Thursday, February 28, 2008

Globalization, Demodernization and the Return of the Monsters

by Mary Louise Pratt

A lecture read at the Third Encounter of Performance and Politics,
Universidad Catolica, Lima, Peru, July 2002
Translated from Spanish by QMS, Fall 2007


This reflection starts from a certain skepticism with regard to the term globalization. I suspect that, on many occasions, this term functions as a label which lacks that which the theorists call explanatory power. Far from an explanation, it is word that, rather, substitutes for the explanation -- one sees a McDonalds and Lima and says, “Ah, this is globalization”. One meets a Zapotec woman in Manhattan or one buys a bag made in Macau or Madagascar, and one says the same. The term globalization eliminates understanding, even the desire for understanding. In this sense, globalization functions at times as a kind of false protagonist which impedes a sharper interrogation of the processes that have been reorganizing practices and meanings during the last 25 years. More precise and explanatory words are lacking.

Undoubtedly such words will include the term neoliberalism. This one seems to be a less false protagonist, to the extent that it refers directly to the new era we live in, of predatory capitalism. At the same time neoliberalism doesn’t explain everything either, or rather, it is important not to permit it to explain everything. To cede it this power would mean to reduce everything to one single thing -- a gesture always possible insofar as one is disposed to discard, depreciate, or simply not see the contradictions. A gesture also attractive, which permits one to see the world in a coherent and comprehensible manner -- but at the cost of accepting despair as the only reasonable answer. To give capital an interpretive monopoly only serves to reproduce the capitalist monopolism, to cede it the totalizing power that it seeks. Still in the very hearts of our capitalist and consumerist societies there exist many practices, relations, institutions and forms of subjectivity that aren’t ruled by the laws of capital and consumption. We learn to not appreciate, even to not see these , precisely because they don’t fit inside the grand theoretical paradigms that facilitate our understanding of the world. Given the lack of principles and methods to understand the non capitalist dimensions in capitalist societies, these manifestations are not made visible, or they appear trivial. These are lessons, however, that can be unlearned.

I would also like to reflect on a systemically uncontrolled and contradictory dimension of the neoliberal project, which is the following: As we become economically polarized, concentrating the power of consumption in a number of hands ever more reduced, neoliberalism creates immense zones of exclusion where people are, and know that they are, completely superfluous to the historic global order. Across the planet enormous sectors of organized humanity live with a conscience of being redundant and unnecessary to the economic order, of having been expelled from all the narratives of a collective or individual future that neoliberalism offers, and without hopes of entering (or returning to enter) the order of production and consumption. Not only progress but also the idea of progress has stopped functioning as a collective and global myth (and with such speed!). In this sense, globalization has been accompanied by a deglobalization, by processes of isolation. Markets open and grow, but they also close and concentrate themselves.

In these zones of exclusion that extend over large parts of our hemisphere, life has to be borne, and it is being borne in other ways. Vital practices distinct from those offered by modernity and consumption are generated, other modes of social integration and subject formation, other values, knowledges, pleasures, meanings, hopes and forms of transcendence. That is to say, neoliberalism creates vast human dramas that it doesn’t have the least capacity to understand. This seems to me a very interesting situation, unpredictable and full of possibilities. In the pages that follow, I propose to reflect a bit about the forms in which the processes subsumed by the term globalization are represented and interpreted by different imaginaries -- public, official and vernacular. At last, I retake the theme of the zones of exclusions and processes that I propose to call demodernization.

A Recycled Archive

Everything approaching our historical moment recognizes the importance of the profound alterations and accelerations of the patterns of human mobility, the most evident players being migration and mass tourism. Tourism now constitutes the the largest industry in the world after narcotrafficking. For its part, migration has produced, among other things, an inversion in the expansionist outward momentum of a European and North American center. In the last 40 years, the trajectory has been reversed: the ex-colonial subjects are displaced, with a frequency ever greater, towards the metropolis. We read that fifteen percent of the population of Guyana lives in New York and that half of the population of Surinam resides in Holland. According to the census of the year 2000, in the United States one of ten inhabitants was born in another country and one in ten is the child of someone born in another country. (We don’t know how many of the 9 to 15 million undocumented immigrants are included in these statistics.) In California, the mother language of more than half of the children who are in school is different than English. In almost all the cities in Europe and the United States, and in Asian cities as well, there are diasporic communities from many parts of the globe, frequently from old colonies of the very same countries, and they have had an impact on all the aspects of institutional and daily life.

The metropolis, even though necessitated by this reverted diaspora, isn’t always welcoming. In my position as an analyst of travel literature, I have found it fascinating to recognize in the decade of the 1990s a very particular recycling of the archives of travel from the 17th and 18th centuries. I refer to the dramatic stories of suffering and survival, of monsters and of marvels that, 300 years later, arrived to Europe from the far coasts of Africa, from the seas of the South, from the Americas. In the last decade of the 20th century the same type of narrative began to reappear daily, this time on the same coasts of the metropolis. The narratives of shipwrecks, for example, reappear in our newspapers, arriving not from Tierra del Fuego, as before, but from the South coast of France, where 900 Kurds ran aground two years ago, or from Italy, destination of boats full of Albanians and Sudanese. Before, the narratives of stowaways told us of European boys who hid in ships destined towards the Southern oceans. Today, they tell of African children who are found frozen to death under the hatch of airplanes that land in European airports (see Ferguson 2001), or of Bulgarian families hidden under the trains that cross the tunnel of the Mancha. The narrative of the shipwreck was notably revived a few years ago on the beaches of Florida, with the story of the Cuban child Elian Gonzalez, only survivor of a precarious expedition that set off from the island. They were not the Polynesians, but the Floridians (the electors of Bush!) who decided that he was a reincarnation of the baby Jesus who had been saved by the help of dolphins.

Once again we live in a world of bandits and pirates, now in the form of coyotes and polleros who work on the borders of the whole planet. The stories of survival arrive to us not from the Sahara but from the desert of Arizona, as was the case in the summer of 2000, when a baby was miraculously rescued from the arms of her dead mother, a Salvadorian girl who tried to cross the border to enter the United States. They weren’t Bedouin nomads who saved the child, but the infamous Border Patrol, whose function is to chase undocumented immigrants. The narratives of captivity, such a celebrated genre from the 16th to the 19th century, resurge today, protagonized by workers exploited in luxury houses of Beverly Hills or in factories and the bordellos of San Francisco, Milan and Mexico. The asphyxiating nightmare of slave ships, a burning theme in the abolitionist movement in the 18th century, returned to present itself in 1999 in the port of San Francisco, when 18 Chinese workers, driven insane by terror and suffering, came out of a carrier container in the bottom of a cargo ship in which seven of their companions died. The next spring, England was shaken by the story of another 43 Chinese who perished -- poisoned by carbon monoxide in the back part of a truck that tried to cross the border from Holland. As this text is being written, the newspaper informs us of a truck that arrives in Texas with the corpses of two Mexicans suffocated by heat, and twenty survivors, barely alive.

In April of 2001, histories of the lynching of blacks budded anew, no longer in the old South of the United States, but in ultra modern Spain. The same slavery came out of its tomb. In Sudan hundreds of enslaved Dinka orphans were rescued from agricultural work in corporations that faced dramatic reductions in the international prices for their products. In Adibjan, according to the London Daily Telegraph in 2000, girls are sold for five pounds. “I felt as if I was witnessing a spectacle from the 19th century”, affirmed the reporter. In the face of this return to the past, abolitionism has shaken off its dust, headed, as it was 150 years ago, by the Anti Slavery Society in London. Surely, this is not a scenario that we imagined at the start of new millennium.

In the 1990s the borders of the metropolis were converted into theaters of adventurism and suffering, of deaths and survivals. As happened with the travel literature from the 17th and 18th centuries, the public narratives that circulate today impose a scene of a new planetary order, a new imperial order. The function of these narratives is to create the subjects of this new order, that is to say, to recreate ourselves as its subjects, to teach every one their place. The contemporary recycling of the archives of travel of the 17th and 18th century make old themes resurface, but with an important inversion in ends. The earlier genres --the stories of captivity, of shipwrecks, of stowaways, of pirates -- were narrated by the survivors, those who, providentially (a key term in the 18th century vocabulary) were able to live to tell the tale. By definition, there was always a happy outcome that affirmed the viability of an emerging global metropolitan subject, often imperial. The protagonist of the current versions, in the majority of cases, is a dead person, who couldn’t survive, who didn’t arrive, who never returned. Motivated by another kind of desire the narratives of today show dramas not of departure and return, but of negation, exclusion and disaster.

From the narrative point of view, I suspect that among other things this litany of cadavers has been an answer to the clearly utopian character of the official discourses about globalization. At the beginning of the decade of the 90s, the academic discourse, across the ideological spectrum, clearly demonstrated this utopian character. In one of the first metropolitan anthologies (Featherstone 1990), the authors talked for example of a new “cosmopolitan ideal”, of a “dream of secular universalism”, of “the crystallization of the world in one single space”, and of “the emergence of a global human condition” (Robertson), a “global culture” that is an “organization of diversity” (Hannerz). “Humanity”, affirmed Ulf Hannerz in this passionate moment, “has departed for the end of a world that, with some credibility, could see itself as a cultural mosaic”. Today it is difficult not to perceive in these passionate affirmations a revised imperial narrative, newly innocent. The economist John Kenneth Galbraith, a scathing critic, was more clear in affirming: “Globalization is not a serious concept. We North Americans invent it to disguise our program of economic intervention in other countries.”

