“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Thursday, October 05, 2006

“But I hear the voice of nature which cries out against me.” – Montesquieu

LI is a bit gloomy. Our quote, by the way, is from Montesquieu’s chapter on the question of torture in the Spirit of the Laws.

Here’s a bit of a Q and A, posted by In these Times, with Trevor Paglen and A.C. Thompson about their book, Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA’s Rendition Flights.

“What did you learn from getting so close to the “black sites” in Afghanistan?

"Nobody was talking about or thinking about this issue. The Afghans would say, “Why are you so concerned with such a small number of prisoners from other countries that have been dragged here?” The justice system in Afghanistan is ad hoc. There are warlords who have secret jails in their houses. The U.S. military runs a network of 20 different detention centers that is essentially secret. These are jails that are publicly acknowledged, but the Afghan officials cannot get into them, the United Nations cannot get into them, the human rights groups cannot get into them, so they effectively operate in secret. A vast network of jails is holding hundreds of people. Really, when you talk about secrecy and indefinite detention, the problem is bigger than most people realize.

"In the book you describe all of Afghanistan as a black site. What do you mean by that?

"We checked out this facility that we believe is run by DynCorp. Afghan and jail officials could not tell us what goes on in there. The local police chief could not tell us what goes on there. This facility takes up the better part of a square block. It is guarded by huge heavy bomb barriers and row after row of guards with M-16s. The rumor is that prisoners are being held there. The most we could get out of one guy was that it was a center for counterterrorist activity. When you encounter these detention centers that nobody can get into, you realize the whole country is sort of this black site.”

And finally, going back to a question that I have been prodding at: what is Bush and Co. so afraid of? Following the satanic method recommended in Michelet’s La Sorciere, you have to find the reverse of that question to answer it. Namely, what do Bush and Co. want?

Bush and Co. didn’t come from Mars. Like the rest of us, they are shut up in this big prison house of white magic, In a previous post, I listed helter skelter the sheer magnitude of the power and the glory accruing to the triumphant American governing class in this year of Dow 12,000. That was just to set up the question Jack Nicholson asks John Houston in Chinatown: how much better can you eat? How much better can you live? Trying to plumb the millionaire motive for committing any crime to become an even richer fuck. In the series of moves made to remove the Executive branch from any constraint, which has been crowned by the detainee law(crime), we are watching CEO behavior. The appetite for power has its genesis here very clearly in the appetite for wealth.

As it happens, Silja Graupe’s book, The Basho of Economics, which I translated, presents a pretty clear systematic answer to the question of what Bush and Co. want, if we put them in the context of the unconstrained free market system. Graupe finds the moment of excess in neo-classical economics, that halfway house between natural theology and science, that operates as both a justification of the system’s effort (a la Polanyi) to reverse the relationship between economics and society (making society subservient to the market) and a symbol of a dilemma endogenous to the science.

The latter symbolic dimension needs a preliminary remark. Graupe, following Minkowski, grounds her critique of neo-classical economics on the latter’s attempt to make itself a science by absorbing terms and models from physics.

Here’s a long quote:

“Following utility theory, an increase of the quantity of commodities is automatically followed by an increase of the utility levels. This assumption is partly hidden in the neoclassical postulate that the slope of the indifference curve must be negative. But it is formulated explicitly in the assumption of non-satiation (as Arrow and Hahn call it). It is “typically assumed, that more is better”. “The individual is never completely satisfied, but can, in principle, always think of an improvement through another bundle of commodities. Simplifying this, we assume a rule stating that an individual prefers to get more of all commodities.”

