Posts Tagged ‘Marxism’
* Sing to me, Muse, of Fredric Jameson. I’ve never understood the “worst writer” slam against Fred; alongside all the other good things I’d have to say about his work I think he’s actually very clear and precise.
* Once upon a time in America this was called advocating for justice. But in today’s America, it’s deemed a miscarriage of justice.
* The “trigger warning” has spread from blogs to college classes. Can it be stopped? Content Warnings and College Classes. The Trigger Warned Syllabus. We’ve gone too far with ‘trigger warnings.’ I think this kind of “trigger warning” — and even offering alternative assignments when circumstances warrant — is very often good pedagogy on the level of the individual classroom; I did so this semester when teaching Lolita, somewhat reluctantly, but I’d come to feel it was necessary. I’m very skeptical it would ever be a good idea at the level of administration or policy.
* Tendrils of the invisible web: the undersea cables wiring the Earth.
* “Wearing Google Glass automatically means that all social interaction you have must be not just on yours, but Google’s terms,” Adrian Chen wrote at Gawker almost a year ago, when we all first cringed in fear.
* You know every cop is a criminal: David Cameron’s porn-filter advisor arrested for possession of images of sexual abuse of children.
* The Civ V files: Never Move Your Settler?
* Sea Level Rise Threatens The Statue Of Liberty And Hundreds Of Other Cultural Heritage Sites. Chipotle Warns It Might Stop Serving Guacamole If Climate Change Gets Worse. But don’t worry! President Obama’s New Budget Is Peppered With Efforts To Tackle Climate Change. Peppered!
* Milwaukee shuts down Little Caesars for day over rodent droppings. A whole day! That’ll show ‘em.
* Cheerleader Sues Parents for Refusing to Pay College Tuition. Gambler sues, says he lost $500,000 playing drunk. Having not heard any of the evidence or consulted any of the relevant laws, Canavan Court rules in favor of both plaintiffs!
* How did DC manage to cast anyone but Bryan Cranston as Lex Luthor — much less Jesse Eisenberg? It’s a crime.
* Pretty mediocre hoax. Everyone knows Mattel has had working hoverboards since the 80s anyway.
* And I try not to get sucked into the wingnut-said-something-crazy! scene anymore, but every once in a while: my god.
* Fake Blood and Blanks: Schools Stage Active Shooter Drills. This is utterly horrific. The country has lost its mind.
* Nowhere in all this information is there any mention of the fact that more than one in four U.S. presidents were involved in human trafficking and slavery. These presidents bought, sold, and bred enslaved people for profit. Of the 12 presidents who were enslavers, more than half kept people in bondage at the White House.
* Jefferson had a number of slaves who gained their freedom by various methods. He freed two slaves in his lifetime and five in his will. Three others ran away and were not pursued. (Still others successfully ran away despite pursuit.) All ten freed with Jefferson’s consent were members of the Hemings family; the seven he officially freed were all skilled tradesmen. About 200 slaves were sold at estate sales after Jefferson’s death.
* On the Killing of Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn: I insist that the irrelevance of black life has been drilled into this country since its infancy, and shall not be extricated through the latest innovations in Negro Finishing School. I insist that racism is our heritage, that Thomas Jefferson’s genius is no more important than his plundering of the body of Sally Hemmings, that George Washington’s abdication is no more significant than his wild pursuit of Oney Judge, that the G.I Bill’s accolades are somehow inseparable from its racist heritage. I will not respect the lie. I insist that racism must be properly understood as an Intelligence, as a sentience, as a default setting which, likely to the end of our days, we shall unerringly return. I had never heard Oney Judge’s story before. What a life. More, more.
* Justifiable Homicides Up 200 Percent in Florida Post-Stand Your Ground. Just make sure you don’t get more than one DUI a year or you could miss out in the horrible war of all against all.
* On Friday, the Department of Justice sent a letter to the Missoula County Attorney’s Office in Montana, alleging that it has found “substantial evidence” that prosecutors there systematically discriminate against female sexual-assault victims.
