Sunday, April 30, 2023

  Anusar Farooqui: Proof that Extreme Poverty Statistics are Unreliable

I was alerted to the fraud by Tom Stevenson, a very sharp knife who usually writes for the London Review of Books. For him, the dramatic reduction in extreme poverty hailed by the World Bank—and taken seriously by many serious people, including myself until he alerted me—just did not pass the laugh test. Specifically, researchers associated with the Bank and cognate institutions responsible for poverty alleviation have estimated that the rate of extreme poverty has declined from 25% of the world population in 2000 to around 8% by 2018.

Stevenson in the Baffler: The Prosperity Hoax

The World Bank has churned out a series of reports over the last six years promoting this cheery story. “The world has made tremendous progress in reducing extreme poverty,” the Bank declared in its “Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018” report. Over a quarter of humanity had escaped indigence in the past twenty-five years, its research showed. Where once the majority of the world population lived in poverty, now the figure was just 10 percent....

It was clear to those who lived in poor countries that there were problems with the World Bank’s data. Consider only the Middle East. Anyone who visits Egypt for even a short time will not fail to notice that at least half of the country’s one hundred million people live in terrible penury. Egypt’s military regime, which had every reason to downplay the problem, pegged the official poverty headcount at 33 percent in 2019. Yet the World Bank announced in 2015 that poverty had been all but eliminated in Egypt. Not nearly a third, but only 1 percent of the Egyptian population were deemed to be living in extreme poverty by the Bank’s calculations. In Algeria it was zero percent. The scavengers who scrape a living from the edges of the Diyarbakir garbage dump in southeastern Turkey were not living in extreme poverty either. According to the Bank, no one in Turkey was.

Of course, there’s another side to the story—one that reflects reality on the ground. In July 2020, Philip Alston, the outgoing UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, published a remarkable report on the global response to poverty. Alston argues that there has been a wholesale misrepresentation of the facts. “Single-mindedly focusing on the World Bank’s flawed international poverty line,” he writes, “facilitates greatly exaggerated claims about the impending eradication of extreme poverty and downplays the parlous state of impoverishment in which billions of people still subsist.” Appointed to his position in 2014, Alston served during the apogee of the World Bank’s triumphalist rhetoric on poverty reduction. His report was the culmination of five years of research. Its conclusions are as damning as is conceivable in the context of a sober UN document.

Where the World Bank states that “extreme poverty is nearing eradication,” Alston responds that “that claim is unjustified by the facts, generates inappropriate policy conclusions, and fosters complacency.” This is not just a quibble about the statistics. The Alston report is rather a wholesale critique of the World Bank’s framework. It shows that hundreds of millions of people have been “airbrushed out” of survey data. A more honest assessment, the report argues, would reveal that global poverty, far from seeing an unprecedented reduction, is in fact rising. International efforts at poverty eradication are failing. The message delivered by the World Bank has allowed the international policy community to adopt a fantasy vision of progress.

The conclusions of the Alston report run deeper still. The World Bank poverty line is not simply arbitrary, miscalculated, or too low—it has been artificially maintained that way. In 2000, the UN set eight Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015. Halving the number of people in extreme poverty was the first goal. According to Alston, the World Bank’s poverty figures served to “guarantee a positive result and to enable the United Nations, the World Bank, and many commentators to proclaim a Pyrrhic victory.” When the UN established a further seventeen Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, the first item was “an end to poverty in all its forms everywhere” by 2030. Alston believes that the World Bank is sticking to its extreme poverty methodology simply to appear to meet the first Sustainable Development Goal. In doing so, it has allowed the international community to hide “behind an international poverty line that uses a standard of miserable subsistence.”

In effect, the World Bank has been playing a shell game. 

Stevenson doesn't include a link to Alston's report.  It's here

4/28 FT  US seizure of oil vessel triggered Iran tanker capture

Authorities in US redirected ship of Iranian oil bound for China in recent days, prompting retaliation from Tehran

US authorities ordered a tanker of Iranian crude oil to redirect towards the US in recent days, in a move officials believe was the trigger for Iran’s decision to capture a US-bound tanker on Thursday.

Three people briefed on the situation said the US had intervened to summon a ship loaded with Iranian crude, originally destined for China, as Washington looks to step up enforcement of sanctions on Tehran. Iran’s navy unsuccessfully tried to pursue the tanker after it began its latest journey.

The people said the US Department of Justice seized the tanker, the Suez Rajan, under a court order with co-operation from at least one company involved with the vessel. The Suez Rajan has been the subject of scrutiny since it was accused last year of taking on board a cargo of Iranian oil, then intended for China, from another ship near Singapore. The DoJ declined to comment.

The previously unreported US action towards the Suez Rajan shines a new light on Iran’s decision to capture the Advantage Sweet, a US-bound tanker of Kuwaiti crude that was chartered by Chevron.

A US official said Thursday’s “seizure appears to be in retaliation for a prior US seizure of Iranian oil, which Iran recently attempted to get back but failed”.

Iran has a history of seizing tankers in retaliation for western countries targeting its crude oil shipments. In 2019, Iran seized two British-flagged tankers shortly after the UK impounded an Iranian vessel that had stopped at Gibraltar en route to Syria. Last year, Iran also took two Greek-flagged vessels in the Strait of Hormuz after Greece had allowed the US to drain the cargo of an Iranian tanker in Greek waters.

