just getting realistic for a moment on nato and trump's take: anyone who thinks that there would be an instantaneous military counter-attack in the event of a russian incursion into estonia is tripping, no matter what the treaty commitments.
i feel both ways about brexit. i do love it when people sneak up and nip pollsters, not to speak of technocrats, elitists, professors, and such. and the bigger the system, all else equal, the less democratic: the further from any particular person's or community's input. i think these same professors and technocrats expect the whole world to unify into a super-state (habermas is in this spirit, for example), which would leave every particular situation so distant from power that no one could have any self-determination at all. i like localism: local cultural differences, vernaculars, folk arts, funky customs, and so on. a world where those things are being expunged in favor of standardized tests is a world i'd prefer to depart. so i am viscerally sympathetic to almost any secessionist movement anywhere; i'd like to see us fragment.
on the other hand, i'm no fan of nationalism, anti-immigrant fever, border walls, and the like. i want a spontaneous localism confident enough in itself to be happy with other localisms and to shift with new members and generations. nationalism has been an element in terrible wars and oppressions and exclusions, and it's not natural or inevitable; the nation-state emerged in history.
i'm unimpressed by the technocratic freak-out now in progress, which has plenty to do with sudden shocks in stock markets. this too will pass. this is not as wild or unaccountable a change as people are making it out to be this morning.
I strongly recommend political junkies and philosophy fans take a look at Anat Belitzki's The Stone column in the this morning's New York Times, Making It Explicit in Israel. Excellent piece by an Israeli philosopher about the implications of the stark differences between the incoming government and the way Israel has portrayed its intentions toward the Palestinian community. Not particularly optimistic, except that only by making underlying issues explicit can we begin to deal with them. Perhaps the reason yesterday's solutions do not work is because they never were solutions so much as bromides.
Belitzki is a professor at Quinnipiac University here in the US and at the University of Tel Aviv, and has a record of activism in Israeli civil rights. She references the work of American philosopher Robert Brandom who believes that it is possible to use language to make explicit what is real and implied in our social, cultural and political norms. For example, in Israeli-American dialogue, the two state solution is a given, and we're just discussing means and implementation and guarantees.
Bizetzki says that just isn't true, and that the most recent Israeli election shows that very starkly. She writes:
The government that will be formed this week is the most clearly articulated, narrowest, most right-wing, most religious and most nationalistic government ever assembled in Israel. A combination of the fundamentalist Orthodox clerical parties with the nationalistic chauvinism of the Jewish Home, led by Naftali Bennett who makes no attempt to hide his annexation plans, has been orchestrated by Benjamin Netanyahu in no uncertain terms. Along with Likud, Netanyahu’s home, which is the largest party in Israel today, and Kulanu (All of Us – a breakaway of Likud), this whole bloc is unambiguous in its Jewish, nationalistic agenda. (Emphasis added)
She believes that this explosion of truth into what was basically polite lies and cocktail conversation between Israel's leaders and the world was foreshadowed and made inevitable by the two month long attack on Gaza by the Israeli army in July-August 2014. The implicit issues between the US understanding of the agreed path forward -- Two State Solution, Camp David Accords, etc. -- and what Israel's government intends is pretty well illustrated by the odd mis-translation of the name of the operation. Operation "Tsuk Eitan." was announced to the world as Operation "Protective Edge" which has a somewhat defensive tone; she says that a more accurate translation would be "Firm Cliff" which has a vaguer yet more threatening tone. My use of a Google translator resulted in "A Rock" which opens a wide range of possibilities. Perhaps "Perhaps Operation Masada" or "Operation Stoning" would have been more appropriate.
i do love a commie. the approach is to prevent people from buying and selling staple goods in tiny quantities on the street, which they are doing because the gov can't get them into the shops.
