Nicky Hager: Late-Capitalisms True Punk Rocker
By Steve McKinlay
The fetish we call “freedom of speech” is resolutely defended in particular, we note, by the liberal right. Yet this creates a very uneasy tension. The pretence of the rational, utilitarian individual, very much aware of how things really are is contrasted heavily against the embodiment of the renounced belief in the fetish. We the public readily and eagerly (pretend to) accept the reality regurgitated weekly in the tabloid (and mainstream) press – a self-increasing spiral of production which perpetuates the very market it is responsible for creating, generating in the process of all manner of titillating, facile shite that many claim, we have the “right to know” – no matter how distasteful it is.
Hager playing the NZ media like Nintendo, is NZ's answer to Malcolm McLaren, a rude, brazen punk with little regard for the public, politicians, the media or the truth. According to McLaren, “Stealing things is a glorious occupation, particularly in the art world”. Clearly we observe Hager at the peak of his art form, it’s hard not to admire his gall. The creation of a narrative that can topple political parties, must have the marketing gurus in a right tiss. In a world where the public gobble up any and all debris dished up to them by the braindead media - we deserve Hager, we need him and, we created him.
We live within an era of ambiguity between surplus-value and surplus-enjoyment. At the apogee of post-industrialism, a directionless society generates and consumes its own myths bringing forth into existence Marx’s vision of late capitalistic production – production creates the need for the consumption of the products it creates. Nicky Hager embodies this irony of capitalism. It’s hypocritical of those individuals who would enjoy the spoils of the fetish of freedom of speech, the West’s most overrated idea, whilst sneering at Hager. The great irony of capitalism, predicated on freedom, is that its most adherent proponents compulsively re-enslave themselves to its spoils. (cp. US’s entrenchment in a war against the "theft of enjoyment"). One can't help but wonder at the intellectual moralising of those that worship this fiasco. It's called freedom people, and it has you in chains.
In respect of Truth, it is irrelevant. Truth isn’t what Hager is about, Truth isn’t what anything is about. Truth is always balanced against the compulsion to enjoy. The stronger consumptive desire deprives us of autonomy turning us into clowns; it dresses us like babies and shoddier still – renders us manipulated, craving and drooling puppets.
The idiotic jouissance over Hager’s book is contra-posed against libertarian capitalistic ideals manifest in our so-called free “society of consumption”. We are obsessed with celebrity and scandal, we applaud individualism and freedom, we condemn governmentally imposed orders, yet seemingly the loudest cry of injustice regarding the Hager incident comes from the very group defending such idealism – no doubt because it has toppled their champion. I’m reminded of the old Marxist claim: capitalism unleashes a contradictory dynamic that it cannot contain. The ultimate obstacle to capitalism is capitalism itself.