Blog

Blue Genes

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 22/10/2018 - 8:09am in

(For a more embiggenated experience, click the teddy bear.)

I find the science of genetic modification equal parts fascinating and scary. Amazing things have been accomplished already and the potential for wonders beyond our imaginations is limited only to the imaginations of people who are smarter than you and I can even imagine. And I’m not talking about GMO corn here, I’m talking about much larger things like extinguishing certain birth defects and treating cancer, so while it is easy to get all worked up about GMO crops, I think we need to stay level headed if we’re going to have a meaningful discourse.

But seriously, it could also lead to hoards of 1500 lbs gerbils roaming the streets hungry for human flesh. Worse yet, those gerbils could have flame-throwing capabilities and voices like Fran Drescher. Why is it that no one is talking about that?

On that cheerful note, let’s see what Wayno has been growing in his cartoon petri dish this week…

More than a few folks asked us what was funny about this. I’m not qualified to say what’s funny to other people but this is a fairly common method of creating a cartoon; start with a recognizable image and substitute the typical characters for ones that are different. The switch is sometimes amusing. Lots of people thought this one was, some did not. 

If the hint of brutality is keeping you from enjoying this one, keep in mind that piñatas are inanimate objects that cannot feel pain and are bred specifically to distribute candy and toys via violence.

This gag vaguely reminds me of a schoolyard joke about losing ten ugly pounds instantly by cutting off your head. 

Someone in a comment about this cartoon earlier this week mentioned a story of somebody stomping on nitroglycerin tablets in an effort to get them to explode.

Humans are funny.

Poor Bambi. If he’d been more rich and white, he’d never have been charged in today’s America. He might have even gotten a coveted position in the current presidential administration or a seat on the Supreme Court. #ItAintEasyBeingBrown

Not many people are allergic to kryptonite but as a precaution, airlines have removed all kryptonite from the snacks and beverages they serve.

WARNING: This product was manufactured in a facility that processes nuts, dairy, and kryptonite.

Wayno has a fun side story about this Superman gag as well as a sketch of a previous version of it. As always, I recommend having a looksee at Wayno’s weekly cartoon roundup.

And if you’ll just step outside, I’ll point you to the wheat field. It’s BYOGrindingStone.

This final cartoon reminds me: if anyone knows where I can get a used hot tub desk in good condition, I’m in the market.

That’s the rabbit hole for this week, Jazz Pickles. If you’re in central Mexico next weekend, please come by my art opening and say hello. If you can’t make it, you can view the work I’ll be showing at the gallery on my new website, diegopiraro.com.   You can also buy prints and a super cool luchador enamel lapel pin in the shop there. 

 

Until my next post, be smart, be happy, be nice, and resist ignorance and fascism.

BIZARRO SHOP (enamel pins, Hello Shitty, shirts and more!)  

… Bizarro TIP JAR

Signed, numbered, limited edition prints and original cartoon art  

Bizarro Cartoons on Instagram  

Piraro Fine Art on Instagram

The Full Brexit

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/10/2018 - 7:47pm in

Tags 

Blog

The Full Brexit – For Popular Sovereignty, Democracy and Economic Renewal, is the title of a new appeall, which we document here.

Founding Statement

Brexit offers a historic opportunity for democratic and economic renewal. This opportunity is being squandered by Britain’s political class. The Full Brexit will set out radical arguments for a clean break with the European Union. Instead of the conservative nostalgia of the Eurosceptics, our arguments will put the interests of working people – the majority of citizens – at the centre of the case for a democratic Brexit.

In the EU referendum, British voters seized the opportunity to protest against a politics that offers no real alternatives and an economic model that leaves many behind. The Leave campaign’s slogan, “take back control”, resonated with millions of people whose interests are no longer represented in British politics. For this revolt, Leave voters have been slandered as dupes and racists. The Full Brexit stands up for and with the majority of British people: not just Leavers, but also Remain voters who believe the decision must be respected, and for everyone hungry for meaningful political and economic change.

Eurosceptics rightly complain that powerful elite Remainers are conspiring to sabotage Brexit. But this is not the main reason Brexit is adrift. The real cause is that the entire political class lacks any compelling vision of Britain’s future, leaving most British citizens without effective political representation.

