"I believe that there is a demonisation of the youth throughout the media. And people are falling for it, because if you’d had no direct contact with the kids that I’m talking about how the hell can you judge them? Because you’re only judging them based on something you read in a newspaper, aren’t you?
See, this fuels the fire. If you call kids words that are derogatory to them just because they are unlucky enough to be born into a family that couldn’t afford to give them the education that you had, they’re going to hate you. Of course they’re going to hate you and you’re going to hate them because of their actions. And it’s this vicious circle that goes round. By calling these kids these words you push them out of your society and they don’t feel part of it. You beat them into apathy and in the end they just say: “Cool, I don’t care. I don’t want to be part of your society.”
And then the riots happen, right? We’ve got a generation of youths out there on the streets. The weather is hot, it’s nice. They ain’t got nothing to do because all the community centres have been shut down. And all the money that was put into summer projects to keep these kids monitored and occupied [has gone]. Their parents ain’t going to take them out of the country on holiday. You’ve got a whole generation of kids that do not feel that they’re part of this society and they start rioting and looting. And taking the things that society has made them feel are the most important things. Sheldon Thomas [former gang member and mentor] said: “If you ask how we became a society where young people think it’s OK to rob and loot, I respond how did we get to a society that cares more about shops and businesses than lives of young people.” That’s some strong words right there.”
“There is no right way, no pure way of doing it. There is just doing it…We live in a post-authentic world. Today authenticity is a house of mirrors. It’s all just what you are bringing when the lights go down, its your teachers, your influences, your personal history. At the end of the day it’s the power and the purpose of your music that still matters.”—Bruce Springsteen
The imminent Olympics will take place in a city still recovering from riots that the Guardian-LSE Reading the Riots project showed were partly fuelled by resentment at their lavish cost. Last week, the UK spending watchdog warned that the overall costs of the Games were set to be at least £11bn – £2 bn over even recently inflated budgets. When major infrastructure projects such as Crossrail, speeded up for the Games, are factored in, the figure may be as high as £24bn, according to Sky News. The estimated cost put forward only seven years ago when the Games were won was £2.37 bn.
With the required numbers of security staff more than doubling in the last year, estimates of the Games’ immediate security costs have doubled from £282m to £553m. Even these figures are likely to end up as dramatic underestimates: the final security budget of the 2004 Athens Olympics were around £1bn.
All this in a city convulsed by massive welfare, housing benefit and legal aid cuts, spiralling unemployment and rising social protests. It is darkly ironic, indeed, that large swaths of London and the UK are being thrown into ever deeper insecurity while being asked to pay for a massive security operation, of unprecedented scale, largely to protect wealthy and powerful people and corporations.
Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:
(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.
(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.
(iii) Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.
(iv) Political purpose. — Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.
So I suppose that those are my principal thoughts upon anarchy. They’ve been with me for a long time. Way back in the early 80s, when I was first kicking off writing V for Vendetta for the English magazine Warrior, the story was very much a result of me actually sitting down and thinking about what the real extreme poles of politics were. Because it struck me that simple capitalism and communism were not the two poles around which the whole of political thinking revolved. It struck me that two much more representative extremes were to be found in fascism and anarchy.
Fascism is a complete abdication of personal responsibility. You are surrendering all responsibility for your own actions to the state on the belief that in unity there is strength, which was the definition of fascism represented by the original roman symbol of the bundle of bound twigs. Yes, it is a very persuasive argument: “In unity there is strength.” But inevitably people tend to come to a conclusion that the bundle of bound twigs will be much stronger if all the twigs are of a uniform size and shape, that there aren’t any oddly shaped or bent twigs that are disturbing the bundle. So it goes from “in unity there is strength” to “in uniformity there is strength” and from there it proceeds to the excesses of fascism as we’ve seen them exercised throughout the 20th century and into the 21st.
Now anarchy, on the other hand, is almost starting from the principle that “in diversity, there is strength,” which makes much more sense from the point of view of looking at the natural world. Nature, and the forces of evolution—if you happen to be living in a country where they still believe in the forces of evolution, of course —did not really see fit to follow that “in unity and in uniformity there is strength” idea. If you want to talk about successful species, then you’re talking about bats and beetles; there are thousands of different varieties of different bat and beetle. Certain sorts of tree and bush have diversified so splendidly that there are now thousands of different examples of this basic species. Now you contrast that to something like horses or humans, where there’s one basic type of human, and two maybe three basic types of horses. In terms of the evolutionary tree, we are very bare, denuded branches. The whole program of evolution seems to be to diversify, because in diversity there is strength.
