February 15, 2016 at 1:02 am (China, Literature, Lu Xun, Nietzsche, Poetry, Romanticism, Uncategorized)
Tags: Bataille, Bryon, China, Chinese Literature, comedy, Cultural Revolution, Literature, Lu Xun, Nietzsche, philosophy, Revolution, Shelley, tragedy, Xi Jinping
Daggers and Spears: Lu Xun and Nietzsche on Cultural Revolution
O my brothers, not long will it be until new peoples will arise and new fountains rush down into new depths.
For the earthquake—it chokes up many wells, it causes much languishing: but it brings also to light inner powers and secrets.
The earthquake discloses new fountains. In the earthquake of old peoples, new fountains burst forth.
Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, ‘On the Old and New Law Tablets’, 25.
Lu Xun – On ‘China’s Nietzsche’
Lu Xun was nineteen when Nietzsche died in 1900. He had already begun to write poetry, in classical Chinese style, and came into contact with Western literature in Nanking, where he attended a mining school. It was not until the following year however that he, with a government stipend to study mining in Japan, intensified his relationship with the available threads of world literature, European, British, and Russian – and Nietzsche. The work of which he had the most access was Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Japanese renditions of his thought, including the Untimely Meditations. Lu Xun travelled to Japan at the right time – amid the chaos of the post- war years, the reformation toward modernity, Japan sought to become an industrial and military power with the aid of Western, i.e. ‘Modern,’ science, including Western medicine and literature.
Lu Xun immediately recognized the political and cultural significance of literature, especially that of the English Romantics, Byron and Shelley (to the exclusion of the more introspective poets Wordsworth and Keats) in their individuality and defiance of a corrupt and oppressive cultural and political order. He found a similar though deeper message in Nietzsche, one simultaneously of a poetic and philosophical order. Yet, it is the meaning of this influence, and of Nietzsche’s message, that has remained controversial.
This current writing will be an attempt to dissolve this controversy through the exposure of the intellectual and artistic affinities of Lu Xun and Nietzsche upon their own respective and overlapping topoi. It could be argued that Nietzsche had his most immediate impact in Japan, which already by 1903 (at a time which Lu Xun was already in Japan) had a ‘Nietzsche Dispute’, and had experienced ‘Nietzsche fever.’ Such an intellectual event could hardly have been missed by Lu Xun, and his first essays of 1907 and 1908 mention Nietzsche, echo Nietzsche, yet, from the perspective of a Chinese radical democratic ‘Mara’ poet.
Lu Xun is not served well by the name of ‘China’s Nietzsche’ – unless, that is, it is clear what we mean by ‘Nietzsche’. Such clarity seems to have been lacking in many of the early receptions of Nietzsche, especially in regards to the notion of the Übermensch, which in the context of the early Japanese reception resembles more closely Zarathustra’s ape, a caricature of Zarathustra, of which Nietzsche had already anticipated, and which he warned would be due to poor reading, in his own prophesy of widespread mis-understanding of his philosophy. In this light, I will cast into the light the caricature of Nietzsche in order to exorcise it from our subsequent discussions.
To read the rest of the essay, please visit Daggers and Spears: Lu Xun and Nietzsche on Cultural Revolution.
January 24, 2016 at 4:05 am (Adorno, Aesthetics, Art, Cultural Revolution, Death, Derrida, German Romanticism, Hegel, Heidegger, Holderlin, Kant, Literature, Nietzsche, Poetry, Revolution, Temporality, Uncategorized)
Tags: Adorno, Badiou, Derrida, Empedocles, Foucault, Heidegger, Holderlin, Kant, Mortality, Nietzsche, Poetics, Walter Benjamin
January 24, 2016 at 3:40 am (Aesthetics, Art, China, Continental Philosophy, Cultural Revolution, Nietzsche, Uncategorized)
Tags: China, Chinese Revolution, Cultural Revolution, Lu Xun, Mao Tse Tung, Nietzsche
December 30, 2015 at 4:32 pm (Uncategorized)
This is a poem which opens Mortal Thought: Holderlin and Philosophy, which will be published by Bloomsbury on July 28, 2016.
