Schematic

3-cover-anime-1.gifSchematic/algebraic:

Capital

Finance sector alpha drone

Service sector beta drone

 

Decline of manufacturing/

Export of manufacturing

‘creative’ economy/

New Imperialism

 

The finance and creative sector is not neutral/

…middle class and liberal-academic chatter provides an alibi/

… for a war on terror which is also global finance and race/class privilege/

 

Race:

- immigration

- – asylum ‘fears’

– eastern Europe

- – Muslim profiling

- – racism’s histories

 

+++Class as articulated through above

++Gender an extension of the above

 

Campaigns for tolerance or hospitality not nearly enough

- acceptable face of racism used to prepare ground for:

- – greater than ever use of the ‘war of terror’ and ‘clash of cultures to police

- ingrained racism that leaves Africa in ‘darkness’

… and the poor in Asian and the Americas (Mexicans, Blacks [not Condoleezza])

… … and globalized women’s labour, unemployment, lumpenization

on the wrong side of the international division of privilege

 

Despite well-meaning middle-class liberal urban campaigns ‘for Africa, against racism, against trafficking, for a free Tibet … for democracy…

 

  • Capitalist elites new imperialism bureaucrats/experts
  • Nationalists/racist right/communitarianism
  • Political Cultures/ Political Islam, Hindu Right, European, English…

 

Popular classes – workers and communities unite, against the comprador clergy – for new alliances against capitalism and its liberal apologists, nationalism and its nimby enablers and the clergy and its mealy mouthed tolerance.

gotta buy a notebook or pda so as to organize something better.

 

Adorno to Benjamin

The “Complete Correspondence of Benjamin and Adorno” (Polity 1999 or Surkamp 199towers1.jpg4) is always a good read on a cold rainy [even snowing] day.

Adorno to Benjamin:

Teddy writes to Walter trying to wean him from his trinket mania, get him to sort out the Arcades, and get him on a boat to New York. Along the way he invents a theory of trinketization. Keen to affirm his solidarity with Benjamin, Adorno is careful not to insist on any orthodox version of Marxism, but he also warns against an abdication from Marxist theory:

‘The impression which your entire study conveys – and not only to me with my Arcades orthodoxy – is that you have here done violence upon yourself. Your solidarity with the Institute, which pleases no-one more than myself, has led you to pay the kind of tributes to Marxism which are appropriate neither to Marxism nor to yourself. Not appropriate to Marxism because the mediation through the entire social process is missing and because of a superstitious tendency to attribute to mere material enumeration a power of illumination which really belongs to theoretical construction … you have denied yourself your boldest and most fruitful ideas through a kind of pre-censorship in accordance with materialist categories (which by no means correspond to Marxist ones)’ (Adorno to Benjamin 10 November 1938, p 284).

This suggests that Benjamin was merely coquetting with the forms of Marxist theory and not thinking them through (coquetting is Marx’s diminutive word in Capital for where he used the language and style of Hegel, in an analysis that went well beyond Hegel, see the Forward to Marx 1867/1967). On Adorno’s reading (of the draft), Benjamin might be confirmed as ‘the [nice, harmless, cute] Marxist that you could take home to meet your mother’ (as someone, I forget who, once said). Adorno is teasing and pushing him to be more inventive and rigorous – at the same time – with his connections. And it is connections to which he is attuned, noting:

‘ a close connection between those places where your essay falls behind its own a priori and its relationship to dialectical materialism … Let me express myself in as simple an Hegelian manner as possible. Unless I am very much mistaken, your dialectic is lacking in one thing: mediation’ (Adorno to Benjamin 10 November 1938, p 282).

Mediation then would be the theorization of connections between the ‘mere’ material observations and fascinations of the Arcades, of the baubles that interest the flaneur, of the observations of the analyst, and of the notations of the writer – mediation is the vehicle of analysis. Adorno marks this as a phantasmagorical and mystical error:

Your ‘anthropological’ materialism ‘harbours a profoundly romantic element … The “mediation” which I miss and find obscured by materialistic-historiographical evocation, is simply the theory which your study has omitted. But the omission of theory affects the empirical material itself’ (Adorno to Benjamin 10 November 1938, Benjamin/Adorno p 283).

At pains not to offend his friend, but also careful to call for something more, Adorno rephrases the same point again and again:

‘To express this another way: the theological motif of calling things by their names tends to switch into the wide-eyed presentation of mere facts. If one wanted to put it rather drastically, one could say your study is located at the crossroads of magic and positivism. This spot is bewitched. Only theory could break this spell – your own resolute and salutarily speculative theory. It is simply the claim of this theory that I bring against you here’ (Adorno to Benjamin 10 November 1938, Benjamin/Adorno 283).

