Filthy bastard mining corp Riotinto slips the (legal) noose once again (the law is an ass)

Rio Tinto wins end to human rights abuse lawsuit in U.S.

Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:47pm EDT
* Bougainville residents sued over activity linked to mine
* 9th Circuit rules after top U.S. court narrows law’s reach
By Jonathan Stempel
June 28 (Reuters) – Benefiting from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Rio Tinto Plc has won the dismissal of a nearly 13-year-old U.S. lawsuit accusing the Anglo-Australian mining company of complicity in human rights abuses on the South Pacific island of Bougainville.
Friday’s ruling by a majority of an 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ends litigation begun in 2000.
Roughly 10,000 current and former Bougainville residents had sought to hold Rio Tinto responsible for human rights violations and thousands of deaths linked to polluting a copper and gold mine it once ran.
The ruling follows the Supreme Court’s April 17 decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co, where the justices limited the sweep of a 1789 U.S. law that lawyers had used for roughly three decades to fight human rights abuses worldwide.
Five justices said the Alien Tort Statute was meant to cover international law violations occurring in the United States, and that violations elsewhere must “touch and concern” U.S. territory “with sufficient force” to displace that presumption.
The Bougainville residents alleged that after workers in 1988 began to sabotage the Rio Tinto mine, the company goaded Papua New Guinea’s government to exact retribution and conspired to impose a blockade, leading to thousands of civilian deaths.
On April 22, the Supreme Court threw out an earlier 9th Circuit ruling that let the lawsuit proceed, and asked it to revisit the matter in light of Kiobel.
Steve Berman, a lawyer for the Bougainville plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
He had asked the 9th Circuit to send the case back to the Los Angeles district court so that his clients could try to proceed with other claims, “sans invocation of the ATS.”
Kiobel was also cited this week by a Virginia federal judge who dismissed a lawsuit accusing defense contractor CACI International Inc of conspiring to torture detainees a decade ago at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The judge in that case said that because the alleged abuse occurred outside the United States, he lacked jurisdiction to consider claims by four former detainees. They plan to appeal.
The case is Sarei et al v. Rio Tinto Plc et al, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 02-56256.

The Hanging Channel spin offs

A new satellite service from the people who brought you ‘Captive Camera (Gitmo)’, ‘America’s Funniest NSA Surveillance Videos’, the YouTube viral sensation ‘LiveScream direct from the heart of Bhagram’ prison, and ‘The Hanging Channel™’ (the one with the ‘real’ – accept no substitutes – Saddam Hussein billion dollar drop – hosted by Devilish McCall).

Must see screen moments on this new service include (live links to be provided later):

– George Bush snr golfing

– George W reading stories to children when the TT were hit

– Obama watching the snuff film from Abbottabad with Hilary

– Hilary saying ‘wow’ to her blackberry when Gaddafi was killed

and other gems. Do not miss this. Parental misguidance recommended.


(essay on the Hanging channel see here)




wikiredAnnouncing the immanent launch of a new free Osscyclopedia, written from the other end – no longer referring to the DDR as Former East without remembering the BRD is the Former West; no longer lauding Captain Cook as anything other than a daft chook-chasing pom; no longer reading the history of plunder and ursprüngliche Akkumulation as adventure; no longer thinking the middle passage was some sort of migration/travel narrative, rather than murder-death-kill genocide; no terra nullis, no thinking that Calcutta was only the second city of Empire; no thinking that Marco Polo and Vasco de Gama were heroes; no axis of evil; no deaths in custody; no mockery of cynicism (which after-all is a valid response to the fucked up way the mainstream media describes this vale of tears … you get the drift – so get Osscyclopedia [still in pre-beta testing]

state execution by neglect?

This from Tom Henri. It looks to me to be an attempted State premeditated murder, aka Capital Punishment, for a minor offense. There is also an open letter to the Ministry of Justice, signed by various luminaries.

Scrubbed to death

Daniel Roque Hall suffers from Friedreich’s ataxia, this debilitating and fatal illness means he requires around the clock care.  In 2011 Daniel pleaded guilty to smuggling cocaine into the UK.  The judge sentenced Daniel to three years in prison, on the proviso that a prison place could be found which would meet his health care needs.  The Governor of Wormwood Scrubs (widely regarded as the London prison with the worst health facilities) stated that his prison could meet Daniel’s needs.  After three weeks of neglectful treatment in the Scrubs, Daniel was rushed to hospital and placed on a life support machine.  Without exaggeration, the care (or lack of) that Daniel received in prison nearly killed him.  His man has a fatal degenerate disease, he requires full-time care, he is no harm to anyone else and he need to be with his family – NOT in Wormwood Scrubs.  Earlier this week, Daniel and his family won a seven day reprieve on Daniel’s return to jail.

