Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Monday, September 22, 2014
Everybody ignorant of its connection with Palmerston, and the original introduction in its columns of his scheme, would be induced to consider the to-day’s leader of The Times as the most cutting and merciless satire on the whole adventure. It sets out by stating that “the expedition is a very remarkable one” [later on it says a curious one].
“Three States are combining to coerce a fourth into good behavior, not so much by way of war as by authoritative interference in behalf of order.”
Authoritative interference in behalf of order! This is literally the Holy Alliance slang, and sounds very remarkable indeed on the part of England, glorying in the non-intervention principle! And why is “the way of war, and of declaration of war, and all other behests of international law,” supplanted by “an authoritative interference in behalf of order?” Because, says The Times, there “exists no Government in Mexico.” And what is the professed aim of the expedition? “To address demands to the constituted authorities at Mexico.”
Monday, September 08, 2014
In this article Marx is equally concerned with accumulation in the newspaper industry as the material determinant of a social process. But from the ‘law of concentration’ he here draws an inference about political relationships and processes. Their determination by the ‘law of concentration’ means that these political processes are capitalist in their nature and that their very form results from class relations. Yet these consequences of concentration have nothing to do with the immediate process of production or with questions of exploitation and accumulation. The quantitative growth in the scale of operations of the press determines a qualitative transformation in the character of the print medium. This transformation in turn determines a new form of political participation and this new form of political participation provides a new instrument for politicians operating in the political institutions of bourgeois society.
In addition, the reversal occurred simultaneously in a number of papers “connected with” Palmerston. Not only did all the papers act at the same time, they reversed their editorial position prior to any public statement by Palmerston himself. As his agents, they were preparing public opinion for the change of direction. In both examples Marx charges the paper with plain and simple misrepresentation. Facts are omitted, they are changed and they are mendaciously misinterpreted. These manipulations are the mechanical execution of the strategic motive driving the creation of public opinion. “Falsifying” public opinion is the paper’s political function. Like the policies it justifies, the process of justification rests on covert and collusive manipulation.
Monday, October 31, 2011
They say a lot about the “integrity vacancy” in my profession, which is television. Networks…that’s my particular area. Standards and Practices.
You find yourself listening to these people. Decent people, but they don’t have to face the unwashed masses that I do in standards and practices. I mean, we’re lawyers, you know? I’m no artist.
I have no pretensions about it. I have to deal with Colgate-Palmolive and Proctor & Gamble and Nestlé and General Foods, and these are decent types, these are decent guys. Lawyers, okay, you get the picture.
A little dry, maybe, a tendency to look at things as simply as black and white, but after years of having to go through law school, it’s not hard to lose your sense of humor.
But ask yourself this: Who is out there calling the shots? You know? I mean, I really, really despise petty moralizing. I really do.
And a lot of what I’m asked to do is fatuous even to me, and there is no doubt you could laughand me – a Jew - smart, you know, you can look at a guy like me and say “He inherited his liberalism,” because I have not lived through anything.
But I’ll tell you something, and please, anyone who disagrees with this is – gotta be living in another world...
When you reach the age of about twenty-seven to thirty-two, you basically -- you’ve had to make all the moral choices…
There is nothing you don’t have to confront. So listen – I want to ask you this – Who out there is calling the shots? Because met me tell ya’, if ya’ think it’s us guys at standards and practises, I can promise you this: You – are – wrong.
If you think it’s the guys at Proctor & Gamble, you – are – wrong.
Because, basically, what we are, we are men and women who sell certain things. But let me tell you: We get letters, and I mean, they are filled with rage. They are filled with a…a…a passionate anger toward…this coast. This business. What we do. They hate us. So much. Letters from people offended by homosexual acts. AIDS on the Movie of the Week. There are people who are fueled by this.
And I read these letters and I want to take a shower.
People who have this agenda. But they get together, they send these letters to the decent lawyers at Proctor & Gamble, who get scared, and they call me.
