Conservative columnists are a good barometer for when something happens that may disrupt the status quo. They slip their collective propaganda machine into ‘paranoid rantings’ top gear when the words ‘revolutionary’ or ‘Marxist’ are mentioned, let alone ‘terrorist’. It is good to see the return of the same in one of Miranda Devine’s recent columns. Fuck, it is a classic!
I am not sure if Devine is responsible for certain blogs as author or something else or what? Or maybe she is just a very poor journalist masquerading as an opinionist who finds ‘inspiration’ from certain blogs? I don’t know? (See what you people think.) But the contents of her column on Negri visiting USyd for a conference has an uncanny resemblance to some blogs (here and here, which can be traced back to this article). Finally, she attributes some information to this article and this article. Maybe she has decided her column should replicate a blog post that synthesises a number of sources (but without the referential hyperlinks)? I mean, my blog is full of rantings, but Devine’s slice of the mass media is the becoming-blog of the reactionary column. Evidence, perhaps, of the conservative refrain (what Mel Gregg and I called the “refrain of the right-eous” in our unpublished ‘Guantanamo Bay’ article;) running through popular culture synthesising heterogeneous affective elements into hegemonic stratifications. But Devine probably wouldn’t understand that, she doesn’t have to, she lives it through her writing.
One a semi-related note, a passage from McKenzie Wark’s Celebrities, Culture and Cyberspace reminds me of one of my past rants about the status of ‘early career’ and the role of being a ‘public intellectual’:
There is no shortage of Australian talking heads, but rarely do they encase thinking minds. A more stringent test is required to distinguish thinking capacity from mere talking capacity. For a talking head to become a thinking mind — an intellectual — requires a practice of making concepts that are shared, via the media, with a public, where the concepts attempt to articulate the experiences of that public, at the moment. Just as there can be talking without thinking, there can be thinking without talking, or at least without the kind of public speech acts that I think define an intellectual’s habit of thinking out loud. (35)
On that note, I wonder if Miranda Devine can conceptualise of the difference between a ‘talking head’ and a thinking mind? She certainly has an excellent talking capacity. However, as Grossberg has argued (my post here), conservative politics literally does not want thinking minds.
Update – March 26: I seem to be getting a lot of traffic through this post, so I thought I’d update it.
An online Situationist resource includes this letter from Guy Debord that linked to this article on terrorism. In one of the footnotes, the translator had added a chunk of interesting info on Negri.
Keith Windschuttle has also written a column on the Negri visit. Here is an excellent refutation of Windschuttle’s incorrect historical claims. Windschuttle may be a (obviously, very bad!) historian, but is he a philosopher? What does he know about Negri’s value to philosophy? Sweet fuck all, from what I can gather. Going by his logic, we should never help anyone who has been implicated in ‘terrorist groups’, such as supporting the old regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, let alone let them come to Australia. That unfortunately scratches Donald Rumsfield off the list. What a terrible shame that is…
The real tragedy is that it seems as if the academics at USyd have been swayed by Windschuttle’s idiocy and have postponed the conference. Can’t these people just tell Windschuttle to fuck off?
I still haven’t really figured out what Negri is talking about in Time For Revolution when he argues that the proletariat is defined by its mobility. I have settled on the idea that it relates to the notion of the social factory, but that doesn’t fit with any mobility paradigm with which I am familiar. I was hoping to ask him exactly what he meant. Now I won’t have the bloody chance.