Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Swerve Left: The Expendable Class

Karlo at Swerve Left connects some dots and provides a good perspective on the President's denial of U.S. Human Rights violations:

The Expendable Class

Monday, May 30, 2005

Remembering the (True) Cost of War

(Nod to Okir who is reflecting on Mnemosyne)

A day to remember all the families, sons, daughters, wives, husbands, mothers, fathers who suffer because their loved ones are fighting wars (no matter what side they are on)... may we work toward a better solution. Also the deepest respect to all soldiers (official and unofficial) who have served bravely in the defense of the weak or defenseless, who have defended those who are attacked, and who are there to defend their social groups when they are unjustly attacked.

Help Restore the Traditional Day of Observance of Memorial Day

While we remember those who put their lives on the line in the service of our country, I would like to suggest, following Red Harvest, that we also take the time to remember those who died in the service of the people:

Memorial Day Martyrs

I know, I know, you are saying don't we have a day for those who labor? We do, but since the working class are a large percentage of those that serve and die in the military, I think that Memorial Day should also be a day of reflection for the workers of the world:

American Labor History

A Curriculum of United States Labor History for Teachers

Campus Progress: Who Defines Your Values?

(Courtesy of Ariadne's Labyrinth)

Who Defines Your Values (PDF Poster)

Campus Progress

The Textual Mirror Stage

I see an aspect of myself reflected in the words of (an)other and my writings reflect the ripples of this erotic engagement:

Flicker Link for the Whole Series

(Image found at Long Sunday)

David Brooks: Karl's New Manifesto

(Courtesy of Arts and Letters Daily)

Karl's New Manifesto
by David Brooks
New York Times

I was in the library reading room when suddenly a strange specter of a man appeared above me. He was a ragged fellow with a bushy beard, dressed in the clothes of another century. He clutched news clippings on class in America, and atop the pile was a manifesto in his own hand. He was gone in an instant, but Karl's manifesto on modern America remained. This is what it said:

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle. Freeman and slave, lord and serf, capitalist and proletariat, in a word oppressor and oppressed, stand in opposition to each other and carry on a constant fight. In the information age, in which knowledge is power and money, the class struggle is fought between the educated elite and the undereducated masses.

The information age elite exercises artful dominion of the means of production, the education system. The median family income of a Harvard student is $150,000. According to the Educational Testing Service, only 3 percent of freshmen at the top 146 colleges come from the poorest quarter of the population. The educated class ostentatiously offers financial aid to poor students who attend these colleges and then rigs the admission criteria to ensure that only a small, co-optable portion of them can get in.

The educated class reaps the benefits of the modern economy - seizing for itself most of the income gains of the past decades - and then ruthlessly exploits its position to ensure the continued dominance of its class.

The educated class has torn away from the family its sentimental veil and reduced it to a mere factory for the production of little meritocrats. Members of the educated elites are more and more likely to marry each other, which the experts call assortative mating, but which is really a ceaseless effort to refortify class solidarity and magnify social isolation. Children are turned into workaholic knowledge workers - trained, tutored, tested and prepped to strengthen class dominance.

The educated elites are the first elites in all of history to work longer hours per year than the exploited masses, so voracious is their greed for second homes. They congregate in exclusive communities walled in by the invisible fence of real estate prices, then congratulate themselves for sending their children to public schools. They parade their enlightened racial attitudes by supporting immigration policies that guarantee inexpensive lawn care. They send their children off to Penn, Wisconsin and Berkeley, bastions of privilege for the children of the professional class, where they are given the social and other skills to extend class hegemony.

The information society is the only society in which false consciousness is at the top. For it is an iron rule of any university that the higher the tuition and more exclusive the admissions, the more loudly the denizens profess their solidarity with the oppressed. The more they objectively serve the right, the more they articulate the views of the left.

Periodically members of this oppressor class hold mock elections. The Yale-educated scion of the Bush family may face the Yale-educated scion of the Winthrop family. They divide into Republicans and Democrats and argue over everything except the source of their power: the intellectual stratification of society achieved through the means of education.

More than the Roman emperors, more than the industrial robber barons, the malefactors of the educated class seek not only to dominate the working class, but to decimate it. For 30 years they have presided over failing schools without fundamentally transforming them. They have imposed a public morality that affords maximum sexual opportunity for themselves and guarantees maximum domestic chaos for those lower down.

In 1960 there were not big structural differences between rich and poor families. In 1960, three-quarters of poor families were headed by married couples. Now only a third are. While the rates of single parenting have barely changed for the educated elite, family structures have disintegrated for the oppressed masses.

Poor children are less likely to live with both biological parents, hence, less likely to graduate from high school, get a job and be in a position to challenge the hegemony of the privileged class. Family inequality produces income inequality from generation to generation.

Undereducated workers of the world, unite! Let the ruling educated class tremble! You have nothing to lose but your chains. You have a world to win!

I don't agree with everything in Karl's manifesto, because I don't believe in incessant class struggle, but you have to admit, he makes some good points.

Cultural Revolution has a good discussion about this editorial that expands into the practices of dismissive political labeling.

Link to the Editorial

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Thalif Deen: U.S. Ramps Up Arms Supplies to Repressive Regimes

(Courtesy of Thoughts on the Eve of Apocalypse)

U.S. Ramps Up Arms Supplies to Repressive Regimes
by Thalif Deen
Inter Press Service News Agency

UNITED NATIONS, May 25 (IPS) - The United States has accelerated arms sales to some of the world's most repressive and undemocratic regimes since the Sep. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, according to a new report from leading arms trade researchers.

The report, from the Arms Trade Resource Centre at New York-based New School University's World Policy Institute, says the increase in sales and military grants is a payoff to countries that have either joined what the White House calls its ''war on terror'' or have backed the United States in its military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

A majority of U.S. arms sales to the developing world also go to regimes ''defined as undemocratic by our own State Department'' or foreign ministry, says the study.

According to the report, U.S.-supplied arms are involved in a majority of the world's active conflicts, including Angola, Chad, Ethiopia, Colombia, Pakistan, Israel, and the Philippines.

The study cites the recent decision by the administration of President George W. Bush to provide new F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan while pledging comparable high-tech military hardware to India -- thereby providing U.S. arms to both sides in a long brewing conflict among two nuclear-armed rivals.

And the tens of millions of dollars in U.S. arms transfers to Uzbekistan -- where more than 160 anti-government demonstrators were killed last week -- ''exemplify the negative consequences of arming repressive regimes,'' it says.

According to the study, countries defined as ''undemocratic'' in the State Department's annual human rights report also are major recipients of U.S. military aid or U.S. weapons systems.

These include: Saudi Arabia (1.1 billion dollars in 2003), Egypt (1.0 billion dollars), Kuwait (153 million dollars), United Arab Emirates (110 million dollars), and Uzbekistan (33 million dollars).

''Arming repressive regimes while simultaneously proclaiming a campaign against tyranny undermines the credibility of the United States and makes it harder to hold other nations to high standards of conduct on human rights and other key issues,'' said Frida Berrigan, co-author of the study, 'U.S. Weapons at War 2005: Promoting Freedom or Fueling Conflict?'.

Entire Report

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Leda Cosmides: Evolution of the Human Mind

Evolution of the Human Mind
Leda Cosmides
Philosophy Talk

Is the human mind a relatively inflexible program bequeathed to us by evolution, and culture just a veneer that gives age-old urges a respectable cover? Or our minds largely the product of language, culture, and civilization, with evolution having supplied only the most basic hardware and operating system?

Listen to this Episode

Purgatory Without End: Why Is America Still So Prone to Religious Wars

(Courtesy of Arts Journal)

Purgatory Without End: Why Is America Still So Prone to Religious Wars
The Economist


In the wake of the creationist “Scopes monkey trial” in 1925, the evangelicals (though technically victorious) realised they had lost the PR battle, and retreated from American public life. Now they are popping up all over the place, from the bestseller lists to pop music. In the wake of Scopes, the Bible Belt (H. L. Mencken's tag) was seen as a home of hicks. Now evangelism is the religion of the upwardly mobile, of McMansions and office parks, with evangelicals almost drawing level with (traditionally upper-crust) Episcopalians in terms of wealth and education.

Over the past 25 years, these more confident evangelicals have become the most powerful voting block in the Republican Party. Now they want to redefine the boundaries of church and state to make more room for public displays of religiosity and for faith-based social policy, and to put the “culture of life” back at the heart of the American experiment.