From Tom Stevenson of the LRB "There's no global empire, but..." 

Follow the bouncing ball, back to the beginning. 
Wait, society is Patriarchal?
Always has been
A reasonable hypothesis

evolved (cognitive) sex differences between human males and females explain the universality of patriarchy
Patriarchy and the Original Position 
If politics is the art of the possible, political philosophy is the science of the possible. What kinds of societies could there be, not just for Homo economicus, but for Homo sapiens, a recent product of a long lineage of primate ancestors? One obvious—in political philosophy, often ignored— feature of sapiens is sex. Unlike economicus, humans come in two distinct sexed forms, female and male. And one striking apparently universal feature of past human societies (including at least many contemporary societies), is patriarchy: the dominance of males in political and social decision-making. As the historian Yuval Noah Harari says, it is plausible that some ‘universal biological reason’ accounts for patriarchy. If that is right, then patriarchy may seem inevitable, or at least hard to avoid. The first part of the paper outlines some evidence for Harari’s ‘universal biological reason’. The second part brings the first part to bear on Rawls’s use of the original position, and the subsequent feminist adoption of it by Susan Okin. I will argue that ignorance of one’s sex in the original position fails to deal with the problem of patriarchy, and that the Rawlsian approach should be abandoned.

The best exchange at the time.

You do realize that others may still hold the position that the entire talk was suggestive of inferiority while conceding this point. Also, sometimes someone will say "yeah, okay, thanks" just be done with something. Doesn't mean they accept the response.

Do you yourself, new twitter account holder, accept that “cognitive” doesn’t mean intelligence?

Relevance? Doesn't matter what I think--I'm making a logical point.

The snide response is Brandon Warmke.

Labeled "Transhumanism and Transgender" because misogyny is universal.

"political philosophy is the science of the possible" is the most ridiculous thing I'd read in days, but it takes me back

As I tried to remind Kathleen Stock, the transgender fantasy, like all fantasy, begins in rationalism: the rationalism that says a philosopher is a scientist, or an ethnonationalist a liberal. "I'm a philosopher" "I'm a liberal" "I'm a woman". Men are the new women, iff rationalism is the new empiricism. Sorry, no.

I added this from, to the link above, since she deleted the tweet awhile ago. It makes me laugh. 

"Philosopher" Peter Ludlow: "I gave myself the gold star".

It's a good post, but a long one. I used a trick to add extra tags, but the trick doesn't work anymore so I can't fix a broken link to Ludlow's interview. I fixed it here

Imagine Oxford rescinding an offer to publish Nigel Biggar's Colonialism. That would be funny. Academia vs real politics. I'm just going to shrug.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

As part of our launch on Substack, we’re thrilled to share this fascinating guest essay from the political theorist David Polansky. This piece, like everything we publish, aims to explore the sources of our deepest differences—and the example of Israel, past and present, illustrates these tensions powerfully. In case you missed them, earlier this week, we published Damir’s Monday Note on learning to love democracy as well as a spirited debate between myself and Damir on what makes “the people.”

Now on to David Polansky on what makes the nation. We’d love to hear your thoughts, so please join us in the comments to continue the conversation.

—Shadi Hamid 

Everything below deleted, including my typos and his reply to me. He did the same thing on twitter years ago, deleting his half of a long exchange, about his stupid book. Islam is secularizing as Judaism did, through the transfer of juridical methods from religious texts to secular. Secularizing protestantism by comparison transferred faith, and the result is delusion.

He has a point about the first comment. It was long. 
It would be an excellent idea to call in respectable, accredited anti-Semites as liquidators of property.
To the people they would vouch for the fact that we do not wish to bring about the impoverishment of the countries that we leave.
At first they must not be given large fees for this; otherwise we shall spoil our instruments and make them despicable as "stooges of the Jews."
Later their fees will increase, and in the end we shall have only Gentile officials in the countries from which we have emigrated.
The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.
We want to emigrate as respected people. [p.84]
Mr. Cecil Rhodes:
For some months mutual friends have been trying on my behalf to arrange a meeting between us. At the moment, however, I am so inordinately busy that it would hardly be possible for me to come to London, unless I knew in advance that you took a serious interest in the matter. This, to be sure, would be a sufficiently strong reason to travel, for I need you. In fact, all things considered, you are the only man who can help me now. Of course, I am not concealing from myself the fact that you are not likely to do so. The probability is perhaps one in a million, if this can be expressed in figures at all.
But it is a big—some say, too big—thing. To me it does not seem too big for Cecil Rhodes. This sounds like flattery; however, it does not reside in the words, but in the offer. If you participate, then you are the man. If you don’t, then I have simply made a mistake.
You are being invited to help make history. That cannot frighten you, nor will you laugh at it. It is not in your accustomed line; it doesn’t involve Africa, but a piece of Asia Minor, not Englishmen, but Jews.
But had this been on your path, you would have done it yourself by now.

