In George Bernard Shaw´s The Doctor’s Dilemma
Arquivo mensal: abril 2012
Novelas brasileiras passam imagem de país branco, critica escritora moçambicana (Agência Brasil)
17/04/2012 – 15h35
Repórter da Agência Brasil
Brasília – “Temos medo do Brasil.” Foi com um desabafo inesperado que a romancista moçambicana Paulina Chiziane chamou a atenção do público do seminário A Literatura Africana Contemporânea, que integra a programação da 1ª Bienal do Livro e da Leitura, em Brasília (DF). Ela se referia aos efeitos da presença, em Moçambique, de igrejas e templos brasileiros e de produtos culturais como as telenovelas que transmitem, na opinião dela, uma falsa imagem do país.
“Para nós, moçambicanos, a imagem do Brasil é a de um país branco ou, no máximo, mestiço. O único negro brasileiro bem-sucedido que reconhecemos como tal é o Pelé. Nas telenovelas, que são as responsáveis por definir a imagem que temos do Brasil, só vemos negros como carregadores ou como empregados domésticos. No topo [da representação social] estão os brancos. Esta é a imagem que o Brasil está vendendo ao mundo”, criticou a autora, destacando que essas representações contribuem para perpetuar as desigualdades raciais e sociais existentes em seu país.
“De tanto ver nas novelas o branco mandando e o negro varrendo e carregando, o moçambicano passa a ver tal situação como aparentemente normal”, sustenta Paulina, apontando para a mesma organização social em seu país.
A presença de igrejas brasileiras em território moçambicano também tem impactos negativos na cultura do país, na avaliação da escritora. “Quando uma ou várias igrejas chegam e nos dizem que nossa maneira de crer não é correta, que a melhor crença é a que elas trazem, isso significa destruir uma identidade cultural. Não há o respeito às crenças locais. Na cultura africana, um curandeiro é não apenas o médico tradicional, mas também o detentor de parte da história e da cultura popular”, detacou Paulina, criticando os governos dos dois países que permitem a intervenção dessas instituições.
Primeira mulher a publicar um livro em Moçambique, Paulina procura fugir de estereótipos em sua obra, principalmente, os que limitam a mulher ao papel de dependente, incapaz de pensar por si só, condicionada a apenas servir.
“Gosto muito dos poetas de meu país, mas nunca encontrei na literatura que os homens escrevem o perfil de uma mulher inteira. É sempre a boca, as pernas, um único aspecto. Nunca a sabedoria infinita que provém das mulheres”, disse Paulina, lembrando que, até a colonização europeia, cabia às mulheres desempenhar a função narrativa e de transmitir o conhecimento.
“Antes do colonialismo, a arte e a literatura eram femininas. Cabia às mulheres contar as histórias e, assim, socializar as crianças. Com o sistema colonial e o emprego do sistema de educação imperial, os homens passam a aprender a escrever e a contar as histórias. Por isso mesmo, ainda hoje, em Moçambique, há poucas mulheres escritoras”, disse Paulina.
“Mesmo independentes [a partir de 1975], passamos a escrever a partir da educação europeia que havíamos recebido, levando os estereótipos e preconceitos que nos foram transmitidos. A sabedoria africana propriamente dita, a que é conhecida pelas mulheres, continua excluída. Isso para não dizer que mais da metade da população moçambicana não fala português e poucos são os autores que escrevem em outras línguas moçambicanas”, disse Paulina.
Durante a bienal, foi relançado o livro Niketche, uma história de poligamia, de autoria da escritora moçambicana.
The U.S. Has Fallen Behind in Numerical Weather Prediction: Part I
It’s a national embarrassment. It has resulted in large unnecessary costs for the U.S. economy and needless endangerment of our citizens. And it shouldn’t be occurring.
What am I talking about? The third rate status of numerical weather prediction in the U.S. It is a huge story, an important story, but one the media has not touched, probably from lack of familiarity with a highly technical subject. And the truth has been buried or unavailable to those not intimately involved in the U.S. weather prediction enterprise. This is an issue I have mentioned briefly in previous blogs, and one many of you have asked to learn more about. It’s time to discuss it.
Weather forecasting today is dependent on numerical weather prediction, the numerical solution of the equations that describe the atmosphere. The technology of weather prediction has improved dramatically during the past decades as faster computers, better models, and much more data (mainly satellites) have become available.
- Supercomputers are used for numerical weather prediciton.
U.S. numerical weather prediction has fallen to third or fourth place worldwide, with the clear leader in global numerical weather prediction (NWP) being the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF). And we have also fallen behind in ensembles (using many models to give probabilistic prediction) and high-resolution operational forecasting. We used to be the world leader decades ago in numerical weather prediction: NWP began and was perfected here in the U.S. Ironically, we have the largest weather research community in the world and the largest collection of universities doing cutting-edge NWP research (like the University of Washington!). Something is very, very wrong and I will talk about some of the issues here. And our nation needs to fix it.
But to understand the problem, you have to understand the competition and the players. And let me apologize upfront for the acronyms.
In the U.S., numerical weather prediction mainly takes place at the National Weather Service’s Environmental Modeling Center (EMC), a part of NCEP (National Centers for Environmental Prediction). They run a global model (GFS) and regional models (e.g., NAM).
The Europeans banded together decades ago to form the European Center for Medium-Range Forecasting (ECMWF), which runs a very good global model. Several European countries run regional models as well.
The United Kingdom Met Office (UKMET) runs an excellent global model and regional models. So does the Canadian Meteorological Center (CMC).
There are other major global NWP centers such as the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA), the U.S. Navy (FNMOC), the Australian center, one in Beijing, among others. All of these centers collect worldwide data and do global NWP.
The problem is that both objective and subjective comparisons indicate that the U.S. global model is number 3 or number 4 in quality, resulting in our forecasts being noticeably inferior to the competition. Let me show you a rather technical graph (produced by the NWS) that illustrates this. This figure shows the quality of the 500hPa forecast (about halfway up in the troposphere–approximately 18,000 ft) for the day 5 forecast. The top graph is a measure of forecast skill (closer to 1 is better) from 1996 to 2012 for several models (U.S.–black, GFS; ECMWF-red, Canadian: CMC-blue, UKMET: green, Navy: FNG, orange). The bottom graph shows the difference between the U.S. and other nation’s model skill.
You first notice that forecasts are all getting better. That’s good. But you will notice that the most skillful forecast (closest to one) is clearly the red one…the European Center. The second best is the UKMET office. The U.S. (GFS model) is third…roughly tied with the Canadians.
Here is a global model comparison done by the Canadian Meteorological Center, for various global models from 2009-2012 for the 120 h forecast. This is a plot of error (RMSE, root mean square error) again for 500 hPa, and only for North America. Guess who is best again (lowest error)?–the European Center (green circle). UKMET is next best, and the U.S. (NCEP, blue triangle) is back in the pack.
Lets looks at short-term errors. Here is a plot from a paper by Garrett Wedam, Lynn McMurdie and myself comparing various models at 24, 48, and 72 hr for sea level pressure along the West Coast. Bigger bar means more error. Guess who has the lowest errors by far? You guessed it, ECMWF.
I could show you a hundred of these plots, but the answers are very consistent. ECMWF is the worldwide gold standard in global prediction, with the British (UKMET) second. We are third or fourth (with the Canadians). One way to describe this, is that the ECWMF model is not only better at the short range, but has about one day of additional predictability: their 8 day forecast is about as skillful as our 7 day forecast. Another way to look at it is that with the current upward trend in skill they are 5-7 years ahead of the U.S.
Most forecasters understand the frequent superiority of the ECMWF model. If you read the NWS forecast discussion, which is available online, you will frequently read how they often depend not on the U.S. model, but the ECMWF. And during the January western WA snowstorm, it was the ECMWF model that first indicated the correct solution. Recently, I talked to the CEO of a weather/climate related firm that was moving up to Seattle. I asked them what model they were using: the U.S. GFS? He laughed, of course not…they were using the ECMWF.
A lot of U.S. firms are using the ECMWF and this is very costly, because the Europeans charge a lot to gain access to their gridded forecasts (hundreds of thousands of dollars per year). Can you imagine how many millions of dollars are being spent by U.S. companies to secure ECMWF predictions? But the cost of the inferior NWS forecasts are far greater than that, because many users cannot afford the ECMWF grids and the NWS uses their global predictions to drive the higher-resolution regional models–which are NOT duplicated by the Europeans. All of U.S. NWP is dragged down by these second-rate forecasts and the costs for the nation has to be huge, since so much of our economy is weather sensitive. Inferior NWP must be costing billions of dollars, perhaps many billions.
The question all of you must be wondering is why this bad situation exists. How did the most technologically advanced country in the world, with the largest atmospheric sciences community, end up with third-rate global weather forecasts? I believe I can tell you…in fact, I have been working on this issue for several decades (with little to show for it). Some reasons:
1. The U.S. has inadequate computer power available for numerical weather prediction. The ECMWF is running models with substantially higher resolution than ours because they have more resources available for NWP. This is simply ridiculous–the U.S. can afford the processors and disk space it would take. We are talking about millions or tens of millions of dollars at most to have the hardware we need. A part of the problem has been NWS procurement, that is not forward-leaning, using heavy metal IBM machines at very high costs.
2. The U.S. has used inferior data assimilation. A key aspect of NWP is to assimilate the observations to create a good description of the atmosphere. The European Center, the UKMET Office, and the Canadians using 4DVAR, an advanced approach that requires lots of computer power. We used an older, inferior approach (3DVAR). The Europeans have been using 4DVAR for 20 years! Right now, the U.S. is working on another advanced approach (ensemble-based data assimilation), but it is not operational yet.
3. The NWS numerical weather prediction effort has been isolated and has not taken advantage of the research community. NCEP’s Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) is well known for its isolation and “not invented here” attitude. While the European Center has lots of visitors and workshops, such things are a rarity at EMC. Interactions with the university community have been limited and EMC has been reluctant to use the models and approaches developed by the U.S. research community. (True story: some of the advances in probabilistic weather prediction at the UW has been adopted by the Canadians, while the NWS had little interest). The National Weather Service has invested very little in extramural research and when their budget is under pressure, university research is the first thing they reduce. And the U.S. NWP center has been housed in a decaying building outside of D.C.,one too small for their needs as well. (Good news… a new building should be available soon).
4. The NWS approach to weather related research has been ineffective and divided. The governmnent weather research is NOT in the NWS, but rather in NOAA. Thus, the head of the NWS and his leadership team do not have authority over folks doing research in support of his mission. This has been an extraordinarily ineffective and wasteful system, with the NOAA research teams doing work that often has a marginal benefit for the NWS.
5. Lack of leadership. This is the key issue. The folks in NCEP, NWS, and NOAA leadership have been willing to accept third-class status, providing lots of excuses, but not making the fundamental changes in organization and priority that could deal with the problem. Lack of resources for NWP is another issue…but that is a decision made by NOAA/NWS/Dept of Commerce leadership.
This note is getting long, so I will wait to talk about the other problems in the NWS weather modeling efforts, such as our very poor ensemble (probabilistic) prediction systems. One could write a paper on this…and I may.
I should stress that I am not alone in saying these things. A blue-ribbon panel did a review of NCEP in 2009 and came to similar conclusions (found here). And these issues are frequently noted at conferences, workshops, and meetings.
Let me note that the above is about the modeling aspects of the NWS, NOT the many people in the local forecast offices. This part of the NWS is first-rate. They suffer from inferior U.S. guidance and fortunately have access to the ECMWF global forecasts. And there are some very good people at NCEP that have lacked the resources required and suitable organization necessary to push forward effectively.
This problem at the National Weather Service is not a weather prediction problem alone, but an example of a deeper national malaise. It is related to other U.S. issues, like our inferior K-12 education system. Our nation, gaining world leadership in almost all areas, became smug, self-satisfied, and a bit lazy. We lost the impetus to be the best. We were satisfied to coast. And this attitude must end…in weather prediction, education, and everything else… or we will see our nation sink into mediocrity.
The U.S. can reclaim leadership in weather prediction, but I am not hopeful that things will change quickly without pressure from outside of the NWS. The various weather user communities and our congressional representatives must deliver a strong message to the NWS that enough is enough, that the time for accepting mediocrity is over. And the Weather Service requires the resources to be first rate, something it does not have at this point.
* * *
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Lack of Computer Power Undermines U.S. Numerical Weather Prediction (Revised)
In this blog, I will describe in some detail one major roadblock in giving the U.S. state-of-the-art weather prediction: inadequate computer resources. This situation should clearly have been addressed years ago by leadership in the National Weather Service, NOAA, and the Dept of Commerce, but has not, and I am convinced will not without outside pressure. It is time for the user community and our congressional representatives to intervene. To quote Samuel L. Jackson, enough is enough. (…)
|Courtesy of Bill Lapenta, EMC.|
If you would expect the U.S. has a lot more computer power to balance all these responsibilities and tasks, you would be very wrong. Right now the U.S. NWS has two IBM supercomputers, each with 4992 processors (IBM Power6 processors). One computer does the operational work, the other is for back up (research and testing runs are done on the back-up). About 70 teraflops (trillion floating points operations per second) for each machine.
|NCEP (U.S.) Computer|
The UKMET office, serving a far, far smaller country, has two newer IBM machines, each with 7680 processors for 175 teraflops per machine.
Here is a figure, produced at NCEP that compares the relative computer power of NCEP’s machine with the European Centre’s. The shading indicates computational activity and the x-axis for each represents a 24-h period. The relative heights allows you to compare computer resources. Not only does the ECMWF have much more computer power, but they are more efficient in using it…packing useful computations into every available minute.
|Courtesy of Bill Lapenta, EMC|
The Canadians? They have TWO machines like the European Centre’s!
So what kind of system does NCEP require to serve the nation in a reasonable way?
To start, we need to double the resolution of our global model to bring it into line with ECMWF (they are now 15 km global). Such resolution allows the global model to model regional features (such as our mountains). Doubling horizontal resolution requires 8 times more computer power. We need to use better physics (description of things like cloud processes and radiation). Double again. And we need better data assimilation (better use of observations to provide an improved starting point for the model). Double once more. So we need 32 times more computer power for the high-resolution global runs to allow us to catch up with ECMWF. Furthermore, we must do the same thing for the ensembles (running many lower resolution global simulations to get probabilistic information). 32 times more computer resources for that (we can use some of the gaps in the schedule of the high resolution runs to fit some of this in…that is what ECMWF does). There are some potential ways NCEP can work more efficiently as well. Right now NCEP runs our global model out to 384 hours four times a day (every six hours). To many of us this seems excessive, perhaps the longest periods (180hr plus) could be done twice a day. So lets begin with a computer 32 times faster that the current one.
Many workshops and meteorological meetings (such as one on improvements in model physics that was held at NCEP last summer—I was the chair) have made a very strong case that the U.S. requires an ensemble prediction system that runs at 4-km horizontal resolution. The current national ensemble system has a horizontal resolution about 32 km…and NWS plans to get to about 20 km in a few years…both are inadequate. Here is an example of the ensemble output (mean of the ensemble members) for the NWS and UW (4km) ensemble systems: the difference is huge–the NWS system does not even get close to modeling the impacts of the mountains. It is similarly unable to simulate large convective systems.
|Current NWS( NCEP) “high resolution” ensembles (32 km)|
|4 km ensemble mean from UW system|
A real champion within NOAA of the need for more computer power is Tom Hamill, an expert on data assimilation and model post-processing. He and colleagues have put together a compelling case for more NWS computer resources for NWP. Read it here.
Back-of-the-envelope calculations indicates that a good first step– 4km national ensembles–would require about 20,000 processors to do so in a timely manner–but it would revolutionize weather prediction in the U.S., including forecasting convection and in mountainous areas. This high-resolution ensemble effort would meld with data assimilation over the long-term.
And then there is running super-high resolution numerical weather prediction to get fine-scale details right. Here in the NW my group runs a 1.3 km horizontal resolution forecast out twice a day for 48h. Such capability is needed for the entire country. It does not exist now due to inadequate computer resources.
The bottom line is that the NWS numerical modeling effort needs a huge increase of computer power to serve the needs of the country–and the potential impacts would be transformative. We could go from having a third-place effort, which is slipping back into the pack, to a world leader. Furthermore, the added computer power will finally allow NOAA to complete Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs) and Observing System Experiments (OSEs) to make rational decisions about acquisitions of very expensive satellite systems. The fact that this is barely done today is really amazing and a potential waste of hundreds of millions of dollars on unnecessary satellite systems.
But do to so will require a major jump in computational power, a jump our nation can easily afford. I would suggest that NWS’s EMC should begin by securing at least a 100,000 processor machine, and down the road something considerably larger. Keep in mind my department has about 1000 processors in our computational clusters, so this is not as large as you think.
|For a country with several billion-dollar weather disasters a year, investment in reasonable computer resrouces for NWP is obvious.|
Yes, a lot of money, but I suspect the cost of the machine would be paid back in a few months from improved forecasts. Last year we had quite a few (over ten) billion-dollar storms….imagine the benefits of forecasting even a few of them better. Or the benefits to the wind energy and utility industries, or U.S. aviation, of even modestly improved forecasts. And there is no doubt such computer resources would improve weather prediction. The list of benefits is nearly endless. Recent estimates suggest that normal weather events cost the U.S. economy nearly 1/2 trillion dollars a year. Add to that hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and other extreme weather. The business case is there.
As someone with an insider’s view of the process, it is clear to me that the current players are not going to move effectively without some external pressure. In fact, the budgetary pressure on the NWS is very intense right now and they are cutting away muscle and bone at this point (like reducing IT staff in the forecast offices by over 120 people and cutting back on extramural research). I believe it is time for weather sensitive industries and local government, together with t he general public, to let NOAA management and our congressional representatives know that this acute problem needs to be addressed and addressed soon. We are acquiring huge computer resources for climate simulations, but only a small fraction of that for weather prediction…which can clearly save lives and help the economy. Enough is enough.
There’s No Tomorrow
Jean-Luc Godard on Digital Media
guardian.co.uk, Monday 10 October 2011
Jean-Luc Godard, Director: “The so-called “digital” is not a mere technical medium, but a medium of thought. And when modern democracies turn technical thought into a separate domain, those modern democracies incline towards totalitarianism.”
Best Practices Are the Worst (Education Next)
SUMMER 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 3 – http://educationnext.org/
As reviewed by Jay P. Greene
“Best practices” is the worst practice. The idea that we should examine successful organizations and then imitate what they do if we also want to be successful is something that first took hold in the business world but has now unfortunately spread to the field of education. If imitation were the path to excellence, art museums would be filled with paint-by-number works.
The fundamental flaw of a “best practices” approach, as any student in a half-decent research-design course would know, is that it suffers from what is called “selection on the dependent variable.” If you only look at successful organizations, then you have no variation in the dependent variable: they all have good outcomes. When you look at the things that successful organizations are doing, you have no idea whether each one of those things caused the good outcomes, had no effect on success, or was actually an impediment that held organizations back from being even more successful. An appropriate research design would have variation in the dependent variable; some have good outcomes and some have bad ones. To identify factors that contribute to good outcomes, you would, at a minimum, want to see those factors more likely to be present where there was success and less so where there was not.
