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The Wearing Thin of the Nation State

Monday, September 16th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — following on from Climate change & its impacts, rippling out across all our futures, 2 on national sovereignty and climate migration — with Hakim Bey’s TAZ and more ]
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Three books by Peter Lamborn Wilson

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Two instances of our theme — The Wearing Thin of the Nation State — crossed my bows in utterly unrelated posts via Academia today, and they make a fine DoubleQuote:

From John Sullivan‘s Criminal Enclaves: When Gangs, Cartels or Kingpins Try to Take Control:

Criminal enclaves are areas where lawbreakers (gangs, cartels, criminal warlords) exert political and social control. Essentially these areas are “other governed spaces.” The state may or may not be absent — although its hold is certainly challenged — but other informal governance structures, such as gangs, wield substantial political influence or control. These other governed spaces can range in size from neighborhoods, barrios or favelas (i.e., failed communities) to failed or feral cities — such as Brazil’s notorious City of God favela or Ciudad Juárez during the height of cartel control or Veracruz and Acapulco — to failed states or regions, such as an entire nation — extremely rare — or a substate region such as Mexico’s Tamaulipas. These enclaves are essentially incubators of state change or transition as described by Charles Tilly in his essay “War Making and State Making as Organized Crime.” This process of criminal challenges to states can be described as criminal insurgency, where bands of outlaws erode sovereignty while potentially altering the nature of states. In addition to geographic scope, criminal enclaves can vary in their degree of control over governance. They can exist as parallel states, exerting control over some functions (i.e., taxation, monopoly of violence and justice, and the provision of social goods), while the state still retains control over others.These enclaves could also fully supplant the state when it is absent or lacks solvency, which I define as the sum of legitimacy and capacity. They could also form a hybrid where criminal networks and corrupt politicians cooperate to extract wealth and wield power (as is the case in narco-cities or mafia states).

I’d like to offer, by way of comparative, this excerpt from Abbe Mowshowitz as quoted in Bill Benzon‘s and his
Virtual Feudalism in the Twenty-First Century:

Absent a sense of loyalty to persons or places, virtual organizations distance themselves—both geographically and psychologically—from the regions and countries in which they operate. This process is undermining the nation-state, which cannot continue indefinitely to control virtual organizations. A new feudal system is in the making, in which power and authority are vested in private hands but which is based on globally distributed resources rather than on possession of land. The evolution of this new political economy will determine how we do business in the future.

That’s my DoubleQuote.

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That’s interesting, I think — but what’s even more so is the quote that initially caught my eye in Bill B‘s paper:

In 2017, Denmark became the first nation to formally create a diplomatic post to represent its interests beforecompanies such as Facebook and Google. After Denmark determined that tech behemoths now have as much power as many governments — if not more — Mr. Klynge was sent to Silicon Valley.“What has the biggest impact on daily society? A country in southern Europe, or in Southeast Asia, or Latin America, or would it be the big technology platforms?” Mr. Klynge said in an interview last month at a cafe in central Copenhagen during an annual meeting of Denmark’s diplomatic corps. “Our values, our institutions, democracy, human rights, in my view, are being challenged right now because of the emergence of new technologies.” He added, “These companies have moved from being companies with commercial interests to actually becoming de facto foreign policy actors.”

That’s quoted from Adam Satariano, The World’s First Ambassador to the Tech Industry.

Ambassador to the Tech Industry? Ambassador to the Tech Industry, okay. The ground is shifting under our feet.

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Detail from Ceasefire’s account of the Temporary Autonomous Zone

Peter Lamborn Wilson aka Hakim Bey, with his interest in the Barbary Corsairs, must have been one of the earlier writers to discuss what he termed Temporary Autonomous ZonesTAZ for short — and its no surprise he’s an eccentric scholar of Islamic Heresy and the Margins of Islam! And what a life he’s led — studying tantra with Ganesh Baba in India, in Pakistan “mixing with princes, Sufis, and gutter dwellers”, an associate in Iran of Henry Corbin, editor of the journal Sophia Perennis under the guidance of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, house-mate in NYC with William Burroughs — though let’s not forget some far darker stuff [cf “Bey’s endorsement of adults having sex with children”, Wikipedia].

