Rene -- Jacques Rancière and Indisciplinarity
Jacques Rancière and Indisciplinarity
Translated by Gregory Elliott
This is the transcript of an interview conducted with Jacques Rancière by Marie-Aude Baronian and Mireille Rosello from the University of Amsterdam and ASCA. A version of this interview was published in Dutch by Valiz (NL), in a volume of studies on Jacques Rancière that appeared in the Netherlands in late 2007. In this exchange, Ranciere discusses his position with regard to democracy, politics, film, literature, art and research.
Q) How do you place yourself in the current French intellectual scene?
a) Le Magazine littéraire and Le Nouvel Observateur have recently referred to you as a key figure in the contemporary French intellectual scene: how, briefly, would you characterise your ‘profile’ and your contribution to French thought?
I try to problematise the categories that structure diagnoses of our present and debates about it. Thus, I’ve attempted to rethink democracy by refusing both its official identification with the state forms and lifestyles of rich societies and denunciation of it as a form that masks the realities of domination. Official apologists and Marxist critics basically concur in characterising democracy as a mode of government built on a society defined as a society of consumers. In opposition to this dominant view I’ve reactivated the real scandal of democracy – which is that it reveals the ultimate absence of legitimacy of any government. As the foundation of politics it asserts the equal capacity of anyone and everyone to be either governor or governed. I’ve thus been led to conceive democracy as the deployment of forms of action that activate anyone’s equality with anyone else, and not as a form of state or a kind of society.
As regards aesthetics, I’ve questioned the schemas of modernity and post-modernity shared by supporters of modernism, eulogists of the post-modern or high priests of the sublime. All of them more or less agree in characterising the modern artistic revolution in terms of an autonomisation, conceived as a break with representation and as each art concentrating on the exigencies and possibilities of its own material: the transition to abstract painting, atonal music, ‘intransitive’ poetry whose heroes are Malevitch, Schönberg or Mallarmé. On this basis, they conceive the transition from the modern to the contemporary as a break with such a vocation, as a melange of the arts, a mingling of art and popular and advertising imagery, a confusion of art and life. They can either welcome this or deplore it, justify the confusion or demand an art of the sublime and the unrepresentable. But in each instance they validate the schema. For my part, I’ve tried to show that what is called artistic modernity has, from the outset, been shot through with a tension between two contradictory requirements: one of these makes art and aesthetic perception into a specific sphere of experience, disconnected from the rules that operate in other spheres; the other feeds on interchange between the arts and spheres of experience and converts art’s ways of making into collective ways of life. In constructing the archaeology of this tension, I wanted to escape indulgent or doom-laden verdicts on the present state of art; to make it possible to perceive continual shifts in the topography of possibilities, as opposed to major breaks and grand schemas of progress or decline.
So what distinguishes my position is that I put our intellectual objects and forms into historical perspective, rather than offering verdicts based on a priori positions, but also that I reject the schemas of historical necessity and make the archaeology of our present a topography of possibilities that retain their character as possibilities. I say at one and the same time: this is how we came to see what we see and think what we think, but there is no historical necessity, nothing irremediable in this landscape of our intellectual objects and forms. As regards revolutionary projects, I part company both with those who think they possess the correct formula for future revolutions and with those who say that any project for an egalitarian transformation of the world is doomed to totalitarian terror. I don’t offer any formula for the future, but I strive to describe a world open to the possibilities and capacities of all: something like an archaeology more open to the event than Foucault’s, but without any Benjaminian messianism.
Rene -- Let Risk-Taking Financial Institutions Fail
This from Time Magazine of all places - rg
Let Risk-Taking Financial Institutions Fail
By ARI J. OFFICER AND LAWRENCE H. OFFICER Monday, Sep. 29, 2008
Demonstrators protest the U.S. Congress' proposed $700 billion bailout of the financial industry in New York's Times Square September 27, 2008
Keith Bedford / Reuters
The Administration and Congress has felt compelled to do something about the "financial meltdown," so an inefficient and inequitable "bailout plan" has been rushed through the legislature, despite harsh criticism from the right and left. That's unfortunate. Both presidential candidates were stalling by qualifying the plan. Whichever candidate would have had the courage to reject outright this proposal would have the better claim to be President.
The Bailout Bill That Nobody Likes
7 Questions About the $700 Billion Bailout
How Financial Madness Overtook Wall Street
Getting Suckered by Wall Street
Do not be fooled. The $700 billion (ultimately $1 trillion or more) bailout is not predominantly for mortgages and homeowners. Instead, the bailout is for mortgage-backed securities. In fact, some versions of these instruments are imaginary derivatives. These claims overlap on the same types of mortgages. Many financial institutions wrote claims over the same mortgages, and these are the majority of claims that have "gone bad."
At this point, such claims have no bearing on the mortgage or housing crisis; they have bearing only on the holders of these securities themselves. These are ridiculously risky claims with little value for society. Consider the following analogy: It is as if many financial institutions sold "earthquake insurance" on the same house. When the quake hits, all these claims become close to worthless-but the claims are simply bets disconnected from reality.
Rene -- Klein -- Disaster Capitalism in Action
2 articles from Naomi Klein on Wall Street Bailout and Wall Street Crisis -rg
1. Disaster Capitalism in Action
2. Free Market Ideology is Far from Finished
1. Disaster Capitalism in Action
Now is the Time to Resist Wall Street's Shock Doctrine
Naomi Klein, Huffington Post, September 22, 2008
I wrote The Shock Doctrine in the hopes that it would make us all better prepared for the next big shock. Well, that shock has certainly arrived, along with gloves-off attempts to use it to push through radical pro-corporate policies (which of course will further enrich the very players who created the market crisis in the first place...).
The best summary of how the right plans to use the economic crisis to push through their policy wish list comes from Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. On Sunday, Gingrich laid out 18 policy prescriptions for Congress to take in order to "return to a Reagan-Thatcher policy of economic growth through fundamental reforms." In the midst of this economic crisis, he is actually demanding the repeal of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which would lead to further deregulation of the financial industry. Gingrich is also calling for reforming the education system to allow "competition" (a.k.a. vouchers), strengthening border enforcement, cutting corporate taxes and his signature move: allowing offshore drilling.
