Dyslexia: The Silent Painting

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The Dyslexia Painting

If you google Ranciere and Dyslexia, you won’t probably find anything (if you found anything, please send it for my dyslexic self :D). It seems like Ranciere doesn’t give a shit about my dyslexia. However, I can relate to his so-called work (he should be happy :P).

I have always been a ADHD kid and little I know about my flawed-learning abilities. I only knew I was dyslexia short time ago. I googled dyslexia to make sense of the senseless and basically I don’t fit in this ‘Pedagogical Society’. Written words are my enemy, they make no sense to me and this is why they hate me. Well, if we say the so-often used word (which I see ridiculous to be honest) ‘common sense’ is not so common. I have been made a recluse by what is a common sense.

As, Ranciere talked about Flaubert (this badass!), refuse to make his writings enslaved to what meaningful should look like. For most of the time, I have been told that I am detached from my own writings and I started recording what I think to put in to words (After all, my verbal ability and logic reasoning is 75% above the whole population- smart, huh?- however, I really don’t know what this means). For me, in the beginning it was sad and I even was scared to post my blogs. I felt like I don’t know how to please words and you know what, fuck it! I mean, I will celebrate my own unruly learning abilities and be proud of it. However, in the end I have to make any sort of alliance with words, because of my dissertation apparently.

So, was Flaubert Unrulisit Badass or an idiot? Well, to relate to my case, it seems like we are both to this systems are idiots (Smart idiots though). I mean I was told I have problems with capitalization and punctuation plus many other stuff (which you might notice, probably I won’t). However, I am not ignoring capitalization or over doing it, regardless of its systematic boring pragmatic importance. I sometimes capitalize the words out of love and sometimes out of complete feelings of boredom. However, this all happens subconsciously.

The Aesthetic of the ‘impasse’  to imply the entrapment in the world that can’t be altered and thus the normalization of this counter-system of pedagogy is for me an act of exclusion of myself, where there are no alternative and thus I am stuck -figuratively- in my own head (I am even crying, when I am writing this:P Fuck I have no place :D)

The aesthetic-zation of pedagogy is Fascist, the hegemonic learning self goes against creativity and the inclusion of any other type of production of knowledge. My knowledge is relatively irrelevant to this system whatsoever.

“the written word is like a silent painting that remains on its body the movements that animatight incarnate their power ” Says the Badass Ranciere

My dyslexia is a vivid painting, that make no sense to the silent painting. I didn’t intend to have unruly cool dyslexic self, but I do and its not going anywhere, it seems to me that my writings are negotiation of power and attempts for my end for validation and inclusion.

Thank you Ranciere and contemporary artists for trying to validate my existence in the written world

Much unruly love to you,

Menna.

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For Our Cyborg Selves

 

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Unruly Students worshipping the ‘Sussex Eye’ The Tab May, 2016

“I mean, it can be for our good. You see I have a son and I think its for his safety” She says. I was sitting on the grass along with other colleagues planning for our unruly event and her words were not complying to the overall unspoken agreed perception of the issue. But, it make sense! Her words make absolute sense, although I was kind of estranged by her opinion, nevertheless, she can be right. I mean we are the Cyborgs Harraway talked about. We have consolidated identity that override anything else. It is delusional separation that we have consciously between technology and reality.

For the attractiveness of how unruliness can be, despite this her words voided my unruly thoughts. She is talking about how surveillance can protect her son. In other word, for me all can I see, is the hybridity of our cyborg selves. Her son’s body ontologically bound to the function of the camera. I might have thought the same if I had a son. Oh, wait, I am a woman, I can already consider this machine part of my living organism. We are not separable, my identity as an Egyptian mid-twenties female walking late at night, made me even more of a  luring union to the camera.

Our group project on the Sussex Eye in the library square, was so much fun. However, it made me contemplate how the Sussex Eye, which we consider (as in my group) a tool of surveillance, might be perceived by others. Is it really a tool to protect us or to control us? Harraway sees the cyborg as with deep operatively, even more than the ‘biopolitics’ analysis of the micro-practices of power.

