The Politics 2.0 of Health Reform

Now that the bill has been signed, the long debate between liberals and leftists (or between pragmatism and radicalism if you prefer), has solidified into a provisional conclusion about their relationship status. Of course the dynamics haven’t changed a bit, and would have resolved in exactly the same way regardless of the outcome. Winners and losers both love a scapegoat. I limit myself here to responding to the standard liberal critique of the left, which we’ve seen escalate to a fever pitch over the last couple months — that its arguments and proposals regarding health reform were (and are) unrealistic, hysterical, and unethical, three critical grace notes that crescendo from polite warning to all-out vilification.

The fundamental point about any more ideologically than materially interested opponent of the bill (the ‘far left’ and the ‘teabaggers’) is that their antagonism irresponsibly risks the lives of millions of uninsured (the other big one is the economic argument that the bill will save money — but since they’re formally identical I’m going to focus on the more provocative of the two) for basically psychological reasons: vanity, willed ignorance, naivete, sheer irrationality.

The left’s predictable response to this vulgar psychologization of their opposition is to call it an excuse not to deal with their substantive arguments. This is for the most part true, but the exceptions are of more practical importance — Ezra Klein and Jane Hamsher’s back-and-forth was one of the few scuffles where both parties actually helped clear things up (here’s Klein’s response to her critiques from December and her recent list of the bill’s shortcomings if you haven’t read them).

All that said, the basic objections of the left to the health bill are pretty straightforward:

a) Shores up the power and profit of the health insurance industry and big pharma

b) Unsustainable in the long run as a result of a)

c) Ignores technically implementable solutions (single payer, public option, Medicare buy-in) to b) as a result of a)

d) will make it harder to actually fix the health care system because of a) through c)

e) Unethically excludes some possible beneficiaries (mostly undocumented immigrants) as a result of a) through d)

f) sells out women’s abortion rights

g) The bill is just a federalist upgrade of Mitt Romney’s health care reform in Massachusetts, which is currently running down the state’s budget

h) By capitulating on every major point, the left sabotaged any chance it might have had to increase its power as an independently consequential force in politics.

The first of these is a given. Everyone whose opinion counts agrees with it. The question is not ‘is the bill a corporate giveaway’ but ‘do the ‘theoretical’ implications of this fact matter.’ The worst thing about the dysfunctional U.S. health care system — its immediate dependency on and empowerment of profit-seeking corporations with horrific track records — is built into the bill’s structure.  This is of course why regulation of that industry and its enforcement remains minimal. Touted as a legal ‘right’ to health care, it’s actually a state-supervised sale of American citizens to the health insurance industry, paid for by provisions and subsidies whose future solvency is tied as strongly as ever to the fortunes of finance capital. This is what Obama’s administration has always been about: government and industry openly and unproblematically working together to ‘manage resources,’ their preferred definition of politics. Much of what we see happening in public debate over Obama’s policies is the steady repression of older ideological positions that would pit the free market and the state against one another, in favor of a new pragmatism (read: more efficient capitalist class solidarity). And we will surely continue to see this dynamic when we come to finance reform. Altering the newly revised relationship between the state and the health industry in any substantial way would require a second overhaul far greater than the current one, which is not going to occur during Obama’s presidency.

The next three are more debatable. Though the bill will probably be tweaked and improved upon in a ‘progressive’ ‘direction,’ the ‘real reform’ the left keeps bringing up — health care divorced from the corporate-dominated ‘free’ market — is far less likely. Given the current power asymmetry between Obama’s centrism and the progressive movement, a ‘public option’ or ‘single payer’ system will probably only be instated if it doesn’t accomplish what the left wants it to.

The fourth (e) is secondary overall and easily refuted when stated on its own (the new bill will cover more people than before, obviously better than the status quo), so I’m going to skip it.

The wrongness of f) is obscene enough that I’m not going to get into it either.

I’m also going to skip (g), basically agreeing (though details matter, etc. etc.), and noting in passing that it’s a handy retort to anyone who would still lazily/opportunistically equate the far right with the far left, forcing a definition of what ‘progressive’ actually means in practice.

