The Gap Between the Artists and the Real Estate Developers Has Gotten Very Small in Our Modern Times

I don’t agree with everything Hakim Bey says, but when he puts his finger on something it’s more like a giant fist coming down on the table and putting into perfect words what’s been bouncing around in my gray matter for what feels like forever. This is somewhat for the benefit of Jason Roberts and his semi-recent cognitive dissonance about being a nouvelle Dallas development potentate (a deliberate overstatement, by the way), and has a lot to do with that vague discontent I have been feeling for some time about our best neutopian efforts (which in turn has to do with marketing and attention and technology but it is going to take me a while to tie together all the threads). From In Conversation: Peter Lamborn Wilson (dead link)

There was a depression, so artists, who are certainly blameless in this, discovered low real estate prices and low rents, and they started to move up here. And the gap between the artists and the real estate developers has gotten very small in our modern times, down to where it’s almost nothing…

We have all these knee-jerk phrases that in the sixties sounded like communist revolution, and now are just corpses in the mouths of real estate developers. “Sustainable development”–that means very expensive houses for vaguely ecologically conscious idiots from New York. It has nothing to do with a sustainable economy or permaculture…just yuppie poseurism. It’s fashionable to be green, but it’s not at all fashionable to wonder about the actual working class and farming people and families that you’re dispossessing. This is a class war situation, and the artists are unfortunately not on the right side of the battle. If we would just honestly look at what function we’re serving in this economy, I’m afraid we would see that we’re basically shills for real estate developers.

…and more that has to do with what I’m really grappling with from an art-and- technology standpoint…

…technology has alienated people to such an extent that they mistake technological and symbolic action for social/political action. This is the commodity stance. You buy a certain product, and you’ve made a political statement. You buy a car that runs on salad oil. It’s still a car! Or make a documentary. Where did we cross that line where we forgot that making a documentary about how everyone would like to have a food co-op is not the same as having a food co-op? I think some people have lost that distinction. Now, about art in the service of the revolution: There is no art in the service of the revolution, because if there’s no revolution, there’s no art in its service. So to say that you’re an artist but you’re progressive is a schizo position. We have only capital, so all art is either in its service or it fails. Those are the two alternatives. If it’s successful, it’s in the service of capital. I don’t care what the content is…

(emphasis mine)