Sunday, December 20, 2009

Do Rabbis Dream of Holy Sheep?

Haaretz: Rabbis and teachers from Hesder yeshivas, which offer Torah studies alongside military service, released a letter to students in which they reiterated their assertion that soldiers must refuse orders if they are commanded to evacuate settlements, arguing that Torah law is above the Israel Defense Forces.

The letter emphasizes the importance of enlisting to the military, but instructs soldiers to adhere to Jewish law when it conflicts with orders handed down from superiors.

This letter comes as yeshiva heads closed ranks around Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, whose declarations in support of soldier insubordination caused Defense Minister Ehud Barak to oust his Har Bracha yeshiva from its hesder arrangement with the IDF.

"Unfortunately, the IDF has been used for purposes unrelated to Israel's defense and directly opposed to God's wishes for quite some time," the rabbis wrote in the letter. "This situation faces IDF soldiers with a contradiction between Jewish commandments and commanders' orders


Alain Badiou: What the patricians and bishops want is no doubt the pure and simple conservation of the previous order. In this sense, the past is illuminated for them by the night of the present. But, on the other hand, this night must be produced under the entirely new conditions which are displayed in the world by the rebel body and its emblem. The obscurity into which the newly produced present must be enclosed is engineered by an obscurantism of a new type. For example, it is futile to try to genealogically elucidate contemporary political Islamism. This is particularly true of its ultrareactionary variants, which rival Westerners for the fruits of the oil map through unprecedented criminal means. This political Islamism represents a new instrumentalization of religion—from which it does not derive by any natural (or ‘rational’) lineage—with the purpose of occulting the postsocialist present and countering the fragmentary attempts through which emancipation is being reinvented by means of a full Tradition or Law. From this point of view, political Islamism is absolutely contemporary, both to the faithful subjects that produce the present of political experimentation and to the reactive subjects that busy themselves with denying that ruptures are necessary in order to invent a humanity worthy of the name— reactive subjects that parade the established order as the miraculous bearer of an uninterrupted emancipation. Political Islamism is simply one of the subjectivated names of today’s obscurantism.

That is why, besides the form of the faithful subject and that of the reactive subject, we must give the obscure subject its rightful place.

In the panic sown by Spartacus and his troops, the patrician—and the Vendean bishop, and the Islamist conspirator, and the fascist of the thirties—systematically resorts to the invocation of a full and pure transcendent Body, an ahistorical or anti-evental body (City, God, Race. . .) from which it follows that the trace will be denied (here, the labour of the reactive subject is useful to the obscure subject) and, as a consequence, the real body, the divided body, will also be suppressed. Invoked by the priests (the imams, the leaders. . .), the essential Body has the power to reduce to silence that which affirms the event, thus forbidding the real body from existing.

Transcendent power tries to produce a double effect, which can be given
a fictional expression in the figure of a Roman notable. First of all, he will say, it is entirely false that the slaves want to and can return home. Furthermore, there is no legitimate body that can be the bearer of this false statement. The army of Spartacus must therefore be annihilated, the City will see to it. This double annihilation, both spiritual and material—which explains why so many priests have blessed so many troops of butchers—is itself exposed within appearing, above that which is occulted, namely the present as such.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mao on Complacency and Conceit:

9. Conceited people cannot forget their merits. They hide their own shortcomings and disregard other people’s strong points. They often compare their own merits with other people’s demerits, thereby drawing satisfaction. When they see the strong points of others, they say ‘Not much,’ or ‘Nothing to make a song and dance about.’

10. In fact, the more one overrates oneself, the worse the result is likely to be. Leo Tolstoy, the great Russian writer, put it humorously:

‘A man is like a mathematical fraction, whose actual talent can be compared to a numerator and his own estimate of it to a denominator. The bigger the denominator, the smaller the fraction.’

11. Modesty is a necessary virtue for every revolutionary. It benefits the people’s cause whereas conceit leads the people’s cause to defeat. Therefore modesty is an expression of one’s responsibility to the people’s cause.

12. A revolutionary in name and practice must be able to: First, respect the creativeness of the masses, listen to their views, and regard himself as one of the masses. He must not have a single grain of selfishness or exaggerate his own role and must work honestly for the masses. This is the spirit which Lu Hsun describes as ‘Hanging my head low, I willingly serve as the young people’s ox.’ This is modesty.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Badiou at the Gates of Dawn

Standard Turkish response to Chico Marx’s famous line “Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?” goes like this: “I neither believe you, nor my eyes, I believe in commonplaces and stereotypes.” It does not denote a normal functioning big Other which guarantees the stability of belief underlying the effectiveness of symbolic exchange. At the same time, it defies Zizek’s well known diagnosis of “the demise of symbolic efficiency” in the late capitalist society which, paraphrasing Lacan, enables everyone to acknowledge that the emperor is naked whereas he really is naked but the reality of his nudity resides in the fictional cloths pertain to his symbolic identity: In these times, it does not matter whether the emperor is naked or not, since we have lost the obligatory belief in symbolic mandate that assigns certain cloths to different identities and thereby provides the fundamental ground for communication. However, modern Turkish version of Sufi mysticism, to be precise, Sufi mysticism with bourgeois twist sublated in the prevailing ideological conviction what Badiou calls as “democratic materialism” mobilizes a perverse conception of world through a double disavowal. It does not only struggle to negate the determinative authority of social register with regard to mutual recognition among subjects, but also disavows the distance between imaginary and symbolic identities, confers the authority upon the former and thus, submerges the social reality into stream of fantasy. Let me give you a couple of examples to clarify this completely perplexing procedure. In the regular mechanism of democracy, if not a rule, it is without doubt being a typical politician entails maintaining a double life between a corrupt and cruel businessmen or a mediator on the private level and being a reliable moralist in front of public. But, in the inverted world of democratic materialist mysticism peculiar to Turks, it is completely acceptable to be affected by all the conceivable temptations of market as long as one manages to enjoy the possession of certain imaginary identities (Muslim, Kemalist, Nationalist, etc) promising that its holder walks on the pathway to unification with a certain ideal (god, republic, national identity, etc). Therefore, it does not matter what you say or what they see, what only counts is your imaginary insignia in the social fantasy. But one thing we have to notice is, far from being a sign of dominance of spiritual idealism counter to the heartless reality of commodity exchange, mystical element serves as the ideological pillar that supports the very brutality of social relations. It may surprise you how racism is prevalent in both official state discourse and practice, in political and everyday language, but yet it is impossible to find a single racist since in the spiritual level the word “racism” does not signify any form of discrimination. Thus, its practice in reality is unfettered from unpleasant criticisms.