The Fantasy of Flow

In its beginnings, the official discourse about globalization established its preferred metaphor, a metaphor of mobility and innocence which still impregnates many dialogues. The metaphor is flow: one imagines a planet traversed by multidirectional and continuous flows, of persons, objects, money, information, languages, ideas and images. From the “local” the idea is to intercept the flow, through an assembly plant, a tourist attraction, workers sent abroad, a parabolic antenna, a sound box, a CD downloaded from the internet. But the Chinese workers who asphyxiated weren’t flowing, they were trapped. As the Brazilian sociologist Teresa Caldeira (2001) reminds us, the rich don’t flow either. They close themselves in walled and guarded condominiums; and when they travel they seek refuge in tourist enclaves designed to give the illusion of the place. (Even the Pope, in a discourse on the day of international tourism in 2001, condemned the proliferation of luxury resorts that are totally alienated from the societies that surround them.) It’s worth it for us to linger for a moment in this metaphor of flow, this key common sense of globalization, in order to determine the confusions and evasions that it contains.

1. The metaphor of flow doesn’t distinguish between one type of movement and another -- no difference, for example, between the displacement of domestic employees from the Philippines to the Middle East and the movement of sex tourists from Europe or Japan to Thailand or Cuba. But in spite of using the same aerial apparatus, they are very different movements. The tourists go back to their countries of origin, but the employees, frequently, cannot return because their homes of origin depend on their incomes. The money flows because they don’t.

2. The metaphor of flow neutralizes the question of directionality. The television series “Dallas” is seen in South Africa, but the new multiracial and multilingual programs of South Africa don’t make it to the Americas. Half of the hydroelectric energy of Mexico flows from Chiapas, where a high percentage of the homes lack electricity. Money, according to what they’ve told me, changes hands 100 times more frequently than commodities, but this flow, at the end of the story, has a direction: At the beginning of 2001 Kofi Anan announced that, after considering all the diverse forms of international global trade, it had been determined that there was a flow of $450 billion from poor countries to the rich countries, a quarter of this sum to the United States. To put this in perspective: this same year, the the total budget for foreign aid in the United States was only $22 billion dollars, a sum absurdly miserly, equivalent to a fraction of the interest that Argentina paid on its debt to the US. Debt payments to rich countries now consume half of the national budget of Ecuador, which explains the “flow” to the exterior of 14 percent of the population of this country in the last four years.

3. Like all ideological construction, “flow” naturalizes. The principle consequences are three:

A. State policies, transnational agreements, institutions and collaborations which create possibilities and impossibilities of movement, are made invisible. The diffusions of Hollywood movies all over the planet for example is not a natural flow of culture. It is a business whose object is, as a commercial matter, to do away with the production of cinema in other countries by means of arranged taxes in poor countries for rich countries. This is the new acumen?

B. The concept of flow annuls human intervention and intentionality -- “agency”. Flow is an intransitive verb -- things flow because they do. To describe money as something that flows hides the fact that it is sent and received in an intentional manner from one person to another. The people who "flow” are those who have made decisions to go or to return, to risk themselves, free themselves, or who have been sent or reclaimed by others as part of contemplated but at times desperate strategies. Making human intervention invisible, flow removes from the game the existential dimension of mobilities, the question of how globalization is being lived.

C. Flow suggests, in a wicked manner, a process that responds to the natural laws of gravity. Flows automatically attain a tranquil horizontal equilibrium -- thus the market is contemplated as naturally leveling, as something inherently democratizing. But, as the critique of recent years has put in evidence, neoliberalism is verticalizing, and its verticality doesn’t have limits of gravity. Wealth has concentrated while poverty proliferates, and the top and the bottom seem to disappear before our eyes. What level of personal wealth can a single individual attain? To what depths can massive poverty sink? The statisticians say that the acquisitive power of the working class in Mexico is today a seventh of what it was in 1970, and salaries are half of what they were in 1980. At least a third of the population barely has anything at all; physically, human bodies in Mexico are smaller on average than they were 30 years ago. And Mexico is a rich poor country. The rich-rich countries haven’t been immune to verticalization. We hear it again and again: in the United States, the poorest 40 percent of the population controls 0.2 percent of the national wealth, while the richest 10 percent controls 71 percent. It’s difficult not to see the attack on the twin towers as an assault on this verticalization.

“Flow” exemplifies the legitimizing official language of globalization. It is a word with a positive connotation that operates disconnected from any ethical dimension. The result is a language without top or bottom. A language that permits, for example, that the doubling of work hours, the exploitation of children, such that the reduction of food and infanticide are qualified as “coping strategies” (see Gonzalez de la Roncha, 2000), or that whatever form or grade of poverty is denominated “informal economy”; or that whatever interaction, however unequal it might be, can be described as a “trade”.

The Return of the Monsters

In literature, at least in the works of Latin American fiction of the last decade, this predatory world is made present exactly by the opposite of flow. Narratives of isolated survivors proliferate, trying to create spheres of meaningful action in claustrophobic interior spaces. Narratives of those who have given up trying to escape a social world that has converted into a holocaust. Accounts of violent delinquency in which the absence of a future signify that no one has anything to lose. In the vernacular culture this fact is registered in the same way as in the old empires: by the appearance of the monstrous.

In the middle of the 90s, following the route of NAFTA3 , Mexico and the Caribbean were witnesses to the appearance of chupacabras, winged creatures of more or less a meter in height, similar to a bat, that went out at night and attacked the corrals of goats in the rural regions of Mexico. Photos are published in newspapers of corrals strewn with dead goats and of women with bruises on their necks; pictures of the monster appeared first in newspapers and later on T-shirts; the inevitable rush also made its appearance and the chupacabras showed up on the fiction TV series “The X Files”. The details in these narratives are in the habit of being significant. The origin of the chupacabras, we’re told, was in a failed experiment of genetic engineering in a secret laboratory of a US military base in Puerto Rico. The history of the chupacabras synthesizes the assault on rural life and agriculture, sponsored by NAFTA in 1994. The ejidos4 were privatized. Subsistence agriculture was declared en route to disappearance; the goats and the corn were to be replaced by kiwi and broccoli. The campesinos found themselves subject to enormous pressures to use genetically engineered varieties to be able to compete. It was evident that the business of agriculture in the US was going to suck the blood of the small Mexican farmer. Why goats? The monster has as its objective of attack the intense relations between people and animals, relations that are the very heart of rural life. In rural Mexico, the ‘birria’, a special preparation of a baby goat, is the ritual food of weddings, a locus of social reproduction.

In the Andean zone of Peru and Bolivia the neoliberal era was marked by new appearances of the pishtako, a monster whose legend originated in the Andes in the 16th century in the context of the Spanish invasion. The pishtako used magic dust to put people to sleep and sucked the fat from their bodies. It shouldn’t surprise us that the pishtako would manifest itself at times wearing a tunic similar to the Spanish monks. At the end of the 80s, according to Nathan Wachtel, the pishtako made a series of apparitions in the Andes in answer to the plundering action of neoliberalism (Wachtel 1994). On that occasion, it sucked human fat to export it to the United States where, it was said, it was sold for the lubrication of factories -- cars, airplanes and computers. The anthropologists reported a wave of panic in 1987 when the news spread that a team of 5000 pishtakos arrived to Ayacucho, dressed in laboratory gowns, with the goal of gathering human fat to sell it and pay the national debt of Peru. In spite of their economic and political exclusion, the Andeans weren’t out of the loop. The image represented with an impressive exactitude the nature of the forces that were pressuring them.

To avoid an excessively mythical reading of the phenomenon of the pishtako, it is only necessary to think of its relation with the metropolitan practice of liposuction. Why not exploit the notorious North American obesity to pay the national debt of Peru? Really, thinking clearly, North American fat is the debt of Peru; cheap exports converted into hyperconsumption in the North.

Another appearance of the monstrous in the vernacular imaginary in the neoliberal epoch are the thousands of stories related to the stealing of human organs. Since the decade of 1980 these stories have become powerfully significant in the places where the integrity and survival of communities has been threatened. In the middle of the 90s these narratives have been propagating on such a scale that the United States Agency of Information (USIA) put up a web page to refute them. A very common version is the stealing of a kidney. Its most popular variation tells us of a man who is seduced in a bar by a very attractive woman and stays the night in a hotel. Waking up the next day he finds himself alone, full of pain and with an incision in his abdomen. He realizes he has been drugged, and his kidney has been removed to sell outside. The story has many variations, but they are surprising in frequency and consistency, from India to Guatemala. Again, from a cosmovision soaked in fear and vulnerability, the stories of stolen organs register the transformations of the global order quite precisely, particularly in that they refer to the new means of industrial production which for assemblage of a final product use parts which come from every corner of the world. The bodies of the poor are turned into producers of pieces to be exported and inserted into sick bodies, rich bodies, in other countries. The communities are fragmented, parts of them have had to be sold to the exterior and installed in the belly of the beast. Is it in these realities that the recent term “post-human” originated?

