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Archive for the ‘americas’ Category

demophobia (and aggregation)

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One more thing, for now, from the Perry Anderson article about Brazil:

The ferocity of the ensuing campaigns against Lula could not have been sustained, however, without a sympathetic audience. That lay in the country’s traditional middle classes, principally but not exclusively based in the big cities, above all São Paulo. The reason for the hostility within this stratum was not loss of power, which it had never possessed, but of status. Not only was the president now an uneducated ex-worker whose poor grammar was legend, but under his rule maids and guards and handymen, riff-raff of any kind, were acquiring consumer goods hitherto the preserve of the educated, and getting above themselves in daily life. To a good many in the middle class, all this grated acutely: the rise of trade unionists and servants meant they were coming down in the world. The result has been an acute outbreak of ‘demophobia’, as the columnist Elio Gaspari, a spirited critic, has dubbed it. Together, the blending of political chagrin among owners and editors with social resentment among readers made for an often bizarrely vitriolic brew of anti-Lulismo, at odds with any objective sense of class interest. (italics mine…)

Demophobia might well be one word for what this aggregate fiction idea that I keep banging on about might take up, address, attempt to moderate, etc…. I am guessing what the critic mentioned above is talking about is specifically the fear of masses of the poor. But one wonders if there isn’t a fear of number in general, an anxiety addressed by the conventional form of the novel (and its off-shoots) by what I am starting to call protagonism, the focalization of the novel through a single character, the engagement with background groups and masses but only in a restrained, self-immunizing sort of way…

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March 29, 2011 at 10:56 am

Posted in aggregate, americas, anxiety

what’s the alternative? counter-cyclical action not cuts, obviously

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From Perry Anderson’s absolutely massive – and incredibly interesting – piece in the LRB on Lula this week:

When, midway through his second term its test came, he handled it with aplomb. The crash of Wall Street in 2008 might be a tsunami in the US, he declared, but in Brazil it would be no more than a ‘ripple’ – uma marolinha. The phrase was seized on by the press as proof of reckless economic ignorance and irresponsibility.

But he was as good as his word. Counter-cyclical action was prompt and effective. Despite falling tax revenues, social transfers were increased, reserve requirements were reduced, public investment went up and private consumption was supported. In overcoming the crisis, local banking practices helped. Tight controls, holding multipliers of the monetary base well below US levels, and greater transparency had left Brazilian banks in much better shape than those in the US, protecting the country from the worst of the financial fall-out. But it was concerted, vigorous state policy that pulled the economy round. Lula’s optimism was functional: told not to be afraid, Brazilians went out and consumed, and demand held up. By the second quarter of 2009, foreign capital was flowing back into the country, and by the end of the year the crisis was over. As Lula’s second mandate came to an end, the economy was posting more than 7 per cent growth, and nature itself was smiling on his rule, with the discovery of huge deposits of offshore oil.

The point of course is to increase consumer demand by increasing, not cutting, public spending in a crisis. Demand leads to growth, growth to jobs, jobs to more demand, more growth, whatever. Not all that complicated. As long as we’re going to be playing the capitalist game with its episodic crises, there’s only one way to handle the dips and it’s this one…. that is, the one we’re not doing.

Thus we’re on the streets…

UPDATE: Would love to hear what my few but treasured Brazilian readers think about the article as a whole, if they have time enough and interest to read it. And one particular point of idiosyncratic interest… Where can I find out more about the following?

In the arts, explosive forms continue to be produced, though they are now far more liable to neutralisation or degradation into entertainment: Paulo Lins’s novel Cidade de Deus reduced to cinematic pulp by an expert in television ads…

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March 28, 2011 at 11:58 am

Posted in americas, crisis

south of the border

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It’s not really that surprising, but it seems that only the NYT business section is free from the mandate to inject some snide comment on the unsustainability of oil-financed socialism or a rumor about Lula’s alcoholism into every piece that mentions Chavez or any other Latin American left or leftish political figure. We’ll see what happens when Stone’s South of the Border makes the main section… Betcha dollars to doughnuts that the reactionary boilerplate returns…..

Anyway, here’s the trailer for the film:

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May 3, 2010 at 8:29 am

“Nous n’avons pas signé de contrat avec Castro”

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Rue89 clears it all up: Castro has not signed a promotional contract with Adidas. He just likes their gear.

I’m not sure I’d be opposed to Adidas simply becoming the exclusive footwear/sportswear supplier of sporty communists worldwide. It’s maybe a New Jersey thing, deep rooted, but I’ve got a few of their “training suits” in my own closet, I must admit. Though I try not to wear top and bottom at the same time, as that’s a bit too much, unless you’re Castro I suppose.

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June 24, 2008 at 11:53 am

Posted in ads, americas, socialism

socialism… recycled

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August 11, 2007 at 1:21 am

Posted in ads, americas, socialism

even with the loonie at par…

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July 30, 2007 at 2:03 am

Posted in americas

“perhaps the oil companies know something the rest of us don’t”

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This is a) persuasive and b) terrifying.

