Daily Archive: 11/24/2013

Nov 24 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: “If You Meet The Buddha On The Road, Kill Him” by Annieli

All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else. -The Buddha

Marx: “constant revolutionizing of production uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all precious ones. all fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient prejudices and opinions are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”

Unlike the Marshall Berman book, the reality of human conflict today is not so much about modernism as it is modernizing in the pre-industrial context, the civilizing and evolving, uneven yet parallel, paths from primitive, pre-modern communism through feudal modes of production, many of which still operate today whether the American Taliban or their calabash cousins in South Central Asia. The Koch Brothers, as corporate despots, are no different in their ideological commitments to devoting their wealth to an Anti-Communist Christianity that memorializes a martyr like John Birch and promotes inequality and suffering from uneven economic development. It is not a stretch to compare sacralized warfare and sectarian violence where today’s Oath Keepers see themselves as displaced Zen-samurai or Ronin of the Tokugawa Era. For example the original film The 47 Ronin directed by Kenji Mizoguchi is released near to the date of the Pearl Harbor attack. and the 1998 film of the same name by John Frankenheimer with script by David Mamet refers directly to the same historical event. ” The popularity of the tale grew during the Meiji era of Japanese history, in which Japan underwent modernization, and the legend became subsumed within discourses of national heritage and identity.”

The connection or family resemblance of feudal despotism and a repressive political state apparatus that attempts to control reproductive rights or democratic representation is now mobilized by ideology and ideological institutions such as Religions, Governments, and Mass Media and are mobilized much like Pat Buchanan’s meme of a Culture War. Its bastardization into a variety of discourses about race, class, and gender occupy much of the time and space of DK. As a matter of making the analysis of contemporary events, especially those exhibiting false consciousness like acts of racism or other violence clearer, some variants of Marxist methodology can be useful beyond some inerrant textual applications of Marxological theories. Excuse the lapse into the technical but the recent histories of human conflict as well as conflict among humans and nature require methods that can help make even the simplest of practices more coherent under the “shock doctrine” of crisis capitalism. There is a fluid boundary between culture war and actual war much as there is between abstract and concrete violence.

Althusser explains that the SA (State Apparatus) functions predominantly by violence or repression and only secondarily by ideology. Similarly the ISAs (Ideological State Apparatuses) function predominantly by ideology but can include punishment or repression secondarily.

This diary begins with a consideration of a recent book on Buddhist Warfare, a topic which has interested others as representative of the apparent contradiction of perhaps more Western stereotypes about the peaceful resistance to authoritarianism by some Buddhisms (Tibet) and the hegemonic behavior of other Buddhist majority regimes (Myanmar/Burma) where punishment or repression seems anomolous to a population significantly Buddhist. There is no space here to discuss the complex sectarian struggles of global religions and the focus here is on the material justification of cultural violence in the context of this recent book edited by Jerryson and Juergensmeyer Buddhist Warfare OUP 2010. The ideology of any religion and its worldly sectarian practices can be considered as some Marxists did in the last century as Ideological State Apparatuses (ISA) in the case of the ambitions of early to mid 20th Century Japanese imperialism, Buddhism was manipulated to become an ISA in terms of forging a national will and an industrialized state to sacrifice for humans claiming the status of feudal deity-monarchs. In the cases of contemporary Thailand and Myanmar among others, the identity of Buddhism and a ruling class creates a complex set of contradiction for both Buddhist resistance movements and military-political elites no different structurally than many other regimes Marx described as an Asiatic mode of production, (AMP), and that Oriental Despotism reproduces itself structurally in many contemporary Asian corporatized ruling class economies that have many different oligarchic names such as Chaebol in South Korea, family-controlled corporate conglomerates. In Japan before World War II, large holding companies formed wealth groups, or zaibatsu, which dominated most industry. The zaibatsu were dissolved after the war, but keiretsu-large, modern industrial enterprise groupings-emerged. And the tensions between the imperatives for military and economic self-defense as well as the need for corporatist, oligarghic, yet familial expansion create more challenges for the many corresponding Buddhisms.

MSDF Hyuga, a contemporary Japanese aircraft carrier classified as a destroyer:

What is important for this brief narrative is the point of view reconciling the complexity of many Buddhisms within the context of such societies, the expansion of rationalized violence against a populace and the rationalizing discourse of remote killing. This is where the army does the killing so one’s own responsibility is intact. Drone warfare can represent the instrumental separation and distance possible and even resemble the Buddhist position or relative autonomy on just violence. In these cases, that group or even individual violence or exploitation are situated in a discourse of class struggle that has an ideological structure consistent with other capitalist and even pre-capitalist practices. There is some literature on the political economy of arbitrary seasonal regional violence in France in the late middle ages. This same discourse exists in the justification or rationalization of individual and group religious practices in military organizations working for governments that represent a separation of church and state. This is historically a relatively new term considering the number of theocratic regimes that do not recognize that formal or informal separation in contrast to democratic rules of law which attempt to keep public order in a republic despite the actions of corporate despots.


