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Arabica Robusta

The time of the nation: negotiating global modernity | openDemocracy - 0 views

  • This depoliticised nature of the contemporary, seen as the conceptual and experiential embodiment of globalised capitalism, consequently poses problems far more significant than the mere survival of the nation-state.
  • Undoubtedly, since the demise of the postmodern epoch in the popular and academic imagination, the acceleration of technological forces in commerce and communication - that have paved the way for increased capital accumulation, exchange and crisis - have only heightened what Foucault and Jameson gesture towards as a lived sensation of pure simultaneity.
  • In opposition to the crisis of the political generated by the false amalgamation of coeval living experiences, we might propose the concept of modernity; a concept that the nation-state might be perfectly situated to help elucidate. On this model, I would argue, modernity can be seen as linked to a increased self-consciousness of a secular conception of one's individual finitude (in the form of mortality but also one's personal and societal limits), and the collective negotiation of this issue via a democratic politics.
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  • Undoubtedly some of the impotence of movements such as Occupy can be attributed to the same false utopianism of a borderless world of cyber-communities and multinational companies, whose liberating effects have been a far cry from lived reality.
  • However, the heterotopian potential of the nation-state is vividly problematised through the realisation that twentieth or twenty-first century globalisation, divorced and independent of the influence of varying nation-states, is in fact a fallacy.
  • The question then becomes: how to conceive of the self-determining impulse of modernity - here encapsulated in nationalism - in the form of a  socio-political body that would be capable of maintaining that impulse through preserving the logic of democracy, and foster the requisite representative power in opposition to the power of transnational capitalism?
  • Borders are no longer simply dotted lines between nation-states, but often manifest themselves as ‘spontaneous’ entities such as security and health check zones all over major social and transit spaces, particularly in Europe and the West.
  • But how to conceive of a democratic entity powerful enough to appropriate the multiplicity and heterogeneity of globalised borders, that would also be able to withstand, what Balibar outlines as "the risk of being a mere arena for the unfettered domination of the private centres of power, which monopolise capital, communications and, perhaps also, arms"?
  • If this modern or modernist kernel is latent within the nation-state, then a significant reconfiguration is required since the language of nationhood and nationalism is certainly not one of contingent universality. Rather it is one of mythology: mythologies of ethnicity, of genealogy, of autochthony.
  • If we cannot do away with borders, then they must remain out of necessity. This necessity is discrimination. As Nairn rightly argues, "cultures...depend upon conflicts unsustainable without borders". Contrasts and distinctions are internal to any logic of identity, as Balibar similarly suggests; "the very representation of the border is the precondition for any definition". Once identity is philosophically understood as differential and not self-sufficient, globalisation raises a very modernist dilemma. How to make the very diversity (of choices, cultures, of the new) that modernisation and globalisation make possible, resist the paralysing repetitive logic of what Walter Benjamin terms the 'ever-same' (i.e. the temporality of the contemporary)?
  • The mythological language of nationalism asserts an enduring order, paradoxically so inasmuch as the precise origin or origins of any nationalist discourse remain a shrouded mystery. Myth, as structurally detached from historical or circumstantial origin, becomes a vehicle of interpretation and pathos, splitting into a potentially infinite number of manifestations in each 'national' subject (where each standardised narrative is appropriated as a personal one).
  • By arguing the case for global modernity in the form of the nation-state, however, one faces the immediate problem that modernity is almost unthinkable without capitalism (despite any such attempt to render modernity as a democratising force tied to a conception and experience of time).
  • Although the European tradition has established laws and institutions (including the nation-state) that remain significantly flawed, these still provide a democratic logic that guarantees the possibility of revision, of perfectibility, of the future. If the nation-state can embody a heterotopic space that permits identification through processes of willed negotiation and division, guaranteeing the possibility of the present to always be changed, then it might still serve as a tool for resistance.
Arabica Robusta

