Saturday, April 08, 2023

Main Blog Moved to Kersplebedeb.com!

Since March 2013, the main Kersplebedeb website has been migrated to a primarily wordpress format.

What this means in practical terms is that everything you are used to seeing on Sketchy Thoughts is now being posted straight to Kersplebedeb and simply being automatically mirrored here. So in general, you will probably have a better reading/viewing experience if you head over to Kersplebedeb.

For those who prefer the Sketchy Thoughts blogger layout for whatever reason, this page will continue to be automatically updated whenever something is posted to Kersplebedeb, for at least the short-term future. However, as additional functionality is added to the Kersplebedeb site via wordpress, the Sketchy Thoughts page will probably begin to show its age more and more.



Sunday, July 19, 2015

it’s coming apart

this article touches on points related to the Neocolonialism and Noise thing i wrote a few days ago, and which i continue to think about

Maybe the best thing to say is just that contemporary culture is complicated by a deep confusion about underdogs and bullies, that we can no longer identify insider or outsider easily, and that capital has undertaken a deliberate process of mystification about power. The linguistic and culture code I’m describing arose from an insurgent tendency, and indeed, those who use it do not occupy a seat of economic or political power. They have, instead, become part of a dominant cultural force that has been divided entirely from that base in material power. Capitalism has given us cool and kept power for itself, divorced the affect of resistance from actual resistance, and at this stage we have to merely remain alive to what is happening under our noses as we attempt to secure the inevitable next stage of human affairs.

http://ift.tt/1JoRKgp



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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Neocolonialism and Noise

The world has changed over the past fifty years. There are different names for this change — neoliberalism, postmodernism, postfordism, globalization. The term i prefer to use is “neocolonialism”. But despite this clear reference to one specific thing — colonialism, the relationship between oppressor and oppressed nations, which i would argue remains central — the change that has taken place encompasses much more than that, being not just about the fake integration of of colonized people as pretend “equal partners” in imperialism, but also about the fake integration of women as “equal partners” in patriarchy, and about all kinds of direct and indirect ways in which global capitalism was restructured to respond to the political challenge of the 20th century anticolonial movements.

Whatever you want to call it, one thing that is clear is that within the imperialist centers (countries like canada, the united states, etc.), there is a lot more mainstream cultural space allowed for rebellious noise, innovation, and “freedom” of a sort than there used to be in capitalism’s previous phase. Indeed, all kinds of cultural innovation, love it or hate it, is allowed to thrive as it can under these conditions, the sole condition being that it not frontally assault the system today. My guess is that partly this is because the constraints of old style colonialism were defeated, but also partly because this noise, innovation, and “freedom” has become a big moneymaker, not just a fringe niche. And partly, looking at the settler colonies and especially the united states as a trendsetter culturally as much as economically within the anglosphere, this can be seen as an immediate echo of the integration into “whiteness” of myriad non-WASP europeans in the early 20th century, followed by the integration/appropriation/commercialization on a world scale of various oppressed-nation cultures1 in the postwar period. Things opened up.

At the same time, under neocolonialism, there is less space for actual change which will make life better for the oppressed majority, by which i mean (speaking schematically) the world proletariat and peasantry, the overwhelming majority of whom are found in the oppressed nations, within which women play an increasingly prominent and critical part. Capitalism in the previous period, but especially after World War II, had a lot of wiggle room, and there were tangible victories that could be scored. (Was this “low lying fruit” in historical terms? i would say no, though maybe it appears that way looking back.)

Not only is there less room for improving the lives of the most oppressed under neocolonialism, but as there is less and less economic wiggle room in general, the memo has gone out to every nation and would-be-nation and class and collectivity out there: get ready to fight for what you have, or for what you want, or if for nothing else then at least for the crumbs. Because it is like a global game of musical chairs, who will be out next? Greece? Spain? China? Wait and see … but know if you’re just sitting on your thumbs waiting, you might end up resembling that deer in the headlights …

In other words, whether it is the NDP or the Parti Quebecois, or QS or Syriza, this thing they call “austerity” is on the agenda, even for the global middle class. Less wiggle room all around.

At the same time, while there is less room for economic change or even consistent social bribery under neocolonialism (offbalanced by plenty of room still for sporadic and ad hoc bribery and privilege), the present world order incorporates a higher level2 of instability than old-style colonialism — not really unrelated to the aforementioned game of musical chairs — and this makes various conflicts and challenges appear super risky, and confusing — think Syria, Libya, Ukraine … ISIS, Boko Haram, etc. — there is no unified left position on these things, and even where bunches of us do agree, we neither know how to intervene, nor do we (in the imperialist west) have the capacity to intervene in a meaningful way.

It is all very discouraging. Add examples like Nepal and Palestine and the Dominican Republic into the mix, and it gets downright depressing.

