I must renew my passport

I will not post until it is done. I must also paint some of the outside of the house. These are the kinds of things I keep putting off and I really must not.

Axé.

Leave a comment

Filed under Working

“It’s the world committing suicide”

Normalization is not an option. From Tikkun. Worth reading slowly.

Poem by Rachel Zucker. From The Nation. “Meanwhile oil unstoppably pouring into the blue-green.”

Also from The Nation, a fascinating review of A Nation Without Borders–a book which has been widely discussed elsewhere as well, and which should clearly be read.

UPDATE. Someone else said:

What we now have in the US is a takeover by a particularly virulent hybrid: a deeply masculinist, racist, corporo-fascism. For many white liberals the idea that the US is now a corporo-fascist regime was at first unthinkably shocking because it runs counter to deep veins of white exceptionalism– “It can’t really happen here.” The current corporo-fascist regime, with the largest imperial military in the world, the largest national surveillance intelligence apparatus in history, and the will to use both with the utmost brutality and ruthlessness in the interests of the patriarchal corporate 1%, is not national fascism in the sense that Nazi Germany was, or white nationalist South African apartheid was, but is a new, deeply dangerous political mutation, emerging from global neoliberal austerity, taking root in a country gutted by austerity, and now put in place to further gut the state, and gather all economic and political power in the hands of a tiny corporate-military-intelligence male minority. That’s why we could do with less fixating on Trump himself, as the fixation feeds off the US cult of personality and celebrity identification. We need to make visible and name the gathering figures in the shadows for whom Trump is simply the useful Avatar, an Avatar who (it is my bet) they will dispense with quite ruthlessly if he doesn’t toe their line. Which is looking pretty likely right now, given his megalomania. The corporo-fascism will remain, and we need to seek out its soft places of vulnerability, invent new strategies, and not underestimate their will to crush us, nor underestimate our own power to resist.

Axé.

2 Comments

Filed under Movement, News, Poetry

Artaud documentaries

The first part, and the second. These are comprised of interview of people who knew him.

Then there is this from Gérard Mordillat, and much more material.

Axé.

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

Steal this university

I have been reading and lying low, but tomorrow I will have to write, and work out, and socialize over an interesting film. Reading of some interest includes Steal this university, a 2003 book one should have read then (I read the reviews, but one should have read it and taken action on it). It seems dated now, which only shows how rapidly the changes it discusses and predicts have taken hold. A key point from early chapters is the commercialization of education: students are customers because education is a product.

Patrick O’Donnell has a good working bibliography on the corporatization of higher education but it is far from complete, as this topic is broader than one may realize and has also been discussed in greater, more erudite detail than one might think. Yet most people have been too busy with their jobs to notice what has been happening, and what has been happening has also been discussed in an obfuscating way. Finally, those with power are in situations where they are protected from these developments. Those without are in situations where we can see them, but have too few colleagues willing to open their eyes.

Then there is this piece on authoritarian neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is not about free markets, it is about creating inequality in the name of the free market, and turning everything over to the corporations and the authoritarian state. That, of course, is what has happened to universities. My piece, that I must finish, must resist the temptation to cover everything: I am talking about language.

BUT these are victors who will never declare victory — because the carefully-maintained capitalist illusion of the “university education” still benefits them. Never, ever, admit that the university is dead.

That is from this blog post which is very good. We have to use at least some of the words we have always used so that we can maintain the university as simulacrum. But this means that we are not necessarily talking about the same things when we use these words. (There was something I read a few weeks ago, on doublespeak and neoliberalism, that I must find.)

I have been thinking that my piece is not original and is not fresh but I think that if it is taking me as much thought as it is, and if it is true that not enough people understand what is happening, then it has some value.

Axé.

