Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's That Time of the Year Again

It's that Passover, Easter, Spring Break, baseball, crocus-daffodil-tulip, tree-budding, lunch outdoors, insect returning,  time of the year again.

And speaking of insects returning, sap rising, hope springing, spring hoping,  and rituals of the season--well,  I was about to say "meaningless rituals..." intending specifically the religious holidays but that seems a bit redundant.  Rituals are at their very essence meaningless, aren't they?  Pledges of allegiance to the archaic, the obsolete. Decimation of the imagination by nostalgia; a tic; a triumph of decay. Ignorance, superstition, pathology.  Preserve us from a future where we won't be doing next year exactly what we're doing this year.  Let us affirm our solidarity with the market for things, relations that never were, but will always be.  Ritual, rites... those are the traditions of all dead generations that weighs like a.... nightmare?  an Alp?... on the brain of the living.

So speaking of bugs, it's that time of the season when the Left Forum starts hawking its latest hoe-down, jamboree, hootenanny, sing-along, barn-raising, quilting--bee, pottery class and all around expo called, amazingly enough, the Left Forum.

Last year, you will recall, or better yet, maybe you won't, the Left Forum rolled out its radish carpet (red on the outside, white on the in) for Alvaro Garcia Linera, once-upon-a-time r-r-r-evolutionary guer-r-r-r-r-illa and now vice-president in charge of leasing gunmen to that well-known international brigade of freedom fighters,  MINUSTAH.  What thunderous ovations were bestowed on Mr. Linera by the left forumers!  All power to the coca planters !  Political power comes from the barrel of a gun, especially when that gun is leased to the bourgeoisie.  We're all Maoists now, proclaims the Bolivian of the Bolivarian Revolution.

Tough act to follow, I guess.  I mean how to top that?  Mandela's dead. He can't speak. Comrade Delta from the British SWP was already engaged in exactly what I don't want to know.   Qaddafi's dead.  Morsi's under arrest.  Assad-- well we know he's not leaving Syria anytime soon.  Hamas can't get a visa.  Hezbollah-- check with Assad.  Kirchner can't travel, doctor's orders.  Every time Bachelet tries to go anywhere, Chile either catches on fire, or gets ripped by an earthquake. Putin...maybe, but then he annexed Crimea just because it holds Russia's only warm water port, and he wound up not only on the no-fly list, but the no-land list.  The Core Four's done, the BRICs have become the Fragile Five and Paul Krugman-- well ever since you know what his fees have gone through the roof.

Who, what, how to follow the triumph of Linera? 

Well come on, we watch Mad Men.  We know what the key to marketing is.  Sure we do.  The Left Forum is a shop, and every shopkeeper knows that business is all about location, location, location.  So this year, with its theme "Imagining a World with Transformative Justice," the Left Forum chose as its locus for imagination......the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.   Now that really is a triumph of the imagination, and location.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but one of the founding institutions of the the "discipline" that became the John Jay College of Criminal Justice was...the New York City Police Department. The school was founded originally as the College of Police Science.  But that's just so much history, and as that other great revolutionary, what'shisname said,  "history is bunk."

Recognizing that "College of Police Science" was somewhat limiting, might tend to impair the school's ability to market itself, and penetrate its markets, the school, in the greatest of great American traditions, rebranded itself as the John Jay College of Criminal Justice-- naming itself for the first chief justice of the US Supreme Court. 

Let's not get the wrong idea here.  I could care less that Mr. Jay resigned from the Continental Congress rather than sign the Declaration of Independence.  I kind of like the fact that Mr. Jay ruled against the state of Georgia in Chisolm vs. Georgia-- not as much as I like the way Sherman ruled against the state of Georgia, but different strokes for different folks as Sly and the Family Stone would say.  And I know that Mr. Jay was an opponent of slavery. 

None of that is the point.  The point is that the college, the curriculum, the field of "criminal justice" no matter how "enlightened" is about preserving, extending, deepening police "science," the science coming down to, as science always does, the proper application of effective force at the proper time against certain subjects, those subjects being those who need to overthrow the existing relations of social reproduction.   

If you doubt me, and please, don't ever stop doing that,  just check the 4 year academic program for its BS (!) in Criminal Justice available here

What gets me about this is... simply..........one of us is nuts.  Either I'm crazy for thinking that being "radical" or being a "revolutionist" or a "Marxist" means opposing those who pimp armed forces to the bourgeoisie to suppress the struggle of the most mistreated people in history; either I'm crazy for thinking that "transformative" means radically opposing colleges of progressive police science or I'm not crazy, in which case the organizers, supporters, participants, book dealers, and attendees of and at the Left Forum are nothing other than the current incarnation of past defeats, determined to smother the prospects for future emancipation. 


April 15, 2014

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