November 18, 2003
# The FTAA

One of the more interesting articles over at quotes the FTAA web site extensively and interprets each passage.

The media reform network has a petition about the FTAA and media democracy.

The bottom line with the FTAA is simple: even if it's the best thing ever for everyone (and there is every indication that it isn't), it's happening in secret, in reference to secreat documents, so there's simply no way to know.

A simple way to guess at the content of negotiations is to ask who has access to the process of creation. In this case, it's politicians and corporate lobbyists who have the most access, as well as the most momentum. It's not hard to guess at who the result will benefit, and at whose expense.

Looking for basics? Global Exchange has a list of frequently asked questions.

posted by dru in activism
November 16, 2003
# Georgia: The Obscured Background

US Military bases in Central Asia, from a global map.

When the press starts paying a lot of attention to a crisis previously-ignored country, but leaves out any mention of the reasons for the crisis. Sentences like this are a good warning that there's an unstated reason for the coverage:

Accused by opposition leaders of rigging the results of Nov. 2 parliamentary elections, Shevardnadze declared in a nationally televised news conference that wherever vote-counting irregularities occurred, they could be corrected but that the new parliament should be allowed to open later this month. (Seattle Times)
...especially when they are not followed by any substantial information about the thousands of people demonstrating in the streets, or the justifications for calls for a 'civil disobedience campaign'.

There are dozens of civil wars in the world that get no coverage at all. So why did this nearly content-free story get in? The short answer is that US interests in central Asia are threatened. There's nothing wrong with that per se, but if the press was interested in understanding the situation in Georgia, they might drop the pretense of objectivity and say it outright: the only reason we're covering Georgia is because it forms a part of a major US military presence in the region.

A few Georgians and foreign journalists can fill in some of the missing bits.


'There are some problems in Pankisi, but I think it is mostly a social issue. I am not so worried about it. Anti-terrorism is not the only reason for the relationship between the United States and Georgia. Georgia is also the shortest route between the [oil reserves] of the Caspian Sea and Turkey.'

An international consor tium of oil companies including BP, America's Chevron, Russia's Lukoil and France's Total considers Georgia the ideal route by which oil from Azerbaijan and Central Asia can reach Turkey and the West.

BP recently sent a risk analyst to the area to explore opportunities for expansion. 'The pipelines will of course benefit from the military presence,' said a BP spokeswoman.

Vasily Streltsov: "In any case, one can affirm with confidence that the Americans have got their feet onto Georgian soil, and it is forever." (February 2002)

Gary Leupp: "The main body of U.S. forces began arriving on May 19, to refurbish two Soviet-era bases for indefinite American use and to implement 'Operation Train and Equip.' We should ask--as we should about the U.S. troops in the Philippines and Yemen--why are they there? ... Shevardnadze, in power since 1992, and now in his second term as president, retains few sentimental ties to the multinational union he once served. Instead, he has continuously sought to distance Georgia from Russia and to attach it instead to the U.S. camp."

Armen Khanbabyan: "The fundamental goal of Washington and the West as a whole is to establish firm and long- term control over the energy resources of Central and Upper Asia. This explains the appearance of their bases along the notorious 'arc of instability,' from Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan to Georgia."

The continued failure of US foreign policy to take long term consequences into account over short term corporate profits aside, there is a basic problem with this kind of journalism. Because it fails to note the obvious reason that Georgia is covered at all--US interests in oil, military presence, and regional influence--it is objectively non-objective.

(Objectivity is a misleading goal at best. What I wish to emphasize is that such reports leaves out obviously essential information.)

Most importantly, it fails fundamentally at what journalism is supposed to do: provide the means for readers to understand the subject under examination.

posted by dru in journalism
November 11, 2003
# Foucault on what intellectuals do

From an interview with Michel Foucault, quoted on pages 317-18 of David Macey's The Lives of Michel Foucault

* * *

The workers don't need intellectuals to tell them what they are doing; they know perfectly well what they are doing. In my view, the intellectual is the guy who is plugged in to the information network, not the production network. He can make his voice heard. He can write in the newspapers, give his point of view. He is also plugged into an older information network. He has the knowledge acquired by reading a certain number of books, knowledge which other people do not have at their direct disposal. His role is therefore not to shape a working-class consciousness, as that consciousness already exists, but to allow that consciousness, that working class knowledge, to enter the information system... The intellectual's knowledge is always partial compared to working-class knowledge. What we know about the history of French society is very partial, compared to the massive experience that the working class has.

posted by dru in excerpt
# Recent books

Some books I've been reading recently. I've completed very few of these.

(Something of a gender bias emerging here, which is probably worth paying attention to.)

John Metcalf, An Aesthetic Underground: A Literary Memoir

John Metcalf, Shooting the Stars

David Macey, The Lives of Michel Foucault

Isaac Saney, Cuba: A Revolution in Motion

Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense

Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

Paul Virillio, Speed and Politics

Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

posted by dru in books
by kellan

Especially if you're reading much D&G who, for all their insights, are definitely guilty of conflating the other, the irrational and the woman into a single entity.

by dru

I should probably mutter something about how this is not the status quo, and Arundhati Roy, Andrea Dworkin and Chantalle Mouffe are on the 'read soon' list.

I haven't been looking much at D&G, though my roommate and I are reading the Logic of Sense ever so slowly.

by roop aka adam

oh, walden is excellent. an awe-inspiring line like:while civilisation has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them.or:the lawyer had only to weave arguments, and my some magic wealth and standing followed...every other sentence. why don't people write like that any more?

by dru

One of my favourites from Walden: " if one could kill time without wounding eternity."

by evan

If you like Arundhati Roy and haven't read her Talk "come september" you should. it's here,
Howard Zinn introduces her. also 'the god of small things' is a great novel.

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