It would be a grave mistake to underestimate the right's ability to use this crisis -- created by deregulation and privatization -- to demand more of the same. Don't forget that Newt Gingrich's 527 organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future, is still riding the wave of success from its offshore drilling campaign, "Drill Here, Drill Now!" Just four months ago, offshore drilling was not even on the political radar and now the U.S. House of Representatives has passed supportive legislation. Gingrich is holding an event this Saturday, September 27 that will be broadcast on satellite television to shore up public support for these controversial policies.
What Gingrich's wish list tells us is that the dumping of private debt into the public coffers is only stage one of the current shock. The second comes when the debt crisis currently being created by this bailout becomes the excuse to privatize social security, lower corporate taxes and cut spending on the poor. A President McCain would embrace these policies willingly. A President Obama would come under huge pressure from the think tanks and the corporate media to abandon his campaign promises and embrace austerity and "free-market stimulus."
Rene -- Chomsky -- Towards a Second Cold War? Ossetia-Georgia-Russia-U.S.A.
Towards a Second Cold War? Ossetia-Georgia-Russia-U.S.A.
By NOAM CHOMSKY
Aghast at the atrocities committed by US forces invading the Philippines, and the rhetorical flights about liberation and noble intent that routinely accompany crimes of state, Mark Twain threw up his hands at his inability to wield his formidable weapon of satire. The immediate object of his frustration was the renowned General Funston. “No satire of Funston could reach perfection,” Twain lamented, “because Funston occupies that summit himself… [he is] satire incarnated.”
It is a thought that often comes to mind, again in August 2008 during the Georgia-Ossetia-Russia war. George Bush, Condoleezza Rica and other dignitaries solemnly invoked the sanctity of the United Nations, warning that Russia could be excluded from international institutions “by taking actions in Georgia that are inconsistent with” their principles. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations must be rigorously honored, they intoned – “all nations,” that is, apart from those that the US chooses to attack: Iraq, Serbia, perhaps Iran, and a list of others too long and familiar to mention.
The junior partner joined in as well. British foreign secretary David Miliband accused Russia of engaging in “19th century forms of diplomacy” by invading a sovereign state, something Britain would never contemplate today. That “is simply not the way that international relations can be run in the 21st century,” he added, echoing the decider-in-chief, who said that invasion of “a sovereign neighboring state…is unacceptable in the 21st century.” Mexico and Canada therefore need not fear further invasions and annexation of much of their territory, because the US now only invades states that are not on its borders, though no such constraint holds for its clients, as Lebanon learned once again in 2006.
“The moral of this story is even more enlightening,” Serge Halimi writes in Le Monde Diplomatique and CounterPunch newsletter, “when, to defend his country’s borders, the charming pro-American Saakashvili repatriates some of the 2,000 soldiers he had sent to invade Iraq,” one of the largest contingents apart from the two warrior states.
Prominent analysts joined the chorus. Fareed Zakaria applauded Bush’s observation that Russia’s behavior is unacceptable today, unlike the 19th century, “when the Russian intervention would have been standard operating procedure for a great power.” We therefore must devise a strategy for bringing Russia “in line with the civilized world,” where intervention is unthinkable.
Rene -- Tariq Ali -- CASUALTIES OF ANOTHER WAR
CASUALTIES OF ANOTHER WAR
by Tariq Ali
September 23, 2008 UK
The Marriott bombing is terrible revenge for the Afghan campaign that
has gone so badly wrong
The deadly blast in Islamabad was a revenge attack for what has been
going on over the past few weeks in the badlands of the North-West
Frontier. It highlighted the crisis confronting the new government
in the wake of intensified US strikes in the tribal areas on the
Hellfire missiles, drones, special operation raids inside Pakistan and
the resulting deaths of innocents have fuelled Pashtun nationalism. It
is this spillage from the war in Afghanistan that is now destabilising
The de facto prime minister of the country, an unelected crony
of President Zardari and now his chief adviser, Rehman Malik,
said, "our enemies don't want to see democracy flourishing in the
country". This was rich coming from him, but in reality it has little
to do with all that. It is the consequence of a supposedly "good
war" in Afghanistan that has now gone badly wrong. The director of
US National Intelligence, Michael McConnell, admits as much, saying
the Afghan leadership must deal with the "endemic corruption and
pervasive poppy cultivation and drug trafficking" that is to blame
for the rise of the neo-Taliban.
The majority of Pakistanis are opposed to the US presence in the
region, viewing it as the most serious threat to peace. Why, then,
has the US decided to destabilise a crucial ally? Within Pakistan,
some analysts argue this is a carefully coordinated move to weaken
the Pakistani state by creating a crisis that extends way beyond the
frontier with Afghanistan. Its ultimate aim, they claim, would be the
extraction of the Pakistani military's nuclear fangs. If this were the
case, it would imply Washington was determined to break up Pakistan,
since the country would not survive a disaster on that scale.
In my view, however, the expansion of the war relates far more to
the Bush administration's disastrous occupation in Afghanistan. It
is hardly a secret that President Karzai's regime is becoming more
isolated each passing day, as Taliban guerrillas move ever closer
When in doubt, escalate the war, is an old imperial motto. The
strikes against Pakistan represent - like the decisions of President
Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, to bomb and then invade Cambodia
- a desperate bid to salvage a war that was never good, but has now
gone badly wrong.
It is true that those resisting the Nato occupation cross the
Pakistan-Afghan border with ease. However, the US has often engaged
in quiet negotiations with them. Several feelers have been put out
to the Taliban in Pakistan, while US intelligence experts regularly
check into the Serena hotel in Swat to meet Maulana Fa
NYT -- 2 Articles -- Cash for Trash
"War on Terror"
These are two articles from the New York Times. They are by no means radical journalism. But their ability to voice skepticism for this bailout and to point to some of the weaknesses of the proposal do begin a process for ordinary people to have some idea of the what exactly this is, yet another crisis, which aids, not undoes the consolidation of power and wealth. -rg
1. Cash for Trash
2. A Bailout Above the Law
1. Cash for Trash
September 22, 2008
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Some skeptics are calling Henry Paulson’s $700 billion rescue plan for the U.S. financial system “cash for trash.” Others are calling the proposed legislation the Authorization for Use of Financial Force, after the Authorization for Use of Military Force, the infamous bill that gave the Bush administration the green light to invade Iraq.
