The Rumour of Calcutta

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Panto Terror reviewed (sandwich)

Screen shot 2013-11-25 at 16.10.41A brief review from Mark Perryman (Philosophy Football) on Socialist Unity where I am sandwiched between words on Arun Kundnani’s book (which I read and think is really good) and Andrew Hussey’s book (which I’ve not yet read):

“Arun Kundnani’s ‘The Muslims are Coming!’ links together the experience of Islamophobia, the framing of extremism/fundamentalism and the ongoing global impact of the west’s so-called ‘War on Terror’. Here the left is grappling with subjects it is more at ease with understanding, though the depth to which it is transformed via that process remains in question. An insight into what that transformation might look like is provided by John Hutnyk’s ‘Pantomime Terror‘ which imaginatively records how popular culture has been affected by a post 9/11 world and on occasion has offered signs of resisting the reactionary, racist, consequences of that process. The urgent necessity for this kind of engagement is established brilliantly by Andrew Hussey’s new book ‘The French Intifada’.”

I regret the reviewers have not noted the critiques of Zizek, Badiou and Buck-Morss in mine, or the importance of Spivak and Adorno to my argument, or the coda on Wagner, but still very good to have. See here. Thanks Mark.

Book Depository discounts on Hutnyk books

(some cheaper, some mad costly – dm me for deals)

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Citizen Marx/Kane

My text on reading Capital in the cinema- with Orson Welles (forthcoming in ‘Marx at the Movies’ – edited collection [email me for details if needed]).

 

The cinema hall as a place to sell Eskimo Pie.

 

‘No matter how many customers there are, it’s still an empty building’ (Orson Welles in Welles and Bogdanovich 1998: 8)

 

This chapter addresses the question of how, today, to start reading that rich book that is Marx’s Capital:– of which an immense, even monstrous, accumulation of commentary on the Marxist mode of literary production appears to have already shaped its elementary forms. In reading Capital, if anything about beginnings should be considered necessary, it is usual to say it is good to start at the beginning – not always of course, but usually to start with what is immediately at hand. Commentaries, primers, prefaces, intros, first sentences, first chapters: start at the beginning and continue on from there. This is itself debated, but my argument is that we can only approach Capital through the already existing commentary, even as we would like to start as if the book were new. And the commentary that exists is not only that which is explicitly marked as such, but also includes all the ideas we have already received about so many things – about Marx, capitalism, communism, exchange, commodities, and so much more. A vast accumulation of things that filter reading, so that it would be naïve to simply say that materialism might start with things themselves, even if it makes sense to start with commodities, the objects that are the souvenirs or detritus of our lives.

 

The key to the beginning of volume one is where Marx starts with ‘a monstrous accumulation of commodities’ [‘ungeheure Waarensammlung’ - translation modified by author], but there are many possible starts and many people don’t get much further than chapter one, or they take chapter one as the ‘proper’ beginning. I want to suggest that there is something more here and so want to begin with something else, or even someone else, who might seem the total antithesis of the celebrated critic of the commodity system. A monstrous figure to expose the workings of monstrosity all the more (the monstrous will be explained). My reading is angular, so I choose a character from a parallel history of commerce, although glossed through a film. I have in mind William Randolph Hearst – moneybags – portrayed by Orson Welles in the classic film Citizen Kane. In this chapter, I want to develop this as an introduction to Capital, through its incarnation in the figure of moneybags Kane, and to begin to get at commodities through a focus on the kind of obscure, miniature, almost irrelevant and insignificant of objects to hand – those baubles and trinkets that mesmerise Kane, and us all.

Read the whole thing here: Citizen Marx-kane.

Bad Marxism mini review on goodreads – thanks Malcolm

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 17.13.37https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/188047667?book_show_action=true&page=1

Nat Winn: Our enemies are human: Mao against Carl Schmitt

From Nat Winn at Kasama Project:

Posted by Nat Winn on Thursday, 10 April 2014 in Theory

I wrote this essay around the time when the Iraq war was in full gear. I post it hear as part of the dialogue that we have had recently on Kasama about revolutionary strategy and communist orientation, particularly the recent pieces by Enaa on Blanqui and his Rock beats scissors piece.

Here I look at the German political philosopher and jurist Carl Schmitt and his ideas about the distinction between friend and enemy and contrast them to Mao’s understanding of friends and enemies and the actual experience of the Chinese revolution. Carl Schmitt had a strong influence on the Nazis and at one point joined them as they rose to power. Some leftists have argued that there are things we can incorporate from his prolific body of work but this has been contested by others like Zizek. Some of that is touched on here.  

