Worrying about what is televised is not yet the revolution.

Worrying about what is televised is not yet the revolution. (apologies to Gil Scott Heron)

Photographs. The pictures we see of the wounded and dead from Lebanon deserve close brave attention (never looking away) not only because they still have affective purchase and really do provoke outrage and anger but also because they produce so much frustration and despair. To use these pictures to call for petition signatures or to gather people to a demo is not their best purpose, even when for some, or most, they are so specifically deployed. These pictures also undermine any lingering attachments to or illuions in (if there still were any) figures like Condoleeza Rice, Bush, Bliar, and to democracy, civilization, justice, sanity, safety. All very necessary to note, but hardly all that new. So maybe what is still needed – in the face of cold hard staring, shock, tears, rage, is the persistent articulation of a project to build a political alternative which can work here – and not the false alternative scorched-earth war-crimes adventures of Israel, Rice and Blair, but the alternative of a communist future radically different from the death from the sky we see on television and internet every day now. This is why Lenin is relevant, why State and Revolution should be reread and why despair in the face of these horrific pictures is only the first stumble that must be followed by further quick steps that – we can still hope – will someday gain us some balance. Worrying about what is televised is not yet the revolution.

Get to the demonstration at 5pm today at Downing Street:

[END THE ATTACKS ON LEBANON & GAZA •END BLAIR’S SUPPORT FOR BUSH’S WARS London Protest Friday 28 July 5pm to 7pm Downing Street, Whitehall, SW1].

The trouble with the affective call of the photograph or video report of the scene of horror is that to sign petitions, attend a demo or give to charity is still a step in-line. None of these ethically-applauded gestures are sufficiently disruptive of capital to avoid seamless editing back into the commercial programming that is televisual War. What I am more interested in are those organizations that have managed painstakingly to recruit and educate a constituency that sustains such a disruptive critique of capital in and though struggle. The programme of education and the ethical charge of such groups deserves our support and our participation, and if must needs be, long hours of study at the very least. I am interested to know how, despite seemingly over whelming attacks, have the Maoists in Nepal, the Naxalites in India or the New Peoples Army in the Philippines organized for success.

What is it that Leftist education has that is not there in other alternatives – I am thinking of the rote learning, recitation and other dullities that, at least usually, ideally, are not part of the critical countenance of the Marxist cadre (clearly I am excluding a kind of clichéd Trotskyite fanatic here, who reads off simplified political diagnostic from the condescending pages of the Socialist Worker). That a critical education is part of the Leninist or Maoist party is not always guaranteed is probably true – there are many possible examples – but there are some – even within the SWP for sure – that sustain and cherish this kind of education work, and it is sustained over vast stretches of time and against all sorts of odds. Especially so I think in some places more than others, in my experience, which is confined to a few small groups of ‘former’ Naxalites in Kolkata, a few meetings with members of the NPA, and connections with Malaysian comrades that still inspire, even when sometimes enamoured with other kinds of (art, literature, law) projects. I learnt much from such education and leave it to others to learn themselves alongside if that is possible – indeed, it continues to structure even my vane attempt to turn interests in culture in London towards a global politics rather than a culture industry cash-in (though often at Goldsmiths the latter looks more likely – and that Saatchi, Murdoch or Unilever will employ the best minds – the managing director of Unilever once told me ‘john, teach them the most critical Marx you can, we do not want to employ yes men, we want thinkers’… eeek. So the task is to teach critical thinking and to learn alongside, but also to organise an employment other than for Unilever, Murdoch or Saatchi. Ideally maybe also other than Goldsmiths inc).

Sorry. But I just can’t do that straight routine academic serious role-play anymore today. Course I do not have a better option and I do not want to be president of the world of the party, but there seems no justification for passively watching my flat screen tv, even with ‘informed’ critical liberal concern, while Lebanon, Iraq are soon Iran are refashioned into Greater Texas. And I don’t want to write a research application about it.

