Rene -- Behind Police Lines: Art Visible and Invisible
In relation to our event this Sunday, this is a nice contribution by Stephen -rg
Behind Police Lines: Art Visible and Invisible
Production of street signs by the Grupo de Arte Callejero for an "escrache" denouncing the "flights of death" carried out by the Argentinian dictatorship between 1976-83. Buenos Aires, 2003. Courtesy the author.
I am not a specialist on the work of Jacques Rancière. But his writings, and in particular his insistence on how excess rudely intrudes into otherwise ontologically and politically stable orders, allowing what was previously invisible or unheeded to suddenly emerge, have – more than those of any other contemporary philosopher – accompanied me as an art critic in trying to make sense of recent shifts in the symbolic configurations and activities that can be described as art. Jacques Rancière as the philosopher of the rude holds immense appeal for me. However, I tend to make a less dramatic – even far less dramatic – distinction between the sensorium of artistic production and the sensorium of other realms of creative action than does Rancière. Actually, Rancière’s thought has – rightly or wrongly – led me to breaking with the order of art per se (which is also an order, with its own police, though we are sometimes loathe to acknowledge that) in favour of a broader and at once more extensive and intensive conception of creativity, of which artistic creativity is merely one vector.
To my knowledge, Rancière doesn’t offer a definition of ‘creativity’ per se. But it is clear that, to his mind, creativity must be closely bound up with dissensus: creative activity (or the production of creativity) is dissensual activity (or the production of dissensus). Thus I have deduced what I believe to be the Rancièrian definition of creativity: the raising of wrongly posed questions; questions which are paradoxically, absurdly or even scandalously wrongly posed. In Aux bords du politique, discussing the efforts of France’s early feminists to rip apart the seamless identification of man and citizen in the definition of political universality that allowed no place for women, he writes this:
[In] nineteenth century France, workers were able to build their strikes in the form of a question: do French workers belong to that group known as the French, which the Constitution declares to be equal before the law? … The first French feminists raised the question in still more paradoxical terms: ‘is a French woman a French person?’ (Une Française est-elle un Français?) The formulation may seem absurd or scandalous. But ‘absurd’ sentences of this kind can be far more productive, in the process of equality, than the mere assertion that workers are workers and women are women. They make it possible not only to reveal a logical breach which itself unveils the workings of social inequality. They also make it possible to articulate this breach as a relation, to transform the logical non-place into a place of polemical demonstration.
In other words, if the questions were well posed – that is, in keeping with the decorum and precepts of the established epistemological and social order – they would elicit a response, more or less interesting, but one which could not fail to be logically compatible with that order, and thus submissive to it. They would not, and could not, produce creativity or dissensus.
Rene -- The films of the Zanzibar Group or the dandies of May ’68
Cinema on the run
The films of the Zanzibar Group or the dandies of May ’68
»Free money for artistic projects … Please come to 31, rue de l’Échaudé, Tel …«
Sylvina Boissonnas’ small ad in the »Herald Tribune« in 1968
In April, Nicolas Sarkozy, still on the high of the electoral campaign, promised to free the French from something that had long burdened them: »May ’68 imposed intellectual and moral relativism on us. The heirs of May’ 68 managed to promote the idea that everything is of equal value, that from now on there is no difference between good and evil, true and false, beautiful and ugly. [...] The cult of Mammon, short-term profit, speculation, the excesses of financial capitalism were underpinned by the values of May ’68. If there are no rules, no standards, no morals, no respect, no authority, then anything is permitted.«
The interesting thing about this revisionist statement is not so much the ideological content, but instead the widespread and dogged persistence of the phantasm that we still have not really come to terms with something or other about May’68 and its »heirs«. The continued evocation of May ’68 as a bogeyman that must finally be vanquished (through values, rules, standards and morality) remains an integral part of the political struggle for cultural hegemony, which has indeed never ended. Whether one thinks about the current debate on the RAF (the Red Army Faction), controversy in Germany as to whether Christian Klar should be pardoned, or indeed multiculturalism, over and over again European politicians are obsessed with firing up topical political issues by references to the political landscape of the 1960s and particularly May ’68, seeking to glean the upper hand when jockeying for more power, a move that aims in one fell swoop both to delegitimate the reality of previous political struggles and to hold radical strands in contemporary manifestations of resistance in check. It’s the same old game. You find yourself wondering how political events so long ago can still serve as a backdrop for ideological struggles if the uprising was pronounced a flop shortly after it broke out.
If there is anything that one can still learn from May ’68, leaving behind left-wing romanticism and both right-wing and left-wing revisionism, it is that the complexity of political events in the 1960s and 1970s cannot simply be laid to rest. Any attempt to devise a conclusive judgement or even a preliminary appraisal is doomed to fall apart at some point, shedding an entirely different light on the situation. Often a small detail is enough to make conventional historiography and assertions of ideological monopolies start to teeter. Some remnant of fears that May ’68 might once again bubble up are to be found in hysterical pronouncements that try to consign events back then to the grave once and for all.
Lacanian Ink -- Destruction, Negation, Subtraction - On Pier Paolo Pasolini
DESTRUCTION, NEGATION, SUBTRACTION - on Pier Paolo Pasolini •
Graduate Seminar - Art Center College of Design in Pasadena - February 6 2007
• THE CONTEMPORARY FIGURE OF THE SOLDIER IN POLITICS AND POETRY•
UCLA - January 2007
The abstract contents of my lecture is a very simple one. I can summarize it in five points:
1. All creations, all novelties, are in some sense the affirmative part of a negation. "Negation", because if something happens as new, it cannot be reduced to the objectivity of the situation where it happens. So, it is certainly like a negative exception to the regular laws of this objectivity. But "affirmation", affirmative part of the negation, because if a creation is reducible to a negation of the common laws of objectivity, it completely depends on them concerning its identity. So the very essence of a novelty implies negation, but must affirm its identity apart of the negativity of negation. That is why I say that a creation or a novelty must be defined paradoxically as an affirmative part of negation.
2. I name "destruction" the negative part of negation. For example, if we consider the creation by SchÏnberg, at the beginning of the last century, of the dodecaphonic musical system, we can say that this creation achieves the destruction of the tonal system, which, in the western world has dominated the musical creation during three centuries. In the same direction, the Marxist idea of revolution is to achieve the process of immanent negation of capitalism by the complete destruction of the machinery of bourgeois State. In both cases, negation is the evental concentration of a process through which is achieved the complete disintegration of an old world. It is this evental concentration which realizes the negative power of negation, the negativity of negation. And I name it destruction.
3. I name subtraction the affirmative part of negation. For example, the new musical axioms which structure for SchÏnberg the admissible succession of notes in a musical work, outside the tonal system, are in no way deducible from the destruction of this system. They are the affirmative laws of a new framework for the musical activity. They show the possibility of a new coherence for musical discourse. The point that we must understand is that this new coherence is not new because it achieves the process of disintegration of the system. The new coherence is new to the extent that, in the framework that the SchÏnberg's axioms impose, the musical discourse avoids the laws of tonality, or, more precisely, becomes indifferent to these laws. That is why we can say that the musical discourse is subtracted from its tonal legislation. Clearly, this subtraction is in the horizon of negation ; but it exists apart from the purely negative part of negation. It exists apart from destruction.
Rene -- The Endorsement From Hell
We have known that al Qaeda and this administration have mutually reinforced one another's world-view's. But the question of this endorsement should be noted and it is not small news. Maybe the most important endorsement that McCain has received. -rg
The Endorsement From Hell
October 26, 2008
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
John McCain isn’t boasting about a new endorsement, one of the very, very few he has received from overseas. It came a few days ago:
“Al Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming election,” read a commentary on a password-protected Islamist Web site that is closely linked to Al Qaeda and often disseminates the group’s propaganda.
