Neoliberalism, Big Brothers, Coops, and the Canada Council
My PhD is keeping me busy with 250+ pages of reading per week, but I’m immensely enjoying it. The program at Carleton is what I had hoped for – four of us students in a small classroom with one professor engaging deeply with the material we’ve read for a good three hours. We just finished a great book by Armand Mattelart (pictured at left) called “Mapping World Communication: War, Progress, Culture.”
Here’s my Favorite quote from this excellent historical reading of the field of communication:
As we have already noted, in the redeployment of free enterprise the consumer is keystone. He or she is at once, as “coproducer,” one of the links in the production process and, as representative of the people-as-market (peuple-marché), the key to the process of legitimation of the neoliberal conception of society. For it is not a matter of just any consumers, but rather of consumers who are sovereign in their choices in a free market. Neoliberalism, in its struggle against all forms of control (except of course its own, those of free enterprise), whether they emanate from the state or from organized civil society, reveals itself as a form of neopopulism as well. Thus it experiences the constant need to reaffirm the representativity of consumers in their role as market shares. It speaks in their names. Hostage and alibi, the consumer has, indeed, the starring role on the stage of the democratic marketplace; he or she is a a “citizen” of it. The discourse built around the consumer, a consumer free of all attachments and determinations other than his or her own will, claims such authority that it often becomes a totalizing discourse, one leaving no place for other issues than those related to consumption. Consumption is assumed to contain within itself its own explanation and raison d’etre.(Mattelart, 1994, p.234)
Last week I received a letter informing me that I have been accepted as a Big Brother. The program, which is across the world, is called Big Brothers and Sisters, and matches adults with children who are in need of companionship, friendship, and positive role models of their same sex. The initial testing was a rigorous two and a half hour interrogation by two psychologists about my past, present and future thoughts, experiences and problems. I was definitely not prepared for it, and hadn’t eaten breakfast, so by the time it was over, I was ready to collapse. I understand the thoroughness however, and I’m glad I not only survived, but I passed! So next week, I go through a bit of training and look at files of little brothers that they have chosen. Every two weeks I’ll spend four hours hanging out with a kid, which will be great for a variety of reasons, one of which is the fact that I miss my family here in Montreal.
Goodbye greedy corporate pigs Videotron and Bell. I have had it with telecommunications companies fleecing every last cent from us, only to have the worst customer relations out of any sector. When I last called and complained to Videotron about our internet service and how expensive it was they informed me that if we added cable to our package for an extra 30 bucks a month we’d be getting our money’s worth. I said we didn’t want cable because we didn’t have a TV and the person on the other end of the phone told me to go and buy a TV!! Anyway, we’ve discovered a company that won the Cooperative of the Year award here in Montreal last year, Cooptel, and have switched to them. So far, so good. Their rates are HALF that of the corporate giants, and they’re small and friendly. Gotta love Quebec.
We’ve been meeting up with The Canada Council for the Arts people to let them know about Cinema Politica, and that we really need funding. It looks like things might move in our favor because of such meetings…Last week I spoke with Josette Belanger from the Council at the Independent Media Arts Alliance summit here in Montreal. It was wonderful to be in the midst of artists from all over Canada, and we are applying to become members of that organization (überculture is applying, that is). Anyway, we’re going for a $40,000 grant for Cinema Politica. Deadline is November 1st. One more thing to do. Now I’ve got to mark papers…