Tag Archives: Capitalism

Adjustments

“Do you not know how to adjust?”

I often wonder why we are compelled to adjust to the structures and institutions around us rather than have them adjust to our needs. It’s hard — if not impossible — to adjust things like skin color, sexuality, gender, class, certain disabilities, and sometimes even our immigration status. But we are asked to assimilate and acculturate to fit a certain mold.

Who are we serving when we adjust to the establishment? What are we upholding when we acclimate to poor living conditions, lack of basic human rights, a gentrified, hierarchical and capitalist society that is violent to each and every part of our existence?

According to my brilliant chiropractor, my foot pain is the the least of my problems. Everything from my neck to the balls of my feet are out of order. There’s physical trauma and injury to several body parts. Accidents. Bad exercising habits. Too much of something and too little of something else. Life. It’s a physical manifestation of how things around me are always falling apart and how my body is reacting to keeping everything together.

I am out of order. One leg shorter than the other with a pelvis that is tilted up right. My spine doesn’t fall in line. Nerves pinched so they don’t feel pain. Joints clicking loudly and popping out. Feedback mechanisms distorted and dis-functioning. I find it so amusing that even my body has such a rebellious spirit.

There’s beauty in functioning perfectly — functioning in well-behaved, mechanized, controlled, and contrived ways that are expected of us in a capitalist society. But it is so much more beautiful to fall completely apart and not serve any order or ordering. Of course it is going to hurt. They will make sure of it.

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Filed under Neo-Liberalism, Novel, Poetry

North Korea Is Not a Threat – Unveiling Hegemonic Discourses

That security is socially constructed does not mean that there are not to be found real, material conditions that help to create particular interpretations of threats, or that such conditions are irrelevant to either the creation or undermining of the assumptions underlying security policy. Enemies, in part, “create” each other, via the projections of their worst fears onto the other; in this respect, their relationship is intersubjective. To the extent that they act on these projections, threats to each other acquire a material character.
-Ronnie Lipschutz, UCSC

Kim Jong-Il wants attention. And now he has it. He won’t go in our ‘Morons of the Week’ column and certainly scores points for knowing how to misuse national resources to get international attention.

Our problem with MSM coverage of the North Korea ‘missile threat’ is with the purported hegemonic discourse. Hegemonic discourse does not pertain to just speech; it refers to whole narratives, with a hero and a villain, and us and them that we must defeat and overcome. The point of hegemonic discourse–in this case the discourse of the United States on demonizing North Korea and drawing attention to its nuclear activities—is to subjugate and oppress the counter-discourses of a race-war, nuclearism and anti-capitalism.

(1) Race war discourse

While this is not a clash of civilizations, it is certainly a race war in that the entire discourse revolves around preventing certain kinds of people from acquiring and using nuclear weapons.  Would the United States use the same tactics in France? Or even India? No, in fact it looked the other way on outrageous French nuclear testing in the Pacific and supports India’s nuclear program despite the fact that it is not a signatory of the NPT!

Ronnie Lipschutz has some fine lines for us in On Security:

To be sure, the United States and Russia do not launch missiles against each other because both know the result would be annihilation. But the same is true for France and Britain, or China and Israel. It was the existence of the Other that gave deterrence its power; it is the disappearance of the Other that has vanquished that power. Where Russia is now concerned, we are, paradoxically, not secure, because we see no need to be secured. In other words, as Ole Waever might put it, where there is no constructed threat, there is no security problem. France is fully capable of doing great damage to the United States, but that capability has no meaning in terms of U.S. security.

On the other hand, see the Iran nuclear ‘crisis’ as an example. The United States has demonized Ahmadinejad at every opportunity and conjured him up as an Islamic fundamentalist and nationalist who will defy non-proliferation at all costs. On the other hand, Ahmadinejad cheekily asked the United States to join the rest of civilization in worshipping God. That is the discourse of race war but it is concealed by juridical discourse—the hegemonic discourse.

