Broken Scripts

Politics, People, Morality, and Literature. London, Male, 16-24.

10,413 notes

White Americans always think racism is a feeling, and they reject it or they embrace it. To most [white] Americans, it seems more honorable and nicer to reject it, so they do, but they almost invariably fail to understand that how they feel means very little to black Americans, who understand racism as a way of structuring American culture, American politics, and the American economy.

Jane Smiley, Say it Ain’t So, Huck: Second thoughts on Mark Twain’s “Masterpiece” (Harper’s Magazine, 1996)

This is perfect.

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(Source: processedlives, via moi-seul)

479 notes

It’s a potent sign of how low the American political bar is set that gratitude is expressed because a US president says he will ask Congress to vote before he starts bombing another country that is not attacking or threatening the US.

Glenn Greenwald

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363 notes

Imperialism camouflages its own peculiar aims – seizure of colonies, markets, sources of raw material, spheres of influence – with such ideas as “safeguarding peace against the aggressors,” “defense of the fatherland,” “defense of democracy,” etc. These ideas are false through and through. It is the duty of every socialist not to support them but, on the contrary, to unmask them before the people.
Leon Trotsky (via redplebeian)

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135 notes

The bourgeoisie does not give a damn about delinquents, or about how they are punished or rehabilitated, as that is of no great economic interest. On the other hand, the set of mechanisms whereby delinquents are controlled, kept track of, punished, and reformed does generate a bourgeois interest in that it functions within the economico-political system as a whole.
Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended (via grammaticalfiction)

(via communistmom)

2 notes

Syria: “Our National Interest” and Casus Belli (31/08/2013)

As we have seen in Obama’s words about possible intervention in the Syrian conflict, the phrase “our national interest” or “the national interest of the United States” is often used to justify foreign intervention. But in Syria - as was the case in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan - this reasoning is coupled with some humanitarian goal. Obama said today:

"This attack is an assault on human dignity. It also presents a serious danger to our national security."

But no government has specified which of these reasons would form the basis for military intervention. Does Obama think the US should invade because it is in their interests, or because he has compassion for the Syrians? Of course, the evidence suggests that it is the latter - had Obama enough of a moral compass to care about the Syrian people, and if he thought (wrongly, but in good faith) that intervention was a way to help them, then he would have carried out air strikes two years ago.

This is significant not only because we don’t know what our government thinks, but because a more benign motive might imply a different form of intervention. As it happens, a military intervention seems to poorly fit the humanitarian motive.

So clearly, the “national interest” of the United States is the reason for intervention. But why does this form part of the rhetoric? Of course, people ask why we should intervene, and what’s in it for them: “national interest” is a good answer. But nobody asks what this really means. Probably, if we knew the answer, we would think the idea of intervention so morally despicable that revolution would be inevitable. So Obama must continue to tell us that the United States’ “national interest” is significant, and never describe how precisely this is.

But how can it be? What is unsaid? We already know the subtext. “Our national interest”, with regards to Syria, means many things: getting Israel the right neighbours, reducing Iranian and Russian influence (i.e., continuing to enforce the New World Order), ensuring that an American-friendly regime is installed, feeding the military-industrial complex, and maintaining a rather useful enmity. In short, supporting “our national interest” means sustaining a modern-day empire.

At least, however, Francois Hollande does not use this odd rhetoric. Like Obama, he thinks Syria ought to be punished for its use of chemical weapons. Perhaps it should (if it did use them). In my opinion, however, Assad has killed too many people already for chemical weapons to give anyone a greater moral duty than before to invade. Furthermore, states know that it is the role of the United Nations to sanction their usage. The UN Charter forbids war except in self-defence or if the UN has given approval. Clearly, neither of these conditions apply in Obama and Hollande’s case. Perhaps they ought not to have signed it. Or perhaps the Security Council ought to consider the legality of this intervention and will seek to punish the United States for its aggression once it has taken place. If this was a real moral cause, states might be justified in intervening illegally. But it’s war for imperial “national interest” such as this that it is the UN’s role to stop.