The endorsement left the McCain campaign sputtering, and noting helplessly that Hamas appears to prefer Barack Obama. Al Qaeda’s apparent enthusiasm for Mr. McCain is manifestly not reciprocated.
“The transcendent challenge of our time [is] the threat of radical Islamic terrorism,” Senator McCain said in a major foreign policy speech this year, adding, “Any president who does not regard this threat as transcending all others does not deserve to sit in the White House.”
That’s a widespread conservative belief. Mitt Romney compared the threat of militant Islam to that from Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Some conservative groups even marked “Islamofascism Awareness Week” earlier this month.
Yet the endorsement of Mr. McCain by a Qaeda-affiliated Web site isn’t a surprise to security specialists. Richard Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism director, and Joseph Nye, the former chairman of the National Intelligence Council, have both suggested that Al Qaeda prefers Mr. McCain and might even try to use terror attacks in the coming days to tip the election to him.
MACBA Interview with Jacques Rancière
MACBA Interview with Jacques Rancière
1 no. 0 Summer 2005
Jacques Rancière (Algeria, 1940) is Emeritus Professor in Aesthetics and
Philosophy at the Paris VII University. In May 2002, Rancière gave a
seminar at MACBA entitled Aesthetics and Politics, a connection to
reconsider. Many of his ideas, explored in his texts as well as during this
seminar, inspired the exhibition Disagreements: On art, politics and the
public sphere in the Spanish State. The title of this exhibition, in fact,
is inspired by one of Ranciére’s key essays, which suggests that all
critical politics implies some form of ‘non-identification’, of substantial
disagreement with any type of pre-established social consensus.
Q. Your book ‘The Ignorant Schoolmaster’ can be understood as an
intervention in the debates on education in France in the mid-80s, and more
specifically a response to the pedagogical reforms based on Bourdieu and
Passeron’s sociology developed during the Mitterrand administrations. How
do you see the evolution of this debate, both in France and internationally?
Are the current debates on education framed in a similar intellectual
context? What remains and what has changed?
A. My intervention in this circumstantial debate was intended to introduce a
radically untimely point of view. At the time, a sociological vision, which
urged that education be adapted to address social differences and
inequalities, stood opposed to a “republican” point of view, in which
equality was provided by the universality of knowledge. However, both
coincided in seeing the educational system as the means to achieve equality.
The thinking of Jacotot offers the same response: equality is not an end to
be achieved through the perfecting of the educational system, rather it is
the starting point, a presupposition to be constantly revised as part of a
process of emancipation. The terms of debate regarding education may change,
but this gap between the terms of the debate is unalterable. The logic of
emancipation diverges, structurally, from the logic of systems of education
Q. In your book the notion of equality is central. You mention the “equality
of intelligence”. How do we deal with that notion of equality without
falling into universalism? In other words how do we deal with an egalitarian
pedagogy and not turn our backs on an ideal of a universal subject, as, for
example, the modernist humanist pedagogy does? This universal subject seems
to be beyond class, gender, race and so on. In this respect, isn’t there a
risk of equating the notion of “ignorance” with a pre-political dimension, a
kind of idealized pre-cultural stage, the ignorant as a kind of “good
Infoshop -- The Philosophies of Deregulation and Neoliberalism are Dead in the West
The Philosophies of Deregulation and Neoliberalism are Dead in the West
Q: Professor Stiglitz, are you afraid?
J. Stiglitz: I am not afraid but rather alarmed because of the financial crisis. A high degree of insecurity prevails. These are extremely risky times. For me, it is a kind of Deja-vu. It reminds me of my time at the World Bank ten years ago, when the Asian crisis broke out. The difference is only that people in Thailand and Indonesia were stricken at that time. Today Americans and Europeans are affected. Today's crisis is four times greater than ten years ago.
The Philosophies of Deregulation and Neoliberalism are Dead in the West
Interview with Joseph Stiglitz
[This interview published in: Berliner Zeitung, October 9, 2008, is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, link to www.berlinonline.de. Joseph Stiglitz is one of the leading economic experts of the world. The winner of the Nobel Prize for economics, is a former chief economist of the World Bank and advised US president Bill Clinton from 1997.]
Q: Professor Stiglitz, are you afraid?
J. Stiglitz: I am not afraid but rather alarmed because of the financial crisis. A high degree of insecurity prevails. These are extremely risky times. For me, it is a kind of Deja-vu. It reminds me of my time at the World Bank ten years ago, when the Asian crisis broke out. The difference is only that people in Thailand and Indonesia were stricken at that time. Today Americans and Europeans are affected. Today's crisis is four times greater than ten years ago.
Q: How long will all this last?
J. Stiglitz: No one knows. We also do not know how bad it will be. What calms me a little is the fact that we can deal better with these crises today than in the time of the Great Depression in the 1930s. We have the knowledge and the tools today to defy a crisis. I also know we can deal wrongly with this crisis, as for example in the Asian crisis when the International Monetary Fund and the US government managed the crisis very wrongly. This led to terrible consequences for the impacted countries. Now we have a US president who has proven his incompetence many times - think of the Iraq war or the current crisis. In truth, the US government with the Federal Reserve and the Treasury department first created the financial crisis. Will this triumvirate help us in a real mess? I have my doubts about the $700 billion bailout plan.
Emily -- Video of Iraq Vet Crushed by Police Horse at Presidential Debate
I just wanted to draw your attention to this video, particularly these video stills, that i shot during the Iraq Veterans Against the War protest at the final U.S. presidential debates, last Wednesday, in Long Island, NY. The video is extremely disturbing and clearly shows Iraq War Veteran Nick Morgan at the moment when his head was crushed to the sidewalk under a police horse. This story has been completely ignored in the media. He was legally, peacefully and standing on the sidewalk when the event occurred.
The still images speak volumes to this moment in history, please look at them and please get them to people (journalists, activists, veterans) who can use them! - http://www.flickr.com/multiplefronts
The video is on Youtube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlI7tQCqwbU (watch in high quality)
Video links and more information are posted at - http://www.iwitnessvideo.info
Last Wednesday October 15th 2008, former Army Sergeant Nick Morgan, a 24 year old veteran of the US war in Iraq, was nearly killed by riot police, his face crushed under a police horse, during a peaceful protest outside the final US presidential debates.
Morgan is a native of Annapolis, MD who spent four-years the US Army and one year in Iraq. He was a participant in the Winter Soldier hearings and is an active member of the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), a national organization of 'Global War On Terror' veterans who had come to the Presidential debates in Long Island, demanding that veterans' concerns be heard during these nationally televised dialogues.
The IVAW had previously announced, sending a letter to CBS, that two veterans had prepared one question each for Obama and McCain, to be asked during the televised debate. They had also announced that if they didn't receive a response by 7pm on the night of the debates, that those veterans would enter the debates anyway, in an attempt to be seen, if not actu
Rene -- FINAL TEXT OF IRAQ PACT REVEALS A US DEBACLE
FINAL TEXT OF IRAQ PACT REVEALS A US DEBACLE
by Gareth Porter
Inter Press October 23, 2008
WASHINGTON - The final draft of the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces
agreement on the U.S. military presence represents an even more
crushing defeat for the policy of the George W. Bush administration
than previously thought, the final text reveals.
A US soldier on a rooftop during a sandstorm in Baghdad's Sadr City
in April 2008. The White House on Tuesday said it was not surprised
by difficulties in nailing down a security pact with Iraq, even as the
war-torn country's cabinet called for changes to the planned agreement.
(AFP/USAF-HO/Sgt Adrian Cadiz)The final draft, dated Oct. 13, not only
imposes unambiguous deadlines for withdrawal of U.S. combat troops by
2011 but makes it extremely unlikely that a U.S. non-combat presence
will be allowed to remain in Iraq for training and support purposes
beyond the 2011 deadline for withdrawal of all U.S. combat forces.
