Archive for the 'governamentality' Category

Marx and the WTO

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Quite impressive interview to Pascal Lamy, the director of the World Trade Organization, one of the institutions overseeing and promoting global capital, its enclosures and disciplinary processes. Here Lamy pays tribute to Karl Marx, especially the idea that the system is predicated upon a “certain theory of value” and that “alternatives to capitalism” must be found since “capitalism cannot satisfy us. It is a means that must remain in the service of human development.” Wow, what an oxymoron!! (more…)

Foreclosures: costs and movements

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

video_button_white_dred.gifThis video extract from of 29 November discusses the social and human cost of foreclosures in the US, the number of which has nearly doubled to 225000 in the Month of October.

Also shown is an interviews to activists from NEPAD, an NGO who is asking Investment Banks to aknowledge their responsibility in this crisis and donate their holiday bonus to prevent furhter foreclosures. About 2 million home owners are potentially facing foreclosures when their adjustable rate mortgages resets at higher rate. (more…)

Home mortgages and sub-prime crisis: some technical notes

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

Here is a graphical representation of the home mortgage system which has generated the sub-prime crisis. It is a free re-elaboration of a diagram circulated by Fred Moseley at the recent Historical Materialism conference in London on Nov 9-11.


Few observations. (more…)

The capitalist use of global warming

Monday, September 17th, 2007

After “green’s” call for nuclear power, now the “green” use of GMOs. Tomorrow, the against-austerity-riots will put put down by “green” ministers. See Return of GM: ministers back moves to grow crops in UK. And do not forget the other capitalist use of the effects of global warming (that for example of re-locating communities in the floaded lands and shores around ther world and force replacing them by mines and tourist complexes.

Foucault, “specific intellectuals” and the university

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

foucault.jpgFoucault distinguishes between two figures of intellectuals, correspondent to an historical rupture. The one, is the spokesman of the universal, in the capacity of “master of truth and justice”. The other, a “specific” intellectual emerging after WWII, one who has learned to combine theory and practice, the expert situated in specific contexts, and therefore aware of specific struggles (all quotes below from M. Foucault, Truth and Power. In Paul Rabinow (ed) 1984. Foucault reader. New York: Pantheon Book).

On the “universal intellectual

(67) “For a long period, the “left” intellectual spoke and was acknowledged the right of speaking in the capacity of master of truth and justice. He was heard, or purported to make himself heard, as the spokesman of the universal. To be an intellectual meant something like being the consciousness/conscience of us all.”

In traditional Marxism,

“Just as the proletariat, by the necessity of its historical situation, is the bearer of the universal (but its immediate, unreflected bearer, barely conscious of itself as such), so the intellectual, through his moral, theoretical, and political choice, aspires to be the bearer of this universality in its conscious, elaborated form. The intellectual is thus taken as (68) the clear, individual figure of a universality whose obscure, collective form is embodied in the proletariat.”

This figure, has been supplanted by another one, the “specific” intellectual as opposed to the “universal” intellectual. This, according to Foucault, has emerged since the Second World War, but intuitively, I would suggest, has found much development from the 1970s. (more…)

Training day at the University Inc.

Monday, March 12th, 2007

complaints.jpgWhat does an international Airline, a global bank, a transnational retail corporation, and a British University have in common? Well, they all have to “compete” on the global marketplace to survive, they all have “customers” prone to litigiousness to appease and mollify, and they all have the need to defuse staff questioning managers priorities and practices. So, few weeks ago I found myself in “a three-line whip” training course — that is a compulsory course that all academic staff had (supposedly) to take. The compulsion was designed to be a gentle “peer” compulsion, a subtle way to compel the individual that avoid direct confrontation between senior management and the individual academic staff: the University center would have fined your school £50 if you did not attend. The title of the day course was odd enough: “challenging academic decisions” — and it dealt with training staff in dealing with the challenges that the “costumer” base of the university — its students — would put forward. I heard that the same exact training was given to non academic staff under the title: “dealing with difficult customers”. I also been told by our trainer - and I document below — that the stuff we have “learned” in the training which we received either as academic or support staff in dealing with “students-costumers” would be applicable with little or no modifications to all situations of conflict within an organisation along its hierarchical scale or between company-costumers relations. In other words, the way we were about to be trained to deal with our students when they raise some problem, is the same way that our senior managers are trained to deal with us when we raise problem. Revealing! I overcome the boredom and I eagerly staid for the entire day, with my hear ready to steal their secrets! (more…)


