Bulletin N°412



26 June  2009
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,

Where are the ones who so enthusiastically bought the books of Marx and Marcuse, Heidegger and Sartre, Lefebvre and Simone de Beauvoir , Lacan and Althuser, Foucault and Deleuze, . . . ?

Many are dead; others have sunk into despair.

Where is Despair and what does it look like?

It is the furthest point in the universe, a place inside yourself, an invisible space where time has stopped. Only the most skilled technicians can take you there and guide you out. But they are usually the hirelings of capitalists; their job is to maintain a system based on inequalities and injustices, a system where one gets sacked and the other gets promoted because it's convenient to the dominant social class whose future is in the present; who leads society toward Nothingness.

The cultural confrontation between "social Being" and the "technocrats" (who are armed with the methods of higher mathematics and verification/falsification of empirical observations) has produced an epistemological crisis of monumental proportions in contemporary society, and at every level. What can you expect from a country that only a few decades ago sent tens-of-thousands of its citizens to death camps and slave-labor sites? "We're not running a charity ! We know for whom we work !"

Who is in charge now, anyway: the technicians of social control or productive labor, whose creative powers provide all of us with the necessities of life?  Is it the managers --including money managers-- who are adept in the technical matters of manipulating rules and regulations so as to create new opportunities for private advantages and whose aim is to homogenize and control the means of production (including creative labor), or is it the human labor, whose innate drives would create greater cultural diversity through the very act of fulfilling social needs? To find answers to these questions and to reunite our fragmented vision of society, we must look at the cultural chasms created by finance capital.

The liberal American anthropologist, Edward T. Hall (1914 - ), proposed one method for the analysis of culture in his book, The Silent Language (1959). He and his colleague, George Trager, created "five basic steps" that might serve to liberate anthropology from the "ineptly used" methodologies and theories borrowed from sociology, psychology, and other biological and physical sciences:


1. To identify the building blocks of culture --what we later came to call the isolates of culture, akin to the notes in a musical score.
2. To tie the isolates into a biological base so that they could be compared among cultures. We also stipulated that this comparison be done in such a way that the conditions be repeatable at will. Without this, anthropology can lay no claim to being a science.
3. To build a body of data and a methodology that would enable us to conduct research and teach each cultural situation in much the same way that language is taught without having to depend upon such qualities as "empathy" in the researcher.
4. To build a unified theory of culture that would lead us to further research.
5. Finally, to find a way to make our discipline tangibly useful to the non-specialist.

     In many instances social scientists, under pressure from physical scientists, have been virtually panicked into adopting prematurely the rigors of formal mathematics and the "scientific method."

     Our view was that it was necessary for anthropology to develop its own methodology adapted to its own subject matter. (pp. 36-37)

. . . man is constantly striving to discover the meaning of relationships between individuals
and groups of individuals. The professional scholar soon learns to disregard the immediate
explicit meaning of the obvious and to look for a pattern. He also has to learn to scale his
perceptions up or down , depending upon what type of communication he is trying to
unravel. This leads to an understandable occupational blindness which makes it almost
impossible for him to pay close attention to communications of other types, on other wave
lengths, as it were. An ability to decipher communications in a restricted area of specialization
is what makes men experts. One person may be an expert in long-range events, another in
 short-term interactions. Further, if we return to language as it is spoken (not written) as a
 specialized communication system, we can learn something of how other less elaborated
 systems work.

   The idea of looking at culture as communication has been profitable in that it has raised
problems which had not been thought of before and provided solutions which might not
otherwise have been possible. The fruitfulness of the approach can be traced to the clear
distinction which was made between the formal, informal, and the technical, as well as the
realization that culture can be analyzed into sets, isolates, and patterns.

Hall concluded this discussion of the scientific status of anthropology by asserting that ordinary citizens must learn to understand the out-of-awareness aspects of communication if they are to escape their "culture bound" existence and free themselves from manipulations by cultural technicians in the service of capital.

A more radical view is found in the remarkably prescient book, La vie quotidienne dans le monde moderne (1968), by Henri Lefebvre (1901 - 1991) who wrote of the real powers behind science and technology. The so-called "technocrat," he observed, has virtually no power and the term "technocracy" is a ruse used by the ruling classes to assure their objectives, i.e. the increase in private profits on capital investments. Ideological certitudes, Lefebvre argues, must yield to tentative observations if we are to learn anything new from our experiences, and our experiences are the only source of real understanding.

