Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Desiring Blog Production


This post is in response to a comment below from jreeve as well as to a recent post from Decoys on the continuing discussion of the labor theory of blogging begun on I cite.

jreeve writes:

When I read my kids Sesame Street books, they are also getting an advertisement for Big Bird. This inclusion or citation is a big part of the value of those products: the value of a Big Bird doll as greater than that of a stuffed yellow bird is created not by some inherent goodness of the product but rather by the fact I have developed Big Bird as a significant character for my children.
This seems right to me. It's very hard to avoid participating in the corporate marketing aimed at ourselves and our kids. One of the very first words of my youngest was "Picachu" – which was disturbing for her marxist dad on any number of levels. Asking why kids desire Big Bird or Picachu, though, isn't so far removed from asking Wilhelm Reich's question of why people desire fascism? The question isn't one of value, though, but of use-value. Why do we want the particular things we want? Why do these things come to have a use-value for us? Marx writes:
A commodity is, in the first place, an object outside us, a thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort or another. The nature of such wants, whether, for instance, they spring from the stomach or from fancy, makes no difference.
Marx writes very little about how use-value becomes attached to one thing rather than another. The question of why we desire the things we do isn't one that Marx addresses directly since for Marx's discussion of value, the particular use-value involved "makes no difference." This is one reason for so much later interest in various Freudian supplements to Marx as a way to approach this question of desire. From here, it's only a short step to discussions of Deleuze and Guattari's desiring-production or Zizek's Lacanian riffs. The advertising and branding that capital engages in today is focused on shaping and producing consumer desires for what capital is selling.

Decoyist writes:
Should the value of blogging be measured in economic terms? As L.P. shows, it can be, but as L.P.’s links also show, it can be seen in other terms. Blogging is economically highly unprofitable without returns from other quarters; given this, one might look to Hegelian recognition, were this to offer much profitability itself in the small circles it operates in; alternatively, the blogger might seek to resist the global order in statements that represent their subjectivity in performativity.

What is it that gets a blogger out of bed in the morning? All of the above and none of the above! It is a question of priorities, caprice. It is difficult for one motivation alone to overshadow all other others without extraordinary discharge of energy, a wastefulness lurking where economy (of whatever kind) imposes – no expenditure without loss. The blogger, in considering economic imperatives, embraces the uneconomical.
This also seems right to me, except that what the blogger embraces might better be understood as a variety of different use-values for blogging, including even, its uselessness. What a blogger gets out of his or her blog isn't the same thing as what capital gets out of that blog. This is another way to describe the difference between use-value (the thing workers desire) and value (the thing capital desires). Use-value is always very malleable and the production of new and different use-values is always possible within capital. Capital is extremely tolerant of these innovations in use-value. In fact, capital almost never cares what we use something for as long as we still buy it, and the more different use-values the better since each use-value brings along with it the possibility of a new commodity to sell.

Capital makes no such concessions when it comes to value. While you and I may be able to imagine finding value in many different things – beauty, love, wit, recognition, or cool – capital can only ever value a single thing: labor. The more labor something takes to produce, the more value it has. Capital is not subtle or flexible on this point and capital's hunger for value can't be sated by offering up some substitute source of value. Capital lives on a steady and monotonous diet of dead labor alone. And while you and I may find many different and wondrous use-values for a commodity, capital sees every commodity through its monochromatic lens of labor-time only. Thus, from capital's perspective the value of blogging lays not in the variety of uses the consumers and producers find for their blogs. For capital, blogs can only have value in that the labor put into them helps to produce and reproduce a commodity, in this case, the commodity of labor-power itself. Even the dreams discussed by Decoyist have a place in this production of labor-power. One can't escape working for capital even in sleep, and in so far as our dreams are part of the production and reproduction of ourselves as labor-power for capital they also have value for capital.

jreeve continues:
To push this onto blogging, can't the same be true about the mechanism behind discussing some film or book? Isn't a blog about the films 300 an ad for the film?Is it possible to think of the labor of blogging as creating that kind of value, or are these narratives foreign to Marxism as it stands now?
This also fits with capital's more recent focus on marketing and advertising as ways of shaping and producing consumer desires. Blogs function as consumer produced advertisements for movies and books and certainly capital benefits. This would be yet another facet of the link between blogs and the production of labor-power as desiring-consumers.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Class War in Iraq

Be sure to read Limited Inc.'s posts on class and the Iraq war. Recommended Memorial Day reading.

