Happy Fucking Ideology Christmas

UntitledI never saw the harm in Santa. Of course, pharmacy  if I had children, I might take more interest in disabling a myth that defies basic principles of aerodynamics and time.  But,  as I elected to have my womb replaced with an organ that produces lewd self-confidence, I have no children and, to date, not much of a position on Claus.

I considered having children once. Chiefly, if not entirely, to make another person happy.  Social Services can take heart they were never burdened by that eventuality.  We would have been parents who took a morally vegan approach to festive joy and banned the Christmas meat from our children’s developmental repasts. “It’s never too early to teach them about science and patriarchy” I would have said to X, my collage-artist co-parent whose biodynamic vegetable patch had already seen little Misogyny X-Razer in “western” medical care once this year. (Seriously, you have to practise good Work Safety with that horn full of fresh shit.)

Now, I see the sense in Santa. And not because he produces desirable results for the culture but because he produces necessary results. Santa is one means we have to prepare small humans to sustain the lies, or the “ideology”, necessary to the efficient function of our age.

Fans of Žižek may recognise my theft of his Santa as Ideology. I love this guy, who looks himself like an unwashed Marxist Santa and delivers the best of the psychoanalytic Left in a terrible sack, and I don’t care who knows it. There is no one, in my view, better at gifting difficult thoughts to all the boys and girls of the world and he is my absolute favourite populist (populist) thinker of all time. Anyhow, his Santa thing goes something like this:

Certain concepts we have we uphold much as we do the idea of Santa. At a certain age, we know that children no longer believe in Santa. And the children know we know that they no longer believe in Santa. But, the children go about maintaining the fragile delusion of Santa so that they are rewarded with gifts and we are rewarded with their happiness in receiving them. We maintain a mutually beneficial system of exchange by agreeing to say we believe in something in which we do not believe.

For Žižek, this describes the function of ideology in capitalism. We all pretend to believe that capitalism is the most natural and/or best organisation of human life even though we see real evidence that it is not. No one will say that they like inequality but many will say that it is the inevitable result of “human nature” and we will all just shrug and go on believing that a system of disproportionately distributed material resources is the only way to live. “Some people just don’t work hard enough”, “The Africans have become reliant on foreign aid”, “Aborigines just never had to work for themselves and have become lazy” etc etc.

You know. The sort of shit you might hear at Christmas dinner.

The fact is, the world’s working poor do a shitload more hours than you and I will ever have to contemplate. Africa is rich in mineral resources which the first world manages and buys at remainder bin discounts. Australia’s Aboriginal people endure the ongoing theft of EVERYTHING they ever made or owned—language, children, culture, basic agency, land. But we say that they got themselves into their shit because the Santa Capitalist myth allows us to say it.  We believe it and very often, the people who get scant gifts also believe it. The idea of Natural Inequality is as fictional as a guy in a red suit who is powered by reindeer and the annual goodness of children.  But, we allow Santa to fly with our belief in him.

I was thinking about the Christmas Lie in less overtly economic terms this week when a friend told me she was enduring a bad case of festive depression. Her family demands a performance of happiness which she finds too much to enact. I think many of us know this particular pain that is dismissed as bah humbug. If you don’t give yourself over to the spirit of the season, you are a (a) not a team player and (b) complicit in your own emotional destitution. It’s a magical time! Smile!

Now, there are those able to immerse themselves in the whimsy and uncritical joy of Christmas; those wide-eyed hipsters have legitimised numb credulity with their fucking tofurkeys and vintage sweaters and place-cards made on old typewriters. Fuck, I hate hipsters. Not only do they rebrand ideology as fashionable but they do it in the uniform of the Beats who would have kicked their tolerant arses. Stop saying that Life is Beautiful in Allen Ginsberg’s spectacles, you cunts.

Anyhow. That’s not the point. My mild point here was going to be: if you enjoy Christmas, good on ya. If you are an actual Christian, knock yourself out. (I am pretty soft on religion and do not consider it a virulent or foundational ill.)  You can enjoy Christmas without fear that you are enacting a Lie.. Even though I do think hipsters are evidence that the representation of radicalism can be severed from its original referent and turned into impotent cheese. Not my point. Again. If you like Christmas, fine.

But if you do not like Christmas and you find it a stressful obligation to believe in the idea of redemptive happiness/Santa, then I wanted to say: you’re okay. Hate is a completely logical response to obligatory cheer.

Your unhappiness makes people uncomfortable for obvious reasons. It is a threat to the fragile fiction of contentment. Your refusal to believe in the agility of the Spirit of Christmas to squeeze into your chimney and dump good feelings on the family hearth is understood as “wrong”. You are seen as excess to the truth that life is marvellous and seen as difficult and deluded. When, really, they’re all fucking deluded to believe that contentment is as easy, for everyone, as belief.

It is okay to be sad. It is okay not to believe. It is perfectly fine to feel discomfort with a time of year that forces you to reflect and fail to see anything but dazzling glory. Because, really, who can say they had a Great Year?