I remember this time, when we were organizing a protest and we went on the streets and then some of our friends were arrested. We were all terrified, that his Facebook profile will be examined by the national security officers once they have his phone and all his belongings. His Facebook account has everything about him: his political opinions, his friends and many other things. We started reporting his account to get the account closed down. It felt like we were cutting part of him to save him. I mean, I found it weird to report my friend’s account on Facebook, in order to save him, because anything can be held against him.

However, it is so difficult to find this clear line between thy ‘myth’ and the ‘tool’, it feels like the myth is a tool rather than the tool is a myth. The cyborg recreate bodies and change social reality, it made the prohibit communicable, but it is inside us and no longer operating on us. The cyborg is ‘us’.

I couldn’t tell my colleague that it’s not true what she thinks of the camera. The Camera is not going to protect your son and I was as well not convinced that it will protect her son. But, I couldn’t tell her, while everyone was talking and telling the truth beneath the existence of the ‘Sussex Eye’, regardless, I couldn’t speak .

 

The Bare Life of the ‘Fragile Masculine’

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To scare the ‘Fragile Masculinity’ a little bit 😛

It was one of the days in Ramdan- exactly like nowadays- we were sitting in our lounge, back at home and one of the non-ending tv commercials started playing, showing sissy young man and a voice saying “Be a man!, drink this XX”. The tv Com. ended with the guy’s voice  “This drink is for macho men, be a man!” I wasn’t a gender baby by this time (this is how we call ourselves in the GAD MA :D), but still I have been a feminist and couldn’t help it but laugh and feel how silly it is. Although, this is not a funny commercial (I really love funny tv commercials, they are my favorite XD), but still its the ugly truth of what does it mean to be a man. Then the memes and hashtags #fragilemasculinity started going viral to relate to this unfunny and silly tv commercial. What is fragile masculinity? Its mainly the ambitious of the neoliberal consumerism, aiming at making men consume products that has been labeled as feminine without feeling emasculated (like leggings, there is meggings for men now, lool <3).

Being the gender baby that I am, I  have to annoy everyone with this topic, after all, we should let the other MAs know about the importance of gender (scoffs).  Gender is performative- Judith butler would agree on that XD-  and it’s not a secret that there is hegemonic masculinity as well, which means in a simple way: the favorable form of masculinity, that men thrive to relate to in different realms of life. Hereafter, there is multiple forms of hegemonic masculinity, that can be performed in different spaces. Both, men and women can adopt this performance of masculinity (yes, its not only for men

Agamben and the bare life of the hegemonic masculinity

Butler (2009) mentions in her lecture on ‘Performativity, Precarity and Sexual Politics’ the precarious life that gender non-confirming people has to face. Well, we are made vulnerable by our gender performativity. In a sense that, the way we try to comply to these gender roles, leave us with compromised agency. Men are not only sacred of wearing meggings and the fear of looking like women. In my country, they fear being called gay, being gay, not being a capable breadwinner, not finding as job; because they are asked to be breadwinners and even not being good in bed. These are constant fears of not relating to these different patterns of hegemonic masculinity. Men have been made a Homo Sacer in diverse shapes. This is how Agamben referred to it “Process of Subjectivization” where our bodies are politicized and the sovereign is no longer the “body of the king’ it is in the micro-practices of life (Foucault), which Agamben define as ‘ operativeness of the sovereign’

”Man is not only a natural body, but also a body of the city, that is, of the so-called political part”. Nancy Lindefrane in her book ‘Masculinities Under Neoliberalism’ explains how there is no such a thing of the so-called oppressed femininities vs the superior masclunties. These patterns and cycles of neoliberal enslavement was made to sustain this bloody system. Its sad, that even though we think that we choose our sexuality, however, its not completely true. Our sex is gendered. We are performing the closed form of sexuality that would keep our gender roles sustained and thus keep a citizens and not made a bare life by the state, for the fear that we will be abandoned by the state . Even though, there are people who choose to be dissident citizens (Dasgupta), for our fear to be abandoned by the state and transformed to the bare life. Still we are negotiating power always over our bodies.