So what to do, when there is extra space made for words, including angry words, but less space for real change … plus remember, more dangerous and daunting possibilities whenever even one of the system’s satraps is challenged?3

Lined up like a math equation that way, the answer isn’t a mystery: energies get spent developing those angry words, and the relationship of those words to real change becomes less and less important. Indeed, we think away from change, whenever we can.

i think it is rare on the activist left for people to do this in a machiavellian or malevolent way. i don’t think people are saying to themselves “how can i opportunistically posture while not actually doing anything that would make me a target”. i think it generally happens on a more subtle, subconscious, diffused-through-the-global-middle-class-and-expressed-with-good-intentions kinda way. But that is what i see happening, in a process than affects me as much as anyone around me.

In this way the current economic-political setup which is neocolonialism structures even those movements that oppose it. And as this is done, they bring into being a particular emotional register, as all social structures do. The living consequence as people feel it, is movements in which there is a pressure to be judgmental and conformist, in which people feel unusual amounts of insecurity about saying or doing “the wrong thing” (often without anybody being able to articulate why it is wrong in a way that makes sense outside of the clique), in which we have lots of nice sounding words for people from oppressed nations or suffering gender oppression, but also in which we have few solutions which are both collective and real4 — in other words, despite our subjective intentions, we build movements with all the characteristics of neocolonialism itself. 

 

i wrote the above, in somewhat shorter form, in a facebook thread about the statement “men are the enemy”, which was defended on the grounds that it was some kind of syllogism to “white people are the enemy”. Statements which — as is usually the case in my experience — were being made by men and white people, amongst others. i was trying to explain why i objected to the statements, in that i do not feel such statements are “real”, i do not feel such statements are generally said with any kind of intention to act as if this were true, that such statements are more about staking out positions than anything else, and why i find that to be characteristic of radical movements in the imperialist centers during the neocolonial age.

But to be clear, i think the above applies to a whole range of practices and ideas which increase in their shiny impressive edgey radicalness5 just as they abandon any intersection with people’s lives or actual political choices. Following the rightward swing of the 1980s, pretty much anything coming out of academia seems to have to contend with this as an overwhelming temptation. In terms of identity politics … well, identity politics is often a prime example of this, but it should be kept in mind that it is not the root of it, and bashing identity politics can be just as much emblematic of the neocololonial grandstanding imperative. In fact, grandstanding is a big part of what this is all about.

Of course, all of this is a schematic look at how neocolonialism engenders this kind of attitude on a macro level. On a more intimate, more on-the-level-of-our-experiences, level, this stuff plays out according to its own identifiable mechanisms. But that is not specific to this, it is more how stuff operates in general. The macro level creates openings and opportunities which are then filled, generally autonomously, by things thought up or developed or chanced upon by actual people, and then generalized/popularized/institutionalized. For better or for worse. What i am trying to say here, is in this case it is for worse.

This is something i may return to in future posts. It is certainly something i have been thinking about. i don’t consider it to be a major strategic issue, or something that uncovers some big bad truth about capitalism or the world today. However, within sections of the radical left, i feel the most pressing issue facing us is to “get real”, and the noise described above is one of the first obstacles to us doing that.

  1. first and foremost amongst them being those of the internal colonies, esp. the Black/New Afrikan nation
  2. by this i don’t just mean “more”. i mean the instability occurs on a higher level, as in “higher” or “bigger” bodies of governance can break down, be contested, be overthrown but without overthrowing capitalism/imperialist or creating space for the oppressed to rebuild — think the so-called “failed states”, think zones of civil war
  3. is this really so? think the fall of the Paris Commune, think the Nazis, think the low-intensity wars against the national liberation movements … more daunting than that? but those weren’t the henchmen, the stand-ins, the compradors being challenged, that was — or appeared to be — the system’s sovereignty itself. Nowadays a mere changing of the neocolonial guard is often accompanied by genocide, whereas some “civil wars” and “failed states” are really themselves simply new permanent zones of what might be called primitive accumulation, not unstable from the perspective of capitalism just instable from the perspective of people living there.
  4. by “real”, i mean, which will actually work for people outside of our subcultures, in their daily lives, not just when they are in their early 20s and part of our clique, and not just when they have alternate forms of privilege to barter with or fall back on
  5. an oversimplification — what they increase in is a particular form of emotional energy. this often comes across as shrill, self-righteous, grandiose, but not only.


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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Gerry Hannah on the Subhumans, Julie Belmas, and his solo album

It’s just that I’m really not that interested in playing punk rock anymore. I sometimes feel like punk rock, not necessarily the way the songs are supposed to go, but the way they end up going, live, for a lot of bands, in a lot of shows, they’re so fast that’s it’s really hard to dig the melody, because it just flies by, and you don’t have a chance to even grab onto it. The other thing is, the formula for writing lyrics in punk rock—and I’m a slave to the punk rock formula—is really in your face. There’s no ambiguity whatsoever. This is what we’re telling you, and it’s black and white, you know what I mean? And that’s not really where I’m at in terms of lyric-writing anymore. I want to move beyond that. I’m not saying I do move beyond that, but ideally I would like to. And I think the songs on Coming Home, there’s a little bit more room for the listener to move around in the lyrics without being hit over the head with a sledgehammer and told how to think.

