Archive for the ‘politicizing’ Category


Flash report: apparently, there is a revolution in Spain.

What does it take for France to get used to fascist junk? Claude Guéant, France’s minister of the interior, provides some help whit that question: “French people have the feeling that uncontrolled migratory flows change their environment, they are not xenophobic but they want France to remain France” (“Claude Géant: Les Français veulent que la France reste la France”, Le Monde, 15 March 2011, linked in “A Paris, Le FN défile ‘en l’honneur des travailleurs'”, Le Monde, 1 May 2011). But what about the French people who do not have that feeling at all? Easy: they are not truly French.

Luc Boltanski, on the social-racial urge of Sarkozy’s clique and their war against the Roma:

“Political blasphemy consists in shaking moral standards, in proclaiming loud and clear a discourse of hate that is usually censored or hidden. This has always been the strategy of the extreme right. Adopted now by the current power in place, it has two objectives. The first is to remove censorship over hatred. The second is to provoke the moral consciousness of those who are worried by this discourse of hate, to shock them, to make them react so as to tighten the border between the “idealists”, who are depicted as irresponsible, and the “realists and courageous”, those who are truly responsible, those who can speak and act in the name of a silent majority.” (Luc Boltanski, “Nous ne débattrons pas de la ‘question Rom'”, Médiapart, September 13 2010)

This is very much true. But would that mean that counter-blasphemy would be a fair way to respond? Would an intellectual among the “idealists” be compelled to utter something such as, for instance, “Sarkozy, if you like France that much, go and stick it in your ass”? Wow, that would be too wild. A bad idea. (And sticking something in one’s ass is a form of love, after all).

Counter-blasphemy is a difficult political technique.

The Fassin brothers (Didier Fassin, anthropologist, and Eric Fassin, sociologist) object, in an interesting opinion piece (“Misère du culturalisme”, Le Monde, September 30 2010), to the general climate of rehabilitation of the Moynihan Report. In France, for instance, a couple of recent books (here and here) just added another layer to the “we should not remain blind to the question of their ethnic origins” motto (note the deictics) in the national conversation on anti-social behavior.

Quite nicely put by Jackson Lears:

“Since 9/11, a cult of the warrior has settled over America like morning fog over the Mekong Delta.” (Jackson Lears, 2010, “Mad Monkey”, London Review of Books, vol. 32 n. 18, 23 September)

A scrutiny of the mentality behind a recent bestselling war novel — with reference to the foundational, thrilling “I do not know the meaning of the universe” Holmes quote — leads alas to the sad objection:

“The political questions remains: why are these men in that place? Who is responsible? Is this what we want? Until we learn how to ask them more insistently, we will be stuck with the demons of Vietnam, which won’t be exorcised any time soon, and more imperial misadventures are on the way. There it is.” (Jackson Lears, 2010, “Mad Monkey”, London Review of Books, vol. 32 n. 18, 23 September)

The Test Society blog proudly presents the first of a series of qualitative indicators on pre-fascist tendencies. This one, still in development, consists in spotting books displaying the notion of “vampire” to refer to any collective instance of the Great Oriental Menace, and openly getting a mainstream media nod. For today’s indicator hit, the vampires are the Chinese:  Philippe Cohen and Luc Richard’s Le Vampire du Milieu: comment la Chine nous dicte sa loi (advertised here, here, here or even here).

A more refined version of the indicator shall include in the future a correlation between the use of “vampires” and the use of political deictics, in particular of the resourceful “them or us” thing (today’s finding is a gem in that sense: the title reads “The Middle Vampire: How China Imposes its Law upon Us”).