For evangelicals all these positions are as mainstream as it comes. They point out that the banishment of religion from the public square is a recent development. You only have to go back to 1960 to find children praying in schools and Hollywood sentimentalising Christmas. They point out that Roe v Wade (1973), which protects abortion, was a wonky decision, based on a post-modern reading of the constitution; and that the revolution that removed religion from public life has led to social breakdown.

Yet for a growing number of secularists these positions are the very definition of extremism. School prayers are unAmerican. For them, Roe v Wade is up there with Brown v Board of Education in the pantheon of Supreme Court rulings. And they regard the past 40 years as a period of enlightenment, not breakdown. These secularists are as determined to preserve the status quo as the Christian conservatives are to reverse it—and they have made the Democratic Party their shield.

Which all suggests that America's religious wars are only going to intensify.

To Read the Entire Essay

Bob Ellis: No Laughing Matter

(Courtesy of Eyeteeth)

No Laughing Matter: Mr. Hussein's Underpants
by Bob Ellis

Will showing Saddam Hussein in his underpants help our cause in the Middle East? Not among the culture that invented chivalry, to wit, the Arab culture, and believes you must treat your enemy with honour. Not among the Red Cross, who thinks it a breach of the Geneva Convention. Not among European editorialists to whom images of naked people being tormented and killed, in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, bring thoughts of the Holocaust. Not among those civil libertarians who value trial by jury, the right to a lawyer and a pay phone, and release on bail before one's day in court. To all of these it shows barbarism, a conquering army of ignorant rednecks out of control.

Imagine, for instance, a photo of the naked Colin Powell urinating on the floor. Would that help our enemies' cause? Some in the US apparently think it would. Show your foe humiliated, abject and helpless and his followers will give up the struggle.

The followers of Jesus of Nazareth, curiously, did not abandon their cause after his whipping, buffeting, mocking, stripping and crucifixion. The followers of Che Guevara still revere him despite the photos of his shooting, his slow agony and his death. The supporters of John Tyndale did not cease to read his English Bible after his public burning at the stake. Where do Americans get their silly ideas?

From, I guess, their own culture, which is a culture of humiliation. In Little League Baseball, Gridiron and the Spelling Bee, humiliation is the norm. In high school corridors and summer camp, in the secret societies of Harvard, Yale and Princeton, in the army, the navy and the airforce (as in An Officer And A Gentleman) you shape up or go under. On American Idol, The Weakest Link, The Apprentice and How To Marry A Millionaire, on Jerry Springer and Jay Leno and Fox News and, yes, on Oscar Night, you are measured, apparently, by your ability to withstand humiliation, defeat and mockery. The Simpsons and South Park, Seinfeld, Married, With Children and the films of Woody Allen record and celebrate this tendency. Films like Rocky and The Green Mile and Million Dollar Baby revel in it. The all-American concept of Winners and Losers (losers are the 98 percent who are not millionaires) reveres it.

To Read the Entire Essay

Wooster Collective

(Courtesy of Eyeteeth who posted an image from their site---Eyeteeth is also a great weblog!)

Check out this site dedicated to street art and culture jamming:

Wooster Collective

Good Writing Instruction, Not Testing, Is the Best Preparation for College

(This is obvious, but needs to be said...)

NCTE Task Force on SAT and ACT Writing Tests Releases Report
National Council of English Teachers

The report, The Impact of the SAT and ACT Timed Writing Tests, raises serious concerns about the validity of the tests as an indication of writing ability, the impact of the tests on curriculum and classroom instruction, the unintended consequences of the writing tests, and issues of equity. According to the report, the SAT and ACT timed writing tests are "unlikely to improve writing instruction," and have the potential to "compromise student writers and undermine longstanding efforts to improve writing instruction in the nation's schools."

To Access The Full Report

Chris Marsden: Amnesty International Report Denounces US Abuse of Human Rights

Amnesty International report denounces US abuses of human rights
By Chris Marsden
World Socialist Web Site

Amnesty International has called on the Bush administration to close its prison camp at the US Navy base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, calling it “the gulag of our time.”

The human rights group’s Secretary General Irene Khan called for the closure of the infamous institution, where about 540 men have been detained for as long as three years, most without trial, purely on suspicion of having links to the Taliban regime or Al Qaeda. The “gulag” refers to the camps run by the Stalinist regime in the former USSR, where it kept thousands of political prisoners.

Khan was speaking at a press conference to launch Amnesty’s 308-page annual report for 2004, which accuses the United States and its main ally Britain of betraying the cause of human rights in pursuit of the so-called “war on terror.”

“Not a single case from some 500 men has reached the courts,” Khan said.

She accused Washington and London of both perpetrating and condoning acts of torture. “A new agenda is in the making, with the language of freedom and justice being used to pursue policies of fear and insecurity. This includes cynical attempts to redefine and sanitise torture,” said Ms. Khan.

US troops have committed appalling torture and sexually abused detainees, Kahn said, and evidence has since come to light “that the US administration had sanctioned interrogation techniques that violated the UN Convention against Torture.” “The US administration attempted to dilute the absolute ban on torture through new policies and quasi-management speak such as ‘environmental manipulation,’ ‘stress positions’ and ‘sensory manipulation’...

Entire Article


US press takes umbrage at Amnesty's "gulag" charge

Amnesty International 2005 Annual Report: The State Of Human Rights

Friday, May 27, 2005

Bill Piper: Spy vs Spy

(Courtesy of Brian Okstad)

Spy vs. Spy
by Bill Piper

Proposed legislation would compel people to spy on their family members and neighbors, forcing all Americans to become foot soldiers in the war on drugs.

Neighbors spying on neighbors? Mothers forced to turn in their sons or daughters? These are images straight out of George Orwell's 1984, or a remote totalitarian state. We don't associate them with the land of the free and the home of the brave, but that doesn't mean they couldn't happen here. A senior congressman, James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), is working quietly but efficiently to turn the entire United States population into informants--by force.

Sensenbrenner, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman, has introduced legislation that would essentially draft every American into the war on drugs. H.R. 1528, cynically named "Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act," would compel people to spy on their family members and neighbors, and even go undercover and wear a wire if needed. If a person resisted, he or she would face mandatory incarceration.

Here's how the "spy" section of the legislation works: If you "witness" certain drug offenses taking place or "learn" about them, you must report the offenses to law enforcement within 24 hours and provide "full assistance in the investigation, apprehension and prosecution" of the people involved. Failure to do so would be a crime punishable by a mandatory minimum two-year prison sentence, and a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Here are some examples of offenses you would have to report to police within 24 hours:

You find out that your brother, who has children, recently bought a small amount of marijuana to share with his wife;

You discover that your son gave his college roommate a marijuana joint;

You learn that your daughter asked her boyfriend to find her some drugs, even though they're both in treatment.

In each of these cases you would have to report the relative to the police within 24 hours. Taking time to talk to your relative about treatment instead of calling the police immediately could land you in jail.

In addition to turning family member against family member, the legislation could also put many Americans in danger by forcing them to go undercover to gain evidence against strangers.

Even if the language that forces every American to become a de facto law enforcement agent is taken out, the bill would still impose draconian sentences on college students, mothers, people in drug treatment and others with substance abuse problems. If enacted, this bill will destroy lives, break up families, and waste millions of taxpayer dollars.

Entire Essay

Josh Harkinson: Houston Police Department Loses Its Cool At Halliburton Demonstration

(Courtesy of Abby Normal)

Horse Shoed: HPD loses its cool at the Halliburton demonstration
By Josh Harkinson
Houston Press

Demonstrators at the Four Seasons were already drenched in sweat by mid-morning. Wearing pig snouts and Dick Cheney masks, they pounded out a discordant complaint of banjo, whistle and drum while Halliburton shareholders were meeting inside. A cadre of police horses on the asphalt pranced nervous circles, their eyes wild behind Plexiglas riot face shields.

A splinter group of demonstrators began marching around The Park Shops, across the street from the hotel, followed by a retinue of horses. When the group got three-fourths of the way around, it rested in front of the entrance to a parking garage.

"Back it up!" yelled a mustachioed officer to the crowd, using his heels to make his horse rear up.

"Calm down," pleaded a protester in front, realizing there was nowhere to go. The demonstrators were pinned in, caught between a brick wall, a mass of people and a phalanx of hooves.

