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Arabica Robusta

Arabica Robusta's Public Library

  • Kabat-Zinn’s work appears to vindicate Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek’s critique of Western Buddhism as a supplement to neoliberal capitalism: “It enables you to fully participate in the frantic pace of the capitalist game while sustaining the perception that you are not really in it.”
  • But Davis has seen the benefits of mind/body practices and is not so swift to dismiss them. How can mindfulness genuinely support social justice? This was the basic question she kept returning to in Oakland.

    “In a racially unjust world,” Davis earnestly asked Kabat-Zinn, “what good is mindfulness?”

  • While the brief discussion between Davis and Kabat-Zinn remained abstract, actually existing experiments at the intersection of mindfulness and social change are blossoming. Several organizations are now focusing their efforts on the fold between subjective and social change: the Center for Transformative ChangeGenerative Somatics and the Movement Strategy Center are three leaders.

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  • This latter phrase was not simply added for effect. Part of the process of corporatizing education through the philosophy of administrators currently running America’s colleges has been the deliberate shrinking or even the killing-off of philosophy and humanities departments in higher education, both at community colleges and four-year colleges, across the nation. This is a well-documented development, but it is not often tied to the philosophy behind it. But in brief, one cannot be a critical thinker, or engage in deepening one’s knowledge of human ideas or cultural development, if one is to be an employee of an American business. The corporate philosophy which is killing such programs does so primarily for two reasons: 1) such education does not have a monetary payback for the business world; 2) critical thinkers and those with knowledge are dangerous to corporate hegemony. (Former CEO’s have told me this directly, although not in these terms.)
  • For one example, in every college course now, there must be a pre-determined measureable outcome of student success—the latter defined as the numbers of students who pass the course—that justifies the retention of the course and/or its instructor. The goals are called “Student Learning Outcomes,” and the vocabulary of each such outcome must be specifically formulated in such a way that an examining administrator can quantify the “successful” outcomes by how many students pass the objective and then pass the course.
  • Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools

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  • We live at a time when it is more crucial than ever to believe that the university is both a public trust and social good. At best, it is a critical institution infused with the promise of cultivating intellectual insight, the imagination, inquisitiveness, risk-taking, social responsibility and the struggle for justice.
  • This loss of faith in the power of politics, public dialogue and dissent is not unrelated to the diminished belief in higher education as central to producing critically engaged, civically literate and socially responsible citizens. At stake here are not only the meaning and purpose of higher education, but also civil society, politics and the fate of democracy itself. And yet, under the banner of right-wing reforms, the only questions being asked about knowledge production, the purpose of education, the nature of politics and the future are determined largely by market forces.
  • The question of what kind of education is needed for students to be informed and active citizens in a world that increasingly ignores their needs, if not their future, is rarely asked. (7) In the absence of a democratic vision of schooling, it is not surprising that some colleges and universities are increasingly opening their classrooms to corporate interests, standardizing the curriculum, instituting top-down governing structures that mimic corporate culture and generating courses that promote entrepreneurial values unfettered by social concerns or ethical consequences.

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  • In order to acquire the habit of valorizing themselves through personal “investment” in their (unforeseeable) futures, they are taught to make an enterprise of themselves, engaging incessantly (and anxiously) in acts of self-marketing. As such, an audit-culture is instituted in the neoliberal university through an ethos of indebtedness whereby student-debtors are incessantly interpolated as manager-professionals split between the contrarian injunction to embrace risk and the prudent warning to take precautions against making bad investments.

  • International debt settlement rules were thrown into a turmoil last year when U.S. Judge Griesa gave a highly idiosyncratic interpretation of the pari passu clause with regard to Argentina’s sovereign debts. The clause states that all creditors must be treated equally. According to Griesa (uniquely), this means that if any creditor or vulture fund refuses to participate in a debt writedown, no such agreement can be reached and the sovereign government cannot pay any bondholders anywhere in the world, regardless of what foreign jurisdiction the bonds were issued under.
  • This is why the IMF has been wrong in its economic forecasts for Ukraine year after year, just as its prescriptions have devastated Ireland and Greece, and Third World economies from the 1970s onward. Its destructive financial policy must be seen as deliberate, not an innocent forecasting error. But the penalty for following this junk economics must be paid by the indebted victim.
  • We can now see why the EU/IMF austerity plan that Yanukovich rejected made it clear why the United States sponsored last February’s coup in Kiev. The austerity that was called for, the removal of consumer subsidies and dismantling of public services would have led to an anti-West reaction turning Ukraine strongly back toward Russia.