The last point, (h), gets at the core of the left’s internal division. Without any pressing votes, everyone seems to agree on strategy. Now is the time for everyone to wax rhetorical about how ‘this isn’t the end of reform,’ ‘the fight goes on,’ ‘there’s still work to be done,’ etc. But when used as an argument in favor of capitulation, ‘we can fix it later’ obscures the riskiness of the liberals’ own position and projects it entirely onto their ‘obstructionist’ opposition. No one in the progressive movement has any power to write checks for what they will be able to accomplish in the future. Only at the very end of the process, when only one or two votes separated defeat and long-term impotence from victory, when we really were ‘all on the same team,’ did capitulation become necessity, even courage.

The spectacle of Dennis Kucinich’s 11th-hour turnaround is instructive, not for the triumph of ideas it was sold as by the MSM and his supposed progressive allies like Kos and others, but for how it highlighted where decisive political pressure comes from:

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: The pressure doesn’t really come so much from the outside. I mean, I had people who are for this and against it with equal intensity. What the pressure comes from, being told that you might be singularly responsible for the passage or failure of an initiative and having to live with the implications of that.

And, Amy, I’ll tell you that one of the things that surprised me the most is that even though they said everything’s on the line and even though they said it could come down to one vote and pointed at me and said, “That could be your vote,” they still wouldn’t budge on it. So then, I’m—and I mean, I tested and probed and talked to everybody, all the way down the chain of leadership, to see if there’s any way, and frankly, it’s mystifying, except to say that they’re keeping a for-profit system intact. There’s no air in here to try to find a way to get to a not-for-profit system.

As Glenn Greenwald has pointed out again and again throughout this legislative process, pragmatic defenses of the bill’s passage against its critics typically ignore the issue of power (Greenwald also distinguishes a kind of unthinking allegiance to the bill from rational argument in its favor — but in the midst of battle I don’t think they can be kept apart for very long). Health reform was and is a collective project in the same way any capitalism 2.0 institution is a collective project — workers are involved, with an unprecedented degree of intimacy, in labor toward ends they didn’t choose and which are usually counter to their explicit wishes. With every effort they become more dependent on their ‘employers,’ who pay them by, in essence, taking care of them.

Most of what this requires in today’s politics is fostering a sense of involvement, better affective than effective. Party politicians recognize a practical need for reform, and attempt to create consensus among the population of actual and potential activists by encouraging us to feel as if ‘we’ are engaged in a ‘progressive moment.’ So the Obama adminstration’s pragmatic response to crisis: redistribute, recenter, and re-legitimize ruling class power, is depicted as ‘progressive’ (not just ‘preferable’) in relation to the no longer appropriate ideologies and power relationships it seeks to displace. Since the progressive left does all the work of organizing and disciplining itself, all political elites like Obama have to do is repeatedly affirm the collective nature of the endeavor while maintaining its divided, hierarchical structure, and ensuring that a self-conscious activist left remains marginalized. Ignoring or undermining all the left’s demands enforces obedience; for its ideas to be recognized in the political landscape at all it is obligated to negate its own short and long-term goals in actual practice, sublimating them (in utopian, fantastic form) into the ‘movement.’

In this precarious situation, the left gets an opportunity to fight for a more than just symbolic existence in exchange for spending most of its time working for the Democratic establishment. It’s a devil’s bargain, and one that requires constant vigilance in order to work out in the left’s favor. Right now that means accepting that even though health reform was certainly ‘progressive’ for the Democratic party, and will probably be ‘progressive’ in terms of minimal improvements to the efficiency, oversight, and overall cost of the health care system (which should lead to further improvements in the short-to-medium term), it was a defeat of progressivism as a political movement. It’s really not possible to argue otherwise — we won nothing we wanted, only things we didn’t know we were willing to settle for.

This is the heavily compromised position from which ethical arguments by liberals against left critics are made. Critique (h) infuriates liberal pragmatists because it suggests to them that the left is willing to sacrifice human lives for its own power. The fact that power is necessary to any political project is affirmed in theory but ignored in practice, conveniently reduced to a private ‘unhealthy obsession.’ The liberal imperative to “pass the damn bill” became more true as the struggle progressed, reinforced almost without a hitch by the progressive movement’s own actions, even though this contentless pragmatism first appeared on the other side, what the left early on called Obama’s political cynicism. This is the “party discipline” currently being praised, stemming not from any ideological center but from the situation as presented to us, the perpetually crisis-ridden status quo. In the final months, one could conceivably make the case that rejecting the bill really did put you on the same team as the Republicans. Thankfully that useful if counter-intuitive argument had already been well worn in, since almost every stage was (wrongly) considered the battle’s ‘final months.’

Lawrence Lessig recently called Republicans the “sock-puppets” of industry lobbyists: “a campaign waged against these sock-puppets will be a useless campaign waged against ½ of America.” This is more obviously the case now, but was still the case then. I would only amend to this that they were equal opportunity sock puppets — Obama  used them and liberal pundits used them to quash opposition from the left and to try to win support from moderate Republicans (which we thought didn’t exist but now see were just in the closet). Rationalized as a compromise victory, the spectacular ‘defeat’ of teabaggers was political theatre that benefitted everyone except progressives.

Again, improvements will probably be made, but they will be decided on by political elites primarily subject to pressure by inadequacies in the bill they just passed (which may manifest through public opinion polls and phone calls), not because a progressive movement has become more influential. Betting on the horse race, strategic planning for the movement, and argument about the content of the present bill have a tendency to blur together in progressive discourse, which obscures things further. The location of progressive agency is uncertain, so when someone conceivably identifiable as ‘you’ appears to be winning, it’s best not to think too much about it.

People like to feel good about what they’re doing, and probably have to in order to do it at all for very long (making me skeptical about my own future as one of the petition-signing, check-writing, senator-phoning activists I’ve just described). I don’t want to stand in the way of anyone’s celebration. There is reason to cheer for the fact that substantial reforms of any kind actually made it through our ‘historically’ dysfunctional Congress. I even see some short-term value in publicly claiming victory for the cheap political capital. The resurgence of Obama leader-worship and his rhetorical talent for converting collective action into nationalism is obnoxious, though I guess I have to get used to that as a permanent feature of this presidency. But can we just interrogate for a moment the slogan on everyone’s lips: ‘keep fighting!’ For what? For who? Or more to the point, how? If ‘real reform’ is going to happen anytime soon, the outcome of the health reform movement needs to be understood as the failure of progressive strategy, not a validation.

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22 Responses to “The Politics 2.0 of Health Reform”

  1. butch $tang Says:

    the outcome of the health reform movement needs to be understood as the failure of progressive strategy, not a validation.

    Quite so, Yoy’ve proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt, while begrudgingly admitting that may not be the only issue. What struck me was that your pitting of liberals (you know, ‘centrists’ like me and Obama, not cynics like you, which surely you must realize that that is by now indisbputably how you appear) against ‘progressives’ portrays a ‘progressive leftism’ as an ‘It’s all about ME’ thing,

    Which you prove with this: “Critique (h) infuriates liberal pragmatists because it suggests to them that the left is willing to sacrifice human lives for its own power. The fact that power is necessary to any political project is affirmed in theory but ignored in practice, conveniently reduced to a private ‘unhealthy obsession.”

    But you also want to say that ‘far left’ and ‘far right’ are different. But it’s hard to give a fuck when the whole issue is reduced to ‘progressive movement’. You may have written it so that it covers the left’s ‘certain knowledge’ that they don’t wanna rain on anybody’s parade even though they were ‘ignored, but don’t expect others that don’t identify themselves as the kind of ‘leftist’ you portray here as not being able to perceive anything clearly themselves. So yeah, it IS an ‘unhealthy obsession’. Cover your ass all you can, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get fucked in return (while claiming already to have been.)’

    “The fundamental point about any more ideologically than materially interested opponent of the bill (the ‘far left’ and the ‘teabaggers’) is that their antagonism irresponsibly risks the lives of millions of uninsured (the other big one is the economic argument that the bill will save money — but since they’re formally identical I’m going to focus on the more provocative of the two) for basically psychological reasons: vanity, willed ignorance, naivete, sheer irrationality.”

