On Robinson’s slave booty.

I dunno – just a throwaway comment, but… Marx was very much attuned to and knowledgeable about the slave trade and civil war when writing Capital, as I’ve often said in the lectures on Capital, and so I read his own Robinsonade in light of that knowledge.
Marx says something like: – “Let us leave Robinson on his Island, bathed in light… and then moves to the middle ages’. I think he would have been well aware of the last bit of the book where Robinson profits from slavery etc and wanted, like Tournier, to circumvent that denouement of the story. The argument I take from Spivak though is that Marx is saying, Look, even Robinson can understand labour time/value in production – to see the conditions of production is no big deal. Anything more than this is, well, not Marx, but others who have graphed on this whole thing about Robinson as embodiment of capitalist individualism etc
Actual quotes:

“In spite of the variety of his work, he knows that his labour, whatever its form, is but the activity of one and the same Robinson, and consequently, that it consists of nothing but different modes of human labour … All the relations between Robinson and the objects that form this wealth of his own creation, are here so simple and clear as to be intelligible without exertion, even to Mr. Sedley Taylor.

Let us now transport ourselves from Robinson’s island bathed in light to the European middle ages shrouded in darkness. Here, instead of the independent man, we find everyone dependent, serfs and lords, vassals and suzerains, laymen and clergy”

Perhaps it is a projection of Political Science, and certainly of those who love Robinsonades, that Robinson becomes the embodiment himself of a class category, or of social alienation (as Pawler sees it), but Marx does not sail out so far, or so I claim, following Spivak.
Whether it matters, hmmm. I think it does for the development that Marx sets up in the three snapshots he provides at this point in the text – Middle ages, Robinson, association of free individuals (not yet communist, perhaps socialist).
That Tournier leaves Robinson on the Island at the end, with Sunday because friday buggers off, is brave too.

Beekeepers see 42% of US honeybee colonies die off in a single year

beeyellow

Associated Press
Wednesday 13 May 2015 21.48 BST

Beekeepers see 42% of US honeybee colonies die off in a single year
Summer deaths raise concern among entomologists as more than two in five colonies are lost: a ‘loud signal that there’s some bad things happening’

More than two out of five American honeybee colonies died in the past year, and surprisingly, the worst die-off was in the summer, according to a federal survey.

Since April 2014, beekeepers lost 42.1% of their colonies, the second-highest rate in nine years, according to an annual survey conducted by a bee partnership that includes the US Department of Agriculture.

“What we’re seeing with this bee problem is just a loud signal that there’s some bad things happening with our agro-ecosystems,” said study co-author Keith Delaplane at the University of Georgia. “We just happen to notice it with the honeybee because they are so easy to count.”

But it’s not quite as dire as it sounds. That’s because after a colony dies, beekeepers split their surviving colonies, start new ones, and the numbers go back up again, said Delaplane and study co-author Dennis vanEngelsdorp of the University of Maryland. But that pushes the bees to their limits, he said.

What shocked the entomologists is that this is the first time they have noticed bees dying more in the summer than the winter, vanEngelsdorp said. The survey found beekeepers lost 27.4% of their colonies this summer. That’s up from 19.8% the previous summer.

Seeing massive colony losses in summer is like seeing “a higher rate of flu deaths in the summer than winter,” vanEngelsdorp said. “You just don’t expect colonies to die at this rate in the summer.”

Oklahoma, Illinois, Iowa, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Maine and Wisconsin all saw more than 60% of their hives die since April 2014, according to the survey.

“Most of the major commercial beekeepers get a dark panicked look in their eyes when they discuss these losses and what it means to their businesses,” said Pennsylvania State University entomology professor Diana Cox-Foster. She wasn’t part of the study, but praised it.

Delaplane and vanEngelsdorp said a combination of mites, poor nutrition and pesticides are to blame for the bee deaths.

Dick Rogers, chief beekeeper for pesticide maker Bayer, said the loss figure is “not unusual at all” and said the survey shows an end result of more colonies: 2.74 million hives in 2015, up from 2.64 million in 2014.

That does not mean bee health is improving or stable, vanEngelsdorp said.

COTTON FOR MY SHROUD (India 2011 75 min) – 26 May 2015 – plus ‘Damned’ 27/5/15 and ‘Candles in the Wind’ 28/5/15

You are invited to a unique free screening of this award-winning film, together with a Q&A session with the directors, Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl with John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want.

