Trenchant Lemmings
"Arrive in a clown car, bursting with anger."
Robert Weaver
Sydney, Australia
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Apropos of Nothing...
Labour value
No Lives Matter
Oh. Snap.
Mot juste
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The weblog description is a misquotation from Steve Aylett's Indicted to a Party: What to Do, Who to Blame.
The weblog title links to the "No Country Redirect" version, for whatever that might be worth.
April 11, 2017
Apropos of Nothing...

This is (most) of A Guide to Armageddon, the 1982 BBC documentary about the effects of a nuclear blast over London, which I watched (from a copy I'd taped off television on the ol' Betamax) over and over again when I was a kid. It was made by Mick Jackson who later directed Threads, which I also watched on TV during my youth (from a hospital bed with suspected appendicitis, if memory serves; I got the all clear), the nuclear war film that made The Day After look like Disney's Our Friend, The Atom. Enjoy!

March 19, 2017
Labour value

March 14, 2017

Furthermore, liberalism is bound to prevail ultimately because it seeks pragmatic compromise and avoids ideological confrontation, which — according to the tenets of liberalism — is how you win over the middle-most slice of the middle ground and ensure endless electoral victory and social progress. How do we know that will work, in the face of repeated electoral defeat, rapidly reversing social progress and the total disappearance of the so-called middle ground? Well, it’s complicated: Consultants and pie charts were involved. You wouldn’t really understand.

March 05, 2017
No Lives Matter

[T]here have been many publicized instances in which whites have been victims of police brutality or even egregious acts of prosecutorial misconduct (known as “railroading”). Of course, the white victims of blatant misconduct and abuse are disproportionately poor and working class.


While black victims of police brutality obviously run the class gamut, the reality is that African-American victims of police excess are likewise disproportionately poor and working class.

According to some Sanders critics, the Sandra Bland tragedy makes clear that race is not reducible to class. ...

While there is no denying that a job did not insulate Bland from police misconduct, abuse of power, or even negligence on the part of corrections officers, it is worth considering here that the purpose of race in origin and its ongoing function today was and is to denote one’s socioeconomic status as well as one’s value as a laborer. From the start “negro” and eventually “colored” were essentially shorthand for highly exploitable laborers who, by the second third of the nineteenth century, were deemed to possess distinct, innate traits that made them uniquely suited to perform “bad jobs” — the most obvious example being slave labor.

Eventually, and this includes today, those alleged traits were also what made African Americans uniquely “qualified” for mass unemployment and incarceration. For people we might call racists, “black” and “African American” — despite changes in nomenclature — remain shorthand for “poor person” and/or “bad worker” today. Thus even in the mind of the average racist, race and class are inextricably linked.

One result of this reality is that irrespective of black people’s individual accomplishments — and this is one of the things that makes the Bland case seem especially tragic — African Americans are often treated by “less than enlightened” workers in the criminal justice system, prospective employers, supervisors, school administrators, etc. in much the same way that poor white people are: as morally disreputable, intellectually suspect, and potentially dangerous.

If one views the excesses and failures of the criminal justice system solely through the lens of race, then victims of police brutality and prosecutorial misconduct tend to be black or Latino. However, if one understands race and class are inextricably linked, then the victims of police brutality are not simply black or Latino (and Latinos outnumber blacks in federal prisons at this point) but they tend to belong to groups that lack political, economic, and social influence and power.
See also. Or, if you prefer the version with riffs:

February 26, 2017

Like any law, however, age of consent laws are materialised in police action. What effect they really have depends in part on how police choose to enforce them. That in turn depends on the political and moral culture that police officers partake of. The very fact that there are children being arrested and cautioned for having sex, or being charged on child pornography offences merely for sending one another semi-naked photographs, or sexts, indicates what some of that culture is like. The fact that people are actually reporting children to police, and that police are keeping intelligence databases on children who sext, and threatening them with the sex offenders register, is another indication.

This is where the ideological presumption of childhood innocence – a presumption which is all the more effective since everyone knows it is bullshit – feeds into the institutions of the state, and is embodied in violence. And it is violence directed, not mainly against ‘paedophiles’, but against children who are experimenting with their sexuality, as they always will. The potential problems with sexting – abuse, online humiliation, shaming, bullying – are cited as reasons to surveille and punish sexting among children. When we talk about childhood sexuality, we only tend to talk about the problems and dangers, in a manner that implies that the chimera of a danger-free sexuality could be a reality. We don’t talk about how exciting it is for them to discover their own sexuality because, when it comes to childhood sexuality, we want to know nothing about it. We want innocence: ours, as the precondition for theirs; or theirs, as the precondition for ours.
All of this is very good, not least because Mr Seymour spends as little time as humanly possible on the circumstances that provoked the piece: the quite repugnant weaponisation of accusations of sexcrime engaged in by partisan hacks of the "left" gloating at the doing down of a fellow who thoroughly deserved to be done down almost entirely for other reasons than those which brought his downfall. Instead, Mr Seymour carefully and sensibly discusses matters of considerably greater importance, dealing with the incitement with all due brevity:
If the discussion about the age of consent is had on the terms set by Yiannopoulous, it won’t be anything to do with preventing child sexual abuse. It will be a mirror of alt-right-style snark predicated on the intrinsic bad faith of any such discussion, hinting that anyone who thinks this is a debate worth having must be either a paedophile or an apologist. It will be people strutting about and attempting to intimidate others into not saying things they can’t bear to hear. And indeed, that is exactly what is happening, on the social media Left.