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Thursday, July 09, 2015

Rally and Hearing for Deepan in Montreal!

deepan

(/français ci-dessous/)

Rally and Hearing for Deepan in Montreal! 
http://ift.tt/1D2SoxV

Monday, 13 July, 8am
Immigration and Refugee Board,
Guy Favreau Complex (200 René Lévesque Blvd.), Montreal

Deepan Budlakoti, our comrade and friend, will soon be in Montreal to challenge his conditions of release at the Immigration and Refugee Board. Deepan is under a deportation order to India, his parents’ country of birth. He spent months in immigration detention and was released under conditions that limit his freedoms. Because India does not recognize him as a citizen and is refusing his deportation, Deepan is under these conditions indefinitely, with no end in sight.

Deepan was born in Ottawa and his Canadian citizenship was never in question until a racist prison guard reported him to Immigration Canada. This initiated a process in which Canada arbitrarily decided that he was not a citizen on the pretext that his parents came to Canada to work as household help in the Indian Embassy and then proceeded to strip him of permanent residence because of his criminal record. More information on his struggle to have his citizenship recognized: www. justicefordeepan.org.

Join us on July 13th for a rally and then stay afterwards; we’ll try to fill the room with supporters if they allow us to attend the hearing.

NO to double punishment!
NO deportations!
NO detentions!

JUSTICE for Deepan!

 


 

 

Rassemblement et audience pour Deepan à Montréal !
http://ift.tt/1D2SoxV

Lundi, 13 juillet, à 8h
Commission de l’immigration et du statut de réfugié du Canada
Complexe Guy Favreau (200 boul. René-Lévesque), Montréal

Deepan Budlakoti, notre camarade et ami, sera bientôt à Montréal pour contester ses conditions de libération devant la Commission de l’immigration et du statut de réfugié du Canada. Deepan a reçu un ordre de déportation vers l’Inde, le pays de naissance de ses parents. Il a passé des mois en détention de l’immigration et a été libéré sous des conditions qui limitent ses libertés. Parce que l’Inde ne le reconnaît pas comme un citoyen et qu’il refuse sa déportation, Deepan est sous ces conditions indéfiniment, sans en voir la fin.

Deepan est né à Ottawa et sa citoyenneté canadienne n’avait jamais été remise en question jusqu’à ce qu’un gardien de prison raciste le dénonce à l’immigration. Cela a initié un processus durant lequel le Canada a décidé d’une manière arbitraire//qu’il n’était pas un citoyen canadien sous le pretexte que ses parents étaient venus ici pour travailler comme aides domestiques à l’ambassade indienne, puis il lui ont retiré sa résidence permanente à cause de son dossier criminel. Pour plus d’informations sur sa lutte pour faire reconnaître sa citoyenneté : www. justicefordeepan.org.

Joignez-vous à nous le 13 juillet pour un rassemblement et restez avec nous ensuite; nous essayerons de remplir la salle avec des alliéEs s’ils nous laissent assister à l’audience.

NON à la double peine !
NON aux déportations !
NON aux détentions !

JUSTICE pour Deepan !



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Losing My Religion (by André Moncourt)

Recently one of those issues that arises constantly to tangle up leftists and liberals reared its head in my little world.  Some folks (all of European decent) in a band I know were in the studio and someone proposed using an aburukuwa, a Ghanian drum, I am told, to get just the right sound.  One of the young men in the band objected that that was “cultural appropriation.”

Although people who use this term rarely take time to define it, I presume that the issue with cultural appropriation is the apparent commodification of an oppressed culture’s artefacts to the advantage of an oppressor culture, or in layman’s terms:  ripping off other people’s shit – and maybe killing them in the process – for fun and profit. I personally consider the question of cultural appropriation to raise issues that are much messier and more complex than the young feller’s simple (perhaps simplistic) statement suggests.  I sort of think of it as the next-door neighbour of political correctness:  not quite as pointlessly guilt-ridden and paralyzing, but not as straight forward as its proponents suggest.

We’re talking about rock music here, so let’s just pause for a moment to think.  Let’s start with Elvis, who definitely didn’t create rock ‘n’ roll, but who, nonetheless, is the single figure most likely to leap to mind when one thinks about the genre – which has to do with media propensity for oversimplification, but I digress.  Chuck Berry is fond of being pissed off about not getting his dues (in the form of cash) as the fountainhead of rock ‘n’ roll.  Bo Diddley probably has an argument on his side as well, and he’s also got that real cool box-shaped guitar.  Me, personally I think the first rock ‘n’ roll song was Hot Tamales (They’re Red Hot) by Robert Johnson – and if we’re going to talk about appropriation and not getting your dues, I mean really, the man pretty much invented a genre that everyone and his/her dog has appropriated.

Anyway, back to Elvis.  Everyone knows Elvis stole black music.  Then, I think, well, what about the Sun Sessions? I mean, yeah, you can hear the impact of R&B, but you can also hear the impact of hillbilly music – some people might actually think that the idea of synthesizing those two styles and then spicing it with some this and that was actually pretty ingenious – apparently both Sammy Davis Jr. and James Brown thought the man rocked (as it were).1  Fucking sellouts – who’s black and proud now?

