“It’s the oldest trick in the book. You create the illusion of terror, then you get credit for stamping it out; you get funds, you get power. And that’s exactly what’s going on.”— Jonathan Franzen, The Twenty-Seventh City
“Nationalism provides Eurocentric solutions to a Eurocentric global problem as it reproduces an internal coloniality of power within each nation-state and reifies the nation-state as the privileged location of social change. Struggles above and below the nation-state are not considered in nationalist political strategies. Moreover, nationalist responses to global capitalism reinforce the nation-state as the political institutional form par excellence of the modern/colonial capitalist/patriarchal world-system.”—Ramón Grosfoguel
“How then, are we to interpret the current mess? Does this crisis signal, for example, the end of free market neoliberalism as a dominant economic model for capitalist development? The answer depends on what is meant by the word neoliberalism. My view is that it refers to a class project that coalesced in the crisis of the 1970s. Masked by a lot of rhetoric about individual freedom, liberty, personal responsibility and the virtues of privatisation, the free market and free trade, it legitimized draconian policies designed to restore and consolidate capitalist class power. The project has been successful, judging by the incredible centralisation of wealth and power observable in all those countries that took the neoliberal road. And there is no evidence that it is dead.”—David Harvey, The Enigma of Capital (via pragmatica)
“The existing Victorian system of education was created to mass-produce identical human beings, mainly to serve an aristocracy, and, in modern times, an industrial elite. Governments find it difficult to move away from this model, because it has worked. But in a tech-driven knowledge economy this method is not needed anymore, and it will not serve us. But too often we see that teachers and educational administrators feel threatened by self-organized learning. They, therefore, think it is not learning at all.”—can changing how we teach make our kids smarter, more creative?
“In Chicago , for instance, we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices: one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program — the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle class reform in favoring form over substances. I suspect that his ilk is the wave of the future in U.S. black politics here, as in Haiti and wherever the International Monetary Fund has sway.”—
“The world was saved from the terrors of the great depression not by some glorious ‘new deal’ or the magic touch of Keynesian economics in the treasuries of the world, but by the destruction and death of global war… the present theory suggests a rather more sinister and terrifying interpretation of military expenditures: not only must weapons be bought and paid for out of surpluses of capital and labour, but they must also be put to use. For this is the only means that capitalism has at its disposal to achieve the levels of devaluation now required. The idea is dreadful in its implications. What better reason could there be to declare that it is time for capitalism to be gone, to give way to some saner mode of production?”—David Harvey, The Limits to Capital, afterword (via daplaney)
The bottom line is, I think, very clear; there really are planets everywhere, and they must number in the hundreds of billions in the Milky Way.
Thus, the sheer abundance of planets profoundly impacts the nature of our exploration of the universe and our quest to understand our own significance or insignificance. There is nothing trivial about the discovery of planetary plentitude, because it means that we are finally on the cusp of seeing whether a statement made two and a half thousand years ago is correct or not:Despite where we find ourselves, on a small rocky world, there was no reason to believe that the universe would make planets as efficiently as it seems to. Our situation is merely one data point, and a horribly biased a posteori one at that, and our models of planet formation are, to be quite frank, struggling to keep up with the flood of new data. Nonetheless, from the point of view of astrobiology and the search for life elsewhere, planetary bodies remain the primary, critical, target. There are simply no other environments in the cosmos that offer the same potential for diverse and complex chemistry in multiple phases of matter, and the potential for such long-term equilibrium (albeit a dynamic type of equilibrium with energy and chemistry in both sporadic and cyclical flux).
“To consider the Earth as the only populated world in infinite space is as absurd as to assert that in an entire field of millet, only one grain will grow”
“The owner of the biggest art gallery in St. Louis has far less influence on American artistic taste than the owner of the biggest gallery in Los Angeles; the president of Chad has far less power over global environmental policy than the president of Russia. Structures, in short, empower agents differentially, which also implies that they embody the desires, intentions, and knowledge of agents differentially as well. Structures, and the human agencies they endow, are laden with differences in power.” (Sewell 1992, 21)”—
A Theory of Structure: Duality, Agency, and Transformation
William H. Sewell, Jr.
The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 98, No. 1. (Jul., 1992), pp. 1-29.
