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Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Spectacle of Libya or Fasci-nation

Cyrenaica (the region of Benghazi today) was once known for producing philosophers espousing pleasure. Today it has tempted NATO to try Iraq version. 2.

Is it about oil? Sure After all, an account will be set up by the UN in which Libya's revenues will be held for safekeeping, perhaps at a French or British bank.

Is it about humanitarianism? Sure, that too. What would a postmodern world be without multiplicity after all, including a multiplicty of rationalizations? Which means....why not add one more to the mix?

What is underway in Libya now is a desperate attempt to reassert the primacy of the political, especially the importance of government. For awhile it almost disappeared, what with all the worry over the economy, jobs, Japan, popular revolutions. Not to mention that many are involved in the other, virtual, world of Facebook and Twitter.

Now though, governments are back in the spotlight; back in the driver's seat. They can turn up the bombing campaign when they need more attention on themselves and on their relevance. Or they can tune it down. It is all up to them. They are snake charmers. Dramatists on a stage stretching from Washington to Beijing. Observers now watch governments and leaders in suspense again (what else does Sarkozy need?). All captivated, me too...

Immigrant bashing in...Europe?!

To be sure. European countries do not have a great historical track record with a heterogeneous citizenry or what is called today, diversity.

Still the increasing immigrant bashing by politicians and passage of tough immigration legislation lately is worth consideration especially once the phenomenon hit Sweden or the Netherlands (!) and considering that the new policy amounts to demographic suicide for the Continent.
Postmodern theory, and especially post-structuralism has something to say about it though, namely, what would politics be without a dog to kick around? Politicians, perhaps even whole populations, find Others (in the post-structuralist sense) useful. Tough economic times? They did it. The immigrants did it. Blah blah. Scapegoating. Until relatively recently, Swedish politicians could not avail themselves of this tool. After all they only had 5% Lapps way up North. So they got the brilliant idea to import their Others from overseas into the towns so that they have someone they can blame for whatever happens. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The End of Power

You heard it here first…well, sort of. A thinker named Baudrillard once wrote of another thinker called Foucault and accused of him being obsolete. That Foucault could speak in such detail of power, extending so deeply into the social fabric as to be ‘capillary,’ only proves that power no longer matters, to ‘forget’ it, that it is dead.

What has been witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt and perhaps shortly, in Wisconsin all suggest that the standard locus of modern political power, the state or government, elected or not, is weakening. By this I mean that if power means getting another to do what they would otherwise not do, sustainably, then such power is surely dead. If there is power or influence today it is only the result of inertia, of nothing else ‘better’ for the moment until, of course, something else comes along (and it will come along, guaranteed, just ask Mubarak). 

My prediction therefore is for increased opportunism, smash and grab. Where power can no longer achieve its aims sustainably (i.e. without resort to force, or advertising, which are both expensive tools and which therefore detract from power) it shall settle for small, sudden windfalls instead. Case in point: Libya’s foreign assets totaling from 30-60 billion dollars. No sooner does one power node find itself unable to be sustained, does another then step in. It took very little time for western governments to freeze those massive assets, for the sake of the people of course…