Bedeutung Blog

Slavoj Zizek: Catastrophic But Not Serious

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Tariq Ali: From Cairo to Madison – The Arab Revolution and a World in Motion

Tariq Ali: From Cairo to Madison – The Arab Revolution and a World in Motion from N Alexander on Vimeo.

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In London and Athens, protesters are rekindling the true European spirit

by Costas Douzinas
from The Guardian

Dual identities create tensions. I was born in Greece but have lived most of my life in Britain. When I arrived in London, after the fall of the Greek dictatorship in 1974, I was told in no uncertain terms by an elderly gentleman walking his bulldog that Britain does not belong to Europe; Britain stands on her own beyond geographical classifications. On the other hand, until recently the Greeks used to be supremely Europhile. Many would have gladly moved their capital from Athens to Brussels.

In 2000 Europe was hailed as the model polity for the new century. But a decade later, the European Union is a dysfunctional organisation that has betrayed its founding principles of economic stability and prosperity based on social solidarity and respect for human rights and justice. These foundations are shaking, under attack by European and national elites. At the same time the tensions of dual identity are weakening as different countries – such as Greece and Britain – face similar challenges. Philosophy can help us understand why.

Read more

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Not Crushed, Merely Ignored

by Tariq Ali
from: London Review of Books

A Kashmiri lawyer rang me last week in an agitated state. Had I heard about the latest tragedies in Kashmir? I had not. He was stunned. So was I when he told me in detail what had been taking place there over the last three weeks. As far as I could see, none of the British daily papers or TV news bulletins had covered the story; after I met him I rescued two emails from Kashmir informing me of the horrors from my spam box. I was truly shamed. The next day I scoured the press again. Nothing. The only story in the Guardian from the paper’s Delhi correspondent – a full half-page – was headlined: ‘Model’s death brings new claims of dark side to India’s fashion industry’. Accompanying the story was a fetching photograph of the ill-fated woman. The deaths of (at that point) 11 young men between the ages of 15 and 27, shot by Indian security forces in Kashmir, weren’t mentioned. Later I discovered that a short report had appeared in the New York Times on 28 June and one the day after in the Guardian; there has been no substantial follow-up. When it comes to reporting crimes committed by states considered friendly to the West, atrocity fatigue rapidly kicks in. A few facts have begun to percolate through, but they are likely to be read in Europe and the US as just another example of Muslims causing trouble, with the Indian security forces merely doing their duty, if in a high-handed fashion. The failure to report on the deaths in Kashmir contrasts strangely with the overheated coverage of even the most minor unrest in Tibet, leave alone Tehran. more

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No New Deal is Possible

by Antonio Negri
from: Radical Philosophy

John Maynard Keynes was a gentleman ? that is, an honest bourgeois, not a petty-bourgeois like Proudhon, or an ideologue, but an easy man ? and when political economy was still concerned with the political ordering of market and society every classical economist knew this. Keynes thought that knowledge functioned factually and that, in the culture of pragmatism, a teleological dispositif needed to be brought into the analysis of series of phenomena and their assemblage; that by organizing the order of facts one could cautiously and efficiently construct the order of reason. In his case, this dispositif consisted in securing the reproduction of the capitalist system.

In Keynes?s times economic science was not that horrid little mathematical device that all variants of financial adventurism and derivations of rent now have at their disposal. Now we know what happens when this mathematization ends up in the hands of dodgers? individualism? This is not to say that mathematics has nothing to do with economics or other disciplines; quite the opposite: it can be useful and productive for political economy, but at a completely different level. One instance is where neo-Keynsianism resulted from the encounter between socialist planners in the Soviet Union (or the liberal planners of the New Deal) and the mathematicians of market rationalization invented by L?on Walras. But for Keynes and his contemporaries the relationship between reason and reality was still entirely political: capital still sought clarity for itself. more

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Cornelius Castoriadis interviewed

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Greek debt crisis: Let's not return to status quo

by Alexandros Stavrakas
from: The Guardian

If by “hope” we mean a feeling of yearning and expectation for something to happen, and by “change” we mean an improvement of our present condition, then this is Greece’s moment of hope and change – and it is an overdue moment indeed. But, before this moment is lost in indiscernible patterns of technocratic parlance, financial speculation and micro-political concerns, we must grasp the true emancipatory potential it has – and act accordingly. more

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The Greek Crisis – Politics-Economics-Ethics

Listen here to the debate at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, held on May 5th.