The paper was an academic paper, though I was never too good at sticking to academic concerns. At the time I wrote it part of my goal was to persuade academics to look more at Mao tse-tung’s political theory (something still needed) and that comes out a bit at the end of the piece. I was also just coming into familiarity with thinkers like Zizek and Badiou. Believing the piece still has some theoretical value, I’m posting the pieces here slightly edited from its original edition, warts and all. I think the points made about the period of the Iraq War regarding how we can conceive of friend and enemy still hold up in today’s international situation.

 by Nat Winn

 

This essay is a response to a challenge posed by the Marxist cultural studies scholar John Hutnyk to Jacques Derrida in his book Bad Marxism – Capitalism and Cultural Studies.(1) My understanding of Hutnyk’s book is that it is a challenge to left scholars to develop theory that can be used in practical struggles against capitalism. Particularly he calls for a new Marxism, a Marxism that “declares itself open to critique.”(2)

In a book, then, that challenges many of the theoretical currents on the academic left; Hutnyk explores Derrida’s engagement with Carl Schmitt and Mao Tse-tung in Derrida’s book The Politics of Friendship.(3) In looking at the evolution in Schmitt’s conception of the friend and enemy distinction as the essence of the political from The Concept of the Political to Theory of the Partisan, Derrida makes the assertion that “With Mao Tse-tung it (the myth of the national and autochtonomous partisan) represents a new stage in the history of the partisan, and therefore in the process of rupture with the classical criteriology of the political and that of the friend/enemy grouping.”(4) Hutnyk’s problem with Derrida around this engagement is Derrida’s reluctance to dig deeper into this “rupture” and engage with its theoretical consequences and usefulness. Instead Derrida focuses on the role of technologies in conceptualizing the political and Hutnyk argues that this leads to a determinism centered on speed. Hutnyk poses the challenge to Derrida:

Why speak so much of Marx and so much less of Mao if Mao’s ‘partisan rupture’ is so important even as a critique of Schmitt? In the Politics of Friendship, where Derrida talks of the technological speed break of the new partisan, instead of knowing who the enemy is, and other certainties, he seems to accept that ‘today’ cannot be understood. He is content to make an aside about being ‘ready to listen to this screaming chaos of the “voiceless”’ Voiceless because of an uncertainty, chaos because to ‘talk politics’ one must swallow ‘all the assurances of clear cut distinctions”’ and so, I guess like Mao, know who is ‘the enemy’ at any given time. Derrida is reluctant to do this, and instead of – as might have been expected – making some comment on Mao’s essay ‘On Contradiction’, which at the very least applies some dialectical sophistication to the ‘assurances’, offers rather a further extended aside devoted to computer espionage bugs, spy networks, cryptography, cybercrime and the ‘hopeless debate’ in the US about communications technology and privacy.(5)

My essay seeks to go where Hutnyk feels Derrida did not. It will examine the evolution in Schmitt’s conception of the friend/enemy distinction and the partisan in relation to this evolution. It will then look at Mao’s understanding of the friend/enemy distinction and how this differed from Schmitt’s understanding. In comparing these conceptions it will also compare the metaphysical existentialist methodology of Schmitt and the dialectical materialist methodology of Mao.

Carl Schmitt’s concept of the political

 The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy.(6)

This sentence sets the framework for Schmitt’s concept of the political in his classic work The Concept of the Political. For Schmitt this was a criterion and not a substantial definition or one with content. The friend/enemy distinction corresponded to the antithesis of other “relatively independent criteria” such as good and evil in the moral sphere or beautiful and ugly in the sphere of aesthetics.(7) Furthermore, any antithesis, be it religious, moral, economic, or ethical that is strong enough to group human beings effectively according to friend and enemy transforms the antithesis into a political one.(8) Schmitt points to the example of Marxists who take the class struggle seriously and are able to win people to consider the capitalist as an enemy. When this happens the antithesis between classes ceases to be economic and becomes political. Also if a religious group begins to wage wars against other religious communities it thus becomes a political entity.(9)

 For to the enemy concept belongs the ever present possibility of combat…The friend, enemy, and combat concepts receive their real meaning precisely because they refer to the real possibility of physical killing…War is the existential negation of the enemy.(10)

The Concept of the Political  was written when Schmitt still held to the concept of decisionism. Whoever was able to control the ability to conduct or stop a war constituted….

