Saturday, January 07, 2006

New Statesman Jan 9th 2006

John Pilger's cover-article 'The Death of Freedom' starts with a Christmas Eve encounter with Brian Haw before mentioning the cases of Maya Evans and John Catt and going on to the wider picture of the 895 people arrested under the Terrorism Act since Sept 11th 2001 producing 23 convictions.

Pilger goes on to the US and the case of Dr. Rafil Dhafir, imprisoned for 22 years for founding a charity Help the Needy to aid children in Iraq in the sanction years. For Pilger the Bush regime has abandoned habeas corpus and the Bill of Rights.

For Pilger this is based on the Messianic conspiracy that is the Project for a New American Century with a scary list of pre-emptive aggressive possibilities. Pilger quotes a former CIA anlyst Ray McGovern: "We should now be very worried about fascism."

Pilger also quotes Harold Pinter as a step to condeming the BBC lack of coverage of these issues. A 'black farce' to Pilger, especially those who call themself liberal, left-of-centre or 'anti-fascist'.

"Looking in the mirror means understanding that a violent and undemocratic order is being imposed by those whose actions are little different from the actions of fascists. The difference used to be distance. Now they are bringing it home."

There's also a review 'Thinking outside the text' by a Dolan Cummings (of the 'Institute of Ideas') of How to Read Derrida by Penelope Deutscher and How to Read Marx by Peter Osborne (both Granta Books).

I liked the conclusion on Derrida: "To suggest that people should read Derrida, then, is to warn against simplistic or one-sided ideologies, and insist that "things are more complicated than that". On Marx, Peter Osborne makes the point that Marxism has to be connected to practical politics: revolution, movement, but in the absence of that movement and with the remoteness of revolution theory loses it urgency and becomes arbitrary. Is that Osborne or Cummings?

In a documentary made a couple of years before his death, the celebrated philosopher Jacques Derrida was asked whether he had read all the books in his library. He replied that he had read only four, but that he had read them very, very carefully. Derrida, of course, was into close reading. So it is ironic that his fame and notoriety are based on a vague, usually second-hand impression of his work.While Derrida was a celebrity of sorts, he was not a "public intellectual", or at least his "public" was limited to academia, especially graduate students in cultural studies. Derrida


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