In the United States cinema and television are places for reemergence of the monstrous. The startling example is the fiction series “X files”, which recently completed its ninth (and final) TV season and where all of the horrors mentioned above have made their appearance.5

“Getting it Together”

These appearances of the monstrous express the attack on bodies, and on individual and communal integrity, which characterize the present moment. Individual and collective integrity are not functional for the current capitalism, which, as the economists assure us, works with an unruly flexibility: a factory operating a year ago in El Salvador moves to Indonesia in two months. The stories of the monstrous are a very exact allegory of the disorganizing forces of a voracious and predatory neoliberalism. However, as I suggested at the beginning, it is important not to give an interpretive monopoly to these forces. We are also surrounded by narratives and processes of reassemblage, of integration, recuperation, affirmations of belongings rooted in places and in cosmos. They are processes that our hegemonic imaginaries easily discard. I offer some examples, among many that one could cite.

In gestures simultaneously material and symbolic, the indigenous peoples of the world are leading processes of recuperation -- of organs, bones, remains and sacred robbed artifacts. The cases are very numerous. In 1998 these demands for recuperation had become so common that in the United States a Law of Repatriation was approved. In the US a highlighted case has been the recuperation in 2000 of the brain of Ishii, last survivor of a Californian tribe. The search initiated by a neighboring tribe ended with the brain conserved in storage in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. The finders of Ishii followed clues opened in 1993 by the descendants of a group of natives from Greenland taken to New York a century ago by the anthropologist Franz Boas. The descendants reclaimed the bones of their ancestors, including a representative who traveled by foot to New York to retrieve them. The same year the community of Coruma in Bolivia recovered its sacred textiles from a gallery in California. Weeks ago, the remains of a cacique tugboat, Vanaica Peru, were returned to Uruguay from France, and from England, artifacts from a famous representation of the Bushmen were returned to Botswana.

The migrants of the world are also leading processes of integration and reassemblage by means of intense and continuous processes of improvisation. As we know, all over the planet new forms of identity are developing, of belonging and citizenship capable of responding to the disaggregating momentum of migration. The towns of Mexico and Central America duplicate, establishing satellite communities in the United States, from which people, goods, money and cultural practices come and go continuously. As the pioneering study of Roger Rouse showed, part of Redwood City, California (Rouse 1991), is a suburb of Apatzingan, Michoacan; the Guatemalan anthropologist Victor Montejo affirmed that in Florida there are Tztotzuhil speaking communities that occupy buildings and apartments that have been reorganized according to Mesoamerican living space relations. The Mixtecs of Oaxaca now have a transnational network that goes from Puerto Escondido to Anchorage and from Fresno to New Jersey. To adjust themselves to the necessities of migrant populations, the towns reprogram and redesign local parties (a pattern that again privileges religious calendars before national festivals). The same migrants negotiate new forms of participation, within their status as migrants. Every year in the months of June and July, the flights of Mexicana de Aviacion that leave from the airport of San Jose, California each take a dozen children, sent to spend the summer with their grandparents in the ranches and the towns of Jalisco and Michoacan. Examples abound of improvisation and adjustment destined to maintain integration and continuity across the distances imposed by migration.

The virgins and saints are not left out of the new processes, adopting new mobile and integrating functions. In Mexico, the Mexican anthropologist Renee de la Torre shows that the Virgin of Guadalupe has begun to appear in places of transit like airports or on the bridges of highways. The Mexican church recently gave official recognition of its appearance on the wall of a subway station in Mexico city. The Virgin of Zapopan, a mobile figure that normally circulates between the parishioners of the city of Guadalajara to protect against floods, five years ago started traveling to California, summoned by the faithful of Los Angeles. Just like the communities, the Virgin autoduplicates, creating a new version of itself to enter the transnational circuit.

These innovative processes of reassemblage, integration and continuity can appear insignificant in the context of the great restructurings imposed by the IMF. But, as J.K. Gibson-Graham (1991) says, we must ask ourselves if they appear insignificant because they are, or because we are predisposed to see them like that. Accustomed to give an interpretive monopoly to capitalism, to view from a position of hegemony, could it be that we have learned to see other elements and historical dynamics as insignificant? Gibson-Graham argues that this tendency to reduce everything to the same, accepting the paralysis of despair, is a lesson that must be unlearned. Working sometimes against their own institutions, analysts should try to tell history in another way, to question the obvious order of the significant and insignificant. As analysts describe the world, Gibson-Graham emphasizes, they also produce it, making certain factors stand out and making others invisible. Our acts of representation are exercises of liberty, and they carry responsibilities and consequences.

The new practices of integration and reassemblage reflect commitments, forces and enormous creativity in both the individual and collective. The American myth of the immigrant who seeks a new life forgetting their origins still exists, but now it coexists with the new migrant narrative whose project is to sustain the place of origin, often through processes of autoduplication, like that of the Virgin of Zapopan. Working in the exterior to maintain one’s place of birth frequently implies a double nationality as much in the literal sense (more and more countries recognize it) as in the existential sense, of a kind of unfolding of the I in parallel identities in one place and another. This experience can be at the same time fragmenting and emancipating.

It seems important to me to underline again the way in which, in spite of the economic imperatives that motivate migration, these integrating practices, well subsumed by the expression in English “getting it together”, are not useful for capitalism. They can’t even be explained by it. The mobilization of the “here” to maintain the “there” doesn’t obey, for example, the dictates of consumerism or individualism or the consumer values of self realization. Our fears of nostalgia, or of that which has recently been condemned as “romanticism,” shouldn’t hide from us the fact that across the planet practices and modes of life are being elaborated that reject the intense disintegrations that are useful for capitalism. Together with the wandering virgins, one of the current heroes of this story is the cell phone, as much in the twin towers of New York as in the mountain ranges of Guatemala.


To conclude, we return to the theme of the zones of exclusion. In the first years of this new millennium, we are witnessing changes that appear as processes of demodernization. The grand narrative of progress marches backward. We witness, for example, the “Dickensian” revival of child labor, the recurrence of slavery and the return of the colonial ex-rulers as owners of corporations in ex-colonies. In Peru the government proposes to undo the agrarian reform, returning the ranches to their old owners. In Argentina, the collapse of the country that was considered the most modern and the most modernizing of all Latin America, is registered in a series of returns: the economy of trade, the multiplication of currencies, the selling of children and subsistence agriculture, even in urban contexts. In the middle of the enormous crisis, Argentina, a newspaper tells us with a photograph of an Argentinean in a poncho that is starting a trip around the world on a horse, that even the national symbols demodernize, as if one were reading the book of Melquiades backwards.

A particularly significant dimension of this demodernization has been the erosion of the totalizing and inclusive networks that realized the democratizing project of modernity. I refer to the national networks of education, of transportation (roads and railroad networks, national airlines), of communication (telegraph, telephone, radio), and the judicial and electoral networks. Under neoliberal pressures, states revise their functions, abandoning the redistributive and custodial roles that maintained their democratic character. With relation to the networks, they cease to maintain local branches. The networks wither and, ceasing to be totalizing, become discontinuous and nodal. The territories between the nodes are converted into zones of exclusion, that is to say, they pass from being inclusive to being non-inclusive. In Lima it can be easier to import potatoes from Kansas City than from Sicuani; easier to talk on a cell phone with the cousin in Bangkok than to talk on a public phone with the cousin in San Juan de Lurigancho; easier to order a book from Miami than from Chiclayo or Quito.

The result of these processes of demodernization, and the transformation of the inclusive networks into exclusive nodes, are vast zones of exclusion and marginalization where life has to be lived in other ways, where profit and consumption are not what gives meaning to life. In these zones sadness, suffering and despair proliferate, but other knowledges, values and pleasures -- other narratives, other forms of living life are created; of enjoying it, of giving it meaning. Two brief cases in Peru can serve as examples. The first is the vision of Lima captured by an extraordinary video made by the Dutch-Peruvian Heddy Honigmann in 1993 during the sharpening of the economic crisis of Peru. Titled “Metal and Melancholy,” the subject is the taxi drivers of Lima, a term which in 1993 referred to almost every person in Lima who had access to a car. The video captures, better than any other work that I know, the answer of people to their expulsion and the narrative of development that they were living before, documenting as much the suffering and despair as the creativity and bravery with which they confronted the necessity of living another way and giving meaning to a life in new and painful circumstances. Scene after scene, the video exhibits the creative development of new material practices, of new processes of unmaking and remaking in the midst of extreme scarcity, the incessant labor of untying and retying cables (literally), and the semantic, existential practices that gave meaning to the scarcity and the loss of hope.

The second example is a new cosmology that I came to know after entering a small vegetarian restaurant in Cuzco in July of 2002. It is about the religious sect called Alpha and Omega whose symbols originate from telepathic messages communicated from the eternal father to his terrestrial representatives. These “doctrines for the third millennium” are conserved in four thousand celestial scrolls that explain “the origin, cause and destiny of all things known and unknown,” according to the printed pamphlet that they distribute. Strongly anti-materialist, this sect characterizes capitalism as “the strange law of gold” and announces the new “reign of truth, justice and equality with a new heaven, new Earth and new understanding”. It is just one of dozens of new philisophical-cosmological-religious formations that surge in the zones of exclusion offering paradigms of meaning independent of materialism and the failed narrative of development.

The incapacity of neoliberalism to generate belonging, collectivity and a believable sense of the future produces, among other things, enormous crises of existence and of meanings that are being lived by the non consumerists and consumerists of the world in forms that the neoliberal ideology can neither predict or control. The sucking monsters, the robbed kidneys and the recuperated brains, the mobile virgins, the telepathic scrolls and the pirated discs are symptoms of these crises, and also the inscrutable agents of a future whose contours we don’t know.

