Posts Tagged ‘fascism’
Meeting with journalists this morning, Pope Francis laid out his vision for the Catholic church, which includes cutting spending on ornate ceremony and instead spending that money on the poor. He urged excited fellow-Argentines to skip the costly trip to Rome to visit the first non-European Pope in almost 1,300 years, and instead give that money to the poor.
“Oh, how I would like a poor Church, and for the poor,” he told the gathered journalists. He explained the reason he took the name, Francis, after St. Francis of Assissi, was because of St. Francis’s devotion to the poor and love of animal life. On climate change, the Pope remarked, “Right now, we don’t have a very good relation with creation.”
The report, authored by David Callahan and J. Mijin Cha, found that “wealthy interests are keenly focused on concerns not shared by the rest of the American public, like keeping taxes low on capital gains, and often oppose policies that would foster upward mobility among low-income citizens, such as raising the minimum wage.”
* Chicago tried to ban Persepolis? Why? Why?
Years later von Kleist remembered explaining the suicide plot to his father, who paused only briefly before telling his 22-year-old son: “Yes, you have to do this.”
“He got up from his chair,” von Kleist remembered, according to an account by The New York Times, “went to the window, looked out of the window for a moment, and then he turned and said: ‘Yes, you have to do that. A man who doesn’t take such a chance will never be happy again in his life.’”
* In case you missed it last night: “Some Preliminary Theses on MOOCs.”
* New York Times editorial: The Trouble with Online College.
A five-year study, issued in 2011, tracked 51,000 students enrolled in Washington State community and technical colleges. It found that those who took higher proportions of online courses were less likely to earn degrees or transfer to four-year colleges. The reasons for such failures are well known. Many students, for example, show up at college (or junior college) unprepared to learn, unable to manage time and having failed to master basics like math and English.
* The problem isn’t the idea of a postdoc, Stephan said, but the way that position has evolved as so many more people end up in the role. “Ostensibly the postdoctoral scholar is to train someone to be a researcher, and an independent researcher,” Stephan said. “Putting people into postdoctoral positions is great training if they are going to go on and use that training,” she said. But increasingly a postdoc doesn’t lead (certainly not quickly) to an independent, tenure-track position, Stephan said. And postdocs are being used, not trained, she said. “Postdocs have become cheap staff scientists,” she said.
JT: The pope simply felt that he didn’t have the physical strength to carry out the duties of the papacy in the modern age. He has clearly grown frailer in recent months, but I think Benedict probably had this in mind from the beginning of his pontificate. He, along with others in the church, watched Pope John Paul II struggle with illness right up until the end, and I’m sure he felt that was a great witness to the value of suffering. But I’m also sure Pope Benedict saw the dangers of a moribund pope who might linger in office for years. He wanted to break the taboo against resignation, and I think it sets a precedent that will alter the way the church looks at the papacy. For one thing, the cardinals who come together to elect his successor may well look to someone younger, knowing that resignation is an option.
* Is there another developed nation that has a standing monument to a dictator, built by the forced labor of the defeated? Letter from Madrid.
* And Mississippi bans slavery a mere 148 years late. At that point, my impulse really would have been to pretend I sent the email. Oh, you didn’t get our ratification of the 13th Amendment? Oh no! Let me send it again…
Post-fascism does not need stormtroopers and dictators. It is perfectly compatible with an anti-Enlightenment liberal democracy that rehabilitates citizenship as a grant from the sovereign instead of a universal human right.
…these office blocks in one of London’s most expensive districts are part of a surprising secret commercial property empire owned by the Vatican.
Behind a disguised offshore company structure, the church’s international portfolio has been built up over the years, using cash originally handed over by Mussolini in return for papal recognition of the Italian fascist regime in 1929.
“According to the complaint, [New Mexico police officer Chris] Webb shot his Taser at the child after he said he did not want to join fellow classmates in cleaning the officer’s patrol car. Courthouse News reported: Defendant Webb responded by pointing his Taser at R.D. and saying, ‘Let me show you what happens to people who do not listen to the police.’ … [H]e sent 50,000 volts of electricity into the child’s chest on the playground. The young boy blacked out and has, according to his legal representative, been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder ever since.”
In my humble opinion, this act — this decision to not end poverty because you might release a weapon into the public sphere — demonstrates the real driving force for the movie’s morality, sense of history, and its understanding of civic virtue: the violence within, which must be contained. On the one hand, to say that we could solve all problems of human need and want, but we won’t, because it might become a bomb, is to assert that inequality is not what creates the specter of violence (it’s also, oddly, a lot like the argument that “people don’t kill people; guns kill people!”). The threat of violence is prior and separate from complaints over inequality, however much they might claim to motivate it. And indeed, this was the lesson of the first movie, the lesson Bruce Wayne learned from the death of his parents: you can build an awesome Keynesian super-train and fix Gotham’s economy forever, but some random street criminal will still murder you, because. Better to invest in a secret police force.