Bourdieu on neoliberalism - 0 views

  • Without a doubt, the practical establishment of this world of struggle would not succeed so completely without the complicity of all of the precarious arrangements that produce insecurity and of the existence of a reserve army of employees rendered docile by these social processes that make their situations precarious, as well as by the permanent threat of unemployment. This reserve army exists at all levels of the hierarchy, even at the higher levels, especially among managers. The ultimate foundation of this entire economic order placed under the sign of freedom is in effect the structural violence of unemployment, of the insecurity of job tenure and the menace of layoff that it implies. The condition of the "harmonious" functioning of the individualist micro-economic model is a mass phenomenon, the existence of a reserve army of the unemployed.
  • Economists may not necessarily share the economic and social interests of the true believers and may have a variety of individual psychic states regarding the economic and social effects of the utopia which they cloak with mathematical reason. Nevertheless, they have enough specific interests in the field of economic science to contribute decisively to the production and reproduction of belief in the neoliberal utopia. Separated from the realities of the economic and social world by their existence and above all by their intellectual formation, which is most frequently purely abstract, bookish, and theoretical, they are particularly inclined to confuse the things of logic with the logic of things.
  • All direct and conscious intervention of whatever kind, at least when it comes from the state, is discredited in advance and thus condemned to efface itself for the benefit of a pure and anonymous mechanism, the market, whose nature as a site where interests are exercised is forgotten. But in reality, what keeps the social order from dissolving into chaos, despite the growing volume of the endangered population, is the continuity or survival of those very institutions and representatives of the old order that is in the process of being dismantled, and all the work of all of the categories of social workers, as well as all the forms of social solidarity, familial or otherwise.
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  • Like it or not, the public interest will never emerge, even at the cost of a few mathematical errors, from the vision of accountants (in an earlier period one would have said of "shopkeepers") that the new belief system presents as the supreme form of human accomplishment.
Arabica Robusta

Latin America's Document-Driven Revolutions - washingtonpost.com - 0 views

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    This article makes important points about current Latin American constitution-writing but does not examine how such constitutions were written in the first place. The ability of people to argue that the Honduran constitution supports a coup, shows the importance of knowing the history of Latin American constitutions.
Dripa B

Inferring the Popularity of an Opinion From Its Familiarity: A Repetitive Voice Can Sou... - 1 views

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    Despite the importance of doing so, people do not always correctly estimate the distribution of opinions within their group. One important mechanism underlying such misjudgments is people's tendency to infer that a familiar opinion is a prevalent one, even when its familiarity derives solely from the repeated expression of 1 group member. Six experiments demonstrate this effect and show that it holds even when
    perceivers are consciously aware that the opinions come from 1 speaker. The results also indicate that the effect is due to opinion accessibility rather than a conscious inference about the meaning of opinion repetition in a group. Implications for social consensus estimation and social influence are discussed.
Dripa B

A Basic Income for All | Philippe Van Parijs (2000) - 0 views

  • productivity, wealth, and national incomes have advanced sufficiently far to support an adequate UBI. And if enacted, a basic income would serve as a powerful instrument of social justice: it would promote real freedom for all by providing the material resources that people need to pursue their aims. At the same time, it would help to solve the policy dilemmas of poverty and unemployment, and serve ideals associated with both the feminist and green movements.
  • in 1999, the Alaska Permanent Fund paid each person of whatever age who had been living in Alaska for at least one year an annual UBI of $1,680.
  • By universal basic income I mean an income paid by a government, at a uniform level and at regular intervals, to each adult member of society. The grant is paid, and its level is fixed, irrespective of whether the person is rich or poor, lives alone or with others, is willing to work or not. In most versions–certainly in mine–it is granted not only to citizens, but to all permanent residents.
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  • The idea of the UBI is at least 150 years old. Its two earliest known formulations were inspired by Charles Fourier, the prolific French utopian socialist. In 1848, while Karl Marx was finishing off the Communist Manifesto around the corner, the Brussels-based Fourierist author Joseph Charlier published Solution of the Social Problem, in which he argued for a "territorial dividend" owed to each citizen by virtue of our equal ownership of the nation’s territory. The following year, John Stuart Mill published a new edition of his Principles of Political Economy, which contains a sympathetic presentation of Fourierism ("the most skillfully combined, and with the greatest foresight of objections, of all the forms of Socialism") rephrased so as to yield an unambiguous UBI proposal: "In the distribution, a certain minimum is first assigned for the subsistence of every member of the community, whether capable or not of labour. The remainder of the produce is shared in certain proportions, to be determined beforehand, among the three elements, Labour, Capital, and Talent."
  • It was seriously discussed by left-wing academics such as G. D. H. Cole and James Meade in England between the World Wars and, via Abba Lerner, it seems to have inspired Milton Friedman’s proposal for a "negative income tax."6 But only since the late-1970s has the idea gained real political currency in a number of European countries, starting with the Netherlands and Denmark.
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    If you really care about freedom, give people an unconditional income at a level sufficient for subsistence. Productivity, wealth, and national incomes have advanced sufficiently far to support an adequate UBI. And if enacted, a basic income would serve as a powerful instrument of social justice: it would promote real freedom for all by providing the material resources that people need to pursue their aims. At the same time, it would help to solve the policy dilemmas of poverty and unemployment, and serve ideals associated with both the feminist and green movements.
Arabica Robusta

