Monthly Archives: November 2011

Leo en la nebulosa

In Portuguese today we read Pedro Kilkerry, who never published during his
lifetime but is now a famous writer, and Torquato Neto, whose poetry I had
not read before and which amazed me.

One of the students is new and I told her I was impressed with how much
progress she had made. You learned Portuguese! I said. Yes, said she, and
I learned another thing as well: immersion works.

That was my fourth class meeting today. After it I gave make-up exams to
desperate Spanish students and brainstormed a paper on Alejandro
Jodorowsky for two hours.

This experience brought to mind somehow an old poem whose first line
I used to like. It is hackneyed somehow, really, but we will recite it
nonetheless, for the sounds:

Leo en la nebulosa mi suerte cuando pasan las estrellas veloces y oscurísimas.
Rueda: plazo: zarpazo. ¡Salud, oh tigre viejo
del sol! Esta botella ¿nos dirá la verdad
antes que el vino salga volando por el éter? O te quemas
o te dejas cortar. Salud hasta la muerte,
Dylan Thomas: la estrella del alcohol nos alumbre
para ver que apostamos, y perdimos.
No estaba Dios. Corrimos demasiado veloces con la antorcha
quemada en nuestras manos
libérrimos y errantes por volar al origen.
-Mi padre jugó sucio,
dijo Kafka el testigo.
Mortal, mortal error
meter a nadie en esto de nacer: somos hambre.
Pero el fuego está abajo con los muertos que crecen todavía.
Somos hambre. Oigo voces y escribo sobre el viento sin hojas de mi tabla
de salvación. Ahí dejo temblando este cuchillo.
No hay cielo sino sangre, y únicamente sangre de mujer
donde leen su estrella los desnudos.
Y otra cosa es la muerte que nos para de golpe. ¿Dónde estamos?
Sólo entonces el beso: ¡te palpo, Eternidad!
¡Te oigo en la madre oscura cuando empiezan llorando las raíces!

Gonzalo Rojas

Axé.

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What Naomi Wolf says…

The mainstream media was declaring continually “OWS has no message”. Frustrated, I simply asked them. I began soliciting online “What is it you want?” answers from Occupy. In the first 15 minutes, I received 100 answers. These were truly eye-opening.

The No 1 agenda item: get the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process. No 2: reform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.

No 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.

and:

Since Occupy is heavily surveilled and infiltrated, it is likely that the DHS and police informers are aware, before Occupy itself is, what its emerging agenda is going to look like. If legislating away lobbyists’ privileges to earn boundless fees once they are close to the legislative process, reforming the banks so they can’t suck money out of fake derivatives products, and, most critically, opening the books on a system that allowed members of Congress to profit personally – and immensely – from their own legislation, are two beats away from the grasp of an electorally organised Occupy movement … well, you will call out the troops on stopping that advance.

and:

So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war…

And it might not be the civil war you want, on the issues you want, and the government might win, but I think the only view is the long view, and I don’t think these people are silly.

Axé.

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Dan La Botz

Ours would have to be a party with a different conception of government, far more democratic and participatory. A different government altogether, based on our communities, workplaces, and social centers. Ours would have to be a party prepared to reorganize the economy, to reshape the culture, to remold our values from below. Ours would have to be a party led—and led in the most democratic sense—by ordinary workers, by people of color, by women, gays and lesbians. Ours would have to be a party of immigrants, those with documents and the undocumented. Ours would have to be the party of real equality, not only political and social, but also economic equality. Ours would be the party that took power away from the 1% but also redistributed economic and political power among the rest of the highly unequal 99%. Could we build such a movement and such a political party? I think we can. In any case, we have no other choice than to try.

Axé.

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Pre-Occupied

You have to read this on the origins of Occupy Wall Street, it is truly marvelous.

See also this video of Occupied Barcelona:

Katharine Ainger discusses the election in Spain. The indignados took the risk of letting the PP win. Am I right in my impression that they can afford this risk in a way the US cannot, or are my thought-streams too traditional? Or is it simply that the crisis there is more advanced, with an unemployment rate of 46% for people under 30?

Axé.

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Encore des questions pour le dimanche

Was J. Edgar Hoover Black? I hadn’t even known he was gay, but it seems that he was both gay and Black and was thus passing in two senses.

Exactly how much worse would the Republicans do than this?

*

Over Thanksgiving I disagreed with a new arrival here on two topics: academia and Occupy.

