Posts from April 2012

War Realism

Here’s a passage from Randolph Bourne’s The War and the Intellectuals, which I’ve been re-reading lately. The essay was written for Seven Arts in 1917. The War that Bourne is discussing is World War I — a war now almost universally acknowledged to have been a disaster on all sides, nearly incomprehensible in its pointlessness, and hideous and utterly empty waste of human life. The intellectual class that he’s referring to is, above all, his former colleagues at The New Republic and other journals — men like John Dewey, Walter Lippman, and Herbert Croly, who considered themselves above all humanitarians, Progressives, and philosophical pragmatists.

A few keep up a critical pose after war is begun, but since they usually advise action which is in one-to-one correspondence with what the mass is already doing, their criticism is little more than a rationalization of the common emotional drive.

The results of war on the intellectual class are already apparent. Their thought becomes little more than a description and justification of what is already going on. They turn upon any rash one who continues idly to speculate. Once the war is on, the conviction spreads that individual thought is helpless, that the only way one can count is as a cog in the great wheel. There is no good holding back. We are told to dry our unnoticed and ineffective tears and plunge into the great work. Not only is everyone forced into line, but the new certitude becomes idealized. It is a noble realism which opposes itself to futile obstruction and the cowardly refusal to face facts. This realistic boast is so loud and sonorous that one wonders whether realism is always a stern and intelligent grappling with realities. May it not be sometimes a mere surrender to the actual, an abdication of the ideal through a sheer fatigue from intellectual suspense? The pacifist is roundly scolded for refusing to face the facts, and for retiring into his own world of sentimental desire. But is the realist, who refuses to challenge or to criticise facts, entitled to any more credit than that which comes from following the line of least resistance? The realist thinks he at least can control events by linking himself to the forces that are moving. Perhaps he can. But if it is a question of controlling war, it is difficult to see how the child on the back of a mad elephant is to be any more effective in stopping the beast than is the child who tries to stop him from the ground. The ex-humanitarian, turned realist, sneers at the snobbish neutrality, colossal conceit, crooked thinking, dazed sensibilities, of those who are still unable to find any balm of consolation for this war. We manufacture consolations here in America while there are probably not a dozen men fighting in Europe who did not long ago give up every reason for their being there except that nobody knew how to get them away.

— Randolph Bourne, The War and the Intellectuals (1917), ¶¶ 11-12.

Shameless Self-promotion Sunday: Gone A-Berrying Edition

Hey y’all. It’s Sunday Sunday Sunday. Let’s get Shameless Shameless Shameless.

I have a couple things in the hopper that I’m just about ready to announce. But first I need to get out of the office; it’s Sunday morning and it’s April and there are blackberries and dewberries to be picked. So, more on that soon. In the meantime — how about you? What have you been up to this week? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.

May Day Marcha

Via Las Vegas May Day Coalition, via FW Kelly Patterson.

1º Mayo 2012 - Nos reuniremos a las 4:30pm en Commercial Center (entre Commercial Center Dr. y E. Sahara Ave.). La marcha empezará a las 5:30pm. Terminaremos en la Corte Federal.

Para más información visite: Maydaylasvegas.blogspot.com.

May 1 2012 - Meet at 4:30pm at the Commercial Center (between Commercial Center Dr. and E. Sahara Ave.). March will begin at 5:30pm. Ending at the Federal Court House.

For more information visit: Maydaylasvegas.blogspot.com.

Borders vs. Scholarship and Intellectual Freedom

From the Institute for Critical Education Studies:

Abraham P. DeLeon, assistant professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Texas, San Antonio was refused entry to Canada today. He was scheduled to deliver a papers at the American Educational Research Association meeting and the pre-conference meeting of the Rouge Forum @ AERA, both which are being held in Vancouver, BC this weekend.

DeLeon, who holds a PhD from the University of Connecticut, does research in the areas of cultural studies, anarchist theory, post-colonialism, and animal studies in educational theory. His articles that have appeared in The Social Studies, The Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, Educational Studies, Equity & Excellence in Education, and Theory and Research in Social Education. He is associate editor of Critical Education, which is based at the University of British Columbia. He has also co-edited two books: Contemporary Anarchist Studies: An Introductory Anthology of Anarchy in the Academy (Routledge, 2009) and Critical Theories, Radical Pedagogies, and Social Education: Towards New Perspectives for Social Studies Education (Sense Publishers, 2010).

DeLeon was scheduled to deliver an AERA paper titled: “Lured by the Animal: Rethinking Nonhuman Animals in Educational Discourses” and he was also scheduled to speak at the pre-conference Rouge Forum @ AERA on “What might happen when teachers and other academics connect reason to power and power to resistance?”

Canada Border Services Agency refused to give a reasons for denying DeLeon entry to Canada. CBSA has also repeatedly denied entry to American educator Bill Ayers, a Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago. The CBSA’s actions raise serious concerns for Canadians and Americans who value free speech, open debate and academic freedom.

— E. Wayne Ross, Anarchist scholar to speak at RF@AERA denied entry to Canada

Change You Can Believe In (At Home and Abroad Edition)

From Mr. Obama’s occupation of Afghanistan, by the government that his war policy has been actively designed to support at all costs.

President Hamid Karzai has backed guidelines issued by Afghanistan’s religious council that relegate women to the position of second-class citizens, raising questions about . . . a government that seems prepared to sell out on the issue in order to engage the Taliban in a peace deal.

The Afghan leader endorsed the repressive guidelines on Tuesday . . . . Men are fundamental and women are secondary, the 150-member Ulema Council said in a statement that was subsequently posted on Mr Karzai’s own website. It also said that men and women should not mix in work or education, and that women must have a male guardian when they travel.

Mr Karzai’s endorsement, which came on the eve of International Women’s Day today, is seen by critics as a huge step back in the effort to promote women’s rights after the Taliban was displaced by the US invasion of the country in 2001.

— Lianne Gutcher, Back to the bad old days: Karzai beats retreat on women’s rights, in The Independent (8 March 2012)

(Via Reason Daily Brickbats.)

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