Subject : ON SPACE, TIME AND THE "PRACTICO-INERT": FROM THE CENTER FOR THE ADVANCED STUDY OF AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, GRENOBLE, FRANCE.
8 January 2006
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
In preparation for our April colloquium on "The
of Pacifist Movements in the
Exercise 1 :
Fix an imaginary point in mid air, directly in front of you; then turn 45 degrees to the right and fix a second imaginary point; now, measure the real distance between these two imaginary points. This is space, and it has no history. It has always existed, even before the birth of our universe.
Exercise 2 :
Take a pencil and stick it in the ground on a sunny day; then place a sheet of white paper next to it, so that the pencil casts a shadow on the paper; make a mark at the tip of the shadow; then one hour later mark the new location of the shadow; now, measure the distance between the two points. You are looking at the passage of time. Time did not exist before the birth of our solar system and the rotation of the earth.
Theorem A :
The study of history teaches us how our species evolved into agents of history, using time and space to make conscious changes in the practico-inert -for better or for worse. In existentialist theory, the role of consciousness is assumed by praxis (human activity in its material context) and the practico-inert (the sedimentation of previous praxes). Praxis surpasses and subsumes the practico-inert. Thus acts of speech, for example, would be praxis, but language would be practico-inert; social institutions are practico-inert but the actions they foster and limit are praxes. [See Jean-Paul Satre's Search for a Method.]
Theorem B :
History is made by human beings located in space
Scientific research suggests that our spoken
language was developed by prehistoric man at least 10,000 years ago. After
sounds of other species --by mimicking the noises made by mice, birds, dogs, lions,
monkeys, etc. --humans are thought to have created speech. Written
scholars agree, first began to develop approximately at the time that
and the lunar calendar were invented, around 3500 B.C. This most
place in the world's first cities which were located between the Tigris
Euphrates rivers, in a region about the
size of the
An examination of the written record of man reveals patterns of both human adaptation and resistance to environmental changes, some of which were caused by human interventions and others by natural forces.
Illustration i :
The institutionalization of stupidity (i.e. the
"dumbing down" a class of people so that they better serve the
"needs" of a mass consumer society) . Football in
Illustration ii :
At the time when most Germans were singing
"Deutschland, Deutschland über alles," some German intellectuals
began to develop a private language which communicated their ideas to a very limited audience. A classic example of this phenomenon,
discussed in University of California-Riverside Professor Howard
Sherman's book, Reinventing
Marxism, is taken from the "
As Merleau-Ponty recognized but as Enzo Paci made explicit, the temporal
irreversibility and structure of needs and satisfactions is the permanent,
categorical structure of the life-world which provides the key to a political critique the reification of time as an aspect of technistic alienation and alienated labor in industrial society.
Finding themselves isolated from a vibrant progressive movement, these socialist intellectuals simply withdrew from society in order to remain true to their cultural revolutionary ideals. The price they paid for this commitment was political inactivity and intellectual isolation. Their language became increasingly private and inaccessible.
Below, we have selected recently received mail to share with our readers articles concerning praxis, the making of history with the use of space, time, and the practico-inert. . . .
Item A. is an article on new U.S.-Uzbakistan
relations under the Bush administration, sent to us by
Item B. is a testimonial by Milton Mayer, sent to us by Information Clearing House.
Item C. is a statement sent to us by Professor Richard Du Boff on legal precedents from the Nuremburg Trials.
Item D. is an article by John Pilger, also sent to us
by Professor Du Boff, documenting an historic phenomenon: "The Death of
Item E. is an article by the anti-war activist and
dissident mother of Casey Sheehan, who was among the first 1000
Item F. is a message from
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Dircector of Research
from Frédéric Méni :
7 January 2006
from Information Clearing House :
8 January 2006
They Thought They Were Free
by Milton Mayer
"What no one seemed to notice was the ever widening gap between the government and the people. And it became always wider.....the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think....for people who did not want to think anyway gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about.....and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated.....by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us.....
"Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures'.....must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing.....Each act is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next.
"You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or even talk, alone.....you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes.
"That's the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed.
"You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father.....could never have imagined."
Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free, The Germans, 1938-45 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)
from Richard Du Boff :
6 January 2006
17 for the dock...
from Richard Du Boff :
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 2006
Subject: John Pilger: The death of freedom
The Death of Freedom
by John Pilger
The rights of ordinary people to speak out against an unjust war and atrocities unleashed in their name are being crushed. Fascism is at the door. Who else, asks John Pilger, will fight it?
