June 08, 2004


The big posts are on the way, I promise. For now, some more recommendations:

Highly interesting blog by someone called Richard Doyle, a US academic whose interests - in biology, postmodern capital and pschedelics - dovetail somewhat with those of the Ccru (especially Luciana's). He also has tons of fascinatingly evolving texts up as 'wikis' (I'll level with you I don't really understand what wikis are at all), the most recent of which can be accessed here.

And So This Is Christmas blog - looks like it's a bit similar to the excellent Glueboot; lots of musing on popculture and philosophy.... Should be encouraged to update more, by the looks ot it.

This piece critiquing Hardt and Negri's Empire (link courtesy of H.U.H.) raises many pertinent and highly topical points. Might write more about this later.

Special request: does anyone out there have a copy of Walter Cannon's essay 'Voodoo Death'? It's one of my favourite things, but I can't for the life of me locate my copy...

Posted by mark at June 8, 2004 06:14 PM | TrackBack

'And so this is Christmas' seems very similar to me. Same problems over the furstrations of the infinite pile of work that must be done but is always late. Thanks for the link Mark, it looks like a really nice blog.

Posted by: siobhan at June 8, 2004 07:19 PM

from the piece on Hardt & Negri:

a revolutionary transition to socialism is possible—as happened in Russia in 1917 but not in the rest of Europe.

well, that's one way of putting it.

Posted by: scott at June 8, 2004 07:24 PM

are you sure richard doyle isn't actually Ian Penman

Posted by: sean at June 8, 2004 11:34 PM

just scanning that hardt and negri review, it looks to me like fairly orthodox neo-leninist point-missing - but i haven't read H&N for a coupla years at least, so i don't know how well the several points being missed stand up

Posted by: mark s at June 9, 2004 02:23 PM

Richard Doyle's thing look's to be more of a wiki than a blog. A wiki is just a website to which anyone can add. http://c2.com/cgi/wiki is the original one, but there are dozens of different implementations of the same basic idea. Differences: blogs are individual and structured by time; wikis are collective and haphazardly structured. Similarities: people can get a bit happy-clappy about them, the nature of the format.

Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page) is an encyclopedia developed in a wiki form.

Posted by: Sabiá at June 9, 2004 06:00 PM

Thanks Sabi; I think, confusingly, there is a blog too on Richard Doyle's site, but the postmodern capitalism thing is indeed a wiki text I believe.

Mark, yeh, I too haven't read Hardt and Negri for a while and (whisper it) it was enough of a struggle first time round; and obviously the Leninist critique is neither her nor there (I mean, who gives a fuck what he thought), though I thought two things were crucial in the piece: (1) H & N's claim that (US) Empire - though they regard Empire as 'a process without a subject', so to describe it as American is misleading - aligns itself with/ masks itself as International Law seems especially questionable in the light of the latest Iraq war and (2) the highlighting of the theme of the migrant.

Posted by: mark k-p at June 9, 2004 06:42 PM

intl law's is certainly open to misuse, that's true.

hey, lookit the UN HR council, they let anyone on these days (Khartoum etc.)!

Posted by: scott at June 9, 2004 07:01 PM

that said the piece's stuff on migration is really cleverly done (to state the obvious but it needs to be done), except near the beginning when they're quoting the OED and i felt a bit queasy about all that 'to diminish' one's post (or whatevs) cobblers.

but really, it's nothing anyone couldn't have come up w' w' less jargon.

e.g. Samantha Power's book about 'America in an age of genocide' was one of my fave books of last year but basically every review you see was able to simply (and rightly) call her to task for some of her conclusions meaning her system would be going along - perhaps a little too easily - with American administration interests.

what's the need to be endlessly quoting from far-left pamphlets eh...;-)

Posted by: scott at June 9, 2004 07:14 PM

intl law's is certainly open to misuse, that's true.

Thing is, think the piece is right; the US precisely has not operated within the boundaries of international law, it has ignored or overriden it, not abused it as such.

Posted by: mark k-p at June 9, 2004 07:23 PM

oh yeah i agree w'u that the USA has flat-out ignored intl law, you'll get no argument from me on the flouting score.

i wasn't talking about the US though (Sudan on the HR Commission; heck Guinea on a Secy Council - deciding vote last yr - is odd, although a cynic could say President Conte knows plenty about 'internal security' hoho), so that's okay.
it's infuriating that it seems almost sometimes that the USA decides that because there is clearly plenty wrong w' intl institutions, that gives them some sort of legitimacy to opt out.
IIRC Ari Fleischer was in black humour at a press conference the day it was announced Cuba would keep their seat on the HR Commission, i think he said it was like inviting Al Capone into your home or something.

i know this is a 16 yr old socialist thing to say but it would help if they paid all their UN dues, for a start.

and i apologise to the writer of the piece in absentia as obv they're gonna wanna quote a lot of left-leaning material due to the nature of the gaff.

Posted by: scott at June 9, 2004 07:35 PM

there's this interesting contradiction, American moral trumps over the charade of certain really unsuitable nations that are on the UN HRHC whereby the USA (and other democratic nations, if they wished) are allowed to have a bit of a rhetorical pop at this distressingly recurrent fact of multilateral realpolitik, but instead of working better w' others to try and unseat this and undo malign influences at the head table, they kind of waltz off to their room, cause they want all the toys for themself.
admittedly it doesn't help that one of your neighhbours is Jacques Chirac but even so...

sorry, awful and rather juvenile analogy but i bet you get me.

Posted by: scott at June 9, 2004 07:40 PM

hmmm see i think that recent events in iraq sort of prove H&N's argrt though (if i'm remembering it right): the america trying to operate as a imperialist nation-state wz not in consonance with empire-via-intl-law?

eg think of blair's humanitarian-intervention line as the conscience of "Empire"; the bushmob rip-up-the-geneva-convention strategy as a (last?) spasm of badboy american go-it-aloneness?

even within the prowar nexus, there's clearly two operative systems, at odds with one another, in play: unilateral vs multilateral is the boring version of the diff

(cf the line taken by eg some in the american antiwar camp: that kerry is the WORSE option this november bcz far from ending the war he will instead normalise and internationalise it - eg take the vulgar manic mad neocon edge off it and turn it back into cynical geopolitics-as-usual, the UN, the international court blah blah) (viz hand it back to "EMPIRE")

(ok i'm writing all this w/o making the slightest attempt to check what H&N actually wrote - so i may remember their line all topsyturvy)

Posted by: mark s at June 9, 2004 07:59 PM

Yeh, take all that on board, Mark, but isn't that going against H and N's thesis?

Or maybe it does confirm it --- if Empire is NOT to be equated with America (Bushite America actually as an impediment to Empire), then maybe H and N are right abt Empire being a process without a subject. Maybe Empire has more to do with Blair's internationalist posturings?

Posted by: mark k-p at June 9, 2004 11:05 PM

i would think that might be it.

we can contrast Niall Ferguson's benevolent (sic) Kipling burden posturings about Blair's goodness in Sierra Leone with a neo-con repudiation of process without a subject...

Posted by: scott at June 9, 2004 11:11 PM

Yeh, wanted to see Ferguson's prog this week on C4 but missed it....

Posted by: mark k-p at June 9, 2004 11:20 PM

Scott rules comments boxing!

There's something I can't stand in all of this:

the whole debate (well, the open civil war) within the Republican party and the Bush Administration regarding intervention (a gloss word of my choosing here) seems, to me at least, to reveal a complicated and skittish attitude to empire - Republicans are, to a large degree, isolationists. The scarier Republican precedent can be found in those who didn't want to get involved in world war 2, a few of those even harbouring pro-fascist/Nazi/axis leanings. (Your new boy here will be Pat Buchanan, for eg. Although I'm not saying he's a Nazi!)

The neocons are something different, and seem to range from the racist to the liberal (at least, the Wilsonian). But even their debates don't run along the lines of 'let's build a big Empire' - more, let's scatter pro-US democracies around the place, or let's divide and rule. (Rather than out-right occupy everywhere we can. These people aren't entirely stupid.)

What annoys me most of all, though, is that the Empire argument actually displaces a far more important and necessary critique - that is, internationalism, and the limits or extent of First World responsibilty for the rest.

Posted by: oliver at June 9, 2004 11:45 PM

Yes I know that all came out sounding very pompous. Oh dear. Oops. Forget it.

Posted by: oliver at June 9, 2004 11:53 PM

on the contrary i think the final sentence of Oliver's first post is entirely OTM and it is in fact you, kindly sir, that rules comments boxing (and Mark S, and Phil Mind, obv.)

Posted by: scott at June 10, 2004 12:43 AM

I think the whole post is pretty OTM actually. Second one off the mark tho; didn't sound pompous at all!

Doesn't what Oliver say bring things back to Ferguson's argument, viz the need for benevolent imperialism?

Yer all kings and queens of the comment box, if you ask me.

Meanwhile, Oliver, on more important matters, I'm expecting support from you above on the 'Nadine Coyle is most sexy living woman' debate raging above....

Posted by: mark k-p at June 10, 2004 12:57 AM

goddamn WHICH one is Nadine??

Posted by: scott at June 10, 2004 01:40 AM

but that's what I'm saying, why return to Ferguson's (of all people!) or anyone's goofy notions of Empire - whether left/anti or right/pro - the whole argument can be reframed. Interventionism, internationalism, heck even globalisation are all more apposite and useful than Empire, which confuses the issue, or shackles to very old partisan point-scoring (oh right blah) um Nadine is the good looking one, don't know about sexy, but stunning, like a statue or someone in a perfume advert in Vogue or something, I think if she got really dirty I'd cringe. I think that my preference for ideas like intervention, inter... etc is probably why i find it easier to support the Iraq war than the rest of you. What did the Afghanistan war have to do with US Empire building? (A lot less than Clinton's pipeline project, which also had nothing to do with historical predents for or textbook debates about EMPIRE!!!

