Category Archives: Politics

Socialism may just Save the World (for now) – only very slightly, and not directly, linked with The International Adam Curtis Society series of posts

In light of the Covid-19 stuff that’s going on right now, there are three things worth pausing over:

Commonality. Knowing that this virus does not appear to discriminate brings the possibility for renewed connection. Maybe life’s too short to hate. It’s probably too valuable to keep doing things the way we have. Wars, weapons, greed, etc., all seem fairly crass at a time like this (yet their effects are long-lasting and far-reaching).

Community. Though there are always stupid people amongst us, the vast majority of things I’m seeing and hearing about are tales of positivity – people being kind and compassionate to one another. People willing to help others in a time of need.

Communication. Fortunate that we do not have to live within our own limited bubbles, modern technology offers the chance to connect and engage with like-minded people around the globe. Feeling that there are others who think, feel, care the way we do can bring great comfort.

And as capitalism ceases to function (though, perhaps, temporarily), brought to its knees in a matter of weeks, it’s worth reflecting on the derivation of the three words above. They are all linked. In many ways they are lynchpins of capitalist society (certainly the latter two), yet society seems reluctant to acknowledge this fact. Anyhoo… stay safe, comrades.

We are The International Adam Curtis Society.

We know no boundaries.

With love,

President Matthew Alexander…

(The International Adam Curtis Society series of blog posts will not use imagery, web links, or anything other than the written word to convey its message. Distraction and entertainment is not our goal.)


Roosevelt Diggin’ the Commie Vibes- The International Adam Curtis Society series of posts

The central tenet of Adam Curtis’ The Century of the Self (Part One): Happiness Machines is that Freud’s theories around human ‘drives’ are used to underpin the Capitalist system throughout the 20th century – appeal to the most base elements of humankind and you can sell them all the stuff you wish (and profit financially in the process). Curtis documents facts around Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, who influenced big business in the U.S. in all manner of Freudian thinking around ideas of consumerism – not mentioned is Ernest Dichter, a disciple of Freud’s, who functioned in a similar manner. Now, this is one way of going about things, using marketing, advertising, public relations, and so on, to influence consumers, but it’s condescending at best, and just plain manipulative at worst. Edward Bernays’ daughter, Ann, sums this up as the planned wedding together of democracy and Capitalism, in order that it be inconceivable for anyone to think that democracy could ever survive without a Capitalist system to protect it.

Curtis positions Roosevelt and the ‘New Deal’ in opposition to this, stating that Roosevelt understood the benefits of not treating members of the public as ‘passive consumers’ – Roosevelt preferring to engage with the masses as ‘active citizens’ capable of thinking for themselves (and of the needs of others). Now, Roosevelt was no saint (his ‘deal’ did not apply to all citizens, obviously), but what Roosevelt actioned/approved/sanctioned during this period is akin to the early years of Lenin’s Russia (though starting from a much more advanced position, technologically and ideologically), and thus I find it very hard for anyone to argue against the fact that Roosevelt used the mechanisms of Communist thought to lift the U.S. out of the doldrums it found itself in during the 20s and 30s. Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ was born of Leftist thinking, a crazy bastard-child of democracy and socialism. Comrade Roosevelt’s vision underpins the logic of Communist ideals – the P.O.T.U.S. ensures that state funding provides work, and security, and prospects. That’s not how Capitalism works. That’s not how the ‘markets’ wish to operate. F.D.R. was RED. That’s for sure. Discuss.

If you have stuff to say about Adam Curtis’ works, or have ideas that spring from them, you should email: Matthew.Alexander@liverpool.ac.uk

We are The International Adam Curtis Society.

We know no boundaries.

With love,

President Matthew Alexander…

(The International Adam Curtis Society series of blog posts will not use imagery, web links, or anything other than the written word to convey its message. Distraction and entertainment is not our goal.)


Working Class Kids’ Perspectives (or, just shut up with this victim culture stuff (see very foot of post))

The need to be articulate, to be able to source facts from history that are often purposefully obscured, and then, after all that, to be confident enough to place thoughts and ideas springing from the former into the public sphere, by whatever means and no matter the abuse that comes from this, is a talent worth having. However, it is not easily taught, especially when your upbringing is a working/lower/and/or/under-class one. Akala’s recent appearances, on Frankie Boyle’s New World Order and on Robert Peston’s Peston on Sunday, respectively, capture the extent to which the working classes (and those lower forms of classes) continue to be used as cannon-fodder, though both metaphorically and literally these days.

