Sundarbans, Climate, Tigers, Law.

Liquidity of the Sundarbans:

If the Tigers and Cyclones Don’t Get You, the Law Will

This forms the first part of a new research concentration for me, and owes much to colleagues at Jadavpur Uni now battling the BJP monstrosity. This sort of work relies upon the University remaining an open, critical, creative and thinking place. And such works as discussed here – more than three, a whole series of works are considered, reaching back to when I first met the history and philosophy folks at Jadavpur – are indicative of what remains that is good in the university, despite all that is happening.

50 e-prints for those quick off the mark, here: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/AVPTDBBTQNKUBBVHPHSV/full?target=10.1080/00856401.2019.1663884

 

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What is science in Social Science and what has the history of Philosophy had to say about it?

What is science in Social Science and what has the history of Philosophy had to say about it? Well, so glad you asked – I can talk for three hours about this and only scratch the surface…

What is science in Social Science and what has the history of Philosophy had to say about it?

Frantz Fanon on Care, and more.

‘To care for someone is not only to give him or her the possibility not to die, it is above all to give him or her the possibility to live’ (1954 Bilda clinic journal – in Alienation and Freedom, p321).

And from his letter of resignation:

A society that forces its members into desperate solutions is a non-viable society, a society that needs replacing. The citizen’s duty is to say so. No professional morality, no class solidarity, no desire to refrain from washing the dirty laundry in public, can have a prior claim. No pseudo-national mystification finds grace when up against the demand to think (Fanon, Letter to the Resident Minister, 1956)

 

And then I read some more – the whole volume is great and basically 800 pages in two days later, I feel like I’ve learned something and now have to go back and read The Wretched of the Earth again. So many reasons to be a fan of Fanon. For example, around the time of Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason, when we know from De Beauvoir that Sartre was eating amphetamines by the handful, Fanon spends three days non-stop talking with Sartre. This is before Sarre rattles off the intro to Wretched.

Then on his library – at the end of the book there is one of those ‘what was in his library’ things. Fanon has some Plekhanov, a bit of Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, not much Marx, (the 18th Brumaire of course, the Critique, Anti-Duhring and something else), but lots and lots of Mao. I guess pamphlets he may have picked up in China. Also, Merleau-Ponty, Bachelard and a few other French thinkers of the 50s.

And Freud. It seems Fanon annotated his copy of Interpretation of dreams with quite hostile marginalia. For every time Freud uses the word ‘primitive’, as in ‘in primitive cases the sex drive is…’, Fanon would write the word ‘Bastard’ in the margin, with an angry exclamation mark. Choice. He was similarly unimpressed with Jung’s primitivism, though I have not found out what he thought of Mandalas and all that. Of course Fanon did start off heavily committed to electric shock treatments (to ‘clear’ a patient before rebuilding their personality) so criticism of Freud is worth a bag of salt, but he also went on to develop institutional therapy, and indirectly – through a follower – his Tunis clinic influences Guattari the the Bordo, and he was a huge practitioner of open psychiatry, that I now find out was started pretty much in Nottingham in the 19th century or so with the Mapperley clinic, eventually ransacked by Care in the Community, and now a National Health Trust facility that has been in deep trouble for various irregularities with funds and because the orderlies were writing the facebook comments on behalf of patients ‘who could not write for themselves’ or something like that (some TV expose).

All of this comes after reading Alienation and Freedom. How great to have a new Fanon collection of previously obscure and unpublished work, including all his psych essays and his dissertation. Alienation and Freedom basically doubles the amount of Fanon text in the public domain. And the critique of colonialism is a sharply relevant now as it was when France was the brutal colonial power it still tries to be under the armed wings of NATO.

Trinkets from Bác Hồ

Always on the lookout for the anthro connection, so this hit high on my trigger warning system:

A gift from Uncle Ho to “Vuong Chi Sinh, a leader of the Mong ethnic people in Ha Giang” in recognition of his commitment to the revolution.

I don’t know how yet, but this will enter my discussion of anthropology and ethics in Vietnam (highlands Special Forces activity etc).