1. The present text was made a reality thanks to the auspices of a loan from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences from Stanford University 2000-2001, and owes much to stimulating conversations with James Ferguson, Lisa Malkki and Jean Lave. I also thank the colleagues from the Center of Higher Investigations and Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS-Occidente) in Guadalajara, Mexico, for many suggestions that enriched this work, and for the privilege of passing a year on sabbatical with them. The contributions of Gabriel Torres, Maria de la O Castellanos, Reneé de la Torre, Mercedes Gonzalez de la Rocha and Rossana Reguillo were of particular importance in the reflections related to globalization, poverty and their existential dimensions.

2. Translator’s Note: Special thanks to esteemed comrades Jen P., Natalie M. and Margaret C.
for help with revisions and translation.

3. Translator’s note: The North American Free Trade Agreement, signed between Canada, the United States and Mexico on January 1, 1994

4.Translator’s Note: Ejidos are individual plots of land that are passed down through families and cannot be put on the common market. Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution, which protected the ejido system, was revoked with the passage of NAFTA in 1994.

5. For a domestication of the theme, see also the most recent film of Clint Eastwood, ‘Blood Work’.

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Featherstone, Mike. Global Culture: Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity. London: Sage, 1990
Ferguson, James. Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999
Gibson-Graham, J.K. The End of Capitalism (as we knew it): A feminist critique of political economy. Rutgers: Rutgers University Press 1995
Gonzalez de la Rocha, Mercedes. Private Adjustments: Household Responses to the Erosion of Work. UN Bureau for Development Policy, Conference Paper Series, 2000.
Rouse, Roger. “Mexican migration and the social space of postmodernism,” Diaspora 1:1 (1991), 15-30.
Wachtel, Nathan. Gods and Vampires: Return to Chipaya. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1994.

Whose Reefer Madness?

October 2007

By the time you finish reading this, approximately eight people will have been arrested for the use or possession of marijuana in the United States. A recent government study has reported that in 2006, a record 829,000 people were arrested for nonviolent marijuana offenses. This hefty number eclipses the total number of arrests in 2006 for all violent crimes. In the United States, more people are being arrested for marijuana than for murder, manslaughter, assault, robbery and rape combined.

This study is eyebrow-raising, to say the least. But are we smelling smoke of victory or tasting tears of tragedy? Before we bear our politics and fortify the frontiers of our ideological fences, let’s investigate a little further into pervasiveness of this issue and contemplate the magnitude of the statistics.

Eight million Americans have been incarcerated for marijuana related offenses in the past ten years. These figures show trends of exponential growth. In the past 15 years there has been an increase in marijuana arrests by 188 percent; arrests have tripled since the early 1990s. The price of this vast incarceration campaign costs taxpayers between 10 and 12 billion dollars annually.

But the arrest itself is only the beginning of the story. Prison statistics add another layer of significance to the narrative. One in six federal inmates is imprisoned for marijuana. For better or worse, the consequences of these marijuana offenses are undeniably severe. While the average sentence for convicted murder in the United States is about six years, in 15 states, citizens can receive a life sentence for a nonviolent marijuana offense. In Montana, a single plant will land you in the slammer for life.

Whether these words resonate like clarion trumpets of justice or funeral dirges of dignity, the story is not over. Despite the enormity of legal danger that marijuana use entails and the immensity of money invested in its prohibition, all studies seem to show that both supply and demand for the substance are increasing. In a poll by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, more than one-third of teens said they could find and purchase marijuana in a few hours. The same poll reported that for teenagers, marijuana is easier to buy than cigarettes or alcohol. ABC new reported in 2006 that marijuana is the largest cash crop in the United States.

Meanwhile, the rise in marijuana related arrests has been reflected inversely by an unsettling decline in arrests for the use and possession of harder and more lethal drugs. The prohibition of marijuana seems to grow in a shadow of legal liberality towards more dangerous and addictive substances. The statistical decrease in arrests for cocaine and heroin related crimes in recent years should provoke an honest and bipartisan inquiry into the strategies of law enforcement policy.

In any pragmatic analysis of America’s drug dilemma, it’s necessary for all parts of the political spectrum to recognize that the war on drugs has provoked a cultural war. The briefest perusal of popular mainstream media outlets from MTV to NBC will reveal an unabashed celebration of drug culture. In a country of rehab clinics well stocked with stars, every anti drug advertisement, whether glimpsed between Cheech & Chong reruns or beer billboards, has to contend with celebrities from Snoop Dog to the Bush daughters.

Among disenfranchised citizens, drug lords from El Capone to Pablo Escobar enjoy celebrity status as wealthy and powerful opponents to the global order. Prohibition has granted to the reprehensible brutality of drug cartels the romantic mantel of Robin Hood.

Among those who suffer from the repercussions of this ambitious prohibition are police officers themselves. Law enforcement agents are on the front lines of the drug war, and are well acquainted with its perils. One organization that commands significant moral authority on the matter is Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). Founded in 2002, LEAP is comprised entirely of current and former members of law enforcement, and advocates the legalization and regulation of all drugs. Those of us in the habit of choosing sides and building fences would do well to get to know who we are including or excluding.

As tax paying citizens it devolves upon us all to investigate the consequences of the policies and politics that we pay for, which currently result in one marijuana related arrest every 38 seconds. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has a slogan that seems sane and pertinent: “Remember prohibition? It still doesn’t work.”

Liberals and radicals will probably have little contention with such an argument. Those of us with more conservative values might do well to remember the words of Albert Einstein: “Nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws that cannot be enforced.”


Marijuana Arrests For Year 2006 – 829,625 Tops Record High.
September 24, 2007 - Washington, DC, USA
Tuesday, September 25th, 2007,

Marijuana Called Top U.S. Cash Crop

Interview with Eric Schlosser

Same Problem - Same Solution

by Greg Toppo, (Source:Associated Press)
20 August 2002

First Tragedy, Then Farce

September 2007

In the war waged for public opinion at General Petraeus’ hearing last week, truth was the first casualty. Mass media mercenaries battled with the political and industrial infantry for the booty of our attention and consent, and our knowledge became collateral damage.

We may not understand why we are in Iraq and we may not know how or when or even if we plan to leave. But we can count on the New York Times to provide us with a detailed chart outlining the meaning of every medal on General Petraeus’ military uniform.

Petraeus’ eminent statement, that he doesn’t know whether the Iraq war will make the United States safer, is bandied and parroted by every reactionary press with an ulterior motive. It’s a crumb tossed to keep amnesiac pundits and politicians of all persuasions busy. With unabashed haste, the political and news community seems to have long since forgotten the National Intelligence Estimate report from April 2006, which, compiled by 16 different intelligence agencies, stated unequivocally that the ongoing occupation of Iraq has in fact increased the threat of terrorist attacks. Old news is no news.

Leaving such small details aside, we can observe in Petraeus’ hearing and its repercussions a recycled narrative. “Hegel,” Karl Marx wrote, “remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

At the congressional hearing we had first the reappearance of Petraeus himself. Petraeus has been active in Iraq for some time and his record can speak for itself. Petraeus is implicated both in the loss of Mosul in 2004 to insurgents, and in the massive failure to train an Iraqi army. Patrick Cockburn reports that "[t]he 7,000 police recruited by General Petraeus either changed sides or went home. Thirty police stations were captured, 11,000 assault rifles were lost and $41m (£20m) worth of military equipment disappeared. Iraqi army units abandoned their bases." Finally, as chief of the Security Transmissions Command, Petraeus is also responsible for the recent loss of 1.2 billion dollars of US weapons which are without a doubt now in the hands of Iraqi insurgents. The tragedy of Petraeus’ military career is matched in magnitude only by the farce of his recent appearance; the whole extravaganza steeped in hubris and incompetence and lubricated by the diligent drool of lap dog legislators.

Also at the hearing it is difficult not to recognize the reappearance of the first Gulf War, of Vietnam, of the Philippines, and all their respective congressional hearings, each attended by a fair and balanced audience of hawks and apologists. First tragedy, now farce.

The hearing was a masquerade and a scam; Petraeus reenacts a rerun we have seen before. His is the relegated role of the Roman centurion returned from Mesopotamia to kneel before the emperor and make salutary statements about the burdens we must bear for the virtues of conquest.

While self-interested liberals and self-described conservatives chide the Democratic party or tirelessly blame Bush for everything, the mass media regurgitates all the phlegm it has swallowed and we forget to ask the important questions. Why, despite majority oppositions worldwide, do US military operations in Iraq continue?

Petraeus’ hearing was a pretense brewed from the cookbooks of spectacle to legitimize the illegitimate. The event, attended by a handpicked posse of politicians and military officials, was designed to distract and desensitize. The only debate on the congressional table was how to best grease the wheels of US foreign policy; this policy itself is not up for discussion.

And really, we should not be surprised. Since the beginning of military operations in Iraq, the striptease of US priorities and interests has long been over. Empire has never been negotiable, and the imperialism which has and continues to determine US foreign policy is no exception.

No strategic analysis, whether political or military, can proceed coherently without an acknowledgment of this reality. It is a reality that Iraqis can’t miss. Neither can US troops in the region, nine of whom were reportedly killed while Petraeus was addressing Congress.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Specter of Debt

October 2007

To paraphrase an old idol, a specter is haunting the United States -- the specter of debt. All the powers of old and new wealth have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter: federal bureaucrats and private bankers, politicians and pundits, activists and autocrats.

While intellectual and ideological exorcisms drip from newspapers and ripple through street demonstrations, the financial elites of private and public wealth are meeting behind closed doors, deliberating their common interests.