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On Peston on Sunday, Akala discussed technical qualifications such as Apprenticeships, amongst other things, stating that kids from Harrow and Eton aren’t the target market for this type of education, and that working class kids are being ushered into working class jobs. At which point Alistair Campbell piped up to mention the inequality that continues to be touted, shamelessly, through the private education system – if an education system exists that is meant to be so good that it equips youngsters to do the best jobs and to enjoy great earning potential as a result, then why is that that system is not the model used to educate all children who would benefit from it? That an education model exists that cannot be accessed unless a child has funds in excess of £20-30,000 per year is disgraceful, yet the practice continues with not even a hint of its proponents viewing it as so.

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On New World Order, Akala brought the narrative round from “black gang violence in London” to violence that occurs across the country as a by-product stemming from a range of inequalities (access to education and funding, etc.) that serve to affect the working (and lower) classes disproportionately. A kid, no matter how bright, living in a tower block or on an estate where decades of neglect conspire to blight her/his surrounding environment with petty and serious crime, drug and other substance abuse, predominantly welfare-based “living” (or merely existing for the most part), and with access to only the most basic form of state education (which Gove and his cronies have recently tinkered with to make it all the more difficult for kids to achieve “good grades”), will struggle to leave such a cycle of neglect, and may not wish to because of the plight of those they will have to leave behind. Class struggle is as real now as it has ever been, it’s just that 42” TVs, a BMW/Mercedes on the drive, and semi/detached houses blind us to such facts.

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Growing up in “cut paper row” terraced houses similar to those described by Sylvia Plath, where there seemed from a child’s perspective to be little in the way of dissent detectable in mainstream media, it is noticeable, now, that there are voices with platforms to challenge centuries’ old systems of repression. Akala is just one of those voices, and any hope that we have of “things” changing are likely to involve people such as Akala spreading messages that pierce the thinly veiled construct that serves to promote the message that we live in a society of democracy, justness, and aspiration for all. We don’t. As a working/lower/underclass citizen with access to an internet connection, thirty minutes to an hour of researching “family tree history” on a site with free access will reveal that you are just as much in the gutter as descendants from years gone by – it’s just that your gutter affords you occasional trips to buy stuff you don’t need on credit terms that will punish you if you don’t continue to tow the line.

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And just because it is so good, here’s a link to Akala’s performance piece, The Ruins of Empires (but on this link it starts from around 6 minutes in).

And just because comment feeds descend into chaos the farther down them you go, here’s one from Peston’s Twitter page following the uploading of Akala’s comments on race and class. Look out for this delightful person (below):

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Leaps of Imagination, Like When You Were a Kid

Having the chance to flick through old tales once read as a child, or variations of them, has led to a profound thought: why not just solve the world’s problems by employing a child-like “leap of imagination?” An evil stepmother infiltrates a queen’s bedchamber disguised as a nurse (queen just given birth so she’s a bit knackered and off-kilter) – now, yep, fully aware of the portrayal of gender, here, but the writing of the tale nothing to do with me (adaptation of Grimm’s tales???), and if it were I’d probably opt for some sort of gender-ambiguous setting (open pronouns and stuff) – and then this nurse/evil stepmother just assumes control of the situation, no border checks taken place, no visitors’ pass scanned in the hall, just basically a total bypass of security protocols.

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So, what if the average thinking-person who worries on a daily basis about the inequities of life, wishing that they could end wars, humans mistreating other humans (whether individually or as past of a corporation or country), and who views hunger and water poverty as completely reversible given a bit more emphasis on compassion and a lot less emphasis on profit, starts to assume the same sort of control, but obviously, not with the same wicked end in mind as the evil stepmother/nurse person?

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Watching yet another documentary that tries to pick its way through the “this is not a conspiracist tale but you’d better wake up” waters of contemporary views about “leftist, liberal intervention tactics” (Ethos Movie) left the impression that, well, it shouldn’t have to be all that hard to effect change if you really want it. What I do most days is think of a problem, say lack of access to clean water for a good deal of the world’s population, and then start to work through the layers of things that would need to be done in a conventional, ordered sense (contacting politicians, NGOs, etc.), and then think about how the shortage-of-water problem is often caused by corporations that are deeply embedded in the political scene, so that, really, you know before you start that things are not going to be easy after all, and then that’s kind of depressing and debilitating, and then the mind starts to drift and something comes along as a distraction and then it all seems too much because you’re just one small person in what seems like a huge system of unfairness.

