Mark Joseph Stern in Slate:
Rolling Stone has unveiled its next cover, featuring a dreamy photo of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and many people have erupted in outrage. Some critics say the image depicts Tsarnaev as a kind of celebrity; others believe it turns him into a martyr. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick called the cover “out of taste,” while CVS has banned the issue “out of respect for the victims of the attack and their loved ones.” A smaller chain of New England stores is also boycotting the magazine for “glorify[ing] evil actions.” Never mind that the picture itself once appeared on the front page of the New York Times; when Rolling Stone uses it, they’re “tasteless,” “trashy,” and “exploitative.”
As the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple points out, the image is exploitative—but it isn’t just exploitative: It’s also smart, unnerving journalism. By depicting a terrorist as sweet and handsome rather than ugly and terrifying, Rolling Stone has subverted our expectations and hinted at a larger truth. The cover presents a stark contrast with our usual image of terrorists. It asks, “What did we expect to see in Tsarnaev? What did we hope to see?” The answer, most likely, is a monster, a brutish dolt with outward manifestations of evil. What we get instead, however, is the most alarming sight of all: a boy who looks like someone we might know.
Judging from the article itself, the image is disconcertingly apt. The story, a two-month investigative report by Janet Reitman, tracks Tsarnaev’s tragic, dangerous path from a well-liked student to a monster, focusing on the increasing influence of radical Islam. (The headline on the cover suggests as much; those immediately outraged by the picture might do well to read the accompanying text.)
Slovenian theorist Slavoj Zizek has gotten in trouble before for being a cheerleader for revolutionary terrorism. In the clip below, Zizek praises the revolutionary violence of the Robespierre and argues that true revolutionary must will be willing to become victim to revolutionary terror. Zizek conflates the fear of violence with a certain liberal complacency, and uses his oft-repeated phrase about liberals: They want coffee without caffeine, chocolate without sugar, etc.
Zizek has recently tried to pull a sleight of hand by stressing that “violence means other stuff too.” In his response to critics, Zizek notes that the actions of Ghandi were far more violent than Stalin because they were more disruptive to the status quo. While this can certainly be a valid interpretation of violence, this video also seems to verify that Zizek is cool with straight-up murdering people in the name of revolution.
Saul Newman noted in his book “The Politics of Post-Anarchism”:
One finds a similar, indeed, even more explicit, admiration of terroristic politics in Žižek. For Žižek, the only way to institutionalise a democratic insurrection is through revolutionary terror. Once again, terror becomes a sign of revolutionary authenticity for Žižek; violence is a signifier for a kind of ethics of the revolutionary act, of the commitment to ‘go to the end’ as he puts it, and to consolidate the revolution through a brutal suppression of its opponents.Thus, once again, Lenin, Mao and Robespierre become hallowed names for Žižek, invoked against his perennial targets the ‘liberals’, who want a ‘revolution without a revolution’, in other words a revolution without its violent consequences.
…The violence that is wielded by a revolutionary elite to consolidate power – as was the case in all the forms of Terror venerated by Žižek and Badiou, from the Jacobins to Lenin and Mao – has nothing redemptive about it; it cannot serve as a tool of liberation, and only ends up consolidating the most counterrevolutionary element of all, the state itself….We should reject as outmoded the Jacobin paradigm for radical politics proposed by Žižek and Badiou. Instead, we should assert an anarchist politics and ethics against all forms of state violence; indeed, anarchism is, in my view, the only form of radical politics capable of avoiding the Terror.
The clip above is from a 2009 BBC program titled “Terror! Robespierre and the French Revolution.”
[Video via Subversive Film Festival Facebook]
Apocalyptic Politics: Framing the Present
Apocalyptic Nihilism – John D. Caputo, author of Demythologizing Heidegger
Lo importante -solia decirme mi maestro- es saber si tu paciente es un neurótico, un psicópata o un psicótico. Y es importante porque cada uno de ellos va a tener un tratamiento y un trato bien distinto, el neurótico te adjudicará un saber que no tienes, el psicópata tratará de manipularte en su beneficio y el psicótico negará en ti cualquier tipo de saber. La razón de estas diferencias está relacionada con la gestión que cada uno de ellos hace de lo simbólico.
Lo simbólico es uno de los tres registros de la mente. Los otros dos son, lo Real y lo Imaginario. cada uno de nosotros tenemos un trato bien distinto con lo simbólico. El neurótico para sufrirlo, el psicópata para transgredirlo y el psicótico para repudiarlo.
Con todo es posible afirmar que nuestra época se caracteriza por un debilitamiento colectivo en lo simbólico, de modo que las condiciones en las que vivimos -por sí mismas- se traducen en un hecho: lo simbólico ha sido socavado, ha sido succionado por lo Real.
La mejor forma es imaginarselo del siguiente modo: si usted alguna vez ha salido a pescar en barca y con redes, habrá notado que la red atrapa peces con una condición: ha de dejarse alli toda la noche y es necesario que exista una plomada que sujete la red al suelo,de lo contrario la red seria arrastrada mar adentro por las corrientes.
La red es precisamente lo simbólico, existe para atrapar significados (peces), pero los significados no son siempre cosas comestibles, sino que en ocasiones (y como dicen los pescadores) son “malas aguas”. Es decir cosas desconocidas o no comestibles. Si la red está tirante atrapa significados pero si está suelta (sin plomada) o es un dia de mucha corriente o temporal la red no pesca nada, se rompe o se pierde y cuando usted regresa al dia siguiente, no hay pesca, ni hay red, lo ha perdido todo.
Lo real no equivale a lo que entendemos como realidad, no equivale exactamente, pues la realidad es sobre todo un constructo de nuestros sentidos. No es que la realidad no exista -como suelen decir algunos iluminados- sino que lo que entendemos como realidad es el acople evolutivo que nuestro sistema perceptual ha sufrido para acdaptarse a la realidad que necesitamos percibir. La realidad es un híbrido entre nuestro sistema perceptivo y la enacción tal y como Varela la conceptualizó que nuestro cerebro lleva a cabo constantemente para “construir” esa misma realidad. De manera que podríamos decir que lo Real se compone de la Realidad (la cosa en sí) y lo que no existe (el noumeno).
Varela propone que nuestra fijación por imaginar a la mente como un sistema representacional y pasiva de la realidad-mundo es un error epistemológico que nos ha mantenido ocupados tanto tiempo precisamente por la endeblez de la realidad en mostrarse fija y también por la debilidad cognitiva de los constructos para apresarla como un Yo cuya existencia se nos escurre constantemente de entre las manos.
Varela propone una hipótesis muy osada, los contenidos mentales dibujan en su propia organización -autoorganización- un mundo sensible percibido que en parte es una emergencia, una creación autopoyética que procede del ordenamiento en clases de esos mismos contenidos mentales. Asi realidad-mundo y fenómenos mentales se encontrarían en un continuo diálogo tranformador. Varela opta por el punto de vista de enmedio: huevo y gallina serían coemergentes.
De manera que la realidad que percibimos no es una copia exacta de la realidad en sí, sino una aproximación. Percibimos significados (pescamos peces) a través de un red simbólica (lenguaje y abstracciones) que nos permiten configurar esa misma realidad que se nos presenta a través de significantes. De modo que entre significante y significado no existe una correspondencia lineal sino indeterminada, cada significante tiene múltiples significados según el sentido que cada cual le adjudica.
El sentido es el pez que más nos gusta pescar.Pero el sentido no está en lo Real sino en lo Imaginario, mejor dicho queda atrapado en la intersección entre lo Imaginario y lo simbólico.
El registro de lo Imaginario está relacionado con la memoria, es decir el registro de nuestro pase por el mundo, nuestra historia personal construida como una narrativa. La memoria contrariamente a lo que la gente piensa no sólo sirve para rememorar o evocar recuerdos, sino para anticipar el futuro. ¿De qué le serviría a una cebra recordar el rostro de su abuela? A una cebra lo que le interesa recordar es el camino que ha de seguir para encontrar y prever recursos alimentarios o para recordar el rayado o el olor de sus crias mientras no son destetadas. No cabe ninguna duda de que la memoria es un instrumento que evolucionó para predecir el futuro más que para recordar el pasado.
Lo Imaginario es el presidente de un comité desde donde se establecen relaciones de sentido con los personajes mas importantes de nuestra vida. Un escenario donde se dan cita las grandes tormentas y los grandes encuentros y desencuentros interpersonales. Siguiendo las coordenadas del principio del placer nuestro imaginario clasifica y adjudica valores a las personas y a las cosas.
Cuando el simbólico se deshilacha y la red es arrastrada por las tormentas o succionada por el temporal el imaginario es el escenario donde se representan los dramas de nuestra especie y donde la locura emerge en todo su esplendor a través de imaginaciones, es decir imágenes desprovistas de sentido que tratan de exorcizar el futuro.
Lo simbólico es una red que atrapa significados, una red tejida con las reglas del lenguaje con sus normas lingüisticas, semánticas y ciertamente equívocas. Metáforas y metonimias (desplazamiento y condensación) señalan lo esquivo del lenguaje, una red que deja pasar el agua y los peces de pequeño tamaño (no significativo) pero diseñada para pescar grandes piezas o de mediano tamaño y otras piezas que no podrians er pescadas con otros artilugios de pesca.
Lo simbólico es un toldo que nos protege de lo intempestivo de lo Real, algo así como el sistema inmune de nuestra mente, un ejército de salvación que nombra, etiqueta y conceptualiza convirtiendo las amenazas de lo Real en conceptos y símbolos.
Y los símbolos nos protegen de los embates tanto de lo que imaginamos, como de la realidad-real o de la realidad ignota.
El debilitamiento de lo simbólico se caracteriza por tener los siguientes efectos:
“Lo real acaba succionando el aparato simbólico de los humanos haciéndonos cada vez más vulnerables a nuestras propias pulsiones que sin ese colchón de seguridad que es la abstracción acabamos siendo devorados por la imagen como sustituto de lo imaginario y la realidad como prótesis del deseo. Las neurosis de hoy no representan ya conflictos entre las pulsiones y la Moral sino la necesidad de que hagan realidad nuestras pulsiones junto con la convicción, la idea casi delirante de que todos tenemos derecho a que asi sea”.
Es por eso que podemos enfermar de vacío, de anomia y de sin sentido.
Conforme he ido explorando el mundo de la industria de los videojuegos en el Perú (con algunas notas iniciales aquí), he ido encontrándome también con las intersecciones que este mundo tiene con otros mundos tecnológicos que están en proceso de emergencia o de consolidación. Las retóricas del emprendimiento, de la investigación, de la tecnología y de la innovación atraviesan el mundo de los videojuegos en diversos puntos de encuentro, empezando a hacerse un lugar en la visión que está construyendo el Perú de sí mismo como un país que empieza a introducirse en las dinámicas del “progreso”.
Pero son, por supuesto, discursos complicados y que en general abordamos con dificultad porque no tenemos mucha experiencia en estos temas – y más aún, tenemos mucha experiencia con estructuras e infraestructuras (tanto técnicas como sociales) que obstaculizan el desarrollo de estos temas. Tenemos que enfrentarnos, por ejemplo, al desafío de cultivar ecosistemas sostenibles de innovación sin contar con una base instalada de investigación y desarrollo científicos y tecnológicos, y en muchos casos es fácil encontrar posiciones que creen que se puede tener una cosa sin la otra, o que la investigación básica o aplicada no deberían ser prioridades para nuestros desarrollo tecnológico. Ahora, la posición inversa también es fácil de encontrar: la que dice que no hay innovación si no hay primero el fomento de la investigación básica y de la ciencia pura. Ambos extremos adolescen de alguna forma de ingenuidad: o de una ingenuidad práctica que considera que se puede avanzar en innovación sin aparatos que la alimenten y la sostengan; o de una ingenuidad teórica que cree que las innovaciones surgen casi por ósmosis, sin ningún tipo de gestión, cultivo o canalización.
Todo lo cual muestra que hay múltiples epistemologías de la innovación que están explicitadas en ninguna parte, y que no son particularmente reconciliables entre sí. La innovación, concepto oscuro difícil de definir y acotar, es subsumida bajo la lógica económica del desarrollo de productos y servicios, o bajo la lógica científica del descubrimiento de la mejora técnica, y en ambos casos se deja de reconocer la importante ambigüedad, multidimensionalidad y complejidad de hablar de algo como la innovación. Los cambios cualitativos significativos que implican los procesos de innovación transformadora son difícilmente planificables, difícilmente anticipables, y sus consecuencias son difícilmente evaluables a priori: “innovar” no es solamente generar algo nuevo; es generar, a partir de elementos conocidos, un resultado desconocido que va más allá de la suma de sus partes. Si los resultados pueden ser anticipados con claridad, me atrevo a decir que no se trata de un resultado innovador. Las innovaciones realmente disruptivas son aquellas que escapan por completo a los sistemas que las generan, muchas veces volviéndolos obsoletos.
De modo que la innovación no puede saberse a priori, como no puede realmente saberse con claridad cómo innovar. Lo cual no quiere decir que no se pueda hacer nada al respecto: estamos hablando, finalmente, de cómo se genera un cambio cualitativo radical que va más allá de la simple acumulación cuantitativa. Y lo cierto es que históricamente hemos visto suficientes procesos de generación de cambio radical – técnico, económico, político, social, etc. – como para saber qué condiciones suelen ir de la mano con este tipo de cambios, y cuáles no. De modo que aunque no sabemos cómo producir lo desconocido como no sabemos cómo decir lo indecible, si sabemos construir sistemas y contextos donde lo indecible suele encontrar su camino hacia la enunciación con mayor facilidad. Con eso, al final estamos jugando un juego de probabilística: no podemos nunca garantizar al 100% un resultado innovador de un proceso cualquiera; pero sí podemos ampliar la cantidad de intentos que realizamos, y maximizar la posibilidad de resultados que sean, en mayor o menor medida, representativos de un cambio significativo en nuestra manera de hacer las cosas. Las innovaciones no pueden generarse a propósito. Lo que se puede generar a propósito son los entornos que tienen una mayor tendencia a generar innovaciones.