Adorno goes on to write The Dialectic of Enlightenment with Horkheimer, Benjamin ends up sitting bleary-eyed far too long in the cafés of Marseilles, and finally does not make it over the mountain. The suitcase is lost, we do not know if these prods in the direction of theory had recast the manuscript.

Siddown Siddown!

tricorn.jpg“Hey you, up the front, pull yer head in, your noggins’ in the way, I can’t see the action”.

I have long been a fan of Owen Hattersley’s word and image hoard as found on “Sit Down Man Your a Bloody Tragedy”. It presents a (recently very) Keiloresque version of London that is a somehow both a well-informed mix of architectural-spotting psycho-geography and has the tone of an ethnography written by some 50’s era fixated interplanetary alien cosmonauts (with cannon ixus 750s on board). We know Owen from when he spoke at a workshop we organized at CCS a few years back and I think his stuff is pretty wonderful. I’ve been recommending it to students wanting evidence that something interesting is going on in London (and its been a constant source of great images – and wacked out soviet era postcards – for a long time).

And indeed, something must be going on in the UK since the government has released a brand new Security Strategy ‘to deal with national emergencies such as terror, disease pandemics and flooding’. I am looking forward to reading that! I betchya it doesn’t have very good pictures, but the portrait of a class cleansed urbane Britain that it offers will no doubt be crystal clear.

Own has a piece in the ‘New Statesman’, which you can find out about after directing your cursor *here*.

Frankenstein in Iraq

me-lie.jpg“wretch … it is well that you come here to whine over the desolation you have made. You throw a torch onto a pile of buildings, and when they are consumed, you sit among the ruins and lament the fall” (Shelley Frankenstein 1818/1992 228)

I was sent some systems static by a close friend from America, who feels it more than most (but just as much as we all should feel). Not without a certain justifiable anti-patriotism, she offered a lot of questions about the plight of the boy soldier returned from Iraq, and these questions were more than I can ask or extend here – and are by and by engaging. But there are so many angles that for the first time I think that to ask questions is not even part one of the story. More like: when and why did we stop asking questions with an angry passion? Why did we start mouthing the words of critique? rather than finding better ways of putting critique to use? Naive eh, sometimes I just don’t get it. I don’t get it when what seems clear turns into convoluted mud, and I don’t get it when the committed and the dedicated also stall.

I certainly don’t get it when those that were not on ‘our’ side, turn themselves over to ‘our’ side, and yet still seem to have missed the point.

I am stuck in a convoluted never never land where it is ok, and even normal, to ask what is a confession? More, what is a confession of remorse when the atrocity is a crime against us all?

What can we do with such terrible stories from the wastelands of hypocrisy?

“…next image. This man right here was my third confirmed killed. As you can see, he was riding his bicycle. Later on in the day, we went ahead, and we had CBS’s Lara Logan with us, but she was with the other squad, and so she wasn’t with us. So, myself and two other people went ahead and took out some individuals, because we were excited about the firefight we had just gotten into, and we didn’t have a cameraman or woman with us. With that being said, any time we did have embedded reporters with us, our actions would change drastically. We never acted the same. We were always on key with everything, did everything by the books. The man on the bicycle, he was left in the street for about ten minutes until we realized that we needed to leave where we were. And his body was dragged about ten feet to the right of him, where his body was thrown behind a rock wall and his bicycle was thrown on top of him”

So, although I was sent this confession of the winter soldier on ‘Democracy Now’, I do not know what or how it confesses. Harrowing, and yet all stuff what we already knew.

Its My Lai again, but in the desert 40 years on (the My Lai massacre was May 16, 1968 – about 500 dead by ‘unofficial’ body count). Can the confessing soldier be redeemed. Ulysses took several months beforehand, and the players will never say cafe or leave a trip… too bourgeois…. ([added later – I was so tired end of term that I have no idea what this sentence was meant to really say – Odysseus must have been coming back from war with some sort of bloodfeast on his hands, but it took him ten years to muster up the courage to go back to his son Telemachus and wife Penelope. The players saying cafe and tripping – leaving a tip for a coffee – refers to who knows what… its the end of term, I was nodding off on the keyboard])

Frankenstein’s monster is full of remorse at the end, and prepares a funeral pyre. The horrific winter soldier’s tales are less honourable and have something self serving in them.

Frankenstein himself is addled with laudanum, unable to sustain his bourgeois genius:

“Ever since my recovery from the fever I had been in the custom of taking every night a small quantity of laudanum; for it was by means of this drug only that I was enabled to gain the rest necessary for the preservation of life. Oppressed by the recollection of my various misfortunes, I now swallowed double my usual quantity… (Shelley 1818/1992:189).

