Road Trip

We are going on a road trip! To West Lafayette, Indiana! And we are staying at an Airbnb place! For the first time ever!

I’m feeling extremely disappointed in somebody I (mistakenly, as it now seems) considered a friend, so I’m going on a road trip with the two people who never disappoint.

If the destination seems somewhat random, you need to know that N and I lived in West Lafayette when he was a student there and I was writing my doctoral dissertation. It’s an intensely romantic place for us. We always wanted to bring Klara there, even though she doesn’t yet understand the concept of things happening before she was born.

“I was born, Mommy! I was!” she insists. “I remember it very well! I was there!”

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Who Gains?

Nicaragua, right? A small, extremely poor and corrupt Central American country. The oligarchy rules and won’t let the country change in any remotely good direction. How does the oligarchy manage to keep its grip on the country?

One little fact: every year, $1,5 billion dollars are sent back to Nicaragua by Nicaraguans residing elsewhere. The oligarchy depends on pushing as many people as possible out of the country and into illegal serfdom someplace else so that the remittances grow. And grow they do. Back in 2011, yearly remittances to Nicaragua were only one billion.

It obviously isn’t just Nicaragua. Mexicans residing outside the country send $33 billion in remittances back home. What interest can these countries’ elites possibly have in making life in them better? Why should they try to make these countries more attractive places to stay if they can push more people out and then own the companies that process the remittances and the stores where the money is spent? (That’s how Carlos Slim made his fortune).

And at the same time, the elites in host countries profit from having a growing supply of cheap, easily exploitable labor. And they own our news sources, drumming into our heads relentlessly that opposing this state of affairs is racist.

Spanish Spain

Spain is still being Spain:

A squash club in Spain has been accused of sexism after tournament prizes for female competitors included a vibrator, body hair removal kits and an electric foot file. Elisabet Sadó, who won the Asturias Squash Championship, received a trophy and a vibrator. Olaya Fernandez Lence, Marina Arraiza Mier and Cristina Barandica Fernandez, who finished second, third and fourth respectively, also received gifts which included an electronic foot file or hair removal wax. In contrast, their male counterparts did not receive any additional presents to go along with their trophies.

Sexism and corruption are linked together in a passionate embrace.

Neoliberal Structures of Feeling

Neoliberal mentality relies on the following principles:

– I am what I say I am

– individuals should be free to choose whatever they want

– there should be no constraints placed by community, family, nature, society, etc on the choices individuals make

– all individuals are in a constant state of competition with each other for dwindling resources. Somebody has an advantage on me (aka privilege) at all times and that’s intolerable

– everybody is ultimately lonely and everybody is ultimately out to get each other

– there is no attachment or loyalty greater than loyalty to the desires of one’s self

– new is good, old is bad. Younger is always better than older. Freshness is better than experience or familiarity

– everything is a market, everybody is a product

– the role of other human beings in our lives is the same as that of products. They must maximize our pleasure. If they don’t, they should be discarded

– permanent links, especially if they haven’t been freely chosen, should be discarded

Once you have made these ideas the basis of your worldview, how can you seriously claim you will work against their economic manifestations? The neoliberal economy will be the result every time, no matter how many times you say it’s not your goal.

Buttigieg

Buttigieg correctly identifies, within today’s conservatism, a turn away from the neoliberal revolution started by Reagan.

Reagan era has come crashing to a halt with Trump’s hostile takeover of the Republican Party,” he says.

From the way he words it, it sounds like he is sad that Reaganism doesn’t reign supreme any more. As he probably does. This is a guy who’d accept no brakes on the relentless march of neoliberalism.

I listened to some of the linked town hall and realized that Buttigieg is a very smart person. He’s probably the smartest person running. He’s also the scariest one because he isn’t too ancient to notice what’s happening and he didn’t stumble into neoliberalism by mistake. He seems like a very sincere believer.

And why wouldn’t he be? He’s young, privileged, brilliant, the system is working out for him, and he doesn’t remember anything before it. Why shouldn’t he favor the system that favors him so much? Why shouldn’t he be ruthless in imposing it?

It’s not in the least surprising that the next Reagan would come from the left. It’s sad but not shocking.

A Great Link on Literature

A really fun article on how the overuse of the indirect free style kills literature and produces idiot readers.

This part made me smile because it is exactly how I teach it in class:

As soon as movies were invented, writers began focusing on inward thought. Writers had to ask themselves a new question, Why bother? Conrad, a master writer working at the height of his powers with the efforts of constant revisions, can make you see. So can any schmuck with a camera. Why write a book rather than a movie script? What can the written word do that other forms of art can’t?

Writers, then and now, arrived at thought, or access to interior. A novel can get inside a person’s head in a way that a camera can’t. A camera will almost always be better at portraying the world because we experience the world through sight, but we experience ourselves through thought, and thought is inexorably intertwined with language. Film could never portray interior life the way William Faulkner throws you into Quentin Compton’s head.

Read the whole thing. I don’t anticipate reading anything better online today and I read a lot online.