You can read more about Daniel’s story at

#madconference number 137

Somehow I have been targeted by pranksters who keep making up neoliberal sounding fictive conferences that could not possibly exist even in this benighted corporatized world. This one is a spoof on the UfSO, no? The fee is £395, with a whopping £70 off if you are gullible enough to even consider going to this bore-a-thon. ‘opportunities to network’ – wow.


Gah – Look out – Boy Scouts in the area

‘Scouts sent into riot hotspots by ministers: Hundreds of teams to help the disadvantaged’ Jill Sherman The Times August 25 2012 (sorry, no electronic version I can easily find)
‘The traditionally middle-class, white youth clubs often found in leafy suburbs and shire counties but not in inner cities’ will be deployed in 400 new sites to ‘provide 10,000 more places for disadvantaged youths, including offenders, disruptive schoolchildren, children in care and the unemployed .. the cash for “uniformed” groups suggest ministers prefer more disciplined associations over less-established local services’
That’d be a great Big Society paedo-initiative, statues to be erected for the scourge of Mafeking, inventor of the concentration camp, Lord Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden Powell of Gillwell!


no ADF, no Stones, not even Donovan – could any of them even face performing at that Nuremberg rally? on that stage that was a cross between a police kettle and a technicolor swastika? With Boris, Harry and Cameron pretending to dance, to George Michael singing ‘freedom’ for the peoples of Helmand Province? I don’t think so.

Yeah, so I am realizing I did not really get into the spirit of the closing ceremony, as much as I liked the running, the bikes and the canoes. It just pisses me off no end that criminals like Rio Tinto can parade as sponsors (providing the nickel behind the plate covered medals. Especially during the closing ceremony when I thought maybe some sort of musical contribution, the UK has made some, might get noted. Here for the archive is part of the messy record of the tweets of despair: @sputnyk


More Olympiss Action


Press Release June 27 2012

Orbits of Responsibility for a War Crime from a Bosnian mine to London’s Olympic Park

[PDF] 2 July 2012 Event Press Release

[PDF] Opinion Piece by Susan Schuppli

Download Images of Omarska

On July 2 2012 London’s Olympic tower — the ArcelorMittal Orbit — will be reclaimed as A Memorial in Exile by survivors of the Bosnian concentration camp at Omarska, now a fully-functional mine operated by ArcelorMittal. Iron ore and profits extracted from Omarksa have been used to manufacture London’s newest landmark.


Keep reading here –




That free-thinking even-handed paper of record

Even handed as always, the Guardian media ads pages today carries two ‘provocative’ ads for Torturer and Abuser. Ironic ‘sick joke’ ads that eventually ask us to log on to the website for the rehabilitation NGO Freedom from Torture. So far so transparent, a senior human rights abuser is needed for ‘A militia group in Central Africa’ and a senior torturer is needed by the ‘Government of a Middle East state’. Oh the wit. I guess the Guardian copy editor thought these would be ok, and not grotesque renderings of undifferentiated Middle East and Africa as land of despots, because the next page, or tomorrow, or all next week, there would be exposés of USA tortures in Guantanamo, Bagram, Abu Ghraib, etc and British abuses via deportations, immigration raids, complicity with the US and all that. But, undermining such even-handedness, today’s edition clearly ran out of space for anything acknowledging Western abuses. Only in the darker nations, where presumably irony is not lost, and prejudice excused, does Freedom from Torture want to operate its humour. When the international criminal court indicts Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy, and has already locked up the Bush boys, Gunshot Cheney and Tony Bliar, for good, will we look back and say, well done vigilant Guardian editors, your objectivity is sound, and the name of your paper not a cipher for panto.



Update: the freedom from torture website helpfully completes the geo-imperial slur framing with its third ad, for a kidnapper in South Asia. Excellent – a return to growth.











Update 2: And if you do click on the link, look for their video with its seeds metaphors and its water torture feature in their reception room. ‘Torture is bad’ – they campaign to tell people that. I can only agree.

Austerity, what austerity?

I am trying to keep my disapproval of this polite. Did Goldsmiths win the Grand Prix? There is no other excuse for the G-brand magnums these good ol boys are pumping.