“You and I, in fact everyone all over the world, we’re literally African under the skin; brothers and sisters separated by a mere two thousand generations. Old-fashioned concepts of race are not only socially divisive, but scientifically wrong.”—
- Spencer Wells, PhD, Genetic Anthropologist, Explorer In Residence, National Geographic Society (via wearerising)
Cool job title - Explorer In Residence. Although one would think an explorer would definitely not be in residence but out and about somewhere. Maybe they are exploring from their armchair, looking through their tumblr window.
Sleep Is the Interest We Have to Pay on the Capital Which is Called In at Death
Sleep is the interest we have to pay on the capital which is called in at death; and the higher the rate of interest and the more regularly it is paid, the further the date of redemption is postponed.
So wrote Arthur Schopenhauer, comparing life to finance in a universe that must keep its books balanced. At birth you receive a loan, consciousness and light borrowed from the void, leaving a hole in the emptiness. The hole will grow bigger each day. Nightly, by yielding temporarily to the darkness of sleep, you restore some of the emptiness and keep the hole from growing limitlessly. In the end you must pay back the principal, complete the void, and return the life originally lent you.
By focusing on the common periodic nature of sleep and interest payments, Schopenhauer extends the metaphor of borrowing to life itself. Life and consciousness are the principal, death is the final repayment, and sleep is la petite mort, the periodic little death that renews.
Credit default swaps [financial insurance policies] are to “hedging” credit exposure what nuclear weapons are to “hedging” a nation’s defense requirements. Yes, you pay less money than equipping a huge army, but if you use the nukes, everything blows up. Much the same applies with credit default swaps.
In the old days, bankers basically didn’t bet against their clients. If the borrower was successful, the banker was successful as the loan made money. If you thought the credit risk was bad, you didn’t hedge it by buying a credit default swap; you simply refused to extend the loan (or demanded a lot of collateral against which the loan was secured). Nowadays, no credit analysis is done and “hedging” is done through these toxic instruments which have no social value and create a hugely destabilizing financial system.
“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”—
MLK on the radical challenge presented by growing materialism
“As the great classicist Moses Finley often liked to say, in the ancient world, all revolutionary movements had a single program: ‘Cancel the debts and redistribute the land’.”—David Graeber (via azspot)
I think there are some very important questions we need to ask about religion in the dominant culture: Why do Western European peoples, and by extension before them the Near Eastern peoples, need a messiah? Why is their appraisal of the physical world a negative one? Why do their societies suffer such perennial and continuing crises? Why do they insist on believing that ultimate reality is contained in another, almost unimaginable realm beyond the senses and beyond the span of a human life?
I don’t understand it. Religion as I have experienced it isn’t the recitation of beliefs but a way of helping us to understand our lives. It must, I think, have an intimate connection with the world in which we live, and any religion that promotes other places—heaven and so on—in favor of what we have in the physical world is a delusion, a mere control device to allow us to be manipulated.
”—Vine Deloria, in conversation with Derrick Jensen in Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance, and the Culture of Control (via cultureofresistance)
Avoiding Another Long War: To President Obama from VIPS
Memorandum to President Obama from Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) on the subject of Avoiding Another Long War; January 4, 2012
As professionals with collectively hundreds of years of experience in intelligence, foreign policy, and counterterrorism, we are concerned about the gross misrepresentation of facts being bruited about to persuade you to start another war.
We have watched the militarists represent one Muslim country after another as major threats to U.S. security. In the past, they supported attacks on Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya and Afghanistan, as well as Israel’s attacks on Syria and Lebanon — nine Muslim countries – and Gaza.
This time, they are using an new IAEA report to assert categorically that Iran is building a nuclear weapon that allegedly poses a major threat to the U.S. Your intelligence and military advisors can certainly clarify what the report really says. As you know, the IAEA makes regular inspection visits to Iran’s nuclear facilities and has TV cameras monitoring those facilities around the clock. While there is reason to question some of Iran’s actions, the situation is not as clear-cut as some allege.
Mohamed El Baradei, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and former IAEA director-general, said recently, “I don’t believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran.”
He is not alone: All 16 U.S. intelligence agencies concluded “with high confidence” in a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that Iran had halted its nuclear-weapons program as of 2003.
We are seeing a replay of the “Iraq WMD threat.” As Philip Zelikow, Executive Secretary of the 9/11 Commission said, “The ‘real threat’ from Iraq was not a threat to the United States. The unstated threat was the threat against Israel.”