“Best practices” lacks scientific credibility, but it has been a proven path to fame and fortune for pop-management gurus like Tom Peters, with In Search of Excellence, and Jim Collins, with Good to Great. The fact that many of the “best” companies they featured subsequently went belly-up—like Atari and Wang Computers, lauded by Peters, and Circuit City and Fannie Mae, by Collins—has done nothing to impede their high-fee lecture tours. Sometimes people just want to hear a confident person with shiny teeth tell them appealing stories about the secrets to success.
With Surpassing Shanghai, Marc Tucker hopes to join the ranks of the “best practices” gurus. He, along with a few of his colleagues at the National Center on Education and the Economy, has examined the education systems in some other countries with successful outcomes so that the U.S. can become similarly successful. Tucker coauthors the chapter on Japan, as well as an introductory and two concluding chapters. Tucker’s collaborators write chapters featuring Shanghai, Finland, Singapore, and Canada. Their approach to greatness in American education, as Linda Darling-Hammond phrases it in the foreword, is to ensure that “our strategies must emulate the best of what has been accomplished in public education both from here and abroad.”
But how do we know what those best practices are? The chapters on high-achieving countries describe some of what those countries are doing, but the characteristics they feature may have nothing to do with success or may even be a hindrance to greater success. Since the authors must pick and choose what characteristics they highlight, it is also quite possible that countries have successful education systems because of factors not mentioned at all. Since there is no scientific method to identifying the critical features of success in the best-practices approach, we simply have to trust the authority of the authors that they have correctly identified the relevant factors and have properly perceived the causal relationships.
But Surpassing Shanghai is even worse than the typical best-practices work, because Tucker’s concluding chapters, in which he summarizes the common best practices and draws policy recommendations, have almost no connection to the preceding chapters on each country. That is, the case studies of Shanghai, Finland, Japan, Singapore, and Canada attempt to identify the secrets to success in each country, a dubious-enough enterprise, and then Tucker promptly ignores all of the other chapters when making his general recommendations.
Tucker does claim to be drawing on the insights of his coauthors, but he never actually references the other chapters in detail. He never names his coauthors or specifically draws on them for his conclusions. In fact, much of what Tucker claims as common lessons of what his coauthors have observed from successful countries is contradicted in chapters that appear earlier in the book. And some of the common lessons they do identify, Tucker chooses to ignore.
For example, every country case study in Surpassing Shanghai, with the exception of the one on Japan coauthored by Marc Tucker, emphasizes the importance of decentralization in producing success. In Shanghai the local school system “received permission to create its own higher education entrance examination. This heralded a trend of exam decentralization, which was key to localized curricula.” The chapter on Finland describes the importance of the decision “to devolve increasing levels of authority and responsibility for education from the Ministry of Education to municipalities and schools…. [T]here were no central initiatives that the government was trying to push through the system.” Singapore is similarly described: “Moving away from the centralized top-down system of control, schools were organized into geographic clusters and given more autonomy…. It was felt that no single accountability model could fit all schools. Each school therefore set its own goals and annually assesses its progress toward meeting them…” And the chapter on Canada teaches us that “the most striking feature of the Canadian system is its decentralization.”
Tucker makes no mention of this common decentralization theme in his conclusions and recommendations. Instead, he claims the opposite as the common lesson of successful countries: “students must all meet a common basic education standard aligned to a national or provincial curriculum… Further, in these countries, the materials prepared by textbook publishers and the publishers of supplementary materials are aligned with the national curriculum framework.” And “every high-performing country…has a unit of government that is clearly in charge of elementary and secondary education…In such countries, the ministry has an obligation to concern itself with the design of the system as a whole…”
Conversely, Tucker emphasizes that “the dominant elements of the American education reform agenda” are noticeably absent from high-performing countries, including “the use of market mechanisms, such as charter schools and vouchers….” But if Tucker had read the chapter on Shanghai, he would have found a description of a system by which “students choose schools in other neighborhoods by paying a sponsorship fee. It is the Chinese version of school choice, a hot issue in the United States.” And although the chapter on Canada fails to make any mention of it, Canada has an extensive system of school choice, offering options that vary by language and religious denomination. According to recently published research by David Card, Martin Dooley, and Abigail Payne, competition among these options is a significant contributor to academic achievement in Canada.
There is a reason that promoters of best-practices approaches are called “gurus.” Their expertise must be derived from a mystical sphere, because it cannot be based on a scientific appraisal of the evidence. Marc Tucker makes no apology for his nonscientific approach. In fact, he denounces “the clinical research model used in medical research” when assessing education policies. The problem, he explains, is that no country would consent to “randomly assigning entire national populations to the education systems of another country or to certain features of the education system of another country.” On the contrary, countries, states, and localities can and do randomly assign “certain features of the education system,” and we have learned quite a lot from that scientific process. In the international arena, Tucker may want to familiarize himself with the excellent work being done by Michael Kremer and Karthik Muralidharan utilizing random assignment around the globe.
In addition, social scientists have developed practices to observe and control for differences in the absence of random assignment that have allowed extensive and productive analyses of the effectiveness of educational practices in different countries. In particular, the recent work of Ludger Woessmann, Martin West, and Eric Hanushek has utilized the PISA and TIMSS international test results that Tucker finds so valuable, but they have done so with the scientific methods that Tucker rejects. Even well-constructed case study research, like that done by Charles Glenn, can draw useful lessons across countries. The problem with the best-practices approach is not entirely that it depends on case studies, but that by avoiding variation in the dependent variable it prevents any scientific identification of causation.
Tucker’s hostility to scientific approaches is more understandable, given that his graduate training was in theater rather than a social science. Perhaps that is also why Tucker’s book reminds me so much of The Music Man. Tucker is like “Professor” Harold Hill come to town to sell us a bill of goods. His expertise is self-appointed, and his method, the equivalent of “the think system,” is obvious quackery. And the Gates Foundation, which has for some reason backed Tucker and his organization with millions of dollars, must be playing the residents of River City, because they have bought this pitch and are pouring their savings into a band that can never play music except in a fantasy finale.
Best practices really are the worst.
Jay P. Greene is professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas and a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute.
Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading Systems
Edited by Marc Tucker
Harvard Education Press, 2011, $49.99; 288 pages.
Pela primeira vez no Brasil, antropólogo Roy Wagner dialoga com indígenas da Amazônia (A Crítica)
Autor de “A Invenção da Cultura”, Roy Wagner conheceu, pela primeira vez, indígenas da América do Sul e participou de ritual
Antropólogo Norte Americano dialoga com índios do Amazônia – FOTO: ALEXANDRE FONSECA/ACRITICA
Antropólogo norte-americano dialoga com índios da Amazônia. FOTO: ALEXANDRE FONSECA/ACRITICA
Antropólogo norte-americano dialoga com índios da Amazônia. FOTO: ALEXANDRE FONSECA/ACRITICA
Antropólogo norte-americano dialoga com índios da Amazônia. FOTO: ALEXANDRE FONSECA/ACRITICA
Antropólogo norte-americano dialoga com índios da Amazônia. FOTO: ALEXANDRE FONSECA/ACRITICA
“Todo entendimento de uma outra cultura é uma experiência com a sua própria”, diz o norte-americano Roy Wagner, um dos principais nomes da antropologia contemporânea mundial, no livro “A Invenção da Cultura”.
Foi exatamente essa equivalência entre culturas que Roy Wagner vivenciou em sua primeira visita à Amazônia, na semana passada.
Em Manaus, Wagner realizou aula magna de abertura de ano letivo, participou de uma mesa redonda com graduandos e pós-graduandos indígenas da Universidade Federal do Amazonas (Ufam), visitou duas malocas de grupos indígenas que vivem na zona rural da capital amazonense e testemunhou o que ele chamou de “multiperspectivos”.
Autor da teoria sobre “a invenção e a noção da cultura”, que resultou no conceito de “antropologia reversa”, Wagner notabilizou-se pelos estudos que desenvolveu desde os anos 60 na Melanésia e na Nova Guiné (Oceania). Mas, somente agora, aos 73 anos, é que teve oportunidade de conhecer os povos nativos da América do Sul.
No sábado (06), último dia em Manaus, Roy Wagner conheceu e participou de um ritual dos índios tukano, tuyuka e dessana, em uma maloca localizada a quatro horas de Manaus em viagem de barco de recreio.
Na maloca, o indígena tuyuka Higino Tuyuka, que veio de São Gabriel da Cachoeira (a 851 quilômetros de Manaus), cidade onde 90% da população é indígena, apenas para participar das atividades e dialogar nos eventos com Roy Wagner, fez uma demonstração de um ritual de iniciação e apresentou ao antropólogo uma bebida típica chamada kahpí, de efeito alucinógeno e que é destinada apenas aos homens.
“São muitas perspectivas se encontrando. Não considero um encontro de uma cultura nativa com um antropólogo, mas entre culturas compartilhando os mesmos espaços”, disse Wagner ao portal acrítica.com, ao final da experiência com os indígenas.
Esta foi a primeira vez que Wagner teve contato com os povos nativos da América do Sul, desde que começou seu trabalho como etnográfico e antropólogo.
Nas atividades desenvolvidas em Manaus, ele participou “uma conversa intercambiada sobre as cosmologias” e identificou semelhanças entre os ameríndios e os povos que estudou na Oceania.
A principal delas refere-se à relação entre o humano e os animais. “Na Austrália, os aborígenes têm uma relação, em sua cosmologia, com os corvos. Os animais são incorporados no mundo dos humanos. Aqui, vemos que os indígenas tem uma associação com os peixes. São os peixe-gente”, disse.
No seu diálogo com os indígenas brasileiros, Wagner, contudo, conta que encontrou uma característica específica: a preferência pelas “origens”. “Os povos daqui falam muito sobre o início, sobre a origem, a estrela Dalva, em contraste, por exemplo, com os povos aborígenes, que falam mais do poente, para a morte”, descreveu.
Roy Wagner veio a Manaus numa articulação do Instituto Brasil Plural, que vincula a Universidade Federal do Amazonas e a Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina.
Sua vinda ao Amazonas não estava prevista inicialmente. Convidado pelos professores do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Antropologia Social (PPGAS) da Ufam, ele aceitou o convite para dialogar com os intelectuais indígenas – professores e estudantes.
A agenda do antropológo inclui palestras em Florianópolis (SC), Brasília (DF), Rio de Janeiro (RJ) e São Paulo (SP).
“Os intelectuais indígenas são aqueles que detêm as suas formas específicas do conhecimento. Alguns não são necessariamente pessoas que passaram pela universidade, mas que detém um profundo conhecimento”, descreveu o professor Carlos Dias, do PPGAS.
Carlos Dias disse que Roy Wagner ficou muito impressionado com a experiência vivenciada no Amazonas, sobretudo pela interlocução com os indígenas com os quais teve oportunidade de conversar.
Dias contou que, no domingo (08), o orientando de Wagner entrou em contato com os professores da Ufam e contou que “o grande momento no Brasil do antropólogo foi sua vinda à Amazônia”.
Conforme Carlos, em seu contato com os indígenas, Wagner encontrou uma grande quantidade de paralelos em termos cosmológicos entre os ameríndios e os povos que estudou, no passado.
“O Roy Wagner cria uma nova teoria de noção da cultura quando leva a sério essas novas formas de pensar. Capturar o outro através de seu conhecimento.
João Paulo Barreto, indígena tukano e mestrando em antropologia da Ufam, comentou que Wagner ficou surpreso com a apresentação de perspectivas na visão indígena. Isto ocorreu quando o líder Higino Tuyuka, durante o ritual, relacionou o cocar utilizado por João Paulo com as estruturas da maloca.
Estévão Barreto, também tukano e mestre em Sociedade e Cultura da Amazônia, destacou que a presença de Roy Wagner indicou a necessidade de promover o diálogo “ciência indígena e o saber científico”.
Roy Wagner tem formação em literatura inglesa, história, astronomia e antropologia.
Seus trabalhos mais conhecidos foram realizados entre os Dabiri, na Nova Guiné, e entre os aborígenes, na Austrália. Sua obra mais conhecida, “A Invenção da Cultura”, foi lançada em 1975 e teve uma revisão em 1981. No Brasil, o livro foi traduzido apenas em 2010.
No Brasil, seu principal interlocutor é o antropólogo Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, autor do conceito de Perspectivismo.
No livro “A Invenção da Cultura”, Wagner diz que “o antropólogo usa sua própria cultura para investigar outras, e para estudar a cultura em geral”. Ou seja, “a idéia de cultura coloca o pesquisador em pé de igualdade com seus objetos de estudo: cada qual ‘pertence a uma cultura’.”.
Para Roy Wagner, “um antropólogo ‘experencia´, de um modo ou de outro, seu objeto de estudo; ele o faz através do universo de seus próprios significados, e então se vale dessa experiência carregada de significados para comunicar uma compreensão aos membros de própria cultura”.
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Antropólogo autor de “A Invenção da Cultura” ministra aula magna na Ufam nesta quinta
Roy Wagner é um dos maiores importantes antropólogos da atualidade. o norte-americano vem pela primeira vez ao Brasil
Um dos mais renomados antropólogos da atualidade, o norte-americano Roy Wagner, ministra aula magna de abertura do semestre do curso de mestrado em Antropologia da Universidade Federal do Amazonas (Ufam), nesta quinta-feira (04), às 9h, no auditório Rio Solimões do Instituto de Ciências Humanas e Letras (ICHL/Ufam).
O professor do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Antropologia Social (PPGAS), Gilton Mendes, disse que Roy Wagner interessou-se pelo convite de vir a Manaus estimulado pela ideia de conversar com “conhecedores sobre a antropologia indígena amazônica”.
Autor de “A Invenção da Cultura”, Roy Wagner estudou astronomia, literatura inglesa e história na Universidade de Harvard, e fez sua pós-graduação em antropologia na Universidade de Chicago.
O livro “A Invenção da Cultura” foi lançado em 1975, mas só teve edição no Brasil no ano passado. Era uma das obras mais esperadas pelo meio antropólogo nos últimos anos no país.
No dia 5 de agosto, Roy Wagner participará de uma mesa-redonda intitulada ‘Conversações Melanésias e Amazônia’, com os pesquisadores indígenas. Promovida pelo Programa de Pós-Graduação em Antropologia Social em conjunto com o Núcleo de Estudos da Amazônia Indígena (Neai).
O evento acontecerá às 15h, na Rua Coronel Sérgio Pessoa, 147, na Praça dos Remédios, Centro de Manaus. A mesa-redonda contará com a participação especial de Justin Shaffner, da Universidade de Cambridge (EUA).
Roy Wagner iniciou seu trabalho de campo entre os Daribi no monte Karimui, na Nova Guiné, sobre quem escreveu e publicou sua monografia dedicada aos princípios daribi de definição de clã e aliança.
A partir da etnografia daribi, Wagner desenvolveu uma teoria geral sobre a invenção de significado e sobre a noção de cultura, publicada em “A invenção da cultura”, que ganhou nova edição revista e ampliada em 1981.
A obra radicaliza uma reflexão sobre o polêmico conceito de cultura em antropologia: a partir da consideração dos modos de conceitualização nativos, ela reformula a própria disciplina antropológica.
Para Wagner, não se trata de entender o que outros povos produzem como “cultura” a partir de um dado universal (a “natureza”), mas antes, o que é concebido como dado por outras populações. Com isto, a própria noção de “natureza” como dado universal e de “cultura” ficam sob suspeição.
Sua vinda ao Brasil faz parte das iniciativas programadas do Instituto Brasil Plural, uma rede de pesquisadores articulada pelos Programas de Pós-Graduação da Universidade de Santa Catarina (UFSC) e da Universidade Federal do Amazonas (Ufam), financiada pelo CNPq, a Fapesc e a Fapeam.
Bruno Latour: From Critique to Composition
Dublin City University, February 17, 2012
Lead Dust Is Linked to Violence, Study Suggests (Science Daily)
ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2012) — Childhood exposure to lead dust has been linked to lasting physical and behavioral effects, and now lead dust from vehicles using leaded gasoline has been linked to instances of aggravated assault two decades after exposure, says Tulane toxicologist Howard W. Mielke.
Vehicles using leaded gasoline that contaminated cities’ air decades ago have increased aggravated assault in urban areas, researchers say.
The new findings are published in the journal Environment International by Mielke, a research professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the Tulane University School of Medicine, and demographer Sammy Zahran at the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis at Colorado State University.
The researchers compared the amount of lead released in six cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New Orleans and San Diego, during the years 1950-1985. This period saw an increase in airborne lead dust exposure due to the use of leaded gasoline. There were correlating spikes in the rates of aggravated assault approximately two decades later, after the exposed children grew up.
After controlling for other possible causes such as community and household income, education, policing effort and incarceration rates, Mielke and Zahran found that for every one percent increase in tonnages of environmental lead released 22 years earlier, the present rate of aggravated assault was raised by 0.46 percent.
“Children are extremely sensitive to lead dust, and lead exposure has latent neuroanatomical effects that severely impact future societal behavior and welfare,” says Mielke. “Up to 90 per cent of the variation in aggravated assault across the cities is explained by the amount of lead dust released 22 years earlier.” Tons of lead dust were released between 1950 and 1985 in urban areas by vehicles using leaded gasoline, and improper handling of lead-based paint also has contributed to contamination.
Violence in Men Caused by Unequal Wealth and Competition, Study Suggests (Science Daily)
ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2012) — Violence in men can be explained by traditional theories of sexual selection. In a review of the literature, Professor John Archer from the University of Central Lancashire, a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, points to a range of evidence that suggests that high rates of physical aggression and assaults in men are rooted in inter-male competition.
These findings are presented April 18 at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference held at the Grand Connaught Rooms, London (18-20 April).
Professor Archer describes evidence showing that differences between men and women in the use of physical aggression peak when men and women are in their twenties. In their twenties, men are more likely to report themselves as high in physical aggression, and to be arrested for engaging in assaults and the use of weapons, than at any other age. They also engage in these activities at a phenomenally higher rate than women.
Professor Archer highlights that sex differences in aggression are not observed in relation to indirect forms of aggression but become larger with the severity of violence. Indeed, at the extreme end of violence, there are a minimal number of female-female homicides in the face of a high male-male homicide rate. Interestingly, men are also much more likely to engage in risky behaviour in the presence of other men.
Professor Archer says that a range of male features that develop during adolescence arising from hormonal changes in testosterone accentuate aggressive behaviour. Examples include the growth of facial hair, voice pitch and facial changes such as brow ridge and chin size. He implicates height, weight and strength differences between men and women as further evidence of male adaptation to engage in fighting.
How does the environment influence aggression and violence? Professor Archer suggests there are two key principles — unequal wealth and a high ratio of sexually active men to women — that may increase physical aggression and violence in young men.
Professor Archer says: “The research evidence highlights that societal issues such as inequality of wealth and competition between males may contribute to the violence we see in today’s society.”