Furthermore, Shiite opposition to the pact as a violation of Iraqi
sovereignty makes the prospects for passage of even this agreement
by the Iraqi parliament doubtful. Pro-government Shiite parties,
the top Shiite clerical body in the country, and a powerful movement
led by nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr that recently mobilized
hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in protest against the pact,
are all calling for its defeat.
At an Iraqi cabinet meeting Tuesday, ministers raised objections to the
final draft, and a government spokesman said that the agreement would
not submit it to the parliament in its current form. But Secretary
of Defense Robert Gates told three news agencies Tuesday that the
door was "pretty far closed" on further negotiations.
In the absence of an agreement approved by the Iraqi parliament,
U.S. troops in Iraq will probably be confined to their bases once
the United Nations mandate expires Dec. 31.
The clearest sign of the dramatically reduced U.S. negotiating power
in the final draft is the willingness of the United States to give up
extraterritorial jurisdiction over U.S. contractors and their employees
and over U.S. troops in the case of "major and intentional crimes"
that occur outside bases and while off duty. The United States has
never allowed a foreign country to have jurisdiction over its troops
in any previous status of forces agreement.
Infinite Thought -- badiou on the financial crisis
This translation comes from the blog infinite thought
18 October 2008
badiou on the financial crisis
UPDATE: We have added in the extra sections/noted changes in bold. As you can see, the original is quite a bit longer and includes a discussion of housing. Badiou on mortgages! Who'd have thought it?]
Of Which Real is this Crisis the Spectacle? Alain Badiou, Le Monde, 17/10/08.
As it is presented to us, the planetary financial crisis resembles one of those bad films concocted by that factory for the production of pre-packaged blockbusters that today we call the "cinema". Nothing is missing, the spectacle of mounting disaster, the feeling of being suspended from enormous puppet-strings, the exoticism of the identical – the Bourse of Jakarta placed under the same spectacular rubric as New York, the diagonal from Moscow to Sao Paulo, everywhere the same fire ravaging the same banks – not to mention terrifying plotlines: it is impossible to avert Black Friday, everything is collapsing, everything will collapse...
But hope abides. In the foreground, wild-eyed and focussed, like in a disaster movie, we see the small gang of the powerful – Sarkozy, Paulson, Merkel, Brown, Trichet and others – trying to extinguish the monetary flames, stuffing tens of billions into the central Hole. We will have time later to wonder (the saga will surely continue) where these billions come from, given that for some years, at the least demand from the poor, the same characters responded by turning their pockets inside out, saying they hadn't a cent. For the time being, it doesn't matter. "Save the banks!" This noble, humanist and democratic cry surges forth from the mouths of every journalist and politician. Save them at any price! It's worth pointing this out, since the price is not insignificant.
I have to confess: given the numbers that are being bandied about, whose meaning, like almost everyone else, I am incapable of representing to myself (what exactly is one thousand four hundred billion euros?), I too am confident. I put my full trust in our firemen. All together, I am sure, I can feel it, they will succeed. The banks will be even greater than before, while some of the smaller or medium-sized ones, having only been able to survive through the benevolence of states, will be sold to the bigger ones for a pittance. The collapse of capitalism? You must be kidding. Who wants it, after all? Who even knows what it would mean? Let's save the banks, I tell you, and the rest will follow. For the film's immediate protagonists – the rich, their servants, their parasites, those who envy them and those who acclaim them – a happy ending, perhaps a slightly melancholy one, is inevitable, bearing in mind the current state of the world, and the kinds of politics that take place within it.
Rene -- Paul Virilio on the fiancial 'crisis'
Paul Virilio on the crisis
Oct 21, 2008 2:38 PM
From an October 18th interview in Le Monde:
For thirty years now, the philosopher Paul Virilio analyses the
catastrophe as the unavoidable consequence of technological progress. He
sees in the current financial crisis the most accomplished example of
his theory, a catastrophe where the victims do not actually die, but
lose the roof above their heads by the thousands.
Gerard Courtois/Michel Guerrin:
In 2002 you have produced an exhibition at the Maison Cartier under the
title "Ce qui arrive" ('that what occurs'); It was about the accident in
contemporary history: Tchernobyl, 9-11, the Tsunami... A statement by
Hannah Arendt was the marker of your demonstration: "progress and
catastrophe are the two faces of the same coin". Is this where we have
come to with the 'crash of the stock exchange'?
Well, of course. In 1979, at the time of the mishap at the Three Mile
Island nuclear plant in the U.S., I did mention the occurence of an
"original accident" - the kind of accident we bring forth ourselves. I
said that our technical prowess was pregnant of catastrophic promises.
In the past, accidents were local affairs. With Tchernobyl, we have
entered the era of global accidents, whose consequences are in the realm
of the long term. the current crash represents the perfect 'integral
Its effects ripple far and wide, and it incorporates the representation
of all other accidents.
For thirty years now, the phenomenon of History accelerating has been
negated, together with the fact that this acceleration has been the
prime cause of the proliferation of major accidents. Freud said it,
speaking of death: "accumulation snuffs out the perception of contingency".
Contingency is the key word here. These accidents are not contingent
occurrences. For the time being, the prevalent opinion is that
researching the crash of the stock exchange as a political and economic
issue and in terms of its social consequences is adequate enough. But it
is impossible to understand what is going on if one does not implement a
(policy based on the) political economy of speed, the speed that
technological progress engenders, and if one does not link (this policy)
to the 'accidental' character of History.
Let's take just one example: the dictum "time is money". I add to this,
and the stock exchange testify to it: "speed is power". We have moved
from the stage of the acceleration of History to that of the
acceleration of the Real. This is what 'the progress' is: a consensual
So accidents are too little researched?
The dominant form of writing about History limits itself to the study of
facts as seen in the light of the long term. Contrariwise, I advocate a
study of History based exclusively on ruptures. (French) Historian
Francois Hartog calls the dominant paradigm "presentism". We must go
further. Our paradigm should be "instantaneism".
In order to study accidents, one of course must research them, but also
'expose' them. The accident is 'invented', it a work of creation. Who
could be more apt than artists to make feel the tragic dimension of
human development ('progress')? That was the intent behind the "ce qui
arrive" exhibition - where, by the way, I did mention a stock exchange
crash. It stood for the museum, or the observatory, of major accidents
that I'd like to see coming about some day. Not in order to instill
fear, but to make us face up.
Rene -- Badiou -- ROADS TO RENEGACY
New Left Review 53, September-October 2008
A philosophe engagé discusses the ‘wrong turn’ taken by so many erstwhile French Maoists, locating its sources within the landscape of 1970s militancy. The perils of politics as ambition, as fashion, as absolute—paving a mediatized path from 68 to Sarkozy.
ROADS TO RENEGACY
Interview by Eric Hazan
One of the most striking aspects of Sarkozy’s rise to power was the support he attracted from Left renegades—from turncoats such as André Glucksmann. As someone who still wears his coat very much the same way round, how would you explain this strange phenomenon?
I think you have to put this in perspective, or rather look at it more closely. First of all, it would be better to ask: why so many Maoists from the Gauche Prolétarienne? Because it is among them that you find those who ‘went wrong’ in this way. Secondly, as far as I am aware, only a few rank-and-file activists in the gp made this about-turn. So, to give your question a slightly more technical character, I would say: why did so many people in the gp leadership take such a bad turn?
There were other Maoist organizations—for example the ucfml, which I was involved in establishing, along with Sylvain Lazarus, Natacha Michel and others, in 1970.  In fact, Lazarus and Michel came from the gp, in the wake of a split of sorts, whereas my own background was completely different: I came from the psu, the social democrats. I’m not aware of a single leader or activist in our organization who took a wrong turn, in the sense we are speaking of here. People from other organizations, such as the gop and vlr, often went back to the pcf, and there was a sprinkling of other groups, in particular the pcmlf, whose idea was more to rebuild the good old Communist Party, which was already in pretty poor shape.  On the whole, these people are still somewhere or other ‘on the left’ today.
