Category Archives: Uncategorized

Love, anarchy, and Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman’s beliefs have always been considered radical. It was daring, and often illegal, to lecture on homosexuality (“the intermediate sex” in the day’s parlance) and on love outside the institution of marriage. She evinced respect from prostitutes when legislation ostensibly aimed at preventing “white slave traffic” actually criminalized consensual sex, and, in 1916, she risked arrest under the Comstock “obscenity” laws in the US for advocating access to birth control.

Yet her bold public affirmation of the many faces of intimacy – whether between women or between unmarried partners – never secured for Emma a license for unfettered openness about her own personal life. Her hidden letters remain a valuable record of her own relationship to many of the subjects about which she impersonally – though passionately – lectured and wrote.

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Posted by on August 22, 2019 in Uncategorized


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The Libidinal Economy of Singularity

Our media are more and more fascinated by the prospect of “post-humanity” opened up by a direct link between our brain and a digital machine. To remind readers, this is what is popularly called “Neuralink” and what New Age obscurantists term Singularity, the divine-like global space of shared awareness. But there is an aspect of Singularity that is largely neglected in pop-scientific considerations: the eventual rise of Singularity will also be a case of what we cannot but call post-human capitalism.

One usually assumes that capitalism is (more) historical and our humanity, inclusive of sexual difference, more basic, even ahistorical. However, what we are witnessing today is nothing less than an attempt to integrate the passage to post-humanity into capitalism. And this is, in fact, what the efforts of new billionaire gurus like Elon Musk are about. Their prediction that capitalism “as we know it” is coming to an end refers to “human” capitalism, and the passage they talk about is the passage from “human” to post-human capitalism.

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Posted by on August 12, 2019 in Uncategorized



La sinistra ovvero l’essere di destra a propria insaputa

Fascista o meno che sia, il pensiero che anima Salvini è comunque schiettamente autoritario e strumentalmente nazionalista. Drammaticamente, proprio a questo pensiero si sono consegnati sia il Movimento 5 stelle sia il Partito democratico, aiutandone e persino anticipandone la costruzione, sebbene in tempi diversi. Ciò rappresenta già oggi un problema almeno quanto potrebbe rappresentarlo Salvini in futuro.

È cosa nota che la Lega sia da sempre abitata da un sentimento di destra, di una destra che si nutre di slogan i quali fino a non molto tempo fa chiunque o quasi avrebbe avuto pudore di pronunciare a mezza bocca, figurarsi urlarli nelle piazze. Basterebbe ricordare lo scandalo che diedero anni fa alcune iniziative di personaggi come Mario Borghezio mai risarcite, almeno nella pancia del partito, da giovanili appartenenze a formazioni di sinistra, e addirittura al Partito comunista, attribuite a certi altri dirigenti leghisti. Che di questo si trattasse, che si avesse a che fare con un partito i cui esponenti se ne andavano armati di disinfettante a sterilizzare i sedili dei treni utilizzati dagli extracomunitari, lo si sapeva come si sapeva di certi slogan razzisti a proposito dei meridionali e delle invocazioni al Vesuvio o all’Etna affinché nettassero la terra. Son tutte circostanze difficilmente derubricabili a forme di goliardia, sebbene adesso molti preferiscano credere che così fosse. Tutto ciò lo sapevano anche i grillini i quali, anche per il suo esser di destra, scelsero proprio il leghista come alleato per andare al governo. Ce lo dimostrano molte circostanze e, più di ogni altra cosa, il contratto di governo.

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Posted by on August 12, 2019 in European Union, Uncategorized


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Deforestation, Agriculture, and Diet Are Fuelling the Climate Crisis

In the Amazon, or in the parts of the Amazon that people have mowed down and converted into grazing pasture, the average abattoir-bound cow has nearly three acres to himself. Nice for the cow, perhaps, but senseless and dangerous in every other way. Every year, on average, tropical deforestation accounts for fifteen per cent of global greenhouse emissions. About half of the contributing deforestation occurs in South America; deforestation in the Amazon recently increased. If the trend continues, scientists have found, it could lengthen the forest’s dry season, triggering even greater warming and drying, killing trees in the nearby (still intact) forest, and eventually causing mass tree mortality and an entire ecosystem shift—from rainforest to savannah. The tipping point for such a collapse in the Amazon is between twenty and twenty-five per cent deforestation—fifteen to seventeen per cent is already gone. “If you exceed the threshold,” Carlos Nobre, a Brazilian climate and tropical-forest expert, told me, “fifty to sixty per cent of the forest could be gone over three to five decades.”

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Posted by on August 12, 2019 in Uncategorized



Against ‘natural’ parenting

Motherhood has never felt natural to me. I wasn’t very good at understanding my babies’ needs or what their cries meant, something that other parents seemed to know without giving it too much thought. ‘She’s just tired,’ they would say. Or: ‘This sound means he’s hungry.’ And I had no idea, and felt like a failure.

