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http://www.autodidactproject.org/other/cynzizek.html

 

The most elementary definition of ideology is probably the well-known phrase from Marx’s Capital: ‘Sie wissen das nicht, aber sie tun es ‘they do not know it, but they are doing it’. The very concept of ideology implies a kind of basic, constitutive naïveté: the misrecognition of its own presuppositions, of its own effective conditions, a distance, a divergence between so-called social reality and our distorted representation, our false consciousness of it. That is why such a ‘naive consciousness’ can be submitted to a critical-ideological procedure. The aim of this procedure is to lead the naïve ideological consciousness to a point at which it can recognize its own effective conditions, the social reality that it is distorting, and through this very act dissolve itself. In the more sophisticated versions of the critics of ideology—that developed by the Frankfurt School, for example—it is not just a question of seeing things (that is, social reality) as they ‘really are’, of throwing away tile distorting spectacles of ideology; the main point is to see how the reality itself cannot reproduce itself without this so-called ideological mystification. The mask is not simply hiding the real state of things; the ideological distortion is written into its very essence.

 

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Peter Sloterdijk puts forward the thesis that ideology’s dominant mode of functioning is cynical, which renders impossible—or, more precisely, vain—the classic critical-ideological procedure. The cynical subject is quite aware of the distance between the ideological mask and the social reality, but he none the less still insists upon the mask. The formula, as proposed by Sloterdijk, would then be: ‘they know very well what they are doing, but still, they are doing it’. Cynical reason is no longer naïve, but is a paradox of an enlightened false consciousness: one knows the falsehood very well, one is well aware of a particular interest hidden behind an ideological universality, but still one does not renounce it.

 

 

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Very good read from The Guardian and probably one the best assessments I've read regarding globalization vs  protectionism 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/14/globalisation-the-rise-and-fall-of-an-idea-that-swept-the-world?CMP=share_btn_fb

 

For both Rodrik and Wolf, the political reaction to globalisation bore possibilities of deep uncertainty. “I really have found it very difficult to decide whether what we’re living through is a blip, or a fundamental and profound transformation of the world – at least as significant as that one brought about the first world war and the Russian revolution,” Wolf told me. He cited his agreement with economists such as Summers that shifting away from the earlier emphasis on globalisation had now become a political priority; that to pursue still greater liberalisation was like showing “a red rag to a bull” in terms of what it might do to the already compromised political stability of the western world.

 

Rodrik pointed to a belated emphasis, both among political figures and economists, on the necessity of compensating those displaced by globalisation with retraining and more robust welfare states. But pro-free-traders had a history of cutting compensation: Bill Clinton passed Nafta, but failed to expand safety nets. “The issue is that the people are rightly not trusting the centrists who are now promising compensation,” Rodrik said. “One reason that Hillary Clinton didn’t get any traction with those people is that she didn’t have any credibility.”

 

Rodrik felt that economics commentary failed to register the gravity of the situation: that there were increasingly few avenues for global growth, and that much of the damage done by globalisation – economic and political – is irreversible. “There is a sense that we’re at a turning point,” he said. “There’s a lot more thinking about what can be done. There’s a renewed emphasis on compensation – which, you know, I think has come rather late.”

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The Worst Internet in America 

 

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-worst-internet-in-america/

 

Rural electrification was a relatively swift process, spurred by government funds and a national movement to modernize the country’s infrastructure. But bringing sufficient internet to rural areas in the 21st century is slower and more piecemeal; small companies and cooperatives are going it more or less alone, without much help yet from the federal government.

 

There has been some indication that this could change. President Trump has proposed $200 billion in infrastructure spending, and with his recent statement that the spending plan would “promote and foster, enhance broadband access for rural America,” rural broadband advocates have some reason to be hopeful. But as of yet, there are no concrete plans for the initiative. Downes, who testified about broadband before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in May, said that there was “no discussion of when it’s going to happen, what it’s going to look like, where the money is going to come from, whether it’s going to be debt versus direct expenditures, whether it’s going to be government spending versus loans.”

