Friday, April 29, 2022

"Behind the chiliasm of modern man, is the megalomania of self-infinitization."

Spent the day following the mutual appreciation of the young intellectual left and right each basking in the new, to them, awareness of their commonalities, and, prodded by a reference, remembering my reaction to Hirschman, like my reaction years before to Goffman: Didn't we used to know all this already? Isn't this where where serious thought begins? 

Reading The Rhetoric of Reaction. A primer, a great book for high school students.

By demonstrating that each of the reactionary arguments has one or more progressive counterparts, I generated contrasting pairs of reactionary and progressive statements about social action. To recall some of them:

Reactionary: The contemplated action will bring disastrous consequences.

Progressive: Not to take the contemplated action will bring disastrous consequences.

Reactionary: The new reform will jeopardize the older one.

Progressive: The new and the old reforms will mutually reinforce each other.

Reactionary: The contemplated action attempts to change permanent structural characteristics (“laws”) of the social order; it is therefore bound to be wholly ineffective, futile.

Progressive: The contemplated action is backed up by powerful historical forces that are already “on the march”; opposing them would be utterly futile.

Once the existence of these pairs of argumcnts is demonstrated. the reactionary theses are downgraded, as it were: they. along with their progressive counterparts, become simply extreme statements in a series of imaginary, highly polarized debates. In this manner they stand effectively exposed as limiting cases, badly in need, under most circumstances, of being qualified, mitigated, or otherwise amended.

It's left to older students to face the hard questions: how self-described moderates can be war criminals, and their victims' cries reduced, in the liberal imagination, to nothing more than passionate expressions of rage.

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Banging my fucking head against the wall. I thought Streeck was smarter.

In the order that seems to be emerging, social bonds are construed as a matter of taste and choice rather than of obligation, making communities appear as voluntary associations from which one can resign if they require excessive self-denial, rather than as ‘communities of fate’ with which one either rises or goes under. The new social media that have fast become almost indispensable tools of human sociability enable people to connect and associate with like-minded others on the most esoteric ‘subjective’ matters. As cyberspace trumps geography, the connection, elementary for traditional political mobilization, between shared interests and personal relations arising from physical vicinity is broken. One consequence is that social control among ‘network members’ is minimized; dropping out is easy, especially when people use pseudonyms—another facet of the new voluntarism of social relationships. Browsing the boundless supply of causes, tastes and lifestyles made available by the internet, one can freely decide to ‘like’ whatever one wishes; in contrast to old-school political parties, there is no pressure for ideological consistency or for adherence to a common programme.
"In the order that seems to be emerging..." As if he were writing in 1905.
Of course Streeck is right. That's why I have a fucking tag for Utopia and Intentional Communities 

It’s the public proclamation of loyalty to a subculture; documenting the need to belong; atomization and the rise of pathologically over-determined imagined communities etc.
 etc. etc. It’s the sociality of baroque individualism.

We now have food geeks as well as science geeks, all with the moral philosophy of Asperger’s patients: so fixated on their mania for [tube amps/Pouilly-Fuissé/Ducati two-stroke engines] that you’d be a fool not to hire them for your [high-end audio store/restaurant/Soho motorcycle salon]. Why be a well rounded adult when you can be an eternal [pre]adolescent and expert, and a happy cog and servant?

Atomization, isolation and the illusion of absolute community. The low buzz and hum—the violence and warmth—of neurological overload. 

From republicanism to liberalism,  the legacy of 1968, and Henry Farrell's favorite band.


continuing, on Hirschman, etc. 

Oleksiy Honcharuk at Stanford, and the Atlantic Council.

Bellingcat, 2019, "How to Mainstream Neo-Nazis: A Lesson from Ukraine’s New Government" 

On October 13, photographs started circulating across social media showing a man resembling Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk on stage at the “Veterans Strong” concert event in Kyiv. This was, however, no ordinary concert — it was organized by a far-right figure accused of murder, and headlined by a neo-Nazi band.

As later posts throughout the evening would show, including the prime minister’s own post on Facebook the next day, the politician did indeed attend and take the stage at an event organized by Ukrainian far-right groups. The Prime Minister wasn’t the only cabinet member from Ukraine’s new government to be there — the Minister of Veteran Affairs, Oksana Koliada, joined Prime Minister Honcharuk at the concert, and even promoted the event in a Facebook post (archive) the day before it took place.

In the week following the event, Honcharuk has defended his appearance at the “Veterans Strong” concert, and has not issued an apology or expressed regret. In his Facebook post, Honcharuk complained about “some media outlets putting forth ambiguous theses” and that “politicization” of the event was “absolutely inappropriate.” He added that he didn’t support any “hateful ideologies, whether Nazism, fascism or communism.” In further comments at a cabinet briefing, Honcharuk added that “many people” are trying to “split [our] society.” “They can make any of you into a Nazi fascist,” he said.

The episode is a further example of how Ukraine’s far-right continues to be normalized by top leaders in the country. Not only are Ukraine’s top ministers attending events organized by far-right figures, they have also had a literal seat at the table with Zelenskyy discussing his plans for de-escalating the war in eastern Ukraine. Simultaneously, far-right organizations across Ukraine have taken the lead in organizing “No capitulation!” protests against Zelenskyy’s soon-to-be-launched talks with Russia, thus wielding an out sized level of influence in Ukrainian society despite the fact that Ukrainian far-right organizations lack any popular or electoral support.

CATV News. April 28, 2022

With mounting evidence pointing to the Canadian Armed Forces having trained members of Ukraine’s military who are also reported to be part of extremist groups, experts say Ottawa needs to strongly bolster its investigation and vetting of the soldiers it trains and arms in the embattled country.

The Department of National Defence promised a thorough review of Canada’s mission in Ukraine after CTVNews.ca approached them for comment in October 2021, regarding a report from George Washington University that found extremists in the Ukrainian military were bragging about being trained by Canadians as part of Operation UNIFIER.