Three weeks ago, the secretary of the US Treasury called a meeting in Washington with the chief executives of the most powerful banking firms, among them Citigroup, JP Morgan and Bank of America. This was to be the first in a series of meetings between the super rich representatives of public and private wealth. They come in the wake of the recent financial crises that have frightened investors and driven the majority of Americans deeper into debt. The common interest that these representatives share: the maintenance of an economic system which privileges their position as financial elites.

To this end, under their discussion is the creation of a $75 billion “backup fund” to buy up risky assets in the event of a run on the market. Translation: If the bubbles of financial speculation that these executives have collectively crafted begin to burst, the pooled resources of public and private wealth will pump more air (money) into the bubbles to keep the party going.

This move of consolidation between public and private money lenders reveals the magnitude of the impending financial crisis that lurks outside the burgeoning bubble of sub-prime loans and leveraged buyouts. While the formation of this group has not received much attention in mainstream media, to those who are watching the markets it cuts like a hot tip through the rhapsodic liquidity with which expert sycophants eulogize the boom and bust of progress.

Such eulogizing is in high demand and there is no shortage in supply of economists and politicians who are eager to tote the party line in exchange for the spotlight. With their help, the gravity of the debt that haunts the US economy is camouflaged in an oppressively complex network of specificities.

The housing crisis, inflation, the devaluation of the dollar, mortgage foreclosures and more, are all intentionally expressed in language designed to confuse and alienate us into subservience. Complexity is used as a tool to leverage compliance. The emphasis on specific crises is used to sanitize the dirty secret -- that really things are not so complex; that all these smaller crises are symptoms of a systemic structure that underlies the US economy from the stock exchange to the supermarket.

This kind of clarity is submerged in an ocean of political argumentation and microeconomic analysis that borders on advertising. However, the current of consistency in this propaganda is clear: that these innumerable economic crises are in the long run nothing to worry about -- just keep investing and everything will be fine. All is well.

But all is most certainly not well. Need we reference the statistics that every American feels in her back pocket? Unprecedented budget deficits and unprecedented levels of public and private debt shape the “nonnegotiable” terrain of the US economy -- America’s average per capita debt now meditates at $160,000 for every man woman and child.

The harbingers of the impending crisis are hedge funds. Since 1990 these profiteers of market failure have grown from 500 companies handling $38 billion in assets to more than 6,000 firms that manage over a trillion dollars. Hedge funds are the modern day economic vultures that circle over the smoke of burning markets, sifting through smoldering credit corpses in search of any residual liquidity. These institutions that prosper in crisis are canaries that thrive in the fumes of the coal mine, and their rapid growth in recent years should clue us in that there is something desperately wrong with our economic system.

There is a tragic irony in all of this. The crises that should reveal the self-interest, illegitimacy and incompetence of the financial elites are used by these same elites to legitimize their roles in maintaining the economic order. The axle that the whole swindle revolves around lies in making us believe that we aren’t competent enough to figure out the complexities of crisis for ourselves.

There is no transparency or oversight over the CEOs and federal bureaucrats that are working to salvage this debt economy with bailouts. At the heart of accepted economic policy there is an unspoken contempt for democracy. The executives of Citigroup and JP Morgan are unaccountable to the public whose tenuous indebtedness they seek to sustainably perpetuate. There is no public debate about the long term viability of the debt and credit-industrial complex which fills the vacuum of our outsourced manufacturing economy.

The solution is to recuperate the economic decisions that we have relinquished, and to cultivate an understanding of the economy that will allow us to change our reality. The only real alternative to this courage is to submit to the reign of debt, which forms the systemic backbone of the economic order and its recurring structural crises.

Really, this debt is no specter, and no amount of proselytizing by no number of priests will be able to exorcise it. Only the mobilized power of the public can root out the origins of our haunting. Debtors of the world unite! We have nothing to lose but our debt.

Mexicali/Calexico: No Borders Camp, November 2007

A black flag flew high in the crisp desert air. Clenched fists and pleading palms pounded on both sides of the wall that separates the United States and Mexico. To the rhythmic dissonance of flesh beating against metal, hundreds of masked faces were chanting, “We want a world without borders!”

After about an hour of shouting and whispering through the holes of the 30 foot-tall fence, the crowds on both sides gradually began to march, together, flags waving, drums resonating, East along the border. Curious bystanders stared, and authorities behind sunglasses and armored vehicles muttered into radios.

Welcome to Calexico/Mexicali, November 2007. “Mexicali and Calexico,” reads one of the many leaflets the crowds are distributing, “are not sister cities, they are one city divided by a hyper-militarized line.” Calexico on the US side, with a population of roughly 30,000, is in Imperial County, about 120 miles east of San Diego, California. Mexicali is the capital of Baja, California, with a shifting population of around 850,000. On this bright day in November, several blocks from the legal point of entry on the border, hundreds of people from around the world gathered on both sides of the wall to improvise a spacetime with no borders.

No Borders camps have been springing up around the world for at least a decade. On the borders of Germany and Poland, Croatia and Hungary, Poland and Lithuania, Ukraine and Slovakia, the US and Mexico and many more, thousands of people have converged to demonstrate and take actions against the borders that divide countries, cultures, families and lives. Camps have also surfaced in the interior of countries where the effects of borders are imminent; at immigrant detention centers in Australia and at the International airport in Frankfurt, Germany.

I arrived at the crowd gathered at the border with a visceral awareness of history in the making. This was to be the first binational No Borders camp, with people on both sides of the wall discussing and demanding this idea of a world without borders which had brought them together from near and far. Veterans from other camps were in attendance, from Australia, Ukraine, Spain and more.

Several hours later, four miles East of the point of entry, we set up camp where the steel wall ends and the border line is replaced by the All-American canal, the largest aqueduct in the world, which channels the Colorado river into the arid agricultural plains of Southern California. Another point of historical and symbolic interest: The wall which separates the two camps is constructed from old helicopter landing pads left over from the Vietnam War. In its shade, water tanks, tents, a medical van and a media center were quickly established.

The campers on the US side are by no means alone. It’s a perpetual standoff with the Border Patrol. For the entirety of what became a week-long encampment, between six and sixty border patrol vehicles, outfitted for battle, surround the camp. They erected five sodium lights on 20 foot poles that lit the camp at all hours of the night. Campers were cordial but controversial, always up against the police line, which consists, depending on the hour, of two to three levels of law enforcement with pellet guns, lethal guns, riot shields, batons, helmets, video cameras and earpieces. Helicopters and unmanned surveillance planes fly low overhead at least every hour. A fifty foot-tall tower across the road is mounted with several surveillance cameras. Behind my handkerchief and sunglasses, even without the cameras filming us from the ground, rest assured the authorities know everything they can.

Meanwhile, flags, banners, murals, photo exhibitions, free literature, graffiti and makeshift bathrooms adorn the wall. A ladder to facilitate communication with the Mexican side is the focal point of our self-appointed adversaries, who perhaps think that this whole camp is a pretext for smuggling immigrants. The idea of a world without borders is most likely too much for the agents with video cameras who film our every move.

What is this idea? What is the force which inspires these campers? Strictly speaking, the No Borders Camp is illegal, in that it takes place on government property for which no permit has been acquired. Campers risk not only harassment and arrest, but considerable injury, if the many weapons of the Border Patrol agents are any indicator. And yet around the world people continue to take these considerable risks to demonstrate and enact this idea of a world without borders. Why?

The US/Mexico Border: A Human Perspective

The US Mexico border is a place of much conflict, suffering and tragedy. The death rate along the border is truly alarming. For the past seven years, a rough average of 500 migrants have been found dead on the border every year. Upwards of 4000 people have died trying to cross this border since 2000. And even this figure is a low estimate, as it accounts for only those people whose bodies have been found.

To put this in perspective, far more people have died on the US/Mexico border since 1995 than were killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September the 11th, 2001. Another pungent comparison is that more people have died on the US/Mexico border in the last eight years than throughout the entire 28 year duration of the Berlin wall. If statistics are at all to be believed, the US/Mexico border since 2000 has been 300 times more fatal to Mexicans than the Berlin wall was to Germans.

On a string stretching all around the camp on the US side, four thousand small white flags fluttered in the desert wind, each representing a migrant casualty of the border since 1995. For the campers, each small piece of cloth was a reason to be there, a reason to put themselves at risk, a reason to show their opposition to this ongoing tragedy and express and embody their desires to build a world without the borders that cause it.

The Border Patrol

Such a vision, however, must contend with the vast economic and political machinery of border enforcement. If anything, the Border Patrol is bigger and stronger than ever before. Since 2001, the infamous Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has been disbanded and replaced by the Department of Homeland Security. Consequently, Border Patrol agents have been invested with all the material and ideological weaponry of the War on Terror.

Federal spending on border enforcement, relatively static throughout the 60s, 70, 80s and early 90s, increased by a multiple of five from $750 million in 1993 to $3.8 billion in 2004. Well over 11,000 Border Patrol agents, all bearing the emblem of Homeland Security, are entrusted to guard US borders from illegal immigrants, every one of whom is automatically a suspected terrorist.

Yet despite this presence, more undocumented immigrants are crossing the border into the US than ever before. While statistics here are necessarily rough, according to the Urban Institute, it’s estimated that 1.5 million immigrants join the US population every year, and at least one third of these (500,000 per year) are undocumented. Wayne Cornelius, a professor from the University of California in San Diego, notes that this “explosive growth of unauthorized immigration has been occurring at a time when the United States was spending considerably more on immigration control than ever before.” In light of the data on increasing immigration, it would be an understatement to call this spending ineffective. This raises the important question of how our money is really being invested.