February 24, 2017

[Feinberg and Willer's] suggestions rest on a vulgarized version of the New York University scholar Jonathan Haidt’s “moral foundations theory,” in which certain values — care and fairness for those on the left; loyalty, authority and purity for the right — are held to be intrinsic and foundational. Some people are just predisposed to value loyalty and purity over fairness, and eventually grow into reactionary blowhards; we don’t know why, it just happens. As any good historical materialist knows, this is not the case. For someone to hold “respect for authority” in great esteem, there must first be an authority to respect. Before you can value fairness, there must be scarcity, unequal distribution and all the conditions that make unfairness possible. These values are the epiphenomena of a particular form of society. Conservative values don’t just emerge spontaneously from the individual; they’re an ideological support structure that props up theft and bloodshed and avarice. ...

In the United Kingdom, the Labour Party has been playing Feinberg’s and Willer’s game for decades now. Faced with the first sparks of a rising racist nativism, the ostensible party of the left adopted a policy of appeasement, trying to conjure up the failing spectre of “progressive patriotism,” abandoning its tatty, shop-worn emphasis on solidarity and socialism for a lot of gruff nonsense about British values. It didn’t work. Instead, the sudden omnipresence of these ideas just helped the reactionary right grow even stronger, until it consumed the entire country.

February 15, 2017

The parallel between the Nazi “revolution” in the 1930s and the neoliberal “revolution” in the 1980s and ’90s goes much further. The Nazis were also pioneers in what was then the uncharted economic waters of “privatization.” In the face of the Great Depression, states across the world — including the Social Democratic led Weimar Republic — nationalized key industries and, in some cases, like Germany, nearly the entirety of the financial sector. The Nazis — despite early propaganda indicating otherwise — were the unique exception. Not only did they avoid further nationalization but they innovated a process so idiosyncratic at the time that it required coining a German neologism: Reprivatisierung.

Quickly transferred into English as “reprivatization,” the phenomenon and its potentially salutary effects were observed by such notable organs of liberal economic thought as The Economist and mainstream outlets like Time magazine. Before Margaret Thatcher began the privatization of council housing and long before welfare reform was a twinkle in Bill Clinton’s eye, the Nazis were turning heavy industries, nearly the entirety of the financial and banking sector, and even some social services over to private hands and to new, innovative public/private hybrids. Even before this process was “enhanced” by “Aryanizing” previously Jewish held property, rates of privatization were as high the European average would become some 70 years later when neoliberal reforms began on the continent.

January 17, 2017
Oh. Snap.

But there is always the possibility that the origins of Trump’s zipped smile are cultural rather than personal. It is known, for example, that while Americans favour a full-blown smile that showcases the teeth, British people have historically preferred tight-lipped versions of the smile. There is every chance therefore that Trump’s zipped smile is actually a throwback to his Scottish ancestors – which would of course demonstrate that his public persona is far less American than he has led us to believe.
Wow. The Guardian just totally throws down.

January 11, 2017
Mot juste

So, I guess we can now expect a serious drop-off in the press describing Trump's administration as being a Golden Age for anybody.

Hey - if I was going to be crass I would have went with "well, that explains why he's orange". Give me some credit.

Jeff Sparrow has been making the entirely valid point that these kinds of allegations of sexual depravity made by intelligence operatives against their foes, official or otherwise, are pretty much a cliche - remember the discovered "silk pyjamas, cocaine and porn" tableaux that were standard to 1990s regime change operations? - but still... roflmao, as the old folks say.

January 08, 2017

This is a good one, although it does rather give away much of the plot of Happy Feet.

Not having seen it, I was surprised the penguin movie has this much carnage.

December 30, 2016
For observation

It’s fun to hear Trump talk about how Rosebud somehow works, the metaphor works, “I don’t know why it works, but it works. After all, Steven Spielberg paid a lot of money for it, so it must work. Paid a lot of money, maybe seven figures, six figures.”
For psychiatrists and neurologists, at least, a tiny skerrick of silver lining to the election of the Orange Id (although it is apparently risky to point out such silver linings, however obvious, as Amanda Palmer has just discovered, because Twitter is a 21st Century Moloch of faux outrage and its hunger cannot be sated) will be the opportunity to watch how someone this profound a narcissist behaves inside the narcissism generating pressure cooker of national leadership, particularly within the utterly deranged bubble of reality-denial that is the Oval Office. Arguably, they've never not had such an opportunity, but this time I think such study will be made much easier by the flamboyantly clueless flagrancy that's about to be brought to the role.

December 26, 2016

...Santa's best defense is that the North Pole is—spoiler—really cold. The US Navy doesn't have any icebreakers, and the Coast Guard only has two, both of which are research vessels. (An amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act would have commissioned four new icebreakers, but that's still pending congressional approval.) And unlike the Russians and the Finns, the United States doesn't have any ground units specifically trained to handle polar climates.

... Even if an expeditionary force succeeds in taking the workshop, the elves' sheer numbers make the possibility of a post-invasion insurgency likely.
- "What Would Happen If We Really Went to War Against Christmas?" by Tim Murphy
In the twenty fifth year of this endless war, on the banks of Lake Saimaa, I finally killed my first Santa Claus. It was pure luck... honestly. Murphy's law dictated that my comrades in arms, who were all better trained than me, arrived late, were held up, or stuck in the viscous mire of some tar pit, were assailed by the cold as the heating systems of their suits started to fail. Better still, some were kicked to death by a swarm of reindeer that swooped down from the sky, like silent Furies. The few that survived had an immediate encounter with a group of elves, or were seduced by the terrible and almost irresistible offer of presents packed with our heart's desires. I don't know what happened to them. No corpses were left to tell the tale.
- "Silent Night" by João Barreiros

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