The group in question – which calls itself Military Order Centuria, or simply Centuria, has links to the far-right Azov movement.

The Canadian military said they were alarmed by the report and denied any knowledge that extremists had taken part in training, adding that it does not have the mandate to screen the soldiers they train from other countries.

In the month that followed, an investigation by the Ottawa Citizen found that not only did Canadian officials meet and get briefed by leaders from the Azov Battalion in 2018, they did not denounce the unit’s neo-Nazi beliefs – despite being warned about their views by their colleagues-- and their main concern was that media would expose that the meeting had taken place. Officers and diplomats allowed themselves to be photographed with battalion officials which was then used online by Azov as propaganda.... 

read the whole thing. new tag for Ukraine

Thursday, April 28, 2022

RUSI- Operation Z: The Death Throes of an Imperial Delusion

CEPA-Vicious Blame Game Erupts Among Putin’s Security Forces

Read them and then Edward Luce in the FT. Leiter says we're sleepwalking into Armageddon. I agree.

Luce: The return of the 20th century’s nuclear shadow

Vladimir Putin’s willingness to threaten to use nuclear weapons is in one respect a good sign: it means Russia is probably losing in Ukraine. It is also a potentially catastrophic one. If Putin’s aim is to scare the west, he is failing. Nato keeps stepping up its supplies to Ukraine. The question is what he would do if he thought Russian defeat was inescapable. Putin keeps implying he knows exactly what steps he would take. Is he bluffing? It is plausible even he does not know the answer.

Either way, the genie is out of the bottle. Putin has broken a post-Cuba taboo on threatening to go nuclear. That, in itself, puts us in new territory. Without most people being aware of it, the world is entering its most dangerous period since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The majority under the age of 50 have grown up thinking the nuclear spectre is a relic of the last century. In the past few weeks, the prospect of a nuclear exchange has become the most live threat to this century’s peace.

In terms of public awareness, the debate about Putin’s language is a good example of “those who don’t know talk, and those who know don’t talk”. It is easy to think of Putin as a poker addict trying to bluster his way out of a bad bet. Eventually he must fold. US civilian and military officials suffer from no such complacency. Many have taken part in war game exercises where the use of low-yielding tactical nuclear weapons as often as not escalates to strategic nuclear exchange — doomsday, in plain English.

If there were a 5 per cent chance of Putin detonating a battlefield nuclear weapon, the world would be at more risk than at any point in most people’s lifetimes. In the past few days, Moscow’s signalling has arguably raised the chances to one in 10. Putin described last week’s test of the Sarmat hypersonic intercontinental ballistic missile as giving the west “food for thought”, which would not sound out of place from Blofeld, the 20th-century Bond villain. On Wednesday, Putin said: “We have all the instruments for this [responding to an existential threat to Russia] — ones nobody else can boast of. And we will use them, if we have to.”

...A pressing question is how Biden would respond if Putin detonated a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine.

Luce gives US leaders, and himself, too much credit. There's no question Putin is losing, but that's not enough for war criminals who need to moralize. If Putin uses a tactical nuke the US should just declare victory and send in doctors. That would be real moral superiority, and it would save all of our lives. 

Zelensky wanted war between Nato and Russia. The answer needs to be no. Nato led him on then shut him out, playing games. They're all playing Russian roulette with the rest of us. 

But Luce at least in't a liberal. Idealism will kill us all.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Fascism is monarchism as reborn as kitsch. Louis XIV saying "I am the state" is grand rhetoric; the monarchy was bigger than he was. Monarchism is a system; people have some idea what to expect, and the result is "normalcy". Life goes on. Fascism is both overdetermined and chaotic: rigid systems subject to the whims of power. Normalcy is impossible. Hitler saying "I am the state" is a fantasy fueled by people who want it to be true, a fantasy of simplicity, of masters who are only masters and servants without agency. And that fantasy is supported by powerful conservative forces who were once opposed: by disaffected monarchists and capitalists, the first out of sincere need for the same fantasy, and the second out of self-interest and cynicism.

That paragraph covers both the psychology and the economics of fascism. It's obvious and I've said it over and over over 40 years, but I'm reading debates among the earnest and highfalutin, both the idiot Stanley and Snyder and those who mock them. Varieties of whig history. It's annoying the fuck out of me.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

David Klion, of The Nation and Jewish Currents. The caveats, in context, in a puff piece review of a propaganda film. 

For a dissident, Navalny is remarkably self-effacing and down to earth. He watches Rick and Morty, plays Call of Duty, befriends some local donkeys during his rural German retreat, and finds it as shocking and comical as anyone else might that his would-be killers poisoned his underwear. His reaction to learning that he has survived an assassination attempt is to say he can’t believe Putin is that fucking stupid, and his successful effort to expose his poisoner (the most unbelievable sequence caught on film) is essentially a well-executed prank call. He may be heroic, but he is the furthest thing from messianic.

Navalny’s human imperfections aren’t always endearing. In an infamous 2007 video, [link to Al Jazeera] he jokes about using a handgun against “cockroaches,” a term used as an unsubtle metaphor for immigrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia. Resurfacing that video has become a mainstay of Putin’s propaganda campaign against Navalny (state media, we see, also variously accuses Navalny of drug use, homosexuality, and all manner of white-collar crime), but it’s still disappointing that Roher doesn’t feature it in the documentary, presumably because he understands that any Western liberal audience would find it repellant and inexcusable. He does ask Navalny why he has marched in the past alongside far-right and neo-Nazi demonstrators against Putin’s government, and Navalny’s answer isn’t very satisfying: While he acknowledges that the far right is unseemly, he also sees it as a valid strain of Russian public opinion and a potential part of a big tent coalition he wants to lead against the corrupt “thieves” in the Kremlin. This is an answer Navalny has given before in interviews, and it’s clear that many of his liberal allies and friends don’t love it. Watching the documentary or following any of Navalny’s recent activities, one doesn’t get the sense that the man is deeply engaged with the far right or shares its main goals and motivations, but Roher doesn’t push his subject hard enough to disavow the far right’s vile agenda, and I ended the film feeling as skeptical of this aspect of Navalny’s career as I had felt going in.

