Daily Archive: 12/29/2013

Dec 29 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up: The Media Landscape After the Culture War by Annieli

Every war seems permanent as does every revolution until it ends which requires much in the way of interpreting rather than explaining the victory to the vanquished, even in mediated spaces that can digitally define cultural landscapes. How possible is it to consider Walter Benjamin’s  (http://www.digplanet.com/wiki/Theses_on_the_Philosophy_of_History) point on the failure of historical materialism “To articulate the past historically does not mean to recognize it ‘the way it really was.’ It means to seize hold of a memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger”? More specifically how do we treat cultural danger as presented in the (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme) meme of “Culture War” and how can we incorporate Marxist analysis to remediate or reconcile the memories that emerge in momentary crisis that obscure the critically real history embodied and assess their actual danger or risk.

Landscapes have that same problem of memory, as actual experience of an expansive and contemplative view of a world or as saved representations of concrete and abstract journeys through those same worlds. The first is individually ontological whereas the latter is a social ontology representing and reproducing an historical relationship to others in a cultural context. Both involve human labor at various scales but it is the crises of value and meaning assigned to those experiences that inform global discourses of war and environment on an unprecedented scale and scope. Today’s culture wars find themselves waging these combative discourses in a media landscape (http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/media-landscape_b37736) or Medienlandschaft.

The phrase culture war (https://www. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_war)represents a loan translation (calque) from the German Kulturkampf. The German word, Kulturkampf, was used to describe the clash between cultural and religious groups in the campaign from 1871 to 1878 under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck of the German Empire against the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. In American usage the term culture war is used to claim that there is a conflict between those values considered traditionalist or conservative and those considered progressive or liberal. It originated in the 1920s when urban and rural American values came into clear conflict. This followed several decades of immigration to the cities by people considered alien to earlier immigrants. It was also a result of the cultural shifts and modernizing trends of the Roaring 20s, culminating in the presidential campaign of Al Smith. However, the "culture war" in United States of America was redefined by James Davison Hunter’s 1991 book Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. In this work, it is traced to the 1960s. The perceived focus of the American culture war and its definition have taken various forms since then.

 

“The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism. One reason why Fascism has a chance is that in the name of progress its opponents treat it as a historical norm. The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are ‘still’ possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge–unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable.” Walter Benjamin (1940)

  In such historical landscapes who are “cultural workers” and what does cultural work as contrasted with cultural objects look like, is it different of the same as all kinds of work and what kinds of value does it produce or more directly can individuals produce “particular kinds of independent and critical reflexivity modelled on the autonomy of the work of art” (Bennett 2011, and Bennett 2009) Societies exist in such landscapes and their collective experiences are often organized or reproduced as mass spectacles, either actual or mediated and consumed in a variety of ways, often driven by tragedy or circumstance.

A well-ordered society would like the bodies which compose it to have the perceptions, sensations and thoughts which correspond to them. Now this correspondence is perpetually disturbed. There are words and discourses which freely circulate, without master, and which divert bodies from their destinations, engaging them in movements in the neighbourhood of certain words: people, liberty, equality, etc. There are spectacles which disassociate the gaze from the hand and transform the worker into an aesthete.

 

What kinds of spectacles effect these transformations? Do they bear a family resemblance to the manufacturing of consent where spectacles include all forms of mediated politics and of course the intersecting claims of “entertainment” as with Limbaugh the entertainer (“Okay, so I am an entertainer, and I have 20 million listeners”) as a form of reactionary cultural work. It would be easy to say the following if we could identify the “concrete historical context” and since there are multiple mediations, how would a dialectical method of analysis explain rather than merely interpret such products of culture with multiple tropes of cultural war contesting for domination.

In short, mass-mediated products are determined by various factors-the systems of ownership, the process of cultural production, the level of struggle, the state of consciousness in society at a given time, and so on. A dialectical method of analysis would involve studying all these factors within a concrete historical context so as to explain the multiple mediations that infuse a product of culture

For example, while dystopian, there are multiple ideologies at work in the following example of spectacular speculation where doomsday prepping and its media representations are in reality a capitalist industry that exploits the potential danger of refugees coming from cities to attack rural preppers in a variety of romanticized post-apocalypse scenarios. These narratives have a burgeoning market appealing to a variety of religious and political secessionists all with disposable income or transferable construction skills for survival. They become amplified by the seasonal and media driven rise in firearms purchases. All of these actions represent desires for a kind of aesthetic autonomy, however driven by social underdevelopment.  

Ron Douglas, for example, has gathered enough supplies to keep his eight person family (two parents, six children) functioning off the grid for a year. His supplies can be broken into four categories: food, energy, shelter, and protection. He’s become such an expert that he is one of the founders of Red Shed Media Group, a business that organizes Prepper expos (40,000 attendees at $10 a person), has a hugely popular podcast radio program, and owns the rights to successful survivalist books.

Under the fold the concrete becomes either more wet or more abstract                      

Dec 29 2013

Rant of the Week: Stephen Colbert: The Word – Channel Serfing

The Word – Channel Serfing

As the middle class declines, Bloomberg columnist Virginia Postrel suggests that television eliminates the need for higher wages.

Dec 29 2013

Heavy Snow Warnings for 2014

Ryan Gallagher reports on surveillance, national security and privacy for Slate Magazine:

By providing a large trove of firsthand documents, Snowden changed the game completely. Anyone positing the existence of the dragnet spying programs – or trying to challenge them in court – could no longer be accused of speculating hypothetically or be dismissed as a paranoid lunatic.

