Ghada Karmi, writing for Electronic Intifada, sees in the manner of Bin Laden's killing "a shocking display of US arrogance and high-handedness, no matter how understandable the history behind it", and calls for a new era in western foreign policy:
How refreshing it would be if, after all this bloodshed, America were to turn over a new leaf: to study the causes of conflicts, not just their effects on the US and its allies. Following 11 September 2001, Obama, then an obscure senator, commented presciently about the need to raise the hopes of "embittered children" around the globe. As a powerful president today, he must revisit that sentiment and introduce a new paradigm: that injustice is the basis of conflict, especially in Palestine, and to address it is the only way to world peace. This plea will probably fall on inattentive ears, but if he can help me and my fellow Palestinians go home, he will have ended the bitterest conflict of all.
Visit Electronic Intifada to read the article in full.
Some of our favourite radical blogs have collaborated to create May Day International - a new forum for debating the financial crisis and alternatives to austerity measures. The site will be a space for discussion and host content from sites from four countries (at present) - Ireland, Greece, the USA and the UK.
The initiative was launched on the Guardian's Comment is Free site with an article by Costas Douzinas, Gavan Titley and David Wearing:
Neoliberalism - audaciously, given the historic humiliation suffered by its market fundamentalist dogma in the autumn of 2008 - is on the comeback trail, with a renewed and reinvigorated assault on the fundamental democratic principle of economic governance in pursuit of the common good. The public itself - with its "generous" pensions, social safety nets and other unaffordable luxuries - is now portrayed as a burden on the economy.
Ian James is full of praise for Michel Surya's Georges Bataille: An Intellectual Biography in the Times Literary Supplement. Focusing on Bataille's political and philosophical thought, James writes that"Bataille's thinking elaborates an all-embracing cosmological vision of material and human life inscribed within a general economy of excess, expenditure, ruination and death".
James notes that Bataille's sensational life and work can in no way be fitted into a singular narrative. Nevertheless, there are threads running throughout Bataille's work (both fiction and theory) and his life, notably his lifelong committment to materialism:
Surya, perhaps more than any other commentator, does justice to the intimacy of the relation that subsisted between Bataille's life and his writing, and to the complexity of their interrelation. Despite their resolutely paradoxical, enigmatic or incomplete qualities, Bataille's life and writing are, Surya shows, united by a sustained concern to affirm and elaborate an uncompromising anti-idealism. If he was fascinated by the debauched the filthy, and the work of death, it was because he held ideality of any kind to whatsoever to be a dangerous repression of the base materiality of life ...
Terry Eagleton defends Marx's legacy in the Chronicle of Higher Education, answering many of the usual tropes and explaining why the financial crises have prompted a resurgence of interest in the questions raised by Marx's thought:
The truth is that Marx was no more responsible for the monstrous oppression of the communist world than Jesus was responsible for the Inquisition. For one thing, Marx would have scorned the idea that socialism could take root in desperately impoverished, chronically backward societies like Russia and China. If it did, then the result would simply be what he called "generalized scarcity," by which he means that everyone would now be deprived, not just the poor. It would mean a recycling of "the old filthy business"—or, in less tasteful translation, "the same old crap." Marxism is a theory of how well-heeled capitalist nations might use their immense resources to achieve justice and prosperity for their people. It is not a program by which nations bereft of material resources, a flourishing civic culture, a democratic heritage, a well-evolved technology, enlightened liberal traditions, and a skilled, educated work force might catapult themselves into the modern age ...
There is a sense in which the whole of Marx's writing boils down to several embarrassing questions: Why is it that the capitalist West has accumulated more resources than human history has ever witnessed, yet appears powerless to overcome poverty, starvation, exploitation, and inequality? What are the mechanisms by which affluence for a minority seems to breed hardship and indignity for the many? Why does private wealth seem to go hand in hand with public squalor? Is it, as the good-hearted liberal reformist suggests, that we have simply not got around to mopping up these pockets of human misery, but shall do so in the fullness of time? Or is it more plausible to maintain that there is something in the nature of capitalism itself which generates deprivation and inequality, as surely as Charlie Sheen generates gossip? ...
This week's archive article in the Times Literary Supplement is Georges Bataille's review of Jean-Paul Sartre's Saint Genet, his 1952 study of the life and work of Jean Genet.
Among the consequential works of M. Sartre the most recent to appear is certainly the most singular. Nominally it is no more than a preface, the preface to a "Complete Works" in themselves highly singular, written by a living author condemned by common law who is by no means satisfied by filling them with a combative account of a uniquely profligate life: he uses them to make a boast of that life, which he regards as supremely important, and he uses it as an apology of Evil, which is both its excuse and the rule by which it has been led. But this preface is not only abnormal for its length (it contains 600 pages), it is a philosophic work of exceptional interest, and to that extent an unquestionable masterpiece.