“Oh sure, the police may have been a little violent, but the people they’re oppressing violated some obscure law/didn’t disperse immediately/might have been from that black block terror organization I keep hearing about. The state has the right to use violence to silence any protest that doesn’t follow every single arbitrary law they set forth to make it ignorable.”—Liberals (via)
Celebrity chef Mario Batali • Discussing the diet he’s currently on — he’s eating like he’s on food stamps (an average of $1.48 per meal, or $31 per week) in protest of potential cuts to the federal food stamps program. His family was nice enough to join him in what he calls a conversation starter about being hungry in the U.S. Unlike most people on food stamps, he knows ways to make the best of a bad situation, smartly sticking to foods like lentils, apples, rice, beans, peanut butter and jelly. But the problem is, eating good on a diet like this is tough, so many do not. Think his family’s experiment will be effective? (via shortformblog)
I think this is the key argument for those who think that poor people could eat better if they just tried harder. This guy prepares food for a living and he still cannot manage to do this without feeling like he’s going hungry. This is a problem.
Put it on your Facebook wall, never to be deleted from your ever-growing and cluttered timeline.
Trayvon Martin is not an inkblot, the meaning of which is yours to interpret.
He is not a walking Rorschach, whom one is free to see however one wishes.
He was not put on this Earth to be deciphered by you, dissected by you, problematized by you, labeled by you, slandered by you, or shot by one who had done all those things to his seventeen-year old black body before you even knew his name.
He was a child. A child dearly loved by his parents and sibling. And the fact that he was black doesn’t complicate that. The fact that he wore a hoodie doesn’t complicate that. The fact that he had a tattoo, a partial gold grill on his teeth, and liked to play-act in front of a web cam from time to time, posing as a man, flashing cash and acting tough doesn’t complicate that either. It is the rare boy who doesn’t tough-pose in a mirror, making muscles for some imaginary admirer, or perhaps just for himself. But it is the rare child who, having done so, finds himself suddenly the recipient of so much contempt for his cold, lifeless body — a body whose now inanimate state has been blamed for that condition because of his swagger, his clothing, his minor disciplinary problems in school, anything so as to shift attention from the real issue; namely, that Trayvon Martin is dead because George Zimmerman decided to confront him. And George Zimmerman decided to confront him because he was black, and for no other reason.
That’s right: for no other reason. The fact that Martin, according to autopsy reports, had trace elementsof THC (the chemical found in marijuana) in his system means nothing. The amount of the compound was so minimal as to suggest that not only had Martin not likely smoked weed that day, but whatever he had smoked, whenever he’d smoked it, would not have been sufficient in quantity to have in any way affected his behavior the evening of his death. Which is to say that Zimmerman’s uneducated conjecture on that 9-1-1 call, to the effect that Martin looked like he was “on drugs” carries no weight whatsoever. All he was doing was walking, looking around as he did so, and talking on the phone to a girlfriend.
He wasn’t casing townhouses.
He wasn’t peeking in windows.
He wasn’t blazing up a blunt in the courtyard.
He wasn’t doing anything at all.
But being black. And male. And wearing a hoodie (in the rain, imagine).
And yes, I know: the autopsy report indicates Martin was shot at relatively close range (certainly less than a foot away given the stippling around the entrance wound in his chest), and Zimmerman’s wounds appear consistent with his claim that he shot Martin during a fight. And yes, at least one witness seems to confirm that Martin was, at one point prior to the shooting, on top of Zimmerman, punching him.
But is that all it takes for so many white folks to cavalierly dispatch with the otherwise inviolate right to life, which they would have extended (one hopes) even to Martin, prior to the release of that information? Does a black child, followed and confronted by an adult, have no right to be afraid of them? To fight back upon being accosted? To stand his ground? The claim that Zimmerman had given up on the pursuit of Martin and was returning to his vehicle when Martin blindsided him is corroborated by no one, was not believed by investigators on the scene, and is utterly discredited by Martin’s girlfriend, who heard the words exchanged between the two, and then the sound of shoving, 2-3 minutes after the end of Zimmerman’s 9-1-1 call. If one chooses to believe Zimmerman on this absurd point, it can only be because one finds the story so plausible based upon one’s own preconceived notions of black aggression, that the facts in evidence no longer matter.
Finally, does one have the right to kill a child, just because, having initiated all the drama to begin with, the first party suddenly finds himself not nearly as big and bad as he had long believed? Is getting one’s overly suspicious, meddling ass beaten a legitimate excuse for homicide?
Apparently so, if the victim is young, and black, and wearing a hoodie, and has a tattoo (even if it is a tattoo of his mother’s name), and a partial gold grill, and occasionally poses with macho swagger on a webcam, and has been known to smoke weed. Although none of these are officially listed as penalty enhancements within our nation’s justice system, let the word go out from this point forward that they have been elevated to virtual capital offense status on the streets, by a frightened, racially-anxious white public, always seeking to rationalize every death of black men, at the hands of cops, or just folks pretending to be cops.