 

The way the government implements spending and to whom it gives funds matters to smaller telecom companies like the ones in and around Saguache County. Currently, the San Luis Valley’s smaller internet providers that service its most remote areas are mostly frustrated by their interactions with the federal government.

 

“We applied, I want to say two years ago, for a grant that was broadband related and we did not get it,” Andrea Oaks Jaramillo, who works in economic development for the San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative and Ciello, its related broadband venture, told me. “CenturyLink did get federal funding, actually, so everyone thought, ‘Oh yay, they’re going to do more things down here in the valley,’ and that has still yet to be seen.”

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They've been cracking down on VPNs a lot lately. They've always made half-hearted attempts in the past but it feels like they're pushing it extra hard because the party congress is coming up. 

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found this pretty interesting: https://newrepublic.com/article/143586/trumps-russian-laundromat-trump-tower-luxury-high-rises-dirty-money-international-crime-syndicate

 

Quote

But even without an investigation by Congress or a special prosecutor, there is much we already know about the president’s debt to Russia. A review of the public record reveals a clear and disturbing pattern: Trump owes much of his business success, and by extension his presidency, to a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia. Over the past three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money. Some ran a worldwide high-stakes gambling ring out of Trump Tower—in a unit directly below one owned by Trump. Others provided Trump with lucrative branding deals that required no investment on his part. Taken together, the flow of money from Russia provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics. 

 

psycho and eeeezypeezy like this

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Not sure if there's any interest in books itt but I read Mikhail Zygar's All the Kremlin's Men a few months back and really enjoyed that.

 

Currently making my way through Private Empire the book on Exon Mobile. Gets into how Exon dictated/influenced US foreign policy. Especially during the Bush years.  

eeeezypeezy and psycho like this

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https://catalyst-journal.com/vol1/no1/editorial-robert-brenner

 

Capitalism at the height of the postwar boom, in the mid-to late 1960s, promised an ever more prosperous future for an ever greater part of the world’s population. Much of the world’s population was still largely excluded from the benefits of the system, prominently including African Americans and other minorities in the United States, along with much of the citizenry of the less developed world. But few even of capitalism’s most radical Marxist critics could convince themselves to argue for capitalism’s abolition on the grounds that it was unable to underwrite self-sustaining growth and rising living standards. To found their critiques, they had basically to fall back on the alienation at capitalism’s core, along with such secondary traits as consumerism, suburbanization, and repressive de-sublimation.

 

Today, all that has proved chimerical. In the wake of four decades of continuous economic decline and falling living standards, capitalism’s Golden Age promises have been brutally traduced. The call for capitalism’s elimination, which not so long ago could be dismissed as unrealistic and utopian, must today be the point of departure for any realistic Left, and reconceptualizing the socialist goal in a form that speaks to today’s transformed social economy and enhanced technological potentials must be the highest priority.

 

What is Neoliberalism?

The capitalist system’s incapacity to provide more than the semblance of a growing pie has impelled a near-unanimity of the world’s economic and political rulers (the top 1 percent by income or above) and their parasitic hangers-on (a periphery of, at best, 10 percent) to make the radical political departure now known as neoliberalism. At the start of the 1970s, US corporations and the state launched an all-out counteroffensive aiming to revitalize the economy by stoking demand in Keynesian fashion and by cutting costs to revive manufacturing competitiveness. But this only worsened the overcapacity that had brought down profitability in the first place. In the ensuing years, the improved cost competitiveness of East Asian producers allowed them to appropriate ever greater shares of the world market in manufactured goods, leading to a stark reduction in opportunities for profitable investment in the United States except at the highest end, a tendency that was exacerbated by the rise of global value chains that broke industrial production down into its component parts and distributed it to the locations where it could be done most cheaply.