Great stuff – also, the Ho Chi Minh Museum is a great educational resource and well worth a visit. It used to be the Saigon Port Building.

https://en.nhandan.org.vn/culture/item/7764302-ho-chi-minh-museum-receives-two-uncle-ho%E2%80%99s-memorabilia.html

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Details here:

https://en.nhandan.org.vn/culture/item/7764302-ho-chi-minh-museum-receives-two-uncle-ho%E2%80%99s-memorabilia.html

 

Marx Trot on again in 2019?

The Marx Trot is going to return in the summer 2019. Stay tuned for details.

 

In the meantime, some old reading (the original posts have comments but you’d have to search). At the end I also post some links to the Lord Sothhampton pub, thanks Stephen Emms (possibly now sold, or a youth hostel) and to some Dickens family stuff since they lived on the same street as the Marxs in the early 1860s (Marx family at no. 9. Dickens’ mother, widowed sister-in-law, and two nieces). Alos a piece on the Marx houses, again, thanks Stephen Emms. All the stuff gathered for the Marx Trot will be familiar, but the story of the walks, the kids, the sore feet, phots, riot squad visit (really), the beers, confrontations with crypto hindu-fascist nazi sportscar madness hippies and buffet meals in honour of Mao is a story still to be told in full.

 

The Marx Trot 2009

Marx is buried in Highgate. So we start  at the end. Meet at the East Cemetery gate at 4pm. Watch the film ‘High Hopes’ beforehand if need be. Bring cigars.

The Marx family would often walk from Haverstock Hill to Soho, so we can too. As its a nice day. We’ll walk through the park. Hamstead Heath in fact, though other parks might distract our thoughts. Marx took part in a Hyde Park demonstration against the Sunday Observance laws and wrote an article on the Anti-Church demonstration of July 1855. We can read this on the way and contemplate the production of nature.

At the far end of Hamstead Heath is a favourite pub of the Marx’s – so we could visit Jack Straws castle. I found the following info on a cursory search:

Jack Straws Castle

NW3

Jack Straw’s Castle ought to be the perfect place for an inspiring pint. The situation is good, the history intriguing and the ghosts distinguished. Karl Marx drank here on the corner of Hampstead Heath, high above the foul air of 19th-century London. So did Charles Dickens, Leigh Hunt and Max Beerbohm. Jack Straw himself – one of the leaders of the peasants revolt of 1381 – allegedly rallied his pitchfork-wielding mob from a haywagon nearby.

From here we can walk down Heath Street to Chalk Farm and Grafton Terrace.

Marx lived at 3 Roxburgh Terrace, now part of Prince of Wales Road Kentish Town. Then he moved to 9 Grafton Terrace. He drank at the Lord Southampton on the corner of Southampton and Grafton. We’ll obviously have to spend some time here.

Then we head to central London.

Marx fenced in a salon off Oxford street – in Rathbone Place (not far a from Tottenham Court Rd tube).

The Manifesto was drafted and approved at (according to internet gab – which I suspect is apocryphal):

The Red Lion, Soho [Closed] – pub details

Address: 20 Great Windmill Street, London, W1D 7LQ

Not many people know this but this pub is where Marx and Engels and others used to meet, where the first meetings of the Communist Party were held and where the Communist Manifesto was initially drafted and approved. This is a historic building in the history of Politics and it should have a Blue Plaque on it. I hope the people that live there when its converted know the relevance of this place.

Now apparently reopened as an “AT One” – we could I suppose heckle them a little [its an awful bar – heckle a lot – they have no idea where they are, adn beers were 4 quid for a bottle of sol – pah!]

When he first came to London Marx lived on Dean Street – We can visit Marx’s House and Blue Plaque – its on the second floor.

Then across to the British Museum. Obviously. There will be a test on your recall of particular passages from the footnotes. Someone will recite the bees and architects passage.

And finally, though I disagree with much of what Comrade Germain has done with Stop the War (or rather unstop it), here I think there is a hint of what is to be done as the evening closes in – a crawl up Tottenham Court Road starting at the Rising Sun.

“Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were refugees following the defeated 1848 revolutions in Europe. Marx wrote Capital in the reading room of the British Museum. He and Engels enjoyed pub crawls on Tottenham Court Road” [from an article by Lindsay Germain]

And by then wee should be able to make up our own after dinner entertainments. I do think one day a less ad hoc version of this walk is necessary – and I will prepare it – but this seems ok for starters. Leaving now.