However one feels about Navalny’s personal ideology or that of the company he’s willing to keep, it’s impossible to deny his bravery. He didn’t have to return to Russia, and he did so with no reasonable expectation that he would face anything other than years of imprisonment. That selflessness—especially from someone who easily might have enjoyed a comfortable life in the West with adoring friends and family—could, one wants to believe, inspire a nation to transform itself politically.

Both videos below are on Navalny's youtube channel. You can find translations elsewhere. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

updated. again.

The *serious* American left

I've had about enough of this guy

time to cut this mf loose

if for no other reason than I'm getting steamed on behalf of Jake Sullivan, I mean good lord.

Mohammed bin Salman thinks he can push America around. He needs to be taught a lesson.

Defending the honor of the National Security Advisor, with an added sense of disgust watching this beautiful country corrupted by swarthy autocrats.

Back to liberalism 2004, or 1992 
From its very start in the 1940s, the alliance has always rested upon a cynical deal, that America will provide diplomatic and military cover for a brutal, fossilized Saudi regime...

The fossilized regime, America's Kingdom,  was founded in 1932. 

Cooper accuses American elites of not living up to our inherited exceptionalism.

Bin Salman might be forgiven for thinking that the American foreign-policy and business elites are so preposterously corrupt and/or stupid that they can basically be “bought over the counter like so many pounds of cheese.

He's quoting Orwell, on the English Genius

Public life in England has never been openly scandalous. It has not reached the pitch of disintegration at which humbug can be dropped.  

We've been corrupted not only by the niggers but the French.
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Why not. 
Although nobody remarked upon it at the time, the strange episode in the Mosul mosque [al-Baghadi's declaration of the Islamic State] should have also triggered memories in the minds of at least some historians. Not only were the contents of the sermon and the method of its delivery wholly in tune with Britain’s historical efforts to buttress the Ottoman Caliphate and then its stillborn attempts to recreate one in Mecca, but it also resonated strongly with the White House’s plans for Saudi Arabia’s Ibn Saud to become ‘the great gookety gook of the Muslim world’ and a counterweight to Gamal Abdel Nasser. Moreover, the spectre of the big-bearded al-Baghdadi preaching from the pulpit tallied even closer to a less well-known CIA project dating back to the early 1950s to create a ‘Muslim Billy Graham’. So-called after a Christian evangelical preacher who had rapidly acquired celebrity status – the CIA’s chosen man was to serve as a ‘great mystagogue’ who could promote caliphal ideas and thus help the US counter the threats to its interests posed by the Levant’s rising secular and progressive Arab republics. With a secret committee of specialists having formed to ‘advance the idea of promoting [such a man] to mobilize religious fervour in a great move against communism’, the memoirs of two CIA officers indicate it got as far as selecting a ‘wild-eyed Iraqi holy man to send on a tour of Arab countries. Moreover, the spectre of the big-bearded al-Baghdadi preaching from the pulpit tallied even closer to a less well-known CIA project dating back to the early 1950s to create a ‘Muslim Billy Graham’. So-called after a Christian evangelical preacher who had rapidly acquired celebrity status – the CIA’s chosen man was to serve as a ‘great mystagogue’ who could promote caliphal ideas and thus help the US counter the threats to its interests posed by the Levant’s rising secular and progressive Arab republics. With a secret committee of specialists having formed to ‘advance the idea of promoting [such a man] to mobilize religious fervour in a great move against communism’, the memoirs of two CIA officers indicate it got as far as selecting a ‘wild-eyed Iraqi holy man to send on a tour of Arab countries”*

*Robert Dreyfuss, Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, Metropolitan Books, 2006, p. 87; C. Swift, T. Powers, The Man who kept secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA (New York: Pocket, 1979), p. 72; M. Copeland, The Game Player: Confessions of the CIA’s original political operative (London, Arum 1989), pp. 121, 134–6. 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

"Cheap Speech" again. Rick Hasen is an idiot.

As the 2020 election season came to its dramatic end, and as Trump refused to concede, Facebook temporarily tweaked its algorithm—the set of rules Facebook’s computers use to determine the content that users receive. [p. 8]

There is no doubt that the rise of the Internet and social media has had many free speech benefits. We worry much less about media consolidation and scarcity of information than we did when there were just three main broadcast television networks and a handful of local newspapers in each area. Today, readers and viewers receive information from vastly more, and more diverse, sources. [p. 31]

The advertising money that once supported newspapers is now flowing to digital media platforms, mostly Facebook and Google. [p.32] 

There are many problems with Thomas’s analysis. To begin with, as Eric Goldman has pointed out, the platforms are not neutral carriers such as telephone companies. They curate content all the time, as when they remove hate speech or pornography or when they promote certain content over others. And the platforms are hardly natural monopolies—Twitter and Facebook compete with one another or others—the usual defense of common carrier regulation. [p. 125]

There's plenty more. 
The first quote in context is even more damning.
As the 2020 election season came to its dramatic end, and as Trump refused to concede, Facebook temporarily tweaked its algorithm—the set of rules Facebook’s computers use to determine the content that users receive. Rather than show users just the stuff they wanted to see as driven by their data profile and what they had already clicked on—potentially including unreliable content from right-wing Breitbart or left-wing Occupy Democrats—the company favored more reputable sources such as CNN, the New York Times, and NPR. But this “calmer, less divisive Facebook,” as the New York Times called it, was short-lived, temporarily employing an algorithm designed only for the “break [the] glass” moment when Trump and others fundamentally challenged the election’s integrity on social media. Facebook soon restored its original algorithm, feeding up falsehoods and bile.”

If they determine the content, "platforms" are publishers. If they control the advertising market, they're monopolies. Eliminate the algorithms. Preserve freedom of speech. Preserve freedom of inquiry. I've said it all before.