It has been said by the poets, servants of the Highest:
Kronos, subduer of his sublime father Uranus,
Was exiled to the abyssal depths in the wake of
His double defeat at the hands of his wife and son.
Kronos castrated the god of the eternal Heavens, and
Aphrodite, goddess of Earthly Love, born of the phallus,
Rose naked from bloody foam upon the surface of the sea.
With the usurpation, haunted by ominous prophesy of his
Overthrow by his child, Kronos began to consume
Each of his children just after their births.
His first defeat came from the wrath of his
Wife Rhea, in revenge for his ingestion of
Her children, as he sought to flee his Fate.
Rhea saved her youngest child, Zeus, by
Deception, giving Kronos, after the birth,
A stone, wrapped in swaddling clothes.
After his upbringing by nymphs and goddesses,
Zeus returned with their arts, and giving Kronos
A poison, made him vomit up his immortal children.
Liberated, his brothers and sisters ascended to
Olympus, whereupon Zeus cast his defeated
Father into the abysmal depths of Tartarus.
The second defeat of Kronos occurred when he and his fellow
Titans rose in insurrection and war against the Olympians, their attempt
Narrowly suppressed, the Titans again consigned to the nebulous abyss.
Kronos endured his time, witnessing the centuries of fidelity
To his immortal children until their worship was silenced by
Agitators of a narrative of salvation, of God made flesh.
Mouths spread the story of Eternity descending into time,
Of a heroic god conquering Time and Death, with
Promises of salvation for the mortals of the Word.
The ancient stories of the gods were cast into oblivion,
Along with their wisdom, for one thousand years by the
Poets of the god-man, proclaiming him to be the final truth.
Yet, with their proclamation, Truth, herself, awakens, contesting
The hubris of the new claim as just another fleeting illusion of time,
As with all stories of mortals, children of Prometheus, the Titan.
The goddess of truth set them each upon the other,
In the agon, the One God, who commanded
There shall be no other gods, descended into Chaos.
The stories of the God proliferated in strife, as a hydra,
The new religion shattered amidst the inexorable flux
Of the Nameless, the god made flesh, captive of time.
Seizing the moment of his liberation, in his ecstasy,
Kronos again castrates Eternity, repeating his first
Godlike act, giving to mortals their allotment of memory.
A goddess again ascends from bloody foam, Historia,
The youngest daughter of Kronos, who inhabits the
Vortex of love and strife, a still monstrous site.
Agitators of denial still fight to the death over that
Which must forever remain incomprehensible, destroying
What is Holy in the name of a religiosity of hubris.
Religions of power, unholy politics of the soul, the
Poets of immortal illusions still seek to poison
Time and Earth, the Kronian revolution still on its way.
Yet, there are other poets, however, who are still here,
Amid the strife of mortal existence, who maintain
The remembrance of the Holy, and of the gods.
Traces remain of that which is nearest, and in intimacy
Seek to incite the urgency and intensity of a feeling
That awakens the ecstatic openness of the possible.
December 30, 2015 at 4:11 pm (Uncategorized)
Hysterical: South African press throws temper tantrum over new finance minister
South African press loses plot over finance change
President Zuma’s routine change of Minster of Finance meets with an embarrassing hysteria
For most countries, Cabinet re-shuffles are routine and are the prerogative of the elected leader.
Yet, the reaction of the South African press to President Jacob Zuma’s perfectly normal change of the Minister of Finance seems nothing less than sheer hysteria and crass unprofessionalism.
An impression was intentionally generated in the press of recklessness, that Zuma’s decision was un-announced and un-explained – even un-democratic. Yet, Zuma is constitutionally discharged to make such decisions and he promised detailed information to follow. A detailed statement was released two days later explaining the entire situation. But, by then, the media had already decided to use this decision as a pretext for what was essentially a farce – but one that was revealing.
The detailed press statement was not even mentioned in their hysteria – indeed, the hysteria could have been avoided if they had bothered to wait for more information ‘in due course.’ This is to act in a professional manner and wait for the statement of the president. Instead, they created a false event and disseminated a distortion of reality. Yet, this false event had real consequences which have damaged South Africa.
