Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Children are, in fact, reacting to the broader collapse of the nurturing conditions needed for their healthy development."

There is a new diagnosis called Oppositional Defiant Disorder which again has to do with behaviors and poor impulse control.

DR. GABOR MATÈ : Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. There are about half a million kids in this country receiving heavy duty anti-psychotic medications. Medications such as those are usually given to adult schizophrenics to regulate their hallucinations. But in this case, children are getting it to control their behavior. So what we have is a massive social experiment of the chemical control of kids’ behavior with no idea of the long-term consequences of these heavy duty anti-psychotics on kids.

I know that Canadians statistics just last week showed that within last five years, 43% increase in the rate of dispensing stimulant prescriptions for ADD or ADHD, and most are going to boys. In other words, what we are seeing is an unprecedented burgeoning of the diagnosis. I should say, really I’m talking about- more broadly speaking- what I would call the destruction of American childhood, because ADD is the template, or just an example of what’s going on. In fact, according to a recent study published in the States, nearly half of American adolescents now meet some criteria for mental-health disorders. So we’re talking about a massive impact on our children of something in our culture not been recognized.


DR. GABOR MATÈ: The situation with fathers is that increasingly now, there was study recently that showed increasing numbers of men are having postpartum depression as well. And the main role of the father, of course, would be to support the mother. But when people are stressed emotionally... The cause of postpartum depression in the mother it is not intrinsic to the mother. Not intrinsic to the mother. What we have to understand here is that human beings are not discrete, individual entities, contrary to the 'free enterprise' myth- that people are competitive, individualistic, private entities. What people actually are are social creatures very much dependent on one another, and very much programed to cooperate with one another when the circumstances are right.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Michael Hudson:

Dollar War

Krugman, China, Finance

Here’s the quandary that the U.S. economy is in: The Fed’s quantitative easing policy– creating more liquidity so that banks can lend more – aims at helping the economy “borrow its way out of debt.” But banks are not lending more, for the simple reason that a third of U.S. real estate already is in negative equity, while small and medium-sized businesses (which have created most of the new jobs in America for the past few decades) have seen their preferred collateral (real estate and sales orders) shrink. How can banks be expected to lend more to re-inflate the economy’s asset prices while wages and consumer prices continue to drift down? The “real” economy as a whole therefore must shrink.

What has made the argument over Fed policy so important over the past week is a series of exchanges between Republicans and Democrats. The deteriorating situation prompted a group of Republican economists and political strategists to publish an open letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke criticizing the Fed’s policy of Quantitative Easing (QE2), flooding the economy with liquidity spilling over into foreign exchange markets to push the dollar’s exchange rate down. True enough, as far as this criticism goes. But it only scratches the surface.

Enter Paul Krugman, one of the most progressive defenders of Democratic Party policy. His New York Times op-eds usually rebut Republican advocacy for Wall Street and corporate interests. But he also indulges in China bashing. To “blame the foreigner” rather than the system is normally a right-wing response, yet Krugman blames China simply for trying to save itself from being victimized by the Wall Street policies he normally criticizes when labor is the prey. By blaming China, he not only lets the Federal Reserve Board and its Wall Street constituency off the hook, he blames virtually the entire world that confronted Obama’s financial nationalism with a united front in Seoul two weeks ago when he and his entourage received an almost unanimous slap in the face at the Group of 20 meetings.


Nicolas Sarkozy has admitted that he was wrong to create a ministry of immigration and national identity and that his nationwide debate on what it means to be French had led to tension and misunderstanding.

In a primetime TV interview last night, the French president took the out-of-character step of analysing his mistakes and apologising as he tried to present a more humble side of his personality before the difficult battle to be re-elected in 2012.

Sarkozy said he had given up on the terminology "national identity", saying he was personally responsible for the fact it had "sparked misunderstanding" and created tension. It was a remarkable U-turn on one of his ideological cornerstones.

Wielding clubs, guns and chainsaws, several hundred villagers converged on the cottage in a clearing in the beech forest with a simple demand. "Zig raus [Gyppos out]," they called in German, deliberately echoing Nazi racist chants. "Bomb the Gypsies."

It was the last Saturday of last month, when the mob terrorised the extended family of more than 30 Roma, half of them children, into fleeing their clearing a mile over the hill from the farming village of Ambrus in eastern Slovenia.

"They were building bonfires on our land and shouting that if we don't move out, they will bomb us and crucify our children," recalls Mr Strojan, 30.

Zizek's defence of the pogrom:

As expected, all liberals condemned them as racists, locating racism into this isolated small village, while none of the liberals, living comfortably in the big cities, had any everyday contact with the Roma (except for meeting their representatives in front of the TV cameras when they supported them). When the TV interviewed the “racists” from the town, they were clearly seen to be a group of people frightened by the constant fighting and shooting in the Roma camp, by the constant theft of animals from their farms, and by other forms of small harassments from the Roma. It is all too easy to say (as the liberals did) that the Roma way of life is (also) a consequence of the centuries of their exclusion and mistreatment, that the people in the nearby town should also open themselves more to the Roma, etc. – nobody clearly answered the local “racists” what they should concretely do to solve the very real problems the Roma camp evidently was for them.

Replying very recently to criticism of his championing the armed racist mob and the expulsion and terrorism suffered by the Strojan family, Zizek - typically - blames "the working class" for his own bourgeois racism (anti-racism is anti-working class since "capital is multicultural and tolerant"), simultaneously displaces his own white supremacism onto other members of the "liberal intelligensia" who at the same time serve as the "hypocritical" foils for his admirably "honest" venting of racist myth and malice and cynical promotion of neo-Nazi phantasmagoria, and reiterates his insistence that the Strojans were the aggressors and the villagers who terrorised them and drove them from their home just defending themselves:

When they say “lie lie lie”, I tried to do something, not to protect or justify them, but I tried to do something which one always has to do, I tried to imagine to put myself into the skin of those local people there. Were they anti-immigrants, yes, but, here comes the but, which is not from the right wing media, but I was lucky that the baby sitter whom I hire to take care of my small monster son and with whom I have good relations much more than just paying her, she also worked a long time as a social worker precisely with those gypsies, Roma. Incidentally they themselves slightly prefer to be called Gypsies so fuck you when you tell me this use the term is wrong - it’s the same as you know 'African-Americans' no? But – at least some of them. But what they she told me of course don’t idealize them. At a certain level it is of course true. They are living there in the camp which has no legal status, their main income is trading stolen cars, they definitely do steal from the fields around and so on and so on, so….

