April 06, 2008

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Anything goes I've been in a muddle over the Yoo business, particularly in connection with the defense of war criminals I mentioned yesterday. Part of the problem is I can't formulate the problem. On one hand, there is the decline of symbolic efficiency. Anything goes. Any interpretation is possible. The administration asserts success in Iraq as the media say failure. The president says economy is strong as economists say it's the end of the world. The situation is actually worse than 1984 because of the presence of multiply contradictory claims: it's not that people receive one message that is false. It's that we receive multiple messages that intersect, clash, overlap, inflect, permeate, undercut, and support each other. Anything is possible. Really, it's no wonder that Clinton has repeated her Bosnia story over and over; she's repeating the political pattern of the last eight years. Paul has written a paper on Yoo that I read, in part, as rendering Yoo emblematic of the current situation (I hope Paul will write some posts here or at Long Sunday about it). In Yoo's hands, the Constitution can be read as allowing for absolute executive power and torture if the president decides torture is necessary. Similarly, the video I linked to yesterday (This is what justice requires) features victims of torture describing not only how they were tortured, but the fact that they were arrested and held on nonexistent charges. Particularly chilling, though, is something barely hinted at in the video: that this is the core...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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