The Undocumented War

Immigrants are now the fastest growing prison population in the United States. This has come about as a result of the latest federal immigration policy, which has mandated a sweeping campaign of raids at immigrant workplaces across the country.
The agency responsible for these raids is Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Formed in the aftermath of 9/11, ICE is one of the most powerful agencies in the United States today. ICE special agents have more authority than most other official US employees. ICE works closely with the CIA and FBI, and forms the largest investigative force in the Department of Homeland Security. Additionally, ICE is the only federal law enforcement agency with a nationwide radio communication network.

Raids on immigrant workplaces have dramatically increased in recent years. The Indypendent recently published some sobering statistics: The number of immigrants arrested in raids jumped from 510 in 2001 to 4,383 in 2006. There are currently 75 “ICE fugitive operation teams” deployed in the US to detain and deport undocumented immigrants. In 2006, 195,000 immigrants were arrested and deported. 26,000 people are in ICE custody on a daily basis.

ICE also contracts private companies to build detention centers. The industry that is arising behind and through these detention centers is unsettling in its size and its unaccountability. From 2000 to 2005, ICE contracted Kellogg, Brown and Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, to build detention centers across the United States. In 2006, another no-bid contract with an estimated value of $385 million was granted to KBR to build still more immigrant detention and “processing” facilities.

Once “processed”, these immigrants are then “repatriated”; sent back to Mexico. Deportation, in another era called exile, now masquerades with ICE under the euphemism of repatriation. One novelty in this narrative is the process of “deep” or “long-distance repatriation” wherein Mexican immigrants are flown by airplane into central and southern Mexican cities to discourage any attempt to return. While the policies of detention and deportation have proven thus far entirely ineffective at decreasing the tides of immigration, they have been quite effective at spending our money. In particular, the deep repatriation of immigrants in 2004 was facilitated by 151 chartered flights, each of which cost US taxpayers $50,000.

Fire to the ICE!

On Friday the 9th, the same day the Berlin Wall fell 18 years earlier, close to a hundred No Borders Campers caravanned to the ICE detention center in El Centro, a town outside Calexico, for a rally. “ The El Centro Service Processing Center,” reads a leaflet distributed at the rally, “is one of the busier ICE facilities in the nation, maintaining an average daily census of 500 to 600 males... ICE will spend an estimated $1 billion this year to detain 27,500 people in eight Service Processing Centers and seven contract detention facilities across the United States.”

The rally was colorful, loud and diverse in tactics. From the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, a group of clowns that honked horns, danced, mimed and mocked along the police line, to 15 foot-tall puppets, to a black bloc contingency that destroyed part of the fence, the rally danced around the facility and blocked two lanes of traffic on the road that runs in front of it, singing and chanting the whole way.

One younger camper dressed in fluorescent green spoke in Spanish into a megaphone pointed over the fence to the immigrants detained inside, “We’re here, there are many of us, we’re young and old, we’re from Mexico, we’re from the US, we’re from all over the world, and we’re here in solidarity with you. You’re not alone, here we are, you are not forgotten!” Actions at and against detention centers have been on the rise. In 2003 in Australia, we heard, No Borders campers working in collaboration with detainees actually broke into a detention center in Woomera, freed immigrants, and transported them to safety.

To the rhythm of cheers and rattling fence, the campers hung a banner from the barbed wire which read “500 border deaths every year, 500 years of colonialism.” A dozen or so climbed onto the sign in front of the facility facing the road, covering it with graffiti and waving the requisite black flags. As the group marched down the street, another camper with a loudspeaker addressed the activities of the many ICE employees who were watching us behind binoculars and video cameras from the roof of the detention center. “No one should tolerate it, and no one should perpetuate it,” her voice echoed. “I know that I stand here with white skin and privilege and I know that it’s my responsibility to do everything that I can to change what people like you are doing. And like I said, this is just the beginning.”

Dance and Drama on the No Border

After the rally, the majority of the group drove back to the legal point of entry for another demonstration. As you approach the point of entry, a loud metallic cranking sound reverberates through the busy street. It is the sound of the turnstile for pedestrians crossing into Mexico. There is no security of any kind to cross into Mexico; only a large metal turnstile that resounds in an endlessly repetitive reminder of inequality and privilege.

For about an hour the campers danced in full regalia to the rhythm of hand drums and whistles in front of the point of entry, distributing flyers to passersby about the No Borders Camp. A large banner read: “Movement is a human right. The border crossed us!” After an hour or so, the group moved to the fence a couple of blocks away where campers from the Mexican side were waiting. As both sides chanted “No one is illegal!” a giant piñata was hoisted up and over the fence to the Mexican side. When the piñata burst with a shower of fake money, campers on both sides fell to the ground in a mock death, many of them holding white crosses above them on which was written “500 die every year”. Slowly, hands began to clap, and the chant picked up again: “The people live, the struggle continues.”

That night, back at the encampment, there was a binational singalong. A microphone and guitar was passed back and forth between the line of Border Patrol agents and both sides sang to and with each other. As the night progressed, the singalong became a dance party, and most of the camp, by now grown to about 300 on the Calexico side and 150 on the Mexicali side, danced together into the early morning. Campers climbed the fence and danced hanging from it, a few campers on the US side built a makeshift screen of colored paper and erected it on a pole in front of the glaring sodium lights. It was a night of tangible exuberance. One camper, pointing at the Border Patrol agents standing rigid and perplexed between the two dancing crowds, shouted over the music in my ear, “They’ve never seen anything like this before!” That’s for sure, and I’m not sure any of us had either. Engraved with a depth and precision that only music can realize, a world without borders was dancing inside each of us. It was no longer an idea, but a lived experience that none of us would ever forget.

A Binational Forum

On Saturday, November 10th, 18 years and a day after the fall of the Berlin wall, both camps gathered before lunch for a binational forum. In the small area between where the wall ends and the canal begins, the Border Patrol patrolled their omnipresent line between the hundreds of people who gathered to talk and to listen. A microphone was passed back and forth across the line, and everything was translated into Spanish and English. A variety of hopes, desires, analyses and concerns were expressed. While no physical walls fell on that day, a world without borders seemed not only possible, but undeniable.

One camper expressed desire that in the future more mainstream left media be present at similar No Borders Camps. If more people knew about such camps, he reasoned, the movement for a world without borders would be that much larger. Another camper disagreed entirely. She alleged that such media has its own agenda, and predicted that it would manipulate the message of the camp to serve another end. “We don’t need corporate media to tell us that no borders is what we want,” she said. Both arguments were applauded.

Another expressed the need for future camps to make greater efforts to include and take into consideration indigenous peoples and perspectives. Indigenous peoples who live on the borderlands are in an especially vulnerable and marginalized situation. Squeezed between encroaching populations on both sides, indigenous people also face harassment from anti-immigrant groups and suffer from the environmental degradation which the border conflict simultaneously generates and neglects. Seven indigenous nations live in the borderlands of the US and Mexico; the Kumeyaay, Cocopah, Tohono O’odham, Akimel O’odham, Yaqui, Yavapai-Apache, Tiwa and Kickapoo. Ofelia Rivas, an activist with the group ‘O’odham Voice against the Wall’, speaks to the depth to which the militarized border impacts the lives of indigenous peoples: “It’s like somebody put a knife in your mother. The barrier will continually be there, and you can’t pull it out.”

Another camper conveyed a desire that future camps concentrate more on the ecological impacts of the border. The ecological impact of the militarized border is an urgent matter which for political reasons receives little attention from the largest environmental groups. Fearful of alienating their anti-immigrant constituencies, the most powerful environmental lobbying groups have neglected the ecological disasters of the border lands. Many rare and endangered species -- jaguars, ocelots and pronghorn antelope, to name a few, are at risk of extinction because of the US/Mexico separation wall. For many species, the wall is now playing the same fatal part that the transcontinental railroads played in dividing the Great Plains bison into Northern and Southern herds. The lack of pressure from environmental groups on policy makers has allowed politicians to waive dozens of environmental protections in their construction of the fence which now stretches over 150 miles in California and Arizona.

One camper was particularly eloquent in communicating that one of the most important things we could bring away from the camp is an analysis. She was sympathetic and gratified with the many good things that the camps on both sides of the wall were able to accomplish, but lamented the disparity in resources between the US and Mexican sides of the border. She criticized the way in which the camp’s organization, in spite of its intentions and aspirations, had unwittingly replicated some aspects of the bordered world that it sought to demonstrate against.

A camper on the Mexican side specifically addressed the Border Patrol, who observed the whole proceedings from the center in stony and unreadable silence. The camper accused the Border Patrol of betrayal to their history. Every officer is a descendent of an immigrant, he reminded them, and in making a living by persecuting immigrants they are committing a treachery to their heritage.

Finally, voices on both sides repeatedly reminded us that it is not enough to construct just a camp without borders. This struggle must be carried on into the many continents and communities that the campers represented. “The whole world is watching,” several people expressed.

In the clarity of that moment, the wall, the helicopters, the Border Patrol and all their show of force seemed almost anachronistic. All that power appeared virtually impotent, an obstinate spectacle uselessly defending an illusion from the inevitable.