Spurred on by police, the horses marched forward, plowing into people. The protesters began pushing back; a slim pole that once held a communal sign now became a makeshift roadblock. It couldn't bear the equine rush, and the people began falling over and running into one another. A lone protester ran up to a horse and began banging a drum in its ear, trying to make it retreat from the crowd.

But the horses kept coming.

Entire Report

Alan Wolfe: Religion and American Politics

Religion and American Politics
by Alan Wolfe
Special Program in Urban & Regional Studies (SPURS) lecture series Myths About America
Hosted at MIT World

Alan Wolfe vigorously denies that a theocracy is rising in the United States. In his richly detailed tour of the nation’s current Christian revival, he focuses on two very different movements. “Fundamentalists turn their back on culture; they can grow up and never meet anyone who doesn’t share their faith,” says Wolfe. But evangelical Christians “feel an obligation to engage, and as annoying as that engagement can be, it means that evangelicals have to be seduced by modernity.” This is good news for liberal values, believes Wolfe, because the evangelical movement, which participates more in contemporary culture, is far more dominant. He describes the explosive growth of mega-churches in American exurbs, where thousands of congregants flock to hear Christian rock music and messages about loving Jesus and each other. While they’re “put off by overt religiosity,” they still talk about sin. Yet strict prohibitions against such activities as dancing are starting to fade. The bestselling books at Christian book stores (after Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life) tend to be diet books such as Slim for Him. Wolfe believes Americans are shaped by culture and religion, and when the two clash, “culture almost always wins.” He dismisses the notion that the Christian right or even moral values won the 2004 election for George Bush, and disputes the idea that “we’re turning against modernity in the direction of a fundamentalist religious revival.” He believes that a small clique of Christian lobbyists have influenced the current administration around such issues as stem cell research, and that Congress is shamelessly pandering to these groups, rather than speaking for American Christians, who, says Wolfe “are as American as they are Christian.”

Wolfe’s most recent books include Return to Greatness: How America Lost Its Sense of Purpose and What it Needs to Do to Recover It (2005), The Transformation of American Religion: How We actually Practice our Faith (2003), and n Intellectual in Public (2003). He is the author or editor of more than 10 other books.

A contributing editor of The New Republic and The Wilson Quarterly, Wolfe writes often for those publications as well as for Commonweal,, The New York Times, Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, and other magazines and newspapers. He served as an advisor to President Clinton in preparation for his 1995 State of the Union address and has lectured widely at American and European universities.

To Watch the Video

Eric Foner: The Story of American Freedom, 1776-2005

The Story of American Freedom: 1776-2005
by Eric Foner
Special Program in Urban & Regional Studies (SPURS) lecture series Myths About America
Hosted at MIT World

Although the idea of freedom is nearly ubiquitous in American public discourse -- and perhaps no more so than today – it has been subject to a remarkable degree of flux over the course of the nation’s history. Eric Foner describes it as “a subject of persistent conflict and debate,” from the earliest times. “This country founded with the rhetoric of freedom was also a slave society,” says Foner. “Slave owners insisted that slavery was the real foundation of freedom, because a free individual was a person who was autonomous, not reliant on others for their economic livelihood. Owning a slave enhanced one’s freedom.” Foner believes that battles “at the boundaries of freedom,” by African Americans and other racial minorities, women and workers, “have deepened and extended the meaning of freedom into more areas of life.” After the nation accepted the 14th amendment -- “a nonracial idea of freedom”-- the next battle coalesced around economic freedom. Should an individual be allowed to pursue economic self-interest without outside restraint, or should economic freedom come to mean economic security—a living wage, a safety net? World War II, and the encounter with fascism, helped “reshape the internal boundaries of freedom,” says Foner, and served as the origins of the civil rights struggle in the U.S. The Cold War refocused the nation on free enterprise, central to our global battle against tyranny. And now globalization and terrorism challenge our notions of freedom. Foner deplores the current administration’s belief in a single sustainable model of freedom – our own. This chauvinism, he believes, violates the very notion of an open society, and paves the way for restricting freedoms at home.

Foner specializes in the Civil War and Reconstruction, slavery, and 19th-century America. His books, which have received the Bancroft and Parkman prizes, include: Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War (1970), Tom Paine and Revolutionary America (1976), Politics and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War (1980), Nothing But Freedom: Emancipation and Its Legacy (1983), Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877 (1988),Freedom's Lawmakers: A Directory of Black Officeholders During Reconstruction (1993), and The Story of American Freedom, (1998). In 2000, he served as President of the American Historical Association. His latest book, Who Owns History? Rethinking the Past in a Changing World, was published in 2002 by Hill and Wang.

He received his B.A. from Columbia in 1963 and his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1969.

To Watch the Video

Howard Zinn: The Myth of American Exceptionalism

The Myth of American Exceptionalism
by Howard Zinn
Special Program in Urban & Regional Studies (SPURS) lecture series Myths About America
Hosted at MIT World

Americans have long embraced a notion of superiority, claims Howard Zinn. Governor Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony described establishing “a city on a hill,” to serve the world as a beacon of liberty. So far, so good. But driving this sense of destiny, says Zinn, was an assumption of divine agency—“an association between what the government does and what God approves of.” And too frequently, continues Zinn, Americans have invoked God to expand “into someone else’s territory, occupying and dealing harshly with people who resist occupation.” Zinn offers numerous examples of how the American government has used “divine ordination” and rationales of spreading civilization and freedom to justify its most dastardly actions: the extermination of Native Americans and takeover of their land; the annexation of Texas and war with Mexico; war against the Philippines; U.S. involvement in coups in Latin America; bloody efforts to expand U.S. influence in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The battle against Communism, often bolstered by arguments of America’s divine mission in the world, was merely a convenient excuse to maintain U.S. economic and military interests in key regions. Today, says Zinn, we have a president, who more than any before him, claims a special relationship with God. Zinn worries about an administration that deploys Christian zealotry to justify a war against terrorism, a war that in reality seems more about establishing a new beachhead in the oil-rich Middle East. He also sees great danger in Bush’s doctrines of unilateralism and pre-emptive war, which mark a great leap away from international standards of morality.

Howard Zinn, a decorated war veteran, was brought up in a blue-collar immigrant family in Brooklyn, and flew bombing missions in Europe during World War II, an experience that shaped his opposition to war. He attended New York University on the GI bill, graduating with a B.A. in 1951, and Columbia University, where he earned an M.A. (1952) and Ph.D. (1958) in political science.

In 1956, he became chair of history and social science at Spelman College in Atlanta, a school for black women, where he soon became involved in the Civil Rights movement, advising the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)-- chronicled, in his book SNCC: The New Abolitionists. When he was fired in 1963 for insubordination related to his protest work, he moved to Boston University, where he became a leading critic of the Vietnam War.

Zinn is best known for A People's History of the United States, a detailed work which presents American history through the eyes of ordinary people outside of the political and economic establishment: workers, Native Americans, slaves, women, blacks, Populists, and other minorities. Since its publication in 1980, the book has been assigned reading as a high school and college textbook and has sold over a million copies

To Watch the Video

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Luis Gomez, NarcoNews and Bolivia IndyMedia: Uprising in Bolivia

(Courtesy of Lip Media)

A Time of War for Bolivia
Luis Gomez
The Narcosphere

Gualberto Choque, leader of the peasant farmers of the Department of La Paz and, as such, leader of the rural Aymara people, said it yesterday: "This is a time of war." Although nobody listened to him, it was a warning. This morning at 9:30 more than 10,000 Aymara peasant farmers, from the twenty highland provinces, came down from El Alto's Ceja neighborhood into La Paz. "This is not about demonstrations or speeches, brother," Choque told Narco News. "Now we are going to take the Palace of Government."

Entire Article

Narco News is regularly updating their website with breaking news on the situation in Bolivia

Great pictures are up on Bolivia Indymedia

Colin McEnroe: A Hitch in Your Gitalong

(courtesy of Mason)

An interesting analysis of the physical/mental states of Bush and Putin:

A Hitch in Your Gitalong

Notes/Thoughts on Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's Anti-Oedipus


An introduction to the importance of May 1968 (as well as the aftermath) is essential to an understanding of this book and the development of contemporary French theory.

Guattari’s background as a radical psychiatrist is also very important.

Deleuze on their working relationship:

We are only two, but what was important for us was less our working together than this strange fact of working between the two of us. We stopped being “author.” And these “between the twos” referred back to other people, who were different on one side from on the other. ... In these conditions, as soon as there is this type of multiplicty, there is politics, micro-politics. (Deleuze and Parnet, 17)

Form/Style of the Book:

In D & G’s writings before and after Anti-Oedipus they develop an understanding of how theoretical perspectives can actually construct/create subjectivity. This is the critique of psychoanalysis in A-O.

Creating a theoretical model of subjectivity implies an ethical and aesthetic choice on the part of the theorist, in fact Guattari emphasizes this when he subtitles his later book Chaosmosis, “An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm”. Keeping this in mind how is the form/style of this book an attempt to create or construct a model of subjectivity? Is it successful in its attempt? Is Michel Foucault correct in calling this a ‘book of ethics’?

Mark Seem in his introduction following Henry Miller states that “No pain, no trouble—this is the neurotic’s dream of a tranquilized and conflict-free existence” and in reference to A-O that “What it attempts to cure us of is the cure itself” (xvi-xvii). Is the construction of this book centered around the authors’ resistance of the easy cure or strict (dogmatic) program? How are they attacking the “neurotic’s dream” ... keeping in mind that the psychoanalyst is the super-neurotic?

Claire Colbrook states that:

Rather than using reason and reasoned arguments, the book sought to explain and historicise the emergence of an essentially repressive image of reason. Rather than argument and proposition it worked by questions and interrogation: why should we accept conventions, norms, and values? What stops us from creating new values, new desires, or new images of what it is to be and think? This book was not a move within an already established debate; it shifted the entire criteria of the debate. Against justification and legitimation, it put forward the power of creation and transformation. It did not adopt the single voice of universal reason but, like a novel, ‘played’ with the voices of those traditionally deemed to be at the margins of reason ... (5)

Anti-Psychoanalytic Institution?:

It is often thought that Oedipus is an easy subject to deal with, something perfectly obvious, a “given” that is there from the very beginning. But that is not so at all: Oedipus presupposes a fantastic repression of desiring-machines. (A-O, 3)

One of the main questions raised in this quote and the accompanying footnote is: How did Freud appropriate the author(ity) of Greek tragedy to legitimize his psychoanalytic concepts? How does this relate to the second chapters critique of the institution of psychoanalysis as a new secular religion set up by the followers of Freud and institutionalized by the industrial-military complex?

It is as if Freud had drawn back from this world of wild production and explosive desire, wanting at all costs to restore a little order there, an order made classical owing to the ancient Greek theater. ... It is only little by little that he makes the familial romance, on the contrary, into a mere dependence on Oedipus, and that he neuroticizes everything in the unconscious at the same time as he oedipalizes, and closes the familial triangle over the entire unconscious. ... The unconscious ceases to be what it is—a factory, a workshop—to become a theater, a scene and its staging. And not even an avant-garde theater, such as existed in Freud’s day ..., but the classical theater, the classical order of representation. The psychoanalyst becomes a director for a private theater, rather than the engineer or mechanic who sets up units of production, and grapples with collective agents of production and antiproduction. (54-55)

Has psychoanalysis shut down the (expanding on D & G) continuously evolving production of an unconscious in order to provide an all-encompassing, static analytic backdrop? What about their referencing of mechanics/engineers who facilitate the flows of production and recognize the collective processes?

For we must not delude ourselves: Freud doesn’t like schizophrenics. He doesn’t like their resistance to being oedipalized, and tends to treat them more or less as animals. They mistake words for things, he says. They are apathetic, narcissisitic, cut off from reality, incapable of achieving transference; they resemble philosophers—‘an undesirable resemblance.’ (A-O, 23)

This position of D & G seems unfair until we read the notes on the bottom of pages 56 and 59. How does the analyst construct a position free from doubt/criticism (leaving aside that they are supposed to submit to even super-super neurotics for analysis) in order to construct the patient’s world? (is this an unfair view of the analyst?—what does the two notes supply us as evidence of the analyst’s position—or how about the writings of Lacan)

It is not a question of denying the vital importance of parents or the love attachment of children to their mothers and fathers. It is a question of knowing what the place and the function of parents are within desiring-production, rather than doing the opposite and forcing the entire interplay of desiring-machines to fit within the restricted code of Oedipus. (47)

Is it possible that, by taking the path that it has, psychoanalysis is reviving an age-old tendency to humble us, to demean us, and to make us feel guilty? ... [is it] completing the task begun by nineteenth-century psychology, namely, to develop a moralized, familial discourse of mental pathology ... keeping European humanity harnessed to the yoke of daddy-mommy and making no effort to do away with this problem once and for all.... Hence, instead of participating in an undertaking that will bring about genuine liberation, psychoanalysis is taking part in the work of bourgeois repression at its most far-reaching level. (50)

D & G set out to develop schizoanalysis as their answer to this problem.


First important distinction is to remember that they are proposing an active schizophrenia that differs from the incapacitating medical designation of schizophrenia. D & G’s schizoanalysis grows out of their resistance to institutionalized psychoanalysis that has infiltrated all parts of society with a totalizing theory that masks humanity’s true relationship to the world:

From the moment we are measured in terms of Oedipus—the cards are stacked against us, and the only real relationship, that of production, has been done away with. (A-O, 24)

We cannot say that psychoanalysis is very innovative in this respect: it continues to ask its questions and develop its interpretations from the depths of the Oedipal triangle as its basic perspective, even though today it is acutely aware that this frame of reference is not at all adequate to explain so-called psychotic phenomena. (14)

A schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic laying on the analyst’s couch. A breath of fresh air, a relationship with the outside world (A-O, 2)

We no longer believe in the dull gray outlines of a dreary, colorless dialectic of evolution, aimed at forming a harmonious whole out of heterogeneous bits by rounding off their rough edges. We believe only in totalities that are peripheral. And if we discover such a totality alongside various separate parts, it is a whole of these particular parts but does not totalize them; it is a unity of all of these particular parts but does not unify them; rather, it is added to them as a new part fabricated separately. (42)

To withdraw a part from the whole, to detach, to ‘have something left over,’ is to produce, and to carry out real operations of desire in the world ... The whole not only coexists with all the parts; it is contiguous to them, it exists as a product that is produced apart from them and yet at the same time is related to them. (41, 43-44)

An important part of schizoanalysis is the development of a “schizoanalytic cartography” (A-O, 273-382). Guattari in another work states:

From my own perspective, which is guided by a shift of human and social sciences from “scientistic” paradigms to ethico-aesthetic ones, the question is no longer one of knowing if the Freudian unconscious or the Lacanian unconscious offers scientific solutions to the problem of the psyche. The models will only be considered as one among others for the production of subjectivity, inseparable from the technical and institutional mechanisms that support them, and from their impact on psychiatry, on university teaching, the mass media. ... In a more general way, one will have to admit that each individual, each social group, conveys its own system of modelling unconscious subjectivity, that is, a certain cartography made up of reference points that are cognitive, but also mythic, ritualistic, and symptomatological, and on the basis of which it positions itself in relation to its affects, its anxieties, and attempts to manage its various inhibitions and drives. Moreover, today, our question is not only of a speculative order, but has practical implications: do the models of the unconscious that are offered us on the “market” of psychoanalysis meet current conditions for the production of subjectivity? Is it necessary to transform them, or to invent new ones? What processes are set in motion in the awareness of an inhabitual shock? How do modifications to a mode of thinking, to an aptitude for the apprehension of a changing external world, take effect? How do representations of the external world change as it changes? The Freudian unconscious is inseparable from a society that is attached to its past, to its phallocratic traditions, and its subjective variants. Contemporary upheavals undoubtably call for a modelization turned more toward the future and to the emergence of new social and aesthetic practices in all areas. On the one hand, the devaluation of the meaning of life provokes the fragmentation of self-image: representations of self become confused and contradictory while, on the other hand, the conservative forces of resistance oppose themselves to all change, which is experienced by a secure, ossified, and dogmatic consciousness as an attempt at destabilization. (Guattari, “Subjectivities”: 197)

Deleuze adds:

... the diagram is no longer an auditory or visual archive but a map, a cartography that is coextensive with the whole social field. (Deleuze, Foucault: 34)

After setting up the problem as they see it in A-O they will later attempt to propose a mutable method for approaching this problem. Of course this will not be a solution that must be seized and made one’s own in order for it to have any effect:

The rhizome is altogether different, a map and not a tracing. Make a map, not a tracing. The orchid does not reproduce the tracing of the wasp; it forms a map with the wasp, in a rhizome. What distinguishes the map from the tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real. The map does not reproduce an unconscious closed in upon itself; it constructs the unconscious. It fosters connections between the field, the removal of blockages on bodies without organs, the maximum opening of bodies without organs onto a plane of consistency. It is itself a part of the rhizome. The map is open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification. It can be torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group, or social formation. It can be drawn on a wall, conceived of as a work of art, constructed as a political action or as a mediation. (A Thousand Plateaus, 12)

On Capitalism:

Capitalism is schizophrenic because it is interested in profit and it must subvert/deterritorialize all territorial groupings such as familial, religious, or other social bonds. At the same time it relies on the continuous appearance/mythification of social groupings in order to continue functioning smoothly and to re-enforce social ordering needs. Thus, capitalism attempts to re-constitute the need for traditional/nostalgic, or, even, newer forms of social groupings or religious/state institutions. This deterritorialization/reterritorialization and decoding/recoding is happening at the same time—thus the schizophrenic nature of capitalism.

Does this schizophrenia of

1) consume, be an individual, be unique, may the best man win, the cream rises to the top, the romantic creative individual

2) religious revivalism, family values, community first, moral majority, neighborhood watch (and snitch), etc...

cause some of us to break under the strain of an absurd society?


... desire is revolutionary in its essence ... and no society can tolerate a position of real desire without its structures of exploitation, servitude, and hierarchy being compromised. (A-O 116)


Primitive territorial machine:
Everything is coded and ritualized. Territory is clearly marked out and understood. Everything is social.

Barbaric territorial machine (despot):
The social group is somewhat deterritorialized by the despot who continues to maintain order through a re-inscription of a highly coded production centered around the ruler (what he says goes). Part of the coding (ordering) process is carried out through ritualized dramas of bodily punishment that (re)territorialize (re/produce) the despot’s authority (for a good description of this read the first section of Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. NY: Pantheon Books, 1977.)

Civilized capitalist machine (disciplinary society):
Radically deterritorializes and reterritorializes social life. This radical deterritorialization is played out in conjunction with a continuous reterritorialization (re-coding) of traditional/ancient/nostalgic forms of authority. The nation (state), the family (father), God (religion or ideology), education (schools), media (societal super-ego?), etc ... re-appear in modified forms to shore up a shaky social grid and continue the smooth process of production/consumption. (A-O, 33-35) This society creates order through disciplinary institutions that house both the young initiates in order to train them to operate according to custom and the failed individuals that opt to pursue non-legitimized occupations/identities (for the moment let me use this designation—I’m fully aware that there are those who present a serious danger to others and thus must be dealt with, but the disciplinary society represents and treats them as morally weak individuals rather than as products of this society). The development and celebration of the myth of the private individual comes into play in this territorial situation.

Although some excitable critics (both from the left and right—e.g Baudrillard/Fukuyama) see this stage as the ‘end of history’, Deleuze, expanding on Foucault, sees us moving into a new socius stage (plateau?):

It is true that we are entering a society that can be called a society of control. A thinker such as Michel Foucault has analyzed two types of societies that are rather close to us. He calls the former sovereign societies and the latter disciplinary societies. He locates the typical passage of a sovereign society to a disciplinary society with Napolean. Disciplinary society is defined—by the accumulation of structures of confinement: prisons, schools, workshops, hospitals. Disciplinary societies require this. This analysis engendered ambiguities in certain of Foucault’s readers because it was believed that this was his last thought. This was certainly not the case. Foucault never believed and indeed said very precisely that disciplinary societies were not eternal. Moreover, he clearly thought that we were entering a new type of society. To be sure, there are all kinds of things left over from disciplinary societies, and this for years on end, but we know already that we are in societies of another sort that should be called, to use the term put forth by William Burroughs—whom Foucault admired greatly—societies of control. We are entering into societies of control that are defined very differently from disciplinary societies. Those who look after our interests do not need or will no longer need structures of confinement. These structures—prisons, schools, hospitals—are already sites of permanent discussion. Wouldn’t it be better to spread out the treatment? Yes, this is unquestionably the future. The workshops, the factories—they are falling apart everywhere. Wouldn’t systems of subcontracting and work at home be better? Aren’t there means of punishing people other than prison? Even the school. The themes that are surfacing, which will develop in the next forty or fifty years and which indicates that the most shocking thing would be to undertake school and a profession at once—these themes must be watched closely. It will be interesting to know what the identity of the school and the profession will be in the course of permanent training, which is our future and which will no longer necessarily imply the regrouping of school children in a structure of confinement. A control is not discipline. In making highways , for example, you don’t enclose people but instead multiply the means of control. I am not saying that this is the highway’s exclusive purpose, but that people can drive infinitely and “freely” without being at all confined yet while still being perfectly controlled. This is our future. (Deleuze, “Having An Idea of Cinema”: 17-18)

For more on this also check out Deleuze’s essay in October #59 (1992): 3-8 and excerpts of D & G’s writings in Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory. ed. Neil Leach (NY: Routledge, 1997: 309-18.)


D & G resist a molar politics that frames its operations in a “already” determined future, thus they keep to the idea of a molecular politics that is open to change:

Schizoanalysis, as such, has no political program to propose. If it did have one it would be grotesque and disquieting at the same time. It does not take itself for a party, and does not claim to speak for the masses. No political program will be elaborated within the framework of schizoanalysis. (380)

D & G see a central paradox in our fascisms:

As Reich remarks, the astonishing thing is not that some people steal or that others occasionally go out on strike, but rather that all those who are starving do not steal as a regular practice, and all those who are exploited are not continually out on strike: after centuries of exploitation, why do people still tolerate being humiliated and enslaved, to such a point, indeed, that they actually want humiliation and slavery not only for others but for themeselves? (A-O, 29)

This makes all authoritarian and dogmatic movements suspect in that they dictate and predict:

... no, the masses were not innocent dupes; at a certain point, under a certain set of conditions, they wanted fascism, and it is this perversion of the desire of the masses that needs to be accounted for.” (A-O, 29)

Traditionally many writers have posited that subjects of bloody states are ignorant of the true processes behind-the-scenes that produce orderly societies ... D & G are contradicting this belief ... why do they see fascism as answering a perverted desire of the masses? What causes this perverted desire? Can we see any signs of fascism in the contemporary American culture/societies? Can we recognize the fascist impulse in totalizing revolutionary theories? Is this another problematic of the “totalizing” impulse as manifested in liberatory/resistive movements? Is this a legitimate complaint from marginalized groups?

D & G are calling for a resistance that is molecular, not molar (machinic, not mechanistic). Universal mass movements are not the goal, but they are not denying their potential, rather that mass movements would be forged through alliances/bridges, that are temporary, mutable, and situational.


Pgs. 36-41 introduces the “three breaks” or interruptions of machines. When thinking of the bodies in these operations we must learn to alter our emphasis on the individual ‘body’ and recognize social, economic, political, juridical, etc ... bodies in these descriptions.

Claire Colebrook on “machines” in A-O and Deleuze’s theory in general:

In Anti-Oedipus they insist that the machine is not a metaphor and that life is literally a machine. This is crucial to Deleuze’s ethics. An organism is a bounded whole with an identity and end. A mechanism is a closed machine with a specific function. A machine, however, is nothing more than its connections; it is not made by anything, is not for anything and has no closed identity. So they are using ‘machine’ here in a specific and unconventional sense. Think of a bicycle, which obviously has no ‘end’ or intention. It only works when it is connected with another ‘machine’ such as the human body; and the production of these two machines can only be achieved through connection. The human body becomes a cyclist in connecting with the machine; the cycle becomes a vehicle. But we could imagine different connections producing different machines. The cycle becomes an art object when placed in a gallery; the human body becomes an ‘artist’ when connected with a paintbrush. The images we have of closed machines, such as the self-contained organism of the human body, or the efficiently autonomous functioning of the clock mechanism, are effects and illusions of the machine. There is no aspect of life that is not machinic; all life only works and is insofar as it connects with some other machine.
We have already seen the importance Deleuze gives to the camera; it is important as a machine because it shows how human thought and life can become and transform through what is inhuman. By insisting that the machine is not a metaphor Deleuze and Guattari move away from a representational model of language. If the concept of machine were a metaphor, then we could say that we have life as it is, and then the figure of machine to imagine, represent of picture life. But for Deleuze and Guattari there is no present life outside its connections. We only have representations, images or thoughts because there have been ‘machinic’ connections: the eye connects with light, the brain connects with a concept, the mouth connects with a language. Life is not about one privileged point—the self-contained mind of ‘man’—representing some inert outside world. Life is a proliferation of machinic connnections, with the mind or brain being one (sophisticated) machine among others.
Neither philosophy, nor art, nor cinema represent the world, they are events through which the movement of life becomes. What makes philosophy and art active is their capacity to become not just mechanistically, being caused by outside events, but machinically. A mechanism is a self-enclosed movement that merely ticks over, never transforming or producing itself. A machinic becoming makes a connection with what is not itself in order to transform and maximize itself. (56-57)


