Manufacturing Dissent Since 1996
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Uprising in tehran  keshavarz boulvard september 2022  2  cropped for itn

My take is that when it comes to establishing and trying to grow these kind of roots for democracy, I personally think it has to be rooted in resistance, originally. I think that democracy, in order for it to be meaningful and for it to thrive over time, it has to grow these kind of deep roots within the culture. And I think that when it comes to protest and resistance, these are ways of expressing these kind of desires. And for really constituting this sort of collective memory among the populace to say, you know, one: we're not going to forget these moments, these acts of brutality by the regime, we're going to make our voice heard, right? So that to me is a deeply democratic way of thinking and of beginning. I think that it's the sort of incipient and early moments of democracy.

We speak with political science scholar, Nojang Khatami who is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Justitita Center for Advanced Studies at Goethe University Frankfurt. Beginning in the fall of 2023, he will be Assistant Professor of Political Science at Fordham University. Nojang is on to talk about his Boston Review article, “The Lifeblood of Iranian Democracy: From street demonstrations to song, dance, film, and poetry, women are advancing a long legacy of struggle against authoritarianism in Iran.”

 

 


May 31
Posted by Alexander Jerri

I have been incubating nothing. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Incidentally, sitting on eggs to keep them warm is called “brooding.” In the 16th C, in Nurnberg, there was a cobbler, choir singer, and habitual writer of plays, songs, and poems, named Hans Sachs, who among his other works wrote a short comic Fastnachtsspiel, a play for Shrovetide, or Carnival, called Das Kalberbruten. At University of Michigan, Professor Martin Walsh, now Lecturer Emeritus, introduced it to me in translation as “Brooding Calves.” It begins with a peasant sitting on a large wheel of cheese, out of which he believes cattle will hatch.

That’s exactly what goes through my head when people ask me, “Where do you get your ideas?” They emerge spontaneously, like calves out of cheese.

When chickens brood, they don’t crush their eggs, because their butts are feathered and fluffy, their bones light and porous, and the albumen and yolk inside the shells pushes back against the pressure of the chicken’s weight.

Now, I possess about as peach-like a butt as a middle-aged white man can boast, but it is by no means fluffy. And a hollow egg has nothing inside it to support the shell by pushing against my weight. So brooding nothing is not an easy thing for someone with my gender and age handicaps.

But do I get special consideration? Nope.

You know who gets special consideration for brooding their ideas? The Conservative Political Action Committee. They had this great idea to partner with Viktor Orban, autocratic leader of Hungary, and apparently a conservative movement hero. They held their recent convention of global whining and xenophobic tantrums in Hungary. And fascist strongman Orban, the conservative hero, delivered the keynote speech.

HUNGARY

Ring any bells? Any Jews, gay people, communists, Catholics, Poles, or Roma have surviving memories of Hungary? My neighbor when I was growing up had a tattoo on her arm from a Hungarian concentration camp.

Now, CPAC, the international fundraising and organizing wing of the GOP, had this great idea to announce how fascist they are in Budapest. CPAC's organizers picked anti-democratic, autocratically-led Hungary because they consider it "one of the bastions of the conservative resistance to the ultraprogressive 'woke' revolution," according to CPAC's website.

This represents the most obvious symptom of the... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri

I understand that no one listening to this, assuming anyone ever does, is one of those who, upon learning of the shooting in Buffalo and the shooter’s political leanings, said to themselves, “Darn it, another stain on the reputation of neo-Nazi ideology, which is otherwise a force for social good.” Nonetheless, it is to those magical and absent intellects I address the following.

You pilled people will try to get us to believe with a straight face that all the violence today emerges from three non-rightwing sources:

  1. A culture of Black people raised to behave antagonistically toward the cops, who are only trying their best to help keep order among a self-victimizing underclass created by JFK and LBJ

  2. Muslims, Mexicans, and other foreigners

3. Antifa

Even if any one of those were the true source of violence in the world, here in the USA there are enough actual neo-Nazis excessively laden with firearms and lunatic conspiracy theories to guarantee that, at least several times a season, a neo-Nazi will commit a mass shooting and leave behind a white nationalist “manifesto” explaining clearly their Nazi reasons for what I call, “going prenatal.” “Going postal” was always unfair to the hundreds of thousands of postal workers who never take out their legitimate grievances on their coworkers in a paroxysm of flying lead. I call it “going prenatal” because Replacement Theory is what a fetus would believe at fifteen weeks if it actually had an operational human brain. It’s like “infantile” but even less mature.

