Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Why the US Congress Sucks: Exactly What to Do About It

In 2012, the year after the new lines were drawn, Republican candidates for the Wisconsin Assembly won less than half of the statewide vote — but 60 of the Assembly’s 99 seats. That pattern persisted in 2014, as well as in federal and state races elsewhere around the country. In North Carolina, Democrats got 51 percent of the 2012 vote for the United States House of Representatives, which translated to only four of the state’s 13 congressional seats. The skew was roughly the same in Pennsylvania: Democrats won a little more than a quarter of the House seats, even though they got a majority of the votes cast in congressional races in the state that year. --New York Times

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thankful for Architects

This was a year in which I cemented (lol) some lovely relationships with some lovely architects, and I'm so honored therefore to be part of Archinect's list of things to be thankful for this year:

Timothy Morton's philosophy

It's insanely frustrating that, in 2016, climate change is still a partisan issue. While the political and scientific discourse trends toward the (justifiably) alarmist or the (depressingly) repressive, Timothy Morton’s philosophy opens up a new angle for considering humans' role on this spaceship Earth. His ideas about human selfhood, and our relationship with nature, are fascinating and provocative, and attest to an existence far richer than the “stranded polar bear on an ice sheet” caricature.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Maybe Noam Chomsky, Noted Anarchist, Can...


"[L]eftists who didn't vote for Clinton to block Trump made a 'bad mistake' "

Identity Politics (not) vs (not) Class Politics (not)

None of those phrases make any sense to me.

I'm just gonna juxtapose some lines here. Observe, first Time magazine from August last year:

After protestors with the “Black Lives Matter” movement took the stage during a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle Saturday to criticize the presidential candidate for not paying enough attention to issues of race, the Sanders campaign came up with a solution: It decided to shout down future protestors with the phrase, “We stand together.”

This is the worst idea in the campaign’s short life. Think about it: It involves hundreds of mostly white people shouting what is essentially “All lives matter” at the black people who dare to attempt to be heard.


Now here's the Verso blog (hooray, I'm publishing Humankind with them):

The election was a referendum on globalization and demographics; it was not a referendum on neo-liberalism: It is critical to appreciate that Trump’s appeal to whites was around their fear of the multiple implications of globalization. This included trade agreements AND migration. Trump focused on the symptoms inherent in neo-liberal globalization, such as job loss, but his was not a critique of neo-liberalism.  He continues to advance deregulation, tax cuts, anti-unionism, etc. He was making no systemic critique at all, but the examples that he pointed to from wreckage resulting from economic and social dislocation, resonated for many whites who felt, for various reasons, that their world was collapsing. ...

The election represented the consolidation of a misogynistic white united front: There are a few issues that need to be "unpacked" here. For all of the talk about the problems with Hillary Clinton-the-candidate and the failure to address matters of economics, too few commentators are addressing the fact that the alliance that Trump built was one that not only permitted but encouraged racism and misogyny. In point of fact, Trump voters were prepared to buy into various unsupported allegations against Clinton that would never have stuck had she not been a woman.  Additionally, Trump’s own baggage, e.g., married and divorced multiple times; allegations of sexual assault, would never have been tolerated had the candidate been a woman (or, for that matter, of color). Trump was given a pass that would only be given to a white man in US society. All one has to do is to think about the various allegations, charges and history surrounding Donald Trump and then ask the question: had the candidate been a woman or of color, what would have happened? The answer is obvious.



Now here's Paul Krugman:

Recently Bernie Sanders offered an answer: Democrats should “go beyond identity politics.” What’s needed, he said, are candidates who understand that working-class incomes are down, who will “stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.”

But is there any reason to believe that this would work? Let me offer some reasons for doubt.

First, a general point: Any claim that changed policy positions will win elections assumes that the public will hear about those positions. How is that supposed to happen, when most of the news media simply refuse to cover policy substance? Remember, over the course of the 2016 campaign, the three network news shows devoted a total of 35 minutes combined to policy issues — all policy issues. Meanwhile, they devoted 125 minutes to Mrs. Clinton’s emails.

Beyond this, the fact is that Democrats have already been pursuing policies that are much better for the white working class than anything the other party has to offer. Yet this has brought no political reward.

Consider eastern Kentucky, a very white area which has benefited enormously from Obama-era initiatives. Take, in particular, the case of Clay County, which the Times declared a few years ago to be the hardest place in America to live. It’s still very hard, but at least most of its residents now have health insurance: Independent estimates say that the uninsured rate fell from 27 percent in 2013 to 10 percent in 2016. That’s the effect of the Affordable Care Act, which Mrs. Clinton promised to preserve and extend but Mr. Trump promised to kill.

Mr. Trump received 87 percent of Clay County’s vote.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Demand that Your School or University Make a Statement

Such as: 

During this time of heightened political tension in the public sphere, I'd like to remind all of us that we must adhere to basic protocols of public speech and action. There is a reason why some forms of these (such as the nazi salute) are illegal in Germany, for example. They are too inflaming to be allowed in public space.

If you see or hear something, photograph or record it. The send it to your Head or President's office or, if you're worried about doing that, to me and I'll forward it. Let me know whether yo want your name included or not.  

A very mild version of why this is important goes like this. What concerns me is what concerns me about how England and Japan address bullying in school. The general approach seems to be "we don't have any bullying, because we don't talk about it." Then someone commits suicide and the issue is in the news for a bit. Then they go back to not having any bullying, aka not talking about it. 

Reading: 
Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power
Robert Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect 






Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Postmodern Relativism

"I hadn't heard that tape and I don't know what the context of it would be in," King replied. "So no, I wouldn't say I was either okay with it or not okay with it."--Steve King Offers Bizarre Defense Of Bannon's 'Liberal Dykes' Comment (VIDEO)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Latest Essays

I'm really pleased with and proud of both. Both books are just amazing--you should definitely try to get your hands on them.

“Being Seen,” Afterword, in Ed Panar, Animals that Saw Me (Los Angeles: The Ice Plant, 2016), 73–79.
“Come into the Moonlight,” Foreword, Sabrina Scott, Witchbody (Chicago: Perfectly Acceptable Press, 2016), 5–9.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The New Yorker today:

Between now and January 20, 2017, a transformation will occur: Donald Trump, whom we know today as a deeply flawed candidate, will become President Trump, to whom deference is owed.

No. This is the religious supplement of democracy, which doesn't exist in nearly the same mode in the UK. Nothing is “owed” to a president. Things are “owed” to lords and monarchs.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Election Theft

The Election was Stolen – Here’s How
by Greg Palast

Before a single vote was cast, the election was fixed by GOP and Trump operatives.

Starting in 2013 – just as the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act – a coterie of Trump operatives, under the direction of Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, created a system to purge 1.1 million Americans of color from the voter rolls of GOP–controlled states.


The system, called Crosscheck, is detailed in my Rolling Stone report,
The GOP’s Stealth War on Voters,” 8/24/2016.

Crosscheck in action:  
Trump victory margin in Michigan:                         13,107
Michigan Crosscheck purge list:                           449,922

Trump victory margin in Arizona:                           85,257
Arizona Crosscheck purge list:                            270,824

Trump victory margin in North Carolina:               177,008
North Carolina Crosscheck purge list:                   589,393
 
On Tuesday, we saw Crosscheck elect a Republican Senate and as President, Donald Trump.  The electoral putsch was aided by nine other methods of attacking the right to vote of Black, Latino and Asian-American voters, methods detailed in my book and film, including “Caging,” “purging,” blocking legitimate registrations, and wrongly shunting millions to “provisional” ballots that will never be counted.

Trump signaled the use of “Crosscheck” when he claimed the election is “rigged” because “people are voting many, many times.”  His operative Kobach, who also advised Trump on building a wall on the southern border, devised a list of 7.2 million “potential” double voters—1.1 million of which were removed from the voter rolls by Tuesday. The list is loaded overwhelmingly with voters of color and the poor. Here's a sample of the list:


http://www.gregpalast.com/wp-content/uploads/Jackson-Full.jpg

Those accused of criminal double voting include, for example, Donald Alexander Webster Jr. of Ohio who is accused of voting a second time in Virginia as Donald EUGENE Webster SR.

No, not everyone on the list loses their vote.  But this was not the only racially poisonous tactic that accounted for this purloined victory by Trump and GOP candidates.

For example, in the swing state of North Carolina, it was reported that 6,700 Black folk lost their registrations because their registrations had been challenged by a group called Voter Integrity Project (VIP). VIP sent letters to households in Black communities “do not forward.”  If the voter had moved within the same building, or somehow did not get their mail (e.g. if their name was not on a mail box), they were challenged as “ghost” voters.  GOP voting officials happily complied with VIP with instant cancellation of registrations.

