Link: AlterNet: Rights and Liberties: The Inquisition Strikes Back. In a well-titled piece on Alternet, Jules Siegel discusses Michael Ratner and Ellen Ray's book Guantanamo. Invoking the Inquisition captures the brutal results of theocracy, the torture of infidels in the name of God. It also tells us why so many American's don't care: they embrace the idea that America is a Christian nation in a war against evil. In this mindset, the evil can't be tortured; they are untorturable. Anything that happens to them is less than what they really deserve which is eternal agony in the pits of hell. Torture? There's no torture here. There's only an opportunity to confess and, with grace, be redeemed. Will there ever be an outcry? Condemnation? War crimes tribunals?
It's hard to say which is more disgusting, the descriptions of the torture or the bone-chilling analyses of how the president of the United States gave himself the powers of an absolute military dictator. Under Military Order No. 1, which the president issued without congressional authority on November 13, 2001, George W. Bush has ordered people captured or detained from all over the world, flown to Guantnamo and tortured in a lawless zone where, the White House asserts, prisoners have no rights of any kind at all and can be kept forever at his pleasure. Despite the at-best marginal intervention of the American courts so far, there is no civilian judicial review, no due process of any kind.
The basic thesis I started developing in part is that Zizek's appeal to the Party in his later writings is not inconsistent with his critical assessment of the totalitarian party in his early writings. Why? because the Party is different and this difference rests in its relation to knowledge and truth.
I left off with Zizek's turn to the concept of post-politics as a formation which forecloses the political, that is, which emphatically prevents the universalization/politicization of particulars. This is the situation we face today in the US and Europe, a situation that rejects ideological division in favor of a consensus around the inevitability of capitalism and the need to work through difficulties therapeutically, with managerial techniques of compromise and consensus, with toleration and acceptance of difference. Zizek refers to this post-political formation as 'globalization with particularization' and as liberal fundamentalism. The excluded underpinning or excess of this formation appears in the figure of the immigrant, the homeless wandering extra that seems to have no place, and the eruptions of irrational violence typically targeted at the immigrant as that which would disturbs the whole, that which stains the nation, steals our enjoyment, prevents our economy from working the way it should for us.
You know, I don't get it. It's not only systemic, you had Gonzales essentially admitting it, essentially saying this is the way we do it. This is what we're willing to do and these guys are going to confirm this guy. I think almost anybody who votes for him could conceivably be, if this were Germany, part of a conspiracy to commit and cover-up war crimes that are being committed at the highest level of officials. We’re having that vote next week, we have a Senate that’s 55-45 in favor of the Republicans. I don't know what the vote will be like. That eight Democrats finally voted against him -- I think had there been a screaming outcry in the beginning against Gonzales by all these -- all human rights organizations, all the Democrats, it's possible the guy could have been beaten. But I agree with you. The media has been a disaster here. I'm saying to you right now no one is complaining in any of the major media about the fact that we are saying we can inhumanly treat people right now as we speak who are non-citizens all over this globe.
Paul's ceiling continues to deteriorate. The absentee landlord has been, well, absent. And, she hasn't bothered to send in a contractor--because of the weather. Of course, the weather--0 degrees last night with a windhchill of -20--is now inside Paul's apartment. The people in the housing office, as well as a lawyer friend, say this is a clear violation of code and should be handled immediately. I wonder how many people in Geneva are freezing while their landlords let their buildings rot. Download MVI_1542.AVI
Back in the 70s, it seemed like environmentalism was everywhere. Even in the 80s, it made sense to be an environmental activist. Then, somehow it seemed that concern for the environment started to fade from view, perhaps it was too old hat, too taken for granted. Perhaps people thought that the establishment of the EPA meant that all the problems were solved. Maybe the activists went home or on to other issues. But any thinking about the ease with which the Right has assaulted the environment must place the dwindling of ecological concerns in the context of 90s excesses and the acceleration of capital. Adam Kotsko does this well in a nice reading of Badiou. Link: The Weblog. Kotsko writes:
The logic that needs to be replaced is not necessarily the logic of divine transcendance (in order to put the divine into the created world and hopefully produce greater "respect" for the created world), nor the logic whereby human beings are qualitatively different from and more valuable than any other living or inanimate thing, nor even the logic whereby the "natural world" becomes a resource that we can shape and use -- the core problem is the logic of capitalism, the reign of surplus value. If we weren't so devoted to the nihilistic accumulation of capital, then we could direct the enormous energy and potential of human reason, human labor, human desire, toward the end of making the world a place in which life can proliferate in ever greater ways -- that is the nodal point that we must break through, and the way through is forward, with more and better technology, with more and better reason.
George Bush thinks this is the right thing. He is going to continue doing what he has been doing in Iraq. He's going to expand it, I think, if he can. I think that the number of body bags that come back will make no difference to him. The body bags are rolling in. It makes no difference to him, because he will see it as a price he has to pay to put America where he thinks it should be. So, he's inured in a very strange way to people like me, to the politicians, most of them who are too cowardly anyway to do much. So, the day-to-day anxiety that all of us have, and believe me, though he got 58 million votes, many of people who voted for him weren’t voting for continued warfare, but I think that's what we're going to have.
From Cold War to the War on Terrorism. I've been thinking about the loss of utopia, the way that the very term 'utopia' seems today to be a criticism or dismissal, a charge of inflexibility, impracticality, or dogmatism. But I don't see it this way. I think of utopias as possibilities, as openings to the chance that things might be other than they are, that they might be better. The loss of a utopia appears today in the US in the sense that the US is the 'greatest country on earth.' Another way of reading such claims (along with attestations of America's divine mission etc), is as an indication of a loss, the loss of the ability to imagine a different present or a different future.
We hear that America's freedom is under attack, that we are hated because we are free. The fantasy of the Islamic fundamentalist gaze looks a lot like the American Christian fundamentalist gaze, a gaze that sees the world in terms of good and evil, a gaze that Bush and company see as looking down at them. Hence, looking from the fantasy of a world of truth and righteousness, America's fragile freedoms become America's dangers--and security, militarism, and unilateralism, a confidence in one's convictions befitting those who employ terrorist tactics, take the place of civil liberties.
Mississippi has gone further in its hostility to abortion even than
other Bible Belt states. A small, mostly rural population and the
absence of local prochoice organizations have helped turn Mississippi
into the perfect laboratory for antiabortion strategists.
Virtually every possible restriction on the procedure exists here,
from a mandatory twenty-four-hour waiting period after counseling, to a
requirement that minors obtain the consent of both parents to have an
abortion, to thirty-five pages of regulations dealing with such
physical characteristics as the width of a clinic's hallways and the
size of its parking lot. The mounting restrictions (Mississippi passed
six antiabortion laws last year alone) have delighted antiabortion
activists all over the country, who have hailed--and copied--the
Meanwhile, prochoice activists see Mississippi as a glimpse of what might become the norm in a possible post-Roe future. "It's the canary dying in the mine," says Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. If the Supreme Court were to reverse the decision, abortion would likely become illegal in thirty states, including Mississippi, according to a 2004 report by the center. Across what can seem like a great divide, the twenty other states have laws, constitutions or court decisions that would protect the basic right to abortion even if Roe falls. While some of these, including New York and Washington State, which both decriminalized abortion before 1973, will likely remain strongly prochoice, others may pass restrictive laws like Mississippi's.