The theory of the Asiatic mode of production, (AMP) was devised by Karl Marx around the early 1850s. The essence of the theory has been described as “[the] suggestion … that Asiatic societies were held in thrall by a despotic ruling clique, residing in central cities and directly expropriating surplus from largely autarkic and generally undifferentiated village communities.” The theory continues to arouse heated discussion among contemporary Marxists and non-Marxists alike. Some have rejected the whole concept on the grounds that the socio-economic formations of pre-capitalist Asia did not differ enough from those of feudal Europe to warrant special designation. Aside from Marx, Friedrich Engels was also an enthusiastic commentator on the AMP. They both focused on the socio-economic base of AMP society.

Marx and Engels were trying to reconcile why development was uneven in the East Asian context, partially to explain European colonialism and the creation of spheres on influence based on new forms of extractible exchange in the form of mobile surplus value, in this case, opium as a medium of exchange value.



Opium Godown (Storehouse) in Patna, Bihar (c. 1814)

“China, one of those faltering Asian empires, which one after the other fell prey to the entrepreneurial spirit of the European race, was so weak, so much collapsed, that it did not even have the strength to go through the crisis of a people’s revolution, so that an acute indignation has turned into a chronic and probably incurable disease, an empire, so much decomposed, that it was almost unable to rule its own people or to offer resistance to the foreign aggressors”.

Asiatic mode of production

This is a controversial contribution to Marxist theory, initially used to explain pre-slave and pre-feudal large earthwork constructions in China, India, the Euphrates and Nile river valleys (and named on this basis of the primary evidence coming from greater “Asia”). The Asiatic mode of production is said to be the initial form of class society, where a small group extracts social surplus through violence aimed at settled or unsettled band communities within a domain. Exploited labour is extracted as forced corvee labour during a slack period of the year (allowing for monumental construction such as the pyramids, ziggurats, ancient Indian communal baths or the Chinese Great Wall). Exploited labour is also extracted in the form of goods directly seized from the exploited communities. The primary property form of this mode is the direct religious possession of communities (villages, bands, hamlets) and all those within them. The ruling class of this society is generally a semi-theocratic aristocracy which claims to be the incarnation of gods on earth. The forces of production associated with this society include basic agricultural techniques, massive construction and storage of goods for social benefit (granaries).

Yet colonial extraction and power projected itself easily into East Asia in the 19th Century, partially because of the kinds of labor agreements made in parallel with native merchant capitalists as well as a hegemonic ensemble of colonizing projects, each bringing its own version of Orientalist (sic) value to Europe. Yet concurrently and administrative violence brought to a country has its relatively autonomous indigenous religion still operating as an ISA in parallel to missionary Christianity where spiritual volition could be retained.

Cetanā  is a Buddhist term commonly translated as “volition”, “directionality”, or “attraction”. It can be defined as a mental factor that moves or urges the mind in a particular direction, toward a specific object or goal

It is no stretch to see the use of religion in legitimating state violence as seen in the image of the Taliban demolishing sacred Buddhist sites as motivating or rationalizing the initial invasion into Afghanistan and its continued use on a more informally profane way in the conduct of the subsequent wars. These are moments of justifying/rationalizing violence against self or Other (preemptive violence prevents a greater sin). In some historical cases they are the reasons for oppressing rival sects or religions to this day.

Nov 24 2013

Rant of the Week: Jon Stewart: Dem Nukem

Dem Nukem

Harry Reid bypasses the Senate’s filibustering Republican minority by launching the “nuclear option.”

   Stewart: Actually, Sen. McConnell, he did try to make a more substantive case against this filibuster amending.

   McConnell: I realize this sort of wishful thinking might appeal to the uninitiated newcomers in the Democratic conference who’ve served exactly zero days in the minority, but the rest of you guys in the conference should know better.

   Those of you who’ve been in the minority before should know better.

   Stewart: Mark my words! One day you Democrats will want to be obstructionist assholes making a mockery of our system of government. And who’ll be laughing then? Turtle Man.

Nov 24 2013

On This Day In History November 24

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 24 is the 328th day of the year (329th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 37 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1859, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, a groundbreaking scientific work by British naturalist Charles Darwin, is published in England. Darwin’s theory argued that organisms gradually evolve through a process he called “natural selection.” In natural selection, organisms with genetic variations that suit their environment tend to propagate more descendants than organisms of the same species that lack the variation, thus influencing the overall genetic makeup of the species.