Having lost touch with ordinary people, political parties have retreated into European Union policymaking networks. After decades of integration, few politicians, civil servants or academic experts can now imagine any kind of future outside of the EU. Yet Leave campaigners on the right also lack any positive vision. Nostalgic bluster about “Global Britain” has led only to the sterile argument about free trade agreements versus the Single Market and the Customs Union. This wrangling about trade fails to address the problems that led people to reject the EU.

The problems of low investment, stagnant wages and ageing infrastructure that blight our towns and cities require a much more fundamental reconsideration of Britain’s economic and political model. Lacking ideas about how to tackle the deeper problems, politicians on all sides are defaulting to conservative positions, seeking to minimise change, whether through full single market membership or “regulatory alignment”, mostly to defend vested interests like the City of London.

This lack of vision threatens to neutralise Brexit’s potential to renew our political and economic life. EU rules are not neutral: they lock in a set of neoliberal policies that tightly constrain governments’ capacity to innovate, experiment, and tackle voters’ concerns. By preventing practical redress of voters’ grievances, this corrodes representative democracy. Brexit offers a precious opportunity to change this. If this opportunity is squandered, the public will rightly conclude that voting changes nothing. Disengagement and cynicism will intensify and populism – rampant elsewhere in the EU – will surge, threatening what is left of our parliamentary democracy.

A challenge to the logic that “There is No Alternative” is urgently needed, and this must come from the left. The Full Brexit is not a political party. We do not all agree about each and every policy or document on this website. But we do agree, first, that the left’s proper role is to be the architect of a better, more democratic future and, second, that a clean break with the EU is needed to realise that potential.

To this end, we will provide analysis of the present political situation and proposals for the future. We will engage with the public, politicians and anyone who shares our democratic ethos. And we will conduct our work in solidarity with those on the left in other European countries to develop a genuinely internationalist and democratic politics of national sovereignty.

Brexit offers an unprecedented opportunity to reshape Britain for the better. Please join us in that mission.

Founding Signatories

Dr Christopher Bickerton, University of Cambridge

Dr Philip Cunliffe, University of Kent

Paul Embery, Trade Unionists Against the EU

Thomas Fazi, Author and Journalist

Lord Maurice Glasman, House of Lords

David Goodhart, Author and Journalist

Prof Matthew Goodwin, University of Kent

Pauline Hadaway, University of Manchester

Dr James Heartfield, Author and Journalist

Dr Kevin Hickson, University of Liverpool

Dr Lee Jones, Queen Mary University of London

Prof Costas Lapavitsas, School of Oriental and African Studies

Prof Martin Loughlin, London School of Economics

Dr Tara McCormack, University of Leicester

Dr Jasper Miles, Goldsmiths College, University of London

Prof Peter Ramsay, London School of Economics

Prof Richard Tuck, Harvard University

Bruno Waterfield, Journalist

Prof Philip B Whyman, University of Central Lancashire

Dr Suke Wolton, Regents Park College, University of Oxford

 

The Full Brexit

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/10/2018 - 7:47pm in

Tags 

Blog

The Full Brexit – For Popular Sovereignty, Democracy and Economic Renewal, is the title of a new appeall, which we document here.

Founding Statement

Brexit offers a historic opportunity for democratic and economic renewal. This opportunity is being squandered by Britain’s political class. The Full Brexit will set out radical arguments for a clean break with the European Union. Instead of the conservative nostalgia of the Eurosceptics, our arguments will put the interests of working people – the majority of citizens – at the centre of the case for a democratic Brexit.

In the EU referendum, British voters seized the opportunity to protest against a politics that offers no real alternatives and an economic model that leaves many behind. The Leave campaign’s slogan, “take back control”, resonated with millions of people whose interests are no longer represented in British politics. For this revolt, Leave voters have been slandered as dupes and racists. The Full Brexit stands up for and with the majority of British people: not just Leavers, but also Remain voters who believe the decision must be respected, and for everyone hungry for meaningful political and economic change.

Eurosceptics rightly complain that powerful elite Remainers are conspiring to sabotage Brexit. But this is not the main reason Brexit is adrift. The real cause is that the entire political class lacks any compelling vision of Britain’s future, leaving most British citizens without effective political representation.

