For the first time in American history, Congress and the White House have agreed to set aside the provisions of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and formally adopt methods traditionally identified with police states.
University of Texas constitutional law professor Sanford V. Levinson
described the bill in an Internet posting as the mark of a "banana
republic." Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh said that "the image of
Congress rushing to strip jurisdiction from the courts in response to a
politically created emergency is really quite shocking, and it's not
clear that most of the members understand what they've done."
Included in the bill, passed by Republican majorities in the Senate yesterday and the House on Wednesday, are unique rules that bar terrorism suspects from challenging their detention or treatment through traditional habeas corpus petitions. They allow prosecutors, under certain conditions, to use evidence collected through hearsay or coercion to seek criminal convictions.
The bill rejects the right to a speedy trial and limits the traditional right to self-representation by requiring that defendants accept military defense attorneys. Panels of military officers need not reach unanimous agreement to win convictions, except in death penalty cases, and appeals must go through a second military panel before reaching a federal civilian court.
By writing into law for the first time the definition of an "unlawful enemy combatant," the bill empowers the executive branch to detain indefinitely anyone it determines to have "purposefully and materially" supported anti-U.S. hostilities. Only foreign nationals among those detainees can be tried by the military commissions, as they are known, and sentenced to decades in jail or put to death.
At the same time, the bill immunizes U.S. officials from prosecution for cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees who the military and the CIA captured before the end of last year. It gives the president a dominant but not exclusive role in setting the rules for future interrogations of terrorism suspects.
Women can't be friends under capitalism. Any possible motivating cause for solidarity has been assimilated effortlessly into the perky slipstream of passive-aggressive aspiration and self-indulgent consumerism. It turns out women are really good at capitalism - 'you want it all - you can have it all!' It won't be pretty, but then you can cope. Besides, there's always chocolate, bubble baths, girly films, white wine-induced cirrhosis, your rampant rabbit, clothes-induced credit card debt and a new haircut to fill a life.
You go, girl!
You can either bitch about other women, or you can fuck each other (for better or worse), but there is no neutrality, no real affection. It's heart-breaking.
It's a shame. It's structural. In practice it looks like this: a) the conspiratorial commitment/belief in some sort of 'other of the other'-type gaze. It's not the male gaze, exactly (whatever that is), but the necessarily confusing, 'male gaze that men don't have', i.e. the hyper-feminised (i.e. void) pure form of judgement that results (practically) in ... nothing - other than perpetual anxiety. It's a sort of big female other...There's nothing worse than 'the judgement of women'. And it's everywhere...what is she wearing? Look at her make-up! Stop talking to my boyfriend! Who does she think she is?
Somewhere, a woman is enjoying herself, Good God...her suspicious laughter resonates round the hollow echo-chamber of female capitalist reason. And everyone feels bad.
I love this post: the judgment of women. Absolutely. The only woman I know who has escaped it skipped high school. I love the term female capitalist reason. It's so much better than the feminization of the economy, which seems wussy and soft, like rule by Stepford Wives instead of Desperate Housewives.
I will say, though, that it underestimates the bonds of shopping. I consolidated my closest friendship over conference shopping, going out antiquing while at this conference or that. After we purchased our fill of McCoy Pottery we were able to make the jump to other items--clothes, furniture, and, for her, real estate. And, this is real affection--shared pleasure, shared guilt, mutual absolution. What more can you want in a friend?
Still, IT is right. To quote the immortal words of Sissy Spacek playing Loretta Lynn or some other country western singer, "Honey, if you wanna keep that arm, you better get it off my man." Not an auspicious beginning for solidarity among women.
When I am cited, when I am made complicit (as I have suggested elsewhere) I am made to stand for a con-script, with-texter, and yet, when I am cited and sited as in some sense a figure, I seem in some sense to be disciplined by the text, but not altogether held by it. I am, in this sense, an excess that is always already merely sufficient to the text.
Lots of people have a lot to say about the death of feminism, the demise of feminism, the failures of feminism. To my mind, the emphasis on equal rights in an unequal capitalist market place made American feminism too implicated in capitalism to realize its more radical ideals. To be sure, many others have spoken well about various exclusions in the women's movement. Some of these are accurate; some are misplaced, misproductions of a history that was more integrated and more radical than academics tend to make it out to be, a sign of the way that the academicization of feminism was necessarily and unfortunately a deradicalization. But these problems and this history are not my focus here.
No, I'm wondering about something else that might be implicated in problems with and in feminism. The amazing Ti-Grace Atkinson once expressed the matter precisely: "the war between the sexes is the only war wherein more than half of the armies on each side go on to sleep with the other half at the end of the day" (or something like that; the quotes here are misleading). This idea leads to something I've been wondering about, and will therefore impermissably distort: "what do women want?"
What if we naively answered in question in heterosexist terms: women want men. If we propose this answer, then we might think a bit about perversity--the pervert knows what the other wants and makes himself the instrument that can fufill this desire. And what if that at the core of masculinity there is perversion, an impulse to know what the other wants and to be the instrument to fulfill that desire. If the pervert, in my twisted version now the man, does not know what women want, then he would not be a man, he would not be perverse, he would not be able to make himself into an instrument to fufill the desire of the other.