D & G denounce the human/nature division and insist that humans cannot be thought separate from nature. Or as they later paraphrase Marx “he who denies God does only a ‘secondary thing,’ for he denies God in order to posit the existence of man, to put man in God’s place” (A-O, 58). Guattari later re-emphasizes the importance of this attempt to recognize the falsity of the division of human/nature:

Our survival on this planet is not only threatened by environmental damage but by a degeneration in the fabric of social solidarity and in the modes of psychical life, which must literally be re-invented. The refoundation of politics will have to pass through the aesthetic and analytical dimensions implied in the three ecologies—the environment, the socius and the psyche. We cannot conceive of solutions to the poisoning of the atmosphere and to global warming due to the greenhouse effect, or to the problem of population control, without a mutation of mentality, without promoting a new art of living in society. (Chaosmosis, 20)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

John Nichols: Limbaugh vs. Moyers

Limbaugh vs. Moyers
by John Nichols
The Nation


Moyers proceeded to describe the behind-the-scenes pressure that CPB board chair Ken Tomlinson and other White House allies exerted in a campaign to get the NOW team to trim its sails. The "crime" committed by Moyers and his crew was not one of liberal bias, as became evident when the former host of the program described the ideological diversity of the guests on NOW, read a letter praising the show from conservative Congressman Ron Paul, R-Texas, and recalled the support it had received from the widow of a New York City firefighter who died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Rather, Moyers explained, "One reason I'm in hot water is because my colleagues and I at NOW didn't play by the conventional rules of Beltway journalism. Those rules divide the world into Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, and allow journalists to pretend they have done their job if, instead of reporting the truth behind the news, they merely give each side an opportunity to spin the news."

The former White House aide, newspaper publisher, author and documentary filmmaker committed the cardinal sin of the contemporary moment: he practiced the craft of journalism as the authors of the "freedom of the press" protection in the Bill of Rights intended -- without fear or favor, unbought and unbossed, and in the service of the public interest rather than the private demands of the economically and politically powerful. Such trangressions are punished as severely in George W. Bush's America as they were in the America that was ruled by another, equally regal George 230 years ago. And just as King George III had henchmen who attacked the rebels against his rule, so the contemporary King George has his Tories. Chief among them is Limbaugh, the bombastic radio personality whose microphone is always at the ready for a denunciation of those who dare suggest that the emperor has no clothes.

No one polices the discourse more aggressively than Limbaugh.

So when word got out that Moyers was telling the American people that they should expect more from their media than a slurry of celebrity gossip and propaganda, there was hell to pay.

Typically, Limbaugh did not attack the substance of Moyers's remarks. Rather, the viscount of viciousness devoted a substantial portion of his nationally-syndicated radio program Thursday to claiming that Moyers had come "unhinged" and that, "The things coming out of his mouth today are literally insane." The most self-absorbed personality in America media -- who regularly declares that he's got "talent on loan from God" and says, "I'm doing what I was born to do. That's host. You're doing what you were born to do. That's listen." -- even went so far as to suggest that Moyers had a messiah complex.

So agitated was Limbaugh that he attacked another speaker at the media-reform conference, Newspaper Guild President Linda Foley -- in Limbaugh parlance, "this Linda Foley babe" -- for expressing concern about the killing of journalists in Iraq. And, for good measure, he closed off his rant by claiming that the millions of Americans who are demanding a more civic and democratic media are "off their rockers" and dismissing the notion of reforming the media as "an oxymoron."

It would be easy to counter Limbaugh by climbing down into the gutter of character assassination and recycled Washington spin with the nation's No. 1 peddler of those commodities. Whole books been written regarding Limbaugh's personal and professional foibles.

But this is not about Limbaugh. After all, it's not as if he speaks for himself. When the economic and political elites of the nation says "Jump!" Limbaugh response has always been an enthusiastic, "How high?" And never does he jump higher or quicker than when he is going for the throat of someone who has committed the sin of telling the American people that there is more to a broadcast than talking points and cheerleading for those who refuse to play fair. Of course, Limbaugh thought Moyers was nuts. Limbaugh has been bending the facts for so long that he, undoubtedly, believes that trying to get them straight is madness.

This places him very much at odds with Moyers, who wants the American people to know that there is a reason why they get so little useful information from their radio programs and the nightly reports on network television.

Entire Essay

Long Sunday

Many of the bloggers that I read (for example, pas au-delà, Jodi Dean's I Cite, Infinite Thought, and CPROBES) have gotten together and started a new, collective blog:

Long Sunday

Life in San Diego: Police Forces and Housing Prices

PSoTD posted this report on funding of the sheriff's department in San Diego county--I found it interesting because I am from SD... but it is also a good picture of the increasing gap between the very rich and the service-workers (yes, police are a service industry). Just imagine what it must be like for K-12 teachers who start out at a lower wage... A reproduction of the post below:

How long until San Diego area Republicans start suggesting that the government create (and rent) housing to certain necessary types of government employees? From North County Times:

The county Sheriff's Department expects to get only about $8.4 million more to fight crime in 2005-06 ---- a relatively meager 1.8 percent budget increase ---- mainly because the county is still in the midst of a two-year deal to fork over local cash to help the state pay off its debt.

But even if they had more money, sheriff's officials said last week, they might not be able to spend it.

They said the department can't find enough recruits to hire and train to patrol streets and monitor jails even though it desperately needs them, a problem officials blamed on the Iraq war, San Diego County's exorbitant housing market, and the county's generally high cost of living.

Blame it on the Iraq war? Laughable. Here's what you need to know from the article:

According to the San Diego Association of Realtors, the median price of a single-family home in April was $530,000. And statistics compiled by the San Diego Housing Commission said a family must earn $135,000 a year to afford that.

Pay for sheriff's patrol deputies, meanwhile, begins at $39,000 and tops out at $69,000. Pay for jail and court deputies starts at $29,500 and tops out at $53,900.

Post Link

Dave Reynolds: Border Patrol Considers ‘Harnessing’ Vigilantes

(Courtesy of The Experiment)

Border Patrol Considers ‘Harnessing’ Vigilantes
Dave Reynolds
New Standard

The US Border Patrol is reconsidering its position regarding the use of volunteer citizen patrols, such as last month's Minuteman Project, to fill what it considers a shortage of government-trained agents to do the job.

According to a story published on the Government Executive website, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner told members of the House Government Reform Committee on May 12 that the agency needs thousands more new agents to monitor US borders, and that it may look to "more effectively harness the citizen volunteers."

Bonner referred to the Minutemen vigilantes as "well motivated." The volunteers, recruited from across the country by private citizens, patrolled a 23-mile section of the border between Arizona and Mexico to watch for undocumented immigrants in April. Organizers claimed they helped the Border Patrol to capture 335 individuals trying to enter the US.

The Border Patrol had previously discouraged the Minutemen, arguing that they would actually detract from border safety and needlessly put people at risk.

Immigrant and refuge rights groups have condemned the project, claiming that the patrols harassed and illegally detained migrants in violation of their rights.

Article Link

Living is Easy With Eyes Closed...

Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see
Nothing is real and nothing to get hungabout
Strawberry Fields forever
The Beatles, 1967

Such a pretty house
Such a pretty garden
No alarms and no surprises
Radiohead, 1997

Monday, May 23, 2005

Margaret Fuller: The Great Radical Dualism

(courtesy of Today in Literature)

"Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But, in fact, they are perpetually passing into one another. Fluid hardens to solid, solid rushes to fluid. There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman."

Margaret Fuller, the New England Transcendentalist and feminist, born on this day in 1810

Jay Rosen: Trust-Me Journalism and the Newsweek Retraction

Trust-Me Journalism and the Newsweek Retraction
by Jay Rosen
Press Think


Newsweek says: honest mistakes happen. This was one of those. We feel terrible about what resulted.

Column Right says: A press corps ready to believe the worst about Bush and the military is responsible. They probably saw this as another way to bring him down.

