Radical media, politics and culture.

The State

Hoipolloi Cassidy writes:

Hoipolloi Cassidy

"Couvre-feu ou cessez-le-feu?" Curfew or ceasefire? By reactivating a fifty-year old curfew law the French Government appears to have tamped the violence tearing apart Parisian suburbs and other parts of France for the past two weeks. Throw a few promises at the underprivileged and this could be the end of the story.

Not likely. It's more like a chess game between two skilled players where both opponents skip through the opening moves because they're all predictable. Or think of the joke about the guys who all know the same stories, so whenever someone calls out a number the rest all crack up. In a country with a political tradition as old as France the past two weeks couldn't help but follow the script. From a cycle of repression and rebellion the Right wing fashioned a narrative of France against the Un-French, order against disorder, while Center and Left begged for a return to containment, cooperation and gradual integration into "Frenchness."

Historic Vermont Secession Meeting Held

Greg Szymanski

The members of a peaceful freedom-fighting group want no part of neo-cons
running the imperialistic U.S. government. Plan to secede from the U.S.
gaining momentum in the fiercely independent Green Mountain state.

The neo-con band of criminals running Washington, trampling on civil rights
at home and invading countries at will overseas, has led a large group of
strong-minded Vermont freedom-fighters with no choice but to secede from the
United States.

And last Friday at the state capital building in Montpelier, a historic
independence convention was held, the first of its kind in the United States
since May 20, 1861, when South Carolina decided to leave the Union.

Beyond Biopolitics: state racism and the politics of life and death

March 16-17, 2006

Graduate Center, CUNY

365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Women and Society (CSWS), The Graduate Center of the City University of New York and Barnard Center for Research on Women.

Questions: Contact Craig Willse at cwillse@gc.cuny.edu.

Symposium Schedule:

Thursday, March 16

9:00 - 10:00 AM Breakfast and Welcome

10:00 - 11:30 AM Race, population and technologies of control

Eyal Weizman, Eugene Thacker, Jaspir Puar
Moderator: Patricia Clough

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM Detention, death and documentation

Christian Parenti, Sora Han, Derek Gregory, Cagatay Topal

Moderator: Jackie Orr

1:00 - 2:30 PM Lunch

2:30 - 4:00 PM Indebtedness, freedom and state racism

Stefano Harney, Fred Moten, Richard Dienst, Ann Anagnost

Moderator: Jeff Bussolini

4:00 - 5:30 PM Commentary

Anahid Kassabian, Craig Willse, Randy Martin, Jackie Orr

Friday, March 17

9:00 - 10:00 AM Breakfast

10:00 - 11:30 AM Invested nature and the sciences of life and death

Richard Doyle, Cori Hayden, Duana Fulwilley,
Moderator: Ananya Mukherjea

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM Evention, bodies and memories

Amit Rai, Brian Massumi, Saidiya Hartman

Moderator: Couze Venn

1:00 - 2:00 PM Lunch

2:30 - 4:00 PM Commentary & discussion

Jamie Bianco, Grace Mitchell , Couze Venn, Peter Hitchcock

The People's Pension: The Anarchist Origins of Social Security and Today's Battle Over Its Future

Eric Laursen

Wednesday, November 16 at 7:30 pm

One of the hottest US domestic political debates today is over the
future of Social Security. The crown jewel of the New Deal, Social
Security is the basic old-age income protection program for elderly and
disabled American workers. It's also the most successful anti-poverty
program in US history, and has always been overwhelmingly popular.

But a patient, well-funded, and determined conservative coalition has
been fighting to dismantle Social Security for more than 20 years now.
Ultimately, they expect to win. Why?

We will explore the reasons why the closest program the US has to true
mutual aid is in mortal danger. These go back to the original ideas
behind Social Security, which have their roots in the early anarchist
and socialist movements at the beginning of the 19th century. Social
Security and workers' compensation originally were conceived as a
cooperative way for workers to supply each others' mutual needs. In the
late 19th century, the original conception was co-opted by the state.

Solve et Coagula writes:

"Bush Meltdown:
Belated Justice or Coup d'état?"

Carolyn Baker

Bush’s approval rating at under 40 percent, nearly two-thirds of Americans no longer in favor of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the vice president’s chief of staff indicted, the House Majority Leader indicted, the Senate Majority Leader under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Harriett Miers fiasco, and now the Democrats shutting down the Senate? It all feels so deliciously appropriate and so painfully overdue. Are the Democrats finding their spines? Will Cheney be indicted? Will Bush be impeached?

Before succumbing to ecstasy over these dramatic events, which sometimes seem too good to be true, it behooves progressives to look deeper into the wormhole that the criminal empire, the United States government, has become. Indeed, the next few months will be messy, and Bush & Co. are irreversibly in demise, but the hope these events might instill in us must be tempered by historical and political perspective.

