Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Monday, July 6, 2015


Scotland vote for independence: 45% yes, 55% no.
BBC: “A clear majority...puts the debate to an end.”

Greek vote to accept more austerity: 60% no, 40% yes.
BBC: “A deeply divided country.”

...and now I've heard it all...

BBC Radio 4, you just quoted the dominant (Thatcherite, austerity-addicted) political class of the Baltic in support of the status quo against those "stupid" southern people who might be tainted by the "middle East."

I had an awesome lunch with the finance minister of Lithuania (thanks to Gediminas, our architectural host! Hi! Learning Lithuanian--really badly!) in which he couldn't have made it clearer that he was a philistine no-nothing with an axe, and I in turn made it quite clear exactly why austerity was the daftest and most destructive drill bit of a daft destructive system. Difficult even in that situation to speak up: it gets a bit personal when you're having to tell someone to their face...and you have passion...

Can you imagine a US senator, even a Republican one, saying “There are too many universities” at a university? Even if you believe it, you don't say it out loud, dude.

Are You Getting It Now, Europe? Austerity is WRONG

Britain: the fact that Osborne is still at it, trying to cut his way to growth, is evidence of his failure not his success (pace BBC radio 4).

Not only has Greece stood up to what amounts to a gigantic religious cult--very difficult to be the different one in a crowded room--it has stood up to a zombie idea, which shambles about of its own accord: “austerity,” based on a mistake in processing an Excel file.

Racists in charge of Northern Europe: stop it. It's quite clear from this far away that there is a not so great shadow looming, for instance the idea that Germany is more authentically European than Greece (where have we heard that before?).

Greece: you are already issuing IOUs. Those are in effect a non-Euro currency. Just give them a different name (like “drachma”) and Bob's your uncle. Sure from the point of view of some technocrat addicted to austerity it may look chaotic, but it's better than another lost decade, and complete confusion for the brain addled north.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Thank Heavens

“we have just witnessed Greece stand up to a truly vile campaign of bullying and intimidation, an attempt to scare the Greek public, not just into accepting creditor demands, but into getting rid of their government. It was a shameful moment in modern European history, and would have set a truly ugly precedent if it had succeeded.

“But it didn’t.” --Paul Krugman

Put That In Your Austerity Pipe and Smoke It

Byron, “The Isles of Greece.” Byron knew a thing or two about Greek liberation. He fought and died in the Greek War of Independence.

THE isles of Greece! the isles of Greece 
  Where burning Sappho loved and sung, 
Where grew the arts of war and peace, 
  Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung! 
Eternal summer gilds them yet,         5
But all, except their sun, is set. 
The Scian and the Teian muse, 
  The hero's harp, the lover's lute, 
Have found the fame your shores refuse: 
  Their place of birth alone is mute  10
To sounds which echo further west 
Than your sires' 'Islands of the Blest. 
The mountains look on Marathon— 
  And Marathon looks on the sea; 
And musing there an hour alone,  15
  I dream'd that Greece might still be free; 
For standing on the Persians' grave, 
I could not deem myself a slave. 
A king sate on the rocky brow 
  Which looks o'er sea-born Salamis;  20
And ships, by thousands, lay below, 
  And men in nations;—all were his! 
He counted them at break of day— 
And when the sun set, where were they? 
And where are they? and where art thou,  25
  My country? On thy voiceless shore 
The heroic lay is tuneless now— 
  The heroic bosom beats no more! 
And must thy lyre, so long divine, 
Degenerate into hands like mine?  30
'Tis something in the dearth of fame, 
  Though link'd among a fetter'd race, 
To feel at least a patriot's shame, 
  Even as I sing, suffuse my face; 
For what is left the poet here?  35
For Greeks a blush—for Greece a tear. 
Must we but weep o'er days more blest? 
  Must we but blush?—Our fathers bled. 
Earth! render back from out thy breast 
  A remnant of our Spartan dead!  40
Of the three hundred grant but three, 
To make a new Thermopylæ! 
What, silent still? and silent all? 
  Ah! no;—the voices of the dead 
Sound like a distant torrent's fall,  45
  And answer, 'Let one living head, 
But one, arise,—we come, we come!' 
'Tis but the living who are dumb. 
In vain—in vain: strike other chords; 
  Fill high the cup with Samian wine!  50
Leave battles to the Turkish hordes, 
  And shed the blood of Scio's vine: 
Hark! rising to the ignoble call— 
How answers each bold Bacchanal! 
You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet;  55
  Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone? 
Of two such lessons, why forget 
  The nobler and the manlier one? 
You have the letters Cadmus gave— 
Think ye he meant them for a slave?  60
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine! 
  We will not think of themes like these! 
It made Anacreon's song divine: 
  He served—but served Polycrates— 
A tyrant; but our masters then  65
Were still, at least, our countrymen. 
The tyrant of the Chersonese 
  Was freedom's best and bravest friend; 
That tyrant was Miltiades! 
  O that the present hour would lend  70
Another despot of the kind! 
Such chains as his were sure to bind. 
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine! 
  On Suli's rock, and Parga's shore, 
Exists the remnant of a line  75
  Such as the Doric mothers bore; 
And there, perhaps, some seed is sown, 
The Heracleidan blood might own. 
Trust not for freedom to the Franks— 
  They have a king who buys and sells;  80
In native swords and native ranks 
  The only hope of courage dwells: 
But Turkish force and Latin fraud 
Would break your shield, however broad. 
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!  85
  Our virgins dance beneath the shade— 
I see their glorious black eyes shine; 
  But gazing on each glowing maid, 
My own the burning tear-drop laves, 
To think such breasts must suckle slaves.  90
Place me on Sunium's marbled steep, 
  Where nothing, save the waves and I, 
May hear our mutual murmurs sweep; 
  There, swan-like, let me sing and die: 
A land of slaves shall ne'er be mine—  95
Dash down yon cup of Samian wine! 