I grew up reading The NY Times. When I looked at the paper I saw the decisions of the editors, made for and in the name of a subset of the American public. It was the "paper of record". All the News That's Fit to Print, is a statement of authority. When I go to the library and look through a catalogue I see the record of the decisions of a wider subset and a wider authority. It would bother me if the library catalogue were ordered 'just for me', a subset of one. That's now the model of news and information for the majority, and it's seen as normal. And the liberal technocratic response to the new yellow press is to see it as more confirmation of their own status. 

The powerful need to feel morally superior, to defend against the crude, the vulgar, the bitter, inarticulate and poor, all "outsiders" and wrong by definition.
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Just for fun, and the timing was right. Milanovic on misinformation and the falsification of history in the "reputable sources" of the MSM

Because many people never got to the second tweet, I have to repeat my point. Here is an example, among many, how an *entirely* false narrative, propagated by MSMs, has taken hold in the West re. the 1990s in Russia. 
The author I quote below never seem to have consulted

any data: on GDP decline >> the US depression, on deaths of despair, on the largest decline in life expectancy in peacetime ever, on huge inequality, on homicides and suicides, on wage arrears up to a year for many workers, on stealing of govt pensions by private sector banking,

on skyrocketing poverty, on the bombing of MPs who impeached Yeltsin, on oligarch-inspired street battles, on the destruction of entire economic sectors. This just dd not exist.

[Link: A New Era of Containment?]

Saturday, April 16, 2022

A new book that's causing a still in some circles. The disconnect between the two paragraphs makes my head spin. Or at least it did once. The modern First Estate, ignoring the fact that it exists, speaking as if from the aether.  

Markets are taken as the norm in economics and in much of political and media discourse. But if markets are superior why does the public sector remain so large? Avner Offer provides a distinctive new account of the effective temporal limits on private, public, and social activity. Understanding the Private-Public Divide accounts for the division of labour between business and the public sector, how it changes over time, where the boundaries ought to run, and the harm that follows if they are violated. He explains how finance forces markets to focus on short-term objectives and why business requires special privileges in return for long-term commitment. He shows how a private sector policy bias leads to inequality, insecurity, and corruption. Integrity used to be the norm and it can be achieved again. Only governments can manage uncertainty in the long—term interests of society, as shown by the challenge of climate change.

AVNER OFFER is Chichelc Professor Emeritus of Economic History at Oxford University, Fellow of All Souls College and the British Academy. His books include The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain Since 1950 (2006) and the co-authored The Nobel Factor: The Prize in Economics, Social Democracy, and the Market Turn (2016).

Serendipity

Delinking entails rejecting calls to adjust to a country’s comparative advantage and other forms of catering to foreign interests. This is, of course, easier said than done. Amin noted that it would both require strong domestic support for such a national project and strong South-South cooperation as an alternative to the exploitative economic relations between the core and the periphery. Other aspects of delinking would involve investments in long-term projects, such as infrastructure, with the goal of improving the quality of living for most people in the country, rather than maximising short-term consumption or profit.

I should have a tag for comparative advantage, a literature almost as absurd as trolley problems. I have tags for Angus Deaton and Dani Rodrik and that mostly covers it. Rationalists rationalize decadent scholasticism. 

It's not possible to separate structure from culture, language from speech, so you'd better start thinking about both.

Monday, April 11, 2022

If Musk buys twitter I wonder if that means I'll be let back on.
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Gilbert Harman has been consigned to history.

At first I had the links reversed but it works better this way.

For fun, searching Milanovic for references to Hegel. I've always been allied to the followers of the materialist long view, so with historians and from that to historically minded bureaucrats. I'm not opposed to academia any more than I'm opposed to the post office. I mocked Bourdieu for having the mind of a postal clerk who could chart the French postal system but couldn't write an interesting letter. If readers of books are one step removed from the minds of those who write them, librarians and their love of filing systems are two steps removed. Legal philosophers debate ideas; lawyers are functionaries, performers and ironists. Thinking about Eisenstein again.

Milanovic in China Daily [Stay Informed. This links to a China state—affiliated media website]

Joking aside, the collaborative relation of governments and academy is part and parcel of neoliberalism, and collaborations with monarchies and one party states are a logical extension.

Apparently the tide is beginning to turn, though for the wrong reasons,” Sahlins said. “As I said in my Inside Higher Ed op-ed last year, we are now in a pick-your-poison, lose-lose situation: either keep the CIs or allow the U.S. government to interfere in the curriculum -- mimicking the Chinese [Communist] Party-State.”

Corrupt democracies are not dictatorships and liberal hypocrisy is not fascist. The slope is not the pit. Technocrats and libertarians are two sides of the same coin.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

For Fukuyama it is this double demonstration, of the magnetism of representative institutions and of competitive markets, that has sealed the victory of liberal capitalism.”

One of the images above is an image of stability. The other illustrates the quote. Markets are only as liberal as the people who control them. The end of history is the end of time.

It would be simpler if Fukuyama tried to make the case that what's ended for now is the fantasy of the politics of utopia. But that would require him to face those who would argue that this is a return of history as the word is understood by historians as opposed to millenarians, to secularism and materialism as practiced, and the fading of the authority of philosophy as such. But his definition of liberalism is founded on ideas, to which acts are made to fit. Idealists are first idealists about themselves. And Anderson can't call bullshit on fantasies without calling bullshit on his own.
  
It still amazes me how so much self-defined "intellectual" debate reduces to theology, the relations of ideas coded as words woven into a web that's then labeled, without a wink or a smile, "True Map of the World".  It annoyed me when Arendt referred to "authority","power", "force",  "strength", as if they were elements in the periodic table. And Shklar refers to "radical" in the same way.

Tooze says Anderson's essay was a revelation. I don't fucking understand these people. His review works best as philology, but that's now it was intended. A Zone of Engagement includes a piece on Marshall Berman, another romantic liberal individualist. This shit is tiresome.

