Last Saturday, Timothy Mitchell appeared on The John Batchelor Show on News Talk Radio 77 WABC New York to discuss his new book Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. Mitchell sat down with guest-host Chris Riback to discuss the political consequences of our collective dependence on oil and its larger role in shaping the contours of our contemporary political landscape.
Amid the Tucson Unified School District's recent attempts to remove Mexican American Studies and works by Latino American authors from its schools' curricula, Wordstrike has been providing invaluable coverage and ongoing commentary by several activists, journalists and community members for its "Saving Ethnic Studies" series. In a recent installment, scholar and activist Rodolfo F. Acuña offers readers a reflection on the longstanding and deep-seated disavowals of America's Latino heritage by American culture at large. Touching on both its larger manifestations—especially within the broader context of public education—as well as his own personal experiences, he poignantly recounts the various forms of resistance he has battled throughout his life. In particular, he mentions the difficulties he had to overcome as a graduate student and faculty member in the face of what he terms the "benign neglect" of others, and the palpable feeling of invisibility that worked to marginalize Latino Americans in general.
As he writes,
In a very revealing—and apparently boozy—interview with Full Stop, Simon Critchley recently opened up on a wide range of topics, discussing at length everything from love and death to faith and politics, and touching on how recent turns in his life set his political and philosophical worldview in a new direction. The discussion usefully clarifies many of the important theoretical moves he makes in his new book The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments in Political Theology and provides an immediately salient political context—especially in light of the Occupy movements—in which to understand his reflections on the relation between love, representation, democracy and belief.
For instance, he says:
Faith is a subjective commitment to something that places a demand on you, that places a call on you. There are people that will believe that the source of that call is a divinity; there are people that will believe that the source of that call isn't. It's not for me to decide one way or the other - the experience of faith is the same. If I understand faith as a faith in the existence of a deity, I still can't make that leap - and then philosophy is atheism. But if faith is understood as, let's say, an ethical disposition of the self as a kind of commitment that the self makes, then I think faith makes sense to me. So the word "faith" can be used in very different ways. But it's a question that I do ask myself and perhaps should ask myself on a deeper level, I think. One of the formulations I come up with in The Faith of the Faithless is that politics is association without representation. It's a form of being together that doesn't necessarily require the forms of voting, representative assemblies, parliaments, houses of congress and all the rest. So politics is really at its essence a form of direct democracy. The Occupy Movement was playing that out, I think, in a very incredible way.
Visit Full Stop to read the interview in full.
Over at the Rain Taxi Review of Books, Vladislav Davidzon has written an excellent review of The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg, providing a valuable historical overview and evaluation of her frequently overlooked importance—in the Anglo-American world, at least—to the political struggles and development of socialist thought in the early 20th century. Davidzon's review delves both into her extraordinary life as well as into the world-changing historical events that influenced it and which are mirrored afresh through her correspondence and most personal insights. He writes,
Last week on The Huffington Post, Annette Fuentes, author of Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse, weighed in on the recent case of a Santa Fe high school that has just introduced—to the surprise of both parents and several administrators alike—a controversial new drug testing program aimed not at teachers or staff, but at its students. The practice of random drug testing in schools is not only vehemently opposed by parents and civil liberties groups, but also, for example, by the American Academy of Pedicatrics whose extensive research on the issue clearly demonstrates the lack of evidence of any effective school-based drug testing. More alarming, perhaps, are the additional concerns that Fuentes's article draws attention to, which most notably address the new testing practices which proceed by sampling hair particles instead of through traditional urinalysis. Fuentes writes:
Paul Armentano of NORML, the marijuana law reform organization, told me the research indicates that hair testing for drugs may be more sensitive on the hair of people with darker pigmentation. "There have been allegations of an inherent bias in the test," he said.