* But as journalist Kevin Cook details in his new book, “Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America” (W.W. Norton), some of the real thoughtlessness came from a police commissioner who lazily passed a falsehood to a journalist, and a media that fell so deeply in love with a story that it couldn’t be bothered to determine whether it was true.
* 8 Book Historians, Curators, Specialists, And Librarians Who Are Killing It Online. #4 with a bullet: Duke’s Own™ Mitch Fraas.
* National recruitment sources have become necessary because most Black youth from our city who attend college outside of Milwaukee decide never to return. And you can’t blame them given the fact that several studies have shown Milwaukee to be among the worst cities in the country for African Americans.
* The Duke Chronicle profiles a first-year student who also works in the porn industry.
* Event in NYC: All the Women in Capital.
* And The Cast of The Grand Budapest Hotel Says Wes Anderson Is a Genius Hardass. Hurry up and get here, March!
* There’s always money in the banana stand: After closing 50 schools, Chicago Public Schools has proposals for 31 new Charter Schools. This is how much your kid’s school’s budget has been cut (state-by-state averages). ”The United States is one of few advanced nations where schools serving better-off children usually have more educational resources than those serving poor students.”
* Incarceration rate per 100,000 Black males in South Africa under apartheid (1993) 610: 851. Incarceration rate per 100,000 African-American males in the United States under George W. Bush (2001) 611: 4,848. The Bush tag is such a redding herring there. This is a bipartisan consensus.
Almost two-thirds of court admissions to state prison are for property and drug offenses, including drug possession (16 percent), drug sales (15 percent), burglary (9 percent), and auto theft (6 percent).
Then, she says, the prosecutor began rattling off names and showing photographs of people, asking about their social contacts and political opinions. Olejnik guesses he asked “at least 50 questions” in that vein, compared to the four about May Day. That’s when she shut down, refused to answer, was found in contempt of court, and was sent to SeaTac FDC.
* A Tale of Two Cities: America’s Bipolar Climate Future. New York City and New Bern, North Carolina both face the same projected rise in sea levels, but while one is preparing for the worst, the other is doing nothing on principle.
* There’s always money in the banana stand, part two: Highest paid college presidents.
* Postscript on the Societies of Control, life insurance edition.
* I’ve been saying this for years: Online advertising has a fraud problem. Millions of ad impressions are being served to bots and non-human traffic, and ad tech companies are doing little to stop it.
* The Kellers are caught up in a little-known horror of the U.S. housing bust: the zombie title. Six years in, thousands of homeowners are finding themselves legally liable for houses they didn’t know they still owned after banks decided it wasn’t worth their while to complete foreclosures on them.
* The Walker miracle: The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that 4,420 people in Wisconsin filed initial unemployment claims during the last week of November. That is more claims than the next two highest states combined: Ohio with 2,597 and Kentucky with 1,538.
* The Pope: Not a Marxist!
* The Halloween candy to avoid if you don’t want orangutans to die. This is why consumerist approaches to struggle will never work. Horrors lurk everywhere.
That table reveals that in 1970-1971, 17.1% of students who received BAs in the United States majored in a humanities discipline. Three decades later, in the midst of the crisis in the humanities we hear so much about, that number had plummeted to 17%.
* There is little talk in this view of higher education about the history and value of shared governance between faculty and administrators, nor of educating students as critical citizens rather than potential employees of Walmart. There are few attempts to affirm faculty as scholars and public intellectuals who have both a measure of autonomy and power. Instead, faculty members are increasingly defined less as intellectuals than as technicians and grant writers. Students fare no better in this debased form of education and are treated as either clients or as restless children in need of high-energy entertainment – as was made clear in the 2012 Penn State scandal. Such modes of education do not foster a sense of organized responsibility fundamental to a democracy. Instead, they encourage what might be called a sense of organized irresponsibility – a practice that underlies the economic Darwinism and civic corruption at the heart of a debased politics.
* Man buys $27 of bitcoin, forgets about them, finds they’re now worth $886k. Exactly how currencies are supposed to work!