Alain Badiou quotes Mao’s objection concerning one of the elementary Stalinist distortions of communism, namely depoliticization of the will aspiring after equality:

“All of this relates to the superstructure, that is, to ideology. Stalin speaks only of the economy; he does not deal with politics.”

So far, Turkish politicians, our leaders and their spokesmen have neither dealt with economy, nor politics. Or more precisely, they deal both with economy and politics as if they are insignificant topics in great spiritual debate, as inevitable conspiracy against people in the long path to ideals. Their axiom is:

“There are only bodies and languages, except that there are spiritual truths”

We screw the former with the latter. This is our version of “democratic materialism”

La Voie en Rose

She said "Frankly, my dear, follow the pink brick road"

Roll me up tight, kick me fast
I'm the hardest woolen ball you'll ever cast
Into this la voie en rose

When you dismiss me lolcats sigh
And tho I can't believe your eyes
I see la voie en rose

And when you chide.. an angel bows
Ordinary paws seem... to wear valvet gloves
Suddenly a child castratingly grows:
I hide away if you shout Heiddeger!
and appear when you say Simone de Beauvoir
halfway through la voie en rose

Monday, November 16, 2009

Logics of Worlds

Download: Logics of Worlds

While I was seriously thinking to squander the rest of my bankroll in Forex and eventually try kill myself in which I would probably fail just to add an insult to the existential injury, I just discovered that, after nine months of waiting, a perfect pdf copy of Alain Badiou's "Logics of Worlds" has made it to the Internet. I will spend the next week by reading the Master, taking notes, worshiping his genius, praying to him for redemption and striving to figure out how I can fabricate a modest subject out of the defected shell and rotten kernel of this human animal. I intend to publish my misunderstandings in the upcoming days.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Revolutionary Twist of a Collage

It takes two songs from the Great Depression era two forge a revolutionary song which alludes to the reign of terror, the essential phantasmatic supplement of emancipatory politics: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" and "We're in the Money". The result is impressive:

We never see a headline about breadlines today
Half a million boots went slogging through Hell
And when we see the landlord we can look that guy right in the eye
Say, don't you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Plastic Jesus and The Saint of Steel

(In Stuart Rosenberg's 1967 classic "Cool Hand Luke", Paul Newman plays a modern saint)

"In 1956, Lacan proposed a short and clear definition of the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit is the entry of the signifier into the world. This is certainly what Freud brought us under the title of death drive.” What Lacan means, at this moment of his thought, is that the Holy Spirit stands for the symbolic order as that which cancels (or, rather, suspends) the entire domain of “life”—lived experience, the libidinal flux, the wealth of emotions, or, to put it in Kant’s terms, the “pathological.” When we locate ourselves within the Holy Spirit, we are transubstantiated, we enter another life beyond the biological one."
(Zizek, The Puppet and the Dwarf)


"Christianity follows the Jewish religion in occluding the dimension of the Holy. What we do find in Christianity is something of quite another order: the idea of the saint, which is the exact opposite of the priest in service of the Holy. The priest is a 'functionary of the Holy'; there is no Holy without its officials, without the bureaucratic machinery supporting it, organizing its ritual, from the Aztecs' official of human sacrifice to the modern sacred state or army rituals. The saint, on the contrary, occupies the place of objet petit a, of pure object, of somebody undergoing radical subjective destitution. He enacts no ritual, he conjures nothing, he just persists in his inert presence.

We can now understand why Lacan saw in Antigone a forerunner of Christ's sacrifice: in her persistence, Antigone is a saint, definitely not priestess. This is why we must oppose all attempts to domesticate her, to tame her by concealing the frightening strangeness, 'inhumanity', apathetic character of her figure, making of her a gentle protectress of family and household who evokes our compassion and offers herself as a point of identification. In Sophocles' Antigone, the figure with which we can identify is her sister Ismene - kind, considerate, sensitive, prepared to give way and compromise, pathetic, 'human', in contrast to Antigone, who goes to the limit, who ' doesn't give way on her desire' (Lacan) and becomes, in this persistence in the 'death drive', in the being-towards-death, frighteningly ruthless, exempted from the circle of everyday feelings and considerations, passions and fears. In other words, it is Antigone herself who necessarily evokes in us, pathetic everyday compassionate creatures, the question 'What does she really want?', the question which precludes any identification with her." (Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Impartial Butterflies

I was studying the literature on Moon Landing Hoax a while ago, not because I’m concerned whether it is a hoax or not but just for its entertainment value. After a rigorous examination of arguments from both opponents and proponents, I felt obliged to admit that it is really a hoax, to the extent that everyone believes in the last analysis his dissidents are part of a hoax, if not just a foolish victim of ideological manipulation at best. This peculiar situation resembles Lacan’s reference to the famous dream of Zhuangzi. Lacan revises the dream which in his account situates Zhuangzi in position of the butterfly who knows he is only dreaming and asks this crucial question: “Is it not here that the: I am only dreaming, is only precisely what masks the reality of the look?” In the both controversial cases of Moon landing and Obama’s birth certificate, seriously engaged subject is a hoaxter, who is rightfully aware that it is just a dream. But it is his very consciousness which masks the reality of situation, the Real, does not resides in validity of certificates or “R” marks on allegedly prop moon rocks. It inhabits the look which investigates reality in differences and irregularities of a situation.