 

Marx Trot 29.5.2011

Hi all,

As promised in one of the last lectures of Capital and Cultural Studies this year, it is proposed that we convene for ‘The Marx Trot’ on Sunday 29 May 2011
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This involves various cultural social and political highlights, including visits to Marx’s grave, a couple of houses Marx lived in, Engles house, the pub in which the Communist Manifesto was adopted by the International Workingmen’s (sic) Association, some other places Marx and Engels drank in, and so on. Its mostly pubs…
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The day includes multiple options. Some of them are worthy and educational. The rest involve beer.
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It is suggested that we meet at Red Lion Square at 1.30 pm. The Alternative Press Fair is on, zines like Nyx, The paper, and …Ment have a table, we can go support them, or something. Peruse the other rags and lament the demise of Pravda.
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Then get to Archway by 3.00 PM, in time to be at Highgate Cemetery, a ten minute walk, for 3.30pm (you do the math).
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After that, visits to Marx’s houses, local pub, Hamstead Heath, and in into Soho…. and on into the evening. Dinner as and when (chinese in Soho?) and other insurrectionary fun.
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Sound like a plan?
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red salute.
John
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ps. Notes from a previous Marx Trot are here. Pic From Sascha.
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pps. There are plenty of very excellent reasons to come out to Goldsmiths this month too – talks by Mick Douglas, Ishita Banerjea-Dube, Nawal el Saadawi – see here.
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ppps. for the 29th, the Alt PRess Fair here,
25 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4RL
020 7242 8032

Underground: Holborn

but feel free to join later on the route.

if all else fails – 4pm at the grave. Bingo cards for the dead comms buried nearby might be a good idea.:
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Highgate Cemetery Opening times:  from 10 am weekdays, 11am weekends

Closing time:   5pm British Summer Time (last admission 4.30pm) 4pm British Winter Time (last admission 3.30pm)

Please note: the Cemetery only accepts cash.

Entry:  £3 per adult / £2 for students with valid NUS card or equivalent

 

Marx Trot 2012 – July 7

Notice. The date has just been announced – The Marx Trot this year will be on July 7. Hurrah! Leaving from Archway tube 2:30 pm, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave about 3pm – heading across the Heath to the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace – and onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub – now crappy cocktail bar – where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, and much more… All welcome.

,.

Last year’s trot (and links to previous) here: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/marx-trot-29-5-2011/

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Pics of the houses: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/photo/london/index.htm

 

Marx Trot 2013 – July 7

karl-marx-grave-highgate

All welcome. A day of revolutionary dawdling, pints, and ending up awash somewhere on Tottenham Court Rd… The annual Marx trot this year will be on July 7. Lal Salaam!

We will again be leaving from Archway tube 2:30 pm, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave about 3pm – heading across the Heath to the Lord Southhampton pub which was the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace – then onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, – now a crappy cocktail bar – and more… All welcome (kids could surely come for the first couple of hours – but warning, its a longish walk across the heath between Highgate and the Grafton Terrace HouseBYO libations for the first part.

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Last year’s trot = https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/marx-trot-2012-july-7-2/

(and links to previous) here: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/marx-trot-29-5-2011/

Pics of the houses: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/photo/london/index.htm

Other links:

http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

The Great Windmill Street venue is where Liebknecht says the Manifesto was adopted by the League of the Just/German Workers Educational Association/Communist League – but some say it was at the White Hart in Dury Lane. In any case Marx lectures on Capital at Great Windmill Street, but see here:http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

For Leninists – a diversion on the trot might take in Charing Cross station, and areas near Kings Cross and Pentonville:http://sarahjyoung.com/site/2011/01/16/russians-in-london-lenin/

Dancing the first international! http://history-is-made-at-night.blogspot.co.uk/2009_10_01_archive.html

A pub crawl with Karl http://www.mytimemachine.co.uk/pubcrawl.htm

 

Marx Trot 2014

Marx Trot on sunday 13 July, starts at 2.30 archway tube…\

<note, May 2016, the next Marx Trot is planned for August 14, 2016. More details on this blog soon. This is just a date holder>

Mshelfie

A day of revolutionary dawdling, pints, and ending up awash somewhere on Tottenham Court Rd… The annual Marx trot this year will be on Sunday 13 July. All welcome. Lal Salaam!

