Guevara Convention Sound Out

Dave Watts from Fun^Da^Mental had a great idea a few months ago that is now seriously taking shape. It links up with stuff I am into re Che, but takes it to another level, as they say. Dave has a blogspot site now at Earconditioning – which you will agree is another in a long line of great FDM semantic reworkings (remember the phrase ‘Global Sweatbox’?). Dave writes:

“…The past week also brought communication with John Hutnyk.He´s a professor at Goldsmith´s University, and participated in one of the talks at the Clandestino Festival in Gothenborg where Aki (yes, the notorious terrorist-apologist Aki Nawaz) and I dropped a Fun´da´Mental DJ set a few years ago. John has twice invited me to talk with his students about the politics and presentation of Fun-da-mental videos. Coming back to last week, John and I were discussing this idea of a compilation that has been sitting in my brain for the last couple years. This year is the 40th anniversary of the death of Ernesto ´Che´ Guevara, and I wanted to compile an album of contemporary artists who have felt touched by revolutionary spirit, thought, actions, etc. The idea is not for all the music to focus on ´Che´ himself, but for expression of whatever the contributing artists feel regarding being subject to living on their knees for the sake of ´The Man´or ´System´. John has came up with a phrase which I immediately responded, “That should be the title!” So, we are going with “The Guevara Convention”.

Emails have been sent out to collegues, friends, associates etc. and so far the response has been good…we have Dj/Rupture, Filestine, Coldcut, Fermin Murguza, Fun-da-mental, Las Ratas, DJ Klandestino, Dr. Das, Shaheen (former Prophets of da City producer and vocalist) and IR, saying ´yeah´ musically. Cecilia Parsberg put me in touch with a woman from Uruguay who was 14 years old when Che was killed. She became active in the Marxist Tupac Amaru group in Uruguay. She has said she´ll provide some words for the text, really looking forward to reading what she has to say.

fyi: The following link is for the animation that Cecilia and co-conspiritors put together about the Israeli occupation and for which they asked me to provide a soundtrack.

Javi Jiminez, a teacher and music writer here in Tenerife has also come on board, so we are moving. All we need now, are a few more artists and a label, distributor. The potential for this is huge. Oh, I must say, inspiration for this album also came about through an album that Fun-da-Mental soundman Bernard Maiquez lent me several years ago, El Che Vive!, (Last Call Records) which was released to coincide with the 30th anniversary of ´Che´´s death. I ended my first DJ stint in Tenerife (an AntiWar night at the original Cafeoteca de Arte in Puerto de la Cruz/2003) with the classic ´Hasta Siempre´ by Carlos Puebla y sus Tradicionales, from the aforementioned album, and the place erupted….everybody sang along! My girlfiend´s mum knows the song, kids know the song….so a chord was struck! If you got something for this project, please bring it. More as it happens….”

So I would say without doubt this is the best form the Guevara Convention could take. As discussed here, there is a lot at stake in these days to the terror-spectacle. Hope it comes together – look out for it in September.


LENIN’S TOMB has posted a Danish documentary about Marcuse, his support for the radical movements of the 1960s, and his clash with Governor Ronald Reagan. It includes commentary by people like his student Angela Davison (on his involvement helping kick down doors in occupations of the university senate at UCSD etc) , and he himself talks about branding, planned obsolescence and ‘vulgar psychological misinterpretations of the student movement’. Fred Jameson is also in it, and there is an amusing section of attempts by conservatives to buy out Marcuse’s job contract. Its an hour long – but worth a Look. Ahh, he paid anonymously for the door he smashed. Strange. But the bit with the Marine Recruiter is funny – and very topical still – and the guff about ‘poisoning young minds’. Very dangerous. Ha Ha Ha. See also here.

