i love them all, damn them

Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2013 05:49:41 +0000
From: Rowan Berkeley
To: info@972mag.com
Subject: You’re all falling into the assumption ‘they’ want you to fall into

Hi, Noam & Co,

You may or may not recall that a few months ago I had an intense phase
of writing comments to articles on +972, then stopped because of the
faustian bargain you (like MondoWeiss) have, that the most savage,
character-attacking zionazis are allowed free response to everything
your would-be friends may write.

Anyway, what I want to say is this: all the media everywhere are
reinforcing the assumption that Ben Zygier must have been a Mossad
agent. The world is being steered very obviously away from what is in
fact the simplest, saddest and most powerful theory: that Ben Zygier was
a would-be whistleblower, who had been contacted by a Mossad agent in Oz
with a view to his helping to procure usable Oz passports for fraudulent
copying; that he felt his patriotic duty as an Australian citizen was to
inform ASIO of this plot; that he told his father and argued with him
about it; and that his father told Mossad.

You can post this as a letter to the editor, if you wish.

Shalom (and I mean that),
Rowan Berkeley
East Sussex, England


  1. lafayettesennacherib
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Bless your socks, as they say.

  2. niqnaq
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    That could be “bless its little cotton socks,” or maybe “bless its little pointed head.” Talking of which I have been listening to all those old Starship things quite intensively, and there’s one song I just cannot figure out: “Sketches of China”. In fact, I don’t trust it. USAians always get very strange on the subject of China.

  3. lafayettesennacherib
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Yes, that’s song’s funny – delightfully silly. I always thought the lyrics were strange, but I had a look at them online just now, and they’re even weirder than I thought. And I always thought they were Paul’s lyrics, but no! Grace wrote them.

    It’s obviously made up on the hoof – just singing whatever words she can find in time to fit the melody and rhythm as Paul plays the guitar chords – inspired by cannabis-aided meditations on whatever picture of China she’s picked up from the old Kung Fu tv series (y’know, ? Carradine as Caine). That was quite a common approach to putting words to songs back then, which to my ears usually gives better results than more considered ‘poetry’, which tends to come out really hackneyed.

    But this is stranger still because it comes from Grace, who has a strange mind. It’s a great track though. The singing is lovely.

  4. lafayettesennacherib
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Can I draw your attention also to this lyric from Marty Balin’s ‘Caroline’ on Dragon Fly:

    It’s like a wind from the other side of the world
    Like a far off pack of hounds
    Sounds like a whole universe – throbbin’ with life
    I get so hypnotized in the lights
    Just like the gaze of a mantis
    Why even Atlantis sank beneath
    The waves in a day and a night
    Oh, in a day and a night I could write
    You a symphony
    It would be just like a bird
    And carry my love over the mountains.

    All these years, until I looked for the lyric just now, I’d thought that Marty was singing “Just like the KNEES of a Mantis.” I occasionally thought of researching what was special about the knees of a Mantis – were they involved in hypnotising prey somehow? – but well, this version makes more sense.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t call THAT hackneyed, but genuinely very romantic, which Marty pulls off a lot.

  5. niqnaq
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 2:42 am | Permalink

    What I like about Caroline is the way the rhythm picks up when he sings “But somewhere out there..”

  6. niqnaq
    Posted February 21, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Sinking further into the churning froth of classic psychedelia, I have been considering Hawkwind. Their Wikipedia page is very entertaining. Following the links leads to such gems as ” Huw Lloyd-Langton quit after a bad LSD trip at the Isle of Wight Festival led to his having a nervous breakdown” and “At one point Robert Calvert was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. “

  7. hp
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    “Just ask the Axis,
    He knows everything..”

  8. lafayettesennacherib
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Who de Axis? Yeah, Caroline rocks, dude!

    Hawkwind, hmmm…. Where to start with them. I never really followed them. I knew people who were ‘really into’ them, and I know they were a bit of a cult with a tribe that followed them everywhere, but to be honest Silver Machine is the only song that sticks in my mind. I remember the album title Masters of the Universe, but the actual album never stuck in my mind. I got hold of masses of their back catalog a couple of years back (then lost it again – another story), but all I listened to were a couple of best-ofs, from which I can remember – nothing. I feel well-disposed to Hawkwind – their involvement with Michael Moorcock and Lemmy (who I’ve got a soft spot for), all the science fiction imagery – I even saw them a couple of times, but all I recall really is a beat and a sort of swooshing sound.

    Any suggestions for essential Hawkwind listening welcome.