Look, I’ll admit that I’ve been a terrible Iraq War resister to date. A few marches, a lot of shouting at the television, and tons of bad conscience. I’m sure that my poor performance has something to do with the ambiguity of the situation that’s run from start to finish. This doesn’t excuse anything, but it is, I’m sure, the reason why I’ve been so horrible on this front. But… Venezuela is not ambiguous. If Bush invades / organizes another coup / pulls something else unexpected out of his sleeve, I hope that I have the wherewithall to do more than grumble and search for alternative news sources on the internet. The crime in this case would having nothing to do with closing television stations, although that is obviously what we”d be told, and everything to do with being a democratically elected socialist bent on the nationalization of natural resources.

Let’s hope not. But we’re heading into electoral season insanity, when all bets are off on what sort of endruns the current administration might attempt either to bring the base back into the fold or to strike a final, desperate blow on the way out against the forces of collectivism…

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June 28, 2007 at 1:11 am

Posted in americas, socialism, war

socialist melodramaticism

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You’ve heard about what is going on in Venezuela with the tv stations, yes? (The link there is not an endorsement… Too tired to sift through to find a fair report…) But did you notice this?

Radio Caracas’ soap operas such as The Ex and My Cousin Ciela are popular, regularly attracting more than 50 per cent of Venezuelan viewers.

Two opinion polls have shown that more than 70 per cent of Venezuelans, including many of Mr Chávez’s own supporters, are opposed to the decision not to renew the licence. Arturo Sarm-iento, a Caracas businessman who runs Telecaribe, an independent regional television station, and supports the government’s policy, admits the measure will “have a huge political cost”.

[…]

A public-service channel, Venezuelan Social Television (Teves), is to replace RCTV. […] Elsewhere in the world, with few exceptions public-service stations have not won a sterling reputation for slick popular programming. Lil Rodriguez, the channel’s new president, hardly encouraged optimism when she announced last week that “we don’t intend to make Teves really boring”.

Teves is planning to develop its own soap opera based on the lives of Simón Bolívar, Venezuela’s nat-ional hero, and Manuela Sáenz, one of his lovers, but until that is ready viewers will have to make do with a range of cooking, travel, music, opinion and other documentary shows, as well as an opinion programme.

One hell of an article, there waiting for someone to scoot down to Caracas and write, about the emergence of a new sector of socialist mass aesthetic form. I’d for one would love to know what comes of it, and what goes into it…

Here’s the question: say you were a socialist head of state of wherever you currently live, and had decided to pull network X off of the air and replace it with Your Own Social Television Network. What programming would you schedule as not to make it “really boring”? Mine would feature, of course, lots of ads without products, but I’m still thinking about what would provide the filler stuff, the actual shows, that folks would skip over with their TiVos to get back to the publicités

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May 27, 2007 at 7:05 pm

21st century socialism

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Nice to see this article on Chávez and Venezuela over at Open Democracy…. Not only has some actual numbers that contradict the hand-waving generalizations that you see in the NYT about discontent and authoritarianism, but a clearer and more assertive explanation of the political structure there than I’ve seen before:

The acceleration of the Bolivarian project – in both ideological and organisational terms, has fuelled concerns over the deepening of the government’s authoritarian tendencies. Established cynics in the media, who have seen leftwing ideals rise and fall, and opponents in the anti-Chávez movement have been quick to point to a frightening new twist in the evolution of the Chávez government. This is seen to be represented by the recent granting of decree powers to President Chávez, the move to extend state control over key sectors of the economy and the debate over the formation of the PSUV.

However, it is at this point that the delineation between popular perceptions of democracy on the ground in Venezuela, and “elite” perceptions, articulated by the media and US “democracy-promotion” groups are revealed. There is widespread popular support for this new trajectory in Venezuelan politics. The creation of the PSUV is seen to be in line with the demands of grassroots groups to have more influence within the organisational framework of the Boliviarian project, while Chávez’s use of decree powers to revise the institutional structures of the state responds to grassroots pressure for more influence, power and resources at the community level. Put simply, many Venezuelans think they are getting more and better democracy through “21st-century socialism”, not less.

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May 5, 2007 at 1:14 am

Posted in americas, socialism

those were the days

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First paragraph of a nice piece on Régis Debray from the Independent:

Do all lives lead to and spring from a single moment? An illustration: it’s 1964, and Che Guevara, in the gardens of the Cuban Embassy in Algiers, interrupts a game of chess to flick through Sartre’s review Les Temps Modernes. He comes to an essay on urban and rural guerrilla movements written by a 23-year-old graduate of the prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. Guevara has a translation forwarded to Fidel Castro, who invites its author, then teaching philosophy in drab Nancy, eastern France, to Havana. The young man accepts, and so begins a journey from Cuba to the Bolivian jungle, to Allende’s Chile, even to the Elysée Palace.

(via 3quarks)

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April 21, 2007 at 11:01 am

Posted in americas, socialism

portenos

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From opendemocracy on football and politics in Buenos Aires:

Football provided Hector with enough fulfilment to enable him to overcome the disenchantment he felt toward his club because of corruption. At first glance, Hector’s response seems based on a dual, perhaps incoherent, set of standards: one applicable only to football and based on individual norms of personal fulfilment, the other applicable only to politics and based on public standards of accountability. But his response makes considerable sense in the context of Buenos Aires’s football traditions and recent crisis of representation.

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June 20, 2006 at 9:46 am