Having lost touch with ordinary people, political parties have retreated into European Union policymaking networks. After decades of integration, few politicians, civil servants or academic experts can now imagine any kind of future outside of the EU. Yet Leave campaigners on the right also lack any positive vision. Nostalgic bluster about “Global Britain” has led only to the sterile argument about free trade agreements versus the Single Market and the Customs Union. This wrangling about trade fails to address the problems that led people to reject the EU.

The problems of low investment, stagnant wages and ageing infrastructure that blight our towns and cities require a much more fundamental reconsideration of Britain’s economic and political model. Lacking ideas about how to tackle the deeper problems, politicians on all sides are defaulting to conservative positions, seeking to minimise change, whether through full single market membership or “regulatory alignment”, mostly to defend vested interests like the City of London.

This lack of vision threatens to neutralise Brexit’s potential to renew our political and economic life. EU rules are not neutral: they lock in a set of neoliberal policies that tightly constrain governments’ capacity to innovate, experiment, and tackle voters’ concerns. By preventing practical redress of voters’ grievances, this corrodes representative democracy. Brexit offers a precious opportunity to change this. If this opportunity is squandered, the public will rightly conclude that voting changes nothing. Disengagement and cynicism will intensify and populism – rampant elsewhere in the EU – will surge, threatening what is left of our parliamentary democracy.

A challenge to the logic that “There is No Alternative” is urgently needed, and this must come from the left. The Full Brexit is not a political party. We do not all agree about each and every policy or document on this website. But we do agree, first, that the left’s proper role is to be the architect of a better, more democratic future and, second, that a clean break with the EU is needed to realise that potential.

To this end, we will provide analysis of the present political situation and proposals for the future. We will engage with the public, politicians and anyone who shares our democratic ethos. And we will conduct our work in solidarity with those on the left in other European countries to develop a genuinely internationalist and democratic politics of national sovereignty.

Brexit offers an unprecedented opportunity to reshape Britain for the better. Please join us in that mission.

Founding Signatories

Dr Christopher Bickerton, University of Cambridge

Dr Philip Cunliffe, University of Kent

Paul Embery, Trade Unionists Against the EU

Thomas Fazi, Author and Journalist

Lord Maurice Glasman, House of Lords

David Goodhart, Author and Journalist

Prof Matthew Goodwin, University of Kent

Pauline Hadaway, University of Manchester

Dr James Heartfield, Author and Journalist

Dr Kevin Hickson, University of Liverpool

Dr Lee Jones, Queen Mary University of London

Prof Costas Lapavitsas, School of Oriental and African Studies

Prof Martin Loughlin, London School of Economics

Dr Tara McCormack, University of Leicester

Dr Jasper Miles, Goldsmiths College, University of London

Prof Peter Ramsay, London School of Economics

Prof Richard Tuck, Harvard University

Bruno Waterfield, Journalist

Prof Philip B Whyman, University of Central Lancashire

Dr Suke Wolton, Regents Park College, University of Oxford

 

Belabored Podcast #162: A Struggle Over Union Democracy at UPS, with Nelson Lichtenstein

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/10/2018 - 9:13am in

Tags 

Blog, Labor

The majority of Teamster members at UPS voted to reject a proposed contract; leadership says they’ll ratify it anyway. How did this happen? Nelson Lichtenstein joins us to discuss the ongoing conflict.

KICKSTARTER UPDATE: Initial goal reached!!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/10/2018 - 6:36pm in

Tags 

Blog

Thank you so much to those who’ve checked out the Kickstarter campaign for the new Wondermark book! I’m pleased to announce that we have met our initial funding goal and the book will definitely now be produced in the spring!

Now, the question is just “How many pages will the book be?” Any additional funds we raise will go toward making everyone’s book longer and contain more comics. I’ve been announcing updates in video form on the campaign page.

There is also a digital-only tier, if you don’t want an actual physical book taking up room in your life!

If you need to see a series of jokey graphs before deciding to back, well, I’ve got that too.

There are still a few weeks left to back the project, and as I write, we’re close to 15K, at which point everyone’s book gets 4 pages longer.

[ Wondermark Volume 5 on Kickstarter now ]


Podcasts Well Worth Your Time for Oct. 2018

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/10/2018 - 4:24pm in

Tags 

Blog

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:'SXUXK9QnQ0RlqRnStKsHrw',sig:'1PsiFacB8aDOzrV8J_E-OjOIsNtsJyqyeClV2_0U11Q=',w:'507px',h:'338px',items:'172627898',caption: false ,tld:'com',is360: false })});

Here are some more podcasts (a couple individual episodes, and a mini-series) from my recent listening that I really enjoyed, and thought you might too!

(Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any transcripts for these first two episodes.)

Lexicon Valley: “The Rise of They” (Website / Overcast )

English pronouns are evolving. It’s time to embrace it.

Lexicon Valley is a podcast about language — often about how English has developed and changed — hosted by linguist John McWhorter.

In this particular episode, he traces the deep roots of the singular “they” in English, as well as the many ways “they” is used today.

Citations Needed: “The Media’s Bogus Generation Obsession” (Website / Overcast )

“Baby Boomers are bloating the social safety net!” “GenXers are changing the nature of work!” “Millennials are killing the housing market!”.

The media endlessly feeds us stories about how one generation or another is engaging in some collective act of moral failing that, either explicitly or by implication, harms another generation. It’s a widely-mocked cliché at this point, namely the near-constant analyses detailing what Millennials have “killed” or “ruined” lately — everything from Applebee’s to diamonds to top sheets to beer to napkins.

The first rule of drama — and by implication, the media — is to create tension. But what if tensions that actually exist in our society, like white supremacy and class conflict, are too unpleasant and dicey to touch — upsetting advertisers and media owners who benefit from these systems?

To replace these real tensions in society, the media repeatedly relies on dubious and entirely safe points of conflict, like those between two arbitrary generations. It’s not the rich or racism that’s holding me back — it’s old people running up entitlement spending or lazy youth who don’t want to work!

I appreciate listening to Citations Needed, because they cover issues and trends in media from a perspective far outside the mainstream of political thought. (A past episode on Modern Money Theory was particularly interesting.)

They’re very good at deconstructing “common sense” or “received wisdom” ideas — in this case the notion, so prevalent in mass media, that “generations” are any sort of accurate descriptor of anything, or useful for any purpose besides generating business for marketing consultants.

Mini-series Recommendation: Slow Burn (Website, with transcripts / Overcast )

Even recent history is rich with surprising subplots, strange details, and forgotten characters.

On Slow Burn, Leon Neyfakh excavates the strange subplots and forgotten characters of recent political history — and finds surprising parallels to the present. Season 1 captured what it was like to live through Watergate; Season 2 does the same with the saga of Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

I didn’t listen to the first season of Slow Burn (about Nixon’s impeachment), but I really enjoyed this latest season, about the Bill Clinton impeachment scandal in the late 1990s.

It’s eight episodes long (and some change), and describes the events surrounding the impeachment in methodical detail, including many new interviews with parties involved.

I was in high school during that time, and I remember hearing the broad outlines of the story as it unfolded without following many of the finer details.

The series walks through it in a way that clears up a lot of the blind spots in my recollection, which I think is useful just insofar as it’s nice to be well-informed about history — but it also looks at what happened with an awareness of how attitudes around sexual harassment and assault have evolved over the last 20 years.

Transcripts are available of each episode on the show page, and the season was introduced with an article in Slate.

BONUS LINKS: In a previous post, I recommended an episode of Futility Closet (a show which I still highly recommend, generally).

Last month, I also contributed a lateral thinking puzzle to this episode of Futility Closet, and submitted a piece of reader mail which was read in this episode.

I’m a participant!

[Previous podcast  episodes worth your time.]
[All previous things worth your time.]


Austerity Urbanism Goes South, Authoritarian Neoliberalism Goes Urban

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/10/2018 - 6:00am in

Tags 

Blog

How do competitiveness, austerity and insecurity combine in urban contexts? How are the local state’s (in)security policies shaped in conditions of fiscal restraints and competitive-cities programmes? My article in a recent Globalizations special issue deals with this set of questions. One aim Ian Bruff and Cemal Burak Tansel set for their expansion of the authoritarian neoliberalism literature is to close empirical and geographical lacunae in accounts that theorised neoliberalisation processes”.

In my contribution to that special issue, I explored the spatially variegated effects of austerity urbanism on the production of urban security and insecurity. The idea was to make two contributions to authoritarian neoliberalism literature: first, I wanted to tease out how authoritarian neoliberalism’s practices and repertoires are multi-scalar arrangements, by focusing on the ‘local state’ and specifically, the conflation of scales in urban in/security politics. In taking Authoritarian Neoliberalism urban, I explored the transformation of the state towards an increasing mobilisation of coercion through its local expressions. Just as Saskia Sassen calling for ‘a focus on locally scaled practices (…) within global dynamics’, I was interested in the contradictions provoked by neoliberal governments, observable in understudied intermediate cities.