“These right-wing contraband groups are still at work, with their anti-national and parasitic spirit, riding on the backs of the people and sucking their blood,” Maduro said Tuesday, assuring TV viewers that the government “had neutralized the perverse effects of the economic war”.
we had a hundred years of this dreck. why is maduro pursuing this? to help ordinary people.
anyway, the 'thinking' is a problem, but what i will never forgive the communists for is the rhetorical bilge. to this very day, the worst rhetoric in the world is produced by the communist party of china and north korean state media. back in the day they poured it out from capitals and party offices all over the world in heaping helpings, 24 hours a day, at their captive populations and at the world. it's a grim attempt to manipulate people, incessant, a dead sea of drivel, infinite in expanse. and yet the only thing it shows - and it shows this with crystal clarity - is the moral and intellectual level of the people who utter it. it makes their mindlessness and slavishness and murderousness evident to anyone who is listening anywhere at any time. no one believes or supports whatever might be clothed in the gibberish: i have no idea what that would even be like. all anyone ever did was capitulate or try to resist. people seem to be nostalgic for this idealistic moment. i'm afraid i can't understand who you are, or why, or how.
or, let me speculate. it seems impossible that anyone could want to produce language like that emitted by communism through the 20th century, or want to hear it, and if no one did, how could it happen at all? i think perhaps what it promised was an erasure of subjectivity, a cure for loneliness. if we all talk the same way at the same time, we will join together into a single subject, stomping with our giant feet into the future. this unity of all and erasure of each is actually the rapture for many political tendencies, left and right. but it's not enough to yearn to be one thing altogether. i think you'd better think about what sort of thing that is. in this case, it's a collective subject who talks like someone suffering simultaneously from paranoid schizophrenia, extreme stupidity, and murderous rage. it hardly matters though because then i won't be alone.
one of the central places we experience one another as subjects, and hence a place at which we experience both our own distinctness from one another and the various real dimensions of unity, is in linguistic communication. so i think the idea might be that if we all say the same words in unison, we would really have become one person. both the desire and its practical outcome should be critically examined, and what it amounts to on the ground is a simulation of unity achieved by the merest coercion. that draws people away from, not toward, one another.
i think totalitarian collectivists, left and right, thought that they were in a war against subjectivity. they experienced the idea that there was a private sphere of interiority as a threat, and they often denied that there coukld be any such thing. this in turn might suggest that there is no good distinction between sincere belief and external enactment, a position explored in many flavors of philosophy and psychology in the same period. (turning test; behaviorism; pragmatism (belief means 'willingness to act'); wittgenstein; various flavors of economic or materialist determinism; some forms of social constructionism that focus onn language as the site of the reality.) but then there is no real distinction between a bunch of passionate people all chanting a slogan they find compelling at a demonstration, and a huge mass of persons, forced to attend, chanting the the officially prescribed slogan under the eye of machine-gun emplacements. communism transitioned without apparent self-consciousness from one to the other. it is not necessary to believe in an integral or private self in order to reject this whole line of thinking. indeed, i hardly know where to begin to refute it, or why to bother, really; it is a sequence of howlers and unexamined metaphysical assumptions.
we might try a genealogy. on the level of intellectual history, we might say that both left and right collectivism - like the left and right themselves - emerge out of and reject romanticism in various ways. so, a clear early version of leftist collectivism is rousseau; on the right we might try herder. (we might focus on the emerging sites of general will or collective consciousness as essential to the left/right distinction: class and nation (the class is not in rousseau, quite).) but romanticism emerged in part out of a rejection of the enlightenment project, which did have elements of collectivism: for example it focused on rules of inquiry that we could all defer to. and a main thrust of romanticism as it emerged was the most extreme individualism ever articulated, an attempt to carve out an authentic sphere of subjectivity. here we might mention emerson, fuseli, poe, carlyle, kierkegaard, caspar david friedrich, baudelaire.
in addition, philosophy even of the enlightenment had been busily enclosing consciousness. we only know our own ideas: descartes, hume, and schopenhauer were agreed on that, anyway, and man did it get bad in german idealism. but also german idealism was always searching for a way out. the basic problematic in kant is how to get a world out of representations in consciousness, though i think he just made the problem more intense. hegel did find it in forms of collective consciousness, marx in a return to an actual external material world knowable by science: an enlightenment epistemology with a romantic and post-romantic politics. for the romantics were also characteristically apocalyptic and also yearning for justice. here we might go second great awakening, evangelical abolitionism, utopianism a la owen or fourier. hegel's philosophy anticipated the end of history; emerson kept hinting at it; nietzsche seemed to think that we were about to be transfigured.