- See more at: Kasama project

David Sunderland Financing the Raj

Quite a start for this book, keen to know more (but need to find a copy I can afford):

Sunderland David Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 09.58.23

Reviewed here:

> Citation: Sumit Guha. Review of Sunderland, David, _Financing the
> Raj: the City of London and Colonial India, 1858-1940_. H-Empire,
> H-Net Reviews. April, 2014.
> URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=41407

Hand Picked Stimulus Respond

I’ve two short bits of writing in this elegant little book from Jack Boulton, Stimulus Respond and Pavement Books. ‘The Politics of Cats’ and the bus part of the intro to ‘Pantomime Terror

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hand-Picked-Stimulus-Jack-Boulton/dp/0957147031

stimulus

David McLellan’s para on Marx’s Workers Inquiry

From page 413 of McLellan, David 1973/2006 Karl Marx: A Biography, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

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Plan C: Institute for Precarious Consciousness – ‘we are all very anxious’

I don’t think the state of things is readily reducible to bite-sized explanation-metaphors, nor that whole eras of the capitalist mode of production (this is of course not just a metaphor) should be understood under sweepingly simple code-words, but, unfolding better explanations by deploying such code-words as efforts to get us to think differently and in detail is of great use. And the corresponding tactical 1,2,3-step is also helpful, even if ’tis not the whole struggle – so having Plan C post this is very welcome, even for those times when I am neither miserable, bored, nor anxious (‘he’s behind you’ – the pantomime reflex).

Not anxious, but I am amazed, often variously amazed – even at the idea of posting this:

“Today’s public secret is that everyone is anxious. Anxiety has spread from its previous localised locations (such as sexuality) to the whole of the social field. All forms of intensity, self-expression, emotional connection, immediacy, and enjoyment are now laced with anxiety. It has become the linchpin of subordination.”

This public secret scales up into another Pantomime Terror. It starts with the kids, subjected to such performances, relentlessly – ‘it will be fun, you’ll see’. Then school, and eventually you get asked to love your work. Meanwhile:

‘public space is bureaucratised and privatised, and a widening range of human activity is criminalised on the grounds of risk, security, nuisance, quality of life, or anti-social behaviour’.

As they say on FB: read this, you’ll be amazed what happens next:

http://www.weareplanc.org/we-are-all-very-anxious/#.U0EqzWmDQ0j

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Previously on Plan C: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/category/plan-c/

South Asian Television Studies articles free till Dec 2014

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Half million Riotinto drop – payout scum

Possibly the shabbiest thing I have heard since yesterday:

to Vikki
5 hours agoDetails
PNG Exposed, 4 April 2014

Australian academics paid $500,000 over two years for mining work on Bougainville

April 3, 2014

Two Australian academics have been paid almost $500,000 by the Australian government for two years work towards reopening the Panguna mine in Bougainville.

The figures have been revealed by the Australian Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee.

Bougainville has twice rejected Regan’s controversial new Mining Law paid for by Australia

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Controversial ABG advisor Anthony Regan has been paid over $270,000 – K680,000 – for his work drafting a controversial new Mining Law and other legislation.

Regan’s draft law has twice been rejected by the people pf Bougainville as being too biased in favor of foreign mining companies including Rio Tinto.

The figure revealed by the Committee as paid to Regan includes reimbursable travel costs and covers the period from June 2011 to November 2013.

A second Australian academic Ciaron O’Faircheallaigh has been paid $215,000 over two years for his work on negotiation “of a mining agreement to govern the Panguna mine”.

In total Australia is funding 22 ‘advisor’ positions in Bougainville – at an annual cost of $2.9 million in 2012/13. Some of the positions are full-time, some part-time and some are currently vacant according to the Committee.

original here

Rumford – some like it hot.

A crater on the moon named after him. Soup maker to the poor. And had a hand in formulating the second law of thermodynamics.

Mentioned by Marx in Capital, here is the entry from wikisoup:

Rumford’s Soup

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rumford’s Soup
Region or state Bavaria
Creator(s) Benjamin Thompson
Main ingredient(s) Pearl barley, dried yellow peas, potatoes, beer
Cookbook:Rumford’s Soup Rumford’s Soup

Rumford’s Soup was an early effort in scientific nutrition. It was invented by Count Rumford around 1800 as a ration for the prisoners and the poor of Bavaria, where he was employed as an advisor to the Duke.

As a reformatory measure, the Bavarian government intended to institute workhouses for those on welfare. Rumford’s charge was to provide the cheapest possible ration that was still a high-calorie, nutritious food.