How, then, do I happen to turn to you, since this is an out-of-the-way matter for you? How indeed? Because it is something colonial, and because it presupposes understanding of a development which will take twenty or thirty years. There are visionaries who look past greater spaces of time, but they lack a practical sense. Then again there are practical people, like the trust magnates in America, but they lack political imagination. But you, Mr. Rhodes, are a visionary politician or a practical visionary. You have already demonstrated this. And what I want you to do is not to give me or lend me a few guineas, but to put the stamp of your authority on the Zionist plan and to make the following declaration to a few people who swear by you: I, Rhodes, have examined this plan and found it correct and practicable. It is a plan full of culture, excellent for the group of people for whom it is directly designed, not detrimental to the general progress of mankind, and quite good for England, for Greater Britain. If you and your associates supply the requested financial aid for this, you will, in addition to these satisfactions, have the satisfaction of making a good profit. For what is being asked for is money. 
What is the plan? What is the plan? To settle Palestine with the homecoming Jewish people.[p.1194]

The Zionist Federation of Germany Addresses The New German State (1933)

The emancipation of the Jews, begun at the end of the 18th, beginning of the 19th century, was based on the idea that the Jewish question could be solved by having the nation-state absorb the Jews living in its midst. This view, deriving from the ideas of the French Revolution, discerned only the individual, the single human being freely suspended in space, without regarding the ties of blood and history or spiritual distinctiveness. Accordingly, the liberal state demanded of the Jew, assimilation into the non-Jewish environment. Baptism and mixed marriage were encouraged in political and economic life. Thus it happened that innumerable persons of Jewish origin had the chance to occupy important positions and to come forward as representatives of German culture and German life, without having their belonging to Jewry become visible.

Thus arose a state of affairs which in political discussion today is termed "debasement of Germandom" or "Jewification."

NYT March 20, 1947 

Whatever the degree of their superiority complex, however, the Jews are certainly confident of their ability to bring the Arabs to terms—by persuasion if possible, by might if necessary. The program of the largest terrorist group, the Irgun Zvai Leurni, is to evacuate the British forces from Palestine and declare a Zionist state west of the Jordan, and "we will take care of the Arabs."

Yerachmiel Kahanovich 

Haaretz: How Israel Went From Atheist Zionism to Jewish State
For example, in 1918, Ben-Gurion – the future founder of the state – was convinced, as were many others, that most of the population of the Land of Israel had not been exiled, but converted to Islam with the Arab conquest, and therefore was clearly Jewish in origin.

In 1948, he had already given up on this confused and dangerous idea, and instead asserted that the Jewish people had been exiled by force and had wandered in isolation for 2,000 years. 
As to his own religious bellefs, Mr. Ben-Gurion replied:
"I believe—l am certain-there is a God. I believe that matter and spirit are the same thing—which really means pantheism. There are many Jews who are pantheists. As far as I know. Spinoza was a pantheist.

"this confused and dangerous idea" 

I'll add something that I was sure I'd linked before, but I guess I did that mostly in comments elsewhere years ago.

Jerry Haber 

"In A.D. 70, and again in 135, the Roman Empire brutally put down Jewish revolts in Judea, destroying Jerusalem, killing hundreds of thousands of Jews and sending hundreds of thousands more into slavery and exile."

Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, May 5, 2006

"Well, now: We were expelled from the land and taken into captivity in the year 70 of the Common Era."

Leonard Fein, The Jewish Daily Forward, May 11, 2007–07–23

"After Bar Kochba…Jewish emigration, a more or less permanent feature of ancient Palestinian demography, now assumed alarming proportions."

Salo Baron, A Social and Religious History of the Jews (New York/Philadelphia, 1952), vol. 2, pp. 122-3.

Despite their ideological differences, what unites columnists like Charles Krauthammer and Leonard Fein, and what distinguishes them from Salo Baron,the greatest historian of the Jews in the twentieth century, is inter alia their acceptance of the myth that the Jews were forcibly expelled from the Land of Israel, and taken into captivity by the Romans. To this day, most lay people, Jews and non-Jews, accept the myth of the exile, whereas no historian, Jew or non-Jew, takes it seriously.

This post will look at the disconnect between popular and scholarly belief and try to examine the origin of the myth several centuries after the event occurred. I will follow pretty closely the first part of a comprehensive article on the subject by Hebrew University professor, Yisrael Yuval, which is available here. Because this article is under copyright, I can’t quote more than a few passages, and so I will just be paraphrasing him. But I urge you to read the article, especially his copious footnotes.

The myth was not invented by the Zionists, although it was greatly used by them, in part, to justify the return of the Jews to their ancestral homeland. For the tacit assumption of the Zionists was that if the Jews had left the land willingly, if they had merely “emigrated” because they found opportunities beckoning in the Diaspora, then they would have betrayed their allegiance to the land, and their return would have been less justified. That is one of the reasons why Zionists argued for years that the Palestinians left Palestine of their own free will – if they were forcibly expelled, then somehow their claim to the land would be stronger. Of course, the putative expulsion by the Romans was not the only claim of the Jewish people to the land – many peoples have been exiled from their lands, and the Zionists were not claiming that all of them had a right to return -- but it dovetailed nicely with the historical view of the wandering Jew that finds no rest outside of his native place from which he was expelled.

The first point to make is that well before the revolt against Rome in 66-70 c.e., there were Jewish communities outside Palestine, most notably in Babylonia and in Egypt, but elsewhere as well. References to the dispersal of the Jewish people throughout the civilized world are found in the book of Esther, Josephus, and Philo. There is no indication that these communities were small, satellite communities.