It’s nice to defend the Roma when they are far away….if you are so tolerant with them, you can have them there [near some swank villas Zizek claims someone proposed relocating the Strojans to] You can imagine how immediately no one even wanted to talk - he serious problem here is the following one. This is the limit of multicult - this is the limit of this liberal multiculturalism which what I wanted to draw attention to is and that’s the tragedy of multiculturalism, how the whole space is constructed with a clear class dimension. It’s always upper middle class or at least middle class [it’s not clear whether he is identifying the Strojans as upper middle or middle class] who is blaming the poor redneck ordinary guys for being racists to enjoy their privilege – nobody, the moment I mention this class aspect which is clearly here, I become a protofascist right winger or whatever or whatever. No. I mean again the problem when we fight racism is the same as the Israeli settlers [whom he has earlier in the talk portrayed as mostly Eastern European immigrants, poor victims being used by the State], you know, see the whole picture, identify the real culprits; Don’t focus on the poor confused guys there whom I understand. It’s so easy for an upper class liberal living in the rich part, not to see, I’m not saying; I repeat it for the third time;, I’m not saying they are not right. I’m not saying they are not guilty also in a way. But imagine a typical modest guy from that village. His son comes often beaten. Not too often, but there is this fear, occasional fights with Roma children, things are stolen from the field, and so on and so on, there even was a murder in that gypsy settlement, and what was offered to these people? Nothing, just culpabilising them.

You really have to listen to get how vile he is, the venomous spitting out "fuck you" and the oozy sneering of his expertise in "what they all really like" (Oh, at least some of them!). The fans are a little quiet through this but finally undisturbed, ready to accept the narrative of true Slovenes defending themselves with virtuous bold violence against the evil depraved violent foreigners, who may have been born and raised in Slovenia, and be Slovene citizens, but for Zizek remain "immigrants" due presumably to bloodlines alien to this Slovene soil. Ready to accept the "liberal intelligensia" - those like Zizek and his Lib Dem party who carried out the administrative ethnic cleansing targeting Roma and Muslims and continued to fight for years against survivors' restitution and reparations claims - as the fiendish sponsors of alien Roma threats to "ordinary" "local people", and to accept anti-racism as nothing but the liberals' hypocriticial conspiracy against the people of the nation.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Simply Put

"They want a weak working class, they want no opposition, they want the 19th century. They want the power of the 19th century, and the fact that large financial institutions are creating this devastating crisis is empowering them in the agenda everywhere."

Zizek Watcher

"Do you know that awful movie The Reader?" asked Mr. Zizek. "Did you know that Nicole Kidman was supposed to play the lead?"

"It was played by Kate Winslet," said The Observer.

"Right, Kate Winslet," said Mr. Zizek. "Ralph told me Nicole Kidman turned down the role because they demanded three conditions in the contract. First, no ..." He gestured to his lips.

"Botox," said a man sitting on the stage.

"Stop using botox," said Mr. Zizek, "because her lips are supposed to look thin like a withered Nazi. She said O.K. Second, gain 15 kilos. O.K. Third, because there is a scene of full frontal nudity, no this—" Mr. Zizek made a shaving motion in the area of his crotch and laughed. "This she refused. Insanity!"

(Variety reported that Ms. Kidman dropped the role when she became pregnant.)

The man with the video camera stood up and moved directly in front of Mr. Zizek. "What do you think of the Palestinian situation?"

"I'm pro-Palestinian," said Mr. Zizek, "but I don't think it's the worst situation in the world. Any man in Congo would sell his mother into slavery to move to the West Bank.

"But I like Israel. Israel is the most atheist state in the world. I like them for that. But at the same time as a majority does not believe in God, they assert that God gave them the right to the land."


(Bill Van Auken and Adam Haig have just had it up to here with the left's indulgence of this creep.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

If socialism aimed at creating a new human nature within the limits of the old society it would be nothing more than a new edition of the moralistic utopias. Socialism does not aim at creating a socialist psychology as a pre-requisite to socialism, but at creating socialist conditions of life as a pre-requisite to socialist psychology.

Despicable: Aaron Porter, President of the NUS

Watch this abject careerist sit there in a BBC studio, squeaky-clean and ingratiating in his good-boy top-of-the-class rig-out (complete with Remembrance Day poppy!), silently allowing Jeremy Paxman to browbeat and bully his fellow-student Clare Solomon. Watch Aaron Porter solemnly condemn (as "despicable") the non-existent "violence" of his unruly student flock while the despicable British government wages class war on the British populace and continues to wage actual bloody war on any Muslim country it chooses:

Surely Aaron Porter is a future top Labour Party politician? And surely he knows it.

[Also despicable: Paxman. But that goes without saying.]

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Women & Men

How Nice of Murdoch's....

....Skynews to conceal the face of this "spontaneous" "violent" "protestor" who forgot her shroud.

Beginning at 2:26 -

Sunday, November 07, 2010


It's funny, like Dustin Hoffman's producer in Wag the Dog, Zizz can't seem to resist boasting now of his deceptions and seeking credit for his accomplishments. To Amy Goodman he boasted:

Through democracy, tolerance, in an authentic sense, means that you simply cannot say certain things publicly. You are considered—you know, like if you say publicly an anti-Semitic, sexist joke, it’s unacceptable. Things which were unacceptable ten, fifteen years ago are now acceptable.

clearly in great part his accomplishment at least in his niche. And he went on to explain, excitedly, his method in another propaganda effort:

The typical rhetorical trick here is in two moves. First, you of course condemn the far right—"no place in our developed democracy." But then you add, "But they are addressing the real worries of the people," and so on and so on. So, in precisely—that’s the dirty sophistic trick—in order to prevent hatred outbursts, we have to control the situation.