Friday, March 2nd, 2007

governance.jpgGovernance as governamentality is about the “management of flows”, as Foucault puts it (see my paper on this), and “flows” are social practices and their feedback mechanisms, all types of these practices. This means that governance is about the management of values, that is of the meanings, often contrasting, given to those practices (as anthropologists remind us, value is the meaning given to action, see this article by David Graeber) . . .with governance the issue is not so much the definition of goals (more the classic realm of politics) but about the management of practices. For example, we look at the wastelands of east end of London in the late 1990s, and it is difficult to disagree with the fact that it needs a sort of “regeneration”, (good housing, green space, community spaces, etc.) and that livelihoods needs to be reproduced in this city . . . how are we “regenerating”? this question implies the coupling of the pursuits of values defined by a multitude of desiring subjects (on environment, housing, etc.) with the pursuit of money for money sake, accumulation, that is the pursuit of money through “competitiveness”. If you look at the UK government sponsored ”sustainable communities” plan for this area, you will encounter a continuous tension to couple the pursuit of contrasting values, that of a multitude of subjectivities with needs and desires, and that of capital, the need for accumulation and “competitiveness”. (more…)

The World Social Forum: a fantasy letter to the cosmopolitan bourgeoisie

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

wsf.jpgThis year edition of the World Social Forum was held between 20 to 25 January in Nairobi, attended by about 60000 people. There is a good article by Patrick Bond, which accounts for the limitations and contradictions of this year edition. The article also reviews some of the debates within the movements on the way forward.

Few days ago, another article by Immanuel Wallerstein appeared on the International Herald Tribune, in which he celebrates the alter-globalist hitting their stride. The substance of the argument put forward to the readers of this great newspaper of the cosmopolitan bourgeoisie, is twofold. First, we have many networks. Second we have many manifestos, hence “alternatives”. mmmh, I am wandering whether these are real advances in relation to previous editions of the WSF. But also, what is the purpose of writing to the cosmopoltan bourgeoise in these terms? In light of the many disheartening facts reported by the Patrick Bond article I was fantasizing, in a political fiction fashion, what a different type of social force would the global movements be if the substance of our argument put to the IHT was something like this: (more…)

Gold magnate complaining about “Rogue” NGOs

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

video_button_white_dred.gifThis is an interview by FT to Peter Munk, founder and chairman of Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold mining corporation. He is a an example of corporate magnate confronting neoliberal governance. So, few words on the latter to contextualise. Neoliberal governance is a strategy to articulate social conflict (on labour, social, environmental fronts) to the priorities of capital’s accumulation, as for example promoted by the UN global compact. It is grounded on the discourse of “Partnership and participation” between business and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working on social and environmental issues. This implies the mutual (i.e. business-NGOs) acceptance of shared normative standards, certain degree of agreements on basic common principles, lines defining who is in or who is out of the “partnership”. Once NGOs are confronted with the offer of partnership by big businesses and government institutions, the key questions are the following: What are the principles of selection? Who is participating in the establishment of partnerships and who is not? Whom do they represent? Will they accept the common ground necessary to play ‘games under rules’ of market and business, or will they want to play games about rules? And if setting rules is part of the game,to what extent are
participants under external pressure (such as socially constrained access to resources) that limits their space and power to set the rules they desire beyond the market? And if their rules are not those of the market and profit,will they then be labelled ‘rouges’,‘deviants’,‘terrorists’,and criminalised accordingly? In this video, gold magnate Peter Munk call then “rougue” and it would be interesting to know who is he taling about, what the activities and struggle on the ground they are involved on. Anybody knows out there?

Aphorism: reproduction and co-optation

Friday, November 10th, 2006

From a strategic point of view, reproduction broadly understood is important because it is on its terrain that co-optation occurs at the end of any cycle of struggle, and this is a quite obvious, straightforward matter. Capital’s co-optation of our struggles — by means of various forms of governance coupling the desires and aspiration of struggling subjects to a new generation of capital’s loops — occurs because despite our protest movements, we still have to reproduce our lives and livelihoods . . .And therefore, either we fundamentally change the modes of reproduction of our lives by using the force generated by our oppositional movements when they gain momentum, or we will have soon to go back to their modes of reproduction of our lives by sheer necessity. The question of commons, of counter-enclosures, of a radically different access to the means of reproduction of livelihoods must therefore be at the centre of any truly radical discourse.