Second, there is no contemporary evidence – i.e., 1st and 2nd centuries c.e. – that anything like an exile took place. The Romans put down two Jewish revolts in 66-70 c.e. and in 132-135 c.e. According to Josephus, the rebels were killed, and many of the Jews died of hunger. Some prisoners were sent to Rome, and others were sold in Libya. But nowhere does Josephus speak of Jews being taken into exile. As we shall see below, there is much evidence to the contrary. There was always Jewish emigration from the Land of Israel, as the quote above from Baron indicates.

Lever: Roberts Memo Threatened To Challenge Ethics Rules

A decade before Chief Justice John Roberts rejected a Senate request this week to testify about corruption scandals engulfing the Supreme Court, he threatened to challenge a congressional effort to ensure the high court’s justices abide by federal corruption laws, according to documents reviewed by The Lever.

Now, instead of spearheading an investigation into Justice Clarence Thomas’ undisclosed luxury gifts and real estate transactions, Roberts is punting to a little-known panel of lower court judges whose identities are secret, according to a spokesperson for the judiciary.

Roberts’ posture spotlights a crisis in America’s system of checks and balances: If the legislative and executive branches refuse to assert oversight authority over the nation’s highest court, Supreme Court justices can continue to operate with complete impunity.

Business InsiderJane Roberts, who is married to Chief Justice John Roberts, made $10.3 million in commissions from elite law firms, whistleblower documents show

Two years after John Roberts' confirmation as the Supreme Court's chief justice in 2005, his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, made a pivot. After a long and distinguished career as a lawyer, she refashioned herself as a legal recruiter, a matchmaker who pairs job-hunting lawyers up with corporations and firms.

Roberts told a friend that the change was motivated by a desire to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest, given that her husband was now the highest-ranking judge in the country. "There are many paths to the good life," she said. "There are so many things to do if you're open to change and opportunity."

And life was indeed good for the Robertses, at least for the years 2007 to 2014. During that eight-year stretch, according to internal records from her employer, Jane Roberts generated a whopping $10.3 million in commissions, paid out by corporations and law firms for placing high-dollar lawyers with them.

That eye-popping figure comes from records in a whistleblower complaint filed by a disgruntled former colleague of Roberts, who says that as the spouse of the most powerful judge in the United States, the income she earns from law firms who practice before the Court should be subject to public scrutiny.

John Roberts is an institutionalist. He's with Leiter, but the institutions are different: the court, the church, the academy, Israel.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

 commenter Abu Ali replies to Séamus Malekafzali 

Being an Iraqi dude, Iran and its internal politics has always been interesting to me. With how unpopular the government in Iran has become recently and with diaspora trying to properly organize into a semi-united front, it's hard to not draw parallels to how the Iraqi opposition slowly coalesced before the American invasion in 2003. The most striking difference to me is how "unrepresentative" the current diaspora opposition is of local attitudes. I've been to Iran multiple times and I've seen a diverse population that is sometimes not very fond of the government, but is still proud of their Iranian identity with both its Islamic and non-Islamic components. Mosques and Hussianiyas were filled with people and there's a genuine sense of pride over the fact that Iran is the face of Shia Islam.

The Iraqi opposition with all its disastrous mistakes still tried to reflect the diversity of Iraqi society, everyone from communists to shia islamists to CIA guys to separatist Kurds to secular Shias and even disgruntled London Sunnis found a place at the diaspora table in the end. I don't see anything representative of Iran in the diaspora opposition, they're only representative of the diaspora itself. You can't tell me that there isn't a single exiled Shia cleric that they can invite to a conference to at least make it look more legitmate. I found it very telling that when Reza Pahlavi visited Israel, he only went to the Western Wall when Al Aqsa is literally two minutes away. He pandered to a few neocon donors while he claims to represent the people of Iran, who are definitely more Muslim and more interested in Al Aqsa. I won't even be too harsh on him, the loudest voices in the diaspora opposition all seem to base their entire worldview on one reddit post titled "Female Iranian students playing and laughing, Tehran, 1974". They're so ridiculously disconnected from the lives of the local Iranian people. It's really a shame because Iran deserves better than the IR, but the so-called opposition in America is disgraceful. The regime doesn't even need to work hard when vilifying these people, when they're disgracing themselves in Israel and doing wacky performance art outside of embassies. All I can is God help the people in choosing their own path.

Friday, April 21, 2023

I have to telegraph everything

Titus 1:15-16 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.

"The pederast from Opus Dei"

"Give me back the Berlin wall/Give me Stalin and St. Paul/ I've seen the future, brother./ It is murder" 

I've said it all before. It explained a lot of things and it still does. 

I have to telegraph everything

"Destroy another fetus now/We don't like children anyhow" Leonard Cohen, for Right to Life.

The number of people expressing horror at the power of the conservative court who defend liberal Israel is almost impressive.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

A reader did a search of this site looking for the phrase "torture works". Graeber was the first person I met who argued that. He said the reason there was so little terrorism in the USSR during the Afghanistan war was that when the Soviets caught a suspect they'd give him a phone and tell him to call his mother. She'd answer the phone and say there was a man in her house. He laughed when he told that one. David liked stories.

Saturday, April 15, 2023


updated, more than once. rilly.

"There is no easy path from the aesthetic experience to politics."
From the "Brooklyn Institute" to Jacobin
Oduor, previously. It's almost impressive.

And now I'm going to watch Tár, to see if my assumptions were off in any way at all.

There is no "path" from the aesthetic experience to politics; they're inseparable. Your preferences are shown in the record of your actions, not what you claim for them.