Relação entre cientistas e jornalistas é debatida em seminário (FAPESP)
Por Karina Toledo
Agência FAPESP – Com as ações de divulgação científica ganhando cada vez mais peso no meio acadêmico, a relação entre jornalistas e pesquisadores parece mudar para melhor. Mas é preciso ter em mente que cientistas eminentes não são autoridades em todos os assuntos.
O alerta foi feito pelo biólogo Thomas Lewinsohn, professor da Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp), durante sua participação no seminário Ciência na Mídia, realizado pela FAPESP no dia 16 de abril.
“Antigamente os pesquisadores davam muito peso para publicação em revistas científicas, o que lhes garantia prestígio acadêmico e financiamento, e quase nenhuma atenção à divulgação científica, que servia apenas para aumentar a popularidade. Hoje estamos perto de um equilíbrio entre os dois ramos”, afirmou.
Percebeu-se que além de popularidade, a exposição na mídia afetava também a influência e o poder de decisão no meio acadêmico, aumentando as chances de ter um projeto financiado e, consequentemente, elevando o prestígio acadêmico.
Um exemplo claro do novo paradigma, segundo Lewinsohn, é a mudança no sistema de avaliação dos cursos de pós-graduação pela Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (Capes). “Hoje se dá um peso maior à visibilidade do trabalho dos cientistas que compõem os quadros”, avaliou.
Outro sinal é a transformação pela qual as mais importantes revistas científicas, entre elas Sciencee Nature, passaram nos últimos anos, ganhando novas seções com conteúdo noticioso e linguagem mais acessível.
“Está se tornando impossível para o cientista ignorar a mídia. Muitos hoje cortejam os jornalistas e isso dá margem a distorções. Existe uma ideia de que o cientista terá sempre uma opinião racional e bem embasada sobre tudo e isso não é verdade”, afirmou o biólogo.
Por esse motivo, recomendou, os jornalistas devem resistir ao impulso de, na correria das redações, recorrer sempre àquela fonte que tem respostas para todos os temas. “Alguns têm uma agenda pessoal, que nem sempre tem a ver com a ciência.”
Durante sua apresentação, o médico Paulo Saldiva, da Faculdade de Medicina da USP, reclamou do fato de que a maioria dos jornalistas que o procura querer falar de temas que não têm relação com sua área de estudo: os efeitos da poluição atmosférica sobre a saúde.
Outro problema abordado por ele foi o pouco tempo dispensado aos temas e o risco da superficialidade. “Você fala durante meia hora e aparece apenas dez segundos. Esse é o maior pavor dos cientistas”, acrescentou Saldiva.
Para o biólogo Fernando Reinach, que se tornou conhecido após participar do Projeto Genoma , financiado pela FAPESP, e hoje mantém uma coluna de divulgação científica no jornal O Estado de S. Paulo, o grande problema do jornalismo científico é “contar o milagre e não contar o santo”.
“Dá-se muita ênfase à descoberta e não se explora bem os métodos usados. Isso dificulta avaliar se o que está sendo dito é verdade”, opinou.
Reinach contou que após deixar a vida acadêmica manteve o hábito de ler artigos científicos e idealizou a coluna no jornal por considerar que havia muitos temas interessantes escondidos atrás de títulos obscuros. “Tenho o cientista como personagem. Tento dar uma dimensão humana à pesquisa”, revelou.
Já o editor de Ciência do jornal Folha de S. Paulo, Reinaldo José Lopes, falou sobre o encolhimento do espaço nos jornais para as notícias em geral e para ciência em particular. “Como empacotar a notícia, a metodologia e o lado humano em meia página? A gente sente uma impaciência do leitor que é assustadora e isso acaba conduzindo à superficialidade”, disse.
O encontro ainda teve a participação de Roberto Wertman, editor do programa Espaço Aberto Ciência & Tecnologia da Globonews, que comentou as limitações da cobertura científica na TV, extremamente dependente da existência de imagens. E de Sonia López, ex-editora do AlphaGalileu, um dos maiores portais de notícias acadêmicas.
A abertura ficou por conta de Clive Cookson, editor de Ciência do jornal Financial Times, que listou os três principais problemas que, em sua opinião, afetam a qualidade do jornalismo científico.
Em primeiro lugar, Cookson mencionou a tendência de abordar os resultados de pesquisas de forma exagerada e sensacionalista. “O repórter precisa convencer seu editor de que vale a pena publicar aqueles dados e a verdade científica às vezes acaba em segunda plano. E quando o subeditor escreve a manchete a notícia fica ainda mais exagerada”, comentou.
Outro problema é a tendência de abordar os dados de forma negativista, o que pode causar distorções. “A ideia é que notícia ruim vende mais”, disse.
Por último Cookson mencionou a divulgação de notícias não objetivas, permeadas de interesses políticos. “Cientistas devem se ater à ciência. Mas mesmo em situações controversas devem aproveitar para passar sua mensagem. Se deixarem um vazio, fontes com motivações políticas podem se aproveitar.”
UK aid helps to fund forced sterilisation of India’s poor [climate change](The Guardian)
Money from the Department for International Development has helped pay for a controversial programme that has led to miscarriages and even deaths after botched operations
The Observer, Sunday 15 April 2012
Sterilisation remains the most common method of family planning in India’s bid to curb its burgeoning population of 1.2 billion. Photograph: Mustafa Quraishi/AP
Tens of millions of pounds of UK aid money have been spent on a programme that has forcibly sterilised Indian women and men, theObserver has learned. Many have died as a result of botched operations, while others have been left bleeding and in agony. A number of pregnant women selected for sterilisation suffered miscarriages and lost their babies.
The UK agreed to give India £166m to fund the programme, despite allegations that the money would be used to sterilise the poor in an attempt to curb the country’s burgeoning population of 1.2 billion people.
Sterilisation has been mired in controversy for years. With officials and doctors paid a bonus for every operation, poor and little-educated men and women in rural areas are routinely rounded up and sterilised without having a chance to object. Activists say some are told they are going to health camps for operations that will improve their general wellbeing and only discover the truth after going under the knife.
Court documents filed in India earlier this month claim that many victims have been left in pain, with little or no aftercare. Across the country, there have been numerous reports of deaths and of pregnant women suffering miscarriages after being selected for sterilisation without being warned that they would lose their unborn babies.
Yet a working paper published by the UK’s Department for International Development in 2010 cited the need to fight climate change as one of the key reasons for pressing ahead with such programmes. The document argued that reducing population numbers would cut greenhouse gases, although it warned that there were “complex human rights and ethical issues” involved in forced population control.
The latest allegations centre on the states of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, both targeted by the UK government for aid after a review of funding last year. In February, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh had to publicly warn off his officials after widespread reports of forced sterilisation. A few days later, 35-year-old Rekha Wasnik bled to death in the state after doctors sterilised her. The wife of a poor labourer, she was pregnant with twins at the time. She began bleeding on the operating table and a postmortem cited the operation as the cause of death.
Earlier this month, India’s supreme court heard how a surgeon operating in a school building in the Araria district of Bihar in January carried out 53 operations in two hours, assisted by unqualified staff, with no access to running water or equipment to clean the operating equipment. A video shot by activists shows filthy conditions and women lying on the straw-covered ground.
Human rights campaigner Devika Biswas told the court that “inhuman sterilisations, particularly in rural areas, continue with reckless disregard for the lives of poor women”. Biswas said 53 poor and low-caste women were rounded up and sterilised in operations carried out by torchlight that left three bleeding profusely and led to one woman who was three months pregnant miscarrying. “After the surgeries, all 53 women were crying out in pain. Though they were in desperate need of medical care, no one came to assist them,” she said.
The court gave the national and state governments two months to respond to the allegations.
Activists say that it is India’s poor – and particularly tribal people – who are most frequently targeted and who are most vulnerable to pressure to be sterilised. They claim that people have been threatened with losing their ration cards if they do not undergo operations, or bribed with as little as 600 rupees (£7.34) and a sari. Some states run lotteries in which people can win cars and fridges if they agree to be sterilised.
Despite the controversy, an Indian government report shows that sterilisation remains the most common method of family planning used in its Reproductive and Child Health Programme Phase II, launched in 2005 with £166m of UK funding. According to the DfID, the UK is committed to the project until next year and has spent £34m in 2011-12. Most of the money – £162m – has been paid out, but no special conditions have been placed on the funding.
Funding varies from state to state, but in Bihar private clinics receive 1,500 rupees for every sterilisation, with a bonus of 500 rupees a patient if they carry out more than 30 operations on a particular day. NGO workers who convince people to have the operations receive 150 rupees a person, while doctors get 75 rupees for each patient.
A 2009 Indian government report said that nearly half a million sterilisations had been carried out the previous year but warned of problems with quality control and financial management.
In 2006, India’s ministry of health and family welfare published a report into sterilisation, which warned of growing concerns, and the following year an Indian government audit of the programme warned of continuing problems with sterilisation camps. “Quality of sterilisation services in the camps is a matter of concern,” it said. It also said the quality of services was affected because much of the work was crammed into the final part of the financial year.
When it announced changes to aid for India last year, the DfID promised to improve the lives of more than 10 million poor women and girls. It said: “We condemn forced sterilisation and have taken steps to ensure that not a penny of UK aid could support it. The UK does not fund sterilisation centres anywhere.
“The coalition government has completely changed the way that aid is spent in India to focus on three of the poorest states, and our support for this programme is about to end as part of that change. Giving women access to family planning, no matter where they live or how poor they are, is a fundamental tenet of the coalition’s international development policy.”
See Dan read: Baboons can learn to spot real words (Guardian)
AP foreign, Saturday April 14 2012 (The Guardian)
AP Science Writer= WASHINGTON (AP) — Dan the baboon sits in front of a computer screen. The letters BRRU pop up. With a quick and almost dismissive tap, the monkey signals it’s not a word. Correct. Next comes, ITCS. Again, not a word. Finally KITE comes up.
He pauses and hits a green oval to show it’s a word. In the space of just a few seconds, Dan has demonstrated a mastery of what some experts say is a form of pre-reading and walks away rewarded with a treat of dried wheat.
Dan is part of new research that shows baboons are able to pick up the first step in reading — identifying recurring patterns and determining which four-letter combinations are words and which are just gobbledygook.
The study shows that reading’s early steps are far more instinctive than scientists first thought and it also indicates that non-human primates may be smarter than we give them credit for.
“They’ve got the hang of this thing,” said Jonathan Grainger, a French scientist and lead author of the research.
Baboons and other monkeys are good pattern finders and what they are doing may be what we first do in recognizing words.
It’s still a far cry from real reading. They don’t understand what these words mean, and are just breaking them down into parts, said Grainger, a cognitive psychologist at the Aix-Marseille University in France.
In 300,000 tests, the six baboons distinguished between real and fake words about three-out-of-four times, according to the study published in Thursday’s journal Science.
The 4-year-old Dan, the star of the bunch and about the equivalent age of a human teenager, got 80 percent of the words right and learned 308 four-letter words.
The baboons are rewarded with food when they press the right spot on the screen: A blue plus sign for bogus combos or a green oval for real words.
Even though the experiments were done in France, the researchers used English words because it is the language of science, Grainger said.
The key is that these animals not only learned by trial and error which letter combinations were correct, but they also noticed which letters tend to go together to form real words, such as SH but not FX, said Grainger. So even when new words were sprung on them, they did a better job at figuring out which were real.
Grainger said a pre-existing capacity in the brain may allow them to recognize patterns and objects, and perhaps that’s how we humans also first learn to read.
The study’s results were called “extraordinarily exciting” by another language researcher, psychology professor Stanislas Dehaene at the College of France, who wasn’t part of this study. He said Grainger’s finding makes sense. Dehaene’s earlier work says a distinct part of the brain visually recognizes the forms of words. The new work indicates this is also likely in a non-human primate.
This new study also tells us a lot about our distant primate relatives.
“They have shown repeatedly amazing cognitive abilities,” said study co-author Joel Fagot, a researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research.
Bill Hopkins, a professor of psychology at the Yerkes Primate Center in Atlanta, isn’t surprised.
“We tend to underestimate what their capacities are,” said Hopkins, who wasn’t part of the French research team. “Non-human primates are really specialized in the visual domain and this is an example of that.”
This raises interesting questions about how the complex primate mind works without language or what we think of as language, Hopkins said. While we use language to solve problems in our heads, such as deciphering words, it seems that baboons use a “remarkably sophisticated” method to attack problems without language, he said.
Key to the success of the experiment was a change in the testing technique, the researchers said. The baboons weren’t put in the computer stations and forced to take the test. Instead, they could choose when they wanted to work, going to one of the 10 computer booths at any time, even in the middle of the night.
The most ambitious baboons test 3,000 times a day; the laziest only 400.
The advantage of this type of experiment setup, which can be considered more humane, is that researchers get far more trials in a shorter time period, he said.
“They come because they want to,” Fagot said. “What do they want? They want some food. They want to solve some task.”
Cresce valorização da divulgação científica (FAPESP)
Agência FAPESP – Editor de Ciência do Financial Times há duas décadas, o jornalista britânico Clive Cookson acredita que os temas científicos têm se tornado mais familiares e mais valorizados para o público, graças a uma cobertura jornalística que se revela pouco a pouco mais profunda e mais precisa que no passado.
Essa transformação, de acordo com Cookson, deve-se em parte às novas tecnologias que facilitaram o trabalho do jornalista nos últimos anos. Mas, segundo ele, a principal razão para que o noticiário de ciência ganhasse mais qualidade está em uma mudança de atitude dos próprios cientistas, que perceberam a importância da comunicação.
Cookson, que atua há mais de 30 anos na cobertura dos temas de ciência e tecnologia, em diversos países e diferentes veículos e contextos, participou nesta segunda-feira (16/4) do seminário “Ciência na Mídia”, promovido pela FAPESP na sede da Fundação, em São Paulo.
O evento teve o objetivo de estimular a reflexão, por parte de todos os envolvidos na produção e divulgação científicas, sobre as maneiras de propiciar um espaço para a troca de conhecimentos e a proposição de novos modos de pensar a divulgação desses temas na sociedade. Em entrevista exclusiva à Agência FAPESP, Cookson comentou esses temas.
Agência FAPESP – Como tem evoluído a cobertura jornalística sobre ciência, considerando os seus 30 anos de experiência na área?
Clive Cookson– Apesar de existirem muitos blogs e sites de ciência, as pessoas continuam obtendo a maior parte de suas informações sobre o que está acontecendo no mundo científico por meio da mídia tradicional: jornais impressos, revistas, TV e rádio. Assim, o cientista se comunica com o público por meio desses veículos não especializados em ciência. Essa não é uma relação trivial. Mas sou muito otimista, porque, olhando com essa perspectiva de 30 anos, percebo que os cientistas estão se tornando muito melhores na tarefa de se comunicar com a mídia.
Agência FAPESP – O que mudou nessa relação, da perspectiva dos cientistas?
Clive Cookson– Eles estão se tornando muito mais proativos, mais abertos. Perderam o medo do contato com os repórteres. É uma mudança muito grande se você olha em uma perspectiva de longo tempo. E acredito que se trata de algo até certo ponto generalizado. Aqui no Brasil percebi que os cientistas são muito abertos.
Agência FAPESP – Qual pode ter sido a razão para essa transformação?
Clive Cookson– Os cientistas perceberam – certamente nos Estados Unidos e Europa, mas acho que no Brasil também – que é mais provável conseguir investimentos públicos e auxílios para fazer suas pesquisas na medida em que eles se tornam bons comunicadores. Na Grã-Bretanha os conselhos de pesquisa incluem explicitamente a comunicação dos resultados científicos como um dos critérios importantes para conseguir investimentos. De modo geral, podemos dizer que você tem mais facilidade para conseguir o investimento se você estiver preparado para comunicar. Isso é verdade para os pesquisadores, de forma individual, mas também em uma perspectiva mais geral: os pesquisadores sabem que a ciência como um todo terá mais apoio público se os cientistas gastarem um pouco de tempo e esforço para falar com jornalistas.
Agência FAPESP – Além dessas mudanças do lado da comunidade científica, houve também evolução do lado da produção da notícia? A qualidade do jornalismo melhorou?
Clive Cookson– Houve melhora, mas nada que justificasse um aumento muito grande da confiança dos pesquisadores nos jornalistas. A qualidade do jornalismo melhorou, mas não acho que isso tenha acontecido porque os jornalistas se tornaram melhores. O que ocorreu é que ficou muito mais fácil escrever uma matéria sobre ciência, agora que podemos ter acesso a artigos científicos na internet, podemos obter comentários por e-mail e coisas assim. Quando eu comecei no ofício, se quiséssemos ter acesso a um artigo era preciso ir às bibliotecas e para um simples comentários era preciso ter muita sorte e localizar os pesquisadores por telefone na hora certa.
Agência FAPESP – No Brasil os jornalistas de ciência, com frequência, têm formação em jornalismo, mas não uma formação científica. Qual é a característica dos divulgadores na Inglaterra?
Clive Cookson– Na Inglaterra há uma mistura. A maior parte dos jornalistas de ciência tem uma formação em ciência. Eu, por exemplo, sou formado em química. Mas há outros ótimos jornalistas de ciência que têm seu background em artes ou humanidades e depois começaram a trabalhar com ciência e foram excepcionalmente atraídos pela área. Acho que há prós e contras em ambos os casos.
Agência FAPESP – Em uma situação hipotética: se o senhor tivesse que contratar um repórter, iria preferir um indivíduo com uma formação científica, que escreve bem, mas não tem nenhuma experiência prévia em jornalismo, ou alguém que é um jornalista capaz e talentoso, mas sem qualquer envolvimento com ciência, nem experiência em jornalismo científico?
Clive Cookson– Se eu estivesse contatando essa pessoa para um trabalho de reportagem de ciências em um jornal, por exemplo, não hesitaria: escolheria o jornalista que tem experiência em reportagem, em vez de escolher o cientista. Acho que a capacidade para ser um bom jornalista é de fato o mais importante. Não adianta ser um bom cientista que escreve corretamente. Porque a ciência realmente requer um texto diferente, vívido. Prefiro um excelente jornalista que um excelente cientista para fazer isso.
Agência FAPESP – A percepção do público em relação à importância da ciência também tem mudado?
Clive Cookson– Minha impressão é que o conhecimento sobre ciência em meio ao público geral melhorou sim. Ainda não é o suficiente, mas acho que, em geral, a população ficou mais alfabetizada em ciência que há alguns anos atrás. Muita gente passou a entender melhor as bases da ciência. As pessoas têm mais intimidade com temas e termos centrais no mundo científico. Até certo ponto a internet contribuiu com isso, mas não sei se há grande potencial para melhorar muito mais, porque na rede também temos muito ruído e desinformação.
Agência FAPESP – Os jornalistas procuram fazer a ciência mais atraente para o público. Ao mesmo tempo, tendem a mostrar exclusivamente os resultados de sucesso, deixando em segundo plano o processo de produção da ciência. Com isso não se corre o risco de mistificar a ciência junto ao público?
