Another Good Cause

What does capitalism have to do with nature/animal conservation efforts? A lot–and I don’t just mean that ecopolitics and rescue efforts for flora and fauna have become a lucrative business in neoliberalism. More specifically, addressing issues regarding the extinction of species and the accelerating exploitation of natural resources raises the necessity to address fundamental contradictions in the logic and structure of capitalism, revealing precisely that capitalism is NOT “the best thing that may be out there after all,” as contemporary pragmatism may have it. On the contrary, looking at ecopolitics and the limits the capitalist structure/logic imposes upon our efforts to save species from extinction indicates precisely the impossibility of solving problems by confining the process of thinking of solutions to the capitalist paradigm. Capitalism and its closing off of imaginative possibility is the death of Utopia and quite literally the death of species that suffer from our unwillingness to depart from a structure ridden with contradictions that gradually and seemingly inevitably robs itself of its own basis.

Recently, a team of photographers, scientists and students traveled to the West African island of Bioko to document the gradual destruction of one of the world’s last nature paradises. One of the most shocking problems they encountered is the trade in bush meat. Prohibited by the government to preserve the island’s impressive species variety (especially monkeys), the extreme poverty of the local population and the possibility of earning $200 plus for a male drill on the local bush meat markets render such conservation efforts hopeless. National Geographic has a quite moving series of photographs on the issue (as well as a feature article) you can find here. What can we do about this? First, we can donate to the local conservation effort (see NG website) to provide short-term aid. Second, we can support progressive grassroots efforts that support community organizations addressing poverty in Africa (similar to the effort put forth by Work and Hour, to which I provided the link a few days ago). Third, and most importantly, we can choose to oppose the WTO, the global policies of the G8, vote in a manner the shapes and puts pressure on our local governments to address issues of global poverty (and the ecopolitical issues connected to them) and ultimately we can choose to think beyond the damaging confines of capitalism

Please look at the series of pictures documenting the trip to Bioko, especially those of the bush meat market. They are here.


Work an Hour

A good cause to support. Forward widely.

Work an Hour 2008

NYPD Officer Assaults Critical Mass Rider


Without warning or attempting to stop him non-violently.

Fucked up.

I have participated in Critical Mass rides in Chicago.

They are always peaceful.

All over the globe.

In New York City they are illegal.

New York City promises liberty and justice to the world’s “tired, poor and hungry.”

New York City stands opposed to undemocratic (state) repression and extremism and is willing to defend this freedom of its people against terrorists.

New York City markets itself around the world as the place to which one can escape from the evils of the world.

That is, unless you’re on a bike, evidently.

If on a bike in New York City, you forfeit, so it seems, your right to free speech, free assembly and the privilege of being protected.

But good news, if the logic of the NYPD and NYC legislators is correct, you should be safe from being attacked by terrorists (because you are more like them than like a good NYC citizen and those subjects NYC welcomes).

So, if you’re a New Yorker who is scared of Al Quaeda: ride a bike! But make sure you wear protective gear and look out for the NYPD. However, this may be a good gamble: in contrast to your usual terrorist, NYPD officers are at least clearly recognizable, so you reduce the paranoia factor.

Form your own opinion about what Critical Mass bike rides are, if they should be illegal in NYC and if risking a human being’s health over it is a justified action in order to uphold “the law.” Btw: it looks as though the police officer will get away unpunished. Another proud day for all of us who stand by and laugh precisely because there is nothing to laugh at (as Adorno would have it) while the “law” is being executed by aggression and troubled masculinity.

Here the footage:

Here some info on Critical Mass:

Day 426: No Rest for the Wicked

I saw New Model Army in concert at a tiny place in Wicker Park here in Chicago last Saturday night and I am still smiling. What a fantastic concert and what a fantastic band! They still stick to their shit, still rock, still stir up trouble and still have really bad teeth. I haven’t had a case of goosebumps as bad as this one at a concert in a long long time. “Here Comes the War” may just be the perfect opening song, especially considering that US customs seized not only ALL of their CDs upon entering the US from Canada (threatening to the homeland, evidently–probably for the same reason that anti-imperialist band were denied visas for their last tour a few months ago) along with a lot of other merchandise, including all buttons that said “I’m not at war.” Apparently, one has to be at war these days in order to enter the US–somewhat perplexing, really (“Put out the lights of the Age of Reason!”). To sum up, there is really not much more to this post than this: I love this band! (But apparently not as much as my friend–she briefly considered jumping the bass player.)

The movers move, the shakers shake // the winners rewrite history // but from high on the high hills // it all looks like nothing

old-school but contemporary:

and about two weeks ago–shitty quality, too big of a venue, but otherwise represents their present state (unchanged) state quite well:

Day 410: We are the WTO

I just saw a great documentary on an anti-globalization, anti-capitalist, anti-corporate greed group calling themselves “The Yes Men.” Here their website–really worth checking out.

Day 378: Me So Political…Me Believe Everything You Say Loong Time

Yesterday, a very excited and “visibly angry” Hillary Clinton gave a speech in which she accused Barack Obama of distributing campaign material containing false information (wait, or was she angry at him for winning?…not sure…I tend get confused). Obama returned fire claiming that all statements made in the material are factually correct. I’m not known as one to get involved in the truth business very often, but here I feel I have to make an intervention. Hillary, in the name of all better-suited Democratic presidential candidates such as Obama, I apologize for hurting your feelings. In lieu of financial reparations (which we all know you need badly, but alas…), here a website with only true statements about you (to play just keep clicking’refresh’). best, cj

P.S.: since politics is so exciting and in the U.S. first and foremost an identity choice, I have decided to end all phone messages I leave on machines until November with “ok, I’ll talk to you later. My name is X X and I approve this message.” Seems only right for a responsible polit-hipster these days, no?

Day 347: It’s Bakhtin Time!

Yes, it is true: the dialogic imagination is in the house! (Maybe, if we’re all really lucky and keep our fingers crossed, the dialectic may even stop by–that is, as long as the dialogic does not deteriorate, as is common, into the logic of the carnivalesque).

Ok, enough pseudo-comedic references to weird Russians. The point of this post: the course blog for my Multiethnic U.S. literature class is off the ground (and, in case I have not yet mentioned this yet, my Intro to Multiethnic U.S. literature course this spring is now 25% more multi-ethnic–for the same price–what a great deal!). Students have posted their first response papers and now it is up to the online community to test their logic. What this means is, that I invite you to read some posts and comment on critical method, logic, ask further questions, or voice your criticism. This, of course, should not be competely devastating (remember: they are beginning literature students and this is a general education course), but, as you will see, there are problems with logic and underdeveloped arguments that need to be pointed out–i.e. students need to get into the habit of thinking through their arguments/analyses/logical frameworks in detail and more carefully before releasing them into the world. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated. The next set of papers on Octavia Butler will be posted by Monday.

to visit the site, click this link: