like his attitude or manner so much - his way of saying what he said. It seemed to me too emotional and shrill, and it did not accord with my understanding of 'the socialist personality'. But it takes all kinds of course. I'm not proposing a single dogmatic communist type of personality or that I have any special handle on this as a practice.

But I think you see my point. The question is, if we must always act (as we must) the 'how' is as important, if not more so at times, than the 'what'. This is what I would call a question of 'affective practice', i.e. how things are communicated on the emotional-affective level. It is very important, not least to the 'image' of a political party, as any corporation knows which spends a vast budget on it. It is a question of artistry. That the same corporations often do not listen to genuine artists is for them also a drawback, and makes what they do with 'image' usually pretty crude ('marketing strategy' behaviorism). Maybe we should be thankful for that fact, but it also means we have to suffer the crudity in publicity.