  9. niqnaq
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Well, I can’t say I’ve found anything essential yet… But I suppose “Urban Guerrilla” (1973) deserves a mention of some sort. Here illustrated with tasteful contemporary stills of Baader, Meinhoff & Co:

    There is a story of sorts associated with this single. Its release coincided with an IRA bombing campaign in London, so the BBC refused to play it and the band’s management reluctantly decided to withdraw it, fearing accusations of opportunism, despite the disc having already climbed to #39 in the UK chart. NME reported on Sep 1 1973:

    HAWKWIND’S new single “Urban Guerrilla” has been withdrawn from the market with immediate effect by United Artists, at the special request of the group themselves, despite the fact that the Hawks are currently undertaking a tour to promote the record, which is on the verge of chart entry. Reason for the withdrawal is the current spate of bombings in central London. A spokesman for the group commented; “Although the record was selling very well, we didn’t want to feel that any sales might be gained by association with recent events, even though the song was written by Bob Calvert two years ago as a satirical comment, and was recorded three months ago.” At the group’s suggestion, United Artists now plan to release the “B” side of “Urban Guerrilla” as a new single. It is “Brainbox Pollution” and will be out as soon as possible.

    I don’t know how to evaluate it, as a revolutionary artefact. It’s more fun than reading E P Thompson’s “Poverty of Theory”, which I suppose came out about the same time. Thompson’s critique of Althusser is spot on. But, boy, is it boring.

  10. lafayettesennacherib
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    You could become a ‘political jew’. When I asked Tony Greenstein why he called himself a jew, given that he’s an atheist and doesn’t accept that jews are a race, he said he was such – a ‘political jew’, inheritor of a jewish political tradition… Fill in the obvious yourself.

    I’ve read Poverty of Theory twice now. The second time I really appreciated how handily he’d skewered some unfortunate lines of thinking that keep coming up. At least he’s not half as boring as the people he critiques – he manages plain English and logical thought. I think I’ll have another look at him soon now that you’ve reminded me.

    Althusser? I got a couple of intros to him recently, grudgingly (the name keeps coming up), but well…for instance, I recall Richard Seymour (remember him?) suggesting it might be time for a re-assessment of Althusser… I suppose you haven’t noticed the ‘civil war in the SWP’ that’s raging through Trot-blog world at the moment – it’s too boring to even think about, but if you REALLY want, I’ll try and summarise it. Whatever, Lenin is one of the leading lights of the rebels – who’d have seen that one coming? So what ARE Seymour’s politics? This interesting essay looks at that, and while it’s more Poulantzas, Althusser gets a lot of mentions:
    SWP opposition: Seymour in Greece
    He may have been propelled to the vanguard of the SWP opposition – but it is not immediately clear what Richard Seymour’s politics actually are. Paul Demarty looks for clues

    Actually, this is what I think Seymour has always stood for – this quote (from a piece by Louis Proyect on a conference involving Zizek http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/thoughts-on-zizeks-the-idea-of-communism-conference/ ) says it better than I could (the first paragraph is Perry Anderson, who Proyect’s quoting):

    [Perry Anderson]
    But the whole range of Marx’s oeuvre was typically treated as the source material from which philosophical analysis would extract the epistemological principles for a systematic use of Marxism to interpret (and transform) the world – principles never explicitly or fully set out by Marx himself. No philosopher within the Western Marxist tradition ever claimed that the main or ultimate aim of historical materialism was a theory of knowledge. But the common assumption of virtually all was that the preliminary task of theoretical research within Marxism was to disengage the rules of social enquiry discovered by Marx, yet buried within the topical particularity of his work, and if necessary to complete them. The result was that a remarkable amount of the output of Western Marxism became a pro­longed and intricate Discourse on Method. The primacy accorded to this endeavour was foreign to Marx, in any phase of his development.

    For Anderson, the key to understanding the “philosophical” turn was the series of defeats in the 1920s and 30s that left many intellectuals in despair. If Stalinist and imperialist hegemony militated against the revolutionary project, then the next best thing might be an academic career where a kind of watered-down Marxism might be tapped for interesting lectures on Alfred Hitchcock movies and the like for audiences at conferences in places like London or Paris, with travel and hotel paid by one’s employer. That would be much more profitable than writing analyses of the capitalist economy in order to help develop strategy and tactics for the workers movement.

  11. niqnaq
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    I can’t possibly just pretend to be a Jew. Calling yourself a Jew is something that requires a consensus. Conceivably, someone could be declared a Jew by a bunch of already consensually acknowledged Jews not including any rabbis. In fact, there are secular Jewish organisations that might conceivably do that, eg Meretz UK are in contact with their own sort of secular para-rabbis (in the US) who could conduct some sort of secular ‘conversion’, but I’m resentful of the ‘conversion’ paradigm. I don’t like defining myself as wanting to ‘become a Jew,’ that’s the wrong way to put it. I would define myself as having been trapped all my life in a Jewish political and personal problematic which can only be negotiated from inside a Jewish political and personal identity. Look how carefully ambiguous that is.