Tooze
One of humanity’s recurring hopes has been that through history we might escape war. Since World War II Western Europe in particular has been invested in the idea of consigning war to the past. That is a hope that is based not just on a humanitarian impulse, but also on the sense that the basic questions of international politics were resolved and that for the settlement of whatever remained, the modern instruments of war – most notably nuclear weapons – were likely counterproductive. The era of military history was thus consigned to an earlier developmental phase.

He quotes  Hochuli and Hoare’s The End of the End of History 

In Hegel’s view, the specific historic gain of the French Revolution was to reveal the universal character of human freedom, that is, the claim that freedom is in fact part of being human. Freedom was thus not merely an abstract philosophical proposition, but a political proposition that could be realized in concrete institutions. This was Hegel’s original meaning of the End of History – that whatever followed the French Revolution had to be based on the universal claims of human freedom. This in turn meant that no social or political order could ever be fully stable. The significance of this insight is that freedom cannot be limited or appended to one specific regime or order, as it is precisely the expansiveness and restlessness of human freedom that exceeds any one specific set of political and social institutions.

I've said it for 40 years: modern philosophy is the product of theologians struggling to come to terms with the absence of god, and therefore of purpose. And Nietzsche's anti-Christianity is predicated on the existence of what it struggles to oppose: Nietzsche's is a slave mentality in rebellion against itself. It's all so boring. 

I wrote somewhere recently that post-humanism describes the situation in Europe for the past 2000 years. Hegel's "insight" is important only in marking the fading of Christian teleology.

The end of history was the end of the age of Europeans fighting with each other; history returned when they began fighting each other again. It only makes sense that Hochuli and Hoare (and Cunliffe) would be useless on Israel. Liberals throw up their hands and walk away when conflicts make them uncomfortable. They lose the ability to analyze. There's more, but it's not worth it. He's a fan of Timothy Brennan. And I've mocked Lee Fang enough that he almost deserves his own tag.

Gordon Brown is calling for a new Nuremberg-style trial for Putin. Liberalism does make nihilism attractive.

Saturday, April 09, 2022

NDPR vs IMDB 

Captain Miller: You see, when... when you end up killing one of your men, you see, you tell yourself it happened so you could save the lives of two or three or ten others. Maybe a hundred others. Do you know how many men I've lost under my command?

Sergeant Horvath: How many?

Captain Miller: Ninety-four. But that means I've saved the lives of ten times that many, doesn't it? Maybe even 20, right? Twenty times as many? And that's how simple it is. That's how you... that's how you rationalize making the choice between the mission and the man.

IMDB 1 — NDPR 0

Always so fucking obvious. The words of a non-fictional professional soldier:

So you want to be a career soldier? Good for you. But remember that the longer you stay in uniform, the less you will really understand about the country you protect. Democracy is the antithesis of the military life; it’s chaotic, dishonest, disorganized, and at the same time glorious, exhilarating and free — which you are not.

After a while, if you stay in, you’ll be tempted to say, “Look, you civilians, we’ve got a better way. We’re better organized. We’re patriotic, and we know what it is to sacrifice. Be like us.” And you’ll be dead wrong, son. If you’re a career soldier, you may defend democracy, but you won’t understand it or be part of it. What’s more, you’ll always be a stranger to your own society. That’s the sacrifice you’ll be making.

I just watched the film for the first time and it's everything its critics said it was. Spielberg will last, in spite of his best intentions. That's true for most artists; their works are more interesting than they are.

When Kaminski started out he didn't have a reel. He had a book of of images of Norman Rockwell paintings. "You want this? I'll give you this." He's an asshole who helps his friends. One of those  friends made the same offer to me and I turned it down. I can't imagine saying yes, but I wish I could.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

PCHR: Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Violation of right to life and bodily integrity

Three Palestinian civilians, including a child, were killed by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF)’s fire in two separate incidents in Jenin and Hebron, and another one was killed by an Israeli settler who opened fire at him after carrying out a stabbing attack near Bethlehem. Also, 31 Palestinians, including 7 children, sustained wounds and tens of others sustained bruises and suffocated due to teargas inhalation in separate incidents in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem

On 31 March 2022, two Palestinian civilians, including a child, were killed and 15 others, including 3 children, were injured in excessive use of force during clashes that accompanied IOF’s incursion into Jenin refugee camp. More information available here. On the same day, a Palestinian was killed by an Israeli settler who opened several live bullets at him after carrying out a stabbing attack that resulted in the injury of a settler in an Israeli bus near “Neve Daniel” settlement in southern Bethlehem, according to IOF and there were no Palestinian eyewitnesses to the incident. In the evening hours, a Palestinian was wounded with a live bullet in his pelvis near al-Khadury University in western Tulkarm.

On 01 April 2022, a Palestinian civilian was killed after being shot with a live bullet in his chest by IOF during their incursion into Hebron. On the same day, 9 Palestinians, including 3 children, were shot with rubber bullets during IOF’s suppression of Kafr Qaddoum weekly protest in northern Qalqilya. In the evening,...  

The SCOTUS hearing was unbearable to watch for many reasons. I haven't read anyone complain about a woman feeling compelled to apologize to her children for not being a good mother. And all the celebration of the first black woman on the court would be the same if Biden had chosen Michelle Childs. 

"Black Lives Matter is a cry for full recognition within the established terms of liberal democratic capitalism."

Follow the bouncing ball and it will take you to the source. If you're impatient click here.  

I also want to see a mashup of talking heads proclaiming the importance of having a black woman on the court with videos of the importance of the fight in Ukraine: It's not Iraq; it's not the third world. "It's different this time." The link's to South African Trevor Noah. 

Another South African on Key and Peele in 2013, on the website named for the phrase that I thought of when Ketanji Brown Jackson said her parents had given here an "African" name.

Read or scroll down

What’s not included in the video above was their introduction to the live studio audience where Peele announces: “OK, so Africa is a fucked up place.” To which Key, seemingly surprised, responds in a disingenuous defense of Africa: “You wouldn’t want to see the Nile? The plains of the Serengeti?” Which is really just the vehicle for which Peele’s lambasting can continue: “You have flyover states. Now, to me that’s a flyover continent.” And the pièce de résistance: “Slavery was an awful thing. Silver lining? It got my ass out of Africa.” The follow up to which was the skit depicting two slaves who get increasingly jealous that no one is bidding for them at the slave auction.
An early reply points out that the far right has more representation in the Greek parliament than in Ukraine. It was meant as a criticism of Varoufakis, but it's obvious that's why Zelensky included them.
Fair enough. But Zelenski CHOSE to stand next to a neonazi during his video-talk to our Parliament. He must be condemned on two grounds: 1. Normalising Nazism 2. Supporting Putin's claim that Ukrainian resistance = nazism

in the spring of 1989, an arresting work of intellectual history was completed in Germany. Its author, Lutz Niethammer, had hitherto distinguished himself as an oral historian specializing in the reconstruction of popular life from below. The field of Posthistoire is virtually antithetical. Its subject is the emergence of a web of speculations on the end of history, at the highest reaches of the European intelligentsia, in the middle years of this century. Drawing on a variety of philosophical and sociological sources, these could stem from a range of distinct intuitions. Niethammer distinguishes three main variants: the idea of a spiritual closure of the repertory of heroic possibilities, derivable from Nietzsche; the vision of a petrification of society into a single vast machine, associated with Weber; and intimations of civilizational entropy, following from Henry Adams. But the focus of his study lies downstream from ultimate origins, in the confluence of such themes into a striking intellectual configuration that he situates, with some precision, in the Franco-German area between the time of the Popular Front and the Marshall Plan. 

It was then that an uncanny skein of thinkers started to suggest that history was nearing its terminus. In a brilliant feat of intellectual detection, Niethammer brings to light the hidden links or affinities — Cultural or political — within a group of otherwise very contrasted theorists of the period: Henri de Man, Arnold Gehlen, Bertrand dc Jouvenel, Carl Schmitt, Alexandre Kojeve, Ernst Jiinger, Henri Lefebvre, even in their way Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno. Posthistoire, a French term that exists only in German, adopted in the fifties by Gehlen from a reading of de Man, signifies for Niethammer less a theoretical system than a structure of feeling, the precipitate of a certain common historical experience. These were thinkers, Niethammer argues, who shared early hopes of a radical overthrow of the established social order in Europe, as activists or sympathizers with the major 'parties of movement’ of the inter-war period — socialist, fascist, communist; and then disappointments which crystallized into a deep  scepticism about the possibility of further historical change as such. The result was something like like a collective vision — glimpsed from many different angles — of a stalled exhausted world, dominated by recursive mechanisms of bureaucracy and ubiquitous circuits of commodities, relieved only by the extravagances of a phantasmagorical imaginary without limit, because without power. In post-historical society, 'the rulers have ceased to rule, but the slaves remain slaves.'  For-Niethammer, this diagnosis of the time is not without persuasive force: it corresponds to many particular experiences of daily life and local observations of social science. But they who speak of the end of history do not escape it. The pathos of Posthistoire is the intelligible product of a political conjuncture interpreted in the categories of a philosophical tradition.   

For this is a vision, Niethammer argues, that should be understood as an inversion of the optimistic theories of history of the eighteenth and mid nineteenth centuries, that had once looked forward to universal peace or freedom or fraternity as the end-goal of human progress, in secularized versions of the teleology of sacred history. That serene Enlightenment confidence — shared by Holbach and Kant, Comte and Marx — in the objective course of social development had fallen into discredit by the close of the last century. What succeeded it were tense voluntarist bids to achieve millennial ends by force of subjective will, in the doctrines of Nietzsche, Sorel or Lenin. These acquired a mass following during and in the wake of the First World War, and form the immediate background to the revolutionary ambitions of those who were to become the theorists of Posthistoire. Their original expectations cashiered, these did not abandon the metaphysic of a historical transfiguration, but rather reversed its sign. The optimism of evolutionary progress or collective will gave way to an elitist cultural pessimism, that saw only petrifaction and massification in the stabilized Western democracies after the Second World War. Time still arrived at its term: but no longer with the meaning of an end — simply the facticity of an ending, disabling any ulterior aspiration or purpose. ln metaphorically  projecting their own political experience as a world~history gone blank these thinkers characteristically paid little heed to the material development which actually threatened to bring history to an end, the dangers of nuclear war; still less to the fate of the famished majority of humanity outside the zone of industrial privilege. Posthistoire, a discourse of the end of meaning rather than the end of the world, was consistently blind to such questions: 'die Sinnfrage verdunkelt die Existenzefrage'.

Evidently critical, Niethammer’s treatment of the cluster of writers at the centre of his account is never dismissive. Written from the Left, about a set of figures many of whom were or ended up on the Right, its method - inspired by Benjamin's mosaics—is delicate and diagonal. The reveries of post-history does not seek to diminish them, as significant reflections of their time.  Niethammer’s conclusions lie elsewhere. These were generally intellectuals who after their Political disappointments adopted the stance of an elite equally distant from the masses and from the appearances of the post-war order, conceiving themselves as isolated seers. From this posture they sought an overarching viewpoint, capable of distilling the substance of universal experience into a single narrative. Against this twofold pretension, Niethammer affirms the creed of a democratic history from below. Socially, intellectuals form in fact one part of the mass from which they like to distinguish themselves, a collectivity that dissolves on reflection into so many individual subjects. Epistemologically, truth lies first of all in the direct life-experiences of these subjects. It is their clarification that is the first duty of the historian, who is best advised to eschew all larger structural interpretations save as limiting surmises. Critical knowledge is to be found, not in the vain filibuster of macro-narratives, but in the modest commonplace hooks of the multitude - whose measure of freedom and responsibility is the only safeguard against the dangers which the diviners of post-history saw, as well as those they missed. The concluding judgement of Niethammer’s study could be taken as an obituary, laying to rest an esoteric doctrine whose creative time has passed.