To borrow from Michael Foucault, the United States is using the juridical schema of nuclear non-proliferation to conceal the war-repression schema. North Korea is the historical Other, the terrorist, the threat against whom the world must be protected in the juridical schema. Yet, under the war-repression schema, North Korea is a sovereign nation with the right to develop nuclear and communications technology. And this latest action is really nothing more than a plea for economic help.

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Filed under Discourse Studies, Political Theory, Politics

Apply for a Job with Homeland Security!

Homeland security is hiring for an Associate General Counsel for Immigration! And it is a job that would guarantee ‘job security.”

http://img25.imageshack.us/img25/9246/threatchart1401863.png

After all, DHS has an overbloated budget that needs justification, hence the detaining of non-violent, non-criminal immigrants like gardeners, nurses, construction workers and students. And instead of speedy deportation, most immigrants in ICE custody are detained for long and insufferable periods on taxpayer dollars because the next step is to make money for the private detention industry–which is thriving in this horrible economy.

Check it out:

WHO MAY BE CONSIDERED: Applications will be accepted from all groups of qualified individuals.

Undocumented students and scholars, please feel free to submit applications.

In today’s interconnected world, our country’s security challenges are constantly evolving.  To meet these challenges, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) fosters a culture that values and promotes diversity, teamwork, flexibility, and innovation.  With a diverse and critical mission, we lead the unified national effort to secure America.

Uh-huh, we know the culture of the DHS, the flexible border-building effort that is separating Americans from America (besides detaining and deporting American citizens), and the many innovative ways that it is being sued as a result of violating basic civil rights.

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A History of Federal Bailouts …

during the crisis of capitalism …

img521/3523/bailout1338827sn8.jpg

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Wall Street Collapse? Another Crisis of Capitalism

I wish I had the ability to be shocked when I hear about a ‘deep crisis’ that can cause staggering losses (a cyclical crisis of capitalism), a $700 billion bailout for private sector cronies and John McCain canceling a 2-3 hour debate appearance as a publicity stunt to resolve this crisis (as if, his presence would make a difference. Admittedly, he has a weak economic understanding). But I digress.

It’s not like a major financial crisis was unexpected in the near future. Political economists have been making predictions about the fall of the U.S. dollar for quite some time; this Wall Street financial collapse is just a start. Oil prices are dropping, Asian markets are coming down even immigration is down (ALIPAC must be happy; they are happily blaming immigrants for the meltdown too). Actually forget the contemporary political economists and politicians trying to pinpoint the source of this crisis; revisit the blog favorite Karl Marx, who held that the internal contradictions within capitalism as a system would create cycles of boom and slump, that over time would become more untenable as social forces opposing it built up, eventually leading to an overthrow of the system. What are these internal contradictions?

1. The tendency of the rate of profit to fall

2. The concentration of capital

3. Rise in unemployment

4. Overproduction or Underconsumption (crisis of realization)

5. Collapse of credit

6. Bigger firms buying out smaller and weaker firms (in this case, the government bailing out)

7. Crisis ‘solved’ till the next inevitable cycle

Do these predictions of more than 150 years ago sound familiar?
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Filed under Discourse Studies, Political Theory, Politics

Exposing the Business of Immigrant Detention – CCA

I recently discovered a Reuters report featuring CCA (Corrections Corp of America)–the biggest privatized immigrant detention facility in the United States–almost gloating about the fact that these coming elections won’t make a difference to their company since there will always be a population that would need “service.” I wonder why the major newspapers and newswires in the United States missed this story–the UK Reuters link has been taken down since then but it is here for the timebeing.

“If there is any meaningful immigration (policy) change, I think there is going to be a population that is still going to have to be serviced.”

Why is the CCA so self-assured of continued business?

In the late 1990s, CCA overbuilt many detention facilities following the “if you build it, they will come” rule. According to Anton Hie, an analyst in the Nashville office of Jefferies and Co. who covered industry leader Corrections Corporation of America and its closest competitor, the GEO Group, “There was a lot of promise of new inmates that never came … It kind of all came crashing in.” States stopped contracting after high-profile escapes, riots and other scandals and subsequently, stocks came crashing down.