Ésta es, me parece, una mejor epistemología de la innovación, o incluso una metafísica: una manera de articular cómo pasa a ser lo que en teoría no puede ser. De todos modos me parece que es controversial, pues muchas personas creen que las innovaciones, cualquiera sea su forma, sí pueden ser accesibles voluntaria e intencionalmente. Pero en todo caso, estas discusiones y consideraciones de alto nivel especulativo me parecen relevantes porque el ámbito de la innovación, y su pariente cercano, el del emprendimiento, se han llenado de una serie de discursos no solo poco sustanciados, sino en gran medida anecdóticos y superficiales. Hay una enorme voluntad para el argumento y el discurso que parten de la excepción – por ejemplo, del tipo “si X pudo, tú también puedes” – en lugar del análisis del contexto en el que suceden las cosas y los factores endógenos y exógenos que llevaron a un individuo o a un grupo a introducir en el mundo algo que no existía antes.
Desde mi perspectiva, el discurso motivacional, casi de autoayuda de vender la idea del emprendimiento o la innovación como discursos de autosuperación o de realización personal no nos benefician a gran escala ni a largo plazo. Lo que estos discursos generan son grandes números de individuos enfrentándose a niveles sumamente altos de riesgo, resultados inciertos e impredecibles y altas probabilidades de fracaso, y todo por las razones incorrectas: por cumplir con una autoimagen, por aspirar a un mejor futuro material “liberado del trabajo de oficina”, pero no por el interés de realizar una visión propio, de construir algo radicalmente nuevo, de cuestionar estructuras establecidas o crear algo realmente significativo. A largo plazo, creo que esto puede terminar quemando muchos puentes, pues no se trata de conseguir la mayor cantidad de gente intentando lanzar la mayor cantidad posible de start-ups. Me parece mucho más sostenible conseguir la mayor cantidad de gente con el perfil adecuado para tentar la innovación una y otra vez hasta realizar una visión, siendo consciente de los riesgos que eso implica, y brindándoles las capacidades y el contexto que les permita desarrollar esa visión. No se trata de empezar a ponerse excluyente: cualquiera puede participar, por supuesto, pero eso no quiere decir que todos vayan a disfrutar la fiesta.
Fortnightly from the 9th of April, 2013, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London, five engaging speakers will be introducing the thought of Ludwig Feuerbach, Simon Critchley, Max Horkheimer, Alain Badiou and Wilhelm Reich. These events will span themes from sexuality to economics, idealism to ethics, covered in the author’s books in the new set of Radical Thinkers.
Set 7, released this month, is the latest addition to the series. These beautifully designed books have been described by Owen Hatherley as “a compendium of left-wing philosophical and political thought.”
The following provides a brief introduction to the thinkers and offers some related preparatory materials.
For the full details of events, including times and booking information, visit this page at the ICA website.
9 April: Nina Power presents The Fiery Brook by Ludwig Feuerbach
Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–1872) was a German philosopher credited by both Karl Marx and Frederick Engels as a major influence. Feuerbach initially pursued a career in the Church, enrolling to study Theology at the University of Heidelberg. However, despite his father’s opposition, he later joined the University of Berlin to study under Hegel.
Among Feuerbach’s many works is The Essence of Christianity, an essential reference point for the Young Hegelians who saw the value in Hegel’s methods but who criticized his idealism. Feuerbach’s attempt at a departure from theology towards humanism opened the way for the development of Marx and Engels’ Hegelian materialism.
More information on Feurbach from Marxists.org.
23 April: Federico Campagna presents Infinitely Demanding by Simon Critchley
Simon Critchley is Hans Jonas Professor at the New School for Social Research, and also teaches at Tilburg University and the European Graduate School. For Critchley, profound disappointment is to be found at the heart of every modern liberal democracy. He argues for an ethics of commitment capable of inspiring radical change.
Interview with Simon Critchley in e-flux.
“We are all political realists, indeed most of us are passive nihilists and cynics” - Simon Critchely in a video on critical theory today and the corresponding article in Adbusters
7 May: Esther Leslie presents Critique of Instrumental Reason by Max Horkheimer
Max Horkheimer (1895–1973) was a sociologist, philosopher and a founder of the ‘Frankfurt School’ of social research and is particularly famed for his work with Theodor Adorno.
Horkheimer was born in Stuttgart to a wealthy family. Pressured by his father, Horkheimer left school at sixteen to work in the family’s factory however his career was cut short in 1916 when he was drafted up for the First World War. When the war was over he enrolled at Munich University where he studied philosophy and psychology. After graduating he continued to study in Frankfurt where he met his life long collaborator and friend Theodor Adorno.
Horkheimer and Adorno’s work, from within the Frankfurt School, crossed the boundaries of academic disciplines and laid the foundations of critical theory. They sought to ask how it was that the development of rational enlightenment thinking failed to create such a rational and just society. Critique of Instrumental Reason uncovers the contradictions at the heart of the Enlightenment project and why its promises failed.
A Slob’s Guide to Critical Theory in Vice magazine.
“In our work we can bring up the negative aspects of this society, which we want to change." – A video clip of Horkheimer.
21 May: Peter Hallward presents Ethics by Alain Badiou
Alain Badiou teaches philosophy at the École normale supérieure and the Collège international de philosophie in Paris. Considered to be one of the most powerful voices in contemporary French philosophy, Badiou explores the ground left for politics after post-modernism. Following the thought of philosophers such as Heidegger and Foucault, whose work deconstructs the singular subject upon whose experience political action may depend, Badiou’s project has been to some extent an attempt to reappeal the post-modern and redefine the subject and the event of politics.
Following the publishing of Badiou’s The Communist Hypothesis, philosophers, including Slavoj Žižek and Toni Negri, attended The Idea of Communism, a conference responding to Badiou’s notions of fidelity and a revival in the revolutionary project.
In Ethics Badiou explodes the facile assumptions behind the recent ethical turn, showing how the prevailing ethical principles of the modern liberal democracy serve ultimately to reinforce an ideology of the status quo because they can provide no effective understanding of the concept of evil.
A young Badiou interviews Foucault in this video.
The Idea of Communism Conference discussing Badiou’s work in this video.
And Terry Eagleton again, this time reviewing Ethics in the New Left Review.
4 June: Stella Sandford presents Sexpol by Wilhelm Reich
Wilhelm Reich (1897–1957) was an Austrian psychoanalyst who made significant contributions to psychoanalytic theory. Reich had a complex and remarkable life. Born into a farming family, his mother committed suicide and his father died of TB when Reich was 17. After fighting in the First World War, Reich eventually studied medicine in Vienna, where he lived in poverty. Aged 22 in 1919, Reich met Freud and made a small income through seeing some of Freud’s patients.
Reich developed his own methods of analysis and his thought explored the construction of character and sex. 1930 he moved with his then wife to Berlin where he joined the German Communist Party and set up clinics in working-class areas to teach sex education. After his self-published work was attacked by the Nazi Party Reich fled, living precariously in Scandinavia before taking the very last boat to leave Norway for the United States before war. In these later years in America his works pitted him against the United States Food and Drug Administration, and in 1956, many of his books, journals, and papers were incinerated under court order.
Reich had a single goal in his career: to seek relief for human suffering. The same curiosity and courage that led him to join the early pioneers of Freudian psychoanalysis and then to engage in some of the most controversial work of this century, led him also, at one period of his life, to become a radical socialist.
This extract from The Guardian comes from Christopher Turner’s book on Reich, Adventures in the Orgasmatron: Wilhelm Reich and the Invention of Sex.
For the full details of these events visit http://www.ica.org.uk/36884/Seasons/An-Introduction-to-Radical-Thinkers.html
Some may find it surprising that the author of “Anti-Oedipus’” glowing introduction kind of hated the book. While Michel Foucault put on airs of amicability towards Deleuze, he was secretly jealous of Deleuze’s popularity. A close friend of Foucault’s claimed “I got the feeling that Foucault saw Deleuze as a rival.”
The rivalry rarely manifested publicly, Deleuze and Foucault could often be seen at public protests together, and Foucault even offered Deleuze a job in his philosophy department (which Deleuze had to initially refuse due to a prior commitment). Foucault even join the ranks of Nietzsche and Spinoza when Deleuze wrote “Foucault.”
Only once did Deleuze unknowingly go too far for Foucault. Deleuze had offered to write the preface to Jacques Donzelot’s thesis on “Policing the Family.” This, by the way, is the thesis that Deleuze helped Donzelot defend when he got stage fright. When Donzelot told Foucault the news, Foucault remarked “I detest that sort of thing. I can’t stand it when old men come and put their stamp on young people’s work.”
And despite the glowing introduction Foucault wrote for “Anti-Oedipus,” he allegedly hated it. Donzelot, who was a close friend of Foucault, stated “Foucault didn’t like Anti-Oedipus and told me so quite often.”
When Foucault ventured into criticizing pyschoanalysis and Lacan in the “History of Sexuality“, Deleuze wrote to Foucault to try to reconcile their theories. But Foucault hated Deleuze’s notion of desire. Foucault told a friend “I can’t stand the word desire; even if you use it different, I can’t stop myself from thinking or feeling that desire equals lack.” But rather then starting a dialogue with Deleuze about their differences, he refused to respond to Deleuze’s letter and broke off their friendship.
It was a trying time for Foucault. The first volume of the “History of Sexuality” was not received well by Foucault’s peers. And as it turns out, it was Baudrillard’s “Forget Foucault” that caused Foucault to abandon the final two volumes of the series for 7 years.
Baudrillard’s “Forget Foucault” was the final straw, so stunning the weakened philosopher that he abandoned the entire edifice that he had planned. It was only after seven years of silence, after having thoroughly revisited its premises, that he published the second volume of his “History of Sexuality.”
Towards the end of Foucault’s life, he tried to reconcile with Deleuze but never got the chance. When Foucault fell ill, Deleuze called friends of Foucault to inquire about his conditions. An optimistic Deleuze commented “Maybe it’s nothing, Foucault will leave the hospital and come and tell us that everything is all right.” But Deleuze was wrong, Foucault would die that year in 1984.
According to Didier Eribon, one of Foucault’s most heartfelt wishes, knowing that he would not live long, was to reconcile with Deleuze. They never saw each. The fact that Daniel Defert asked Deleuze to speak at Foucault’s funeral was a sign of how much both men wanted to smooth over their differences, even beyond the seperation of death.
After the events of May ’68, Paris-VIII, also known as Vincennes, was created to be a refuge for radical students. A committee of 20 peoples that included Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes set out to model Vincennes after MIT. Michel Foucault was named the head of the philosophy department. While Deleuze could not initially work at Vincennes, he later joined a staff that was comprised of Alain Badiou, Jacques Ranciere, Jean-Francois Lyotard and Judith Miller.
If you wondered what could go wrong in a department filled with radicals and communists, the answer is everything. Students tore open ceilings to see “if the police had bugged the rooms” and matters of administration were often seen as fascist coups. Department members invited friends to teach classes, many of whom would not even show up for class.
When Ranciere and Badiou decided that “not showing up” was pretty good grounds to fire these teachers, the victims immediately declared it “a Bolshevik coup and alerted Deleuze and Lyotard, who saw it as the start of a witch hunt. ‘They organized a sort of hunger strike in Deleuze’s seminar.’”
And grades? Capitalist bullshit! Judith Miller openly declared “certain collective have decided not to grade students on the basis of written workers, others have decided to give a diploma to anyone who thinks they deserve one.” If you just thought “Hey! That’s something I shouldn’t openly announce to the public”, then congratulations, you’re right. The French government swiftly declared that the Vincennes philosophy department could no longer award national diplomas.
It wasn’t very long after the publication of “Rhizome” that the philosophy department turned into a veritable Game of Thrones. Badiou, wary of Deleuze’s popularity, led a group of Maoists who pledged their loyalty to Badiou, whom they referred to as the “Great Helmsman.”
Who let Grand Moff Tarkin teach philosophy?
Badiou declared Deleuze an “enemy of the people” and penned several anti-Deleuze articles. Under the psuedonym “Georges Peyol”, Badiou penned “The Fascism of the Potato,” because if I know anything about resisting fascism, it usually involves declaring enemies of the people and creating a cult of personality around yourself.
Speaking of fascism, Badiou and his gang of merry Maoist decided to stage invasions of Deleuze’s class room.
At the height of the conflict, Badious “men” would prevent Deleuze from finishing his seminar, he would put his hat back on to his head to indicate surrender. Badiou himself would occasionally turn up at Deleuze’s seminar to interrupt him, as he admits in the book he wrote on Deleuze in 1997.
Badiou, who is still totally not a fascist, created brigades to “monitor the political content of other classes in the philosophy department.” Deleuze responded to most interventions calmly, and would avoid conflict even when “groups of up to a dozen people bent on picking a fight would show up.”
Sometimes these brigades would show up with copies of Nietzsche to ask trick questions in an effort to embarrass Deleuze. And when that didn’t work:
Often the “brigade” would end up imposing the “Peoples Rule,” commanding the student to quit Deleuze’s classroom on the pretext of a meeting in Lecture Hall 1 or a rally in support of a workers’ struggle. Deleuze reacted calmly, pretending to agree with them and retaliating with irony.
And when that also didn’t work:
Only once did [Deleuze] get angry, when he found on his desk a tract by a “death squad” advocating suicide.”
All quotes and facts are derived from the Deleuze and Guattari biography “Intersecting Lives”, unless otherwise noted.
International journals, they’re giving them to everybody these days. The International Journal of…Zizek Studies! Baudrillard Studies! And now, Badiou Studies! Unfortunately, there is currently no International Journal of Deleuze or Ranciere Studies, because there is no justice in this world.
The International Journal of Badiou Studies just released their second issue ever. The journal is all open-access, much like its Zizek/Baudrillard counterparts.
Each issue features an “invited” paper from a high profile academic . The current issue features one such paper by none other than Badiou himself titled “Affirmative Dialectics: from Logic to Anthropology.” The first issue featured an “invited” paper from Simon Critchley titled “Why Badiou is a Rousseauist.”
From the IJBS website:
The International Journal for Badiou Studies is an international, peer-reviewed, open-source journal dedicated to the philosophy and thought of, and surrounding, the French philosopher Alain Badiou. The editorial staff and board of the IJBS is interdisciplinary across the humanities, with scholars in fields such as Philosophy, Literature and Literary Theory, Cultural Studies, Media Theory, History, and Classics. We feel that such interdisciplinarity is crucial for understanding thought in the 21st century and its relation to the philosophy of Alain Badiou.
