Call for papers: American Studies Association Annual Meeting

I republish information of interest from Blog de la AMHE by Itzayana Gutiérrez

Dear colleagues:

As member of the International Committee of the American Studies Association, I am soliciting panels or individual papers for our upcoming conference (http://www.theasa.net/). Picking up on a now accepted move that transnationalizes the study of the United States, we would encourage analyses of U. S.-Mexican relations (broadly conceived) or that situate an analysis of Mexico in a wider North American perspective using a cultural approach. Among possible topics are those papers examining: how American Studies is approached from outside the United States; whether the current transnational moment in culture study gives us a special purchase on the United States and North America that may not have existed before; how the hardening of borders in politics is matched by a concern for border studies within our academic field. The deadline is Jan 26. See the webpage for more information.

More info (in Spanish): http://www.h-mexico.unam.mx/taxonomy/term/63

Advertisements

Gun control, school massacres and state-failure

The article “More Guns = More Killing” By came to my attention as a good reference of how sometimes more “global approaches” to what we could explain as “local problems” results in sophistic arguments that are of no use.

The article is astonishingly confusing and misleading because the author arguments that it is more/less guns what results in more/less deaths.  And as such, that only by decreasing the amount of available guns the deaths can be reduced.  In order to defend this position she tries to defend her position by bringing a sometimes useful comparison of explaining local problems (those of the U.S.) by comparison to more global regions (in this case, Latin America).

Rosenthal does not propose a better solution than the one she is trying to question and which was proposed by the NRA (National Rifle Association) to President Obama.  Truth, “A society that is relying on guys with guns to stop violence is a sign of a society where institutions have broken down”. Why? Because the bureaucrats and the NRA consider as she does that it are guns the ones that “kill” and as such, it are guns the ones that “give life“.  Neither of the cases can be more false.
The parallels between the Latin American countries with high homicide rates and the US Massacre of schools kids cannot be correctly understood behind the “more guns/less-more deaths” causal relationship.

Then, how? As usual in this times of miss-integration of concepts.  The events in Latin American countries with high homicide rates and the US Massacre of schools kids have no parallels.  The high homicide rates in Latin America are the result of a failed War on Drugs and the institutional decay caused by corruption, state failure in providing rule of law and the reconfiguration of power relations amongst many other causes.  In this case the guns are not a cause nor a solution.  The massacres in U.S. schools are in my opinion the result of a decay of family values and a philosophical problem of identity that can only be solved behind an urgently much needed moral revolution.  In this last case it is not guns or the state which can do much about to change things.

Future massacres in schools can only by stopped from happening when the roots of family decomposition are diminished (divorces, unemployment, family violence, alcoholism, drug addiction, among many others).  The murderers in these schools were seeking for revenge from society and saw that killing kids was the perfect way of enacting revenge on those he was angry with.   Until we understand this things I see no probable hope for future improvement of any of the cases. As well, for as long we have journalists with a philosophy of life that relies on the State as the “giver” or “healer” of society’s problems things are also going to continue going in the wrong direction…

Discourse: Nationalization, Private Companies and Crony Capitalism

The neoliberal (a.k.a. crony capitalism) ruling of the world during the last 50 years is usually generalized as a “big fish eats small fish” relationship. The story continues, with the big fish in Washington, Brussels and Moscow fed themselves with the riches of the world and profited from globalization.  Meanwhile, the small fish continued breeding and feeding the always hungry lords.  This general discourse is repeated in most if not all the academic papers dealing with postcoloniality and globalization.

The impact of the ideas of these intellectuals is widespread and not easily observable for the ignorant masses.  As such, when you read the newspapers in Latin America or Africa in regard to the “new” nationalizations being undertaken by the “new” socialist/anti-neoliberal governments in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Greece, Lithuania, and Sri Lanka since 2011 people usually ignores that there is nothing “new” in these actions.

These nationalizations of privately owned assets have been in many of the cases actual renationalizations of companies that were not owned by the principles of free market ideas, but that had been privatized by corrupt social democratic governments 50, 40 or 10 years before and who created new privately owned privileged companies.  As a result of these social democrat and socialist governments many privately owned companies emerged as the bastions of crony capitalism, inefficiency and corruption.  The previous, generally increased as closer the national industries were owned by crony private companies that owned single-crop cultive exports and resource rich regions.

To mention short examples of the previous, recently in Argentina Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF; English: “Treasury Petroleum Fields”) was renationalized (not nationalized) by the government under claims of corruption, inefficiency and negative benefits to their national interests.  In Bolivia, Transportadora de Electricidad (TDE) was nationalized by Evo Morales government.  However, TDE was also a fruit of the neoliberal and crony capitalist deals established in 1952 after a coup d’état that established a military socialist democracy with the party  Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR) which allied into a military-nationalist clique that lasted for 50 years.

Privately owned companies produce always more efficient and better products than state-owned companies.  However, privately owned companies that have benefited from government granted privileges for decades not necessarily will produce more and better services and products than state-owned companies.  The previous is something that few of us dare to identify and explain with a non-contradictory historical and philosophical background.  Meanwhile, the great majority of academics influenced by collectivist philosophies will start writing articles and books applauding the “successful” renationalizations and condemning those free-market authors who will write back and fight.