Clive Cookson– Tem toda razão, esse é um problema absolutamente fundamental na relação entre jornalismo e ciência. No noticiário não há tempo nem espaço para descrever todos os passos da produção da ciência, mostrando ao público que não se trata de mágica, mas de um processo difícil, pontuado de dificuldades e fracassos momentâneos. O que deixa essa situação pior é que mesmo que você privilegie as pesquisas de qualidade, publicadas em revistas de prestígio, os artigos científicos também não lhe darão pistas sobre o processo de como a ciência funciona. Você só conseguiria dar ao público uma educação científica se fosse possível acompanhar o trabalho por meses a fio no laboratório. Geralmente isso é impossível.
Agência FAPESP – Além disso os insucessos raramente são publicados, não é?
Clive Cookson– Sim, essa é outra questão. A publicação, em particular na área de saúde, normalmente descreve apenas os resultados positivos. Os resultados negativos quase nunca têm espaço em publicações. É preciso estar atento a isso para não dar uma falsa impressão de que a ciência é feita só de acertos.
Agência FAPESP – Quando se noticia os resultados de um novo estudo, pode ser difícil repercutir a notícia com outros cientistas, porque muitas vezes eles alegam que ainda não tiveram contato com o artigo. Como o senhor lida com essa situação?
Clive Cookson– É uma situação extremamente difícil. Em primeiro lugar porque os cientistas normalmente não indicam seus competidores que trabalham na mesma área e que poderiam contribuir com um comentário. Além disso, geralmente é difícil conseguir um comentário sobre um artigo que acaba de sair e que não foi lido por quase ninguém. Na Inglaterra temos uma organização é muito útil, nesse sentido, para os jornalistas da área de saúde: o Science Media Centre.
Agência FAPESP – Como funciona?
Clive Cookson– É um serviço que foi criado há exatos 10 anos e reúne cientistas que atuam como se fosse assessores de imprensa. Eles pegam qualquer estudo e avaliam se é controverso, ou interessante o suficiente para render uma manchete. Então usamos seus contatos, que fazem comentários com grande qualidade. Acho que o SMC fez mais que qualquer outra instituição para melhorar a cobertura jornalística de ciência na Inglaterra. Eles têm excelentes bases de dados e uma incrível lista de contatos especializados. É muito eficiente.
Agência FAPESP – Muita gente vê os repórteres de ciência como tradutores de uma linguagem especializada para a linguagem do senso comum. O que o senhor acha dessa noção?
Clive Cookson– Parte do que fazemos pode ser visto como uma espécie de tradução, mas espero que nosso trabalho seja algo mais criativo e complexo que isso. Acho que os jornalistas são capazes de colocar novas maneiras de se olhar para a ciência que os próprios cientistas não poderiam proporcionar. É algo mais que simplesmente traduzir. Podemos gerar imagens, comparações, que os cientistas não conceberiam. Não se trata apenas de questão de simplificar uma linguagem, mas de fornecer uma interpretação nova de ideias, contextos e visões. E, mesmo no campo da linguagem, acho que esse trabalho extrapola a simples tradução: devemos ser autores capazes de tornar o conhecimento mais vívido, mais interessante para o público.
Agência FAPESP – Como foi sua trajetória? Por que se interessou por ciência?
Clive Cookson– Sempre me interessei por ciência e me formei em Química em Oxford. Mas dois fatos mudaram minha trajetória. Um deles é que notei que o jornalismo científico na Inglaterra não era bom. Ao mesmo tempo, percebi que eu não seria brilhante o suficiente para fazer um bom doutorado em química. Eu sabia que se não fosse tão brilhante, um doutorado em química poderia se transformar em algo não muito criativo, uma espécie de trabalho braçal para um orientador. Eu sabia que não era na verdade bom o suficiente para me tornar um grande cientista. Mas percebi que poderia escrever bem sobre ciência.
Agência FAPESP – E como começou de fato a atuar como jornalista?
Clive Cookson– Fui aceito em um programa de treinamento de um jornal local, em Londres. Depois de dois anos, tive a oportunidade de ir para Washington, nos Estados Unidos, por quatro anos, para trabalhar no suplemento de Educação Superior do Times. Foi uma experiência fantástica, eu escrevia sobre as universidades e institutos de pesquisa norte-americanos. Depois voltei para Londres para me tornar repórter de tecnologia do Times. Comecei, na década de 1980, a trabalhar na rádio BBC, como correspondente da área da saúde. E de lá fui para o Financial Times, onde tenho atuado como editor de ciência nos últimos 20 anos.
A Sharp Rise in Retractions Prompts Calls for Reform (N.Y. Times)
By CARL ZIMMER – Published: April 16, 2012
In the fall of 2010, Dr. Ferric C. Fang made an unsettling discovery. Dr. Fang, who is editor in chief of the journal Infection and Immunity, found that one of his authors had doctored several papers.
It was a new experience for him. “Prior to that time,” he said in an interview, “Infection and Immunity had only retracted nine articles over a 40-year period.”
“Nobody had noticed the whole thing was rotten,” said Dr. Fang, who is a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Dr. Casadevall, now editor in chief of the journal mBio, said he feared that science had turned into a winner-take-all game with perverse incentives that lead scientists to cut corners and, in some cases, commit acts of misconduct.
“This is a tremendous threat,” he said.
WATCHDOG Dr. Arturo Casadevall of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York teamed up with Dr. Ferric C. Fang to study a raft of retractions. Ángel Franco/The New York Times
Last month, in a pair of editorials in Infection and Immunity, the two editors issued a pleafor fundamental reforms. They also presented their concerns at the March 27 meeting of the National Academies of Sciences committee on science, technology and the law.
Members of the committee agreed with their assessment. “I think this is really coming to a head,” said Dr. Roberta B. Ness, dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health. And Dr. David Korn of Harvard Medical School agreed that “there are problems all through the system.”
No one claims that science was ever free of misconduct or bad research. Indeed, the scientific method itself is intended to overcome mistakes and misdeeds. When scientists make a new discovery, others review the research skeptically before it is published. And once it is, the scientific community can try to replicate the results to see if they hold up.
Source: Journal of Medical Ethics
But critics like Dr. Fang and Dr. Casadevall argue that science has changed in some worrying ways in recent decades — especially biomedical research, which consumes a larger and larger share of government science spending.
In October 2011, for example, the journal Nature reported that published retractions had increased tenfold over the past decade, while the number of published papers had increased by just 44 percent. In 2010 The Journal of Medical Ethics published a studyfinding the new raft of recent retractions was a mix of misconduct and honest scientific mistakes.
Several factors are at play here, scientists say. One may be that because journals are now online, bad papers are simply reaching a wider audience, making it more likely that errors will be spotted. “You can sit at your laptop and pull a lot of different papers together,” Dr. Fang said.
But other forces are more pernicious. To survive professionally, scientists feel the need to publish as many papers as possible, and to get them into high-profile journals. And sometimes they cut corners or even commit misconduct to get there.
To measure this claim, Dr. Fang and Dr. Casadevall looked at the rate of retractions in 17 journals from 2001 to 2010 and compared it with the journals’ “impact factor,” a score based on how often their papers are cited by scientists. The higher a journal’s impact factor, the two editors found, the higher its retraction rate.
The highest “retraction index” in the study went to one of the world’s leading medical journals, The New England Journal of Medicine. In a statement for this article, it questioned the study’s methodology, noting that it considered only papers with abstracts, which are included in a small fraction of studies published in each issue. “Because our denominator was low, the index was high,” the statement said.
Monica M. Bradford, executive editor of the journal Science, suggested that the extra attention high-impact journals get might be part of the reason for their higher rate of retraction. “Papers making the most dramatic advances will be subject to the most scrutiny,” she said.
Dr. Fang says that may well be true, but adds that it cuts both ways — that the scramble to publish in high-impact journals may be leading to more and more errors. Each year, every laboratory produces a new crop of Ph.D.’s, who must compete for a small number of jobs, and the competition is getting fiercer. In 1973, more than half of biologists had a tenure-track job within six years of getting a Ph.D. By 2006 the figure was down to 15 percent.
Yet labs continue to have an incentive to take on lots of graduate students to produce more research. “I refer to it as a pyramid scheme,” said Paula Stephan, a Georgia State University economist and author of “How Economics Shapes Science,” published in January by Harvard University Press.
In such an environment, a high-profile paper can mean the difference between a career in science or leaving the field. “It’s becoming the price of admission,” Dr. Fang said.
The scramble isn’t over once young scientists get a job. “Everyone feels nervous even when they’re successful,” he continued. “They ask, ‘Will this be the beginning of the decline?’ ”
University laboratories count on a steady stream of grants from the government and other sources. The National Institutes of Health accepts a much lower percentage of grant applications today than in earlier decades. At the same time, many universities expect scientists to draw an increasing part of their salaries from grants, and these pressures have influenced how scientists are promoted.
“What people do is they count papers, and they look at the prestige of the journal in which the research is published, and they see how many grant dollars scientists have, and if they don’t have funding, they don’t get promoted,” Dr. Fang said. “It’s not about the quality of the research.”
Dr. Ness likens scientists today to small-business owners, rather than people trying to satisfy their curiosity about how the world works. “You’re marketing and selling to other scientists,” she said. “To the degree you can market and sell your products better, you’re creating the revenue stream to fund your enterprise.”
Universities want to attract successful scientists, and so they have erected a glut of science buildings, Dr. Stephan said. Some universities have gone into debt, betting that the flow of grant money will eventually pay off the loans. “It’s really going to bite them,” she said.
With all this pressure on scientists, they may lack the extra time to check their own research — to figure out why some of their data doesn’t fit their hypothesis, for example. Instead, they have to be concerned about publishing papers before someone else publishes the same results.
“You can’t afford to fail, to have your hypothesis disproven,” Dr. Fang said. “It’s a small minority of scientists who engage in frank misconduct. It’s a much more insidious thing that you feel compelled to put the best face on everything.”
Adding to the pressure, thousands of new Ph.D. scientists are coming out of countries like China and India. Writing in the April 5 issue of Nature, Dr. Stephan points out that a number of countries — including China, South Korea and Turkey — now offer cash rewards to scientists who get papers into high-profile journals. She has found these incentives set off a flood of extra papers submitted to those journals, with few actually being published in them. “It clearly burdens the system,” she said.
To change the system, Dr. Fang and Dr. Casadevall say, start by giving graduate students a better understanding of science’s ground rules — what Dr. Casadevall calls “the science of how you know what you know.”
They would also move away from the winner-take-all system, in which grants are concentrated among a small fraction of scientists. One way to do that may be to put a cap on the grants any one lab can receive.
Such a shift would require scientists to surrender some of their most cherished practices — the priority rule, for example, which gives all the credit for a scientific discovery to whoever publishes results first. (Three centuries ago, Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz were bickering about who invented calculus.) Dr. Casadevall thinks it leads to rival research teams’ obsessing over secrecy, and rushing out their papers to beat their competitors. “And that can’t be good,” he said.
To ease such cutthroat competition, the two editors would also change the rules for scientific prizes and would have universities take collaboration into account when they decide on promotions.
Ms. Bradford, of Science magazine, agreed. “I would agree that a scientist’s career advancement should not depend solely on the publications listed on his or her C.V.,” she said, “and that there is much room for improvement in how scientific talent in all its diversity can be nurtured.”
Even scientists who are sympathetic to the idea of fundamental change are skeptical that it will happen any time soon. “I don’t think they have much chance of changing what they’re talking about,” said Dr. Korn, of Harvard.
But Dr. Fang worries that the situation could be become much more dire if nothing happens soon. “When our generation goes away, where is the new generation going to be?” he asked. “All the scientists I know are so anxious about their funding that they don’t make inspiring role models. I heard it from my own kids, who went into art and music respectively. They said, ‘You know, we see you, and you don’t look very happy.’ ”
4th CIFAS Field School in Ethnographic Research Methods in Xalapa, Mexico
Summer Field School in Ethnographic Methods in Mexico
July 23 to August 10, 2012 – Xalapa, Mexico
The Comitas Institute for Anthropological Study (CIFAS) is pleased to announce the 4th CIFAS Field School in Ethnographic Research Methods, in Xalapa (Jalapa), Mexico.
The goal of the Field School is to offer training in the foundations and practice of ethnographic methods. The faculty works closely with participants to identify the required field methods needed to address their academic or professional needs. The Field School is designed for people with little or no experience in ethnographic research, or those who want a refresher course. It is suitable for graduate and undergraduate students in social sciences and other fields of study that use qualitative approaches (such as education, communication, cultural studies, health, social work, human ecology, development studies, consumer behavior, among others), applied social scientists, professionals, and researchers who have an interest in learning more about ethnographic methods and their applications.
· Foundations of ethnographic research
· Social theories in the field & research design
· Planning the logistics of field research
· Data collection techniques
· Principles of organization and indexation of field data
· Analyzing field data
· Qualitative analysis softwares: basic principles
· Individual, one-on-one discussion of research projects
· Field trips
Renzo Taddei (Assistant Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro/Affiliated Researcher, Columbia University). CV: http://bit.ly/nueNbu.
Ana Laura Gamboggi (Postdoctoral fellow, University of Brasilia). CV: http://bit.ly/psuVyw.
Zulma Amador (Faculty member of the Centro de EcoAlfabetización y Diálogo de Saberes of Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico). CV: http://bit.ly/J1VGVA
Registration and other costs: Places are limited. The registration fee is US$900, which covers the full three weeks of program activities. The registration fee should be paid by July 1, though a deposit to the CIFAS bank account. Pre-registration should be completed online at the link http://bit.ly/Jr0kvU. The deadline for pre-registration is June 30, 2012.
The registration fee does not cover accommodation, meals or transportation. If needed, the organizers of the Field School can recommend reasonably priced hotels and places to eat during the program. In Xalapa, accommodation, meals and local transportation costs should be no more than US$100 per day in total.
Course venue: Classes will take place in the Centro de EcoAlfabetización y Diálogo de Saberes of Universidad Veracruzana (refer to http://www.uv.mx/transdisciplina). For more information on Xalapa, please see “Xalapa: Mexico’s best kept secret”
Language: The Field School activities will be carried out in English. Special sections of the Field School can be offered in Spanish, depending on the number of interested individuals.
Visa requirements: Citizens of the U.S. and some European and Latin American countries don’t need visas to enter Mexico, but do need valid passports. You can check whether you need a visa here: http://www.inm.gob.mx/index.php/page/Paises_Visa/en.html.
Insurance: Participants are required to have travel insurance that covers medical and repatriation costs. Proof of purchase of travel insurance must be presented at the first day of activities.
The average temperature in Xalapa in July is 25 ºC (77 ºF) during the day and 16 ºC (61 ºF) at night. Xalapa´s rainy season goes from June to November, so participants should expect some rain during the field school.
For more information, please see the link http://bit.ly/Jr0kvU or write to Renzo Taddei at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charting Hybridised Realities (Tactical Media Files)
Posted on April 15, 2012 by admin
This text was originally written for the Re-Public on-line journal, which focuses on innovative developments in contemporary political theory and practice, and is published from Greece. As the journal has ground to a (hopefully just temporary) halt under severe austerity pressures we decided to post the current first draft of the text on the Tactical Media Files blog. This posting is one of two, the second of which will follow shortly. Both texts build on my recent Network Notebook on the ‘Legacies of Tactical Media‘.
The second text is a collection of preliminary notes that expand on recent discussions following Marco Deseriis and Jodi Dean’s essay “A Movement Without Demands”. It is conceivable that both texts will merge into a more substantive essay in the future, but I haven’t made up my mind about that as yet.
Hope this will be of interest,
Charting Hybridised Realities
Tactical Cartographies for a densified present
In the midst of an enquiry into the legacies of Tactical Media – the fusion of art, politics, and media which had been recognised in the middle 1990s as a particularly productive mix for cultural, social and political activism , the year 2011 unfolded. The enquiry had started as an extension of the work on the Tactical Media Files, an on-line documentation resource for tactical media practices worldwide , which grew out of the physical archives of the infamous Next 5 Minutes festival series on tactical media (1993 – 2003) housed at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. After making much of tactical media’s history accessible again on-line, our question, as editors of the resource, had been what the current significance of the term and the thinking and practices around it might be?
Prior to 2011 this was something emphatically under question. The Next 5 Minutes festival series had been ended with the 2003 edition, following a year that had started on September 11, 2002, convening local activists gatherings named as Tactical Media Labs across six continents.  Two questions were at the heart of the fourth and last edition of the Next 5 Minutes: How has the field of media activism diversified since it was first named ‘tactical media’ in the middle 1990s? And what could be significance and efficacy of tactical media’s symbolic interventions in the midst of the semiotic corruption of the media landscape after the 9/11 terrorist attacks?
This ‘crash of symbols’ for obvious reasons took centre stage during this fourth and last edition of the festival. Naomi Klein had famously claimed in her speedy response to the horrific events of 9/11 that the activist lever of symbolic intervention had been contaminated and rendered useless in the face of the overpowering symbolic power of the terrorist attacks and their real-time mediation on a global scale.  The attacks left behind an “utterly transformed semiotic landscape” (Klein) in which the accustomed tactics of culture jammers had been ‘blown away’ by the symbolic power of the terrorist atrocities. Instead ‘we’ (Klein appealing to an imaginary community of social activists) should move from symbols to substance. What Klein overlooked in this response in ‘shock and awe’, however, was that while the semiotic landscape had indeed been dramatically transformed (and corrupted) in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, it still remained a semiotic landscape – symbols were still the only lever and entry point into the wider real-time mediated public domain.
Therefore, as unlikely as it may have seemed at the time, the question about the diversification of the terrain and the practices of media activism(s) was ultimately of far greater importance. What the 9/11 crash of symbols and the semiotic corruption debate contributed here was ‘merely’ an added layer of complexity. In a society permeated by media flows, social activism necessarily had to become media activism, and thus had to operate in a significantly more complex and contested environment. The diversification of the media and information landscape, however, also implied that a radical diversification of activist strategies was needed to address these increasingly hybridised conditions.
To name but a few of the emerging concerns: Witnessing of human rights abuses around the world, and creating public visibility and debate around them remained a pivotal concern for many tactical media practitioners, as it had been right from the early days of camcorder activism. But now new concerns over privacy in networked media environments, coupled with security and secrecy regimes of information control entered the scene. Critical media arts spread in different directions, claiming new terrains as diverse as life sciences and bio-engineering, as well as ‘contestational robotics’, interventions into the space of computer games, and even on-line role playing environments. Meanwhile the free software movement made its strides into developing more autonomous toolsets and infrastructures for a variety of social and cultural needs – adding a more strategic dimension to what had hitherto been mostly an interventionist practice. In a parallel movement on-line discussion groups, mailing lists, and activity on various social media platforms started to coalesce slowly into what media theorist Geert Lovink has described as ‘organised networks’.  Or finally the rapid development of wireless transmission technologies, smart phones and other wireless network clients, which introduced a paradoxical superimposition of mediated and embodied spatial logics, best be captured in the multilayered concept of Hybrid Space. 