The Guevara Convention

The old code of conduct for the horror that is war is not much mentioned in these days of the terror-spectacle, but the spirit of the Geneva Convention, whatever its shortcomings (ie., that wars of greed go on at all), is what Bush flouts every day in Bhagram and Guantanamo – and which is transgressed each day in every US prison, (i.e against Mumia, and where all those prisoners of other ‘social wars’ languish); in UK prisons and police stations (see the film “Injustice“); under the ISA in Malaysia; and with Afzal Guru in India (the protest outside the Indian Consulate in London against hanging, and which was held on Republic Day of India – almost in snow! – was joined by some Khalistani brothers who brought hot very sweet tea – see my post on Guru here)…

Anyway, the full title of the convention is the “Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War”,

What I want to draw attention to is a quite different initiative: a “Guevara Convention”. This is not just to acknowledge the 40th death anniversary of a great revolutionary leader, and it is also noting that Guerilla Warfare must proceed differently today. But a Guevara Convention would certainly be relevant to the treatment of the prisoners of the War of Terror – beside the ‘enemy combatants’ in direct incarceration, Bush and Blair are making prisoners of us all, wherever we are – border controls, surveillance, terror threat codes, detentions without trial, bio-metrics etc – Our response must be to organise the people…

The text of the Geneva Convention is here:

Clause three – the one that mentions detention and says such persons “shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria” also talks about the following, which are ALL clearly being contravened as we speak…

“(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples”

I can’t even begin to think about this without wanting to tell EVERYONE to march on Geneva carrying pictures of the man with the cigar.

Red Cigar!
(And of course to Dave Watts, who provoked this – and comments below)

Megacity topic: Street.

Megacity topic: Street.

I’ve just come back from the TCS workshop on Megacity – a volume of the TCS-NEP New Encyclopaedia Project… Megacity is a term for those urban conglomerations that – ill defined as yet – have about 10 millions or more population, expand beyond the confines of the modernist city (whatever that means) and are something more, or different, from the ‘global city’ of a certain urban sociology…. I was asked to present on the idea of the street, and I wondered how a certain kind of urban anthropology might reconfigure what as yet seems a pretty inchoate conceptualisation of Mega… but I was happy to have a go. Here are some of my first, somewhat pedestrian, ground zero perspectives on the city as it transmutes from modernist to megalopolis… This is a proposed encyclo entry that will either canvass the street as a single article, or suggest a cluster with several authors (as is the format of the NEP).

It might be good to start by trying to reverse the perspective that framed the discussions of the first part of the day. These had been about how to conceptualise the megacity, how to map it, diagram it, how to represent that which ‘cannot be represented’ (Andrew Benjamin with a new context for the words of Marx from the 18th Brumaire). I do not disagree with attempts at abstract comprehension, but I wonder – given the task of ‘problematizing the urban’ what it might be to start – so to speak – at the other end. So I began with a phrase, with the idea of ‘the word on the street’.

The assumption to break with here, to challenge, is the idea that at ground level there is chaos and disorder. That an intrinsic disarray was articulated as the condition of the rampant growth of the city into megacity seems to me to have missed something important about urban space. There is order, and it can be examined – though this takes time. For me to hold onto an image that evokes this, I have this terrible trinket of a lighter-representation of the twin towers with aeroplane which reminds me, all too graphically (see pic) of one among the many striking scenes of that precipitous urban event of 2001: people on the street staring up at the towers in shock and awe as the planes crashed into the world trade centre on September 11, 2001.

Quotidian street protocol does not often include such moments – people look up at advertising hoardings, or the increasingly prevalent public screens of the city, but generally they mind their own business and carry on. Head down, sidewalk traffic, hustle and bustle, going somewhere. It was much more besides, but September 11 in New York was a neck strain, televised to all.

So I started to read the classic city texts – Whyte Street Corner Society, Jacobs The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and newer ones like Duneier’s Sidewalk, and Berman’s On the Street, – which are each great – deeply worked, reliant on long fieldwork. And all that makes me wonder if we need to rethink the focus on the street in the megacity so as to be careful not to jump far too quickly to suggest uniformity, replication or a typology. The mass observation scenario of looking up on high as the image of the city transforms before our eyes is perhaps a reminder that life in the megacity cannot be grasped all at once or forever, that the city has many different and changing facades (sometimes brutal-tragic and sudden) and that the teeming cultural plethora of the city, for good or bad, is peopled by crowds of multiple provenance who come together on the sidewalk sometimes, but are otherwise also variously divided. The street is as complicated and complex here as it is, differently, just around the corner, or a few moments later in time. Would we need a reminder then that whether the aim is to plan, to theorize, to segment into creative or economic quarters, or to otherwise conjure the city, there will always be more, and more than a supplement or remainder, rather a glorious excess; a bleeding beyond the prescriptions of definition.

