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January 2013


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The Delhi Rape and the Struggle for Space

First published at

Sometimes, at night in the city where I live, in Toronto, I will be walking alone to or from the subway station. No one else will be on the street, and I'll see a woman walking towards me in the distance. My protocol is to cross to the other side of the street where I am clearly visible, and let her pass with a lot of distance between us. When I'm walking behind a woman at night, I'll do the same thing – cross the street, quickly pass so that she can see me in front of her rather than hearing me behind her.

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City Continues Reform Efforts in Vain

News of police abuse continues to filter in as a recent change in leadership at the Seattle Police Department has some police reform advocates nervous. Steve Brown, a retired Seattle police captain, has stepped down from his position as compliance coordinator for the Department of Justice and the City of Seattle – a position created [...]

announcing a new taxonomy of political and economic systems

while we're on china, let me hit you with a bit of my amazing new take on political/economic taxonomy. i think we might say that the current chinese state combines the best features of maoism and corporate capitalism: it's all devoted to generating maximum cash and putting it on a barge. destination: the very top of the hierarchy. and yet it also attempts to bestride the earth, stomping that ass with the iron boot of collectivist totalitarianism. now, your basic taxonomy of political and economic systems or ideologies would regard this as an incoherent merger. your conventional political scientist is just going associate capitalism with john locke and adam smith and democracy: 'liberalism,' i suppose. (the political scientists on the far left do right at least to be seeing through this as partly a falsification.) on the other hand, if we socialists or whatever reject free enterprise and engage in grand redistribitivist schemes, then of course we're going to need a big, extremely powerful state. (then once you're done with the redistribution, the state either withers away, or deposits your entire country in theiir leaders' swiss accounts and absconds; i forget which.) so for a long time people (it even trickled down to bush etc) thought of the chinese system as combining opposed or contradictory elements. at a minimum, i'd say no one is so sure anymore.

we should think instead of the chinese state as a provisional culmination of both state socialism and corporate capitalism. in ideology, they are opposites. but we don't live in the textbook for your course on political ideologies. we live in a world where, from the outset, corporate capitalism completely depended on state power, and the basic practical thrust of left statism was annexation of the economy. the soviet union was a variety of monopoly capitalism. and the modern american state is a variety of state socialism. (but leftists are still trying to pit the state against the corporation, while rightists are still trying to pit the corporation against the state. this is all occurring only in their imaginations: pitting chase against the treasury department is a very odd concept and no you're not going to be pulling them apart later on, because resources always flow toward political power, and political power always flows toward resources (little crispy's big law).)

we're all headed in this direction together. it is the culmination/nadir of history! which isn't over, btw. but still i am its hegel, marx, and fukuyama. what gives me pause is how terribly mistaken they all were. and how laboriously they all wrote.

anyway, what went wrong in our thinking is that we believed the account these ideologies gave of themselves. but the scrim of philosophy, theory, ideology, the rhetorical flourishes that they laid on the reality were always thin on the ground. they were designed to rationalize or moralize what is really a single indefensible system, or to enhance the self-esteem of ideologues while pursuing the hard work of gathering up all the resources. the cold war disguised the fact that the systems were, in playing out their real essences, converging toward a situation in which state and economy are fully integrated and held in very few hands: a truly permanent, systemic, chronic, sclerotic hierarchy with the world's worst rhetoric. and then one of the meanings of 'globalization' and the various 'international mechanisms' that go with it, may be that it is a premonition of a world system of this variety, which is already emerging. (one name is 'technocracy.' i like to call it 'jurgen habermas'.) but there would be many barriers to overcome, from nationalism and tribalism to religious chauvinism and individualism/tribalism of the 'i/we dissent/withdraw/slack off/sabotage/hack' variety. (honestly i think history is, from our point of view, wildly contingent, and no one can know how such a thing comes out.)

this is also one of the reasons that the left/right spectrum is just not helping anyone toward understanding the phenomena, much less in deciding what positions to take. we should dissolve the left/right spectrum the way carnap dissolved metaphysics: it never meant anything; it was a kind of nonsense verse.

i don't know that squishy totalitarianism is really catching on as the name for the great synthesis at the end of history, or, as i like to think of it, the prelude to our richly-deserved extinction. but whatever you call it, i call it fun!

Categories: Politics

From fountain pens to rubber stamps

There’s a lot of bruised egos recently from newspaper opinion columnists who’ve found themselves on the wrong end of what they like to call a Twitter "mob". Last week it was Philip Hensher of the Independent saying that people were mean to him on the internet:

I have a belief that nobody should be forced to endure being called a “cunt” or subjected to threats of physical violence as a condition of their work. But I have now discovered that some people believe, not only that I should put up with this personal hatred – when all that is meant is “I disagree with you” – but that I should subsequently be obliged to deal with the purveyors of it.

Poor lamb. What had he written? This.

"Horror stories…easy to come by…shocking..however…Either, like Thursday’s MPs, one can focus on the brutal cases where genuinely ill people have been harassed and even destroyed. Or one can easily find cases where people with not much, or nothing at all wrong with them, have gone on claiming benefits for the disabled for years."