The Final Day: Shake-speare and Rubber Bullets

“O, kiss me through the hole of this vile wall!”
“I kiss the wall’s hole, not your lips at all.”
(Shake-speare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, Scene 1)

On Sunday, the final day of the camp, both sides packed up their tents and marched along both sides of the wall back the way they came, to where they had met and rallied on the first day, so recently and so long ago. Black flags waved, banners unfurled, puppets danced, and everyone chanted, just as they had on the first day.

But suddenly and without warning, the Border Patrol descended with batons and pellet guns, firing rubber bullets and pellets filled with pepper spray at illegally close ranges, tackling and handcuffing campers, forcing them away from the wall. Border Patrol agents continued to shoot campers that were backed up against buildings and showed no resistance whatsoever. Medics who attempted to give help to injured people were thrown aside or similarly detained.

The action which sparked this brutality was a four inch hole that was cut in the fence by some campers, to establish an international kissing booth. Several people kissed before the Border Patrol interrupted, without any dispersal order or any kind of provocation that could in any way legitimize their brutality.

This came after a week of nonviolent coexistence with the Border Patrol, a week of so much hope and growth for campers on both sides. The barbarism on Sunday was a bitter shock and an awful reminder of the powers that the militarized border embodies and represents. It was humiliating and heartbreaking.

However, “[i]t is critically important,” read the press release on the No Borders Camp website,

to situate this recent violence within the larger context of border enforcement, for which the violence perpetrated to enforce the border is not exceptional but daily. For the over four hundred migrants buried in Holtville cemetery (since 1994) [a cemetery outside Calexico of unmarked flagstones] who died trying evade the very forces we confronted today, this violence is not exceptional but a fact of life and a fact of death.

The cruel and vicious behavior of the Border Patrol on Sunday, which can be seen by anyone interested in grim detail on YouTube, was an attempt to crush everything that had happened at the No Borders Camp. The binational forums, meals, singalongs, and dances, the rallies and radio shows, the photo exhibitions and the memorial of white flags, all these demonstrated the growing strength of a movement that the Border Patrol didn’t have the least capacity to understand or deal with. And so their vast bureaucratic mechanism of control tried to destroy the movement that threatened it in the only way it knows how; with brute force and heartlessness. With the cold and clumsy logic of a boot heel, a shadow of force and fear was imposed over the glow of solidarity and hope that hundreds of hands had delicately built together.

But such callous rationale, brutally epitomized on Sunday, can only hasten the demise of the powers that exercise it. By demanding a choice between either complete subservience or violent persecution, the hope of a dialogue is destroyed along with the notion that such a dialogue might be desirable. By alienating anyone interested in compromise, the naked hostility of the authorities in the long run can only serve to strengthen the constituencies of those who demand their utter dissolution. The inflexible violence of those who represent the border makes the idea of a world without borders that much more obvious, that much more desirable, and that much more necessary.

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That wants it down,” wrote Robert Frost, some time ago. This was certainly not to be the last No Borders Camp, and as images of binational meals and dance parties linger like embers under my heels, even in silence I can still hear the drums beating and the voices chanting: “Those who are watching now, will be struggling tomorrow.”

Monday, February 25, 2008

Yo No Me Callo

Perdone el ciudadano esperanzado
Mi recuento de acciones miserables,
Que levantan los hombres del pasado.
Yo predico amor inexorable.

-Pablo Neruda

el cuento del agua y el coco

un discurso digerible y allegorica...

Al grano, companer@s, vamos al grano antes de comerlo.
He escuchado que nadie sabe como entra el agua en el coco.
Claro que los comen, los encontran deliciosos a veces, pero no los entienden, no los conocen, y muchos dicen que ni se puede conocerlos.
Es una lastima y lo encontro lagrimosa, y yo si se de donde vienen y entran lagrimas.
Como entra el agua en el coco? De los raices!
Agua, absorto por raices, viaja entre el arbol creciendo, subiendo y difundiendo hasta que alcanza a entrar el coco. Y alli queda hasta que lo quiebras.
De los raices! De las sistemas que van desarollando el arbol, asi entra, companer@s.
Conozcalo, si lo encuentras sabroso, picante, amargo o asqueroso, conozcalo bien y jamas lo olvides.

on the radicalization of aesthetics

The time has come for a new romanticism -- not one that glorifies ‘fine dining’ or fancy hotels and other disasters involving wage slavery, exploitation, industrial values and all their collateral damages. Me must learn to reexamine and re-refine our aesthetics, we must abandon the alienating oppression of standardized perfection. We are in need of an aesthetics that is actively disobedient to consumer culture. An aesthetics of resistance, an aesthetics of solidarity, an aesthetics of liberation.

And so one eats food from the trash and sleeps in abandoned buildings not only as a financial solution -- it is also a cultural solution, and we lay important groundwork for the future of aesthetics. Culture will evolve, like everything else, either by default or design.

There is a cultural war to be fought and the new cultures and aesthetics must recognize themselves as more beautiful, more refined, more sophisticated than the old. We eat from the garbage not only because we are hungry, or because we wish to bring attention to waste, or simply because food is there in abundance (although these are good reasons as well) but because it is essential that we digest the demolition of our indoctrination, that we taste the transvaluation which we’ve known has been necessary all along.

It is of dire importance to our psychological health that our aesthetic values be consonant with our ethical values. If not, we live lives of inescapable hypocrisy and endlessly incapacitating paradox. If we are not in love with the world outside the artificial cage of consumerism, then we must relearn what love is. It is a necessity both for ourselves and the entire planet.


look into the depths of the most violent and brutal chasms of our world, and there you will find theory, explaining it all as not only desirable but inevitable.


danger and denial grow together: every crisis has its sandwich of pundits assuring us of utter stability.


spare me your systems and dialectics and field theories. i want to point fingers! there are no forests without trees.


every moment is the center of eternity, where every place is the center of the universe


reincarnation is a choice you make while you're alive. if you have the example, all you need is the will.

personal reflections


a night with no arms I wanted to curl into, no kisses or caresses that I dared to tempt. I raised the stakes onto the next day like a bluffing gambler or an addict, but the cards were stacked, which I should have known by now because I was the one dealing, whether I liked it or not.

In a world too big and imminent to not be desperately involved in, struggles sifted like bamboo grass across every horizontal surface, sometimes sharp, sometimes deep enough to fall into and have a hard time climbing back out.

As a writer I couldn't help feeling that really I was putting the real insight off; at least until I shook the academic habit and got the vindictive ideologue monkey off my back.

A million unread pages sat there calmly on the shelves but they made me restless, they concerned me and assured me that surely something is not only wrong but incomprehensible too.

Inevitability would be our sworn enemy through the long and the thick of it, our fated companion who we would fight against and alongside with until the dust dried in the back of our throats.

The sharp cornered comfort that I cuddled with for the moment was the knowledge that at least I wasn't fooling myself, that when at long last our cadre of desperados arrived at the end of the tunnel to find only a cracked mirror reflecting our flickering candles, at least I could let out a hearty laugh that would echo through the dry gardens of unrecorded eternity in utter disregard for every soul that took itself too seriously.

Whether or not the future declares it genius or irrelevant, every second of inaction is a second acted upon, and while the whole wide world la di dahs its way down the grooved track, every little bitty baby has every little right to bite the hands that groove and grease those tracks. No one with a molecule of honesty in their chromosomes can breathe deep these days and declare every little thing alright. But don't worry -- they got that part right -- because worrying is right where they want you, huddled and desperate with no arms that you want to crawl into and no kisses or caresses that you dare to tempt.

beyond aporia.
If we write because we're angry then our words should incite our anger, not diffuse it. If we write because we're lonely we should find companionship in our paragraphs, not solitude. Those of us who write because we're secretly hysterical need to get together at a convention with plenty of freedom and the repression that comes with it, and up against the barricades we'll write on riot shields the sentences that will sentence our angry, lonely and hysterical desperation to the sagging shelves of history that every bookseller dreads. Dancing through the stench of rotting tomes, we'll roll up our joy unfiltered. We won't have a choice, really.

behind enemy lines: dispatches from the academy

A College Morning

The face in the mirror awoke to another day, and we waded from the mists of sleep as birds and raindrops greeted the grey morning. We, because I has this implication of togetherness, of being centered and collected. A morning like many others but not like every other. There was delicious air and exquisite texture to the sounds, yes, but the freedom tasted rather strange. It was difficult to swallow. But we did alright, basically because we could afford to, or because we were telling ourselves that we could.

It’s interesting how the microcosm reveals the macrocosm: Beautiful, intelligent and passionate youth are mired in black wholes of abstractions which infect their beauty, intelligence and passion, and they know it better than anyone! Irresistably attractive, yet almost revolting, alas! Yes, this is our pet duality of the day, and we pendulum (into the pit) between attraction and disgust, for these youth are only puzzled into being a piece of a much larger puzzle: the college. And worse, the student. What a pretentious title! Is it any wonder we’re all neurotic? Sure, to make study an occupation belittles the reality that everyone is a student. But there is some truth to it; we are occupied, colonized by our studies, and the nature of our learning infects the education we achieve. And since we are here we are we and no longer I, because hypocrisy is enforced schizophrenia, and hypocrisy is prerequisite to survival nowadays.