How would the protocols of urban anthropology look if we were to rethink them through the idea of the megacity? I wonder if we can ever think the street in a way that goes past those earlier renderings, updates them, or at least learns from their specificity. There have been many versions of urban anthropology that seek out the word on the street. The street is thought, a path of thinking; the street-map the synapses and dendrites of the mind (Simmel), an intersection a thought; if the road is a sentence (Derrida), the city is a text to interpret (Lefebvre); if the square or the crossroad is a node amongst flows (D&G), and traffic networks; labyrinthine plans and perspectives and views; transformed mapping with new technologies (Kittler), google earth and sat-nav replace the a-z, the imaginary city tracked through poster, project and propaganda, networked (AbdouMaliq Simone), the aspirational city of planning and commerce (Holsten) photogenic street-scenes to draw and attract; the vibrant, viral and virtual city which makes an image site of the street, overexposed (Virilio), heterotopia, hetero-dysfunctional.

If the street of the megacity is as likely to be a major thoroughfare such as Broadway Manhattan as it is to be a tiny, winding, obscure lane in Salt Lake City (Bidhanagar) the ever growing ‘edge’ of Kolkata. The point is that in such cities, people live. Questions of how they live (demography, quality, strategies), if its possible to live (adequate shelter, sustenance, services) and if its possible to live better (policy, organization), remain.

It may be that megacities are only coherent at a distance, as organisms that can hardly even be diagrammed. Sprawl/scrawl. When moving along the streets, when speeding along the city’s arteries, what we feel is the rush, and yet when on the street we can’t see the street we’re on (for all the street vendors, drug dealers, shop fronts, commuters, sweepers etc) but when we can see the whole of the street, we’re not really on it). The map is not the territory, the name is not the person.


Walking down Broadway with Marx’s Capital in hand, reading the signs, or down Nimtollah Lane with a dictionary (my Bangla is poor), I am faced with the multiple character of the megacity when the sheer abundance of ways the life of the street connects not so much to other streets on an A-Z map of the nation, but rather direct to the global ecumenium. The megacity has streets peopled by citizens of the world. They might be going somewhere or staying put, even stuck; they might be movers and shakers or ‘illegal’ and on the run. The city though is global when the street hosts the peoples of the world. This heterotopia is to be mapped otherwise than in a national history – rather start with the idle flim-flaneury of Benjamin in Paris, the derive of the situationists, or Ian Sinclair’s London wandering. (see Robert Bond 2006 ‘Speculating Histories: Walter Benjamin Ian Sinclair’ Historical Materialism 14(2):3-28). This is not old fashioned, though some may be walking with eyes locked on personal or public screens, saturated space of advertising, walking with one’s eyes on an electronic horizon.
I have walked, and plan again to walk, the length of Broadway ‘as research’. The Walking Day. From fetish object to so-called original accumulation.

A vast apparatus.

I have to take account of changing neighbourhoods and the abundant sociality of the street, the community and the suburb. The street is the place of sociality, and so of people Sidewalk by Duneier, Everyday Life de Certeau, or Lefebvre, but also exclusions, the banlieues, the barrio, the reserve army/dormitory suburbs, the commuters, from cleaners to office staff, to transport workers. I think of street culture and creativity, and the culture industry entrepreneurs and corporate opportunists that jump on it for packaging. Parafunctional spaces (an essay by Nikos Papastergiadis and Scott McQuire I have to dig out, given at an ArtSpace conference in Sydney), decay and renewal, from warehouse to gallery-zone…

The people of the street are quintessentially the crowd, the masses of festivals, street party (lights out in New York), café’s (Ash Amin), conviviality, the rows of shops, the enticements to buy, the seductions of commodification that grab us and make as part of the all consuming apparatus. The street market, with its connections and flows – commerce to the illicit trades, drugs, street people, organized crime.

Infrastructure of the street. Power supplies – underground cables, roadworks, traffic disruptions; a massive network of material labour still produces the street.Lighting – streets as avenues of neon (Scott McQuire), CCTV (Jeff Heydon). Security guards, doormen (Jane Jacobs). Taxis (Virinder Kalra, Biju Mathew). In Cairo I am greeted by a taxi driver who says without taking a breath: “in my taxi I will take you anywhere you want to go to my brother’s emporium”. Cars. Delivery vehicles. Trucks and buses. The street also as the site of accidents, car crashes, stalled or too fast, traffic.We watch them from bars, cafes, as we munch street food (Bhaskar Mukhopadhyay). Amusement arcades while away the boring hours.