Column Left says: Story with a scant basis? This kind of abuse by interrogators is amply documented. Besides, the riots weren't caused by anything Newsweek did. Ask General Myers.

The White House says: Newsweek, having retracted the story, should begin to repair the damage to our reputation abroad.

I dissent from all these reactions, and I will explain why.

Entire Hyperlinked Essay

Neil Postman: On the Importance of Question-Asking

... all our knowledge results from questions, which is another way of saying that question-asking is our most important intellectual tool. I would go so far as to say that the answers we carry about in our heads are largely meaningless unless we know the questions which produced them. ... What, for example, are the sorts of questions that obstruct the mind, or free it, in the study of history? How are these questions different from those one might ask of a mathematical proof, or a literary work, or a biological theory? ... What students need to know are the rules of discourse which comprise the subject, and among the most central of such rules are those which govern what is and what is not a legitimate question.

--Neil Postman, Teaching as a Conserving Activity, 1979.


Neil Postman Online

Jay Rosen Remembers Postman

Laurence W. Britt: 14 Characteristics of Fascism

(Images courtesy of a Sociological Tour Through Cyberspace)

"Fascism Anyone."
Laurence W. Britt
Free Inquiry 33.2 (Spring 2003)

For the purpose of this perspective, I will consider the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. To be sure, they constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible.

Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.

7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.

Fascism Anyone

Sunday, May 22, 2005

El Oso: Theories of Homosexuality

El Oso has written a very good, hyperlinked post in response to an earlier posting by Hispanic Pundit (part of their series of liberal-conservative blog-debates). Just as important are the thoughtful comments to this post:

Theories of Homosexuality

Read the Bills Act of 2005 (RTBA)

Goose has a good post on this proposal to ensure that our representatives are fully informed about what they are voting on:

Read the Bills Act of 2005 (RTBA)

Hey Ya, Charlie Brown!

Hey Ya, Charlie Brown!

Lawrence Lessig: The Importance of Remix Culture

(Also a series of links to the works he discusses at the bottom of the page.)

The Importance of Remix Culture
by Lawrence Lessig
IT Conversations

The freedom to comment on, critique and reference other peoples words, thoughts and ideas has enabled traditional broadcast democracy where journalists, commentators and critics analyses the world we live in. Such freedom should not be taken for granted. As a "bottom up" model of democracy emerges anyone with access to a computer can express and share their views through media remixing. While a future where bloggers becomes the new broadcasters offers exciting possibilities it also poses new challenges and risks. Currently, under the existing "opt in" based copyright regime the sharing of remixed media is illegal without consent from the copyright owner - a restriction which threatens free expression.

In an engaging and often humorous presentation Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford and a Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), presents the legal dangers faced by makers of new media and society in general. By presenting media remixing as the "creative writing" of the future he highlights the dangers of moving from a free culture where discussion and free speech are taken for granted, to a permission culture where permission to reproduce media messages will depend on the use of that media.

Arguing for a balanced approach to copyright law Professor Lessig uses a number of examples of remixed media where restricting permission to the original media threatened to restrict creativity. In a permission culture, access to copyrighted material is controlled by lawyers and permission is not being granted. Examples include the Cannes selected file Tarnation, created for US$218 dollars but requiring over US$400k for permission to distribute the music tracks used. Another example involved lawyers refusing permission for a parody video remix of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair because they did not see it as funny. He invites us imagine our current society if, in the late 19th century, courts had decided that permission was required to publish and share each image captured using the emerging technology of personal photography.

The presentation finishes with a haunting reminder that the freedom to remix text and express ourselves through free speech was earned should not be taken for granted - if we lose the freedom to remix media we ultimately lose the right to speak up and lose the power to express ourselves.

Listen to his Presentation

Also check out Corey Doctorow's All Complex Systems Have Parasites

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Pitch, Poker and the Public

Grey Lodge Occult Review

A film about manipulation, marketing and advertising.

Collaboration project:
Ben Mack , Howard Bloom, Joseph Matheny, Mike Caro, Chris Zubryd, et al.

The Pitch, Poker and the Public

Friday, May 20, 2005

David Ray Griffin: Why The 9/11 Commission Report Is a Pack of Lies

(courtesy of pas au-delà who provides many more links and analysis)

David Ray Griffin's historic April 18th speech to the "Muslim, Jewish & Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth" at the University of Wisconsin in Madison

Sandra Steingraber: The Pirates of Illiopolis


Biologist Sandra Steingraber takes a frightening, in-depth look inside the secretive, highly toxic, and dangerous world of PVC manufacturing in small-town America.

The Pirates of Illiopolis

Santorum's Hypocrisy

(Courtesy of Abby Normal who states: "I am so tired of the press giving these Christofascists a free pass.")

GOP Senator Santorum Compares Democrats to Hitler

Yet Santorum Criticizes Byrd For a Similar Analogy

Crooks and Liars is hosting video/audio clips of Santorum's Statement

On the Necessity of Speaking Out

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a
revolutionary act."
--George Orwell

"The darkest moments of human history have always had silence on their side."
--Sister Joan Chittester, OSB

Tent State University: Education Not War! Get the Military Out of Our Universities!

(Tent State University started at Rutger's University, but the movement is also spreading to other universities. Below are images from UC-Santa Cruz and UC-Berkeley protests where the university administration called in riot police.)

First heard about this on the Rhetoricians for Peace listserv:

Tent State University (TSU) was launched in 2003 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Its purpose was to stop drastic state budget cuts to higher education that were pending in the wake of the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. TSU was more than just a protest. It merged the creation of an alternative “university” system and the most significant cultural festival at RU, all built around the recognition of education as a fundamental human right one that is compromised by war. Repeated in 2004 and now established as an annual event, TSU has been acknowledged as critical in helping to stop budget cuts and curtail tuition increases at Rutgers and throughout New Jersey.

Tent State University

Congressional Progressive Caucus

Congressional Progressive Caucus

Katrina vanden Heuvel on the CPC

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Black Elk's World

The Electronic Edition of Black Elk Speaks (University of Nebraska Press)

Jesse Jackson: Our Entire Way of Life

Our Entire Way of Life is at Stake
by Jesse Jackson
Chicago Sun Times

And now the ''nuclear option.'' Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist vows to blow up the Senate by getting the Republican majority to outlaw any filibuster against President Bush's judicial nominees. Democrats have approved 208 of Bush's 218 nominees, but are blocking 10 as too extreme. That is unacceptable to Frist.

Bush might sensibly have defused the situation in the hope of moving forward on the business of the American people, but instead he threw gasoline on the fire. In a direct insult to his opposition, he renominated the same handful of extremists previously blocked. Now he demands an up-or-down vote on them -- essentially ordering Frist to blow up the Senate. As in the run-up to the war in Iraq, he's intent on winning, with little sense of the costs and consequences of what he's driving the country into.

Outside groups on both sides are mobilizing. The right of the Republican Party has called blocking a handful of Bush's nominees an assault on ''people of faith.'' (The president apparently is so infallible that to question even 10 of more than 200 nominees is to risk eternal damnation.) Liberals have started touting the filibuster as the bedrock of democracy.

But this debate isn't about freedom of religion. And it isn't about the filibuster. It's about the judges and the direction of the country.

Bush's mantra is that he simply wants judges who will follow the law, not legislate their own will from the bench. He wants judicial restraint, not judicial activism. But that is simply nonsense, and the president knows it. Bush isn't nominating conservative judges as his father did; he's nominating radicals, vetted by the right-wing Federalist Society, and dedicated to advancing the movement's agenda through the courts. He's naming judges who will overturn precedents that the conservative movement doesn't like -- from Roe vs. Wade that gave women the right of choice, to Brown vs. Board of Education that outlawed segregation, to the core jurisprudence of the New Deal.

This is central to the right's battle to remake America in its image. Whenever a movement pushes for dramatic social change, it naturally runs up against the status quo bias of the courts. The New Deal movement ran headlong into the free market doctrines that conservative judges had implanted into the Constitution. Those doctrines made labor unions an illegal restraint of trade. They deemed the 40-hour workweek, or health-and-safety regulations, to be unconstitutional infringements on the market. For Roosevelt and the New Deal to wrench America into the modern age, new doctrine was needed. The result: a brutal struggle over the courts.

When the civil rights movement challenged apartheid in America, it ran into the racist doctrines that segregationist judges had implanted into the Constitution. Once more, those doctrines -- separate but equal -- had to be overturned. And a Republican chief justice of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren, led the court in doing so -- and the courts came under vicious attack. ''Impeach Earl Warren'' signs went up across the South. And a right-wing backlash against the courts began.