I'm a few minutes beyond the credits and it's absolute kitsch. She's blurbed as being an EGOT winner, along with Mel Brooks, Audrey Hepburn, Marvin Hamlisch, Whoopi Goldberg, and Andrew Lloyd Motherfucking Webber. It's not a film about art; it's a film about Aaahhrt. And it's just going to get worse. Brooks at least would get the joke. Jäger and everyone else, from the New Yorker and the NLR  is fucking blind.

But no. I was wrong. He's following Ruben Östlund, Force MajeureThe Square, and Triangle of Sadness. It's still shallow and reactionary—lazy, obvious, at least to... what, the old? the actually sophisticated? And Brody, Jäger et al. are still fucking blind.


This is perhaps why the moralistic commentary on Tár runs into an explanatory impasse; for it is not Lydia’s personal culpability but these impersonal forces that are the real subject of the film. 

The most obvious among them is the stratified sphere of classical music – in which the lower ranks can only improve their career prospects by cultivating informal relationships with those higher up the ladder.

He makes it so easy. From Lydia Tár to Avital Ronell, because in fact it's the other way around.

"The university belongs, like the church and the military, to the social institutions that are situated at a considerable distance from democracy and adhere to premodern power structures."
Mocking Gopnik's script, and Lydia’s personal culpability, from the start. 

He runs down the list of EGOT winners, cross-cut with shots of Blanchett at work, ending on "...Andrew Lloyd Webber, and of course... Mel Brooks."  The audience laughs and Blanchett looks up from the page, as if hearing the laughter.  It's not just the cheapness. That one leaves a bad taste.

This is the core issue: the film was made as parody, and being received as serious it's become kitsch. Or maybe Field can't make up his mind what kind of cheap moralist he wants to be. Either way I don't care.

Jäger: "Throughout, Field meticulously evokes the authentic world of the Bildungsbürgertum".
"Authentic" He sounds so American.
And I'd forgotten this.

This could all hinge on my snobbery against others'; never mind the Spaceballs vid. But I've never forgotten the description of Adolph Green's last night, written by his son, and this:
We argued the relative merits of classical composers (any suggestion that Tchaikovsky had a maudlin streak or that von Suppé might not have been the last word in profundity infuriated him).
I don't like Tchaikovsky, but through Strayhorn, there'd be no Ellington without him. My father hated Kerouac but loved Pynchon. He was right about both, but couldn't accept the relation. That more than anything is the beginning of my argument with modernism as ideology as opposed to modernity as fact.  Mel Brooks will outlast Andrew Lloyd Webber. Adolph Green knew he loved crap and minor art, and he didn't care. He worked with the maudlin and the sentimental and made something out of it. That's more than Field is capable of, or Östlund for that matter. And Sir Steve McQueen is a good filmmaker, but his politics is not the politics some think it is.

My father hated musicals but he could quote lines from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. My parents loved Zero Mostel and Jack Gilford. Gilford was an old friend of David Graeber's parents. My mother's last words were lyrics from Oklahoma. 

Gettier problems: Does the idiot deserve a medal?
Bellingcat, the White Helmets, etc. 
Though Bellingcat surprised me in the past
below from Ames

I don't like Ames, and Blumenthal's an idiot, but reporters don't have to be likable or smart. And Assange'a narcissism is irrelevant.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

A moratorium on immigration of native-born college graduates from outside a hundred mile radius of the city; visas for visits of up to two weeks. Open borders for high school graduates and dropouts, and anyone from any other country, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, etc. English not required.

City government will expropriate the real estate of Columbia and NYU, and their endowments, and give the schools to CUNY.

And it was short so why not add this:
Adolf Reed promotes Bayard Rustin, Zionist and member of the Committee for the Present Danger.

From Leiter of course, and I'll repeat the obvious, updating again:
Golda Mabovitz changed her name in 1956.
Joseph Raz was Joseph Zaltsman. David Ben-Gurion was David Grün; Ariel Sharon was the son of Shmuel Scheinerman; Amiri Baraka was LeRoi Jones; Uri Avnery was Helmut Ostermann; Louis Farrakhan was Louis Eugene Wolcott; Malcolm X was Malcolm Little; Netanyahu was Mileikowsky; Muhammad Ali was Cassius Clay; Martin David (Meir) Kahane passed, as "Michael King"; Mark Regev was Mark Freiberg.

The Panthers: bad. The JDL ...? 

The "Sons of Odin" and the JDL
The finance minister of the Black Panther party was a Jew. And in NY so were the bomb makers (Bronx Science). Stories told to me by two women, both Jewish, who've never met, but knew the people involved: the finance minister, and the bomb makers.

The Panthers asked my father to stash guns in our basement. He said no. But telling the story, his reasons changed depending on his mood. Yes, it was silly.

Sunday, April 09, 2023

NYRB, Letter from an English Department on the Brink 

At the English department I chair, our major has grown by more than 40 percent in the last two years. We are being driven to the edge of extinction anyway.

...In their interviews with Heller, English faculty and administrators discuss an array of real issues with an alarming lack of coherence. They try to place blame both for what is happening at their own institutions and for what they consider broader national concerns: Middlemarch is too long for the TikTok generation; K-12 education is the problem; humanists haven’t made a strong enough case for how our areas of study prepare debt-ridden students for jobs; funding has dried up; a fusty curriculum drives students away; television exists.