* The tragedy of Michelle Kosilek. A better treatment of the issue than the headline’s framing would suggest.
* Macy’s security has arrest quota, ‘race code system’ for nonwhite shoppers. An exemplary case, I think, of the phenomenon Adam Kotsko describes in “What if Zimmerman had been a cop?”
* And speaking of which: George Zimmerman’s Hometown Bans Guns For Neighborhood Watches.
* There’s something really revealing about how the Daily Show can’t process this story about an unaccountable shadow government running the national security apparatus, and so just punts to a random n-word joke instead. Liberalism, I think, characteristically flinches whenever the conclusion that the system is fundamentally broken is inescapable.
* Insert cheap infallibility joke here: Vatican Misspells ‘Jesus’ on Thousands of Commemorative Medals.
“There’s nothing about this online business model that saves students money,” said David M. Hughes, professor of anthropology. “This is not about Rutgers trying to increase the access and affordability of its offerings. In fact, it’s supposed to bring in a great deal of revenue for both Pearson and Rutgers.”
According the agreement, Pearson will receive half of the tuition revenue in the first academic year. The share drops as more students enroll; if Rutgers were to meet its 2019 enrollment goal, for example, Pearson would take 45 percent the next academic year. Hughes said a growth in enrollment and tuition revenue should be accompanied by more tenured faculty members, not corporate profits.
* Here are the facts: Piedmont hasn’t turned away anything close to 100 applicants for nursing school. Even if it had, the college could not possibly squeeze the $400,000-a-year cost of instructing them out of its prison furniture purchases, which were below $100,000 last year. Piedmont is not even required to buy furniture from the state, though it must get a waiver to shop elsewhere. Great story though bro.
* An Extended Government Shutdown Threatens To Halt Rape Kits In Washington, DC. Congressman: Workers Furloughed In Shutdown Should Not Get Backpay. North Carolina Reverses Course, Promises Nutrition Assistance For Moms And Babies.
* Stylish bulletproof whiteboards for today’s academic-on-the-go. Available in pink, blue, and green!
* What would happen if, at long last, women and especially mothers were paid the market rate for their services? To begin with, it might buoy the baseline value of such work above zero, so that rank-and-file nurses, cleaners, and child care workers moiling in the waged economy wouldn’t get such lousy pay. Rosler and Federici belong to a generation of leftists largely suspicious of economic rationality, but to extend it, rather than battle to incrementally reduce its influence, could do women good. Put a price on women’s work, they say. If that work suddenly seems too expensive, it should. Perhaps men — increasingly the sex without work — might just do “women’s work” at lower pay, as women have done men’s since the Industrial Revolution. And perhaps women, as studies have shown they do, will use their wealth to improve the quality of life of entire households, entire societies.
* Coffee bad for you again. Stay safe, academics!
Is it true that you wrote your undergraduate thesis on a Marxist overview of popular 1970s cinema and hegemonic discourses?
I did. The piece was actually called Base and Super Sucker which was a play on the phrase “Basic Super Structure”, which is a Marxist proposition, hegemony and consent in Star Wars and related works. Basically I was using Marxist modes of critical theory to address Star Wars. And the main thrust of it was that if you watch any kind of television or theatre or film that has certain kind of themes or opinions and you don’t critically recognize them, then you consent with them. So very simply put, if you watch a racist comedian and you laugh, then you are a racist. And there are various preoccupations and concerns that flow through popular cinema that reflect things that are going on in society, certain ideas and certain fears. The thesis suggested that by watching films like those you are participating in those fears and preoccupations.
He talked a little bit about this on WTF the other week.
* “In previous papers, ‘Financing the University – Parts 12-14’, I have demonstrated that there is a much larger constellation of management bureaucracy throughout UC, which has grown enormously over the past decade and is now estimated to waste some $600 million per year. The Senior Management Group, which you talk about here, is just the tip of that iceberg.”
These contradictions don’t show that ideology is “irrational” — the problem is exactly the opposite, that there are too many reasons supporting their views. Žižek argues that these piled-up rationalizations demonstrate that something else is going on.
