The Shard: the ugly facade of capitalism

July 7, 2012 at 12:00 am (Art and design, capitalism, Jim D, Livingstone, London, Marxism)

Above: “ugly, insecure and grotesque”

Marx and Engels gave a materialist explanation of the origin of the aesthetic sense itself. They noted that man’s artistic abilities, his capacity for perceiving the world aesthetically, for comprehending its beauty and for creating works of art appeared as a result of the long development of human society and were the product of man’s labour. As early as in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Marx pointed to the role of labour in the development of man’s capacity to perceive and reproduce the beautiful and to form objects also “in accordance with the laws of beauty” (Marx and Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 3, Moscow, 1975, p. 277).

This idea was later developed by Engels in his work Dialectics of Nature, in which he noted that efforts of toil “have given the human hand the high degree of perfection required to conjure into being the pictures of a Raphael, the statues of a Thorwaldsen, the music of a Paganini” (see pp. 128-29 of this book). Thus both Marx and Engels emphasise that man’s aesthetic sense is not an inborn, but a socially-acquired quality.

The founders of Marxism extended their dialectical view of the nature of human thought to analysis of artistic creativity. In examining the development of art together with that of the material world and the history of society, they noted that the content and forms of art were not established firmly once and for all, but that they inevitably developed and changed according to definite laws along with the development of the material world and of human society. Each historical period has inherent aesthetic ideals and produces works of art corresponding to its particular character and unrepeatable under other conditions. Comparing, for example, the works of Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci and Titian, Marx and Engels emphasised that “Raphael’s works of art depended on the flourishing of Rome at that time, which occurred under Florentine influence, while the works of Leonardo depended on the state of things in Florence, and the works of Titian, at a later period, depended on the totally different development of Venice” (p. 177).


The problem with the Shard is that it is ugly, insecure and grotesque.

The ‘lets build the tallest building’ game is best left to children and the insecure. Dubai is obsessed with having the tallest building because it is not a place which really exists. It is a city literally built on sand, like some wrongheaded parable. It has a great deal to prove. Sydney throws up skyscrapers despite the plentiful space available because Australia is so deeply insecure about its importance. London never needed to. Confident cities build low because they have nothing to prove. And there is no use saying, as Ken Livingstone did on the Today programme this morning, that we have run out of space and need to build up. The building is empty. There is no demand for what it is offeringIan Dunt

P.S (from JD):  I like handsome, well-designed skyscrapers, including some of Piano’s previous work.


  1. dave said,

    I saw it the other day and thought its looks alright. Though it ownership and use is the problem

  2. Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    Came across the perfect word yesterday (but can’t remember where): ‘Oligarchitecture’.

  3. Rosie said,

    From that pic it looks like modernity giving a shiny finger to those domes.

  4. daggi said,

    Isn’t that a photo of that half-finished hotel in Pyongyang?

  5. bler4eg omceonmretatry said,

    loloks like a pefec e of shit.

  6. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

    i left a cooMnet here and not allowed. tossers

  7. Jimmy Glesga said,

    Good piece of engineering and workmanship. I look forward to seeing pretend socialists jumping aff the tap.

    • Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

      deeply weird fucksponge. that’s you that is glesgaayrrr

  8. James D Newell said,

    Though I’m primarily an admirer of the regency architecture of London, and proud of its historical tradition, I think the Shard is beautiful – a futuristic crystalline splinter among historic buildings that showcases the iconic juxtaposition of old and new.

    Though some may argue about its political connotations, I have yet to be convinced by any of the arguments against its aesthetic qualities. I’m overjoyed to see it finally inaugurated.

    • Rustie said,

      What a pretentious, verbose, smug, self-satisfied prick you are James D Newell. The fact that you include the “D” in your name says everything about you….a perfect nob.

  9. Heddie said,

    I love the shard!

    It’s not as if there was anything important in the London Bridge area anyway.

  10. Heddie said,

    shouldn’t you be getting ready for school?

  11. Faster Pussycat Miaow! Miaow! Miaow! said,

    The ‘Shard’ is pure triple-distilled essence of fascism. Not a ‘machine for living’ but a machine for fucking the proles and the planet.

    There’s nothing important in London, it’s a stinking shithole, the prolapsed areshole of a dead empire.

