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Showing posts from September 6, 2015

self-consciousness: notes

We were walking down the street the other day, Adam and me, and we passed a woman who stopped and smiled and said to me, you have the Coppertone baby there. Referring to Adam’s blonde curls and his tan, the result of our visit to the beach over Labor Day weekend. I smiled back at her. We walked on and Adam said to me, I’m not a baby. I’m not a baby. Adam has begun to use this phrase quite often. And it has made me think about … well, about the origin of self-consciousness. We all know, consciousness has a fatal tendency to doubling, to finding itself in front of mirrors, or even, in many cases, fun house mirrors, a mirror effect that is even reflected in the possibility of there being a first person subject in Indo European languages, at least, which leads to the grammatical possibility of that first person taking itself as a predicate. Every cowboy, structuralism teaches, is eventually caught in his own lasso. But we have a tendency to freeze this moment, this mirror stage, outsid

corbyn and conditions

Another day, another prediction in the British press that Corbyn will lead to the end of labour, or massive losses in 2020, or tory heaven. Whatever. It is an amazing spectacle. Three months ago, not one of the people who are gifting us with their predictions of what is going to happen in five months was able to predict what was going to happen in three months. Back in those rosy days, the press pundits in the Guardian, the Independent, the Telegraph, etc. were all busy wondering whether Kendall was going to carry the day. Maybe it would be exciting Andy Burnham, New Labour's plastic man! But ignoring past failure is a prerequisite for future prediction among the press set. So polls that are more like focus groups are wheeled out, from the usual suspects. And the pundits have settled down to learn nothing from their experience, as is their wont. What is to be learned from their experience for the rest of us? Let's take a grab at the obvious. All the establishment actually

Israel, Denmark, Hungary:the axis of shits

Denmark joins Hungary and Israel among the nations of non-refuge. All have in common governments of the extreme right. Netanyahu, Viktor Orban, Lars Lokki Rasmussen - the axis of shits. Ironically, the plucky Danes joined the coalition of the illing way back when. At that time, I don't remember Iraqis posting notices on Copenhagen's fascist Jyllands Posten newspaper anything like: Danish soldiers not speaking Arabic will immediately be expelled. But colonialism is nothing if  it isn't a turn about is not fair play kinda bully routine. According to Le Monde, the Danish government has posted ads in the lebanese papers over the last few days that advise: In order to remain in Denmark, it is necessary to speak and understand Danish, and those who do not obtain a permit of residence will be expelled rapidly from the country. Meanwhile, on a helpful note, most Western nations are agreed that more bombing and much much more weaponry should be sold and distributed in the Middle Eas

Notes on posterity

For some reason, whenever I run across the popular literary game of predicting which writers will “endure”, I get quite bugged. When it is a slow news day or a site wants click bait, they will play this old game, and are assured of responses and heated arguments, and statements like, the works of Stephan King will be recognized one hundred years from now as the greatest American fiction of our time. Or the works of X – put in your favorite writer. Nobody seems to predict that a writer that they don’t like will be recognized in one hundred years. Nor does anybody ask what are the institutions that preserve for posterity the reputation of a writer. Instead, these predictions rely on a sort of amorphous popular will, with powers beyond any dreamt up by Rousseau. The general will will judge the quick and the dead. That’s the sense. There are two issues here, actually. One is that the posterity of a work is a form of credentialling – that time awards a good quality seal to the lucky genius

immigration: what is to be done?

From the working class perspective, then, what is to be done about immigration? There’s amnesty. There’s changing the focus of enforcement of immigration laws from the immigrant to the employer. There’s increasing the minimum wage. All of these are partial ways of attacking what is at the heart of the problem of immigration in the US – the stagnation and decline of low income wages. I have a more total solution in mind. I would require all employees at whatever level to belong to a union of some kind. This of course is not an idea that anybody important in public life is, at the moment, advocating. Yet it does attack the problem not only of immigration as a tool by which capital lowers the wages of labor, but, even more radically, the division between skilled and unskilled labor. American unions are, famously, declining. Membership from the glory days of the fifties is down by almost half. Yet, this only tells part of the story. As unions have declined, guilds, defined