Pollution – rubbish – detritus held up to the gloaming by Siegfried Kracauer. Pollution – sewerage, drains, the gutter – garbage disposal – Boy George, rag-pickers (Kracauer was not the least of these, whatever Benjamin says). Who makes and maintains the street? Monsieur Hulot has been mechanized, the steamroller more rapidly paves what took aeons before, a team of pavers pave the footpaths and painters paint the signage in rapid time.

This makes me think of Marx’s lists – describing the lumpen in the 18th Brumaire – the discussion I visited in Zizek’s slum (HERE), and echoing Derrida’s list iterations on the voyous that I plan to elaborate, having started HERE). Derrida does not quote Marx’s great text in Rogues, but I think its clear he has it in his head as he writes:

‘Voyoucracy is a corrupt and corrupting power of the street, an illegal and outlaw power that brings together into a voyoucraticregime, and thus into an organised and more or less clandestine form, into a virtual state, all those who represent a principle of disorder … a threat against public order … This milieu, this environment, this world unto itself, gathers into a network all the people of the crime world or underworld, all the singular voyous. All individuals of questionable morals and dubious character whom decent, law-abiding people would like to combat and exclude under a series of more or less synonymous names: big man, bad boy, player … rascal … good-for-nothing, ruffian, villain, crook, thug, gangster, shyster … scoundrel, miscreant, hoodlum, hooligan … one would also say today banger [loulou], gangbanger [loubard], sometimes even outside the inner city, in the suburbs, the suburban punk [loubard des banlieues]’ (Derrida 2005:66).

‘The word voyou has an essential relation with the voie, the way, with the urban roadways [voire], the roadways of the city or the polis, and thus with the street [rue], the waywardness [dévoiement] of the voyou consisting in making ill use of the street, in corrupting the street or loitering in the streets, in “roaming the streets”, as we say in a strangely transitive formulation. This transitivity is in fact never far away from the one that leads to “walking the streets”… Today the voyou sometimes roams the roadways [voies] and highways [voiries] in a car [voiture], that is, when he or she is not stealing it or setting it on fire’ [stealing or setting it on fire!– those rogues, note they are soon to be linked to greater rogues, in a strangely transitive formula -JH] … Voyous might also, on an international scale, and this gets us right into the problematic of rogue states, be involved in drug trafficking, in parasiting, or actually subverting, as terrorists in training, the pathways [voies] of normal communication, whether of airplanes, the telephone, email or the Web’ (Derrida 2005:65).

I just want to remark on these listings. The transitive next next next that escalates. It moves from the small metaphor to the hyperbolic of global connectivity. Even way back in his 1967 book Of Grammatology was a call for a meditation on the road and writing: ‘one should meditate upon all of the following together: writing as the possibility of the road and of difference, the history of writing and the history of the road, of the rupture, of the via rupta, of the path that is broken, beaten, fracta, of the space of reversibility and of repetition’ (Derrida 1967/1974:107).

And then – having to show that this is not just JD mouthing off – on to Marx, writing of how Boneparte gathered together in the society of 10 December, the riff raff of Paris:

On the pretext of founding a benevolent society, the lumpen proletariat of Paris had been organized into secret sections, each section led by Bonapartist agents, with a Bonapartist general at the head of the whole. Alongside decayed roués with dubious means of subsistence and of dubious origin, alongside ruined and adventurous offshoots of the bourgeoisie, were vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, lazzaroni, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, maquereaux [pimps], brothel keepers, porters, literati, organ grinders, ragpickers, knife grinders, tinkers, beggars — in short, the whole indefinite, disintegrated mass, thrown hither and thither (page 63 18th Brumaire)

So, my version of the street will include an expanding list, not all deviants or miscreants: but those who play the rackets, the numbers, the dealers, the look-outs, with scams, pyramid schemes, passport and visa forgers, job search entrepreneurs, denizens of the doorstep, visitors to the soup kitchens, survival strategies of the many, street-peddlers, organ-grinders (!), Iskon krisna consciousness devotees offering free vegetarian recipe booklets, muggers, petty thugs, street-smarts, wise-guys, the cleaner, the fixer, marabout (Simone 2004:41), criminal slumlords, drunks, musicians, money-changers, carum players and pan-handlers, Reclaim the night, dykes on bikes, the strip, at sunset, and after hours, sex workers, meter maids, hawkers, buskers, vendors of sweets and treats.