Our question was therefore entirely justified, to ask how the term ‘tactical media’ could possibly bring together such a diversified, heterogeneous, and hybridised set of practices in a meaningful way? It had become clear that more sophisticated cartographies would be necessary to begin charting this intensely hybridised landscape.
A digital conversion of public space
If the events in 2011 have made one thing clear it is that the ominous claim of Critical Art Ensemble that “the streets are dead capital”  has been declared null and void by an astounding resurgence of street protest, whatever their longer term political significance and fallout might be. These protests staged in the streets and squares, ranging from anti-austerity protests in Southern Europe to the various uprisings in Arab countries in North Africa and the Middle East, to the Occupy protests in the US and Northern Europe, have by no means been staged in physical spaces out of a rejection of the semiotic corruption of the media space. Much rather the streets and squares have acted as a platform for the digital and networked multiplication of protest across a plethora of distribution channels, cutting right across the spectrum of alternative and mainstream, broadcast and networked media outlets.
What remained true to the origin of the term ‘tactical media’ was to build on Michel de Certeau’s insight that the ‘tactics of the weak’ operate on the terrain of strategic power through highly agile displacements and temporary interventions , creating a continuous nomadic movement, giving voice to the voiceless by means of ‘any media necessary’ (Critical Art Ensemble). However, the radical dispersal of wireless and mobile media technologies meant that mediated and embodied public spaces increasingly started to coincide, creating a new hybridised logic for social contestation. As witnessed in the remarkable series of public square occupations in 2011, through the digital conversion of public space the streets have become networks and the squares the medium for collective expression in a transnationally interconnected but still highly discontinuous media network.
Horizontal networks / lateral connections
One of the remarkable characteristics of the various protests is not simply the adoption of similar tactics (most notably occupations of public city squares), but the conscious interlinking of events as they unfold. Italian activists of the Unicommons movement physically linked up with revolting students in Tunisia, Egyptian bloggers and occupiers of Tahrir Square linked up with the ‘take the square’ activists in Spain, who in turn expressed solidarity and even co-initiated transnational actions with #occupy activists in the United States and elsewhere. It is the first time that the new organisational logic of transnational horizontal networks that has been theorised for instance in the seminal work “Territory, Authority, Rights” by sociologist Saskia Sassen, has become so evidently visible in activists practices across a set of radically dispersed geographic assemblages.
Horizontal networks by-pass traditional vertically integrated hierarchies of the local / national / international to create specific spatio-temporal transnational linkages around common interests, but also around affective ties. By and large these ties and linkages are still extra-institutional, largely informal, and because of their radically dispersed make up and their ‘affective’ constitution highly unstable. Political institutions have not even begun assembling an adequate response to these new emergent political constellations (other than traditional repressive instruments of strategic power, i.e. evictions, arrests, prohibitions). Given the structural inequalities that fuel the different strands of protest the longer term effectiveness of these measures remains highly uncertain. The institutional linkages at the moment seem mostly limited to anti-institutional contestation on the part of protestors and repressive gestures of strategic authority. The truly challenging proposition these new transnational linkages suggest, however, is their movement to bypass the nested hierarchies of vertically integrated power structures in a horizontal configuration of social organisation. They link up a bewildering array of local groups, sites, networks, geographies, and cultural contexts and sensitivities, taking seriously for the first time the networked space as a new ‘frontier zone’ (Sassen) where the new constellations of lateral transnational politics are going to be constructed.
Charting the layered densities of hybrid space
Hybrid Space is discontinuous. It’s density is always variable, from place to place, from moment to moment. Presence of carrier signals can be interrupted or restored at any moment. Coverage is never guaranteed. The economics of the wireless network space is a matter of continuous contestation, and transmitters are always accompanied by their own forms of electromagnetic pollution (electrosmog). Charting and navigating this discontinuous and unstable space, certainly for social and political activists, is therefore always a challenge. Some prominent elements in this cartography are emerging more clearly, however:
– connectivity: presence or absence of the signal carrier wave is becoming an increasingly important factor in staging and mediating protest. Exclusive reliance on state and corporate controlled infrastructures thus becomes increasingly perilous.
– censorship: censorship these days comes in many guises. Besides the continued forms of overt repression (arrests, confiscations, closures) of media outlets, new forms are the excessive application of intellectual property rights regimes to weed out unwarranted voices from the media landscape, but also highly effective forms of dis-information and information overflow, something that has called the political efficacy of a project like WikiLeaks emphatically into question.
– circumvention: Great Information Fire Walls and information blockages are obvious forms of censorship, widely used during the Arab protests and common practice in China, now also spreading throughout the EU (under the guise of anti-piracy laws). These necessitate an ever more sophisticated understanding and deployment of internet censorship circumvention techniques, an understanding that should become common practice for contemporary activists. 
– attention economies: attention is a sought after commodity in the informational society. It is also fleeting. (Media-) Activists need to become masters at seizing and displacing public attention. Agility and mobility are indispensable here.
– public imagination management: Strategic operators try to manage public opinion. Activists cannot rely on this strategy. They do not have the means to keep and maintain public opinion in favour of their temporary goals. Instead activists should focus on ‘public imagination management’ – the continuous remembrance that another world is possible.
Beyond semiotic corruption: A perverse subjectivity
The immersion in extended networks of affect that now permeate both embodied and mediated spaces introduces a new and inescapable corruption of subjectivity. Critical theory already taught us that we cannot trust subjectivity. However, the excessive self-mediation of protestors on the public square has shown that a deep desire for subjective articulation drives the manifestation in public. The dynamic is underscored further by upload statistics of video platforms such as youtube that continue to outpace the possibility for the global population to actually see and witness these materials.
Rather than dismissing subjectivity it should be embraced. This requires a new attitude ‘beyond good and evil’, beyond critique and submission. A new perverse subjectivity is able to straddle the seemingly impossible divide between willing submission to various forms of corporate, state and social coercion, and vital social and political critique and contestation. It’s maxim here: Relish your own commodification, embrace your perverse subjectivity, in order to escape the perversion of subjectivity.
Amsterdam, April 15, 2012.
1 – See: David Garcia & Geert Lovink, The ABC of Tactical Media, May 1997, a.o.:
2 – www.tacticalmediafiles.net
3 – Documentation of the Tactical Media Labs events can be found at:
4 – Naomi Klein – Signs of the Times, in The Nation, October 5, 2001.
Archived at: www.tacticalmediafiles.net/article.jsp?objectnumber=46632
5 – Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter, Dawn of the Organised Networks, in; Fibreculture Journal, Issue 5, 2005.
6 – See my article The Network of Waves, and the theme issue Hybrid Space of Open – Journal for Art and the Public Domain, Amsterdam, 2006;
(the complete issue is linked as pdf file to the article).
7 – Critical Art Ensemble, Digital Resistance, Autonomedia, New York, 2001.
8 – Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, University of California Press, 1984.
9 – A useful manual can be found here: www.flossmanuals.net/bypassing-censorship/
Doubtful significance (World Economics Association)
by G M Peter Swann [email@example.com]
World Economics Association Newsletter 2(2), April.2012, page 6.
In the February issue of this newsletter, Steve Keen (2012) makes some very good points about the use of mathematics in economics. Perhaps we should say that the problem is not so much the use of mathematics as the abuse of mathematics.
A particular issue that worries me is when econometricians make liberal use of assumptions, without realising how strong these are.
Consider the following example. First, you are shown a regression summary of the relationship between Y and X, estimated from 402 observations. The conventional t-statistic for the coefficient on X is 3.0. How would you react to that?
Most economists would remark that t = 3.0 implies significance at the 1% level, which is a strong confirmation of the relationship. Indeed, many researchers mark significance at the 1% level with three stars!
Second, consider the scatter diagram below. This also shows two variables Y and X, and is also based on 402 observations. What does this say about the relationship between Y and X?
I have shown this diagram to several colleagues and students, and typical reactions are either that there is no relationship, or that the relationship could be almost anything.
But the surprising fact is that the data in Figure 1 are exactly the same data as used to estimate the regression summary described earlier. How can such an amorphous scatter of points represent a statistically significant relationship? It is the result of a standard assumption of OLS regression: that the explanatory variable(s) X is/are independent of the noise term u.
So long as this independence assumption is true, we can estimate the relationship with surprising precision. To see this, rewrite the conventional t-statistic as,
, where ψ is a signal to noise ratio (describing the clarity of the scatter-plot) and N-k is the number of degrees of freedom (Swann, 2012). This formula can be used for bivariate and multivariate models.
In Figure 1, ψ is 0.15, which is quite low, but N-k = 400, which is large enough to make t = 3.0. More generally, even if the signal to noise ratio is very low, so that the relationship between Y and X is imperceptible from a scatter-plot, we can always estimate a significant tstatistic – so long as we have a large enough number of observations, and so long as the independence assumption is true. But there is something doubtful about this ‘significance’.
Is the independence assumption justified? In a context where data are noisy, where rough proxy variables are used, where endogeneity is pervasive, and so on, it does seem an exceptionally strong assumption.
What happens if we relax the independence assumption? When the signal to noise ratio is very low, the estimated relationship depends entirely on the assumption that replaces it. Swann (2012) shows that the relationship in Figure 1 could indeed be almost anything – depending on what we assume about the noise variable(s).
Some have suggested that this is not a problem in practice, because signal to noise ratios are usually large enough to avoid this difficulty. But, on the contrary, some evidence suggests the problem is generally worse than indicated by Figure 1.
Swann (2012) examined 100 econometric studies taken from 20 leading economics journals, yielding a sample of 2220 parameter estimates and the corresponding signal to noise ratios. Focussing on the parameter estimates that are significant (at the 5% level or better), we find that almost 80% of those have a signal to noise ratio even lower than that in Figure 1.
In summary, it appears that the problem of ‘doubtful significance’ is pervasive. The great majority of ‘significant relationships’ in this sample would be imperceptible from the corresponding scatter-plot. The ‘significance’ indicated by a high t-statistic derives from the large number of observations and the (very strong) independence assumption.
Keen S. (2012) “Maths for Pluralist Economics”, World Economics Association Newsletter 2 (1), 10-11
Swann G.M.P. (2012) Doubtful Significance, Working paper available at: https://sites.google.com/site/gmpswann/doubtful-significance
[Editor’s note: If you are interested in this topic, you may also wish to read D.A. Hollanders, “Five methodological fallacies in applied econometrics”, real-world economics review, issue no. 57, 6 September 2011, pp. 115-126, http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue57/Hollanders57.pdf%5D
Detribalising Economics (World Economics Association)
By Rob Garnett [firstname.lastname@example.org]
World Economics Association Newsletter 2(2), April.2012, page 4
In “Why Pluralism?” (2011), Stuart Birks calls for “greater discussion, deliberation, and cross-fertilization of ideas” among schools of economic thought as an antidote to each school’s autarkic tendency to “see itself as owning the ‘truth’ for its area.” As a philosophical postscript, I want to underscore the catholic reach of Birks’s remarks — his genial reminder, properly addressed to all economists, of the minimal requirements for academic inquiry.
The case for academic pluralism in economics is motivated by the ubiquity of “myside bias” (Klein 2011). Whether methodological, ideological, paradigmatic, or all of the above, such groupthink fuels intellectual segregation and bigotry. It turns schools into echo chambers, sealed off from the critical feedback loops that check hubris and propel scholarly progress.
Pluralists know that “The causes of faction cannot be removed . . . Relief is only to be sought in the means of containing its effects” (Hamilton, Madison, and Jay  2001, 45). So even as they celebrate paradigmatic diversity, they insist that scholars observe two liberal precepts:
1. academic discourse is a commons, no ‘area’ of which can be owned by any school; and
2. within these spaces of inquiry, scholars bear certain ethical duties as academic citizens.
Academic pluralism is the duty to practice “methodological awareness and toleration” (Backhouse 2001, 163) and “to constantly [seek] to learn from those who [do] not share [one’s] ideological or methodological perspective” (Boettke 2004, 379). It is “academic” because it coincides with the epistemological and ethical norms of modern academic freedom (American Association of University Professors 1940). It is “pluralist” because it entails a commitment to conduct one’s scholarly business in a non-sectarian manner.
Could a critical mass of economists ever be persuaded to enact these scholarly virtues? Yes! But admirers of these virtues must be prepared to teach by example. When Warren Samuels passed away in last August, he was eulogized as a first-rate scholar who advanced pluralism by enacting it consistently over his long career. As the Austrian economist Peter Boettke recalls:
Prior to meeting Warren, I think it would be accurate to say that I divided the world neatly into those who are stupid, those who are evil, and those who are smart and good enough to agree with me. . . . Warren destroyed that simple intellectual picture of the world. . . . He didn’t overturn my intellectual commitments . . . but he made [me] more selfcritical and less self-satisfied, and hopefully a better scholar [and] teacher (Boettke 2011).
The pluralism Warren Samuels personified can be achieved by most economic scholars, teachers, and students to a reasonable degree. If we want economics to regain its standing as a serious and humane social science, we must find more ways to activate these dormant capabilities.
American Association of University Professors (1940) Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. Washington, DC.
Backhouse, R. E. (2001) On the Credentials of Methodological Pluralism. In J. E. Biddle, J. B. Davis, and S. G. Medema (Eds.), Economics Broadly Considered: Essays in Honor of Warren J. Samuels, 161-181. London: Routledge.
Boettke, P. J. (2011) “Warren Samuels (1933-2011)”, http://www.coordinationproblem.org/2011/08/warren-samuels-1933-2011.html Accessed August 18, 2011.
Boettke, P. J. (2004) Obituary: Don Lavoie (1950-2001). Journal of Economic Methodology 11 (3): 377-379.
Birks, S. (2011) “Why Pluralism?” World Economics Association Newsletter, vol. 1, no. 1.
Hamilton, A., Madison, J., and Jay, J. (2001)  The Federalist. Gideon edition. G. W. Carey and J. McClellan (eds.) Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund.
Klein, D. B. (2011) “I Was Wrong, and So Are You.” The Atlantic, December.
[Editor’s note: Readers may also be interested in Garnett, R. F. (Ed.). (1999). What do economists know? London: Routledge]
Uma História Radicalmente Condensada da Vida Pós-Industrial
Are You Prepared for Zombies? (American Anthropological Association)
by Joslyn O.
Today’s guest blog post is by cultural anthropologist and AAA member, Chad Huddleston. He is an Assistant Professor at St. Louis University in the Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice department.
Recently, a host of new shows, such as Doomsday Preppers on NatGeo and Doomsday Bunkers on Discovery Channel, has focused on people with a wide array of concerns about possible events that may threaten their lives. Both of these shows focus on what are called ‘preppers.’ While the people that may have performed these behaviors in the past might have been called ‘survivalists,’ many ‘preppers’ have distanced themselves from that term, due to its cultural baggage: stereotypical anti-government, gun-loving, racist, extremists that are most often associated with the fundamentalist (politically and religiously) right side of the spectrum.
I’ve been doing fieldwork with preppers for the past two years, focusing on a group called Zombie Squad. It is ‘the nation’s premier non-stationary cadaver suppression task force,’ as well as a grassroots, 501(c)3 charity organization. Zombie Squad’s story is that while the zombie removal business is generally slow, there is no reason to be unprepared. So, while it is waiting for the “zombpacolpyse,” it focuses its time on disaster preparedness education for the membership and community.
The group’s position is that being prepared for zombies means that you are prepared for anything, especially those events that are much more likely than a zombie uprising – tornadoes, an interruption in services, ice storms, flooding, fires, and earthquakes.
For many in this group, Hurricane Katrina was the event that solidified their resolve to prep. They saw what we all saw – a natural disaster in which services were not available for most, leading to violence, death and chaos. Their argument is that the more prepared the public is before a disaster occurs, the less resources they will require from first responders and those agencies that come after them.
In fact, instead of being a victim of natural disaster, you can be an active responder yourself, if you are prepared. Prepare they do. Members are active in gaining knowledge of all sorts – first aid, communications, tactical training, self-defense, first responder disaster training, as well as many outdoor survival skills, like making fire, building shelters, hunting and filtering water.
This education is individual, feeding directly into the online forum they maintain (which has just under 30,000 active members from all over the world), and by monthly local meetings all over the country, as well as annual national gatherings in southern Missouri, where they socialize, learn survival skills and practice sharpshooting.
Sound like those survivalists of the past? Emphatically no. Zombie Squad’s message is one of public education and awareness, very successful charity drives for a wide array of organizations, and inclusion of all ethnicities, genders, religions and politics. Yet, the group is adamant on leaving politics and religion out of discussions on the group and prepping. You will not find exclusive language on their forum or in their media. That is not to say that the individuals in the group do not have opinions on one side or the other of these issues, but it is a fact that those issues are not to be discussed within the community of Zombie Squad.
Considering the focus on ‘future doom’ and the types of fears that are being pushed on the shows mentioned above, usually involve protecting yourself from disaster and then other people that have survived the disaster, Zombie Squad is a refreshing twist to the ‘prepper’ discourse. After all, if a natural disaster were to befall your region, whom would you rather be knocking at your door: ‘raiders’ or your neighborhood Zombie Squad member?
And the answer is no: they don’t really believe in zombies.
A internet está cada vez mais política (Folha de S.Paulo)
JC e-mail 4464, de 27 de Março de 2012.
O advogado Marcel Leonardi foi um dos principais colaboradores na discussão pública que elaborou o Marco Civil da Internet, projeto de lei proposto pelo Ministério da Justiça para traçar princípios como neutralidade e privacidade na internet brasileira. Tempos depois, Leonardi foi chamado para assumir o posto de diretor de políticas públicas do Google no Brasil.
Em outras palavras, ele é o responsável por conversar com o governo, articular a defesa dos usuários em casos como o da cobrança do Escritório Central de Arrecadação e Distribuição (Ecad) sobre vídeos do YouTube embedados em blogs e levar à esfera pública princípios básicos da internet.
Tanto é que ele vive entre idas e vindas de Brasília e participa de audiências públicas para expor a opinião do Google – e a sua – sobre projetos de leis em discussão que afetam a maneira como as pessoas usam a internet, como o Código de Defesa do Consumidor, a Lei de Direitos Autorais e o próprio Marco Civil da Internet.
O advogado também responde questionamentos em nome do Google. Recentemente, o Ministério da Justiça exigiu explicações sobre as mudanças das regras de privacidade. A empresa, afinal, é custeada por publicidade – e neste modelo, os dados pessoais dos usuários têm muito valor. E é neste ponto em que os interesses da empresa e os dos usuários se distanciam. Leonardi diz que é uma questão de conscientização dos usuários sobre as novas regras.
Vestindo camiseta e calça jeans, sem o terno habitual, o articulador do Google deixa claro: hoje as empresas também fazem política. Cada vez mais.
O Ministério da Justiça questionou as mudanças na política de privacidade do Google. O que vocês responderam?
A gente está disposto a trabalhar com as autoridades. Há muita apreensão do que a gente faz em relação à privacidade, mas há pouca compreensão. Antes o Google tinha políticas separadas por produtos. Mas todas elas, com exceção de duas, já diziam que dados de um serviço poderiam ser utilizados em outros serviços. Então a unificação não alterou nada. Os dados que a gente coleta são os mesmos. As exceções eram o YouTube, que tinha uma política própria, e o histórico de buscas, que hoje expressamente pode ser usado em outros produtos do Google.