According to a recent investigation by the Swedish news show Uppdrag Granskning, Sweden’s telecommunications giant Teliasonera is the latest Western company revealed to be colluding with authoritarian regimes by selling them high-tech surveillance gear to spy on its citizens. Teliasonera has allegedly enabled the governments of Belarus, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Georgia and Kazakhstan to spy on journalists, union leaders, and members of the political opposition. One Teliasonera whistle-blower told the reporters, “The Arab Spring prompted the regimes to tighten their surveillance. … There’s no limit to how much wiretapping is done, none at all.”
“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”—CARL SAGAN (via Advice to Writers)
New York, New York - By now, nearly everybody has been exposed to the phenomenon of Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi in Greek), the neo-Nazi organisation that received almost 7 per cent of the vote in the Greek elections of May 6.
After the initial shock, the question “How is this possible?” was followed by the legitimate worry: “Are Greeks becoming fascists?” Some commentators on various blogs (many of them from northern and western Europe) even left messages urging the Greek electorate to feel shame, the deeper the better, for this unsightly and frightening development.
But let’s set a few things straight. First of all, Golden Dawn, despite its recent claims, is indeed a neo-Nazi party. Their ideology, which they describe on their website as “Popular and Social Nationalism”, gives their precise coordinates within Nazi ideology.
So do the origins of their party, which was founded by Nikolaos Michaloliakos in 1985 under a direct order from the imprisoned leader of the Greek junta, George Papadopoulos. And so do their self-representation, language and tactics. The official publication of Golden Dawn runs articles praising the Nazis and often places photographs of Hitler, Himmler, and Nazi gatherings on its front cover. The members of the organisation have the same uneducated, invented, and highly idiosyncratic understanding of ancient Greece as the Nazis did.
And their tactics are virtually indistinguishable from Nazi terrorist tactics: they terrorise immigrants, leftists, and journalists; they beat and maul teachers and students; they have infiltrated athletic clubs and have introduced hooliganism to the Greek landscape; and they have assumed the role of vigilantes and protectors of the general public. Some of those attacks have been documented, and the Golden Dawn-affiliated perpetrators have gone on trial and been imprisoned.
The history of the organisation is inextricably connected to the history of Michaloliakos, whose first public intervention in 1976 was an attack on journalists who were covering the funeral of the junta torturer Evangelos Mallios, who had been executed by the urban guerrilla organisation 17 November. Arrested and briefly detained, Michaloliakos met the leaders of the military junta in jail. Two years after his release he engaged in a series of bombings of public places in Athens, for which he was indicted. Golden Dawn gained notoriety after 1991, when it started attacking the first Albanian immigrants and after some of its members participated in the Srebrenica massacre. The organisation registered as a political party in 1993 and first won political representation in 2010, when Michaloliakos was elected to the Athens City Council.
It is doubtful, however, whether the 21 Golden Dawn deputies will ever enter the Greek parliament (legally, that is). We now know that no coalition government can be formed (without a gross violation of the Constitution), which means that new elections will be held, probably on June 17. Yesterday’s polls showed that 76 per cent of the Greek electorate expects Golden Dawn to lose most of its vote, with a large number of those polled expressing doubts that it would even win the 3 per cent needed to enter parliament.
Two questions remain, however, regardless of whether Golden Dawn ever enters parliament. The first one is a question of democracy: namely, what sorts of legitimate steps are available to democratic polities when they face the development of a totalitarian, racist, exclusionary formulation that actively engages in violent acts that severely restrict the civil and human rights of others? I argue that when a state is faced not simply with ideas but with the materiality of actions, then the state is obligated to outlaw them and the media are obligated to report on them. In Greece this is a multiply complex issue, since what I suggest was used from the beginning of the 20th century as the groundwork upon which the elimination of the left took place, based on fabricated accusations.
A second question remains: Why would Greeks, who fought against totalitarianism in massive numbers and paid one of the heaviest tolls in Europe for their participation in the resistance against Nazi Germany, vote for this despicable, emetic, and deeply anti-political formation, even as a protest?
What we need to keep in mind is that this tolerance of violence in the public sphere, especially violence that is directed towards the unarmed and the unprotected, is the result of the state’s long-term suppression of dissent and the collaboration of the police forces with right-wing extremists whose violent tactics the police have used. This tolerance is evident even in mundane instances, such as when, in 1999, the ludicrous Gerasimos Yakoumatos, a deputy and member of the centre-right New Democracy party, wanting to show the Minister of Public Order that he “meant business”, walked into Parliament brandishing his (legally obtained) revolver as protest for his house having been burglarised by immigrants the previous evening. Not only was this tolerated, but he was not arrested and was not in any way reprimanded.
