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Showing posts from November 13, 2011

scandal in the U.S. and France

While America has the Kardashian divorce, which brings together so many American traditions – a little Horatio Alger, a little Daisy Miller, a little Debbie does Dallas – France, too, is hosting a scandal that brings together those two great French things: psychoanalysis and grammar. I’m talking, of course, of the wonderful libel trial going on right now that pits one of Lacan’s daughter, Judith Miller, against Elizabeth Elisabeth Roudinesco. Miller is suing over a paragraph in Roudinesco’s Lacan, envers et contre tout (Seuil, 2011) (and Roudinesco is countersuing Miller). The paragraph goes like this: : « Lacan mourut sous un faux nom, le 9 septembre 1981, à la clinique Hartmann des suites d’un cancer du colon qu’il n’avait jamais voulu soigner. Bien qu’il eût émis le vœu de finir ses jours en Italie, à Rome ou à Venise, et qu’il eût souhaité des funérailles catholiques, il fut enterré sans cérémonie et dans l’intimité au cimetière de Guitrancourt. » Or: “Lacan died under a false

The nature in the Natural History of Religion: 4

Within the circles of the New Learning in the 17th century, a relatively new word was bandied about to take the place of what their ancestors would have called paganism or idolatry: polytheism. (Schmidt, 1985). When, in 1639, Edward Herbert sat down to write De Religione Gentilium, translated as ‘The antient religion of the gentiles” by a Mr. W. Lewis in 1705, he used “polytheism” to broaden the humanist notion of non-Christian religions. Herbert, who may not have been a deist himself, was certainly looked as a precursor by eighteenth century deists, who adopted his history of religion. It went like this: in the beginning, men worshipped one supreme God – the thought of whom was written on their hearts – but they had an unclear view of the difference between the universe and the creator of the universe. Over time, priests and then ‘imposters’ arose, who exploited the people’s awe before the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars to make these the objects of adoration. Always, of course

Larry Summers and Inequality

Felix Salmon wrote a very thoughtful account of the Larry Summers/Paul Krugman debate that occurred in Toronto on earlier this week. The account made me wonder, for the thousandth time, about Larry Summers – genius or cretin? Here’s the passage that made me press my vote for the latter: Summers also tried to defend inequality, at least in part, by saying that “suppose the United States had 30 more people like Steve Jobs” — that, he said, would be a good thing even as it increased inequality. “So we do need to recognize that a component of this inequality is the other side of successful entrepreneurship; that is surely something we want to encourage.” This might have been received better had Summers not earlier praised America, while pointing to Bremmer, as “the only country in the world where you can raise your first $100 million before you buy your first suit and tie”. Bremmer is undoubtedly a rich and successful entrepreneur — and one who never wears a tie, to boot — but he’s ma

A more portable occupy wall street?

Occupy Wall Street seems to have adapted the tactic of the 30s Hoovervilles, and to have evoked a response from the governing class in the U.S. that is identical, almost to the letter, to that of Hoover to the veterans in D.C. But there is another tactic that the protestors in Hoover’s time did not possess: that “real time” link that comes with the web. Watching the police beat up Berkeley students and professors in the videos ( such as here ) means that the lies of the media can almost immediately be found out by the interested cybernaut. The question is, how much does the interested cybernaut count? I have been reflecting, from this apartment in Paris, about the difficult winter that lies ahead for these American troops, these soldiers of the 99 percent. My suggestion is that the Occupy movement become temporarily portable. That is, it will switch between on-site occupations and media occupations. I don’t really believe that the movement will die because the establishment press,

Marie Antoinette's neoliberalism

The story of the economic crisis in Europe, as in the Anglosphere, is actually simple at the root. Two pages into Maurizio Franzini’s article, Why Europe Needs a Policy on Inequality, the reader trips over this paragraph: “The proportion of the European workforce with a labour compensation per hour (wages plus social contributions) declining in real terms was 16.5% in the years 1996-1999 and 33% in 2003-2006. Moreover, 48% of the workforce during 1996-1999 and 61% during 2003-2006 saw their labour compensation per hour growing, on average, less than their labour productivity per hour. In the latter period, 23% of the workforce faced declining compensation with increasing labour productivity in their industry.” There is a specter haunting the developed countries – the specter of the increase of exploitation. Wages are continuing to fall below the increase in productivity, and this means (sound the trumpets, please): you get one of those garden variety shortfalls of demand, and overs