Second, I linked authoritarian neoliberalism literature to thought about the postcolonial state—taking it ‘south’. This speaks not only to AN, but to literature that situates itself within a “postcolonial field of urban studies” without neglecting the universalising attempts and effects of capitalist social relations. I studied that through the case of Oaxaca, a secondary city in Southern Mexico with a fascinating history of political struggle.

During the article, I describe how austerity and competitiveness on the one, and rescaled coercive measures on the other hand have been intertwined. I make two main points: First, the ‘security’ of the rebranded city is integral to the competitive rationale embedded in urban planning. And the competitive austerity and the rescaling of security in conjunction make Oaxaca a fragmented continuum of insecurity. A lot has been written about how in Oaxaca, the political conjuncture of 2006 prefigured later political polarisations. The dissident Sección XXII of the teachers’ union turned Oaxaca into a space of resistance until a federal police crackdown on the city ended the protest. This form of rescaled ‘security’—federal police coming to the aid of municipal and state police in moments of political friction—has become the norm since then.

The article discusses this in detail, so here I focus on what the notion of coloniality of power, coined by Aníbal Quijano almost 20 years ago, tells me about austerity urbanism in Oaxaca and about local forms of statehood.

Quijano took much of his inspiration from José Carlos Mariátegui who stressed how colonial social classifications impacted today’s power relations. We shouldn’t ignore Latin American scholars’ contributions to state theory. Quijano’s point of departure is contradictory social relations but he more clearly points our attention to racialised hierarchies. Both class and racialised hierarchies play out in the state’s selectivity of fulfilling tasks or omitting demands. I apply them to urban relations of force, questioning who is actually able to influence and shape the production of in/security in the city. The notion of an urban coloniality of power speaks to hierarchies of agency in political organisation, to racialised differentiations in crime policies (there’s reason enough to make Stuart Hall and Quijano speak to each other in future studies), to ‘multi-layered processes which cut across the social fabrics of urban space’.

To bring Quijano into Authoritarian Neoliberalism is, in essence, an argument about the intersectionality of power relations that permeate the state and result in state policies (always mediated, never without frictions). Historically, the coloniality of power in postcolonial Oaxaca is displayed on the city map. The ‘white’, colonial centre was and still is discursively opposed to the urban peripheries, indigenous inhabitants of the city often relegated to some place rural. The almost non-existent possibilities to participate in urban politics and the city’s economic base in surrounding mining and agricultural sectors reproduced those power relations.

Oaxaca’s history may ‘prefigure’ that of ‘Northern’ cities, as the selectivity of social services and authoritarian elements have long been normalised, but austerity still had severe effects. The rebranding of Oaxaca as a competitive city is one; it implies the need to attract foreign investment despite the municipality still largely depending on federal funds. Oaxaca’s competitive cities image hinges on a folkloric integration of ‘indigenous cultures’ – precisely those that can’t afford the rebranded city. Vecindades, buildings with shared patio and sanitary facilities for several families, have disappeared from the centre, and real estate prices have exploded in the last five years. Investment flows in, but Oaxaca’s ‘postcolonial condition’ implies a structural contradiction: Its specific integration into the global economy will never allow it to fully realise the ‘ideal’ of a global city attracting large amounts of investment. Yet, while depicted as “less than global”, its (transformed) integration into capitalist accumulation circuits has severe effects on everyday urban life.

The coloniality of power helped me understand the role the zócalo—the colonial central plaza—has come to play as a spatial intermediary in the city. It is not just a boundary between spaces perceived as more or less secure, but simultaneously a space of contestation. It’s where the state meets informality, police buy lunch from informal vendors, political activism takes place, and various institutional levels combine. Informal vendors’ ambiguous and often coercive treatment on the zócalo shows what the state enables and limits through the coloniality of power. They do pay licences, unsettling the idea that only the formal economic sector contributes to the reproduction of statehood by tax revenue, but frequent police operations displace them from the Northern, more touristy part of the centre, assuming they damage competitiveness.