But even more striking is this interview with Paul Mason, who should know better:

Toward the end Zizek is tripped up by a question and with his characteristic evasive manoeuvre changes the subject to his self-definition, performing the "Robespierre" Zizek, that is, the Robespierre of Burke's imagination, declaring himself the crazed bourgeois reformer who is indifferent to human suffering and fixated on his "brutal theory" which must "have priority". It would be his nightmare, he says, to be taken for someone who is compassionate and concerned about human suffering. What then could possibly be his objection to the status quo? What can a rich famous man have to complain about about the present? We are left to understand he is this "type" of insane demagogue of liberal ideology, a madman possessed of an Idea, in thrall to a Vision, a loon lusting after power for its own sake.

Then he closes the interview by saying to Mason: "so, I will see you in hell or communism."

A viewer sympathetic to the Marxist tradition he claims commitment to of course will note this is a kind of inexplicably crass rewording of the choice before us now very urgently as phrased once famously by Luxemburg: Socialism or Barbarism. But the tape of the interview keeps running to a little moment of the "after" where the formal pose is broken and interviewer, interviewee are laughing together and speaking toward the crew/producer offstage. And it is a truly remarkable moment in which Zizz hastens with childish impatience to his confession to the conscious performance of his Colberttian persona which I have been explaining against such obstinate resistance. We see Zizek's excitement; he cannot help but boast of what he has just done, and he explains that this very remark was directed at the "right winger" in the audience to inspire the thought or reminder "but they are the same!" See see, if you are a right winger, he says breathlessly, his speech impediment suddenly cured, you will say "but they are the same!"

He's said something like We must choose between communism or hell, socialism or barbarism, but - he is thrilled to confess and eager to recieve the consequent admiration for - only to convey the message, to the "right winger" (or anyone not enamoured of the genocidal Nietzschean macho tyrant figure he performed) that Communism is Hell! Socialism is barbarism! He can hardly contain himself he is so proud of the ruse; he's squirming in his chair with delight at himself, waving his arms to encourage applause.

He speaks for to speak against, and at this point he has done so well, there is such a nightmarish explosion of white supremacist misogynist fascistic aggression and he has made such crucial contributions to imperial apology and reactionary cultural politics to interfere with the (urgent) development of a serious public discourse about the real transition from capitalism to something else, (real catastrophe and real possibilities for transformation to the understanding of and confrontation with which Hollywood movies and corporate tv and endless attention to them only distract from and hamper) that he cannot contain his desire for credit, his yearning to take his bow for the brilliance of his histrionics, to be admired for his cleverness and the object of gratitude for his services to the bourgeoisie.

But unlike Dustin Hoffman he need not be shot for this. Because it doesn't matter. The fanaticism is so intense because he has not really fooled his audience but been complicit with them, given them their white supremacist patriarchal pleasures and politics and their alibi. They want to applaud him and recognise the genius of it as much as he wants to be applauded. Not too openly of course, but the pleasure of flaunting one's impunity - a white supremacist patriarchal pleasure - and the use of this flaunted impunity to intimidate and terrorise, requires more and more flashing.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

"The girl must die," she tells us, so that the woman can live.

Erika Lopez could not have known she was releasing her raucous, racy and hilarious breakthrough novel Flaming Iguanas at the end of an era. It was 1998, and despite the 1990s being a decade of riot grrls and Manic Panic, a time when girls had rock goddesses like PJ Harvey, Sleater Kinney, Hole and Bikini Kill to emulate rather than rock gods to fawn over, it was all about to disappear.

Post-pubescent pop stars took over, the 'zine culture died off and Courtney Love became plastic surgery roadkill. Suddenly, Lopez — a performance artist and cartoonist as well as novelist — was out of fashion, her spunky, prickly, foul-mouthed writing style and tales of booze, men (and women) and motorcycles did not fit in with the current milieu of pre-packaged stardom and yoga spirituality.

"'Erika Lopez is an American original!.... Lopez won't have to worry about food stamps in the future!'" read one Flaming Iguanas review. Twelve years later, in her new The Girl Must Die: A Monster Girl Memoir, Lopez responds: "Well, not only do I have to worry about food stamps again, I just had to go and add welfare. Welfare."

A Muse

[T]his "ugly race," in his words, afflicted by an "earthbound pedantic spirituality" and "puce-faced, finger-jabbing, spittle-flecked politics," a people "impervious to fondness, sympathy or attraction" and susceptible to "a Pooterish yearning for a Fascist order."...

....the central thesis of his book — that anger is the defining characteristic of the English people — feels more like a contrarian conceit than an earnestly held belief. Gill never says what the English might be so angry about, never comes up with any good examples of their fury, never explains why the country's "default setting is anger: lapel-poking, Chinese-burning, ram-raiding, street-shouting, sniping, spitting, shoving, vengeful, inventive rage."

...The loss of empire "broke England's heart," Gill writes, "but it couldn't tell anyone": The English experienced "what everyone who has been dumped experiences — a cataclysmic, middle-aged stumble of self-confidence, and nostalgia came to the rescue."

..."It's a great English conceit that their past is written in granite, whilst pretty much everyone else's is written in sand," he declares. "Having lived this long with the English reverence for the gay pageant of time, I'm always astonished by how little the Europeans make of history and with what ease they will, and indeed can, discard the trappings and links to the past to make way for the convenience and comfort of the present. They seem so cavalier with it, so spendthrift. For the English, discarding the past is like spending capital. Eating seed corn. In England, changing the shape of a telephone box evokes a fury that might be justified by grave robbing."

Kid it's not your night

The Demcratic Party took a dive.


Lisa Factora-Borchers:

The feminist blogosphere in April of 2008 was busy unveiling the torrent history of feminist-identified white women writers and presses co-opting and adopting the work of women of color writers, and ignoring the lines of power and oppression between women. Or, in other words, it was about the long history of white women acting as the authority on subject matter that clearly were out of their lines of experience.

The dispute led Lisa Factora-Borchers to introduce the feminist blogosphere to the idea of Kyriarchy, which she adapted from the feminist theologian Elizabeth Schlusser Fiorenza. The term has met predictable hostility and sneering in circles dominated by white men, but beyond those enclaves it was the object of great interest and discussion itself and has been widely applied to clarify the reproduction of oppressive social structures necessary to exploitation. Factora-Borchers was pleased with the reception of her work. But:

two months ago, I received a link to a recently published article inThe Guardian entitled, “The Patriarchy is Dead, But the Kyriarchy Lives On,” by Nichi Hodgson. After reading it, two questions immediately popped in my head: “How is this article covering the emergence of kyriarchy in the feminist sphere with not one attribution and where had she learned it from?” and “What have I done?”