what 20th-century totalitarian collectivism of both left and right brought forward was an extremely complex response to this material. you couldn't have real collective identity in a worldthat for each person consisted in that person's representations. so it took the form of disenclosing consciousness, or opening it to the social, the nation or class or race or whatever it may be (i wish it had consistently also placed the social i the wider world). but it was responding not to our primordial enclosedness; we are not enclosed; but to the philosophical dead end of hyper-intense individual consciousness found at the height of romanticism. both the self-enclosed idealism and the erasure of individuality entirely were fantasies, though: we've never not been distinct and non-distinct from one another and the rest of the world. the representational theory of mind was false, and the solutions assayed were quite the over-reaction.
this would all be but an interesting series of ideas or mistakes or whatnot were it not for the millions of corpses.
you and i are exactly as isolated from people and exactly as joined together with them as ever: both can be problems. no amount of coercion can ameliorate this, but i understand that everyone will keep trying. for god's sake get better writers next time round, though.
they tried to make people write novels in that key, or poetry, or symphonies. they tried to base university curricula on its shining exemplars. in the words of elvis costello: maybe they should be hung by their tongues.
Crispin, as most of his devoted Crispyheads know, doesn't like Dylan. However, I was driving home the other day, and something I'd never heard before that was obviously an older number because he didn't sound like the late Bob Shepard, Yankee Stadium PA man channeling Son House while introducing Mickey Mantle and it struck me. And, got me thinking about how screwed up the world is...we've got a brilliant president replacing the village idiot; we are a pretty smart country. And we keep stomping on it with cleats...not rubber cleats, but sharp steel ones like Ty Cobb wore
I've been shilling Russian mail order brides to all my lonely, unmarried or thinking about it friends. I'm helpful that way. One of my buddies, recovering from his third or fourth marriage told me that he would run before having anything to do with a Russian woman because they come from the womb crazy. This from a guy with 9 cats who wears thin lapelled suits and thin ties with a fedora at work...my comment was fairly simple. "And..." figuring with the Russian bride, you don't have to fool yourself that it's going to be wonderful.
maybe i should have explained some of the reasons why i like the robbery-and-parachute/d.b. cooper scenario for flight 370 (still do). well they turned the plane intentionally, and i think they cut communications right at the intersection between malaysian and vietnamese airspace. maybe the pilot was simulating extremely precise routing back over the peninsula in order to make a jump, though obviously such a thing can't be non-life-threatening. surely if it was terrorism we'd have heard something from a perpetrating group or even a posthumous message from the terrorist: if that's the point, you want people to know who did it. a hijacking is a super-theatrical event; this wan't that. so we're down to mechanical failure and this robbery notion, and i think the latter does better with the bizarre flight plan, weird communication darkness, etc. admittedly they all seem unlikely. so then i'd wonder if there was some valuable item that was regularly transported on this flight, so that the pilot might know it in advance, or suspect that the thing was sponsored by someone who knew well in advance that this item would be on board. right so why am i writing this? dunno really.
so here's an argument that one might hear at some point from putin, which i feel even angela merkel might receive with a certain sympathy: the greatest threat of totalitarianism, everywhere in the world, is presented by the government of the united states. the government of the united states is engaged in a new imperialism on a new terrain. these are capacities that should be interpreted by everyone, starting with the citizens of the united states, as presenting an extreme threat: i want you to really think about the access to power that this world-wide surveillance/control provides. any country in the world can and should represent this thing as an invasion of sovereignty. the blackmail possibilities alone - on ceo's, political leaders (including the domestic congress and supreme court), military people - are crushing. they have all the passwords, hence access to infrastructure systems, missile systems, everyone's accounts, etc. in this light, that putin has sheltered snowden makes him plausibly a brave fighter for freedom in the face of an emerging world totalitarian state. this is, putting mildly, ironic.
i wouldn't necessarily take the u.s./israeli split on an iran accord with the utmost seriousness. if israel were in favor of a deal, iran could never sign. i would think the portrayal of the split in the press relies on the public prouncements of the israeli leadership and leaks by israeli and u.s. officials that are designed to exaggerate rather than minimize this split.
