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Showing posts from March 16, 2008

What would Jesus say about the warmongers?

In one of those fits of risking our sanity for the sake of our blog, LI went and read the fucks. We read the fucks last week in the New York Times, explaining what went wrong in the war. Of course, the only way to commemorate five years of pointless slaughter is to ask the fucks who promoted it what they had to say about it. We are so all ears. And we read the liberal hawk fucks over at Slate. Contrarianism out the ass, over there – the general fuck consensus was that the shame of the war is that it is preventing another war on Iraq. Actually, a couple of years ago, in 2005, we made the sick joke that the only good thing about the Iraq war was that it was preventing a war on Iraq. Ah, the fucks – the vampires in their upside down world, rustling their leather wings for the blood, the glory, the shit, the proxyness of it all. But it was the fuck Ann Marie Slaughter who concentrated our attention, over at Huffington Post . She took the highminded approach of contending that anybody who

Men in chains 3

Livy’s history was the hunt and peck book for generations of philosophes. Machiavelli wrote his discourses about it; Montesquieu studied it for L’esprit de lois; and, I’d contend, Rousseau opens his Du Contrat Social, an essay that begins with an epigraph from the Aeneid, with a reference to it: “L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers.” As LI has been pointing out (with my usual autistic artistry, winding theme around theme) in my Man in Chains posts, the chain looms large in the history of freedom – and it seems that the ideologues of freedom have been a little too hasty in consigning the chain to the figurative, all the better to speak of freedom as a matter of will, or of rights. But the figurative does seem to operate a return of the repressed, a memory of irons, of yokes, of chains, which runs through Rousseau’s essay and contacts the plebian notion of freedom, as expressed in such fons et origo texts as Livy’s history. In George Dow’s Slave Ships and Slaving, t

baby steps

LI hears the sounds of baby steps: “In a document outlining a speech to be given to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, said it was important to bring under scrutiny new financial players and older institutions that are doing new things. “To the extent that anybody is creating credit they ought to be subject to the same type of prudential supervision that now applies only to banks,” said the speech outline. Mr. Frank proposed that if non-bank institutions wanted access to the Fed’s discount window for cash, they would be subject to requests from the risk regulator for timely market information and be subject to inspections.” That Frank is the man sticking his neck out here shows what a timid place the bought and sold village of D.C. has become. Timely market information? What the Government should do is place all securities under the sweeping powers of the same kind of agency that regulates drugs. And, just as drugs are tested for their rea

Fifth year in Iraq

To commemorate Year 5 of the Iraq vanity war, everybody seems to be publishing a retrospective. These two posts are what we wrote on March 17 and 18, 2003: Monday, March 17, 2003 Remora The WP headline reads: Baghdad Panicky as War Seems Imminent and the first graf reads: "People cleared stores of bottled water and canned food, converted sacks of Iraqi currency into dollars and waited in long queues for gasoline. Merchants fearful of looting emptied their stores of electronics and designer clothing, while soldiers intensified work on trenches and removed sensitive files from government buildings. Cars stuffed with people and household possessions drove out of the city." Surely there must be a mistake. Isn't it the Washington Post that has insisted for over a year that Iraqis will greet American soldiers with flowers? I imagine they are simply stocking up on those essential items now, before their streets, buildings, florist shops, kids and pets are flattened by li

Liberal alienation 2

Early on in Protestantism and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber makes a point of asking what the rather “pretentious sounding” word spirit meant. Instead of defining it, Weber plays a game of fort/da with the definition – offering some features of the “spirit”, and then saying that the spirit is only recovered at the end, a composite extracted from the historical details. LI loves this answer. Long ago, in grad school, we worked long and hard to produce a schema distinguishing “epistemic” from “doxic” texts, with the major division being that epistemic texts tended to treat the work of the text as the work of stabilizing signifiers, whereas doxic texts tended to treat the work of the text as a circuit in which signifiers are de-stabilized. To put forward a thesis, a metaphor, a literal term, and then claim that the meaning of the term accrues only at the end of one’s work is exemplary of the doxic text, which recognizes that the text is not a transparent and ephemeral thing but has an u

Liberal Alienation

Max Scheler began his essay, the Bourgeois, written on the brink of WWI, with these words: “ Among the many signs that show us the death throes of the life order under the power and direction of which we still live, I see none as persuasive as the deep alienation in the face of this life order that fills the best heads and strongest hearts of those who inhabit their own particular orders. The history of this alienation is still recent. I find the new attitude that I have in mind firstly – as one might expect – among the scholars and poets – worldly men might say dreams – as for instance Gobineau, Nietzsche, J. Burkhard, Stefan George.” Scheler was impressed with the work of Sombert, Tonnies and Weber on the “capitalist spirit”, which he took to be a particular social mode of the life order. He sensed something new in the fact that these sober sociologists, surely, if anyone, the inheritors and promoters of liberalism in the German sphere, seemed to have arrived at conclusions that e

American Adam takes a header

Hyperreality is bullshit, in one way. Most people live, as I do, in the species crashing, bread eating reality for which you have to pay out of pocket most days. But it is real in another way. The form of life of the working class is another reality from the form of life of the superwealthy, and that form of life has gone down the class ladder, becoming a habit for millions of the middle class. Hyperreality has little to do with nerdy headsets and hyper real media, but a lot to do with derivatives and the pooling of mortgages. It has to do with the transformation of the economy by credit. There is, supposedly, around 60 trillion dollars worth of derivatives out there. Now, that fact alone ought to crash the value of derivatives immediately. There isn’t 60 trillion dollars out there. It is like claiming that the distance from the earth to the sun is actually 400 million miles, if you simply leverage and compound it right. You can fold, spindle, and mutilate yourself, but the distance

Getting the dead bodies out before mom comes home

I have had no time to blog decently lately. But I have noticed a certain thing, a certain panic point spread between the political blogs, all eyes on the prize and the Obama Clinton slug orgy, and the financial blogs, where everybody is on code speedy, fleeing the Wall Street Chernobyl. Interesting discrepancy, there. It is the equivalent of slow motion in the flicks – the bullet travels ever so slowly towards the body. And so it is with this, the dramatic and entertaining part of the 3 trillion dollar recession. The strategy of the Fed is a lot like the strategy of the guy who disposes of bodies in Pulp Fiction, although you have to imagine that guy trying to cover up for the St. Valentine’s day massacre. How does the Fed take out the dead bodies in full public view while pretending that nothing is happening? Very carefully. Some third party action here, a casual announcement that it is opening up half of its resources, 400 billion dollars, as a sort of charity fund for predatory me