Of course, I also find myself wondering:  Would it have been a better world if Elvis had just stayed with the hillbilly music, rather than playing a role in creating a form of music that was one of the sparks for the youth revolt that became the mass uprising of the sixties?2  Let’s see what John Trudell, former national chairman of the American Indian Movement, has to say about it in a song entitled Baby Boom Ché, (he sings in a form distinctly integrating aspects of white rock music and white beat poetry with traditional Native drumming):

The first wave rebelled,
I mean, we danced even if we didn’t know how,
I mean Elvis made us move.
Instead of standing mute he raised our voice
And when we heard ourselves something was changing,
You know, like for the first time we made a collective decision
About choices.3

Fucking sellout!

Anyway, we all know how that ends:  Vegas gets Elvis, and a bunch of guys (mostly white) grow their hair long and learn how to make guitars feedback (I will ultimately lose a good deal of hearing listening to them do their various party tricks).  Rock is born in little shitholes in London and New York City and Hamburg and San Francisco … well, basically anywhere where there was a high concentration of European and Euro-American youth.  Now, we all know that these guys stole the blues – I mean the Rolling Stones (definitely the robber barons of the genre, as it were) named themselves after a Muddy Waters song.  My friend Phil says he advised them to adopt the name, but that’s another story – and undoubtedly a lie.

This round of appropriation all gets a bit confusing.  For example, Hendrix was routinely criticized for playing “white man’s music.”  So, was Hendrix appropriating white man’s music that had been appropriated from black folks – mostly men, actually – or was he re-appropriating black man’s music?  Fucking sellout … maybe … I can’t tell … I’m getting confused here …  What is the issue exactly?  Should everyone just make sure to never play anything that wasn’t played by dead people of their own pigmentation?  That would be boring – not to mention the fact (which I’m clearly about to mention), that culture has always grown by cross-pollination. I mean, arguably the major restaurant option in London is Indian food – which is often actually Pakistani food, but let’s keep things simple for the honkies.  Often, said Indian restaurants will curry up some local foodstuff that one wouldn’t find in India – are we appropriating them, or are they appropriating us? (Editorial comment:  This raises an interesting question – Why is there a hierarchy in emphasis around these issues which parallels the hierarchy of senses as it were – visual art gets the most heavy critiques for appropriation, music and poetry next in line, food never gets criticized for it. Like who would ever want to give up all the spices and comfort flavours they like, based on some political checklist?)  Right you are – that is an interesting question.

Enough of Indian food – I find it too heavy for summer, in any case – and back to rock music.  Fatigued of the 317-minute guitar solo played at the speed of light with $82,000 worth of technological distortion and manipulation – here come the punks (a goodly number of them being bored middle class kids who appropriated “white trash” sensibilities as a political statement of sorts).  Now, you couldn’t get a whiter music – well, not for the first year or so, in any event – then the Clash and the Slits and the Ruts… appropriated reggae music with the help of Adrian Sherwood.  Lo and behold, a genuine Jamaican Rastafarian named Mikey Dread soon gets involved – Did we appropriate him?  When Prince Far I, Mikey Dread and Bim Sherman – all Jamaicans – work with Adrian Sherwood, a white man, are they being appropriated?  I keep trying to find that fucking line.

Let’s move onto hip hop, the music that improbably took over the world – what a clusterfuck.  From that point on it’s an appropriation free for all.  Hip hop starts sampling white pop and rock hooks, white kids start rapping, rap metal is born, then trip hop … I mean, country stars like Brad Paisley are doing duets with people like LL Cool J – who’s appropriating who?  They don’t seem to care, so I guess I won’t either.

Am I saying that appropriation from other cultures and peoples is a non-issue?  Not at all.  I live in Montréal, ergo I live on unceded (i.e., appropriated – and pretty fucking violently so) Mohawk land.  That in effect means that every moment of every day of my life is part of an ongoing act of criminal and genocidal appropriation.  That seems to me to be the kind of appropriation that should get people’s panties in a bunch.  It is a source of a lot more human pain and suffering than beating on any drum could ever be – you can’t just shy away like you saw the ghost of George Custer eating Tašú?ke Witkó’s4 brain, you have to do something.

Back to cultural appropriation:  slowly I’m getting to my point – trust me (or don’t, I don’t really care).  Like the land we appropriated, what it is we ultimately appropriate is far more important than some drum most Europeans and Euro-Americans (oh, and those white folks down under) have never even heard of being played by a band they don’t know.  What we routinely and as a matter of course appropriate is the surplus labour of the people of the Third World or the Global South or the Three Continents (whatever ideological formulation works for you – in the end they’re all names for the same areas and the same process). Let me explain what I mean here.  Look down at your feet.  Those Nikes or Adidas or knockoffs you’re wearing were assembled in a Third World sweatshop by people making a few dollars a sixteen-hour day, maybe in one of those factories with the nets around it to keep people from committing suicide to escape their jobs.  In short, we in the First World spend all day walking around on the appropriated sweat and blood or super-exploited people.  Now that there’s some “killer” appropriation.

Now go to the mirror – that really rad t-shirt might have been produced in one of those factories where the doors are locked to prevent the slowly suffocating workers from escaping the 45° C heat.  It might even be one of the ones where the workers were immolated because they couldn’t get out when the substandard factory burst into flames.  Come to think of it, my air conditioner probably comes from a factory like that too.

