In celebration of the new paperback edition of José Saramago's The Notebook, Verso is pleased to present another of the acclaimed author's elegant and astute observations on contemporary culture and politics. The publication of excerpts from his much beloved blog began on April 20 in lead-up to the release of the new edition and to commemorate Saramago's passing on June 18, 2010.
On May 7, 2009, Saramago published a short blog entry in which he reflects on the contradictory (mis)use of peace as a justification for war, suggesting a cultural revolution—the education of men (and women) for peace rather than war—as a far more logical and revolutionary approach.
May 7: New Man
Culturally, it is easier to mobilize men for war than for peace. Throughout history, men have been brought up to consider war the most effective means of resolving conflicts, and those in power have always made use of any brief interludes of peace to prepare for future wars. But wars have always been declared in the name of peace. The sons of the homeland are always to be sacrificed today in order to secure peace for tomorrow.
To coincide with the book's launch, Guernica has posted an excerpt from Ross Perlin's Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy. Carrying the headline, "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom," the excerpt is adapted from a chapter in the book entitled, "The Happiest Interns in the World," and begins with a somewhat terrifying scene:
At Disney World, interns are everywhere. The bellboy carrying luggage up to your room, the monorail "pilot" steering a train at forty miles per hour, the smiling young woman scanning tickets at the gate. They corral visitors into the line for Space Mountain, dust sugar over funnel cakes, sell mouse ears, sweep up candy wrappers. Mickey, Donald, Pluto and the gang may well be interns, boiling in their furry costumes in the Florida heat. Visiting the Magic Kingdom recently, I tried to count them, scanning for the names of colleges on the blue and white name tags that all "cast members" wear. They came from public and private schools, community colleges and famous research universities, from across America. International interns, hailing from at least nineteen different countries, were also out in force. A sophomore from Shanghai greeted customers at the Emporium on Main Street, USA. She was one of hundreds of Chinese interns, she told me, and she was looking forward to "earning her ears." Disney runs one of the world's largest internship programs. Each year, between 7,000 and 8,000 college students and recent graduates work full-time, minimum-wage, menial internships at Disney World. Typical stints last four to five months, but the "advantage programs" may last up to seven months.
Radio New Zealand is broadcasting Tariq Ali's Douglas Robb lectures.
In a changing world with American military power transcending US economic weaknesses, the amazing rise of China and the continuing occupations in the Arab world and South Asia, what are the likely outcomes? Is it the case, as many argue, that the US empire is now in irretrievable decline? Will China flex its military muscles one day?
In the lead up to the book's May 30th publication, Mother Jones has posted an excerpt from Lockdown High, choosing a telling subtitle: "For the nation's $20 billion security industry, schools are fertile ground for prison tech." The excerpt is adapted from a chapter in the book entitled, "Supermax Schoolhouse," and opens,
For millions of children, being scanned and monitored has become as much a part of their daily education as learning to read and write. But while metal detectors and video surveillance have been used for years in public schools, new military and corrections technologies are quietly moving into the classroom with little oversight. Biometric systems with prison applications, such as iris recognition and fingerprint scans, are already being deployed in some high schools to monitor Internet usage. Computer programs that check school visitor identities against sex offender lists are gaining popularity. And radio frequency identification (RFID), developed for military applications and now commonly used by industry, is being promoted for tracking students. The mantra of school safety is being used to justify technology for its own sake-and for the profits of savvy entrepreneurs.
Visit Mother Jones to read the excerpt in full.