“Obama is a traitor who wants to put your lives in danger to rescue al-Qaeda insurgents,” according to the posting on the website, marines.com. “Marines, please take a look at what your comrades think about Obama’s alliance with al-Qaeda against Syria.”
now you have to admit that's pretty clever, putting right-wing obamaphobes in alliance with assad. throw in far-left anti-americans, and you have got an amazing coalition. somehow i feel it won't hang together, though.
heterosexual romance is difficult for all of us, even billionaires, repulsive mayors of san diego, and dictators. admittedly therapy, anti-depressants, sad country songs, and changing my identity and moving to the yukon have not worked for me. apparently, kim jong-un just takes the direct approach: having his gf and her whole pop group "machine-gunned". how you like me now, baby?
i want to say that i am definitely opposed to the cult of personality: one of the saddest symptoms of human patheticness: you're just begging to be subordinated, and your dearest aspiration is to labor under obvious delusions. like this is just pitiful. also i am opposed to authoritarianism for any purposes whatever. it's worth remarking, though, that it was never plausible to equate chavez with the miserable dictators with whom he often associated. i think he was repeatedly and more or less fairly elected (though 'fairly' has to be qualified by his domination of the media). that makes a difference.
He has taken on many of Mr. Chávez’s vocal patterns and speech rhythms, and has eagerly repeated the slogan “I am Chávez” to crowds of supporters. He has mimicked the president’s favorite themes — belittling the political opposition and warning of mysterious plots to destabilize the country, even implying that the United States was behind Mr. Chávez’s cancer.
He has also adopted the president’s clothes, walking beside his coffin in an enormous procession on Wednesday wearing a windbreaker with the national colors of yellow, blue and red, as Mr. Chávez often did.
show some pride, little bitch. just to drive that nail, they'll display his corpse 'forever.' the idea of your body as an icon or sculpture of itself raises amazing questions about representation. one good aspect: it makes it permanently possible to rape hugo chavez, at least in a certain sense, and it adds tremendous symbolic weight to what would otherwise be a mere personal peccadillo. hugo will live forever, but he will never not be dead. looking good, asshole.
as you have possibly noticed, i often rag on the new york times, roughly on the grounds of the boringness and extreme safety-consciousness of the opinion pages. however, i am often impressed by and grateful for the reporting, such as the stories last year that exposed the chinese state as a mega-scale kleptocracy. the idea that they're invading the times's computers is insufferable, and i wouldn't be waiting for the american gov to do anything about it. did i have any influence on the world's hackers, i'd recommend total invasion. wikileak anything that might be interesting and defoliate the rest with mutant stuxnet. leave nothing but a smoking crater. i want to hear wen jibao wimpering like a smacked dog. i very much hope google is working secretly on this.
and of course wherever you live, remember to trust your government. chris matthews and paul krugman do!
why crispy why haven't you had anything to say about the killings in libya and the situation in the middle east? well, i didn't want to comment prematurely and appear "unpresidential." but i will say this. it must suck to be so irascible that any random youtube video can turn you into enraged rioter, much less killer. know what i mean? i mean who can avoid, in today's global world of today, youtube videos that suck? let stuff like that disturb your equanimity and you will never again know peace for a moment. you'll just be pissed off all the time, which really is not how you want to live. it must be like pms only worse. so perhaps we should approach such people with sympathy.
the only thing that gives me pause about pussy riot is the fact that sting has expressed his support. they are quite delightful, though, like diy superhero girls! plus they all-at-once destroyed the taboo on 'pussy': in itself an amazing accomplishment.
mitt romney is a kind of incomprehensible candidate. he's at once robotically inclined to recite talking points while taking only extremely safe positions, if any. and yet he's non-stop gaffe machine. anyway, the way these folks on the right think about israel these days is just very disturbing.
i believe if i were voting tomorrow in greece, i'd vote for syriza, the left party that might end up taking greece out of the euro. first of all, i'd certainly want fresh young faces. second, even if there's more pain in this direction, i'd be thinking that my country needs some sort of return to self-determination, instead of being a tributary state to germany. you know there is a lot to be said against political consolidation and centralization, and the bigger the political/economic unit, the further any piece in it is from freedom or democracy, for example. the greeks are in a situation in which they essentially have no input into the decisions that affect their lives; but that's true in various dimensions of all of us who live in a modern mega-state. this is why the idea of world institutions - banks or environmental regimes, for example - gives me the willies. honestly, once you give up the fiction that the institutions are all of us, you see that every actual person loses any sort of autonomy; that distant bureaucracies into which no single person can have much input control the environment of every single person. indeed it's gotten to the point that whole nations have no inout: a kind of post-colonialism. this is why you should think about what 'progress' means for actual human beings. your own currency might not be worth much, but it might be a sign that you intend to run your own life.