Propuesta para el monumento by Rocha

Not only does Authoritarian Neoliberalism have decidedly urban components that we should study in detail. Contestations of urban forms of neoliberal order and their scalar reach are necessary components of emancipatory scholarship. While there are barriers to influencing city politics based on class and racialized hierarchies, Oaxacan mobilisations often transcend this particular site of struggles. The dissident Sección XXII of the teachers union actually has not only frequently occupied the zócalo of Oaxaca, but has engaged in month-long occupations of the Plaza de la República in Mexico City (as pictured). This is not just a different site; it means that Oaxacan political activists conflate scales.

Instead of implying that “no space is left for alternatives”, Chris Hesketh has rightly argued that our analytical work needs to start from the spaces and practices that indeed exist and contradict the constitutionalisation and fixing of austerity. If we want to make emancipatory claims about these struggles, we should not only see them as ‘local’ (itself a term imbued with colonial ascriptions), but explore the scalar reach of contestation.

The post Austerity Urbanism Goes South, Authoritarian Neoliberalism Goes Urban appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/10/2018 - 2:45am in

Image result for crying kavanaugh

America squandered an important national moment.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh wept. On national TV. For 45 minutes. The startling visual of a top-tier political figure quaveringly weaving between the emotional cones of anger, embarrassment and despair had the potential to launch a national conversation about masculinity and society’s response to men who lay bare their emotions.

Men need permission to cry, to be vulnerable, too. The #MeToo movement is giving women permission to proclaim their victimhood without shame. Under better circumstances Kavanaugh’s display might have given leave to American men to admit that they too are emotional beings, that they hurt and feel as much as women.

Instead of a national conversation about masculinity and gender norms we got predictable partisan politics.

“A crying Brett Kavanaugh. This is what white male privilege looks like,” sneered the headline of an op-ed by The Sacramento Bee’s Erika D. Smith.

Scorn was the standard liberal response to Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s furious, weepy reading of his prepared remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Men, particularly white and privileged men, find that they can get away with acting like colicky children, and they are infantilized when it suits them,” Jamil Smith lectured in Rolling Stone, equating acting out with childishness. “His testimony was a tantrum.” Smith’s emotion-shaming piece was titled “Brett Kavanaugh’s Fragile Manhood.” Not very PC.

Conservatives were no less hypocritical.

Right-wingers broke macho form in the divide over gender norms, defending their sobbing nominee. During the break between Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh’s appearances Rush Limbaugh presciently mused aloud: “Do you think Kavanaugh should cry?” Rush answered his own question: “Noooo.” Team politics prevailed. Despite the judge’s failure to take his on-air advice Rush later pronounced himself pleased: “He unloaded on them!”

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a progressive considering a 2020 presidential run, mirrored Trump’s description of Kavanaugh but for Dr. Ford: “brave, compelling, and credible.” Calling Kavanaugh “unhinged,” she said he “whined, ranted, raved, and spun conspiracy theories.” Praise versus contempt: the personal has never been more political. Had the roles been reversed, had Dr. Ford been the angry/weepy one, there is no world in which Warren would have described her as unhinged.

“I don’t believe in crying,” Trump told a biographer. “It’s just not my thing. I have nothing against it when someone cries, but when I see a man cry, I view it as a weakness. I don’t like seeing men cry.”

Crying makes me uncomfortable too. “The feminization of America,” a conservative colleague texted me as we watched Kavanaugh. Initially I agreed. Watching a man cry gives me what Germans call fremdscham: vicarious embarrassment for someone else. John Wayne didn’t do waterworks and neither do most guys. Studies find that men cry about one-fifth as often as women.

Were Kavanaugh’s tears the frustrated, desperate expression of an innocent man falsely accused before his friends, family and an entire nation? Or, as one of detractors alleged, did he wimper “because his past finally caught up with him and deep down, he knows it”? Could it be something in between, a blend of anger because some of the accusations are false and self-pity because others are true? We’ll probably never know what really happened at those high school and college parties.

But we don’t need to know why Kavanaugh cried to see why they matter.

However you assess Kavanaugh’s tears, they marked a giant leap for public emotionalism and a major political moment for malekind. Even in a Democratic primary campaign so dominated by liberals that George McGovern ultimately won, Edmund Muskie’s teary press conference defending his wife’s honor in New Hampshire made him look like a wimp. It marked the beginning of the end of his 1972 campaign—and he cried a lot less than Kavanaugh.