  • Peruvian academician and drug policy expert Roberto Soberon insists the United States intends to “retake the initiative in South America and implement a more visible military presence in the Andes and Western Pacific always taking into account open and covert actions developing in Venezuela and other countries that distance themselves from Washington.” The United States has “capabilities for intervening automatically in scenarios of socio-political convulsion.” He worries about U.S. targeting of “social organizations that are protesting, [especially] against the presence of mining and/or petroleum companies.”
  • U.S. military planners, however, had not taken on a new worldview of beneficence. Two days before the opening, Paraguay’s defense minister met with U. S. Defense Attaché Bárbara Fick and Rear Admiral George Balance. They discussed increased military cooperation, and Admiral Balance requested that Paraguayan soldiers attend U.S. military schools on scholarships. Drug war cooperation was mentioned.
  • Southern Command head Major General John Kelly responded to a reporter’s question about whether or not events in Caracas on February 12, 2015 represented a coup attempt, as Venezuelan leaders allege.

     

    “A coup? You know, I don’t know anyone that would want to take that mess over, but it might be that we see, whether it’s at the end of his term or whatever, I wouldn’t say — I wouldn’t (say) necessarily a coup, but there might be with — the same ruling party … some arrangements to change leadership.”

  • In addition, they were giving small lectures and sermons after prayers. Most of the lecture topics were about how to reform and improve society, using the Koran and Hadith [traditional Islamic teachings] to support their arguments.

     

    “This was like some kind of brainwashing but it happened slowly over  six months. I was attending many of those lectures and, after a time, I was preparing in advance the Koranic verses and Hadith texts relevant to the topics. There were weekly competitions between groups of youths. I won two competitions on these religious topics and each time I received 300,000 Iraqi Dinars.”

Mar 17, 15

"Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in the Service of the Militarized State"

  • “My own opinion, as that of all competent anthropologists, is that indirect or dependent rule is infinitely preferable,” he held. “In fact, if we define dependent rule as the control of Natives through the medium of their own organization, it is clear that only dependent rule can succeed. For the government of any race consists rather in implanting in them ideas of right, of law and order, and making them obey such ideas.”1
  • Eight decades later anthropology’s quest for investment perseveres, its mission still bound up with the imperative to posit the discipline as a science with practical applications beyond the gates of the academy. Yet the tables have strangely turned: it is now imperial powers, cash in hand, which turn to a reluctant anthropology, seeking scientific means of domination through a form of cultural warfare. In Weaponizing Anthropology, David Price documents the latest form of blood alimony proffered by the custodians of empire to the discipline which was once styled the “child of western imperialism.”2

  • Given the public claims that the Human Terrain program is saving lives of Afghan civilians, it made sense that John Allison would consider joining Human Terrain Systems (HTS).  HTS proponents claim that it mixes ethnographic fieldwork and troop education in ways that will reduce violent interactions between troops and occupied/enemy populations.  But the claims of what Human Terrain Teams (HTT) accomplish are far different from the reality; and anthropologists’ ethical commitments to secure voluntary informed consent and to not harm studied populations creates insurmountable ethical problems for anthropologists in the HTS program.
  • “the program is still in the status of a Project. Projects are funded from year to year as non-recurring line items. They are trying to get the status of ‘Program,’ which is a recurring budget line item.  So, all these articles that are published in the military press and in public media, are attempting to influence both the military budget decision-makers and anyone in the civilian sector who might be able to influence the military decision-makers.  That is what it is all about: budget turf wars.” 
  • “One interesting fact that was revealed today is that the time that an anthropologist or social scientist has to finish an interview before the probability of a sniper attack becomes drastically high, is about 7 minutes. How deep an understanding, rapport or trust develops in 7 minutes?  It seems that the ‘data’ sought is very limited to operationally tactically useful stuff. For anything deeper, they "reach back" to the research centers for work from anthropologists that they will use without permission and without attribution.”