Luckily, given this easy find, our writer has a solution:

If a proper assessment by healthcare professionals could be carried out – not to a questionnaire, but just to a doctor’s sense of the possible – then we might have fewer tragedies. It might, too, cut down on the unconscionable numbers now claiming these benefits. It’s not so long since doctors felt quite capable of saying “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you” to their patients, not “There’s no space for that on the form”. A little more robustness, and a little more flexible inquiry than a questionnaire permits, would have some very positive outcomes.

Ah! That’s better. But there’s still space on the page! Nevermind, let’s talk about something else…

I look out of the window, having put on an extra cardy, and you know what? It’s snowing! Brilliant!

Let’s recap:

  • Nod to Parliament’s belated acknowledgement of the massive harm caused by Atos
  • "yeah but I heard this guy on the internet could ride a bike"
  • Call Incapacity Benefit an "opportunity"
  • Lump together figures for DLA, ESA, Incapacity benefits
  • Never talk directly to anyone you’re dismissing the experiences of in favour of tabloid anecdotes
  • Suggest that the only problem with the system is that it’s not GPs carrying out the assessment
  • Imply that the process is a "result" of unco-operative doctors’ refusal to work with the DWP
  • Finish with 2 paragraphs about the snow.

Factual errors, anecdote, half-formed thoughts, move on. Not surprising that people with actual experience of the system objected to such lazy, privileged pontifications. Also: in January, stressed, ill, depressed and financially struggling people might not observe Oxford Union debating rules. Who knew?

There’s a famous quote by chemist Linus Pauling when presented with a misguided argument: "it’s not even wrong". This isn’t a case of "all that is meant is ‘I disagree with you’". The article starts from a false premise and goes off in a mistaken direction.

There’s no shortage of testimony on the Atos regime, "welfare reform" and the associated brutal nonsense that’s been going on for 3 or more years. If you’re a writer, one that gets paid actual money to express opinions then you should know your material, or, expect people who do know to correct you. Writing about handwriting doesn’t qualify you to cover Atos’s rubber stamping people into early graves.

One strength of the internet is that this "mob" (hated by the elite since Ancient Rome) gets to shout back when you call them liars, ignore them, dismiss their pain and continue their marginalisation. When you do that, we get to call you names. If you can’t deal with that, "A little more robustness, and a little more flexible inquiry … would have some very positive outcomes."

Bring Back The Metropolitan Indians!

Bring Back The Metropolitan Indians!:

metropolitans indians

You have built the Reservation for us, and now you want to chase us back into it, into the ghettos of marginalization and despair. No more is this possible! Because it is precisely out of the ghettos that our Rebellion has exploded. Today Human Beings have found themselves again, have found their strength, their joy of collective living, their anger, and their thirst for communism.

-The Metropolitan Indians of North Rome, 1977

Lesung: "…zum Glück gab es Punk"

Lesung mit Ute Wieners am 01.03.2013, um 19:30 Uhr, in der Viki (Hinterhaus der Viktoriastr. 12) in Karlsruhe.

Ute Wieners erzählt, wie aus einem verschlossenen, unglücklichen Mädchen eine selbstbewusste junge Frau wird. Denn: Zum Glück gab es Punk.

Utes Kindheit ist geprägt von Lieblosigkeit, Einsamkeit und Gewalt. Vor dem Horror der Familienverhältnisse, dem Mobbing in der Schule und dem Mief der Provinzmetropole Hannover flieht sie in Traum und Parallelwelten. Doch nachdem Besuch eines Punkkonzerts im Unabhängigen Jugendzentrum Kornstraße weiß sie, wohin die Reise gehen wird. Ute ändert ihr Leben und wird Punk. Bald ist ihr klar: Es ist nicht einfach, sich den gewalttätigen und sexistischen Strukturen der Gesellschaft zu entziehen, denn auch diejenigen, die sich dagegen stellen, kennen nichts anderes. Ute Wieners entwirft ein Sittenbild der 1960er bis 1980er Jahre. Schonungslos berichtet sie von der hannoverschen Studentenbewegung, die sie als Kind erlebte, von Straßenschlachten mit der Polizei und von den Chaostagen. Böse und ironisch erzählt sie von gewalttätigen Skinheads und Normalbürgern, von kurzzeitigen Drogenfluchten, von der Gründung der Anarchistischen Pogopartei, und zeichnet eine radikal subjektive Geschichte des Punk, nicht nur in Hannover. Ute Wieners: Jahrgang 1962, Ex-Punkerin, Ex-Hausbesetzerin, Erwerbslose und Autorin, lebt in der einst besetzten Sprengel-Schokoladenfabrik in Hannover.

Zeit: 01.03.13, 19:30 Uhr

Ort: Viki, Viktoriastr. 12 (Hinterhaus), Karlsruhe


PS.: Eintritt wie immer frei

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Minor Threat with SS Decontrol and Agnostic Front.

Minor Threat with SS Decontrol and Agnostic Front.