But those who ‘went wrong’ in public and spectacular fashion—some of them, like Glucksmann, becoming official supporters of Sarkozy—did come from the gp, which was broadly hegemonic in this milieu, particularly among intellectuals. We could mention Serge July, founder of Libération, Benny Lévy, who was the gp’s leading figure, Jacques-Alain Miller, Jean-Claude Milner, Olivier Rolin, head of the military wing, or indeed Glucksmann himself, who joined rather late in the day, but joined all the same. There were also less well-known intellectuals such as Jean-Marc Salmon, who played a major role at Vincennes and later became a die-hard pro-American. 
There are a number of ways to understand this turncoat phenomenon. The first is that many of these people had a mistaken analysis of the situation at that time, in the years 1966–73; they thought that it was actually revolutionary, in an immediate sense. The Miller brothers gave me the tersest formulations on this point. A few years later, around 1978, I asked them: ‘Why did you just quit like that?’ Because they dropped out very suddenly—even today there are elderly workers, Malians in the hostels, Moroccans in the factories, who ask us: ‘How is it that, overnight, we never saw those guys again?’ Jacques-Alain Miller said to me: ‘Because I realized one day that the country was quiet.’ And Gérard: ‘Because we understood we were not going to take power.’ It was a very revealing response, that of people who saw their undertaking not as the start of a long journey with a great deal of ebb and flow, but as an avenue towards power. Gérard said as much in all innocence, and he later joined the Socialist party, which is something else again.
So, a mistaken understanding of the conjuncture, leading either to a blocked ambition, or to the realization that it was going to take a great deal of trouble and hard work in a situation that was not all that promising. You could see them in Balzacian terms as ambitious young men who imagined they were going to take Paris by dint of revolutionary enthusiasm, but then came to understand that things were a bit more complicated. The proof of this is that a large number of these people have found positions of power elsewhere, in psychoanalysis, in the media, as philosophical commentators, and so on. Their renunciation did not take place along the lines of: ‘I’ll go back to being anonymous’, but rather: ‘That wasn’t the right card, so I’ll play a different one.’
There was a second principle involved in this reversal, less Balzacian and more ideological. This was embodied by the ‘nouveaux philosophes’—themselves part of a long history—and by those who followed them, often with a certain honesty and not necessarily for personal ends. What happened at that point was a transition from the alternatives of ‘bourgeois world or revolutionary world’ to those of ‘totalitarianism or democracy’. The shift can be given a precise date: it was articulated starting from 1976, and a certain number of former gp activists were involved in presenting it. Not just them, but them along with others. This was particularly the case with Christian Jambet and Guy Lardreau, when they wrote their book L’Ange, a kind of philosophical balance sheet of their involvement with the gp. 
Here you can see the reversal at work. It revolves around the idea that, at a certain point, absolute commitment becomes indistinguishable from absolute slavery, and the figure of emancipation indistinguishable from that of barbarism. Grafted onto this was the question of the Soviet camps as depicted by Solzhenitsyn. Above all there was the matter of Cambodia and Pol Pot, which played a very major role for those who had been actively involved in supporting the Khmer Rouge cause, and then learned what an appalling story that was. All this gave rise to a kind of standard discourse of repentance: ‘I learned how absolute radicalism can have terrifying consequences. As a result, I know that above all else we must ensure the preservation of humanist democracy as a barrier against revolutionary enthusiasm.’
I can certainly accept that many people sincerely believed this, and not just because they wanted a place in the media spotlight. A number of them remained honest people—like Rony Brauman, like Jambet and Lardreau, who went quite far in this direction but then stopped: they saw that this was no reason to become pro-American and cosy up to the likes of Sarkozy.  By and large, these people, whom you can call honest renegades, resigned themselves to the politics of the lesser evil, which in one form or another always leads to the Socialist party. But others, like Glucksmann, instrumentalized this fear of totalitarianism and rode the wave it created. They saw that the figure of the renegade from the Communist project, who steps onto the media stage to stigmatize its horror and is able to say that he experienced it in the flesh, and tell how he made a narrow escape, how he almost became a Polpotist, could fill a gap in the market. They weren’t wrong—they were orchestrated, all doors were opened to them, you hardly saw anyone else on television; they built up a whole intellectual media empire on the basis of this business.
Rene -- Zizek -- Don’t Just Do Something, Talk
Don’t Just Do Something, Talk
One of the most striking things about the reaction to the current financial meltdown is that, as one of the participants put it: ‘No one really knows what to do.’ The reason is that expectations are part of the game: how the market reacts to a particular intervention depends not only on how much bankers and traders trust the interventions, but even more on how much they think others will trust them. Keynes compared the stock market to a competition in which the participants have to pick several pretty girls from a hundred photographs: ‘It is not a case of choosing those which, to the best of one’s judgment, are really the prettiest, nor even those which average opinion genuinely thinks the prettiest. We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligence to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be.‘ We are forced to make choices without having the knowledge that would enable us to make them; or, as John Gray has put it: ‘We are forced to live as if we were free.’
Joseph Stiglitz recently wrote that, although there is a growing consensus among economists that any bailout based on Henry Paulson’s plan won’t work, ‘it is impossible for politicians to do nothing in such a crisis. So we may have to pray that an agreement crafted with the toxic mix of special interests, misguided economics and right-wing ideologies that produced the crisis can somehow produce a rescue plan that works – or whose failure doesn’t do too much damage.’ He’s right: since markets are effectively based on beliefs (even beliefs about other people’s beliefs), how the markets react to the bailout depends not only on its real consequences, but on the belief of the markets in the plan’s efficiency. The bailout may work even if it is economically wrong.
There is a close similarity between the speeches George W. Bush has given since the crisis began and his addresses to the American people after 9/11. Both times, he evoked the threat to the American way of life and the necessity of fast and decisive action to cope with the danger. Both times, he called for the partial suspension of American values (guarantees of individual freedom, market capitalism) in order to save the same values.
Faced with a disaster over which we have no real in
Elaine -- The Task of Activist Media
This is in regard to last nights discussion post Winter Soldier films on the
subject of access to alternative media and bridging networks for access. I
found it online just now. -ea
The Task of Activist Media by Ellen Andors, Ph.D.
Alternative Media: an Activist Approach
Alternative media has several meanings. In one sense, it refers to
presenting points of view and information that offer alternatives to
corporate media indoctrination. It also refers to presenting people with
real alternatives to the way things are in this society and alternatives to
how people perceive and conduct their own personal lives. We live in a
critical time. If people do not radically change prevailing social
processes, the world will be uninhabitable in the not so distant future.
Many of the worlds problems, like famine, war, poverty and ecological
disaster, are inevitable outcomes of the ever increasing competition for
profits generated by capitalism. In a recent book, When Corporations Rules
the World , David Korten notes, "...we are experiencing accelerating social
and environmental disintegration in nearly every country of the world--as
revealed by a rise in poverty, unemployment, inequality, violent crime,
failing families and environmental degradation."(1) Manning Marable, in the
series, "Along the Color Line", comments on the vastly increasing
"polarization of classes, the unprecedented rise in personal incomes and
profits among a small minority of American households and the expansion of
social misery, falling incomes and inequality for the majority of the
population of the country."(2)
According to Executive Pay Watch,(3) in 1995, the pay for top corporate
executives went up 30%, while those of factory workers went up 1%, lagging
behind the 2.8% inflation rate. In 1965, CEOs made 44 times the average
factory workers salary. Today, CEOs make 212 times the average workers
pay.(4) Also, while hundreds of thousands of workers were laid off in 1995,
the CEOs of the 20 companies with the largest announced layoffs saw their
salaries and bonuses increase by 25%. (5)
Rene -- Chomsky -- Anti-Democratic Nature of US Capitalism is Being Exposed
Anti-Democratic Nature of US Capitalism is Being Exposed
Bretton Woods was the system of global financial management set up at
the end of the second World War to ensure the interests of capital did
not smother wider social concerns in post-war democracies. It was hated
by the US neoliberals - the very people who created the banking crisis
writes Noam Chomsky
Published on Friday, October 10, 2008 by The Irish Times
by Noam Chomsky
THE SIMULTANEOUS unfolding of the US presidential campaign and
unraveling of the financial markets presents one of those occasions
where the political and economic systems starkly reveal their nature.