The loss of the real in the decline of symbolic marks the consciousness of hoaxters, paraphrasing Hegel’s allusion in “Phenomenology of Spirit”, that a plant is a suspicious creature on which “bursting-forth of the blossom” negates the bud, and subsequently the fruit refutes the blossoming and the winter postpones the question just to be re-emerged in the next spring. Alain Badiou’s one of the four affirmations against ordinary philosophy is “Situations are nothing more, in their being, than pure indifferent multiplicities. Consequently it is pointless to search amongst differences for anything that might play a normative role. If truths exist, they are certainly indifferent to differences.” Doesn’t his assertion resemble Lenin’s refusal that there is no neutral political non-engagement in a society brutally divided by class antagonisms. The reality is there is no choice except we are either socialists or the proponents of bourgeois ideology. One might be a self-conscious butterfly, who knows he is a man, but as long as “I” remains as a stain on the scene that distorts the reality that he is a part of this dream composition, he completely misses the Real of what he sees.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm Only Dreaming

"But, I am going to allow myself to suppose that this dream was incorrectly reported. Choang-tsu, when he dreamt he was a butterfly, said to himself: "it is only a dream" - which is, I assure you, in complete conformity with his mentality. He does not doubt for an instant being able to overcome this tiny problem of his identity of being Choang-tsu. He says to himself: "it is only a dream" and it is precisely in this that it lacks reality. For, in so far as the I of Choang-tsu depends on the following - which is essential for any condition of the subject - namely, that the object is seen, there is nothing which better allows there to be surmounted the traitorous aspect of this world of vision, in so far as it is supposed to support this sort of collection (however we may call it: world or extension), of which the subject is supposed to be the only support and the only mode of existence. What gives the con-sistency of this subject in so far as he sees, namely, in so far as he only has the geometry of his vision, in so far as he can say to the other: "this is on the right" and "this is on the left" and "this is inside" and "this is outside" what allows him to be situated as I, if not the following - which I already underlined for you at one time - that he is himself a picture in this visible world, that the butterfly is here nothing other than what designates him for his part as stain and as what is original in the stain in the emergence, at the level of the organism, of something which will become vision.

It is indeed in so far as the I itself is a stain on a ground and that what he is going to question about what he sees, is very precisely what he cannot rediscover and what slips away, this origin of the look - how much more tangible and manifest by being articulated for us than the light of the sun - to inaugurate what is of the order of I in the scoptophilic relation.

Is it not here that the : I am only dreaming, is only precisely what masks the reality of the look, in so far as it is to be discovered?" (Jacques Lacan, Seminar 14: The Logic of Fantasy)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Enjoy Your Zelig! Part One

Like most of us, I prefer Woody Allen’s early movies but not for the fact that, as he also assumes (Stardust Memories), they are funnier than his later works, but because they reflect the authentic core of our subjectivity, i.e. we are helpless victims and anonymous puppets of the spontaneous ideology and we are nobody in the social game unless we cannot strive hard to attach ourselves to a Truth. Just as in the case of Chaplin (with the exception of The Great Dictator, where he acquires a proper subjectivity through fidelity to the French revolution), in the end it is usually the Truth of Love what provides subjective consciousness to that humble and neurotic New Yorker.

I was pondering over his “Zelig” in the last couple of days, probably the only movie that I’ve so strongly identified with its main character. However, every time I attempted to write on it, I found myself rambling through various texts from the obvious “Being and Event” to the unimaginable (in the sense of its loose connection with the subject) “What is to be Done.” Finally, I’ve arrived to the conclusion that “Zelig” is not simply a movie about a human chameleon who eventually constructs a consistent personal identity through unconditional love and positive transference of a well intentioned psychoanalyst. But, Leonard Zelig himself is the symptom of the world where we love or hate the other only in the condition that he or she complements the image of our own and fits in our fantasy scene. Thus, it is actually the psychoanalyst (Farrow) who is redeemed from her fantasy of attaining recognition and fame by curing a helpless patient who has a unique disorder. She escapes from her narcissistic illusions and realizes her own nakedness in the symbolic order not by the recognition of many but by the recognition and love of one peculiar man.

Here lies the essential perversion of aggressive Kantian ontology which is clearly discernible in Sasha Baron Cohen’s latest movie Brüno. It is not a movie about a homosexual man who exposures the prejudices ossified in the symbolic order with hostile and obscene jokes, rather, it is about the anxiety of society in front of the evil neighbor, a sociopath who metaphysically assumes subjectivity out of thin air, who duplicates the objective violence regulating the symbolic order with his or her pseudo-antagonist subjectivity (whether he is an intrusive homosexual or a vulgar immigrant) which has already been conditioned by the spontaneous ideology. Therefore, for the very reason that his character supplements our own image, fits in our fantasy, Mr. Cohen leaves no room that enables us to escape from the fantasy scene where we are horrified against the evil neighbor "who exploits our work without compensation, to use us sexually without our consent, to appropriate our goods, to humiliate us, to inflict suffering on us, to torture and kill us." Far from exposing our homophobic prejudices, Sasha Baron Cohen’s character Brüno is a proper pervert not because of his sexual position, but because he offers his homosexuality for the enjoyment of the dominant ideologies, and as a result, he actually supplements our narrow-mindedness and thwarts any possible attempt to overcome narcissism from the beginning.

Lenin’s critique of the Economism that cherishes spontaneity of the working class movement was: “...that all worship of the spontaneity of the working class movement, all belittling of the role of “the conscious element”, of the role of Social-Democracy, means, quite independently of whether he who belittles that role desires it or not, a strengthening of the influence of bourgeois ideology upon the workers.”

