Tuesday, 10 June 2014

A Smug Hipster Twat’s Guide to The World Cup

A couple of weeks ago I posted my Smug Hipster Twat’s Guide to Voting. You’re all idiots and liked it much more than everything else I’ve ever written, so I’ve been trying to be much less popular since. However, my monthly blog hits counter will look nicely symmetrical if I write something just as appealing and publish it this evening, so I’m giving in to the overwhelming public demand. Now I don’t know much about football, but it seems to me supporting a team is pretty much identical to voting, you’re joining a tribe, so I should be able to get by without changing too many words. 



Option 1 - Pretend You Hate Football

Maybe you actually hate football? I don’t know, but that shouldn’t really matter, forget any actual feelings, we’re trying to get people to think we’re interesting here. Pretending to hate football is probably as old as football. Many people like it, and many of those are oiks, yobbos and vaisyas. You want to be different, and this seems the most obvious way. The problem is that yes, it is the most obvious way. It’s also essentially impossible to do without coming across as a complete snob, hating on anything enjoyed by the working classes. Why are they all kicking a ball around when there’s a social justice war going on?

Pros- Something something capitalism commercialism something sexism something something.

Cons- YAWN


Option 2 - Support Brazil

Asda right now is full of little plastic flags, about half of them are for England, and about half for Brazil. Once upon a time I was a baby contrarian and I really didn’t see the point of supporting anyone unless I could cover everything I owned in little plastic flags. If you too think like this, and can’t bring yourself to support England, this is the way to go.

Pros- You will definitely win. There is absolutely no chance of anyone but Brazil winning this tournament. Put huge bets on this now, it’s free money.

Cons- How much are they charging for little plastic flags?! It’s a bloody liberty.



Option 3 - Pretend You Haven't Noticed There's A World Cup Going On?

Oh, it had completely slipped my mind. I’ve been reading Capital in the 21st Century all week, and haven’t turned the TV on once. Also I’ve been trekking Nepal for the past couple of months. Also I don’t own a TV. Also I never worked out the rules of football anyway, but it’s really fabulous that you’re all doing something you enjoy!


Pros- If you’re not lying, it’s pretty great.

Cons- Nobody believes you.


Option 4 - Support A Really Obscure Team

A high effort strategy here. If you’re going to claim you’re a massive fan of the Hondouran national team, you really have to back it up with some serious knowledge. Around other massive football fans, this probably pays off, but I’m just not sure how many there are that care enough. There’s a very thin line between football fan and trainspotter, caring too much really isn't on.

Pros- The four months of Fifa playtime isn’t a total waste.

Cons- Yes it is.


Option 5 - Support England

Next level, we’re getting into some serious countersignalling here. The key to cool is to ensure you’re not mistaken for someone slightly below you on the social ladder. We probably don’t need to worry about being mistaken for anyone lower than that, it should be obvious. In the same way, anyone who is obviously old money can get away with dressing like a tramp, while the nouveau riche need designer suits to distinguish themselves from the masses. To apply this to football, the tedious nouveau riche we need to distinguish ourselves from are the option 1s, so full throatedly supporting ‘our lads’ may well make you seem ever cooler.

Pros- I actually sort of want an England gnome.

Cons- A dangerous game, if you’re not obviously high status enough, people might start thinking you’re some sort of racist.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

What You Eating That For, Cunt?

The only slightly overrated Douglas Adams once wrote-

'The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question 'How can we eat?' the second by the question 'Why do we eat?' and the third by the question 'Where shall we have lunch?'

It’s a neat idea, and one which I'm going to awkwardly shoehorn to fit my argument. That our politics is largely post 'why' is a well worn path. Nobody tries too hard to change other’s minds, or to challenge fundamental assumptions, it wouldn’t work anyway. There are few seminal thinkers left among the elite of society, everything just sort of carries on. Sure, there are slight managerial tweaks to be made, but in some sense we are past the end of history. Even this year’s supposed great challenge to the neoliberal consensus, courtesy of Thomas Pickitickity, takes place within the framework.

I’m not even sure this is a bad thing, the world is a better place than at any time in history, and is getting better every day. Capitalism outcompeted everything else in the marketplace of ideas, its monopoly may be deserved. For a good chunk of the population of the west, we know what’s on the menu, all that’s left is to find a nice restaurant.

But that gets boring fast, and boredom breeds conflict. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, you’re the apocryphal middle class ciswhitehetman in a society that provides you with anything you could ever need. There’s a billion people to talk to, but nothing important to talk about. Having climbed Maslow's pyramid, you want to be different, just like everyone else. Desperate, you stumble upon the fourth Great Question-

‘What you eating that for, cunt?’

Obviously there is no ‘why’ here, no new insight into the workings of society, nor even an attempt. What it is, is a provocation masquerading as debate, and it’s what passes for radicalism today. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to identify groups that fall into this, but I want to briefly talk about the worst.

The neoreactionary movement began about five years with a stupidly named blogger called Mencius Moldbug, and has grown at an unprecedented pace, to the point it now has several stupidly named twitter accounts and a stupidly named subreddit. Its main hallmark is a deliberately obfuscatory writing style, but once you fight through the nonsense, it’s pretty simple. Misanthropy, narcissism and contempt for anyone different. Neoreactionaries venerate IQ because they have slightly above average IQ scores. They oppose immigration because they aren’t immigrants. They loathe democracy because they don’t like other people. The paradox is that a movement that is so avowedly anti-modernity is so much a product of it. It’s UKIP for the selfie generation.

But why? What drives people to these depths? It's all signalling, iconoclasm is low cost and socially desirable. You're looking for conventional wisdom to challenge, and the obvious targets are progressive isms, feminism, anti-racism, tolerance. If you spend your entire life online you may even convince yourself they’re pervasive. Of course, challenging them in this way isn't a real political philosophy, our society has passed the point one would be relevant, it’s edginess for the sake of itself. A low rent comedian promoting your fringe show on the back of totally unchecked privilege. There’s a certain beauty to the way structure matches function here. An ideology devoted to your own superiority, written and deployed in a way to gaudily display that same superiority. Contrarianism is cool, and this is the lowest common denominator. 

And if you want to show that you’re even better than any of this? I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.