We get letters. There is a tide of hatred out there, and you cannot understand it, you cannot fathom the depths. This is a country filled with letter-writers, people who stay up all night, writhing and twisting, people who drive very old cars and have the strangest of habits, and people who have no real control over those habits. This country has a seam of absolute maniacal viciousness, and let me tell you – because you are all really – we’re in the same boat – it’s you and me against the treyf out there - - understand this:
They are stronger than us, they outnumber us, and they are angrier than we are; and they do not care about your – your “environment,” your “freedom of speech,” they want to kill. They want to kill your faggot brother, they want your sister to have that baby, and they – and they – are the people who buy all the shit I sell every night.
I have to make the world smooth for them.
That is my job.
When you hit – you know, age about twenty-eight, you have to make just about every moral decision there is to make.
Like today. Two men kissing?
I had them cut it.
Anything that disturbs the beast out there. No way.
Just think of me as one of the guardians of your safety; I keep the animals happy. Because they will take over the zoo if we let ‘em.
[picks up phone]
Get me Colgate.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
A good piece here defending the activity of making demands, but evading the fact that whether demanding is constructive or destructive, and whose interests it serves, depends on the demand.
"Protect our Christian Legacy", "British Jobs for British Workers" and “Zig Raus!” are all demands, and they've all been expressed with passion recently. Of course the demands which emerge from the Occupy movement include many which stress the illegitimacy of the state: "Stop Killing and Enslaving Us" or fcuk the pigs, burn the banks, "expropriate the expropriators", "Stop Stop and Frisk", "Decolonize Wall Street". The demands the authors of the piece list tend toward this type:
That we liberate New York, or Oakland, or Cleveland from the grips of financiers? That we must have returned what was stolen from us and given to the banks and to the 1%? That we deserve to live a life free of police repression and violence? That we want an end to imperialist projects and wars, and the restoration of social services and education?
These demands may not highlight as well as some others the violence, lawlessness and ruthlessness of the current ruling class and its absolute illegitimacy, but they don't tend to legitimize the state or the status quo of property and power. However, this list and the text in which we find it was probably written with the awareness of the debate into which it must enter, that is, in the knowledge that the concrete presently existing advocates of demands at OWS are rejecting (with contempt) these kinds of oppositional and accusatory demands (nixing for example reference to "the larceny of the 1%" as overly oppositional and likely to alienate someone of importance) and insisting on demands that do legitimize the state and that in fact require other people (not those who make the demands) to build things for the use and enjoyment and aggrandizement of those making the demands (the demand is the state put unemployed to work to secure the property and assert values belonging to those drafting the demands) and in all likelihood for expropriation as private property of the 1%.
Unfortunately around "the question of demands" has arisen a typical co-opting reaction - those whose efforts are principally to silence, mock, belittle, delay or deprioritize the demands of others are annointing themselves 'pro-demands' and denouncing their opponents, whose demands they are trying to gag or discredit, 'anti-demands', much the way those seeking to assert white supremacist patriarchal privileges do so by labelling feminists and anti-racists 'divisive' for objecting to the segregation benefiting the privileged and challenging their efforts to dominate and preserve these hierarchies. Though much is being done to combat it, and a great deal has been achieved in raising people's awareness and recruiting commitment to redress of these persistent injustices, one sees still everywhere the spectacle of all white groups or white individuals presenting themselves as universal and neutral, representatives of the norm and the commonweal, issuing dire warnings against the threat of and displaying eye-rolling impatience with insignificant raced people with selfish, unimportant concerns "muddying" this or that pure scene or analysis with their difference, undermining popular unity by spoiling uniformity, and hampering class struggle by challenging the domination or refusing obedience to the usual privileged petty bourgeois subjects.
It's in the unavoidable context of white supremacy and the US' particularly raced class society that the demands working group has specifically rejected suggestions they include any demands to protect those they recommend be employed providing services and rebuilding territorial US infrastructure (and US only, that is, not Afghanistan, not Iraq, not Haiti) from the repression and terror of the state or ensuring that this workforce who are proposed to be set to work making a better environment for those issuing the demands will be able to benefit from the wealth they create as well.