Passion about the campaign may not be universally shared but almost
everybody can feel the anxiety from the foreclosure of a million homes,
and concerns about jobs, savings and healthcare at risk.
The initial Bush proposals to deal with the crisis so reeked of
totalitarianism that they were quickly modified. Under intense lobbyist
pressure, they were reshaped as "a clear win for the largest
institutions in the system . . . a way of dumping assets without having
to fail or close", as described by James Rickards, who negotiated the
federal bailout for the hedge fund Long Term Capital Management in
1998, reminding us that we are treading familiar turf. The immediate
origins of the current meltdown lie in the collapse of the housing
bubble supervised by Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, which
sustained the struggling economy through the Bush years by debt-based
consumer spending along with borrowing from abroad. But the roots are
deeper. In part they lie in the triumph of financial liberalisation in
the past 30 years - that is, freeing the markets as much as possible
from government regulation.
These steps predictably increased the frequency and depth of severe
reversals, which now threaten to bring about the worst crisis since the
Also predictably, the narrow sectors that reaped enormous profits from
liberalisation are calling for massive state intervention to rescue
collapsing financial institutions.
Such interventionism is a regular feature of state capitalism, though
the scale today is unusual. A study by international economists
Winfried Ruigrok and Rob van Tulder 15 years ago found that at least 20
companies in the Fortune 100 would not have survived if they had not
been saved by their respective governments, and that many of the rest
gained substantially by demanding that governments "socialise their
losses," as in today's taxpayer-financed bailout. Such government
intervention "has been the rule rather than the exception over the past
two centuries", they conclude.
In a functioning democratic society, a political campaign would address
such fundamental issues, looking into root causes and cures, and
proposing the means by which people suffering the consequences can take
The financial market "underprices risk" and is "systematically
inefficient", as economists John Eatwell and Lance Taylor wrote a
decade ago, warning of the extreme dangers of financial liberalisation
and reviewing the substantial costs already incurred - and proposing
solutions, which have been ignored. One factor is failure to calculate
the costs to those who do not participate in transactions. These
"externalities" can be huge. Ignoring systemic risk leads to more
risk-taking than would take place in an efficient economy, even by the
Anj -- Israel: wedded to war?
Palestine / Israel
Israel: wedded to war?
Far from learning the lessons of past conflict, the country's military seem ever more willing to resort to brute force
For Israel, the aftermath of the 2006 Lebanon war was all about questions. What mistakes were made, and who made them? What could be done to restore the Israeli military's "deterrence" after a widely perceived defeat? In general, what lessons could be learned from the confrontation with Hizbullah in order that next time, there would be no question of failure?
Unfortunately, it seems that entirely the wrong kinds of conclusions are being reached, at least in the military hierarchy and among the policy shaping thinktanks. On Friday, Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper published comments made by Israeli general Gadi Eisenkot, head of the army's northern command. Eisenkot took the opportunity to share the principles shaping plans for a future war.
The general promised "disproportionate" force to destroy entire villages identified as sources of Hizbullah rocket fire, the reasoning being that they are "not civilian villages" but rather "military bases" – the kind of reasoning that can land you in a war crimes tribunal.
Eisenkot pointed to how Israel levelled the Dahiya neighbourhood of Beirut in 2006 and confirmed that this would be the fate of "every village from which Israel is fired on". In case there was any doubt, he added: "This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved."
The frank promise of "disproportionate" force will be chilling for the Lebanese, who even last time round were subjected to indiscriminate attack, the targeted destruction of civilian infrastructure, and carpet cluster-bombing. But what Ha'aretz dubbed the "Dahiya Doctrine" received enthusiastic support in some quarters, such as veteran Israeli TV and print journalist Yaron London.
London seemed highly pleased with Eisenkot's determination to "destroy Lebanon", undeterred "by the protests of the 'world'". London, while looking forward to Israel "pulverising" some "160 Shi'ite villages" made the implications of Eisenkot's thinking clear: "In practical terms, the Palestinians in Gaza are all Khaled Mashaal, the Lebanese are all Nasrallah, and the Iranians are all Ahmadinejad." The meaning of "practical terms" did not need repeating.
The Ha'aretz report also described how similar conclusions were being reached in reports by military-academic institutions. One such paper, published by the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University, and unambiguously titled "Disproportionate Force", details the author's (reserve Colonel Gabriel Siboni) understanding of the lessons of 2006:
Nettime -- Why globalisation will yield to regional fiefdoms
Interesting article in terms of some of the issues we have discussed in Continental Drift. -rg
Quoting Previous article from Brian:
> On the level of the real economy, the impossibility of selling commercial
> paper for short-term loans or even using letters of credit between banks
> is causing some corporations to cease certain activities, notably
> transnational shipping. This would be the advance warning sign of the
> global depression announced by Roubini.
On this line of reasoning, I found the following article extremely
>From The Times
October 8, 2008
Why globalisation will yield to regional fiefdoms
While we watch the drama of the global banking system slashing its own
wrists, the real economy has just arrived at outpatients with headaches
Carl Mortished: World Business Briefing
While we watch the grotesque drama of the global banking system slashing
its own wrists, the real economy has just arrived at outpatients with
headaches. There is tummy upset in the West, while a mysterious rash has
broken out in the East.
In China, steelmakers are in deep trouble, the Olympics are over and the
building sector, inflated by huge injections of public money, is subsiding.
The symptoms of too much capacity and too little demand are beginning to
show up in disputes with iron ore suppliers and sudden export surges to the
United States as the Chinese resources industry chases dwindling demand for
metal in Western markets.
The price of steel is tumbling worldwide as construction markets sag and
motor manufacturers cut volume targets. ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest
steelmaker, has cut back production from Kazakhstan and Ukraine, big steel
exporters, by up to 20 per cent. In London, the price of steel billets on
the London Metal Exchange, a gauge of the temperature in the Asian and
Mediterranean construction markets, has fallen by 60 per cent since July.
Corus, the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker recently acquired by Tata, of India, gave
warning this week that European markets were soggy.
In the past China might have muddled through a period of soggy markets,
grabbing market share from rustbucket American and European steelmakers.
They could shift product at prices that barely cover costs while blustering
their way through the protests and anti-dumping litigation. China had the
edge on costs with a combination of cheap labour, cheap raw materials and
cheap transport. It could always rely on steel consumers to help to fight
its corner: Motown liked cheap steel, just as the rest of America liked $10
T-shirts, inexpensive laptops, toys and furniture.
Rene -- Fisk -- SECRETS OF IRAQ'S DEATH CHAMBER
SECRETS OF IRAQ'S DEATH CHAMBER
by Robert Fisk
Tuesday, October 7, 2008 UK
Prisoners are being summarily executed in the government's
high-security detention centre in Baghdad.
Like all wars, the dark, untold stories of the Iraqi conflict drain
from its shattered landscape like the filthy waters of the Tigris. And
still the revelations come.
The Independent has learnt that secret executions are being carried
out in the prisons run by Nouri al-Maliki's "democratic" government.
The hangings are carried out regularly - from a wooden gallows in a
small, cramped cell - in Saddam Hussein's old intelligence headquarters
There is no public record of these killings in what is now called
Baghdad's "high-security detention facility" but most of the victims -
there have been hundreds since America introduced "democracy" to Iraq
- are said to be insurgents, given the same summary justice they mete
out to their own captives.
