Subject: ON OPPOSITIONS, CONTRADICTIONS, AND CHANGE.
1 September 2012
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Upon returning from a three-week visit to Spain --where unemployment has reached a national level of more than 20% (though largely invisible in the streets of cities like Barcelona, Seville and Madrid)-- and after traveling through the vastly polluted areas of industrial farming in Andalusia –the equivalent of the San Joaquin Valley, with massive exports of products throughout all of Western Europe—the revolutionary notions of Gracchus Babeuf came once again to mind and his fatal declaration condemning private ownership of property, for which his head was cut off in 1797, at the age of 36, by the Jacobin government of France.
Babeuf could have saved his life and issued the same appeal for equality –it occurred to me—if his thinking had been more dialectical, if he had sought more to work with existing contradictions and less with apparent oppositions.
This is the quadrennial season for oppositions –election year 2012 !-- and political pundits are heard everywhere pumping up the adrenaline in efforts to appear bold, outraged and confrontational in an era renowned for its cynicism and mediocrity. This farce will continue into November 2012, when national oppositions will terminate with the usual compromises that sacrifice the usual victims in order to appease the usual gods of mammon and prevent the total eclipse of the State.
Meanwhile, a myriad of contradictions will go on as before –un-noticed—giving birth daily to new configurations.
Had Babeuf understood that while the opposite of Private Property is, indeed, Public Property, the dynamic contradictions plaguing the private ownership of property is the Multiplicity of Human Rights demanded by a growing number of people. Had he addressed these questions: Where do ownership rights come from? And what are the costs of defending these rights?, Babeuf could have contributed much more to our lives and to our aspirations than simply becoming one more martyr floating in the formaldehyde solution of failed causes.
The recognition of our multiplicity of rights is a de facto amalgamation of civil law and natural law –it is the equivalent of ripping the locks off the doors of pay toilets and allowing natural flows to proceed, uninhibited and unobtrusively. The multiplicity of rights implies the respect and the protection of natural functions of all kinds, including the natural need for space and all that it can provide to satisfy our legitimate human desires. (Such desires as my neighbor wishing to cook and eat my children, or wishing to kill me and take my home might be considered as being “illegitimate.”)
For this kind of aesthetics to take root, a living tradition is necessary, where hypocrisy is easily recognized to be no more than an empty shell, a form without content, destined to decompose the moment it is exposed to sunlight and fresh air; while, by contrast, new content can be identified as constantly emerging, creating its own structures which are necessarily supported by conscious human beings, uninhibited by dogmas and emancipated from anxieties.
In the 7 items below, CEIMSA readers may discovered how capitalist contradictions drive their lives and determine their aesthetics; such a discovery might lead beyond oposition, through a window, as it were, toward some meaningful changes, including changes in our own acquired behavior.
Item A., from MarkCrispin Miller, is home video capturing police violence in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Item B., from Information Clearing House, is a short video on “the most honest 3-and-a-half minutes of US television.”
Item C., from Information Clearing House, is a discussion on how real is Israel.
Item D. is a documentary film on the American debacle, Lifting the Veil: Barack Obama and the failure of Capitalist Democracy, with Larry Pinkney, editorial board member of The Black Commentator.
Item E. from The Real News Network, is a short video on : Kafka in the Colonies, or the Israeli control of Gaza.
Item F., sent to us by Professor Ed Herman, is an article on “The continuing exploitation of part-time faculty on American University campuses,” by Sarah Kendzior.
Item G., from Code Pink, is a video of protests at the National Republican Convention.
Monster - America
Video - Steppenwolf
"The cities have turned into jungles,
and corruption is stranglin' the land.
The police force is watching the people,
and the people just can't understand.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Université Grenoble 3
Director of Research
Université de Paris 10
from Mark Crispin Miller :
Date: 30 August 2012
Subject: Police Violence in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
That's after tasering him, and before some fellow officers join in the fun.