It’s interesting how the French police contributes to the enhancement of the political education of students at Sciences Po:

“Police reacted with deliberate and overtly racist violence during celebrations in Paris after Algeria’s footballing victory over Egypt last Wednesday, a French student of Moroccan descent has alleged. In an account written on his Facebook page immediately after the events, and re-printed as the lead story in French daily Libération on Tuesday, 21-year-old Anyss Arbib claims he was assaulted for no reason, sprayed with mace and called a “dirty Arab”. Arbib, a fourth-year student at Paris’s elite Sciences-Po (Political Sciences) university, went into central Paris from his home in the northern suburbs of Bondy to celebrate Algeria’s victory with friends. ” (from “Have your say: French police violence”, France 24, November 24 2009)

With special encouragement from the Dean:

“It was not until a day later however, that Arbib decided to publish his account, after Sciences Po dean, Richard Descoings, encouraged him to do so.” (from “Alleged victim of police brutality told by uni dean it was “essential to publicise account”, France 24, November 24 2009)

Even Eric Besson, Sarkozy’s man for immigration and national identity, seems to be looking forward to meet this newly formed politician (see “Le cabinet de Besson contacte le ‘sale Arabe’ de Sciences-Po”, Rue89, November 24 2009). Congratulations to the forces de l’ordre for this pedagogical contribution! Students from prestigious foreign schools in political sciences (here, here, etc.) can now increase their curricula with just a spontaneous encounter with the CRS in central Paris. And it’s free!

Comparing something to something else (say, today’s France to the Vichy Regime) does not mean that this something and that something else are exactly identical. They are just comparable, which means that the resemble at least a little bit. So let’s compare:

“On Monday 5 October the film-maker José Chidlovsky was summoned to the offices of the French border police at Toulouse-Blagnac airport. Chidlovsky is currently filming a documentary called Journal de sans-papiers. This feature-length documentary, filmed in Paris and Toulouse, is due to be completed in 2010. It follows the experiences of several people without residence permits who live in fear of being deported. Amongst them is a young Algerian woman threatened with being escorted to the border and suffering from severe emotional stress. José Chidlovsky is accused of having provided accommodation for the young woman at his home in Toulouse. […] Eric Besson, the Minister for Immigration insists that assisting illegal immigrants, the so-called “offence of solidarity”, is not a crime in France. Yet for having “housed a person in an illegal situation” José Chidlovsky risks a prison sentence. According to his lawyer Pascal Nakache, the prosecutor can either close the case or send the documentary maker before the criminal court.” (from “Film-Maker Accused of Assisting ann Illegal Immigrant”, translation of “Un cinéaste poursuivi pour délit de solidarité”, L’Humanité, October 6 2009) (and see here for a solidarity campaign)

What should a fine comparison start with? With nazis marching in leather boots? Well, no. Not with that, of course. That would be silly.

Some new guys on the block, Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi, just let us know that the GDP doesn’t represent the economy correctly: it may be leaving out the world.

Choices between promoting GDP and protecting the environment may be
false choices, once environmental degradation is appropriately included in our
measurement of economic performance.

“Choices between promoting GDP and protecting the environment may be false choices, once environmental degradation is appropriately included in our measurement of economic performance.”

Indeed. So once a controversy is “appropriately” built into the measuring device, beyond politics, no arguing is necessary. Same old game.

Will Davies is the author of Reinventing the Firm, a Demos report made available today. A praise for corporate pluralism and financial mutuality:

“Capitalism is always a curious mixture of liberalism and despotism. It grants freedom, equality and participation with one hand, while it imposes orders, hierarchy and inequality with the other. We barely notice that we live schizophrenic economic lives, in which half our waking hours are spent being indulged and obeyed as sovereign consumers, while the other half is spent being ordered around as employees. But in neither case are we treated as responsible adults. To live responsibly, both as consumers and as workers, would mean exercising economic freedom with a sense of the stakes involved. The liberal and the despotic elements of capitalism would be brought a little closer together, so that freedom was never untrammelled and power never unaccountable. At the centre of an argument for employee ownership is a
subtly different vision of how economic power should be organised and utilised. Managers possess a greater sense of accountability to the employees who own the firm, while employees acquire a greater sense of responsibility for the assets that they are tasked with using and developing. An alternative form of autonomy is at work, that is very different from that demanded by the investors and executives that control listed companies.” (from Will Davies, 2009, Reinventing the Firm, Demos, 2009, p. 61)

See also “Mutuality would be a good fit for the Tories”, Financial Times, September 10 2009.