Friday, July 24, 2009

Petite Bourgeoisie Hysteria in Honduras

Socialist Unity: "Eight thousand mainly upper and middle class Hondurans, dressed in the blue and white colours of the national flag, yesterday marched through the capital, Tegucigalpa, in support of the country´s newly installed military dictatorship.

“We are here to support peace and democracy”, retired Colonel Wilfredo Sanchez told supporters at a half filled baseball stadium in the city´s downtown area.
Lorena Facusse, president of a logistal company, told the Morning Star that she “didn't like CNN”, describing the US-based news channel as the “Communist News Network”.

“Chavez has been pitting rich people against poor people”, she said. “Manuel Zelaya wants to destroy the middle class”

“The military are the heroes” she insisted."


"Everybody, of course, has seen the small owner bend every effort and strain every nerve to "get on in the world", to become a real master, to rise to the position of a “strong” employer, to the position of a bourgeois. As long as capitalism rules the roost, there is no alternative for the small owner other than becoming a capitalist (and that is possible at best in the case of one small owner out of a hundred), or becoming a ruined man, a semi-proletarian, and ultimately a proletarian. The same is true in politics: the petty-bourgeois democrats, especially their leaders, tend to trail after the bourgeoisie. The leaders of the petty-bourgeois democrats console their people with promises and assurances about the possibility of reaching agreement with the big capitalists; at best, and for a very brief period, they obtain certain minor concessions from the capitalists for a small upper section of the working people; but on every decisive issue, on every important matter, the petty-bourgeois democrats have always tailed after the bourgeoisie as a feeble appendage to them, as an obedient tool in the hands of he financial mangates" (Lenin, Lessons of the Revolution)

"The structure of desire, as desire of the Other, is shown more clearly in hysteria than in any other clinical structure; the hysteric is precisely someone who appropriates another’s desire by identifying with them. For example Dora identifies with Herr K, taking as her own the desire which she perceives him to have for Frau K. However, as the case of Dora also shows, the hysteric only sustains the desire of the Other on condition that she is not the object of that desire; she cannot bear to be taken as the object of desire because that would revive the wound of privation." (Dylan Evans, An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Carnival of Socialism

(The latest Carnival of Socialism is hosted by Renegade Eye. He is kind enough to mention my pseudo-Lacanian piece of humor. I strongly recommend Mao Zedong's conversation with his niece Wang Hai-Jung and Madam Miaow's analysis on Uighur uprising)


The Carnival of Socialism # 40 is here. At it's description profile it says, "The Carnival of Socialism attempts to bring a fortnightly round up of everything that's going on in the global socialist blogosphere." Hopfully this carnival, will introduce a few new blogs for your consideration, at other carnivals as well.

Kasama caught my interest with a post entitled Mao Zedong: Should Reactionaries Have Free Speech?.

American Left History should be a regular stop on your blog reading. This blog centers on American history and culture, from a socialist view. Markin's love of history and art shine through.

The Third Estate managed to interview political icon in the UK Tony Benn.

Left in East Dakota notes Obama's base being disillusioned with him.

Worker's Press criritiques Obama on healthcare.

River's Edge notes that the UK anti-terror units, only find rightist plots, "it is invariably more by luck than by design".

Vengeance and Fashion has an interesting post about a schoolteacher who was abused by his students and snapped. There are Facebook groups supporting both sides. It is unusual for socialists to write about such a subject so close to home.

The Trotsky Museum has a blog of its own.

Querida Celia Hart Is a Spanish blog that honors Celia Hart Santamaria, the Cuban revolutionary who died last year in an auto accident related to the Cuban Hurricane. Celia opened doors for socialist democracy in Cuba.

From Turkey Mehmet Çagatay writes about Michael Jackson.

The Red Mantis tackles Iranian unrest, and asks who leads and where is it going?

Histomat replies to a BBC documentary about Leon Trotsky, based on the book The Exile and Murder of Leon Trotsky. Histomat writes, "Just as Stalin smeared the Jewish Trotsky as an agent of Hitler, so Richard Overy describes Trotsky's supporters as a 'motley crew', while Trotsky himself suffered from a 'blindness to any sense of humanity' and apparently 'never had any scruples about killing those in the way of the Marxist utopia'. It is a pity that Overy has seemingly not made time to read Trotsky's Their Morals and Ours where he answered exactly Overy's critique about 'moral scruple' over seventy years ago:"

Socialism or Barbarism reviews the Irish economy, in a two part series.

Celticfire writes about a Portland transit riders union.

The Daily Maybe discovered the Trotskyist soft drink Red Kola.

Untouchable Earth writes from India about the will of the Iranian people. This blog is oriented to socialism, art and astronomy.

Madam Miaow gives us good analysis of the Uighur uprising in China. At my local coffeeshop Madam Miaow's blog is blocked by the computer's filtering software. What's wrong with Anna Mae Wong?

A Reader's Word from India, takes on the myth of micro finance.

The next Carnival will be August 02, 2009 at Red Wombat

Renegade Eye

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Possible Consequences of Mutual Goodwill

NYTIMES: "The first batch of Uighurs, 40 young men and women from the far western region of Xinjiang, arrived at the Early Light Toy Factory here in May, bringing their buoyant music and speaking a language that was incomprehensible to their fellow Han Chinese workers.

After the melee, the 800 Uighur workers were moved to an industrial park not far from the factory, guarded by the police.

“We exchanged cigarettes and smiled at one another, but we couldn’t really communicate,” said Gu Yunku, a 29-year-old Han assembly line worker who had come to this southeastern city from northern China. “Still, they seemed shy and kind. There was something romantic about them.”

The mutual good will was fleeting.

By June, as the Uighur contingent rose to 800, all recruited from an impoverished rural county not far from China’s border with Tajikistan, disparaging chatter began to circulate. Taxi drivers traded stories about the wild gazes and gruff manners of the Uighurs. Store owners claimed that Uighur women were prone to shoplifting. More ominously, tales of sexually aggressive Uighur men began to spread among the factory’s 16,000 Han workers."


"I began my lectures this year with the onerous topic of the utilitarians, but the utilitarians are quite right. They are countered with something that, in effect, only makes the task of countering them much more difficult, with a sentence such as "But, Mr. Bentham, my good is not the same as another's good, and your principle of the greatest good for the greatest number comes up against the demands of my egoism." But it's not true. My egoism is quite content with a certain altruism, altruism of the kind that is situated on the level of the useful. And it even becomes the pretext by means of which I can avoid taking up the problem of the evil I desire, and that my neighbor desires also. That is how I spend my life, by cashing in my time in a dollar zone, ruble zone or any other zone, in my neighbor's time, where all the neighbors are maintained equally at the marginal level of reality of my own existence. Under these conditions it is hardly surprising that everyone is sick, that civilization has its discontents.

It is a fact of experience that what I want is the good of others in the image of my own. That doesn't cost so much. What I want is the good of others provided that it remain in the image of my own. I would even say that the whole tiling deteriorates so rapidly that it becomes: provided that it depend on my efforts. I don't even need to ask you to go very far into your patients' experience: if I wish for my spouse's happiness, I no doubt sacrifice my own, but who knows if her happiness isn't totally dissipated, too?" (Jacques Lacan, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Uighur Terrorism

Indiatimes: China said Thursday that those involved in Sunday's killing and mayhem in the northwestern city of Urumqi were members of terrorists groups with links with al-Qaida. It was seeking the cooperation of foreign governments to track down links and people involved in supporting the rioters from overseas locations.


It must be said that today, at the end of its semantic evolution, the word 'terrorist' is an intrinsically propagandistic term. It has no neutral readability. It dispenses with all reasoned examination of political situations, of their causes and consequences.

In fact, it is a term that has become essentially formal. 'Terrorist' no longer designates a political orientation or the possibilities of such and such a situation, but rather, and exclusively, the form of action. And it does so according to three criteria. It is first and foremost - for public opinion and those who attempt to shape it- a spectacular, non-State action, which emerges - reality or myth - from clandestine networks. Second, it is a violent action aiming to kill or destroy. Lastly, it is an action which makes no distinction between civilians and non-civilians.

This formalism approaches Kant's moral formalism. This is why a 'moral philosophy' specialist like Monique Canto believed she could declare that the absolute condemnation of 'terrorist' actions and the symmetrical approval of reprisals, including those of Sharon in Palestine, could and should precede any examination of the situation, and be abstracted from any concrete political considerations. When it is a matter of 'terrorism', according to this Iron lady of a new breed, to explain is already to justify. It is thus appropriate to punish without delay and without further examination. Henceforth, 'terrorism' qualifies an action as the formal figure of Evil. Moreover, this is exactly how Bush from the very beginning conceived of the deployment of vengeance: Good (in concrete, State terrorism directed against peasant villages and the ancient cities of Central Asia) against Evil (non-State terrorism directed at Western buildings) . (Alain Badiou, Infinite Thought)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Creative Destruction of Monstrous Dream Machines

I first learned about MJ's death from a post on Marxmail. My first reaction was to arrange a personal commemoration ceremony on YouTube, of course, starting with "The Way You Make Me Feel", one of first the two songs in English that I memorized its lyrics (The other one was "It's A Sin" from Pet Shop Boys). After an hour or two, my short attention span turned towards to another musician, who in a way has nurtured a comparable image with MJ's. I'm talking about David Bowie, the man of thousand looks. Then in a moment of poetic intuition, I discovered that, MJ is David Bowie who was permanently caught in the video of the song "Life on Mars". I think his tragedy was not being a sort of a nonfunctional signifier which had been trapped in repetition, but, it resides in his stubborn but at the same time affirmative (in the sense of negating while preserving the form) resistance to the elasticity of free-floating signifiers. Therefore, his artistic transgression was that he debased the essential necessity of empty formalism, i.e. obsession with new forms which also dictates to maintain the possibility of demolition and reconstruction of its objects in an endless repetition. He debased it by transforming his body always for good, therefore confined the desire of infinitude to the finitude of his body. MJ, as being both an artist and a commodity, embodied the destructive ambition of formalism and commodity production in his exhausted and synthetic face. He was a tragic hero who snatched the nightmare from the jaws of Other's dream.


MJ exposes the fake novelties of formalism insofar as The Luddites had attested to the ultimate boundary of the revolutionary character of capitalist production, i.e. perpetual revolution intended to keep the Capital intact.

Whereas he was supposed to preserve the capacity of his body as an image placeholder for endless bodies deprived of any representation, he denied the very material of this formalism by gradually transforming his body to a complete mask, in Lacanian terms, to an idol of the absence of bodies. He changed for good since at every stage he destroyed the preceding body with no return.



it seems that I forgot to add my fundamental critique about MJ. I doubt this malevolent guy ruined my sexual development on adolescence with his video that I mentioned above. I was sort of a sheepish and suffering boy like the one in Traveling Wilburys’ song “Handle with Care”, but his video encouraged me to act like an verbally insistent man who knows what he wants, which usually ended up with an emotional disaster. When it worked though for a couple of times, it didn’t take long for girls to realize actually what a pathetic creature I am, just to make me act again but this time as a Woody Allen in famous break up scene from Bananas. As now the King is dead, I feel I finally have the courage to embrace the male lesbian inside me.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Leftist Fantasy

"The doubts that drove us through the night as we two talked amain,
And day had broken on the streets e'er it broke upon the brain."