    Well, there are probably uses for hobbyists in these fields, aren’t there?

    Some deft twists and turns nevertheless, it’s a good post despite its willed ignorance. You still ought to consider modelling before it’s too late. Delighted you and LIBERAL Woggia got to meet.

  2. traxus4420 Says:

    you can’t expect to be the target audience for EVERYTHING you read, can you?

    i’ve always said that cynicism is the inevitable result of repeatedly trying to achieve the impossible while refusing to understand your situation (that is, not just dumbly reacting to it and calling the result ‘reality’). which is what i was trying to do here.

    and the perpetual bags under my eyes inform me it’s already too late to get in magazines. thanks for the thought though.

  3. butch $tang Says:

    No, no, not really, although I should, since I supposedly ‘care about only my own feelings’, but as the hours went by, I felt like one of its targets (inexplicably) anyway, and in a good way. I think it was quite exciting at moments, you know, even with such subject matter, and I think that’s the only serious maladjustment you still suffer–choice of subject matter. But fuck–really a nice journey through very unpleasant topic. Actually, I wouldn’t go see ‘Antichrist’ in order to comment on it, and people everywhere bugged me to, so I think we can agree I knew that I was not being targeted with that one. I still don’t want to see it either;; it was better just to read people’s analyses of it, although I did balk at the bumbling professor’s long swing through the sacrosanctness of this ignoble-sounding work. I love it when he tries to do this big ‘grand Foucault style’ thing with the big plaudits for the tedious Von Trier. I’m just not going to pay attention to people who won’t realize that they need to go the place or they shouldn’t be paid attentiion to.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I want to go and dumbly react to my situation and call the result ‘reality’.

    I thnk it’s just AWFUL that they passed that bill now!

  4. I disagree with this analysis. It isn’t as if the game is over. The “left” – that heterogeneous mix – did the right thing to keep pressure up to the end. But the right thing at the end was to vote the bill in. The popularity of some public option is unblemished, and the problems are now going to trend leftwards – they are the problems entailed by the mandate, which plugs into the private insurance system. As medical insurance as part of the business compensation package crumbles – and it will go as surely as pensions – the left will have an ever greater constituency to ‘pressure’ with.

    I find the defeat talk frankly puzzling. This is a long term effort. Political strategy depends, to some extent, on shaping the problem. The problem is now shaped in such a way that the answers – in my opinion – will not be to return to the private sector, but to create a real robust public option either on the Dutch model or some mix.

    A defeat for this bill would have been a disaster for the left. I don’t see how one could envision defeat as anything but a disaster.

  5. traxus4420 Says:

    @roger –

    i don’t mean to say the game is over. as i say above, i fully support the consensus that the fight has to continue.

    but i also don’t think it’s true that the pressure was kept on all the way until the end — there was constant pressure from some elements (PHP and Firedoglake most notably) but it was plain early on that most progressives would accept any bill whatsoever. the left was divided about how far to push early on as well. the most intense, most consistent, and most unified pressure came after the public option was dismissed, and that was just to “pass the damn bill,” which the Obama admin wanted from the beginning. and that is the faction that ‘won’ and is being praised today.

    the problems are already trending left — so far left, in fact, that at any point they could get owned by the right. which is to say the problems are trending away from the state’s capacity to control them. as we’ve seen, this hasn’t stopped the state from hewing as close to the status quo as possible. maybe even a little closer. i think that if a robust public option (still significantly riskier than single payer, a good medicare buy-in, or a shift toward nonprofits) is going to get instated right off the bat — which it probably will have to in order to survive — it will require a left that does not mistake itself for the democratic party. what exists of that left just suffered a ‘setback,’ if ‘defeat’ is too strong a word.

  6. traxus4420 Says:

    and thanks butch — i think you have the right idea about antichrist, and about my choice of subject matter. this blog is unfortunately motivated by my sad passions — i can’t seem to ‘get it up’ otherwise.