We’ve also reproduced the table of contents from the latest issue for your convenience below.
|Affirmative Dialectics: from Logic to Anthropology|
|Alain Badiou||1 – 13|
|Double interwining of opposites in Alain Badiou’s dialectical theory of the subject|
|Wenceslao García Puchades||14 – 37|
|Badiou’s Materialist Reinvention of the Kantian Subject|
|Andrew Ryder||38 – 59|
|Towards a Materialist Rationalism: Plato, Hegel, Badiou|
|Daniel Sacilotto||60 – 98|
|The Dialectics of Resurrection and the Fascist Hypothesis|
|Luis Silva Barros||99 – 127|
|Remarks on the Margins of Alain Badiou’s, The Adventure of French Philosophy|
|Adi Efal||128 – 145|
|A Few Remarks on the Lessons of Gezi Uprising|
|Özden Sözalan||146 – 151|
|The protests in Brazil; or How the bus fare became political contradiction|
|Otávio Luiz Vieira Pinto||152 – 155|
|Os protestos no Brasil, ou Sobre como a passagem de ônibus revelou contradições|
|Otávio Luiz Vieira Pinto||156 – 159|
Alain Badiou, translator of the latest version of Plato’s Republic, is writing a screenplay called “The Life of Plato.” And he wants for its leading role none other than Brad Pitt, supported by Sean Connery as Socrates and Meryl Streep as “Mrs. Plato.”
Photoshopping by Sydney Ligouri
Writing for Vanity Fair France, Jean Perrier says (via Google Translate):
Incredible but true: Alain Badiou wants to invade Hollywood! More precisely, the communist philosopher is writing the script for a film to its production by U.S. studios. Title: The Life of Plato. The cast: Brad Pitt Plato at different ages. For Mrs. Plato, Meryl Streep. And Socrates, the master of Plato, Sean Connery. Here the cast dreamed thinker of Being and Event. Quite honestly, at first, we thought it was a schoolboy joke post-situ diversion ultimate quest … But Alain Badiou, this is serious. He wants, in his own words, “bring Plato, emblem of universal wisdom in the contemporary temple commercial images, the propaganda machine of American life, the capital of the capitalist corruption Hollywood! ”
And while this seemed to be too awesome to be true, a little due diligence (Google) found that Badiou has referenced his plans for a Plato blockbuster featuring Brad Pitt as far back as 2009 (it’s referenced here and here).
Don’t get too excited though. Badiou has yet to actually write the English script, which he plans to do this summer. And actually making the movie? According to Perrier, Badiou is in contact with” friends in Los Angeles, in conjunction with producers.”
I don’t want to be overly skeptical, but unless Joseph McCarthy was right and Hollywood really is full of pinko-Commies (who also read French theory), I’m pretty sure the Hollywood talent needed to secure Brad Pitt does not care about Alain Badiou’s silver screen machinations. We can still dream.
Read the original article in French here.
Read the article in English via Google Translate here.
The NSA whistleblower, who is currently in Moscow, has written to Rafael Correa regarding his request for political asylum
Text of a letter by Edward Snowden to the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. Written in Spanish; obtained and translated by the Press Association, London
There are few world leaders who would risk standing for the human rights of an individual against the most powerful government on earth, and the bravery of Ecuador and its people is an example to the world.
I must express my deep respect for your principles and sincere thanks for your government's action in considering my request for political asylum.
The government of the United States of America has built the world's largest system of surveillance. This global system affects every human life touched by technology; recording, analysing, and passing secret judgment over each member of the international public.
It is a grave violation of our universal human rights when a political system perpetuates automatic, pervasive and unwarranted spying against innocent people.
In accordance with this belief, I revealed this programme to my country and the world. While the public has cried out support of my shining a light on this secret system of injustice, the government of the United States of America responded with an extrajudicial man-hunt costing me my family, my freedom to travel and my right to live peacefully without fear of illegal aggression.
As I face this persecution, there has been silence from governments afraid of the United States government and their threats. Ecuador however, rose to stand and defend the human right to seek asylum.
The decisive action of your consul in London, Fidel Narvaez, guaranteed my rights would be protected upon departing Hong Kong – I could never have risked travel without that. Now, as a result, and through the continued support of your government, I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest.
No matter how many more days my life contains, I remain dedicated to the fight for justice in this unequal world. If any of those days ahead realise a contribution to the common good, the world will have the principles of Ecuador to thank.
Please accept my gratitude on behalf of your government and the people of the Republic of Ecuador, as well as my great personal admiration of your commitment to doing what is right rather than what is rewarding.
Edward Joseph Snowden.
YouTube has issued its first white paper (a document designed to help constituents understand a particular issue), titled
"Gamers on Youtube: Evolving Video Consumption," and the subject is near and dear to our hearts. Google's ubiquitous video branch has quantified the impact of video games, and the statistics evidence significant growth in comparison to other content hosted by the service.
The thesis of Google's study is that video continues to grow as the meeting place between publishers and consumers. In 2012, views of game-related content doubled year-over-year, which was a faster expansion rate than YouTube's overall growth percentage in the United States.
Another key statistic reveals that as time goes on in a product life cycle, views transition from desktop before launch (teasers, trailers, developer walkthroughs) to mobile and tablet post-release (tips, "let's plays", achievement guides). More importantly for publishers, once the community gets its hands on a game, it generates almost as much traffic post-launch as the publisher drummed up pre-release.
Click to enlarge
You can view the entire white paper on Think with Google.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that video is increasingly important to video game enthusiasts. In addition to YouTube's own growth in the sector, Twitch.tv has become an enormous success. Competitive gaming has taken off, attracting huge viewership across video outlets.
There are some elements of the white paper that can be dismissed as unsurprising. For instance, pre-launch views correlate to post-release sales. Awareness is often a leading indicator of sales performance, and high viewership clearly indicates consumer interest.
As I read the white paper, one statistic stood out. The community is responsible for nearly half of the views, clearly extending awareness and word-of-mouth long after a publisher's own PR and marketing plan has run its course. This correlates directly to Nintendo's decision this year to prevent "LPers" (those that make Let's Play videos) and Ubisoft's declaration last week that it wouldn't intercede. My hope is that Nintendo will see this and change its mind, returning an incentive to those that wish to help promote its products.
The document also answers a question I've been getting frequently about the emphasis of second-screen experiences at E3 this year. Given the growing number of mobile and tablet views (one-third of all gaming views on YouTube and double in 2012 what it was in 2011), publishers are trying to capitalize on the trend.
Click to enlarge
One interpretation of the data is that people are using the closest device (a phone or tablet) to access tip videos while playing. Either that, or more of us are watching gaming while in the bathroom than ever before. Publishers are banking on the former.
Find out more about "Our Take" here.
Many marketers work overtime to confuse us about money. They take advantage of our misunderstanding of the time value of money, of our aversion to reading the fine print, of our childish need for instant gratification and most of all, our conflicted emotional connection to money.
Confusing customers about money can be quite profitable if that's the sort of work you're willing to do.
A few things to keep in mind:
Published by à l’encontre, 21 June 2013
By Michel Caillat and Marc Perelman
Most analysts have been able to understand and explain the genesis of the mass demonstrations that have taken place in Brazil in recent weeks. It was the rise in public transport fares that unleashed the nationwide wave of struggle, affecting all the major cities which must play host to the matches of the upcoming 2014 football World Cup. From this followed a whole cascade of demands concerning health, education, opposition to privatisation, opposition to repression, and generally standing up for public services, all of which have been put into question by the government of Dilma Rousseff and her friends in the Workers’ Party (PT). The ‘ocean of roses’ on which Lula thought he could navigate has transformed into a vast mass of thorns.
All the same, among these analyses, certain aspects are missing – elements which we think are decisive not only to understand the drives of the current protests, but also to understand the inherent character of their demands: namely, the political role of football as a phenomenon that crushes people’s consciousness, the pernicious power of stadiums as a site of mass depoliticisation, urban planning in the service of a new sport-centred environment, and, indeed, the dictatorial strategy of FIFA carried out under the aegis of a bureaucracy that imposes its diktats.
In 2012, after a long battle in parliament, the Brazilian state finally accepted the Lei Geral da Copa, whose driving force was FIFA. This ‘General World Cup Bill’ imposes bank holidays on the host cities on the days when the Brazilian national team is playing, reduces the number of seats for the general public (while increasing their cost), and allows alcoholic drinks in the stadiums. The legal ban on sales within Brazil’s football grounds has been lifted in order to preserve FIFA’s juicy contract with the multinational Anheuser Busch, which produces Budweiser lager, one of the competition’s main sponsors. The ‘General Bill’ similarly exempts the companies working on the World Cup (including those renovating or building stadiums) from taxes and charges, bans (Article 11) the sale of any merchandise within ‘official competition sites, in their immediate surroundings and principal access routes’ and penalises (Article 23) bars who attempt to show the matches or promote certain brands. To top it all, the Bill considers as a federal crime any attack on the image of FIFA or its sponsors, as well as so-called ‘ambush’ or ‘intrusive’ marketing which uses any image related to the competition, or football in general, without authorisation. In order to impose the penalties as quickly as possible – from a simple fine, up to a two-year prison sentence – FIFA wants to force the creation of special courts during the World Cup. Now, this kind of measure runs contrary to the Brazilian Constitution of 1988, which, indeed, stipulates – as in most developed countries – that there can be no special courts or justice, and that justice must be the same for everyone.
The unconstitutionality of these proposals does not, however, seem to be stopping FIFA, which wants to repeat what it put in place during the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa, with the creation of 56 ‘World Cup courts’. FIFA wants total impunity for any harm caused to individuals, businesses and institutions during the competition. The Brazilian federal state is, therefore, responsible ‘for all types of damages resulting from any kind of incident or accident in relation to the events’. As such, it could be forced to reimburse FIFA and its commercial partners in case of an attack, incidents resulting from organised crime, natural disasters, etc. By way of this General World Cup Bill, FIFA – much like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – is thus capable of imposing its iniquitous law on the country hosting a sporting event. FIFA never ceases to remind us that it is not being demanding – rather, it is Brazil, which put itself forward to host the competition, which is putting on the pressure. The law of sporting federations thus imposes itself on the law of the country, without rousing any indignation among its political leaders!
Yet even faced the FIFA bulldozer, the TV reports cannot help but show a number of demonstrators hostile to the football World Cup: ‘Don’t come to see the Cup’ is one of the slogans most often advanced by protestors, standing up against the World Cup because they understand that it entails massive speculation (building firms making ever increasing demands on the state for more money) and the expulsion of thousands of families, that it means razing houses and residential districts to the ground – and not just favelas – to clear the way for motorways linking the airport to the new Castelao stadium. It is nothing other than social and urban cleansing in the name of the success of the World Cup.
The immense resistance which we are now seeing seems to indicate that people have grasped a new level of consciousness with regard to futebol, that opium of the people for which Brazilians today seem to have much less appreciation. The ‘king’ Pele is thus a particular target of the demonstrators, having proclaimed ‘Let's forget all this confusion that’s happening in Brazil, all these protests, and remember that the national team is our country, our blood’. Brazilians appreciated still less the arrogance of Jérôme Valcke, general secretary of FIFA, who last year called on Brazil to ‘kick their arses into gear’. The expression resonated in the ears of the Brazilian organisers as an insult. It is true that this bureaucrat, for all his arrogance, isn’t too careful with words. Did he not, just a few months back, advance some at least rather curious proposals?... ‘I will say something which is crazy, but less democracy is sometimes better for organising a World Cup. When you have a very strong head of state who can decide, as maybe Putin can do in 2018... that is easier for us organisers than a country such as Germany, where you have to negotiate at different levels’. What a great humanist, this Mr Valcke!
The FIFA president Sepp Blatter (also a member of the IOC) has not stayed on the sidelines, but rather backed up his general secretary’s comments, himself stating that the 1978 World Cup in Argentina was ‘a kind of reconciliation of the public, of the people of Argentina, with the system, the political system, the military system at the time’, all the while congratulating himself on this organisational success. We should not forget that this competition went ahead despite numerous calls for a boycott, for example in France, since the country was then living under the yoke of the bloody regime of General Videla, who died just last month. The members of trade union organisations and left-wing parties who were being cut up with saws just a few hundred metres from the stadium, at the sinister Navy School of Mechanics, would surely appreciate – if any are still alive – President Blatter’s words. But at the time, the Argentinian people cheered on its footballing heroes without understanding that this was helping the dictatorship to establish its regime. Today, Joseph Blatter is badly mistaken when he says that ‘football is stronger than people’s dissatisfaction’. Our wager is that the Brazilian youth will make him realise this.
Michel Caillat is a professor of economics at the University of Orléans. Marc Perelmen is a professor of aesthetics at Nanterre. Caillat is the author, among other works, of Sport et civilisation, L’Harmattan (2000). Marc Perelman’s books include Barbaric Sport.
Por Marina Amaral (Agência Pública) (*).-
Ya se gastaron 27.400 millones de reales en la Copa y la previsión actual del costo total es de 33.000 millones, una cantidad que se aproxima al monto del presupuesto federal en educación para este año: 38.000 millones de reales. Una priorización de recursos que la población cuestiona en las calles, así como la concentración de dinero público en la construcción de estadios, que, en muchos casos –como en Manaos y Cuiabá—, son“elefantes blancos” sin utilización futura (NdT: 1 dólar norteamericano equivale a 2,2 reales).
Además de ello, las obras de movilidad urbana –presentadas por el gobierno como el principal legado para las ciudades sede y actualmente presupuestadas en 12.000 millones de reales—privilegian a los accesos viales para automóviles (viaductos, extensión de avenidas) y la ruta aeropuertos-hoteles-estadios que no es necesariamente prioritaria para la movilidad urbana en la vida cotidiana de esas ciudades. Un ejemplo claro es Itaquera, donde las obras reclamadas por la comunidad fueron suspendidas mientras se invierte a todo vapor en las obras de acceso al estadio. Promesas de inversión en transporte público, como la construcción del metro de Salvador y el Monorriel da línea Ouro en San Pablo fueron retiradas de la Matriz de Responsabilidades (el presupuesto federal para la Copa) y el transporte público llegó a ser perjudicado en Río de Janeiro, donde los moradores y el comercio sufren con la falta del tradicional tranvía –que no circula desde 2011, después de un accidente denunciado por los vecinos como resultante de un equivocado proyecto de modernización (que hubo que rehacer y todavía no está listo).