Hoipolloi Cassidy writes:

"Making France and Influencing Media"

Hoipolloi Cassidy

My own political Primal Scene: I'm, maybe nine years old, in Paris in the 'fifties, and my mother's hurrying me home because the police have cordoned off the street and started picking up all dark-skinned males. "Algerians," she says, as if that explained anything. Now, fifty years later, there are few Algerians living in the gentrified center of Paris. Some things have changed, some haven't, and there's a lot of explaining left to do.

For one thing, French distrust of North Africans has a long, bitter history, which is also a history of slow improvements. A few years back I wandered into a café in a lower-middle class area of Paris with a friend. My friend ordered at the counter but I didn't want anything. "Ah, said the owner with a smile, Monsieur is observing Ramadan!" This kind of comment was unthinkable fifty years ago.

Yet riots like those going on right now have been going on for years, on and off, in towns and suburbs far outside of Paris, led by disaffected children of immigrants, black, Muslim or both, and for the usual reasons: high unemployment, nothing to do, resentment of racism. The difference this time is that the trashing and burning and assaults that have broken out over the past ten days in the northern suburbs of Paris are too close to ignore. What's new is a desperate desire to make sense of these events. You might even say, in the grand intellectual tradition of France, that they exist above all in their own interpretation.

Max Uhlenbeck writes

"The Non-Profit & The Autonomous Grassroots"
Eric Tang, Left Turn

Once upon a time, being labeled an affiliate of the state was a nasty indictment in radical movements. Today some of the movement’s best and brightest openly and proudly claim membership in organizations whose link to the state—either through direct public funding or mere tax-reporting—are unambiguous and well-documented. I am speaking of the impressive number of radical-minded grassroots groups that, while continuing to sincerely abide by the ethos of “our movement,” have assumed the form of a Non-Profit (NP) entity.

Personal Debts and US Capitalism

Rick Wolff, Monthly Review

There is no precedent in US — or any other — history for the level of personal debt now carried by the American people. Consider the raw numbers. In 1974, Federal Reserve data show that US mortgage plus other consumer debt totaled $627 billion. By 1994, the total debt had risen to $4,206 billion, and by 2004, it reached $9,709 billion. For the second quarter of 2005, the Fed announced that the nation's debt service ratio (debt payments as a percentage of after-tax income) was 13.6%, the highest since the Fed began recording this statistic in 1980. Past borrowing now costs Americans so much in debt service that more borrowing is required to maintain, let alone expand consumption.

These facts raise two questions: what caused this mountain of debt to arise and what are its consequences? Answering these questions is an urgent matter since, as has been known for centuries, the risks of high debt include economic collapse.

John Doraemi writes:

Butcher of New Orleans:

9-11 Insider & Director of "Homeland Security"
Michael Chertoff's Crimes of the State

many dead babies and grandparents does it take to earn one the title of "butcher?"

A handful should be sufficient,
if the killer is a common nutcase. Dozens of dead bodies aren't required in
our mainstream sensationalist culture, certainly not hundreds, or thousands!

The buck stops where?

"Under the National Response Plan, the Homeland Security
secretary is deemed the 'principal federal official'— the overall manager
— for all major natural disasters."

"But Chertoff — not Brown — was in charge of managing the national response
to a catastrophic disaster, according to the National Response Plan, the federal
government's blueprint for how agencies will handle major natural disasters
or terrorist incidents. An order issued by President Bush in 2003 also assigned
that responsibility to the homeland security director."

Clearly Michael Chertoff
was in charge the entire time. Which means that when FEMA actively
every conceivable manner of aid and rescue from arriving — or entering
into — New Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, Michael Chertoff was directly responsible
for the needless deaths that resulted. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff
should be arrested immediately for murder, or at least for "manslaughter."

"The Mysteries of New Orleans:

Twenty-five Questions about the Murder of the Big Easy"

Mike Davis and Anthony Fontenot

We recently spent a week in New Orleans and Southern Louisiana interviewing relief workers, community activists, urban planners, artists, and neighborhood folks. Even as the latest flood waters from Hurricane Rita recede, the city
remains submerged in anger and frustration.

Indeed, the most toxic debris in New Orleans isn't the sinister gray sludge that coats the streets of the historic Creole neighborhood of Treme or the Lower Ninth Ward, but all the unanswered questions that have accumulated in the wake of so much official betrayal and hypocrisy. Where outsiders see simple "incompetence" or "failure of leadership," locals are more inclined to discern
deliberate design and planned neglect -- the murder, not the accidental death,
of a great city.

In almost random order, here are twenty-five of the urgent questions that deeply trouble the local people we spoke with. Until a grand jury or congressional committee begins to uncover the answers, the moral (as opposed to simply
physical) reconstruction of the New Orleans region will remain impossible.


Subscribe to The State