What does the right-wing movement want from judges? It wants judges who will overturn the precedent set by Roe and outlaw abortion. It wants an end to affirmative action, with many saying the Brown ruling that outlawed segregation was wrongly decided.

But it wants much more than this. The Federalist Society is dominated by an obscure sect that believes in the ''Constitution in exile.'' Essentially, adherents argue for a return to the 19th century jurisprudence of the Gilded Age -- calling on judges to overturn the New Deal jurisprudence that empowered Congress to regulate the economy, defend workers, protect the environment and consumers, and hold corporations accountable. No, I'm not kidding, and neither are they.

Entire Essay

Perry Anderson: The Family World System

Perry Anderson reviews Göran Thorburn's new global history of the "family":

Review of "Between Sex and Power"

Sylvia Saunders: Banned From the Classroom...

(To my fellow educators from K-12, to the community and technical colleges, to the universities--including grad student teachers--we should make unionization of all workers--teachers and staff--a main priority. Defend yourself from political coercion and intimidation. Unionize!

This is why education fails! Because we drive away the brightest, motivated, and creative teachers.)

Banned From the Classroom ... For a Library Field Trip: Anti-Union Administrators in Greenburgh Are At It Again
by Sylvia Saunders
New York Teacher

Imagine getting thrown out of your classroom for accompanying your students to the public library.

That's what's happened to Greenburgh 11 teacher Jennifer Cole, who awoke to a 6:30 a.m. phone call March 15 telling her not to report to work. An administrator told her she was suspended immediately - exiled to write lesson plans off campus, pending the outcome of a lengthy 3020-a disciplinary hearing. As if that wasn't enough, the administration callously prohibited Cole from dropping off and picking up her two daughters, 4-year-old Kayla and 1-year-old Sophie, from the Little Village Day Care, an on-campus center where they have been since infancy.

"Jennifer's horror story is just the latest in a series of union-busting activities," said Greenburgh 11 Federation of Teachers President John Goetschius, who was one of 17 teachers suspended by the administration in 1994 and 1995 for protesting contract and disciplinary disputes. "When Jen started to shake things up - to try to bring the union back to life on campus - that's when they came at her with the hammer."

Greenburgh 11 is a public school district created by a special act of the state Legislature to serve emotionally disturbed boys who live at a non-profit child care agency, Children's Village. Formerly an orphanage, the 150-acre campus overlooking the Hudson River is a residential treatment center serving mostly inner city kids sent there by the courts.

Union leaders say the administration's decision to file disciplinary charges has nothing to do with Cole's professionalism or educational expertise - she's had seven years of exemplary evaluations and worked magic with a number of hard-core kids. Her real crime? Union activism.

"They've wasted millions of taxpayer dollars trying to crush the union over the last decade," said New York State United Teachers President Dick Iannuzzi. "They should be investing in students' education, not lawyers and litigation."

Entire Essay

Dialogic Supports Jen Cole

Philip Gourevitch: Ghost Children of Big Mango; UNICEF Report: State of the World's Children 2005

Ghost Children of Big Mango
by Philip Gourevitch
Mother Jones

The suffering of children—whether from the afflictions of poverty, disease, or war—tends to be regarded as a greater offense to conscience than the suffering of their elders. But why? Is starvation, say, worse for a child than for a grown-up? And what of being shot? Is a youngster’s agony necessarily greater? Such a claim appeals less to reason than to sentiment—and at its core is the notion that the comparative innocence and defenselessness of children amplify any harm that befalls them. In other words, it is in the eye of the beholder that the suffering of children appears greater. That’s why, as any charity fundraiser knows, the image of a wide-eyed tot is a far superior opener of wallets than that of a wizened geezer.

Children do not create the conditions of their plight, which is another reason they are represented as universal victims. Their lack of responsibility for the crises they endure and have come to symbolize makes us feel that it is not too late—if we can only rescue them—to undo the damage. According to this conventional moral calculus, a wrong or harm suffered by a child shames us by serving as a reminder that we—adults—have failed to protect our young. So we are more distressed by the suffering of children because their woe reflects poorly upon us as a species.

To judge by the latest annual report of the United Nations children’s agency, “The State of the World’s Children 2005: Childhood Under Threat,” human beings are sorry animals indeed. UNICEF warns that the number of children afflicted by hunger, sickness, violence, and the myriad deprivations of body and soul that come with extreme poverty is growing steadily (the report claims the number is now a billion) and that efforts to reverse these trends are sorely insufficient. And if children cannot be blamed or credited for their condition, then this report is really an account of the ways that grown-ups are making a hash of the world—particularly by allowing inequality to increase and intensify of late.

Rest of the Essay


UNICEF: State of the World's Children 2005

BBC: One Billion Denied a Childhood

William Neal Reynolds: Deconstructing Stupidity

Deconstructing Stupidity
William Neal Reynolds
Financial Times


Since only about 4 per cent of copyrighted works more than 20 years old are commercially available, this locks up 96 per cent of 20th century culture to benefit 4 per cent. The harm to the public is huge, the benefit to authors, tiny. In any other field, the officials responsible would be fired. Not here.

It is as if we had signed an international stupidity pact, one that required us to ignore the evidence, to hand out new rights without asking for the simplest assessment of need. If the stakes were trivial, no one would care. But intellectual property (IP) is important. These are the ground rules of the information society. Mistakes hurt us. They have costs to free speech, competition, innovation, and science. Why are we making them?

To some the answer is obvious: corporate capture of the decision making process. This is a nicely cynical conclusion. But wait. There are economic interests on both sides. The film and music industries are tiny compared the consumer electronics industry. Yet copyright law dances to the tune played by the former, not the latter. Open source software is big business. But the international IP bureaucracies seem to view it as godless communism.

If money talks, why can decision-makers only hear one side of the conversation? Corporate capture can only be part of the explanation. Something more is needed. We need to deconstruct the culture of IP stupidity, to understand it so we can change it. But this is a rich and complex stupidity, like a fine Margaux. I can only review a few flavours.

Maximalism: The first thing to realize is that many decisions are driven by honest delusion, not corporate corruption. The delusion is maximalism: the more intellectual property rights we create, the more innovation. This is clearly wrong; rights raise the cost of innovation inputs (lines of code, gene sequences, data.) Do their monopolistic and anti-competitive effects outweigh their incentive effects? That’s the central question, but many of our decision makers seem never to have thought of it.

The point was made by an exchange inside the Committee that shaped Europe’s ill-starred Database Directive. It was observed that the US, with no significant property rights over unoriginal compilations of data, had a much larger database industry than Europe which already had significant “sweat of the brow” protection in some countries. Europe has strong rights, the US weak. The US is winning.

Did this lead the committee to wonder for a moment whether Europe should weaken its rights? No. Their response was that this showed we had to make the European rights much stronger. The closed-mindedness is remarkable. “That man eats only a little salad and looks slim. Clearly to look as good as him, we have to eat twice as much, and doughnuts too!”

Authorial Romance: Part of the delusion depends on the idea that inventors and artists create from nothing. Who needs a public domain of accessible material if one can create out of thin air? But in most cases this simply isn’t true; artists, scientists and technologists build on the past. How would the blues, jazz, Elizabethan theatre, or Silicon valley have developed if they had been forced to play under today’s rules? Don’t believe me? Ask a documentary filmmaker about clearances, or a free-software developer about software patents.

An Industry Contract: Who are the subjects of IP? They used to be companies. You needed a printing press or a factory to trigger the landmines of IP. The law was set up as a contract between industry groups. This was a cosy arrangement, but it is no longer viable. The citizen-publishers of cyberspace, the makers of free software, the scientists of distributed data-analysis are all now implicated in the IP world. The decision-making structure has yet to adjust.

There are many more themes. The idea that greater control, for example, is always better (see my column on public data) or the way we only ever internationally harmonize rights upward. Fundamentally, though, the views I have criticised here are not merely stupidity. They constitute an ideology, a worldview, like flat earth-ism. But the world is not flat and the stupidity pact is not what we want to sign.

Let me be clear. IP is a good thing. (There are also important strands I have not discussed, such as natural rights and the droits d’auteur. They will get their own column.) Not all proposals to extend rights are silly, but if we do not start looking rigorously at evidence, we will never know which.

Entire Essay

Also check out:

Center for the Study of Public Domain