Finalmente, las obras de movilidad urbana son las principales responsables de la remoción de comunidades, amenazas ambientales y pérdida de instalaciones públicas.
Remociones violentas y demoliciones indeseables
Los movimientos sociales han contabilizado 170 mil personas amenazadas o ya removidas y/o recibiendo indemnizaciones de 3 a 10 mil reales, en el caso de aquellos que pueden probar la propiedad del lote y asistencia de renta de menos de un salario mínimo para los demás. No es raro que los desalojos sean realizados en forma violenta, sin transparencia ni diálogo entre poder público y residentes. En el morro de Providencia, en Río de Janeiro, por ejemplo, algunas personas descubrían que iban a ser expulsadas cuando sus casas aparecían marcadas, sin negociación previa alguna.
Además de las casas, los residentes pierden sus comunidades, en algunos casos centenarias, amigos, vecinos, tradiciones. Por lo general son enviados lejos de sus raíces y su vida cotidiana y pierden la infraestructura urbana de barrios más céntricos, por ejemplo en el caso de la amenazada comunidad de la Paz, en Itaquera, San Pablo. Las indemnizaciones recibidas son muy inferiores a los precios de alquiler e inmuebles en los barrios afectados por las obras de la Copa, forzando la partida también de aquellos que pueden decidir su destino. La especulación inmobiliaria en torno de los estadios y las mejoras realizadas para volver la ciudad más atractiva para los turistas expulsan a los residentes que deberían ser beneficiados por el cambio, de los morros de Río de Janeiro a la zona oriental de San Pablo, agravando el gran problema de falta de viviendas en las grandes ciudades brasileñas.
El patrimonio social y cultural también ha sido perjudicado, como demostró la expulsión de los representantes de las etnias indígenas que ocupaban el antiguo Museo del Indio en Río de Janeiro, reconocido por los antropólogos como marco de relación entre indios y blancos en Brasil; o que el histórico estadio de Maracaná fuera despersonalizado por una reforma que ya costó 1.200 millones del tesoro público y acompañado de la destrucción de instalaciones deportivas públicas, como el gimnasio Célio Barros, para construir estacionamientos y accesos viales en torno del estadio.
Legislación de excepción para cumplir las exigencias de la FIFA
Desde que Brasil cerró el acuerdo con la FIFA, el gobierno viene creando leyes por decreto para asegurar los intereses de ésta y de sus socios (Ley General de la Copa), permitir que Estados y municipios se endeuden más allá de lo establecido por la Ley de Responsabilidad Fiscal para invertir en obras de la Copa, acortar los permisos ambientales y prescindir de licitaciones.
Algunos ejemplos del perjuicio que esa legislación trae para la población:
-Las zonas de exclusión: la FIFA ha establecido como territorio propio –zona de exclusión—el área comprendida en un radio de hasta dos kilómetros en torno de los estadios. Allí controla la circulación de las personas, la venta de productos, fiscaliza el uso de marcas que considera propias –el propio nombre del evento, Copa 2014, y la mascota, entre otros–, protege la exclusividad de la venta de productos de sus patrocinadores –de la cerveza a la hamburguesa— y se encarga de la seguridad . Según la ONG Streetnet, en Sudáfrica 100.000 vendedores ambulantes perdieron su fuente de ingresos durante la Copa y se prevé una situación similar –caracterizada como violación del derecho de trabajo y persecución por trabajar en espacio público—en Brasil, donde más de mil vendedores ambulantes ya perdieron sus puestos de trabajo por culpa de las obras de la Copa, principalmente en Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Cuiabá, Fortaleza y Porto Alegre.
-Exenciones fiscales, excepciones legales: la creación de penas y la tipificación de crímenes para proteger los intereses de la FIFA y de sus socios –que castiga, por ejemplo, a quien utiliza símbolos de la Copa para promover eventos en bares y restaurantes o a quien viola la exclusividad de las marcas de la FIFA— son algunos de los abusos permitidos por la Ley General de la Copa, que también exime de impuestos a una serie de entidades y de individuos indicados por la FIFA, perjudicando los ingresos del país, que hasta carga con toda la responsabilidad jurídica en accidentes/incidentes, daños y procesos, incluyendo el pago de los abogados de la FIFA y sus socios.
-Obras estaduales y municipales faraónicas y/o en contra de los intereses de la población: el caso más flagrante es la construcción de un Acuario en Fortaleza , sin arbitrio arqueológico y con diversas fallas en EIA-Rima, a un costo superior a los 280 millones de reales mientras Ceará vive una de sus peores sequías. En San Pablo, en Río de Janeiro, Salvador y otras ciudades-sede, los gobiernos estaduales y municipales también participan en la inversión de dinero público en estadios que serán posteriormente explotados por la iniciativa privada . En Natal, la construcción del estadio pone en riesgo las dunas, y en Reciba un área hasta ahora preservada está siendo alterada completamente para crear instalaciones relacionadas con la Copa, como hoteles y centros de apoyo al estadio.
-Sobrefacturación, costos elevados y desvíos de recursos públicos: las siete mayores contratistas de Brasil –que también son las principales dotadoras de recursos electorales de los principales partidos y políticos— fueron beneficiadas con la Ley 12.462/2011 RDC –Régimen Diferenciado de Contrataciones Públicas– para fijar precios, aumentarlos a través de cláusulas y añadidos frecuentemente justificados por el ritmo de las obras y por la reformulación de proyectos equivocados. El TCU ya comprobó irregularidades en la arena Amazonas, en la reforma del Maracaná, en la construcción del estadio en Brasilia, en el aeropuerto de Manaos. El Ministerio Público del Distrito Federal inició una acción contra la sobrefacturación y otras irregularidades en el VLT de Brasilia.
Violación al derecho a la información y la participación política
Los movimientos sociales denunciaron en el Dossier de Violaciones a los Derechos Humanos que también el derecho a la información y a la participación en los procesos de decisión son “atropellados por las autoridades de la FIFA, el COI y los comités locales”, porque los “proyectos asociados a la Copa y a las Olimpíadas no son objeto de debate público”. La falta de información y de debate sobre los proyectos, que usualmente incumplen los planes rectores aprobados por las legislaturas municipales, que afectan a comunidades y barrios, es denunciada por movimientos sociales en todas las ciudades-sedes. Asociaciones de vecinos también se quejan de audiencias públicas meramente formales y de la inexistencia de mecanismos más eficaces para la participación de la sociedad en los proyectos que afectan sus casas, barrios y ciudades.
Recrudecimiento de la violencia policial y de la seguridad de la FIFA
El presupuesto del área de seguridad de la Copa prevé inversiones de 1.800 millones de reales del gobierno federal. El Ministerio de Justicia declara haber invertido hasta ahora 562 millones de reales y el Ministerio de Defensa, 630 millones en gastos relativos a los eventos. Por un total de 49,5 millones, el gobierno federal arregló la compra de millares de armamentos no letales de la empresa Condor –la misma que proveyó los gases utilizados contra los manifestantes en Turquía y en las ciudades brasileñas—para la Copa de las Confederaciones, que se juega actualmente, y la Copa del Mundo de 2014.
El contrato, con vigencia hasta el 31 de diciembre de 2014, prevé la provisión de 2.200 kits no letales de corta distancia (sprays de pimienta, granadas lacrimógenas con chips para ser rastreadas, granadas de efecto moral para uso externo y en interiores, y granadas explosivas de luz y sonido); 449 kits no-letales de corta distancia con cartuchos de balas de goma y cartuchos de expansión en el impacto (balas que se expanden en contacto con la piel, evitando la perforación); 1.800 armas eléctricas para lanzar dardos energizados (las pistolas “taser”) y otras 8.300 granadas de efecto moral, 8.300 granadas de luz y sonido, 8.300 granadas de gas lacrimógeno fumígenas triples y 50 mil sprays de pimienta. Dentro de los estadios y en la zona de exclusión, la seguridad privada es escogida y dirigida por la FIFA pero pagada por el gobierno federal. En las recientes manifestaciones en Río de Janeiro y en Belo Horizonte, la cantidad de equipos y municiones llamó la atención, exactamente porque ya se estaba utilizando el material de seguridad de la Copa de las Confederaciones.
Además de la legislación de excepción referida en el ítem anterior –que incluye la tipificación de nuevos crímenes para proteger marcas y la exclusividad de los socios de la FIFA y la zona de exclusión–, el PL 728/2011, a fin de su trámite, incluyó la tipificación del crimen de “terrorismo”, algo que no existe en la legislación brasileña desde la última dictadura militar, y prevé duras penas para quien promueva “el pánico generalizado”. Para los movimientos sociales, el texto del proyecto, bastante vago, puede criminalizar las manifestaciones, en tanto sean encuadradas como causantes del pánico generalizado.
Elitización de los estadios y de las entradas a los juegos de la Copa
Las reformas de los estadios brasileños, a fin de seguir las recomendaciones de la FIFA, reducirán o extinguirán los sectores populares en los estadios, ampliando el área de palcos y los lugares marcados, principalmente en el Maracaná y el Mineirão, que perdieron casi el 50 por ciento de su capacidad. Como resultado, el precio de las entradas subió incluso en los juegos regulares –pasando, por ejemplo en el Maracaná, de los 40 a 60 reales que se cobraban por las entradas populares a un mínimo de 160 reales.
En cuanto a las entradas para la Copa 2014, mientras que 200.000 personas asistieron al partido final contra Uruguay en 1950 en el Maracaná, habrá apenas 74.000 puestos a la venta en el mismo estadio para la final del año próximo. En 1950, 80% de las entradas eran populares (tribunas y general), eliminadas para hacer lugar a los asientos acochados de las zonas VIP.
La FIFA también impone normas de conducta a los fanáticos completamente contrarias a la cultura de alegría y de participación de la hinchada brasileña de fútbol, con una platea sentada, sin las coreografías, los bombos y el baile de banderas a que estamos acostumbrados.
Incremento en el tráfico y la violencia contra las mujeres, los adolescentes y niños
Fortaleza, Natal y Salvador están entre los principales destinos del turismo sexual, que trae hombres en busca de mujeres, travestis, adolescentes y niños, lo que se agravará con la Copa. El Esplar, ONG que trabaja con mujeres de Ceará y participa en la Articulación de los Comités Populares de la Copa, lanzó, en sociedad con la Fundación Heinrich Boll, un folleto informativo en un DVD para llamar la atención sobre el esperado aumento del turismo sexual durante la Copa. Según la abogada Magnolia Said, que coordinó la producción de ese material, ya se detectó un aumento del tráfico interno (del interior a las capitales del Nordeste) de mujeres y adolescentes por causa de los preparativos de la Copa del Mundo. Una investigación de la agencia Pública también detectó el tránsito de travestis de Fortaleza hacia San Pablo para colocarse prótesis de siliconas a cambio de trabajo gratuito para las proxenetas que financian las cirugías♦
(*) Traducido por El Puercoespín – http://www.elpuercoespin.com.ar
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The author of Cracked selects a battery of books that challenge received wisdom about mental illness and how to treat it
I wrote Cracked: Why Psychiatry Is Doing More Harm Than Good because of the huge gulf between what most people believe about psychiatric diagnoses and medications and what the evidence actually reveals.
When I started working in the NHS I pretty much accepted the mainstream view – that psychiatric drugs work, that the categories of mental disorder have been established via solid scientific research, and that we are now on the cusp of understanding the biology of mental illness. It took many years of practice and research to learn that such assertions do not stand up to serious scientific scrutiny.
My choice of 10 books here reflects the writings of diverse commentators – patients, academics, novelists, psychologists and critical psychiatrists – who have at different times challenged our understanding of mental illnesses and how best to treat them.
Written by one of North America's foremost investigative journalists, this exceptional book tells the story of the globalisation of western psychiatry. Watters lays bare the strategies through which the pharmaceutical industry has converted new populations to our way of understanding and treating mental disorder, making billions in the process.
Whitaker's now-classic book on critical psychiatry tackles one of the great dogmas of psychiatric lore: that antipsychotic medications work. While agreeing that short-term use of these drugs can help stabilise patients, Whitaker documents the mounting evidence showing how their long-term deployment has counter-therapeutic effects. The evidence leads to a startling conclusion: that the "chronic" nature of many severe mental disorders may be partly or entirely caused by the antipsychotic drugs patients are encouraged to consume.
While Whitaker's book tackles antipsychotics, the Harvard psychologist Irving Kirsch explodes the antidepressant myth. By tabulating the results of all the clinical trials conducted on antidepressants (including those buried by the pharmaceutical industry), he reveals that antidepressants actually work no better than placebos for 85% of patients. Even though his results have withstood sustained criticism and have also been replicated, antidepressant use has continued to soar. In 2011 there were 46.7m prescriptions dispensed to the English public alone. The lesson here is: don't judge the excellence of a book by its impact on policy.
After witnessing the atrocities of the second world war, Jung implored future generations to become more aware of the human capacity for destructiveness. The message of this book: cease projecting your destructiveness on to others and become conscious of the destructive side of yourself. This message is crucial for certain care workers who, by self-identifying as altruistic, are prone to allow their unacknowledged destructiveness to corrupt their well-meaning intentions.
In this harrowing and illuminating book, Sally Brampton, a former editor of Elle magazine, leads us into the vortex of her devastating breakdown. She graphically teaches how awful emotional suffering can be, how patients can so often be misguided by professionals, but ultimately how suffering can not only pass in time, but sometimes also impart essential lessons for the art of living.
This book tells the story of how a bright and sane young woman ends up in a psychiatric asylum. There she is given electroconvulsive and insulin therapy but not a drop of the feminism she obviously needs. Plath shows how healthy ambition can easily transmute into misery in the face of limited options and the devilish innocence of uncomprehending authorities. The message is still a pertinent one: suffering is not always sickness but often the sanest response to an imperfect world.