Texas. Sure, Greater Texas has been in trouble for a while, ‘darnit, we jus’ can’t get them Iraqis to lay down dead’ either. And though going to the demos over years and years has not dinted a single cell in the barren stalk that is Bush’s war-mongering brain, and his Bliar glove puppet (not puppy – enough poodle jokes, that just makes the killer look cute) still clings on to his sub-commander post in worse shape than ever, its still the case that we have not managed to stand up yet. I still believe we should and can, even in London, by-passed withered heart of the old Empire… My day is unravelling at the thought of what might happen if the United Nations were instead United Communists and the anti-war demo was not just a long walk to the park… Someone said tonight maybe more than a stumble is needed

Can you believe Janis Joplin was also from Texas. How is that plausible?
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…”

Protest against Condi Rice in Kuala Lumpur – Get Lost adn Get Out

Protest against Condi Rice in Kuala Lumpur


Kuala Lumpur, 27 July 2006

A small crowd of two hundred people called on US Secretary of State, Condolezza Rice to get lost and condemned the Malaysian Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as well as ASEAN foreign ministers for having an audience with Rice.
The crowd led by Coalition Against War Malaysia gathered in front of the KLCC Twin Towers and walked to the KL Convention centre where the 39th. Asean Ministerial meeting was to take place. The Coalition was led by political parties and Non Government Organisation. The gathering today was mainly participated by members of the Parti Socialist Malaysia (PSM), Malaysian Justice Party (PKR) and the Islamic Party PAS. Others present were the Coalition of the Oppressed People – JERIT. Food not Bombs, DEMA and SUARAM. A huge number of media people were present to cover the event.
In a surprising move, the police contacted the organisers in the morning and gave an express permit for the gathering in spite of no parties applying for one.

From the KLCC towers, the group carried their banners and walked to the Convention Centre. The groups then gathered in front of the Convention centres and shouted slogans and gave speeches. A moderate presence of Police blocked the entrance and put up a human barricade. The demonstrators went on shouting slogans. Among the most used phrase was “ Down with US”, “Rice get lost”, “ Stop the War”, “ Down with Zionist Israel” .
A string of speakers gave speeches bombarding the US and its role in the current crisis in Middle East. Among the speaker’s were PSM’s National Chairperson Comrade Nasir Hashim, PAS National Treasurer Hatta Ramli, JERIT Coordinator. Letchimi Devi, SUARAM Executive Director Yap Swee Seng and PKR Vice Youth Chief Shamsul Iskandar.

S.Arutchelvan, the Secretary General of PSM as well as spokesperson for the Coalition Against War Malaysia read the joint statement. The joint statement called on the following
Israel immediately stops its attack on Palestine and Lebanon
The US immediately stops its occupation of Iraq and pull out its troops from Iraq
Israel and the US be held accountable for the crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression and be prosecuted under International law
The United States close down the infamous Guantonomo Bay detention centre
Malaysian government not to negotiate free trade agreement with the US that will further promote its imperialist agenda and economic hegemony at the expense of Malaysians.
Attempts to submit the joint memorandum failed as no one from the ASEAN Secretariat wanted to receive the joint statement in spite of numerous attempts made by the police to contact them. Finally a delegation of five people walked to the staircase of the convention centre accompanied by policemen and placed the joint statement at the stairs of the Convention centre and left the venue.
The gathering today was a small one but was a symbolic gesture that the US is not popular anywhere in the world. The people gathered today were frustrated with the US and even more frustrated for them to be given special audience by ASEAN.


Updates on the aggression against lebanon

Updates on the aggression against lebanon: “Mapping of Israeli assault: July 12-24

posted by zeina at 8:18 PM 3 comments
Minute by Minute:: July 25
14:01 Six Israeli air strikes on environs of al-Khiam, Ibl al-Saqi and al-Khiam/Marjeoun road
13:58 Lebanese army command calls on all soldiers and reserves to help with relief work
13:50 Nabih Berri: only solution is for Israelis to withdraw from Sheba’a Farms and K’farshouba hill, hand over landmine maps and exchange prisoners; afterwards if US wants comprehensive solution, Lebanon will be part of it
13:37 Israeli shelling of populated area in Mays al-Jabal
13:35 Renewed Israeli shelling of several villages near Sour (Tyre)
13:30 Nabih Berri: Israelis lost number of tanks in Maroun al-Ras and were not able to advance; that is why every single house in Bint Jbeil is being demolished; there is no difference in outlook with Siniora
13:24 Italian Prime Minister: main aim of Rome conference is implementation of ceasefire in Lebanon
13:20 Nabih Berri: Israel’s policies in Lebanon unrelated to abduction of two soldiers; timing for their abduction was known since last exchange of prisoners, which was incomplete; [DR!] Rice’s effect on Lebanon remains, although she is no longer here, through her minions; Rice did not give priority to cease fire and her conditions are danger to Lebanese unity; Rice called for keeping border area uninhabited, till after reconstruction; Israel is blocking swift exchange of prisoners; we only suggested prisoner exchange
13:14 Nabih Berri to al-Arabiya TV: meeting with Rice was tense
13:12 German News Agency: 25 injured in Haifa as result of Hezbollah shelling
13:10 Fouad Siniora to lead Lebanese delegation to Rome
13:05 Olmert in favor of continuing war, Rice calls for new Middle East
The horror, the horror

