Thursday, May 24, 2018

Bro.ConFeed Report To The Principal's Office To Discuss Patronage And The New Negroe...,


NewYorker |  Locke relished every titillating contradiction but shrank, still, from political extremes. Hoping to avoid the charge of radicalism, he changed the title of McKay’s protest poem from “White House” to “White Houses”—an act of censorship that severed the two men’s alliance. “No wonder Garvey remains strong despite his glaring defects,” the affronted poet wrote to Locke. “When the Negro intellectuals like you take such a weak line!”

And such a blurred line. In a gesture of editorial agnosticism, Locke brought voices to “The New Negro” that challenged his own. Among the more scholarly contributions to the anthology was “Capital of the Black Middle Class,” an ambivalent study of Durham, North Carolina, by E. Franklin Frazier, a young social scientist. More than thirty years later, Frazier savaged the pretensions and the perfidies of Negro professionals in his study “The Black Bourgeoisie.” A work of Marxist sociology and scalding polemic, it took a gratuitous swipe at the New Negro: the black upper class, Frazier said, had “either ignored the Negro Renaissance or, when they exhibited any interest in it, they revealed their ambivalence towards the Negro masses.” Aesthetics had been reduced to an ornament for a feckless élite.

The years after “The New Negro” were marked by an agitated perplexity. Locke yearned for something solid: a home for black art, somewhere to nourish, protect, refine, and control it. He’d been formed and polished by élite institutions, and he longed to see them multiply. But the Great Depression shattered his efforts to extend the New Negro project, pressing him further into the byzantine patronage system of Charlotte Mason, an older white widow gripped by an eccentric fascination with “primitive peoples.” Salvation obsessed her. She believed that black culture could rescue American society by replenishing the spiritual values that had been evaporated by modernity, but that pumped, still, through the Negro’s unspoiled heart.

Mason was rich, and Locke had sought her backing for a proposed Harlem Museum of African Art. Although the project failed (as did his plans for a Harlem Community Arts Center), Mason remained a meddling, confused presence in his life until her death, in 1946. During their association, he passed through a gantlet of prickling degradations. Her vision of Negro culture obviously didn’t align with his; she demanded to be called Godmother; and she was prone to angry suspicion, demanding a fastidious accounting of how her funds were spent. But those funds were indispensable, finally, to the work of Hughes and, especially, Hurston. Locke, as the erstwhile “mid-wife” of black modernism, was dispatched to handle the writers—much to their dismay. He welcomed the authority, swelling into a supercilious manager (and, to Hughes, a bullying admirer) who handed down edicts from Godmother while enforcing a few of his own.

Differentiating Right and Left Populisms


nakedcapitalism |  According to David Harvey, neoliberal globalization is comprised of four processes: accumulation by dispossession; de-regulation; privatization; and an upward re-distribution of wealth. Taken together they have increased both economic insecurity and cultural anxiety via three features in particular: the creation of surplus peoples, rising global inequality, and threats to identity.

The anxiety wrought by neoliberal globalization has created a rich and fertile ground for populist politics of both right and left. Neither Norris and Inglehart nor Laclau adequately account for such insecurity in their theorization of populism. As we have seen, populism can be understood as a mobilizing discourse that conceives of political subjectivity as comprised of “the people.” Yet this figure of “the people,” as Agamben has indicatedin What is a people? (2000) is deeply ambivalent insofar as it can be understood both in terms of the  body politic as a whole (as in the US Constitution’s “We the People”), or in terms of what Ranciere calls the “part that has no part,” or the dispossessed and the displaced; as in “The people united shall never be defeated,” or in the Black Panthers’ famous slogan: “All Power to the People.”

In this dichotomy, the figure of “the people” can be understood in terms of its differential deployments by right and left, which themselves must be understood in terms of the respective enemies through which “the people” is constructed. And this is the decisive dimension of populism.
Right populism conflates “the people” with an embattled nation confronting its external enemies: Islamic terrorism, refugees, the European Commission, the International Jewish conspiracy, and so on. The left, in marked contrast, defines “the people” in relation to the social structures and institutions – for example, state and capital – that thwart its aspirations for self-determination; a construction which does not necessarily, however, preclude hospitality towards the Other.