There’s justice in the gibes. Everyone agrees that something major must be done. But Mr. Paulson is demanding extraordinary power for himself — and for his successor — to deploy taxpayers’ money on behalf of a plan that, as far as I can see, doesn’t make sense.
Some are saying that we should simply trust Mr. Paulson, because he’s a smart guy who knows what he’s doing. But that’s only half true: he is a smart guy, but what, exactly, in the experience of the past year and a half — a period during which Mr. Paulson repeatedly declared the financial crisis “contained,” and then offered a series of unsuccessful fixes — justifies the belief that he knows what he’s doing? He’s making it up as he goes along, just like the rest of us.
So let’s try to think this through for ourselves. I have a four-step view of the financial crisis:
1. The bursting of the housing bubble has led to a surge in defaults and foreclosures, which in turn has led to a plunge in the prices of mortgage-backed securities — assets whose value ultimately comes from mortgage payments.
2. These financial losses have left many financial institutions with too little capital — too few assets compared with their debt. This problem is especially severe because everyone took on so much debt during the bubble years.
3. Because financial institutions have too little capital relative to their debt, they haven’t been able or willing to provide the credit the economy needs.
4. Financial institutions have been trying to pay down their debt by selling assets, including those mortgage-backed securities, but this drives asset prices down and makes their financial position even worse. This vicious circle is what some call the “paradox of deleveraging.”
The Paulson plan calls for the federal government to buy up $700 billion worth of troubled assets, mainly mortgage-backed securities. How does this resolve the crisis?
Well, it might — might — break the vicious circle of deleveraging, step 4 in my capsule description. Even that isn’t clear: the prices of many assets, not just those the Treasury proposes to buy, are under pressure. And even if the vicious circle is limited, the financial system will still be crippled by inadequate capital.
Or rather, it will be crippled by inadequate capital unless the federal government hugely overpays for the assets it buys, giving financial firms — and their stockholders and executives — a giant windfall at taxpayer expense. Did I mention that I’m not happy with this plan?
The logic of the crisis seems to call for an intervention, not at step 4, but at step 2: the financial system needs more capital. And if the government is going to provide capital to financial firms, it should get what people who provide capital are entitled to — a share in ownership, so that all the gains if the rescue plan works don’t go to the people who made the mess in the first place.
Lumpen -- The Bush Bailout
There are times for parties, times for mourning, and times for protest, what time is this? This is one answer from one circle in Chicago. - rg
The floodgates of looting are opening even wider in these final days of the Bush era fascism. Bush is rewarding all of his longtime supporters and it also looks like we will receive more of the same form both Obama or McCain. Both candidates financial advisors are part of the gang that architected the state of deregulated affairs..
Please please try to evaluate the enormity of what these shit heads are doing. This is not an accident.. This was planned. This was warned about for years.. Why are we giving all the richest people in America a $700 billion bail out on a minutes notice and not using $700 billion to bailout you or me. Do you really want to pay some shit head a $15-30 million golden parachute for running their banks and investment firms
Think about how hard it is to get $500 when you are unemployed or on welfare.. By the end of this week they are gong to bail these fuckers out.
If anyone is planning or wants to plan some actions here in Chicago to display your disgust and opposition to yet ANOTHER handout to the corporados please let us know.
This is a perfect moment to mobilize.
I found a few articles worth reading.. Please send us what you know or are reading..
Sen. Bernie Sanders, Robert Scheer and Dean Baker on the Proposed $700 Billion Bailout of Wall Street, the Largest Government Bailout of Private Industry in US History
It’s being described as the largest government intervention in private markets
since the Great Depression. The Bush administration has asked Congress to swiftly approve a massive $700 billion package to rescue the crippled financial institutions on Wall Street. Some analysts say the final cost to taxpayers could top one trillion dollars. Over the weekend, the size of the proposed bailout grew as the Bush administration said foreign banks, including Barclays and UBS, should be eligible for the bailout. [includes rush transcript]
Rene -- THE U.S. FINANCIAL SYSTEM IN SERIOUS TROUBLE
THE U.S. FINANCIAL SYSTEM IN SERIOUS TROUBLE
By Rodrigue Tremblay
Online Journal Sep 17, 2008, 00:28
" . . . a bailout of GSE (Fannie and Freddie) bondholders would be
perhaps the greatest taxpayer rip-off in American history. It is bad
economics and you can be sure it is terrible politics." --Matt Kibbe,
President of Freedom Works
"The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the
currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity;
both bring a permanent ruin.
But both are the refuge of political and economic
opportunists." --Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), (September 1932)
[After the Bear Stearns bailout] "As more firms lost access to funding,
the vicious circle of forced selling, increased volatility, . . . and
margin calls that was already well advanced at the time would likely
have intensified. The broader economy could hardly have remained immune
from such severe financial disruptions." --Ben Bernanke, Fed Chairman
In August 2007, at the very beginning of the subprime financial
crisis in the U.S., and referring to the alchemy-like practice of
creating artificial financial instruments, such as mortgage-backed
securities (MBSs), here is what I wrote: "Like all 'Ponzi schemes',
such pyramidings of debts with no liquid assets behind them are bound
to implode sooner or later."
I also w rote about the Fed's intervention in such cases, that "it
alleviates the 'liquidity crisis,' for sure, but this does nothing to
cure the underlying 'solvency crisis' of institutions holding large
chunks of non-performing mortgage-based assets. Sooner or later,
such low-valued derivatives will have to be written off, and this
will necessarily lead to an erosion of these institutions' capital
base. Bankruptcies of the most leveraged and imprudent institutions
are to be expected."
In fact, such bankruptcies of over-leveraged financial institutions
become unavoidable. For a while, forced mergers between banks,
initiated by the Fed or the Treasury, can soften the blow. But after
a while, outright bankruptcies cannot be avoided and balance sheets
have to be balanced.
What is the cause of this financial mess?
