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The end of politics and the defence of democracy

April 21, 2010

by Costas Douzinas

In this month of the ‘Greek passion’ one thing is certain. The country will never be the same again. But while the commentators, academics and ‘experts’ discuss endlessly the economic crisis, the deep political malaise has gone unnoticed. The three ‘waves’ of ‘stability’ measures have befallen Greece like an evil tsunami which will turn the current recession into a depression with no clear end. But they also attack the foundations of democracy. The unfolding events offer a panorama of the symptoms of ‘the end of politics’. Read more…

Thatcher, Thatcher, Thatcher

April 21, 2010

by John Gray
from the London Review of Books

There wasn’t anything inevitable about David Cameron’s rise. If Kenneth Clarke had stirred himself into running something like a campaign when competing for the leadership with Iain Duncan Smith and been ready to appear more tractable on Europe; if David Davis had moved decisively in the immediate aftermath of Michael Howard’s resignation or been a more fluent speaker; if Howard had offered Cameron the shadow chancellorship or George Osborne had not accepted it – if these or any number of other contingencies had been otherwise, Cameron might not have become leader. Yet he has been perceived as an unstoppable force, the author of an irreversible transformation in his party that has set it firmly back on the road to power. Tim Bale’s exhaustive and authoritative account is hedged throughout with academic caution, but it concludes in terms that treat the Conservatives’ return to office as a foregone conclusion: ‘just as was the case for Margaret Thatcher, Cameron will ultimately be judged and defined by what he does.’ more

Why Google is the Nike of the internet

April 21, 2010

by Alexandros Stavrakas
from The Guardian

Google decided two weeks ago to shut down its hitherto self-censoring search service in China. This allegedly costly gesture, intended as a bold statement rather than a formal articulation of corporate “foreign policy”, is congruous with the company’s liberal philosophy and juxtaposed to the aged conformity of, say, Microsoft. But far from being seen merely as an act of adolescent bravado or tedious corporate management, it seems to have captured the imagination of intellectuals around the world. more

Peter Hallward on “Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment”

February 22, 2010

from Democracy Now

Haitian President Rene Preval said Sunday that the death toll from the earthquake could reach 300,000 once all the bodies are recovered from the rubble. We speak to Peter Hallward, professor of Modern European Philosophy at Middlesex University. “Unless prevented by renewed popular mobilisation in both Haiti and beyond, the perverse international emphasis on security will continue to distort the reconstruction effort, and with it the configuration of Haitian politics for some time to come,” wrote Hallward recently. “What is already certain is that if further militarisation proceeds unchecked, the victims of the January earthquake won’t be the only avoidable casualties of 2010.”

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Badiou/Zizek: Philosophy in the Present

February 22, 2010

To mark our comeback, after a long period of inactivity, here’s a copy of Philosophy in the Present by Alain Badiou & Slavoj Zizek.

Our role in Haiti’s plight

January 14, 2010

by Peter Hallward
from The Guardian

Any large city in the world would have suffered extensive damage from an earthquake on the scale of the one that ravaged Haiti’s capital city on Tuesday afternoon, but it’s no accident that so much of Port-au-Prince now looks like a war zone. Much of the devastation wreaked by this latest and most calamitous disaster to befall Haiti is best understood as another thoroughly manmade outcome of a long and ugly historical sequence.

The country has faced more than its fair share of catastrophes. Hundreds died in Port-au-Prince in an earthquake back in June 1770, and the huge earthquake of 7 May 1842 may have killed 10,000 in the northern city of Cap Haitien alone. Hurricanes batter the island on a regular basis, mostly recently in 2004 and again in 2008; the storms of September 2008 flooded the town of Gonaïves and swept away much of its flimsy infrastructure, killing more than a thousand people and destroying many thousands of homes. The full scale of the destruction resulting from this earthquake may not become clear for several weeks. Even minimal repairs will take years to complete, and the long-term impact is incalculable.

What is already all too clear, however, is the fact that this impact will be the result of an even longer-term history of deliberate impoverishment and disempowerment. Haiti is routinely described as the “poorest country in the western hemisphere”. This poverty is the direct legacy of perhaps the most brutal system of colonial exploitation in world history, compounded by decades of systematic postcolonial oppression. more

Slavoj Žižek – Living in the End Times

January 13, 2010
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