Democracy and democracy-support: a new era | open Democracy News Analysis - 0 views

  • The "end of the end of history" has many architects. Today, several states (an increasingly assertive Russia and China in particular) embody alternative political models that have come to challenge any notion of liberal-democratic hegemony; others (such as Venezuela and Iran) experiment with forms of rule that too take them further away from its orbit. These models and forms face many problems of their own, but they may not be quite as unattractive - either to the people of these countries or to many observers around the world - as lingering triumphalists in the west might assume.
  • There has been a tendency to focus the work of democracy-support in very practical ways: toolkits, implementation, strategy and policy. This was and remains essential; but there is also a need to reflect on the underpinnings of these practices in how democracy itself is understood in this new, testing global environment.
  • The dominance of a liberal-democratic conception with an American accent is reflected in the overwhelming predominance of United States institutions, academics, journals - and ideas - in the democracy-support "industry". Again, this is not in itself a problem: all discourses of democracy are grounded in specific social-political contexts and  power-relations. But the current circumstances of the kind described above - authoritarian challenges, stalled democratic transitions, discontent with democracy, deep and growing economic problems - suggest that an expanded understanding of democracy might be a route towards a healthy redefinition of democracy-support.
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  • This is not to advocate a simplistic "mix and match" approach, but to suggest that a creative inclusion of new elements from different sources could contribute to democracy's rethinking from within.
  • For most people, at the heart of democracy is toleration of difference combined with an openness to listen to a plurality of voices and opinions. This makes it more than a little strange that there is so little debate over what democracy can and should mean in relation to democracy-support. The logic here is that democracy-support itself needs to be "democratised" - in part by engaging in continuing dialogue, interaction and learning between communities moving to democracy and those seeking to support these processes.
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    This article is good in that it advocates examination of the many models of democratization/democracy. However, it does not adequately question the terms of the debate, in particularly looking more deeply at how the movement is driven and what the role of corporations and other key exploiters (members of the "capital class"?) is.
Tracy Viselli

The White House - Blog Post - Latest version of SCHIP legislation published for comment - 0 views

    • Tracy Viselli
       
      There are already over 200 Diigo members who read whitehouse.gov and pages like this.
Dripa B

An Answer to the Question: "What is Enlightenment?" | Immanuel Kant (1784) - 0 views

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    This remains one of the best texts of the permanent struggle for Enlightenment -- values that assert universal human freedom, dignity and equality. Values that include internationalism, participatory and representative democracy based. These values inform our struggleto end of political and social domination of persons and societies globally. - Zackie Achmat
Erich Christoph-Borger

Goldregen in China? - 0 views

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    Irgendwie sind doch unsere Sportler hochgelobt worden. Unsere Olympioniken waren die besten, die schnellsten und die stärksten Sportler der Welt. Aber so wie es sich langsam herauskristallisiert, siehts garnicht rosig aus. Es regnet noch keine Medaillen. Der Goldregen wird wohl über China,
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