Gladwell has become a guru of the "smart thinking" set. There is a simple reason: he knows how to tell a story. And this book is rich with compelling stories about men and women who, as he puts it, "are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us". What is gripping – and sometimes tragic – about outliers is that they are so regularly misunderstood. We are too prone to recast their difference as pathology. Gladwell deploys insightful psychological research to challenge our most basic assumptions about normality.
Here Freud locates our emotional problems in the conditions of modern civilisation. While its rules lead us to repress our instinctual needs (creating frustration), we know that gratifying these needs will be penalised (creating guilt and anxiety). Given this catch-22, it is no surprise Freud argues that the pursuit of happiness is ultimately futile. Better to dedicate ourselves to learning how to love and work productively.
This book tells the tale of how young Werther, having fallen for a betrothed woman, takes his own life to flee the awful love triangle. It became a sensation throughout Europe and led to a spate of copycat suicides among young men. These consequences are tragic yet fascinating. We know that once a clinical "disorder" or "trait" wins strong cultural recognition an epidemic can follow. This happened with anorexia and self-harm. Does psychiatry merely respond to or actually help create the epidemics it purports to cure?
The DSM-III, although not recommended reading, surely deserves its status as the most influential book in psychiatric history. It established the diagnoses still broadly used today. Later editions (including the recent DSM-5) are mere footnotes to this vast bible of mental illness. And yet, perhaps no single book in medicine has caused so much controversy. Has it medicalised too much normality? Has it become a moneymaking tool for the American Psychiatric Association and the pharmaceutical industry? Has it really improved patients' lives? These important debates rage on …
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari were a philosophical odd couple. Deleuze was a rising philosopher who was concerned with his philosophical predecessors: Friedrich Nietzsche, Baruch Spinoza and Henri Bergson. Guattari was a psychotherapist never had a “formal” education in the field. He learned the trade by working at an experimental psychiatric clinic and religiously attending the seminars of psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan.
In the late 60′s, Deleuze and Guattari met and decided to write a book together. The work was mostly coordinated through letters the two exchanged. Guattari would send notes and scribbles to Deleuze, who would compile the thoughts into what finally became “Anti-Oedipus.” The book was an instant hit in France. However, it tooks years for Deleuze and Guattari’s work to achieve its current infamy in American cultural studies and critical theory classrooms.
The two theorists would go on to write other texts together, including “A Thousand Plateaus”, but each had their own highly successful academic careers. Deleuze continued writing about philosophy, taught at Paris VIII University, and was heavily involved with activism, art, and film. Guattari worked heavily with anti-psychiatry movements and other radical political organizations. He was incessantly creating political groups and organizations, traveled abroad to promote clinical schizoanalysis, and even advised the French cultural minister.
The book, “Intersecting Lives” by Francois Dosse details the life and work of both authors. Clocking in at 672 pages, the tome meticulously details their work as well as their personal lives. Here are a few highlights.
In 1955, Guattari started working at La Borde, a psychiatric clinic in France.
La Borde wasn’t your average psych clinic. The clinic’s constitution imagined the organization as a “communist utopia.” This utopia required the disposal of formalized bureaucracy. Staff members were required to rotate in and out of manual labor to destabilize the hierarchies that existed between the “intellectual” staff and the “laboring” staff. Salaries were debated and decided in democratic committee meetings which, as you can imagine, often devolved into a shit-show.
Patient and staff co-mingling was highly encouraged. Communal spaces were set up for patients and doctors alike to plays cards or read magazines. Nurses were often indistinguishable from patients. Patients were even given responsibility over administrative tasks and could serve on the board of the clinic. One patient even served as treasurer and handled La Borde’s bank account.
When Guattari showed up, he quickly took on a leadership role. He described his demeanor towards staff as “rigidly militant.” This certainly wasn’t Guattari’s first rodeo. As the head of a pro-Tito worker’s brigade in 1949, he “confiscated the meal tickets of any recalcitrant workers who complained or dragged their feet when it came to carrying stones or digging trenches”. At La Borde, Guattari was known to order patients who refused to get out of bed to partake in some of the scheduled activities. That might sound kind of shitty, until the book goes on to describe the scene at La Borde:
Daily life was busy at the clinic: prior to the use of narcoleptic and drug therapy, conflicts between patients often erupted into fights, and it was not unusual for people to get beaned by coffee pots of tools.
Guattari eventually loosened up on his authoritarian tendencies after landing in a hospital as part of a draft-dodging scheme (Guattari was avoiding being sent to Algeria). As a patient, Guattari realized that life under the rule of tyrannical nurses was not so great. The realization followed him back to La Borde.
Guattari would often invite his friends and fellow academics to hang out in La Borde where they took up arts and crafts, worked, and even started careers at La Borde. As a result, La Borde turned into a hot-spot for intellectuals, draft-dodgers and, of course, the mentally ill.
One of those friends, Jean-Baptiste Thierree was a Maoist who performed magic. Thierree received treatment from Guattari while performing magic shows for other patients . One day, Thierree had an idea: he was going to write to Charlie Chaplin’s daughter and start a circus with her.
Victoria Chaplin not only responded, she married Jean-Baptiste. And the circus? Well, the two started it at La Borde. Because if “crippling mental illness” calls for one thing, it’s more clowns and loud noises.
The Thierree-Chaplin couple created particularly intense activities at La Borde with their circus tents, horses, wild animals, and snakes; the patients were invited to participate.
That was followed by integrating catatonic patients into the circus. Grossly irressponsible? Maybe, but it kind of worked in treating the patient.
I [Jean-Baptise] had this idea of masking him [the catonic patient] from head to toe and when he was like that he did whatever I wanted him to do. I always asked him, ‘Why do you move when you are masked?’ He never answered me, and one day he said. ‘because it’s not serious’.
When May ’68 erupted Guattari encouraged his patients to attend. This was the last straw for the director of the clinic, who soon kicked out Guattari because of his rampant shenanigans
It was at La Borde that Guattari acquired the experiences and knowledge necessary to theorize the figure of the schizophrenic and schizoanalysis.
Many have accused Deleuze and Guattari of trivializing the plight of the deranged and being detached from their material realities. For Guattari, nothing is further from the truth. For Deleuze, this is sort of true. Deleuze’s friend Jean-Pierre Muyard was a medical student who introduced Deleuze to many ideas on psychosis and madness. Muyard recounts:
He [Deleuze] said ‘I discuss psychosis and madness, but I don’t know anything about it from the inside.’ But he was also phobic about deranged people and couldn’t have spent even an hour at La Borde.
When Deleuze would visit Guattari, he “avoided the unbearable madness at La Borde.” One dinner in particular with Felix was interrupted by a some chaos as La Borde. Deleuze’s response was less commendable:
We got a call from La Borde saying that a guy had set fire to the chateau chapel and run off into the woods. Gilles blanched, I froze, and Felix called for help to find this guy. At that point, Gilles said to me, ‘how can you stand those schizos’?”
One might find it slightly ironic that the author who philosophically destroyed the project of psychoanalysis and Lacan was kind of infatuated with the man. Guattari religiously attended Lacan’s seminar and became a patient of Lacan for a hefty fee. Guattari eventually ordered all of La Borde’s staff to attend Lacan’s seminar and start analysis with Lacan “if they wanted to keep working at the clinic.”
During the 1950s, Guattari was a strict Lacanian. Even his friends would call him “Lacan” as a joke. In 1964, Lacan chose Guattari as a lieutenant at the newly created Freudian School of Paris. Guattari was sure that Lacan anoint him as a “preferred partner”
Lacan met with his patients for sessions often lasting as little as four minutes. Guattari, opting for the premium-package, paid for the pleasure of driving Lacan home. The in-ride discussion was, according to Lacan, “part of the analysis.”
During one such couch-session with Lacan, Guattari mentioned to Lacan that Roland Barthes was interested in publishing one of Guattari’s papers in Communications.
Guattari talked to Lacan about it while he was on the couch, but the master was indignant: What? Why not publish it in his journal, Scilicet? Lacan ordered his patient to choose his camp. Guattari was forced to comply and asked Barthes to remove his text from the issue.
Well that’s not so bad, Lacan had taken a special interest in Guattari and wanted to take him under his wing. Publishing Guattari’s work under his own journal instead of Barthes’ isn’t too bad. But Lacan never published Guattari’s paper.
After Lacan had got wind that Guattari was writing “Anti-Oedipus”, Lacan curiously inquired about its contents. Guattari, not being an idiot, realized that he could not reveal to Lacan a book which attacked his entire academic career. “That was clearly not an option,” Guattari said in an interview, “Deleuze mistrusted Lacan like the plague.”
Guattari tried to assuage Lacan by lying, saying that it was Deleuze’s fault for only wanting to share a finished project. Lacan tried to investigate the matter by asking to meet Deleuze in person, who instead offered to talk to Lacan on the phone. At this point, Lacan decided the best course of action was to liquor up Guattari at a fancy restaurant so he could spill the beans on the new book.
At the dinner, Guattari did in fact explain the thematic elements of “Anti-Oedipus.” Lacan was, on the surface, receptive to the new ideas. Guattari tried to lie his ass off to Lacan to make his new ideas seem more Lacanian then they really were. Lacan eventually discovered the true content of the book, and that dinner was the last time the two ever meet.
When Lacan discovered how aggressive the book was with respect to his ideas, all the bridges were definitively burned. Not only would the two never see each other gain, but Lacan and his friends also started circulating a series of rumors about Guattari’s practice to discredit him in the psychoanalytic circles.
When “Anti-Oedipus” was finally published, Lacan censored any discussion of the book among his students. He forbade any debate about the book, and never mentioned it in his seminar. One student of Lacan noted that Lacan took “Anti-Oedipus” as “a personal attack that was all the more hurtful because he had made some gestures towards Deleuze, whom he respected.”
In “Intersecting Lives”, the author notes that Deleuze was disappointed by his work:
“Eight years after Anti-Oedipus was published, Deleuze considered it a failure. May ’68 and its dreams were long gone, leaving a bitter taste for those who had high hopes but were caught by the stale odors of conservatism.”
But for Guattari it was much worse:
His hyperactivity and the immense effort he had put into the book led to something of a collapse, a feeling of emptiness. Completing a work is never as satisfying as the many imagined possibilities and ongoing pleasures of a work in progress. ‘I feel like curling up into a tiny ball and being rid of all these politics of presence and prestige…The feeling is so strong that I resent Gilles for having dragged me into this mess”
Deleuze failed his entrance exam into the prestigious École Normale Supérieure (ENS).
Despite his exceptional abilities, Deleuze failed the entrance examination for the ENS, even though his lectures drew large audiences and were considered must-see events
When Deleuze was ready to write his thesis, he was shit-outta-luck, however, because he didn’t know how to use a typewriter. Luckily, Deleuze’s friend Michael Tournier typed up Deleuze’s work for him.
Michel Tournier’s friendly gesture was met with deep suspicion from Deleuze. After reading the typed manuscript, Deleuze “did not recognize what he had written and suspected that something had been deleted.” He gave a copy of his completed work to Tournier which read:
For Michel, the book that he typed and criticized, roundly protested, and may have even shortened since I’m sure that it was longer, but which also belongs to him somewhat as I owe him a lot (not for Hume) in philosophy
Neoreactionary excitement has generated a wave of strategy discussions, focused upon Moldbug’s Antiversity model of organized dissident knowledge. The most energetic example (orchestrated by Nydwracu) can be followed here, here, and here. Francis St. Pol’s substantial contribution is here.
Beyond curmudgeonly cynicism about youthful enthusiasm, these concerns, and a strain of pessimism that accompanies the recognition that the Cathedral owns media like the USN owns carrier groups, is there any explanation for Outside in hanging back from all this, and smoking sulkily in the corner? If there’s a single term that accounts for our reluctance, it’s cold turkey.
Keynesianism is far from the only contributor to left-modernist degeneration, but it’s ruinous enough to account for the destruction of civilization on its own. The fact that it’s most realistically conceived as a symptom — of democratized politics, and still deeper things — doesn’t affect its narrative role. The important point, understood widely enough to be a cliché, is that Keynesian economics is an exact social analog of addiction at the level of the individual, slaved to what William Burroughs described as “the algebra of need.”
Money is made into a drug, and the solution to the pain of craving is to crank up the dose. However bad it gets, if you just scale-up the fix, the suffering goes away. Junkies can survive for a shockingly long time. Perhaps there’s no end to it (that’s a question for the Right on the Money discussion).
Outside the morgue, if there is an end — and every venture into neoreactionary strategy presumes it — there’s only one form it can take: cold turkey. To not be in the habit anymore, it is necessary to kick it. That’s going to be really nasty.
At the level of economic structure, the ‘blue pill’ isn’t just a comforting illusion, it’s a massive, deeply habitual, ultra-high tolerance (thanks Spandrell) fix, radically craved down to the cellular level. Society has been doing this for a long time, and by now it’s mainlining crates of the stuff. People die of cold turkey. If not quite the worst thing in the world, it’s an overwhelmingly-impressive simulation of exactly that. Rational argument doesn’t get close to addressing it.
Sure, junkies lie all the time, but the lies aren’t the basic problem. ‘Correcting’ the lies gets nowhere, because nobody is even really pretending. When the junky lies, he knows, you know, everybody knows that the fundamental message is simply: I want more junk. He’ll say anything that gets fractionally closer to the next fix. Hence the circus of democracy.
The pusher laughs at rational argument. There’s some well-meaning type saying: seriously, think about it, this is really messed up. Then there’s the ‘pusher’ — which is already a joke — because people are crawling to him on their knees. He doesn’t need to say anything. One more hit and the pain goes away for a while. That’s what matters. The rest is merely ‘superstructural’ (to go Right-wing Marxist on the topic).
There’s no way, ever, that from this deep in, one gets out before hitting bottom. The slide has to reach the limit, because short of that, the prospect of anesthesia trumps everything.
Western Civilization is a sick junky. It isn’t going to be argued out of its habit. First, it has to taste the floor. That’s just the way it is — ugly.
by Richard Marshall.
The New French Philosophy by Ian James. Polity 2012.