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But here’s the rub. Breaking that feeling of uselessness could actually be simple to achieve by employing the Grimm Practice (that’s what I’m calling it – GP for short). Think of a solution, and make it so. Now, the suggestion at the end of Ethos Movieis that we as consumers, as a starting point, can choose where to spend our money, and in doing so can provide incentive to corporations (but this could also be applied to governments, but that will be attended to in another post) to act responsibly, ethically, and basically, as good human beings (because a corporation is made up of humans). My very simple suggestion in this regard is to set up a system of an international boycott on the purchasing of any and all items from corporations that exploit people for profit. The boycott can be levied according to how much a corporation needs to change its ways – one day per year just to keep it in check; one week per year to push the message harder; and so on, until the people see that corporations change their ways.

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If, say, a company like Starbucks (just for example) saw not one person cross its thresholds to buy its products for an entire day (anywhere in the world) it would likely start to change its ways (exploitation of low-paid workers; prices paid to coffee growers; the effects on communities where coffee is taken at a fraction of the price it will eventually retail at; and stuff like that). Now, if the opposite is true, that Starbucks turns round and says “fuck you, do this again and we’ll have to lay-off many of our workers,” what I’d say is ramp up the boycott action until it comes in line, which it will be forced to do (rather than go out of business altogether, which happens when a company’s turnover is 0 ($£€, etc.)). And here, we see the power potential at play. The Grimm Practice puts power in people’s hands. Don’t overthink things. Don’t analyse the possibilities endlessly (because that is debilitating), simply use the tools that we now have at our disposal – the internet to spread the word, social media to chart our successes, and our disposable incomes to withhold from those corporations that do not act in the interest of humanity as a whole. Vote GP.

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Current Adam Curtis Obsession #1

Tying in with a recent article on the “unstoppable rise of veganism,” a podcast of Russell Brand’s interview with Adam Curtis, “Do We Really Want Change?,” offers a potential route forward from the seemingly destined-to-fail calls for change that we have witnessed over the last decade or so, whether the Occupy Movement in the west, or the ripples of revolution around the middle-east.

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Curtis identifies an actual, though brief, moment in history that resulted in monumental change, and which came from the Civil Rights movement in the southern states of the U.S.:

“White activists and black activists joined together and they spent years giving their lives, and in many cases literally, up to trying to change the world, which they did, and they surrendered themselves to that” (0:22:20 – 0:22:30).

Curtis details the success of the movement and the subsequent failure of the New Left as the rise of “individualism” takes hold, disrupting the coming together of groups of people, instead spreading the message that to be “true” to yourself is the real “goal” in life and that from that (being an individual) the world will change as a result (which it hasn’t). So, with veganism on the rise (around 1% of the U.K. population is believed to be vegan) is it time to recognise that when veganism is most challenging and difficult that it is at its most effective?

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What I mean, here, is that the growing trend for multinationals to assimilate veganism into their practices (many of them dubious in nature) is perhaps yet another example of individualism working for the benefit of the corporations and managers of capitalism. The capitalist model has tapped into the fact that being vegan is not always easy (you can’t just nip into any old shop to buy a snack without inspecting the contents of that pack in the first place (and even then you need to be clued up to the names that are used to describe the ingredients).

So, instead of the practices of old, where (and this is true, I’ve heard many a vegan testify to this) vegans would meet with other vegans to discuss foods that they can eat, sharing knowledge, and maybe even discuss activism and the like (perhaps they can be called We-gans), “new vegans” are being presented with a rich array of products that save them from having to do so, thus removing some of the discomfort and inconvenience of having to “go out of your way” to source information. In doing so, vegans are being kept isolated from one another in that there is a lack of incentive to grow the vegan community (perhaps they can be called Me-gans) – instead, becoming individual vegans, just as the markets require us to be.

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A great example of this has to be McDonald’s new “Vegan” Burger, which reads like a contradiction in terms, or just a really sick joke. One of the largest killers of animals on the planet asking vegans to come into their “restaurants” and sit side-by-side with carnivores? Bizarre, but true. The motives behind the launch of the McVegan can only be linked to profit, for there can be no ethical reasons behind the decision, as the animal slaughter continues unabated.