Recipe

1 part pearl barley
1 part dried (yellow) peas
4 parts potato
salt according to need
Old, sour beer
Slowly boil until thick. Eat with bread.

Rumford’s soup is not noted as particularly tasty, but is palatable with long, slow cooking.

Nutrition and modification[edit]
Rumford’s soup is low-fat, with high protein and carbohydrate content — protein from the dried peas, complex carbohydrates from the potato and barley, and simple carbohydrates from the beer. Thus, Rumford’s soup was close to the optimum solution to the problem of cheap, nutritious food according to the knowledge of the day. Unfortunately, such knowledge did not extend to vitamins or trace elements. As a result, Rumford’s soup was often supplemented by corn or herring to supply Vitamin C and Vitamin D.

History[edit]
Rumford’s soup was a common base for inexpensive military rations in Central Europe for much of the nineteenth and twentieth century.

References[edit]
Molnár T. B. & Bittera Dóra: A gróf sparheltja (The count’s cooking range). Magyar Nemzet, 23 April, 2005.
“On the benefits of thermodynamics”, [1]
Categories: Copy to WikibooksSoups

Panguna No to reopening Riotinto death mine

Just in:

On Wednesday, April 2, 2014, Bougainville Freedom Movement wrote:
PNG Minewatch, 31 March 2014

Panguna Mothers Reject BCL and Mine

Clive Porabou via Facebook

The Meekamui Women of Panguna find it ridiculous to hear that the Bougainville Women in Mining are supporting the reopening of Panguna Mine when they themselves are ignorant of the facts why the mine was closed.

Stella Placid one of the principal female landowner in the mine pit said that BCL [Rio Tinto] is not welcome in Panguna.

“They are responsible for the 20,000 lives who perished during the uprising.

They also used dangerous chemicals to destroy the eco-system on the land and we cannot grow taro or do any fishing in the rivers.

As you can see today; the Jaba river is polluted, our people relocated with a complete disregard for their needs and the needs of future generations and we lost our land”, said Stella Placid.

“Therefore, our concern not to open the mine must be respected by ABG and stop their political rehetorics and develop the agriculture and fishing sector.

The truth is that we the landowners in the mine pit areas are united in our opposition to the reopening of the mine”; said Stella Placid.

http://ramumine.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/panguna-mothers-reject-bcl-and-mine/

In the Name of the People

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The Royal African Society invites you to the launch of

In the Name of the People

Remembering Angola’s Forgotten Massacre: 27 May 1977 |Tuesday 20 May 2014, 7-8PM
Speakers: Lara Pawson, author; Ngola Nvunji, UK-based Angolan journalist and community activist; Keith Sommerville, lecturer, University of Kent. Chair: Mary Harper, Africa Editor, BBC.

On 27th May 1977, a small demonstration against the MPLA, the ruling party of Angola, led to the slaughter of thousands of people. These dreadful reprisals are little talked of in Angola today – and virtually unknown outside the country. In The Name of The People, journalist Lara Pawson’s new book, tracks down the story of what really happened in the aftermath of that fateful day. In a series of vivid encounters, she talks to eyewitnesses, victims and even perpetrators of the violent and confusing events of the 27th May and the following weeks and months. From London to Lisbon to Luanda, she meets those who continue to live in the shadow of the appalling events of 40 years ago and who – in most cases – have been too afraid to speak about them before. As well as shedding light on the events of 1977, the book contributes to a deeper understanding of modern Angola – its people and its politics. Join author Lara Pawson and a panel of experts to discuss the book and Angola’s past, present and future.

Date & Time: Tuesday 20 May 2014, 7-8PM

Venue: Brunei Suite, SOAS, WC1H 0XG

Register by clicking HERE

Film Screening and Bar Night

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from 7pm Friday 25th April

entry by donation, free popcorn and cheap drinks
hosted by Plan C London – all welcome
followed by a bar night and tunes

Finally Got the News (1970)
Produced in Association with the League of Revolutionary Black Workers
dir. Stewart Bird, Rene Lichtman, Peter Gessner, US, video, 55 min.