. . . technocratic influences are active only in organizational and institutional spheres, their
rationality directed towards specific ends and means, so that we should really say
'technocratico-bureaucratic society' and thus deprive the term of its authority.
     And not only its authority, for this proposition exposes its inaccuracy as well. Indeed, what
strikes the critical observer in the present society is a deficiency of technicality. The first
and foremost of the technocracy's shortcomings is that it does not exist, that it is a legend
and an ideology and that the alleged reign of technology is, in fact, a cover for the obverse.
All the fast achievements of technology, such as the conquest of space, rockets or missiles,
have a strategic value; they spell power and political prestige, but they have no social purpose,
no current utility that might influence everyday life and improve it; everyday experience
only from 'technical fall-outs'. As to gadgets, they only simulate technicality, and under our
critical scrutiny technicality and technicity prove to be substitutes, the application of
technology to everyday life a substitute for technology which is itself a substitute for the true
leaders of economy and politics. While our society appears to be pacifically evolving towards
a superior rationality, to be changing under our eyes into a scientific society where great
scholarship is rationally applied to the understanding of matter and of human reality, this
scientificness only serves to justify bureaucratic rationality and to prove (illusively) the
competence of the technocracy; technicity and 'scietificness' metamorphosed into autonomous
entities re-echo each other. A system of substitutio emerges, where every compendium of
meanings –apparentlyindependent and self-sufficient-- re-echoes another in endless rotation.
Is this what is hidden behind rationality and our society's rational behavior?

In the 7 items below, CEIMSA readers will discover complex cultural structures which serve to impede the discovery of a gestalt that might  produce insights into the insipid relationships in this era of late make-believe capitalism, relationships that spin in the vacuous context of a collapsed consumer ideology which continues, nevertheless, to mediate our everyday thinking. The purpose of this exercise is to seek something better.

Item A. is an article by Frederick Butler, Communications Director at the Council for the National Interest, writing about "The Unspoken Hurdles: Israel & Apartheid."

Item B. is an article from AsiaTimes, sent to us by Grenoble graduate student, Tanguy Pichetto on "how the Hezbollah defeated Israel" in September 2001.

Item C. from ZNet, and Talk Nation Radio, is a report by Harvard University scholar Francis Boyle on U.S. covert involvement in Iranian post-election turmoil, to impose still another "Color Revolution".

Item D., an article by Michael Parenti on the predictable U.S. policy toward North Korea's efforts toward parity with nuclear-armed countries.

Item E. is a video from Information Clearing House on "How Israel manipulates and distorts American public perceptions".

Item F. is a video excerpt from the famous Chomsky/Foucault debate of 1971.

CEIMSA readers interested in actively participating in popular journalism by reporting on newsworthy stories in their own region are encouraged to contact:


And finally, a report by GRITtv on "A Twitter world, where everyone is a Journalist".


Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3

from Frederick Butler, CNI Communications Director  frederick@cnionline.org :
Date: 19 June 2009
Subject: The Unspoken Hurdles, Dennis Ross, Israel & Apartheid.

Welcome to the Council for the National Interest's blog, where we post quick commentary on current events and news articles concerning US Middle East policy. Be sure to bookmark us and checkback often for updates. Please visit out website at www.cnionline.org


from Tangy Pichetto :
Date: 22 June 2009
Subject: The consequences of lebanon 2006.

Dear Mr Feeley

How are you? Here is a link i talked to you about, it's a 3-parts article by Allistair Crooke and mark perry on the consequences of the 2006 Lebanon war that's highly interesting, as it pinpoints in which way some of the events in that conflict produced a situation that was unheard of in the Arab-Israeli conflict and may lead to a durable change in the "sacro-saint" balance of power of the near-east:




for those who may wish to read it, here's a link to the original report from the center for strategic studies on which the above mentioned articles are based:


here is an interesting article by Professor James Petras on the latest Iranian election, which highlights how the current post election turmoil is yet another case of class struggle more than anything else, however not the kind that's being advertised to us on western media but of a much more classical "bourgeois vs working class" kind:



from ZNet :
Date: 26 June 2009
Subject: U.S. covert intervention in Iran.