 

The consequence has been that capitalist classes and their governments, not just in the United States but in the ACCs more generally, have largely ceased attempting to stimulate a new wave of investment and growth, whether through Keynesian deficits, industrial policy, or rebuilding infrastructure in the form of schools, hospitals, highways, bridges, and the like. They no longer believe in the possibility of securing a large-scale revival of profitable production by any means. Instead they have turned to a far-reaching program of politically founded upward redistribution, underwritten by both financial and non financial corporations and the government, which has had the stunning effect of enabling them, in recent decades, to appropriate an overwhelming proportion of the increases in income annually produced by the economy while expropriating ever more of the already existing wealth of the working class.

 

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The publicists for neoliberalism like to speak of increasing freedom and promoting equality of opportunity. They seek to equalize the legal position of the players in the market, without mention of equalizing the initial assets they possess (that would defeat the whole purpose). The beneficiaries of increased liberty have thus been entirely predictable. Those entering the market with the most assets, in terms of capital (means of production), technological capacity, innovative potential, and knowledge, have appropriated ever more income. Put another way, ever greater income and wealth go to those economic activities that are most difficult to enter, where competition is least intense because of the levels of innovative capacity, technology, means of production, and human capital required. Oligopolists like Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are emblematic in this regard. Correspondingly, ever less income and wealth go to those activities that are easiest to enter, where competition is most intense, above all the sale of unskilled labor power. While neoliberal multiculturalism may thus call in theory for equalizing representation of blacks, Latinos, and women, the fact that members of these groups tend on average to enter the market with the lowest levels of capital, education, skill, and capacity to innovate ensures the very opposite.

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The Destruction of Matt Taibbi

 

Despite how widespread the story was, not a single journalist or editor contacted the women named in the controversial passages. Crispin, whose Guardian piece appears to have set the train in motion, justified the decision by telling Paste over Twitter direct message that, “I have not written about these accusations as a journalist.”

Incredible as that acknowledgement is, before long it had become an accepted part of the national discussion that Taibbi and Ames were misogynists who had bragged about sexual harassment and horrifying treatment of women. Ames defended the work, Taibbi issued a public apology. The matter was settled, and careers marred. Book sales for I Can’t Breathe suffered as multiple venues cancelled on during Taibbi’s tour.

How did this happen?

Simply put, for most Americans today, the culture and stereotypes Taibbi and Ames were lampooning are completely foreign and unfamiliar. For that reason, eXile does not really connect, or perhaps hold up as well as a show like “South Park,” which also delights in vulgar satire but deals in stereotypes widely understood by American audiences.

“The paper was to be a mirror of the typical expatriate in ‘exile,’ who was a pig of the highest order,” Taibbi explained. “He was usually a Western consultant who made big bucks teaching Russians how to fire workers or privatize markets in the name of ‘progress,’ then at night banged hookers and blew coke and speed. The reality is most of the Westerners in town were there to turn Russia into a neoliberal puppet state by day, and get laid and shitfaced by night. So the paper was a kind of sarcastically over-enthusiastic celebration of this monstrous community’s values.”

The ‘90s were a unique time in Russian history. Taibbi described it as “crazy, poetic, anarchic, insane,” with “no right angles anywhere.” The immediate aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse was violent and lawless, but it also gave a historically oppressed people their first taste of real freedom. And it was that freedom that captured the 20-year-old writer, and made him wary of the foreign powers which were circling like vultures—chief among them, The United States.

“I saw nine dead bodies just going back and forth to work in my five years there,” Taibbi recalled, sounding almost as if he’d been woken from a dream. “It was like another planet. Oddly enough, though, it had a very vibrant free press for the first and only time in Russia’s history.”

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http://criticalresistance.org/about/not-so-common-language/

 

THE PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

The prison industrial complex (PIC) is a term we use to describe the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.

Through its reach and impact, the PIC helps and maintains the authority of people who get their power through racial, economic and other privileges. There are many ways this power is collected and maintained through the PIC, including creating mass media images that keep alive stereotypes of people of color, poor people, queer people, immigrants, youth, and other oppressed communities as criminal, delinquent, or deviant. This power is also maintained by earning huge profits for private companies that deal with prisons and police forces; helping earn political gains for “tough on crime” politicians; increasing the influence of prison guard and police unions; and eliminating social and political dissent by oppressed communities that make demands for self-determination and reorganization of power in the US.