We will again be leaving from Archway tube 2:30 pm, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave about 3pm – heading across the Heath to the Lord Southampton pub which was the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace – then onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, – now a crappy cocktail bar – and more… All welcome (kids could surely come for the first couple of hours – but warning, its a longish walk across the heath between Highgate and the Grafton Terrace House BYO libations for the first part).

[word to the wise: bring some tinnies in a bag – and sunscreen, umbrella as weather dictates and dosh for dinner (possibly in a footba-oriented venue). The early part of our route involves considerable walking – on the heath – kids are very welcome for the first few hours but after 7.00 it possibly gets a bit adult oriented – well, I mean we visit pubs Marx used to haunt – gespenst-like – in Soho. Mostly harmless, but its cup final night]

Previous trots = https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/marx-trot-this-sunday-2-30-archway-tube-2/ and https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/marx-trot-2012-july-7-2/and here: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/marx-trot-29-5-2011/

Pics of the houses: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/photo/london/index.htm

Other links:

http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

The Great Windmill Street venue is where Liebknecht says the Manifesto was adopted by the League of the Just/German Workers Educational Association/Communist League – but some say it was at the White Hart in Dury Lane. In any case Marx lectures on Capital at Great Windmill Street, but see here:http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

For Leninists – a diversion on the trot might take in Charing Cross station, and areas near Kings Cross and Pentonville:http://sarahjyoung.com/site/2011/01/16/russians-in-london-lenin/

 

see also Lincoln Alpern: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/lincoln-emery-alpern-says-come-to-the-2014-marx-trot-in-this-teaser-from-last-year-marx-london/

 

Marx Trot Sunday August 14, 2016 #Marx #walkingtourlondon

This year the Marx Trot is planned for August 14, 2016

Meet 1pm Archway Tube.

bring enthusiasm, vox pop speechifying, money for drinks, drinks, sunscreen (we hope we will need suncreen).

Pic above is from the Maidan, in the area near Rani Rashmoni Avenue, Lenin Sirani, S.N.Banerjee Rd,  Kolkata, West Bengal.

Previous Marx Trot itinerary (roughly followed each time): We will again be leaving from Archway tube, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave – heading across the Heath to the Lord Southampton pub which was the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace [they also sell juice] – then onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, – now a crappy cocktail bar, so we prob won’t enter – and more… All welcome (kids could surely come for the first couple of hours – but warning, its a longish walk across the heath between Highgate and the Grafton Terrace House BYO libations for the first part).

[word to the wise: bring some tinnies in a bag at the start – and sunscreen, umbrella as weather dictates and dosh for dinner (if interested in Mao’s favourite London place late on). The early part of our route involves considerable walking – on the heath – kids are very welcome for the first few hours but after 7.00 it possibly gets a bit adult oriented – well, I mean we visit pubs Marx used to haunt – gespenst-like – mostly harmless]

 

Sort of part of this course in Nottingham:

https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/reading-capital-in-nottingham-every-wednesday-11am-from-july-20-until-28-sept-2016/

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Pics of the  Marx/Engels houses:

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/photo/london/index.htm

Other links:

http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

The Marx Trot is Party agnostic and non sectarian, except against Tories, other social fascist parties, brexit-racist pogrom enablers, and the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, with 40 or so exceptions.

Previous trots were =

https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/marx-trot-2014/

https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/marx-trot-this-sunday-2-30-archway-tube-2/

https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/marx-trot-2012-july-7-2/and here: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/marx-trot-29-5-2011/

 

The Great Windmill Street venue is where Liebknecht says the Manifesto was adopted by the League of the Just/German Workers Educational Association/Communist League – but some say it was at the White Hart in Dury Lane. In any case Marx lectures on Capital at Great Windmill Street, but see here:http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

For Leninists – a diversion on the trot might take in Charing Cross station, and areas near Kings Cross and Pentonville:http://sarahjyoung.com/site/2011/01/16/russians-in-london-lenin/

All hail our boozers: #1, Lord Southampton, NW5

 