Last month, I provided a short answer:
"At the center of current financial problems is the failure to adapt
standard financial regulation to new financial institutions, such
as broker-investment banks, off-shore based hedge funds and large
derivatives markets that remain, for the most part, outside of the
traditional authority of regulators. However, w
Rene -- US ECONOMY: RUDDERLESS AND REELING FROM DIRECT HITS
US ECONOMY: RUDDERLESS AND REELING FROM DIRECT HITS
By Paul Craig Roberts
Online Journal Sep 17, 2008, 00:26
We were promised a "New Economy" of high-tech tradable services to
take the place of the offshored manufacturing economy. Wondering
what had become of the "New Economy," Duke University's Offshoring
Research Network searched for it and located it offshore. Yes, the
activities of the "New Economy" are also outsourced offshore.
Call centers, IT operations, back-office operations, and manufacturing
have long been moved offshore. Now high-value-added proprietary
activities such as research and development, engineering, product
development, and analytical services are being sent offshore. All
that's left is finance, and it is crumbling before our eyes.
Independent broker-dealers are disappearing: Merrill Lynch, Bear
Stearns, Lehman Brothers. These venerable institutions were too thinly
capitalized for the risks that they took. Merrill Lynch is now part
of the Bank of America, and Lehman Brothers is history.
Ill-advised financial deregulation led to financial concentration and
not to more efficient markets. Independent local banks, which focused
on financing local businesses, and savings and loan associations,
which knew the local housing market, have been replaced with large
institutions that package unanalyzed risks and sell them worldwide.
Regulation overreached. The pendul um swung. Deregulation became an
ideology and a facilitator of greed.
Deregulating electric power gave us Enron.
Deregulating the airlines destroyed famous American brand names such
as Pan Am, shrank the number of companies, and caused a decline in
service. When airlines were regulated, they could afford standby
equipment, and cancelled flights were rare. Today, the bottom
line prohibits standby equipment, and mechanical problems result
in cancelled flights. When economists calculated the benefits of
deregulation, they left out many of its costs.
There are no longer any blue chip companies, which means that investing
for retirement has become a crapshoot. People realize this; thus,
the privatization of Social Security has no support.
Martha -- Urge Congress to Find Rove in Contempt
In July, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Karl Rove, demanding
his testimony about his own role in the politicization of the
Department of Justice and politically-motivated prosecutions of
Democratic leaders, including Gov. Don Siegelman.
Karl Rove refused to even show up for the hearing, claiming that
Congress has no power to compel senior White House officials to
testify. That's outrageous.
Now that a U.S. District Judge has ruled that White House aides like
Rove can't claim immunity in order to refuse to testify before
Congress, it's time to take the next step: Now it's time to urge the
full House to vote Karl Rove in contempt, forcing him to show up and
Please join Gov. Don Siegelman in speaking out and urging Congress to
do the right thing:
There's no room for Karl Rove to hide any longer -- but our time is
running out. If Congress adjourns at the end of September and
nothing's been done, all of our effort goes down the drain. So now we
must pull out the stops and turn up the heat.
Email your Member of Congress right now:
Thanks for your help!
Rene -- Washington versus Morales
Washington versus Morales
Sun, 14 Sep 2008 17:28:05 GMT
By Yusuf Fernandez, Press TV, Madrid
The Bush administration ordered the expulsion of Bolivia's ambassador
to the United States only one day after Bolivia expelled his American
counterpart. "In response to unwarranted actions and in accordance with
the Vienna Convention (on diplomatic protocol), we have officially
informed the government of Bolivia of our decision to declare
Ambassador Gustavo Guzman persona non grata," State Department
spokesman Sean McCormack said. McCormack had previously called the
expulsion of US Ambassador Philip Goldberg a "grave error" and warned
that La Paz would face retaliatory action.
Meanwhile, in La Paz, Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca told
reporters that he had formally requested Goldberg's expulsion but added
that he had also written Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that
Bolivia "wishes to maintain its bilateral relations with the
In reality, Morales has been under attack since he registered to run
for president in 2002, when he came in second place. In the run-up to
that election, then-US Ambassador Manuel Rocha said that American aid
to the country would be cut if Morales were to win.
In 2006, Morales became the first indigenous leader of Bolivia after
winning more than 53% of the votes in the presidential election -a rare
absolute majority victory in the country. He has recently won a
referendum on his continuity in the presidency with two thirds of the
This comes as the right-wing opposition rejects Morales-proposed
reforms, one of which is to put an end to the historic privileges of
the four gas-rich eastern provinces and give a part of the energy
revenues to the poorer five Western provinces. The poor provinces are
mostly inhabited by indigenous people, who have traditionally suffered
from discrimination despite constituting the majority of the country's
The economy of Bolivia, the poorest country in South America, is
heavily dependent on natural gas. On the other hand, Morales also wants
to rewrite the constitution and distribute land to the poor. In order
to block his reforms, opposition right-wing provincial governors have
demanded more autonomy and perhaps even the secession of the eastern
On June 9, a crowd of 20,000 protesters marched to the gates of the
American embassy, denouncing US policies and clashing with the police.
The protesters demanded that the US extradite former defense minister
Carlos Sanchez Berzain and ex-president Sanchez de Lozada. Both of them
had ordered a military crackdown on anti-government protests in
October 2003, in which 60 people died and hundreds were injured. De
Lozada stepped down as president during the political upheaval of 2003,
caused by his attempts to sell the country's gas reserves to US
corporations, and fled to Miami together with Sanchez Berzain.
Rene -- Afghans Fed Up With Government, US
Afghans Fed Up With Government, US
Published on Sunday, September 7, 2008 by Associated Press
by Kathy Gannon
GHANI KHIEL, Afghanistan - The bearded, turbaned men gather beneath a
large, leafy tree in rural eastern Nangarhar province. When Malik
Mohammed speaks on their behalf, his voice is soft but his words are
harsh. Mohammed makes it clear that the tribal chiefs have lost all
faith in both their own government and the foreign soldiers in their
Afghans prepare graves for people killed by a US airstrike on Azizabad
village in Herat province. The US-led coalition in Afghanistan said
that its investigation into a controversial missile strike thought to
have killed 90 civilians had found that only seven non-combatants died.
(AFP/File/Reza Shirmohammadi)Such disillusionment is widespread in
Afghanistan, feeding an insurgency that has killed 195 foreign soldiers
so far this year, 105 of them Americans.
"This is our land. We are afraid to send our sons out the door for fear
the American troops will pick them up," says Mohammed, who was chosen
by the others to represent them. "Daily we have headaches from the
troops. We are fed up. Our government is weak and corrupt and the
American soldiers have learned nothing."