The 6,700 identified in two counties were returned to the rolls through a lawsuit.  However, there was not one mention in the press that VIP was also behind Crosscheck in North Carolina; nor that its leader, Col. Jay Delancy, whom I’ve tracked for years has previously used this vote thievery, known as “caging,” for years.  Doubtless the caging game was wider and deeper than reported.  And by the way, caging, as my Rolling Stone co-author, attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr., tells me, is “a felony, it’s illegal, and punishable by high fines and even jail time.”

There is still much investigation to do.  For example, there are millions of “provisional” ballots, “spoiled” (invalidated) ballots and ballots rejected from the approximately 30 million mailed in.  Unlike reporting in Britain, US media does not report the ballots that are rejected and tossed out—because, after all, as Joe Biden says, “Our elections are the envy of the world.”  Only in Kazakhstan, Joe.

While there is a great deal of work to do, much documentation still to analyze, we’ll have to pry it from partisan voting chiefs who stamp the scrub lists, Crosscheck lists and ballot records, “confidential.”

But, the evidence already in our hands makes me sadly confident in saying, Jim Crow, not the voters, elected Mr. Trump.

 

What about those exit polls?
Exit polls are the standard by which the US State Department measures the honesty of foreign elections.  Exit polling is, historically, deadly accurate. The bane of pre-election polling is that pollsters must adjust for the likelihood of a person voting.  Exit polls solve the problem.

But three times in US history, pollsters have had to publicly flagellate themselves for their “errors.”  In 2000, exit polls gave Al Gore the win in Florida; in 2004, exit polls gave Kerry the win in Ohio, and now, in swing states, exit polls gave the presidency to Hillary Clinton.

So how could these multi-million-dollar Ph.d-directed statisticians with decades of experience get exit polls so wrong?

Answer:  they didn’t.  The polls in Florida in 2000 were accurate.  That’s because exit pollsters can only ask, “How did you vote?”  What they don’t ask, and can’t, is, “Was your vote counted.”

In 2000, in Florida, GOP Secretary of State Katherine Harris officially rejected 181,173 ballots, as “spoiled” because their chads were hung and other nonsense excuses.  Those ballots overwhelmingly were marked for Al Gore.  The exit polls included those 181,173 people who thought they had voted – but their vote didn’t count.  In other words, the exit polls accurately reflected whom the voters chose, not what Katherine Harris chose.

In 2004, a similar number of votes were invalidated (including an enormous pile of “provisional” ballots) by Ohio’s GOP Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.  Again, the polls reflected that Kerry was the choice of 51% of the voters.  But the exit polls were “wrong” because they didn’t reflect the ballots invalidated by Blackwell.

Notably, two weeks after the 2004 US election, the US State Department refused the recognize the Ukraine election results because the official polls contradicted the exit polls.

And here we go again. 2016: Hillary wins among those queried as they exit the polling station—yet Trump is declared winner in GOP-controlled swings states. And, once again, the expert pollsters are forced to apologize—when they should be screaming, “Fraud!  Here’s the evidence the vote was fixed!”

Now there’s a new trope to explain away the exit polls that gave Clinton the win.  Supposedly, Trump voters were ashamed to say they voted for Trump.  Really?  ON WHAT PLANET?  For Democracy Now! and Rolling Stone I was out in several swing states.  In Ohio, yes, a Black voter may have been reluctant to state support for Trump. But a white voter in the exurbs of Dayton, where the Trump signs grew on lawns like weeds, and the pews of the evangelical mega churches were slathered with Trump and GOP brochures, risked getting spat on if they even whispered, “Hillary.”

This country is violently divided, but in the end, there simply aren’t enough white guys to elect Trump nor a Republican Senate.  The only way they could win was to eliminate the votes of non-white guys—and they did so by tossing Black provisional ballots into the dumpster, ID laws that turn away students—the list goes on.  It’s a web of complex obstacles to voting by citizens of color topped by that lying spider, Crosscheck.

 
---Greg Palast

Humans without Humanity

Well I've done ecology without Nature, but what about the other half of the false Nature-humanity dyad?

That's why I've written this book for Verso. It's called Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People, and it's almost ready.

I thought you might like the blurb I just wrote:

A specter is haunting the specter of communism: the specter of the nonhuman.

The left is correctly wary of talk about nonhumans in the key of Nature and its spiritual partner, humanity. But if we don't talk about something like them, on the scale where physically vast beings such as global warming exist, we cede this scale--the one on which a planetary ecological politics can happen--to big corporations and their representatives in government.

Humankind is an attempt to think the human species without Nature and without humanity. Smugly titled "brief histories" of this conceptual space are designed precisely to cover over the nothingness Morton calls the symbiotic real--the terrestrial biosphere as such. Humankind is to be found in that nothingness.

Along the way, Morton develops a new non-theistic holism and a theory of revolutionary action not wedded to religion. Humankind also remixes the debate within ideology theory between the earlier and later Marx.

Let Me Be Even More Explicit in Case Your Ears Need Unblocking

This so fucking isn't about some stupid people realizing that there is racism and being “shocked, shocked.”

This is about everyone on the planet witnessing a KKK-supported man become President of the USA, over the body of the first woman presidential candidate.

In 2016.

Policing reactions is the most ridiculous fucking waste of time and plays right into the hands of the enemy.

It is a thing devisèd by the enemy,
To keep the strong in awe.
(Richard III)

There's a Massive Problem with Decolonial Theory

I don't think anyone who performs it realizes what they're retweeting. There is no idea how imperialist (because derived from Hegel) the decolonial concept is. The British used precisely cultural difference and incommensurability to dominate Africa and India.

It is precisely this culturalism and its implicit imperialist lineage that is the bitter irony of its having been forced on first peoples via theory class, as the currently correct form of righteous and ultimately ecocidal religion.

One rather tries to flush that legacy down the toilet.

On Shock

As anyone who likes Deleuze and Guattari should know, what they transmit of Theweleit's Crowds and Power is that the initial accurate reaction, as capitalism metastasized into nazism in the 1930s, is "I can't believe they're getting away with it." Jews were shocked. Non-Jews were shocked. 

There has been an outrageous, obscene rip in social space. 


Don't make the paralysis worse by making anyone feel guilty. The point is to experience the shock and then start to move. 

Songs in the Key of Life

Please don't try to be "right" about what's happening. If some people are shocked and you think that's uncool, I'm afraid you have to let those people look uncool to you and let them go through the shock, which is a necessary stage of figuring out what is *actually happening.
Please let us not eat each other, my left buddies. Labour in the UK almost destroyed itself that way after Brexit. 
Please don't talk about this in the key of guilt. Guilt is a substitute for thought and guilt makes this be all about individuals and "choices." But it isn't. 

We all have to get over the agricultural religions in our heads (yes they are still there, especially when we say to ourselves that they aren't). These religions promote competitions about whose big bad god is bigger and badder. 
Or whose critique is bigger and badder. 
Or whose paralyzing cynical reason is stronger. 
There's only one thing to do, right now. Forge a massive, unstoppable counter-force using the readily available solidarity that is part of the symbiotic air we breathe. 
Everything else is irrelevant or harmful. 

*****

Without doubt, the counter-force is automatically affiliated with nonhumans at this point--symbiosis like I'm saying--so it would be best to be conscious of that too.

*****

The only reason Britain didn't go Nazi in the 1930s is because people like my grandfather fought the Blackshirts in the Cable Street riots, getting trampled by the police horses. No one wasted a second on pimping their guilt.

*****

As anyone who likes Deleuze and Guattari should know, what they transmit of Theweleit's Crowds and Power is that the initial accurate reaction, as capitalism metastasized into nazism in the 1930s, is "I can't believe they're getting away with it." Jews were shocked. Non-Jews were shocked. 

There has been an outrageous, obscene rip in social space. 


Don't make the paralysis worse by making anyone feel guilty. The point is to experience the shock and then start to move. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Mask is the Reality

In a New York Times editorial, Gail Collins outlines a witty (and boy do I need that) ten-step plan for getting through Stuff. On the other hand.... Collins writes:

2) Acknowledge that Donald Trump is not crazy. Obviously, he has been known to act crazy in public. But if you met him at a private social occasion you would probably find him to be a fairly pleasant person.

I say that as someone who once got a letter from Trump telling me I had the face of a dog. But the next time I saw him at a lunch meeting he was fine. Told interesting jokes about how much money he got for product placement on his TV show. Obviously, this isn’t the equivalent of “Theodore Roosevelt reincarnated.” But we’re trying to work with what we have here.


But that precisely is the problem. The disconnect between what is said to Everyone and what is said to Some People. This has to do with (insert name here I can't write it yet)'s need to get the most attention, obviously.

That friendly casual “Oh I was just kidding”—or in this case Collins's reactive version of that, sort of “Well, that makes it better, because now I see the real guy in private” is exactly one of the locations of the violence.

I'm not talking about integrity here. I'm not talking about acting like a wanker (or the opposite) both in public and in private—the public/private split is purely republican (small r) in any case, nothing to do with democracy.

It's the idea, rather, that there is a real person behind the clown mask, and that if we could only see that real person while the clown is screaming, we could chill.

That's horrifying, Gail Collins.