Monday, January 11, 2010

A Look at the New York Times

Tonight we had an excellent meeting of the Poncey-Highlands Readgin Group where we discussed our readings of Breton's first "Manifesto of Surrealism" as well as the first chapter of Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle.

We can see a moment from the Debord text played-out today in the New York Times' "Most Popular" section. In the article "Multicultural Critical Theory. At Business School?" we read that business students need
to learn how to think critically and creatively every bit as much as they needed to learn finance or accounting. More specifically, they needed to learn how to approach problems from many perspectives and to combine various approaches to find innovative solutions. [...]Learning how to think critically — how to imaginatively frame questions and consider multiple perspectives — has historically been associated with a liberal arts education, not a business school curriculum, so this change represents something of a tectonic shift for business school leaders. Mr. Martin even describes his goal as a kind of “liberal arts M.B.A.”
Reading I can't help but think of Debord's line in §25, "The modern spectacle, on the contrary, expresses what society can do, but in this expression the permitted is absolutely opposed to the possible. " And then further in §26, "The success of the economic system of separation is the proletarianization of the world." You might have an MBA, but you're still going to have your clock cleaned by those that exploit the rest of us.

Also, I'd like to address something in another article in today's NYT, this time in another article "Race Riots Grip Italian Town, and Mafia Is Suspected."

In this article we learn that Africans are being illegally trafficked into Italy so as to work in the orchards, picking fruit. This is a job seen as beneath the average Italian today, according to the article. Apparently an undisclosable number of immigrants have been picked up by the Italian Authorities and sent to detention centers. The situation for these immigrants, according to human rights workers in Italy is not dissimilar from slavery and these Italian Authorities have been using bull dozers to raze the encampments where these "semi-slaves" lived.

The article breezily then reports, "It was not entirely clear if all the immigrants left willingly for the detention centers, or if some were forced to leave."

I can answer that for you: they were forced.

Anytime the phrase "semi-slavery" is used to describe the lives of those at the bottom of an economic system and bulldozers are employed to raze these semi-slaves' "encampments" - that means the entire society there is blatantly using coercive maneuvers to get what they want. Those Africans have the two forms of freedom Marx outlined in Capital, vol. 1: they are free to use their bodies' abilities to labor and so enter, freely, contracts to sell their labor-capacity; but, they are also free of control of the conditions under which they will labor.

Just sayin'.


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