Archive for September, 2008


What up, people. I would apologise for the fact that I haven’t written much of late, but would do so in the knowledge that I’m being presumptuous. I declare this: looking after a child and a house full-time is not conducive to a life of the mind. I imagined myself having the time to get some reading done, do some guitar practice and write a few long and detailed posts. That delusion passed after a couple of days. What followed were two weeks during which I accumulated more ignorance than I ever thought possible, and I managed to do so with the radio on and regular internet access. I suspect part of it is the high-high-C squeals that short circuit your thought processes. So you’re thinking about how the current banking crisis is the result of the credit crunch which in itself arises from the effects of a burst housing bubble which happened because of deregulated lending, and just when you’re starting to piece things together in terms of a programmatic immiseration of the American worker which began some time in the late 1960s, you hear AIIEEEEEEEEIIIAAAIEEEE!!, and that’s the end of that thought. After another few days of this, you’re down to wondering whether or not Bianca will get back with AIIEEEEAIIIIAAIIIAIEEE! and so it goes.

Anyway, that’s all beside the point, which was to highlight a story from Sunday’s Tribune. It seems as though it’s been removed from the website now. It is cached on Google. Missing from the cache are all the Neo-Nazi comments that had been appearing on it during the day. It has also been linked to by Neo-Nazi sites because of the subject matter, and, I would imagine, the way in which the subject matter was presented.

The headline says ‘Only Irish Girl in Class’. The body of the piece elaborates on the headline: to be Irish –really Irish- is to have Irish born parents. The accompanying photo, well, you don’t need to be Roland Barthes to work out what the connoted message is, and what the piece as a whole says about who is Irish and who isn’t.

Don’t know why the piece was removed. I notice that the sole comment in the cached page, from the featured child’s mother, expresses concerned that people might get upset by it and that no harm was intended by it. I’m guessing she (quite understandably) had no idea that it was going to be presented the way it was. So maybe there was a complaint raised. Or maybe it was the ugly openly racist commentary that was appearing on the thread, or the fact that it was being featured on Neo-Nazi sites.

Short and Sweet

Hollowed Out

I happened across this post by chance yesterday:

The basic issue is not that the “state” is going away, but that the constitutional basis of a “state” in providing for the welfare of a contiguous “nation” is increasingly invalid, leading to the rise of the “market-state” (where the constitutional basis for the state comes from its ability to provide market opportunity to those within its borders) and a growing conflict with disenfranchised and marginalized nations (and other non-state groups) that exist wholly or partially within the borders of the new market-state.

And was going to develop my own thoughts on it, and then I came across this post from Global Guerrillas, which expresses things far better than I ever could:

The shift from a marginally functional nation-state in manageable decline to a hollow state often comes suddenly, through a financial crisis. This crisis typically has the following features:

  • Corporations and connected individuals systematically loot the nation-state of financial assets and natural resources through a series of insider/no cost deals. These deals are made to “save” the nation’s economy or financial system from collapse.
  • Once the full measure of the crisis is known, the nation-state’s currency falls precipitously, it’s debt becomes expensive, and it is forced to submit to international oversight/rules.
  • The services the state provides rapidly evaporate as its bureaucracy is starved for cash/financing. This opens up a window for the corruption of government employees unused to deprivation.

The Dynamic of Primary Loyalties

The decline from functional but weak nation-state is extremely sudden. For individuals, there is a rapid and sustained decline in the standard of living. Additionally, there are spot shortages of critical items and commodities — particularly food, medicine, and energy (since these are globally fungible). Large and small business fail across the board, or become prey to connected companies/individuals with access to the remaining coercive power of the nation-state. As the deprivation becomes commonplace, people turn to primary loyalties for support and services — loyalties to a corporation, tribe, gang, family, or community. These groups, energized by new levels of loyalty but deeply obligated to reciprocate this loyalty with support, become extremely aggressive in pursuit of their survival. Once this shift in loyalty is made, a self-generating cycle of violence, crime, and corruption (fueled in large part through connections to the global market system) becomes entrenched. The nation-state, at that point, becomes irretrievably hollow.

Not going to be a fun ride, I fear.