In other words, right-wing or authoritarian populism defines the enemy in personalized terms, whereas, while this is not always true, left-wing populism tends to define the enemy in terms of bearers of socio-economic structures and rarely as particular groups. The right, in a tradition stemming back to Hobbes, takes insecurity and anxiety as the necessary, unavoidable, and indeed perhaps even favourable product of capitalist social relations. It transforms such insecurity and anxiety into the fear of the stranger and an argument for a punitive state. In contrast, the left seeks to provide an account of the sources of such insecurity in the processes that have led to the dismantling of the welfare state, and corresponding phenomena such as “zero-hours” contracts, the casualization of labour, and generalized precarity. It then proposes transformative and egalitarian solutions to these problems. Of course, left populism can also turn authoritarian – largely though not exclusively due to the interference and threatened military intervention of the global hegemon and its allies – with an increasing vilification of the opposition, as we saw in Venezuela and Ecuador with Rafael Correa.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Trump Smacking Amazon While Afrikan Liberation Peddling "Neurospeculative AfroFeminist" Cloth


thenextweb |  The Guardian reports Berlin-bound artist and independent researcher Adam Harvey is developing a new technology which aims to overwhelm and confuse computer vision systems by feeding them false information.

The Hyperface Project, as Harvey calls it, revolves around printing deceitful patterns onto attire and textiles with the purpose of rendering your face illegible to surveillance systems.

The method essentially dodges facial recognition by presenting computer vision devices with an overload of patterns closely resembling facial features like eyes and mouths.

As Harvey explains, the Hyperface technology ultimately prevents computers from scanning your face by inundating “an algorithm with what it wants, oversaturating an area with faces to divert the gaze of the computer vision algorithm.”

The patterns, which Harvey developed in collaboration with interaction studio Hyphen-Labs, can then be worn to shield off the areas facial recognition systems seek to interpret.

MIT |  Sue Ding interviewed the creators of NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism, an ambitious and richly imagined project at this year’s Sundance New Frontier.  Artists Carmen Aguilar y Wedge, Ashley Baccus Clark, Nitzan Bartov, and Ece Tankal are part of of Hyphen-Labs, a global team of women of color who are doing pioneering work at the intersection of art, technology, and science. Together they draw on a formidable range of expertise, including engineering, molecular biology, game design, and architecture.

NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism consists of three components. The first is an installation that transports visitors to a futuristic and stylish beauty salon. Speculative products designed for women of color are displayed around the space. They include sunscreen for dark skin, a scarf whose pattern overwhelms facial recognition software, earrings that can record video and audio in hostile situations, and a reflective visor that lets wearers see out while hiding their faces.

The second part of the project is a VR experience that takes place at a “neurocosmetology lab” in the future. Participants see themselves in the mirror as a young black girl, as the lab owner explains that they are about to receive Octavia Electrodes—cutting edge technology involving both hair extensions and brain-stimulating electrical currents. In the VR narrative, the electrodes then prompt a hallucination that carries viewers through a psychedelic Afrofuturist space landscape.

The final component of the project is Hyphen-Labs’ ongoing research about how VR can affect viewers, potentially reducing bias and fear by immersing participants in positive, engaging portrayals of black women. The team would eventually like to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to study how  participants respond to the experience.


Afrikan Liberation Movement - Amazon Giving RealTime Facial Rekognition To Law Enforcement


WaPo |  Amazon has been essentially giving away facial recognition tools to law enforcement agencies in Oregon and Orlando, according to documents obtained by American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, paving the way for a rollout of technology that is causing concern among civil rights groups.

Amazon is providing the technology, known as Rekognition, as well as consulting services, according to the documents, which the ACLU obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

A coalition of civil rights groups, in a letter released Tuesday, called on Amazon to stop selling the program to law enforcement because it could lead to the expansion of surveillance of vulnerable communities.

“We demand that Amazon stop powering a government surveillance infrastructure that poses a grave threat to customers and communities across the country,” the groups wrote in the letter.
Amazon spokeswoman Nina Lindsey did not directly address the concerns of civil rights groups. “Amazon requires that customers comply with the law and be responsible when they use AWS services,” she said, referring to Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud software division that houses the facial recognition program. “When we find that AWS services are being abused by a customer, we suspend that customer’s right to use our services.”

She said that the technology has many useful purposes, including finding abducted people.  Amusement parks have used it to locate lost children. During the royal wedding this past weekend, clients used Rekognition to identify wedding attendees, she said. (Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos is the owner of The Washington Post.)

The details about Amazon’s program illustrate the proliferation of cutting-edge technologies deep into American society — often without public vetting or debate. Axon, the maker of Taser electroshock weapons and the wearable body cameras for police, has voiced interest in pursuing face recognition for its body-worn cameras, prompting a similar backlash from civil rights groups.  Hundreds of Google employees protested last month to demand that the company stop providing artificial intelligence to the Pentagon to help analyze drone footage.

Urban Reconnaissance Through Supervised Autonomy (URSA)


DARPA |  DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office is hosting a Proposers Day to provide information to potential applicants on the structure and objectives of the new Urban Reconnaissance through Supervised Autonomy (URSA) program. URSA aims to develop technology to enable autonomous systems operated and supervised by U.S. ground forces to detect hostile forces and establish positive identification of combatants before U.S. troops encounter them. The URSA program seeks to overcome the inherent complexity of the urban environment by combining new knowledge about human behaviors, autonomy algorithms, integrated sensors, multiple sensor modalities, and measurable human responses to discriminate the subtle differences between hostile individuals and noncombatants. Additional details are available at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/ODA/DARPA/CMO/DARPA-SN-18-48/listing.html

To register, visit https://www.client-meeting.net/Proposers-Day-May-2018. Registration closes at 4:00 PM ET on April 25, 2018.

Please address administrative questions to DARPA-SN-18-48@darpa.mil, and refer to the URSA Proposers Day (DARPA-SN-18-48) in all correspondence. 

DARPA hosts Proposers Days to provide potential performers with information on whether and how they might respond to the Government’s research and development solicitations and to increase efficiency in proposal preparation and evaluation. Therefore, the URSA Proposers Day is open only to registered potential applicants, and not to the media or general public.

Full URSA program details will be made available in a forthcoming Broad Agency Announcement posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website. 



The Destructive Dynamics of the Small Minority


NYTimes  |  Most Americans assume that democracy and free markets go hand in hand, naturally working together to generate prosperity and freedom. For the United States, this has largely been true. But by their very nature, markets and democracy coexist in deep tension.

Capitalism creates a small number of very wealthy people, while democracy potentially empowers a poor majority resentful of that wealth. In the wrong conditions, that tension can set in motion intensely destructive politics. All over the world, one circumstance in particular has invariably had this effect: the presence of a market-dominant minority a minority group, perceived by the rest of the population as outsiders, who control vastly disproportionate amounts of a nation’s wealth.

Such minorities are common in the developing world. They can be ethnic groups, like the tiny Chinese minority in Indonesia, which controls roughly 70 percent of the nation’s private economy even though it is between 2 percent and 4 percent of the population. Or they can be distinct in other ways, culturally or religiously, like the Sunni minority in Iraq that controlled the country’s vast oil wealth under Saddam Hussein.

Introducing free-market democracy in these circumstances can be a recipe for disaster. Resentful majorities who see themselves as a country’s rightful owners demand to have “their” country back. Ethnonationalism rears its head. Democracy becomes not a vehicle for e pluribus unum but a zero-sum tribalist contest. This dynamic was also at play in the former Yugoslavia, in Zimbabwe, in Venezuela and in virtually every country where there has been a market-dominant minority.

For most of our history, it seemed as though we were relatively immune to dynamics like these. Part of the reason is we never had a market-dominant minority. On the contrary, for 200 years, America was economically, politically and culturally dominated by a white majority — a politically stable, if often invidious, state of affairs.

But today, something has changed. Race has split America’s poor, and class has split America’s white majority. The former has been true for a while; the latter is a more recent development, at least in the intense form it has now reached. As a result, we may be seeing the emergence of America’s own version of a market-dominant minority: the much-discussed group often referred to as the coastal elites — misleadingly, because its members are neither all coastal nor all elite, at least in the sense of being wealthy.

But with some important caveats, coastal elites do bear a resemblance to the market-dominant minorities of the developing world. Wealth in the United States is extraordinarily concentrated in the hands of a relatively small number of people, many of whom live on the West or East Coast. Although America’s coastal elites are not an ethnic or religious minority, they are culturally distinct, often sharing similar cosmopolitan values, and they are extremely insular, interacting and intermarrying primarily among themselves.
They dominate key sectors of the economy, including Wall Street, the media, Hollywood and Silicon Valley. And because coastal elites are viewed by many in the heartland as “minority-loving” and pro-immigrant, they are seen as unconcerned with “real” Americans — indeed as threatening their way of life.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Divisive Politics – What Does Neuroscience Tell Us?


weforum | Neuroscience has offered some evidence-based claims that can be uncomfortable because they challenge our notions of morality or debunk the myth about our ‘rational’ brain.

Critically, neuroscience has enlightened us about the physicality of human emotions. Fear, an emotion we have inherited from our ancestors, is not an abstract or intangible sense of imminent danger: it is expressed in neurochemical terms in our amygdala, the almond-shaped structure on the medial temporal lobe, anterior to the hippocampus. The amygdala has been demonstrated to be critical in the acquisition, storage and expression of conditioned fear responses. Certain regions in the amygdala undergo plasticity – changes in response to emotional stimuli – triggering other reactions, including endocrine responses.

Similarly, the way our brains produce moral reasoning and then translate it in the social context can now be studied to some extent in neuroscientific terms. For instance, the role of serotonin in prosocial behaviour and moral judgment is now well documented, with a demonstrably strong correlation between levels of serotonin in the brain and moral social behaviour.

Neuroscientists have also looked at how political ideologies are represented in the brain; preliminary research indicates that an increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex can be correlated with inclinations towards liberalism, while increased gray matter volume in the amygdala (which is part of the limbic system and thus concerned with emotions) appears to be associated with conservative values. These early findings, of course, are not meant to be reductionist, deterministic, or politically pigeonhole one group or the other, nor are they fixed. Rather, they can help explain the deep and persistent divide that we see in party politics across the world. It would very valuable to look into whether these preliminary findings pre-date political affiliation or occur as a result of repeated exposure to politically-inspired partisan and emotional debates.

More recently, policy analysis has turned to neuroscience too. For example, in the US 2016 election cycle, some have correlated the appeal of some candidates to the so-called hardwiring in our brains, and to our primordial needs of group belonging, while others have explored the insights from neuroscience on the role of emotions in decision-making. Similarly, the attitudes surrounding “Brexit” have also been analysed with references from neuroscience.

Divisive politics – what does neuroscience tell us?

The short answer is: some useful new insights. To be sure, some findings in neuroscience might be crude at this stage as the discipline and its tools are evolving. The human brain – despite tremendous scientific advances – remains to a large extent unknown. We do have, however, some preliminary findings to draw on. Divisive politics have taken centre stage and neuroscience may be able shed some light on how this is expressed in our brains.

“Us” vs. “them”, cultivating fear and hatred towards out-groups that are deemed different (ethnically, ideologically, religiously, etc.), and vicious and virulent attacks against them, are all part of an unsettling picture of growing ethnic and racial hostility. Philosopher Martin Buber identified two opposed ways of being in relation to others: I-It and I-thou. I-It means perceiving others as objects, whereas I-thou refers to empathic perceptions of others as subjects. Cognitive neuroscientists have studied this distinction with brain imaging techniques and the findings – unsurprisingly – tell us a lot about our increasingly polarised world today and the ways our brains process the distinction between us and “others”.


How Tribalism Overrules Reason


bigthink |  We identify ourselves as members of all sorts of tribes; our families, political parties, race, gender, social organizations. We even identify tribally just based on where we live. Go Celtics, go Red Sox, go U.S. Olympic team! One study asked people whether, if they had a fatal disease, would they prefer a life-saving diagnosis from a computer that was 1,000 miles away, or the exact same diagnosis from a computer in their town, and a large majority preferred the same information if the source…a machine…was local.

     Tribalism is pervasive, and it controls a lot of our behavior, readily overriding reason. Think of the inhuman things we do in the name of tribal unity. Wars are essentially, and often quite specifically, tribalism. Genocides are tribalism - wipe out the other group to keep our group safe – taken to madness. Racism that lets us feel that our tribe is better than theirs, parents who end contact with their own children when they dare marry someone of a different faith or color, denial of evolution or climate change or other basic scientific truths when they challenge tribal beliefs. What stunning evidence of the power of tribalism! (By the way, it wasn’t just geocentrist Catholics in the 16 adn 1700s who denied  evidence that the earth travels around the sun. Some Christian biblical literalists still do. So do a handful of ultra orthodox Jews and Muslims.)

     Yet another example is the polarized way we argue about so many issues, and the incredible irony that as we make these arguments we claim to be intelligent (smart, therefore right) yet we ignorantly close our minds to views that conflict with ours. Dan Kahan, principal researcher into the phenomenon of Cultural Cognition, has found that our views are powerfully shaped so they agree with beliefs of the groups with which we most strongly identify. His research, along with the work of others, has also found that the more challenged our views are, the more we defend them…the more dogmatic and closed-minded we become...an intellectual form of ‘circle-the-wagons, we’re under attack’ tribal unity. Talk about tribalism overruling reason.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Amazon Washington Post Deserves A Foot In Its Corporate Ass...,


NYTimes |  The heartening truth is that until now, the United States has, by and large, done a good job of insulating the economy from political interference. Should that insulation wear down, though, we will find ourselves in a troubling world. That’s why President Trump’s campaign against Amazon is worthy of continuing scrutiny.