So what are we doing? What are our visions? The abolition of institutionalized learning? We are getting to know the enemy a little better. We are holding our breath and noses against the fantasy contagion. (When you live in a total fantasy it is very difficult to not be a total fantasy yourself.) We are constantly reminding ourselves with a subversive smile that we are inside enemy lines. There is much to be learned here, if one only knows that what can be studied is not just the subjects being taught. We take notes on what kinds of questions are being asked, what kind of answers are being given. Teachers -- are they still comrades, or have they fallen asleep? And these other students -- how serious are they? Are they infected with the fantasy, or are they fellow spies, here to work together beyond the system?

Most likely they are something like us, fighting to stay afloat and maintain integrity in spite of privilege, schizophrenic and pathologically intellectual. But we are learning, and we can see what doors are open, what doors could be built, or destroyed. We can be strong -- we must be, if we are going to survive, as students. As students we take part in a long tradition of learning and lifestyle. Might we have some surprises for that history? Might we have a history of our own? If so, we must have courage and creativity and humor and love for eachother. If we are going to be serious about rocking this barge of studies and students, at times it will take all of each of us.

Perhaps it is pointless, or vapid, or impossible. But we are willing to try a little longer, at least for now. We will be students our whole lives, but now we are Students; shouldn’t we have a little diligent fun with it, turn it upside-down and plant some flowers in its arse?


Like pigs at a trough of indulgent insecurity we wallowed in our powerlessness and called it privilege, right in spite of ourselves.

College. Some called it a hell hole, some a prison of pillows, most probably preferred not to think of it at all, and there were plenty of distractions to help with that. But in the end we were too clever not to, which is why we called it names instead of escaping it or reinventing it.


we attack the college

we attack the college, and all parts of us that reflect the college!
we feverishly eschew every remnant of them! we will take no part in their machinations.
ah, seed of moloch, fertile soil of conceit and cynicism,
ah, nurture of moloch, diligent delinquency, drooling discipline and confident confusion,
ah, counterinsurgency of moloch, mother and child of the vanguard! give it your life and let it become you!
and yet why should you go to college? Because it takes one to know one. Who could know how to sabotage a school better than a student? No amount of flames could destroy these institutions which are essentially ideas, -- only new and better ideas can do that.
who wants to be the Ned Lud of the university, of the vanguard, besides everybody?
Now, or maybe never.
we attack the college, but I swear it is in self defense, and in defense of the future, which this present holds hostage, ransomed for the end of our privileges.
Charge! Or have we already?
scribbled in bathroom stalls, spoken subtly and often unnoticed in classes, whispered into ears in cafeterias and in beds, in notes slipped under doors and in stencils on buildings, ideas are spreading, growing, maturing, getting louder and bolder. something has to give or be given.
the idea of a monkeywrench thrust deep into the gears of theory,
the idea of a fuse of organization to explode and escape the reign of the moloch cocktails,
the idea of poison, poured through the rotten teeth of the vanguard,
the idea of courage, to save us from the jaws of complicity,
the ideas of deep obligation and commitment, to transcend the pretty call of homework,
the idea of combustion alone can keep us warm as we tread through the eerie chill of this luxurious submission we call student life.


A few thoughts about “The Making of a College 2.0”

1. Ahem. We are not a computer program. We are not zeroes and or ones, and we’d rather not be cogs in any kind of machine. Excuse me, but what is this all about? Are some administrative bureaucrats envious of our presumed freedom? Are they lonely? In order to justify their cubicle existence do they seek to make the students and faculty reflect their machine logic, and turn us into programmed mechanisms as well?

They’re very clever. The “2.0” is a piece of subtle manipulative propaganda designed to make us believe that there was or is a 1.0; that in fact we are already gears in the computer technocracy of industrial education. It’s a scam.

But you can’t con a con. We know to be wary of gifts from Greek scholars, Ralph. “The Making of a College” is a Trojan horse charging at windmills across the computer screens that are at the center of our virtual community. We aren’t fooled.

But we certainly can’t let any of our legitimate disgust and resentment at this transparent ploy justify any complacency. The college industrial complex will grow and assimilate us commensurate to our inability to create powerful alternatives.

2. You can’t create community on a computer. The centrality of the computer in the process of revisioning this college reveals the lack of commitment in the current non-community to a substantive restructuralization of the institution.

Aside from voluntary and poorly publicized discussion groups without any decision making power, our participation in “the making of the college” is to take place entirely in the isolation of a computerized interaction. Instead of gathering in planned or spontaneous community action groups, we are invited to sail the cyber seas of discussion boards and email list serves. We are being offered a virtual community with a praxis of alienation at its core. We are even invited to participate anonymously! A community of anonymity -- provocative, perhaps, but in experience, sterile. The face of the community they are selling us is a screen, and it’s a sell out.

Don’t buy it. Turn off the computer. Find fresh air.

3. If this college is at a turning point, then our work is to keep it that way.

The notion of Hampshire as moving from one state of the past to another of the future is an double myth. Tasting the second lie, we forget that we have already swallowed the first. When an administration presents us with the idea of an opportunity to change from one state of equilibrium to another, there are a variety of things we must ask ourselves. Do we desire a state of equilibrium, or even any state at all? As the saying goes, if it’s humiliating to be ruled, how degrading is it to choose your masters? Why accept any single system of mastery? Especially when it comes to institutions, we must prevent the equilibrium.

It is vital to participate in the making of this college, but it is simultaneously essential to make sure that it never gets made. If the process ever crystalizes, then dialectic becomes dogma. When we surrender spontaneity for security, dialogue loses its dignity. No matter what state you live in you’re governed.

3a. Both the concepts and the practices of sustainability are desperately essential in the world today. This cannot be overstated; if issues of overconsumption, waste, depletion and pollution are not immediately addressed, our survival as societies, institutions and individuals is uncertain at best. To this end the criteria of sustainability must be both an imminent and transcendent part of our communal and individual lives. The physical campus of Hampshire would benefit greatly from a commitment to this awareness.

But to apply the same principles and practices of sustainability to the administrative and academic schema of an institution is a leap of incoherent faith. Ideological claptrap. A crap shoot. Let’s be clear about that.

If institutions aren’t constantly changing, evolving, dying and resurrecting to reflect changing realities and desires, they become dinosaurs. Powerful and dangerous.

A thoroughly articulated and codified institution is exogenous; it is out of control; regardless of who is at the wheel it drives itself.

Confronted with the motive (disguised as opportunity) to articulate and codify Hampshire, what can or should one do? Well, we can start with recognizing what not to do.

When confronted with a dogmatism, if we defend ourselves with another dogma we are dogs, either eating from the hands that hold our leashes or at best barking over the right to exchange one domesticity for another.

Permanence is impossible, and deadly when attempted. Innovation upsets equilibrium.

Okay, ya basta for a moment. Enough theory.
Do we really want to live in a community here?
It’s a serious question, because community means
Yes, if we want to live in any kind of meaningful community, we will have to sacrifice time and energy and probably many of the alienations that we are accustomed to calling privileges. If we don’t recognize this, we will continue indefinitely to feign surprise at racist graffiti and theft and sexual assault for years to come. These solvable problems will persist commensurate to our unwillingness to make the necessary sacrifices of time and energy required to solve them.
Community is all about compromise, and on this point we must be uncompromising.

No amount of pizza and no number of “meetings” in lecture halls lead from the inverse panopticon of a podium will ever create a community. It is foolish and pessimistic about humanity to imagine that they ever would.
What brings people together is exhilaration! Fatigue!
Collective accomplishments and communal sacrifices! Shared ecstasies and collaborative struggles!
But not only these.
Just as important in a community is the so-called drudgery of daily life.
Absent the responsibility to take care of ourselves, I feel that our discussion of community is pretentious, empty and naive.

So in the dorms we could start by cleaning the bathrooms ourselves. We could carry out our own fucking trash. We could all work our way down the reality ladder out of our fantasy specializations until we are cooking all the food, washing all the dishes, maintaining the grounds, working at the farm, growing our own food, and providing public security for each other instead of relying on contracted cops to mediate our conflicts. These responsibilities would undoubtedly give us greater depth and perspective in our academic education. Then we could begin to discuss a community with some of credibility.

Do we really want to live in a community here?
I’m down, but only if you are too.

P.S. (practical afterthoughts to a discussion group)
1. In regards to 'Why choose Hampshire?' and how to “regain our innovative foothold”, I would like to suggest that Hampshire should emphasize and encourage RADICAL POLITICS, and maintain a COMMITMENT TO REMAINING AND THRIVING AT THE MARGIN. I think that Hampshire would benefit from a collective courage and conviction to STAY EXPERIMENTAL.

2. Sometimes you hear people say things like, “It is irresponsible to ask a student what they want, particularly when the student is not prepared; the system needs to steer student’s energy." (I am not making this up.)

My experience leads me to believe almost precisely the opposite: It's irresponsible NOT to ask students what they want, and student's energy should steer, if not entirely create, the system.

3. In regards to the website, catalogs and the academic admissions department, I would interject that this is not the place to invest limited energy. There is an absolute proliferation of paper generating bureaucracies at every college in the world. Universities of spectacles and commodities are meticulously crafted to satisfy societies of commodities and spectacles. The emphasis is on manufacturing and selling an image. The reality gets lost and contaminated in the wake.

I'd like to see the capital that goes into selling the community be put into making the "community" itself at least a little less spurious. NON SATIS VENDERE.

Finally, I'd just like to reassert that I think Hampshire's [latent] potential lies in and with radical politics, and that ABOVE ALL, as students, faculty, staff and administration, we should aspire towards constructing an institution with a social purpose, commitment and accountability.

from the mods of North West Hampshire
October 2007