Typical accusation by the decent left about the Marxist supporters of Iranian insurgents argues that they are projecting their imaginary formula of social change to the current political situation in Iran. The critique is often accompanied with an emphasis on supposedly overlooked complexity of international politics: How could you fail to notice that imperialist puppeteers are pulling the strings just like in the case of Venezuela and in contrast to the collaborator pawns that speaks English, likes to mess around with Twitter and MTV, the majority of population is pleased with their despotic masters (I don’t endorse the regime in Iran however it is the materialization of Iranian subjectivity and it plays a progressive role by counteracting US-Israel imperialism in the Middle East).

Quite the opposite, I think that these noble and untainted critics of recent uprisings stick to their fantasy scene in which they unyieldingly go up against their native bourgeois even in a situation where their bourgeois too is unaware of what is really going on. Although the authentic political category of “imperialist conspiracy” seems indisputable, in the last analysis it is still a conspiracy theory which has been employed for avoiding to get tangled with the material conditions of a situation. In the case of Venezuela, the propelling motive behind the revolution was socialism, which was considered by the working class as the proper way to counter offense the American imperialism and the local politico-economical order that enables global capital to maintain its hegemony in Venezuela. Even the Venezuelan revolution has not being realized against some credulous students duped by American imperialism, it is against the seemingly invincible network of global economic system. But in Iran, the situation is different, if not completely irrelevant. The current Iranian regime does not only adhere to the fundamental economic premises of imperialism, but at the same time constitutes various pretexts that pave the way for continuation of imperialist aggression. In this sense, far from being an astute analysis, contemptuous & indulgent description of Twitter & MTV revolutionaries against uncompromising anti-imperialist posture of the Iranian Establishment is itself a compromising product of hygienic leftist fantasy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Little Boxes

"...they all were put in boxes, little boxes all the same"

Yesterday, Maryam Namazie posted an interview with Hamid Taqvaee, leader of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran:

Although I find his opinion about the widespread opposition against the regime is slightly exaggerated, I agree with his conviction that it is inaccurate to call the elections in Iran as a farce whilst in actuality there has not been any elections whatsoever. It differs from elections in standard capitalist-democracy both formally and functionally. In the formal sense, participation in elections is strictly restricted by the Guardian Council of the Constitution to prevent any possible discrepancy within the current political arrangement from the start. Functionally, since an "apathetic public consensus" (Badiou) has already been established in Western democracies as a result of numerous years of practice and capital-labor friction has been comparably softened with some grease acquired through the imperialist plunder, a typical elections in Western democracy functions as a sham, but a sincere sham in which every four of five years people come together in a carnivalesque fashion and pit their insignificant differences against another just to confirm the comfortable delusion that they possess democracy which guarantees difference of opinion among people. Eventually the triumphant side seals the victory with a blissful musical gathering. (For instance, I'm very disappointed with the outcome of the latest elections in the U.S for the sole reason that they seized our modest enjoyment of listening Pete Seeger. That is all). But because democracy itself is a shameless sham in Iran, as Hamid Taqvaee puts it, elections functions to ensure the continuity of the regime, not as a celebratory ritual about public consensus but as a disturbing symptom which compensates and masks the absence of it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Shut the Other's Gaze Down

This is my response to Louis Proyect's review of the Academy Award Winning "Slumdog Millionaire":

I didn’t watch the movie and probably I will not as its “realism” seems too much for my tastes. Concerning realism, the movie’s realistic representation of the Mumbai slums, I think we shouldn’t confuse “Dickensian” plain realism with magical realism of, for instance, Garcia Marquez, whose works would offer a better comparison to “Slumdog Millionaire”.

A couple of years ago, in his reality news show, a prominent Turkish journalist disclosed a despicable scandal involving the roofing-tile factories of the developed Marmara region which employ the forced labor of Kurdish children hired out from their patents residing in the eastern countryside of the country. This was the most distressing TV show I had ever watched, the living conditions of those slave-children was the perfect modern day resuscitation of the stories quoted by Marx in Capital. But, surprisingly for the readers here who expect me to state that this scandal has changed a lot of things, through the courage and the fidelity of the journalist to the reality of Western Turkey’s industrial development, Kurdish children have now freed from slave labor, I can only admit with grief: Nothing has changed, the reality failed, or more properly, fantasy about the inevitable spontaneity of poverty and destiny prevailed over the reality. This is the dead end of “Dickensian” plain realism. Marx’s Capital would be consisting of only one chapter, the chapter called “Machinery and Modern Industry” if he was a realist preoccupied with appearances.

If we go through magical realism the distinction is striking, as Marquez once pointed out, its central concern is to abolish the border line between reality and fantasy. The defense function of fantasy that enables us to avoid the traumatic scene is here introduced as the determinant which structures the very traumatic content of reality. Fantasy prevails again but in a reversed extreme form by totally subjecting reality to its authority. The central question of the neurotic fantasy, “what the Other wants from me?” turns into the inverted question of perversion as “how can I satisfy the Other?” as for Lacan, “…intersubjective relation is lost its place to sustain the perverse fantasy of serving the Other’s jouissance”. Doesn’t the protagonist of “Slumdog Millionaire” satisfy the Other in his own peculiar way by transforming his coincidental knowledge piled up in his experience of poverty and desolation into an instrument to escape from the Mumbai slums? Is not the reality of the global capitalism’s objective violence which is particularly materialized in the slums of Mumbai presented as immersed in the perverse fantasy of the protagonist?

I certainly agree with Louis that it is proper to a documentary to reflect the dialectical complexity of the conditions of slums, the involvement of IMF’s destructive monetary policies, etc. and my objection is not to “Dickensian” realism or to genuine fantastic artwork, such as Woody Allen’s brilliant movie Sleeper (which I watched recently), they both reflect the dominant ideologies of the world which they originated respectively from Victorian England and the USA of the Cold War period as “the lived experience of individuals”. But the question is, as Alain Badiou puts it, how not to be a formalist-Romantic, contrary to the dominant current of contemporary art i.e. the mixture of modernism’s infinite desire of new forms and obsession of finitude, body, suffering and death, the reactionary combination which aspires not to reflect the reality of the ideology in the form of subjective experience but aims to reproduce the ideology itself. In “Slumdog Millionaire”, as I understand from the reviews, this artistic tendency reveals itself as the reproduction of the gaze of Western capitalist democracy proud of its tolerance and formal freedoms and thus posits itself as the ultimate alternative of the authoritarian corruption of Eastern capitalism.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Why We Should Love Israel?