France is suffering within its means. 3.26 million unemployed, youth unemployment at 26.5 per cent, consumption declining, no economic growth for five years, a despised political class the majority think is corrupt and a President everyone thinks is merde. Riots in their suburbs, a rubbish rugby team and Germany setting the tone in Europe. How does French philosophy respond? By taking Oscar Wilde’s advice and avoiding arguments on the grounds that they are vulgar and often convincing. Some of their radical solutions are self-confessedly ‘impossible’, ‘paradoxical’, unthinkable’ and so on. But then, if impossible, they don’t exist. So what’s on offer is not even better than nothing. Years ago the late Weberian philosopher Ernest Gellner once commented that the reason some philosophers had given up on Hegel was not because they were too philistine to appreciate the depths but because they hadn’t yet given up on finding working solutions to problems. Having read Ian James’s fascinating book on these new French thinkers I fear that I too am going to be accused of philistine tendencies. Alas, it can’t be helped. Some of the new philosophy is intriguing, but much of it seems content to startle, unsettle and parade an ingrained belief that consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.
Gary Gutting, a renowned expert on French philosophy, has defended the impossible however, writing that some ‘… versions of continental thought regard the essential activity of reason not as the logical regimentation of thought but as the creative exercise of intellectual imagination. This view is characteristic of most important French philosophers since the 1960s, beginning with Foucault, Derrida and Deleuze. They maintain that the standard logic analytic philosophers use can merely explicate what is implicit in the concepts with which we happen to begin; such logic is useless for the essential philosophical task, which they maintain is learning to think beyond these concepts.’
He continues: ‘Continental philosophies of experience try to probe beneath the concepts of everyday experience to discover the meanings that underlie them, to think the conditions for the possibility of our concepts. By contrast, continental philosophies of imagination try to think beyond those concepts, to, in some sense, think what is impossible.’ Gutting thinks there is a substantial distinction to be made between continental and analytic philosophy and in the course of defending this now contested view he writes that ‘…analytic philosophy reads experience in terms of common-sense intuitions (often along with their developments and transformations in science) and understands reason in terms of formal logic. Continental philosophy, by contrast, typically sees experience as penetrating beyond the veneer of common-sense and science, and regards reason as more a matter of intellectual imagination than deductive rigor.’ If this is right then my disbelief in the causal efficacy of an absent ontology is merely a defect of my intellectual imagination! Well, whatever you might think about this, Gutting’s comments helpfully contextualise the new French philosophers that James writes about.
Ian James sets out to show that in the new French philosophy the idea of ‘new’ is its subject, where new is understood in terms of ‘rupture’ and ‘discontinuity’ and ‘novelty.’ The French philosophers wonder how the new is possible. Gilles Deleuze started this in the 1960’s in his philosophy of ‘difference.’ Lyotard, Derrida and Foucault continued. Lyotard’s ‘event’ seeks to explain how discourses are contested and thinking is transformed. Jeff Malpas thinks this ‘the founding moment of any postmodernism.’ Lyotard’s ‘The Different’ is defined as an instability in language and discourse. It is supposed to create ‘new addressees, new addressors, new significations and new referents’ and ‘new phrase families and new genres of discourse.’ Derrida’s late ‘Spectres of Marx’ is about going beyond existing research programmes, ‘… beyond any possible programming, new knowledge, new techniques, new political givens.’ Foucault talks about epistemic breaks as an ‘event’ in ‘The Order of Things.’ He asks, ‘ how is it that thought has a place in the space of the world, that it has its origin there, and that it never ceases to begin anew?’ He suggests a process that ‘… probably begins with an erosion from the outside, from a space which is, for thought, on the other side but in which it has never ceased to think from the very beginning.’
James discusses seven new French philosophers; Jean-Luc Marion, Jean-Luc Nancy, Bernard Stiegler, Catherine Malabou, Jacques Ranciere, Alain Badiou and Francois Laruelle. This is intended to be neither exhaustive nor up to date but rather an indicative group in support of an argument about a paradigm shift. These seven all agree with Foucault that the new comes from ‘an erosion from the outside.’ Five of them established themselves in the 1970’s. Two are younger and not yet established as much.
In the 1970’s the philosophers moved away from a linguistic paradigm which had dominated Derrida, Lyotard and Foucault. Signifiers, signifieds, the symbolic, discourse, text, writing, arche-writing were recast in terms of materiality, the concrete, ‘… worldliness, shared embodied existence and sensible-intelligible experience.’ The paradigm of structuralism and post structuralism as being a literary genre was subjected to its own ‘event’. John Mullarkey wrote in ‘Post-Continental Philosophy’ that the paradigm shift happened later than James claims, in 1988 with the publication of Deleuze’s ‘The Fold’, Badiou’s ‘Being and Event’, Henry’s ‘Seeing the Invisible’ and a discussion between Laruelle and Derrida on whether philosophy of science was possible. Mullarkey sees the paradigm shift as being one where the postmodernists realigned with ‘naturalism and with the life sciences, with mathematics and the reaffirmation of philosophy of “philosophy as a worldly and materialist thinking.” James agrees with this assessment. ‘Immanence’ was thought to be the essence of the paradigm shift at one time.
James pulls the paradigm shift back to the 1970’s and disputes the idea that immanence is a universal concern of the new philosophy. There are other shifts too. Concerns with the subject, subjectivity, community, politics, art are predominant. He notes that consideration of a broader base of recently historic thinkers includes Bergson, Sartre, Deleuze, Henry, Levinas, Henry Corbin, plus modern voices such as Clement Rosset, Christian Jambet, and Guy Lardreau as is found in Peter Hallward’s ‘The One and the Other: French Philosophy Today’ where we find talk of the ‘singularity. ‘If anything holds the field together, if anything (beyond the contingency of languages and institutions) allows us to speak here of a field … then it is the continuous persistence of singularity as the strong polarizing principle of the field as a whole.’ According to Halliward this paradigm of thinking is non-relational, involving ‘a radical refusal of mediation or representation.’ They refuse to engage with the world and therefore ‘ came to embrace a singular conception of thought to the degree that they judged the world incapable of redemption.’ French philosophy, on this account, is about anticipating the provision of an event producing relational accounts with the world, ‘in order to re-engage with the world and its possible transformation.’ What this means is that Derridean philosophers took the linguistic paradigm to show that philosophy was solipsistic, a practice whereby language represented language and therefore was cut off. These new philosophers wanted to leave that ghetto.
James excludes many new French philosophers. Key ones are those connected with philosophies of technology and science such as Bruno Latour, Dominique Lecourt and Michel Serres. He includes Stiegler, however. The purpose is to elaborate an argument. Derrida is important to Nancy, Stiegler and Malabou. They all moved away from deconstruction. Louis Althusser was important to Ranciere and Badiou who are both understood partly in terms of their distancing themselves from his thought. Laruelle calls his own thought ‘ non-Heideggerian deconstruction’ and after 1980 developed a ‘non-philosophy’ which, according to James ‘can be aligned with an Althussarian structural conception of science and theory.’
Badiou made the case against the linguistic paradigm of structuralism and post-structuralism in 1977 in his ‘The Theory of the Subject’, claiming that ‘it is materialism that we must found anew with the renovated arsenal of our mental powers.’ He thought the linguistic paradigm was anti-humanistic. Ranciere made a similar move in 1974 when he writes ‘ideology is not simply a collection of discourses or a system of representation’ in breaking with Althusser in ‘Althusser’s Lesson’. In 1979 Nancy wrote ‘Ego Sum’ which rejects the Lacanian understanding of the self in terms of structure, text or process. Nancy claims that Cartesian introspection uncovers an ego that is prior to any linguistic or symbolic enunciation. His ideas about ‘community, embodiment, shared existence and his ontology of the singular plural’ are all built on this Cartesian epistemic paradigm.
Laruelle’s ‘The Decline of Writing’ was published in 1977. In this he attacks the idea of ‘text’. He says that ‘text must be stripped of the ontological primacy with which structuralist ideology and the majority of “textual” ideologues comfort themselves.’ He replaces it with materialism, which is a heteronomy ‘more radical than that of the symbolic chain.’ He sees this as a reason for breaking with philosophy.
Malabou, of a younger generation, wasn’t writing in the 1970’s but continues the paradigm shift. (It is an interesting question how long a paradigm shift takes to stop happening and become settled. Her ‘Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing’ came out in 2005 so it seems a shift can take nearly thirty years in some cases.) She introduces a notion of ‘plasticity.’ This replaces writing as a key paradigm. Writing is a paradigm she links with linguistics, cybernetics and genetics. Plasticity serves a new materialism.
Marion and Stiegler weren’t writing in the 70s either. Marion replaces the structuralist view with an insistence that ‘givenness is anterior to any economy of writing or difference.’ This ‘unconditional givenness’ links with Malabou’s ‘plasticity.’ Technology according to Stiegler embodies a fundamental materiality of human life. That technology works as a prosthetics shows this, says Stiegler.
Post structuralism was concerned with the material. The Tel Quel group, Lacan and Althusserian thoughts about the materiality of ideology are all examples. But James insists that materialism was always a concern with the ‘materiality of discourse, of language and of the symbolic which might then form or inform material practices.’ Nancy, Stiegler, Malabou and Badiou develop materialist ontologies. Marion and Laruelle conclude that ‘… the immanent real … [is] … an instance which is in excess of ontology or any horizon of being whatsoever’ which seems to be a rather disappointingly banal claim that there’s an objective world that is independent of our phenomological awareness. Questions of the political and community are also developed in terms of this materialism. James says that ‘[s]uch a concern is most often expressed in terms of political change and an attempt, in the work of philosophy itself, to think the conditions of political transformation and to affirm, facilitate or bring about political change itself.’ Marion and Laruelle don’t have these concerns however.
Jean Luc Marion is a phenomenologist and theologian. He has been accused of inaugurating a ‘theological turn’ in phenomenology along with the likes of Michel Henry, Paul Ricoeur and Emmanuel Levinas. He is concerned with the implications of the ‘overcoming’ of metaphysics post Nietzsche and Heidegger. A Cartesian epistemic process provides an ontology based on the ego and God. God is not a metaphysical substance because Deity is conceived via the Cartesian process. In ‘The Idol and Distance’ we get a negative theology which replaces a metaphysical God as Substance, Being and Presence with a God as Infinite Distance, Separation and Withdrawal from Being. Nietzsche announced the death of the metaphysical God, according to Marion, but the God of Infinite Distance survived. God lies outside the limits of a Cartesian epistemology. Cartesianism ego defines the horizon of thought and so God is ‘… to expose oneself to what already no longer belongs to us.’ It is thinking close to Levinas’s.
Husserl attempted to provide a full reduction of the world into experiential terms. Nietzsche is understood as advancing the same idea in Marion: ‘Can the givenness in presence of each things be realized without any condition or restriction? This question marks Nietzsche’s last advance and Husserl’s point of arrival’ says Marion in ‘Logical Investigations.’ In ‘Reduction and Giveness’ the givenness replaces or is identical in the role it plays to the Cartesian ego and provides the ground for all instances of intuition, intention and signification. Marion sees himself as providing a third reduction of phenomenology: the first being Husserls’ reduction of objects into the transcendental ego; and the second being Heidegger’s idea of reducing phenomena to Dasein. Marion claims ‘the givenness of phenomena cannot be subsumed into any formal ontology or any horizon of being.’ ‘In the realm of reduction it is no longer a question of Being … Because Being never intervenes in order to permit the absolute givenness in which it plays not the slightest role.’ Phenomena were now reduced to what is given, without foundationalist underpinnings of an ego or Dasein. Metaphysical commitments were stripped away. Some proclaim this as the end of philosophy, but philosophy has to be understood very parochially and narrowly for this to be the case. There is no principled reason to so restrict the meaning.
This argument is connected to Derrida’s work on the ‘logic of the gift ’ in ‘Given Time.’ This is Derrida’s claim that ‘if an act of giving is to be pure, then there must be no return to the giver, no debt of recognition may occur in relation to the giver, nothing may be accrued as a result, either in the short term or through some process of deferral. Otherwise, the gift is not a gift but functions as a mode of exchange.’ Derrida claims ‘ the gift is annulled… as soon as it appears as gift or as soon as it signifies itself as gift, there is no longer any “logic of the gift.”’ Marion denies that Derrida’s logic of the gift can be applied to phenomenology. In anthropology and sociology ‘giving’ is always economic. But phenomenology is neither anthropological nor sociological but rather, says Marion in ‘Being Time’, uses a ‘paradox logic’ whereby ‘the given, issued from the process of giveness, appears but leaves concealed givenness itself, which becomes enigmatic.’ Phenomenology becomes on this conception like Borge’s ‘The Coin of Odin’ which is a coin with only one side or like being modest, which you can be but cannot know. Marion rejects sociological and anthropological models that are assumed by Derrida and so rejects Derrida’s deconstruction of Husserl. Derrida sees Husserlian phenomenology as being a product of the ‘temporal and temporalising economy of difference.’ Marion sees this as a metaphysical claim because it is grounding the phenomenal on something anterior. Derrida however claims that Marion’s is metaphysical too in that it is grounded on ego.
Marion rejects this because he sees phenomenality as resting on the anonymity of its source. It is ‘viewed as pure unconditioned giving prior to any other horizon, economic, ontological or otherwise.’ His view is criticized as being too thin. It is a ‘negative phenomenology’ according to Janicaud. It’s thinness leaves it open to theological interpretation, ‘… a mere negative propaedeutic for his theology’ as Christina Gschwandtner says. Marion says his phenomenology ‘gives all that is and appears’ and so is neither thin nor a misreading of Husserl. It is unconditional and prior to intention and signification with the possibility that it may saturate any intuition in characteristically surprising, unexpected, unforeseen and unpredictable ways. This saturation reverses the Kantian notion that the subject constitutes the phenomenal: in Marion the given constitutes the self.
Saturised phenomena can be understood in terms of ‘the event,’ ‘the idol’, ‘the flesh’ and ‘the icon.’ An event is historical and felt by populations ‘in excess of any singular interpretational directedness or horizon of expectation ’ and so is a bit like Ricoeur’s hermeneutic history and Badiou’s ‘event’; ‘The idol’ is how art, such as a painting, ‘gives a sensible intuition or sensory perception which is in excess of any determinate meaning, concept, category or classification’ and this is rather like Derrida’s ‘difference’ and Nancy on artworks; Flesh is ‘the fundamental medium of givenness itself.’ The icon is ‘ the gaze of the other upon the self…. The face of the other, it is not constituted by intentional consciousness but rather imposes itself upon it in and of itself.’ He controversially aligns all this to a theology that is Christian and specifically Roman Catholic.