Lists, though, are Flat – and the City is High. Rossolini was apparently asked if he would make a film of New York, and replied that he would not do so as long as screens were not also vertical.

Maybe at this register the street must always be the horizontal plane if we are to see people there – if we go up the lifts of the towers, even those in the Eiffel tower, we see the city as plan, as flattened space. But this view from the gods erases diversity and community in favour of a privileged and sanitized position. On the horizontal plane, the issues are about sanitary drainage and the cacophony of the crowd.

The class and racial hierarchies of the megacity are visible at street level as much, if not more, than in the high-rise and boardroom. An equally important but less uniform global heterotopia assembles at street level – in what Koolhaus called a culture of congestion – the urban jungle is worryingly described as a ‘potent yet troubling term’ (Cairns 2000:125 – ‘jungles’ 125-7 in Thrift, Nigel and Steve Pile City A-Z New York: Routledge) but there are reasons to both valourize and worry over this scene.

The ethnicity of the street scape is apparent, but cannot be adequately discussed without reference to shifting articulations of racial hierarchy, national chauvinism, communal politics and geo-imperial consequences such as the war on terror or economic restructuring. Los Angeles as city of migration is differently diasporic than the migrations that have swollen Mumbai or Shanghai

Immigrants – the megacity is always one of movement and babel

Street Pirates – the island in New Cross.

Later I want to write of street politics, the police and control. Of reading the word on the street on the side of the Buses. And of house-to-house street fighting, the Arcades and Benjamin on the street and war. Also, of course, the sci fi streetscape: those imaginary simplistic multiculturalisms at the bottom end of Bladerunner and Fifth Element that deserve a much more critical (all too exotic) argument…

The Hanging Channel

On friday we have a protest meeting about the Afzal Guru lynching planned in India. Many are disturbed by the trial in which a Kashmiri man, picked up after an attack by some ‘miscreants’ on parliament, was allegedly tortured into confession, which was then telecast, and the courts decided Guru was to be hung.

Afzal Guru was not actually a part of the Dec 13, 2001 attack on the Parliament in Delhi by five men – who were all killed in the action – but he was picked up with three others the next day under the ‘Prevention of Terrorism’ act.

A stay on execution was gained by campaign groups when the hanging had been scheduled for October 30th 2006, but the television station NDTV screened the confession, and questioned whether it was extracted under torture (as the court itself had been forced to admit). The bizarre thing is that the television station then held a text message vote on whether he should be hung. Did that really happen – a television SMS text-in vote to promote a hanging? Alongside the Shilpa Shetty – Jade Goody et al racism row on Celebrity Big Brother here in London (with international diplomatic impact and commentary by Prime Ministers and more), we can only conclude that today, increasingly, television is terror-vision, as entertainment and as news. Both are worse, as Lenin would say. The televised hanging of Saddam of course also comes to mind, such that I now think a Hanging Channel on satellite cannot be that far away. Especially as it is also reported today that Britain’s prisons are ‘full’. I can imagine Rupert Murdoch will happily fund such a channel for SKY, with OJ Simpson as guest compere perhaps.

I’ve written on the displacement that the racism row on Big Brother achieves elsewhere (Jade was racist, but bombing Afghanistan and Iraq and sending still more troops is more … here) and I’ve written on Saddam’s Swing (here), but I am afraid that writing, and even filming – remember Injustice – seems somehow inadequate in these terror-vision days. Last night I went to a benefit screening of the Peter O’Toole vehicle “Venus” organised by English Pen for the Writers in Prison programme. O’Toole being nominated for an Oscar the day before, seems like something. But writing against death, torture, detention, war… all I can do I guess is turn up and, like PEN, however meagre my rants in comparison to their campaigning, to keep on saying such stuff to whoever few may listen, if they have open ears, to whisper, to suggest, to promote the rumour of another potential…

Writing as a way to open ears,
a pen as a spike to the brain…

The details for the friday protest and case background are:


Friday, 26 January 1.30pm-4.30pm
India House, The Aldwych, London WC2
(nearest tube: Holborn)

On December 13, 2001 the Indian parliament was attacked by five men. They were killed by the security forces but even today their identity remains a mystery. Three other men, who according to the police masterminded the attack, have also not been found.