  7. American politics is awfully dependent on leaders – the labor sector of yore is gone. And when Obama shifted right, well, I don’t see, retrospectively, any scenario that could do more than gnaw around the edges of that. Given that state of disorganization, what was predictable was – nothing passing.

    Well, that didn’t happen. I think, in fact, that this bill owes more to Pelosi than to Obama – as is the general media consensus – and I don’t think Peolosi would have seen it as doable if there had not been that pressure, Perhaps it didn’t have the intensity that you would like, but – where there are no troops, it is hard to muster up any intensity. The teabaggers point to a positive fact – the re-emergence of social movements. I think that the liberal discouragement of this kind of movement – let’s keep it all in the ‘party’ is the motto – stinks. But I am much happier than you are about the terrain that is opened up by this bill. And as for power slipping out of the state, I’m not sure what you mean by that. The difference between the state and the private sphere has been utterly exposed, in the last year, as an illusion – when people speak of GM casually as Government motors, they are not only correct, but they’ve absorbed a lesson in their vernacular.

    So, to my mind, you are being much too gloomy about this whole deal. Attack it as insufficient, but don’t look upon it as another defeat – that to my mind is a disempowering pessimism, not a pessimism of the intellect but of the will, to quote the cliche.

  8. traxus4420 Says:

    you make a lot of good points, but for me it’s not so much about intensity as it is about what to demand and how to do it. the “liberal discouragement” of social movements you bring up exists within the progressive ‘sphere’ as well, not just among establishment centrists. i think when i pit the terms ‘liberal’ and ‘leftist’ against one another i’m not only picking out distinct groups but tendencies everywhere within the movement (or is it vanguard?) itself. but there “let’s keep it all in the ‘party'” has to play out differently — it has to be the accidental result of a pragmatic decision, which is in turn a passive response to ‘political reality’ — let’s ease up on pushing for x so that we don’t lose our place at the table. obviously there is a time and place to suck it up like this, but it was being argued from the very beginning and my worry is that this is the side that ‘won’ (sorry about the scare quotes, but if we can’t call it defeat i don’t think we can call it victory either).

    i don’t believe there is actually no difference between the state and private sphere, and it seems you don’t either or you’d be more hopeless about people like pelosi, who has the option of acknowledging public pressure because that’s her job, who is at least ostensibly subject to voters and other supporters. what there is is a still fragmented state-corporate centralism (aka private-public partnership) that with obama ‘wants’ to behave as if there never was an ‘illusion’ of separateness, and social movements that still push hard on the rhetoric of government accountability vs. evil corporate dollars.

    but you’re right – instead of the crises “trending away from the state’s capacity to control them” i should have said “trending away from the corporate state’s capacity to mollify people into accepting them.”

  9. traxus4420 Says:

    light at the end of the tunnel for public option?

    http://www.openleft.com/diary/17995/senate-bill-going-back-to-the-house-can-we-now-get-a-public-option-vote

    the comments are instructive

  10. traxus4420 Says:

    another ‘shrill’ opinion on HCR here: The “momentum” that the Democrats and the liberal intelligentsia are working hard to create here goes well beyond their desire to maintain control of the House and Senate in the upcoming mid-term elections. Well beyond it. Behind the podium at Obama’s signing ceremony, the corporatist Joe Biden, hardly able to contain his globalist glee, whispered to Obama that this really is a “big fucking deal”. He was absolutely right.

    We are currently living in the last stages of the neoliberal revolution’s assault on our ongoing ”democratic experiment” and the endgame is a multifaceted attack on not only the constitutional structure of our precariously fragile representative republic, but it is an equally aggressive usurpation of the meaning of the language of democracy that binds us all, one to the other, in this, our shared nation of laws.

    If they are successful in their efforts to rebrand neoliberalism as populism then the sky is the limit. All of the previously abhorred free market reforms can easily be within reach. This bill already attacks Medicare, Obama’s “Jobs Bill’ works to undermine the solvency of Social Security by allowing mega corporations to restaff their businesses with workers while not having to pay their share of Social Security benefits, and Obama’s “austerity measures” committee is meeting even now led by a bipartisan neoliberal team of free market supporters from the past.

    again i’m not trying to say ‘game over’ here or belittle the bill’s many material benefits (annoying to have to repeat that all the time), but i am contesting their decontextualization.

    just that the above concerns appear ‘trivial’ by comparison with ‘real,’ somehow more ‘presence-filled’ issues like the projected well-being of future people is where the ideological content of the present triumphalism lies.