A similar sense that something else is going on always strikes me when I read a review of Žižek’s work in the mainstream media. (A recent example is John Gray’s review of two of Žižek’s books in the New York Review of Books, to which Žižek has responded.) Now academics are always ill-used in the mainstream press, particularly if they deal in abstract concepts and refer to a lot of European philosophers. Yet there’s something special about the treatment of Žižek. In what has become a kind of ritual, the reader of a review of Žižek’s work always learns that Žižek is simultaneously hugely politically dangerous and a clown with no political program whatsoever, that he is an apologist for the worst excesses of twentieth-century Communism and a total right-wing reactionary, both a world-famous left-wing intellectual and an anti-Semite to rival Hitler himself.
The goal is not so much to give an account of Žižek’s arguments and weigh their merits as to inoculate readers against Žižek’s ideas so they feel comfortable dismissing them. To find left-wing thinkers and movements simultaneously laughable and dangerous, disorganized and totalitarian, overly idealistic and driven by a lust for power is to suggest: there is no alternative.
Adam Kotsko spins some recent blog and Twitter observations into review-essay gold in the Los Angeles Review of Books with “How to Read Žižek.”
Žižek does not hold out the utopian hope of eliminating all conflict — in fact, he believes our supposedly “post-ideological” era is blinded by the truly utopian hope that all genuine conflicts might be resolved, allowing the system of liberal-democratic capitalism to go on more or less forever. What Žižek hopes for, in tracking down the contradiction at the heart of our society and identifying with the class that embodies it, is not that the world will no longer suck, but that it will no longer suck in this particular way, that we will no longer be stuck in this particular vicious cycle, that we can somehow find a way to stop frantically grasping at rationalizations for our self-destructive fixations and do something else — in short, to jolt us into the realization that there is an alternative.
Better late than never, (most of the) video files from the Marxism and New Media 2012 conference we held at Duke this January are finally available at iTunesU.
[All] conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must always be painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post.
—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
Modern American conservatism nearly always specifies the defense and preservation of capitalism as one of its central goals—logically enough, on one level, since capitalism is the economic status quo in the US today. Yet such conservatism is thus structured on an immense self-contradiction. For capitalism is itself the most thoroughly disruptive, the most emphatically anti-conservative, social force in the history of the world: a truth integral to the thought of Burke, for whom conservatism was by definition the defense of a pre-capitalism old order against the revolutionary innovations of the new middle-class regime. Capitalism, after all, is the force that razes historic buildings in order to construct shopping malls, that prizes “growth” over stability, that destroys traditional ways of life wherever there is money to be made by doing so. It melts into air all that was apparently solid, as Marx and Engels observed. In some instances, accordingly, it may well be a left-wing, anti-capitalist position that is in one sense most genuinely “conservative.” In his noel Saints and Scholars, the Marxist author Terry Eagleton gives this line to the Irish revolutionary-socialist leader James Connolly: “Revolution isn’t a runaway train; it’s the application of the emergency brake.”
—Carl Freedman, The Age of Nixon
Aaron suggested on Twitter the other day that David Graeber was threatening to eclipse Žižek as the go-to theorist of the revolutionary left. We’ll have to see about long-term sustainability—is there a Graeber bubble?—but in the short term at least it definitely seems possible. Today, he’s talking to Rebecca Solnit in Guernica.
Communism is the basis of all sociology and it’s the basis of cooperation. Within a capitalist corporation, someone says, “Lend me a wrench,” and someone asks, “Yeah, what do I get?” You assume that the idea of each according to his or her abilities, each according to his or her needs—in solving a problem—is actually the only thing that works. And in situations of disaster, there are often communistic notions of improvisation, where you basically exchange hierarchies and all of a sudden all those things that are luxuries that you can’t afford, you have them in an emergency. So I think we need to think of capitalism as a very bad way of organizing communism. Much of what we do is already communism, so just expand it.
But how do we get to “communism” via someone who doesn’t like Marxists and doesn’t really want to talk about Marx?