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Showing posts from June 14, 2009

woe betide those who forgive such moments

“I don’t pity them. For, I confess it madam, I differ of little from your taste in political colors; I find pink (rose) charming, when it is transformed into a proper name; I find it infinitely lovable to perceive it on a pretty face like yours; but in opinions, I confess, I find it repulsive (je le repousse). Continue, then, madame, I pray you, to be pink in complexion and name, but not in politics.” – Alexander Tocqueville, letter to Rose Margaret Phillimore, 30 December, 1848. It is interesting, ghoulishly interesting, to be writing about Herzen’s reaction to the collapse of the revolution of 1848 on the day that the Iranian military disperses protests in Teheran. From the Other Shore strikes deep chords – and one of them is surely about the meaning of oligarchic reaction. In many ways, Ahmadinejad’s Republic resembles that of Louis Phillipe - vast fortunes are made by shady men, sieved off the public and become part of the structure of rot. At a certain point, hazard, in the form

Iran, via IT

Infinite thought posted a guestpost that I am just going to steal for LI. It is a great explanation of what is happening in Iran. Myself, I am too sick at the moment to achieve coherence over any stretch of prose longer than OUUUUUUCHHHHH - I have an ear infection that is making me the world's biggest Beethoven sympathizer. Here it is: why are the iranians dreaming again?* [The following is a guest post from Ali Alizadeh, Researcher at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University] This piece is copyright-free. Please distrbute widely. Iran is currently in the grip of a new and strong political movement. While this movement proves that Ahmadinejad’s populist techniques of deception no longer work inside Iran, it seems they are still effective outside the country. This is mainly due to thirty years of isolation and mutual mistrust between Iran and the West which has turned my country into a mysterious phenomenon for outsiders. In this piece I will try t

the cost of making universal history

Silly fools, it is my glory, for that is where the truth lies…The reason for the Underground is the destruction of our belief in certain general rules. “Nothing is sacred.” - Dostoevsky, quoted by Aileen Kelly in Irony and Utopia in Herzen and Doestoevsky, the Russian Review,1991. When the Czar’s police arrested Herzen in 1834, they impounded his papers, including an article on Hoffmann. Many of those papers were lost, but the Hoffmann article eventually was published. In it, Herzen accused Hoffmann of opting for an internal exile to a past that never existed. For Herzen, the perfect Hoffmann anecdote is of the man directing an orchestra in 1812 in Warsaw while Napoleon was invading Russia; Herzen takes a remark he made at the time to mean that he was either ignorant of or indifferent to Napoleon invading Russia. As I’ve tried to show, this image of Hoffmann, the autistic creepy gnome, is not true. Herzen obviously did not know of Hoffmann’s experience in Dresden, since he couldn't

false consciousness - real happiness

Note 1: I think I can trace the career of the concept of false consciousness across the Other sciences, across literature, across the adventures of all of my alienated marginals (for yes, instead of a ‘career’, they lead, or are led by, an adventure, even if they never leave home at all). For liberals, false consciousness is the disturbing power of projection; for radicals, it is the inverse image of what is really happening in capitalism, as commodity exchange sinks deeper and deeper into all personal relationships; and for the reactionaries, it is original sin, which finds, in the non-Christian, the undertakers of Christendom – the decadents, the positivists, the Jews, the homosexuals, the half breeds. Although, in truth, false consciousness, as original sin, is a feature of man’s very nature – and in that sense it is false to call it false. Rather, it is consciousness itself which is permeated with sin. Yet, the liberals and the radicals felt there was a limit somewhere. Their ali