Human-ities · Social/Politics

Why Did Borges Hate Soccer?

“Soccer is popular,” Jorge Luis Borges observed, “because stupidity is popular.”

At first glance, the Argentine writer’s animus toward “the beautiful game” seems to reflect the attitude of today’s typical soccer hater, whose lazy gibes have almost become a refrain by now: Soccer is boring. There are too many tie scores. I can’t stand the fake injuries.

And it’s true: Borges did call soccer “aesthetically ugly.” He did say, “Soccer is one of England’s biggest crimes.” And apparently, he even scheduled one of his lectures so that it would intentionally conflict with Argentina’s first game of the 1978 World Cup. But Borges’ distaste for the sport stemmed from something far more troubling than aesthetics. His problem was with soccer fan culture, which he linked to the kind of blind popular support that propped up the leaders of the twentieth century’s most horrifying political movements. In his lifetime, he saw elements of fascism, Peronism, and even anti-Semitism emerge in the Argentinean political sphere, so his intense suspicion of popular political movements and mass culture—the apogee of which, in Argentina, is soccer—makes a lot of sense. (“There is an idea of supremacy, of power, [in soccer] that seems horrible to me,” he once wrote.) Borges opposed dogmatism in any shape or form, so he was naturally suspicious of his countrymen’s unqualified devotion to any doctrine or religion—even to their dear albiceleste.

Read full article at the New Republic

Human-ities · Technology

From “Operation Wetback” To Newtown: Tracing The Hick Fascism Of The NRA

Mark Ames: Until now, I have largely avoided getting dragged down into the gun control debate, in part because gun proliferation doesn’t explain why “going postal” first exploded into the culture in the late 1980s, and has worked its way into the American DNA ever since. Gun control or lack thereof doesn’t explain why these kinds of rampage shootings only appeared in the late Reagan era and spread ever since then. And there must have been my own personal prejudices too — I grew up with guns, and despite a couple of bad episodes involving guns and a drunken violent stepfather, I have a reflexive contempt for people who haven’t gone shooting and tell you that gun control laws are the answer.

Well, guess what? Their knee-jerk solution is more right than mine.

Passing gun restrictions today probably wouldn’t do much to slow down rampage massacres, at least not for awhile — but the politics of sweeping gun control laws could have a huge transformative effect over time. It’s no longer impossible for me to ignore that fact.

Which means it’s also no longer possible for me to ignore the National Rifle Association, and its hick fascism politics that’ve been poisoning our culture ever since the NRA’s infamous “coup” in 1977, when the NRA was taken over by far-right fanatics led by a convicted murderer and onetime US Border Guards chief named Harlon Carter — whose previous claim to fame was when he led a massive crackdown on Mexican immigrant laborers called “Operation Wetback.” That’s not a typo by the way.

Excerpt from an article written by Mark Ames at NSFWCorp. Continue HERE

Human-ities · Philosophy · Social/Politics · Theory

Towards a New Manifesto by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer

Gretel Adorno was a remarkable woman about whom far too little is known. Although the recent publication of her correspondence with Walter Benjamin has confirmed the impression that she was a formidable intellect in her own right, she remains largely a mystery. What we do know for certain is that she was deeply devoted to her husband Theodor, whom she married in September, l937. Abandoning a career as a chemist to support his work unreservedly, she seems to have been resigned to his extra-marital affairs, and was so despondent after his death in August, l969 that she made a botched suicide attempt. Among the many services she rendered was the dutiful taking of minutes from the intellectual discussions he thought worth recording. Beginning in March of l938, shortly after his emigration to America and full integration into the life of the Institut für Sozialforschung (then resettled in New York), she wrote down a number of conversations he had with the director of the Institute, Max Horkheimer. She continued to play this role well after they all returned to Frankfurt in the early l950s to reestablish the Institute.

One such conversation took place over several days in March and April, l956, when Horkheimer and Adorno sat down to discuss a variety of pressing issues, political, sociological, and philosophical, and Gretel Adorno was there to record the results for posterity, or at least as an aide memoire for later more formal considerations of the same issues. Never intended for publication, the protocols nonetheless appeared in l989 alongside many other drafts and notes as an appendix to the thirteenth volume of Horkheimer’s collected works. They were blandly entitled “Diskussion über Theorie und Praxis.” Last year, they were translated into English by the venerable Rodney Livingstone for the New Left Review, and shortly thereafter repackaged as a little book with the much more provocative title Towards a New Manifesto.

This is an excerpt from the review by Martin Jay at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Towards a New Manifesto at VERSO

Film/Video/New Media · Performativity · Social/Politics

Iron Sky: Nazis on the Moon

“Nazis on the moon” sounds like a punchline. But it’s actually the premise of the most talked-about feature at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. The plot of Finnish entry “Iron Sky” revolves around “a group of Nazis who escape to the moon at the end of World War II to plan a new assault,” according to BBC News. “Added to the farce is a US President with more than a passing resemblance to former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, and a navy cruiser called the USS George W Bush.”

The most expensive film in Finnish history, “Iron Sky” has, according to BBCNews, “been hailed by some members of the international press as a sign that Germans are now at peace with their Nazi past.” But some Germans felt less comfortable. “Although I heard that audiences were laughing out loud, in my screening… it wasn’t like that,” Kerstin Sopke of the Associated Press told the BBC.

The film’s director, Timo Vuorensola, doesn’t see it that way either. “No, I absolutely think that’s not what’s it about,” he told The Arty Semite in an email.

I think that Germans have as a people moved away from the times, and have learned perhaps more than any other people in the world the horrors fascism brings, and know that history needs to be respected, but that the Germans living now (other than some very special cases) are not the ones who did the horrors. So they haven’t gotten ‘a peace with Nazi past,’ as BBC strangely words it, but they’ve understood that the current German youth did not do the bad things, thus making it possible to approach the subject with other emotions than the well-known ‘German guilt’. It’s time now to make sure it will never happen again.

Written by Michael Kaminer, The Jewish Daily Forward. Continue HERE

Book-Text-Read-Zines · Human-ities · Social/Politics

The 14 Characteristics of Fascism by Lawrence Britt

In 2003, Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt wrote an article about fascism (“Fascism Anyone?,” Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20). Studying the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile), Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The excerpt is in accordance with the magazine’s policy.

The 14 characteristics are:

01. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

02. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

03. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

04. Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

05. Rampant Sexism
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

06. Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

07. Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

08. Religion and Government are Intertwined
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

09. Corporate Power is Protected
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Via Ratical