maybe the whole thing doesn't speak so well for us after all. we might speculate that hillary & co. basically just wanted this up out their face, and would take almost any superficial apparent deal to make that happen. sadly i often have kantian intuitions, and i do think that chen's life and well-being, once they were put in the charge of the u.s. gov, made an absolute, an infinite, claim. i would fight to preserve them under threat of war, trade or otherwise, etc.
that the u.s. embassy has sheltered chen guangcheng no doubt puts it in a difficult position. it also speaks extremely well for us. in the initial mini-crisis, people were suggesting that we might turn him over, which ought to be inconceivable. instead, this morning our ambassador is escorting him to the hospital. the current chinese state - a monstrous mating of marxist totalitarianism and hyper-capitalism - the worst of all possible systems, more or less - deserves total collapse. meanwhile, we might try to save a few of the victims, and we are specifically obliged to in this case.
maybe it's just my lack of imagination or empathy or something, but the sobbing north koreans seem just a trifle disingenuous to me. i need better resolution, but i'm not seeing the actual tears, only hearing the overwrought, seal-like barking. to be honest with you, i don't think you can quite 'brainwash' a whole population; really nothing is more evidently absurd than a cult of personality, especially when the object is as unprepossessing as the various kims. you can call people dear and beloved all you like: that's just funny (well, and a little bit pitiful or desperate), and i would think that many north koreans would be as capable of seeing that as anyone else; they're not robots or puppies, but have, i assume, almost human-like intellectual and emotional capacities. as i've often said, if you don't think there's a little dude in the corner snickering - especially at crap that ham-handed and boring and repetitive and obviously self-serving - you don't know our species very well, and that sort of thing is contagious. you know you can put posters up all over your school; that doesn't mean the adolescents aren't going to think your stuff is jive, or just experience it as white noise.
thank god, we are a fairly skeptical and cynical species, or at least we give rise to cynics and skeptics all the time. it'd very hard not to notice that you're starving while officials are eating, for example. the official you're immediately dealing with is obviously stupid and corrupt and all-too-human; so's the guy above him, whom you met one time; it's just liable to occur to you that it runs right up the ladder. and the ideology of these maoist assmonkeys is just so banal, so luridly false to the reality, so idiotically repetitive, and so on, that i just think that a lot of people won't, or literally won't even be able to, believe it. as havel said: you can get people to sort of act like they accept it (because there are terrible penalties for failing to simulate epistemic compliance); you can get them to shuffle from place to place on schedule or sob simulated sobs in unison; that doesn't mean everyone doesn't understand that they are being bombarded with jive.
provisionally, i admire david cameron's go-it-alone approach with regard to europe. i wouldn't frame this in terms of sovereignty myself, but rather just say that, other things being equal, i'm in favor of balkanization, fragmentation. it's hard not to realize that though the euro had some good effects there for awhile, when the thing starts to go bad, you are at the mercy of forces completely beyond your control. surely merkel is having that sensation, but so is the government of greece. the problem with centralization of huge swathes of geography and economy is the extreme distance it imposes between individual and community will and action and the actual decisions that affect them. the more distant power is from all the sites over which it operates, the less accountable to any it can possibly be. one loses all control at the level of multi-national bodies over one's own fate, and one loses all responsibility.
'sovereignty' in this case is an alternative way of saying that. but you could make the same case for scottish or welsch independence, or really, breaking political and economic power down into local communities. you might be able to achieve greater prosperity for some bit of time by consolidation, but then you are at the mercy of the powers constituted, and when things go wrong you are unable to do anything to shape your own destiny. that's why i'm a proud splittist. it's easy to picture the further consolidation of europe at this point as something that many people in many countries come deeply to regret in the long run: merely a way of generalizing the meltdown.
i'm glad to see protests erupting in moscow. putin is an autocrat, and i'd like the know the actual amount of his personal fortune. and my belief is that he pursued a policy of systematic genocide in chechnya.
