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Showing posts from June 17, 2018

the NYT in the "I DONT CARE. DO U?" era, Yemen atrocity edition

In the "I don't really care. Do U" era of American history, there is so much to note! So much gets away, as worse things come faster and faster. But nevertheless, when the NYT opinion page writer Roger Cohen makes a special effort to justify the genocidal war being waged in Yemen, I think it deserves some mention, don't you? American media has a tendency to simply copy the rhetoric of the Saudi dictatorship as it praises its new dictator, Muhammed bin Salmon. The publisher of National Enquirer actually flooded grocery stores with a grotesque travesty of Saudi propaganda recently entitled "the New Kingdom". The Daily Beast had a fun time slice and dicing it: "The New Kingdom doesn’t feature any salacious gossip about MBS, but its coverage is just as breathless. “Our Closest Middle East Ally Destroying Terrorism,” the cover coos, sidestepping decades of Saudi Arabian financial support for terrorist groups and ideologues. It Disneyfies Saudi Arabia

the cretinization process: The President is Missing, exhibit 1 million

No weak men in the books at home The strong men who have made the world History lives on the books at home The books at home Gang of Four Poor Anthony Lane, the NY-er movie critic. He used to be an interesting mind to take to the movies. But I've noticed in the last couple of years definite signs of burnout - which have now flashed red with his spineless review of the Clinton-Patterson powerwank fiesta, The President is Missing. Itis written as though by a Clintonite who was still overawed by Bill Clinton'swankitude - Rolling Stones, 1992 - rather than appalled by Bill Clinton'slifestyle, friends, vanity, etc., etc. Lane is one of those people - probably alarge segment of the New Yorker readership - who actually bought Clinton'sautobiography. One born every second, as someone said. Compare this very cool essay on the site, Fellow Travelers, a lefty foreign policy blog by Greg Mercer. It is precisely 100 times better than the Lane tossoff. Lane could hav

something on Marx

I resist the teleological interpretation of Marx – that all of Marx is there in every text, and if a text seems to say something that contradicts all-of-Marx, then we just have to either categorize Marx’s works to shunt it to the side – it was polemical! – or decide that it was an unfortunate collateral gesture. On the other hand, I’m not sure that my idea of Marx as constructing his all-of-Marx-ness in his text really purges the teleological impulse completely. Take the issue of the notebook, or the draft. We have these things. They were preserved. But the facile notion that Marx, too, having these things, goes back over them suffers both from lack of proof and automatic assumptions about research and writing that I have found, both in my personal experience and as an editor of others, to be false. I have found, instead, that one’s vital discoveries tend to fade and change and be renewed – that old intentions get submerged by new ones. Yet characteristic themes and inclinations will

white collar crime 2: "Moving barrels at a chemical plant"

Now I have to admit something. I have rather extended Sutherland’s original point. Sutherland really believed that criminal behavior is taught – one thief teaches another. My more fuzzy interpretation is that within a group, what is taught is one’s identity as not the kind of person who commits crimes. It is this which is often the preface to corporate crime, as well as to the judicial and legislative response to crime. I’d like to mix this take from Sutherland with Orlando Patterson’s notion of “social death”, which is the way in which Patterson wants us to think about slavery. I think that if we think of a social hierarchy as a matter of apportioning social death – of identities being created, in the eyes of judges and legislators, out of some fraction of social death – we have a sense of what inequality, the fundamental inequality that practically grounds law and order in the “democracies” that arose in the 18 th and 19 th centuries, is about. That inequality is lied abo

The man who coined the term "white collar criminal": Edwin H. Sutherland

Like Karl Marx, contemplating wood theft in Germany in 1846 and being struck by the fact that the crime was invented, in contradistinction from the way he was taught law operated, Edwin H. Sutherland was a criminologist/sociologist who, in the 1930s, began looking at crimes committed by people other than the urban marginals and degenerates who were the usual object of criminological interest, and he was struck by the inability of theory to capture either their practices or motives.  Marx, of course, began to understand class out of the invention of crime, and soon went on to devise a vast theory about the way class conflict was shaping the society of capital. Sutherland did not go so far. But where he went is of interest. The reason Sutherland started investigating “white collar crime” (indeed, he coined the phrase) had to do with his Deweyian theory that crime was a learned activity. The criminological paradigms of the 30s, inherited from the 19 th century, attributed crime