Moreover, the president’s motivation for focusing on Amazon is open to question. One plausible hypothesis is that Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder, owns The Washington Post, which has unflinchingly reported on the Trump presidency.

It is noteworthy that the president often refers to The Washington Post as The “Amazon Washington Post.”

Any possible interference with freedom of the press endangers the economy — and much more. An efficient economy — and a democracy — requires uniform application of the law.
We live in partisan times. But we all can root for the rule of law. It’s not a particularly exciting cause, but it is in dire need of supporters.

CNN |  The Council voted 8-to-1 to pass a compromise tax that will charge businesses $275 per-employee per year, instead of the $540 per employee figure initially proposed. The city expects the tax to raise roughly $47 million per year. 

• The City of Seattle lost: It failed to articulate a a well-thought out strategy for dealing with homelessness; passed a watered-down bill that alienated the business community; and only won half as much revenue as it said it needed. 

• Amazon and big business lost: Amazon fought the Council with threats and criticism rather than seizing the opportunity to take the lead on an issue that it has demonstrated a commitment to elsewhere. 

• The homeless lost: The nearly 12,000 homeless people living in King County are worse off because Seattle and Amazon got in a pissing match. 

What went wrong: This could have been avoided, our sources say: Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan could have brought the City Council together with Amazon, Starbucks and other businesses to hash out a plan that made sense for both sides. Seattle and Amazon could have then trumpeted their success as a model for how liberal cities and tech companies plan to deal with the homeless epidemic they've helped to create. 

American Democracy A Farce - America Governed By Capital


strategic-culture |  So: America is a dictatorship by the billionaires. And this means that it operates by fooling the public. France is similar, though it achieves this via a different way. And, in both countries, deceit is essential, in order to achieve its dictatorship. Fooling the public is now what it’s all about, in either case. Democracy can never be won by fooling the public; because fooling the public means removing the public’s ability to control the government. So, calling such a nation a ‘democracy’, is, itself, deceiving the public — it’s part of the dictatorship, or else support of the dictatorship.

In former times, this system was rationalized as ‘the divine right of kings’. Now it’s rationalized as ‘the divine right of capital’. But it’s also become covered-over by yet another lie: ‘democracy’. This is a ‘democratic’ aristocracy; it is an ‘equal opportunity’ aristocracy. In it, each citizen has ‘equal rights’ as every other citizen, no matter how wealthy. It’s just a castle of lies. And its doors are actually open only to the few richest-and-well-connected.

Here, a former CIA official tries to describe how the American dictatorship works — the enforcement-part of the system, and he does (even if only by implication) also touch upon the financial sources of it. Starting at 1:07:35 in that video, he discusses his personal case: why he could no longer tolerate working for the CIA. But his description of how he, as an Agency official, saw the system to function, starts at 3:45 in the video. Key passages start at 12:45, and at 20:15. Maybe any American who would email this article to friends who don’t understand how the system functions, will come under increased US surveillance, but that CIA official’s career and family were destroyed by what the system did to him, which was lots worse than just surveillance. Remarkably, he nonetheless had the courage to persist (and thus did that video). However, when one sees how politically partisan (and so obtuse) the viewer-comments to that video are, one might be even more depressed than by the account this former CIA official presents. But, even if the situation is hopeless, everyone should at least have the opportunity to understand it. Because, if the aristocracy are the only people who understand it, there can’t be any hope for democracy, at all.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Yanis Varoufakis Takedown Of Corporatist Facism Derails Amy Goodman's Propaganda


democracynow |  Look, Amy, in slaves-owning societies or in the Middle Ages, we had production. People worked, toiled the land. Then we had distribution. The lord would send his henchmen in, his sheriff, to take his cut. So you had distribution—production, distribution. The lord’s cut would then be sold in markets. He would get money out of it, and then you would have finance. So we had production, distribution, finance.