Speakers:

• Stathis Kouvelakis, Kings College, London
• Kevin Featherstone, Director, Hellenic Observatory, LSE
• Costas Lapavitsas, Economics, SOAS
• Peter Bratsis, Politics, Salford University
• Costas Douzinas (Chair) Birkbeck

Introduction by speakers:

[audio http://bedeutung.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/2010_05_05_greekcrisis_speakers.mp3]

Open debate:

[audio http://bedeutung.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/2010_05_05_greekcrisis_audience_comments.mp3]

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Beg, Borrow or Steal: the Greek Crisis

by Alexandros Stavrakas

The commentary on the Greek crisis has predictably descended into a spectacle of cheap moralisation. Over the past months, we have been bombarded with accusatory tirades aimed against corrupt politicians, greedy bankers, depraved technocrats and more or less anyone who’s had a chance to use and abuse the system in order to advance their personal interests or those of their clique.

Short-sightedness, lack of elementary moral constraints, blatant lying, sheer gluttony, political and financial opportunism, imaginative accountancy, cover-ups; all these, we have been tirelessly told, have resulted in the incontrovertible economical, political and moral downfall of Greece. Downfall is, of course, used loosely here, for it is hard to articulate whence Greece fell. It is, indeed, mind-bogglingly difficult for any person of my generation to try and find a precise point in the past thirty years when the financial and political scene in Greece was, to say the least, in order. Surely, there have been periods of relative prosperity, inflated as the latter could have only been (and this is not only known in retrospect, at least amongst somewhat informed people) – but to act surprised at the present situation can only be one of two things: naïve or fraudulent. Naïve for thinking that the party could go on forever; fraudulent for deliberately advertising this belief.

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Jacqueline Rose on the Dreyfus Affair

Jacqueline Rose’s talk at the Asia Society on April 21 – organised by the London Review of Books on their 30th anniversary. Rose discusses parallels of the Affair with today’s political predicaments, including the role of the public intellectual.

[audio http://bedeutung.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/dreyfus-affair-jacqueline-rose1.mp3]

If the player doesn’t work, click the link below:

Dreyfus Affair – Jacqueline Rose(1)

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Obama's War

A talk by Tariq Ali in New York on Monday April 19th – organised by the London Review of Books

[audio http://bedeutung.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/obamas-war-tariq-ali.mp3]

If the player doesn’t work, click below:

Obama’s War – Tariq Ali

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The End of Politics (2): Europe

by Costas Douzinas

How different does Europe look today from ten years ago. In 2000, influential commentators hailed the dawn of the ‘new European century’ to replace the atrocious ‘American’ 20th century. Europe was on the way to becoming the model polity for the new world. The re-unification of Germany, the successful introduction of the Euro and the expansion eastwards were ushering a new age of prosperity and freedom.
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The end of politics and the defence of democracy

by Costas Douzinas

In this month of the ‘Greek passion’ one thing is certain. The country will never be the same again. But while the commentators, academics and ‘experts’ discuss endlessly the economic crisis, the deep political malaise has gone unnoticed. The three ‘waves’ of ‘stability’ measures have befallen Greece like an evil tsunami which will turn the current recession into a depression with no clear end. But they also attack the foundations of democracy. The unfolding events offer a panorama of the symptoms of ‘the end of politics’. Read More »

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Thatcher, Thatcher, Thatcher

by John Gray
from the London Review of Books

There wasn’t anything inevitable about David Cameron’s rise. If Kenneth Clarke had stirred himself into running something like a campaign when competing for the leadership with Iain Duncan Smith and been ready to appear more tractable on Europe; if David Davis had moved decisively in the immediate aftermath of Michael Howard’s resignation or been a more fluent speaker; if Howard had offered Cameron the shadow chancellorship or George Osborne had not accepted it – if these or any number of other contingencies had been otherwise, Cameron might not have become leader. Yet he has been perceived as an unstoppable force, the author of an irreversible transformation in his party that has set it firmly back on the road to power. Tim Bale’s exhaustive and authoritative account is hedged throughout with academic caution, but it concludes in terms that treat the Conservatives’ return to office as a foregone conclusion: ‘just as was the case for Margaret Thatcher, Cameron will ultimately be judged and defined by what he does.’ more