The View from the BBC

"In the northwestern corner of Europe it's okay to say No and renegotiate all the terms of membership.

"In the southeastern corner, it isn't."

Opening Theme Tune

...for a pic having to do with anyone from my generation in the mid-eighties. Peter's Friends used “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” which is roughly contemporary with this one. But this one, someone, nails it for people a bit younger than Stephen Fry's generation. Uncanny to see now the grey puce world of Thatcher's Britain imposed everywhere, even by the finance people of Germany of all places, against whom Thatcher was determined to stand later on.

Waterloo Station and the Embankment--used to walk there every day, in the holidays, and every day at the weekend in any case. Genius German synthpop divided by a deadpan queer version of “Rapture” (not sure about that “Message” allusion Wikipedia) about what is now called neoliberalism, I feel, a competitive war of all against all, and the weird melancholic pleasures therein. The suicidal feeling invoked in lines one and two...

Like, okay, the hairdos are a bit different, and there are uncannily fewer people--but what's more uncanny his how it isn't different...

That walkway, by which you can get to the South Bank Centre--it's like the Pet Shop Boys' version of the railings from which the Beatles are looking down on the covers of the compilation album...

I remember thinking at the time that this was a song different from the ones I'd heard around it, somehow ultra definitive of something big.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Greece: NO is better by far than YES

One of the great risks if the Greek public votes yes — that is, votes to accept the demands of the creditors, and hence repudiates the Greek government’s position and probably brings the government down — is that it will empower and encourage the architects of European failure. The creditors will have demonstrated their strength, their ability to humiliate anyone who challenges demands for austerity without end. And they will continue to claim that imposing mass unemployment is the only responsible course of action.

What if Greece votes no? This will lead to scary, unknown terrain. Greece might well leave the euro, which would be hugely disruptive in the short run. But it will also offer Greece itself a chance for real recovery. And it will serve as a salutary shock to the complacency of Europe’s elites.

Or to put it a bit differently, it’s reasonable to fear the consequences of a “no” vote, because nobody knows what would come next. But you should be even more afraid of the consequences of a “yes,” because in that case we do know what comes next — more austerity, more disasters and eventually a crisis much worse than anything we’ve seen so far. --- Paul Krugman

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Fish

Not ready to talk about this yet.

"We Don't Know What Percentage"

This is the new right wing tactic: "We don't know what percentage is caused by humans." Actually we do. Quite precisely.

Pretty much 100% of it. (Animated graph.)

"We don't know what percentage" buffs the "skeptical" image. The patina of an intelligent lack of certainty.

Just before this, it was "I'm no scientist," which appeals to anti-intellectualism ("I'm not one of those nerds") and effects humility.

What will it be next? Let's anticipate, defang, and prevent.

"Climate Change Skeptic"

Can we stop using this phrase to refer to denialists?

A skeptic is someone who doubts something. Not someone who doesn't believe in something.

Skepticism sounds clever (because it alludes to a philosophical position). Global warming denial is not clever.

"Skeptic" sounds like "I have read and assessed and evaluated and carefully parsed." Global warming denial doesn't read.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

...and at least the NSA is good for something

Like showing Merkel was aware that they were saddling Greece with absurd debt.

Stop This Austerity Nonsense

I'm glad it's not just me. How long does a zombie concept based on an error in an Excel file have to stagger on destroying everything in its path before we put a stop to it?

The Last Night

...and speaking of Campagna, if you haven't read this, then you might want to, a lot. It's so lucidly written, and it shares a lot with some of my more recent thoughts. If you look you'll see that there is a new, really well done way of writing left prose. I was blown away by Bifo's new book (pun not intended, oops).

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Suicide and Economics

...economics being how you organize your enjoyment. And if it's only organized anthropocentrically, you are limiting it already, right? Anyway, I had written that thing about what Juncker so insensitively said to Greece--given that the actual suicide rate has skyrocketed since “austerity” (which sounds so serious, like the way a sadist looks so serious). Anyway, I had literally just read a sentence or two in Bifo's book Heroes. Have you read it yet? It's really really nice. Anyway, Foxxconn--the factory where the Apple stuff etc. happens and where there is a very large number of suicides. The company tried to prevent the suicides by--guess what--cutting off compensation payments to the families. Their propaganda about it? “Life is precious”--aka you can't even kill yourself, your life is precious to us, we own you.