ABOLITION

PIC abolition is a political vision with the goal of eliminating imprisonment, policing, and surveillance and creating lasting alternatives to punishment and imprisonment.

From where we are now, sometimes we can’t really imagine what abolition is going to look like. Abolition isn’t just about getting rid of buildings full of cages. It’s also about undoing the society we live in because the PIC both feeds on and maintains oppression and inequalities through punishment, violence, and controls millions of people. Because the PIC is not an isolated system, abolition is a broad strategy. An abolitionist vision means that we must build models today that can represent how we want to live in the future. It means developing practical strategies for taking small steps that move us toward making our dreams real and that lead us all to believe that things really could be different. It means living this vision in our daily lives.

Abolition is both a practical organizing tool and a long-term goal.


https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/08/prison-abolition-reform-mass-incarceration

 

Whether in response to private property and nineteenth-century chattel slavery, or the prison industrial complex of the last half century, abolitionist movements have unsettled not only conservative critics but liberals, progressives, and even some radicals. The stubborn immediacy of the demand disturbs those who hope for resolution of intractable social problems within the confines of the existing order. To them, abolition is unworkably utopian and therefore not pragmatic.
Critics often dismiss prison abolition without a clear understanding of what it even is. 

Some on the Left, most recently Roger Lancaster in Jacobin, describe the goal of abolishing prisons as a fever-dream demand to destroy all prisons tomorrow. But Lancaster’s disregard for abolition appears based on a reading of a highly idiosyncratic and unrepresentative group of abolitionist thinkers and evinces little knowledge of decades of abolitionist organizing and its powerful impacts.
To us, people with a combined several decades of experience in the prison abolition movement, abolition is both a lodestar and a practical necessity. Central to abolitionist work are the many fights for non-reformist reforms— those measures that reduce the power of an oppressive system while illuminating the system’s inability to solve the crises it creates.

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/09/20/494248596/imagining-a-world-without-prisons-for-communities-defined-by-them

 

"If the system was fair, would I be OK with prison? I'm saying that if the system was fair, there would be no prison."
— Morehouse College professor Marc Lamont Hill

 

When Marc Lamont Hill, a professor and activist who wants to abolish prisons, said that to me recently, I understood where he was coming from. Intellectually, at least. America's criminal justice system, with its machinelike orientation to conviction and incarceration, has grown so many tentacles that it tends to touch the lives of the people in communities of color who are not themselves up to anything shady. The sprawl of that system, and the economy based on it, mean that anyone in those communities can be treated like a suspected lawbreaker. It means that the immediate family members of a felon, for example, can be penalized by their proximity to them. And it means that calling the cops invites a whole lot of contact with the state that can quickly spiral in unintended ways.

 

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/6/19/15764176/prisons-abolition-alternatives

 

America should abolish prisons. Perhaps not all of them, but very close to it.


That’s the argument in a recent, provocative paper by Peter Salib, a judicial clerk to Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Frank Easterbrook. According to Salib, the idea behind the criminal justice system should be to punish and deter crimes. But prisons are arguably a very inefficient way to do that. The researchshows that long prison sentences have little impact on crime, and a stint in prison can actually make someone more likely to commit crime — by further exposing them to all sorts of criminal elements. At the same time, prisons are incredibly costly, eating up funds that could go to other government programs that are more effective at fighting crime.
So why not, Salib suggests, consider alternative approaches to punishment that can let someone actually pay their debt back to society without forcing taxpayers to shoulder the burden of paying for his full confinement?

 

http://www.aaihs.org/prison-abolition-syllabus/

 

In light of the dangerous implications of neoliberal prison reform and the marginalization of the current prison strike from the public political sphere, the Prison Abolition Syllabus (modeled after #FergusonSyllabus, #Charlestonsyllabus, #WelfareReformSyllabus and Trump Syllabus 2.0) seeks to contextualize and highlight prison organizing and prison abolitionist efforts from the 13th Amendment’s rearticulation of slavery to current resistance to mass incarceration, solitary confinement, and prison labor exploitation.

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