On Christmas Eve, I dropped in on Brian Haw, whose hunched, pacing figure was just visible
freezing fog. For four and a half years, Brian has camped in
Day after day, night after night, season upon
remains a beacon, illuminating the great crime of
As the night had covered him, he was lucky. On 7
Maya Evans, a vegan chef aged 25, was convicted of breaching the new
Organised Crime and Police Act by reading aloud at the Cenotaph the
names of 97
British soldiers killed in
Freedom is dying.
Eighty-year-old John Catt served with the RAF in
World War. Last September, he was stopped by police in
He is awaiting trial.
Such cases compare with others that remain secret
any form of justice: those of the foreign nationals held at Belmarsh
have never been charged, let alone put on trial. They are held "on
suspicion". Some of the "evidence" against them, whatever it is,
the government has now admitted, could have been extracted under
And for what?
Between 11 September 2001 and 30 September 2005,
in total were arrested under the Terrorism Act. Only 23 have been
offences covered by the act. As for real terrorists, the identities of
the 7 July bombers, including the suspected mastermind, were known to
nothing was done. And Blair wants to give the security services more
Having helped to devastate
Consider parallel events in the
The Dhafir case is not extraordinary. In the same
A related, insidious tyranny is being imposed
world. For all his troubles in
In his epic acceptance of the Nobel Prize in
Literature on 7
December, Harold Pinter spoke of "a vast tapestry of lies, upon which
feed". He asked why "the systematic brutality, the widespread
atrocities, the ruthless suppression of inde- pendent thought" of
Stalinist Russia were well known in the
A silence has reigned. Across the world, the extinction and suffering of countless human beings can be attributed to rampant American power, "But you wouldn't know it," said Pinter. "It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."
To its credit, the Guardian published every word
warning. To its shame, though unsurprising, the state television
ignored it. All that Newsnight flatulence about the arts, all that
preening for the cameras at Booker Prize-giving events, yet the BBC
make room for
For the BBC, it simply never happened, just as the killing of half a million children by America's medieval siege of Iraq during the 1990s never happened, just as the Dhafir and Padilla trials and the Senate vote banning freedom never happened. The political prisoners of Belmarsh barely exist; and a big, brave posse of Metropolitan police never swept away Maya Evans as she publicly grieved for British soldiers killed in the cause of nothing except rotten power.
Bereft of irony, but with a snigger, the
Bruce introduced, as news, a Christmas propaganda film about Bush's
happened. Now imagine Bruce reading the following: "Here is delayed
just in. From 1945 to 2005, the
The icon of horror of Saddam Hussein's rule is a
of petrified bodies of people in the Kurdish town of
In 1999, while filming in
The black farce extends to those
pseudo-humanitarians in the
media and elsewhere, who themselves have never seen the effects of
bombs and air-burst shells, yet continue to invoke the crimes of Saddam
justify the nightmare in Iraq and to protect a quisling prime minister
sold out his country and made the world more dangerous. Curiously, some
insist on describing themselves as "liberals" and "left of
centre", even "anti-fascists". They want some respectability, I
suppose. This is understandable, given that the league table of carnage
Saddam Hussein was overtaken long ago by that of their hero in Downing
who will now support an attack on
This cannot change until we, in the west, look in the mirror and confront the true aims and narcissism of the power applied in our name, its extremes and terrorism. The usual double standard no longer works; there are now millions like Brian Haw, Maya Evans, John Catt and the man in the pinstriped suit, with his wreath. Looking in the mirror means understanding that a violent and undemocratic order is being imposed by those whose actions are little different from the actions of fascists. The difference used to be distance. Now they are bringing it home.
John Pilger's new book, Freedom Next Time, will be published in June by Bantam Press
from Truthout :
6 January 2006
The Opposite of Good Is Apathy
by Cindy Sheehan
The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead.