St. Paul Police To Address YouTube Arrest Video
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – St. Paul Police say they will address the content of a YouTube video showing an alleged incident of police brutality.
The video was recently posted to YouTube, and shows a man being arrested by an officer.
At one point in the video, it appears that the officer kicks the man in the throat while he’s lying down on the sidewalk.
Later in the video, another officer arrives and the two are seen pulling the man’s hair and shoving the man face down onto the hood of the police cruiser.
The man arrested in the video was identified in an incident report as 30-year-old Eric Hightower. He was arrested for terroristic threats, damage to property and obstruction of the legal process, according to the report. He has not been charged.
The incident report also lists the names of two St. Paul Police officers. It lists the primary reporting officer as Jesse Zilge and the secondary reporting officer as Steven Petron. Officer Zilge has been placed on administrative leave while the department investigates the incident.
St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith said the department learned about the incident about six hours ago. He said they have “serious concerns” about the officer’s use of force, as seen in the video. Smith is immediately calling for further investigation and for that investigation to be expedited. He said the department — and the public — have a right to know the full story.
An incident report states officers were sent to an address in St. Paul around 6 p.m., where they arrested Hightower at the corner of Woodbridge and Milford streets. Hightower was arrested for allegedly making threatening gestures towards a woman, obstructing the legal process and criminal damage to property. He is currently being held at the Ramsey County Jail.
Scene of the new HBO series The Newsroom
The Most Honest Three and a Half Minutes of Television. Ever......?
from ICH :
Date: 28 August 2012
Subject: Is Israel real ?
While Israel—cheered on by its American boosters led by AIPAC and Mitt Romney—beats the drums ever louder for a war of aggression against Iran, President Obama in late July signed the United States-Israel Enhanced Cooperation Act.
The American People are at the Mercy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
By Sheldon Richman
from ICH :
Date: 1 August 2012
Subject: Documentary film on the American debacle.
“Barack Obama and the failure of capitalist democracy”, this film explores the historical role of the Democratic Party as the “graveyard of social movements”, the massive influence of corporate finance in elections, the absurd disparities of wealth in the United States, the continuity and escalation of neocon policies under Obama, the insufficiency of mere voting as a path to reform, and differing conceptions of democracy itself.
Original interview footage derives from Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, Michael Albert, John Stauber (PR Watch), Sharon Smith (Historian), William I. Robinson (Editor, Critical Globalization Studies), Morris Berman (Author, Dark Ages America), and famed black panther Larry Pinkney.
Non-original interviews/lectures include Michael Hudson, Paul Craig Roberts, Ted Rall, Richard Wolff, Glen Ford, Lewis Black, Glenn Greenwald, George Carlin, Gerald Cliente, Chris Hedges, John Pilger, Bernie Sanders, Sheldon Wollin and Martin Luther King.
"Lifting the Veil is the long overdue film that powerfully, definitively, and finally exposes the deadly 21st century hypocrisy of U.S. internal and external policies, even as it imbues the viewer with a sense of urgency and an actualized hope to bring about real systemic change while there is yet time for humanity and this planet. See this film!" - Larry Pinkney - Editorial Board Member & Columnist - The Black Commentator
Viewer discretion advised - Video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war.
About this film:
Sub-headed “Barack Obama and the failure of capitalist democracy”, this film explores the historical role of the Democratic Party as the “graveyard of social movements”, the massive influence of corporate finance in elections, the absurd disparities of wealth in the United States, the continuity and escalation of neocon policies under Obama, the insufficiency of mere voting as a path to reform, and differing conceptions of democracy itself. "Lifting the Veil is the long overdue film that powerfully, definitively, and finally exposes the deadly 21st century hypocrisy of U.S. internal and external policies, even as it imbues the viewer with a sense of urgency and an actualized hope to bring about real systemic change while there is yet time for humanity and this planet. See this film!" -Larry Pinkney Editorial Board Member & Columnist The Black Commentator Original interview footage derives from Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, Michael Albert, John Stauber (PR Watch), Sharon Smith (Historian), William I. Robinson (Editor, Critical Globalization Studies), Morris Berman (Author, Dark Ages America), and famed black panther Larry Pinkney. Non-original interviews/lectures include Michael Hudson, Paul Craig Roberts, Ted Rall, Richard Wolff, Glen Ford, Lewis Black, Glenn Greenwald, George Carlin, Gerald Cliente, Chris Hedges, John Pilger, Bernie Sanders, Sheldon Wollin and Martin Luther King. “Lifting the Veil is a major contribution to political documentary. ; It teaches everyone from the uninitiated to the most sophisticated the true nature of the American government... It covers the issues clearly and succinctly, from the opening narrative through to its stirring conclusion.” -Ralph Poynter lynne stewart defense committee new abolitionist movement "The best political film I've seen to date. A must watch if you want to understand who and what Obama is about, as well as this hypocrisy they call democracy." Kiilu Nyasha Independent Journalist and former member of the Black Panther Party "Noble is brilliantly pioneering the new film-making -- incisive analysis, compelling sound and footage, fearless and independent reporting, and the aggregation of the best information out there into powerful, educational and free online feature films – all on a shoestring budget. His films educate and inform while building the movements needed for real change at the grassroots. Noble's films are dedicated to democracy; they fan the flames of non-violent, people-powered revolution." -John Stauber, Founder, PR Watch
from The Real News Network :
Date: 29 August 2012
Subject: Kafka in Gaza, or the Israeli control apparatus.
Yael Berda's new book The Bureaucracy of Occupation sheds light on Israel's more invisible control over the Palestinians
from Edward S. Herman :
Date: 25 August 2012
Subject: The continuing exploitation of part-time faculty on American University campuses.
This stuff is painful.
The Closing of American Academia
by Sarah Kendzior
[The plight of adjunct professors highlights the end of higher education as a means to prosperity.]
I'm sitting in the Palais des Congres in Montreal, watching anthropologists talk about structural inequality.
The American Anthropological Association meeting is held annually to showcase research from around the world, and like thousands of other anthropologists, I am paying to play: $650 for airfare, $400 for three nights in a "student" hotel, $70 for membership, and $94 for admission. The latter two fees are student rates. If I were an unemployed or underemployed scholar, the rates would double.
The theme of this year's meeting is "Traces, Tidemarks and Legacies." According to the explanation on the American Anthropological Association website<http://www.aaanet.org/meetings/2011-aaa-annual-meeting.cfm>, we live in a time when "the meaning and location of differences, both intellectually and morally,
have been rearranged". As the conference progresses, I begin to see what they mean. I am listening to the speaker bemoan the exploitative practices of the neoliberal model when a friend of mine taps me on the shoulder. "I spent almost my entire salary to be here," she says.
My friend is an adjunct<http://chronicle.com/article/From-Graduate-School-to/131795/>. She has a PhD
in anthropology and teaches at a university, where she is paid $2100 per course. While she is a professor, she is not a Professor. She is, like 67 per cent of American university faculty<http://chronicle.com/article/From-Graduate-School-to/131795/>, a part-time employee on a contract that may or may not be renewed each semester. She receives no benefits or health care.
According to the Adjunct Project<http://www.adjunctproject.com/>, a crowdsourced website revealing adjunct wages - data which universities have long kept under wraps - her salary is about average. If she taught five classes a year, a typical full-time faculty course load, she would make $10,500, well below the poverty line. Some adjuncts make more. I have one friend who was offered $5000 per course, but he
turned it down and requested less so that his children would still qualify for food stamps.