[the photo is the publicity shot to announce a partnership agreement with Lasalle in Singapore:]



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Cut Flesh from the Bone – big publishing profits

This article is one in an issue becoming quite the popular. Having published a commissioned (unpaid) article with Elsevier – it was called ‘Jungle Studies’, and after proofreading they replaced the phrase ‘For fuck’s sake’ with ‘For God’s sake’ – I know, there are several levels of gah! – I am keen to point out that many publishers are not scum and open access is making some headway, but…

Good material for our forthcoming workshop on publishing and alternative formats for ‘Early Career Researchers’, and I’ve something else coming out on the topic soon.

Read the comments on this piece too – here.

In an article that many of you will now have seen, Heather Morrison demonstrated the enormous profits of STM (Scientific, Technical and Medical) scholarly publishers.  The figures are taken from her in-progress dissertation which in turn cites an article in The Economist.  It all checks out.  I emphasise this because I found the figures so hard to believe.  Here they are again: profits as a percentage of revenue for commercial STM publishers in 2010 or early 2011:

  • Elsevier: £724m on revenue of £2b — 36%
  • Springer‘s Science+Business Media: £294m on revenue of £866m — 33.9%
  • John Wiley & Sons: $106m on revenue of $253m — 42%
  • Academic division of Informa plc: £47m on revenue of £145m — 32.4%

So it’s evident that profits on the order of 35% are pretty typical for commercial STM publishers, and that Elsevier’s figures are not an aberration.  Not only that, but all four of these companies’ profits as a proportion of revenue are still increasing — by 2.4%, 4%, 13% and 3.3% respectively.  The U.K. Office of Fair Trading noted back in 2002 that “the overall profitability of commercial STM publishing is high, not only by comparison to ‘non-profit’ journals (which is not surprising), but also by comparison to other commercial journal publishing”.

I wanted to be sure that I was assessing this fairly, so I looked through Elsevier’s annual reports for the last nine years — happily, they make them available, if not particularly easy to find.  What I found is that they have been consistently bringing in profits in the region of 33% throughout the last decade.  Specifically:

  • 2002: £429m profit on £1295m revenue – 33.18%
  • 2003: £467m profit on £1381m revenue – 33.82%
  • 2004: £460m profit on £1363m revenue – 33.75%
  • 2005: £449m profit on £1436m revenue – 31.25%
  • 2006: £465m profit on £1521m revenue – 30.57%
  • 2007: £477m profit on £1507m revenue – 31.65%
  • 2008: £568m profit on £1700m revenue – 33.41%
  • 2009: £693m profit on £1985m revenue – 34.91%
  • 2010: £724m profit on £2026m revenue – 35.74%

(I have not been through the same exercise for Springer, Wiley or Informa, but there is no reason to expect that the results would be any different.)

What does it all mean?

Yes, publishers have a right to make a living.  Not only that, but they have a right to make as big a profit as the market can bear (though of course when they form a cartel that distorts the market monopolistically, that changes things).

But here’s what it means to scientists that Elsevier’s profit is 35.74% of revenue:

You just have to ask yourself whether that’s where you want your money going.

And though this workshop is open only to Goldsmiths Berlin FU and Copenhagen Doctoral School PhDs (its a training workshop) we’d not be adverse to hearing from interested persons. So here is the cfp:

The piece-rate Worker

Turning our lives into sausage factory grunt work and mere value extraction. This is all too common. Before electronic rights became a standard in publishing contracts I used to scratch out that part (eg for my Calcutta book, and for ‘Dis-Orienting Rhythms’ – only the latter is online for free – see sidebar to download – since scanning the typeset pages of ‘Rumour of Calcutta’ is so far beyond me. Later books other people have made available, and I point to them where I can – also sidebar). Increasingly the clumsy copyright assignment thing seems an issue to fight since there is something truly obscene about making people who work for free for large journals, where those journals are owned and run as sausage factory style conglomerates. Having to sign away ‘rights’ – as if that really was the key concern (not all journals are like this and open access is a real boon) is something tenured profs can take or leave, but anyone else in need of a publication for validation and employment prospects, ever diminishing, has to swallow it whole. Or do they? Sometimes I’ve just forgotten on purpose to send in the rights form – but then some poorly paid staffer, or even unpaid intern, has to chase it up. So I am watching this little episode, described by Steve Shaviro below, since it is a further fold on the sorry tale. Follow the post to the original at the Pinocchio Theory site and watch the comments to see if there is a resolution. Good luck Steve.