The Star led with “maelstrom of unreason’; News24: “No obligation for Zuma to tell Cabinet about new appointments – Presidency”; Mail and Guardian: “Nene’s firing: Who will stop the wrecking ball?”; Independent Online: “Zuma ‘out of control’”; Rand Daily Mail: “Welcome to the Jacob Zuma soap opera: Episode 4323;” Eyewitness News: “OPINION: Zuma’s ‘grotesquely irresponsible’ gamble with SA economy.” This is only a sample of the permanent smear economy is a 24-7, 7 days a week project. The private media is an echo chamber, creating its own schizophrenic world.
Strangely enough, as I have mentioned, the president released, amid the hysteria, as a promised follow-up to his initial statement of Nene’s re-deployment (not sacking) on 9 December, a very detailed press statement on the change at the Ministry which clearly stated that Mr. Nene would be South Africa’s candidate for the BRICS’ New Development Bank and details of the next few weeks. It is in this context of the historic FOCAC event in Johannesburg that Zuma announced a new finance minster. These events are intrinsically tied together: FOCAC, BRICS (which, as I have said, was not mentioned in the hysteria) and the new opportunity for Nene at the New Development Bank.
While it was clear to those focussed on the events in Johannesburg that Nene would have a direct role with the BRICS bank, the South African press lurched into high gear, not having the patience to simply allow the political process to unfold. In the detailed and lengthy press statement, Zuma detailed the ‘new deployment’ two days after his original announcement.
The urgency of the changes in the leadership of the National Treasury was occasioned by the need to send nominations to Shanghai, of the head of the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank/BRICS Bank, to be based in Johannesburg. Mr Nene is our candidate for this position. (Press statement, South African Presidency, Dec. 11, 2015)
To underscore the normality of the situation, Zuma wrote later in the statement:
The economic cluster will meet on Tuesday, 15 December as announced by Minister Jeff Radebe to prepare for a special cabinet meeting on the economy, which will take place on Friday 18 December.
None of the newspapers in question could be bothered to wait for or when it did arrive even mention the president’s own statement, which is very clear on the meaning and the impact of his decision. Indeed, contrary to the “shock and bewilderment” expressed by some “commentators”, Zuma opened his statement with a note that a prudent fiscal policy will be maintained. He said:
His appointment as Minister of Finance does not signal a change in the government’s fiscal stance.
Government will not abandon the fiscal path that we have chosen in the last few years. Maintaining a prudent fiscal position remains one of government’s top priorities.
The new Minister will strengthen the path and continue to support all efforts aimed at improving the lives of ordinary South Africans.
The very fact that the president’s own timely statement is never mentioned (even in the many days following the ‘crisis’) is symptomatic of a radically biased media which has abandoned its right to be called journalism. The press exists to report news, not make news. Instead, the South African media created the impression of a crisis, and dominating the international news markets and search engine placements, disseminated the impression of a ‘crisis’ world-wide. Yet, there was no crisis, only an impatience with the reality of having to wait for elaboration from the leader of the government.
Moreover, the failure – was it intentional? – to make the connection between the historic Johannesburg FOCAC gathering and the change at the Ministry underlines the lack of interest of the South African press for facts and critical thinking. Such a lack is underscored by the cheer-leading exercise for a Twitter hastag #ZumaMustFall, which as the protests fell flat, clearly did not have the support of the vast majority of the population – outside the parochial shell of entrenched elites. Ironically, Julius Malema, the leader of the EFF – a favourite of the tabloids – even rejected the protests, called them a conspiracy of ‘white capitalists.’
To this extent, the South African press is not only failing its responsibility to enlighten the public, but has also shown itself to fail to understand the current geopolitical and domestic situation. Such “journalism” deserves its proper name: propaganda. It does not serve the people.
Indeed, as suggested, such mock over-reaction, exaggeration and outright hysteria is not a new event with the South African press. This is business as usual and these new sources understand their audience and their advertiser’s desires – right-wing extremism sold to a captive audience of people who throw temper tantrums since they are not in charge.
The shameful treatment of President Jacob Zuma by the privately owned media and its readers – a standing president who has four more years in his term and won with an overwhelming majority – is an embarrassment to South Africa in the face of the rest of the world.
Only America’s Fox News could applaud the bile of such “journalism”. Indeed, Fox has become a model for right-wing and Neo-liberal news organisations all over the world, representing privileged suburbanites and entrenched elites.
The failure of the South African privately owned media to contribute to a positive transformation of South Africa exposes its reactionary and merely negative character. It lives in denial, refusing to accept that it is no longer in charge.
Such was made possible, of course, by the de-regulation of media markets and the general Neo-liberal premise of the IMF controlled “democratic transition” in South Africa, one which has benefited the wealthy who are incidentally the primary consumers of the bile of the private media.
Yet, as Van Rooyen explained in his address at an appointment ceremony attended by the president, the focus of his tenure will be the expansion of opportunity to all South Africans, “not just the few”.
Such talk does not play well with the elites of South Africa, who hide behind their walls, never truly experiencing the utter deprivation of millions of their fellow citizens. Instead of visiting the townships and offering a helping hand, a kind word, they repeat the party line of faceless “commentators.”
Bordering on the brink of sedition, they pray at night for the perfect storm, one that will never come. In such a situation, a legislative introduction of a “Fairness Doctrine” would be appropriate for these private companies.
In the end, Zuma decided to calm the markets, their “animal spirits,” disturbed by the false crisis, one generated by the media, by replacing Van Rooyen with the former finance minister Pravin Ghordan. This decision, it is no surprise, has also been latched on by the press as a symptom of Zuma’s alleged indecisiveness. Yet, such ‘indecisiveness’ is as real as the ‘crisis’ generated by the media and is essentially the same. In fact, Zuma responded decisively to counter the mischief of the media and its fantasies of the fall of the ANC.
As Jackson Mthembu, National Spokesperson for the ANC, has outlined in his article on this fiasco, “Media lose its veneer of objectivity with #ZumaMustFall”, the architects of the crisis were the journalists and media outlets themselves. Their hysteria and opportunism is to blame for the persistent obstructionism of the new South Africa. Their journalism is merely propaganda.
December 4, 2015 at 7:50 pm (African National Congress, America, ANC, Anti-Austerity, Anti-Austerity UK Alliance, Austerity, BRICS, Cultural Revolution, Deconstructon, Deleuze, Democratic Community, Derrida, Human Rights, IMF, SACP, Socrates, Uncategorized, Zuma)
Tags: America, American Hegemony, ANC, Austerity, BRICS, COSATU, Financial Control, IMF, Jacob Zuma, SACP, South Africa, World Bank
Fifty Shades of the IMF
America and the Empire of Dominance
The BRICS Alternative and the Case of South Africa
Narcissism, not wisdom, guides American policy, which is itself a mask of anarchy.
Unlike the General Assembly of the United Nations, where each country has one vote, decision making at the IMF was designed to reflect the relative positions of its member countries in the global economy. The IMF continues to undertake reforms to ensure that its governance structure adequately reflects fundamental changes taking place in the world economy.
The International Monetary Fund
The economic health of every country is a proper matter of concern to all its neighbours, near and far.
President Franklin Roosevelt
As with De Sade’s Justine, the IMF lures its victims with pledges of aid.
Again and again, the naive girl, still believing in virtue, finds herself imprisoned. Such was the case, for instance, with the abbey in the forest, inhabited by monks. Justine is saved, she believes – but the monks reveal themselves to be sadists, torturing, raping and killing their prey. The monks, hiding behind a mask of sanctity, do what they like, satisfy their peculiar and perverse desires, while disciplining and binding those they have abducted (ab ducere, to lead from, astray). The monks wait for their quarry as a spider who strikes. But, as with the carnivorous plant that seems to offer water, the monks contrive to bind Justine even as they extend a helping hand. Thomas Jefferson, writing in the same era, warned, ‘…under pretence of governing they have divided their nations into two classes, wolves and sheep. I do not exaggerate.’
To read the rest of the essay, please visit Fifty Shades of the IMF: America and the Empire of Dominance
December 2, 2015 at 6:24 pm (China, Chinese, Chinese New Left, Uncategorized, Western Politics)
Tags: Brazil, BRICS, Geopolitics, IMF, India, International Law, NATO, Obama, Putin, Russia, South Africa, Syria