O que é preocupante.
A gente não considera assustador porque damos ao usuário as ferramentas para ele controlar isso. O usuário acessa o painel de controle e diz se quer ou não manter o histórico da busca. A pessoa pode desativar completamente. Seria assustador se acontecesse sem o usuário saber o que está acontecendo. Todas as empresas do setor adotam esse modelo.
Os dados pessoais são valiosos, e as pessoas não têm ideia do que é feito com as informações.
A mudança passou pelo maior esforço de notificação da história do Google. Anunciamos no dia 24 de janeiro, e elas só entraram em vigor no dia 1º de março. Durante todo esse período, tinha um aviso em todas as páginas. A lógica era reduzir o “legalês”, porque a indústria de internet sempre ouviu que as políticas e termos de uso tinham de ser mais claros. Enxugamos radicalmente, só que cai nesse problema: em que momento você consegue forçar alguém a ler? As pessoas sempre dizem que estão preocupadas com a privacidade, mas agem diferente.
O Google foi condenado recentemente por causa de uma postagem no Orkut. A responsabilização de empresas por conteúdo de usuários é recorrente?
É um debate antigo. Mundialmente existe o conceito de que a plataforma não é responsável. Nos EUA e na Europa a lei diz isso expressamente. O Brasil ainda não tem uma lei específica. Uma das propostas é o Marco Civil da Internet, que diz que a responsabilidade só será derivada do descumprimento de uma ordem judicial. Na ausência de leis, os tribunais analisam caso a caso. O Google sempre recorre para mostrar que, pela lógica e pelo bom senso, não existe responsabilidade da plataforma.
Como funciona o processo de remoção de conteúdo, por exemplo, um post de um blog?
Em casos de direito autoral, o Google recebe a notificação de alguém que demonstra que é titular daquele direito e que aquilo não foi autorizado, e existe a verificação se isso viola ou não. Mas existem alguns requisitos. Na lei americana, há os requisitos do DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act, lei de direitos autorais sancionada em 1998). No Brasil, da lei autoral.
O próprio Google verifica?
Existem os times internos que avaliam. Se há infração, a remoção acontece sem intervenção judicial, porque está de acordo com a nossa política de não permitir violação de direito autoral.
Concorda com a proposta do Ministério da Cultura, na nova Lei de Direitos Autorais, de institucionalizar um mecanismo de notificação?
Ainda é controverso. Eles pretendiam incluir o mecanismo que transforma em lei uma prática que muitas empresas adotam. O problema desse modelo é que dá margem para muito abuso. A gente vê muito isso nos EUA. Todo mundo tenta enquadrar própria situação em uma violação para justificar uma remoção.
Por que vocês se posicionaram contra a cobrança do Ecad sobre vídeos do YouTube?
Percebemos uma distorção na postura do Ecad. Achamos importantíssimo deixar pública a nossa posição de que não compactuávamos com aquilo, de que a interpretação da lei estava errada. O grande problema é que os novos modelos de negócio querem florescer, mas eles vêem uma interpretação antiga da lei autoral e isso impede que eles cresçam. O Spotify é um exemplo. O sujeito paga 10 euros e tem acesso a milhões de músicas. Muitas vezes a pirataria nada mais é que uma demanda reprimida que o mercado não está cumprindo.
A reforma da lei de direitos autorais é um avanço?
É uma incógnita. Tenho a impressão de que a versão intermediária é um pouco mais aberta e amigável para esses modelos. Tinha a licença compulsória, que era interessante, e uma linguagem que permitiria um uso mais flexível.
Vocês opinaram nesse texto?
A gente participa dos debates, mas depois da consulta pública a coisa fica fechada. No Congresso dá para conversar. É importante. Inclusive, se não fossem os ativistas, muita coisa de regulação de internet no Brasil teria sido diferente. Toda a oposição à lei Azeredo, toda a pressão para o Marco Civil, é fruto do engajamento. Nos EUA, a o caso Sopa foi interessante. O fato da Wikipedia ter saído do ar apavorou muita gente. Foi só aí que houve conscientização sobre os riscos da lei.
Essa lei nos EUA provocou um movimento em defesa dos princípios da internet. As empresas estão assumindo uma postura política?
Não tem como a gente não pensar politicamente hoje. Não dá para olhar para o próprio umbigo e pensar que enquanto o negócio vai bem não é preciso conversar. Porque existem questões acima. Quando a gente pensa politicamente é isso, todas as empresas do setor tendem a conversar e entender melhor como isso funciona.
Há necessidade de uma lei atualizada de cibercrimes?
Existe a necessidade do juiz ou de quem trabalha com direito criminal entender melhor a internet. Porque a maior parte do que está na lei já funciona. Não podemos correr o risco de adotar um texto tão genérico ao ponto de você estar lá fuçando no celular, sem querer você invade um sistema e vão dizer que você cometeu um crime.
O Brasil ainda é líder nos pedidos de remoção de conteúdo?
Sim. No nosso relatório de transparência constam todas as requisições do governo ou da Justiça de remoção de conteúdo. O Brasil é líder em remoções porque aqui é fácil. Você pode ir sem custo e sem advogado a um tribunal de pequenas causas e pedir uma liminar para tirar um blog do ar. Além disso, muita gente está acostumada com a cultura de “na dúvida, vamos pedir para remover”.
O que pode instituir a censura.
É. A gente já se deparou com casos assustadores. Está crescendo o número de empresas criticadas por consumidores que entram com uma ação para remover qualquer referência negativa.
(Folha de São Paulo)
Karl Marx and the Iroquois (libcom.org)
There are works that come down to us with question-marks blazing like sawed-off shotguns, scattering here and there and everywhere sparks that illuminate our own restless search for answers. Ralegh’s so-called Cynthia cycle, Sade’s 120 Days, Fourier’s New Amorous World, Lautremont’s Poesies, Lenin’s notes on Hegel, Randolph Bourne’s essay on The State Jacque Vaches War letters, Duchamp’s Green Box, the Samuel Greenberg manuscripts: These are only a few of the extraordinary fragments that have, for many of us, exerted a fascination greater than that of all but a very few “finished” works.
Karl Marx’s Ethnological Notebooks -notes for a major study he never lived to write, have something of the same fugitive ambiguity. These extensively annotated excerpts from works of Lewis Henry Morgan and others are a jigsaw puzzle for which we have to reinvent the missing pieces out of our own research and revery and above all, our own revolutionary activity. Typically although the existence of the notebooks has been know since Marx’s death in 1883, they were published integrally for the first time only eighty-nine years later, and then only in a highly priced edition aimed at specialists. A transcription of text exactly as Marx wrote it- the book presents the reader with all the difficulties of Finnegan’s Wake and more, with its curious mixture of English, German, French, Latin and Greek, and a smattering of words and phrases from many non-European languages, from Ojibwa to Sanskrit. Cryptic shorthand abbreviations, incomplete and run-on sentences, interpolated exclamations, erudite allusions to classical mythology, passing references to contemporary world affairs, generous doses of slang and vulgarity; irony and invective: All these the volume possesses aplenty, and they are not the ingredients of smooth reading. This is not a work of which it can be said, simply, that it was “not prepared by the author for publication”; indeed, it is very far from being even a “rough draft?’ Rather it is the raw substance of a work, a private jumble of jottings intended for no other eyes than Marx’s own-the spontaneous record of his “conversations” with the authors he was reading, with other authors whom they quoted, and, finally and especially, with himself. In view of the fact that Marx’s clearest, most refined texts have provoked so many contradictory interpretations, it is perhaps not so strange that his devoted students, seeking the most effective ways to propagate the message of the Master to the masses, have shied away from these hastily written, disturbingly unrefined and amorphous notes.
The neglect of the notebooks for nearly a century is even less surprising when one realizes the degree to which they challenge what has passed for Marxism all these years. In the lamentable excuse for a “socialist” press in the English-speaking world, this last great work from Marx’s pen has been largely ignored. Academic response, by anthropologists and others, has been practically nonexistent, and has never gone beyond Lawrence Krader’s lame assertion, at the end of his informative 85-page Introduction, that the Notebooks’ chief interest is that they indicate “the transition of Marx from the restriction of the abstract generic human being to the empirical study of particular peoples.” It would seem that even America’s most radical anthropologists have failed to come to grips with these troubling texts. The Notebooks are cited only once and in passing in Eleanor Leacock’s Myths of Male Dominance: Collected Articles on Women Cross-culturally. And Stanley Diamond, who Krader thanks for reading his Introduction, makes no reference to them at all in his admirable study, In Search of The Primitive: A critique of Civilization.
The most insightful commentary on these Notebooks has naturally come from writers far outside the mainstream – “Marxist” as well as academic. Historian, antiwar activist and Blake scholar E. P. Thompson, in his splendid polemic, The Poverty of Theory and Other Essay’s, was among the first to point out that “Marx, in his increasing preoccupation in his last years with anthropology, was resuming the projects of his Paris youth.” Raya Dunayevskaya, in herRosa Luxemburg,Women’s Liberation and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution, is more explicit in her estimate of these “epoch-making Notebooks which rounded out Marx’s life work:’ these “profound writings that…summed up his life’s work and created new openings;’ and which therefore have “created a new vantage-point from which to view Marx’s oeuvre as a totality.” Dunayevskaya, a lifelong revolutionist and a pioneer in the revival of interest in the Hegelian roots of Marxism, argued further that “these Notebooks reveal, at one and the same time, the actual ground that led to the first projection of the possibility of revolution coming first in the underdeveloped countries like Russia; a reconnection and deepening of what was projected in the Grundrisse on the Asiatic mode of production; and a return to that most fundamental relationship of Man/Woman which had first been projected in the 1844 essays”.
The suggestion that the Ethnological Notebooks signify Marx’s return to the “projects of his Paris youth” might turn out to entail more far-‘reaching implications than anyone has yet realized. Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 arc unquestionably the brightest star of that heroic early period, but they should be seen as part of a whole constellation of interrelated activities and aspirations.
One of the first things that strikes us about Marx’s Paris youth is that this period precedes the great splits that later rent the revolutionary workers’ movement into so many warring factions. Marxists of all persuasions even though bitterly hostile to each other, have nonetheless tended to agree that these splits enhanced the proletariat’s organizational efficacy and theoretical clarity, and therefore should be viewed as positive gains for the movement as a whole. But isn’t it just possible -that, in at least some of these splits, something not necessarily horrible or worthless was lost at the same time? In any event, in 1844-45 we find Marx in a veritable euphoria of self-critical exploration and discovery: sorting out influences, puzzlling over a staggering range of problems, and “thinking out loud” in numerous manuscripts never published in his lifetime. In his Paris youth, and for several years thereafter, Karl Marx was no Marxist.
Early in 1845, for example, he and his young friend Engels were enthusiastically preparing an unfortunately-never-realized “Library of the Best Foreign Socialist Authors;’ which was to have included works by Theophile Leclerc and other enrages; as well as by Babeuf and Buonarroti, William Godwin, Fourier, Cabet and Proudhon-that is, representative figures from the entire spectrum of revolutionary thought out-side all sectarianism. They were especially taken with the prodigious work of the most inspired and daring of the utopians, Charles Fourier, who had died in 1837, and for whom they would retain a profound admiration all their lives. Proudhon on the other hand, influenced them not only through his books, but-at least in Marx’s case-personally as well, for he was a good friend in those days, with whom Marx later recalled having had “prolonged discussions” which often lasted “far into the night.”
It is too easily forgotten today that in 1844 Proudhon already enjoyed an international reputation; his What Is Property? (1840) had created an enormous scandal, and no writer was more hated by the French bourgeoisie. Marx, an unknown youth of 26, Still had much to learn from the ebullient journeyman printer who would come to be renowned as the “Father of Anarchism:’ In his first book, The Holy Family (1845), Marx hailed What is Property? as “the first resolute, -ruthless, and at the same time scientific investigation…of the basis of political economy, private property … an advance which revolutionizes political economy and for the first time makes a real science of political economy possible”.
In 1844 we find Engels writing sympathetically of American Shaker communities, which he argued, proved that “communism… is not only possible but has actually already been realized.” The same year he wrote a letter to Marx praising Max Stirner’s new work, The Ego and Its Own, urging that Stirner’s very egoism “can be built upon even as we invert it” and that “what is true in his principles we have to accept”; an article suggesting that the popularity of the German translation of Eugene Sue’s quasi-Gothic romance The Mysteries of Paris, proved that Germany was ripe for communist agitation;, and a letter to the editor defending an “author of several Communist books;’ -Abbe Constant, who, under the name he later adopted – EIiphas Levi-would become the most renowned of French occultists.
Constant was a close friend of pioneer socialist-feminist Flora Tristan, whose Union Ouvriere(Workers’ Union, 1842) was the first work to urge working men and women to form an international union to achieve their emancipation. One of the most fascinating personalities in early French socialism, Tristan was given a place of honor in The Holy Family, zealously defended by Marx from the stupid, sexist gibes of the various counter-revolutionary “Critical Critics” denounced throughout the book.
That Constant became a practicing occultist, and that he and Tristan were for several years closely associated with the mystical socialist and phrenologist Simon Ganneau, “messiah” of a revolutionary cult devoted to the worship of an androgynous divinity, reminds us that Paris in the 1830s and ’40s was the scene of a remark-able reawakening of interest in things occult, and that the milieux of occultists and revolutionists were by no means separated by a Chinese wall. A new interest in alchemy was especially evident, and important works on the subject date from that period, notably the elusive Cyliani’s Hermes devoile (1832)-reprinted in 1915, this became a key source for the Fulcanelli circle, which in turn inspired our own century’s hermetic revival-and Francois Cambriel’s Cours de Philosophie hermetique Ou d’Alchimie, en dir-neuf lecons (1843)
To what extent Marx and/or Engels encountered occultists or their literature is not known, and is certainly not a question that has interested any of their biographers. It cannot be said that the passing references to alchemy and the Philosophers’ Stone in their writings indicate any familiarity with original hermetic sources. We do know, however, that they shared Hegel’s high esteem for the sixteenth century German mystic and heretic Jacob Boehme, saluted by Marx in the Rheinische Zeitung in 1842 as “a great philosopher.” Four years earlier Engels had made a special study of Boehme, finding him “a dark but deep soul”,” very original” and “rich in poetic ideas.” Boehme is cited in The Holy Family and in several other writings of Marx and Engels over the years.
One of the things that may have attracted them to Boehme is the fact that he was very much a dialectical thinker. Dialectic abounds in the work of many mystical authors, not least in treatises on magic, alchemy and other “secret sciences” and it should astonish no one to discover that rebellious young students of Hegel had made surreptitious forays onto this uncharted terrain in their quest for knowledge. This was certainly the case with one of Marx’s close friends, a fellow Young Hegelian, Mikhail Bakunin, who often joined him for those all-night discussions at Proudhon’s. As a young man the future author of God and the State is known to have studied the works of the French mystic, Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, “The Unknown Philosopher” and “Lover of Secret things” as well as of the eccentric German romantic philosopher, Franz von Baader, author of a study of the mysterious eighteenth-century Portuguese-Jewish mage, Martinez de Pasqual, who is thought by some to have had a part in the formation of Haitian voodoo (he spent his last years on the island and died in Port-au-Prince in 1774), and whose Traite de la reintegration is one of the most influential occult writings of the last two centuries.
Mention of von Baader, whose romantic philosophy combined an odd Catholic mysticism and equally odd elements of a kind of magic-inspired utopianism that was all his own-interestingly, he was the first writer in German to use the word “proletariat”- highlights the fact that Boehme, Paracelsus, Meister Eckhart. Swedenborg, Saint-Martin and all manner of wayward and mystical thinkers contributed mightily to the centuries-old ferment that finally produced Romanticism, and that Romanticism in turn, especially in its most extreme and heterodox forms, left its indelible mark on the Left Hegelian/Feuerbachian milieu. Wasn’t it under the sign of poetry, after all that Marx came to recognize himself as an enemy of the bourgeois order? Everyone knows the famous thee components” of Marxism: German philosophy, English economics and French socialism. But what about the poets of the world: Aeschylus and Homer and Cervantes. Goethe and Shelley? To miss this fourth component is to miss a lot of Marx (and indeed, a lot of life). A whole critique of post-Marx Marxism could be based on this calamitous “oversight.” 1844, one does well to remember was also a year in which Marx was especially close to Heinrich Heine. Marx himself wrote numerous poems of romantic frenzy (two were published in 1841 under the title “Wild Songs”) and even tried his hand at a play and a bizarre satirical romance Scorpion and Felix. By 1844 he had renounced literary pursuits as such, but no philosopher, no political writer or activist and certainly no economist has ever used metaphor
with such exuberance and flair as the author of A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy used throughout his life. To the last. Marx-and to a great extent this is also true of Engels-remained a fervent adept of “poetry’s magic fullness” (to quote one of his early translations of Ovid’s elegies). These ardent youths never ceased to pursue philosophy on their road to revolution, but it was poetry that, as often as not, inspired their daring and confirmed their advances.
That Marx, toward the end of his life, was returning to projects that had been dear to his heart in the days of his original and bold grappling with “naturalist anthropology” as a theory of communist revolution, the days in which he was most deeply preoccupied with the philosophical and practical legacy of Hegel and Fourier, the days of his friendship with Proudhon and Bakunin and Heine, is resonant with meanings for today-all the more so since here, too, at the end as at the beginning a crucial motivating impulse seems to have been provided by poetry.
In 1880 the publication of James Thomson’s City of Dreadful Night, and Other Poems – the title-piece of which is often called the most pessimistic poem in the English language-made a powerful impression on the author of Capital. Especially enthusiastic about Thomson’s’ “Attempts at Translations of Heine,” Marx wrote a warm letter to the poet, urging that the poems were “no translations, but a reproduction of the original, such as Heine himself, if master of the English language, would have given” Although Marx’s biographers have maintained an embarrassed silence on the subject, it is really not so difficult to discern how Thomson-this opium-addicted poet of haunting black lyricism, who was not only one of the most aggressive anti-religious agitators in English but also the translator of Leopardi and among the first to write intelligently about Blake—could have stimulated a revival of the dreams and desires of Marx’s own most Promethean days. And then, just think of it: while his brain is still reeling with visions inspired by a true poet, he plunges into the richest, most provocative work of the most brilliant anthropological thinker of his time. Such chances are the very stuff that revelations are made of!
It was not mere “anthropology,” however, that Marx found so appealing in lewis Henry Morgan’s Ancient Society but rather, as he hints in his notes and as Engels spelled out in hisOrigin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884), the merciless critique and condemnation of capitalist civilization that so well complements that of Charles Fourier.