  12. Faster Pussycat Miaow! Miaow! Miaow! said,

    In case you pig-skins haven’t noticed, we’re the centre now and you are very much the periphery.

  13. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

    probablee wears them sort of speccs like that fuckking cuernTT mR Stokes wears to make up for the fact that he has no fuckking eprsonality.


  14. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

    londoNn, dubai, shitholes with same aesthetic, i.e. facisitstss and bollox shopping mall type cuernTs.

  15. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

    see that dead onion ring that has been half eaten by a pigeon on the street in that there London? That’s shatcloTh and bashes’s best birthday supper that is. yeSS – he actuAlly has suppers.

  16. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

    osTler’s place has turned into sunnY Hundal’s bathroom. all shit and no tiles.

  17. sackcloth and ashes said,

    Is this your way of saying you’ve bottled it, Will?

    You know full well that you lied when you smeared me as an EDL supporter and a member of the far-right, but you just haven’t got the guts to admit it.

    You’re dogshit, Will You are the ‘Eight Ace’ of the blogosphere.

  18. bler4eg omceonmretatry said,

    sackcloth – you’re far worse than an EDL supporter. You’re a supporter of liberal capitalism, a political-economic order that murders and immiserates an incalculably larger amount of people than any far-right knuckle-dragging mob ever will. However, your HP sauce dwelling also marks you out as a neo-fascist fellow traveller so go fuck yourself.

    p.s. I’m not Will, I’ve told you hunDERDS of tymes NOw, but you’re too thiK to listen

    p.p.s, if I’m eight ace you are ‘Student Grant’: ‘Grant thinks of himself as a liberal intellectual, independent and worldly-wise, but frequently shows bigoted opinions, is not especially bright, relies on his parents for money and has little idea about the world outside of campus’

  19. sackcloth and ashes said,

    ‘You’re a supporter of liberal capitalism, a political-economic order that murders and immiserates an incalculably larger amount of people …’

    That sounds like Student Grant to me.

    And to add to the list of ‘Viz’ characters we have Aldridge Prior, the useless liar, and Biffa Bacon, the moron.

    In case you need reminding, you promised to get the fuck off Shiraz if your accusation against me was false, and if the IP addresses for myself and ‘flange’ didn’t match. You’ve bottled out of this and you’re making excused because you’re not man enough to apologise. You make John Game look like a paragon of honesty:

    I’m not even going to bother rebutting your rants against me. I’m just going to keep reminding you that you’re a psychopathic liar who belongs in a padded cell.

    • bler4eg omceonmretatry said,

      “In case you need reminding, you promised to get the fuck off Shiraz if your accusation against me was false, and if the IP addresses for myself and ‘flange’ didn’t match.”

      You thick fuck. Worthless piece of human garbage. I said no such thing. Your problem is that you think three seperate people are just one. Why don’t you get Jim to do a beloved ‘IP check’ if you don’t believe me. And if it turns out that me and the mighty Monsuer Jelly are indeed different commenters how about you get back to wanking off your neo-fascist buddies over the shithole of humanity that is Harry’s Place?

      • sackcloth and ashes said,

        Read the remarks you typed – presumably under the influence of spesh – as one of your sockpuppets:

        ‘June 19, 2012 at 11:30 pm


        I am not Will you plank. Also, as usual, you have things arse about – if they *don’t* match you fuck off.

        ‘Bring it on’ as the slack-jawed poujadist yokels over the Pacific like to say.

        Jim, should take you about 3 minutes to settle this once and for all and then the little Tory scrote can fuck off back to HP Sauce and hang with the rest of his EDL mates’

        Time for you to get the fuck off this website and seek the professional help you need. Either that, or scrounge some pennies so that you can afford some more of that skanky brew that costs £1.49 a pack.

  20. Jim Denham said,

    Terry and Ferdinand are not in he same league as you two:

    (From today’s Graun):

    Handbags: a game for two or more players

    Not familiar with the rules of the game, as perfected by John Terry and Anton Ferdinand? Then this handy guide is just for you


    Handbags! (But we can always resume this on Twitter later on.) Photograph: Getty Images

    How to play:

    Round 1

    1 Two players meet on a standard football pitch for the “square off”. Physical contact is permitted, but not mandatory.

    2 Player 1 reproaches Player 2 with a sexually explicit term of abuse.

    3 Player 2 reproaches Player 1 with the same sexually explicit term of abuse.

    4 Each player then deploys a defensive hand gesture in the manner of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Allowable gestures include, but are not limited to:

    a) waving one’s palm before one’s face (“You have terrible breath”);

    b) making a pumping action with the fist (“You allegedly engage in intercourse with people who are otherwise spoken for”).