However, on 14 and 15 December, 2001 the investigating agencies together with the Special Cell of the Delhi Police picked up four persons, all Kashmiris, and charged them with the offence of conspiring to attack the parliament under India’s notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).

After a nationwide campaign for a fair trial, two of them, Syed Abdul Rahman Geelani and Navjot Sandhu who was jailed along with her newborn baby, have been acquitted of all charges, a third, the husband of Navjot Sandhu, has had his death sentence converted to ten years in prison. But the fourth Afzal Guru was due to be hanged on October 20, 2006. A stay on his execution has been obtained by the Save Afzal Campaign through a Mercy Petition, and he is now being held in Tihar jail inDelhi. But he is still facing a death sentence.

Who is Afzal Guru?

AfzalGuru was involved with the JKLF for only three months in 1990 when large numbers of Kashmiri youth were attracted to the movement. During these three months he neither received any training nor took part in any activities. For details see his wife Tabassum’s letter:

After he surrendered he was constantly picked up by security forces, asked to spy on people and also routinely tortured. He eventually decided to move toDelhihoping to be left alone but even here the notorious Special Task Force caught up with him and continued to harass him.


His trial was a mockery of justice since he was denied an opportunity to defend himself – he did not even have a lawyer.Afzal was not involved in the actual attack on the Indian parliament and he did not kill or injure anybody and the Indian Supreme Court has ruled that there was no direct evidence against him, only circumstantial. However the court has sentenced him to death because in their words the“the collective conscience of the society will be satisfied if the capital punishment is awarded to the offender… The appellant, who is a surrendered militant …is a menace to society and should become extinct.”

Abu Ghraib style torture and media collusion

In the Special Cell of the Delhi police Afzal was kept naked for two days and beaten mercilessly – once by a man who later appeared as a prosecution witness; police officers urinated in his mouth saying ‘This is the way you can break your Roza(fast)’. After he was tortured he was handcuffed and made to sit on a chair and forced to ‘confess’ at a media conference. But television broadcasts did not show the handcuffs and did not show the men who tortured and humiliated him. On the 15 and 16 of December 2006, New Delhi Television (NDTV) re-ran the ‘confession’ several times although they had been informed that by now that the Supreme Court of India had rejected it and the High Court had reprimanded the police for it. The programme was accompanied by remarks such as‘See how natural, how truthful, how fluent his statement appears’ and ‘Who can believe that such a statement can be given under torture’. They then invited viewers to act as a virtual lynch mob by soliciting SMS messages from them asking whether Afzal should be hanged in light of the tape telecast by them.

Right-wing Hindu chauvinist forces of the Sangh Parivar have continually harassed members of Afzal’s campaign while calling for Afzal to be hanged.

Afzal Gurufaces a death penalty although:

  • There is no direct evidence against him and he is known not to have injured or harmed anyone
  • The Courts have found that the investigating agencies deliberately fabricated evidence and forged documents against him and others accused.

Currently Afzal is waiting for the results of a Mercy Petition but the decision of the courts is extremely uncertain. Even after enormous efforts by his campaign he is being denied basic rights in prison – he is not allowed to go out of doors for even half an hour of sunlight and the Red Cross who have access to Kashmiri prisoners have not been allowed to visit him.


See you there.

War Mongering Minds – Hearts & Wallets.

Ben moved his site yet again, so catch up on his latest here.

He has posted on war and research most recently. University warmongering is rife wherever anyone cares to look. I’ve commented before on such University-Military Complex links – here – in an incident that might entertain as much as it appals. Buckets of money for terror research. Glory glory. Bastards. The program was pulled after criticisms, but I did hear the other day that its resurfaced in more benign looking forms – details when someone digs out the documents. Meanwhile…

There were a couple of good books on Camelot and other war-research by anthros recently. Check out David Price’s War and Anthro page here. His ‘weaponizing Anthropology’ is a pretty sweet title, but sometimes he advocates an ‘undamaged’ scholarship, and frankly I wonder if that old trick could ever have worked.

Ben Writes:

Given the ever-developing forms of subsumption of universities into capital, militarization cannot really be discussed separate from processes of commodification and commercialization in institutions of education and research. Nor can such militarization be understood divorced from the newer forms of integration of military, policing and intelligence activities, as part of ambitious projects of expansion and reorientation of systems of surveillance and control manifest in the War on Terror and the ‘revolution in military affairs’. The goal centres on massive and high tech expansion of intelligence and surveillance integrated with equally high-tech reorganization of communications, intended to make possible new practices of warfare and social control – reconstituting if not collapsing any distinction between them. Such, at least, is the more-or-less declared intent to which enormous energies and capital are being devoted.