* I put up a MetaFilter post on the Daniel Tosh rape threat incident that got so much attention today, which is a relatively decent read as Internet comment threads go despite expectedly high rates of rape apologism and mansplaining. Two more good pieces on the subject: zunguzungu’s (…) and Student Activism’s “Goddamn it, Louis.” Here’s Aaron:
The phrase “rape culture” describes the way people don’t get too upset at the thought of a woman being raped. They might even laugh at it. It might seem funny, such a funny word. But nothing about this is just a joke. It’s about devaluing the sanctity of certain people’s security in their person, about refusing to feel bad about it, about taking a pride in it, even. Saying “wouldn’t it be funny if a violent act happened to this person” is almost the definition of how that works. If a terrible thing happened to a person, you say, I would not grieve. I would laugh. Their pain is not worth my empathy, or yours. Their pain makes me stronger, bigger, more important. Their pain is worth nothing.
* The important questions: Could the SHIELD helicarrier actually fly? Could Batman really fly? What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light? The last one (the first post of Randall Monroe’s new What If? blog) is absolutely not to be missed.
* Call it Kotsko’s Law: Any political ideology putting itself forward as a brave new path beyond the stale opposition of left and right is always going to be either boring old liberalism or else a new variant on fascism.
* Tomorrow’s headlines today: here’s the next set of challenges to Obamacare, and it’s even more weaselly and ridiculous than the last round.
* digby: I think we may actually be coming to the point of debating whether or not to repeal the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act. And it will fail, of course. At first. The country isn’t there yet. But it will represent one more step in the disintigration of America’s moral fabric (which wasn’t that strong to begin with.) Like torture, it’s in the political ether now, no longer completely taboo. This is how this sort of thing is mainstreamed.
* You can’t believe they didn’t have it already: Obama Offers Health Insurance To Seasonal Firefighters.
* U.S. Sees Hottest 12 Months And Hottest Half Year On Record: NOAA Calls Record Heat A One-In-1.6-Million Event. Really astounding coincidence! But you know you can’t predict the weather.
* And the worst idea ever put forth by anyone, ever: Let’s Draft Our Kids. Thank you for your submissions. The contest is now closed.
Pepper spray use has been suspected of contributing to a number of deaths that occurred in police custody. In mid-1990s, the U.S. Department of Justice cited nearly 70 fatalities linked to pepper-spray use, following on a 1995 report compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union of California. The ACLU report cited 26 suspicious deaths; it’s important to note that most involved pre-existing conditions such as asthma. But it’s also important to note a troubling pattern.
In fact, in 1999, the ACLU asked the California appeals court to declare the use of pepper spray to be dangerous and cruel. That request followed an action by northern California police officers against environmental protestors – the police were accused of dipping Q-tips into OC spray and applying them directly to the eyes of men and women engaged in an anti-logging protest.
“The ACLU believes that the use of pepper spray as a kind of chemical cattle prod on nonviolent demonstrators resisting arrest constitutes excessive force and violates the Constitution,” wrote association attorneys some 13 years ago.
1. Tuition increases are the problem, not the solution.
2. Police brutality is an administrative tool to enforce tuition increases.
3. What we are struggling against is not the California legislature, but the upper administration of the UC system.
4. The university is the real world.
5. We are winning.
* Another UC Davis Manifesto: No Cops, No Bosses.
* The 1% and ecology: “Pollution begins not in the family bedroom, but in the corporate boardroom.”
In the last few days, Boston police have blocked the occupiers from bringing in a winterized tent intended as a safe space for women, and have searched a truck for “contraband” tents and insulation materials. In an exchange that resembles a vaudeville comedy routine, a Boston police officer explains to activist Clark Stoekley why he searched the truck for “items we don’t want in the camp”:
I came to the truck because uh, we were afraid you had contraband that we don’t want in the camp . . . items we don’t want in the camp . . . Winter tents and, um, any type of insulation materials for tents that are already presently there.
* “The fundamental issue is that law schools are producing people who are not capable of being counselors,” says Jeffrey W. Carr, the general counsel of FMC Technologies, a Houston company that makes oil drilling equipment. “They are lawyers in the sense that they have law degrees, but they aren’t ready to be a provider of services.” Another take on how to fix law schools from Slate. Via Pandagon and LGM.
* Pleasure in sex ed was a major topic last November at one of the largest sex-education conferences in the country, sponsored by the education arm of Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey. “Porn is the model for today’s middle-school and high-school students,” Paul Joannides said in the keynote speech. “And none of us is offering an alternative that’s even remotely appealing.”
* And when it smells like it, feels like it, and looks like it you call it what it is: Perry Promises To End Civilian-Controlled Military.