A strong sense of frustration echoed through dozens of interviews by
The Associated Press with Afghan villagers, police, government
officials, tribal elders and Taliban who left and rejoined the
religious movement. The interviews ranged from the capital, Kabul, to
the rural regions near the border with Pakistan.
The overwhelming result: Ordinary Afghans are deeply bitter about
American and NATO forces because of errant bombs, heavy-handed searches
and seizures and a sense that the foreigners do not understand their
culture. They are equally fed up with what they see as seven years of
corruption and incompetence in a U.S.-backed government that has
largely failed to deliver on development.
Even with more foreign troops, Afghanistan is now less secure.
"It certainly is a mess. Security is the worst that it has been for
years. Corruption is out of control. It impacts every single Afghan,"
says Doug Wankel, a burly 62-year-old American who coordinated
Washington's anti-drug policy in Afghanistan from 2004 until 2007 and
is now back as a security consultant. "What people have to understand
is that what ordinary Afghans think really does matter."
The fear and fury is evident among the neighbors at Akhtar Mohammed's
walled home deep within Nangarhar province, reached by a dirt road
along a dirty brown canal. A dozen men lie on traditional rope beds
beneath a thatched roof. Some wear the full-bodied beard of the devout,
with a clean-shaven upper lip. Others have dyed their gray beards a
flaming orange with henna to show that they have made the pilgrimage to
the holy site of Mecca.
Vladimir -- Howard Zinn -- US 'in need of rebellion'
"Ultimately power rests on the moral legitimacy of a system and the United States has been losing moral legitimacy."
"We have a long history in this country of violent expansion and I think not only do most people in other countries [not] know this, most Americans don't."
US 'in need of rebellion'
Al Jazeera speaks to Howard Zinn, the author, American historian, social critic and activist, about how the Iraq war damaged attitudes towards the US and why the US "empire" is close to collapse.
Q: Where is the United States heading in terms of world power and influence?
HZ: America has been heading - for some time, and is heading right now - toward less and less world power, less and less influence.
Obviously, since the war in Iraq, the rest of the world has fallen away from the United States, and if American foreign policy continues in the way it has been - that is aggressive and violent and uncaring about the feelings and thoughts of other people - then the influence of the United States is going to decline more and more.
This is an empire which is on the one hand the most powerful empire that ever existed; on the other hand an empire that is crumbling - an empire that has no future ... because the rest of the world is alienated and simply because this empire is top-heavy with military commitments, with bases around the world, with the exhaustion of its own resources at home.
[This is] leading to more and more discontent and home, so I think the American empire will go the way of other empires and I think it is on its way now.
Anj -- Neoliberalism in Latin America
Americans are used to hearing and exporting the idea that the old politics was about government handouts and the politics of the future is about so-called markets sorting it out on their own. What they don't hear is that every time the next crisis appears, it is the government that is bailing out again. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, will cost the government billions to rescue. They own nearly 50% of all mortgages in the country. To let those two companies fail would mean that their investors (foreign governments, big US investment banks) would also face a crisis. Which would in turn expose the sham of this great speculative pyramid scheme referred to as the "global economy".
So much for letting the market sort things out on its own and getting rid of big government. Maybe Adam Smith had something else in mind when he spoke of the "invisible hand." -rg
THE WEAKEST LINK?
Neoliberalism in Latin America
The new century is off to a surprising start in Latin America. The continent that had been a privileged territory for neoliberalism, where it was first applied—in Chile and Bolivia—rapidly turned into the leading arena not only for resistance but for construction of alternatives to neoliberalism. Two faces of the same coin: precisely by having been the laboratory for neoliberal experiments, Latin America is now having to deal with their consequences. The 1990s and the 2000s have been two radically opposite decades. During the 90s, the neoliberal model was imposed to varying degrees in virtually every country on the continent—with the exception of Cuba. Clinton, who did not even cross the Rio Grande to sign the first North American Free Trade Agreement (nafta), was forced not long after to approve a super-loan from Washington when the first crisis of the new model broke out in Mexico. The us went on to press for a hemisphere-wide Free Trade Area of the Americas (ftaa), presenting this as the natural outcome of the seamless extension of free-trade policies.
At an Americas summit meeting in Canada in 2000, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez was the only leader to vote against Clinton's proposal for an ftaa, while Cardoso, Menem, Fujimori and their colleagues fell meekly into line. On the occasion of his first Ibero-American Summit, Chávez reported, Castro passed him a piece of paper on which he had written: `At last I'm not the only devil around here.' It was thus with some relief, too, that Chávez—himself elected president of Venezuela in 1998—attended the investiture of Lula in Brasilia and Néstor Kirchner in Buenos Aires in 2003, before moving on to that of Tabaré Vázquez in Montevideo in 2004, that of Evo Morales in La Paz in 2006, and in 2007 those of Daniel Ortega in Managua and Rafael Correa in Quito; followed in 2008 by Fernando Lugo in Asunción. Meanwhile the us free-trade proposal that had been almost unanimously approved in 2000 was dead and buried by 2004. Since that date, Chávez himself has been re-elected, as was Lula in 2006; in April of this year, Kirchner was succeeded by his wife, Cristina Fernández, and Lugo triumphed in Paraguay, putting an end to more than sixty years of rule by the Colorado Party.
Rene -- RENDERED TO EGYPT FOR TORTURE
The idea that some speculative and foolish comment of a 24 year old could begin a 6.5 year process of torture and detention is beyond what the words tagic or folly placed beside one another can evoke. -rg
RENDERED TO EGYPT FOR TORTURE
By Andy Worthington
September 4, 2008
News that three more prisoners have been released from GuantÃ¡namo
is cause for celebration, as all three men should never have been
held in the first place.
In a report to follow, I'll look at the stories of the two Afghans
released -- one a simple farmer, the other a juvenile at the time
he was seized -- but for now I'm going to focus on the extraordinary
story of the prisoner released to Pakistan, Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni,
whose grotesque mistreatment involves "extraordinary rendition"
and torture spanning several continents.