The demands working group at OWS have rejected the suggestion, most signficantly, of specifying debt amnesty for those to be employed by the public works scheme they demand be established. Without an insistence on debt amnesty, their demand in reality is that 25 million people be employed at their own expense and that of the rest of the public in order to guarantee (once again) the payment to the richest of the interest, fees, and debts to which those 25 million likely to take these jobs are currently obligated. Without debt amnesty, these “good union wages” must still fail to provide any kind of decent living standard, as all of those wages are already earmarked for the 1% via the indebtedness of the workers in question. The reason given for rejecting “debt amnesty” as a feature of this demand – this demand that is supposed to help the movement define the world it wants through the delineation of a policy that is actually practicable and desirable – is that it mars the “simplicity” of the scheme. That's a familiar defense of every kind of trickle down vision, and the proposal fits the pattern of trickle down in highlighting the inevitable consequences of the scheme to those least benefitting (but benefitting nonetheless, a little) and wholly ignoring that the bulk of the benefits of the scheme are monopolised by the ruling class and its courtiers and house servants.
That is, any measures that might ensure the 25 million workers benefit from the scheme are seen as an unnecessary complication - the scheme is a lovely machine one switches on and watches prosperity flow from, as is always appealing to bourgeois economists. This posture which defines all care to protect the interest of the propertyless as needless muddying and disfigurement of the beautiful simplicity of the Keynes/Fabian machine must be understood to confirm that the purpose of the scheme is the same as the purpose of every scheme inspired by this school of thought - to shore up the state’s legitimacy, secure property values, and boost growth to guarantee profits (and superprofits when the concrete products of the labour employed are privatised). The demand thus is objectionable with regard to content (the actual realization of the policy is not desirable, though it contains elements that would be part of many conceivable desirable policies) and as pedagogy (the demand as “impossible demand” tends to obscure rather than clarify present reality) and as political gesture (the demand is divisive and asserts the dominance of those who define themselves in opposition and distinction to “workers, the homeless, unemployed, undocumented” and who treat the expressed concerns of those groups as nuisances, the usual “laundry list” of particularist grievances, and needless “complexities”.)Without debt amnesty, the vision is one of effective enslavement of 25 million people set to work improving the public equity chiefly enjoyed by the richest 10%.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
It comes from the Theories of Surplus Value in the discussion of Adam Smith, the subsection The Distinction between Productive and Unproductive Labour, and within that subsection, the subsection 17 on Nassau Senior. Unfortunately this link lands you far from the passage in question.
Man himself is the basis of his material production, as of every other production that he carries on. All circumstances, therefore, which affect man, the subject of production, modify plus ou moins all his functions and activities, and therefore his functions and activities as the creator of material wealth, of commodities too. In this respect it can in fact be demonstrated that all human relations and functions, however and in whatever they may present themselves, influence material production and engage with it determinatively to a greater or lesser degree.
For such a short passage, I have revised the translation at MIA pretty seriously. Specially in the last clause. What I have translated as "engage" appears there as "have decisive influence on." The German eingreifen generally means "intervention," like a military intervention or what authorities do in general. A very literal translation would be "in-grip," stick your hand in and grab hold. So it denotes and connotes a very active and forceful imposition from the outside.
Marx says, the relationships of production, in other words class positions, are actively and forcefully shaped by all the circumstances, like race and gender, that affect humans.
Pace universalism/class reductionism.
Monday, October 10, 2011
I have transcribed the passage from the MIA with a couple of revisions. The translation linked to there translates Geheimnis as "mystery" but "secret" is a more colloquial equivalent and the word I have used.
What Marx says of Hegel and Mr. Szeliga needs to be understood of the Hegelianism of Zizz and the Zizzniks too. Above all, the characterization of Hegel's method as "masterly sophistry." Then, how Hegel executes this sophistry through the subordination of the particular to the universal. Finally, how Hegel articulates this subordination, "in the speculative world are nothing but semblances." Zizzian sophistry does not need verbal legerdemain to effect this reduction of the material to the seeming. Images from movies and accounts from the media provide him with ready made semblances. As well as the ultimate conclusion, that all the complex mechanisms of the sophistry amounts to nothing more than self-dramatization. Even Zizzian stand up is consistent digital Hegelianism. But enough interpretation, let's get on to Marx.