With capitalism, we had the reversal of that. First you’d get the debt, to set up the—you know, to employ people. So you have finance, then distribution, and the last thing that happens is production. So, debt is central to capitalism. Now, that means one thing: The banker, the financier, has an exorbitant privilege. He’s like the sorcerer who has the capacity to push his hand through the time line, snatch value from the future, that has not been produced yet, and bring it in to the present to help orchestrate the production that will create the value that will be repaid in the future. But, effectively, you’re creating a class of people, the financiers, who then have complete control over society. And they can keep doing this a lot more, until the present can no longer repay the future, and there is a huge crash. And then what happens? Because they have this privileged position, they can make you and me, President Obama, whoever, Larry Summers, bail them out. So, they win if their bets succeed, and they win if their bets lose. What kind of political economy is this, when you have one class of people who win, whatever they do, and everybody else loses, whatever they do?

AMY GOODMAN: Is this what you refer to the black magic of banking?
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: That’s exactly right.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, what’s the cure for this?
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Well, the cure of this is, effectively, to do that which FDR did in the 1930s.
AMY GOODMAN: President Roosevelt.

YANIS VAROUFAKIS: President Roosevelt—to put the financial genie back in the bottle. Make banking boring again. Put huge constraints upon them. Nationalize the banks and turn them into institutions for public purpose. And if even—you don’t necessarily need to nationalize, as long as you really keep them under strict control. Remember Bretton Woods, which designed the golden era of capitalism. Bretton Woods was a conference in 1944, and there 120 different countries agreed on the system which saw, in the 1950s and 1960s, the longest period of steady growth, with shrinking inequality and low unemployment and low inflation. FDR had one condition slapped onto membership of that Bretton Woods Conference. Do you know what it was? No banker was allowed in the Washington—the Mount Washington Hotel. So you had a monetary and financial system that was designed in the absence of bankers. That’s what we should do again.

AMY GOODMAN: What is apolitical money?
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: In this country, you have a lot of people, good people, who are fed up with politicians, who are fed up with the Fed, and who believe that—they believe in true money, in honest money, that money should be somehow independent of the political process. Remember the gold standard? They still hanker after the gold standard. They would like the quantity of dollars printed to be linked to the quantity of gold that the Fed owns, so that there would be no political influence of the quantity of money, because they fear that—they fear the government will print too much money, and there will be inflation, and the value of money will be effectively eaten away—the gold bugs, as you call them in this country. Bitcoin—Bitcoin is a digital form of the gold standard. And so, the backlash against political control—
AMY GOODMAN: The Bitcoin folks are moving into Puerto Rico right now, has been devastated by Maria.
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Of course it’s been devastated. But the solution is not Bitcoin.
AMY GOODMAN: But they’re moving in fast.
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Yes, but it’s—you know, it’s just a bubble. It will burst. And the reason is, however much we loathe the political process because it is controlled by oligarchs and by the same old financiers who are behind the politicians who are bailing them out whenever the finance is needed—however much we dislike that, there is no alternative to political money. Why? Because the quantity of money must be in sync with the quantity of output of goods and services. If those two go out of sync, you have deflationary bouts. You have to—that will lead to depression. So, to put it very bluntly and simply, the quantity of money must be decided democratically. At the moment, it’s not being decided democratically. It’s decided politically, but oligarchically. The solution is not to take it and tie it to some algorithm.
AMY GOODMAN: In the United States, you—in the United States, you only refer to oligarchy when you’re talking about Russia, the oligarchs. But billionaire businessmen in the United States, you do not refer to as oligarchs.
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: But the United States of America is the prime oligarchy. The difference between the United States of America and Russia is that the United States is a more successful oligarchy. But it is an oligarchy nevertheless.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain.
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Well, think of 2008. President Obama is sworn in on a wave of expectation by the victims of the financiers. And what does he do? First thing he does is he appoints Larry Summers and Tim Geithner, the very same people who had actually unshackled the financiers in the late 1990s, allowing them to do everything that brought so much discontent to the very same people who then entrusted President Obama. President Obama, very soon after that, lost his credibility with those people, and the result is Donald Trump. That’s an oligarchy.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, why is Donald Trump so fiercely opposed to President Obama—is it just racial?—given that he laid the groundwork for the oligarchs, for people like Donald Trump, if, in fact, he does have money?
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Well, the ruling class has a fantastic capacity, like the working class, to be divided. Donald Trump was never in the pocket of Wall Street. He used Wall Street. He used Deutsche Bank. He used all the people he dislikes, in order to keep, effectively, bankrupting his companies and profiting from it. So he’s really very good at that. But he was never very successful as a businessman, certainly not as successful as Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan. And he was always on the margins of the capitalist order of things in the United States. He understood that in order for him to gain more power, more—both discursively and politically and economically, he had to ride the wave of discontent against Obama. And he did this magnificently. And the Democrats let him. The Democrats brought their own distress and failure upon themselves.
AMY GOODMAN: So I want to talk about the rise of the right, but go back to World War II—actually, between World War I and World War II in Germany. How do you see the growth of the support for Hitler and how he took power in Germany, going back to World War I and the devastation of Germany?
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: The combination—the combination of a humiliated populace. The humiliation is very important, Amy. When you humiliate a whole people in the middle of a great depression, great economic crisis, you have a political crisis. So the political center implodes, which is what happened with the Weimar Republic, and then all sorts of political monsters ride up—rise up from that. We saw this in the 1920s, the 1930s, in the midwar period in Germany. But we saw it in—we see it in Greece today, after—do you know we have a Nazi party in Greek Parliament—in the country that, along with Yugoslavia, fought tooth and nail against Nazism in the 1940s. We had a magnificent resistance movement against Nazism. In that country now, the third-largest party is a—not a neo-Nazi party, fully old-fashioned Nazi party.
AMY GOODMAN: And this came into the Parliament when?
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: They came into Parliament in 2012, at the time of a humiliated public in the clasp of a great depression, just like in Germany in the 1930s.
But allow me to make a point, because there is a great misunderstanding about Germany of the midwar period. Usually people say, “Oh, it was hyperinflation. It was the fact that prices were rising exponentially that brought Hitler to power.” Not true. It is true that hyperinflation depleted the middle class, effectively destroyed the middle class’s savings and shook the system and made the Weimar Republic extremely fragile and ready for the taking. But if you look at the electoral performance of the Nazi Party in Germany, there is a direct correlation, not with inflation, but with deflation. You had Chancellor Brüning, who in 1930 decided to slam the brakes on the economy and to use large doses of austerity in order to make inflation go away—a bit like Paul Volcker when he pushed interest rates up in the early '80s, remember, to 20-something percent—and a lot more fiscal austerity, not just monetary austerity. It was at that point when prices started falling in Germany. Prices started falling, and unemployment ballooned. And that is when you have a major jump in the support for Nazis. Deflation breeds fascism. And that is something that we've got to remember. And I’m making this point because, unfortunately, the European Union’s economic policies today are producing deflationary forces that are being exported to the United States and to China. And that does not augur well for progressive international politics.
AMY GOODMAN: So talk now about the far right in Europe and also in the United States. But in Europe, you’re talking about Poland, you’re talking about Hungary. You’ve got Golden Dawn, not to mention the Nazi party, in Greece.
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Oh, that’s the Golden—the Golden Dawn is a Nazi party. That’s the Nazi party I was referring to.


Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Dominant Institution Of Our Time Was Created In The Image Of A Psychopath


tripzine |  Much of the Hermetica circulated in Latin, and the word "incorporation" appears quite notably in the lexicons and basic operations of alchemy. Its Latin root incorporatus describes a process of embodiment or giving of material form.

A typical goal in the creation of a servitor was to substantiate the proxy mechanism until the form itself became embodied and self-perpetuating, albeit under the control of the alchemist. One finds this goal reflected in a motto of Hermeticism: solve et coagula. This denotes an alchemist reaching into the ephemeral and numinous "above", then transmuting part of that essence into a substantiated form in the mundane world "below".

The synthesis here concerns how Elizabethans architected plans for building commerce based on international trade and colonization, i.e. through a globalization process...

Elizabethans employed what they understood to be the rhyme and reason of the world. They went out and created a form suitable to achieve their goal. Translating back through the centuries, our modern legal process of incorporation literally refers to the creation of a "legal person" as a fiction, serving as a proxy mechanism for its owners. Arguably, this form is created much like a servitor, applying the formula solve et coagula, giving material form to an essence. The sigil corresponds to logo and trademark, and the charter symbolizes daemonic essence.

There you have an outline for a qualitative model, submitted for your approval. [Description follows of a quantitative model, based on a "proxy mechanism" that applies attention economic theory in the four domains listed above — edited out for space.]


Political Evolution

Let's review the evolution of political system, vis-a-vis corporate governance. Elizabethan England made a bold proclamation in the name of humanism. They effectively said: "Fucke Spain & thee Catholycks. Yn the cominge yeres of Newe World Order, rules of the game changeth and none of their bloodie golde shall matter not one wit." The English reckoned that if Church and cojones were removed from the political equation, the Crown and its people could prosper. They invented corporations to implement that plan and serve the Crown. That worked remarkably well.