Posted by: oliver at June 10, 2004 02:16 PM

Yeh, I take your point(s), Oliver. One of the interesting things about Empire is that it was pro-globalization, I thought.

I've had my legs smacked for talking about Nadine, so I'm not going to do it any more. But I agree with you of course.

Posted by: mark k-p at June 10, 2004 04:00 PM

yeah i noticed that post had come down... ...and our lovely/anxious comments... ...i still look like a tosser above mind!

kinda reminds me of something Germaine Greer once said w' ref. to Larkin and some of his chums: "a load of sad male wankers"


Posted by: scott at June 10, 2004 04:19 PM

"a load of sad male wankers"

LOL! Didn't think we were especially disrespectful tbh, but, unlike Emin and her lot, it's trivial really, if it offends ppl I'm happy to take it down, I've got more important things to worry about (just as, I imagine, most women have got more important things to worry abt than sad losers like us having a crush on them). 'Nuff said, I'm saddened by the whole thing. Spent hours on that Chuck Barris post, I'd rather talk about that.

Posted by: mark k-p at June 10, 2004 04:41 PM

ah sorry mate you know i'm only jovial.

yeah the Chuck Barris post is grate but it's over my head, i like and admire but wouldn't know how to critique.

compliment ahoy~!
off to read you on Cronenberg.

Posted by: scott at June 10, 2004 04:44 PM

someone told you to take it down? Why? That's nuts. I might add, I think she's too good looking to be a pop star, she'd make a good...moll.

Posted by: oliver at June 10, 2004 05:23 PM

Nah, you gotta have at least a gander at concepts of empire. Fergusson's a right wing prick in my view but his analysis is attractively middle-brow -- critiquing it explains a lot of discourse. Actually it's just a bit too easy -- even I can do it.

Posted by: paul "Essex boy" meme at June 10, 2004 05:36 PM

Paul OTM haha.

did anyone see Ferguson make a somewhat dodgy remark about minarets soon rising over the dreamy spires of Oxford?

i have immense respect for the bloke's historial powers, but otherwise...

Posted by: scott at June 10, 2004 05:55 PM

Yeh I know you've got to gander at it, gander at will I say, you can make some nice points, and some knotty arguments (even the Republcians do that) I just think it hijakes the whole debate to the detriment of other perspectives. I would never ever EVER (for emphasis) say ditch history. No way! But analogies can muddy details, past precedents over-simplify present convolutions...

Posted by: oliver at June 11, 2004 01:07 AM

If I have to say "precedents" one more time I'm going to jump out of a window.

Posted by: oliver at June 11, 2004 01:09 AM

Oliver, have you seen this month's Vanity Fair/ Just cast my over it in a shop, looks like an interesting article by Hitchens on palaeo vs neocons on interventionism or not....

Didja see his piece last month on Joyce, kept meaning to buy it and then the next issue came out!

What do you make of this transvaluation of Reagan going on everywhere?

Still up for meeting next week btw?

Posted by: mark k-p at June 11, 2004 11:32 AM

neocon piece interesting; joyce piece mostly tiresome

(by contrast dominic dunne in TOP FORM both times heh)

Posted by: mas=rk s at June 11, 2004 01:38 PM

(mas=rk s = mark s obv sigh)

k-p i can xerox you the joyce piece if you want

Posted by: mark s at June 11, 2004 01:41 PM

Thanks Mark, but if you say it's tiresome, I'll take your word for it!

Posted by: mark k-p at June 11, 2004 02:04 PM

I didn't read the one on Joyce but I finished the one about the Republican spat, like, half an hour before wading into this mini debate (as is palpably obvious!) and I'd say it's certainly worth reading...considering that Americans are so ignorant and stupid and awful and everything, they have pretty good magazines (VF, New Yorker, Atlantic...) don't they? (When you consider, or compare with, say, the Spectator, or New Statesman.) Jon Lee Anderson and Seymour Hersh are mostly superb.

Meeting up: yes, of course, I'll be in Swansea (I think; I mean, I plan to be) (and I notice they lost their Labour council last night, to be replaced with "NOC" - I think, knowing Swansea, that means 'yet more corruption') until Wednesday...so, later in the week?

Posted by: oliver at June 11, 2004 03:52 PM

Um, that thing about Americans probably didn't look as sarcastic as it would've sounded had you been in the room with me. Did it? Or did it?

Obviously, I adore America.

Posted by: oliver at June 11, 2004 04:01 PM

the New Statesman is mostly cobblers, it's an awful rag.

Posted by: scott at June 11, 2004 06:14 PM

Oliver, picked up the sarcasm fine.

Enjoy yrself in Swansea; after Wednesday is good...

Posted by: mark k-p at June 12, 2004 08:55 PM