Jean-Luc Nancy is prolific. He departs from Derridean post-structuralism by reintroducing erased terms. He is post-phenomenological. James aligns him with Blanchot and Levinas rather than Heidegger. He aims to develop an ontology of community and the political such that the subject is entwined rather than individualistic. He thinks art has a central role in this. Nancy argues that the world always makes sense, ‘and does so before or prior to conceptual determination, and prior to giving it a fixed signification or attributing to it predicates or characteristics.’ He has a notion of finite thinking that limits this limitness. He is indebted to Blanchot and his ‘Infinite Conversation.’ Sense is always linked to materiality, the way ‘worldly existence is disclosed to us through situated and embodied being.’ The relation of the body with the world is important; bodies are not in the world but towards it, exposed to it so that the meaning of the body and the world becomes mutual and shared. The idea is that the sense is always one of codependency. In this the dual meaning of ‘touch’ is an important metaphor. In ‘The Muses’ where he discusses art Nancy writes: ‘Touch is nothing other than the touch of sense altogether and of all the senses. It is their sensuality as such … touch presents the proper moment of sensible exteriority, it presents it as such and as sensible’ and ‘Touch forms one body with sensing, or it makes of sensing a body, it is simply the corpus of the senses.’ James calls it the hinge between sense as the horizon of meaningfulness and sense understood as sense perception. It is a key to the idea of a ‘shared material existence.’
Si usted, amigo lector, ha comprado El Comercio y/o La República durante los últimos dos domingos, se habrá podido dar cuenta de una inusitada inflación de avisos de distintas universidades, así como de la Asamblea Nacional de Rectores (ANR).
¿El motivo? Existen un conjunto de propuestas para la reforma de la actual Ley Universitaria que se vienen debatiendo en la Comisión de Educación. El punto más controvertido de varias de ellas es la disolución de la ANR para dar paso a un ente regulador del sistema universitario peruano.
Sobre este punto, hay tres posiciones. La de la mayoría de las universidades y la ANR, quienes obviamente quieren mantener el status quo respecto a este punto de la organización universitaria. El argumento central es la autonomía universitaria y hasta donde puede entenderse la misma. Recordemos que, actualmente, el Ministerio de Educación tiene una oficina muy pequeña ocupada de la educación superior y concentrada, sobre todo, en los institutos superiores.
Sin embargo, estas entidades si tienen un argumento que los impulsores del nuevo organismo rector de la educación universitaria deberían tomar en cuenta y es la posible injerencia del gobierno en las universidades (en base a las experiencias de Velasco y Fujimori). Cuales son los candados institucionales a poner a este ente es algo en lo que en la Comisión de Educación deberían pensar.
De otro lado, se encuentran quienes están a favor de la disolución de la ANR y la creación de un ente independiente regulador de las universidades. Esta es la posición a la que más me acerco, en lo personal. Quizás el mejor exponente de este punto de vista ha sido Ricardo Cuenca, investigador del Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, quien ha señalado que:
Pero volviendo al debate, la batalla se ha originado porque las universidades perciben que su autonomía estaría siendo vulnerada debido a la existencia de una institución vigilante y fiscalizadora. Contribuyo a la discusión sobre el tema con un conjunto de preguntas. ¿Es la noción de autonomía pertinente al contexto actual la misma que la enarbolada a inicios del siglo XX? ¿Tiene la autonomía vínculo con la calidad de los resultados? ¿Si el Estado no es el mejor “veedor” de calidad, de dónde proviene el aseguramiento de la calidad?, ¿del mercado?, ¿de la autorregulación de las instituciones?
La Asamblea Nacional de Rectores (ANR) fue creada para fines de coordinación distintos a aquellos que en la actualidad persigue, como producto de la liberalización de la creación de universidades en 1996. Ahora la ANR, en conversaciones con sus pares, decide sobre la calidad, la pertinencia y la eficacia de sus instituciones. Existe un punto de acuerdo, se requiere una institución que vele por esa calidad, pero la pregunta final es si esa institución debe ser juez y parte del proceso.
Una tercera posición viene desde ciertos sectores de la izquierda. Tanto Sinesio López como Nicolás Lynch parten del mismo punto de partida que Cuenca: es necesario tener un ente independiente que reemplace a una ANR que se ha convertido en un club de rectores y ello no vulnera la autonomía universitaria. Sin embargo, ambos discrepan con la Comisión de Educación en un punto. Señala López:
El error fundamental de la Comisión parlamentaria de educación es pretender liberar a las universidades de las mafias y camarillas a través de los representantes del pensamiento único neoliberal (MEF y CONFIEP) y del nombramiento por el gobierno de los integrantes de la llamada Autoridad Nacional Universitaria. Eso viola doblemente la autonomía.
La pregunta para Lynch y para López es si, discrepancias al margen con algunas visiones de miembros de la CONFIEP, no tendría esta entidad algo que decir sobre el tema, dado que es la universidad la que forma profesionales para el ejercicio profesional. Por lo menos, hay que aceptar que es un punto a discutir.
Lo cierto es que, intereses de la ANR al margen, lo que demuestra esta discusión son dos cosas. La primera, es que se requiere un marco normativo distinto para las universidades peruanas, a la luz de su actual situación, que no es precisamente de las mejores, con las excepciones de siempre. La segunda, es que el debate no solo debe centrarse únicamente en si la ANR permanece entre nosotros, sino en el modelo de educación superior que debe tener el país, las conexiones con la educación superior técnica, una visión que, sin dejar de lado la formación profesional, apunte a la investigación en ciencia, tecnología y humanidades, así como a la creatividad artística.
Y ese es un debate importante en un país que, en pocos años, comenzará a sentir la pegada de las décadas de descuido educativo en su crecimiento económico y en su formación ciudadana.
BONUS TRACK: El martes Ana Trelles y Ricardo Cuenca conversaron sobre la reforma de la universidad peruana en ATV+. Los dejo con el video.
MAS SOBRE EL TEMA:
Eduardo Villanueva: las (malas) ideas en debate
E3 2013 is underway in Los Angeles, and now that the console makers and big-name software publishers have held their big events, we still have a few questions about this whole “next-generation” business.
Sony swung for the fences with its big PlayStation 4 press conference, one-upping the Xbox One with a $100-cheaper-than-thou price tag, no restrictions on used games, and no always-on Internet connection required to play. With Nintendo once again refusing to go toe-to-toe with the other two in the “next-gen console” competition, we’ve got a familiar two-horse race once again between Xbox and PlayStation. Only this time it’s turned into a game of chicken, and the ball is in Microsoft’s court.
Sony scored points with its sexy new machine while Microsoft has created a big, boring, black brick. Sony is loosening the knots on its insular ecosystem while Microsoft is tightening its grip. But the biggest problem now facing Redmond is the price difference. With both companies closely watching every move made by the other, Microsoft has to know that it’s facing an uphill battle against the PlayStation 4′s more attractive price.
Ironically, last generation, their roles were reversed; Xbox 360 was very affordable while PlayStation 3 was considered far too expensive at launch. Both companies clearly took notes during that battle eight years ago, but Microsoft seems to have written down all the wrong cues.
Will Microsoft step up to the plate and lower the Xbox One’s price, even if it means taking a loss (as Sony will no doubt be doing)?
I know I’ve beaten this dead horse before, so go right ahead and sharpen those flaying knives, Nintendo fans. But I just don’t get the appeal of the Wii U. I didn’t understand what was so great about it when it was first announced, and Nintendo’s showing at E3 hasn’t changed my mind. Their hardware is about to be made obsolete when Microsoft’s and Sony’s new powerhouses arrive later this year.
Neither EA nor Ubisoft — who held the other two big press events on Monday — made a single mention of games made for the Wii U in their presentations. The Wii U’s only worthwhile titles so far are from Nintendo’s (very) old franchises or re-releases of third-party games from Xbox 360′s and PS4′s back catalog (like Mass Effect 3, Batman: Arkham City, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, et. al.). Nintendo looks like it’s standing still compared to its two biggest rivals, and without the gimmicky fun of the Wii motion controller to propel them foreword this time, there’s just nothing going on at Nintendo worth buzzing about.
Aside from some great-looking indie games and a couple of new IPs from Ubisoft, this has been a surprise-free E3 so far. Where are all the great surprises from yesteryear that set the convention floor (and fans at home) abuzz and made big headlines?
I remember when Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo would round out their big shows with jaw-dropping announcements of titles that no one had the slightest inkling was in the works. Granted, it’s harder than ever to keep spoilers from leaking, but I miss those shocking, grin-inducing “wow” moments. Heck, even the cheesy celebrity appearances gave the proceedings some flair.
Sony made a strong case for upgrading to the PS4 thanks to welcome features for power users, some fantastic-looking games, and a decent price. But where Sony focused on gaming, Microsoft has recast the Xbox as the central media hub for your home, and it feels like games are just one bullet point on the long laundry list of things the Xbox One can do.
Don’t get me wrong. Some of the new games look good. Really good. But are better graphics and bigger game worlds enough to justify upgrading to a new console? I’ve been an Xbox fan since the first one, but Microsoft’s press conference this week did nothing to convince me that I need to let go of my Xbox 360 — and the $500 price makes it a luxury, not a necessity.
I know we don’t live in a perfect world. And technology is one of the least-perfect inventions of man. Tech is complicated, moody, and can always be counted on to malfunction at the most inopportune moment.
But come on.
This is Microsoft and Sony we’re talking about, for crying out loud. They’re two of the biggest and most respected tech companies in the world. If anybody can bring to the table enough hardware to ensure that a big, multimillion dollar media extravaganza goes off without a hitch, it’s these guys. And yet both companies’ events suffered from multiple instances of frozen hardware, absent audio, and more. What the heck, people?
And if so, why didn’t they just call it that? When Halo 4 came out last year, 343 Industries made a lot of noise about it being the first in a new trilogy. So why all the mystery now? It’s all but guaranteed that this new game is Halo 5. Unless they’re going to drop the numbers and go with a new naming convention, like subtitles. Regardless, it’s obvious this is the next chapter in Master Chief’s story. I can’t wait to find out how he finds himself in this striking desert setting, in damaged armor.
This PS4 exclusive was teased at Sony’s press briefing with a killer trailer (it looked pre-rendered, but Sony swears it was all in-game) that introduced us to a steampunk Victorian London and a band of secret heroes who might just be King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, still alive after all these years.
If that’s the case, they’ve seriously upgraded their armory from the Medieval days. The trailer shows off all sorts of gloriously retro-advanced technology when our heroes are attacked by barely-glimpsed monstrosities. Sony says the game is set in an alternate history, “nearly forty years after the Industrial Revolution.” And then the trailer was over as fast as it began.
The visuals and the story were enough to hook me, and the gameplay looked incredible. I want more details, and I need to know how soon Sony can shut up and take my money.
Dozens of games were shown during Sony’s media briefing on Monday, but not a single one made use of that teeny tiny touchpad on the PlayStation 4′s DualShock controller. I’m sure someone out there will find a use for it, but so far it’s kind of like the tilt motion on the PS3′s controller — kinda cool for a handful of games, but ultimately pointless.
It’s been two long years since Media Molecule put out LittleBigPlanet 2. MM showed up to the PS4 reveal event a few months back with an impressive tech demo that involved sculpting virtual stuff in midair using the Move controller. But they’ve been tight-lipped ever since, refusing to say if that demo was part of an upcoming title or just a tech demonstration. Fans hoping that E3 might shed more light on what Media Molecule is up to will be disappointed, because they weren’t even mentioned at Sony’s presser.
Is it just another tech demo like Kara, or a new IP being bread-crumbed out to us a bit at a time? The demo shown this week, with its peeling-back-the-curtain twist at the end, raised a lot of eyebrows (in a good way). But what was the point? We need details, QD.
Bibliotecas de ebooks
1) BookFinder: http://en.bookfi.org/
2) Library Genesis: http://gen.lib.rus.ec/
3) Libgen: http://libgen.info/
4) Ebookee: http://ebookee.org/
5) Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/
Libgen: es un lugar donde puedes descargar libros, la mayoría esta en formato PDF y epub, aunque también hay algunos en formato mobi. El kindle no lee formato epub, pero puedes convertir tus archivos a formato mobi o PDF con convertidores online como
Yahoo, Microsoft, Google et al don't really offer 'free' email and it's naive to expect any form of customer service from them
A reader writes: "Dear John Naughton, As you write about the internet, I wondered if you knew how long it takes Yahoo to get back to people. I have an iPad, but went to the library to print a document (attached to an email). Yahoo knew I wasn't on my iPad and asked me to name my favourite uncle. I replied, but Yahoo didn't like my answer, so locked me out for 12 hours. I can't get into my email account. Getting to the Help page is really difficult. Do you ever speak to anybody at Yahoo? I had to open another non-Yahoo email account, so I opened a Gmail account and it looks to have the same problem. Not easy to get in touch with anybody when things go wrong. I am sure I am not the only one who wants to discuss my problem with a human being. Yours sincerely…"
Dear Reader, I hear (and sympathise with) your pain, but we need to get something straight. Yahoo email is ostensibly a "free" service (as indeed is Gmail). That doesn't mean that it costs you nothing, only that you don't pay cash up front for it. You do however "pay" in a different currency, namely your personal data. This is valuable to Yahoo because they can convert it into revenue; it enables them – and their commercial partners – to target advertisements and other marketing propositions at you and people like you.
There's nothing unusual about Yahoo's EULA, by the way. The "agreements" required by Google, Facebook and other online companies are cast in the same mould, in the sense that they are all pathologically asymmetrical. That is to say, they require you to accept all kinds of conditions imposed by them, while explicitly exempting them from any obligations whatsoever.
Which explains why, when you go looking for what you may innocently think of as customer support, you find that no such thing exists. That's because you are not a "customer", you're merely a user. And a user, moreover, who has explicitly (if unwittingly) waived their rights to any kind of support. It also explains the adage: if the service is free, then its users are its product.