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Why Google is the Nike of the internet

by Alexandros Stavrakas
from The Guardian

Google decided two weeks ago to shut down its hitherto self-censoring search service in China. This allegedly costly gesture, intended as a bold statement rather than a formal articulation of corporate “foreign policy”, is congruous with the company’s liberal philosophy and juxtaposed to the aged conformity of, say, Microsoft. But far from being seen merely as an act of adolescent bravado or tedious corporate management, it seems to have captured the imagination of intellectuals around the world. more

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Peter Hallward on “Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment”

from Democracy Now

Haitian President Rene Preval said Sunday that the death toll from the earthquake could reach 300,000 once all the bodies are recovered from the rubble. We speak to Peter Hallward, professor of Modern European Philosophy at Middlesex University. “Unless prevented by renewed popular mobilisation in both Haiti and beyond, the perverse international emphasis on security will continue to distort the reconstruction effort, and with it the configuration of Haitian politics for some time to come,” wrote Hallward recently. “What is already certain is that if further militarisation proceeds unchecked, the victims of the January earthquake won’t be the only avoidable casualties of 2010.”

Watch the video

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Badiou/Zizek: Philosophy in the Present

To mark our comeback, after a long period of inactivity, here’s a copy of Philosophy in the Present by Alain Badiou & Slavoj Zizek.

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Our role in Haiti's plight

by Peter Hallward
from The Guardian

Any large city in the world would have suffered extensive damage from an earthquake on the scale of the one that ravaged Haiti’s capital city on Tuesday afternoon, but it’s no accident that so much of Port-au-Prince now looks like a war zone. Much of the devastation wreaked by this latest and most calamitous disaster to befall Haiti is best understood as another thoroughly manmade outcome of a long and ugly historical sequence.

The country has faced more than its fair share of catastrophes. Hundreds died in Port-au-Prince in an earthquake back in June 1770, and the huge earthquake of 7 May 1842 may have killed 10,000 in the northern city of Cap Haitien alone. Hurricanes batter the island on a regular basis, mostly recently in 2004 and again in 2008; the storms of September 2008 flooded the town of Gonaïves and swept away much of its flimsy infrastructure, killing more than a thousand people and destroying many thousands of homes. The full scale of the destruction resulting from this earthquake may not become clear for several weeks. Even minimal repairs will take years to complete, and the long-term impact is incalculable.

What is already all too clear, however, is the fact that this impact will be the result of an even longer-term history of deliberate impoverishment and disempowerment. Haiti is routinely described as the “poorest country in the western hemisphere”. This poverty is the direct legacy of perhaps the most brutal system of colonial exploitation in world history, compounded by decades of systematic postcolonial oppression. more

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Slavoj Žižek – Living in the End Times

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.4452279&w=600&h=400&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26]

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Inhuman Thoughts // by Asher Seidel

Inhuman Thoughts is a philosophical exploration of the possibility of increasing the physiological and psychological capacities of humans to the point that they are no longer biologically, psychologically, or socially human. The movement is from the human through the trans-human, to the post-human. The tone is optimistic; Seidel argues that such an evolution would be of positive value on the whole.

Seidel’s initial argument supports the need for a comprehensive ethical theory, the success of which would parallel that of a large-scale scientific revolution, such as Newtonian mechanics. He elaborates the movement from the improved-but-still-human to the post-human, and philosophically examines speculated examples of post-human forms of life, including indefinitely extended life-span, parallel consciousness, altered perception, a-sociality, and a-sexuality.

Inhuman Thoughts is directed at those interested in philosophical questions on human nature and the best life given the possibilities of that nature. Seidel’s overall argument is that the most satisfactory answer to the latter question involves a transcendence of the present confines of human nature.

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