". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Carry On Thinking

You all have noticed that the neocon/t-bagger talking head economists have flatly stated this last week that the banks are on strike -- Greenspan's Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged religion is realizing its greatest fantasy, of the wealthy hiding out in a well-stocked Wyoming mountain stronghold to watch the world die from the lack of their sustenance, from which they will emerge into the inevitable rubble and profound submissive gratitude of those who now understand that without the vastly selfishly wealthy they are NOTHING, you hear us, NOTHING!, the global emperors of the entire grateful and submissive -- did we mention the submission? -- earth.  After which surely they shall go to war with each other in order to be THE ONE to Bind Them to ME, THE ONE to Rule Them All.  Recall as well, in that Atlas Shrugged fantasy, only one of them has a girl, and she's the ONLY girl  ....
Moreover, it's impossible not to notice how many articles there have been in the last 24 months of so, of how good it would be for us to eat insects for our protein needs, and descriptions of what and how to prepare and eat them. These food columns are in the primary media owned by the members of this class that is living the Atlas Shrugged dream.
From this AM's da List:
Meanwhile, a friend just pointed me to Adam Curtis's blog The Medium is the Message. It contains a lot of embedded archival video (Curtis is a filmmaker for the BBC), so that simply reproducing the text of a post would miss the point. I'll come back to this later, when I finish something new I'm writing, but meanwhile, you can get lost in this blog for days. As a teaser, here's the lede of a long recent piece -- this is just the opening -- and to give you an idea of the range, this history of free-market crusaders and think-tanking in Britain also embeds a half-hour 1965 documentary about Screaming Lord Sutch, which is actually germane to the story, because pirate radio is part of this history . . . though i prefer to see "free market" in scare quotes . . .
The Curse of Tina
The guiding idea at the heart of today's political system is freedom of choice. The belief that if you apply the ideals of the free market to all sorts of areas in society, people will be liberated from the dead hand of government. The wants and desires of individuals then become the primary motor of society.

But this has led to a very peculiar paradox. In politics today we have no choice at all. Quite simply There Is No Alternative.

That was fine when the system was working well. But since 2008 there has been a rolling economic crisis, and the system increasingly seems unable to rescue itself. You would expect that in response to such a crisis new, alternative ideas would emerge. But this hasn't happened.

Nobody - not just from the left, but from anywhere - has come forward and tried to grab the public imagination with a vision of a different way to organise and manage society.
It's a bit odd - and I thought I would tell a number of stories about why we find it impossible to imagine any alternative. Why we have become so possessed by the ideology of our age that we cannot think outside it.

The first story is called:


It is about the rise of the modern Think Tank and how in a very strange way they have made thinking impossible.

Think Tanks surround politics today and are the very things that are supposed to generate new ideas. But if you go back and look at how they rose up - at who invented them and why - you discover they are not quite what they seem. That in reality they may have nothing to do with genuinely developing new ideas, but have become a branch of the PR industry whose aim is to do the very opposite - to endlessly prop up and reinforce today's accepted political wisdom.

So successful have they been in this task that many Think Tanks have actually become serious obstacles to really thinking about new and inspiring visions of how to change society for the better.
It is also a fantastically rich story about English life that takes you into a world that's a bit like Jonathan Coe's wonderful novel 'What a Carve Up', but for real. It is a rollicking saga that involves all sorts of things not normally associated with think tanks - chickens, pirate radio, retired colonels, Jean Paul Sartre, Screaming Lord Sutch, and at its heart is a dramatic and brutal killing committed by one of the very men who helped bring about the resurgence of the free market in Britain. . . .

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