One of the things that is most striking about this war – and striking about post-Cold War kultcha in general – is the lack of any reference to class. When Marx analyzed the civil war in France, after the French defeat in 1870, he naturally turned to class analysis. Somehow, this handy and hardy tool has become obsolete. Googling for some reference to class analysis of the situation in Iraq, I found zip.

So let me take it out of my ass here.

I could make a joke, and say that the sectarianism really is a big problem in the Iraq war – sectarianism in the U.S. of A.., that is. But that would be inexact. More coldly, the class segmented structure of Iraq has been shattered by the war, and that shattering has been the prerequisite to sectarianism. ...

In essence, the U.S. underwrote the expropriation of the upper class in Iraq without even knowing it. Contra those who think that every mistake that the U.S. makes is part of some devilish, conspiratorial plan, this unleashing of forces is precisely the kind of thing that upsets the plutocratic vision of Iraq.

Lightnin' Hopkins



Here are two wonderful Lightnin' Hopkins videos unearthed from youtube by Professor Zero. Trying to pick along with Lightnin' Hopkins tunes on Larry Monroe's Blue Monday radio show was one of my formative musical experiences. The closest connection I can claim to this Texas blues legend is through a friend who had the presence of mind to go pay his respects to this bluesman in his Houston hospital room shortly before his death in 1982. I never got to see him play though. I'm glad there are a few videos of him for us to enjoy.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Blue Books, Ink and Minutemen


Here is a wonderful end-of-the-semester video by jreeve. It was left as a comment on a post below on tattoos, but it's just too good not to share. I hope one day I'm this cool in class.

Minutemen, Corona.
The people will survive
In their environment
The dirt, scarcity, and the emptiness
Of our South
The injustice of our greed
The practice we inherit
The dirt, scarcity and the emptiness
Of our South
There on the beach
I could see it in her eyes
I only had a Corona
Five cent deposit

Now Blogging at 2.16 GHz

I just got a new computer! I had asked for a modest software upgrade for my old one, but during the end of the fiscal year budget spending bonanza, I ended up with a brand new iMac. It's way cool, but the screen is so big I have the urge to eat popcorn while I check my email. From now on, I will be blogging at 2.16 GHz, although, I will try to type s l o w l y for those of you with less fearsome machines.


And just for grins... according to the labor theory of blogging I've been pursuing, the new computer would constitute an increase in constant capital aimed at making me a more productive blogger, thus further decreasing the socially necessary labor-time needed for blogging and so decreasing, ever so slightly, the value of labor-power for capital resulting in an increase in the rate of surplus-value.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Use-Value of Blogging

I've argued in two previous posts that most blogs are not commodities themselves, but that they are part of the process for producing the commodity labor-power.

Perhaps an example will help.

Consider a parent telling a bedtime story to their child. The bedtime story itself isn't a commodity. No matter how much enjoyment they find in it, no matter how instructive, no matter how much the kid smiles, or how much time and creativity the parent invests in crafting it, the story is not a commodity. It is not produced for exchange and is not a source of surplus-value for capital. However, in so far as the bedtime story is part of the means of subsistence for the child – like breakfast, t-shirts, school, and cable-tv – then the bedtime story too can be understood as part of the useful labor that goes into producing this next generation of labor-power.

Blogs are like bedtime stories. Blogs are most often not commodities produced for exchange, but they are still part of the useful labor that goes into producing and reproducing the commodity of labor-power. And currently, the vast majority of blogging labor pays just as poorly as telling bedtime stories.

This is one story about the relationship between blogging and capital that can be told, but there are certainly others – stories about immaterial labor, attention economies, or Baudrillard and sign-value. And there may be digital commodities other than blogging that require some new and different kinds of stories be told as well.

