Skip to main content


Showing posts from December 19, 2004
LI will be largely on hiatus until Jan. 6. We are off to Mexico. Our advise is still the same for the celebration of these Holidays that were so unjustly hijacked from the Romans and put in the service of a rather pallid myth by the extraordinary cult that, much to Mr. Gibbon's regret, undermined the Empire: that is, be a true conservative and return to the Saturnalian fundamentals. Have sex, let slaves be masters and masters slaves, turn the world upside down. Your slogan should be: what would Heliogabalus think? Or, to quote Artaud: "I do not like poems or languages of the surface which smell of happy leisures and of intellectual success – as if the intellect relied on the anus, but without any heart or soul in it. The anus is always terror, and I will not admit that one loses an excrement without being torn from, thereby losing one’s soul as well..." Next year should be a good one for us. We look forward to thefts on the American scene -- especially the trillion so
The making of the enemy. “The question of the qualification of the enemy is at the heart of the modern law of war. Without a doubt, since antiquity one has distinguished the private enemy (inimicus) from the public enemy (hostis), and that last from the brigand and the criminal. The distinctions were taken up by theoreticians of the rights of man in the 18th century. The question, thus posed, is not only who is one’s enemy, but what type of enemy one is dealing with.” LI is a sucker for the magisterial opening line – and these lines by Michel Senellart are nothing if not magisterial. They introduce an article, “The Qualification of the enemy in Emer de Vattel” in the July Astérion, which devoted an issue to the civilizing of warfare in the eighteenth century. “I want to examine, in this article, the way in which the division between a combattant force and a non-combattant population was established in the law of modern war, and what consequences ensued. This distinctio
Go to the History Today for October and read the article by Mark Goldie on John Locke. About John Locke? No, more specifically, it is about the vagaries of Locke’s reputation. This has become quite a little subgenre: the bio of the reputation. Orwell’s reputation has had, we believe, at least two bios. We rather like the idea – it is so reminiscent of the story of Peter Schlemiel’s shadow – the detachment of that purely negative space, and its adventures as it retains a shape to which it is no longer owes the loyalty of absolute physical proximity. Locke, according to this informative survey, was a secretive soul. “He was indifferent to biography and reticent, even secretive, about himself. When the philosopher Damaris Masham wrote her memoir of him, she could not report his year of birth, though they had lived together for fourteen years from 1690. Like another of his friends, Sir Christopher Wren, whose epitaph in St Paul's Cathedral invites us to 'look around',
Shakh Mat Chess came to Europe through Persia. The pieces were re-configured, the moves changed, from the Indian original. Europeans also inherited the phrase, check mate, from the Persian phrase ‘the shah is dead’ – Shakh mat. LI has no inside information, but we believe that Sistani, at one time, must have been a hell of a chess player. After reading our last post, a friend asked us what analogy we were drawing between the Pazzi conspiracy and Iraq. We cited Machiavelli because, a., the events he records in the History of Florence – the shifting combinations that play across the Florentine political landscape and that involve self organising norms rather than set principles – are broadly similar to the shifting combinations in Iraq; and b., the spirit of Machiavelli – his ability to perceive that history – was an act of imaginative virtue. That is, he considered the combination by considering the perspectives of the players and leaving a large space open for sheer colli
The government of the Medici having subdued all its avowed enemies in order to obtain for that family undivided authority, and distinguish them from other citizens in their relation to the rest, found it necessary to subdue those who secretly plotted against them. This is how Machiavelli, in The History of Florence, begins the narrative of the Pazzi conspiracy. The Pazzis rivaled the Medicis in wealth and power in Florence. The Pope, who was an enemy of the Medicis, favored them. Lorenzo, in 1466, was the head of the Medici clan. He was, as Machiavelli puts it, “young and flush with power”. Jacobo was the head of the Pazzis. He had a natural daughter – whose marriage to a Medici had been arranged by Lorenzo – and a number of nephews. Lorenzo, who feared the power of the Pazzis, began against them a campaign of petty affronts. It is by such half measures, such trivial breaks in the normality of the everyday, that power crystalizes. Trotsky found this out very well in the S
Via Harry’s Place, LI became aware of the Labourfriendsofiraq site. This seemed like our cup of tea. So we went via link to an article (by Peter Tatchell) criticizing the left for supporting the resistance in Iraq. It was the usual barrage – full of heated accusations, aimed at a foe that is never named. We know we are in for general bombardment when we begin, not with the current occupation of Iraq, but with – we kid you not – clitorectomies: “Over 100 million young girls in Africa and the Middle East have had their clitorises excised and / or their vaginas sown up. We would not tolerate this patriarchal abuse in Britain. Why should we tolerate it in other countries? Female genital mutilation is a crime against humanity. Don’t we have a duty of international solidarity with the victims?” Apparently, Tatchell believes that if we hold democratic elections in Iraq, the clitorectomy issue in Africa will be solved… But that is unfair. He sin’t as braindead as his rhetorical pl