Two months later, in July 1989, Francis Fukuyama published his essay "The End of History?" in Washington. There has rarely been a more striking rebondissement in the fortunes of an idea. Within a year, an arcane philosophical wisdom had become an exoteric image of the age, as Fukuyama’s arguments sped round the media of the globe. Unaware of Niethammer’s work (completed in May, published in November), this American reprise was directly linked to the Franco-German nexus studied in Posthistoire through the figure of Alexandre Kojévc — the declared theoretical source of Fukuyama's construction. construction. But the connection represents a paradox for Niethammer’s verdict. For the new version of the end of history did not come from any vantage-point, real or imaginary, in equidistant isolation from the populace and power, but from the bureaux of the State Department itself, and its organizing theme was not one of forbidding pessimism, but of confident Optimism. The change of register was also a shift in plane. In the Franco-German philosophers of history there was always more philosophy than history, politics glimmering only as elusive metaphor in the background of the diagnosis. In Fukuyama’s intervention the relations were reversed, history and politics in an emphatic sense occupying the foreground, with philosophical references forming a tracery behind them. The central thesis of his original essay was, of course, that humanity has reached the end-point of its ideological evolution with the triumph of Western liberal democracy over all competitors at the end of the twentieth century. Fascism, once a powerful rival, had been durably destroyed in the Second World War. Communism, the great post-war adversary, was in visible collapse, surrendering as a system to the capitalism it had once sought to overthrow. These two global alternatives discredited, there remained only local residues of the historical past: nationalisms without distinctive social content or universal claim, fundamentalisms confined to particular religious communities, in the backward zones of the Third World. The victory of liberal capitalism had been won not only in Europe, with the defeat of Nazism and the disintegration of Stalinism, but in the equally momentous battleground of Asia too, with the post-war transformation of Japan, the current liberalization of South Korea and Taiwan, the developing commercialization of China. In the industrialized world, competition between national states would continue. But purged of ideological or military toxins, it would concern mainly economic issues, within a collaborative framework of which the common market perhaps already furnished a model. In this view ethnic tensions or sectarian passions, terror or insurgency, might still proliferate in the South. But they do not compromise the deep configuration of the time. For the end of history is not the cessation of all change or conflict, but the exhaustion of any viable alternatives to the civilization of the OECD. 

...Two kinds of objection were consistently raised against Fukuyama. The first was that his construction rests on a basic misrepresentation of Hegel. The second was that it involves a complete misconception of the age — ingenuously apologetic for some, dangerously insouciant for others. Each of these criticisms, made before the publication of Fukuyama’s book The End of History and the Last Man in 1992 amplified his case, bears examination. Before looking at them, however, one thing should already be plain. Niethammer’s profile of the philosophical figure of post-history, penetrating though it is, does not capture all its variations, which have proved richer than he suggests. The concluding cadences of Fukuyama’s essay, echoing late reflections in Kojève, belong to the portrait of Posthistoire. But here they appear as if an ironic after-thought, in an account whose central theme is a robust affirmation of the democratic prosperity Jünger or Gehlen scorned, and whose function is precisely to mediate between the official worlds of government and popular currents of opinion with a compelling public vision of the time. Such a role suggests a limit not just of Niethammer‘s description of the discourse of post-history, but of his recommended antidote to it. For his critique of the Franco-German tradition in effect concludes, not with an alternative to its diagnosis of the age, contesting its substantive theses, but with a call to eschew such ventures altogether — rejecting any macro-historical narrative as intellectually and politically overweening. Currently, the effect of such a withdrawal would be to leave the American variant in possession of the field. If this is to be questioned; it can only be on its own — legitimate, even inescapable terrain. The values of daily experience and local investigation are real; but they are no refuge from the course of the world. In general modern historians have nearly always reacted, understandably, against philosophies of history. But these have not gone away, and are unlikely to, as long as the demand for social meaning over time persists. The idea of a closure of history has a more complicated pedigree than is often assumed — one which merits consideration in its own right, or the light it sheds on the political issues posed by contemporary versions.

Perry Anderson "The Ends of History"

His language is languid, aristocratic; the flow is narcotic; he argues for the history of religion written by theologians. And did no one notice that Fukuyama's essay was published in a American journal called The National Interest? I guess that's for another generation of historians.

Evidently critical, Niethammer’s treatment of the cluster of writers at the centre of his account is never dismissive. Written from the Left, about a set of figures many of whom were or ended up on the Right, its method — inspired by Benjamin's mosaics — is delicate and diagonal. 

Hardly the method of a writer of the multitude, but I'm not going to quibble. Everything above is romance; if Fukuyama returned to 19th century optimism that's just another fact of intellectual history and of history.

The values of daily experience and local investigation are real; but they are no refuge from the course of the world. In general modern historians have nearly always reacted, understandably, against philosophies of history. But these have not gone away, and are unlikely to, as long as the demand for social meaning over time persists.

The inevitability of an enchanted world.

I'm happy to admit that Hegel's theories are of more cultural importance than 19th century debates within the Church, but to a non-believer his fictions are arguably no more or less important than Goethe's. And isn't it the point to be at most a sympathetic non-believer?

The best writing like the best thought allows for romance and its opposite, the intimate and distant, giving credit to the capacities and the inevitabilities of the animal and human. High church decadence annoys me not because it's decadent but because it's dishonest: a lecture by a priest, not his wit at the orgy.

coda I guess

2012

A USA Today reporter and editor investigating Pentagon propaganda contractors have themselves been subjected to a propaganda campaign of sorts, waged on the Internet through a series of bogus websites.

2013

For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government's mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. 

2022

NBC News: In a break with the past, U.S. is using intel to fight an info war with Russia, even when the intel isn't rock solid

It was an attention-grabbing assertion that made headlines around the world: U.S. officials said they had indications suggesting Russia might be preparing to use chemical agents in Ukraine.