alright, mike mullen said of the group the us holds responsible for the attack our embassy in kabul last week “The Haqqani network ... acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.” now how can you think that and also continue to work with pakastani security at all? many of the recent observations about us/pakistan relations say that we're stuck with each other. really? stuck? when their intelligence services are lobbing rocket-propelled grenades into our embassy? we're stuck without each other, i'd say, tied together in a knife fight.
now i suppose the theory has always been that the power structure in pakistan is divided (at any rate, it seems incomprehensible). but more likely it's a matter of plausible deniability by the political figures. one reason to say this is that power in a state tends to centralize; you're unlikely to have a real serious contest for power between the executive and the intelligence services or the executive or the intelligence services and the military that isn't resolved somehow: by a civil war, coup, buyoff, etc. no doubt there are competing centers of power, but rival groups conducting entirely different foreign policies or who are at war with completely different people? it's not sustainable. if i was in the cia or something trying to figure out what's going on, i'd try to trace the money of the political figures: where it's going (offshore is a good bet), but where it's coming from. that might give you a better idea of the actual flow of authority.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met in Almaty Friday with his Kyrgyz counterpart Ruslan Kazakbayev to discuss regional peace and security.
During their talks on the sidelines of the meeting of Foreign Ministers' Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Yang said that China is ready to work with Kyrgyzstan within the SCO and other multilateral frameworks to jointly combat the "three evil forces" of terrorism, splittism and extremism in a bid to safeguard regional peace, security and stability.
a lot of times it's hard to tell whether there's a translation problem, or whether china is ruled by lobotomy patients, or whether chinese culture really is grotesque because, as people often assert, it denies or actually successfully expunges the human individual. chinese people are naturally all merged with each other; they are non-individuals, as though god dropped them into a blender and hit frappe. that's why westerners often yearn toward the china they imagine, or that the chinese state portrays. the fantasy of politics, in rousseau, hegel, marx, hitler, in left right and center, etc is self-annihilation: becoming one with others, as the fantasy of religion is becoming one with god etc.
at any rate, i love the coinage 'splittist,' which the chinese always throw at the dalai lama. so in this sentence, the idea is that he is equivalent in his evil to osama bin laden or something: self-evidently a refusal to merge entirely with the chinese state is the essence of evil. but i am a proud splittist. i wonder whether anyone owns 'splittist.com'? who will join me in splittism? we can all be one in our resolution to split and keep splitting, both to fragment the society and to take our leave. we can split with each other as an expression of our solidarity. and then we can each permit ourselves to fragment within.
thesaurus.com gives nice guidelines for splittist action: bifurcate, branch, break, burst, cleave, come apart, come undone, crack, dichotomize, disband, disjoin, dissever, disunite, diverge, divide, divorce, fork, gape, give way, go separate ways, hack, isolate, open,part, part company, put asunder, rend, rip, rive, separate, sever, slash, slit, snap, splinter, sunder, tear, whack.
take a good look, and then tell me that you don't advocate the destruction of these regimes, especially when the populations of these countries have finally gotten fed all the way up. it's always a bad sign when someone is in the habit of unfurling acres of portraits of himself. there is no more vivid sign of the worthlessness of any human being than that he's reached this epic degree of self-esteem. oy, the irony! this is from the pro-assad rally yesterday in damascus. i wouldn't even bother burning the gigantic portrait: just snicker at the absurdity of human pride inflated to a cosmic scale, or the difference of scale between the itty-bitty human being and his monstrous self-image.
where are sylvester stallone, jet li, jason statham, mickey rourke, dolph lungren, bruce willis, and arnold schwarzenegger when you need them? ok admittedly this is the worst movie ever made. or at least the worst i ever rented. but that is itself an argument for sending the squad to libya, bahrain, syria, yemen, etc. no camera crew this time, unless they agree to take a writer.
violence in yemen today is at a whole new level. lala says dozens killed today, hundreds injured; 'security' forces are firing at demonstrators, and making medical care impossible. her uncle came in covered in blood, saying he'd seen people with their heads blown off. people want to flee, but it's a very poor country. i guess one hope i have is that actions in libya will make various fuckheads think twice. but i think we're still choosing our killers; we're a lot less likely to do anything worthwhile in yemen or bahrain, as disgusting as the regimes may be.