“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.