Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Nino Scalia Really Meant

My first reaction to Antonin Scalia's claim that the Voting Rights Act is a "racial entitlement" was pretty much the same as the author of this New Yorker article.

While I continue to believe that Nino (as Scalia's friends call him) is a racist (for lack of a better word), that does not fully explain what he said.

How does requiring federal scrutiny of changes to voting laws in states that historically used their voting laws to prevent blacks from voting result in a "racial entitlement"?

Well, the only way you can solve this riddle is by recognizing that race is not the only variable at play in its equation.  The other variable is class.

So what Unka Nino actually meant was that there is no impediment to screwing poor white people out of their vote in states that don't have a history discriminating against racial minorities.  Screwing poor people out of their vote is the real goal, and the Voting Rights Act makes that harder to do in states that have a history of screwing poor racial minorities out of their vote.  But for the fact that the po' folk tend to be black in such states, they would-- and should-- be fair game.

So says Unka Nino.

The Politics of Disimagination

This piece from Henry A.Giroux is the kind of thing I instinctively find appealing.  Thoughtful, insightful, aware.

But there is something very wrong with it.  What?

The piece itself seems to be part of the "Disimagination Machine" Giroux bemoans.  Giroux describes "that the politics of disimagination refers to images, and I would argue institutions, discourses, and other modes of representation, that undermine the capacity of individuals to bear witness to a different and critical sense of remembering, agency, ethics and collective resistance."  And what is Giroux's solution to this problem?
Against the politics of disimagination, progressives, workers, educators, young people and others need to develop a a new language of radical reform and create new public spheres that provide the pedagogical conditions for critical thought, dialogue and thoughtful deliberation. At stake here is a notion of pedagogy that both informs the mind and creates the conditions for modes of agency that are critical, informed, engaged and socially responsible. The radical imagination can be nurtured around the merging of critique and hope, the capacity to connect private troubles with broader social considerations, and the production of alternative formative cultures that provide the precondition for political engagement and for energizing democratic movements for social change - movements willing to think beyond isolated struggles and the limits of a savage global capitalism.
Giroux sees the many problems of the current system, but he places the blame at the rulers of that system instead of the system itself.  And he assumes that if we just educate people and teach them how to think critically, we will somehow overcome the inherent nature of the system and find Nirvana.  Talk about a lack of imagination!

You can lead a person to knowledge, but you can't make him think.  Giroux simultaneously demonstrates and ignores this sad fact.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Three Blogs, Three Takes on "Being"

Contrary to the assumptions of Western Thought, "Being" is a process, not a state.  We can only change what it means "to be" if we change the inputs to that process.

Toby gets this.  By changing how we think about value in society, we can change the magnitude and direction of the output of the process that is Being.  Note: "Being" can only be measured by a vector, not by a scalar.

Russ gets this, too. By taking responsibility for our own power, we can take it back and, thereby, change the magnitude and direction of the output of the process that is Being.

CHS does not get this.  CHS concentrates on the "right size of units" of Capitalism. i.e., its state as quantified by a scalar, while ignoring that the process of Capitalism, which he champions, is inherently violent to competition and actually demands "one firm (ring) to rule them all."  In other words, the magnitude and direction of Capitalism is inherently the centralized power that CHS claims to abhor.  CHS clearly blinds himself to the process of Being, just as we are all encouraged to do by Western Thought.  As a result, CHS champions Capitalism while he demands something that is not Capitalism.    The term "useful idiot" comes to mind, and for that I apologize to CHS, who seems to be a genuine "good guy" (like so many other commentators I like and respect but disagree with, e.g., Krugman, Yves, Bill Black, etc.).

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Survival of the Fittest Conspiracy

Social Darwinism is a lie.  No individual, regardless of his or her worth, can hope to compete against a conspiracy.  Indeed, the concept of Social Darwinism is a conspiracy that has enticed many an individual who is/was otherwise not self-aware.

The social power of any individual is determined not by his or her personal evolved state but by the deference of others.  The power you wield is entirely a function of the power others yield to you.  Without the collective, the individual is nothing.

Chew on that.