Wednesday, 18 November 2009

re: Trends in the civilian costs of war

Response to:

Regardless of the accuracy of the data, is this argument surprising? I'm surprised that you find it surprising! Okay, so we were told that all those 'smart bombs' would only kill 'bad guys' and news shows became trade shows for cross-haired destruction from above. Hands up all those who swallowed all that craptastic propaganda...

The most important question is also neglected: what separates collateral damage and war crimes? Eye of the beholder? Dresden: war crime or collateral damage? How about the bombing of Baghdad? At what point do unintended deaths caused by negligence or simply not caring about civilian life become a war crime?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

re: Is the world ending more often now?

Response to:

I think it was Slavoj Žižek in one of his films about films who asked: 'why is it so much easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism?' (or words to that effect). It is our narcissism that leads us to always believe that we are at the center of history and hence the that ultimate, unbeatable world changing event - the apocalypse - is happening in our time. There is a certain 'jouissance' (as Žižek would put it) in this, I suspect - a kind of perverse pleasure we take in imagining our own destruction because at least it provides a narrative to what is otherwise incomprehensible (the future). We always feel like we're on the verge of something epochal - it gives meaning to our lives; it attaches us to something larger than ourselves to something 'oceanic' (something incomprehensibly, awe inspiringly vast) to use another word from psychoanalysis. Of course we might be on the verge of this. Europe was in this position in 1989 but didn't know it yet. Although capitalism looks to have survived its shock, for the most part, we still remain incapable of imagining its end. Could the proliferation of disaster movies (and okay, yes, they're always a popular genre) correlate to this? In times of uncertainty when, despite every possible indication and opportunity, we remain incapable of thinking beyond the present and the immediate past in terms of the logic that governs every aspect of our lives we might find in the spectacular (in every sense of that word), cataclysmic yet reassuringly fictional destruction of all that is somehow a comfort. It provides a glimpse of change when such seems implausible.

Response to Nick Srnicek and Paul John Ennis

Response to:


Ontology can only be evacuated of politics if one takes a rather cripplingly 'thin' idea of what politics is. My common sensical reaction to Nick's claim is precisely the opposite and I can't understand how people don't see this as being obvious: politics and ontology are inseparable from the other but do not dominate each other; neither can be reduced to either one nor to some large whole.

Simply put: politics cannot be removed from ontology because ontology (especially under the guise of realism, however 'speculative') restricts political possibility. Ontology does not determine politics - Heidegger's ontology can be appropriated by left or right, same for OOO - but that does not mean it escapes politics because indeterminacy does not mean non-interference. That an ontology does not determine whatever politics may be affixed to it does not mean that it does not preclude many (or even most) political possibilities, nor that it doesn't preference some political possibilities over others.