    Obviously in this case the latter trumps the former, but occasionally the judgment of a third party may be required.

    5 At no point may a player employ a racial epithet, unless the remark can subsequently be construed as sarcastic commentary.

    6 At any point during the game either player may call out “Handbags!”, an admission that Round 1 is a draw. Both players then shake hands by way of signifying that any ill-feeling should remain on the pitch, at least until the whole thing kicks off on Twitter later in the afternoon.

    Round 2

    This round is played in a regulation-sized magistrate’s court. The object is for each player to say “cunt” as many times as possible.

  21. Faster Pussycat Miaow! Miaow! Miaow! said,

    Cunts Jim? Fair cop I suppose. Better than a dangly appendage though, I’ve always thought myself fortunate not to have one of those.

    Which brings me to that very limited dangly appendage, Slashcock and Ballbags. Considering that 3 separate persons are supposed to be 1 person and that person is supposedly constantantly in a state of paralytic collapse, that this 1 person is seemingly awake around the clock shows a truly StakhanovIte effort. The other possibility is that Jelly has been cloned and now lives in several time zones.

  22. Jim Denham said,

    “The other possibility is that Jelly has been cloned and now lives in several time zones”…, ohmygawd, this is turning into a kafkaesque nightmare…

  23. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

    Good morning

  24. sackcloth and ashes said,

    Jim, there is a reason why I’ve got radgy about what Jelly/’bleurgcommentator/Faster Pussycat’ has said, and it’s got nothing to do about footballer-style insults.

    This waste of DNA has accused me of being an EDL fascist, and of posting a comment (under another ID) gloating over a savage assault on a pensioner. This particular troll can call me a ‘cunt’, a ‘wanker’, ‘shitbag and faeces’ – whatever floats his boat, and keeps him happy as he wastes his life with his keyboard and sockpuppets. But I am not going to accept this slander.

    If you can check IP addresses retroactively, then feel free to take a look at ‘flange’s vile remarks, and see if the address matches that of either the computers I use. If it does, then ban me. If it doesn’t, you can still ban me if you wish I’d personally recommend doing the same to this Zimmerman-style maniac who has disfigured your site:



  25. Administrator said,

    Sackcloth – I’ve deleted the comments. I don’t need to check IP addresses to know you’re not an EDL supporter.

  26. Faster Pussycat Miaow! Miaow! Miaow! said,

    You are an apologist and cheerleader for the mode of production which causes the deaths of 30+ *million* people *every year* and you call anyone who opposes or criticises this carnage ‘red-brown Strasserite scum’.

    ‘Slander’? Cry me a fucking river.

  27. Faster Pussycat Miaow! Miaow! Miaow! said,

    Someone is an outrider for the far right racist hate site The Gates of Haringey HP Sauce, is a Tory, and an apologist and cheerleader for US imperial power, but he can’t possibly be an EDL supporter? Furthermore someone at a supposedly ‘socialist’ website takes the side of the outrider for the far right racist hate site and cheerleader for imperialism (did I forget to mention he’s a Tory?) in order to slap communists down. Oh yeah that’s right, half the contributors here also moonlight at the aforementioned far right racist hate site.

    Some comrades think you are all MI5 agents, but the truth is MI5 didn’t have to recruit you, much less pay you. You’re just doing what comes naturally.

  28. Ptrick said,

    The building doesn’t look like a shard it looks like a tall building with lots of window, function over aesthetic. Someone trained at university to design that. ha….the heroes are the engineers and surveyors who implemented it, the design is lacklustre. As to the comment – it’s a building for the rich to screw the poor…well, the rich have been screwing the poor from all sorts of buildings, so give your dreadlocks a wash and don’t be so quick to judge. It’s a building that has dated already and it’s not completed yet. There is nothing imaginative or evocative int the design, it’s quite an insult to look at then angelic London tower, and see the infertile aesthic of the shard in the backgroung. Sterile, officious, buildings built with price in mind…the designer hasn’t had a hard on for a long time, and if he has, well no one knew.

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