    Thompson in “Poverty” perhaps goes just a fraction too far in the opposite direction from Althusser or whoever. Towards the end he seems to deny that ideas like the falling rate of profit have any scientific value at all. But I am not going to enter into close exegesis of the infernal thing.

  12. lafayettesennacherib
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I actually took the Poverty of Theory of the shelf and looked at it. Ah! I remember now. It’s his argument with Leszek Kolakowski (apostate anti-Marxist, though author of a noted 3-volume history of Marxism) which I keep running into every few years, but the details of which elude me just now. I recall that his ‘Open Letter to Kolakowski here nails it. I’ll read his bit on Althusser – 200 pages of it, aaarrgghhhh!!!!

  13. niqnaq
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Look at the diagrams, about 3/4 of the way through. They’re very funny. But the main point is, Althusser was defending the PCF. This “Poverty of Theory” actually appeared (self-published by EPT) in 1978. Thompson paints a bleak picture of the New Left Review, where his ex New Left mates spent several decades publishing French marxoid systems theory instead of doing anything good for morale. One lesson of it is that probably I should forget about Lacan. Was he PCF too? Wikipedia says that in 1964:”With Lévi-Strauss and Althusser’s support, Lacan was appointed lecturer at the École Pratique des Hautes Etudes,” but no mention of his politics. And Lévi-Strauss was certainly not a communist, far from it. “Lacan’s intentions combine purely theoretical concerns with political ones. Lacan’s fight against ego psychology is inseparable from his effort (supported by Marxists such as Louis Althusser) to purge adaptationist psychology out of psychoanalysis,” says Prof Sherry Turkle. I possibly don’t need to unravel this. But of course Lacan believed in Original Sin. Definitely. All Freudians do.

  14. lafayettesennacherib
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Lacan was a psycho-analyst. That tells you all you need to know. He’s preposterous, which is why the repellent Zizek drops his name a lot. Even worse than Freud. And since Zizek has been widely promoted – obviously a conscious policy of the think-tanks of the Foundations that the elites fund – all sorts of people who should know better have started dropping Lacan’s name. I’ll give them this – Lacan’s the best yet. Hard to think of anything more obscure, preposterous and inaccessible and impenetrable to the average Joe. Perfect for alienating the proles from political discourse, which is what Zizek’s for.

    All the same, a friend who’s ‘into Lacan’ (really) gave me a book, which looks quite interesting – ‘Lacan at the Scene’ – maybe it’s entertaining, but it’s nonsense and has no place in the political discourse of grown-ups.

    Have a look at that essay I linked to above by Louis Proyect on Zizek – Louis is good when he’s good, which makes the rest of it more the pity.

  15. niqnaq
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I’ll look at it, I can see the link further up. Lacan had a major influence on the UK feminist left via Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, and Hélène Cixous. These are names to conjure with, literally. Their relative unpronounceability to the english tongue helps. All mystical names are unpronounceable. Walter will probably confirm this. Feminist leftists believe in Original Sin, obviously. Unlike the Freudians, Jung did not believe in Original Sin, though he would probably have pretended he did, if asked, or fudged the question somehow. Jung is responsible for my all-time favourite quote: “The Gods are many, but Men are few.” Unless he ripped it off from one of the classical Greeks.

  16. lafayettesennacherib
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Was Irigiray the one who claimed that E = MCsquared is a sexist (or gendered) equation? I thought she was American. Women like that make the case for the Taliban

  17. niqnaq
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Well, yes: if it’s phallogocentric, then it must be sexist. Sweet reason breathes her last gasp among these people. After all, she sprang fully armed from the head of Zeus, so she’s no good at all.

  18. lafayettesennacherib
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    In case you overlook it – I think you’ll be interested – there’s at last something solid about the post-war Rothschilds, a new book by Martine Orange, Rothschild: une banque au pouvoir. The weekend Counterpunch contains an intro to and digest of the book by Evan Jones(?).

  19. lafayettesennacherib
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Ah, I see what happened above – I mixed this thread up with the one about your doctor and dentist where you wish you were a jew.

  20. niqnaq
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Indeed. Well, no matter; I can’t move comments from thread to thread.

  21. niqnaq
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Hawkwind are definitely growing on me. I should say they would be essential listening for anyone who did a lot of tripping, because unlike eg Floyd, Van der Graaf, etc, they are totally unpretentious. They did a couple of crap albums in the mid ’70s, though.

    I just read the Rothschild thing. The gist sems to be that privatisation is exceedingly good for Rothschilds in Britain and France, but not so necessarily in Germany, where they are trying to use a base in Frankfurt to set up various deals wth their friends in Russia, a process which could come unstuck, thereby repeating a very old Rothschild pattern.

    The Proyect thing about Zizek & Co is just too boring to comment on. But I noticed a thought-provoking remark in the CPGB article about Seymour Lenin. It said “He has arrived at this point (pro-Syriza) relatively independently of the International Socialist tradition. He is not condemned to live or die by Tony Cliff’s theory of state capitalism; or the idea of the permanent arms economy as an explanation for the post-war boom.” That’s interesting. The general argument of the article is that Seymour doesn’t see why Syriza will necessarily get completely FUBAR’ed if it joins a government. There are two things about governments that are certainly fatal to Left parties that join them, and one is NATO. The other is the European Central Bank, which plays the role of local IMF equivalent, dishing out conditionalities such as “halve your public spending within a year.”

  22. lafayettesennacherib
    Posted February 26, 2013 at 4:34 am | Permalink

    “Too boring to comment on”? Well, that was my first reaction, when I first googled Zizek to find out what it was, because it kept coming up. Not worth a second of anyone’s time or thought, not even philosophy but ’70s Melody Maker – Julie Burchill!

    On Seymour:

    He has arrived at this point (pro-Syriza) relatively independently of the International Socialist tradition. He is not condemned to live or die by Tony Cliff’s theory of state capitalism; or the idea of the permanent arms economy as an explanation for the post-war boom.” That’s interesting.

    I’m not clear why you find that bit particularly interesting – at least it’s in plain English, unlike the rest of it which is often as nebulous as Seymour himself. Nonetheless, “independently of the International Socialist tradition” is moot – as an up-and-coming celebrity blogger, he has become the most public interface with the SWP, claiming that tradition, but apparently allowed freedom to make it up as he goes along. Couldn’t last.

  23. niqnaq
    Posted February 26, 2013 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Well, is it correct? Was that the gist of Yigael Gluckstein’s marxian macro-economics: the proposition that the permanent arms economy was what held the falling rate of profit at bay? Was he alone among marxian macro-economists in holding this view? Is it the same as the military keynesianism theory? What, if anything, is wrong with it, as marxian macro-economics?

  24. lafayettesennacherib
    Posted February 26, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Me, I don’t know. If Seymour has diverged from the SWP on the permanent arms economy, I haven’t noticed it. Whatever, it doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the current ‘crisis’.

    Here’s a Marxist critique of Cliff’s permanent arms economy ‘model’. I’m not clear who wrote this. PR are a split of a split, still extant and sending out email newsletters – I think they include the economist Bill Jeffries, who seems quite good. I think they’re a split from Workers’ Power, who were a split from the original IS. The second link explains who they are – it’s way too long for me at the moment.

    The ‘permanent arms economy’

    About us (PR):

  25. niqnaq
    Posted February 26, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    I think the idea that armaments production is ‘waste’ is an irrelevant diversionary value judgment. Many consumer products could be described as waste, in that demand for them is potentially infinite. But this is not the point. What that criticism fails to observe that the armaments giants share ‘revolving door’ directorships with the military top brass, and receive a steady diet of ‘sweetheart deals’ which allow them to charge monopoly prices for their various specialised armaments. These are paid for out of general taxation and the surplus is distributed to the shareholders of the armaments giants, thereby keeping the rate of profit up. In addition, the military is the last resort enforcer for the worldwide regime of copyrights and patents, which allows other industrial giants to charge monopoly prices too.

    I’d like to know what these critics think prevents the rate of profit from falling with increased automation, if it isn’t the system of military keynesianism. I don’t expect you to know, though, Lafayette, because despite your having been a nominal marxist all your adult life, you have somehow omitted to grapple with the actual core of marxist theory.

  26. lafayettesennacherib
    Posted March 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to quibble your last paragraph, but I’ve been busy and I’m very low on energy. Come back on that one.

    Meantime, did you notice that Paul Mattick’s son, Paul Mattick Jr, has a book out. Here’s a benevolent review from that funny lot, the SPGB:

    Book Review : “Business As Usual: The Economic Crisis And The Failure Of Capitalism” by Paul Mattick Jr

    In case that link breaks, http://tinyurl.com/ba769az

  27. niqnaq
    Posted March 2, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    “we would say he puts too much emphasis on Marx’s law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall”

    Well, I’m damned, does he? How very queer of him. He must be one of those ‘Marxists’ our grandparents used to talk about.

  28. Sarte
    Posted March 2, 2013 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Sounds very interesting Laf. Thanks for the link. I am listening now a youtube lecture by Paul Mattick.

  29. niqnaq
    Posted March 3, 2013 at 3:48 am | Permalink

    I’ve always said Paul Mattick (Sr) provides the best accounts of the falling rate of profit. He was a German-Jewish ‘council communist,’ ie a non-Party Marxist opposed in principle to Party-type organisations, who emigrated to US in 1926. His writings are here:

    Marx’s own exposition of it is here:

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