In a new weekly series, we go behind the scenes of a popular local boozer. First off, meet landlady Martha Mcgrath

A well-used dartboard at the Lord Southampton. All photos: Stephen Emms/ LBTM ltd
A well-used dartboard at the Lord Southampton. All photos: Stephen Emms/ LBTM ltd

Firstly, congratulations. With 43 years under your belt, we hear you’re the longest serving publican in the borough of Camden. How did you end up in this corner of NW5? 
I grew up in Ireland and we came over here when I was 17. We had a place in Blackfriars first, and in those days it was promotion to come to a bigger venue like this. When we took over in 1972, we were familiar with the area because my family already had pubs nearby: the Rose & Crown on Torriano Avenue was owned by my sister and brother-in-law in the late ‘60s, while the Exmouth Arms in Starcross Street was run by my brother.

Martha McGrath sitting by the open fire. Photo: SE
Martha McGrath sitting by the open fire. Photo: SE

What was the area like back then?
Queen’s Crescent, the high street nearby, had a Woolworth’s, a Sainsbury’s – it had it all.So tell us about the pub.
There were two fireplaces, a wall by the jukebox, and another where the arch is now, plus saloon, public and private bars. There was an off-license too, which the brewery got rid of in about ’74. There was also a bridge to the toilets (pictured), which remains. The whole back area was called the Kelly Bar, with a porthole and other memorabilia originating from the HMS Kelly Ship, commanded by Mountbatten in the Second World War. Sadly it was cleared out one day many years ago when we were on holiday.

What’s this about a Karl Marx connection? 
A pub was first put on a map in this position in 1752, apparently, but this building dates back to the 1850s. Yes, Karl Marx used to come in, but rumour has it that he wasn’t very generous. He liked people to buy him drinks rather than spending his money, so he’d have one or two, then go up and down the road knowing he’d bump into acquaintances who’d then shout him a pint.



A quirky bridge leads to the gents toilet. Note the inaccessible doors from the railing. Photo: SE
A quirky bridge leads to the gents toilet. Note the ‘floating’ doors, inaccessible from the railing. Photo: SE

Fast forward to 2015: what’s it like nowadays?
Much harder. Drinks are expensive, people haven’t got the money, and we’re competing with the supermarkets.Who are your customers now?
Four-fifths are regulars and very nice people: all men, a few women – but it’s a man’s pub, really – all in their forties or older. Our oldest is just coming up to eighty; youngest is in his thirties.

What about doing some food?
Years ago I used to do sandwiches and stuff like that, but then the building works in Maitland Park stopped. Now it’s all residential so people are not going to bother coming out to the pub to eat, are they? Very few of them go out for a meal round here. And as we’re up the backstreet not everyone knows we even exist. When I won an award for being the longest serving publican in Camden they had to look for us to find out where we were. So if they can’t find us, how do you expect to find customers?

Hopefully you’ll get a few more now that this is out.
Hopefully!

Handsome exterior. Photo: SE
Handsome exterior on the corner of Grafton Terrace, opposite St Pancras Almshouses. Photo: SE

What are your funniest memories? 
There are quite a few but they’re all too rude for publication. I mean rude. But loads of celebs have come in over the years: Chris Moyles, for a couple of years with his gang. Getting back a bit there was Peter o’ Toole, Pete Postlethwaite, Bananarama – it was the first pub they drank in when they arrived round here – and quite a few Eastenders. Bill Nighy was a very young boy when we came here, training in the old Bubble Theatre in Southampton Road.Any unusual customers?
My husband Phil is like Dr Doolittle: when he goes out to the park, he feeds everything. One day we were here and in comes a squirrel and it sits on the floor, waiting for some nuts. We’ve also had a fox wander in and have a walk around. And one of our regulars, Brian, arrives with his snake now and again.

Finally: we hear you’re up for sale? 
Yes, it’s true. We’ve not signed anything yet but loads of people have been in. Some are wanting to do more food. We’ll have to see. But whatever happens, we’ll still stay living in the area.

Find the Lord Southampton at 2 Southampton Road NW5. Next week: we meet Ben McDonald from The Junction Tavern.