A Pakistani-Egyptian national and the son of an Islamic scholar,
Madni was 24 years old when he arrested in Jakarta by the Indonesian
authorities on January 9, 2002, after a request from the CIA. He
was then rendered to Egypt, apparently at the urging of the Egyptian
authorities, working in cooperation with the CIA. In Egypt, he was
tortured for three months, and was flown back to Afghanistan on
April 12, 2002 with Mamdouh Habib, an Australian prisoner, seized
in Pakistan, who was released in January 2005, and who has spoken
at length about his torture in Egypt. Eleven months later, Madni was
transferred to GuantÃ¡namo.
Although Madni did not speak about his treatment during any of
hi s military reviews at GuantÃ¡namo, several prisoners confirmed
that he was tortured by the Egyptians. Rustam Akhmyarov, a Russian
prisoner released in 2004, said that Madni told him of his time "in
an underground cell in Egypt, where he never saw the sun and where
he was tortured until he confessed to working with Osama bin Laden,"
and added that he "recalled how he was interrogated by both Egyptian
and US agents in Egypt and that he was blindfolded, tortured with
electric shocks, beaten and hung from the ceiling."
Rene -- MEET THE SENATOR MOST LIKELY TO START A NUCLEAR WAR
MEET THE SENATOR MOST LIKELY TO START A NUCLEAR WAR
By Jeffrey St. Clair
September 4, 2008
It's November 19, 2004, a mere two weeks after the election that
returned George W. Bush to power, and Senator John McCain has traipsed
off to New Hampshire to give a speech calling for 50,000 more troops
to be sent into the quagmire of Iraq, press flesh and raise money
for an expected run at the presidency in 2008. John Sununu, former
New Hampshire governor and Bush family consigliere, wryly quipped
about McCain's junket to the Granite State, "What took him so long?"
The press corps, already bored with Bush and election post-mortems,
McCain's the darling of the moment, the opinion press's favorite
senator, a media-made maverick, who was sedulously courted by both
John Kerry and George Bush. McCain, true to form, flirted with them
both and sniped at them both, but in the end remained wedded to the
GOP, even as the party fell further under the sway of neo-cons and
Christian fundamentalists that McCain publicly claims to abhor.
But that's all part of the McCain profile. He is the senator of the
hollow protest. McCain is nothing if not a political stunt man. His
chief stunt is the evocation of political piety. From his pulpit in
the well of the senate, McCain gestures and fumes about the evils
of Pentagon porkbarrel. He rails about useless and expensive weapons
systems, contractor malfeasance, and bloated R&B budgets.
But he does nothing about them. McCain pontificates, but never
obstructs. Few senators have his political capital. But he does nothing
with it. Under the arcane rules of the senate, one senator can gum
up the works, derail a bad (or good, though those are increasingly
rare in this environment) bill, dislodge non-germane riders, usually
loaded with pork, from big appropriations bills.
McCain is never that senator. He is content to let ride that which
he claims to detest in press releases and senate speeches.
A recent example. In late October, McCain went on 60 Minutes to decry
a footnote in the Defense Appropriations Bill of 2004 that transferred
billions of dollars from so-called Operations and Maintenance accounts
for US troops in Iraq to porkbarrel projects, such as gold mines
and museums, in the states of powerful senators. In his stern voice
before the cameras, McCain made congressional looting sound like a
treasonable offense. But what he failed to disclose is the fact that
he actually voted for the bill. Not only that, he was personally
approached by each senator who wanted just such a transfer of funds
and gave it his seal of approval.
McCain the Maverick is a merely a fine-honed act, underscored by
these kinds of casual hypocrisies.
* * *
In the past few years, McCain has been portrayed as one of the doves
the senate. It's a stunning transformation and a phony one. Instead,
throughout his career in Congress McCain has often been one of the
hottest hawks around.
During the war on Serbia in 1999, in one rhetorical bombing run after
another, McCain bellowed for "lights out in Belgrade" and for NATO to
"cream" the Serbs.
At the start of May of that year he began declaiming in the US senate
for NATO forces to use "any means necessary" to destroy Serbia.
McCain is often called a "war hero", a title adorning an unlovely
resume starting with a father who was an admiral and graduation fifth
from the bottom at the US Naval Academy, where he earned the nickname
"McNasty". McCain flew 23 bombing missions over North Vietnam,
each averaging about half an hour, total time ten hours and thirty
minutes. For these brief excursions the admiral's son was awarded two
Silver Stars, two Legions of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses,
three Bronze Stars, the Vietnamese Legion of Honor and three Purple
Hearts. US Veteran Dispatch calculates our hero earned a medal an
hour, which is pretty good going. McCain was shot down over Hanoi on
October 26, 1967 and parachuted into Truc Boch Lake, whence he was
hauled by Vietnamese, and put in prison.
A couple of years later he was interviewed in prison camp by Fernando
Barral, a Spanish psychiatrist living in Cuba. The interview appeared
in Granma on January 24, 1970.
McCain's fragile psyche runs on what Barral described "the personality
of the prisoner who is responsible for many criminal bombings of
the people." Barral went on, "He (McCain) showed himself to be
intellectually alert during the interview. From a morale point of
view he is not in traumatic shock. He was able to be sarcastic,
and even humorous, indicative of psychic equilibrium.
From the moral and ideological point of view he showed us he is an
insensitive individual without human depth, who does not show the
slightest concern, who does not appear to have thought about the
criminal acts he committed against a population from the absolute
impunity of his airplane, and that nevertheless those people saved
his life, fed him, and looked after his health and he is now healthy
and strong. I believe that he has bombed densely populated places for
sport. I noted that he was hardened, that he spoke of banal things
as if her were at a cocktail party.
McCain is deeply loved by the liberal press. As Amy Silverman,
a reporter at the Phoenix weekly New Times who has followed the
senator for years, puts it, "As long as he's the noble outsider,
McCain can get away with anything it seems -- the Keating Five,
a drug stealing wife, nasty jokes about Chelsea Clinton -- and the
pundits will gurgle and coo."
Indeed they will. William Safire, Maureen Down, Russell Baker,
the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, have
all slobbered over McCain in empurpled prose. The culmination was
a love poem from Mike Wallace in 60 Minutes, who managed to avoid
any inconvenient mention of McCain's close relationship with S &
L fraudster Charles Keating, with whom the indulgent senator romped
on Bahamian beaches. McCain was similarly spared scrutiny for his
astonishing claim that he knew nothing of his wife's scandalous
Rene -- Cracks in Putin's kingdom
The Christian Science Monitor.