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So, try not to get too excited at veganism going “mainstream” because you may just get what you didn’t ask for. Instead, think of the myriad ways that you, in your small but perfectly capable way, could disrupt carnivore practices. You could write about it, talk about it, or just do something about it (pouring super glue in the locks of McDonald’s doors as you pass a closed store (making sure that it was dried in time that no McD’s employee would suffer any harm in the process) would be illegal and childish, of course)…


The “Could AI Really do a Worse Job” Posts

Post #3 – When facts and figures just get a bit stupid. Quoting directly from Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism once more, it is astonishing to learn that:

McDonald’s […] is the thirty-eighth biggest economy in the world – bigger than that of Ecuador – and is also the biggest toy distributor in America. In addition, one in eight people in the USA has worked for McDonald’s (277).

 

Now, stop and break that down for a moment. More powerful, economically, than Ecuador (does McDonald’s have a seat at the UN? Should it after learning how huge and influential it must be? Is there some sort of ethical and moral code that should kick in when a burger joint gets to be this huge? And here comes the vegan bit of me – is it acceptable for a company to grow to become this huge when it pretty much occurs on the back of ceaseless, horrific slaughter of animals?).

 

And it’s not a toy company, so what do we think that the above statistic speaks of? The coercion of minors for profit? The shameless exploitation of a child’s propensity to want the toy that is linked to the latest movie/TV/gaming craze?

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And where do the other 7 out of 8 people work?

Potential AI solution: on the back of a justice system overseen by the logic and impartiality of AI (rather than the self-interest and bias of humans), we will… seize the illegal profits of McDonald’s; jail its owners for mass genocide following war crimes tribunals; turn over the running of the company to its employees, on the proviso that it turns to plant-based, sustainable foods; and use the excess profits to fund research into alternatives to plastic use, and into better recycling of the millions of plastic toys spewed out over the years. Good job, AI.

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Women Who Inspire

After a few arguably negative posts (of stuff I don’t like), I’m inspired to write on something I do like, and such good timing given the explosion of conversations ATM about misogyny, gender disparity, everyday sexism, and stuff like that.

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Emma Watson, and her project Our Shared Shelf, continues to warm the cockles of my heart, which is curious given that I’m reduced to thinking that the human species is fairly stupid (myself included) and probably deserves to go the way of the dinosaurs (think Musk’s mission to land a car (his own car) on Mars, and the current fascination with AI in relation to sex robots (just two of many examples of human stupidity I could produce for you, here)).

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If you feel even the merest prick of curiosity, click the link to read Emma’s own words on the latest choice of book: LINK

And if you don’t, well… more fool you (ya big stupid).


Earthlings Film

You simply cannot unwatch something, no matter how hard you try, right? Well, try watching Earthlings (2005) and see how its images haunt your every waking moment. That maybe doesn’t sound like the best invite to a film, but hopefully it will have stirred at least a bit of curiosity in you. Described as “Horror/Documentary” on the Google box thing that appears to the right hand side of all the web listings, that just about sums it up. Narrated by Joaquin Pheonix.

For a gentler, yet no less horrific tale, see Simon Amstell’s Carnage (it’s very good).

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#ElectionFinalThoughts #Trump #Hillary and the (potential) Continuation of The Hawk’s (#StephenHawking) History of Stupidity?

As the polls prepare to open on #Election2016 / #ElectionNight, it’s perhaps a good moment to step back, pause, and consider with care the next phase in the evolution of U.S. politics. The hashtag, #ElectionFinalThoughts, should be renamed to reflect the fact that following this election, no matter who enters the Oval Office, some serious thinking needs to be done in order to address certain issues that have cropped up during @realDonaldTrump and @HillaryClinton campaigns, respectively. #ElectionContinuingThoughts might be such a hashtag, where issues, once thought to be resolved/won and therefore no longer important issues (Civil Rights, for example), or even issues that rarely get a mention in the mainstream press (Indigenous Peoples, for example), can be discussed in order to figure out the best way forward for U.S., and by extension, world politics.

Another issue that has cropped up, but that pretty much has been skirted around, is one of the practice, whether intended or not, of woman-hating rhetoric, acts, sentiments, and other such stuff. That’s certainly the opinion of Barbara Kingsolver, who makes the case that girls growing up when she did faced overwhelming opposition to ideas that girls “could go to college, have jobs, be doctors, tentatively working my way up the ladder” to the position of president, perhaps. Well, now that time has come. There is indeed a woman knocking on the door marked Commander-in-Chief, and, judging by the press coverage stemming from Trump and his supporters, as well as those from within her own party, you’d think this particular woman was the Devil incarnate. Michelle Goldberg writes:

“I’ve interviewed Trump supporters, conventional conservatives, Bernie Sanders fans, and even a few people who reluctantly voted for Clinton in the Democratic primary but who nevertheless say they can’t stand her. Most of them described a venal cynic. Strikingly, the reasons people commonly give for hating Clinton now are almost the exact opposite of the reasons people gave for hating her in the 1990s. Back then, she was a self-righteous ideologue; now she’s a corrupt tool of the establishment. Back then, she was too rigid; now she’s too flexible.”

So, it seems that Hillary is too this, or too that – she’s just not Goldilocks enough. But it seems that the language used to speak ill of Hillary is the kind of language usually reserved for denigrating women, in particular. She is too “stupid” because she stood by Bill during the Lewinsky scandal. She is too “old” even though she’s not as old as Ronald Reagan when he won. She is too “ill” because she recently suffered an illness whilst attending a 9/11-remembrance ceremony. She is too “risky” because of the old email business (and please forgive any naivety, here, but this seems to be about the worst of Hillary’s misdemeanours, which, when you think about it, doesn’t seem all that bad when on the other side we seem forever to be discussing Trump and over a dozen seemingly plausible accusations of sexual assault). Basically, according to her haters, she’s a stupid, old, unwell, and unstable WOMAN.

And when discussing the other accusation that seems to be ever at hand to beat Hillary down, that she’s too much a part of the “corrupt,” self-serving U.S. politics, are people really saying that she’s all that different from what’s gone before? Really?

Is she worse than James Buchanan, who failed to prevent the outbreak of the Civil War?

Is she worse than Warren G. Harding, and his mishandling of the Teapot Dome oil reserves?

Is she worse than Andrew Johnson, who opposed measures, such as the Fourteenth Amendment?

Is she worse than Franklin Pierce, whose administration was responsible for the so called “Bleeding Kansas” or Border War, considered as being one of the key events that led to Civil War?

Is she worse than Millard Fillmore, who endorsed the Fugitive Slave Act?

Is she worse than John Tyler, the first American head of state to face impeachment?

Worse than Shrub?

Nixon?

Really?

Hillary Clinton is no different than any of the other aspiring Presidential candidates before her, except for one thing: Hillary is a woman. It remains to be seen whether Americans are willing to accept a woman as President, but make no mistake, woman-hating is prevalent in society. Having a woman in The White House may expose more of the woman-hating, as seen throughout the entirety of the election campaign. But how severe does the woman-hating have to get before people call it out for what it is?

When do we stop adding to, as The Hawk calls it, our collective “history of stupidity?”

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Just So Many Reasons to Not Accept the #Lockerroom Excuse

In light of #DonaldTrump’s recent comments, where he attempts to excuse away the vile comments he made about the ways in which he professes to grab females by their genitalia, here are a few reminders of why such talk should not merely be excused as “locker room” banter.

  • Reminder 1: Judge #AaronPersky continues to be lenient in his sentencing of abusive people, such as #BrockTurner. If we excuse such comments, the Aaron Perskys and Brock Turners of the world feel justified in their actions when they should be horrified by them.
  • Reminder 2: The levels of violence aimed at women around the globe, like the news item in Argentina, are far too many to be excused, and so Trump’s comments should not be tolerated, nor should they be excused.
  • Reminder 3: Convicted rapists, such as Brock Turner, simply fade from memory as news items move on. Unfortunately, the survivors of such crimes do not get to have their memory of events fade away so simply, and therefore we must continue to hold at the forefront of our minds the horrendous things that humans do to one another when they feel they can justify their actions away as “locker room” behaviour, for example (a very basic internet search of “Brock Turner update” brings back items that date no later than early September 2016 – so his story of raping an unconscious person fades away from public view).

(Lucia Perez (pictured above) died as a result of some person/s justifying their behaviour to themselves – it’s never right to treat another human in this manner, nor is it okay to excuse their behaviour) The preceding article is extremely disturbing – all the more reason to read it and contribute to ending such behaviour, however you can.


Manus Island and Nauru offshore detention centres – echoes of #colonialism

It’s sometimes quite useful to look to the past to help make sense of the present, and those predisposed to optimistic leanings might even say that to do so could help us learn how to do things differently in the future. The current state of events on Manus Island and Nauru bear at least a passing resemblance to what happened on Flinders Island almost 200 years ago.

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Depending on what source you read, you’ll hear the story of Aborigines being moved to Flinders Island for their own safety following what were known as “the black wars.” The problem with this was not only the psychological effects on the population forcibly moved there, but also the fact that the conditions on the island were so poor in terms of housing, the elements, and the provision of sustainable food sources.

To read that today, in the 21st century, there are people living in amazingly stressful conditions, being, as they are, kept offshore for their own “safety” after fleeing dangerous conditions in their own home lands, is a stark reminder of the ways in which humanity has failed to evolve in a positive sense over the course of the last two centuries. Perhaps until we confront the negative legacies of our collective colonial past such stories will continue unabated. And when we consider just how much conflict and misery there currently exists around the world as a direct result of our colonial past, perhaps it’s nearing the time with which to have such a conversation.


And a Very Rough Translation… #Tarnac 9, 10, 11…

Julien Coupat, alleged leader of the Tarnac group continued to sabotage TGV lines, testified Thursday at the trial of one of his former lawyers.

The lawyer was pursued by police for “public defamation” on the sidelines of Tarnac folder.

It was not yet the trial of Tarnac but the hearing held before the 17th chamber of the Paris court offered Julien Coupat its first judicial forum.

“Today the Tarnac Affair seems to be a court case concerning a sabotage but initially it was a political matter and police”, launched at the bar the witness, little round glasses, jeans and sweater collar rolled.
“Obsessions Michele Alliot-Marie”
“It’s been years of surveillance, secret service documents, the assumption that after the CPE (the first employment contract, ed) would have been a more radical splinter group that would move toward the establishment of a network pre- international terrorist. It was the obsessions of the Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie and the first case of the DCRI (domestic intelligence) recently created, “said he summarized.

“We are from the beginning against a machine and we defend as we can with the means at hand. This is not a defeat for us is simply that they are the strongest, “he ruled.

Julien Coupat was sent in corrections with seven other libertarian activists after the statement but the judge did not accept the qualification “terrorist” folder. The prosecution appealed.

His former lawyer Jérémie Assous appeared for “public defamation”, pursued by one of the investigators of the case, Bruno Mancheron.
At the origin of the complaint, a radio statement
The police captain in countering subsection (SDAT) has signed a key record of the case, which reflected a Julien Coupat surveillance operation and his ex-girlfriend Yildune Levy on 7 and 8 October 2008.

It is during this monitoring that the couple’s vehicle was found parked near a train line Paris-Est in the municipality of Dhuisy (Seine-et-Marne), where a few hours later were discovered traces of the sabotage of a catenary.

At the origin of the complaint is a statement of Jérémie Assous on Europe 1 on October 23, 2012. “Mr. Mancheron who is the author of f …,” he declared, before recovering ‘trial Proceedings of spinning and is accused of being a forger. “

“Mr. Assous knew that my customer was assisted witness status and was therefore charged with anything. My client has had enough of the brunt of the aggressive defense strategy Coupat of lawyers “, argued the police officer of the Board, Mr. Renaud Le Gunehec, which claimed one euro in compensation.


The Wrath of Morrissey Versus the Wrap of Maccie D’s

Every time the newish McDonald’s advert comes on during the adverts between halves at Euro 2016, it is irksome to say the least to hear the strains of Pete Shelley (who grew up about half a mile from where I’m writing this) and his fellow Buzzcocks, and their song, What Do I Get?, whilst a faux-Punk food assistant person of the biological female genus prepares a wrap for a pubescent adolescent, who happens to be in the company of his papa, it seems, seated as they are in a Ford Cortina circa 1978 (which conveniently links, or links conveniently, depending on how you feel with split infinitives, to the era said song hails from) at the window of the McD’s drive-thru, and as the pubescent adolescent fairly drools over the food assistant person as much as you’d imagine him drooling over the wrap he’s just ordered, and as the faux-Punk food assistant person makes eyes back at the pubescent adolescent, which if you think about it really does make her a Punk of the most faux kind because if you had an ounce of Punk sensibility you’d be unlikely to want to work in McD’s in the first instance, and even if you did you certainly wouldn’t participate in your own self-objectification where you’re kind of putting yourself on the same level, metaphorically speaking, as a Big Flavour Wrap.

It is irksome because someone has chosen money over self-respect. Selling a Punk song that was written and performed by a band that had credibility and which was aware of its working class heritage is unforgivable – some things are worth more than money, or at least they should be. You can make a crappy McD’s advert with any piece of crappy music that is spewed out of the pop music machine – The Buzzcocks are not of that ilk, yet decades of resistance have been compromised with one foolish decision where money takes centre stage. And yes, I know that sounds naïve and a tad Romantic, but that’s how things should be. It is distressing to hear of this song, and even The Jam’s That’s Entertainment, being used in a way that is wholly incompatible with their angry-youth origins. And I’m not the only one to think so. Morrissey is also pissed. And so we should be. Not just because we’re both plant-eating liberal humanists (not actually sure if Morrissey is but I’d like to believe he’s that way inclined), but because money cannot be allowed to corrupt every single thing of worth – because if we allow that to happen, how do we place true and meaningful value on anything?

Click the links and tell me if you think these songs are worthy of such misappropriation. Go on – I dare you.


Petition @Stanford University #BrockTurner

Hello,

I just signed the petition, “Letter to Stanford University in Support of Survivor of Brock Turner case.”

I think this is important and things clearly need to change with respect to sexual assaults and rapes on and around campuses. Will you sign it too, please?
Here’s the link:
https://www.change.org/p/letter-to-stanford-university-in-support-of-survivor-of-brock-turner-case

And here’s just one of the problems:


Thank you 


Anecdotally, is the Insurrection Coming? #Brexit

This is an important question and, anecdotally, from opinions garnered from those within both Leave and Remain camps, public opinion seems to reflect unprecedented levels of dissatisfaction felt with politics in its current late-capitalist mode – hence my notion that #PoliticsIsDead (click the pictures if you want, and stuff)

 

So, is the Insurrection on its way? Is there, as the Tarnac community is alleged to have suggested, a Coming Insurrection? It seems wrong to sit by and watch as economies shuffle from one disaster to the next, as has been the case throughout much of the present capitalist model, arguably. But do the people have the will to mount an insurrection?

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I guess we’ll see…


What Would This World Look Like? #Trump #BoJo

Here’s a very short post, for a change. It may be nice to pause, amidst the political goings on of the moment, simply to ponder the following. In a world where it is possible, although not altogether plausible or desirable, for Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump and Boris Johnson @BorisJohnson to become head of state, respectively, what would such a world look like?

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Would it look like this? Might The Donald reach across the Atlantic and smack a big wet one on BoJo’s fleshy lips? Worse things could happen, don’t you think?

#VoteWhatever (it probably doesn’t matter anyway) #PoliticsIsDead

(ooh… Soul II Soul)


The Mystique/X-Men/VAW Conundrum

Contains major X-Men: Apocalypse spoilers…

There’s a really interesting thread running on Goodreads right now w/r/t the recent billboard advertisement showing X-Men Apocalypse‘s Mystique being held by the throat. Its title is: Is the Marvel “Apocalypse” movie poster VAW [Violence Against Women]?

mystique-will-take-center-stage-in-x-men-apocalypse-but-is-it-her-last-hurrah-872198

And although interesting, the thread soon turns into the usual kind of slanging match: “I’m right,” “No, I’m right, you’re wrong,” “No, you’re wrong, I’m right, and you’re a moron.” It goes on, ad infinitum

The crux of the matter turns on whether the image promotes Violence Against Women, or whether it is merely “fantasy violence.” Depending on which side you pull towards will probably reflect your sensibilities w/r/t notions of gender inequality and stuff like that.

However, what is missing from the thread (and I’m considering posting something on there, but am hesitant because of the backlash I envisage) is a discussion of Mystique (a.k.a. Raven Darkholme) and the fact that Mystique is a mutant and can therefore adopt any guise – male, female, or anything else of their choosing (using non-gendered pronouns reflect the fact that I view Mystique as more fluid w/r/t the concept of gender – here’s a really great video kind of on that subject, IYI).

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In X-Men 2, for example, Mystique kicks Wolverine’s ass good and proper, both in the guise of Wolverine and also in Mystique’s traditional blue get-up. Mystique kicks Wolverine in the balls, properly getting his mad up, and then leaves him panned out on the floor after kung-fu kicking him in the head. In this particular example do we view this as Violence Against Men, Violence Against Women, just plain Violence, or Fantasy Violence?

Basically, there are two points I’m trying to make.