Much more to the point are Heller’s interviews with students, who explain the fundamental problem quite clearly: universities do not value the humanities. This disregard is demonstrated in most universities’ built environments, real estate investments, hiring practices, staffing ratios, and unwillingness to direct resources toward the humanities even in appropriate balance with the often substantial revenue they bring in. I heard in these young people’s comments a real awareness of the funding priorities of the colleges they attend.

Students are quick to associate those priorities with their job prospects: when it comes to deciding on a major, they sense that their own personal, intellectual, and creative interests don’t really matter at all. As Ben Schmidt, a data analyst and former history professor, put it in a 2018 article on the declining number of humanities majors, “In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, students seem to have shifted their view of what they should be studying—in a largely misguided effort to enhance their chances on the job market.” What faculty and administrators have mistaken for a problem (declining enrollments) with an identifiable cause (take your pick), students correctly see as a story being spun by the universities themselves: this area of study lacks value, is in some sense wrong. That story has become powerful enough to shape their world, restricting the number of paths presented to them as real options. 

Also added here, as an update, to Jäger et al.

Saturday, April 08, 2023

Looking through the kerfuffle over Dylan Riley's piece on SVP for Sidecar, and I got sidetracked

Ajay Singh Chaudhary

Ok, I absolutely should be writing but damn that Dylan Riley blog is getting really ungenerous readings. There's plenty of bits I don't love and I think he's setting people off with using terms that have become sacred but the central arg is correct: climate politics is zero sum.

It's a short thread, 4 tweets, and the last two are on the main page, and just below he retweets Isi Litke

still spots open for my in-person  @BklynInstitute  course on utopia, which begins next monday night!! (fourier, morris, bloch, adorno, marcuse, le guin, robinson, jemisin, jameson, jennie livingston, &c.) 
Imagining Utopia: Politics, Planning, and the (Im)Possible (In-Person)
With a pic of Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights

Dystopias abound in the contemporary landscape—in literature, on screen, in our diagnoses of the present. From the zombie apocalypse to planetary catastrophe to nightmarish visions of gender disciplining, dystopia is today a particularly salient category, a popular outlet for imaginations of (im)possible political futures. But the utopian genre, older by over a century, appears to have been all but eclipsed by its unsettling counterpart, even relegated to a pejorative: the utopian as politically naïve, escapist, nostalgic, irrational, dogmatic, and, ultimately, unrealizable. While the latter designation perhaps misapprehends the actual value and aspirations of the genre, what are we to make of this apparent retreat from utopian thinking—in both our cultural and political imaginaries? For whom, and in what form, does utopia remain—or stand a chance of becoming—a fruitful category for contemporary politics? 

In this course, we will engage the project of utopia in its various forms and functions—as regulative principle, diagnostic tool, speculative exploration, and concrete political intervention. Beginning with Marx’s admittedly ambivalent relationship with the utopian socialists of his era, we will work our way through writings by Thomas More, William Morris, Oscar Wilde, before expanding our conversation to include twentieth and twenty-first century thinkers for whom the utopian impulse was vital for a Marxist politics—including Ernst Bloch, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, Fredric Jameson, and Mark Fisher. How did these writers and thinkers situate their visions of utopia in relation to emancipatory movements past and present? Along the way, we’ll explore literary and other cultural expressions of utopia, with a focus on utopian literature’s close affinity with feminist and queer theory in works by, among others, Shulamith Firestone, Ursula Le Guin, and Jennie Livingston. How does the figure of utopia allow us to envision a world that might be otherwise—at a time when crisis and catastrophe dominate our imaginations of the future?

Course Schedule
Monday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
April 10 — May 01, 2023
4 weeks

Isi Litke teaches at the intersection of politics and aesthetics, with particular interests in 20th century avant-garde movements, critical theory, visual studies, and the politics of memory. She is currently working on several writing and curatorial projects related to the sculptor Jacques Jarrige and the architect and filmmaker László Rajk Jr. She holds an MA in Political Theory from Princeton University and an MSc from the Oxford Internet Institute.

So I go to google and it leads me to Valerie Goodman Gallery

Collector's limited edition book Jacques Jarrige with Candleholder
(1/50), 2022 
Printed book and aluminum candle holder
2 x 11 x 10 in

The special collector edition of our book Jacques Jarrige includes a specially designed candle holder in steel. The candle holder is packaged in a folio in 4 parts to be easily assembled. Edition of 50

This mid-career survey of the works of Jacques Jarrige marks the 12th anniversary of my fruitful collaboration with him.
At the heart of Jacques’ practice is the moment of encounter: between the artist and himself, his material, his audience—between the audience and a work or process. In this spirit, I invited seven contributors with different backgrounds and sensibilities to write about their own encounters with Jacques and his work. Their texts form the backbone of the present volume, which unfolds in five sections.

In Section I, curator and art historian Glenn Adamson describes the French decorative arts world from which Jarrige emerged and draws the reader’s attention to art movements, particularly surrealism and Art Brut, whose aesthetic and intellectual sensibilities are reflected in Jacques’ work. Isi Litke then reflects on a series of exchanges with Jacques that took place over the course of 2021, concerning his early encounters with art and the process of finding his voice and vocabulary as a young artist....

Valerie Goodman Gallery is a high end design store on the upper east side. Jacques Jarrige makes lamps and coffee tables. The only thing on the page with a listed price is a a pair of side tables for $18,000, expensive for furniture but dirt cheap for art. Art galleries spend more than that on frames for one show. 

I found a podcast with Chaudaury and Litke. I made it through 4 minutes. Gentrification makes a desert and calls it peace.


In short, the SVB collapse is a beautiful, almost paradigmatic, demonstration of the fundamental structural problem of contemporary capitalism: a hyper-competitive system, clogged with excess capacity and savings, with no obvious outlets to soak them up. It must be emphasized that the current vogue for ‘industrial policy’ – quite pronounced in both the Biden and Macron governments inter alia – will do nothing to address this underlying issue. The immediate practical problem with a new round of investment in which the state seeks to incentivize capital is clear enough. The investors will want their quarterly returns. Why would they tie up capital in vastly ambitious projects, to promote the green transition or increase investment in health and education, which will have long time horizons and uncertain returns? More importantly, even if such a strategy were workable, would it be desirable?

...The problem is that neither the Biden administration, nor the neo-Kautskyites, have a credible answer to the structural logic of capital. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that Bidenomics in its most ambitious form were successful. What exactly would this mean? Above all it would lead to the onshoring of industrial capacity in both chip manufacturing and green tech. But that process would unfold in a global context in which all the other capitalist powers were vigorously attempting to do more or less the same thing. The consequence of this simultaneous industrialization drive would be a massive exacerbation of the problems of overcapacity on a world scale, putting sharp pressure on the returns of the same private capital that was ‘crowded-in’ by ‘market-making’ industrialization policies.

How might the US government react to this conjuncture? The response would likely be increased state support, which might take the form of monetary juicing leading to asset bubbles (what Robert Brenner has described as ‘bubblenomics’) or direct profitability guarantees. But this would only exacerbate the phenomenon of political capitalism. That is, directly political mechanisms would become increasingly necessary to generate returns.

What would be an adequate response to this dilemma from the standpoint of a humanized society? The main point is that no socialist should advocate an ‘industrial policy’ of any sort, nor have any truck with self-defeating New Deals, green or otherwise. What the planet and humanity need is massive investment in low-return, low-productivity activities: care, education and environmental restoration. Capital is incapable of doing this. It seeks ‘value’ which these sectors struggle to produce. The underlying reason is obvious: neither health, nor culture, nor the umwelt function very well as commodities. Thus, as Oskar Lange had already intuited in the 1930s, gradualism cannot work. The commanding heights of the economy – in this period, finance – must be seized at once. Any other strategy will lead either to the cul-de-sac described above or to massive capital flight. Under current conditions, half-measures are self-contradictory absurdities. Blather about New Deals and sepia-toned ‘Rooseveltologia’ should be exposed for what it is: a backward-facing obstacle to the establishment of socialism. 

Blather all you want about New Deals, sepia-toned ‘Rooseveltologia’ and socialism; the fact remains that to get anything done in a zero sum game you need dictatorship, one-party rule, etc. Dictatorship is not utopia.
And on Monday I'm back in the wood shop working on frames for art galleries on the upper east side.

Thursday, April 06, 2023


The venture arm of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has disclosed its ties to more than 50 venture capital and private equity firms including Blackstone Inc. and KKR & Co., in one of the first public disclosures of its investments.

The website of Sanabil Investments, wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund, says it commits around $2 billion a year into “venture, growth and small buyout assets worldwide.” Other firms it names include Andreessen Horowitz, General Atlantic, Hellman & Friedman and Platinum Equity.

CVC and Apollo are also listed among buyout funds it invests in. Sanabil’s website notes half of its assets are allocated to venture capital, 30% to private equity and a fifth to a “liquid portfolio.”

The disclosure offers the most comprehensive accounting yet of the links some of the world’s biggest investment firms have to Saudi Arabia. The site also details Sanabil’s direct investments in companies like the scooter rental app Bird and Caffeine, a social media platform.


The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran held talks in Beijing on Thursday, in the highest-level meeting between the regional rivals since they cut ties seven years ago and a sign that China would continue to host talks that could shift the geopolitics of the Middle East.

In a joint statement, the two governments said that given their natural resources and economic potential, they saw “great opportunities to achieve shared benefits for their two peoples.” They said the ministers discussed issues including the resumption of flights and the reopening of diplomatic missions.

The meeting came after a surprise rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, mediated by China, was announced last month. The statement signaled that the agreement was moving forward as Saudi Arabia, a longtime American ally, forges more independent foreign and economic policies. 


In an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this week, CIA Director William Burns expressed frustration with the Saudis, according to people familiar with the matter. He told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that the U.S. has felt blindsided by Riyadh’s rapprochement with Iran and Syria—countries that remain heavily sanctioned by the West—under the auspices of Washington’s global rivals.


Chinese and French energy companies this week finalised the first-ever deal on liquified natural gas (LNG) in China settled in the renminbi yuan currency. The trade, involving 65,000 tons of LNG imported from the United Arab Emirates, marks a major step in Beijing's attempts to undermine the US dollar as universal "petrodollar" for gas and oil trade. 

The US had a chance and blew it.
The new comity could include Israel. Saudi will make the pitsch.

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Nationalism is a means. Anyone serious understands its limits.
These assholes aren't serious 
Edited by Stefan Vogt, Derek Penslar, and Arieh Saposnik

The first work to systematically investigate the potential for a dialogue between postcolonial studies and the history of Zionism.

There is an “unacknowledged kinship” between studies of Zionism and post-colonial studies, a kinship that deserves to be both discovered and acknowledged. Unacknowledged Kinships strives to facilitate a conversation between the historiography of Zionism and postcolonial studies by identifying and exploring possible linkages and affiliations between their subjects as well as the limits of such connections. The contributors to this volume discuss central theoretical concepts developed within the field of postcolonial studies, and they use these concepts to analyze crucial aspects of the history of Zionism while contextualizing Zionist thought, politics, and culture within colonial and postcolonial histories. This book also argues that postcolonial studies could gain from looking at the history of Zionism as an example of not only colonial domination but also the seemingly contradictory processes of national liberation and self-empowerment.

Unacknowledged Kinships is the first work to systematically investigate the potential for a dialogue between postcolonial studies and Zionist historiography. It is also unique in suggesting that postcolonial concepts can be applied to the history of European Zionism just as comprehensively as to the history of Zionism in Palestine and Israel or Arab countries. Most importantly, the book is an overture for a dialogue between postcolonial studies and the historiography of Zionism.

What should I do, quote Herzl's mash note to Rhodes, or cite Rabin and South Africa?
David Ben-Gurion was David Grün; Ariel Sharon was the son of Shmuel Scheinerman; Amiri Baraka was LeRoi Jones;...

Ta-Nehisi Coates: "The Negro Sings of Zionism" 
I'm so fucking bored. 
Yair Mileikowsky is whiter than anyone in my father's family.

Sunday, April 02, 2023

Gardening is not a crime

"Dictatorships are so unfair!

Journalism at best is borderline sleaze. Hackwork is central to any any functioning society, and borderline sleaze is central to democracy, but whining does nothing.

all repeats

A rite of passage for all young provincial journalists is known as the death knock — going and knocking on the door of a house which has just lost a family member, preferably in horrific or embarrassing circumstances. At my Newcastle course we were taught the art of charming and sympathizing one's way across the doorstep, and the absolute necessity, while taking notes, of trying to remove, preferably but not necessarily by agreement, any photos of the bereaved from the mantelpiece. The job of getting these stories can be a horrible, soiling experience which puts people off reporting for life. 

objections to my article have been silly so far. i'm a journalist, not an american journalist. my job is not to serve as a propagandist for anybody, just to tell stories and my advantage is that i can tell stories that are hard to come by

any comparison to WWII or the nazis always shows a lack of imagination, but in this case also a lack of understanding. the whole reason why its important to have people like me, able to hang out with militias in somalia, afghanistan, iraq or lebanon, is because they are not a formal army of a formal state, with clear goals, structure, hierarchy etc. on the contrary, their motives are not known and diverse, often at odds, they take up arms for different reasons and as anybody remotely interested in COIN knows by now (except for sassaman perhaps), they do not put down their arms through force, unless you're willing to use force like the russians in chechnya (and that hasnt worked for the israelis), but instead their goals and motives must be understood, and eventually a political accord must be reached.

moreover, journalists regularly embed with the american military when it is conducting operations, attacks, killing. whats the difference?

imagine if that one taliban commander had not screwed up my plans to go with them when they conducted attacks, and i had seen that too. isnt that interesting? isnt it important to understand who they are? and most importantly, wouldnt it make for a fun read?

NYT Editorial Board 

The pressure must be sustained also because the attack on the judiciary was only the beginning of a broad campaign by the ultranationalist and ultrareligious parties, one that seeks to give Jewish settlers a far freer hand in further expanding and legalizing the West Bank settlements, change the status quo on the Temple Mount and relegate Arab citizens to a second-class status.

Palestinian citizens of Israel have never had anything better than a second class status, in Israel or at the New York Times

Saturday, April 01, 2023

Ragozin quote tweeting KyivPost, and adding his own photograph. I combined them for simplicity. 

Sentenced to 10 years in 2016 for war crimes, including kidnapping and torture of civilians, as part of Tornado unit case. Released in 2021 under Savchenko law. In 2022, he returned to the frontline. A neo-nazi turned Islamist. Famous for his tattoos.


🕯Daniil Liashuk, better known as
Modzhahed died fighting for Ukraine.

Daniil was a citizen of Belarus. During the full-scale war, Modzhahed was seriously wounded twice, but still returned to the frontline. He dreamed of becoming a citizen of Ukraine.

Eternal Glory to the Hero 

Yevgeny “Topaz” Rasskazov of the neo-nazi Rusich unit (part of Wagner) says this Ukrainian poster condemning Russian brutality doesn’t actuality picture Russian army in the wrong light because that’s what it should be like.

NYT, Marci Bowers, "What Decades of Providing Trans Health Care Have Taught Me"

Also Marci Bowers, "Every single child who was blocked at Tanner Stage Two has never experienced orgasm, I mean it’s really about zero."

Tanner Stage Two: 11-year-olds

Bowers is trans.

"I wrote a book review last year for the FT... and it was a not very good book about male violence against women...."

Decades ago it would be male editors removing statements of fact made by women; editors still remove statements of fact made by Palestinians, Iraqis, and now Russians and Ukrainians: reports by inconvenient people on uncomfortable subjects.  But naive realism notwithstanding—start at the beginning—it's remarkable how the fight for women has become the fight for fantasy to be recognized as state certified reality. Don't blame Foucault. This is liberalism.

And Rachel Dolezal is still white.