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  1. The political theorist Alan Keenan categorized three ideal types of cynics:
    Master cynic: wields power within the political system
    Cynical insider: publicly upholds the political system
    Outsider cynic: the passive and excluded public of the political system.


    If cynicism is basically the belief that the true motives of human action are self-interest & the quest of power, then each type are defined by their relation to power. The Master cynic pursues power and self interest, while taking full advantage of the scruples of others. Tho the Master cynic predicts behavior in terms of assuming the worst about others, he does not operate in the open. He considers the public completely enslaved by its own blindness, but he will never inform them of his techniques.

    The Master cynic is Machiavellian by coolly and rationally exploiting the irrationality of the public, and hypocritical in which he never takes the ideals or norms or codes or creeds he insists on others. He frequently pays lip service to the conventional values of the ruled, but leaves a gap between such pronouncements and his self-serving behavior. The Master cynic leaves enough visibility of his activities to reinforce the cynicism of the powerless.

    But I find the second type more interesting: the Cynical Insider. They confer legitimacy upon the powerful Masters by mimicking their cynicism, due to the fear of losing position and security instead of desire of power. They are the classical alienated middlemen, the professional manipulators of public opinion and redescribers of reality who are responsible of creating and sustaining the illusions that allow the powerful to rule. However, the Insider is much more indiscrete by taking pride in his redescription in order to boast of their success. The Insider is close enough to the seat of power to allow the public a brief glimpse into the shocking abuses of true power. The Insider's cynicism is a shameless confession.

    The last category is the Outsider, the cynical public, disempowered masses whose distrust of the motivations of others comes from the disappointment of the failure to realize the promises and ideals of politics and an absence of faith in the potential of positive change. Some Outsiders are actively hostile towards the government and politicians, others are alienated and apathetic enough to abstain from participation. The disenchanted and disillusioned cynicism of the alienated public are absorbed by the system, perpetually disappointed.

    Given these explanations, who do you think best represents the Insider?
  2. Post on Cynical culture in Influence

    By The Heretic, posted
    This morning Hugo sent me a link to an article on Adbusters regarding the Hipster as a symbol of exhaustion since it represents our current generation. Perhaps the Hipster is the final realization of modern cynicism, in which I replied with another Adbuster article, where Bruce Benderson analyzed a certain short film, Lonely Man Beer.

    Some of the salient points in that article:


    It’s not an exaggeration to say that my generation, from the sixties, was the first to become disenfranchised from historical context. Or, to put it more simply, we lost the support of our forbears. When knowledge of Latin stopped being an earmark of the educated American, when Greek myths no longer provided a foundation for the artistic or philosophical articulation of modern life, our generation resorted to pop culture. That’s all that was left. But was there any way to descend even further down than that?

    Perhaps it was the moment when global capitalism climbed upon its throne and we realized belatedly that we were living in a postmodern age that the legacy of the next generation became clear: irony would be the sole tool of the new artist. But as irony lost its satirical power, its power to critique, it became a tool of entertainment for profit and the advancement of social status. In the art world, this change was illustrated by the career of Andy Warhol. Pop began as an acidic criticism of middle class capitalism—until the rich embraced the experience and filled the pockets of those artists who obliged them by doing it. Andy became what he’d made fun of: a wealthy living joke. Perhaps we baby boomers shocked our parents by relying on rock music and movies as inspiration. The next generation shocked us by looking at our pop culture ironically, and then using that vision as an amoral networking tool. What better symbol of this activity than the TV commercial as art?

    ....hat interests me is the dilemma of cultural disenfranchisement encountered by today’s certainly post-classical yet even post-pop generation. Pop artists studied the cheapening of the image by market forces and discovered a new source of abject aesthetics. Postmodernists merely recycled the Modernist palette. But the post-Pop, post-post-Modernists of today have had to deal with the obvious poverty of all imagery and the shoddiness of all aesthetic devices available to them, as well as the blunting of all irony. They have seen all of these elements presented with a cynical kind of humor that laughs all the way to the bank. It’s inevitable that they grow bored with the celebration of vacuity and the sensationalism of the grotesque for its own sake, no matter how much money they make from it. Even the cleverest tricksters of the new art world, such as Banksy, come close to being opportunistic court jesters. At best, they have made their own cynicism the subject of their art, and sometimes quite successfully.
    I posted this in the comment section:

    However, it sounds more like a complaint by an Empire writer, much like how they disparage retro-modernism as a negative trend because it seemed that we no longer could create original work.
    That only confesses the dominant paradigm could no longer serve as a monolithic frame of values, that diversity and tolerance no longer marginalized anything, particularly a fetishtic nostalgia that recycled the dominant trends of pop culture in the past.

    Moreover, the native post-modernist shtick of this article has slowly crumbled and given way to an emerging narrative: pseudo-modernism, where the text is no longer god, and the reader (audience) seizes control back via participatory techniques (texting to vote the celebrity off the island, retweeting purple revolutions).

    Then again, perhaps this pseudo-modernism is less an abortion of postmodernism, and more of a competing post-Empire strain that moved past the narcissism of postmodernists, and towards a “nowhere of silent autism.”