Gerry Canavan

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Traxus considers survival horror:

There are ‘left’ and ‘right’ versions of the zombie myth, but the message is always the same: the horrors wrought by humanity in extremis are always worse than the zombies.The absolute manichean split between human and zombie is insisted on only to be ’shockingly’ deconstructed, with all other differences either elided or made to look ridiculous by comparison. Like them, we must kill to live, even if there is no reason to go on (civilization is destroyed, etc.). We are them, they are us.

while Alex Greenberg considers Tarantino:

Tarantino does not critique violence. He loves it. The parodies of violence in Kill Bill are not criticisms aimed at violence but criticisms aimed at film. He wants filmmakers to understand that they can make violence fun and to revel in this fact. Of course, for him, film is film and real life is real life, and I agree that one cannot draw a connection between violent acts in film and violent acts in “the real world.” But I would add that the relationship between ideology and action is always an ideological one: it shapes opinions and attitudes, forming how people look at the world, in this case, one starkly divided between good and evil, as Eli Roth said in an interview with The Onion AV Club: “[My character is] not taking pleasure in killing. He’s fighting evil on behalf of those who can’t fight. He knows he’s the biggest and strongest one in the bunch, and he wants to terrorize them. But he’s doing it to stop evil.” This would sit very well with my “Bible and the Holocaust” professor, who viewed human history as a gigantic contest between David and Hitler. But for those of us who are stuck in the realm of the human, this film adds nothing to the conversation.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 25, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Polygraph 23 Call for Papers: "Parties, Factions, Organizations"

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Polygraph 23—Call for Papers
“Parties, Factions, Organizations”

Recently, there has been a great deal of work by those discussing political agency and organization on the decline of the nation-state and its displacement by non-state and sub-state actors. Writers on the left, from David Harvey looking at the global city to Hardt and Negri working on political mobilization to the American Studies scholar John Carlos Rowe looking at “post-Nationalism” see the nation state as, increasingly, one factor among many rather than as the central factor in political and economic organization. This change in the role of the nation-state, it is argued, is also leading to a change in the nature of political organization. The party, once the locus of revolutionary desire, seems to be changing significantly as a spate of NGOs and transnational corporations increasingly take on the role of political actor. Both within nation-states and at the level of international party imaginaries, the party and partisanship are taking on a different role. We see, for example, the 2004 Democratic National Convention speech of then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, when he told the audience at the Democratic National Convention, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America… there is the United States of America.” Likewise, French President Nicolas Sarkozy attempted to create the illusion of a non-partisan world by recruiting members of the French Left, such as the economist Jacques Attali, into his cabinet. The Leninist vision of the party as a nexus of action and a starting-point for praxis appears to face displacement by a concept of the party as an ideology-disseminating and fund-raising apparatus, which can be rhetorically sloughed off when the need is felt.

At the same time, nationalist parties, national religious parties, and peasant and indigenous movements are as active as ever. If the role of the party is losing ground, there nevertheless seems to be a retention of interest in institutions that can enable and promote collective activity. What were once derided as “issues politics” and “identity politics” have proven to create real political allegiances that do not adhere to a party structure, mobilizing groups toward political action. Using a different but related tactic, autonomous social movements are trying to re-envision the role of people in politics, trying to shift the locus of action to the humans involved in political practice. Parties continue to be active in national and international politics, but at the same time, people are increasingly searching for and implementing alternatives to the party structure. These alternatives can entail ground-up advocacy and activism, networked through various channels, or they can entail measures such as the Washington Consensus that aim to control the political environment through economic sanctions and privatized governance. Both of these forms of governmentality aim to circumvent the state and the party systems.

The Polygraph Editorial Collective would therefore like to assemble a collection of essays that confront the direction “the party” and parties have taken since the large social and economic shifts of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. We want to look at both the concept of the party and its relevance or lack of relevance in an increasingly globalized society. The party had liberatory aims at one point; have those evaporated or migrated elsewhere, or do they continue to have force within the party and within global politics? Is the party still a category with utopian potential or have parties been rendered into the propaganda wings of international capital? Whither party politics?

Possible topics for this issue include:
* politics without parties
* parties and capital
* the problematic of party affiliation and party identity
* parties and identity/”identity” politics
* alternatives to the party structure
* the concept of “party” in late capitalism
* the relationship of the party to the nation-state
* anti-governmental movements and organizations
* the rise of NGOs
* the left/right division
* parties and religion/religious parties
* movements vs. organizations
* parties/organizations and exclusion
* divisions and splits within parties
* parties and utopias

Polygraph welcomes work from a variety of different disciplines, including political theory, critical geography, cultural anthropology, political economy, political theology, and area studies. We also encourage the submission of a variety of formats and genres: i.e. field reports, surveys, interviews, photography, essays, etc.

December 31, 2009

Alexander Greenberg


Written by gerrycanavan

August 8, 2009 at 2:55 pm

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Elections officials, party leaders and voters are wondering what happened this Tuesday in the Last Frontier, where turnout was surprisingly low and two lawmakers who have been the focus of FBI corruption investigations appear to have been reelected despite polling suggesting they would be ousted.

I saw it from Alex Greenberg first, but now everyone is asking: WTFAlaska?

Written by gerrycanavan

November 7, 2008 at 6:40 pm

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About a month ago Alex Greenberg left a comment about RealClearPolitics that looks pretty prescient. Alex said:

Does it bother anyone that the number one web resource for poll data is also clearly partisan? The left needs, among other things, to start its own poll-summary site, so that people aren’t getting headlines geared to push people toward the right alongside their poll numbers.

Today comes a post at demonstrating that RCP is cherry picking polls to prop up McCain’s numbers:

You’ll see three polls [for Virginia] — SurveyUSA, Mason-Dixon, and ABC/Post — that were conducted at essentially the same time. The ABC/Post poll was in the field from the 18th to the 21st, Mason-Dixon from the 17th to the 22nd, and SurveyUSA from the 19th to the 21st. And yet, the Mason-Dixon and ABC/Post polls are included in its average whereas SurveyUSA is not. Guess which one had the strongest numbers for Obama?

A similar example from Minnesota. The Star-Tribune conducted polling from September 10th through September 12th; SurveyUSA conducted polling from September 10th to September 11th. The Star-Tribune poll, which shows a tie, is included; the SurveyUSA poll, which showed Obama ahead by 2, is not.

As long as we’re having fun with this, how about Alaska? Anchorage-based pollster Ivan Moore had released a poll in July, then showing just a 3-point race between McCain and Obama. We included it, included it, and RCP did not. But then last month, when the same firm released a fresh poll showing the profound effect that Sarah Palin had on the race (McCain +19), RCP decided they were a worthy pollster.

Or how about North Carolina Senate? RCP presently includes two weeks-old polls from SurveyUSA and Research 2000, whch had shown Elizabeth Dole with a solid lead in her race against Kay Hagan. But they didn’t bother to include more recent polls from Elon and Civitas, which show the race essentially tied.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 2, 2008 at 4:46 pm