 

 

Boy Scout

Untitled1

 

“‘There is no document of civilization that is not simultaneously a document of barbarism‘” (Walter Benjamin Illuminations)

 

William Burroughs’ annotated Boys Scout’s manual has been reissued, and I am waiting for it to arrive so I can have another go a trying to reconcile the whole boy scout thing. Militarism in the blood by dint of generations of just doing what kids do when their fathers did it before them. The dodgy old hyphenated, Colin Baden-Powell had invented the concentration camp in Mafeking during the Boer War too. Can’t say a Boy Scout history is a reason to be proud. I first heard of the Burroughs manual from Mick T, so I rifled through an old travel diary into which a news clipping was folded. It included a photograph of five young Americans in combat gear beside a ‘Homeland Security’ bus. From the front page of the New York Times I collected it on May 13 2009 when last visiting Mick in New York. The image caught my eye and I recall this was the same day when newly discovered atrocity photos from CIA ‘facilities’ in Afghanistan and Iraq were to be published but were censored so as to avoid undermining the war effort and the troops at the front.[i] Anxious excuses were conjured for spin and impression management… Instead, we got the unbelievable shot of Explorer scouts tooled up for the kill.

The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s long-time missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and fire-fighters. Rereading the text ten years on is bracing, and Burroughs does not help the dark forebodings of the text.

“This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,” said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. “It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.” (New York Times, 13 May 2009)

Blocking the atrocity images, then president Obama said he would fight any release of the new set of detention images,[ii] backpeddling from an earlier ‘release them all’ position after a word from Pentagon chiefs. This old strategy or submerging truth is reported on the same front page as the scouting story). But the bus picture contains a curious quirky little detail. Look at the line of action-figure scouts in the shot. The very last one doesn’t seem to think the situation is all that real. A big grin on his face, forgetting the seriousness of the security role-play; has he tapped his colleague on the shoulder to say he likes his combat trousers? ‘Dude, I got these on special at ‘Old Navy” says his colleague. ‘Awesome’. I wonder if there is perhaps-possibly-maybe a little chink of critique, on the part of the New York Times’ photographer or picture editor in this edge-of-the-image smile? Such good terror-fighting teeth too. I would ‘hope’ we read this scene against the grain. ‘Yes we can’.

The article offers a great many other howlers – including strange juxtapositions: one such follows on from the news that neophyte Explorer Cathy is ‘attracted by the guns’ and says: “I like shooting them … I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.” We then get the observation that the police who supervise this ‘training’ have been exploring in their own perversions: “There have been numerous cases over the last three decades in which police officers supervising Explorers have been charged, in civil and criminal cases, with sexually abusing them”.

It seems though we are safe. This is after all only a role-playing game, with Arab dress-ups and other harmless pantomime fun. We are assured that ‘the training … is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting’. OK.

Meanwhile, collected from the same paper, another photograph of another line of troops had caught my eye – commemorating the body of a soldier being returned to the US. RIP Michael P Yates, killed by one of his own in the counselling tent.[iii] The televised reporting of the return of troop bodies was of course suppressed by the previous President, Bush W, but the correspondence between the line of Explorer scouts and the solemn line of the troops in the second picture is poignant. (The death toll of US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan topped 5000 soon after). This picture too appears a few pages before a full page ad taken out by a right wing group, suitably named the ‘Torture Truth Project’ that condemns those who would embarrass the US internationally by mentioning the ‘only three’ detainees that endured the notorious torture technique known as water boarding. The text of the ad takes on its own special rhetoric when it tortures the truth by warning that ‘we are losing the goodwill of people across the world’. Welcome to the USA today, in the New York Times.

The Scouts, as spawn of Sir Colin Baden-Powell, cannot be disassociated from the logic that developed the detention camp at Mafeking. Be Prepared. I remember this slogan and the implication of youthful disciplining, as is surely true for anyone who was a scout (sure, it was mostly fun of course, smoking behind the troop hall). My grandfather in the UK and father in the Ukraine were also enthusiastic adventurers. William Burroughs might have been a safer bet as father figure.

[i] New York Times, 13 May 2009

[ii] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/us/politics/14photos.html?scp=6&sq=obama&st=cse accessed 13 May 2009

[iii] curiously, the image is not reproduced in the online version of the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/us/14victims.html accessed October 20 2009.

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