 

Several cascading families, social turmoil, ecological catastrophe … and no return … just say maybe to drugs. The soldier will need medication to get through those stories, and with not much of a public health support infrastructure in the States, his future as a Rambo-type crazy lost in the American badlands seems guaranteed. The monster has not burned on the pyre so much as turned into a self sustaining culture industry.

 

Žižek sets his own curfews.

zizek.jpgSlavoj Žižek has some funny ticks – I remember him taking three and a half minutes at the end of the Lenin and Philosophy conference in Essen (February 2001) telling us all there were only six minutes left for discussions and we should not make grand statements and we should avoid extravagant declarations … and we only had five minutes before the close…. and we should not say too much and… four minutes… etc etc..

His book of Lenin’s essays is a great contribution, so I was pleased to see him still in fine fettle here on Democracy Now. Especially the first response where, worried about how he comes across on tv, he identifies himself to those who would police such things (himself), as the father of a daughter whom, if some one asked to take her out, he would not let go out to the movies – the movies! – with himself. Its a revealing slip where he accidentally identifies himself as his own daughter. I would not let him go out with me. The perfect slapstick parent-copper-oedipal-narcissistic compound …

…well, read or watch the rest for yourself (last twelve minutes of the Goodman hour). There are the usual witty wind ups about elections, the sixties, Barack… and some sharp points about war crimes, the Soviets, the liberal left and Barack… I can only think this played well in some circles and completely bamboozled Pat Buchanan (hat tip Leila):

Here is the first part:

“AMY GOODMAN: … We welcome you to Democracy Now!

SLAVOJ ZIZEK: Thank you very much. I am honored to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: When I asked you specifically how to pronounce your name, you said you’re nervous about people who pronounce it correctly.

SLAVOJ ZIZEK: Yes, because I—no, but this is more a private trauma, like I don’t like to see myself. Whenever I see myself, like there on the screen, I’m tempted to adopt the position of an observer and ask myself, if I were to have a daughter, I would never allow that guy to take me to a movie theater. So—

AMY GOODMAN: But you also said you would be concerned if it was pronounced exactly, that perhaps that person came from the police.

SLAVOJ ZIZEK: Yeah. Effectively, yeah, because only they really know. You know, this is at least my East European myth, that police are the ones who know…”

Read more here

Nepal turning red via ballots not bullets?

prachanda1.jpgComrade Prachanda addressing a mass rally in Backtapur, outside Kathmandu, on March 12. Nepal’s general election is on 10th of April and is more important than the cobra-mongoose death embrace that is the election most people seem presently obsessed about (Zizek, Kellner, the entire media, everyone except the residents of Florida who already know their result).

Oh, and did you hear there was an election in Malaysia where the opposition made massive gains despite the usual vote-tampering shenanigans (as illustrated on opposition blogs, for example by seat-winner Eli Wong – check here).

In the meantime, this picture of Prachanda says a lot about the moment of transition from feudal monarchy to modern Maoist state. Remains to be seen how the Maoists will fare, and exactly what modern Nepal will look like, but it has to be better than the Nepal that Michael Palin found so charming in his traveller’s trip (see here or here).

(pic nicked from APW – thanks)

neighbours are there for each other

march1308-006.jpgGotta say that so far moving to the new house has been a joy. And my neighbours made it all the more wonderful when last night, before I could even get a free evening (because of Tara’s party – happy birthday Tara), there was a street aesthetics rectification action. What I mean to say is that the horrible Lewisham Council funded “We are Living in Fear” posters that have appeared on every second lamppost on my street were summarily torn down overnight, and well before I got a chance to go out and do them myself. Well done. They lasted less than 48 hours – good neighbours.

I’m not really that bothered by the posters so much as the stupidity of whoever thought the idea of saturation plastering on every street might have been any sort of smart act. Dumb dumb dumb – though everyone agrees both the design and the message of the posters really are grotesque. There are two kinds march1308-008.jpgI’ve seen, both utterly obscene – and having the second one placed outside Lewisham College is particularly offensive. Who are the ‘they’ that ‘want our pods’ (the parody of hip language deployed just does not work). And why these particular silhouettes? Oooooh, its all so scary. Clearly many locals see this as just another moment in the creeping shuffle towards a pathetic unthinking half-baked police state. I am proud to see that Lewisham residents won’t stand for it. And I hope elsewhere ‘they’ will be ripping the rest down as well. Short easy work. Clean up Lewisham now.