Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

Grayling reviews Žižek

And by “reviews” I mean “asserts that he’s wrong”:

You can, and should, complain vociferously about the harms and wrongs perpetrated by capitalism, but to describe them all as violence makes it impossible to distinguish between what happens when an multinational oil company raises its prices and when it pays to have people bullied off land above an oil deposit. Being paid a low wage and being shot in the head are two different things. If you use the same word for both you are muddling, weakening and misdirecting your argument.

Watch: Monty Python’s Argument Sketch

The perfect hero for America

Your Ann Coulters and  Rush Limbaughs don’t like John McCain. They say it’s because he isn’t a real conservative, but I think there’s a better explanation, which is almost the opposite. The hardcore of the American right don’t like John McCain because he’s the perfect conservative candidate, and they’re jealous.

Though McCain’s often described as a war hero, I’m not aware that he did anything especially heroic. America does have strangely low expectations of its soldiers, as merely serving appears to qualify you as a hero; getting injured, which one might think a predictable hazard of being in a war, qualifies you for a medal (although, of course, nothing so extreme as good health care). But McCain’s military record does involve one thing that makes him perfect for conservatives.

The fundamental narrative of American conservatism is its increasingly ludicrous attempt to portray the conservative as the victim: suffering at the hands of the liberal media, big government, and the commies at the ACLU. In this, of course, McCain has a trump card that is all but unassailable: unlike almost every other American conservative, he really was tortured by Communists.

They want to knock our houses down to build some Ikeas

Public Space, Emeryville, 2008

There are some things I find difficult to appreciate in a properly dialectical fashion; one of these is Emeryville. A small city effectively carved out of the north-west corner of Oakland, it was once one of the most heavily industrialized parts of the Bay Area. Following an earthquake in 1989, it was redeveloped as a city-sized shopping mall. As such, it’s one of the most extraordinary attempts I am aware of to destroy public space. Read more↴

Count the things that are wrong in this statement

Dennis Kucinich on impeaching George Bush:

This isn’t a political question, by the way…this is a matter that’s beyond politics. This is a matter that relates to a democratic system of government…. We cannot let our political system trump the requirements of the law.

Is Ron Paul a stealth Muslim?

In a fairly dubious article in the New York Review of Books, I noticed this interesting description of:

the waqf, or Islamic trust, which, beginning in medieval times, was one of the most important institutions of the precolonial era. These foundations, which were immune from government interference, allowed the transmission of wealth down the generations while sustaining public welfare by providing hospitals, schools, mosques, inns, public drinking fountains, and other services independently of the state.

Waqfs were the primary civil society institutions in the Islamic world. As such they represented a threat to the modernizing schemes of governments facing the challenge of grow-ing European power. The Ottoman sultans and other would-be reformers gradually took them over, incorporating them into the apparatus of state—a movement that facilitated the emergence of the autocratic regimes that prevail in much of the Islamic world to this day because the increase in the power of the state was not balanced by advances in democratic accountability.

This description of a “civil society” which is pre-modern and in opposition to (rather than dialectically dependent on) state power is not the most dubious thing in the article; but it intrigues me, because it has a lot in common with the kind of Lockean state-of-nature fantasy that is central to libertarianism. It’s common to impose the western division of liberal and conservative onto Muslims; but where are the libertarian Muslims? Hiding in Ron Paul’s campaign staff, that’s where.

(And isn’t “stealth Muslim” an extraordinarily fucked-up term to have entered our political vocabulary? An “international Jew” for the 21st century.)

Is it still spring?

I suppose it is, at least here in America, where they bizarrely start their seasons on the quarter days, so that summer doesn’t start until midsummer. Besides which, most of the songs I’m listening to right now I’ve been listening to for a while, so they probably fulfill the rigorous terms of the meme:

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.

graves Read more↴