However, I'm wary of any story that encourages intellectuals see what they do as something other than, or more important than, labor. As a group, we are too susceptible to the flattery. If nothing else, the story told here has the virtue of connecting blogging and intellectual labor with the much less glamorous economy of unpaid housework and childcare.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Productive vs. Unproductive Blogging

This is a continuation of yesterday's post. More on this topic can also be found here, here and here on I cite as well as here on Foucault Is Dead.

Yesterday, in The Labor Theory of Blogging, I argued that most blogs are not themselves commodities because the vast majority of blogs are not produced for exchange. They are not sold on the market. (Let's ignore the possibility for now that I may be working for free for Google and producing this blog as a commodity for them to sell.) However, even given that most blogs aren't themselves commodities, I think it would be a mistake to conclude that commodity production is not still taking place here in the blogosphere as we work together on the collaborative production and distribution of rants, raves, snark, and other useful information.

In the second half of Jodi Dean's post on Productive Labor, she writes:

The early Marx was concerned with alienated labor. Blogging may be unalienated labor. Even when we are sick of it, we chose to blog. We chose to link, to post, to read, to comment. Blogging's value, then, may escape or elude, at least in part, the commodity form. Capitalists don't want us to know this, so they provide us with indicators that point to possibilities of monetarization: page hits, visits, counts, neighborhoods, stats, referrers, totals. Somehow these numbers give us a sense of value. But this is misleading because, again, a different kind of value is produced.

What sort of value? Is it a value of self-knowledge or self-display or even just a momentary sense of self? Is it a value of connection, of hope, or possibility, of the positing others who read and react? How might we best conceive the value of blogging?
I think the claim that "Blogging may be unalienated labor" is perhaps overly optimistic. Alienated labor for Marx describes the process by which capital separates the worker from both the products and process of his or her own labor, from other workers, and even from human life itself. This discussion of alienation is closely tied to Marx's analysis of the commodity form and most importantly to the imposition of that commodity form on ourselves. We are produced as the commodity labor-power and we must then sell ourselves as workers for capital's use. Labor-power is habitually produced and reproduced in order to be alienated and sold for a wage. This brings us back to the question of blogging and commodity production.

The commodity that blogs help to produce and reproduce is that singularly useful and important commodity, labor-power. But to see why this is, we need to look at one of the more unsavory passages in Marx on productive versus unproductive consumption.

In the first section of Chapter 7 in Capital, Volume I, Marx writes:
Labour uses up its material factors, its subject and its instruments, consumes them, and is therefore a process of consumption. Such productive consumption is distinguished from individual consumption by this, that the latter uses up products, as means of subsistence for the living individual; the former, as means whereby alone, labour, the labour-power of the living individual, is enabled to act. The product, therefore, of individual consumption, is the consumer himself; the result of productive consumption, is a product distinct from the consumer.
The distinction Marx introduces here between the productive consumption of capitalist commodity production versus the unproductive consumption of workers and their means of subsistence has been the source of a number of frustrating debates within Marxism. The trouble is that Marx needs to be able to talk about labor-power as itself a commodity that is bought and sold and that has its own distinct process of production – namely, the consumption of the "means of subsistence for the living individual." He seems to undercut this possibility in the passage above.

Be that as it may, if blogging is to be described as a form of productive consumption of labor, then blogging ought to result in the production of a commodity "distinct from the consumer." If blogs themselves were a commodity produced for exchange, then this might be the case. But as we've seen, blogs tend not to fit in this category. There are a few commercially successful blogs out there that are the result of this sort of productive consumption of labor-power that results in the production and sale of a commodity. For the vast majority of us, though, blogging may be more like the unproductive "individual consumption" described by Marx that results in the "consumer himself." That is, we are what blogs help to produce.

On this view, blogging is like all those other so-called unproductive activities we do such as cooking, cleaning, child care, sleeping, reading, dancing, yard work, bowling, therapy, and sex that help to produce and reproduce us as the living, breathing, thinking commodity of labor-power that we are. Blogs that bitch and moan and rant provide a release that allows us as workers to go to work another day. Blogs can also inform, entertain, enlighten, confound, confuse, anger, soothe, and bore. Blogs about cats and hobbies do this. Academic blogs do this too (with perhaps a heavier dose of 'bore' thrown in). They all help produce people who are then ready and willing to alienate the rest of their lives as wage labor. This is why I think the claim for blogging as unalienated labor is too strong. It's not easy to escape the mode of production. And if blogging has become part of our social, cultural and intellectual means of subsistence, then blogging is also part of that individual consumption that produces us as alienated labor.