...Hodgson pats kyriarchy down to a nice and quasi-intelligent term that relegates the freedom to complain about oppression to include The Men, too. It turns a highly flexible academic term by a feminist theologian into a pop cultured meat loaf: a soft, feel good term that everyone can chew and swallow....

...And then Hodgson makes a common and dangerous jump about kyriarchy and contemporary feminisms in general:

It helps us to recognise the interconnection of education, class and eating disorders such as anorexia, and of domestic violence and poverty, rather than encouraging us to indiscriminately blame men.

It helps to explain how women themselves can in some cases morph into the supremacist bully, when paranoid mothers pass on anxieties about food and bodies to their daughters, ground down themselves by years of trying to live up to constructed notions of beauty.

The purpose and measure of kyriarchy – and feminism in general – is not to increase our time at the microphone so we can more accurately assign BLAME. The purpose and measure of kyriarchy is to further understand the power and crippling tendencies of the human race to push, torture, and minimize others. It is in our nature to try and become “lord” or “master” in our communities, to exert a “power-over” someone else. Kyriarchy does not exist to give us tools to further imprison ourselves by blaming our environment, upbringing, or social caste. It is the opposite. Kyriarchy exists to give us tools to liberate ourselves by understanding the shifting powers of oppression. It is not about passing the megaphone to men so they can be included in the oppression olympics. Simply check-marking our gender, sex, race, ablity, class, citizenship, skin color and other pieces identity will not free us from the social ills of our stratified society. Kyriarchy is not the newly minted alarm clock to wake us up to what’s wrong. It exists to radically implement our finest strategies to deconstruct our personal and political powers for the liberation of self and community. For self AND community.

Which is why I so vehemently disagree with Hodgson who believes that the most helpful piece of kyriarchy is “its emphasis on individual liberation…”

Please indulge my own theory-making right now: There’s no such thing as liberation if the word ‘individual’ precedes it.

As for where Hodgson gathered her article's content from, Factora-Borchers eventually received a reply to her email in which Hodgson cited Shira Tarrant's book which explains Factora-Borchers' work explicating, enlarging on and disseminating a concept she learned from Elizabeth Schlusser Fiorenza. Hodgson apologized and hoped Factora-Borchers didn't feel "plagiarized."

“Felt plagarized?” What I found most ironic is that I was brought back to 2008, to the originating circumstances of what drove me to introduce kyriarchy to the US feminist blogosphere: the blantant and irresponsible disregard for (at minimum) thorough research and (at best) moral and ethical journalism. But, for me, this incident just tacked itself in the ongoing practice of appropriating, ignoring, and assuming authority on and of the work of women of color by feminist-identified white women.

There seems to be almost no scruple about appropriations of this kind which erase the intellectual productivity of women and especially women of colour. Old myths that women and poc have never produced "real thinking" and cannot produce intellectually except under the guidance and borrowing the original intellectual products of celebrity intellectuals of the superior caste require the routine erasure of the origins of ideas and analyses and turns of phrase and information tagged by the appropriator class as their private property. It is becoming more and more common for white mediocrities to run little cheap culture commodity rackets resembling the white supremacist revisionist fantasy in Back to the Future where Michael Jay Fox's suburban adolescent "every(white)man" teaches Chuck Berry to rock and roll.

In the comments to this post labouring effortfully to explain to another white feminist why she should not rebuke groups of people for not doing what she is simply ignoring they are doing in order to set up the occasion for her self-dramatisation as advisor and sage Tarzana Queen and saviour of the Savages, (trans savages in one case, black savages in the other), "piny" opened a comment with this observation:

Mandy, you’re starting from the assumption that you have something to offer, and that the problem is how best to facilitate you. You’re begging that question here.

That struck me as very well put and insightful about the posture of white supremacy in expanded and accelerated comment/opinion-commmodity production. It doesn't occur - it cannot occur - to Mandy that if she is indeed not allotted enough space under her byline in this one instance, as she complained in excuse, to do anything other than misrepresent those she claims to champion in a demeaning and contemptuous way, assert her superiority and crown herself Emperor over them, then rather than accept that space and that byline, she might instead leave it to someone capable of using it constructively. When the white feminist pundit feels the value of her product will benefit from her exploitation of transgender issues or from seeming to take a critical dissident pose toward black feminist participation in high traffic sites, appearing to deplore a "digital colonisation" or "unwitting complicity" while really just using racist contempt to cast aspersions on rival, higher visibility culture producers depicted as helpless passive vessels of a plundered natural resource of some sort, white entitlement and white solipsism and the hierarchies of white supremacist patriarchy are crucial to overcoming any hesitation one might reasonably feel regarding the usurpation of voice and self-appointed role of both proxy and leadership. The priority of self-promotion is unquestioned, and the white feminist pundit accepts no responsibility either to factuality or to respect that can override her individual right to publicise herself and enhance her brand.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Yesterday's satires are today's headlines.

"Insensitive" seems to be the word that's won out to describe symbolic violence in white supremacist praxis; it shifts the production of the problem to the victims, whose "sensitivity" to the expressions and symbolic acts create the offense on the receiving end out of an act presumed neutral and innocent. "Insensitive" is like a plea of "no contest"; it accomplishes the denial of aggression and benefit to the aggressor. "Insensitive" belongs to the apologetics for crime and aggression that have been over the past decade established as the favourite substitute confession of power - indifference, carelessness, callousness, inattention, incompetence, negligence. "Insensitivity" is the lesser charge to which ZizneyCorp and its counterparts all eagerly plead.

In Chapter 4, I introduced the idea of “social alexithymia” (Feagin 2006), Hernan Vera’s term for White Americans’ curious lack of empathy for the feelings of people of color. We can now see that this lack of empathy involves a chain of reasoning that goes something like this: “I am a good and normal mainstream sort of White person. I am not a racist, because racists are bad and marginal people. Therefore, if you understood my words to be racist, you must be mistaken. I may have used language that would be racist in the mouth of a racist person, but if I did so, I was joking. If you understood my meaning to be racist, not only do you insult me, but you lack a sense of humor, and you are oversensitive.” Notice that this entire chain of reasoning makes the speaker the sole authority over what her words shall mean. But this exclusive control is merely the common sense of personalist logic, and it is very hard to interrupt common sense….

Van Dijk argued that ‘knowledgeable minority group members’ are our surest guides to where racism is active. People of color have produced some of the most profound thinking about racism, and, while they pick their battles carefully, letting much that is offensive pass by without objection, both in small acts of everyday rejection and in deliberate public manifestations by entire communities, they have been active in resistance. When I have talked to people of color about “covert racist discourse,” I often find that they have understood this concept, in an informal way, since childhood. Among Whites, the idea of “linguistic appropriation” is a concept encountered, if at all, during university education. Among African Americans, it is a commonplace of everyday understanding. So, not only do people of color deserve civility and respect as fellow citizens, they deserve the attention of anti-racist Whites as knowledgeable experts in the analysis of White racism, which is surely one of the greatest challenges faced by American society.

Along with accusations of “oversensitivity”, the media ritual of moral panic over “gaffes” should cease. I have followed these affairs for about a decade. Their terms are rigidly formulaic. The exchange of blame and excuse is utterly predictable, with Harvard-educated Washington Post columnists and middle-western talk radio hosts alike invoking the same hackneyed formulas, knotting up once again the frayed ends of the folk theory of racism and the personalist rhetoric of motives to return to the same tired conclusions about decent people who somehow slipped. It is time to simply hold people responsible for their words. If victims claim that those words were hurtful and damaging, that alone should carry blame and bring appropriate punishment. Arguments about whether or not speakers are racist are not useful, and function largely to reproduce White racism’s central ideas.

Jane Hill, The Everyday Language of White Racism

Financial War

Obama's Rage

Even when Obama has been at his cucumber-coolest--and has earned abuse from the left and center for it--figures on the right have aggressively tried to hang the "angry black man" label on him. A June editorial in The Washington Times (entitled, bluntly enough, "Angry Man Obama") cited his "tough guy" persona and "bullying undercurrent" and tied him to Spike Lee. A year ago, Rush Limbaugh described the school-bus beating of a white student by black students as typical of "Obama's America"; in the run-up to the midterms, Glenn Beck accused the president of "inciting people." The idea that Obama is driven by fury is prevalent enough on the right that Dinesh D'Souza could take it as a given in the title of his Amazon bestseller The Roots of Obama's Rage.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Eat your frowns!

Anyone who thought this blog was too hard on Owen Hatherley has to read this. It is staggering. It's really difficult to believe the Guardian would print it. But it is really (financial) war propaganda now.

Crossing the river brings you to the infotainment part of the expo. Here, the eco Pavilion of Footprint is directly opposite the Oil Pavilion, decorated in blaring blue neon, just like the city's expressways. Elsewhere, there's some adaptive reuse – the Piranesian China Shipping Pavilion is an embellished shipyard, and the Pavilion of Future a decommissioned power station, just like Tate Modern. Here, tomes on the city of the future, from Thomas More to David Harvey, are piled up, with no sense that each was critiquing existing society through their visions of the future. In the next room, the underwater city of the future sits next to a lime-green illuminated model of a petroleum refinery. Any implication that one might lead to the other is wholly unintentional.

Mao Zedong, the face on the banknotes used to purchase the sweatshop-made merchandise, considered contradiction the motive force of the class war. So it's no surprise that all these opposing forces are held in some kind of balance – but how long can it be kept up?

The Queen is on the banknotes with which Hatherley's prose is bought and which he then trades for his sweatshop and conflict marmite and biros, and she has always considered the British Constitution a puzzle. Always was and always will be says the sage lady. More mystery than muddle, happily, and a mystery - like how do Zaha Hadid's forms levitate? whom did Cheney's assassination squads kill? why is Owen Hatherley vending these shallow ressentimental rants of imbecile racist clichés to these venerable old progressive publications? - has a thrilling and intriguing aspect, whereas muddle...esmisss....esmooor....

As everything animal, vegetable and mineral, social, political, historical, architectural and economic, in China is another expression of yin yang, everything about the English nation can be explained in a single idea; taste is a virtue. It is the only virtue. The virtue of the idle rich. The consumer's virtue. The essence of virtuous fanaticism.

They can't make the really good porcelain or weave the really good rugs but those who do don't know what they are doing or what it's worth any more than bees and ants, while the Englishman, any Englishman, or Englishwoman, a fifth rate journalist with a tweflth rate education, can go to these places where the really good porcelain and rugs and silks are made and stand astride the drones like an intellectual colossus, with expertise in sinopop and New Confucianism acquired on a single flight from London without the least knowledge of Chinese language, interpretating at a breathless rate, transforming mere artisan craft into Critique the humanoid occasions of his brilliance will never comprehend, and driving a firm but fair bargain. - How long can it be kept up? The deuce knows. But for now, they calmly carry on.

Introducing Zizek's Mule

Nott read an article entitled "VITAL STATISTICS OF NEGROES AND MULATTOES" which appeared in 1842 in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal. The author, writing under the pseudonym "Philanthropist," showed that according to the mortality statistics in the 1840 census, there were twice as many deaths for the free group than for the enslaved. Inasmuch as there were a great many free mulattoes among the "Free Colored," Nott developed a mulatto frailty theory to explain the reason this group appeared to be dying at a much faster rate than the "Slaves." He also developed a mulatto sterility theory in order to explain his "observation" that mulattoes were less prolific than either whites or blacks. These theories were first published in 1843 in an article for the American Journal of the Medical Sciences entitled, "The Mulatto a Hybrid--probable extermination of the two races if the Whites and Blacks are allowed to intermarry." A reprint appeared shortly after in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal. Dr. Nott may have been knowledgeable in the field of medicine, but he was certainly no ethnologist. Ridiculous as it seems today, Nott conceived of the mulatto as a hybrid different than either white or black. He reasoned that just as the horse and donkey are different species and produce a sterile mule as hybrid offspring, so too white and black are different species and produce a sterile mulatto.
- Multiracial Activist

Below, from Living in the End Times, is a masterpiece of alibi construction. Zizek makes it easy for his fans to lap up this delicious vintage racist fantasy of the most lurid and prurient kind by supplying flimsy but adequate means with which they can pretend to be enjoying the imagery only to denounce the loathesome Sarah Palin who is somehow held responsible for it:

Earlier generations of women politicians (Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, up to a point even Hillary Clinton) were what is usually referred to as “phallic” women: they acted as “iron ladies” who imitated and tried to outdo male authority, to be “more men than men themselves.” In a recent comment in Le Point, Jacques-Alain Miller pointed out how Sarah Palin, on the contrary, proudly displays her femininity and motherhood. She has a “castrating” effect on her male opponents not by way of being more manly than them [sic], but by using the ultimate feminine weapon, the sarcastic put-down of a puffed-up male authority – she knows that male “phallic” authority is a posture, a semblance to be exploited and mocked. Recall how she mocked Obama as a “community organizer,” exploiting the fact that there was something sterile in Obama’s physical appearance, with his diluted black skin, slender features, and big ears.

Palin is described exploiting that fact and this therefore, we can assure ourselves, is why we have this fact of the President's look of sterility here before us at all, requiring our attention. Zizek delivers the "sterility" of "Obama's physical appearance" due to the "dilution" of some supposed earlier blackness and "big ears" as fact to his fans for their delight equipped with the excuse that they are only savouring it in their righteous effort to deplore the always deplorable Sarah Palin's unscrupulous exploitation of it and expose her emasculating machinations.

Zizek frequently images Obama as the victim of his "big black guy" taming tale (he has stolen his magic penis, and more recently coerced him to beg to be called the n-word, but also fantasised that he was white underneath all along, never really the undiluted threat with the prehensible membre virile) and here appoints Palin the surrogate assailant of his own fantasies, whom he can then chastise and rebuke for carrying out his wishes. Her cruel castrating use of the fact of Obama's mule/mulatto sterility is slipped clumsily (but deftly enough to satisfy the fanatical devotees of the sage) into an implication that Palin, not Zizek, is really the author of the fact illustrated by the imagery. In Zizek's account now, it is she, Palin, not he, who is engaged in the production a spectacle of castration and conquest of Obama. (Palin - the devil - made him do it!) It is she, Palin, not he, Zizek, who is disturbed to frenzy and mental breakdown by the fact that Obama is the child of a white woman and a black African man, evidence of that relationship, and that it is she, the seductress witch Palin, and not he, Zizek, who envisions this couple as mare and donkey and has emasculated Obama symbolically and made him into the sterile mule of Zizek's racist phantasmagoria.

With the very hamhandedness of his non-sequitur (asking his audience to accept that Palin's "community organizer" plainly signifies Obama's "diluted black skin" and "big ears" as signs of sterility, but simultaneously to deny with the shrill outrage of repression that "mule" and "mulatto" and their historical association in white supremacist mythology are evoked by Zizek's terms "big ears", "diluted black skin" and "sterile" applied to the appearance of the President whose mother was white and father black) Zizek winks at his droolingly adoring followers as he tosses them this little dripping nibble, sealing an agreement to insist that this vision of Obama's "sterile" physical appearance - his "diluted" blackness, his big ears, his equine slenderness- is not the putrid ooze of Zizek's own diseased mind but has imposed itself on Zizek's text from outside - a Palin figure has plucked it from "reality" and left it on his doorstep - and he has only stepped in it. He poses as, and his audience pretends to believe him, inconvenienced by this imposition, asking the audience to accept that the fact of the sterile appearance of an emasculated Obama is something for Zizek to scrape off his shoes, matter to be righteously rejected, in the vein of his brave and righteous rejection of the identification of the soldiers defending against the seige of Crete à Pierrot as "half-apes whose grandparents jumped in trees like apes in Africa". He asks to be applauded for chastising the inexcuseable Palin for taking advantage of the President's misfortune.

There won't be an open letter to Verso about Zizek's mule even though many more unsuspecting eyes will be violated by it than by his competitor Johnson's baboons, attacked to ensure above all that Zizek can continue to derive legitimacy and leftist cred from his appearance in a publication that his devotees among the signatories all confide "is progressive" - it is this reputation that is safeguarded and burnished by the caper - and wouldn't publish racism, reaction or revisionism. If there are one or two Zizek devotees who find the use of this imagery ever so slightly distasteful, their main concern will not be the alarming, obviously successful beginnings of a revival of another deeply offensive and until now really forgotten trope (it was evoked to shocking effect in the mouth of Harold Pinter's vicious Antigua planter/English Baronet in Patricia Rozema's film of Mansfield Park), and the whole until recently utterly unfashionable, utterly universally deplored [1] discourse of "miscegenation" [2] and "diluted" races, in which it is embedded. Their concern will be only how to defend the passage as leftist, as sloppy, as trivial, as wholesome provocation, as ironic, as brave rebuttal to all the hordes of leftists, liberals and progressives who believe the children of one white and one black parent cannot reproduce, as an important "critique" of Palin's persona (or rather, of her vagina) and of liberalism. Their self-imposed duty will only be to not interfere with the hardcore ZizneyCorp's efforts to protect from criticism this precious ground occupied - to establish this fact on the ground - contributing to the full scale reconquest of the ideological territory of the mainstream by neoHegelian race theory and the restoration of its vocabulary, its abstractions, to intelligibility and currency. The breakdown of rationality and logic, the promotion of sophistry in place of argument, the discrediting of historiography, evidence, documentation and proof, and the legitimization of self-serving, convenient, cartoonish revisionist fables, (most often relating stories of uppity black men put back in their subordinate place through a display of the omnipotence of European Mind (P.114)) is necessary to imperial ruling class revanchism and requires painstaking long- term labours.

White supremacy is a praxis.

[1]Some cocaculture, for example David Lynch's films, deploy allusions to this discourse and its terms of course, but as "dream imagery" and "metaphor" muffled by many layers of disavowal, irony, reflexivity etc..
[2] a concept also recently granted the first hesitant step toward reassertion in theNew Left Review where it is evoked as the horrifying consequence courted by cultural "creolisation"

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Did you love 'Toy Story 3'? Many did, and that should have told Democrats something — that Americans may like Obama personally but they aren't buying his agenda.

Zizek's Protocols

Once again Zizek performs the Golovinsky trick of seeming to adopt an analysis only to vitiate it and discredit it. Consider Chris Hedges' routine liberal explication of a fairly mundane "left" analysis of the Tea Party - it is channelling real grievances toward scapegoats, like populist right politics time out of mind, and can do so because of the utter betrayal of the majority population by the Democratic Party and mainstream bourgeois social democrats in electoral politics. Only the entertainment vendors of big media are paying any attention to the electorate (who are the audience) and making an effort to entertain and engage them, and so right wing demagogues have little competition for their emotional appeals and offers of understanding. It would be very hard even for guys with the wit and resources of Stephen Colbert and John Stewart to depict Chris Hedges as a raving maniac left pendant of the Christofascist American right he studied and wrote about.This is where Zizek makes himself useful. Hedges explains what this celebrity clown is for:

The liberal class wants to inhabit a political center to remain morally and politically disengaged. As long as there is a phantom left, one that is as ridiculous and stunted as the right wing, the liberal class can remain uncommitted.

Not Chris Hedges (and not Noam Chomsky, and not Gerald Horne, and not Glenn Ford, and not Winona LaDuke or Ralph Nader, and not Cynthia McKinney, nor Michael Parenti, nor any other actual American progressive, anarchist or socialist) but Zizek - a D-list Glenn Beck with "I'm a Marxist! I love informers, secret police and firing squads! And chimères necklacing the rich!" magic markered on his gulag issue underwear costume, who runs around spluttering that Hitler wasn't violent enough! and who always needs a handkerchief but never has one (not allowed in looney bin?) - will be the ubiquitous figure delivering something like Hedges' Tea Party analysis, the image every university student and culture industry worker will have vividly in memory.

Zizek at once denounces his own (reactionary) image of this analysis as a "dirty sophistic trick":

The typical rhetorical trick here is in two moves. First, you of course condemn the far right—"no place in our developed democracy." But then you add, "But they are addressing the real worries of the people," and so on and so on. So, in precisely—that’s the dirty sophistic trick—in order to prevent hatred outbursts, we have to control the situation.

as inoculation - denouncing the very rhetorical trick he has played habitually and will immediately play again as he boasts of restoring anti-Semitic and sexist jokes to acceptability they didn't enjoy ten years ago (maybe in ten more years he can manage to restore some to funny) - and in its place deploys his Golovinski copy, (among other tactics inserting "left" and "Marxists" for bourgeois liberals as Golovinski put "Jews" in the place of the Napoleon III and his posse) close enough to be a substitute and to even be mistaken by his brain-damaged adorers for the same analysis Hedges offers:

My second point would have been that it’s absolutely crucial how this anti-immigrant explosion is linked to the withdrawal of leftist politics, especially in the matters of economy and so on. It is as if the left, being obsessed [1] by the idea that we shouldn’t appear as reactionary in the economic sense, that is to say that "No, no, no, we are not the old trade union representatives of the working class, we are for postmodern digital capitalism" and so on. They don’t want to touch the working class or so-called lower ordinary people. And here right-wingers enter. Do you know, the horrible paradox is that, apart from some small leftist fringe parties, the only serious political force in Europe today which still is ready to appeal to the ordinary working people are the right-wing anti-immigrants? So you see, we, the leftists, we have no right, absolutely no right, to take this arrogant view of offended tolerant people who are horrored—no, we should ask the question, how we enabled what is going on.

Dismissing the actual left as "fringe" and baptising the "centre" neoliberals "the Left" - the left denounced as without programme, but also as mirror image, enabler and indeed father of the far neofasho right - Zizek undertakes to defend fasho mobs in a wholly confused context of his concocted fantasy, fashioned of clichés and sensational stereotypes. Like Hedges - who in contrast seeks to explain real right wing populists in our real historical moment accurately depicted - Zizek says there are real grievances motivating them. But whereas Hedges recognises the scapegoats toward which the ruling class deftly and usually at least somewhat successfully directs white male anger (communists, foreigners, women, immigrants, black folks, Muslims, Jews, gays) are not the origins of the real grievances, Zizek insists they are, that these groups - humanity in general, with some small exceptions - are real threats to the privileged minority which presents itself as universal, causing everything from a "race to the bottom" in wages, through state crimes from Abu Ghraib to TARP, to the "failure" and "humiliation" in Iraq, against which the fasho mobs, representing a mythically mono-ethnic "white working class", justly arise to defend themselves. Zizek seems to a casual listener to echo, but really expropriates and transforms, Hedges' analysis, which he almost simultaneously also denounces as the dirty mendacious rhetoric of sinister liberals who want to disguise the real threats posed to the fasho mobs by those whom these mobs assault (as ZizneyCorp shows, purely in self-defence) - immigrants, ethnic minorities, homosexuals who are indispensable to authoritarian clique/tribe bonding. Thus while one might imagine Hedges or others sharing his analysis conjecturing that the anti-Roma pogroms multiplying in Europe reflect the fury of populations at the pain of the economic depression, Zizek declares the Strojan family, the victims of a pogrom, are the criminal menace itself against which liberals in their egoist ecstasies of hedonist permissiveness are insufficiently vigilant. The Strojan family, Zizek discovers, is the real source of the real grievances of the racist mob that terrorised them, but he cunningly positions the Strojans, and all Roma, also as the instruments of "the liberals in the big cities", that is, they are the violent, destructive forces unleashed by liberal decadence. (This is not a new script).

(But for another audience, the liberals themselves, who will not be attracted to their vilification that Zizek offers their rebellious children (an audience that is older, higher status, less tormented by masculine insecurities about virility than his acafanboys), Zizek explicitly equates the rightwing "politics of fear" that incites fear of Roma or immigrants with its counter, the defence against fascists also labelled a "politics of fear", creating his version of the Scylla and Charybdis-flanked "sanity" of Time Warner's Comedy Central stars, assuring his liberal audience they can and must remain in that passive centre, "daring to do nothing" because the fearmongering, frightened and frightening EDL and Tea Partyers on the right are balanced by fearmongering, frightened and frightening mobs on the left: "political correctness is the exemplary liberal form of the politics of fear".)