You can see where I’m going here, right?  Your food – the appropriated labour of disenfranchised peasants forced to slave away in dangerously polluted conditions on agribusiness plantations so we can buy avocados and raspberries and kiwis… all year round (and bitch about how fruit and vegetables don’t taste like anything anymore – go figure!).  The dishes you’re eating that food off of – why do you think Dollarama’s so cheap?  (First clue:  the top 1% of the population is getting richer – and the top 0.1% even more so – and the rest of us are getting poorer.)  Then, there’s all those technological gewgaws that have replaced human relationships in your life – assembled by people who could probably not afford them in conditions that will cut many of their lives short.  When they break, which they usually do pretty quickly, or when they become “pseudo-obsolete” (who wants an iPhone 5 when the iPhone 6 is on the market?), they will be turned into toxic garbage mountains where the children of workers just like the ones who assembled this crap play. What’s our major reaction to all of this?  We’re pissed when we have trouble communicating with that egregiously underpaid woman in Lahore who answers our tech support call when one of the aforementioned gewgaws isn’t cooperating.  I mean, really, how thoughtless of her to have an accent we have difficulty with when she speaks a language the British imposed upon her and her country, a country where she has to take a crappy phone job or starve.

All of this has me thinking that what these folks might well like would be for us to stop appropriating their lifeforce and converting it into our vacuous lifestyle, and I rather doubt they give a fuck if we’re playing an aburukuwa when we do that.  In one sentence:  Not playing the aburukuwa is not enough – it’s not even really a start.

  1. http://ift.tt/1JRsGo2
  2. All of that, of course, raises and interesting question.  I’ve been in the Appalachian area, I’ve been in Harlem, I’ve been in Newfoundland, and the fact of the matter is that Harlem shares far more cultural points of reference, music included, with the poor Irish Catholic neighbourhood I grew up in than either Appalachia or Newfoundland.  So, does that mean that if I play music from Harlem, it’s cultural appropriation, but if I play bluegrass or traditional Newfoundland music, it’s not cultural appropriation because we’re all white?  (Anyone who doesn’t think that there is any exploitation and oppression of whites that could possibly parallel that suffered by non-whites in North America really ought to go to Appalachia.)
  3. http://ift.tt/1D2SohF
  4. We stripped this man of his name and decided we’d call him Crazy Horse, effectively claiming the right to rename this man with a name that’s easier for us to pronounce – sort of like calling Beethoven “beet patch.”


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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Terror Incognita

A useful series of musings on consent, seduction, and queerness in the realms of sex and politics; from the people at Crimethinc

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Teaching women self-defence still the best way to reduce sexual assaults: study

The four-year study tracked nearly 900 women at three Canadian universities, randomly selecting half to take the 12-hour “resistance” program, and compared them to a second group who received only brochures, similar to those available at a health clinic. One year later, the incidence of reported rape among women who took the program was 5.2 per cent, compared to 9.8 per cent in the control group; the gap in incidents of attempted rape was even wider.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

7 Fortune 500 companies with the most employees



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Thursday, June 11, 2015

What I Do Know: The Colonial Evisceration of Cindy Gladue

What I do know is that Cindy Gladue was not killed by an Indian man. Bradley Barton is a white man. I suppose, however, that Cindy Gladue’s case wouldn’t even be factored into this type of statistical analysis since, according to the courts, she wasn’t murdered at all.

source: http://ift.tt/1Q9G3Dl



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Are Beethoven’s African Origins Revealed By His Music?

There are two reasons he was careful to organize his image for posterity. First, he must have thought that the rumours and social pressures existing during his lifetime would continue immediately after his death. What would have happened if in the 19th Century, historiography had discovered this deception? The risk was that his music would no longer be played. He had spent his life convincing the public to believe that he had only European origins. After composing one of the most important monuments of the history of art and the human spirit, he wished above all that his work would be passed to posterity.

A second, more important reason exists: to play his music as he played it, to understand it, to hear it, so that it produced the same enchantment as when he played or led it when alive, one had to understand that an important part of the music education that he received in his childhood and early adolescence was an intimate knowledge of polyrhythmic science and art. And, he was a bit of a joker. He must have been amused to see that with the scores he had produced, interpreters were unable, and still are, to produce the same music that came out these texts when he played it. He often said, “It will take at least 50 years before my music is understood.” In actuality, his calculation was off by 150 years. Today, we realize that to play it properly, one has to understand that he had a dual identity. That he was also an African.