International law expert Francis A. Boyle points out differences between US propaganda in Iran, versus a covert operation that is likely illegal. We hear about Obama strategy to continue Bush and Cheney policy of regime change.

US Strategy for Color Revolution in Iran:
A continuity of American policy under Bush and Cheney

by Francis Boyle

(Audio and Written Article)

from Michael Parenti :
Date: 24 June 2009
Subject: New Parenti article on North Korea.

Dear Francis,
Below is my recent article. Feel free to post and circulate.

North Korea: “Sanity” at the Brink
by Michael Parenti

Nations that chart a self-defining course, seeking to use their  land, labor, natural resources, and markets as they see fit, free from the smothering embrace of the US corporate global order, frequently become a target of defamation. Their leaders often have their moral sanity called into question by US officials and US media, as has been the case at one time or another with Castro, Noriega, Ortega, Qaddafi, Aristide, Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Hugo Chavez, and others.

So it comes as no surprise that the rulers of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) have been routinely described as mentally unbalanced by our policymakers and pundits.  Senior Defense Department officials refer to the DPRK as a country “not of this planet,” led by “dysfunctional” autocrats. One government official, quoted in the New York Times, wondered aloud “if they are really totally crazy.” The New Yorker magazine called them “balmy,” and late-night TV host David Letterman got into the act by labeling Kim Jong-il  a “madman maniac.”

To be sure, there are things about the DPRK that one might wonder about, including its dynastic leadership system, its highly dictatorial one-party rule, and the chaos that seems implanted in the heart of its “planned” economy.

But in its much advertised effort to become a nuclear power, North Korea is actually displaying more sanity than first meets the eye. The Pyongyang leadership seems to know something about US global policy that our own policymakers and pundits have overlooked. In a word, the United States has never attacked or invaded any nation that has a nuclear arsenal.  

The countries directly battered by US military actions in recent decades (Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, then again Iraq), along with numerous other states that have been threatened at one time or another for being “anti-American” or “anti-West” (Iran, Cuba, South Yemen, Venezuela, Syria, North Korea, and others) have one thing in common: not one of them has wielded a nuclear deterrence­until now.

Let us provide a little background. Put aside the entire Korean War (1950-53) in which US aerial power destroyed most of the DPRK’s infrastructure and tens of thousands of its civilians. Consider more recent events. In the jingoist tide that followed the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President George W. Bush claimed the right to initiate any military action against any “terrorist” nation, organization, or individual of his choosing.  Such a claim to arbitrary power–in violation of international law, the UN charter, and the US Constitution–transformed the president into something of an absolute monarch who could exercise life and death power over any quarter of the Earth.  Needless to say, numerous nations--the DPRK among them­were considerably discomforted by the US president’s elevation to King of the Planet.

It was only in 2008 that President Bush finally removed North Korea from a list of states that allegedly sponsor terrorism. But there remains another more devilishly disquieting hit list that Pyongyang recalls. In December 2001, two months after 9/11, Vice President Dick Cheney referred chillingly to “forty or fifty countries” that might need military disciplining. A month later in his 2002  State of the Union message, President Bush pruned the list down to three especially dangerous culprits: Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, who, he said, composed an “axis of evil.”

It was a curious lumping together of three nations that had little in common.  In Iraq the leadership was secular, in Iran it was a near Islamic theocracy. And far from being allies, the two countries were serious enemies. Meanwhile the DPRK, had no historical, cultural, or geographical links to either Iraq or Iran. But it could witness what was happening.

The first to get hit was Iraq, nation #1 on the short list of accused evil doers. Before the Gulf War of 1990-91 and the subsequent decade of sanctions, Iraq had the highest standard of living in the Middle East. But years of war, sanctions, and occupation reduced the country to shambles, its infrastructure shattered and much of its population drenched in blood and misery.

Were it not that Iraq has proven to be such a costly venture, the United States long ago would have been moving against Iran, #2 on the axis-of-evil hit list.  As we might expect, Iranian president Mahmoud Amadinijad has been diagnosed in the US media as “dangerously unstable.” The Pentagon has announced that thousands of key sites in Iran have been mapped and targeted for aerial attack. All sorts of threats have been directed against Tehran for having pursued an enriched uranium program–which every nation in the world has a right to do. And on a recent Sunday TV program, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that the United States might undertake a "first strike" against Iran to prevent its nuclear weapons development.

