Subject: ON THE HEISENBERG "UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE" AND THE FALLACY OF "MISPLACED CONCRETENESS" IN THE MIDDLE EAST.
26 June 2009
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. (p.96)
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. (p.97)
. . . 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? (pp.50-51)
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 firstname.lastname@example.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 Michael Parenti :
Date: 24 June 2009
Subject: New Parenti article on North Korea.
Below is my recent article. Feel free to post and circulate.
North Korea: “Sanity” at the Brink
by Michael Parenti
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 . . .