We have been made the Homo Sacer by our own gendered roles. I don’t know how this will go away…

 

Part 2

Being the angel that I am, I was proof reading a friends essay the other day and stumbled across that oh so quoted theory – bio-politics. The slickest term in the book. Slip bio-politics into a causal conversation round the IDS and its high fives all round! Well maybe not… We’re not that sad, but you get what I mean. Still, when I found myself reading the brief summary of the term, I was instantly thrown back into that same feeling of academic discomfort I remember from when we fumbled our way through the thick stuff in that seminar on ‘The Body’ and Unruliness.

“This is an example of Foucault’s well-cited concept of Bio-politics. His model describes the power that governments exert over individual bodies. This form of control is highly instrumental and oblivious to individual rights that are forfeited in favour of the government’s interests. Bio-politics draws Foucault’s earlier work on bio-power which describes the governance over social and biological processes through technologies of power. The main difference of the concepts in how they are used in this paper is that bio-power is exerted by a state onto a population while bio-politics is directed at a specific individual and body…”

Put succinctly, my feeling of discomfort stemmed from one thing – the feeling that this super sexy term was, in fact, just a super sexy term void of any meaning. ‘What is this that I hear?! Foucault? Vacuous?! Sacrilege!’ Yeah that’s right, I said it – so hear me out. To me, the notion that governments use ‘technologies of power’ over individuals body’s seems so blindingly obvious, it seems strange to even feel the need to say it. Of course state power is about influencing bodies. The question I ask myself is, when does the exercise of state power not influence an individual’s body? Questions over abortion laws are very explicit examples, but we should also recognise that economic policies regarding the allocation resources often manifests itself in a grumbling of bellies from those worse off. Is this too not a form of bio-politics? Even policies that don’t necessarily lead to a ‘grumbling of bellies’, questions regarding dignity and self-respect, policies that undermine ‘decent and secure work’ for example, these take its toll on something slightly more ethereal – the human mind. But who says such a thing does not belong to the human body? To distinguish between matters that affect our psychological well-being and those that affect our physical well-being rests on a dualist distinction between the mind and body, one that I sincerely reject. All state power, all of politics, is bio-politics. If bio-politics is everything, then it is nothing.

I remember discussing these frustrations with a friend at the time and she said that as a woman and a feminist, she can see the undoubted value in the term bio-politics. It visibilises issues, and reminds us that our bodies are in fact the subjects of state power. She pointed to the American elections and noted that if all those middle class women that voted Trump were reminded or made aware that it was their bodies that will be coerced and constrained by anti-abortion measures, then maybe they would have voted a different way. I see this point. Maybe with the armchair nature of political participation, with politicians seeming like nothing more than contestants on reality TV show, biopolitics is a useful reminder that it is our bodies that are the recipients of state power.

However, there remains a danger in accepting this distinction, one that can reinforce armchair participation. If we accept the dualist distinction that underpins biopolitics, we are then encouraged to be concerned with politics only when we feel that our bodies are the subjects, as in obvious examples like abortion law, or regulations relating to medicinal practices. Would it not be better to recognise that all politics is bio-politics, that state power always manifests itself on an individual’s body in some manner and that we would be wise to use our bodies, our bare life, to change it?

I was watching a little video on Foucault by Alain de Botton where he mentions Foucault held scorn for the medical profession because of the ‘medical gaze’ held by doctors. A doctor looks at a person and sees a set of organs, as opposed to a person that should be considered at a full entity. My reading of bio-politics feeds into this scorn as in distinguishing between state power directed at our bodies, and state power that does not, we reinforce the notion that we are not our bodies, that we are not complete entities.

Then again, maybe I completely misread Foucault?

 

From Welfare to Entrepreneurial State

Some findings from essay writing:

  • There is a certain threshold ratio ofmazzucato words to hours till deadline after which the essay writing process  assumes liminality.
  • The mainstream paradigm in economics is neoclassical.
  • I disproportionately cite one author in many papers.