Work for Hire?

Here we go again. I was asked to sign a contract for an essay I have written, which is scheduled to appear in an edited collection. Let’s leave aside the fact that I wrote the essay — it was solicited for this collection — in summer 2010, and yet it will not appear in print until 2013. I think that the glacial pace of academic publishing is a real problem. But that is not what is bothering me at the moment. The contract that I was asked to sign, so that my essay could appear in an edited volume published by Oxford University Press, contained the following clause:

WORK-FOR-HIRE. The Contributor acknowledges that the Publisher has commissioned the Contribution as a work-for-hire, that the Publisher will be deemed the author of the Contributior as employer-for-hire, and that the copyright in the Contribution will belong to the Publisher during the initial and any renewal or extended period(s) of copyright. To the extent, for any reason, that the Contribution or any portion thereof does not qualify or otherwise fails to be a work-for-hire, theContributor hereby assigns to the Publisher whatever right, title and interest the Contributor would otherwise have in the Contribution throughout the world.

I found this entirely unbelievable, and unacceptable. Since when has original academic writing been classified as “work-for-hire”? It is possible, I suppose, that things like writing encyclopedia essays might be so categorized; but I have never, in my 30 years in academa, encountered a case in which primary scholarship or criticism was so classified. Is this something widespread, but which I simply haven’t heard about? I’d welcome information on this score from people who know more about the academic publishing situation than I do. But it seems to me, at first glance, that the Press is upping the ante in terms of trying to monopolize “intellectual property,” by setting up an arrangement that both cuts off the public from access and denies any rights to the henceforth-proletarianized “knowledge worker” or producer. I am unwilling to countenance such an abridgement of my ability to make the words that I have written more freely available.
In any case, I wrote back to the Press as follows:

I am unwilling to sign the Contributor’s Agreement for my submission to the Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics as it is currently worded. In particular, I find section 2, defining my contribution as work-for-hire, completely objectionable. I entirely reject the notion that original academic work of this sort can be defined as work-for-hire. I think that this is demeaning to academic scholarship and disrespectful of intellectual labor.

Section 2 of the contract further stipulates that even if “the Contribution or any portion thereof does not qualify or otherwise fails to be a work-for-hire, the Contributor hereby assigns to the Publisher whatever right, title and interest the Contributor would otherwise have in the Contribution throughout the world.” I find this objectionable as well. Even if my contribution to the volume is exempted from being considered work-for-hire, I am unwilling to sign over my own rights to the publisher in this unlimited way. In particular, I insist upon retaining, among other rights, the right to make my contribution available for download on my own website and the right to include this contribution at some later date as part of a self-authored publication.

I guess we will see what happens. I hope the Press backs down and offers more reasonable terms. If that doesn’t happen, I will simply have to withdraw my contribution from the edited volume. At some point, the essay will appear on my website for free download — whether because the publisher backs down and permits me to do this, or whether I give up on print publication.
Not getting the essay into print will mean that I won’t get the credit (or a line in my Vita) for the publication of an article that I am, in fact, rather proud of. This kind of credit matters in academia — salaries, among other things, are based on it. But as a full Professor with tenure I am in a rather privileged position: I can afford to lose the credit. The same is not the case for academics in more precarious positions — who might well be forced to sign away their rights in cases like this, because their jobs heavily depend upon their publication record, and one additional line on their Vita might make a major difference.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 11th, 2012 at 11:37 am and is filed underPersonalPolitics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Arts Against Cuts: ica x-mas presents

Erm, last post of the year is not a happy one, rather fucking outrageous – I used to like the little ICA bookshop…

December 23, 2011 //

With x-mas just around the corner and all the gifts wrapped under that perfectly decorated pine tree. As the anticipation builds, interrupting the final two nights sleep before His day. Whilst distant family satellite in ready for an unhealthy dose of nostalgia and brandy. One little present is leaving the front of house ICA staff wishing they’d been given coal.

Over the past week, some of the lowest paid staff members (the ones which guard your coat at the cloak room, check your tickets at the cinema, invigilate and discuss the dull artwork in the poorly curated Bloomberg New Contemporaries show) have received an ultimatum;take an approximate 10% cut from your wages or lose your job. What amounts to nothing other than passive-aggressive bullying by managers, a new contract has been drafted that would see paid breaks removed under the new working conditions and if this contract is not signed, the staff have no job in the new year.