Indeed, there is a difficult road in defending private property and privately owned businesses in the context of countries and regions that lack respect for individual rights and the rule of law.  As such, to defend the private vs collective in those circles it is necessary that first we identify how the societies are currently organized around the collective inefficient systems of social and economic organization.  In the case of Bolivia and Argentina it is necessary for us to identify how these business and societies are not structured and organized around the principles of free market and individual rights.  By understanding and explaining this clearly there will be a chance to change the discourse of discussion from “why is renationalization good?” to “why laissez faire capitalism is better than the privately owned business of crony capitalism?”

A Plan to Collapse Iran’s Central Bank and its Origins

The foreign policy of the richest countries has always depended in controlling the world’s monetary systems. As a continuation of the postcolonial systems, they continue holding the power to grant credits to poorer countries, to rescue their economies in periods of crisis and in pushing for an increase in world “reserves” and international “liquidity.” The end result of this policies resulted in creating world inflation and enriching those central banks that controlled the dice of this international game (just as it had been done in the previous colonial period).

Colonialism may seem to many an ‘old history’ that was overcome with the modernization of the world and the decolonization processes after World War II.  Nonetheless, in the following postcolonial period many already institutionalized strategies continued working and are still present today.  The IMF, for example, was one of the institutions born as a result of the decolonization process. Its results (far distant from their founding vision) were to keep the postcolonial countries in monetary and economic dependency.

For long the world’s centralized banking and monetary authorities, headed primarily by the International Monetary Fund, collaborated to initiate a period of surveillance, aid, and guarantees for the world’s financial markets as  and  explained in the post “The IMF and Moral Hazard“. However, the long-term results of theses policies fostered the dependency of postcolonial economies and, as such, empowered the populist leaderships in the former colonies that pursued expansive social programs that couldn’t be supported without their foreign aid and long-term indebtment.

Video: The Plan To Collapse Iran’s Central Bank

Today, I saw a video titled “The Plan To Collapse Iran’s Central Bank” in which analysts in the U.S.A. are evaluating the possibilities of collapsing Iran’s economy and disenabling them to continue researching their nuclear programs. Strategies as these may seem as “bogus” to many; however, the long history of international monetary intervention of the economies in postcolonial countries is long and influential (see: Pastor, Manuel (1989). Latin America, the Debt Crisis, and the International Monetary Fund. Latin American Perspectives).  The results of any of these strategies always end up creating inflation and as  mentioned in his essay “End the IMF” in the year 1963 the only solution for and end to inflation (an as such for peace and economic recovery) is to eliminate the IMF and the interventionist international monetary system that has proved, in practice, a gigantic machine for world inflation.

File:50000 IRR obverse.jpg
50,000 Iranian rial

Book Reco: El amanecer de la libertad by Carlos Sabino

Carlos Sabino‘s latests book composes an historiographic evaluation of Latin American history and its heroes from a pro-libertarian, free market perspective. The book is an evaluation of the intellectual influences behind the Independence Movements in the region and how they still influence current political structures. I invite you to listen to this lecture by Prof. Sabino, (audio in Spanish)

Presentación del libro “El amanecer de la libertad”

The Drug War in Guatemala: A Conversation with Giancarlo Ibarguen

“I blame the war on drugs in the United States for what is happening here in Guatemala.”
Giancarlo Ibarguen

Most of the cocaine shipped north from Central and South America these days travels through Guatemala and into Mexico before eventually crossing the border to the United States. The value of that cocaine, even before it enters the US market, is approximately $40 billion a year. That’s nearly the size of Guatemala’s entire economy.

The drug cartels in Guatemala act with impunity and effectively control much of the country. As Guatemala’s President Alvaro Colom recently told Al Jazeera, “The drug traffickers are much better armed and financed than our military and our government.” Guatemala, as a result, has become a very dangerous place to live.

What’s the solution? According to Giancarlo Ibarguen, president of the Universidad Francisco Marroquin, the US government should end its war on drugs.

Approximately 5 minutes.

Produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning.

Go to http://reason.tv for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason.tv’s YouTube Channel to receive automatic notification when new material goes live.

Jefferson: The Civil must always be in complete control of The Military

Lady Justice Takes the Bus
Image by djking via Flickr

The ideas of the Founding Father‘s were an inspiration across the breath of Europe and Latin America. Even now, more than 200 years later, the words of the great Thomas Jefferson should and must be remembered now that the new governments we elected continuously impulse the centralization of agricultural, commercial and industrial production.

“But the true barriers [bulwarks] of our liberty in this country are our State governments . . . Agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and navigation, the four pillars of our prosperity, are the most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise . . . standing armies in time of peace should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”  Jefferson, Thomas. Annual Message to Congress (1801)

As important, Thomas Jefferson’s message to the new Citizens of the United States was that it was fundamental to the survival of a Republican country that The Civil must always be in complete control of The Military. Jefferson had made this warning as an answer to the Constitution that Virginians had written. Nowadays, however, the message goes to the citizenry that fails to recognize that the role of an army in time of peace should be avoided and kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

These are some of Jefferson’s messages that helped the United States build a stable government based on Republicanism. In the cases in which The Military and their allies may sometimes control the executive power they must constantly be remembered that it is the strict following of The Constitution their most important obligation. This is the only tool in which The Civil will complete The Military; failing to do so will only secure autocratic governments in which The Civil loses their rights just as history has shown.