[…snip…]

But the backlash is in many ways just starting to gather momentum. Six months on from the first Snowden scoop, only now are we beginning to see the first substantive signs of emerging legal and policy shifts. Moreover, despite the crude attempts of some government officials to suppress the reporting on the secret files, important new stories are going to continue flowing. And I say that with a high degree of certainty because, in recent weeks, I have had a chance to review the cache of leaked documents while working on investigations with the former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, whom Snowden entrusted with the material earlier this year.

So expect more revelations – and with them more court rulings, committee hearings, controversies, and reforms.

This has certainly been the Year of Snowden, but you can bet that the whistleblower is going to own a significant chunk of 2014, too.

Snowden revelations only the beginning, The Age, December 30, 2013

Dec 29 2013

On This Day In History December 29

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.

December 29 is the 363rd day of the year (364th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are two days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1890, the Wounded Knee Massacre took place near Wounded Knee Creek (Lakota: Cankpe Opi Wakpala) on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

In the years prior to the Massacre, the U.S. Government continued to coerce the Lakota into signing away more of their lands. The large bison herds, as well as other staple species of the Sioux diet, had been driven nearly to extinction. Congress failed to keep its treaty promises to feed, house, clothe and protect reservation lands from encroachment by settlers and gold miners; as well as failing to properly oversee the Indian Agents. As a result there was unrest on the reservations.

On December 28, the day before the massacre, , a detachment of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment commanded by Major Samuel M. Whitside intercepted Spotted Elk’s (Big Foot) band of Miniconjou Lakota and 38 Hunkpapa Lakota near Porcupine Butte and escorted them 5 miles westward (8 km) to Wounded Knee Creek where they made camp.

The rest of the 7th Cavalry Regiment arrived led by Colonel James Forsyth and surrounded the encampment supported by four Hotchkiss guns.

On the morning of December 29, the troops went into the camp to disarm the Lakota. One version of events claims that during the process of disarming the Lakota, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote was reluctant to give up his rifle claiming he had paid a lot for it. A scuffle over Black Coyote’s rifle escalated and a shot was fired which resulted in the 7th Cavalry opening firing indiscriminately from all sides, killing men, women, and children, as well as some of their own fellow troopers. Those few Lakota warriors who still had weapons began shooting back at the attacking troopers, who quickly suppressed the Lakota fire. The surviving Lakota fled, but U.S. cavalrymen pursued and killed many who were unarmed.

By the time it was over, at least 150 men, women, and children of the Lakota Sioux had been killed and 51 wounded (4 men, 47 women and children, some of whom died later); some estimates placed the number of dead at 300. Twenty-five troopers also died, and thirty-nine were wounded (6 of the wounded would also die). It is believed that many were the victims of friendly fire, as the shooting took place at close range in chaotic conditions.

More than 80 years after the massacre, beginning on February 27, 1973, Wounded Knee was the site of the Wounded Knee incident, a 71-day standoff between federal authorities and militants of the American Indian Movement.

The site has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Dec 29 2013

US and British MSM Gets an “F”

At a computer conference in Hamburg, Germany, journalist and lawyer Glenn Greenwald delivered the keynote address that chastised the US and British mainstream media for their failures to challenge erroneous remarks routinely made by government officials around the globe

Thousands of attendees at the thirtieth annual Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg packed into a room to watch the 46-year-old lawyer-turned-columnist present a keynote address delivered less than seven months after he started working with former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Revelations contained in leaked documents supplied by Snowden to Greenwald and other journalists have sparked international outrage and efforts to reform the far-reaching surveillance operations waged by the NSA and intelligence officials in allied nations. But speaking remotely from Brazil this week, Greenwald argued that the media establishment at large is guilty of failing significantly with respect to accomplishing its most crucial role: keeping governments in check.

When Greenwald and his colleagues began working with Snowden, he said they realized that they’d have to act in a way that wasn’t on par with how the mainstream media has acted up until now.

Dec 29 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”.

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The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: On a special edition of “This Week,” a look back at the “game changers” of 2013.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer will axamine the “Year of Surveillance with guests Barton Gellman of the Washington Post, one of the reporters that first wrote about Snowden; Jesselyn Radack, a legal adviser to Snowden; and Thomas Drake, a former NSA whistleblower; and General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA.

Joining him for a panel discussion of the future of surveillance and technology are Jeffrey Kluger of TIME; James Fallows of The Atlantic; Laura Sydell of NPR and Seth Fletcher of Scientific American.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: Guests on this Sunday’s MTP are Edward Snowden’s lead legal advisor, Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union; House Oversight Committee Chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX).

The roundtable guests are  Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson; NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell; Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Elliott Abrams; Woodrow Wilson Center Senior Fellow Robin Wright; Provost and Professor of History, Dr. Peter Starns.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley looks at 10 top political talking points from 2013 with a SE Cupp, Donna Brazile, Ana Navarro, and Neera Tanden.

Dec 29 2013

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Why Afghanistan’s election campaign may look familiar to American TV viewers

 

By Wajahat S. Khan, Producer, NBC News

American-style debates, polling and current affairs programming are bringing a whole new level of political punditry to Afghanistan as the country prepares to elect a new president.

Campaign managers, TV producers and pollsters are hot commodities in Kabul as live “town halls” and meet-and-greet interviews aimed at driving the democratic debate forward are getting more attention than ever before.

Despite a stubborn insurgency and an economy that the World Bank has warned will shrink as the U.S. and other Western powers begin their military withdrawal in 2014, the country’s 30 national and more than 20 regional TV channels are thriving ahead of April’s election.




Sunday’s Headlines:

Ugandans fear curse of oil wealth as it threatens to blight ‘pearl of Africa’

Erdogan points fingers in corruption scandal

Russian screening of Pussy Riot film blocked by authorities

Africa a booming market for stolen cars

Century-old photo negatives found in Antarctic explorer’s hut