Economic theory can’t countenance satiation without giving up the analogy to physics. If it did, a bundle of commodities could be found, by which the preference of the individuals should come to rest of itself, without being externally constrained. Such a resting or equilibrium point is unthinkable in physics, since in the latter every mass point is thought of as moving forward infinitely so long as it is not limited in its freedom of movement by outside forces. While this idea may work with physical bodies, its translation to the economic context would imply the following: it would not only presume an unlimited space of commodities, but also an unlimited effort directed at a surplus of commodities. But how could one possibly explain such an unlimited effort? This question is not answered unambiguously in economics. Generally however one begins by saying that it implies an infinity of human needs. This becomes somewhat clearer given that the neoclassical utility theory is formulated as a maximization of the collective satisfaction of needs.” Yet such an explanation remains, in itself, without content so long as the concept of need is ambiguous. In the course of further interpretation is should become clear, that the effort to obtain more and more commodities can really only be interpreted as striving to obtain an infinite amount of money.”

I’ll spell out the implications of this – and the foundations of zombie society, where things are in the saddle and ride mankind – in another post.


it said...

LI should relocate to the UK - we're just as bad (if not worse, given the sheen of historico-respectabiliy we smear all over US foreign policy), but, well, you know...

roger said...

IT, and leave the moronic inferno? Where would I park my outsized indignation?

Although admittedly, the UK would give me some big and juicy targets. Still and all, I have to view the present as a writer's golden opportunity. Gibbon had to look back over a thousand years to write about the decline and fall of the Roman empire, and even then he got three hefty tomes out of it. But I'm living in the decline and fall of the American one. Bad for civilization, good for LI!

new york pervert said...

They definitely want infinite money and infinite power, so they can fully separate. I don't see how they really have faith that it could work endlessly, though, and I don't believe they think about that all that much. The War on Terror is not stupid, as many leftists say, except for the way it has been lost by the U.S. 9/11 was the beginning of the defeat of the U.S., I begin to think. Maybe the Bushies didn't ask the country to 'make any sacrifices', as is always said, but then neither did they make any, so that they themselves are still reacting to the terrorists by going on their own kind of vacation and their own kind of escape restaurant. They just think they can strike macho poses like the Village People used to. But people who think the bin Laden is not still viable while alive are probably totally wrong. He's as much of a symbol of anything jihadi and Islamic backwardness as the WTC and Cheney symbolize what Muslims hate. As such, he should have been killed long ago, and Wright's fine new book 'The Looming Tower' does report the several failures to kill him that occurred in the late 90's, including one that Scheuer wanted to do besides the failed bombing of Afghanistan after the Embassy bombings in Africa.

The all-American tendency for self-hatred that always gets more bloated right before a new onslaught from outside is probably unique in history. The British do a half-assed version of it, but the continent doesn't. It may come from not having but 2 centuries to become overwhelmingly powerful, so that Americans largely suffer from 'Europe envy.' Since even the few smart people never get past this, it's no wonder that bin Laden turns out to be right about American cowardice. Even going to Iraq was not just idiotic, but also cowardly, as been pointed out many times. But things about how Al Qaeda isn't operative any more are probably temporary assessments, and in any case, if that can happen, it can easily happen again, because the NIE is not the only thing that demonstrates that the US idiocy in its waging of the War on Terror is less idiotic than it is a total failure--the terrorists, of whatever organization, can attack us whenever they like. In the meantime, the weakminded worry about whether they'll be accused of being racist toward Muslims--not noting that they were hardly ever interested in Islam at all until 9/11. Who would be? It's in a much more primitive stage of religion than Xtianity, which is healthily depraved by now, almost like well-rotted manure.

I think the U.S. can't remember how to fight a war, otherwise how could they keep making the mistakes that leave the U.S. open to attack. Wright gives a good history of how the buildup from 1993 grew slowly (although it seems alarmingly rapid to me.) Ramzi Yousef's uncle was one of the major architects of 9/11, etc., the USS Cole, etc., the CIA and FBI much bigger 'Wall' than before.