  11. butch $tang Says:

    “just that the above concerns appear ‘trivial’ by comparison with ‘real,’ somehow more ‘presence-filled’ issues like the projected well-being of future people is where the ideological content of the present triumphalism lies.”

    Yes, this is an example. I can almost get it, but not quite. It’s a little too thorny. Are we to assume from this, if taken literally, that ‘the projected well-being of future people’ is not absolutely exactly what the ‘ideological content of the presnt triumphalism’ ought to ‘lie in’. Because it’s not only about ‘future people, it’s about ‘present people’. It sounds beuaitufl, but is still hard to fitgure out exactly where you want us to go (of course, you know we won’t go there, but we are still interested in where you’d like that to be, rather than just wondering.) I’m sure others get what you mean, but I sometimes do, then can tell that I don’t. I also have this tendency until very recently to refuse to be simple enough to understand, which may be fine. On the other hand, I just also want to understand it. I am fully aware that some of my own ‘real writing’ is hard to understand too, and I don’t know what I’m going to do about some of the older stuff. I’m improving with the new additions, which are more accessible.

  12. traxus4420 Says:

    it’s not a very well-written sentence — i’ll try again — the ‘ideological content’ = the assumption that one problem: the bad stuff we have reason to assume will happen to people that may be fixed by the bill (if everything goes as planned), renders irrelevant and illusory another problem: the continuing advance of the neoliberal project under progressive guise, or the use of the good things the bill promises to do + the loyalty of progressive activists, senators, and representatives, to redeem all the really terrible things that the new administration has in common with the old one (the reliance on war, the strengthening of executive power, erosion of civil liberties, shoring up of corporate power in the face of crisis, undermining of social agency, etc.) and how the health bill is part of that.

    what i’m saying in the post probably looks hypocritical to some because they assume you can only ‘believe’ in one of the above, or that only one has ‘real’ consequences.

  13. butch $tang Says:

    Thanks, yes, it’s very provocative, but worth the trouble.

    ‘shoring up of corporate power in the face of crisis,’

    That’s good, and yet it’s a reflex that one cannot realistically expect not to kick in, even if one is convinced that it ‘ought to be obvious that it’s counterproductive’.

  14. traxus4420 Says:

    one more for the notebook from Ezra Klein:

    Perhaps it takes someone very familiar with liberal health-care reform ideas to say this, but this is not a liberal bill. Liberals believe access to medical care is a public good that should be provided by the public sector. The sop to that approach was the public option, which isn’t even in the final law. That’s why every time someone terms this socialism, I fantasize about Karl Marx, or maybe William Beveridge, stepping out Marshall McLuhan-style and saying, “You know nothing of my work!”

    This bill is Clintonian: It achieves liberal ends through market means, and since conservatives frequently claim they are also in favor of access to medical care, it’s not even clear that near-universal coverage can properly be called a liberal end. Not to mention that it’s more conservative than the Great Triangulator himself was: It doesn’t resemble his reforms so much as the Republican alternative to his reforms. But Democrats haven’t gotten credit for that, in part because the opposition of Republicans meant they had to keep their liberals onboard, and that cut against trumpeting the conservative structure of the legislation.

    when WaPo’s most popular blogger and HCR promoter says it’s not even a LIBERAL bill it takes a lot of convoluted doublethink to call it a ‘progressive victory’ in any political sense.

  15. I’m not sure I understand the wrongness of f. Many analysts have pointed out that, once government money is linked to healthcare – because of the stipulation that no federal money can be spent on abortion – healthcare companies will probably just start dropping abortion coverage from their plans.

  16. I absolutely agree that the passage of this bill is a defeat for the self-conscious Left (a distinction that includes few representatives and even fewer senators). It addresses the health care situation (but only partially) through the strengthening of the corporate insurance system – the same system that brought us woefully inhumane and inefficient health care.