“Paid breaks, that’s a bit of a luxury! They’re not even working then.” I hear the more conservative of the readers cry. Well let’s do a little simple maths, using conservative figures of course, to establish what this actually amounts to. On a £7.25 hourly wage (as advertised on their website) working a generous 30 hours per week, expecting at a minimum 3 hours for lunch over this period, the staff would currently earn a gross of £217.50 a week. Working, again generous considering times between shows, 50 weeks a year comes to a meagre annual gross pay of £10, 875 (obviously before tax an NI deductions). Under the contracts proposed to kick in at the beginning of 2012 (a year likely to see increased foot flow and revenue to the ICA, especially as events are set to take place opposite) this would see this hypothetical weekly wage reduced by £21.75 a week and £1,087.50 a year. For those that this is their sole income, that is extremely substantial not a luxury.

So, as the sun sets for the final few days before the ICA closes until the new year. Their staff have the wonderful gift of choice, either to work at a greatly reduced daily rate or start the new year in the dole queue. I know which one I’d rather choose #solidaritywithunemployedworkers

Have a great x-mas!


p.s. The ICA telephone number is 020 7930 0493 and twitter @ICALondon


Increasingly David Speaks, but he still does not say anything.

That both Beckham and kate Moss remain mute icons of British glamour, automatons – impossibly beautiful, sublime skills etc., – is the culture industry standard now, where voice, or personality, is inimical to brand. The X-factor, dancing, talk show compare (not J.Ross) celebrity must not have intellect – must be a free slate upon which focus groups and under-assistant promotions reps mould media persona. No surprise that we are more and more interested in the personalities – known, lost or recently discovered – of the past (see Ursula Bogner for one of the better finds). Bring back the old Big Brother and the real Russel Brand, not the bland Hollywood Brand Brand he has so – now silently – become (has he been kidnapped by a wild Xenu-influenced offshoot of scientology or what?).

The TV show Pan-Am is the dying apotheosis of this tendency – fake emote on cue – the very criteria of successful robotics, but a robot made in the 1960s version of the future [as Fuggletronic says], not the dull dystopia of commercial time now.

(note for Kiwi).

#Facebook #Gmail adblockers and the new FB status ticker removal

Reposted all this here cos who knows how long the post will stay onb my FB page (if they even bother to set the algorithm to watch):


We should not cave into PREVENT

A very disturbing email this morning – latest in a series of ever longer shrill missives on data protection that come in, and add to our workload. Not that I do not take them seriously, but it is not welcome news in between dealing with crap from UKBA (today, a note from a prospective visiting student funded from China for two years who, after ten or twelve letters back and forth between us, is finally refused entry because Home Office only issues visas for 12 months to visiting students, so now she can’t come at all! – Chinese Govt more flexible, will amend their funding to a year, and of course more work for us to try and fix this, basically by inviting her for two lots of 12 months. Cretinization!).

The point is, UKBA and terror programmes like the racist PREVENT must be exposed and resisted. It is distressing that we are even discussing this in relation to the PREVENT agenda, or rather, it is distressing that our esteemed retentional data manager is forced to discuss this and not just spit back an angry ‘no’. Still, the inference is that written data is all that matters here (the alternative – rumours that we are a part of the moral collapse/broken society/criminal decline and so on, are not subject to this ‘policy’ and cannot be passed on unless written down – though I guess now I’ve written it down it is obviously possible – HA!).

Enjoy. Weep. Despair.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: {snip}
Date: Fri, Sep 2, 2011 at 8:33 AM
Subject: [HoDAcademic] Third party disclosures of personal data

Dear All –

Further to reports in the press of a new initiative within the government’s “PREVENT” strategy concerning the covert surveillance of Muslim students – on what appears to be potentially rather scant evidence ( it seems timely to ask you to remind staff of the procedures for disclosures of personal data to third parties:

The individuals within the College who are authorised to make disclosures of personal data to the police (or in fact anyone who wishes the disclosure to be made without data subject consent) are the Director of Student Services, the Data Protection Officer and the Registrar and Secretary. (The Director of HR is added to this list – in practice only for staff data – although of course there is currently a vacancy.) Disclosures to the vpolice are in the vast majority of cases not compulsory but at the discretion of the College, and the College must accept legal liability for any challenge to its decision from the data subject (should he or she discover later that the disclosure has been made). Recently police tactics of investigation have tended to become more intrusive and one hears of more instances of refusals by universities to cooperate than a few years ago. This is not confined to the anti-terrorism agenda but is more general. Approaches adopted by the policy are inconsistent and do not always go through the institution’s obvious channels for personal data disclosure.