Finally Got the News is a forceful documentary that reveals the activities of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers inside and outside the auto factories of Detroit. Through interviews with the members of the movement, footage shot in the auto plants, and footage of leafleting and picketing actions, the film documents their efforts to build an independent black labor organisation that, unlike the UAW, will respond to worker’s problems, such as the assembly line speed-up and inadequate wages faced by both black and white workers in the industry.

draft endorse for forthcoming book by Don Miller “Will to Win”

Will to Win
 .
Don Miller used to set his students a ‘think piece’ instead of an essay question. His commitment to provocations has never waned, and this book on sport is of course about much more than sport – or ‘Sport’, capitalised. From the corruptions of commercial sponsorship, to the druggy self-deceptions of Lance Armstrong or the gladiatorial parallels of big business Olympian chauvinism: Sport as gambling, made for TV (the camera always knows where the action will be), amateur, spectacular, Wagnerian self-parody. The book canvasses topics as varied as the Vatican beautifying Italian victims of Ottoman raiders as intervention in anti-Islamic politics today, to the body-sculpting substance abuse of school kids that put cyclists on steroids to shame – each compared and contrasted to the Australian obsession with winners and losers in swimming, while quoting bush-ranger folk heroes (no need to acknowledge, ‘such is life’) and Georges Perec.
 .
I remember when I was 11 years old and playing for The Rosellas under 12 football team in the Eastern Districts Footy League. It was three-quarter time in the preliminary final and we were one-point ahead. Our coach Mr Scanlon gathered us kids together in a huddle as we sucked at our sliced oranges and he told us: ‘boys, it’s not how you play that counts, it’s going out there to win’. I was shifted from ruck-rover to the back-line, took a lucky mark or two, no-one scored, and the final siren brought pandemonium and glory. We went on the next week to lose the grand final to our sworn enemies Knox Eagles, but even today I meet up with teammates who have lived fulfilling lives and we remember that moment. Sport is formative.
 .
If I were critical, I would say Miller runs over some of the same ground more than once, developing his points, lapping himself perhaps, inspired by the logic of his opening parable about the alternative playbook of the ‘fuzzy wuzzy angels’, so famous from the Kokoda trail (not track?). The problematic redeployment of the ANZAC myth and its ‘one day of the year’ jingoism is skewered here too, alongside duly ironic recognition of the  subcontinental origins of cricket and a judicious lambast of Bradman’s displaced militarism. These really are things to think with, and weighty matters are made light yet serous. Like Sport. Here are films, Proust, speed, repetition, Bentham and excess – the range renders Sport as complex as life. Sport as a labour of life, a play, to win or to lose, as serious as heck. A morality, a life lesson, a local-global parable for all times.

JH

Upwards (for profit) – the silver bodgie strikes.

The Whampoa and Kowloon Dock company was founded by William Jardine of Jardine Matheson, shipbuilders, jade merchants and opium traders; Douglas Lapraik, watchmaker and shipbuilder; Thomas Sutherland Founder of the HSBC bank, managing director of P&O, member of parliament, leader of the Liberal opposition; and Jas Whittal, manager for Jardine Matheson (Feldwick 1917). Fortunes made from opium, or from the provision of port facilities to opium traders, facilitated vast wealth extraction. Skip a hundred years and the docklands need attention, enter the modern avatar: the Hutchinson Whampoa corporation is presently 49% owned by Cheung group, led by Li Ka-Shing since 1977, the 8th richest person in the world – it owns the 3 phone network, hotel chains apartment house, mining, telecommunications, philanthropist. And coming soon to Deptford…

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This below is just in from the Architecture Journal.

Boris approves Farrells’ £1bn Convoys Wharf scheme

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has approved Terry Farrells’ £1bn Convoys Wharf scheme in Deptford, south east London

Farrell’s masterplan for the 40 acre site, which was submitted for outline planning back in May last year, includes 3,500 new homes, shops, restaurants, and public space.

A plea from the scheme’s developer Hutchinson Whampoa resulted in the application being ‘called in’ by Johnson back in October, after Lewisham Council’s 16 week period to make a decision expired.

Johnson said: ‘We need to build thousands of new homes in the capital and proposals to do that at Convoys Wharf have stalled for far too long. I am pleased that we have been able to work on a scheme that will have enormous social and economic benefits for local people while preserving the heritage aspects of the site.’

The planning approval includes a section 106 agreement which requires City Hall planners to meet with Lewisham and Hutchison Whampoa to come up with an alternative scheme for Sayes Court Garden, and to build a community centre with a primary school at the centre of the site.

The developer has also been requested to fund a feasibility study into the building of a replica of the Lenox warship which was built on the site, looking into how it can be incorporated into the regeneration of the historic site.

The site in Deptford which has been derelict for the past 14 years is said to be one of the largest potential sites for new housing in the capital.