The secret of the Critical presentation of the Mysteres de Paris is the secret of speculative, of Hegelian construction. Once Herr Szeliga has proclaimed that 'degeneracy within civilization' and rightlessness in the state are 'secrets', i.e. has dissolved them in the category of 'secret', he lets 'secret' begin its speculative career. A few words will suffice to characterise speculative construction in general. Herr Szeliga's treatment of the Mysteres de Paris will give the application in detail.
If from real apples, pears, strawberries and almonds I form the general idea of "Fruit", if I go further and imagine that my abstract idea of "Fruit", derived from real fruit, is an entity existing outside me, is indeed the true essence of the pear, the apple, the almond, etc., then in the language of speculative philosophy - I am declaring that "Fruit" is the "Substance" of the pear, the apple, the almond, etc. I am saying, therefore, that to be a pear is not essential to the pear, to be an apple is not essential to the apple; that what is essential to these things is not their real existence, perceptible to the senses, but the essence I have abstracted from them and then foisted on them, the essence of my idea - "Fruit". I therefore declare apples, pears, almonds, etc.,to be mere forms of existence, modi, of "Fruit". My finite understanding supported by my senses does of course distinguish an apple from a pear and a pear from an almond, but my speculative reason declares these sensuous differences as inessential and irrelevant. It sees in the apple the same thing as in the pear, and in the pear the same thing as in the almond, namely "Fruit". Particular real fruits are no more than semblances whose true essence in "the substance" - "Fruit".
By this method one attains no particular wealth of definition. The mineralogist whose whole science was limited to the statement that all minerals are really "the Mineral" would be a mineralogist only in his imagination. For every mineral the speculative Mineralogist says, "the Mineral", and his science is reduced to repeating this word as many times as there are real minerals.
Having reduced the different real fruits to the one "fruit" of abstraction - "the Fruit", speculation must, in order to attain some semblance of real content, try somehow to find its way back from "the Fruit", from Substance to the diverse, ordinary real fruits, the pear, the apple, the almond, etc. It is as hard to produce real fruits from the abstract idea "the Fruit" as it is easy to produce the abstract idea from real fruits. Indeed, it is impossible to arrive at the opposite of an abstraction without relinquishing the abstraction.
The speculative philosopher therefore relinquishes the abstraction "the Fruit", but in a speculative, mystical fashion - with the appearance of not reliquishing it. Thus it is really only in appearance that he rises above his abstraction. He argues somewhat as follows:
If apples, pears, almonds and strawberries are really nothing but "the subtance", "the Fruit", the question arises: Why does "the Fruit" manifest itself to me sometimes as an apple, sometimes as a pear, sometimes as an almond? Why this semblance of diversity, which so obviously contradicts my speculative conception of Unity, "the Substance", "the Fruit"?
This, answers the speculative philosopher, is because "the Fruit" is not dead, undifferentiated motionless, but a living, self-differentiating, moving essence. The diversity of the ordinary fruits is significant not only for my sensuous understanding, but also for "the Fruit" itself and for speculative reason. The different ordinary fruits are different manifestations of the life of the "one Fruit"; they are cystallisations of "the Fruit" itself. Thus in the apple "the Fruit" gives itself an apple-like existence, in the pear a pear-like existence. We must therefore no longer say, as one might from the standpoint of the Substance: a pear is "the Fruit", an apple is "the Fruit" an almond is "the Fruit", but rather "the Fruit" presents itself as a pear, "the Fruit" presents itself as an apple, "the Fruit" presents itself as an almond; and the differences which distinguish apples, pears and almonds from one another are the self-differentiations of "the Fruit" and make the particular fruits different members of the life-process of the "the Fruit". Thus "the Fruit" is no longer an empty undifferentiated unity; it is oneness as allness, as "totality" of fruits, which constitute an "organically linked series of members". In every member of that series "the Fruit" gives itself a more developed, more explicit existence, until finally, as the "summary" of all fruits, it is at the same time the living unity which contains all those fruits dissolved in itself just as it produces them from within itself, just as, for instance, all the limbs of the body are constantly dissolved in and constantly produced out of the blood.