I probably do this because there  is a bit of brilliance spanning across a range of her different publications; or, i just need to read wider.

Mariana Mazzucato taught at Sussex Spru until last year. Shes a rock star, celebrity economist who works on matters of innovation. The majority of her work has been disruptive to long-held mainstream conventions about innovation, her work is a beacon of unruliness in an otherwise boring discipline.

Her book the entrepreneurial state challenges the myth of the herculean entrepreneur who allocates factors of production in such unique ways as to create new markets against all odds. Instead her research shows that in all the most significant tech breakthroughs (internet, biotech, GPS, siri, all i-phone components etc) it is the state that has provided favourable financing and set a vision. She also proposes that the state keep equity in successful ventures downstream that it has financed, so that it can continue to generate revenue for funding more innovation. this is her Tedtalk:https://www.ted.com/talks/mariana_mazzucato_government_investor_risk_taker_innovator

This is her on twitter challenging Dani Rodrik – probably the most well-known development economists – about his theory of self-discovery.

Part 1

“With suitable instigation, a fostered sense of identity with one group of people can be made into a powerful weapon to brutalize others” (Sen, Identity and Violence:The Illusion of Destiny, 2006)

The idea of a political community, an economic unit, which has a sense of shared vision, cuts across all realms of conception: philosophical, cultural and political. Identities are shaped by inclusion and by extension that which these inclusive groups choose to exclude – the contrasting identity that they differentiate themselves from. To bring more into focus that within themselves which they know only through comparison with another.

The construction of identity and citizenship in Pakistan has been on the basis of exclusion. These exclusionary mechanisms coupled with other factors have resulted in radicalism along religious lines that often overlap with ethnic lines.

Pakistan is a relatively new state with a long colonial history, a bloody partition and is currently the fifth most populous country in the world. Its weak institutions, handicapped democratic procedures, territorial conflict with India and a strong military-bureaucratic base results in an inefficient flow of resources, poverty, minimal civil participation and a severe power shortage. Over fifty percent of the population is under the age of thirty, and provision of state facilities is poor (Chadda, 2001). These groups of marginalization often overlap with the religious minorities in the country that make up 6 million of the population.

The formation of a cohesive Islamic national identity as led to the exclusion of religious minorities from the state narrative. Pakistan’s conception of an Islamic identity relies on religious universalism, where it looks at other Islamic states as ‘natural’ allies. The post-70s national conscience reinvention along explicit Islamic lines has succeeded in entrenching Sunni interests in state legislation and institutions. Minority narratives along with alternative Muslim narratives are not incorporated into the national vision. The subjugation and discouragement of Sufi practices and Barelvi thought exemplifies the intolerance towards counter-Islamic narratives. Furthermore, the institutional capacity of the Islamic state borrows modern apparatus to promote an authentic’ Islamic vision. (Subramanian, 2014).

A caveat of current academic scholarship is summarised in Manuel Castells assertion that ‘nationalism is anathema to Ummah.’ and this observation holds true in the case of Pakistan where nationalism is mediated through a religious lens. “It has in turn, created resistant-based identities that have evolved into disillusioned, radical fragments that look towards a global radical Islamic identity to combat the nationalism of nation-states. “Identity is the way of constructing meaning in people’s lives at a time when the raison d’etre of modern states seems to be vanishing, in this respect; people crave much more than just market economics. Indeed, the State can be said to be an agent of globalization rather than of the people. The reaction to this is an alternative construction of meaning based on identity.” (Castells, 2008) The need for social justice in a state built on exclusion, where minorities are often excluded from social decisions, is paramount. Employing mechanisms of education, media and participatory democracy that stress universal values based on human rights can bring this about.(Sen, Culture and Development , 2001)

A look back at Occupy Oakland

In 2011, I lived in Oakland and took part in many of the Occupy Oakland protests, meetings, and events. The pinnacle of the experience was when the teachers’ union of the public school district endorsed teacher participation in a city-wide general strike. It was the first city-wide general strike since 1946. Instead of teaching in our usual classrooms, many of us took a personal day off while inviting our students to join us at Frank Ogawa Plaza for rallies and marches, which were scheduled throughout the day. At the time, I ran a green jobs vocational training program at one of the toughest schools in the city. Our work included small-scale agriculture projects at community gardens, so many of my students decided to have a farmer’s market at the occupied plaza. In the afternoon over 20,000 (some estimated up to 70,000) marched to the Oakland Port, one of the largest shippin95g ports in the country and shut it down.