President Joe Biden later said it publicly. But three U.S. officials told NBC News this week there is no evidence Russia has brought any chemical weapons near Ukraine. They said the U.S. released the information to deter Russia from using the banned munitions.

It’s one of a string of examples of the Biden administration’s breaking with recent precedent by deploying declassified intelligence as part of an information war against Russia. The administration has done so even when the intelligence wasn’t rock solid, officials said, to keep Russian President Vladimir Putin off balance. Coordinated by the White House National Security Council, the unprecedented intelligence releases have been so frequent and voluminous, officials said, that intelligence agencies had to devote more staff members to work on the declassification process, scrubbing the information so it wouldn’t betray sources and methods.

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Haaretz: Zelenskyy Says Post-war Ukraine Will Emulate Israel, Won’t Be ‘Liberal, European’

Ukraine will become a “‘big Israel' with its own face,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared on Tuesday, indicating that his country intends to emulate the Israeli security state in the wake of Russia’s invasion.

“Ukraine will definitely not be what we wanted it to be from the beginning. It is impossible. Absolutely liberal, European – it will not be like that. It [Ukraine] will definitely come from the strength of every house, every building, every person,” Zelenskyy told members of the Ukrainian media during a briefing.

"We will become a ‘big Israel’ with its own face. We will not be surprised if we have representatives of the Armed Forces or the National Guard in cinemas, supermarkets, and people with weapons. I am confident that the question of security will be the issue number one for the next 10 years. I am sure of it.” 

You can't make this shit up 

NYT editorial, Dec 14, 1994: Mr. Yeltsin's Chechen Predicament

The tiny Russian breakaway region of Chechnya confronts President Boris Yeltsin and his fellow reformers with a serious internal crisis. The three-year insurrection cannot be allowed to stand. Though a negotiated political settlement would be the best outcome, Mr. Yeltsin is justified in using military force to suppress the rebellion.

Failure to deal decisively with Chechnya's defiance could have two calamitous consequences. First, it could encourage similar rebellions elsewhere and bring about the collapse of the Russian Federation. Second, in strictly political terms, it would surely arouse a ferocious backlash among right-wing nationalists, in turn destroying the Yeltsin Government. 

If it hasn't been done someone should write a history of bureaucracy looking beneath the mechanics. Weber the historian is more interesting than Weber the prognosticator. 

For twelve centuries social rank in China has been determined more by qualification for office than by wealth. This qualification, in turn, has been determined by education, and especially by examinations. China has made literary education the yardstick of social prestige in the most exclusive fashion, far more exclusively than did Europe during the period of the humanists, or as Germany has done. Even during the period of the Warring States, the stratum of aspirants for office who were educated in literature—and originally this only meant that they had a scriptural knowledge—extended through all the individual states. Literati have been the bearers of progress toward a rational administration and of all 'intelligence.'

As with Brahmanism in India, in China the literati have been the (decisive exponents of the unity of culture. Territories (as well as enclaves) not administered by officials educated in literature, according to the model of the orthodox state idea, were considered heterodox and barbarian, in the same way as were the tribal territories that were within the territory of Hinduism but not regulated by the Brahmans, as well as landscapes not organized as polis by the Greeks. The increasingly bureaucratic structure of Chinese polities and of their carriers has given to the whole literary tradition of China its characteristic stamp. For more than two thousand years the literati have definitely been the ruling stratum in China and they still are. Their dominance has been interrupted; often it has been hotly contested; but always it has been renewed and expanded. According to the Annals, the Emperor addressed the literati, and them alone, as 'My lords'  for the first time in 1496.

It has been of immeasurable importance for the way in which Chinese culture has developed that this leading stratum of intellectuals has never had the character of the clerics of Christianity or of Islam, or of Jewish rabbis, or Indian Brahmans, or Ancient Egyptian priests, or Egyptian or Indian scribes. It is significant that the stratum of literati in China, although developed from ritual training, grew out of an education for genteel laymen. The 'literati' of the feudal period, then officially called puo che, that is, 'living libraries,' were first of all proficient in ritualism. They did not, however, stem from the sibs of a priestly nobility, as did the Rishi sibs of the Rig-Veda, or from a guild of sorcerers, as did in all likelihood the Brahmans of the Atharva-Veda.

In China, the literati go back, at least in the main, to the descendants, probably the younger sons, of feudal families who had acquired a literary education, especially the knowledge of writing, and whose social position rested upon this knowledge of writing and of literature. A plebeian could also acquire a knowledge of writing, although, considering the Chinese system of writing, it was difficult. But if the plebeian succeeded, he shared the prestige of any other scholar. Even in the feudal period, the stratum of literati was not hereditary or exclusive—another contrast with the Brahmans.

"It has been of immeasurable importance for the way in which Chinese culture has developed that this leading stratum of intellectuals has never had the character of the clerics of Christianity or of Islam, or of Jewish rabbis, or Indian Brahmans,..."

The bureaucracy of poets and literary critics is closer to the rule of lawyers than the rule of philosophers, who by definition are descended from theologians. Again...

The passage above is the result of the fact that I knew if I wanted to make a generalization about the modern idea of bureaucracy relating to China I should check Weber. I'm an amateur and a sloppy scholar, but I knew what to search for, and I've used Weber's words make my point.

Now I guess I should look up Foucault on bureaucracy under monarchy and liberalism. I'm not assuming he said anything directly, and I'm not sure I care. I'm interested in thick descriptions of thick culture.  My first scribbling on this are in the margins of my copy of Eisenstein's Film Form that I bought in 1984. Eisenstein was desperate to build a conventionalism in post-revolutionary Russia to match the conventionalism the revolution had destroyed.  He wanted to add meat to the bones of ideology. I was repeating myself in 2003. The writing is sloppy but it makes the point. Bureaucracy can be a thick mode of performance.  The justice system is a bureaucracy. etc. etc. Weber's misery is based on an his delusions.