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, published on 24 November 1859, is a work of scientific literature which is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. Its full title was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. For the sixth edition of 1872, the short title was changed to The Origin of Species. Darwin’s book introduced the scientific theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection. It presented a body of evidence that the diversity of life arose by common descent through a branching pattern of evolution. Darwin included evidence that he had gathered on the Beagle expedition in the 1830s and his subsequent findings from research, correspondence, and experimentation.

Various evolutionary ideas had already been proposed to explain new findings in biology. There was growing support for such ideas among dissident anatomists and the general public, but during the first half of the 19th century the English scientific establishment was closely tied to the Church of England, while science was part of natural theology. Ideas about the transmutation of species were controversial as they conflicted with the beliefs that species were unchanging parts of a designed hierarchy and that humans were unique, unrelated to animals. The political and theological implications were intensely debated, but transmutation was not accepted by the scientific mainstream.

The book was written for non-specialist readers and attracted widespread interest upon its publication. As Darwin was an eminent scientist, his findings were taken seriously and the evidence he presented generated scientific, philosophical, and religious discussion. The debate over the book contributed to the campaign by T.H. Huxley and his fellow members of the X Club to secularise science by promoting scientific naturalism. Within two decades there was widespread scientific agreement that evolution, with a branching pattern of common descent, had occurred, but scientists were slow to give natural selection the significance that Darwin thought appropriate. During the “eclipse of Darwinism” from the 1880s to the 1930s, various other mechanisms of evolution were given more credit. With the development of the modern evolutionary synthesis in the 1930s and 1940s, Darwin’s concept of evolutionary adaptation through natural selection became central to  modern evolutionary theory, now the unifying concept of the life sciences.

Nov 24 2013

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: The guests on Sunday’s “This Week” are Intelligence Committee Vice Chair Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA); Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA); Facebook CEO and FWD.us founder Mark Zuckerberg; and author and poet Dr. Maya Angelou.

The roundtable guests are ABC News’ Cokie Roberts; Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile; ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd; and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer’s guests are Clint Hill, the Secret Service Agent assigned to Jacqueline Kennedy; House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD); and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Joining him for a panel discussion are the New York TimesDavid Sanger; Reuters Columnist David Rohde; Wall Street Journal columnist Kim Strassel; and CBS News Political Director John Dickerson.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: MTP will not air this Sunday due to coverage of Brazil’s Formula 1 Race.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guests are Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA); Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY); Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

Nov 24 2013

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Syria conflict: Children ‘targeted by snipers’

24 November 2013 Last updated at 00:11 GMT

The BBC

More than 11,000 children have died in Syria’s civil war in nearly three years, including hundreds targeted by snipers, a new report says.

Summary executions and torture have also been used against children as young as one, the London-based Oxford Research Group think tank says.

The report says the majority of children have been killed by bombs or shells in their own neighbourhoods.

It wants fighters trained in how not to put civilians’ lives at risk.




Sunday’s Headlines:

The British mine owners, the police and South Africa’s day of blood

Jeremy Scahill: From pursuing Washington over its secret war on terror to becoming a rebel fighter in the global war against journalism

Thousands protest US drone strikes in Pakistan

High murder rate in Honduras, but presidential vote could hinge on economy

Rich-vs.-poor nations’ clash stalls work toward 2015 climate pact

Nov 24 2013

Deal Reached with Iran Over Its Nuclear Program

A deal has been reached in Switzerland with Iran over its nuclear program. The agreement will allow for the lifting of some of the draconian sanctions that were imposed over the Western fears of the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon.

After marathon talks that finally ended early Sunday morning, the United States and five other world powers reached an agreement with Iran to halt much of Iran’s nuclear program. It was the first time in nearly a decade, American officials said, that steps had been taken to stop much of Iran’s nuclear effort and even roll some elements back.

The freeze would last six months, with the aim of giving international negotiators time to pursue the far more challenging task of drafting a comprehensive accord that would ratchet back much of Iran’s nuclear program and ensure that it could be used only for peaceful purposes.

[..]

According to the accord, Iran would agree to stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent. To make good on that pledge, Iran would dismantle the links between networks of centrifuges.

All of Iran’s stockpile of uranium that has been enriched to 20 percent, a short hop to weapons-grade fuel, would be diluted or converted into oxide so that it could not be readily used for military purposes.

No new centrifuges, neither old models nor newer more efficient ones, could be installed. Centrifuges that have been installed but which are not currently operating – Iran has more than 8,000 such centrifuges – could not be started up. No new enrichment facilities could be established.

The agreement, however, would not require Iran to stop enriching uranium to a level of 3.5 percent or dismantle any of its existing centrifuges.

Iran’s stockpile of such low-enriched uranium would be allowed to temporarily increase to about eight tons from seven tons currently. But Tehran would be required to shrink this stockpile by the end of the six-month agreement back to seven tons. This would be done by installing equipment to covert some of that stockpile to oxide.