 

Books vs. Cigarettes 2 [Fuggle]

Sophie Fuggle’s post on the wider context of the Prison Book Ban from her blog Limit Experience is getting some traction on twitter and I was asked to repost it so you might read it too. At least to take a moment to think what kind of malignant and parasitic bureaucracy would sit back while the mugwumps implement their mugwump rule. The original is here.

Books vs. Cigarettes 2

Earlier this week, two news sites featured stories about the banning of books from inside UK prisons. The legislation brought in by Chris Grayling in November put a blanket ban on packages sent in to prisoners. As others who have now taken up the story pointed out – why did none of us pick up on this earlier? The ban of packages just before Christmas is akin to the measures taken by the French prison system in the early 1970s when it banned magazines and newspapers from prisons as well as the famous Christmas packages which allowed families to send in food parcels. This deliberately callous, heavy-handed action aimed at severing links to the outside world is often cited as one of several motiving factors for the work of the Groupe d’Information sur les prisons. To ban a child from sending a parent a homemade card because there might be some form of contraband hidden amongst the glitter and glue seems both archaic and futuristically paranoid. But I would suggest there is something else at stake here. As Charlie Gilmour’s article in the Standard last night points out – if you want to get rid of drugs in prison, get rid of the prison officers overseeing their circulation. Grayling is clearly basing his understanding of how contraband gets into prisons on having once watched The Shawshank Redemption. Moreover, the restriction on books now available in prisons as a result of banning packages should alert us to what is really going on within the prison system – instead of simply reiterating the myth of rehabilitation we have long held onto – we should look more closely at this myth. Why has it suited us, the UK public, to hang on to this myth when so much of what we hear about prisons suggests the opposite? For a start, it sets our prison system apart from what we see going on elsewhere, most notably, the U.S. but becoming a model increasingly transplanted to other Western countries. The warehousing of unwanted, unneeded labour. On a visit to Attica in 2012, I heard a Correctional Officer say ‘I don’t care if they get a degree or watch TV in their cells all day. As long as they don’t cause me any trouble.’ But at least there was the option of study. The prison library at Attica, from what I understand, is incredibly well-stocked particularly with law journals and even those in the Special Housing Unit (solitary) have access to the books via Mark Chapman, Lennon’s killer and self-appointed librarian for the SHU. But coupled with this refusal to recognize rehabilitation as possible within prison, there seemed to be an implicit understanding that people need to be given something to do and that not everyone wants to spend all day pushing weights. So what is different about Grayling’s prison industrial complex? On the one hand, he seems to be fully embracing a U.S.-inflected politics of fear – Grayling’s speech in October 2012, talks about the two strikes rule and evokes a similar right to bear arms (currently without the fire part) in order to protect one’s home and property beyond any reasonable force that led to Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of George Zimmerman in February 2012. What Grayling is telling us here is that not only do we have the right to violently and potentially fatally attack those we perceive as a threat, but that we indeed should react in this way. There are people out there who want to take things from us, our hard-earned things, and we should be scared. Moreover, the rising university tuition fees and culture of student debt in the U.K., mean this fear and anxiety extends beyond the mere encroaching on material space to one’s intellectual capital. Grayling expected his speech and seems to expect his subsequent responses to the literary community to be well-received by a wider public, terrified that those in prison will receive the same, if not better access to learning and training than that available to their own children. Immediately, following my visit to Attica in 2012, I was at a conference in Buffalo during which a discussion of degree programmes in prison came up. A member of teaching staff from one if the colleges in Buffalo told us that when she first started there she heard on the grapevine that there was a prison teaching programme offered by the college. She asked a professor in the department how she might get onto the programme and if it was worth her going to talk to the Dean about it. The professor told her to never speak of the programme again. Apparently, there was a time when the college put in proudly on their prospectuses in order to emphasize the role they played within the local community. However, this was received incredibly badly by parents of students who were paying upwards of $40k a year for the same degree. The programme was only able to continue as a result of total secrecy by those involved which meant precluding new members of staff from taking part thus limiting the scope of the programme. The logic amongst parents is fairly obvious: why should they bankroll a programme which would see criminals achieving the same degree as their own children? Why should they be instrumental in turning felons into graduates who would then be competing with their own offspring for jobs? It is easy to see how this logic will be increasingly applied in the U.K. as a means of justifying cuts to education programmes in prisons before seeping into mainstream education. I have heard middle class parents justifying their decisions to ‘remove’ their children from highly regarded state schools based on the argument that such schools do more for ‘underprivileged’ children than their own offspring. The Tory party’s education reforms are always largely taken up with how to privatize state education through the back door. Warehousing begins here. Yet, on the other hand, there is a sleight of hand going on here which means that Grayling is able to channel the notion of rehabilitation hence his use of the phrase ‘Rehabiliation Revolution’ in ways not possible in the U.S. supermaxes. This is why for authors and other writers to scream blue murder about the banning of books is an empty gesture if it is not supported by further analysis as to what is really going on here. A far stronger link between the myth of rehabilitation and prison labour is currently being developed within the U.K. If the prison labour force in the U.S. is increasingly becoming obsolete due to the decline in U.S. manufacturing and pressure of unions not to buy prison-made goods, in the U.K. a whole spate of prison training and apprenticeships are being rolled out which situate prison labour within the continuum of unpaid and underpaid labour which also includes the placements and internships universities charge their students to do in order to get a degree and the workfare programmes imposed on the unemployed. Grayling speech focuses in this respect of the creation of a Timpson’s shop inside a prison (the irony about lockpicking should not be lost here) with the aim of training inmates to work for Timpson’s on their release. This is effectively the state selling slave labour to private industry under the guise of rehabilitation. Grayling is as much an advocate of rehabilitation as Philip Pullman and all the other authors who have come to the rescue of the prison. Only here Grayling recognizes the need to more clearly define the parameters of what constitutes rehabilitation so that this comes to mean the ability to take part in the (unpaid) labour force. More sinister here, is the coupling of such labour with the recognition of the economic value of the criminal subject qua social outcast. Grayling begins his speech by talking about his visit to The Clink,a restaurant run by inmates from Brixton prison. This is not simply about training inmates to cook and wait on customers. This is about capitalizing on the inmate as commodity fetish. To eat at The Clink is to embark on a form of dark tourism lite – to pay top dollar for the frisson of coming into contact with individuals who might have done something terrible whilst legitimizing this voyeurism and vicarious sense of transgression with the feeling you have done something positive to help such deviants by allowing them to serve you and your repulsive, bourgeois friends. The game-show style television programmes which often accompany such initiatives affirm this conflation of prison industry with culture industry. As does the work of charities like the Koestler Trust. If their work seems to go against the grain of what Grayling is proposing, I think more critique is necessary. How is the offenders art programme actually run in different prisons? How much choice in what is produced is given to inmates? Do they even know they are being entered into its competitions? Are they given full ownership of their work or is it deemed to be Her Majesty’sproperty? Does the ability to sell artwork produced while you were locked up mean you will make it as an artist when you get out? I do not want to suggest inmates should not make art whilst in prison and definitely don’t want to endorse Grayling’s view that practical labour such as working in Timpson’s is to be preferred to reading a novel in your cell. What I do want to suggest is the way in which all these activities work together to produce a certain type of subject able to reproduce the myths and discourses of rehabilitation at the same time as be obliged to sell him or herself as a fetish object for consumption by a public unable to think past the looming presence of the prison on society’s bleak horizon.