The secrets of Iraq's death chambers lie mostly hidden from foreign
eyes but a few brave Western souls have come forward to tell of
this prison horror. The accounts provide only a glimpse into the
Iraqi story, at times tantalisingly cut short, at others gloomily
predictable. Those who tell it are as depressed as they are filled
"Most of the executions are of supposed insurgents of one kind or
another," a Westerner who has seen the execution chamber at Kazimiyah
told me. "But hanging isn't easy." As always, the devil is in the
"There's a cell with a bar below the ceiling with a rope over it and
a bench on which the victim stands with his hands tied," a former
British official, told me last week. "I've been in the cell, though
it was always empty. But not long before I visited, they'd taken this
guy there to hang him. They made him stand on the bench, put the rope
round his neck and pushed him off. But he jumped on to the floor. He
could stand up. So they shortened the length of the rope and got him
back on the bench and pushed him off again. It didn't work."
Rene -- THE WEST IS BROKE
Not much analysis and maybe a tad simplified, but one wonders how catastrophic the political failures of the last 8 years will be when combined with the economic collapse that we are witnessing. As I recently heard on the streets of New York City, 'let the bankruptcy proceedings begin!' -rg
THE WEST IS BROKE
By Deepak Tripathi, DandATripathi@gmail.com
October 8, 2008
And It's Not Just a Financial Bankruptcy
October the 7th was a day of high drama and panic on both sides of the
Atlantic. The New York Stock Exchange suffered further massive losses,
despite the $700 billion rescue package coming into force. In London,
shares in the banking sector collapsed, some falling by as much as
40 percent. The Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke,
admitted that the risk of a deeper economic slump had increased. And
George W. Bush, whose presidency looks destined for an ignominious
end, pleaded for coordinated action by the leading industrialized
countries. The International Monetary Fund estimates financial
losses of around $1.4 trillion. But there is no certainty. They could
Central banks of several major countries have now announced cuts in
their interest rates, after weeks of indecision when each country
seemed to be engaged in domestic fire-fighting. America's rescue
package was for its institutions, although, if successful, it would
benefit others. On October the 8th, the British government became
the latest to announce a bailout plan of its own. It will spend
up to Â£50 billion in return for 'preference shares' in eight of
the largest banks in the country. The measure gives the government
some control over the banking system. And there will be restrictions
on20huge executive salaries and generous dividends to shareholders
that have caused strong public resentment in recent years.
Rene -- 5,000 DOCTORS CHALLENGE PRIVATE-INSURANCE SYSTEM
As the so-called-free-market economy suffers its biggest test in this new century, the cracks seem to be widening. -rg
5,000 DOCTORS CHALLENGE PRIVATE-INSURANCE SYSTEM
Kansas City InfoZine
October 8, 2008
Over 5,000 U.S. physicians have signed an open letter calling on the
candidates for president and Congress "to stand up for the health of
the American people and implement a nonprofit, single-payer national
health insurance system."
WASHINGTON - Noting that the nation's private-insurance-based model is
failing by denying needed medical care to millions, wasting resources
and driving up costs, the doctors say that a publicly financed system
is "the sole hope for affordable, comprehensive coverage."
A protester in San Francisco holds a sign at a rally in June,
2008. Over 5,000 U.S. physicians have signed an open letter calling on
the candidates for president and Congress "to stand up for the health
of the American people and implement a nonprofit, single-payer national
health insurance system."(Photos by Luke Thomas and John Han - Fog City
Journal)"A single-payer health system could realize administrative
savings of more than $300 billion annually -- enough to cover the
uninsured and to eliminate co-payments and deductibles for all
Americans," they write, adding that it would also slow cost increases.
Dr. Oliver Fein, a professor of clinical medicine and public health at
Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and a signer of the letter,
said today, "With the sudden economic downturn, more people than ever
before are worried about how to pay for health care. A single-payer
system -- an improved Medicare for all -- would lift those worries,
provide care to all who need it and require no new money. It's the
only morally and fiscally responsible approach to take."
Nettime - Brian - Nouriel Roubini - global game plan
You've all heard his name: Nouriel Roubini, professor at New York
University, formerly known as Dr. Doom for having predicted what's
now reality. Yesterday he said we are in sight of a systemic collapse
and a global depression and called for a list of measures to be taken
at the world level (including massive public works projects). Copy of
his conclusions below. This morning (EU time) Japan proposes raising
capital from Asian and Arab high-rollers for the support of emerging
markets, to be distributed with IMF assistance. Meanwhile Yamato Life
insurance tanks and the Nikkei plunges. At the American Treasury
they are talking about guaranteeing ALL bank deposits (not just up
to $250,000) and using a clause of the Paulson Plan to directly
recapitalize the banks (therefore dropping the original idea of
buying the toxic waste bit by bit). In other words: huge confusion
at Treasury. On the level of the real economy, the impossibility of
selling commercial paper for short-term loans or even using letters
of credit between banks is causing some corporations to cease certain
activities, notably transnational shipping. This would be the advance
warning sign of the global depression announced by Roubini. With
the World Bank/IMF meetings in Washington this weekend and Bush's
rich-country crisis-cell meeting tomorrow, it seems likely we will see
at attempt at concerted global action over the weekend. Monday there
may be only one possible world. Or chaos!
Here is Roubini's text:
...At this point severe damage is done and one cannot rule out a
systemic collapse and a global depression. It will take a significant
change in leadership of economic policy and very radical, coordinated
policy actions among all advanced and emerging market economies to
avoid this economic and financial disaster. Urgent and immediate
necessary actions that need to be done globally (with some variants
across countries depending on the severity of the problem and the
overall resources available to the sovereigns) include:
- another rapid round of policy rate cuts of the order of at least 150
basis points on average globally;
- a temporary blanket guarantee of all deposits while a triage
between insolvent financial institutions that need to be shut down
and distressed but solvent institutions that need to be partially
nationalized with injections of public capital is made;
Rene -- MCCAIN IS DELUDING HIMSELF OVER THE 'SURGE'
MCCAIN IS DELUDING HIMSELF OVER THE 'SURGE'
by Johann Hari
October 6, 2008 UK
There's a hole in the US argument, and blood is rushing through
John McCain is desperate to talk about the surge rather than the
splurge. His Iraq war is set to cost one trillion dollars, and his
deregulation-mania has cost hundreds of billions. So in order to
maintain his facade of being "tough on spending", he needs to shift
the subject. That's why he has tried to shrink the debate about the
Iraq War to one small question. Not: did Saddam have Weapons of Mass
Destruction? Not: did Saddam have links to 9/11? Not: why do 70 per
cent of Iraqis think the presence of US troops make them less safe
and they should go home now?
McCain knows he will lose those arguments, so he wants us to talk
solely about whether the surge of US troops last year has been
successful. But a hole was just blown in that argument - and blood
is rushing through.
Those of us who got Iraq wrong have a particular duty to honestly
describe what is happening now. A major study by the distinguished
scientific journal Environment and Planning A has just revealed the
real picture. The Republican nominee claims the US troops have stopped
the violence by their physical presence. To test this, Professor John
Agnew and his colleagues used the same techniques the US government
has adopted to monito r ethnic-cleansing in Burma and Uganda.
Here's how it works. When an entire ethnic or religious group is
driven out, they abandon their houses - and aren't there to switch
on the lights. Their areas become much more dark. If satellite images
show night-light remains the same in the areas dominated by one ethnic
group but significantly falls in mixed areas, you know ethnic cleansing
Rene -- In Blow to Bush, Judge Orders 17 Guantánamo Detainees Freed
Can we call this good news? The most affirmative development for the future of detainees in Guantanamo. -rg
In Blow to Bush, Judge Orders 17 Guantánamo Detainees Freed
By WILLIAM GLABERSON
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Bush administration to release 17 detainees at Guantánamo Bay by the end of the week, the first such ruling in nearly seven years of legal disputes over the administration’s detention policies.
The judge, Ricardo M. Urbina of Federal District Court, ordered that the 17 men be brought to his courtroom on Friday from the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where they have been held since 2002. He indicated that he would release the men, members of the restive Uighur Muslim minority in western China, into the care of supporters in the United States, initially in the Washington area.
“I think the moment has arrived for the court to shine the light of constitutionality on the reasons for detention,” Judge Urbina said.
Saying the men had never fought the United States and were not a security threat, he tersely rejected Bush administration claims that he lacked the power to order the men set free in the United States and government requests that he stay his order to permit an immediate appeal.
The ruling was a sharp setback for the administration, which has waged a long legal battle to defend its policies of detention at the naval base at Guantánamo Bay, arguing a broad executive power in waging war. Federal courts up to the Supreme Court have waded through detention questions and in several major cases the courts have rejected administration contentions.
The government recently conceded that it would no longer try to prove that the Uighurs were enemy combatants, the classification it uses to detain people at Guantánamo, where 255 men are now held. But it has fought efforts by lawyers for the men to have them released into the United States, saying the Uighurs admitted to receiving weapons training in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The White House press secretary, Dana Perino, said the administration was “deeply concerned by, and strongly disagrees with” the decision. She added that the ruling, “if allowed to stand, could be used as precedent for other detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, including sworn enemies of the United States suspected of planning the attacks of 9/11, who may also seek release into our country.”
Nettime -- Brian -- Thaksin's Asian Bond Scheme
Here is a simple and ingenious scheme which gives you a hint of what may
emerge in the future. It involves creating a regional Asian bond as an
"offshore dollar" intended at once to prop up the Asian credit markets,
help stabilize the American dollar in which all the Asian countries are
heavily invested, and slowly displace control over the international
reserve currency from Washington to an as-yet inexistent pan-Asian
capital market, which the bond would create by its very existence.
The twisted beauty of this plan is that it is proposed by Thaksin
Shinawatra - the deposed former prime minister of Thailand, a neoliberal
businessman, hated by many Thais for his authoritarian police measures,
now living in London where he has fled in the face of charges of tax
That particular detail is yet another irony cast at the feet of those
whose highest hopes go to equality and popular democracy. But beyond
that, it also recalls how both the Bretton Woods institutions and the
European Community were created as highly technical economic and
monetary arrangements whose immense historical significance was hidden,
for decades, by a veil of technical complexity. A proposal like
Thaksin's does not say anything about an Asian monetary fund, a common
currency, or anything that would shock people with the thought that an
immense new financial power is emerging. Yet it would have the same effect.
I am not saying Thaksin's proposal will go anywhere. But I am saying
that just such a proposal could have immense significance. Watch the
news for any major innovation in the current structure of Asian economic
relations. The future may be hiding exactly there. Best, BH
An Asia bond could save us from the dollar
By Thaksin Shinawatra
Published: October 6 2008 19:37 | Last updated: October 6 2008 19:37
Asia has an opportunity to save itself, and the world economy, from the
crushing excesses of Wall Street. China and Japan, with other Asian
countries holding substantial surplus reserves, should act now to create
an Asia bond to contain the fallout from a weak dollar.
I hope my US friends will not see this as an ungrateful act of
abandoning a ship in trouble. On the contrary, my plan will keep the
ship in service, as it is repaired. This is the best way for countries
that have benefited from the American century to repay their debt.
The prosperity in Asia -- created by US investment and trade -- has
spawned problems for the US. East Asia's current account surpluses have
averaged $400bn over the past decade, while the US current account
deficit runs at an annual average of $800bn. Asian countries, other than
Japan, accumulated the surpluses largely by supplying cheap goods and
services to the US. They can no longer rely on this one major market
given that America's ability to sustain consumer spending is severely
curtailed. Having parked most of their surpluses in the currency that
was most convertible -- the dollar -- Asian countries face the prospect of
losing as much as the country that issued the currency. Most of Asia's
sovereign surpluses are in US dollar-denominated equity and notes and
Treasury bills. Is there a way to protect the value of these as the US
economy finds its feet? Asia's reserves could be turned into Asia bonds
that, without losing their value, could be used to stimulate investment
and trade in Asia.
Rene -- When it comes to Palestine and Israel, the US simply doesn't get it
Robert Fisk's World: When it comes to Palestine and Israel, the US simply doesn't get it
Biden and Palin hid like rabbits from the centre of the Middle East earthquake
Saturday, 4 October 2008
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Palestinians ceased to exist in the United States on Thursday night. Both Joe Biden and Sarah Palin managed to avoid the use of that poisonous word. "Palestine" and "Palestinians" – that most cancerous, slippery, dangerous concept – simply did not exist in the vice-presidential debate. The phrase "Israeli occupation" was mercifully left unused. Neither the words "Jewish colony" nor "Jewish settlement" – not even that cowardly old get-out clause of American journalism, "Jewish neighbourhood" – got a look-in. Nope.
Those bold contenders of the US vice-presidency, so keen to prove their mettle when it comes to "defence", hid like rabbits from the epicentre of the Middle East earthquake: the existence of a Palestinian people. Sure, there was talk of a "two-state" solution, but it would have mystified anyone who didn't understand the region.
There was even a Biden jibe at George Bush for pressing on with "elections" – again, the adjective "Palestinian" went missing – that produced a Hamas victory. But Hamas appeared to exist in never-never land, a vast landscape that gradually encompassed all the vast and black deserts that stretch, in the imagination of US politicians, from the Mediterranean to Pakistan.
"Pakistan's (nuclear) missiles can already hit Israel," Biden thundered. But what was he talking about? Pakistan has not threatened Israel. It's supposed to be on our side. Both vice-presidential candidates seemed to think that our ally in the "war on terror" was now turning into an ally of the axis of evil. Even Islam didn't get a run for its money.
Indeed, one of the funniest reports of the week, yet another investigation of Obama's education, came from the Associated Press news agency. The would-be president, the Associated Press announced, had attended a Muslim school but hadn't "practised" Islam.
What on earth did this mean, I asked myself? Would AP have reported, for example, that McCain had attended a Christian school but hadn't "practised" Christianity? Then I got it. Obama had smoked Islam but he hadn't inhaled!
Travelling across the US this week – from Seattle to Houston to Washington and then to New York – I kept bumping into the results of America's White House-induced terror. A well-educated, upper-middle-class lady at a lunch turned to me and expressed her fear that Islam "wanted to take over America". When I suggested that this was pushing things a bit, she informed me that "the Muslims have already taken over France".
Rene -- The Dark Heart of the Guantánamo Trials
The Dark Heart of the Guantánamo Trials
by Andy Worthington
Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, looks at recent disturbing developments in the Military Commission trial system at Guantánamo, and traces a chain of command that runs from the Commissions' supposedly impartial "Convening Authority" all the way to the Office of the Vice President.
A Prosecutor Resigns
On September 24, Col. Lawrence Morris, the chief prosecutor of Guantánamo's Military Commission trial system, announced that Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, the prosecutor in the case of Mohamed Jawad (an Afghan – and a teenager at the time of his capture – who is accused of throwing a grenade at a jeep containing two US soldiers and an Afghan translator), had asked to quit his assignment before his one-year contract expired.
Although Col. Morris attempted to explain that Lt. Col. Vandeveld was leaving "for personal reasons," the real reasons were spelled out in a statement issued by Vandeveld (PDF), in which he expressed his frustration and disappointment that "potentially exculpatory evidence" had "not been provided" to Jawad's defense team:
"My ethical qualms about continuing to serve as a prosecutor relate primarily to the procedures for affording defense counsel discovery. I am highly concerned, to the point that I believe I can no longer serve as a prosecutor at the Commissions, about the slipshod, uncertain "procedure" for affording defense counsel discovery. One would have thought … six years since the Commissions had their fitful start, that a functioning law office would have been set up and procedures and policies not only put into effect, but refined.