-- William Lloyd Garrison
apathy of most
as MoveOn.org was holding its candlelight vigils across the country to
the death of the 2000th American soldier in
11 American soldiers who were pointlessly killed in George's
brainless war of terror in the
in the first 1000 to be killed in
not intended to be an indictment of MoveOn.org, which does some amazing
and who were big supporters of
unfortunate innocents of
"I would say 30,000 more or less have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis," said George on December 12, 2005. Even if one accepts this very low guess-timate by George, his policies have been responsible for ten times the 3000 deaths on September 11, 2001. By his own admission, he is ten times the terrorist that Osama ever was. If George says 30,000 ... who knows what the truthful total is. It fills me with sorrow and hurts my heart to even contemplate the number.
prisoners without due process. Use chemical weapons on other members of
humanity. Spy on Americans without a court order (I hope my
them in a coma of boredom). Carpet bomb cities filled with human beings
yourselves. Destroy the infrastructure of other countries. Destroy the
infrastructure of American cities. Cut taxes on the rich while pouring
and blood into the thirsty sands of the
told me that the "wheels of government grind slowly." This is a tired
cliché and it is unacceptable blather while the war machine is grinding
bones of our children. It is time for us wide-awake Americans to make
elected officials speed up the timetable for withdrawal from
If I hear one more rendition of "We Shall Overcome" and then watch the vigilers or marchers go home and turn on their TVs and crack open a brewsky, content in the fact that they have done something for peace that day, I am going to scream! We can't overcome unless we take the proverbial bull by the horns and overcome!
and marches in relevant places: such as warmongering local
offices. So many Senators and Congresspeople come to mind. Or
in front of a recruiting station. Or
buildings. Or military bases. Then instead of going home and
a beer, or uncorking a bottle of wine, sit down and say "we aren't
until you call for an immediate end to the occupation of
Change will not happen until we make it happen. We can't make change happen by wishing or praying that it will happen.
We actually have to do something.
Cindy Sheehan is a co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace and the author of Not One More Mother's Child, available at www.koabooks.com..
from Monty Kroopkin :
Date: Sat, 7 Jan 2006
Subject: Fw: Act Locally: Support Efforts to Investigate Impeachable Offenses
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January 5, 2006
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Attend Local Events in Support of Resolution to
Investigate Impeachable Offenses
I have taken steps to begin the inquiry into possible impeachable offenses by the Bush Administration, and have called for censure of the President and the Vice President. Now I am asking for your help to stand with me in fighting for accountability.
We need to present a unified front in our call for justice. A coalition of organizations, led by AfterDowningStreet.org, has organized a series of town hall events and house parties this weekend to coordinate grassroots activity in support of efforts to investigate impeachable offenses.
Find an Event in Your Area
Attend a Town Hall Meeting This Weekend
Forward this to a Friend
there will be over 130
events held across the country, several attended by Democratic
Congress. These will provide an
opportunity to meet like-minded people from your area and to coordinate
to hold this administration accountable for misleading us into war. I will be at the Speak Out on the
These events will also set in motion a massive grassroots campaign in support of our efforts. The Progressive Democrats of America have set up a follow-up outreach program on January 9th, called the PDA National Call-In Day, the details of which may be found here.
Become a Citizen Cosponsor
I also want to let you know about a program I have started called the Citizen Cosponsorship campaign which encourages people to sign onto my legislation calling for the investigation of possible impeachable offenses. We have amassed 30,000 signatures in a week and are seeking to reach 100,000 cosponsors by the time Congress reconvenes at the end of January.
This campaign follows a thorough review of Bush Administration misconduct I undertook which culminated in the publication of a 250-page report. [A copy of the report may be found at Raw Story.com and also at CensureBush.org.]
The latest incidence of the Bush Administration's abuse of power underscores why we must unite to take strong action now. Late last night we learned that NBC is investigating reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) conducted wiretaps of CNN reporter, Christiane Amanpour. While it is very troubling that the NSA would be targeting journalists to uncover terrorist plots, what is especially disconcerting is that Ms. Amanpour's husband served as a senior advisor to the John Kerry presidential campaign and would have been using the same phone that the Agency is alleged to have been wiretapping. The overreach of the NSA in conducting warrantless wiretaps is astounding in its audacity and I have demanded the White House disclose to Congress whether, and to what extent, journalists have been under surveillance and report on additional elements of this program. 21 other Members of Congress joined me in this request, a copy of which may be found on RawStory.com.
These continued constitutional abuses means your voice needs to be heard. Please take the time to get involved. Help send the message to the President, the media, and the American people that we want an end to the war and we are not going to stand for an imperial presidency any longer.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Université de Grenoble-3