Irene Fernandez

Tribute to Irene Fernandez

Press Statement
31 March 2014

Reference: Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director, Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific

Dr. Irene Fernandez (1946-2014):
A life full of meaning, dedicated to the people’s struggle

PENANG, Malaysia – The Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) is deeply saddened with the passing away of beloved and respected activist Dr. Irene Fernandez today.

“We grieve with Irene’s family, friends and comrades in the people’s struggle. Without a doubt, she will be a big loss not only to the movement in Malaysia but to the global movement that is striving for a just and better world for the poor and oppressed,” said Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director of the Penang-based regional advocacy group.

Fernandez had been hospitalized for a week after suffering a massive heart attack. Days before that, Fernandez was still able to attend the annual Steering Council meeting of PAN AP, where she served as Chairperson. Fernandez was instrumental in setting up PAN AP as an independent regional network. She would have turned 68 years old on 18 April.

“But while we are grieving and hurt, let us also celebrate the life of Irene. A life that had been without a doubt full of meaning, a life that had been selflessly dedicated to the people’s aspiration to end injustice and oppression,” Rengam said.

“PAN AP will be forever grateful to Irene for her untiring guidance. With the help of her leadership and invaluable advice, we have been able to faithfully fulfill our commitment to serve the interests of small food producers, defend their rights, and advance their welfare. Words could not describe how much PAN AP will miss her and her insights that had firmly stood for the small farmers, agricultural workers, migrants, women, indigenous peoples and other marginalized sectors,” Rengam added.