The day of the General Strike could well be viewed as emblematic of what transpired during the Occupy Oakland movement as a whole. The vast majority of activities, sit-ins, and protests were peaceful, but a handful of incidents of vandalism and violence cast long shadows over the positive actions. On a number of occasions, night would fall and ‘fringe’ groups would destroy private property and confrontations with police would intensify, along with police brutality. Eventually these incidents were used as an excuse for coordinated police raids to forcibly remove Occupiers from Ogawa Plaza and other occupied spaces. The Occupy Oakland post-mortem conversations in the media and among many Oakland residents sought explanations for the ‘failure’ of the overall movement due to its lack of leadership and absence of a concrete agenda (an analytical interpretation contested at length in Van De Sande, 2013).

12My memory of the entire experience of participation was quite different; I experienced it as an electric spiritual awakening and heightened feeling of connectedness, especially when participating in demonstrations and debates. My experience is in stark contrast to the sweeping narrative of failure. At some subconscious level, I think I accepted this reductionist explanation as logical, mainly because none other was offered. At the time, the only other frame of reference for me was the Civil Rights protests of the 1960s. It was true, there was no Martin Luther King of the Occupy movement who had emerged to negotiate with the city or state. It was true Occupy did not have a set agenda or list of demands. Maybe that is why we haven’t seen a marked change in the capitalist status quo.

4

This course has helped me reconsider what change occurred during my exposure to the collective power I witnessed during Occupy and why this experience is vital in its own right. They took me ages to find, but I dug through my archives and found some of the photos I took from Oakland’s General Strike. Looking through them for the first time in at least five years still gives me goosebumps and causes tears of joy to well up in my eyes. I am swept up with the same sense of rebellion and emancipatory emotion I felt then. Every sign still rings true, and in speaking to the broad array of ills of capitalism they realized an alternative society in the past moment when the photos were taken as well as in the present moment in which I view the photos. Occupy Oakland lives on.

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Van De Sande, M. (2013) ‘The prefigurative politics of Tahrir Square – an alternative perspective on the 2011 revolutions’, Res Republica, 19, pp.223‒229.

 

 

Interviewing pictures

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I decided to try out a creative technique to think about unruly politics.

I took two days of newspapers of EL TIEMPO (one of the oldest newspapers in my country) and looked at what was happening only with the images in this two days. Trump everywhere, two types of protest in Colombia, one big one in Brazil and the same in Venezuela. But also at the end of the newspapers cartoons and the section called “social” which I name “happiness”. Everything in the newspaper.

It was fun doing this but also while I was cutting the pictures and putting them together sometimes I felt uncomfortable to use the images of people I didn’t know (especially the ones in the social section)… am I mocking them? I think so… do they deserve that? No… but they will never find this blog… So I continued. This uncomfortable feeling I felt it also in the unruly events I participated in Brighton. It was a lot fo fun, but there was always an air of being identified and of not knowing really what I was doing. Making this collage in my house gave me sometimes the shills…

I don’t really want to say much because I would like people to take time and look at the collage.

  • What do you feel? What do you think?
  • Would you take something out, or would you put something in? What elements are unruly, what elements are not unruly?
  • Is this unruly politics for you?
  • Is the collage an unruly way to do an marked blog?

Regrets of ruliness

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As I look back at my year at IDS, I can’t believe the number of amazing memories, learnings and bonding I experienced. Among all them, however, a small regret has been surfacing: not having done much to support the British Library for Development Studies (BLDS).