The Greek polity has always found itself in a tug-of-war. On one end, there is a wide, democratic, proceduralist, but largely powerless (and ultimately apathetic) body politic. On the other end, there is a small but powerful authoritarian class that constitutes the core of state structures. Decades of brutal suppression of dissent has relied upon various para-state and paramilitary organisations. Police brutality, hooliganism, and the deep-seated intimacy between fragments of the police force and Golden Dawn have made the organisation’s temporary surge possible.
There is no right, centre, or left distinction in this, if by left one means the nominally socialist PASOK party. All post-junta Greek governments have availed themselves of this intimate relationship, as all Greek governments, at least from the early years of the 20th century, have invested more energy and resources into producing a polity that relies on snitches and turncoats than in producing responsible, accountable, and democratically minded citizens. For example, in the summer of 2002, as the dismantling of 17 November was taking place, the Greek prime minister - clearly at the behest of the British and the American antiterrorist secret services - asked the citizens to report anyone who appeared to be suspicious and dangerous.
A month ago I wrote in the Anthropology Newsletter about the claim that under the current circumstances in Europe, in which the social welfare state is being eviscerated and the destitute are pitted against the poor, the distinction between right and left is no longer useful. I argue, however, that it is precisely now that the elision of such a distinction is pregnant with dangers that the world has faced before.
The neo-cons, the neo-fascists, and the neo-Nazis have been selectively appropriating leftist discourses and practices in order to obscure and obfuscate the distinctions between left and right. Michaloliakos, the coddled child of the junta, uses the term “junta” pejoratively (to indicate the totally inept but democratically elected Greek government, the press, and the memorandum), calls the actions of Golden Dawn “national resistance” when he instigates violence against immigrants and politicians, and has warned about an “uprising of the masses”.
Europe stands on the head of a needle, steeped in a crisis that threatens the foundational premises of democracy, self-determination, and autonomy. Golden Dawn is a European problem, not a limited and containable Greek one. It is a European problem because its ideology developed and flourished in Germany and Italy of the early 20th century. It is not a “natural”, essential, ontological property of Greece, and it is intractably connected to the moralistic and punitive positions that have organised the actions of the troika that put the bailout packages together.
When people are pushed to the brink, ugly things happen, and the troika (and particularly Merkel) ought never to forget the warning of George Santayana: “Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it”.
All emphases mine. It’s also important to remember that Greece has a long history of antifascist movements headed by communists against the behests of their various liberal-centrist states. The Civil War in Greece which was fought from 1946 to 1949 was between the Greek governmental army, backed by the United Kingdom and the United States, and the Democratic Army of Greece (ΔΣΕ) (Greek initials DSE), the military branch of the Greek Communist Party (KKE), backed by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania. It was the result of a highly polarized struggle between communist and nationalist/royalist movements which started in 1943 and targeted the power vacuum that the German-Italian occupation during World War II had forged. The emphýlios (civil-war) has been periodized by the Right, by the British, and by U.S. historiography from the beginning: the First Round (1943), the Second Round (the Battle of Athens in 1944), the Third Round (1946–49), a gesture that left no doubt as to the specificity of its timing: when it started, when it ended, and how time was spent in between.
Such a periodization, however, does not take into account the schism that had divided the country with Dichasmós (when monarchists and republicans, trying to settle the question of the form of government, engendered a deep and enduring rift), the trauma of the Metaxas dictatorship, the handing of political prisoners over to the Germans by the successor to the Metaxas government in 1941, and the creation of the Security Battalions by the Germans and the collaborationist government of Rallis.
Nor does it account for the fact that the term post–civil war does not denote a temporality that sets apart the civil war from the rest of time, is not a terms of closure but an existential adjective, a term that has participated in the production of a political reality, the reality that did not end with the defeat on Vitsi but continued to exist until almost the junta of the 70s. And so it is not only a European—specifically German-Italian—problem; tracing the period after the German occupation shows Great Britain’s usual colonialist interventions played a role in that they aided U.S. foreign intervention throughout the Cold War to thwart communist insurgencies. And so the emphylios ended in 1949 and the left was forgotten. Only it resurged again to defeat the military junta of Papadopoulos in 1974 when various leftist parties gained legal entrance into parliament once again.
The left has been “defeated,” has “failed,” has been “catastrophic,” Western historiography tells us. But its periodicity fails to account for how Left discourse—whose nature has been obfuscated beyond recognition—starts to blare roughly every four decades; usually pivoting around a financial/economic crisis, and usually accompanied by an equally raucous fascist sentiment. Considering the history of Western-funded juntas in Greece, I’m really not surprised.