Fernandez was a well-known human rights advocate and Director and co-founder of the Kuala Lumpur-based non-government group Tenaganita, which promotes the rights of migrant workers and other oppressed and poor people in Malaysia.

Fernandez was a teacher turned social activist, a commitment she resolutely held for almost four decades.

Aside from serving as the Executive Director of Tenaganita and Chairperson of PAN AP’s Steering Council, Fernandez was also a member of the respective Steering Committees of the Asian Rural Women’s Coalition (ARWC), the Coalition of Agricultural Workers International (CAWI), Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), and the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS). She was also the Director of CARAM-Asia and the Vice Chairperson of the International Migrant Alliance (IMA).

In addition, Fernandez was among the founders of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) and a former executive member of the Committee on Asian Women, aside from helping establish various women and human rights organizations in Malaysia.

Fernandez had received numerous awards from various prestigious institutions in recognition of her work to stop violence against women and the abuses against migrant and poor workers including the Human Rights Watch Award in 1996; the Amnesty International Award in 1998; the International PEN Award in 2000; the Jonathan Mann Award in 2004; and the Right to Livelihood Award in 2005. She was also a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate in Social Medicine from the Vrije University in Amsterdam.

Because of her work, Fernandez herself had been a victim of the Malaysian government’s persecution. She went through a 13-year trial for writing a report that exposed the horrific conditions in immigration detention centers in Malaysia. She was convicted to a one-year imprisonment in 2003 but was released on bail, and appealed the decision to the High Court that eventually dropped the charges against her in 2008. ###

_________________________________________

Press Statement
31 March 2014

Reference: Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director, Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP)
E-mail: sarojeni.rengam@panap.net

Dr. Irene Fernandez (1946-2014):
A life full of meaning, dedicated to the people’s struggle

PENANG, Malaysia – The Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) is deeply saddened with the passing away of beloved and respected activist Dr. Irene Fernandez today.

“We grieve with Irene’s family, friends and comrades in the people’s struggle. Without a doubt, she will be a big loss not only to the movement in Malaysia but to the global movement that is striving for a just and better world for the poor and oppressed,” said Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director of the Penang-based regional advocacy group.

Fernandez had been hospitalized for a week after suffering a massive heart attack. Days before that, Fernandez was still able to attend the annual Steering Council meeting of PAN AP, where she served as Chairperson. Fernandez was instrumental in setting up PAN AP as an independent regional network. She would have turned 68 years old on 18 April.

“But while we are grieving and hurt, let us also celebrate the life of Irene. A life that had been without a doubt full of meaning, a life that had been selflessly dedicated to the people’s aspiration to end injustice and oppression,” Rengam said.

“PAN AP will be forever grateful to Irene for her untiring guidance. With the help of her leadership and invaluable advice, we have been able to faithfully fulfill our commitment to serve the interests of small food producers, defend their rights, and advance their welfare. Words could not describe how much PAN AP will miss her and her insights that had firmly stood for the small farmers, agricultural workers, migrants, women, indigenous peoples and other marginalized sectors,” Rengam added.

Fernandez was a well-known human rights advocate and Director and co-founder of the Kuala Lumpur-based non-government group Tenaganita, which promotes the rights of migrant workers and other oppressed and poor people in Malaysia.

Fernandez was a teacher turned social activist, a commitment she resolutely held for almost four decades.

Aside from serving as the Executive Director of Tenaganita and Chairperson of PAN AP’s Steering Council, Fernandez was also a member of the respective Steering Committees of the Asian Rural Women’s Coalition (ARWC), the Coalition of Agricultural Workers International (CAWI), Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), and the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS). She was also the Director of CARAM-Asia and the Vice Chairperson of the International Migrant Alliance (IMA).

In addition, Fernandez was among the founders of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) and a former executive member of the Committee on Asian Women, aside from helping establish various women and human rights organizations in Malaysia.

Fernandez had received numerous awards from various prestigious institutions in recognition of her work to stop violence against women and the abuses against migrant and poor workers including the Human Rights Watch Award in 1996; the Amnesty International Award in 1998; the International PEN Award in 2000; the Jonathan Mann Award in 2004; and the Right to Livelihood Award in 2005. She was also a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate in Social Medicine from the Vrije University in Amsterdam.

Because of her work, Fernandez herself had been a victim of the Malaysian government’s persecution. She went through a 13-year trial for writing a report that exposed the horrific conditions in immigration detention centers in Malaysia. She was convicted to a one-year imprisonment in 2003 but was released on bail, and appealed the decision to the High Court that eventually dropped the charges against her in 2008. ###

________________________________________

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