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Narcos in Mexico to Bill Burroughs in Tangiers and NYC isn’t too great a hop: life on the margins is liminal by definition, disruptive — and disruption is what all of our examples above have in common.

Bey on the TAZ:

Getting the TAZ started may involve tactics of violence and defense, but its greatest strength lies in its invisibility–the State cannot recognize it because History has no definition of it. As soon as the TAZ is named (represented, mediated), it must vanish, it will vanish, leaving behind it an empty husk, only to spring up again somewhere else, once again invisible because undefinable in terms of the Spectacle. The TAZ is thus a perfect tactic for an era in which the State is omnipresent and all-powerful and yet simultaneously riddled with cracks and vacancies.

How will the nation state respond, adapt?

Too good to miss, recent miscellanea

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — i don’t know about you, but wondrous strange stuff passes before my eyes daily, as in a dream — here’s a sampler ]
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First off, two graphics too good to miss:

From my friend Rabbi Lobel:

and via David Metcalfe:

I should probably stop there — the two of them are so stunning. But I need someplace to park some other recent items that caught my attention..

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Then, a chyron ouroboros so brief as to be stunning:

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And here are a couple of other tweeted ouroboroi

And this one with the added distinction of coming from a Q-source:

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Best game as metaphor for politics meme:

Best folk religion image — Holy Child, Patron Saint of Gas Thieves

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BTW, does QAnon get it’s Q from Quelle, German for source and popularly abbreviated Q in New Testament studies, where it is the “hypothetical written collection of primarily Jesus’ sayings” (Wiki) on which Matthew and Luke draw for materials not found in Mark?

Or as I suggested to Ali Minai a day or two ago:

the letter Q is what you get when you try to construct a Moebius strip on a plane surface.

Don’t get me started on Borromean rings..

And is there a Q in that initial snake graphic, at the head of this post? Thus I bite my own tail..

A DoubleTweet in which two religious icons confront urban decay

Monday, August 19th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — I spend a fair amount of time showing the ways in which religious extremism across many religions results in violence — it’s my pleasure here to show how simple religious devotion can have a positive impact ]
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This is a very simple example of one positive aspect of religions, plural:

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BTW, anyone who wonders whether Twitter can be worthwhile might take a look at this exchange between scholars of religion, as an example of the simple notion that two minds are better than one.

In this case, I’m grateful both to Judy Silber, who posted How a Buddhist shrine transformed a neighborhood in Oakland, and to Andrew Chesnut, aka Dr. Death & Divinity, for his quick and profound reponse to my original tweet.

Border crossing: Mexican folk religion, meet American pop culture

Monday, August 5th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — this should really be a Sunday Surprise, but you probably won’t see it till Monday, so why not wait and post it in the morning? ]
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A DoubleTweet killer: The Mexican cult of the skeletal sacred, Mictecacihuatl or Santa Muerte depending what century you’re looking at:

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Saint Death, to whom one might pray, or Holy Death, which one might pray for, with an implied positive afterlife — Santa Muerte can be translated, or understood, either way, or perhaps better, both.

The idea that that Titanic ending love-image can be translated into a muerte santa tableau illustrates the imaginative power of the santissima muerte tradition — liebestod, lovedeath, if you love Wagner — or in Hilaire Belloc‘s version of Tristan and Isolde:

My lords, if you would hear a high tale of love and of death, here is that of Tristan and Queen Iseult; how to their full joy, but to their sorrow also, they loved each other, and how at last they died of that love together upon one day; she by him and he by her.

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Wagner, Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, sung by the impressive Nina Stemme, and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by (I believe) my nephew Daniel Harding:

Newly Published! SWJ / El Centro ebook on Templarios cartel

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — fresh off the interwebs! ]
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Los Caballeros Templarios de Michoacán: Imagery, Symbolism, and Narratives

About the context for El Centro / SWJ, our publishers:

The elephant in the hemispheric room is clearly the epidemic criminal, cartel and gang threat, fueled by a drug and migration economy, rising to the level of local and national criminal insurgencies and a significant U.S. national security risk.

My chapter, Templarios: Echoes of the Templars and Parallels Elsewhere, begins on p 102..

Enjoy!


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