“I don’t think that people on the Right are deluded, they’re no more stupid than anyone else, but their method is to oppose movement. It’s the same as the opposition to Bergson in philosophy, it’s all the same thing. Embracing movement, or blocking it: politically, two completely different methods of negotiation. For the Left, this means a new way of talking. It’s not so much a matter of winning arguments as of being open about things. Being open is setting out the ‘facts,’ not only of a situation but of a problem. Making visible things that would otherwise remain hidden. On the Caledonian problem we’re told that from a certain point onward the territory was regarded as a settler colony, so the Kanaks became a minority in their own territory. When did this start? How did it develop? Who was responsible? The Right refuses these questions. If they’re valid questions, then by establishing the facts we state a problem that the Right wants to hide. Because once the problem has been set out, we can no longer get away from it, and the Right itself has to talk in a different way. So the job of the Left, whether in or out of power, is to uncover the sort of problem that the Right wants at all costs to hide.”—
What scares the banks is any criticism that goes beyond claims of greed or fraud or even incompetence, and instead questions the system itself. The sanctity and perfection of the system and its right to ‘regulate’ itself, is what they are totally committed to protect. The system is what gives them their status and wealth. Question that and you threaten them where they are vulnerable.
It seems to me therefore that it is high time we questioned not just the probity, or even the solvency of the big global banks but their very intellectual foundation. It is time for us to wrench back the initiative from the banks. The financial elite have spent all this last year rewriting history so that blame for the banking crisis has been turned away from them and laid instead at the door of ‘people’ and then entire nations who ‘took’ on debts they coudn’t afford . It is time to counter-attack and make the case, that it was and is the way that banks and banking go about their normal business that caused this crisis and are still causing it. We have to show that it was not a break down in an otherwise fine system which caused this crisis but that it was a result and consequence of a system which is an utter failure at doing what it prides itself most on being able to do – managing risk. Not just a onetime failure but a systemic failure which presents an on-going danger to the rest of us.
“The UN’s attempt to evade responsibility for the introduction of the cholera epidemic to Haiti and its devastating aftermath is inconsistent with the UN’s overarching mission of advancing the rule of law among its member states, without exception. The UN should take seriously its obligation to model good global stewardship: when provided with the opportunity to set an excellent example, the UN should seize the opportunity to demonstrate that no one is above the law.”—Haiti, Cholera and the United Nations
“So what’s wrong? In short, the common thread I see throughout all the failures is quite simply a lack of empathy. There is no authentic encounter with students, or what Martin Buber called “a genuine meeting.” When we use all the right methods, and we still fail, it is most likely because we are encountering our students as objects and not as the rich and complex individuals that they are. When we do not bring our authentic selves to the classroom and open up to an authentic encounter with our students and the topic at hand we fail, regardless of the methods we choose. “Methods” and “techniques” need to grow out of an authentic encounter with students and the material. Any focus on method and technique alone will be prone to failure. Our questions will fall flat, our lectures flatter, and break-out sections, group work and other participatory methods become just one more thing to do, seemingly without purpose or relevance.”—Michael Wesch - Why Good Classes Fail
“Americans eat oysters but not snails. The French eat snails but not locusts. The Zulus eat locusts but not fish. The Jews eat fish but not pork. The Hindus eat pork but not beef. The Russians eat beef but not snakes. The Chinese eat snakes but not people. The Jalé of New Guinea find people delicious.”—
Ian Robertson, Sociology , pg.67
The diversity of our languages, customs, and expressive behaviors confirms that much of our behavior is socially programmed, not hardwired.
At Conservative Conference, Retired Police Officer Explains How Lobbyists Profit From Marijuana Prohibition
Yesterday at CPAC, the conservative convention held this week in Washington D.C., Republic Report ran into retired police officer and anti-drug war activist Howard Wooldridge. We were interested in his take on the role of money in politics in the government’s crusade against marijuana. He explained that cynical lobbyists, who place their clients interests over America, have perpetuated the cycle of over-criminalization. In particular, pharmaceutical companies and the alcohol lobby have fought behind closed doors to keep marijuana illegal. Both industries, he said, fear competition. Also police officiers and prison guard unions, seeking “free federal money” from the government, have similarly supported draconian drug war policies:
WOOLDRIDGE: The beer wholesale industry donated five figure money to defeat Prop 19 because marijuana and alcohol compete right today as a product to take the edge off the day at six o’clock. Just because marijuana is illegal, doesn’t negate the fact that there’s still competition. The beer companies don’t want it, same thing with big PhRMA. My biggest opponent on Capitol Hill is law enforcement. ‘We love the money you give us to chase Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, and all the rest’ — with helicopters, and especially free federal money. The second biggest opponent on Capitol Hill is big PhRMA because everyone knows God didn’t make no junk. Marijuana’s an excellent medicine for many things, taking the place of everything from Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills […] Private prisons fight me because they want more people in jail. Is it good policy? These lobbyists don’t care.
“The riots bothered me a great deal, on two counts. First, nothing really has changed. Some kids at the bottom of the ladder are deeply alienated, they’ve taken the message of Thatcherism and Blairism and the coalition: what you have to do is hustle. Because nobody’s going to help you. And they’ve got no organised political voice, no organised black voice and no sympathetic voice on the left. That kind of anger, coupled with no political expression, leads to riots. It always has. The second point is: where does this find expression in going into a store and stealing trainers? This is the point at which consumerism, which is the cutting edge of neoliberalism, has got to them too. Consumerism puts everyone into a single channel. You’re not doing well, but you’re still free to consume. We’re all equal in the eyes of the market.”—Stuart Hall
With transit countries facing some of the highest homicide rates in the world, so great is the frustration that the leaders are demanding that the United States and Europe consider steps toward legalization if they do not curb their appetite for drugs.