Filed under syria war politics un obama hollande chemical weapons assad hands off syria imperialism capitalism

2 notes

Why worsen the war in Syria? (28/08/13)

The US, the UK, and France are moving towards military intervention in Syria, apparently in order to topple Assad “for peace” and “to protect civilians” (David Cameron) in the light of the use of chemical weapons in the conflict. But in a war which has already killed over 100,000 people and displaced 2 million, humanitarian intervention is a little belated. Why should chemical weapons be such a milestone when traditional methods have already been so destructive? The humanitarian label is clearly mere rhetoric. 

Neither, in my view, are air strikes a particularly good method of saving lives. Indeed, if the West was intervening here for the good of the Syrian people, it would never have fuelled the conflict with arms, and would have, alongside Iran and Russia, helped Syrians come to a diplomatic solution. Military intervention, however, will make diplomacy impossible. Not only will Iran (whom the US had already shut out from proceedings) rightly refuse to agree to anything, but Assad, knowing that the West’s aim is to remove him entirely, will have nothing to lose.

Clearly more war is not the right solution for Syrians. But why, then, is it the preferred route?

We can only conclude that Syria is the new object of the imperialist game, one which aims to protect Israel, replace Iranian influence in the Levant with American, and keep up the jingoism of the American public with new enmity.

And hey, what do thousands of lives matter when it’s good for the economy?

Filed under us usa uk cameron obama syria assad iran russia war politics

36 notes

The first conclusion to be drawn from this is that we should reject the common-sense assumption according to which, in a hedonist- consumerist society, everyone has something to enjoy: the basic function of enlightened consumerist hedonism is, on the contrary, to deprive enjoyment of its excessive dimension, of its disturbing surplus, of the fact it serves nothing. Enjoyment is tolerated, solicited even, but on condition that it remains healthy, that it does not threaten our psychic or biological stability: chocolate yes, but fat-free; Coke yes, but diet; mayonnaise yes, but without cholesterol; sex yes, but safe sex. We are here in the domain of what Lacan calls the discourse of University, as opposed to the discourse of the Master: the Master goes to the end in his consumption, unconstrained by petty utilitarian con­ siderations (which is why there is a certain formal homology between the traditional aristocratic master and a drug addict focused on his deadly enjoyment), while the consumerist’s pleasures are regulated by scientific knowledge propagated by the University discourse. The decaffeinated enjoyment we thus obtain is a semblance of enjoyment, not its Real, and it is in this sense that Lacan talks about the imitation of enjoyment in the discourse of the University.
Slavoj Zizek, The Year of Dreaming Dangerously (2012)

(Source: jayaprada)

148 notes

We are encouraged to see honest people as naive, as potential losers. Bombarded with cultural propaganda ready to instill in all of us the notion that lies are more important, that truth does not matter, we are all potential victims. Consumer culture in particular encourages lies…lovelessness is a boon to consumerism.
bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions (via theerrand)

(Source: finfinfinfinfinfin, via communistmom)

10 notes

The United States doesn’t have a national policy for restricting the use of fossil fuels, it doesn’t even have renewable energy targets. It’s not because the population doesn’t want it. Americans are pretty close to the international norm in their concern about global warming. It’s institutional structures that block change. Business interests don’t want it and they’re overwhelmingly powerful in determining policy..
Noam Chomsky, ‘How to destroy the future’, TomDispatch (via indizombie)

(via communistmom)

63 notes

When we fight absolutism, we quite often establish, instead, some other dogma equally silly and harmful. For instance, an active atheist is psychologically as unsound as a rabid theist.
Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity (via dialoghost)

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1 note

So many cities leveled with the ground, so many nations exterminated, so many millions of people fallen by the edge of the sword, and the richest and most beautiful part of the world turned upside down, for the traffic of pearl and pepper? Mechanic victories! Never did ambition, never did public animosities, engage men against one another in such miserable hostilities, in such miserable calamities.
Michel de Montaigne in Des Coches, on the discovery of the Americas

Filed under history war montaigne america