Even worse, I didn’t like the feeling of my baby attached to me. I felt ambivalent about nursing her; I didn’t hate it and sometimes I enjoyed it, but I felt burdened by the intensity that raising a child required.

It’s a cliché that parenting is hard but what is even harder is the judgment from other members of society – parents and nonparents alike. When I talked about my experiences in articles and blog posts, one word often came up to describe mothers like me: unnatural.

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Posted by on August 12, 2019 in Reportages, Uncategorized



Economistas, por favor, inventen algo

El pasado 9 de junio la tribuna de El País abría la semana con un curioso artículo de John Gray, “Cambio climático y extinción del pensamiento”, que es un buen ejemplo de cómo hasta las personas más lúcidas pueden caer en la trampa de confiar en soluciones tecnooptimistas con muy poca base a la hora de buscar soluciones al cambio climático.

El de John Gray es un artículo curioso porque comienza afirmando la importancia del cambio climático y diciendo tajantemente que “todo el mundo, excepto los negacionistas más contumaces, se da cuenta de que, en el mundo que los seres humanos han habitado a lo largo de su historia, está teniendo lugar un cambio sin precedentes”. Pero después, sorprendentemente, en lugar de dar la razón al colectivo que ha puesto sobre la mesa la emergencia climática, califica de ingenuo al movimiento ecologista y desprecia las soluciones que éste propone.

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Posted by on August 9, 2019 in Uncategorized



Why the Greens should stop playing God

The state of the planet is forcing itself into the centre of the human mind. For increasing numbers of people, climate change is a palpable fact. Island communities and coastal cities are suffering the effects of rising sea levels, and all of us experience extreme weather and disjointed seasons.

Centre-ground politicians have accepted that some kind of action, more radical than any that has been implemented so far, has become urgently necessary. Everyone but the most stubborn climate denialists realises that an unprecedented change is taking place in the world that humans have inhabited throughout their history.

At the same time, as T.S. Eliot wrote in Four Quartets, “humankind cannot bear very much reality”, and thinking on the subject is increasingly delusional. A by-product of worldwide industrialisation based on fossil fuels, the shift that is underway was set in motion by human beings. It does not follow however that humans can stop it.

Why the Greens should stop playing God

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Posted by on August 9, 2019 in Reportages, Uncategorized


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Why the US trade war with China is a genuine conflict

The trade war between the US and China can only fill us with dread. How will it affect our daily lives? Will it result in a new global recession or even geopolitical chaos?

To orient ourselves in this mess, we should bear in mind some basic facts. The trade conflict with China is just the culmination of a war which began years ago when Donald Trump fired the opening shot aimed at the biggest trading partners of the US by deciding to levy tariffs on the imports of steel and aluminium from the EU, Canada and Mexico.

Trump was playing his own populist version of class warfare: his professed goal was to protect the American working class (are metal workers not one of the emblematic figures of the traditional working class?) from “unfair” European competition, thereby saving American jobs. And now he is doing the same with China.


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The scorched corpses of Nagasaki should be a grim restraint to the chest beating in India, America and Iran

We like our anniversaries in blocks of 50 or 100 – at a push we’ll tolerate a 25. The 100th anniversary of the Somme (2016), the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain (2015). Next year, we’ll remember the end of the Second World War, the first – and so far the only – nuclear war in history.

This week marks only the 74th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It doesn’t fit in to our journalistic scorecards and “timelines”. Over the past few days, I’ve had to look hard to find a headline about the two Japanese cities.

But, especially in the Middle East and what we like to call southeast Asia, we should be remembering these gruesome anniversaries every month. Hiroshima was atomic-bombed 74 years ago on Tuesday, Nagasaki 74 years ago on Friday. Given the extent of the casualty figures, you’d think they’d be unforgettable. But we don’t quite know (nor ever will) what they were.


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Why Didn’t Chernobyl Kill All the Plants?

Chernobyl has become a byword for catastrophe. The 1986 nuclear disaster, recently brought back into the public eye by the hugely popular TV show of the same name, caused thousands of cancers, turned a once populous area into a ghost city, and resulted in the setting up of an exclusion zone 2600km² in size.

But Chernobyl’s exclusion zone isn’t devoid of life. Wolves, boars and bears have returned to the lush forests surrounding the old nuclear plant. And when it comes to vegetation, all but the most vulnerable and exposed plant life never died in the first place, and even in the most radioactive areas of the zone, vegetation was recovering within three years.

Humans and other mammals and birds would have been killed many times over by the radiation that plants in the most contaminated areas received. So why is plant life so resilient to radiation and nuclear disaster?

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Posted by on August 8, 2019 in Uncategorized


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