The BLDS has been on the verge of being shut down since last year and a final decision to close the library has been circulated among IDS staff and students recently. Over my year at IDS, the BLDS staff has been of huge support to me and many other students, including by granting us books extensions and being flexible with fees.

In an era in which the neo-liberal business model of marketisation, competition and privatisation has ruthlessly infiltrated universities and turned them into money-making machines in which students often feel like cows to milk, the BLDS seemed to me a rare example of providing a fair, human and yet incredibly efficient service.

 

One night I was in the uni bar (another space that seemed to be conceived to induce consumerism rather than human connections), discussing possible unruly actions with fellows unrulistas. After reviewing extreme scenarios like occupying the whole of IDS (I was, unsurprisingly, totally up for that!) we talked about using our action to show support for the BLDS.

The majority of the students started to realise that the library staff had been halved within a few months from our arrival but we didn’t have any information in regards to the reasons why or as for when the library was going to be definitely closed and what would have been done with the space, which at the moment is the only space within IDS available to Master’s students.

Our unruly idea was to ”occupy” the library and organise activities to bring staff and students together to discuss the future of the library space while raising awareness about the fact that the BLDS was going to be shut down. We were surprised and quite annoyed at the lack of communication provided to students, which are the main users of the library, as well as the absence of avenues for consultation and wanted to create one.

 

Later on, in a research project conducted by some students at IDS on the students’ learning experience, participants expressed their frustration for the lack of physical space accessible to them in the institute and praised the library and its staff for providing that friendly and approachable environment.

For some it was outrageous that such an important part of their IDS experience was not going to be available for future students and yet they hadn’t the opportunity to have any say in that.

Although we had all this information available, myself and my fellow unrulistas finally decided to turn down this idea. We thought we didn’t have enough information to act upon this matter and maybe feared that this action was going to be ”too political”.

 

Looking back now, I wish I had done more for the BLDS. We could have spent some time informing ourselves and used the opportunity to show support and solidarity towards such a valuable resource. I also wonder if what really stopped us was the lack of information or the fear of being too unruly.

Even if what stopped us was lack of information, I’m now left wondering how much should one know before being allowed to channel frustration into action and open up spaces for participation when they are not provided? Along the years I´ve repeatedly heard friends and people around me renouncing to their voice for lack of confidence in their understanding of political matters.

I’m not advocating for blind and uninformed unruliness, but I wonder how often the lack of perfect understanding of complex systems, rules and legislations prevent people from engaging in politics, especially when it comes to more active forms of participation such as actions, protests or even voting.

 

I’ve recently written my Unruly Essay on Ranciere’s Politics of the Aesthetics and he provided a whole new understanding of what it means to engage with political action. According to Ranciere, there are a number of human faculties we use when we take part in political processes, including emotions, imagination and perceptions as well as reasoning. He argues that they are all important and legitimate ways of engaging.

However, more often than not, we tend to prefer rational engagement over other forms which might be more creative and spontaneous. If there is one thing I learnt from Ranciere (and there  is definitely more! Really, he’s great if you manage to find the patience to read every line he writes 3 times to understand what he’s saying!) is the need to awaken my other senses and to stop privileging my rational faculties when I take part in political action.

That doesn’t mean that I will stop trying to seek information and use my rational self at the best of my abilities, but that I will trust my other faculties as much as my reasoning. I think that those other faculties such as emotions, imagination and perception will help us a great deal with concepts such as solidarity, which are very much needed in today’s political context, including the one of IDS.
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Cheesecake.

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Bread. Cake. Cheese. Tacos. Hunger

Unruly politics is intimate politics.

“Let them eat cake”—A comment some say sparked the French Revolution, a movement that has been idealistically portrayed as the uprising of a downtrodden people against an unjust and frivolous monarchy. Most people remember the guillotine and beheaded nobles and forget that Revolution began with bread.