"Instead, what I found, and what I still find, is that discovery in even the simplest of cases is incomplete or unreliable. To take the Jawad case as only one example – a case where no intelligence agency had any significant involvement – I discovered just yesterday that something as basic as agents' interrogation notes had been entered into a database, to which I do not have personal access … These and other examples too legion to list are not only appalling, they deprive the accused of basic due process and subject the well-intentioned prosecutor to claims of ethical misconduct."
Rene -- A Shattering Moment in America's Fall From Power
A Shattering Moment in America's Fall From Power
The global financial crisis will see the US falter in the same way the
Soviet Union did when the Berlin Wall came down. The era of American
dominance is over
by John Gray
Published on Sunday, September 28, 2008 by The Guardian/UK
Our gaze might be on the markets melting down, but the upheaval we are
experiencing is more than a financial crisis, however large. Here is a
historic geopolitical shift, in which the balance of power in the world
is being altered irrevocably. The era of American global leadership,
reaching back to the Second World War, is over.
You can see it in the way America's dominion has slipped away in its
own backyard, with Venezuelan President Hugo ChÃ¡vez taunting and
ridiculing the superpower with impunity. Yet the setback of America's
standing at the global level is even more striking. With the
nationalisation of crucial parts of the financial system, the American
free-market creed has self-destructed while countries that retained
overall control of markets have been vindicated. In a change as
far-reaching in its implications as the fall of the Soviet Union, an
entire model of government and the economy has collapsed.
Ever since the end of the Cold War, successive American administrations
have lectured other countries on the necessity of sound finance.
Indonesia, Thailand, Argentina and several African states endured
severe cuts in spending and deep recessions as the price of aid from
the International Monetary Fund, which enforced the American orthodoxy.
China in particular was hectored relentlessly on the weakness of its
banking system. But China's success has been based on its consistent
contempt for Western advice and it is not Chinese banks that are
currently going bust. How symbolic yesterday that Chinese astronauts
take a spacewalk while the US Treasury Secretary is on his knees.
Despite incessantly urging other countries to adopt its way of doing
business, America has always had one economic policy for itself and
another for the rest of the world. Throughout the years in which the US
was punishing countries that departed from fiscal prudence, it was
borrowing on a colossal scale to finance tax cuts and fund its
over-stretched military commitments. Now, with federal finances
critically dependent on continuing large inflows of foreign capital, it
will be the countries that spurned the American model of capitalism
that will shape America's economic future
Rene -- TROUBLE IN BANKTOPIA: THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM IS BLOWING UP
This is a meta-article of analysis on the latest crisis -rg
TROUBLE IN BANKTOPIA: THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM IS BLOWING UP
By Mike Whitney
Online Journal Sep 29, 2008, 00:18
The financial system is blowing up. Don't listen to the experts;
just look at the numbers.
Last week, according to Reuters, "U.S. banks borrowed a record amount
from the Federal Reserve nearly $188 billion a day on average, showing
the central bank went to extremes to keep the banking system afloat
amid the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression."
The Fed opened the various "auction facilities" to create the
appearance that insolvent banks were thriving businesses, but they
are not. They're dead; their liabilities exceed their assets. Now
the Fed is desperate because the hundreds of billions of dollars of
mortgage-backed securities (MBS) in the banks' vaults have bankrupted
the entire system and the Fed's balance sheet is ballooning by the
day. The market for MBS will not bounce back in the foreseeable future
and the banks are unable to rollover their short-term debt.
The Federal Reserve itself is in danger. So, it's on to Plan B, which
is to dump all the toxic sludge on the taxpayer before he realizes
that the whole system is cratering and his life is about to change
forever. It's called the Paulson Plan, a $700 billion boondoggle
which has already been disparaged by every economist of20merit in
From Reuters: "Borrowings by primary dealers via the Primary Dealer
Credit Facility, and through another facility created on Sunday
[Sept. 21] for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch,
and their London-based subsidiaries, totaled $105.66 billion as of
Wednesday, the Fed said."
See what I mean, they're all broke. The Fed's revolving loans are
just a way to perpetuate the myth that the banks aren't flatlining
already. Bernanke has tied strings to the various body parts and jerks
them every so often to make it look like they're alive. But the Wall
Street model is broken and the bailout is pointless.
Last week, there was a digital run on the banks that most people never
even heard about, a "real time" crash. An article in the New York Post
by Michael Gray gave a blow by blow description of how events unfolded.
Here's a clip from Gray's "Almost Armageddon": "The market was 500
trades away from Armageddon on Thursday . . . Had the Treasury and
Fed not quickly stepped into the fray that morning with a quick $105
billion injection of liquidity, the Dow could have collapsed to the
8,300-level -- a 22 percent decline! -- while the clang of the opening
bell was still echoing around the cavernous exchange floor. According
to traders, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, money market
funds were=2 0inundated with $500 billion in sell orders prior to
the opening. The total money-market capitalization was roughly $4
trillion that morning.
Rene -- Interview with Alain Badiou
Thinking of the upcoming screening series organized with Dara and Josh, thought this could be relevant to post here - rg
Interview with Alain Badiou
From Diana George and Nic Veroli, Carceraglio received this previously unpublished interview with Alain Badiou.
Alain Badiou gave this interview when he attended the "Is a History of the Cultural Revolution Possible?" conference at University of Washington, in February, 2006. The interview was commissioned by a Seattle newspaper; the first few answers address readers who might not know Badiou's work.
Q: I'd like to ask you about your political and intellectual trajectory from the mid 60s until today. How have your views about revolutionary politics, Marxism, and Maoism changed since then?
Badiou: During the first years of my political activity, there were two fundamental events. The first was the fight against the colonial war in Algeria at the end of the 50s and the beginning of the 60s. I learned during this fight that political conviction is not a question of numbers, of majority. Because at the beginning of the Algerian war, we were really very few against the war. It was a lesson for me; you have to do something when you think it's a necessity, when it's right, without caring about the numbers.
The second event was May 68. During May 68, I learned that we have to organize direct relations between intellectuals and workers. We cannot do that only by the mediation of parties, associations, and so on. We have to directly experience the relation with the political. My interest in Maoism and the Cultural Revolution during the end of 60s and the beginning of the 70s, was this: a political conviction that organizes something like direct relations between intellectuals and workers.
I'll recapitulate, if you like. There were two great lessons: It's my conviction today that political action has to be a process which is a process of principles, convictions, and not of a majority. So there is a practical dimension. And secondly, there is the necessity of direct relations between intellectuals and workers.
That was the beginning, the subjective beginning. In the political field, the correlation with ideologies --Marxism, Cultural Revolution, Maoism and so on -- is subordinate to the subjective conviction that you have to do politics directly, to organize, to be with others, to find a way for principles to exist practically.
Q: What is your idea of fidelity?
Badiou: That's already contained in the first answer. For me, fidelity is fidelity to great events which are constitutive of my political subjectivity. And perhaps there is also something much older, because during the war my father was in the Resistance against the Nazis. Naturally, during the war, he did not say anything about it to me; it was a matter of life and death. But just after the war, I learned that he had been a resistant, that he was really in that experience of resistance against the Nazis. So my fidelity is also a fidelity to my father. At the beginning of that war, very few were in the resistance; after two or three years, there were more. It is the same lesson, if you like, this lesson from my father.
Generally speaking, my fidelity is to two great events: the engagement against the colonial war, and to May 68 and its consequences. Not only the event of May 68 as such, but also its consequences. Fidelity is a practical matter; you have to organize something, to do something. This is the reality of fidelity.
Q: You've said that there has been a rupture, that the entire question of politics is currently in great obscurity. Also, you have written that we must think a politics without party. After the saturation of the class-party experiment, what next?