aesthetic critiques of morality/politics are both inherently reactionary and tbh just kind of eyeroll-inducing. “feminist insistence on verbal consent takes the sexiness out of life” “cheap block housing is ugly” “lab-grown meat would be artificial and inauthentic” grow the fuck up. capitalism has constructed elaborate dreamworlds where you can have whatever dumbass aesthetic experience you want, go enjoy it there
are cheap block housing and lab-grown meat morality/politics?
people who argue that cheap block housing is dehumanizing or that lab grown meat is unfit for human consumption because of its inauthenticity seem to think so.
I mean… Living somewhere cheap and ugly is unpleasant, though?
Like, for real, if you were the kind of person who had unfettered access to the hedonic playgrounds of capitalism you probably wouldn’t be living somewhere cheap and ugly.
And if you *are* living somewhere cheap and ugly that ugliness serves as a constant visual reminder of your inability to influence your own environment. This is unpleasant and depressing.
If the basis of your morality or politics are somehow entirely aesthetically based then you’re probably insane and also a Vampire: The Masquerade character.
But I think we should consider whether “God, if your apartment is ugly and decrepit and there are no parks in your neighborhood just fucking turn on the TV and stop whining” is actually, like, a great moral argument.
I actually have an effort post about what it has felt like to spend the majority of my life in government housing, but for Pete’s sake, y’all are trying to say that,
“I wish they hadn’t torn down the park that used to be next door to me and replaced it with a paper mill,”
Is an inherently reactionary and eye-rolling argument?
“It was really upsetting when those kids painted swastikas on the side of our synagogue.”
*rolls eyes* “Looks like we got another reactionary here.”
Ok, ok, I’ll stop. But man that middle example made me really angry.
I’m not totally sure what we’re referring to here with “block housing” but, okay, so, most of my life I lived with my mother, neither of us had jobs, and we were surviving through various forms of family and government aid, the relevant example here being government subsidized housing.
Now, it wasn’t particularly ugly, but it was generally kind of uncomfortable. Rooms were small, floors were concrete with tile slapped over it and it genuinely hurt to walk on in bare feet, and heat was provided by baseboard heaters which took up entire walls and meant you couldn’t put furniture next to them, which was kind of irritating when you were trying to furnish a 5′ x 8′ room.
One of the major things that makes poverty degrading is… How to say this… Okay, you have a sense of huge chunks of your life being defined by impersonal, outside forces.
In the housing complex we lived in, there were relatively frequent housing inspections, to make sure we were holding ourselves to a particular standard of cleanliness. This was always both humiliating and frightening, because a failed inspection could, in an extreme case, lose us our house, and it was also a reminder of the ways in which we couldn’t control our own environment.
Even climbing a little ways out of that kind of extreme poverty is incredibly freeing. There really is, in terms of psychological well-being, a massive difference between being in a position where you can say “We can’t afford to go there that often, but every Christmas we splurge and go to that nice, high end restaurant,” and “We can’t afford to go there that often, but every once and a while we go to Wendy’s.”
Part of the degradation and exhaustion of poverty comes in the millions of little reminders of the ways your own preferences don’t matter and the ways you are incapable of exerting any meaningful control over your environment and the direction of your life. And unfortunately if these feelings are reinforced too much they can lead to both learned helplessness and counterproductive ways of trying to reassert control (”I don’t care if I overdraw my account, I’m fucking going to the bar tonight because I want to.”)
In this context, a pervasive ugliness in your surroundings serves as a reminder of your own helplessness and alienates you from your home, which becomes not a sanctuary from your hardships but an amplification and reminder of them. And I happen to think that this is actually bad.
I am going to say it: I do not believe the argument I am making here is reactionary.
radical left-wing politics sometimes gives me a (quite literal) feeling of suffocation, and it’s dawning on me that maybe this is why. i think this basic position of “aesthetics doesn’t matter” runs deep, and i find it inherently oppressive to the human spirit.
relevant coens screenshot
Two separate things.
First: Housing inspections – what the actual fuck, I’m sorry you had those, nobody should be forced to have those.
Second: I absolutely agree that there’s a lot to be gained from putting in a little extra effort to make things beautiful, but I don’t think advocates of beauty are the intended targets here. Rather, there exists a group of people who are against public housing in general, and one of their complaints is that it’s ugly – to which the answer is of course it’s ugly, you would barely allow us to scrape together enough money to build it, where the hell were we supposed to get the additional money to build it nice?
There’s a difference between ‘this building is an eyesore’ and ‘this building is actively unpleasant to live in’; the former can absolutely be a part of the latter argument, but the former argument on its own is not necessarily a winner.
Absolutely, but so long as you have fewer housing units than you have families, priority one must be “four walls and a roof for everybody.”
Then you can step it up – indoor plumbing, electricity, insulation for the winter.
Then you can step it up again – better floor to walk on, better natural light inflow.
And again and again.
At some point, you cross over – now you’re no longer removing distressful elements, but rather adding nice elements. But until you’ve reached that point, for everybody, I’d rather extra money be spent on “more housing” first, then “better housing for those in the worst housing,” then, after that, “actually good housing.”
(Or you could just do what we do – there’s no public housing, poor people get cash support and rent on the same market as the rest of us. This seems to work out Fine.)