Replying to Jeff Sparrow’s Arguement On the Social Significance of the Arizon Massacre

 

Jeff Sparrow wrote on the Overland Blog that the Tuscon murders cannot be considered isolated events but are evidence of  “profound social crisis” that seems to go by the name of “the normalisation of violence” and is principally caused by the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am not so sure that this is accurate. Doubt comes from indications of a greater age and origin of the crisis, but also, I am generally of the opinion that violent images don’t promote violence, the apparent cause of the crisis in Jeff’s analysis.  Jeff’s prognosis here seems to rely upon questionable assumptions conducive to authoritarian conclusions.

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Smug Pollution Alert

There are many uncertainties that have arisen as a result of the federal election on the 21st of August. On thing that is certain is that for the foreseeable future the people of south-eastern Australia will be dealing with the sever environmental and weather effects of high concentrations of smug. A smug alert has been issued. The pollution is emanating from various locations in Australia but is at dangerous levels of concentration in and around the federal seat of Melbourne. The most common ailment brought about by the smug pollution is choking as a result of incidents of I-vomited-a-little-bit-in-my-mouth syndrome, in some cases this has been so sever as to result in death.

A portion of a documentary on Smug Pollution:

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Roskolnikov’s ‘New Word’

In Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment the central character Raskolnikov (the murderer) writes an article that is the first sign that the police investigator finds of his guilt. Below is the argument of that article as presented by himself, in person, to the police investigator. This presentation is the machine at the heart of the novel. The novel can be read as an exploration of the definition of that machine.

Raskolinkov makes an attempt at being an extraordinary person by pronouncing a ‘new word’. That ‘new word’ is the article presented in the following quote – that is, it is the articulation of the criminal origins of all law. The reason that he kills the old money lender and her sister is the principle outlined in this article – the assertion that law is criminal itself and thereby justifies its own transgression. The plot that arises from this act can be understood as the “beautiful and edifying” “public penances” that are the self-inflicted punishment of those that cannot bear the consequences of founding a new law yet make the attempt anyhow.

The question presented by the novel seems to be: Is this an articulation of the limitations of law – that it cannot be done away with, that it cannot be built again on grounds that are not criminal, that is, that it cannot recognize its own partiality? Or, is the novel itself the presentation of Raskolinkov’s ‘new word’ and that the punishment he inflicts upon himself represents the re-founding of law precisely on the basis of its partiality? This second possibility would see his punishment as being a necessary estrangement the ‘extraordinary man’ has from the experience of his own mastery.

The key to the answer to these questions seems to lie in the interpretation of Raskolinkov’s ‘redemption’ in Siberia. Answering this question could be a way of articulating that Nietzsche’s fear of the ‘ultimate man’ is unfounded at an absolute level. This is a topic that I have been interested in because, to put it crudely, it seems to suggest that a lack of stupidity is a problem for modernity and this, at least at the empirical level, is erroneous.

The other consequence of such an investigation would be to provide some comment on the possibility of positive political action that is not simply self-interested against the assertion that political engagement holding a rigorous claim to universality must by definition always be negative.

Here is the quote:

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Gillard, The Mining Tax and the Coming Election

This week Tony Abbott was reputed to have declared that victory was within his grasp and Julia Gillard grasped it. Tony’s comment was derided as a bit impolite – it being generally conceded that to talk up ones chances beyond the avoidance of failure is in some way untoward. Nevertheless, Tony’s comment was given an endorsement in Gillard’s promotion. The drastic Labor leadership change is an attempt to stymie the steady descent of the government’s prospects at the next election.

The seat shuffling was done in the hope that that odd fascination with novelty on the part of the electorate, that phenomenon that saw people vote out Howard because ‘it was time for another guy to have a go,’ will be assuaged with the introduction of Gillard. But if this remains the only change to occur, it will only succeed on the twin assumptions that if Tony and Julia were in a TV soap, Tony would be seen as the bad guy and that Tony and the Liberal party have no coherent belief in what justice is.

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Banning ‘Super Art’: A step in the right direction

In response to a strongly worded letter that I was going to write the authorities have swung into action. Rather than simply warning people of the dubious nature of investments in art, as I argued should be done here, a recommendation has been made that the practice be banned in the instance of self-managed super funds (reported in the Australian here).

In a review of self managed super Jeremy Cooper has recommended that making art works part of an investment portfolio standing as a self managed superannuation fund should be outlawed. In this recommendation the hucksterism of the art world – the fundamentally fraudulent nature of any value being attributed to art works – has been recognised.

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Sex, Lies and Pay Parity

Amazingly, the Australian Services Union lie that they are seeking to establish pay parity between men and women still stands.

As discussed here, the claim that is being made by the union is that workers in the private sector are being paid at substantially less rates than those in the public sector. It is not about women versus men. It is about two different employers.

It would be difficult to discern this from the coverage provided by Fairfax and Murdoch’s people and down right impossible to gain any insight from what ended up on the ABC.

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Changes in the Football Vernacular with Respect to the Verb Rape

For quite sometime now the AFL and other codes have been battling the sexual proclivities of players off the field. Whilst the Hopoate incident of 2001 is the only sexual catastrophe to occur on the field the numbers of footballers finding themselves in the media glare for their sexual behaviour off the field seems too numerous to count, this is a fact that seems to be reflected in the football vernacular.

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Battles of Thai Democracy in the 1970s

(This is a brief history of Thai politics during the 1970s. It is largely drawn from the book: History of Thailand by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit. I am reading it in order to gain an understanding of what is occurring there today and am sharing the information I get from those books – as well as my interpretation – here. More posts on this topic may follow.)

For Thailand the 1970s saw the collapse of military dictatorship followed by a period of parliamentary rule dominated by urban business interests and then a bloody return to military dominated rule. These events go someway towards contextualising the current conflict in that nations capital, Bangkok.
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Chasing the Marriage Certificate: Running the Right Way?

The campaign for the legal recognition of the marriages of queer couples has entered a strange place since the inequalities in Australian relationship laws between same-sex and heterosexual couples were largely removed by the federal government in legislation that came into full effect in June 2009. The campaign is now entirely centred upon the marriage certificate, the one legal benefit given to heterosexuals but not queers. But that certificate will entail no new rights for its queer bearers beyond the possession of that piece of paper.
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MySchool and the Cowardice of the Left

“They’re not nihilist, they’re just cowards.” These are the words of warning that John Goodman’s character gave in the film the Big Lebowski when dealing with a bunch of black clad extortionists. Such a warning is appropriate for the Australian right regarding its leftist opponents. The point can be made evident with reference to any one of a large and increasing number of orifices that spout opinions which taken together constitute the Australian left. The most recent and high profile instance would have to be the reaction to the making public the results of National Assessment Program in Literacy and Numeracy, NAPLAN, results via the MySchool website.

The reaction to the Myschool website and the making public the NAPLAN results demonstrates this beyond the fact of the Australian Education Union’s capitulation on threats to boycott the tests in exchange for a ‘working party’. The whole effort can be seen as a timid approach to seeking justice.

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