The relation of Australian universities to this set of interrelated projects is not widely understood, and it is this which I intend to document. Theory of the offensive.

Celebrities and heroes

Homesickness is hard to sustain when things seem to lurch still further towards cultural doom. This little photogenic scenario did it for me this morning: – a post by Ange from Melbourne where the state watches a little too closely. Howard’s cops having released 28 photographs of people they want to talk to in connection with a recent protest. It makes me feel even more happy that you can see these pics on The Age news site in what looks like a flickr type slideshow format.

“January 18, 2007: In the wake of the protests against the G20 in Melbourne, and as numerous arrests continue to take place, police tonight released a series of photos, each one euphemistically labeled “person of interest.” Police are indeed perfecting their methods of surveillance and control …” [archive S0metim3s]

That bit of surveillance no doubt has more value as a curious juxtaposition with the scenario everyone is watching too closely in London – the Celebitchy Big Brother race & bullying scam. BB/C4 offer us a screen onto which to project the vicious underside of the war on terror. Amply exposed on Lenin’s tomb, from where I nicked the image, but reminding me of things said about other similar distractions from the main game. Despite my previous fascination with BB, this rich Celeb version makes me ‘homesick’ for the unadorned nastiness of the cop-photo-shoppery above. Below I include some choice excerpts from what is an (almost twice as long) excellent post from L-T:

“The whole point of Endemol’s shit-fest on Channel 4 is to force together personalities so incompatible that normal human comity would be impossible, never mind solidarity under the stress of sensory deprivation and constant surveillance. … I suppose we had better be grateful that the recipient of the abuse was not a Muslim. If she was, we’d be hearing from many quarters that Muslims are far too sensitive about legitimate criticism. “Ah, complaing about being called a ‘dog’, is she? What do these Muslims have against canines, I wonder?” Had those who burned the effigy in India been Muslim, we would no doubt be hearing about the sinister Islamic threat to free speech. Not that it matters what religion she adheres to inside the ‘house’, eh? Shilpa Shetty is variously a “dog”, a “Paki” (this bit C4 denies, saying the word was “cunt”), someone who – being from India – must be unhygeinic and eat with her hands, thus giving other housemates “the shits”, someone who both needs to “go back to the slums” and also visit them for the first time and be “real”, someone who is “trying to be white”, and someone who should “fuck off home”. … The reactions have been, er, interesting: Channel 4 greasily asserting that there has been no overt racism, titter titter (as if we didn’t know that they had assessed their candidates down to the last tic, and fully expected outbursts of racism); New Labour politicians covering their already hideously mired flanks by uttering obsequies about tolerance; David Cameron saying that anyone “who doesn’t like this racism, there’s a great regulator, its called the ‘off’ button.” The latter is a curious response, surely designed to tickle the fancy of racist Tories and those obsessed with whatever is called ‘the nanny state’ this week.” [L-T]


John Hutnyk said…
Feeling a bit Jaded now? It is disappointing me a lot that all over the commentary on the Shilpa Shetty – Jade Goody Big Brother scam people are debating whether its racist or not, class or not, bullying or not [yes, all of the above, of course], but no-one seems keen to see this as a much bigger and more revealing displacement of the unspoken debate and politics we know is right there in front of us but the press and the piggy-pollies refuse to have, or are unable to have. That is the peculiar spin-cycle that makes up the contemporary system-wide racism of the global order. It amazes me that the Prime Minister has to face discussion of BB at question time in parliament, but carries on bombing, killing, destroying Afghanistan, and Iraq, regardless. And with little time for questions of anything that matters, it all gets displaced into television (and The Trial of TB was another example of the same). Even the much beloved Russell Brand suddenly feels the need to preface his comedy routines with seriousness, but does not make the displacement equation. Is it only my dysfunctional take on things that makes me see this as the ‘dream-work’ of the war on terror? For me this is the consequences of foreign policy as clear as day, but we cannot debate that. The double take is cod-outrage, and the February 15 2003 mobilisation against the war remains unanswered. Ahhh, damn it, f only there were opportunities for Davina McCall to interview Blair after he was voted out of the house…

12:04 AM