The procedures for disclosure of personal data in the Goldsmiths Data Protection Policy strictly only apply where there is written (or otherwise recorded) information involved at some point in the process (as there often is). However it would be helpful if I could be kept informed of any approaches made by the police to obtain information from you or your staff under their current initiative, as this contributes to a general overview of the risk environment in terms of potential invasion of privacy. Over the next two weeks I shall however be away, {snip}

More on that UfSO #riotcleanup or #riotwhitewash spike

Sofia Himmelblau responds to her critics

AUGUST 12, 2011
by flashbank

Postscript – A Response to Comments
Dr. Sofia Himmelblau
(This was written as a response to various comments made regarding my previous post and has also been reposted there)

My previous post appears to have sparked a huge amount of controversy….

Keep reading Dr Himmelblau’s response here.

Yesterday’s spike in stats:

Title Views
#riotcleanup or #riotwhitewash? More stats 11,479
Home page More stats 900
About More stats 390
An actual first-hand account More stats 203
Inaugural Lecture More stats 172
Conference: On Violence More stats 142
A riot is the language of the unread More stats 118
Contact More stats 97
Second Lecture More stats 94
“This is criminality, pure and simple…” More stats 50

✪ 11 more notes on ‘the disturbances™ in London’

The first 11 notes were here.

12. It is too easy to complain that the ‘rioting’ youth are merely obsessed with trainers and plasma TV. To say this misses the point, but it is more difficult for journalists to parse the process by which circulation, valorization, exchange, value extraction, surplus labour, alienation, and the fetishism that disguises social relations as relations between things operates. The ‘reporter-campaigner’ press is no longer on the job.

13. The insurrectionary youth seem to understand better than most what these goods are – theirs. They grasp the fetish character of commodities and the theft of property as time. In a radical way, the youth grasp, and break, the distinction between use value and exchange value. Fat cat neoliberals have thrived off expropriation, but now as the roosting pigeon heads homeward, with them having mortgaged the future to short-term gain, they seem perversely ignorant of causes. The sorry spectacle has them flapping about trying to fix the leaks where they see their interests and profits must be defended, as ever with a bolstered repressive apparatus, and having ransomed everyone else for their sorry survival.

14. In this context, jokes about ‘aggressive forms of late night shopping’ (ex cop on TV) are hypocritical ventriloquy of ruling class ideas, in that nearly every ‘older’ person I’ve heard talking about this first wishes the youth had a ‘cause’ (like they do!) but then wants to know where to buy one of these cheap hot plasmas, though without having to go to Tottenham for the pick up. Distorted and alienated interests are interests nonetheless – they are not the interests of Capital. Cut through this phantasmal comedy and it’s illusions of civic responsibility, morality and myths of political representation – contemporary Capital is nothing less than theft and plunder and should be hounded into the annals of history.

15. Lack of role models! The role models aren’t Kate Middleton and knowing what she wore, nor Beckham and his grooming products – the parade of privilege and property has them only as a window-dressing facade. The weapons trade, the mining industry, the micro-processing and conductor sweatshops, the off-shore processing zones, the anti-union, tax-free, labour intensive low-wage hell camps… These are the role models, also critiqued by the broken windows – the targets are tangential, but the sentiment is shared. Some are making the connections, and they are not just crusty old Marxists.

16. The youth hate the cops with good cause. Deaths in custody is a trigger, but stop and search, surly attitudes, bus dragnets, corruption, payola and more are not endearing plod to anyone. Defending prime property while letting lesser capital burn is an outrage, but expected given where we are just now in the volatile process of cyclical accumulation. The valorisation/conversion of expropriated surplus value through circulation within a stag-flationary recession that favours write-offs and fire-sales (primark, tkmaxx, budget airlines, and now many so-called ma-and-pa shops) means petit bourgeois traders suffer while big capital strives to recoup what minimal profit can be scarpered away before the fire sale season ends. The super rich survive, only slightly singed by scandals (dear Rupert), to then pounce to buy up the scorched earth as a bloody trophy upon which a new phase of accumulation is inaugurated. Class and location maps onto race and privilege to differentiate the cartography of valorised capital under this restructuring, so-called ‘crisis’ we are all in together. Some zones of manufacture and circulation entail very small margins with very large numbers – ahh, plastic goods – and if this mode of production, and a sharp end understanding of it, isn’t political, then what is?