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Monday, June 08, 2015

Imagining the Cosmos: Utopians, Mystics, and the Popular Culture of Spaceflight in Revolutionary Russia

This essay investigates the explosive Soviet interest in space travel during the New Economic Policy (NEP) era of the 1920s, as expressed through amateur societies, the press, literature, painting, film, and other popular culture. In recovering an obscured history of the roots of Russian cosmonautics, it shows how the cause of space exploration in early twentieth-century Russia originally stemmed from two ideological strands: technological utopianism and the mystical occult tradition of Cosmism. The former (seemingly modern, urban, international, materialist) alternately clashed and meshed with the latter (superficially archaic, pastoral, Russian, spiritual), creating an often contradictory but urgent language of space enthusiasm. Cosmic activists, who saw themselves as part of a new Soviet intelligentsia, actively used both ideals to communicate their views directly to the public. The essay argues that despite superficial differences, technological utopianism and Cosmism shared much of the same iconography, language, and goals, particularly the imperative to transform and control the natural world. In other words, the modern rocket with its new Communist cosmonaut was conceived as much in a leap of faith as in a reach for reason.

source: http://ift.tt/1Mj9xZj



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Sunday, June 07, 2015

The Idea of Muslim National Communism: On Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev

Not having any pretensions of giving an overview of all of Muslim national communism, I am interested here in someone who remains its major figure, the Tartar Bolshevik intellectual and militant Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev, whose first arrest was remarked upon by Trotsky in 1923, when he cited Kamenev’s words:

Do you remember the arrest of Sultan-Galiev? […] This was the first arrest of a prominent Party member made upon the initiative of Stalin […] That was Stalin’s first taste of blood.4

But let’s take things up from the beginning.

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Saturday, June 06, 2015

THOSE MYTHOLOGICAL MEN AND THEIR SACRED, SUPERSONIC FLYING TEMPLES

From this anxiety of imitation, it is a short step to seeking authenticity in texts from the past, even if one of those texts is itself a modern imitation. The effect is further magnified by a narrowly instrumental education, the shrinking of public debate, the subservience of media to business interests, the proliferation of social media, and an influential but alienated diaspora, especially in the United States, that seeks to find a glorious Hindu past that can be seen to have exceeded the very West upon which India’s recent success depends so heavily. When this past does not exist, it has to be created, often in less imaginative ways than the manner in which Sastry fashioned the V.S.

It has meant, for instance, the destruction of books with perspectives on ancient India that the Hindu right finds unpalatable. In 2001, when the Delhi University historian D.N. Jha wrote, in The Myth of the Holy Cow, that the ancient Vedic people were eaters of beef, he and his publisher were threatened, subjected to demonstrations, ritual book burnings, calls for the book to be banned, and a court order preventing its distribution. Jha’s work was based on extensive archaeological and textual evidence, and his argument itself is widely accepted by professional historians in India and abroad, but it went against the Hindu right’s insistence that beef-eating was an evil brought into the subcontinent by Muslims (a process it is determined to reverse by force, as in a recent ban in the state of Maharashtra that makes possession of beef punishable by a five-year jail term). Similarly, when University of Chicago scholar Wendy Doniger published The Hindus: An Alternative History in 2009, the campaign against it ran all the way from the United States to India, where the book’s publishers, Penguin India, after a four-year legal battle, agreed to an out-of-court settlement that involved withdrawing all copies of the book and pulping them. Among the arguments against the book in the lawsuit initiated by Dina Nath Batra, founder of a Hindu right-wing educational organization and author of textbooks depicting ancient glories, like television and cars, was that “your approach is that of a woman hungry of sex.”

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Friday, June 05, 2015

The Deep State: Germany, Immigration, and the National Socialist Underground

A weakness of large parts of the “left” opposition and the radical Left becomes apparent: after the pogroms of the early ’90s many abandoned the working class as a revolutionary force. They could therefore only turn to “civil society” and thus ultimately the state as an ally against the Nazis. This ally supported fascist structures and helped to establish them, while at the same time it gave the left-wing opposition the opportunity to turn itself into a force supportive of the state. This fact paralyses many Antifa and other leftwing groups. Instead of naming the state’s role in the NSU complex, they focus on the investigation committees and the trial, they lose themselves in the details which are produced there. There were no significant movements on the streets when the NSU became public. All this allows the state apparatus to minimize the NSU – but many people still feel the horror.

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Ideology and Practices (publicautonomy.org)

Some examples? Let’s start with something — an opinion or claim — that is not ideology, even though it might seem to be. Here’s one: “Canada is a democratic society that treats its citizens fairly.”

It may be bullshit, but it’s not ideology. The ideology is this: that one barely notices the fact that there are “borders” instituted around “nation states,” and that one of these is “Canada”; that this “Canada” is “a society,” in the singular, rather than multiple societies, or multiple systems and structures some of which cross borders, etc.; that “countries” can be labelled “democratic,” rather than institutions or practices or specific decisions, so that the question of whether it is or isn’t democratic is a sort of total judgment, appealing to some unspoken but supposedly obvious criterion; that many of the people in the supposed “country” are “citizens,” while some are “non-citizens”; that the standard for treating “citizens” “fairly” will differ from the standard for treating “non-citizens” fairly. And so on. Ideology lies here, in this stew of unexamined obviousness. None of it is stated in the claim under consideration (“Canada is a democratic society that treats its citizens fairly”). But all of it is presupposed by that claim.

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Thursday, June 04, 2015

Grandstanding

grand·stand
??ran(d)?stand/

verb derogatory
gerund or present participle: grandstanding
seek to attract applause or favorable attention from spectators or the media.
“they accused him of political grandstanding”


 

Just saying: i think there is a connection between neocolonialism as the current phase of global relations, and grandstanding as a personal practice within the multicultural middle class. On all sides.