In this way Zizek can champion a pogrom as a "critique of liberalism" and denounce all dissenters from this view as liberals obsessed with diabolising "violence"; those who would protect the Strojans from the armed mob must be those decadent, shapeshifting liberals who prefer the structural violence which afflicts the white villagers and of which the Roma themselves are the instruments and never the victims.

Like "immigrants" in the UK and call center workers in India are identified by Zizek as scabs in league with big capital against the real working class, the virtuous and deserving white male breadwinners, so the Roma are exposed by him as in league with the liberals to pollute Slovene society with crime, violence and an alien way of life. In the same way, Tea Party candidate Angle positions the threatening Mexican immigrants as instruments of and in league with Harry Reid:

"The liberals", Zizek agrees furiously, are on their side -- the side of the ethnic inferiors and intruders with their criminal "way of life" which the liberals want you good white people to tolerate and "open [your]selves to" because their criminal nature is the result of centuries of "mistreatment" and it wouldn't be fair to judge them by the civilised standards you judge each other and yourselves by. These are the moralising and legalistic liberals and "the Left" who are always at a safe distance from these vexatious and harassing others with whom they force you to live. These leftists are all bourgeois and want to see these others only serving them in ethnic restaurants, but they want you to send your kids to school with them, work with them, let them marry your daughters, and they even plot to make it a crime for you to refuse such proximity. And these liberals will not even let you demand their conformity to your leading culture, your superior civilisation and your values. Zizek understands, as does Glenn Beck and the Tea Party candidates, that you are not the "racist" that the legalistic moralising left calls you, you are just trying, like these frightened villagers, to defend yourselves from the criminal others who have infiltrated to destroy your prosperity. But the liberals tie your hands and demand tolerance, and this is why you find yourself, scared and desperate but determined to act, out in the middle of the night:

So with Zizek's substitute analysis, his fascist changeling "critique", this fact-free, consistency-destitute, no-logic, disinformation-enriched, decaffeinated analysis, the dual purpose is accomplished: Zizek discredits the analysis typified by Hedges by denouncing it as the dirty deceptive rhetoric of the liberal fronts for right wing interests, the malicious ruse of the right. At the same time he takes its basic form and stuffs it with racist mythology, fearmongering, incitement to violence, directly peddling racist fables and fantasies insisting on the criminality of the "way of life" of the scapegoats and the innocence and goodness of the distinct way of life (ours, with our Hegel and Bach, our individualism, work ethic, irony, intellectualism and social harmony) of the terrorist fasho mobs - insisting those victims both concrete and symbolic the Hedges analysis easily identifies as scapegoats or surrogates presented by the ruling class as objects for popular anger are really the source of the legitimate grievances, in league with the liberal establishment, those intruders who always go about in disguise: Obama who is "a white guy blackened by a few hours suntanning" but also appears "sterile...with his diluted black skin" and the "communist" George Soros who is "a lie embodied". The Mexican gangs, the welfare queens, the reverse racists like Shirley Sherrod, the Bal'more crack dealers, the thieving Roma children are all the factotums and diabolical familiars of these "liberals" who protect them and let them walk all over you, you the salt of the earth, the checkered shirt and denim dude, Joe the Plumber, the white working class.

Some fanatically devout Zizekians may be unable even to distinguish between Hedges' analysis and Zizek's ersatz substitute. But many can tell the difference and find in Zizek's invitation to self-pity and ressentiment, and his putting forward of conveniently weak targets on which the ressentimentalists can take some revenge, exactly what they were looking for. Beck is not for them because he has the wrong style - corny, suburban, fogey, and Zizek's fans are hip urban culture industry connoisseurs, the ironic, subversive, revolutionary television audience. But they are members of the same class and share much experience, perspective and concrete interests, and these shared interests account above all for the abundance of shared material of their fantasies, beliefs and preferred cocaculture.

1. Zizek is the first of course to denounce "the Left" for being and appearing what he claims we/they are obsessed with not being or seeming:

SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: OK, this is an old French tradition, and I wouldn’t even overestimate it. You know why? Because—this is what makes me sad. There is no alternate—again, we are always returning to the same problem—there is no global alternate vision. They are—sorry, but now I will appear like anti-worker, but I’m not, please believe me. They just think, "Oh, no, we want this. We want our piece of cake" and so on. Well, what the left is missing is a kind of a more global idea of how to restructure entire economy. I mean, they are not addressing the true causes. This makes me very sad. This is typical. All that the left can do today is to propose—sorry, oppose—protest against reductions. The left is, let me be very frank, in this social sense, a conservative force. In the social sense of social, fast changes and so on, it’s capitalists who are today the revolutionary class. This makes it very sad, the situation.

The business about being "so sad" is rather hilarious, really on the edge of outright clowning like "look at my big red frown and this great big tear! I am the sad Marxist now." It is important not to miss also the distinction Zizek makes between "the real grievances" of the working class that should be respected and facilitated by "the Left" - their desires to kill Roma - and those demands that are only working class selfish, greedy narrowminded conservativism which are despicable and which "the Left" should ignore -the demands for material prosperity and their "piece of cake". Zizek slips himself into Hedges' place to advocate for the precise opposite of Hedges demands: Hedges says the people want a decent standard of living and the liberal managerial class in politics which once made its living trying to get this for the people are now in the pay of the ruling clique of the ruling class carrying out a total class war without mercy. Zizek says, the European working class is selfish and greedy and pampered, but the white male part have legitimate gripes against immigrants and feminists etc; the liberals have betrayed them by instituting multiculturalism, polluting the society with permissiveness and alien values, covering the Alps with minarets, criminalising flirting as harassment and giving their money to victimologist black folks. It is the liberals fault that the far right has so much support because it was the liberals who foisted these alien menaces, this hedonism and permissiveness, these burqas and curry, these castrating women and frightening African men, on the white working class and so it is up to the liberals now to help get rid of them. Of course this is all very familiar, and the overlapping elements and topics of the socialist and the fascist critiques of liberal democracy are nothing new either; now as in the past the fascist critique and the fascist programme is offered as a substitute for revolutionary socialism.