17. The technique is refined in war. Invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan and gleeful opportunism after the Arab spring (Cameron visits an arms fair) follows the model of army and camp followers. The cowboy corporations rush to provide security services, building contracts, democracy-capacity-building workshops…

18. We do not necessarily need commodity chain analysis or a critique of colonial history to understand that here and there, local and global are co-constituted in an embrace of death. Seems like only the politicians have a vested interest in saying this is not political – and they criminalise all youth, and all revolutionary zeal, with the same golden Bullingdon toilet brush (I am still reeling at Boris Johnson’s image of Britain as ‘a broken washing machine with black fluid leaking out the back’ – even disavowing this version he reveals his gutter mind).

19. The looting is not political because the youth pick up on a general discontent, it is not political because police tactics are repressive and biased and will be extended on the back of this, it is not political because parenting and family values have been lost back in some nostalgic fantasy of the good war, it is not political because the cuts to services mean there’s nothing else for the youth to do. It is political because all of the above make it an insurrection. Our very own intefada part one.

20. It is not a blind passages a l’acte, comrade Žižek. In his book on violence, Žižek says (after the deaths of Bouna Toure and Zyed Benna on October 27, 2005 and the thousands of cars set alight): ‘the fact that there was no programme behind the burning Paris suburbs is thus itself a fact to be interpreted’ (Žižek 2008:64). That this might be described as a ‘blind acting out’ seems itself ironic and myopic, even when SZ is correct to mock the sociological ‘search for deeper meaning or messages hidden in these outbursts’ (Žižek 2008:65), especially if these searches are undertaken from the comfort of the television viewing room. Žižek himself spends two further pages explaining that the youth wanted to be recognized as French, and yet locates this events in a particular and peculiar way. I expand the parameters of the quotation already used earlier:

“The Paris riots need to be situated in a series they form with another type of violence that the liberal majority perceives as a threat to our way of life: direct terrorist attacks and suicide bombings. In both instances, violence and counter-violence are caught up in a deadly vicious cycle, each generating the very forces it tries to combat. In both cases we are dealing with blind passages a l’acte, where violence is an implicit admission of impotence. The difference is that, in contrast to the Paris outbursts which were a zero-level protest, a violent outburst which wanted nothing, terrorist attacks are carried out on behalf of that absolute meaning provided by religion” (Žižek 2008:69).

We cannot be sure Žižek has understood Paris here, nor should we be detained by his assertion that religion is the absolute designation of terrorism, but the ascription of ‘nothing’ as the meaning of the Paris riots certainly suggests some problems with commentary.

21 Media reportage as the official line, paving the way for more cops, more repression, less commentary, less critique – we have long known the idea of the independent campaigning journalist reporter has been swallowed up by embedded, churnalistic, press release and sub-tabloid eaves-dropper automatons. Recycled heavy rotation police reports and edits (let me see more of Mayor Johnson being hounded out of Clapham by rightly angry shopkeepers). That this 24 hr news cycle stresses recycle of items is just yet another cut in the stagflationary moment.

22. The ‘Lumpen R Us’. Well, not quite, but it does not hurt to have an aspiration. In his early text ‘A Report from Hunan’ Mao praises the ‘Movement of the Riff Raff’ (Mao Selected Works Vol 1 p29). The ‘riff raff’ are the ‘utterly destitute’ lumpen peasantry who we find in China as:

“completely dispossessed … People who have neither land nor money, are without any means of livelihood, and are forced to leave home and become mercenaries or hired labourers or wandering beggars” (Mao Vol. I P 32)

Mao then provides a detailed report on the achievements of these peasants as revolutionaries able to transform an uprising into Red self governance. Mao’s ‘Report from Hunan’ is a great example of engaged reportage and it provides a more balanced evaluation of lumpen elements. His amusingly titled section ‘“Its Terrible” or “Its Fine”’ is equally judicious. Mao is praising the ways the peasants had banded together to dominate the landed gentry in Hunan, how their organisation established the basic conditions for a defence of the gains, and the template for the pattern of protracted guerrilla war. His unconditional approval for the ‘Movement of the Riff Raff’ is unstinting in its praise for the violent suppression of counter-revolutionaries. He does not ever want to say they ‘go too far’ when they defend the revolution (Selected Works Vol. I).

Thus – build the revolution…

11 more points soon

The first 11 notes were here.

The best 11 you should know by heart – the point is to change it.

✪ 11 notes on ‘the disturbances™ in London’

1. Punitive and class biased courts and police which condemn and kill the public while bonus-fat-cat bankers, expense-account scheming piggy-pollies and eavesdropping shop-your-mother-for-a-story journalists get away with it.