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Elon Musk’s growing empire is fueled by $4.9 billion in government subsidies

Tesla Motors Inc., SolarCity Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support, according to data compiled by The Times. The figure underscores a common theme running through his emerging empire: a public-private financing model underpinning long-shot start-ups.

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Un employé municipal sur deux en banlieue

Profession • % des employés qui ne résident pas à Montréal
Pompiers 82%
Policiers 81%
Contremaîtres 62%
Cadres 49%
Cols Bleus 48%
Professionnels 38%
Cols Blancs 32%
Brigadiers 5%
Total 49%

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Friday, May 15, 2015

A New Beginning or the Beginning of the End: A Question to the Leadership

It is said that history repeats itself. There is some truth to be found within this statement. All existing matter, be it organic or inorganic, and social phenomenon alike, have a history of endless development, a process of becoming, being, and passing away and into something qualitatively new altogether.

But development does not, nor should it be misunderstood, as proceeding along a straight line. Linearism is a product of the human mind, a human construct, that fails to correspond with the external material world and the laws inherent within it that govern the direction and development of its endless transformation.

History, like every other existing thing in this world, develops not in a straight line, like a recording on a reel that repeats itself continually, but in a cyclical like ascendancy, with each cycle repeating itself qualitatively distinct from the previous one, or as V.I. Lenin described: “A development that repeats, as it were, stages that have already been passed, but repeats them in a different way, on a higher basis (negation of negation), a development, so to speak, that proceeds in spirals, not in a straight line.”

At this particular stage in our struggle, we are coming full circle as history is once again repeating itself. This is a critical moment, and the life or death of our struggle is being decided by our response to the Security Threat Group and Step Down Program [S.T.G. and S.D.P. respectively] that we have allowed the state to impose upon us.

The fact that we are assisting the state to perpetuate its policy of social extermination under a new label directly reflects the deterioration of our collective unity and the resurgence of the vile individualism that has come to characterize the prison population of the last two decades.

If we are to take a correct measurement of our current situation and the trajectory we are now on, we must place the S.T.G. and S.D.P within its proper historical context, and this requires that we once again revisit the Castillo case with an understanding of the 602 process and the function it serves. The 602 process serves two main simultaneous functions: First, by seeking relief on an individual basis, it distracts and divides us from the issues that impact us as a group. Secondly, the administrative process is dragged out for so long and the petitioner is required to jump through so many hoops that eventually most petitioners grow exhausted and abandons all attempts at seeking relief from the violations committed by the state.

Embodied with this statement is the age-old strategy of “divide and conquer”, which the CDC has learned to employ against us with great efficiency. And everytime we utilize the 602 process individually as the only means of achieving transformation, like a ju-jitsu fi ghter we allow the state to turn our own individualism against ourselves as a means to deprive us of the unity and momentum necessary for waging a successful struggle. More important, this strategy is not limited to the 602 process alone, but is a common feature that permeates all interactions between the state and ourselves. This is inevitable being that the state’s apparatus of repression in all of its various forms—the judicial system, police, military, intelligence, etc., especially the prison system—is an inherently oppressive institution by design.

As most of us can recall, the Castillo case was a long, arduous legal battle that raged in the judiciary arena for some ten years in a noble effort to eliminate the state’s inhumane practice of “social extermination”, i.e., keeping us alive as living and breathing empty vessels without the social intercourse necessary for one to develop identity (emphasis added by Ed). For reasons left unexamined we failed to complement this legal battle with any other forms of direct resistance, while IGI fascists and the CDC bureaucracy remained adamantly consistent throughout in its own efforts to keep us divided. Despite the absence of subjective conditions (a politically conscious mass of prisoners), the state recognized that nonetheless the objective conditions were conducive for large-scale resistance. And once again, remaining true to form, we allowed them to exploit our own self-interests in a successful effort to prevent this potential from materializing. When, as Anthony Artiaga pointed out in his recent article: The six year “active/inactive gang status review” was created and implemented. A policy requiring a validated inmate to remain free of any and all gang related activity and association “for no period less than six years in order to reconsider (but rarely granted) general population release….

All hope for a unified resistance dissipated and “everyman-for-himself” was now consolidated and set in stone, with the initial release of a relatively insignificant number of validated SHU prisoners back into general population, we cultivated and insured our own further atomization from each other as we pursued our search for escape on an individual basis by way of the six year inactive review policy. Despite the fact that group oppression necessitates group resistance, the state has learned long ago that we are easily defeated when we are tossed a bone that appeals to our self-interest. The state accomplishes this with little effort, sadly, when it sold us on a false hope that we could all obtain inactive status as individuals.

To reiterate, Joseph Dzhucashvili stated that dialectical and historical materialism teaches us that: “…the process of development should not be understood as a movement in a circle, not as a simple repetition of what has already occurred, but as an onward and upward movement, as a transition from … the simple to the complex.”