The IT Boy

Immortal Technique is playing in Dublin on Sunday. Alas, I can’t go.

The above is Hollywood Driveby, from his latest album The 3rd World, my favourite rap album of the year to date. Unusually for a rapper, he’s also a Marxist revolutionary, and on this track he adopts a rather confrontational stance toward faux-gangsta rappers. ‘I got bullets that’ll rip through your ribs/More painful than watching R. Kelly piss on your kids’, sez he, and who am I to disagree?

Looking Glas

The new Glasvegas album. Not that impressed by it, to be honest. Hype unwarranted, though I can understand why the Glasgow mean streets schtick might appeal to bored public schoolboys in Harrogate and Richmond. Beyond the obvious references -Phil Spector, the Jesus and Mary Chain- I think there’s more than a passing similarity to The Frank and Walters (nothing wrong with that, of course).


It is vital that our industrialised nations seek urgently to develop practicable and renewable sources of energy, not as some imaginary counter-measure to global warming, but because of the threat posed by growing competition for rapidly depleting resources.

Such is our inflated notion of ourselves that when we refer to the dangers of global warming or nuclear warfare, we talk of running the risk of destroying the planet.

Humans are not capable of destroying the planet. However, we do run a real risk of destroying ourselves (and whatever other species we happen to bring down with us). If man were to disappear completely, the planet would keep trundling along as it has always done.

He’s right, of course. Imagine, if the world was convulsed in deadly cataclysms, and you find yourself clinging to a lump of advertising hoarding amid a sea of filthy water after a tsunami had struck Dublin. Sound awful? Now try imagining the same thing, only this time you’re thinking ‘Holy shit! I remember reading an Irish Times article about this by David Adams!’

It doesn’t bear thinking about.

‘The Most Colonized People on The Planet’

Here, Via The Real News.

The F-word

To my mind there has been quite a lot of guff written in recent days. The biggest wheezes came from those who said that recent developments constituted a move away from capitalism toward socialism. I was therefore pleased to hear this exchange today on Democracy Now!

JUAN GONZALEZ: Bob Scheer, the amazing irony now is, as we read in some of the papers today, that the very firms that were involved in creating this crisis are now lining up in Washington to be able to become managers, in case the federal government buys up this debt, and then it needs to manage how it will get rid of the debt, so that the very firms are now lining up to become the money managers of the distressed debt that the government buys.

ROBERT SCHEER: Right. What you’ve got here is really the end of the Reagan Revolution. And I hate to bring up the bad “F” word, but, you know, there is a model for this, and Mussolini had it in Italy, and it’s called “fascism.” It’s where your big corporate interests throw in with government, destroy the freedom of the rest of the people, and preserve their power. Everybody forgets, private corporations and banks did quite well, made out quite well in Italy and Germany in those days, you know? And I am really worried about this assault on our democracy.

Emphasis mine. And I agree.


Not much to say about the downfall-of-capitalism-that-wasn’t-or-was-it? yet, but what I can say is that on my visit to the frozen section in SuperValu today I picked up a Linda McCartney aubergine and courgette dish after a rush of blood to the head. If the recipes are hers -and I have no reason to believe otherwise- then she was a better cook than she was a singer. Oh – and I went to St Vincent de Paul, where I picked up the following, for the princely sum of €6.50:

  • Three albums by Richard Thompson (Henry The Human Fly, Front Porch Ballads, Old Kit Bag)
  • The last Lambchop album
  • The Very Best of Al Green
  • Chávez Ravine by Ry Cooder
  • Baudelaire’s Ecrits Esthétiques
  • Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North by Stuart Maconie

Not bad, and if you’d said to me fifteen years ago that I’d find anything of the calibre of the above in a St VdeP shop, I’d have beaten you over the head with a Sidney Sheldon omnibus. Another visit may be in order before my stay-at-home pa days come to an end.

Frost At Midnight

Long time since I wrote anything about poetry. So in redress, I would like to say that I despise The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. Frost himself said of it ‘you have to be careful of that one; it’s a tricky poem – very tricky’. No: not tricky at all, just deathly boring, though not as boring as the people who profess admiration for it.

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September 2008