correspondences of theory – citation

– a reply to a fav student on our MA Postcolonial in CCS who asked about ways to present his work on charity/WTO etc. My reply turned out to be as much for me as for him, got me thinking about how trinketization in anthropology left us adrift, bereft of purpose and value, and how critique, curriculum, and theory might be transformed so as to… anyways… –

Hi Timo

You ask which theorist? Of course this was exactly the problem I had with my Calcutta book – looking for a theorist to say the sort of things I wanted to say: that charity is a way of assuaging guilt; that it would never do for redistributive justice; that issues of representation still matter – but matter more than the those who wrote of the crisis of representation in anthropology could see; indeed, that the crisis – at least in anthropology – led us to a politics without radicalism; that the constant talk of crisis is a substitute for a sustained politics of change; and from there that the anthropology curriculum needs substantial reform; that universities have lost their capacity for critical appraisal of their role; that the current vogue for difference is misplaced and under theorised; that anti-racist work in the university and metropolis is more about avoiding guilt that acting against really existing racism… and all this I ended up writing about as “trinketisation” – how our discrete studies became fascinated with discrete items, unable to theorise how it all fits together as neo-cultural imperialism. Of course Marx was the theorist that mattered, but who uses him in a way that addresses these specificities? Well, only Gayatri Spivak. Who is the one person I will always read first.

Well, and maybe in a lesser way George Yudice in ‘The Expediency of Culture‘ – though that book does not go far enough.

Hmmm, this is becoming a speech – guess I will post it somewhere (everything is a blog-athon nowadays).

I hope you can find a way forward – sounds to me that you can/are already.
Thanks for the nice words – stay in touch.
Its a good time to be in Berlin.

be well

Marx Course for next Year. (draft)

Lecture course 2006-2007 – Centre for Cultural Studies. [draft]

“Cultural Studies and Capitalism”

Lecturer: John Hutnyk, CCS.

This course will take Marx’s Capital Volume One as a core text, reading a chapter a week (Penguin translation), supplemented by more recent commentators and examples prominent in the theoretical and practical corpus of cultural studies broadly defined. A reader of key texts will be provided.

Week 1. Introduction –Trinkets. Commodities. Consideration is given to how we will read “Marx”, and why.

Spivak 1985 ‘Scattered Speculations on the Question of Value’ in Diacritics vol 15 (4).

Week 2. Fetishism, Exotica. The secret of commodities. The fetish is the key concept in the opening chapter of Capital. This mysterious moment has to be contextualized.

Derrida 1994 Spectres of Marx London: Routlege

Week 3. Market and the trick of Exchange – Exchange value leads us to the market, the site of a transaction where labour is sold to capital in what looks like a fair deal.

Bataille 1934 ‘The Notion of Expenditure’ in 1997 The Bataille Reader. Oxford: Blackwell.

Week 4. Production – technology, mechanization, machines, the factory… ‘No admission except on business’.

Penley 1997 NASA/TREK. Popular Science and Sex in America London: Verso

Week 5. Workers – class composition. Marx spends considerable time in Capital documenting the conditions of the factory. Engels did similar work in Manchester.

Wright, 2000 Storming Heaven, London: Pluto.

Week 6. Programme Monitoring Week

Week 7. Time and Technology – There is a general perception that the time of production is dominated by speed.

Heidegger 1955 The Question Concerning Technology New York: Harper Collins 1982.

Week 8. Education – control-reproduction. The workforce has to be trained, taught, brought up. Their runny noses must be wiped.

Fortunati 1996 The Arcane of Reproduction: Housework, Prostitution, Labour and Capital new York: Autonomedia.