2. Massive jumpity-jump in hyper-profits and wealth of the super-rich while we get cuts to services, community support and local facilities, which means DIY street entertainment as last resort.

3. Economic factors paramount, racism the default position to defend white supremacist social structure of privilege. BBC report at 10.

4. Police looking at major cuts after years of corrupt payola-granola, selling the drugs they confiscate, taking bribes and kickbacks, farming out actual work to subcontracted half-beats and leaning on the completely bogus yellow union Police Federation to present them as human. Fail.

5. Have you noticed that at every demo the MET has offered up a sacrificial vehicle left as bait in the path of the march – stupidity or provocation?

6. Senior management responsible for horrendous blunders of course promoted. Chief Terror Dick etc., others suspended on full pay later reinstated. We need a new ‘Independent Complaints ABOUT the Police Commission,’ not a ‘POLICE complaints commission’ stacked out with coppers on secondment.

7. WE Need a juridical review, no more, the abolishment of the courts, replace with people’s tribunals, recallable delegates. Meetings to set up this Mondays.

8. End incarcerations, detention, bogus unequal persecutions, secret trials, detentions, control orders, exploding prison numbers, explode the prisons minister. Also, put bars on the windows of the banks and keep the criminal suits in there. Charge entrance fees for viewing rights, with peanuts available to throw at them to watch ‘em feed. Cuties.

9. Useless political non-opposition (are they on holiday?). Need a new type of Communist Party. Abolish the others sects/wafers – enough with faffing over whatever happened in the Krondstadt (and yes, I do know, but so what).

10. Sick of media denouncing people for shopping for trainers, its perverse not comic to focus on this without critique, and totally misses the serious point about commodity culture behind it all. Be organized people, be safe, cover up, don’t burn down homes, do walk tall.

11. ‘Everything under heaven is in chaos. The situation is promising.’ – we should try to get the quote right Z – 天下大亂,形勢大好 gives us ‘big good’, there is a difference between excellent and promising, so the future tense probably matters and promising is better.


second 11 here.

Belle D’Opium

Some might think this bad taste. I think its a hoot, and bad taste. A commercial sell-out I’d missed – Nitin Sawhney, Romain Gavras (who also did the MIA vid I am writing about) Mélanie Thierry working together on a Yves Saint Laurent advert with dodgy choreography by Akram Khan. My thanks to Dr Royona Mitra for pointing me at this in her excellent thesis on Akram’s performances. Finding the vein was my addition though – Thierry/voiceover says in the film ‘I am your addiction’ – even as getting this screen shot was a bit time consuming. Everyone should all know you can’t mainline opium of course, duffer trickster exoticists. The whole film is here:

Chalk and Cheese

The University is the last uneasy comfortable place that is not yet in 100% total denial of the white supremacist neo-imperialist war-mongering social privilege and violence that is, frankly, the condition of the whole of Western capital, the ruling class State, and its many comprador clients, including, of course, the University itself (approx 2% of 100 makes the total pretty thin). The circular sentence and bad math does not mean anything is ok. Everywhere else there is also denial, but perhaps the ongoing complicity of the critic is the most jarring. That said, I don’t think giving up the possibility of teaching jar-heads a critique of everything is the best next move. A ruthless critique of everything that exists, said Marx, in his famous Letter to the Rube. Where else will those one day a year adventurers (two days this year already, stop and admire) get their fill or fillip and citation to carry to the afterparty?

I am waiting to hear more of the anti-war movement. The raids on Libya continue unabated. The French are arming the Rebels, from whom we hear less and less. Britain’s Apache attack helicopters raid the city. Saudi Police snipers are UK-trained with a ‘it will save lives’ rationale. A vast war apparatus at home services the military effort – a cultural industry itself – worse than Mother Courage in Brecht’s old play, selling her kids to service the troops – ‘war will find a way’, and for 30 years the battle for the Holy Roman Empire rages. The present war effort for Empire stalls in Afghanistan, and Iraq is a twisted failed and abandoned building site. Yet more and more money is ploughed into the profit making venture of arms sales and the reckless escalations are bantered palab katakata style by William Hague in the Parliament, while the so-called opposition leadership of Millibrand can only gurn and insult. The burning issue (ouch!) that will only be glossed as an inconvenience to parents when the teachers defend their pensions is as far from an adequate politics that can win as chalk is to cheese-sticks.