Why is my friend, a smart woman with no money, spending nearly $2000 to attend a conference she cannot afford? She is looking for a way out. In America, academic hiring is rigid and seasonal. Each discipline has a conference, usually held in the fall, where interviews take place. These interviews can be announced days or even hours in advance, so most people book beforehand, often to receive no interviews at
The American Anthropological Association tends to hold its meetings in America's most expensive cities, although they do have one stipulation: "AAA staff responsible for negotiating and administering annual meeting contracts shall show preference to locales with living wage ordinances." This rule does not apply, unfortunately, to those in attendance.
Below Poverty Line.
In most professions, salaries below the poverty line would be cause for alarm. In academia, they are treated as a source of gratitude. Volunteerism is par for the course - literally. Teaching is touted as a "calling", with compensation an afterthought. One American research university offers its PhD students a salary of $1000 per semester for the "opportunity" to design and teach a course for undergraduates, who are each paying about $50,000 in tuition. The university calls this position "Senior Teaching Assistant" because paying an instructor so far below minimum wage is probably illegal.
In addition to teaching, academics conduct research and publish, but they are not paid for this work either. Instead, all proceeds go to for-profit academic publishers<http://www.economist.com/node/18744177>, who block academic articles from the public through exorbitant download and subscription fees, making millions for themselves in the process. If authors want to make their research public, they have to pay the publisher an average of $3000<http://authorservices.wiley.com/bauthor/onlineopen.asp> per article. Without an institutional affiliation, an academic cannot access scholarly research without paying, even for articles written by the scholar itself.
It may be hard to summon sympathy for people who walk willingly into such working conditions. "Bart, don't make fun of grad students," Marge told her son on an oft-quoted episode of The impsons<http://youtu.be/XViCOAu6UC0>. "They just made a terrible life choice."
But all Americans should be concerned about adjuncts, and not only because adjuncts are the ones teaching our youth. The adjunct problem is emblematic of broader trends in American employment: the end of higher education as a means to prosperity, and the severing of opportunity to all but the most privileged.
In a searing commentary<http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/opinion/the-uneven-playing-field-of-unpaid-internships/13785/>, political analyst Joshua Foust notes that the unpaid internships that were once
limited to show business have now spread to nearly every industry. "It's almost impossible to get a job working on policy in this town without an unpaid internship," he writes from Washington DC, one of the most expensive cities in the country. Even law, once a safety net for American strivers, is now a profession where jobs pay as little as $10,000 a year<http://boston.cbslocal.com/2012/06/04/open-job-at-boston-law-firm-pays-just-10000-per-year/> - unfeasible for all but the wealthy, and devastating for those who have invested more than $100,000 into their degrees. One after another, the occupations that shape
American society are becoming impossible for all but the most elite to enter.
The Value of a Degree.
Academia is vaunted for being a meritocracy. Publications are judged on blind review, and good graduate programs offer free tuition and a decent stipend. But its reliance on adjuncts makes it no different than professions that cater to the elite through unpaid internships.
Anthropologists are known for their attentiveness to social inequality, but few have acknowledged the plight of their peers. When I expressed doubt about the job market to one colleague, she advised me, with total seriousness, to "re-evaluate what work means" and to consider "post-work imaginaries". A popular video <http://youtu.be/6KkluiR5Rns> on post-graduate employment cuts to the chase: "Why don't you tap into your trust fund?"
In May 2012, I received my PhD, but I still do not know what to do with it. I struggle with the closed off nature of academic work, which I think should be accessible to everyone, but most of all I struggle with the limited opportunities in academia for Americans like me, people for whom education was once a path out of poverty, and not a way into it. My father, the first person in his family to go to college, tries to tell me my degree has value. "Our family came here with nothing," he says of my great-grandparents, who fled Poland a century ago. "Do you know how incredible it is that you did this, how proud they would be?"
And my heart broke a little when he said that, because his illusion is so touching - so revealing of the values of his generation, and so alien to the experience of mine.
from Code Pink :
Date: 30 August 2012
Subject: The National Republican Convention.
Two Codepink Women disrupt Paul Ryan inside Convention Center during RNC inaugural speech