Tuesday 26th of May 2015

Doors open at 7.00 Screening at 7.15 and the programme finishes at 9.30pm

First Floor, Conference Centre, Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln Inn Field, London WC2A 3LJ

Book your place with Eventbrite

Watch the trailer here

This is a story about cotton farmers in the Vidarbha region of the Indian state of Maharashtra. The film investigates how Monsanto, in collusion with the government and politicians, promoted genetically modified Bt Cotton field trials amongst farmers. This was accompanied by propaganda about high yields and reduction in pesticide use.

Vulnerable farmers were enticed to take out loans in order to pay for the GM seeds and the exorbitant prices of pesticides and fertilisers. They found themselves trapped in heavy debt to the money lenders on the one side, with cotton merchants manipulating prices downwards on the other.

With poor yields and high costs, many farmers found themselves with a mountain of debt that they could never hope to repay. In despair, the only way out they could see was to put an end to their lives by drinking pesticide, leaving behind widows and orphans.

A quarter of million farmers have committed suicide in India. If we had a comparable number of middle class professionals committing suicide, the world would not be silent. The film depicts a heartless world where capital and its sibling debt kills daily.

…………………………………………….

Myrdle Court Press, Invitation!

‘Dammed’
Screening & Discussion

Join us for a free screening of ‘Dammed’ followed by a discussion with the directors Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl.

Wednesday 27 May 6-8:30PM Unite Auditoriam 128 TheoBalds Road, WC1X 8TN London

“Dammed challenges the paradigm of development that assumes mega dams are critical to notions of progress”.

The film follows the Narmada struggle in 2012 when the NHDC (The Dam Corporation) raised the water level of Onkareshwar Dam, defying court orders.

The dreaded submergence was at hand. No alternate land, livelihood or compensation was provided. This was the last straw. In the face of this corpo-political apathy, the villagers of Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh resisted – sitting in the rising waters, submerged neck-deep for 17 days.
Join us to speak with the film-makers about this specific situation, along with a critical discussion on the politics of caste, privilege and image-making.

Watch the trailer

RSVP via FB.

Reserve free tickets via Eventbrite

…………………………………………….

South Asia Solidarity Group invite you to a Film screening of the award-winning

‘Candles in the Wind’ (India 2014 52 min)

Followed by Q & A with the directors Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl

7.00pm Thursday 28 May
(doors open at 6.30pm)

Room V111, SOAS Vernon Square Campus,

Vernon Square, Penton Rise, WC1X 9EW

(nearest tube: King’s Cross)

Free (booking not required)

Punjab is known globally as the success-story of India’s Green Revolution. Popular cinema from Bollywood keeps this carefully cultivated image alive. This image is a mirage.

Behind the smokescreen of an idyllic Punjab, there is real smoke, from the smouldering pyres of the farmers who are driven to suicide by the debt burden due to high costs of seeds, fertilisers and pesticides set by the almighty corporations in collusion with the State.

With suicides of men spiralling, women are left to bear the burden of their debt, and the responsibilities of taking care of children, ageing parents and the chemically-abused fields.

‘Candles in the Wind’ witnesses the silent determination of these women to survive and struggle against the politics of domination. The film provides a unique insight into the effects of neoliberal globalisation on rural India and the socioeconomic flux which has accompanied it.

Watch the trailer for <a href="http://youtu.be/S__AsI0VKSc Candles in the Wind

Awards: Special Mention, 61st National Film Awards / India; John Abraham National Film Award for Best Documentary / SiGNS Film Festival / Kerala / 2014; Special Mention / IDSFFK / Trivandrum / 2014; Official Selection: Indian Panorama-2014, IFFI-Goa.

Nandan Saxena & Kavita Bahl are independent filmmakers and media trainers.
They received the National Award for Best Investigative Film at the National Film Awards (2011), for the film ‘Cotton for my shroud’. It was screened as ‘Headline Film’ at the World Investigative Film Week at London in 2013.
Almost two decades into filmmaking, they work in the genres of documentary and poetry films. Their oeuvre spans the domains of ecology, livelihoods, development and human rights.

Their most recent film ‘I cannot give you my Forest’ has been awarded the ‘Rajat Kamal’ for the Best Film in Environment, including Agriculture at the National Film Awards (For 2014).