Decadence: The Meaninglessness of Modern Life

Posted: September 18, 2016 in The End of Capitalism
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Decadence: The Meaninglessness of Modern Life

Pria Viswalingam

Review

Decadence is a 2006 Australian TV series examining the plummeting quality of Australian life, which director and narrator Pria Viswalingam blames on a global economic system based on frenetic consumption, fueled by debt and ridiculously long hours of work. The cinematography choreographs to perfection the self-indulgent moral degradation of a culture that has been subsumed by US political and cultural norms that reward narcissism and the vacuous idolization of celebrity.

The only critique I would have is the absence class perspective. I have a problem with Viswalingam’s blanket assertion that all Australians are working ridiculously long hours because they value the accumulation of luxuries more than family time or friendships. I think this criticism applies chiefly to the shrinking Australian middle class – which I estimate at around 20-30% of the population. From my experience, the majority of Aussies – like their Kiwi and American counterparts – work ridiculously long hours because this is the only way they can put food on the table.

The series consists of six episodes:

Episode 1 Money – describes the MacDonaldization of Australian society, where workers work longer hours than Germany, Japan or even the US and are plagued by debt, depression, drugs and high suicide rates. Viswalingam makes the assertion that greed and ignorance are a far bigger threat to civilization than terrorism. I agree.

Episode 2 Sex – describes how the commodification of sex has led to a situation where more “sex” occurs in the street than in bedroom. Viswalingam especially deplores the sexualization of children for commercial reasons, the alarming increase in culturally driven misogyny and the epidemic of pedophilia in the church.

Episode 3 Democracy – explores America’s zeal in exporting “democracy” to the rest of the world and the undermining of Australia’s parliamentary democracy by wealthy business interests.

Episode 4 Education – explores the decline of Australia’s educational system, which focuses more on fast tracking students into lucrative jobs than on teaching ideas and critical thinking.

Episode 5 Family – explores statistics showing Aussies are marrying less, breaking up more and increasingly opting to remain childless. Viswalingam blames this partly on the absence of good paying jobs (forcing mothers into the work place) and the failure of the feminist movement to win support for women in their struggle to balance  work and family responsibilities.

Episode 6 Religion – describes how organized religion sowed the seeds of its own destruction through centuries of justifying wealth accumulation and genocidal western expansion. Here Viswalingam makes some fuzzy, poorly supported assertions about the fundamental importance of spirituality in facilitating human connection.

 

 

Comments
  1. […] Source: Decadence: The Meaninglessness of Modern Life | The Most Revolutionary Act […]

  2. auntyuta says:

    Reblogged this on auntyuta and commented:
    This is an excellent series. I had it on my blog in February 2015, but did not get many comments.

  3. berlioz1935 says:

    This TV series was an excellent piece of journalism but does not really come as a surprise.

    The development of Capitalism to the present stage was actually recognised by the “Frankfurt School”. This group of people worked out that there was something wrong with capitalism.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankfurt_School

    Stuart Jeffries wrote an excellent book about it. His introduction to the book became an essay in The Guardian; well worth reading

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/sep/09/marxist-critique-capitalism-frankfurt-school-cultural-apocalypse?utm_content=buffer2a358&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

  4. […] contrast to Decadence: The Meaninglessness of Modern Life, which highlights life in the Australian middle class, Growing Up Poor is a heartbreaking TV […]

  5. […] contrast to Decadence: The Meaninglessness of Modern Life, which highlights life in the Australian middle class, Growing Up Poor is a heartbreaking TV […]

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