Your military and intelligence experts can also provide information on unpublicized efforts to derail Iran’s nuclear program and on the futility of attempting to eliminate that program – which is dispersed and mostly underground –through aerial bombing. Defense Secretary Panetta and other experts have stated that an air attack would only delay any weapons program for a year or two at most.
Former Mossad head Meir Dagan said that an air force strike against Iran’s nuclear installations would be “a stupid thing,” a view endorsed in principle by two other past Mossad chiefs, Danny Yatom and Ephraim Halevy. Dagan added that “Any strike against [the civilian program] is an illegal act according to international law.”
Dagan pointed out another reality: bombing Iran would lead it to retaliate against Israel through Hezbollah, which has tens of thousands of Grad-type rockets and hundreds of Scuds and other long-range missiles, and through Hamas.
We are already spending as much as the rest of the world combined on National Security and $100 billion per year on a Long War in Afghanistan. The Israel lobby has been beating the drums for us to attack Iran for years, led by people with confused loyalties like Joe Lieberman, who once made the claim that it is unpatriotic for Americans not to support Israel.
Another Long War is not in America’s or Israel’s interests, whatever Israel’s apologists claim. Those are the same people who claim that Ahmadinejad said he would “wipe Israel off the map.”
Persian specialists have pointed out that the original statement in Persian actually said that Israel would collapse: “This occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the arena of time.”
What we have is a situation where Israel’s actions, for example in sending 300,000 settlers into the West Bank and 200,000 settlers into East Jerusalem, are compromising U.S. security by putting us at risk for terrorist retaliation.
We have provided Israel with $100 billion in direct aid since 1975. Since this is fungible, how has funding settlements contributed to our security? You agreed to provide $3 billion in F-35s to Israel in exchange for a 90-day freeze on settlements. What you got was 90 days of stonewalling on the peace process and then more settlers. What more do we owe Israel?
Certainly not a rush to war. We have time to make diplomacy and sanctions work, to persuade Russia and China to make joint cause with us.
James Madison once wrote that “Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded…War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. …No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
We are currently winding down what you labelled a “dumb war;” we should not undertake another dumb war against a country almost three times larger than Iraq, that would set off a major regional war and create generations of jihadis. Such a war, contrary to what some argue, would not make Israel or the U.S. safer.
Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) Phil Giraldi, Directorate of Operations, CIA Ray McGovern, US Army Intelligence Officer, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA Coleen Rowley, Special Agent and Minneapolis Division Counsel, FBI Ann Wright, Col., US Army Reserve (ret.), Foreign Service Officer, Department of State Tom Maertens, Foreign Service Officer and NSC Director for Non-Proliferation under two presidents Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council David MacMichael, former history professor and CIA and National Intelligence Council analyst
Labour stopped calling itself socialist long ago. The last vestige of its former ideological underpinning is expressed by its continued commitment to achieving “equality”. With a sigh, the proponents of “equality” will explain that they don’t mean “equality of outcome”, they mean “equality of opportunity”. Basically, this is just some watered-down, technocratic cover-version of the US trope that “anyone can be president”.
The idea is that as long as there is “equality of opportunity”, then a highly competitive economic system that naturally sorts people into “winners and losers” – let’s call it a meritocracy – is perfectly reasonable. But the rhetoric is laughably fallacious. In a system that divides people into winners and losers, you can’t have “equality of opportunity”. The children of the winners will, broadly, always have the advantage. The children of the losers will, broadly, always have the disadvantage, the inability, if you will.
“As Kim Kardashian recently reminded us, marriage is no longer the inevitable result of a wedding; the ritual is easily divorced from the institution. This is a source of some comfort to the single person approaching thirty, bombarded by engagement announcements and Facebooked wedding photo albums. Just a few more years of this, you tell yourself, and people will start getting divorced.”—The Wedding Party
“The strongest lesson I can teach my son is the same lesson I teach my daughter: how to be who he wishes to be for himself. And the best way I can do this is to be who I am and hope that he will learn from this not how to be me, which is not possible, but how to be himself…
This is what mothers teach - love, survival - that is, self-definition and letting go. For each of these, the ability to feel strongly and to recognize those feelings is central: how to feel love, how to neither discount fear nor be overwhelmed by it, how to enjoy feeling deeply… knowledge is the first step in the reassessment of power as something other than might, age, privilege, or the lack of fear. It is an important step for a boy, whose societal destruction begins when he is forced to believe that he can only be strong if he doesn’t feel, or if he wins.”—