To guard against cheating, international monitors would be allowed to visit the Natanz enrichment facility and the underground nuclear enrichment plant at Fordo on a daily basis to check the film from cameras installed there.

In return for the initial agreement, the United States has agreed to provide $6 billion to $7 billion in sanctions relief, American officials said. This limited sanctions relief can be accomplished by executive order, allowing the Obama administration to make the deal without having to appeal to Congress, where there is strong criticism of any agreement that does not fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear program.

Nov 24 2013

Three Things On The Internet

The team of All In with Chris Hayes puts out a daily request on Twitter asking their followers to send them the things they find most interesting on the internet. These are their finds for November 19. 2013

1. A new way to watch a Bob Dylan classic;

2. modern coverage of a historic event;

3. and grown-ups relive the past.

Nov 24 2013

What’s Cooking: Getting It Together for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving "Eat Pork" photo 0008_zps26f112b7.gifFor those of you who haven’t realized Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, snap out of it! Time to get on the road, into the grocery store and but the bird. Unless it’s fresh, that is not a frozen boulder, it’s going to take 2 – 3 days to thaw in the refrigerator. If your brining, you’ll need one that’s thawed or fresh at this stage. So. wake up, get thee to the grocery store. NOW!

For those who aren’t doing the big family bash and are spending the evening alone or with one or two others, here are a few recipes from the New York Times for a small scale Thanksgiving dinner.

Turkey Cutlets Marsala

If you can’t find turkey cutlets, buy a boneless turkey breast, cut into cutlets then lightly pound them into shape beneath a sheet of plastic wrap.

A Small Thanksgiving Dinner photo 24eat-articleLarge-v2_zpse06ddbe9.jpgTOTAL TIME: 15 minutes

Ingredients

   4 turkey cutlets, approximately 1 1/4 pounds

   Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

   Flour for dusting

   4 tablespoons unsalted butter

   1/4 cup Marsala wine

   1/4 cup chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium

Preparation

1.    Place the cutlets on a wooden board, and season them aggressively with salt and pepper, then lightly dust them with flour.

2.    Melt the butter in a large sauté or frying pan set over medium-high heat, and when it begins to foam, add the turkey cutlets to the pan. Turn the heat down to medium, and cook, gently, for 3 minutes a side, being careful not to allow the butter to blacken

3.    When the second side is just about done, pour the Marsala over the cutlets, and allow it to bubble and combine with the butter. Now do the same with a splash or two of the chicken stock. Cook in the pan for 2 or 3 minutes more.

YIELD: 2 servings

Vegetable Risotto

TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes

Ingredients

   1/2 ounce dried mushrooms

   6 tablespoons unsalted butter

   5 green leaf lettuce leaves, shredded

   1 leaf of a fennel bulb, finely diced

   1 small onion, finely diced

   1 cup arborio rice

   2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

   Kosher salt

   Nutmeg

Preparation

1.    Put the mushrooms in a bowl, and pour hot water over them. Allow them to steep for 20 minutes, then squeeze them out and mince. Reserve the mushroom broth for another purpose.

2.    Put four cups of water in a pot, and set it over high heat to boil. Keep it hot.

3.    In a heavy saucepan set over medium heat, melt 5 tablespoons butter and when it foams, cook the lettuce and fennel until soft. Lift them out of the pan and set aside. Add another tablespoon of butter if necessary, and cook the onion until translucent. Add the rice, and stir until it is glistening and hot.

4.    Add a cup of the hot water to the mixture, and stir it until the liquid is absorbed, approximately 5 minutes. Add another cup of the water, and stir again until it is absorbed. Add the mushrooms, and stir again, then add a pinch of salt and another half cup of the hot water. When the liquid has been absorbed, taste the rice to see if the grains offer the slightest resistance to your teeth. If not, add the rest of the water, and stir again to combine.

5.    Stir in the lettuce, the fennel, the Parmesan and any remaining butter, then grate nutmeg generously over the mixture.

YIELD 2 servings

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

TOTAL TIME 40 minutes

Ingredients

   3/4 pound fresh brussels sprouts

   2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or bacon fat

   Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

   Red-pepper flakes to taste

Preparation

1.    Preheat oven to 400. Trim the ends of the brussels sprouts, and remove all yellowing exterior leaves. Put the sprouts in a large bowl, and toss with the oil or bacon fat, and season well with salt and pepper.

2.    Pour the sprouts onto a sheet pan and roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to brown the vegetables evenly, until crisp on the outside and tender within. Sprinkle a little more salt on them and, if you like, red-pepper flakes.

YIELD 2 servings

All recipes are easily doubled.

Bon appétit