  1. I’m not so sure that we can move to refer to Mystique as a woman, unproblematically. Mystique is a mutation, just like all the other X-Men. The fact that Mystique is blue kind of hints that Mystique’s not predominantly human – so how can Mystique definitively be called a woman (especially when Mystique spends time in many other guises)? Mystique’s appearance as a Jennifer Lawrence-type-woman is just another disguise.
  2. Mystique is ultra-violent. Mystique just doesn’t respond with violence if violence is shown. Mystique oozes violence, and will kick anyone’s ass at the drop of a hat. So, if you’re an advocate of violence, as Mystique most definitely is, aren’t you more likely to be subjected to further violence? And, having not seen the film but I’ll take a wild stab at this, doesn’t Mystique willingly take on the big monster thing that ends up grabbing Mystique by the neck? And, so I’ve heard, doesn’t Jean Grey (a human woman who also happens to be a bit mutanty) literally obliterate the monster in the end?

Just because film studios are archaic and can’t get past binary thinking, does that mean we have to sink to their level?


Dismalandic

It does make you wonder what was the inspiration behind the temporary art project, Dismaland…

It’s kind of hard to think…

Oh, yeah…


Engaging with David Foster Wallace’s Hideous Men

Postgraduate English: A Journal and Forum for Postgraduates in English

Durham University’s Postgraduate English is a professionally reviewed journal for postgraduate students of English. We have been publishing postgraduate research biannually since the year 2000. It is published on Open Journal Systems, so all submissions are indexed and locatable through scholarly and library search engines.

We publish full-length scholarly articles on all areas of English literature and related disciplines, peer-reviewed by our editorial board of established academics, and book reviews.

In addition, we also invite reflections on postgraduate teaching and academic careers. They can be added to the Forum section on a related website, including interviews with academics, in which recently appointed academics discuss how they made the transition from Postgraduate to paid academic, and teaching tips and anecdotes. We are also happy to publish details of conferences or colloquia aimed at postgraduates.

No 32 (2016): Spring

Table of Contents

Articles

‘Man is the Measure’: The Individual and the Tribe in Modernist Representations of the Primitive PDF
Victoria Addis

 

Voli Me Tangere: Touch and Tenderness in the Lady Chatterley Novels PDF
Annabel Banks

 

Bridging Music and Language in Samuel Beckett’s Ghost Trio and Nacht und Träume PDF
Lucy Jeffery

 

Imagined Surfaces: the ‘Undetermined Capacity’ in Henry James PDF
Yui Kajita
Engaging with David Foster Wallace’s Hideous Men PDF
Alexander Matthew

Intersectionality: #brockturner and the Pity Project of a White, Privileged, Male Rapist, and Why the Law, and educational institutions such as Stanford University, are on His Side (even though they wouldn’t say that to your face)

Should you blame Stanford University’s rape culture for Brock Turner, the rapist? Should you blame Brock Turner’s father, Dan, who appears to regard his son’s rape “antics” as an inconvenience, w/r/t his son’s career? Should you blame Brock Turner, the rapist, himself? The answer would (almost) appear to be no to all of the above. Why? Because after raping an unconscious 18 year old behind a dumpster, and in the process unleashing a lifetime of change upon the 18 year old that only she will fully understand, but that the whole world will have a view on, Brock Turner may have to serve 3 months of a 6 months’ sentence for a crime that could have earned him 14 years behind bars.

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Brock Turner’s case makes clear that the Law, which dispenses the most lenient sentence for a most despicable crime, and Stanford University, which treats such occurrences as a minor irritation, in the way that its administrators barely even acknowledges them [the rapes and sexual assaults], do not work to end the practices of rape culture if you, as perpetrator of such crimes as listed above, are a white, educated, and reasonably well-off male (meaning you can stump up money for a sizeable bail without breaking a sweat).

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The 7,000-word letter detailing events from the unconscious 18 year old’s point of view just made Dan Turner angry. And so he responded in kind. The conclusion to be made here is that women are viewed as worthless by some men, and by some women for that matter. They are also viewed as worthless by the Law and by educational institutions such as Stanford University. If the outrage over this particular case of rape blows over and is forgotten (but never by the 18 year old), then the wider society must also be said to be complicit in this respect. So, will it blow over? Do we just move on? Perhaps consider Leah Francis and the #standwithleah campaign, which, according to a quick Internet search, shows that we stopped standing with Leah at some point in 2014. If we fail to remain standing for the time it takes to end rape culture behavior it will not end, and we can expect many more Brock Turner’s to behave in similarly despicable ways.


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