There must be something about Israel that might motivate us, all the patriots of the world like me, to bestow our cordial love upon it. So, why we should love Israel?

Attentive followers of the debates in Davos certainly watched the footage of the incident where our brave leader Turkish Prime Minister Mr. Erdogan heroically gives a lesson of humanity to Shimon Peres with his typical childish noisiness notable for rattling off the empty rhetoric of ignorance. In the most feverish moment of the squabble Mr. Erdogan uttered maybe the most ridiculous words that have ever been exchanged between two imperialist leaders: "You are killing people." I wonder what he would say if Mr. Peres suddenly asked this awkward question: Ok, Mr. President, we are killing people but where were you when the Turkish F16s were bombing the villages in the Northern Iraq?

It seems that we are way too sensitive in respect to the traumatic experience that our unconscious patriotic (I’m deliberately employing this term as it is now the name that masks racism in particular segments of the Turkish left) desire is now being materialized by the Israeli Zionism.

Without displaying any sign of leniency on his initial determination to put the Israeli Zionists in their place, Mr. Erdogan carried on his unyielding support to Palestinians in an interview with the Washington Post. When he was asked about his close relationship with Hamas, rightfully he stated:

"Hamas entered the elections as a political party. If the whole world had given them the chance of becoming a political player, maybe they would not be in a situation like this after the elections that they won."

Since we don’t have the luxury of playing the idiot like the Post interviewer let's ask the proper question which is absent in the interview:

Then tell me Mr. President, if so, why the Turkish state always seeks new excuses to shut down every political party founded by the Kurdish people?

The best thing about Israel is with its demonstration of the symptoms of nation-states in the most vulgar way, it enables us to cover up our more refined forms of ethnic discrimination. Since now racism means besieging an ethnic group to hunger and death and bombing them with the most sophisticated weapons, we can contently keep up or our own moderate practice of institutional ethnic discrimination without being caught by the trap of vulgar anti-democratic racism. Besides, there is always a way to dodge the accusations of the emergent racist sentiments among our people by declaring that these are individual attempts. In this sense, we should be grateful to Israel for giving us an ethical license to liberally and democratically hate Jews, Kurds, Armenians, Greeks, etc, etc.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Communism Kills Eternal Truths

In a recent post on her blog, I Cite, Jodi Dean brings forward her doubt about the potential of the death drive to make way for radical politics. She states:

"...I would think that there is no political valence to drive; it is as likely to have politically conservative effects as it is radical ones. In fact, to me it seems more likely to have politically conservative effects, particularly under conditions of communicative capitalism."

After reading her post I leafed through Lacan’s 'The Ethics of Psychoanalysis' for if I could find something that supports her pessimism (which I also share). It is remarkable that at the beginning of the chapter called 'The Death Drive' Lacan raises the question what would Marx think about progressivism, the ideology which is widespread in modern bourgeoisie.

As I understand or misunderstand, for Lacan, there are two aspects of the death drive and they are connected with the historicity of the subject. The first one is its destructive feature, tendency to return to a state of universal equilibrium. The other is the "will to create from zero, a will to begin again." The former is subjected to our experience, registered to the path that we fallowed to arrive to the existing state of affairs. Lacan states in Seminar 17 that, "life only ever returns there via paths that are always the same, ones it has previously traced." I think this is where the deception of death drive resides. I once run across an anarcho-capitalist cab driver, while we were passing in front of the president's residence he suddenly told me that we must privatize everything even including the state. It is no surprise that the radical political destination of death drive operating in the subject who is cursed by the free-market ideology is anarcho-capitalism. In this vein, the death drive generally operates as the radical confirmation of the existing order.

The other dimension, the will to create from ex nihilo becomes accessible only through the isolation of the historical sequence, by which our experiences and our memories are recognized as they are conditioned by the symbolic order. Lacan here astonishingly speaks in favor of the creationist theory insofar as it ascribes the origin of the symbolic order to an external entity. With this externalization the death drive becomes capable of overcoming the second barrier and reaching beyond what Lacan called “the cycle of generation-corruption”. Thus, Marx’s defiant declaration in the Manifesto, "There are, besides, eternal truths, such as Freedom, Justice, etc., that are common to all states of society. But communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradiction to all past historical experience," designates the TRUE aim of radical politics, not directed to backwards on the determined route by annihilating and reinstalling contingent institutions of the capitalist society but radically focused to eradicate supposedly eternal truths that determine the contingent elements of our history.

Lacan's answer to the question what would Marx think about progressivism is, "they are a good, healthy standard of a certain kind of intellectual honesty." But radical politics in no way coincides with progressivism, Marx disavows the Hegelian conception of the State as the actualization of freedom based on the power of reason and regards it as an instrument of class struggle determined by the capitalist production, and only by this process of isolation he enables himself to conceive a new beginning beyond the second destruction, beyond the negation of the private property:

"Where, then, is the positive possibility of a German emancipation? Answer: In the formation of a class with radical chains, a class of civil society which is not a class of civil society, an estate which is the dissolution of all estates, a sphere which has a universal character by its universal suffering and claims no particular right because no particular wrong but wrong generally is perpetrated against it; which can no longer invoke a historical but only a human title; which does not stand in any one-sided antithesis to the consequences but in an all-round antithesis to the premises of the German state; a sphere, finally, which cannot emancipate itself without emancipating itself from all other spheres of society and thereby emancipating all other spheres of society, which, in a word, is the complete loss of man and hence can win itself only through the complete rewinning of man. This dissolution of society as a particular estate is the proletariat."