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  • The most intense moments in this naked show­down play them­selves out between August and Octo­ber 2008. Over these few months the con­ser­v­a­tive east­ern low­land bloc launches a civic-coup attempt in an effort to desta­bi­lize the Morales admin­is­tra­tion. Air­ports are seized in the low­land depart­ments; offi­cial state build­ings are attacked in these areas; and gov­ern­ment planes are pre­vented from land­ing in parts of the coun­try. The civic-coup attempt reaches its apogee in a mas­sacre of peas­ant sup­port­ers of the gov­ern­ment in the depart­ment of Pando.
  • The gov­ern­ment marks its vic­tory with the expul­sion of the Amer­i­can ambas­sador, Philip Gold­berg, from the coun­try fol­low­ing accu­sa­tions of his involve­ment in the desta­bi­liza­tion campaign.
  • The MAS gov­ern­ment had a mobi­lized social base and faced a polit­i­cally defeated oppo­si­tion in 2006. Had it encour­aged social mobi­liza­tion and inde­pen­dent self-organization for deter­mined class strug­gle in the cities and the rural areas, much deeper trans­for­ma­tion may have been pos­si­ble. The civic coup of 2008 might never have happened.

     

    Else­where in South Amer­ica, the dynamic of extra-parliamentary activism was in its strongest state of recent decades. US impe­ri­al­ism, mean­while, was over­stretched mil­i­tar­ily in the Afghanistan and Iraq, and the global com­modi­ties boom had ini­ti­ated an unsta­ble moment of rel­a­tive auton­omy for South Amer­ica vis-a-vis the usual dic­tates of the inter­na­tional finan­cial insti­tu­tions and inter­na­tional capital.

     

    Instead of rec­og­niz­ing this oppor­tu­nity, how­ever, the Morales gov­ern­ment actively reigned in its social base, decel­er­ated social and eco­nomic reform, and used its polit­i­cal hon­ey­moon to nego­ti­ate with an effec­tively defeated Right, allow­ing time for the latter’s reartic­u­la­tion. As a result, what had been an anaemic east­ern low­land oppo­si­tion in 2006 was by 2008 a renewed polit­i­cal force – by now actu­ally capa­ble of desta­bi­liz­ing the process of change for a period, even if ulti­mately too clumsy to retake state power altogether.

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  • There is an uncanny choreographic affinity between recent urban revolts in the Middle East and eruptions of discontent and urban protest in Athens, Madrid, Lyon, Lisbon, Rome, London, Berlin, or Paris, among many other cities. However, although the Middle Eastern uprisings are celebrated by Western media pundits and politicians, their European counterparts are often disavowed as illegitimate outbursts of irrational anger and anarchic violence.
  • Politics inaugurate the re-partitioning of the Police logic, the re-ordering of what is visible and audible, registering as voice what was only registered as noise, and re-framing what is regarded as political. It occurs in places not allocated to the exercise of power or the instituted negotiation of recognized differences and interests. As Badiou insists, politics emerge as an event: the singular act of choreographing egalitarian appearance of being-in-common at a distance from the State. Whereas any logic of the Police is a logic of hierarchy, of inequality, politics is marked by the presumption of equality within an aristocratic order that invariable ‘wronged’ this presumption.
  • It is within this aporia between la politique (the Police) and le politique (the political) that urban insurrections can be framed.

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  • According to an article in USA Today, a $250 million U.S. Army program designed to aid troops in Iraq and Afghanistan has been riddled by serious problems that include payroll padding, sexual harassment and racism. The article cites Hugh Gusterson, an anthropology professor at George Mason University who has studied the program.
  • The program recruited the human flotsam and jetsam of the discipline and pretended it was recruiting the best. Treating taxpayer money as if it were water, it paid under-qualified 20-something anthropologists more than even Harvard professors. And it treated our [AAA] ethics code as a nuisance to be ignored.”
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