The Bard, or as the groundlings know him, Shakespeare, famously theorized that if a million monkeys were given a million typewriters and an eternity to clackety-clack away, they would eventually write his entire catalogue, including the sonnets, plus a John Grisham novel where the hero defeats his antagonist by collating document pages and applying monster clips to keep them from falling into disarray.

By the same token, if you give enough primates enough firearms and poison them with 24-hour radio, TV, and online indoctrination into swallowing a conspiracy to replace white Europeans like Barney Google and Snuffy Smith with people of color like Jim Thorpe and Jesse Owens, the odds themselves make it statistically necessary that one or two will periodically shoot up a Black church, a synagogue, or a grocery store,... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri

 

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is an arrogant liar. In this he takes after his dead mentor on the SCOTUS bench, Antonin Scalia, a man with neither a conscience nor an optimally-working pancreas. Now, there is no shortage of flatulent losers on the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett are the two most recently-added passengers in that clown car, and they seem like token placeholders in a battle to turn the court into a stamp mold for decisions based on radical rightwing Catholicism. The court represents radical rightwing Catholicism more than any other faith, and it rules according to radical rightwing Catholic dictates, a fact that calls into question the court’s integrity as a body reflecting the aims of the secular or deist framers of the Constitution to which it gives poorly-informed lip service in its many partisan opinions.

Let us remember what Bill Donohue, the president of The Catholic League, said about secular Jews, lest we misunderstand how much Catholic radical fascism owes to the Nazis. “Secular Jews hate Christianity,” he contended. “They like anal sex and abortions.”

Alito, in his leaked and leaky draft (and drafty) opinion, spends his time debunking the notion that there is anything in the Constitution supporting a woman’s right to end her pregnancy. He glibly elides, or glides over, the Ninth Amendment, in which rights not enumerated in the Constitution are reserved to the people. Sounds like Alito just didn’t want to hear what the Constitution was saying. In any case, his real project is overturning Roe vs Wade, which doesn’t rely on the Ninth Amendment to guarantee said right. So, despite what the Ninth says, Alito, according to his masturbatory logic, needn’t address it.

Alito wants abortion made illegal. He contends the nation is split on abortion. It’s not, and he knows it. The vast majority of us supports free, safe, legal access to abortion, particularly in the first and second trimesters. Alito, throughout his opinion, uses the phrase “unborn human being,” signaling where his allegiance lies: with the misogynistic rightwing minority in the nation.

Because he is an abortion choice antagonist, and an overall antagonist of whatever he thinks the “left” is (n.b. Donohue, above), Alito briefly feigns concern for the experience of the mother (but

only out of vague obligation), and... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri

“Materialism is a beautiful and compelling view of the world, but to account for consciousness we have to go beyond the resources it provides.” – David Chalmers, Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science at NYU

We are human. At least that’s what I’ve always been told. You might have been told the same thing. Humans talk about themselves a lot. Humans find people endlessly intriguing. All stories are about people, even the stories about animals. Even science fiction stories, in which not a single human might appear, are all about people. One might understandably conclude by this that humanity is a consummately narcissistic species.

At any time in history, and even before history, there have been humans who have considered it their destiny to dominate the other animals, the plants, non-binary organisms such as fungi and slime molds, and the Earth itself. Even as astronomy has inflated our observable sphere from geocentric to heliocentric to galactic and beyond, and our commonly understood objective reality has broadened by billions of light years, there remain swaths of the population whose deeply- held conceit that humans are the center of importance in the cosmos has only hardened. Maybe they fear reality’s unfathomable expanse. Perhaps their desire to shrink it to the size of the Earthbound human sphere is driven by insecurity rather than the ever-fashionable narcissism.

Then again, doesn’t narcissism comprise a varied palette of emotions, poised like sentinels to guard the ego? And isn’t protecting the ego from the full force of comprehending the vast meaninglessness of existence the imperative that has always driven human behavior? All humans tell themselves, “Humans are more than insignificant dust in an apple-skin-thick biosphere shrink-wrapped over a lonely planet without a purpose, flecks of grit in a cosmically inutile tissue of chemical and mechanical activity surrounding a soft-boiled ball of minerals and metal! We matter, if not to ourselves or each other than at least to some supernatural character we made up for the purpose.”

Isn’t that the true subtext of every proverb, aphorism, bromide, pedagogy, philosophy, theology, and great work of literature? I’d say it is. I’d be interested in a remotely persuasive rebuttal to such an analysis. But don’t rush it. Take some time and really torture yourself over... read more