If there is a slightest capacity of the death-drive to open up a field for radical emancipatory politics, I think, it is the will to begin again by setting off from the assertion that our subjective history is a byproduct of the symbolic order.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wink of an Eye

Perhaps the most recurring arrangement in the TV series “Malcolm in the Middle” was while Louis delivers one of her standard tirades to discipline the boys Hal usually repeats her but nevertheless undermines the authoritarian massage whether intentionally with a mischievous wink or unintentionally due to his naturally eccentric attitudes. The presence of Hal adds the dimension of real to the scene and provides access to the jouissance which is thwarted by the pleasure principle, i.e. the principle of sticking to the level of minimum enjoyment to prevent the slightest unpleasant possibility.

The appearance of George Bush, a white American heir of an upper-class family from Texas who carries on his father’s occupation, a devoted conservative cowboy who rides on religious moralism and unbridled American patriotism, as the president of the U.S fits in symbolic order such perfectly that although his message indicates the imperative to enjoy everything that is American, a particular way of life, freedom, democracy, etc. etc. yet only functions as a barrier that frustrates any seduction of access to the enjoyment from the content of the message. What is missing is the real element, the wink of an eye or something peculiar that resists to the hypothetical regularity of the symbolic.

On the other hand, the appearance of Barack Hussein Obama from top to toe is almost impossible to fit in the standard image of the leader of a country by anyone who has studied a little bit on American history. Everything about Obama is real that intrudes the symbolic reality. A black man from a Muslim background now delivers a speech by ranting and raving nearly the same the ideological message of his predecessor but there is a big difference: The whole scene is a giant wink of an eye that opens up the access to the full enjoyment of ruling ideology of the ruling class. This is why while words coming from Bush’s mouth are perceived as a terrible pain in the ass, they are now accepted as the sweet melodies complementing the long awaited mass political jamboree.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Crazy Little Thing Called Change

The new U.S. president Barack Obama finally gave the inauguration speech awaited in anticipation by billions of people all along the world. I have to admit that I’m fully satisfied with his speech, I think he perfectly demonstrated that why people have voted for him and also why he is the embodiment of the ruling class consensus on the urgent need for reconstruction of the collective consciousness.

My early assessment of Obama was he is just another American politician who has his share of inevitable subjective commitment to the capitalist parliamentary democracy and thus his rhetoric about change and the constituents’ passionate yearning for a sort of unidentified justice which is also mobilized around this little object “change” is merely the setting that frames the existing political reality. This little object “change” frames the reality merely by its extraction from the setting and in this vein forming a window by its absence on the middle. This was my alleged Lacanian interpretation: The object called change frames the political reality only with its absence, when really there is no change. Here, Badiouean interpretation has already been given: You cannot participate in a system without a subjective commitment to it. “We must keep our distance from this subjective figure of politics”.

But after his nominations and this inaugural jamboree and the speech that he gave, now, I’m convinced that he is really after some substantial chance. In the Marxist perspective, the change is obvious: In the minds of the crises, the common affairs of bourgeoisie are now much more complicated that the executives of the state must find a way to restore the previous contradictions among the ruling class and remind them their common interests. I think Mr. Obama is more than capable to accomplish this restorative function.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Don't Give Up Your Anxiety

A recent article in Wall Street Journal reports that some Israeli Jews are now dispelling the anxiety due to experiencing years of constant violence with the most effortless way. This is exactly what Badiou calls subjective corruption. Like a crowd cheering to an ordinary NHL brawl, it seems that they have finally found the shortest but certainly the scandalous way to break away from anxiety by gazing at the effects of the “operation” from the top of the hills near the Gaza border:

“On another hilltop overlooking Gaza, Sandra Koubi, a 43-year-old philosophy student, says seeing the violence up close "is a kind of catharsis for me, to get rid of all the anxiety we have inside us after years of rocket fire" from Hamas.”

This disavowal of traumatic perception of reality might be formulated as: I normally don’t take obscene pleasure in watching other people suffering but violent deeds of the other are so suffocating that they left me no escape other than succumbing to this innocent pleasure.

I was once on the top of the imaginary hill near the ethnical borders in Turkey. If I remember correctly, I was eight or nine when PKK initiated guerrilla warfare against the Turkish Army. From childhood to adolescence my greatest fear was Kurdish terrorism, probably incited by the propagandist images of the bodies of innocent babies supposedly killed in terrorist attacks. I remember how I got relief by reading the count of terrorists killed each day in newspapers. But later in the university years I realized that the authentic menace comes from those in a way or other connected with the state or with the state ideology. I hope I’ve realized that my anxiety is a way too much valuable to exchange with the deceptive purely ideological desire of the other.

The problem with mirror in front of which the nations construct the image for self-recognition by telling stories and creating myths about themselves is not that it simply transforms the narratives to an ideological formula and thus reflects the reality in a distorted form. But it precisely replicates the particularity of the reality to distort the very perception of reality. Ideology here, as we are witnessing in operation, is offering the narrative of the clear-cut reality of the Israeli Jews, they are living in the state unending state of emergency by the treat of Kassam rockets, they are afraid of sending their children to schools, they are doomed to the inexpressible level of anxiety and so on… Their story is real. I mean, it is not deceptive. As a man who also suffers from anxiety disorder I think they should be really anxious about the every day violence that encircles them. But then comes the typical ideological question which demands sympathy to horrible crimes initiated and operated by the ruling classes of those nations: Imagine how do you feel if you were an Israeli Jew living in the same conditions? In this sense, however touching it may sounds; one should show zero sympathy to narratives. And if we are discontented with our anxiety, we should find a more radical way to cure it rather than exchanging our anxiety with the Zionist desire or hostile Turkish nationalism by passively watching the relaxing bomb clouds, etc. Here I propose them or myself too active solidarity with the reality unreflected by ideological mirror.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009