Cracks in Putin's kingdom
Serious voices in Russia are doubting his judgment on Abkhazia and South
By Paul Quinn-Judge
September 3, 2008
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan - A few days after the Kremlin recognized the
independence of contested territories South Ossetia and Abkhazia last week,
an upscale Moscow daily newspaper called Kommersant added a biting video
clip to its site. Vladimir Soloviev, whose reporting from Georgia was among
the best in any country's media, offered a crisp analysis of the war and its
The moment Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recognized the two breakaway
regions, he said, Georgia's defeat in war became a political victory. "It
really is time for [Georgian President] Mikheil Saakashvili to dial Dmitry
Medvedev and say 'Thank you, colleague.' "
The clip captured a growing mood within the Russian establishment. The
euphoria that followed the destruction of Georgian's $2 billion Army and the
humiliation of President Saakashvili has dissolved. And for the first time
since Vladimir Putin - and his muscled, uncompromising, and vindictive world
view - came to power in 1999, serious voices are expressing doubts about his
They clearly feel that Russia has not emerged onto the world stage quite so
authoritatively as Mr. Putin may have thought; the country has instead
stumbled into a dangerous and debilitating trap.
A number of prominent Russian foreign policy analysts saw the recognition of
the disputed territories coming and warned urgently against it. They include
a highly experienced diplomat and former government minister, Alexei
Adamishin. "Russia has every moral right to recognize the independence of
Abkhazia and South Ossetia," he wrote in an opinion piece beforehand. But
the consequences will be "catastrophic."
A couple of weeks earlier, Sergei Karaganov, of the Council for Foreign and
Defense Policy, Russia's equivalent of the Council on Foreign Relations,
urged the Kremlin to think carefully before recognizing the two secessionist
states. Equally grim analyses have followed the announcement, and there are
indirect signs of concern in the business community.
Rene -- How the Chicago Boys Wrecked the Economy
Recent Continental Drift speaker Henry Liu and his concept of "dollar hegemony" is one of the main references. -rg
An Interview with Michael Hudson
How the Chicago Boys Wrecked the Economy
By MIKE WHITNEY
August 29, 2008
Michael Hudson is a former Wall Street economist specializing in the
balance of payments and real estate at the Chase Manhattan Bank (now JP
Morgan Chase & Co.), Arthur Anderson, and later at the Hudson Institute
(no relation). In 1990 he helped established the world's first
sovereign debt fund for Scudder Stevens & Clark. Dr. Hudson was Dennis
Kucinich's Chief Economic Advisor in the recent Democratic primary
presidential campaign, and has advised the U.S., Canadian, Mexican and
Latvian governments, as well as the United Nations Institute for
Training and Research (UNITAR). A Distinguished Research Professor at
University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), he is the author of many
books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American
Empire (new ed., Pluto Press, 2002
Mike Whitney: The United States current account deficit is roughly $700
billion. That is enough "borrowed" capital to pay the yearly $120
billion cost of the war in Iraq, the entire $450 billion Pentagon
budget, and Bush's tax cuts for the rich. Why does the rest of the
world keep financing America's militarism via the current account
deficit or is it just the unavoidable consequence of currency
deregulation, "dollar hegemony" and globalization?
Michael Hudson: As I explained in Super Imperialism, centr
al banks in
other countries buy dollars not because they think dollar assets are a
`good buy,' but because if they did NOT recycle their trade surpluses
and U.S. buyout spending and military spending by buying U.S. Treasury,
Fannie Mae and other bonds, their currencies would rise against the
dollar. This would price their exporters out of dollarized world
markets. So the United States can spend money and get a free ride.
The solution is (1) capital controls to block further dollar receipts,
(2) floating tariffs against imports from dollarized economies, (3)
buyouts of U.S. investments in dollar-recipient countries (so that
Europe and Asia would use their central bank dollars to buy out U.S.
private investments at book value), (4) subsidized exports to
dollarized economies with depreciating currency, and similar responses
that the United States would adopt if it were in the position of a
payments-surplus country. In other words, Europe and Asia would treat
the United States as its Washington Consensus boys treat Third World
debtors: buy out their raw materials and other industries, their export
plantations, and their governments.
MW:Economist Henry Liu said in his article "Dollar hegemony enables the
US to own indirectly but essentially the entire global economy by
requiring its wealth to be denominated in fiat dollars that the US can
print at will with little in the way of monetary penalties.....World
trade is n
ow a game in which the US produces fiat dollars of uncertain
exchange value and zero intrinsic value, and the rest of the world
produces goods and services that fiat dollars can buy at "market
prices" quoted in dollars." Is Liu overstating the case or have the
Federal Reserve and western banking elites really figured out how to
maintain imperial control over the global economy simply by ensuring
that most energy, commodities, and manufactured goods are denominated
in dollars? If that's the case, then it would seem that the actual
"face-value" of the dollar does not matter as much as long as it
continues to be used in the purchase of commodities. Is this right?
Anj -- Arundhati Roy -- Azadi
by Arundhati Roy
Outlook Magazine, September 01, 2008
For the past sixty days or so, since about the end of June, the
people of Kashmir have been free. Free in the most profound sense.
They have shrugged off the terror of living their lives in the gun-
sights of half-a-million heavily-armed soldiers in the most densely
militarised zone in the world.
After 18 years of administering a military occupation, the Indian
government's worst nightmare has come true. Having declared that the
militant movement has been crushed, it is now faced with a non-
violent mass protest, but not the kind it knows how to manage.
The Indian government's worst nightmare has come true. Having
declared that the militant movement has been crushed, it is now faced
with a non-violent mass protest, but not the kind it knows how to
This one is nourished by people's memory of years of repression in
which tens of thousands have been killed, thousands have been
'disappeared', hundreds of thousands tortured, injured, raped and
humiliated. That kind of rage, once it finds utterance, cannot easily
be tamed, re-bottled and sent back to where it came from.
For all these years, theIndian State, known amongst the knowing as
the Deep State, has done everything it can to subvert, suppress,
represent, misrepresent, discredit, interpret, intimidate, purchaseâ€"
and simply snuff out the voice of the Kashmiri people. It has used
money (lots of it), violence (lots of it), disinformation,
propaganda, torture, elaborate networks of collaborators and
informers, terror, imprisonment, blackmail and rigged elections to
subdue what democrats would call "the will of the people". But now
the Deep State, as Deep States eventually tend to, has tripped on its
own hubris and bought into its own publicity. It made the mistake of
believing that domination was victory, that the 'normalcy' it had
enforced through the barrel of a gun was indeed normal, and that the
people's sullen silence was acquiescence.
The well-endowed peace industry, speaking on people's behalf,
informed us that "Kashmiris are tired of violence and want peace".
What kind of peace they were willing to settle for was never
clarified. Bollywood's cache of Kashmir/Muslim-terrorist films has
brainwashed most Indians into believing that all of Kashmir's sorrows
could be laid at the door of evil, people-hating terrorists.
To anybody who cared to ask, or, more importantly, to listen, it was
always clear that even in their darkest moments, people in Kashmir
had kept the fires burning and that it was not peace they yearned
for, but freedom too. Over the last two months, the carefully
confected picture of an innocent people trapped between 'two guns',
both equally hated, has, pardon the pun, been shot to hell.
A sudden twist of fate, an ill-conceived move over the transfer of
100 acres of state forest land to the Amarnath Shrine Board (which
manages the annual Hindu pilgrimage to a cave deep in the Kashmir
Himalayas) suddenly became the equivalent of tossing a lit match into
a barrel of petrol. Until 1989, the Amarnath pilgrimage used to
attract about 20,000 people who travelled to the Amarnath cave over a
period of about two weeks. In 1990, when the overtly Islamic militant
uprising in the Valley coincided with the spread of virulent Hindutva
in the Indian plains, the number of pilgrims began to increase
exponentially. By 2008, more than 5,00,000 pilgrims visited the
Amarnath cave in large groups, their passage often sponsored by
Indian business houses. To many people in the Valley, this dramatic
increase in numbers was seen as an aggressive political statement by
an increasingly Hindu-fundamentalist Indian State. Rightly or
wrongly, the land transfer was viewed as the thin edge of the wedge.
It triggered an apprehension that it was the beginning of an
elaborate plan to build Israeli-style settlements, and change the
demography of the Valley.
Days of massive protest forced the Valley to shut down completely.
Within hours, the protests spread from the cities to villages. Young
stone-pelters took to the streets and faced armed police who fired
straight at them, killing several. For people as well as the
government, it resurrected memories of the uprising in the early
'90s. Throughout the weeks of protest, hartal and police firing,
while the Hindutva publicity machine charged Kashmiris with
committing every kind of communal excess, the 5,00,000 Amarnath
pilgrims completed their pilgrimage, not just unhurt, but touched by
the hospitality they had been shown by local people.
Eventually, taken completely by surprise at the ferocity of the
response, the government revoked the land transfer.Hadn't anybody
noticed that in Kashmir even minor protests about civic issues like
water and electricity inevitably turned into demands for azadi? To
threaten them with mass starvation amounted to committing political
suicide.But by then the land transfer had become what senior
separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani called a "non-issue".
Massive protests against the revocation erupted in Jammu. There, too,
the issue snowballed into something much bigger. Hindus began to
raise issues of neglect and discrimination by the Indian State. (For
some odd reason they blamed Kashmiris for that neglect.)
The protests led to the blockading of the Jammu-Srinagar highway, the
only functional road link between Kashmir and India. The army was
called out to clear the highway and allow safe passage of trucks
between Jammu and Srinagar. But incidents of violence against
Kashmiri truckers were being reported from as far away as Punjab
where there was no protection at all. As a result, Kashmiri truckers,
fearing for their lives, refused to drive on the highway. Truckloads
of perishable fresh fruit and Valley produce began to rot. It became
very obvious that the blockade had caused the situation to spin out
of control. The government announced that the blockade had been
cleared and that trucks were going through. Embedded sections of the
Indian media, quoting the inevitable 'Intelligence' sources, began to
refer to it as a 'perceived' blockade, and even to suggest that there
had never been one.
But it was too late for those games, the damage had been done. It had
been demonstrated in no uncertain terms to people in Kashmir that
they lived on sufferance, and that if they didn't behave themselves
they could be put under siege, starved, deprived of essential
commodities and medical supplies. The real blockade became a
psychological one. The last fragile link between India and Kashmir
was all but snapped.
To expect matters to end there was of course absurd. Hadn't anybody
noticed that in Kashmir even minor protests about civic issues like
water and electricity inevitably turned into demands for azadi? To
threaten them with mass starvation amounted to committing political
Not surprisingly, the voice that the Government of India has tried so
hard to silence in Kashmir has massed into a deafening roar. Hundreds
of thousands of unarmed people have come out to reclaim their cities,
their streets and mohallas. They have simply overwhelmed the heavily
armed security forces by their sheer numbers, and with a remarkable
display of raw courage.
Rene -- Palin: Big Oil's new champion
Palin: Big Oil's new champion
Sat, 30 Aug 2008 13:22:58 GMT
Sarah Palin strongly supports oil drilling in Alaska and off the US
For many, John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin for presidential running
mate came as a surprise. Political heavyweights such as Mitt Romney or
Tim Pawlenty had to stand aside for the little-known Alaska governor
with "telegenic" looks.
McCain's choice may not have been predictable but it shows him moving
further towards the interests of the industry most concerned about a
Republican victory this November - Oil.
US oil firms have given John McCain three times more declared campaign
money than to Democratic nominee, Barack Obama. Big oil contributions
to the Republican Party outweigh oil money to the Democrats by a
Sarah Palin hasn't been in the game long enough to have shown all her
political colors but on one key issue she has made herself abundantly
clear. Oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.
Palin describes it as "nonsensical" that the president should have to
"ask the Saudis to ramp up production of crude oil" while "sister
state" Alaska has the oil that "hungry markets" in America need.
"But these lands are locked up by Congress, and we are not allowed to
drill to the degree America needs the development."
Palin has also expressed support for a USD 30b gas pipeline project and
called listing polar bears as an endangered species a "significant
threat to development."
Palin's answer to America's "hungry" markets? Bring more oil to the