Drug use has not meaningfully declined at any time in the recent past, or at any time over the course of the past 30-40 years that Drug War policies have been in effect. Prohibiting non-violent, recreational conduct does not work. It just drives it underground and produces as much or more violence and anti-social behavior as would exist if we simply left people to make their own choices about whether and what drugs to use, or not to use.
Prohibition and punishment doesn’t work. Harm Prevention works. It’s time to decriminalize, legalize, and save lives, both north and south of the border.
“By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”—George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism (via chasingsunsetsandjustice)
“the area of suitable sedimentary formations in the region of continental shelf to which the Falkland Islanders lay claim is 50% larger than the analogous area of the North Sea. Some estimates have it that “billions of pounds worth” of oil may be involved. One estimate, now several years old and based on no real scientific basis (although some seismic survey work was done by an American company in 1978) was that sedimentary basins surrounding the islands might contain reserves of 200 billion barrels of oil, several times those of the North Sea”—IBRU Boundary and Security Bulletin July 1994
“I am reminded of an apocryphal story about the American newspaperman who went to Haiti and had an interview with the President. They started to talk about Haiti and its population, and most indiscreetly the American newspaperman asked the President what percentage of the people were white. And the President of Haiti said, ‘Oh, about 95 per cent.’ The American newspaperman looked a little puzzled and said, ‘Well, how do you define white?’ And the President of Haiti said, ‘How do you define coloured?’ And the American newspaperman said, ‘Well, of course, anybody with Negro blood is coloured.’ Said the President: ‘Well, that’s exactly our definition, too: anybody with white blood is white.”—Mayr, E., in Mead, M., T. Dobzhansky et al., eds., Science and the Concept of Race (New York, 1967), p. 104.
If anything can take me out of my posting rut, it’s this article from The New Yorker. Ian Parker brings to light many things related to the Tyler Clementi suicide case and his roommate Dharun Ravi in particular. While I was never really sure what kind of person Ravi was, this article certainly confirms he is an asshole. He’s a prick in the same vein as a pre-reformed Tucker Max. He sounds like the person who’d call himself an asshole before you even had the chance to. He prides himself on being an insensitive dick. He finds other people to be beneath him for silly, trivial, and materialistic reasons. We’ve all met the type. The sad thing is, he probably doesn’t even realize how much his insensitive comments and actions hurt people. I’m not psychologist either, but this is the impression I get.
I also know it’s not good to judge people, and I try my hardest not to, but the presented evidence makes it all too easy. Ravi IMs “FUCK MY LIFE / He’s gay,” and “If gay people were like carter, there wouldnt b a problem with gay hatred / Its the fags like this guy that just cause all sorts of trouble” — as if there’s a “good” versus “bad” kind of gay. He judges Clementi for being born in January, using Yahoo Mail, liking violins, and concludes with “Dude I hate poor people.” I guess Ravi and Mitt Romney have something in common.
Please read it when you get the change. Sure it’s a bit lengthy for an internet audience, but it’s well worth the effort. You really get a sense as to what kind of a person Tyler Clementi was, and still is to so many people. It sheds to light so many interesting things about the case including more previously unreleased IM conversations between Ravi and his friends and Clementi’s confessions to internet message boards and his high school orchestra buddy.
When you’re done, also check out Tyler’s older brother James Clementi’s piece for Out Magazine entitled “Letters to My Brother”.
“When democratic politics can no longer shape the discussion about how we should organize our common life, when it is limited to securing the necessary conditions for the smooth functioning of the market: in these circumstances the conditions are ripe for talented demagogues to articulate popular frustration. We should realize that to a great extent the success of right wing populists… is due to the fact that they provide people with some form of hope, with the belief that things can be different. Of course this is an illusory hope, founded on false premises and on unacceptable mechanisms of exclusion in which xenophobia usually plays a central role. But when these parties are the only ones offering an outlet for political passions their claim to offer an alternative can be seductive.”—Mouffe 2002
“I think that anthropology (and the other social sciences) are the ideological arms of sociopolitical arrangements. I use ideology here not in the narrow sense of propaganda, but in the sense of pervasive idea system making up a world view that both reflects and molds certain social arrangements. In general, scholarship reflects and molds the sociopolitical system called a university, and universities are not independent from our social order, but are paid and organized to perpetuate and legitimize it.”—Esther Newton (1940~), Mother Camp (via literary-ethnography)
“As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own.”—Margaret Mead (via gypsytreasures)
Bestselling Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho is joining in with a new promotion on the notorious file-sharing site the Pirate Bay, and calling on “pirates of the world” to “unite and pirate everything I’ve ever written”.
“Either we have hope within us or we do not. It is a dimension of the soul and is not necessarily dependent on some particular observation of the world. Hope is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart. It transcends the world that is immediately experienced and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons. It is…an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance of succeeding… [Hope] is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out. It is Hope, above all, which gives the strength to live and continually try new things.”—Web of Hope. Resurgence 219, July/August 2003: quoting Havel in 1990 writing
“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)