It has been roughly fifteen years since the Castillo case settled, and the empty promise of the six year inactive review policy was implemented—and here we are coming full circle. Like in the Castillo case, the state has initiated its imposition of the S.T.G. and S.D.P., pacifying potential resistance with the release of SHU prisoners back into the general population, although this time around the numbers have been significantly greater and have included elements from amongst the “leadership” thus creating an externally superficial illusion of victory.

Throughout the hunger strikes we paid an extraordinary amount of lip service to the necessity of collective unity, and yet when the state employed its own counter-tactics to create fissures and divisions amongst us once again, we assisted them in their endeavor. Without any consideration for long term consequences, or the immediate obvious fact that our current circumstances, or the immediately obvious fact that our current circumstances are far more dire now that when we first initiated our strikes, we could not trip over each other fast enough to sign release forms acknowledging guilt of past association, or membership, “post facto” in our scramble to get out. This fidelity to philosophic pragmatism and its application will come back to bite us. Within the last twelve months the state claims to have released seventy percent of those previously held within the tombs of the Security Housing Unit (SHU), and yet the number of those in isolation have remained consistently steady. Philosophically, idealism is a still a poisonous weed that continues to distort the mind of many. In spite of those who are proclaiming victory, reality is not determined by wishful thinking.

The demand to eliminate collective punishment was not only not achieved, but true to its fascist inclinations the CDC retaliated by making it policy and thus giving pseudolegitimization to its practice, via the new STG with the SDP, the IGI has extended its reach even further. Anyone having belonged to any group, or street gang (past or present), or possessing any political opinions reflecting a class position other than their own, can be isolated indefinitely without any connection to a particular prison gang. Our vulnerability has increased in direct proportion to the increase of state power.

Like the six year inactive review policy, the number of those now being released under the S.T.G. and S.D.P. will decrease dramatically and ultimately taper off to a trickle in correlation to our own struggle losing steam with the waning of outside support. If we are to inject life back into our struggle, we must absolutely understand the S.T.G. and S.D.P. for what it is, i.e., another means to perpetuate indefinite isolation under a new label. We have not achieved our goal of ending social-extermination. This is not a spiteful, nor rhetorical question, but we must sincerely ask ourselves—“is this truly a victory, or a failure being sold as a victory by those reactionary elements amongst us?

With each state in the historical development of our struggle, changes in policy alone have only amounted to a change in label, allowing the state to maintain it trajectory without interruption. If we are to eliminate social-extermination, “abstract” changes in policy must be facilitated with “concrete” transformations. We must transform the various Ad Seg and SHU facilities from within, otherwise indefi nite isolation will continue unabated and the state will manufacture a new label whenever circumstances necessitate, be in “program failure”, “validation”, or the latest gem from the CDC’s book of labels “S.T.G. and S.D.P.”, etc.

If we are to greatly reduce, or eliminate, their ability to permanently isolate us, we must struggle for the installation of two 4-man tables in each pod, phones, exercise bars (dip, pull up, push up combo) designed and fabricated by prisoners, cellies, Day Room time for social development and preservation of the individual’s identity. Social intercourse is a “human right” that needs to be established to facilitate these changes—both in policy and practice. To accomplish this, “limited association” must be our primary demand, and if collective unity is to be more than empty rhetoric, then we must likewise adjust our demands (which can be done without compromising the original five) and address the interests of those in G.P., such as weights, family visits, the question of prison labor and wages, etc. These are issues that concern all prisoners, S.N.Y.1 and solid alike, and therefore we should be appealing and accepting support from all corners of the prison system.

If we are to resuscitate life back into our struggle, we must adjust our tactics to meet the changing conditions. If there are any amongst the leadership or anyone politically conscious, who are still dedicated to our original goals, I believe we can achieve this with a small group of strikers consisting of 10, 15, maybe 20 “volunteers” willing to fast consecutively one at a time (or in pairs?) to the end. Each striker could initiate his fast with a new striker on standby joining in at 20-day intervals. And with leadership guidance and blessing, this could be complemented with a state with a statewide prisoner work-stoppage and halt of all movement.

Pre-written and recorded statements, interviews, photo, etc., of each “volunteer” could be provided to various media outlets, TV, radio, newspapers, internet, etc., prior to each striker initiating his fast, preventing the CDC from denying or sweeping deaths under the rug with minimal publicity. This may seem drastic but have we not already lost life with each strike, while not accomplishing anything substantial?

Nonetheless, I know this is a controversial issue with many sides and aspects to it and a proposal of this magnitude needs to be put on the table and discussed. And although the Comrade Ed and I are probably in more or less agreement with my analysis, we have gone back and forth on the issue of a smaller strike of dedicated “volunteers.” I believe that we have both made valid points, but we would encourage both the leadership and other potential volunteers for their contribution to this discussion.


This article first appeared in Prison Focus #44, Fall 2014

 

  1. Ed’s Note: The so called “convict code” is dead. Prisoners killed it. All any of us remember of the code is that we don’t rat. Yes, SNY has rats, get over it. They are prisoners fi rst, rats second. You leaders created the SNY, now you need to eliminate the need for such facilities. We need a new code, an “all of us or none” code.


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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Autonomedia Books via Leftwingbooks.NET



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