One version of the story goes that peasants, starving after multiple failed harvests, marched on the royal palace of Versailles, and demanded bread. To which the notoriously extravagant Queen Marie Antoinette leaned out the window and declared, “Let them eat cake”. Other retelling says that the comment came after a mob of bloodthirsty peasants with pitchforks led a frantic chase after the Queen through the palace. I prefer this version.

Either way, the events reflect a period in which individuals could make claims of the government to care for them and demand recompense face-to-face. A time when kings/queens held court and invited their subjects to voice their grievances. A time when William Wallace fought and died for the independence of his people. This intimacy between governor and governed has since faded  in many parts of the world. The last time a major European ruler (I apologize for the Western focus of this paper) died in battle was in World War II. Now, most military duty is more of a publicity stunt than an actual military tour (e.g. Prince Harry). The last commander-in-chief of the USA military forces who served abroad was George W. Bush Senior in World War II.  I don’t mean to equate military duty with intimate governance but I do think it reflects a change in the role of subject and ruler.

If people are starving today, there are complicated technocractic and bureaucratic mechanisms for determining which child is malnourished enough to receive aid and which child needs to go hungry for a few more days to qualify. In the USA, Donald Trump wants to cut funding to the food stamp program which provides critical assistance to the poorest subset of the population. Going hungry is no longer seen as a crime of the government but one of the individual and your hungry and poverty must be extensively proven before you can qualify.

Today we see still see hunger in a world where is it possible to feed everyone. On a comedy radio news program (they tell the funniest and most ridiculous news) I heard a story about how there is a cheese surplus in the USA. To help dairy farmers, the USDA is going to buy $20 billion dollars worth of cheese and distribute it to food banks across the country so that they can provide “high-protein food to the tables of those most in need” (even though they are cutting access to these programs simultaneously) and subsize the continued over production of cheese.

If we have moved from a moral economy to a market economy, why are there such huge surpluses—11 million POUNDS (the weight not the currency) of cheese sitting in warehouses when people are hungry but cannot afford to buy it and aren’t being given food stamps to exchange for it?

While talking about cheese surpluses is comical it is also depressing and infuriating.

 But the pattern continues and involves.

They are designing tacos in Mexico City that cost $25,000 EACH just because they can and because someone will pay for it. Literally the entire point of this taco was to make it the most expensive possible. Apart from kobe beef and truffles it also has gold flakes. GOLD FLAKES. TO EAT. Just in case you were wondering, gold flakes have zero nutritional value and probably aren’t exactly pleasant to digest. So the only purpose to add them was to make the taco even MORE EXPENSIVE.

I find this as disgusting as I am sure the taco tastes. I forgot to say that it has civet POOP coffee in the salsa. Why? BECAUSE CIVET POOP COFFEE IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE.

I can’t claim moral perfection in this area or any other because I do throw away food that goes bad because I bought too much and I eat luxury items, like chocolate and ice cream, but I am frustrated by the lack of disgust expressed by others when they hear about 11 million pound surpluses of cheese or $25,000 dollar tacos. Instead, it is seen as something comedic. It’s not.

Returning to the French Revolution, I see two intersecting ideas: hunger and intimacy in political relations. We still have hunger but lack the political intimacy to storm palace gates and raise our pitchforks and I wonder if this breeds a sort of apathy. We are so far removed from the decision-makers that we feel we cannot make claims of them or that we won’t be heard. Yes, we sign petitions and we go to marches and we call our local representatives but I think a few more pitchforks might be more effective.

Unruly politics is intimate politics.

 

Sources:

Farber, M. (2016) “USDA to Buy 11 Million Pounds of Cheese to Combat Surplus | Fortune.com,” http://fortune.com/2016/08/24/usda-buy-cheese-surplus/ (accessed June 1, 2017)

Martin, J. (2017) “A resort in Mexico is selling a $25,000 taco that features Kobe beef, caviar and gold leaf,” https://www.lonelyplanet.com/2017/03/02/resort-mexico-25k-taco-kobe-beef-caviar-gold-leaf (accessed June 1, 2017)

Thompson, E.P. (1971) “The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century on JSTOR,” Past & Present 50: 76–136