3 Comments

Filed under ALFS presentation, Bibliography

The sacrifice zone

Nowhere is the abuse as frightening as in Louisiana—with the exception, perhaps, of its neighbor to the east (“Thank God for Mississippi!” is the unofficial state motto). Louisiana is the second-poorest state and second-to-last in human development, which is a measure of individual freedom. The state’s rate of fatal cancers is about 30 percent higher than the national average. For all its antifederalism, Louisiana is fourth in accepting government welfare, with 44 percent of its budget coming from Washington. (Many of Hochschild’s Tea Party friends are beneficiaries of federal welfare programs.) Louisiana has the highest rate of death by gunfire (nearly double the national average), the highest rate of incarceration, and is the fifth-least-educated, reflecting the fact that it spends the fifth-least on education. It is sixth in the nation in generating hazardous waste, and third in importing it, since it makes a side business out of storing other states’ trash.

Louisiana’s governor is among the most powerful chief executives in the nation, a legacy that dates back to Huey Long’s administration, and under Governor Bobby Jindal’s dictatorship, between 2008 and 2016, the state’s prospects declined with unprecedented severity. After he reduced corporate income taxes and expanded the exemptions granted to oil and gas companies, the state’s revenue tumbled roughly $3 billion. He transferred $1.6 billion from public schools and hospitals to oil companies in the form of new tax incentives, under the theory that the presence of oil and a robust petrochemical infrastructure were not incentives enough. (The Louisiana Legislature is not only soaked with oil and gas lobbyists—during a recent session there were seventy for 144 legislators—but many lawmakers themselves hold industry jobs while serving in office.) Jindal fired 30,000 state employees, furloughed many others, cut education funding by nearly half, and sold off as many state-owned parking lots, farms, and hospitals as he could.

Despite these punishing cuts, he managed over the course of his administration to turn a $900 million budget surplus into a $1.6 billion deficit. National agencies downgraded the state’s credit rating. The damage was so great that it helped to bring about one of the most unlikely election results in recent American history. Jindal’s successor is John Bel Edwards, a Democrat—the only one to hold statewide office. Edwards is vehemently pro-life and agnostic about climate change, but he is determined to hold the oil and gas industry responsible for funding their share of coastal restoration. He currently enjoys a 62.5 percent approval rating. Almost a year into his first term, however, despite several emergency measures, the state remains in arrears.

The book has key information, even if I am not convinced the author does not exoticize our people somewhat. And I LOVE the term “sacrifice zone,” it is SO apt.

Axé.

1 Comment

Filed under Banes, Bibliography, Movement, News

Eleventh day of Christmas

irkutsk

Just in case you have never seen a sleigh pulled by a reindeer, here is one. My eccentric cousin had them in Lapland and Scotland, of course, but this is a postcard sent to Moscow in 1911 from the eastern reaches of the Irkutsk Oblast, where the sender was exiled or imprisoned. I know of it from my relatives who are interested in old things, although the sender and original recipient are friends of theirs, not relatives of mine. It is an exotic photograph in every way.

Axé.

4 Comments

Filed under A.V. Bari, News

The sun rises and sets

My father says the Russian prisoner’s song he learned from Mensheviks in Mexico City at the time of the victory of Stalingrad is called “My window” but really I think it is called “The sun rises and sets.” Here are some lyrics for one version of it in Russian but there is a book Russian folk lyric from Indiana University, with a foreword by Vladimir Propp, that has a most beautiful version.

This last version appears in a play by Maxim Gorky called Lower depths, and according to Propp the song was very widely sung in 1905. The final stanza is an exact translation of part of Black raven, a very important song about war and death. Black raven will re-convince you of the horrors of war and the marvels of Russian culture. Our ancestor spoke twelve languages and I would like to learn Russian.

I learned looking for my father’s song that there is a whole genre of prison and criminals’ songs in Russia–as one might have guessed. I learned about the cantautor Mikhail Krug and the important neo-prison song Vladimirskiy central. I have seen photographs and videos of current Russian prisons and they resemble U.S. prisons very greatly.

I also discovered an amazing tenor, Dmitri Smirnov. There is a 1912 recording of him singing a Rachmaninoff song called “My window” and I wonder if it is related.

Axé.

Leave a comment

Filed under A.V. Bari, Songs