And yet these Ethnological Notebooks are much more than a compilation of new data confirming already existing criticism. It must be said, in this regard, that The Origin of the Family, which Engels says he wrote as “the fullfillment of a bequest’-‘ Marx having died before he was able to prepare his own presentation of Morgan’s researches-is, as Engels himself readily admitted, “but a meager substitute” for the work Marx’s notes suggest. Several generations of Marxists have mistaken The Origin of the Family for the definitive word on the subject, but in fact it reflects Engels’ reading of Morgan (and other authors) far more than it reflects Marx’s notes. Engels’ sweeping notion of “the “world-historic defeat of the female sex,” for example, was borrowed from the writings of J.J Bachofen, and is not well supported by Marx’s notes, while several important comments that Marx did make were not included in Engels’ little book.
Clearly intending The Origin of the family to be nothing more than a popular socialist digest of the major themes of Ancient Society – Morgan’s famous systems of consanguinity, his extensive data on “communism in living,” the evolution of property and the State – Engels emphasized Morgan’s broad agreement with Marx and ignored everything in Morgan and in Marx that lay outside this modest plan. That Engels did not write the book that Marx might have written is not really such shocking news, and any blame for possible damage done would seem to rest not with Engels but with all those who, since 1884, devoutly assumed that Engels’ book said all that Marx had to say and therefore all that had to be said. Of course, had Marx’s followers taken to heart his own favorite watchword, De omnibus dubitandum (doubt every-thing) the history of Marxism would have been rather different and probably much happier And as the blues-singer sang, “If a frog had wings. . .
The Notebooks include excerpts from, and Marx’s commentary on, other ethnological writers besides Morgan, but the section on Morgan is the most substantial by far, and of the greatest interest Reading this curious dialogue one can almost see Marx’s mind at work-sharpening, extending, challenging and now and then correcting Morgan’s interpretations, bringing out dialectical moments latent in Ancient Society but not always sufficiently developed, and sometimes wholly undeveloped, by Morgan himself. Marx also seemed to enjoy relating Morgan’s empirical data to the original sources of his (Marx’s) own critique, notably Fourier and (though his name does not figure in these notes) Hegel, generally with the purpose of clarifying some vital current problem. As Marx had said of an earlier unfinished work, theGrundrisse (1857-58), the Ethnological Notebooks contain “some nice developments”.
Some of the most interesting passages by Marx that did not find their ‘way into Engels’ book have to do with the transition from “archaic” to “civilized” society, a key problem for Marx in his last years. Questioning Morgan’s contention that “personal government” prevailed throughout primitive societies, Marx argued that long before the dissolution of the gens (clan), chiefs were “elected” only in theory, the office having become a transmissible on; controlled by a property-owning elite that had begun to emerge within the gens itself. Here Marx was pursuing a critical inquiry into the origins of the distinction between public and private spheres (and, by extension, between “official” and “unofficial” social reality and ideological fiction) that he had begun in his critique of Hegel’s philosophy of law in 1843. The close correlation Marx found between the development of property and the state, on the one hand, and religion, their chief ideological disguise, on the other-which led to his acute observation that religion grew as the gentile commonality shrank-also relates to his early critique of the Rechtphilosophie, in the famous introduction to which Marx’s attack on religion attained an impassioned lucidity worthy of the greatest poets.
The poetic spirit, in fact, makes its presence felt more than once in these Notebooks. Auspiciously, in this compendium of ethnological evidence, Marx duly noted Morgan’s insistence on the historical importance of “imagination, that great faculty so largely contributing to the elevation of mankind,” From cover to cover of these Notebooks we see how Marx’s encounter with “primitive cultures” stimulated his own imagination, and we begin to realize that there is much more here than Engels divulged.
On page after page Marx highlights passages wildly remote from what are usually regarded as the “standard themes” of his work. Thus we find him invoking the bell-shaped houses of the coastal tribes of Venezuela; the manufacture of Iroquois belts “using fine twine made of filaments of elm and basswood bark”‘ “the Peruvian legend of Manco Capac and Mama Oello, children of the sun”; burial customs of the Tuscarora; the Shawnee belief in metempsychosis; “unwritten” literature of myth’s, legends and traditions”; the “incipient sciences” of the village Indians of the Southwest; the Popul Vuh, sacred book of the ancient Quiche Maya; the use of porcupine quills in ornamentation; Indian games and “dancing (as a] form of worship.”
Carefully, and for one tribe after another, Marx lists each each the animals from which the various clans claim descent, No work of his is so full of such words as Wolf grizzly bear; opossum and turtle (in the pages on Australian aborigines we find emu, kangaroo and bandicoot). Again and again he copies words and names from tribal languages. Intrigued by the manner in which individual (personal) names indicate the gen, he notes these Sauk names from the Eagle gens: “Ka-po-na (‘Eagle drawing his nest’); Ja-ka-kwa-pe (‘Eagle sitting with his head up’); Pe-a-ta-na-ka-hok (‘Eagle flying over a limb’).” Repeatedly he attends to details so unusual that one cannot help wondering what he was thinking as he wrote them in his notebook Consider, for example, his word-for-word quotation from Morgan telling of a kind of “grace” said before an Indian tribal feast: “It “was a prolonged exclamation by a single person on a high shrill note, falling down in cadences into stillness, followed by a response in chorus by the people.” After the meal, he adds, “The evenings [are] devoted to dance?”
Especially voluminous are Marx’s notes on the Iroquois, the confederation of tribes with which Morgan was personally most familiar (in 1846 he was in fact “adopted” by one of its constituent tribes, the Seneca, as a warrior of the Hawk clan), and on which he had written a classic monograph. Clearly Marx shared Morgan’s passional attraction for the “League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee?’ among whom “the state did not exist,” and “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, though never formulated, were cardinal principles,” and whose sachems, moreover, had “none of the marks of a priesthood?’ One of his notes includes Morgan’s description of the formation of the Iroquois Confederation as “a masterpiece of Indian wisdom,” and it doubtless fascinated him to learn that, as far in advance of the revolution as 1755, the Iroquois had recommended to the “forefathers [of the] Americans, a union of the colonies similar so their own.”
Many passages of these Notebooks reflect Marx’s interest in Iroquois democracy as expressed in the Council of the Gens, that “democratic assembly where every adult male and female member had a voice upon all questions brought before it,” and he made special note of details regarding the active participation of women in tribal affairs, The relation of man to woman-a topic of Marx’s 1844 manuscripts-is also one of the recurring themes of his ethnological inquiries. Thus he quotes a letter sent to Morgan by a missionary among the Seneca: “The women were the great power among the clans, as everywhere else. They did not hesitate, when occasion required, ‘to knock off the horns,’ as it was technically called, from the head of a chief, and send him back to the ranks of the warriors. The original nomination of the chief also always rested with them” And a few pages later he highlights Morgan’s contention that the “present monogamian family… must…change as society changes…It is the creature of a social system… capable of still further improvement until the equality of the sexes is attained.” He similarly emphasizes Morgan’s conclusion, regarding monogamy, that “it is impossible to predict the nature of its successor?'”
In this area as elsewhere Marx discerned germs of social stratification within the gentile organization, again in terms of the separation of “public” and “private” spheres, which he saw in turn as the reflection of the gradual emergence of a propertied and privileged tribal caste. After copying Morgan’s observation that, in the Council of Chiefs, women were free to express their wishes and opinions “through a” orator of their own choosing?” he added, with emphasis, that the “Decision (was] made by the (all-male) Council” Marx was nonetheless unmistakably impressed by the fact that, among the Iroquois, women enjoyed a freedom and a degree of social involvement far beyond that of the women (or men!) of any civilized nation. The egalitarian tendency of all gentile societies is one of the qualities of these societies that most interested Marx, and his alertness to deviations from it did not lead him to reject Morgan’s basic hypothesis in this regard. Indeed, where Morgan, in his chapter on “The Monogamian Family?” deplored the treatment of women in ancient Greece as an anomalous and enigmatic departure from the egalitarian norm, Marx commented (perhaps here reflecting the influence of Bachofen): “But the relationship between the goddesses on Olympus reveals memories of women’s higher position?”
Marx’s passages from Morgan’s chapters on the Iroquois are proportionally much longer than his of his excerpts from Ancient Society, and in fact make up one of the largest sections of theNotebooks. It was not only Iroquois social organization, however, that appealed to him, but rather a whole way of life sharply counter-posed, all along the line, to modern industrial civilization. His overall admiration for North American Indian societies generally, and for the Iroquois in particular, is made clear throughout the text, perhaps most strongly in his highlighting of Morgan’s reference to their characteristic “sense of independence” and “personal dignity?’ qualities both men appreciated but found greatly diminished as humankind’s “property career” advanced. Whatever reservations Marx may have had regarding the universal applicability of the Iroquois “model” in the analysis of gentile societies, the painstaking care with which he copied out Morgan’s often meticulous descriptions of the various aspects of their culture shows how powerfully these people impressed him. Whole pages of the Notebooks recount, in marvelous detail, Iroquois Council procedures and ceremonies:
at a signal the sachems arose and marched 3 times around the Burning Circle, going as before by the North… Master of the ceremonies again rising to his feet, filled and lighted the pipe of peace from his own fire; drew 3 whiffs, the first toward the Zenith (which meant thanks to the Great Spirit…); the second toward the ground (means thanks to his Mother, the Earth. for the various productions which had ministered to his sustenance); third toward the Sun (means thanks for his never-failing light, ever shining upon all). Then he passed the pipe to the first upon his right toward the North…
This passage goes on in the same vein for some thirty lines, but I think this brief excerpt suffices to show that the Ethnological Notebooks are unlike anything else in the Marxian canon.
The record of Marx’s vision-quest through Morgan’s Ancient Society offers us a unique and amazing close-up of the final phase of what Raya Dunayevskaya has called Marx’s “never-ending search for new paths to revolution?’ The young Marx of the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 summed up revolution as “the supersession of private property.’ His starting-point was the critique of alienated labor which “alienates nature from man, man from himself. . [and man] from the species”-that is, labor dominated by the system ofprivate property, by capital, the “inhuman power” that “rules over everything:’ spreading its “infinite degradation” over the fundamental relation of man to woman and reducing all human beings to commodities. Thus the “supersession of private property” meant for Marx not only the “emancipation of the workers” (which of course involves “the emancipation of humanity as a whole”), but also “the emancipation of all the human qualities and senses” (the senses themselves having become directly, as he expressed it with characteristic humor; “theoreticians in practice”). This “positive abolition of private property, of human self-alienation” is also, at the same time, “the real appropriation of human nature’ -‘in other words,communism,
the definitive resolution of the antagonism between man and nature, and between man and man. It is the true solution of the conflict between existence and essence, between objectification and self-affirmation, between freedom and necessity, between individual and species. It is the solution of the riddle of history and knows itself to be this solution.
To such ways of seeing the old Marx seems to have returned as, in his mind’s eye, he took his three whiffs on the pipe of peace around the Iroquois council fire. But it was no self-indulgent nostalgia that led him to trace the perilous path of his youthful dreams and beyond, to the dawn of human society. A revolutionist to the end, Marx in 1880 no less than in 1844 envisioned a radically new society founded on a total transformation in human relationships, and sought new ways, to help bring this new society into being.
Ancient Society, and especially its detailed account of the Iroquois, for the first time gave Marx insights into the concrete possibilities of a free society as it had actually existed in historyMorgan’s conception of social and cultural evolution enabled him to pursue the problems he had taken up philosophically in 1844 in a new way, from a different angle, and with new revolutionary implications. Marx’s references, in these notes and elsewhere, to terms and phrases recognizable as Morgan’s, point toward his general acceptance of Morgan’s outline of the evolution of human society. Several times in the non-Morgan sections of the Notebooks, for example, he reproaches other writers for their ignorance of the character of the gens, or of the “Upper Status of Barbarism.” In drafts of a letter written shortly after reading Morgan he specified that “Primitive communities… form a series of social groups which, differing in both type and age, mark successive phases of evolution.”‘ But this does not mean that Marx adopted, in all its details, the so-called “unilinear” evolutionary plan usually attributed to Morgan-a plan which, after its uncritical endorsement by Engels in The Origin of the Family, has remained ever since a fixture of “Marxist” orthodoxy. Evidence scattered throughout theNotebooks suggests, rather, that Marx had grown markedly skeptical of fixed categories in attempts at historical reconstruction, and that he continued to affirm the multilinear character of human social development that he had advanced as far back as the Grundrisse in the 1850s.
Indeed, it is amusing, in view of the widespread misapprehension of Morgan as nothing but a mono-maniacal unilinearist, that Marx’s notes highlight various departures from unilinearity in Morgan’s own work. Morgan himself, in fact, more than once acknowledged the “provisional” character of his system, and especially of the “necessarily arbitrary” character of the boundary lines between the developmental stages he proposed; he nonetheless regarded his schemata as “convenient and useful” for comprehending such a large mass of data, and in any case specifically allowed for (and took note of) exceptions.
However, if our reading of Marx’s notes is right, he found things in Ancient Society infinitely more valuable to him than arguments for or against any mere classificatory system. The book’s sheer immensity of new information-new for Marx and for the entire scientific world, demonstrated conclusively the true complexity of “primitive” societies as welt as their grandeur, their essential superiority, in real human terms, to the degraded civilization founded on the fetishism of commodities. In a note written just after his conspectus of Morgan we find Marx arguing that “primitive communities had incomparably greater vitality than the Semitic, Greek, Roman and a fortiori the modern capitalist societies?” Thus Marx had come to realize that, measured according to the “wealth of subjective human sensuality,” as he had expressed it in the 1844 manuscripts, Iroquois society stood much higher than any of the societies “poisoned by the pestilential breath of civilization?’ Even more important, Morgan’s lively account of the Iroquois gave him a vivid awareness of the actuality of indigenous peoples, and perhaps even a glimpse of the then-undreamed of possibility that such peoples could make their owncontributions to the global struggle for human emancipation.
Hard hit as they had been by the European capitalist invasion and US, capitalism’s west-ward expansion, the Iroquois and other North American tribal cultures could not in the 1880s and cannot now, a hundred years later; be consigned to the museums of antiquity. When Marx was reading Ancient Society the “Indian wars” were still very much a current topic in these United States, and if by that time the military phase of this genocidal campaign was confined to the west, far from Iroquois territory; still the Iroquois, and every surviving tribal society, were engaged (as they are engaged today to one degree or another) in a continuous struggle against the system of private property and the State.
In a multitude of variants, the same basic conditions prevailed in Asia, Africa, parts of Eastern Europe, Russia, Canada, Australia, South America, the West Indies, Polynesia-wherever indigenous peoples had not wholly succumbed to the tyranny of capitalist development. After reading Morgan’s portrayal of primitive communism” at the height of its glory, Marx saw all this in a new light. In the last couple of years of his life, to a far greater degree than ever before, he focused his attention on people of color; the colonialized, peasants and “primitives?”.
That he was not reading Morgan exclusively or even primarily for historical purposes, but rather as part of his ongoing exploration of the processes of revolutionary social change, is suggested by numerous allusions in the Notebooks to contemporary social/political affairs. In the Notebooks, as Raya Dunayevskaya has argued, “Marx’s hostility to capitalism’s colonialism was intensifying…[He] returns to probe the origin of humanity, not for purposes of discovering new origins, but for perceiving new revolutionary forces, their reason, or as Marx called it, in emphasizing a sentence of Morgan, “powers of the mind?”
The vigorous attacks on racism and religion that recur throughout the Notebooks, especially in the often lengthy and sometimes splendidly vituperative notes on Maine and Lubbock, leave no doubt in this regard.
Again and again when these smirking apologists for imperialism direct their condescending ridicule at the “superstitious” beliefs and practices of Australian aborigines or other native peoples, Marx turns it back like a boomerang on the “civilized canaille?” He accepted-at least, he did not contradict-Lubbock’s hypothesis that the earliest human societies were atheist, but had only scorn for Lubbock’s specious reasoning: that the savage mind was not developed enough to recognize the “truths” of religion! No, Marx’s notes suggest, our “primitive” ancestors were atheists because the belief in gods and other priestly abominations entered the world only with the beginnings of class society. Relentlessly, in these notes, he follows the development of religion as an integral part of the repressive apparatus through its various permutations linked to the formation of caste, slavery, patriarchal monogamy and monarchy. The “poor religious element,” he remarks, becomes the main preoccupation of the gens precisely to the degree that real cooperation and common property decline, so that eventually, “only the smell of incense and holy water remains?’ The author of the Ethnological Notebooksmade no secret of the fact that he was solidly on the side of the atheistic savages.
After poring over Ancient Society at the end of 1880 and the first weeks of ’81, a large share of Marx’s reading focused on primitive’ societies and “backward” countries. Apart from the works of John Budd Phear, Henry Sumner Maine and John Lubbock that he excerpted and commented on in the Ethnological Notebooks he read books on India, China and Java, and several on Egypt (two and a half months before his death, in a letter to his daughter Eleanor; Marx denounced the “shameless Christian-hypocritical conquest” of Egypt). After he returned from a brief visit to Algiers in the spring of *82, his son-in-law Paul Lafargue wrote that “Marx has come back with his head full of Africa and Arabs. “When he received a query from the Russian radical Vera Zasulich. asking whether the Russian rural communes could become the basis for a new collective society or whether her homeland would have to pass through a capitalist stage, Marx intensified his already deep study of Russian social and economic history. His remarkable reply to Zasulich offers a measure of Marx’s creative audacity in his last years, and demonstrates too, that his reading of Morgan involved not only a new way of looking at pre-capitalist societies, but also a new way of looking at the latest practical problems lacing the revolutionary movement. Zasulich’s letter to Marx had more than a hint of urgency about it, for, as she explained,
Nowadays, we often hear it said that the rural commune is an archaic form condemned to perish by history, scientific socialism and, in short, everything above debate. Those who preach such a view call themselves your disciples…their strongest argument is often: ‘Marx said so’ But how do you derive that from Capital?’ others object. ‘He does not discuss the agrarian’ question, and says nothing about Russia.’ ‘He would have said as much if he had discussed our country,” your disciples retort…’
Just how seriously Marx pondered the question may be inferred from the tact that he wrote no less than four drafts of a reply in addition to the comparatively brief letter he actually sent – a grand total of some twenty-five book pages. His reply was a stunning blow to the self-assured, dogmatic smugness of the Russian “Marxists” who not only refused to publish the letter but pretended that it did not exist (it was Published for the first time in 1924).
Stressing that the “historical inevitability” of capitalist development as articulated in Capitalwas “expressly restricted to the countries of Western Europe,” he concluded that
The analysis in Capital therefore provides no reasons-either for or against the vitality of the Russian Commune. But the special study l have mode of it, including a search for original source-material, has convinced me that the commune is the fulcrum for social regeneration in Russia.
The Preface to the second Russian edition of the Communist Manifesto (1882) co-signed by Engels, closed with a somewhat qualified restatement of this new orientation:
Can the Russian obshchina [peasant commune] a form, albeit highly eroded, of the primitive communal ownership of the Land, pass directly into the higher, communist form of communal ownership?… Today there is only one possible answer. If the Russian revolution becomes the signal for proletarian revolution in the West, so that the two complement each other, then Russia’s peasant communal land-ownership may serve as the point departure for a communist development.