Yes, this borders on nonsense (or maybe even crosses that border). No matter. I want to keep going. What if masculinity requires knowing what women want. What makes a man, a real man, is the true and certain knowledge of women's desire. His mastery, his certainty, his confidence. Constraining women's desire, keeping it limited and bracketed then ensures masculinity, more men can be real men. More can know what women want because the range of possible wants, the terrain of desire, is so terribly constrained. When Freud asks what do women want, then, he is marking two moments: one in the past where this seemed to be clear and one in the present, in the Victorian age, when sexuality is everywhere, talked about, at issue, and open.
Well, I was beyond delighted to find this from Sinthome: Larval Subjects: Zizek's Politics!. I was also beyond embarassed to realize it's been up for nearly three weeks. Following a long quote, Sinthome writes:
I have quoted this passage at length as it so nicely encapsulates the organization of late capitalism and the challenges (and theoretical seductions) that attend it. On the one hand, the collapse of symbolic efficiency under late capitalism is accompanied by the collapse of symbolic identities, which entails that identity subsequently unfolds in the unstable domain of the imaginary, with its attendent dualities, paranoia, and aggressions. In this regard, it is not off the mark to suggest that we are living in an age characterized by a generalized psychosis, as psychosis results from the foreclosure of the name-of-the-father and is accompanied by the predominance of imaginary relations. The tendency towards paranoia and comprehending the world in terms of conspiracies could be seen as the return of what is foreclosed in the symbolic returning in the real. Indeed, could not paranoia about terrorists (who are generally conceived in terms of religion), be thought as the return of the foreclosed symbolic dimension of religion? The question, of course, would be whether the symbolic intrinsically requires a religious supplement, or whether we can be done with the religious once and for all. At any rate, it is clear that ethics such as those we find in Deleuze and Guattari where we are enjoined to develop ourselves as anarchic desiring machines and lines of flight are part and parcel of this ideological structure, and thus expressions of the superego of capital.
A fascinating link from a former student. Excerpts here, but read the whole thing: frieze.
Naveh, a retired Brigadier-General, directs the Operational Theory Research Institute, which trains staff officers from the IDF and other militaries in ‘operational theory’ – defined in military jargon as somewhere between strategy and tactics. He summed up the mission of his institute, which was founded in 1996: ‘We are like the Jesuit Order. We attempt to teach and train soldiers to think. […] We read Christopher Alexander, can you imagine?; we read John Forester, and other architects. We are reading Gregory Bateson; we are reading Clifford Geertz. Not myself, but our soldiers, our generals are reflecting on these kinds of materials. We have established a school and developed a curriculum that trains “operational architects”.’4 In a lecture Naveh showed a diagram resembling a ‘square of opposition’ that plots a set of logical relationships between certain propositions referring to military and guerrilla operations. Labelled with phrases such as ‘Difference and Repetition – The Dialectics of Structuring and Structure’, ‘Formless Rival Entities’, ‘Fractal Manoeuvre’, ‘Velocity vs. Rhythms’, ‘The Wahabi War Machine’, ‘Postmodern Anarchists’ and ‘Nomadic Terrorists’, they often reference the work of Deleuze and Guattari. War machines, according to the philosophers, are polymorphous; diffuse organizations characterized by their capacity for metamorphosis, made up of small groups that split up or merge with one another, depending on contingency and circumstances. (Deleuze and Guattari were aware that the state can willingly transform itself into a war machine. Similarly, in their discussion of ‘smooth space’ it is implied that this conception may lead to domination.)
I asked Naveh why Deleuze and Guattari were so popular with the Israeli military. He replied that ‘several of the concepts in A Thousand Plateaux became instrumental for us […] allowing us to explain contemporary situations in a way that we could not have otherwise. It problematized our own paradigms. Most important was the distinction they have pointed out between the concepts of “smooth” and “striated” space [which accordingly reflect] the organizational concepts of the “war machine” and the “state apparatus”. In the IDF we now often use the term “to smooth out space” when we want to refer to operation in a space as if it had no borders. […] Palestinian areas could indeed be thought of as “striated” in the sense that they are enclosed by fences, walls, ditches, roads blocks and so on.’5 When I asked him if moving through walls was part of it, he explained that, ‘In Nablus the IDF understood urban fighting as a spatial problem. [...] Travelling through walls is a simple mechanical solution that connects theory and practice.’6
In The Coming Community, Agamben writes of the expropriation of the Common in the spectacle. In the spectacle "our own linguistic nature comes back to us inverted." This formulation is limited in that it omits the visual and acoustic dimensions of spectacle. Yet, it's also helpful as it points us towards unraveling the process of inversion.
If the spectacle inverts, we can say that it:
--produces as single what was previously multiple --produces as unified what was previously dispersed --produces as shared what was previously antagonistic --produces as true what was previously contested, uncertain, improbable, fantastic
September 11 was a spectacle, the spectacular origin of what many have claimed to be a new world, a new order, a new regime of security and of truth. Loose Change unravels this spectacle. It does so visually and acoustically. Its combination of footage from the morning of the attacks treats what has been unified into a singular event as a site of multiplicity, uncertainity, and confusion. News commentators and witnesses are describing multiple explosions. Witnesses see different sorts of planes hitting the towers. They hear different sorts of noises. CNN and Fox both give live reports of secondary explosions.
If democracy is possible, is it enable more by certainty or uncertainty? more by multiplicity, conflict, and confusion or by singularity, consensus, and order?
So why is the Bush administration so determined to torture people?
To show that it can.
The central drive of the Bush administration - more fundamental than any particular policy - has been the effort to eliminate all limits on the president's power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the president and the vice president precisely because it's a violation of both law and tradition. By making an illegal and immoral practice a key element of U.S. policy, they're asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary.