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Showing posts from November, 2010

Campaigns Against "Lazy" Workers

Last week George Robitaille, a Toronto Transit Commission worker, died of a stroke.  The reason his death was significant is that he was the target of an anti-labour and anti-union campaign last January.  A commuter took a picture of Robitaille sleeping on the job and this picture, after being posted online, went viral.  Pretty soon Robitaille was being used as an example of "the lazy union worker" and was mercilessly mocked by numerous mainstream news sources and Toronto citizens.  He was even compared to Homer Simpson and used as an example of why TTC workers were just greedy unionists who wanted to extort more money from the city of Toronto.  A recent Globe and Mail article suggests that his stroke was due, in part, to the stress caused by this reactionary campaign. The fact that Robitaille had worked for the TTC for 29 years and had an impeccable record, that he even saved the life of a commuter in the 1990s, and that was on heart medication at the time of his "la

The Alien Invasion Trend

The Culture Industry, which usually lacks significant imagination, is releasing, almost simultaneously, numerous alien visitation and invasion films.  I always wonder, whenever I see almost identical films released at the same time, what sort of ideologies or fears the mainstream film industry is expressing or promoting.  What sort of capitalist fears are we witnessing? First of all, and already in the theatres, there is Skyline : Reminds me of a better scripted, flashier, cooler version of the 1990s Independence Day .  Remember Independence Day ?  You know, the one that was named after the colonial holiday and cleverly short-handed as ID4  to remind people when to see the movie and celebrate their patriotism?  The one where Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, working under the direction of President Bill Pullman, saved America and therefore saved the world?  The one that reminded us of why we should always hate that which we cannot explain, always suspect aliens, and that in the fight

The Labour Aristocracy Exists

This somewhat onerous post is inspired by my  recent review of Sakai's Settlers .  I am just becoming more and more shocked that certain marxist academics are rejecting this concept which is core to the most significant anti-imperialist marxism.  I am well aware that some marxists tend to confuse Lenin's conceptualization of the labour aristocracy with an analysis of union bureaucratization, and so I am interested in why this confusion leads to a rejection of the initial concept. Amongst certain "marxists" it has become popular to dispense with the theory of labour aristocracy, conceptualized by both Engels and Lenin, because it apparently cannot account for reality.  As noted in my previous post, there are academic radicals who believe––and mobilize various sophistic arguments––that there is no such thing as a labour aristocracy.  The fact that some factions of the working-class can be parasitical upon others, that workers can be bought off and accept a petty bourg

J. Sakai's "Settlers": A Meta-Review

Although J. Sakai's Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat  was published in the mid-1980s it has remained at the edges of "acceptable" social theory, just at the threshold of obscurity.  Perhaps the reason for its academic neglect can be blamed on its unsober use of language and rhetorical tone: those who study political theory within the polite confines of academia tend to zone out when they read phrases and words that break the implicit rules of intellectual chivalry.  Or perhaps the academic dismissal of  Settlers is due to the fact that it was published by a fringe press and presented in a somewhat unorthodox manner: the type-setting, use of found images and collage, and 8.5x11 graphic novel size does not fit the acceptable standards of an "authoritative" book. And yet, though it is always tempting to blame the author or the publisher for a book's failure, Sakai's Settlers  would have never received normative academic acclaim even if the

Adventures In Troll Land

Ironically following my post about oppressors who masquerade as victims, some troll-provocateur found his way to this site to comment as "Anonymous" under my entry Where's Andrea Dworkin When We Need Her.   Breaking the rules of my guideline policy, Mr. Anonymous decided to post his misogynist, uninformed, and rather banal thoughts about Andrea Dworkin.   Although I allowed his original comment to remain, though indicating that it was in defiance of the comments policy, I deleted his following comments and placed the page under moderation. This trolling is especially amusing considering that I recently dealt with the discourse where oppression desires to masquerade as victimhood.  Today's Anonymous has provided me with an excellent real world example to reinforce the claims made in that post . Let's take a look at his first comment that still remains below the post that talked about Andrea Dworkin: “This walking maggot of a woman was NEVER relvant to the

Oppressors Who Think They're Victims

I cannot stand people who occupy privileged positions and groups who have convinced themselves that they are victims .  This is a long-standing persecution fashion: imagine that you’re the oppressed rather than the oppressor - even better, imagine that the people who you help oppress (either explicitly or implicitly) are the real oppressor.  So when some lone and desperate individual in an occupied country suicide bombs the occupier, the surviving occupiers can say: see how they victimize us, see how they’re murderers! Most often this false victimization happens because of gains made by the oppressed.  The former oppressors, suddenly experiencing a loss of the privilege they had taken as absolute, imagine that they are being oppressed.  "You mean I can't automatically have this job because I'm white and male?  I'm being attacked and harmed!"   So when the oppressor discovers that his privilege is not a fact of nature, and that he is not ontologically destined

The Question of Comparative Violence

This entry about political violence might be rather boring and long-winded.  Although I've tried to keep its tone more meditative than academic, the latter often supersedes the former (can't help it - I'm an academic!).  The reason I've posted this, however, is because of a debate in the comments of The Anti-Anti-Imperialism of Assayas' Carlos which I felt was getting out of hand, though going down an interesting avenue of debate that was somewhat connected with my critique of the film.  I promised a future post on that subject (though I'm not sure if the commenters will find it interesting anymore or my long-winded writing enjoyable to read!), so here it is. One of my academic areas of so-called "expertise" is political violence.  Since my dissertation focused on philosophical questions raised by anti-colonial theory, it was necessary for me to engage with the issue of anti-colonial and revolutionary violence and its structural opposition to the la

Test Your Theoretical Commitments!

A handy test to make sense of your philosophical-political agenda... A. Science and Modernity: 1. How would you assess the following claim: " We know only a single science, the science of history. One can look at history from two sides and divide it into the history of nature and the history of men. However, the two sides are not to be divided off; as long as men exist the history of nature and the history of men are mutually conditioned." (a) A well-reasoned and theoretically succinct principle about science (b) Anything that uses the hegemonic qualifier "science" is immediately suspect since science is a suspect and eurocentric discourse. (c) History does not qualify as science: whoever wrote this is ignorant when it comes to the disciplines of biology, physics, and chemistry. 2. What are your thoughts on the following: "The marginal or 'minority' is not the space of a celebratory, or utopian, self-marginalization. It is a much more su