* Lots of talk today about Arizona and its new “papers, please” immigration law, which James Doty, Andrew Napolitano, Erwin Chemerinsky and Karl Manheim all agree is almost certainly unconstitutional. Even Tom Tancredo and Joe Scarborough thinks this goes too far—though douchebag of liberty Bill Kristol thinks it’s fine. The city of San Francisco will join a national boycott. Perhaps Major League Baseball will too. There’s more commentary on this from Eugene Robinson, Rachel Maddow, Seth Meyer, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert.
* Colbert’s segment on Sue Lowden’s chickens-for-medical-care scheme was pretty great too.
* Alas, poor Durham: not one of America’s highest cities.
* You can stop laughing, lawyers—now your degree is worthless too.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M – Th 11p / 10c|
|Baracknophobia – Obey|
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Better Know a District – New York’s 25th – Dan Maffei|
“Watchmen,” like “V for Vendetta,” harbors ambitions of political satire, and, to be fair, it should meet the needs of any leering nineteen-year-old who believes that America is ruled by the military-industrial complex, and whose deepest fear—deeper even than that of meeting a woman who requests intelligent conversation—is that the Warren Commission may have been right all along. The problem is that Snyder, following Moore, is so insanely aroused by the look of vengeance, and by the stylized application of physical power, that the film ends up twice as fascistic as the forces it wishes to lampoon. The result is perfectly calibrated for its target group: nobody over twenty-five could take any joy from the savagery that is fleshed out onscreen, just as nobody under eighteen should be allowed to witness it.
Professional curmudgeon Anthony Lane reviews Watchmen in the New Yorker. Spoiler alert: Lane’s so insanely aroused by textual vengeance and by the stylized application of critical power that he goes out of his way to spoil the surprise ending—the fascist.
Zizek is a believer in the Revolution at a time when almost nobody, not even on the left, thinks that such a cataclysm is any longer possible or even desirable. This is his big problem, and also his big opportunity. While “socialism” remains a favorite hate-word for the Republican right, the prospect of communism overthrowing capitalism is now so remote, so fantastic, that nobody feels strongly moved to oppose it, as conservatives and liberal anticommunists opposed it in the 1930s, the 1950s, and even the 1980s. When Zizek turns up speaking the classical language of Marxism-Leninism, he profits from the assumption that the return of ideas that were once the cause of tragedy can now occur only in the form of farce. In the visual arts, the denaturing of what were once passionate and dangerous icons has become commonplace, so that emblems of evil are transformed into perverse fun, harmless but very profitable statements of post-ideological camp; and there is a kind of intellectual equivalent of this development in Zizek’s work. The cover of his book The Parallax View reproduces a Socialist Realist portrait of “Lenin at the Smolny Institute,” in the ironically unironic fashion made familiar by the pseudo-iconoclastic work of Komar and Melamid, Cai Guo-Jiang, and other post-Soviet, post-Mao artists. He, too, expects you to be in on the joke. But there is a difference between Zizek and the other jokesters. It is that he is not really joking.
Adam Kirsch in The New Republic takes Žižek seriously “just once” and concludes he is a fascist.
There is a name for the politics that glorifies risk, decision, and will; that yearns for the hero, the master, and the leader; that prefers death and the infinite to democracy and the pragmatic; that finds the only true freedom in the terror of violence. Its name is not communism. Its name is fascism, and in his most recent work Zizek has inarguably revealed himself as some sort of fascist. He admits as much in Violence, where he quotes the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk on the “re-emerging Left-Fascist whispering at the borders of academia”–”where, I guess, I belong.” There is no need to guess.
Zizek endorses one after another of the practices and the values of fascism, but he obstinately denies the label. Is “mass choreography displaying disciplined movements of thousands of bodies,” of the kind Leni Riefenstahl loved to photograph, fascist? No, Zizek insists, “it was Nazism that stole” such displays “from the workers’ movement, their original creator.” (He is willfully blind to the old and obvious conclusion that totalitarian form accepts content from the left and the right.) Is there something fascist about what Adorno long ago called the jargon of authenticity–”the notions of decision, repetition, assuming one’s destiny … mass discipline, sacrifice of the individual for the collective, and so forth”? No, again: “there is nothing ‘inherently fascist’” in all that. Is the cult of martyrdom that surrounds Che Guevara a holdover from the death worship of reactionary Latin American Catholicism, as Paul Berman has argued? Perhaps, Zizek grants, “but–so what?” “To be clear and brutal to the end,” he sums up, “there is a lesson to be learned from Hermann Goering’s reply, in the early 1940s, to a fanatical Nazi who asked him why he protected a well-known Jew from deportation: ‘In this city, I decide who is a Jew!’… In this city, it is we who decide what is left, so we should simply ignore liberal accusations of inconsistency.”