    I am skeptical that the future will bring Progressive-friendly changes to the legislation. Unless, that is, an actual grassroots Left movement gains power. Otherwise, I think the bill’s shortcomings will be blamed on its over-reliance on government and its supposed shunning of free market thinking. Assuming that the Democrats’ massive hold on power subsides somewhat, the changes will move it further into corporate hands.

  17. Severely off-topic, but I was wondering if you’d be interested in a project I’m aiming at a number of the blog authors in the continental philosophy blogosphere. Specifically, I’m interested in developing a mailing list that would act as a “back channel” for discussion across a range of minds, the virtue of which is on-going, long-form discussion that bridges the gap between blog comments sections and email. If this interests you, let me know at what[dot]is[dot]ground[at]gmail[dot]com.

    Oh, and I enjoy your blog as a reader of some time.

  18. Traxus, another off topic comment – but you, who are interested in sussing out the underbody of realism, might like my current post. http://limitedinc.blogspot.com/2010/04/reality-and-speculation-in-restoration.html

  19. andrew dornon Says:

    I really enjoy the work you do at American Stranger. I thought you might be interested in a new journal/magazine that I’m working on. A collective of undergraduates, graduate students, professors and individuals outside of academia are attempting to take critical theory out of the academy and create a space to engage postmodern, globalized capitalism in ways that are not colonized by academic jargon and elitism. We intend to distribute freely online and in print (as much as possible), analysis of multiple immigration situations and strategic ways of being regarding these situations. You can find the call for papers below. You will find that the first issue is concerned with immigration and the political implications thereof.

    If you are interested but unable to contribute, circulating this cfp in your networks would be appreciated. Anyway keep up the good work.

    warm regards,

    andrew dornon

    about pro/visions
    pro/visions is a new magazine/journal (double blind peer-reviewed) that seeks to push critical theory beyond the academy and into the streets. Therefore the content will reflect rigorous (and playful) thought but using language that is accessible to anyone. We seek to create a space for theory to meet praxis (and the ivory tower the people/s). Think Gramsci’s “organic intellectual” meets Chuck D and they get into a fist fight–with the world.

    “immigration against the Empire”

    This issue situates immigration (and other forms of nomadism) as a disruptive event against Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s concept of Empire. Between Arizona’s new immigration law in the United States and the French government’s response to immigration, it would seem that as the “Third World” pops up in the “First World” neo-liberal policing comes into view of the Global North. In light of the various reactions to these events, responses from the radical Left, in and outside of academia, need to be formulated in order to map resistances and the role of the immigrant and the exile within the Empire.

    Articles should be connected to the following suggested topics:

    * Specific case scenarios of immigration in and between geopolitical regions around the globe.
    * Legal, ethical and political controvery/ies concerning immigration policy.
    * The political role of the undocumented worker within U.S. and global paradigms
    * Underground immigrant support networks and their clashes with the “minutemen”
    * Conceptions of identity in relation to immigration
    * Spanglish (or other creoles) as political act
    * Strategies for immigrant solidarity, locally and globally
    * Immigration as a response to neo-liberal forces
    * Illegal immigration as a form of resistance to politics and ideology
    * Systems of race, gender and other social norms within nomadism

    submission guidelines
    Submissions are welcome in all languages, with a preference toward English, Spanish and Spanglish.
    Articles must be between 2,000 and 3,000 words in length with endnotes and a bibliography. Citations should follow the latest version of MLA.
    Abstracts must be between 150 and 300 words.
    A short biographical description of 3-5 lines should be included.

    contact
    If you are interested in submitting to pro/visions, please send an abstract by email to provisions.editors@gmail.com no later than July 1, 2010. Final versions of articles will be due August 1, 2010.

  20. I’m sorta surprised, given your sci fi/apocalypto leanings, that the murder of the Gulf of Mexico doesn’t interest you, Traxus. I think it ought to.

  21. […] account — didn’t occur to me as something worth considering until Roger mentioned it in the comments below and […]

  22. traxus4420 Says:

    @Roger – done and done.

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