I don't know if the U.S. really keeps bin Laden as a mascot to be trotted out for just their own PR so much as they are actually afraid of what might happen if they did kill him. they surely could kill any number of civilians and get to him, and I mention this because obviously that wouldn't stop them. I think they are impressed with this cobra-like person's achievement; after all, Americans love the big winner. Everything bin Laden said about wanting the U.S. to bleed itself to death by coming to war has happened. Terrorists still love bin Laden. I think the U.S. is just afraid of what they might do if we killed him. It seems to me to follow the pattern that has been long set to just sit back comfortably and long for the next domestic disaster. The left is a wonderful cheering section for this sort of thing, of course, as they actually come out in their piss-pitifulness and call for attacks on themselves, agreeing with bin Laden overtly, and the right is too stupid or afraid to act as brazenly as bin Laden is. What? Would they lose their 'colossal dad' if bin Laden was dead.

I don't know what the world would do without King Bin Laden. He's still there, after all he's gotten away with, and they don't even know what he's trying to get away with now. Pitiful.

roger said...

Mr. NYP, that is interesting about Bin Laden being big, and thus tugging on the same sentiment for celebrity that puts pictures of the pregnant Britney Spears on our finest grocery story aisle magazines. Hmm.

I think the war on terror is wrong. I think the war on these particular terrorists is right. I think that because it seems pretty simple to me. That a state has enemies that it attacks when the enemies attack it is part of the very origin of the state. I do, however, dislike the idea that this is some special moral thing that the Americans thought up to stun the world with our christian goodness. That moralism made Americans gullible to this whole regime, and their sleight of hand wars. If we thought of ourselves more as normal people with normal enemies which we want to defeat for normal reasons, instead of saints fighting the anti-christ, I think we would be infinitely more effective. Without that moral hysteria, I have no doubt Bin Laden would never have been able to strike this country -- after all, in 94, Iran tried to communicate to us that the Taliban taking over Afghanistan was a bad thing, and that we should prevent it. But because, for stupid, stupid reasons, we like to pretend that Iran doesn't exist, or exists as the devil's playground, we didn't take them up on the offer. Interestingly, for all the discussion of what Clinton did or didn't do, you never hear about that, do you? The reason being that it is well known as a universal truth that the U.S. can never recognize the axis of evil states -- heavens, we must hate the enemy. Even if we don't exactly have a handle on who made the decision that this is the enemy.

new york pervert said...

'That moralism made Americans gullible to this whole regime, and their sleight of hand wars. If we thought of ourselves more as normal people with normal enemies which we want to defeat for normal reasons, instead of saints fighting the anti-christ, I think we would be infinitely more effective.'

yes, that's true, but we're not like that yet. For the duration, even though we do hysterical things like destroying Iraq to bugger bin Laden, I still hope that somebody at CIA and FBI will keep their friggin' eyes open and not do bullshits at the top when they're ready to bomb. Oh well, no getting around the fact that the recent planes project out of England was stopped. That one wasn't a fake. I don't care that much that the U.S. has no real morals before it can, and I don't expect it to. This country IS unique, and that includes its sickening moral hysteria, which, however, does not equal the hysteria of Muslims. I don't give a shit about them anymore as a culture, although I don't like slaughtering the wrong ones. It's fucked up.

This moral hysteria includes being unable to 'persecute those whom you hate' and 'hate your enemy'. With this kind of perversion directly inherited from Mistah Christ, it's little wonder that the misdirected sexual impulses just go kill somebody else. The moral hysteria would be cured to a great degree if we had sense enough to go and kill our enemies and not be so Down Syndrome as to think it is nicer to kill those who aren't nice, but are not overt threats. But that would require being straightforward and direct instead of screwy, and, as you well know, Southerners are especially good at loving to make things unreal even if it means their very own destruction. So that the rest of the US has finally idiotically followed suit. Nothing to be done about the US of Massachusetts Bay Colony, but even though Hester Prynne is not Catherine Deneuve, I just don't care about these purdah and burkah businesses. So it will be a matter of whether CIA and FBI can keep their asses in gear.