In 2000, the CCA had reported a net loss of $253.5 million but that is history with a 470% boom in immigrant detention over the past 15 years. CCA finally banged a lucrative deal that year–the former INS came to their rescue to house 1000 detainees at the CCA-owned San Diego Mesa Facility, and hence, saved the private detention industry from collapse, giving rise what Roberto Lovato and other prominent scholars call the migrant-prison complex. With 32,000 immigrants behind bars, some indefinitely await hearings, some commit suicide, some are dehumanized and abused, and others sedated with psychotropic drugs upon deportation, the numbers are only growing for ICE, CCA and sadly, the numbers behind bars. Today, the ICE, U.S. Marshals and Bureau of Prisons account for 40% of CCA’s revenue (13% from ICE at $1.5 billion)–which controls a little under half the private prison beds in America. Last year, the CCA reported a net profit of $133 million.

The number of jail beds funded annually in congressional appropriations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement:

FY 2001: 19,702

FY 2002: 21,109

FY 2003: 19,444

FY 2004: 19,444

FY 2005: 18,500

FY 2006: 20,800

FY 2007: 27,500

FY 2008: 32,000

(Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

For more details and background story, see the Huffington post here.

“We are doing business with 20 different states around the country. I would say it’s probably 50-50, where you’ve got half the states where the governor is a Democrat and the other half is Republican,” COO and President Damon Hininger told Reuters from Nashville, Tennessee.
“I think we have shown a good track record that we can work regardless of who is in the capital or who’s in the governor’s office within various states,” said Hininger, who began his career at Corrections Corp as a correctional officer.

With the little time I had, I did some more independent research and found out that CCA has exercised it’s ‘free speech’ rights this year by contributing $15,000 each to the Republican and Democrat Senate and Congressional races for these upcoming elections as well as to several other individual races funds for a total of more than $60,000. The CEOs and managing directors have also made noteworthy contributions. Yes, Mr. Hininger, a little glance at your contributions and we know exactly what sort of ‘business’ you are doing to maintain a good track record with the different states regardless of their political leanings. (Keep in mind that this is just the CCA and other privatized prisons companies like Geo also contribute massively to skew the ‘democratic’ process in their favor).

On a related note, the artists from the Just Seeds collective have contributed about 100 murals to the upcoming Critical Resistance CR10 conference that has workshops, round-tables and panels to discuss strategies around fighting the prison-industrial complex. If you are in the Bay Area California, do check it out at Laney College this upcoming week.

Cr10_poster_favianna_2

Being undocumented is not a crime but when criminalizing immigrants makes $$ for corporations …

Here are some more useful resources on this:
http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dw5vh94_498fcss5db

http://prernalal.com/2008/05/04/the-business-of-detention/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPcsCxV0-tc

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'Fair and Lovely' No More – Bollywood Star blasts Fairness Products

Accolades for Akki – Bollywood star Akshay Kumar slams ‘fairness products’ and endorsers of such products at a news conference.

Rani Mukerji, Priyanka Chopra, Bipasha Basu, Konkona Sen Sharma are all the dusky leading ladies of Bollywood that may have succumbed to the ‘Fair and Lovely’ fever at one time or another–even images of them found on the internet are substantially lighter in tone than their actual skin color.

While my mother in the United States of America is haggling me about my ‘sun-burnt’ skintone wondering when it would get better and my 75-year-old grandmother ruins her face with yet another facial product in her efforts to lighten her skin color (‘fix’ her face as they put it in my family), thousands of other Indian mothers across the world buy fairness and beauty creams for their young daughters. Darkness is a curse in our culture–it is likened to ‘evil’ — one need not look further than Diwali, “Festival of Lights” — the victory of good over evil, light over dark. Even Hindu Gods are depicted as light-skinned contrary to texts that write about their androgyny and darker tones.

The persistent importance given to ‘lightness’ and ‘light-skin’ is not just Indian culture but across the world. The global economy of whiteness employs fairness creams that exacerbate and thrive on the kind of racism that privileges light skin over dark and you will even find them in markets across the Middle East and Northern Africa, in villages of Southern African countries and beyond.
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