The bold suggestion that revolution in an underdeveloped country might precede and precipitate revolution in the industrialized West did not pop up out of Nowhere – every idea has its prehistory – but few, will deny that it contradicts9 uproariously, the overwhelming bulk of Marx’s anterior work It is in fact, a flagrantly “anti-Marxist” heresy, as Marx’s Russian disciples surely were aware. Just six years earlier, in 1875, a Russian Jacobin, Petr Tkachev’, brought down upon himself a good dose of Engel’s ridicule – evidently with Marx’s full approval-for having had the temerity to propose some such nonsense about skipping historically ordained stages, and even the appalling fantasy that peasant-riddled Russia could reach the revolutionary starting-line before the sophisticated proletariat of the West. Such “pure hot air:’ Engels felt obliged to counsel the poor Russian “schoolboy;’ proved only that Thachev had yet “to learn the ABC of Socialism?”
Marx’s growing preoccupation with revolutionary prospects in Russia during the last decade of his life is a subject scrutinized from many angles and with marvelous insight in Teodor Shanin’s Late Marx and the Russian Road, a book of impeccable scholarship that is also a major contribution to the clarification of revolutionary perspectives today. As Shanin and his collaborators have shown, Marx was hostile to Russian Populism in the I860s, but began to change his mind early in the next decade when he taught himself Russian and started reading Populist literature, including works by the movement’s major theorist, N. G. Chernyshevsky, for whom he quickly developed the deepest admiration. By 1880 Marx was a wholehearted supporter of the revolutionary Populist Narodnaya Volyna (People’s Will), even defending its terrorist activities (the group attempted to assassinate the Czar that year, and succeeded the next), while remaining highly critical of the “boring doctrines” of Plekhanov and other would-be Russian “Marxists” whom he -derided as “defenders of capitalism.” Throughout this period Marx read avidly in the field of Russian history and economics; a list he made of his Russian books in August 1881 included nearly 200 titles.
The iconoclastic reply to Zasulich then, was conditioned by many factors, including the formation of a new Russian revolutionary movement, personal meetings with Populists and others from Russia, and Marx’s wide reading of scholarly and popular literature, as well as radical and bourgeois newspapers.
Several provocative coincidences relate Ancient Society to this major shift in Marx’s thought. First, Marx originally borrowed a copy of the book from one of his Russian visitors, Maxim Kovalevsky, who had brought it back from a trip to the U.S. Whether this was the COPY Marx excerpted is not known; Engels did not find the book on Marx’s shelves after his death. But Morgan’s work aroused interest among other Russian revolutionary émigrés as well, for we know that Marx’s longtime friend Petr Lavrov, a First-Internationalist and one of the most important Populists, also owned a copy, which he had purchased at a London bookshop. These are the only two copies of the book known to have existed in Marx’s immediate milieu during his lifetime.’
Second, Marx’s Morgan excerpts include interpolated comments of his own on the Russian commune. The Notebooks also touch on other themes-most notably the skipping of stages by means of technological diffusion between peoples at different stages of development-that recur in the drafts of the letter to Zasulich.
Third, and more strikingly, Zasulich’s letter to Marx reached him just as he was in the midst of, or had just completed, making these annotated excerpts from Morgan’s work.
Fourth, and most important of all, Marx cited and even quoted-or rather paraphrased-Morgan in a highly significant passage in one of the drafts of his reply to Zasulich:
the rural, commune [in Russia] finds [capitalism in the West] in a State of crisis that will end only when the social system is eliminated through the return of modern societies to the “archaic” type of communal property In the words of an American writer who, supported in his work by the Washington government, is not at all to be suspected of revolutionary tendencies [here Marx refers to the fact that Morgan’s Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity was published by the Smithsonian Institution] “the new system” to which modern society is tending “will be a revival, in a superior form, of an archaic social type.” We should not then, be too frightened by the word archaic.”
Scattered through the drafts of his letter to Zasulich, moreover; are a half dozen other unmistakable allusions to Morgan’s researches.
Thus we have ascertained that Zasulich’s letter arrived at a time when Ancient Society was very much on Marx’s mind. Taken together; the foregoing “coincidences” strongly urge upon us the conclusion that Marx’s reading of Morgan was an active factor in the qualitative leap in his thought on revolution in under-developed countries.
If America’s “radical intelligentsia” were something more than an academically domesticated sub-subculture of hyper-timid and ultra-respectable seekers of safe at-all cost careers, Marx’sEthnological Notebooks might have spearheaded, among other things, a revival of interest in Lewis Henry Morgan. But no, the Notebooks have been conveniently ignored and, notwithstanding a few faint glimmers of change in the 1960s, the near-universal contempt for the author of Ancient Society remains in hill force today.
Even so perceptive and sensitive a critic as Raya Dunayevsakaya did not entirely avoid the unfortunate Morgan-bashing that has been a compulsory ritual of American anthropology, and of U.S. intellectual life generally, since the First World War. In her case, of course, she was responding to rather different rituals on the opposite side of the ideological fence: to what one could call the pseudo-Marxists’ pseudo-respect for Morgan. In truth, however; the traditional rhetorical esteem for Morgan on the part of Stalinists and social-democrats is only another form of contempt, for with few exceptions it was not founded on a scrupulous reading of Morgan but an unscrupulous reading of Engels.
Caught in the welter of a politically motivated and therefore all the more highly emotional “debate” between equally careless would-be friends and automatic enemies, Morgan’s writings have been practically lost from sight for decades.
Marx’s enthusiasm for Morgan’s work, discernible on every page of these Notebooks, becomes obvious when one compares the Morgan notes to those on the other ethnological writers whose books Marx excerpted: Sir John Phear, Sir Henry Maine and Sir John Lubbock. The excerpts from Morgan are not only much longer, half again as long as all the others combined-showing how deeply interested Marx was in what Morgan had to say-but also are free of the numerous and sometimes lengthy sarcastic asides sprinkled so liberally throughout the other notes. More-over, while Marx’s disagreements with the others are many and thoroughgoing, his differences with Morgan, as Krader admits are “chiefly over details.” As a longtime “disciple of Hegel:’ Marx disapproved by means of a parenthetical question-mark and exclamation-point-an inexact use of the adjective “absolute.” He further disputed Morgan’s interpretation of a passage from the Iliad, and another by Plutarch, neither of them central to Morgan’s argument. Such differences do not smack of the insurmountable, Earlier I noted a few instances in which Marx’s views diverged from Morgan’s on somewhat larger questions, but even these are as nothing compared to his complete disagreement in principle with Maine and the others. Indeed, at several points where Marx gave the “block-head” and “philistine” Maine and the “civilized ass’, Lubbock a good pounding for their shabby scholar-ship, their Christian hypocrisy, their bourgeois ethno-centrism and racism, their inability to “free themselves of their own conventionalities;’ he specifically cited Morgan as a decisive authority against them.
Accepting Morgan’s data and most of his interpretations as readily as he rejected the inane ideological claptrap of England’s royal ethnologists, with their typically bourgeois mania for finding kings and capital in cultures where such things do not exist’ Marx was no doubt pleased to discover in Ancient Society an arsenal of arguments in support of his own decidedly anti-teleological revolutionary outlook. What matters, of course, is not so much that Marx found Morgan to be, in many respects, a kindred Spirit, or even that he learned from him, but that the things he learned from Morgan were so important to him.
However much his approach to Morgan may have differed from Engels’, Marx certainly agreed with the latter’s contention (in a letter to Karl Kautsky, 26 April 1884), that “Morgan makes it possible for us to look at things from entirely new points of view?” Reading Ancient Societyappreciably deepened his knowledge of many crucial questions, and qualitatively transformed his thinking on other. The British socialist M.Hyndman, recalling conversations he had with Marx during late 1880/early 1881, wrote in his memoirs that “when Lewis Morgan proved to Marx’s satisfaction that the gens and not the family was the social unit of the old tribal system and ancient society generally, Marx at once abandoned his previous opinions based upon Niebuhr and others, and accepted Morgan’s view?” Anyone capable of making Karl Marx, at the age of 63, abandon his previous opinions, is worthy of more than passing interest.
It was only after reading Morgan that anthropology, previously peripheral to Marx’s thought, became its vital center. His entire conception of historical development, and particularly of pre-capitalist societies, now gained immeasurably in depth and precision. Above all, his introduction to the Iroquois and other tribal societies sharpened his sense of the livingpresence of indigenous peoples in the world, and of their possible role in future revolutions.
Reading Morgan, therefore, added far more than a few stray bits and pieces to Marx’s thought-it added a whole new dimension, one that has been suppressed for more than a century and is only beginning to be developed today.
The careful re-evaluation of Morgan’s work-for which Marx’s notes on his magnum opusprovide such a stimulus-is surely a long-overdue project for those who are struggling, with the clarity that comes only with despair, for ways out of the manifold impasses to revolution in our time. Too often simply reduced to a one-dimensional determinism and a bourgeois biologism, taken to task ad nauseum for the alleged “rigidity” of his evolutionary system – which he, however, held to be only “Provisional” – Morgan is in fact a complex figure: subtle, far-ranging, many-sided, non-academic, passionately drawn toward poetry (his devotion to Shakespeare was as great as Marx’s), and in many ways more radical than even his relatively few sincere and knowledgeable admirers have been willing to admit.
His sympathetic diary-notes on the Paris Commune, made on his brief sojourn in that city in June lSfl, and his public defense of the Sioux during the anti-Indian “Red Scare” following “Custer’s Last Stand” in 1876-to cite only two expressions of his dissident views on major issues of the day – show that Morgan had little in common with the pedestrian image of the pious Presbyterian and conservative burgher customarily used to characterize him, The strong critical-utopian undercurrent in his work, especially evident in the many remarkable parallels between his thought and Fourier’s, but also in his vehement anti-clericalism and his veneration for heretics such as Jan Hus, has hardly been explored at all.
Let it not be forgotten, finally, that, apart from his epoch-making researches in the field of anthropology, Morgan also left us a wonderful monograph on The American Beaver and His Works (1868), a treatise pronounced “excellent” by Charles Darwin, who cited’ it several times in The Descent of Man, In its last chapter, Morgan bravely developed the notion of a “thinking principle” in animals and came out for animal rights:
Is it to be the prerogative of man to uproot and destroy not only the masses of the animal kingdom numerically, but also the great body of the species? If the human family maintains its present hostile attitude toward [animals], and increases in number: and in civilization at the present ratio. It is plain to be seen that many species of animals must be extirpated from the earth. An arrest of the progress of the human race can alone prevent the dismemberment and destruction of a large portion of the animal kingdom… The present attitude of man toward the (animals] is not such as befits his Superior wisdom. We deny [other species] all rights, and ravage their ranks with wanton and unmerciful cruelty The annual sacrifice of animal life to maintain human life is frightful… when we claim that the bear was made for man food, we forget that man was just as much made to be food for the bear. Morgan hoped that with the development of a friendlier, less prejudiced, more intimate study of the other creatures of this planet, “our relations to them “will appear to us in a different, and in a better light?’
In the 1950s and ’60s the revelations of “Early Marx” gave the lie alike to the oppressors of East and West. Early Marx, as millions discovered for themselves was the irreconcilable enemy not only of genocidal, capitalist, “free enterprise” wage-slavery, but also of institutionalized, “official,” bureaucratic state-capitalist “Marxism?” Against all forms of man’s inhumanity to man: Marx’s youthful revolutionary humanism helped inspire a worldwide resurgence of radical thought and action that became known as the “New-left” and gave the bosses and bureaucrats of all countries their biggest scare since the Spanish Revolution of 1936. In an intellectual atmosphere already bright with molotov cock-tails tossed at Russian tanks by young workers in Budapest in 1956, and at U.S. tanks by black youth in Chicago and dozens of other U.S. cities ten years later; Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 brought to the world exactly what revolutionary theory is supposed to bring: more light.
Early Marx was no Marxist, and never even had to pronounce himself on the matter, for Marxism hadn’t been invented yet. Late Marx was no Marxist, either; and said so himself, more than once. Lukewarm liberals and ex-radicals galore have genuflected endlessly on Marx’s jocular disclaimer, in vain attempts to convince themselves and the gullible that the author ofThe Civil War in France wound up on the side of the faint-hearted. But when Marx declared “I am no Marxist” he was certainly not renouncing his life’s work or his revolutionary passion)’ He was rejecting the reification and caricature of his work by “disciples” who preferred the study of scripture to the study of life, and mistook the quoting of chapter and verse and slogan for revolutionary theory and practice. Unlike these and legions of later “Marxists,” Marx refused to evaluate a constantly changing reality by means of exegeses of his own writings. For him, the study of texts-and he was a voracious reader if ever there was one – was part of a process of self-clarification and self-correction, a testing of his views against the arguments and evidence of others, a broadening of perspectives through an ongoing and open confrontation with the new and unexpected. For Late Marx, the motto doubt everything was no joke. Or at least it was not only a joke.
This is especially noticeable in the last decade of Marx’s life, and the Ethnological Notebooksare an especially revealing example of his readiness to revise previously held views in the light of new discoveries. At the very moment that his Russian “disciples” – those “admirers of capitalism,” as he ironically tagged them-were loudly proclaiming that the laws of historical development set forth in the first volume of Capital were universally mandatory, Marx himself was diving headlong into the study of (for him) new experiences of resistance and revolt against oppression – by North American Indians, Australian aborigines. Egyptians and Russian peasants. As we have seen, this study led him not only to dramatically and extensively alter his earlier views, but also to champion a movement in Russia that his “disciples” there and elsewhere scorned as “ahistorical,” “utopian’ “unrealistic” and “petty-bourgeois?’ Even today such epithets ate not unfamiliar to anyone who has ever dared to struggle against the existing order in a manner unprescribed by the “Marxist” Code of Law.
Late Marx also undercuts the several neo and anti-Marxisms that have, from time to time, held the spot-light in the intellectual fashion-shows of recent years-those hothouse hybrids concocted by specialists who seem to have persuaded themselves that they have gone “beyond Marx” by modifying his revolutionary project of “merciless criticism of everything in existence” into one or another specifically academic program of inoffensively mild and superficial criticism, not of everything, but only of whatever happens to fall within the four walls of their particular compartmentalized specialty. Not surprisingly, when the advocates of these neo-Marxisms’ finally get around to adopting a political position, it tends to be incurably reformist. Their sad fate in this regard serves to remind us that it is not by being less merciless in our criticism, less rigorous in, our research, or less revolutionary in our social activity that we are likely to go beyond Marx. Despite their pompous claims, ninety-seven percent of the neo- Marxists arc actually to the right of the crude and mechanical Marxists of the old sects, and the separation of their theory from their practice tends to be much larger. Certainly the Wobbly hobo of yesteryear, whose Marxist library consisted of little more than the IWW Preamble and the Little Red Song Book, had a far surer grasp of social reality – and indeed – of what Marx and even Hegel were talking about-than today’s professional phenomenologist-deconstructionist neo-Marxologist who, in addition to writing unreadable micro-analytical explications of Antonio Gramsci, insists on living in an all-white neighborhood, crosses the university clerical-workers’ picket line, and votes the straight Democratic ticket.
There is every reason to believe that “Late Marx” and the Ethnological Notebooks in particular; will provide for the next global revolutionary wave something of the illumination that Early Marx brought in the 60s. By helping to finish off what remains of the debilitating hegemony of the various “Marxist” orthodoxies a well as the evasive and confusional pretensions of the various “neo-Marxisms,” Late Marx will contribute to a new flowering ofaudacity, audacity and still more audacity that alone defines the terms of revolutionary theory and practice.
Late Marx emphasized as never before the subjective factor as the decisive force in revolution. His conclusion that revolutionary social transformation could proceed from different directions and in different (though not incompatible) ways was a logical extension of his multi-linear view of history into the present and future. This new pluralism turned out to b emphatically anti-reformist, however, and it is pleasant to discover that the proponents of gradualism, nationalization, Euro-communism, social-democracy, “liberation theology” and other sickeningly sentimental and fundamentally bourgeois aberrations will find no solace in Late Marx. On the contrary, the Ethnological Notebooks and Marx’s other Writings of the last period develop both the fierce anti-statism that became -a prime focus of his work” after the Paris Commune, and the merciless critique of religion that had provided the groundwork of his writings of 1843-45. Late Marx did not become an anarchist, but his last Writings establish a film basis for the historical reconciliation of revolutionary Marxists and anarchists that Andre Breton called for in his Legitime Defense in 1926.
Pivotal to all the excitement, playfulness, humor, discovery and diversity of Late Marx-so reminiscent of the mood of the 1844 texts-his anthropological investigations have a special relevance for today. If a century later, Marx’s “return to the projects of his Paris youth” still glows brightly with the colors of the future, it is because the possibilities of the revolutionary strategy suggested in these notebooks and related writings are far from being exhausted.
A gathering of the loose ends of a lifetime of revolutionary thought and action, theEthnological Notebooks embody the final deepening and expanding Of Marx’s historical perspectives, and therefore of his Perspectives for revolution, by Marx himself. They are, in a sense, the last will and testament of Marx’s own Marxism. In these notes the “philosophical anthropology” of 1844 is empirically filled in, made more concrete, theoretically rounded out and in the end qualitatively transformed for, as Hegel observed in the Phenomenology, “in the alteration of the knowledge, the object itself also…is altered”.
Fragmentary though they are, the Notebooks, together with the drafts of the letter to Vera Zasulich and a few other texts, reveal that Marx’s culminating revolutionary vision is not only coherent and unified, but a ringing challenge to all the manifold Marxism’s that still try to dominate the discussion”” of social change today, and to all truly revolutionary thought, all thought focused on the reconciliation of humankind and the planet ‘we live on. In this challenge lies the greatest importance of these texts’ A close, critical look back to the rise and fall of ancient pre-capitalist communities, Marx’s Ethnological Notebooks and his other last writings also look ahead to today’s most promising revolutionary movements in the Third World, and the Fourth, and our own.
Raya Dunayevskaya, to whom ‘we owe the best that has been written on the Notebooks, rightly pointed out that “there is no way for us to know what Marx intended to do with this intensive study?” One need not be a card-carrying prophet to know in advance that this undeveloped work on underdeveloped societies will be developed in many different ways in the coming years.
But here is something to think about, tonight and tomorrow: With his radical new focus on the primal peoples of the world; his heightened critique of civilization and its values and institutions; his new emphasis it on the subjective factor in revolution; his ever-deeper hostility to religion and State; his unequivocal affirmation of revolutionary pluralism; his growing sense of the unprecedented depth and scope of the communist revolution as a total revolution, vastly exceeding the categories of economics and politics; his bold new posing of such fundamental questions as the relation of Man and woman, humankind and nature, imagination and culture, myth and ritual and all the “passions and Powers of the mind.” Late Marx is sharply opposed to, and incomparably more radical than, almost all that we know today as Marxism. At the same time, and everyone who understands Blake and Lautreamont and Thelonious Monk will know that this is no mere coincidence, Marx’s culminating synthesis is very close to the point of departure of surrealism, the “communism of genius”.
Taken from the Antagonism website.
Slavoj Žižek on ecology as religion (YouTube)
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