Rather than passively await its fate sitting in Washington’s crosshairs, axis nation #3  on the US hit list is trying to pack a deterrence. The DPRK’s attempt at self-defense is characterized in US official circles and US media as wild aggression. Secretary Clinton warned that the United States would not be “blackmailed by North Korea.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates fulminated, “We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in Asia–or on us.”  The DPRK’s nuclear program, Gates warns, is a “harbinger of a dark future.”

President Obama condemned North Korea’s “belligerent provocative behavior” as posing a “grave threat.” In June 2009, the UN Security Council  unanimously passed a US-sponsored resolution ratcheting up the financial, trade, and military sanctions against the DPRK, a nation already hard hit by sanctions. In response to the Security Council’s action, Kim Jong il’s government announced it would no longer “even think about giving up its nuclear weapons” and would enlarge its efforts to produce more of them.

In his earlier Cairo speech Obama stated, “No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons.” But that is exactly what the United States is trying to do in regard to a benighted North Korea--and Iran. Physicist and political writer Manuel Garcia, Jr., observes that Washington’s policy “is to encourage other nations to abide by the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty--and renounce nuclear weapons--while exempting itself.” Others must disarm so that Washington may more easily rule over them, Garcia concludes. 

US leaders still refuse to give any guarantee that they will not try to topple Pyongyang’s communist government. There is talk of putting the DPRK back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, though Secretary Clinton admits that evidence is wanting to support such a designation.

>From its lonely and precarious perch the North cannot help feeling vulnerable. Consider the intimidating military threat it faces. The DPRK’s outdated and ill-equipped army is no match for the conventional forces of the United States, South Korea, and Japan. The United States maintains a large attack base in  South Korea. As Paul Sack reminds us in a recent correspondence to the New York Times,  at least once a year the US military conducts joint exercises with South Korean forces, practicing a land invasion of the DPRK. The US Air Force maintains a “nuclear umbrella” over South Korea with nuclear arsenals in Okinawa, Guam, and Hawaii. Japan not only says it can produce nuclear bombs within a year, it seems increasingly willing to do so. And the newly installed leadership in South Korea is showing itself to be anything but friendly toward Pyongyang.

The DPRK’s nuclear arsenal is a two-edged sword. It can deter attack or invite attack. It may cause US officials to think twice before cinching a tighter knot around the North, or  it may cause them to move aggressively toward a confrontation that no one really wants.

After years of encirclement and repeated rebuffs from Washington, years of threat, isolation, and demonization, the Pyongyang leaders are convinced that the best way to resist superpower attack and domination is by developing a nuclear arsenal. It does not really sound so crazy. As already mentioned, the United States does not invade countries that are armed with long-range nuclear missiles (at least not thus far). 

Having been pushed to the brink for so long, the North Koreans are now taking a gamble, upping the ante, pursuing an arguably “sane” deterrence policy in the otherwise insane world configured by an overweening and voracious empire. 

Michael Parenti’s recent books include: Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader (City Lights); Democracy for the Few, 8th ed. (Wadsworth); and God and His Demons (Prometheus Books, forthcoming).  For further information, visit his website: www.michaelparenti.org.

from Information Clearing House :
Date: 25 June 2009
Subject: How Israel manipulates and distorts American public perceptions.

Through the voices of scholars, media critics, peace activists, religious figures, and Middle East experts, Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land carefully analyzes and explains how--through the use of language, framing and context--the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza remains hidden in the news media, and Israeli colonization of the occupied terrorities appears to be a defensive move rather than an offensive one.

Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land

How Israel manipulates and distorts American public perceptions

Video Documentary
(79 minutes)




from Francis Feeley :
Date: 26 June 2009
Subject: The Chomsky/Foucault Debate of 1971.

This is an excerpt from the Chomsky-Foucault debate which was aired on Dutch television in 1971. The moderator seen here is Fons Elder. I am unaware of any full length copies of the original video . . .

The Chomsky-Foucault Debate : excerpt, part 1/2

The Chomsky-Foucault Debate : excerpt, part 2/2