I actually had a pretty decent one as years go. I could, if I were so inclined, count my blessings. Actually, I often do or at least, as I walk down even streets that conceal sophisticated sewerage and use my state-produced literacy to make a living, I say to myself “thank fuck”. Several times a year, I am actually amazed that I can work within the terms of this system and I think back to the typing lessons they used to give blind kids like me in the seventies and I wonder if all the squinting junior bunny rabbits of the present have a similar funding program to prepare them for the “knowledge work” of the future.

Probably not. Poor babies. The increasing structural cruelty of this world, founded on the Santa You Can Make It If You Try bullshit, which punishes difference—at the Christmas table as well as in the education system—is one of the reasons I did not have children.

Thank goodness I do not have children. Thank goodness I was myself a child in a time and a nation where my difference was not something to be punished but something to work with.

But this is more an expression of gratitude at the fact of my exceptional luck in a world beset by the lottery of inequality and it is not the happiness demanded by fucking Christmas. You can be grateful for what you have. But you don’t need to make your unhappiness behave.

My sadness for your sadness means diddly squat, of course. I don’t think I can transform your bad time into a good time through the healing power of understanding. But I just wanted to bash out these thoughts about the horror of Christmas so that, at the very least, you knew that there is an unnamed community of Bah Humbugs who can trace the approximate shape of your pain.

In short, fuck these happy people. Fuck their demands that you represent “functional” neurochemistry just because they covered it in tinsel. You don’t have to be rude to them, of course. And you don’t even have to represent the truth of your bad mood. But you do have to know that what you feel is real and good and sensible. If you don’t feel great, don’t feel less-than-great about THAT as well. Seriously. There are plenty of people to do that for you. Maybe, allow yourself to feel good that you know something that they don’t. And that is, contentment has no calendar.

What it needs is an agenda. But you and I can go on discussing that in 2015.

 

 

 

 

15 comments for “Happy Fucking Ideology Christmas

  1. carlene
    December 23, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Every time you write an elf is released from servitude. They, and I, thank you

  2. Jon McLeod
    December 23, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    I think you are my alter ego.

    Christmas is hell with worse music.

    Enjoyed reading this.

  3. Sue
    December 23, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    “My sadness for your sadness means diddly squat, of course. I don’t think I can transform your bad time into a good time through the healing power of understanding.”

    I completely disagree. I almost cried reading this fucking thing.

    Going away tomorrow. Coming back on the 27th. No pressies for anybody. Can’t handle this FUCKING MEANINGLESS SHIT.

    So thank you for this. It really did mean a little bit diddly squat to me, actually.

    • December 23, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      Meaninglessness is such a problem. We have killed the real and our ability to represent us. I’m going to try to work this terrible thing out more next year. Meantime, I feel ya, Bae.

  4. December 23, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    I live to bitch.

  5. Janice
    December 24, 2014 at 12:03 am

    I hate Xmas also, it comes around all too soon and I think here we go again. I feel obliged to entertain the oldies with Turkey and Xmas pud which i loathe. You are spot on the calendar can’t dictate our moods. Breathe a sigh of relief when it’s all over and I invariably have to go on a diet to compensate for that mindless overindulgence.

  6. Mark
    December 24, 2014 at 12:09 am

    I really enjoyed this. Good on ya, Helen.

  7. Bronwyn
    December 24, 2014 at 12:18 am

    I now can’t stop picturing Žizek in a Santa hat. Thank you for this image, it has made my festive season complete.
    Have a Merry Meaningless Christmas!!!

  8. Will Marshall
    December 24, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Thank fuck I have good family around me, can’t be arsed with Christmas but they make it all worth putting up with the shit carols and decorations, family and alcohol, that is!!:)

  9. Fox
    December 24, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Thank you. I wrote lots of other words here about your thoughts here validating my desire to disengage from this Christmas foolishness but none of them matter really so I deleted them. All I shall say is thank you for writing this and to wish a Happy Public Holidays to you and yours! I hope you enjoy the sleep ins and the lazy days and are able to avoid the worst of the supermarkets.

  10. Bennelong Bicyclist
    December 24, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    May I commend the myth of the Krampus to you? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krampus

  11. dave
    December 25, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Bah Humbug to you, thanks for the laughs x

  12. Michael
    December 25, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    The idea of buying shit for people you don’t like and getting shit in return, then having to grit teeth while you eat dead animals, and overcooked vegetables is really stupid. When did anyone think this is a good idea! If I can help you, let me know, that is the time to give a gift, when others arn’t watching

  13. Kym
    December 31, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Helen, thank-you for joining the party of one in my head.

  14. Ryan
    June 11, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Every Razer essay is a beautiful crystalline shard of dangerously-intelligent, breathtakingly-arrogant sadness.

    This one seems to have a sharper edge than normal. I’d give a kidney* to pour a bottle of cheap shiraz down you and see what comes out. Christmas 2015 plans?

    *You only need one right?

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