This is, of course, the negative moment of capitalist production where everything produced by capital functions only for capital. Fortunately, resistance and struggle also always happens. This is where the "value of connection, of hope, or possibility" that Dean writes about can gain a foothold. Here's one formulation of the relationship between blogging and capital I can endorse: blogs are also a site where class struggle occurs. People are very creative at resisting the alienating destinies planned for them by capital. Blogs may be another place where this resistance can grow and spread. And this is not just true of anti-war blogs and academic blogs. Cat blogging too is a part of that struggle over finding new ways to carve out some unalienated space of one's own and craft new strategies against commodification.

I don't think the blogosphere has any special resistance to being colonized and commodified by capital just like so many other areas of our life have been. It's important not to overestimate the radical potential of blogging. But there is also no reason to think that blogging is any more susceptible to capital either. And revolutions always surprise.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Labor Theory of Blogging

Jodi Dean at I cite has written a wonderful post on blogging and Productive Labor.

... if we think about blogging, about cat blogging and snark and fandom and mommies and hobbiests, we can't help but be struck by the enormous amount of creative, productive labor expended. Think about the hours and hours of labor time. Creating, making..what? Contributions. Contributions to the flow of ideas, opinions, and impressions.

Marx reminds us that the more labor the worker expends, the less the value of his product. I always think of this in terms of the amount of labor in any individual item that comes off a factory assembly line. But, it's also applicable, in a way, to blog posts. The more collective creative labor power goes in to each one, the less the value of each.

Yet, maybe this is the wrong way to put the question. Perhaps what is at stake is a different account of value. Capitalists are working to commodify and monetize blogging--more than it is already for those of us who pay for hosting, high speed internet access, and the hardware. Some get ad revenue. Some try to get subscribers. Some treat blogging as advertising, a way to generate interest in and increase the consumption of a commodity or service. Some are associating blogging with a kind of self-production and marketing. How exactly this can be monetized, other than by selling books about how to blog or how to market oneself by blogging, is still a mystery--kind of like a treasure or the gold the fantasy around which a rush builds. But, maybe all this is mistaken precisely because the value at work is different.

Blogging requires the expenditure of definite quantities of labor-time. Bloggers themselves are well aware of this fact, and of the many hours they sink into blogging rather than other pursuits. Taken as a whole, the blogosphere represents an enormous investment of labor-time, almost all of it unpaid labor with no monetary wage attached. In fact, most bloggers must pay for the privilege of laboring in the blogosphere by purchasing their own computers and internet access, and running the gauntlet of online advertisements. But what is produced by all this labor? Dean speculates that "Contributions" are produced. "Contributions to the flow of ideas, opinions, and impressions." Capital, though, only concerns itself with the production of commodities. What, then, is the connection between the production of these online contributions and the production of commodities?

As others have pointed out in the comments to Dean's post, for Marx, the value of a commodity is in direct proportion to the amount of socially necessary labor-time it takes to produce the commodity. The more labor-time it takes to produce a commodity, the greater its value. However, it's also true that the dynamic of capitalist production always aims at cheapening commodities – at making workers more productive and decreasing the amount of labor-time needed to produce commodities and so decreasing the value of commodities.

Cooperation is one of the important methods described by Marx that capital uses to increase the productivity of labor-power. Cooperation, like the massive cooperative endeavor that is the blogosphere, makes us all more efficient producers of ideas, rants, speculations, conspiracy theories, cat blogs, fan blogs, and snark and so decreases the amount of labor involved in producing our "contributions to the flow of ideas, opinions, and impressions." For better or worse, this cooperation makes us more productive bloviators and bloggers. I am more productive because I have I cite and Limited, Inc. and thousands of other bloggers to draw upon and collaborate with in my blogging. I write faster. I write better. I am read more widely. And because of this increased productivity due to the cooperative nature of blogging, my work has less value. Not less use-value I hope! We all aspire for our writing to be beautiful, useful, entertaining, and enlightening both for ourselves and for others. But it has less value in the marxian sense that it now takes me less time to produce more, and perhaps better, writing and to distribute that writing to a larger audience than ever before. (Perhaps dozens will read this post!) Yet for all this increased productivity, what commodity is being produced?

For Marx, there are two factors every commodity must have. First, it must have a use-value. That is, it has to be useful to someone, somewhere for something. There are probably some blogs that fail this test, but they tend to be abandoned and lonely places. There are certainly some individual blog posts that fail this test – I myself have authored more than one of these. However, blogs themselves are without doubt useful things. Millions of us read them and write them every day. If they weren't useful to us, even if only as therapy or as targets for derision, then we wouldn't spend our time blogging.

Second, every commodity must have a value. That is, it must be the product of human labor. Every blog, even the bad ones, qualify on this count. Even automated spam blogs have this sort of value since somewhere there are people writing the code to create these abominations.

Finally, there is one last feature that every commodity must have according to Marx. To be a commodity, it must be produced for exchange. Simply put, most blogs aren't commodities because they aren't sold. Very few blogs are produced for exchange – whether directly for subscribers, or mediated through advertising revenue, or even indirectly as publicity and advertising for some other product, service, reputation, or brand name. Millions of blogs are not produced for exchange at all. They are produced for own consumption by the author, and are given away freely to others – despite what various copyright laws may pretend.

Blogs themselves, then, are typically not commodities. They have use-value, and value, but since they are not produced for exchange they are not commodities and so not a direct source of surplus-value for capital. The fact that blogging doesn't turn a profit won't come as a huge surprise to most bloggers.

However, there's more to this story. There is a commodity being produced here, it's just not the blogs themselves. What is still needed is a discussion of the always vexed distinction between the productive and unproductive in Marx. I will return to this tomorrow and to the second half of Dean's post.

------------

Other posts in this series:

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Get Well Soon Bo


WaPo: Four days after suffering a stroke, Bo Diddley walked around the intensive-care unit at Creighton University Medical Center, and doctors were encouraged that the singer-songwriter-guitarist would be able to perform again, his manager said.
I missed out on hearing Bo Diddley play. I had tickets once to hear him along with Chuck Berry, but some of Bo's many legal troubles caught up with him and kept him from making the show. Chuck did a set of Bo Diddley tunes for us which was a very cool thing to hear, but I always regretted not getting to hear the man himself. I hope he's up and playing again soon.

Ass Candy

Wow. From A Gentleman's C: For the administrator who has everything? When you care enough to brown-nose with the very best? The incredible edible belgian chocolate anus.

Because Three Salvador Dali Posts in a Row is Surreal

Who would you most like to see cast as Salvador Dali in any of the three motion pictures currently being planned about the surrealist:

Johnny Depp,

Al Pacino,

or Peter O'Toole?

I think I would enjoy seeing Johnny Depp, but only if it doesn't conflict with his rumored portrayal of Freddie Mercury.

That will be truly surreal.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Reading the Body


This is from a post on an interesting new blog, Genderquake on tattoos and body writing:

One thing that fascinates me about these images is their insistence on corporeal legibility: the body can easily be read by casual observers. Tattoos aren't the only forms of inscription that lead to this legibility: when I was pregnant. I felt like my body was suddenly the subject of discourse, and that strangers could easily "read" my body to learn that I would soon be a mother.
The public availability of both pregnancy and tattoos as topics for conversation certainly resonates for me. My partner gets attention now from strangers about her ink in ways very similar to the stray comments that had been made about her pregnancies. Both sorts of conversations seem to encourage an immediate intimacy which is very striking, and both tend to be about a recognition of a kinship (I have one of those too...).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Surreal Line


Salvador Dali from What's My Line? Surrealism in action.

Writ Large


From darkmatter via Amitava Kumar:

The interior and exterior space of the writer is blown up in Giancarlo Neri’s 30ft table and chair made from six tons of steel, plated with wood and painted brown. Placed deliberately in Hampstead Heath (London, UK) in 2005, an area with a historical concentration of canonized writers (Keats, Freud, Marx, to name a few). As one moves around the elongated table legs and looks up from under the table, the weight of the world as it is carried by the labour of writers, overwhelms, tires and leaves one wondering. In the writing of the literary histories of this landscape we know that the processes of legitimation and memorialisation have sliced out particular writers who have taken in the air of the heath and spoken out to the global currents of the landscape.

Only a five minute walk away from the sculpture, is located the house where C.L.R. James and George Lamming lived during the 1950s. The footprints of these Caribbean diasporic writers, as well as the scores of other theorists, musicians, students and writers from the colonies which have lived and written in the area are not part of the social imagination of what has been hailed as a specific literary corner of the world. The guidebooks of local histories are not full of the concerns of C.L.R. James as he sat at his desk on 70 Parliament Hill writing about racism and revolt, for instance. Neither does the house have a blue plaque at the front of it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Making Connections

Professor Sees Parallels Between Things, Other Things:

AUSTIN, TX—University of Texas professor Thom Windham once again furthered the cause of human inquiry in a class lecture Monday, as he continued his longtime practice of finding connections between things and other things, pointing out these parallels, and then elaborating on them in detail, campus sources reported.

'By drawing parallels between things and other, entirely different things, I not only further my own studies, but also encourage young minds to develop this comparative methodology in their own work,' said Windham, holding his left hand up to represent one thing, then holding his right hand up to represent a separate thing, then bringing his hands together in simulation of a hypothetical synthesis of the two things. 'It's not just similarities that are important, though — the differences between things are also worth exploring at length.'

Fifteen years ago, Windham was awarded tenure for doing this.

Internet Radio Update


The “Internet Radio Equality Act, " H.R. 2060, has been co-sponsored by over 70 Representatives in just 2 short weeks!

Now internet radio needs your help again: Due to the amazing momentum of the Internet Radio Equality Act in the House of Representatives, Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Sam Brownback of Kansas have introduced a companion bill in the Senate, S. 1353, also named “The Internet Radio Equality Act.”

Please take a moment to contact your Senators to ask them to co-sponsor S. 1353, The Internet Radio Equality Act, introduced by Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Sam Brownback of Kansas.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Naked City

"More than 18,000 people stripped off in Mexico City on Sunday to pose for American photographer Spence Tunick. The nude models gathered in the central Zocalo plaza in the Mexican capital to form a giant mosaic of flesh."

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cinco de Mayo


Here's some music for Cinco de Mayo from the legendary Flaco Jimenez.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Caring About Unions

Congratulations! Dr. Free Ride at waagnfnp writes:

This week, I voted to ratify our new faculty contract with the California State University system. The negotiations for this contract were frustratingly unproductive until my faculty union organized a rolling strike that was planned as a set of two-day walkouts at each of the 23 campuses in the system. When strike dates were announced (and, we are told, with some serious political pressure behind the scenes to avert a strike that would have garnered national and international media coverage), the administration came back to the bargaining table with a contract the negotiating team deemed reasonably good. The vote this week should indicate whether the CSU faculty share that judgment (I’m betting they will).

The staggering thing to me is that we went almost two years without a contract before we could bring ourselves to the point where we were ready to strike.

I’ve been reflecting upon this, and it occurs to me that there are certain features of a good many faculty members that make it hard for us to embark easily on a job action.
First on the list is that "University teaching is a caring profession." Thus, job actions like strikes are difficult steps for faculty to take since we tend to care deeply about the welfare of our students. This is a very kind view of faculty resistance to unions. I hope I will be able to cultivate such generous responses to my own colleagues' continuing resistance to unions in the future. However, as she notes elsewhere, caring about students and caring about wages and workloads are not incompatible goals. They are in fact intimately connected. Finding ways to clearly and creatively articulate this very real connection is a challege.

I suspect at least some of the resistance to faculty unions lie in much less noble sentiments. Competition and a culture that values the intellectual agon of academia is still very pervasive. Having a collective wage structure, rather than the current one geared towards individual academic free agents, takes away one venue for that competition. Plus, we intellectuals and free thinkers don't like to be reminded that we are also workers. Union membership makes that connection all too clear and drags us down from our imagined intellectual heights and underscores our connections with the rest of our co-workers on campus in the staff offices and dining halls.

Cultivating care for this community beyond our own research and our own students is an even greater challenge.

Radio Reprieve

Internet Radio has a 60 day reprieve. The copyright fee increases that were set to go into effect May 15, have been pushed back to July 15. This may give Congress enough time to pass H.R. 2060 which would reverse the disasterous decision by the Copyright Royalty Board to make Internet Radio pay royalties higher than any other broadcast medium. The bill was originally sponsored by Jay Inslee (D-WA). Co-sponsors of the bill now include:

Michael Arcuri (D-NY)Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-MD)Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Rick Boucher (D-VA)Corrine Brown (D-FL)
Vern Buchanan (R-FL)Michael Capuano (D-MA)
Steve Cohen (D-TN)Joe Courtney (D-CT)
Barbara Cubin (R-WY)Susan A. Davis (D-CA)
Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR)Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Brad Ellsworth (D-IN)Sam Farr (D-CA)
Bob Filner (D-CA)Luis G. Fortuño (R-PR)
Virginia Foxx (R-NC)Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL)Brian Higgins (D-NY)
Baron Hill (D-IN)Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY)
Mike Honda (D-CA)Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)
Dale E. Kildee (D-MI)Mark S. Kirk (R-IL)
John Lewis (D-GA)Donald A. Manzullo (R-IL)
Jim McDermott (D-WA)Cathy McMorris (R-WA)
Mike Michaud (D-ME)James P. Moran (D-VA)
Ron Paul (R-TX)David E. Price (D-NC)
David G. Reichert (R-WA)Tim Ryan (D-OH)
Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH)John M. Spratt, Jr. (D-SC)
Lee Terry (R-NE)Lynn C. Woolsey (D-CA)

If your Congresscritter isn't on the list yet, please take a moment to contact them and urge them to Co-sponsor H.R. 2060.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Scull Affair

Limited, Inc. has written a very interesting post on Andrew Scull's recent broadside aimed at Foucault's scholarship and alleged lack of rigor in Madness and Civilization. LI argues that Scull's own facts and figures may not be nearly as accurate and well-sourced as he claims. However, the real interest lies in the reception of Scull's charges. As in past cases like those of Sokal or Menchu, the immediate impulse to capitulation in the face of claims to superior dates and numbers is striking. LI writes:

Scull’s review, then, is, to say the least, not the most reliable account of Foucault’s “mistakes” even on a topic on which Scull is supposedly an expert. The more interesting question, however, is why Scull was instantly conceded to be right, and Foucault wrong? I think this might be on account of the general beating Continentalist are perceived to have received from Sokal and Bricmont. That perception is wholly based on the idea that Sokal is a hard scientist, a physicist. What Foucault did was make us question experts – and he appeared at a time when the advice of experts, from that given about the Vietnam war to the dangers of radiation, fell into disrepute. Unfortunately, knowledge by authority is a very powerful thing – in Weber’s triad of legitimations, tradition/authority is at the center. It is especially powerful when the authority figure bases his authority on reason – but then uses the authority qua authority to squash opposition. This is just what Scull did. The scurrying for the exits done by Foucaultist is a painful reminder that, on the whole, academics can be defined as those people who have been extraordinarily influenced, in their development, by the classroom. Thus, their rebellions are most easily quenched when a teacher figure comes through the door.
Being scolded by the teacher is the one thing we can't stand. Read more at LI.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy May Day!


There Is Power In A Union
by Billy Bragg

There is power in a factory, power in the land
Power in the hand of the worker
But it all amounts to nothing if together we don't stand
There is power in a Union

Now the lessons of the past were all learned with workers blood
The mistakes of the bosses we must pay for
From the cities and the farmlands to trenches full of mud
War has always been the bosses way, sir

The Union forever, defending our rights
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
With our brothers and our sisters from many far-off lands
There is power in a Union

Now I long for the morning that they realize
Brutality and unjust laws cannot defeat us
But who'll defend the workers who cannot organize
When the bosses send their lackeys out to cheat us?

Money speaks for money, the Devil for his own
Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone?
What a comfort for the widow, a light to the child
There is power in a Union

The Union forever, defending our rights
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
With our brothers and our sisters together we will stand
There is power in a Union