When the history of our time comes to be written, people will marvel at the way that billions of people were seduced into the kind of one-sided agreements they have struck with outfits such as Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple. In the case of Facebook, the historical analogy that comes immediately to mind is sharecropping – the agricultural system in which a landowner allowed tenants to use his land in return for a share of the crops produced on it and which was once a staple of the southern states of the US. Its virtual equivalent is the Facebook system: a billion people till Master Zuckerberg's land, creating all the content that is then harvested by him and his advertiser buddies. The only difference is that on Facebook the sharecroppers don't get any share of the proceeds. They're just croppers.
And here's the really weird bit: the croppers are absurdly pleased with their lot. They get to post photographs of themselves drunk, sober, recumbent and upside-down. They get to "Like" their friends' jokes and status updates and to organise parties and social events without having to use obsolete media such as email. And in the process they "pay" for this entertainment with their privacy and their personal data, apparently without batting an eyelid. Like I said: weird.
But back to your problem with Yahoo. Everyone who has been in your position has experienced the frustration that drove you to write. Why do these companies not provide telephone support lines with human beings at the other end? The answer is simple: call centres cost money and are only necessary if a company is compelled, by law or by competitive pressure, to support its customers. Your problem is that you're not a customer of Yahoo. Its customers are advertisers who want to exploit its network and what it knows about its users. And I bet there's a support line for them, staffed by a real human being.
So if you want an email service that provides the equivalent of a helpline, I'm afraid you'll have to pay for it. Yours sincerely, John.
The explosion of protest over the last week in Turkey began when people tried to stop the pulling down of trees in Gezi Park as part of a government plan to replace the park with yet another shopping centre that would include yet another mosque, the demolition of the secular Ataturk cultural centre and its replacement with an Ottoman-era military barracks. This was no accident of history really, because the loss of green spaces to development has been increasingly objected to by wide layers of Turks – working class and middle class. According to the OECD, 33% of Turks feel they lack access to green spaces, much more than the 12% average of OECD European countries and the highest level of dissatisfaction in the region.
But Turkish capitalism has been on the move and, as far as the ruling AK party and domestic and foreign capital is concerned, nothing must stand in its way (including trees). Turkey wants to move up the ladder of the rich club of the OECD and is still vying to join the EU by the end of decade. At the same time, the government is autocratically trying to impose an Islamic style state superstructure onto this capitalist expansion, with strict rules on alcohol, religious observance, dress and the subjugation of women, Iran-style. Up to now, the AK party has been riding high, winning election after election, enabling it to cut the former Ataturk secular military down to size and disperse the secular opposition of corrupt middle-class parties. The AK was backed in this by the huge urban poor of the cities where it had carefully built a base over a decade or more. But, of course, on obtaining unchallenged power, it has now become the tool of big business and foreign capital (despite the occasional rift over policy). The government increasingly sees itself as a regional power able and willing to intervene in the various clashes of the region: Iran. Palestine and more recently, Syria.
On the surface, it would appear that Turkish capital is moving on and up without much problem. And it is true that economic growth has accelerated in recent years while foreign investment has flooded in to exploit a labour force coming into the urban areas from the impoverished countryside – a classic emerging capitalist development. But this apparent economic success is still founded on the shaky young legs of a weak capitalism and is also weighed down by corruption, religious backwardness and scant regard for human rights and laws. Inequality of income, as measured by the gini coefficient, according to the IMF, is around 40, making it higher than the US, the most unequal of the advanced capitalist economies and the highest in emerging Europe, apart from Russia.
It’s no surprise that Turkey is ranked 154th in Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index. Not only is the country “currently the world’s biggest prison for journalists”, media bosses fire journalists because of pressure from the government. And prosperity is a relative thing and of course, not for all. More than 48% of the working-age population aged 15 to 64 has a paid job, a figure much lower than the OECD employment average of 66% and the lowest rate in the OECD. People in Turkey work 1 877 hours a year, more than the OECD average of 1 776 hours. In Turkey, however, 46% of employees work very long hours, by far the highest rate in the OECD where the average is 9%.
Around 67% of people say they are satisfied with their current housing situation, much less than the OECD average of 87% and the lowest level amongst OECD countries. On Turkey, the average home contains 0.9 rooms per person, less than the OECD average of 1.6 rooms per person and one of the lowest rates across the OECD. In terms of basic facilities, 87.3% of people in Turkey live in dwellings with private access to an indoor flushing toilet, less than the OECD average of 97.8% and the lowest rate across OECD countries.
The best-performing school systems manage to provide high-quality education to all students. In Turkey, the average difference in results, between the 20% with the highest socio-economic background and the 20% with the lowest socio-economic background is 106 points, higher than the OECD average of 99 points. This suggests the school system in Turkey mainly provides higher quality education for the better off.
Total health spending accounts for 6.1% of GDP in Turkey, more than three points below the average of 9.5% across OECD countries. At $913 in 2008, Turkey’s level of health spending per person is the lowest in the OECD, where the average is of $3268. In Turkey, only 61% of people say they are satisfied with water quality. This figure is the lowest in the OECD, where the average satisfaction level is 84%, and suggests Turkey still faces difficulties in providing good quality water to its inhabitants.
The Great Recession hit Turkish capitalism just as hard as elsewhere. The answer of the government (against IMF advice) was to let loose a huge credit boom to fuel domestic demand. This pushed the inflation rate to double digits and widened the current account deficit to 10% of GDP (the second largest in the world in dollar terms) in 2011, exposing Turkey to the risks of capital flow reversal at a time of continued global uncertainty. External financing needs are around 25% of GDP so that Turkish banks rely on short-term foreign borrowing. Turkey has jumped from an agricultural to services economy within two decades and the recession weakened the manufacturing base. Conglomerates like Eczacibasi and Zorlu have built huge shopping malls in the past few years rather than investing in their core businesses.
In the last two years, the economy slowed, driven by weakening domestic demand. Turkey remains prone to boom-bust cycles driven by foreign capital flows. The health of global imperialism is still the overriding factor in Turkey’s own growth. The national saving rate has fallen dramatically over the last 15 years, from 25% of GDP in the late 1990s to less than 15% now. This decline has been larger than in any G-20 country over this period and stands in stark contrast to the experience in peer emerging economies. So Turkey is forced into making its labour force competitive to attract more FDI flows into the tradable sector. At around 2.0% of GDP, FDI inflows are still below the G–20 EM average , with most flows tilted toward unproductive sectors such as banking and real estate.
Between 2003 and 2011, real GDP growth averaged 5.3% a year, but the unemployment rate remained in double-digits, thus creating a reserve army of labour to exploit. The deficit on trade and income with other countries was over 5% of GDP on average. But these were the good years for Turkish capitalism. Economic growth is expected to slow to less than 4% a year for the rest of this decade, at best, while the external deficit will widen to 7.5% of GDP. The boom of the last decade was partly based on real estate, credit and services and construction and less and less on manufacturing, exports and investment.
That’s because the profitability of Turkish capital has declined as the expansion of the labour force began to slow. The decline was visible during the 1990s. It was no accident that the AKP won landslide victory with the backing of big business in the 2002 elections just one year after its foundation. Under the AKP, profitability made a dramatic recovery (albeit based partly on unproductive investment). The Great Recession brought a new reversal and this time the recovery in profitability has faltered. Although profitability recovered to the previous peak by early 2010, since then it has taken a tumble and is still below the peak before the Great Recession.
The green shoots in the woods of Turkish capitalism are not so healthy that the government can continue to pull up the trees.
Submitted by Alasdair Macleod of GoldMoney.com,
Western central banks have got themselves horribly wrong-footed as a result of not adjusting their anti-gold policies to allow for the realities of Asian gold demand. Though their dealings are shrouded in secrecy, there is compelling evidence that much – if not most – of Western central bank gold has been quietly sold over the last three decades.
More recently all members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a common security and trading bloc led by Russia and China and incorporating the bulk of Asia’s land mass, have been accumulating gold. Between current SCO and future members (India, Iran, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Belarus and Sri Lanka), with their citizens numbering over 3 billion people, they have together cornered the global market for physical supply, without even taking account of demand from the rest of South East Asia’s gold-hungry population.
The result is that gold markets are now failing to clear. The outcome is a choice: the West will either have to stop intervening and allow gold to find a level where physical and derivative markets interact properly with each other, or capital markets in the West will face a growing crisis likely to spill over into other markets. While these outcomes were always going to be a choice to be made at some time in the future, the disconnection between physical gold and derivatives has become so great that it is now an immediate concern.
At the government level it is a geopolitical clash of the titans. Russia and China are almost certainly aware of the lack of gold in Western central bank vaults: they are fully capable of thorough due-diligence in this respect. They have so far been careful not to disrupt capital markets because it has not been in their interests to do so; however, the current hiatus in gold markets is almost certain to modify their view.
Fundamental to all this is their attitude to Western currencies: the yen is now collapsing, the euro area is in deep trouble and the US economy is at very best stagnating. Until now, payment for Russian energy and Chinese goods in foreign currencies has been welcomed, because it has allowed the Russian and Chinese elites and middle classes to accumulate wealth. This balance of interests can only be maintained for so long as Russian and Chinese governments and their citizens can hedge foreign currency risks through an offsetting accumulation of foreign-owned gold.
This is no longer the case, because to all intents and purposes western capital markets are cleaned out of physical supplies, and the ability of the Western central banks to supress gold prices appears to be ending. And with the West’s financial system no longer able to deliver their most prized commodity, hitherto passive attitudes in Asia to Western currencies are likely to be reassessed.
The gold question has become central to east-west trade. The sensible approach for Western central banks is to defuse the problems arising by taking positive steps to ensure that gold markets operate properly. This is conceptually difficult, because the most likely result, a higher gold price, would risk undermining confidence in the major currencies and most probably damage the bullion banks in London.
Despite these difficulties, realities have to be faced.
So Tuesday night’s big reveal of Xbox One – Microsoft’s new incarnation of their console – appears to have been a disaster of spectacular proportions. This is interesting in itself, though not totally unexpected; people often react to new things in less than positive ways. But what’s especially interesting are the things that Microsoft got wrong and the specific elements that people are finding so problematic. On Microsoft’s part, they first amount to a baffling inability to understand the actual living situations of its own market, but they also amount to the continuation of a trend that I’ve written about several times before, namely: the worrying inclination of companies and their designers to remove agency from tech owners.
In other words, owners increasingly = users.
The first – and again, baffling – problem about the reveal was that the new Xbox appears to have been designed for the world of ten or fifteen years ago, a pre-tablet and smartphone world where people have an entirely different relationship with their TVs. The TV is the center of what Xbox One is and does; the reveal seemed to focus just as much on new ways to watch TV shows as it did actual games that one might use it to play. In other words, Microsoft appears to be attempting to sell a game console by marketing it as something other than a game console – which is puzzling. Even more puzzling is who Microsoft appears to think their market is: People with large TVs and large living rooms (that can handle a Kinect, which is now a required component of the console; more on that in a minute) and lives that might conceivably revolve around a TV in the first place rather than a smartphone or an iPad. In a post for Gamasutra, Leigh Alexander takes particular issue with this:
[B]y the end of the console event, I sat disoriented, feeling like I’d seen one of the Big Three take a hard left into a past decade, a fictional privileged nation where everyone owns a giant television they want to talk to, where they entertain themselves with high-end fictional simulations of football season and futuristic, nebulous wars abroad. Where we supposedly want whole-body play. Where the fantasy is that all our living rooms are big enough for that.
This is a catastrophic misconception of how the lives of my generation – Millennials – tend to look and how we tend to use our technology. Maybe our parents had big living rooms and big TVs that were the centerpiece of the house; we carry around small, nimble, intensely portable devices through which we consume a growing percentage of our entertainment media. In essence, Microsoft – a tech company, by no means always bad at what they do – made it look as though they have literally no idea what the digital side of our lives looks like. Alexander again:
My parents and their Boomer friends have those theoretical American homes, the kind with the spacious sofa and the dominant television altar, where they mainly watch on-demand recordings of cable shows…I’ve got friends who love immersive worlds and epic battles, sure. They have thousands of dollars in student debt and tiny, impermanent living spaces; their generation isn’t exactly about to broadly become the next generation of home owners. We play games on consoles and we watch shows on television and we Skype and Tweet from laptops, netbooks, iPads, PCs.
I live in a basement. I’ve lived in a basement for the last four years, because I’m in graduate school and it’s what tends to be most conveniently available in my area. A Kinect is not on the table for me, even if I wanted it (I don’t). The living situation of most of my friends looks similar.
And hey, about that Kinect – apparently it’s always listening to you. Even when it’s “off”. Which isn’t necessarily as creepy as it sounds, but.
The second major – and, I’d argue, most important – thing about which gamers are up in arms is the degree to which a number of features seem to limit the control an Xbox One owner has over their own machine. First and foremost, the device will apparently require regular internet connectivity – not constant, but regular – in order to work. As usual, no one speaking in any official capacity is calling this DRM, because no one likes to officially label anything DRM, but it feels uncomfortably close to the kind of always-on feature that made SimCity such a disaster. A number of people have pointed out the practical issues with this: what about people who live in areas where broadband internet is sparse or nonexistent? What about people like members of the military stationed overseas, for whom gaming is often a valuable form of recreation?
But aside from even the practical issues, this is yet another instance of someone buying something but not really owning it – not being free to set the terms under which it’s used. It doesn’t matter to Microsoft if you want to play Call of Duty (primary selling point: now there’s a dog!) offline in single-player campaign mode. If you have no internet for any significant length of time – say, a day or more (as yet the actual timeframe is unclear) – that’s not happening. No dog for you.
Added to this, it doesn’t appear that the console will allow players to easily make use of used games, given that it won’t run games off of a disc (Microsoft is apparently working on a digital trading service). And then there’s the mandatory Kinect thing. All of these problems amount to a console that you pay for but don’t really control. Which isn’t new – I own a PS3 and I can either “choose” to install firmware updates or to be unable to play any new games – but it’s another step down the road.
But I’m actually pretty happy. Why? Because people are making a stink about this. People still care. Losing control over something they pay for is not an attractive prospect to them. As long as at least some people regard this state of affairs as unacceptable, I think there’s hope.
Don’t talk about it too loudly, though. The Kinect is listening.
Sarah flails their arms for the camera on Twitter – @dynamicsymmetry