Americans came along and objected to corporations, wishing to empower individual sovereignty based on property rights. They reckoned that if the Crown were removed from the political equation, then representation of individuals could reign over corporations instead. Their experiment died within a few decades, and arguably the United States became the first flag of convenience.

Socialists noted problems due to corporations in both England and the US. They reckoned that if individual property rights were removed from the political equation, societies could reign over corporations instead. They attempted to organize politics to mimic the corporate structure itself, which has so far proven to be problematic.


Where do we stand now?

Humanists of all varieties have struggled to control corporations for the better part of four centuries. They failed. They lacked a fundamental understanding of the problem. Game over. Direct confrontation of the corporate form does not work, because such efforts inevitably become sublated.

To confront a corporation with any significant force, one must stop thinking like a speciesist. Following the psychological imperative from the study of autopoiesis and dissipative structures, one must contextualize the problem first. To contest a firm such as Nike or Monsanto, one must recognize that they are merely instances of a particular form. To fight the WTO, one must recognize that it is merely a temporary mechanism of that same form. To fight a particular action by a particular corporation, one must recognize that action as a well-defined reflex of the corporate form.

So, I present a media-theoretic model: the qualitative and quantitative anatomy of a transnational. Perhaps it may become useful for developing strategies and forecasts to gain advantages over corporations. I have several ways to apply this theory, but that's a topic for another article altogther...

Questions? Complaints? Suggestions?

Friday, May 18, 2018

"This is a Terrifying Time to be White an American"


NewYorker |  Several distinct cultural changes have created a situation in which many men who hate women do not have the access to women’s bodies that they would have had in an earlier era. The sexual revolution urged women to seek liberation. The self-esteem movement taught women that they were valuable beyond what convention might dictate. The rise of mainstream feminism gave women certainty and company in these convictions. And the Internet-enabled efficiency of today’s sexual marketplace allowed people to find potential sexual partners with a minimum of barriers and restraints. Most American women now grow up understanding that they can and should choose who they want to have sex with.

In the past few years, a subset of straight men calling themselves “incels” have constructed a violent political ideology around the injustice of young, beautiful women refusing to have sex with them. These men often subscribe to notions of white supremacy. They are, by their own judgment, mostly unattractive and socially inept. (They frequently call themselves “subhuman.”) They’re also diabolically misogynistic. “Society has become a place for worship of females and it’s so fucking wrong, they’re not Gods they are just a fucking cum-dumpster,” a typical rant on an incel message board reads. The idea that this misogyny is the real root of their failures with women does not appear to have occurred to them.

The incel ideology has already inspired the murders of at least sixteen people. Elliot Rodger, in 2014, in Isla Vista, California, killed six and injured fourteen in an attempt to instigate a “War on Women” for “depriving me of sex.” (He then killed himself.) Alek Minassian killed ten people and injured sixteen, in Toronto, last month; prior to doing so, he wrote, on Facebook, “The Incel Rebellion has already begun!” You might also include Christopher Harper-Mercer, who killed nine people, in 2015, and left behind a manifesto that praised Rodger and lamented his own virginity.

The label that Minassian and others have adopted has entered the mainstream, and it is now being widely misinterpreted. Incel stands for “involuntarily celibate,” but there are many people who would like to have sex and do not. (The term was coined by a queer Canadian woman, in the nineties.) Incels aren’t really looking for sex; they’re looking for absolute male supremacy. Sex, defined to them as dominion over female bodies, is just their preferred sort of proof.

If what incels wanted was sex, they might, for instance, value sex workers and wish to legalize sex work. But incels, being violent misogynists, often express extreme disgust at the idea of “whores.” Incels tend to direct hatred at things they think they desire; they are obsessed with female beauty but despise makeup as a form of fraud. Incel culture advises men to “looksmaxx” or “statusmaxx”—to improve their appearance, to make more money—in a way that presumes that women are not potential partners or worthy objects of possible affection but inconveniently sentient bodies that must be claimed through cold strategy. (They assume that men who treat women more respectfully are “white-knighting,” putting on a mockable façade of chivalry.) When these tactics fail, as they are bound to do, the rage intensifies. Incels dream of beheading the sluts who wear short shorts but don’t want to be groped by strangers; they draw up elaborate scenarios in which women are auctioned off at age eighteen to the highest bidder; they call Elliot Rodger their Lord and Savior and feminists the female K.K.K. “Women are the ultimate cause of our suffering,” one poster on incels.me wrote recently. “They are the ones who have UNJUSTLY made our lives a living hell… We need to focus more on our hatred of women. Hatred is power.”