Him on academia:
♦ it should be about teaching, not research: the goal should be human contact and helping people
♦ it is hypocritical that some people have excellent professional records and no families: the priority should be human contact and helping people, from the base of a traditional family life
♦ it is schizophrenic that we are able to work on a project with people with whom we disagree strongly on other issues, or who have voted against tenure for friends of ours, and so on: the focus should be human contact, loyalty, and taking care of people

Me on that:
♦ it’s not a church charity, it’s a high powered job in a large research complex
♦ it is not a crime to put a some other life project ahead of traditional forms of family life; many do it
♦ treating the academic industrial complex as a patronage system is exactly what one wants to work against

Him on Occupy:
♦ it is naïve – things are worse than Occupy realizes, and they cannot be changed by Occupy activities
♦ the Occupy people are not serious and will be easily discouraged
♦ if they were serious they would do something like refuse to pay taxes

Me on that:
♦ yes, but Occupy has already changed the tenor of public discourse
♦ that is surely true of some, but not necessarily of all
♦ perhaps they will organize such an event; right now they are organizing refusal to pay student loans; if you have ever refused to pay taxes you will know what a serious step that is and what the repercussions are; Occupy may correctly doubt that this can be successfully organized before more discussion and organizing around smaller issues takes place.

I don’t know if I am right but it seems to me somehow that this person’s attitudes on academia and on Occupy are related: you can’t do too much in any area, he seemed to be saying; stick close to home and exude human warmth. Larger steps, on the other hand, receive criticism from him because they are not large enough. I am not sure what my attitudes on academia show about me. I was fairly born Gramscian: pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.

In astrological terms I have the Sun in Capricorn in the 8th house, Mars in Aries in the 11th, and a lot of Plutonian and Uranian energy generally. This means I am an agent of transformation although it may not show; that I can wait because I know I will succeed in the end; that I do not fear long term planning work in large organizations; that I am not resigned but am as patient as an old hill.

*

The question I have about the executive branch organized assassinations of American subversives abroad (see the link above) and the current plan for indefinite military detention at home – in a context where torture as well as many new forms of surveillance have already been legalized – is this:

♦ given that those things have been organized by the Democrats as well as the Republicans, how is it that voting Democratic helps to protect us from them? I understand that the idea is that the Democrats will appoint some few judges who are glimmers of hope and who will, eventually, declare these things illegal, whereas the Republicans will not.

♦ however, what I have been foreseeing for about thirty years is some sort of authoritarian state with economic shock, disappearances, and all the rest of it – more subtly done than in some countries I have lived in, but still done. I keep seeing signs of it, things I recognize from the dictatorships I’ve lived in or spent time in; we’ll not be as overtly Gothic as some places because this will not be necessary; we will look more like Mexico except that we will not be as well aware of our situation as Mexicans are of theirs.

What do you think?

Axé.

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Les questions du dimanche

1- So is this why people suggest Occupy is anti-voting/anti electoral/etc.: it is not part of the Democratic Party and even opposes the said party? Quoting from the piece I just linked to:

Democrats need to derail and co-opt the Occupy Movement because it calls attention to what’s really happening. The American people need a real jobs bill, not one that is merely a political tactic for an election year. We also need a truly progressive tax system—one that taxes wealth more and workers less. The poorest Americans pay taxes on necessities like food and clothing, so why is it that neither party urges a tax on the purchase of stocks, bonds and derivatives—a tax that could raise $800 billion over a decade? And finally, we need an end to the wars and militarism maintained and expanded by both parties, bringing huge profits to the arms industry and immense suffering to millions.

The Occupy Movement is not part of either corporate-dominated party and Van Jones is not our leader. It is corporate rule we oppose. The Obama administration and the Democrats as well as the Republicans maintain the rule of Wall Street. Occupiers have organized an independent movement that challenges the rule of the 1% and their Republican and Democratic lackeys. Bought and paid for with millions of dollars from Wall Street, the health insurance industry and big energy interests, Obama and the Democrats are part of the problem, not the solution.

Is it that last sentence that offends people?

2- Can we all read this book on the Agrarian Revolt of the late 19th century?

3- Are you fully aware that the legalization of indefinite military detention, possibly for U.S. citizens as well, is being voted on in the United States Senate Monday … and that some say it is so they can detain Occupiers in this manner?

Axé.

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S. 1867

Here is a synopsis of SECTION 2031 of the bill to be voted on Monday or Tuesday by the United States Senate:

It “affirms … the authority of the President … to detain covered persons (persons “who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the [9/11] attacks, or harbored those responsible” OR persons who were “a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces … including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces”) pending disposition under the law of war.”

Disposition under law of war may include:

(1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities.
(2) Trial under chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code.
(3) Transfer for trial by an alternative court or tribunal having jurisdiction.
(4) Transfer to the custody or control of … any other foreign country, or any … foreign entity.

♦ Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
♦ The Secretary of Defense shall regularly brief Congress regarding the application of the authority described in this section, including the organizations, entities, and individuals considered to be ‘covered persons.’

Axé.

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