After Colorado Congresswoman Pat Schroeder broke down during her announcement that she wouldn’t run for president in 1988, The Chicago Tribune reported that “women reacted with embarrassment, sympathy and disgust” over a display that seemed to reinforce the sexist stereotype that women were too emotional to lead.

Twenty years makes a difference. Running against Barack Obama in 2008, Hillary Clinton cultivated a steely Maggie Thatcher-like image—and watched her polls sink. “If you get too emotional, that undercuts you. A man can cry—but a woman, that’s a different kind of dynamic,” Clinton observed. Turns out, voters don’t really want female versions of Spock from Star Trek. Talking about the toll of campaigning at a New Hampshire diner, she shed a few drops in search of a boost. The brief emotional display was almost certainly planned but she won the primary.

If the ideological shoe were on the other foot, if Kavanaugh were a Democrat and he were being grilled by Republicans, I bet my fellow lefties would embrace this moment. They wouldn’t be contemptuous. Far from questioning his judicial temperament because he cried, they’d applaud his courage. Conversely, Dr. Ford’s story might be disbelieved because she kept it together and stayed calm.

Men may not cry as much as women. Some scientists think testosterone inhibits tear flow. All the same, it is natural. “All their lives they were told, ‘Real men don’t cry,’ yet studies show how crying is a way for the body to release toxins from the body,” Sam Louie wrote In Psychology Today. “From a physiological perspective, when humans get stressed there is an increase in adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).  Over time as this builds it leads to more stress that demands to be released.”

For a political figure like Kavanaugh, however, research suggests that crying in public can achieve something even more important than releasing toxins: being relatable. According to a 2013 Tilburg University study published in Evolutionary Psychology, “respondents report being more willing to provide support to people with visible tears than to those without tears.”

Interestingly the left-leaning commentators opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation focused on the nominee’s anger more than his tears. Tacit approval or fremdscham?

There’s nothing like a good cry. Men want that privilege too.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

The Student Debt Crisis, Labor Market Credentialization, and Racial Inequality: How the Current Student Debt Debate Gets the Economics Wrong

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 16/10/2018 - 8:00pm in

Tags 

Blog, Education

As tuition has risen over the last several decades in the U.S., student loan debt has ballooned. Despite growing debt loads, federal policy encourages the use of loans for financing higher education, based on the assumption that student debt supports increased postsecondary attainment—and, in turn, improved outcomes for individuals and our economy as a whole. In The Student Debt Crisis, Labor Market Credentialization, and Racial Inequality, Roosevelt Fellow Julie Margetta Morgan and Research Director and Fellow Marshall Steinbaum investigate the individual and societal effects of student loan debt by focusing on trends in student debt and labor market outcomes. Findings include:

  • More education has not led to higher earnings over time.
  • Student debt is a burden for a growing share of young adults.
  • Credentialization better explains these dynamics than the “skills gap.”
  • These trends have had particularly negative impacts on Black and brown Americans.

Ultimately, the paper challenges the dominant literature and conventional wisdom that drive the pursuit of higher education, concluding that student debt exacerbates income inequality and threatens the broader economy’s stability. It is crucial to understand these dynamics of student debt, labor markets, and race, as well as how they interact and intersect, in order to inform better public policy that lifts students up, rather than maintain a system that holds them back. 

With the Higher Education Act overdue for reauthorization, it is inevitable that policymakers will be rewriting federal higher education policy in the next few years. But new policies based on the same flawed assumptions about the individual and economic benefits of debt-financed education will only continue to fuel credentialization, deepen our country’s student debt crisis, and exacerbate racial and economic inequality

The Student Debt Crisis and… by on Scribd

The post The Student Debt Crisis, Labor Market Credentialization, and Racial Inequality: How the Current Student Debt Debate Gets the Economics Wrong appeared first on Roosevelt Institute.

The Everyday Life of Global Capitalism, Global War, Global Crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 16/10/2018 - 6:00am in

Tags 

Blog

Earlier this year, we published our jointly-authored book Global Capitalism, Global War, Global Crisis with Cambridge University Press. The book is wide-ranging and moves from meta-theoretical, to theoretical, to fine-grained empirical analysis of the agents and structures and thus the relations of force shaping class struggle in the contemporary world. In this blog post, we argue that the conceptual focus offered in the book is also relevant for activist struggles in everyday life.