Week 9. Circulation, transport, world system, fall of all Chinese walls, compelled to adopt the culture industry,

Adorno 1991 ‘The Culture Industry Revisited’ in The Culture Industry London: Routledge

Week 10. Pre Capitalistic Economic Formations. Marx goes back to origins at the end, but thinks forward. Onwards and Upwards.

Hardt and Negri 2000 Empire Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press

Week 11 – revision. Marx, 18th Brumaire London: Pluto Press.

3quarksdaily deluge on the tongue, taste that, anticipate, our appetites agog…

3quarksdaily: “Pynchon on Amazon
In Slate:
Things did not delay in turning curious when the first beats of the drumroll began for Thomas Pynchon’s forthcoming book. Last month, lit-bloggers and news-writers reported that Penguin Press would issue the author’s sixth novel in December. This whetted the palates of those hard-core fans who have spent the years since 1997’s Mason & Dixon speculating that Pynchon was at work on a doozy about lady mathematicians of the old school and also, uhm, Mothra. Last week, Amazon.com put up a page that listed Untitled Thomas Pynchon at a svelte 992 pages and bore a description purportedly written by the master himself. In fact, it purported quite well indeed and also rather charmingly, promising an archetypal Pynchonian buffet of settings, characters, and old tricks (‘Characters stop what they’re doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always idiomatically.’) Then the description just vanished from the page.
Was this a hoax? A jump-the-gun glitch? A hype?
Posted by Robin Varghese at 05:04 PM Permalink Comments (0) TrackBack (0) “

publish.nyc.indymedia.org | Three Letters from Beirut

publish.nyc.indymedia.org Three Letters from Beirut:
[thanks to Kee Yong for pointing towards this]

“As per the usual of Lebanon, it’s not only about Lebanon, the country has paradigmatically been the terrain for regional conflicts to lash out violently. Off course speculations abound. There is rhetoric, and a lot of it, but there are also Theories.

1) Theory Number One. This is about Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah negotiating an upper hand in the negotiations with Israel. Hezbollah have indicated from the moment they captured the Israeli soldiers that they were willing to negotiate in conjunction with Hamas for the release of all Arab prisoners in Israeli jails. Iran is merely providing a back support for Syria + Hamas.

2) Theory Number Two. This is not about solidarity with Gaza or strengthening the hand of the Palestinians in negotiating the release of the prisoners in Israeli jails. This is about Iran’s nuclear bomb and negotiations with the Europeans/US. The Iranian negotiator left Brussels after the end of negotiations and instead of returning to Tehran, he landed in Damascus. Two days later, Hezbollah kidnapped the Israeli soldiers. The G8 Meeting is on Saturday, Iran is supposed to have some sort of an answer for the G8 by then. In the meantime, they are showing to the world that they have a wide sphere of control in the region: Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon. In Lebanon they pose a real threat to Israel. The “new” longer-reaching missiles that Hezbollah fired on Haifa are the message. The kings of Jordan and Saudi Arabia issued statements holding Hezbollah solely responsible for bringing on this escalation, and that is understood as a message to Iran. Iran on the other hand promised to pay for the reconstruction of destroyed homes and infrastructures in the south. And threatened Israel with “hell” if they hit Syria.

3) Theory Number Three. This is about Lebanon, Hezbollah and 1559 (the UN resolution demanding the disarmement of Hezbollah and deployment of the Lebanese army in the southern territory). It stipulates that this is no more than a secret conspiracy between Syria, Iran and the US to close the Hezbollah file for good, and resolve the pending Lebanese crisis since the assassination of Hariri. Evidence for this conspiracy is Israel leaving Syria so far unharmed. Holders of this theory claim that Israel will deliver a harsh blow to Hezbollah and cripple the Lebanese economy to the brink of creating an internal political crisis. The resolution would then result in Hezbollah giving up arms, and a buffer zone between Israel and Lebanon under the control of the Lebanese army in Lebanon and the Israeli army in the north of Galilee. More evidence for this Theory are the Saudi Arabia and Jordan statements condemning Hezbollah and holding them responsible for all the horrors inflicted on the Lebanese people.

There are more theories… There is also the Israeli government reaching an impasse and feeling a little wossied out by Hezbollah and Hamas, and the Israeli military taking the upper hand with Olmert.

So, this all is a more elaborate way of saying its shit from all sides. Lebanon gets it bad whatever the scenario.