We see that if the Christian religion knows only one Incarnation of God, speculative philosophy has an many incarnations as there are things, just as it has here in every fruit an incarnation of the Substance, of the Absolute Fruit. The main interest for the speculative philosopher is therefore to produce the existence of the real ordinary fruits and to say in some mysterious way that there are apples, pears, almonds and raisins. But the apples, pears, almonds and raisins that we rediscover in the speculative world are nothing but semblances of apples, semblances of pears, semblances of almonds and semblances of raisins, for they are moments in the life of "the Fruit", this abstract creation of the mind, and therefore themselves abstract creations of the mind. hence what is delightful in this speculation is to rediscover all the real fruits there, but as fruits which have a higher mystical significance, which have grown out of the ether of your brain and not out of the material earth, which are incarnations of "the Fruit", of the Absolute Subject. When you return from the abstraction, the supernatural creation of the mind, "the Fruit", to real natural fruits, you give on the contrary the natural fruits a supernatural significance and transform them into sheer abstractions. Your main interest is then to point out the unity of "the Fruit" in all the manifestations of its life - the apple, the pear, the almond - that is to show the mystical interconnection between these fruits, how in each one of them "the Fruit" realises itself by degrees and necessarily progresses, for instance, from its existence as a raisin to its existence as an almond. Hence, the value of the ordinary fruits no longer consists in their natural qualities, but in their speculative quality, which gives each of them a definite place in the life-process of "the Absolute Fruit".
The ordinary man does not think he is saying anything extraordinary when he states that there are apples and pears. But when the philosopher expresses their existence in the speculative way he says something extraordinary. He performs a miracle by producing the real natural objects, the apple, the pear, etc. out of the unreal creation of the mind "the Fruit", i.e., by creating those fruits out of his own abstract reason, which he considers as an Absolute Subject outside himself, represented here as "the Fruit". And in regard to every object the existence of which he expresses, he accomplishes an act of creation.
It goes without saying that the speculative philosopher accomplishes this continuous creation only by presenting universally known qualities of the apple, the pear, etc., which exist in reality, as determinng features invented by him, by giving the names of real things to what abstract reason alone can create, to abstract formulas of reason, finally, by declaring his own activity, by which he passes from the idea of an apple to the idea of a pear, to be the self-activity of the Absolute Subject, "the Fruit".
In the speculative way of speaking, this operation is called comprehending Substance as Subject, as an inner process, as an Absolute Person, and this comprehension constitutes the essential character of Hegel's method.
These preliminary remarks were necessary to make Herr Szeliga intelligible. Only now, after dissolving real relations, e.g, law and civilisation, in the category of secret and thereby making "Secret" into Substance, does he rise to the true speculative, Hegelian height and transforms "Secret" into a self-existing Subject incarnating itself in real situations and persons so that the manifestations of its life are countesses, marquises, grisettes, porters, notaries and charlatans, and love intrigues, balls, wooden doors, etc. Having produced the category "Secret" out of the real world, he produces the real world out of this category.
The secrets of speculative construction in Herr Szeliga's presentation will be all the more visibly disclosed as he has an indisputable double advantage over Hegel. On the one hand, Hegel with masterly sophistry is able to present as a process of the imagined creation of the mind itself, of the Absolute Subject, the process by which the philosopher through sensory perception and imagination passes from one subject to another. On the other hand, however, Hegel very often gives a real presentation, embracing the thing itself, within the speculative presentation. This real development within the speculative development misleads the reader into considering the speculative development as real and the real as speculative.
With Herr Szeliga both these difficulties vanish. His dialectics have no hypocrisy or dissimulation. He performs his tricks with the most laudable honesty and the most ingenuous straightforwardness. But then he nowhere develops any real content, so that his speculative construction is free from all disturbing accessories, from all ambiguous disguises, and appeals to the eye in its naked beauty. In Herr Szeliga we also see a brilliant illustration of how speculation on the one hand apparently freely creates its object a priori out of itself and, on the other hand, precisely because it wishes to get rid by sophistry of the rational and natural dependence on the object, falls into the irrational and unnatural bondage to the object, whose most accidental and most individual attributes it is obliged to construe as absolutely necessary and general.