The relations of force: agents and structures

In Chapter 2 of Global Capitalism, Global War, Global Crisis, we argue that enquiry should start with an investigation of the social relations of production constituting capitalism in order to comprehend the internal relations between agency and structure. In capitalism, both social class forces as main collective actors and structuring conditions, such as competition, profit maximisation and crisis tendencies, are generated by the organisation of property relations through wage labour and the private ownership of the means of production. Hence, in order to assess whether the emergence of class agency is present in specific moments or conjunctures of struggle, we highlight the need to relate the potential forms of agency and their processes of becoming to the wider structuring conditions shaping such action.

It is this relation of strategy to structure, we argue, which is highly relevant for understanding the possibilities of agency against capitalist exploitation and thus important for activists involved in everyday struggles. For example, within the University of Nottingham, based on a broad alliance of campus trade unions, student societies, Students Union officers and the social movement Nottingham Citizens, we have struggled since November 2015 for the University of Nottingham to become a Living Wage employer (see Nottingham – Living Wage City? Living Wage University?). Despite our campaign events, lobbying and political pressure, nothing happened for the first two years. It was only in November 2017, when we organised a public protest outside the Vice Chancellor’s office with local media present that we succeeded in the University committing itself to paying the Living Wage (Nottingham Post, 14 November 2017).

Of course, the action itself on 14 November last year was important in ‘convincing’ the University to agree to paying the Living Wage. Nevertheless, relating this action to the wider structuring conditions at the time, allows us to understand the University’s agreement better. Only a few months earlier, the Labour Party had succeeded in securing a much better result in the British general elections on 8 June. Part of Labour’s progressive election Manifesto For the Many Not the Few, widely given credit for the party’s strong performance, had been a commitment to a minimum wage of £10. Against the background of widespread support across society for higher hourly pay, it proved no longer to be possible for management at the University of Nottingham to decline what it had done­─again and again─in meetings with us over the previous two years. It was the shift in the overall structuring conditions that ultimately facilitated the success of the Living Wage campaign.

The material structure of ideology

In November 2017, George Monbiot introduced his new book Out of the Wreckage at a book launch at the University of Nottingham (also see Out of the Wreckage – George Monbiot on a new politics in an age of crisis). In his excellent presentation, the main claim was that in order to overcome current crises, we would need a new restoration narrative, allowing us to move beyond neoliberalisation and its disastrous consequences for humanity and our planet as a whole. Nevertheless, he said little about who should construct such a new narrative, how such a narrative could become established as the dominant understanding, and why this narrative and not another, more sinister narrative, for example, would dominate after the epoch of neoliberalism.

In order to understand these issues, we argue in Chapter 3 of our book that we need to unpack the material structure of ideology in order to spotlight questions about the who of power. It was Antonio Gramsci who stressed the term ‘material structure of ideology’ to refer to how a wider class realisation of hegemony had impact across everyday life, including the social function performed by the built environment in the production of space, including architecture alongside street layouts (as well as street names) in addition to libraries, schools, publishing houses, newspapers and journals, and even the local parish newsletter and the church more widely. Overall awareness of these aspects of social power would ‘inculcate the habit of assessing the forms of agency in society with greater caution and precision’, forewarned Gramsci. Architecture, then, amidst a diverse array of other social condensations (such as cadastral mapping defining property rights over land; the drawing of territorial boundaries for administration, social control and communication routes; or monuments in the production of space) provides a way of understanding the role played by discourses embedded within the economy in constituting the ‘material structure of ideology’ (see ‘Monuments Put from Pen to Paper’).

In other words, our historical materialist approach to the material structure of ideology offers a way of understanding language as discourse and ideas that is situated within wider situations of class constitution and struggles over hegemony. Returning back to the earlier theme of agency and structure, activists in lived spaces of everyday life seek to bring together marginal and different elements of social life (struggles against capitalist exploitation and degradation of ecology and/or over social reproduction) and the homogenising conditions of capitalism and state power.

In short, these chapters and more within Global Capitalism, Global War, Global Crisis offer important insights on struggles over everyday life in rattling the lid of the cauldron of the capitalist state and how to keep on the boil the forces of difference in constituting a non-capitalist world.

The post The Everyday Life of Global Capitalism, Global War, Global Crisis appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

Pages