node created 2019/09/29
Then McNamara has a footnote in his book. He says, two years later, Fall had changed his mind about the efficacy of American actions and took a more pessimistic view about the prospects for an American victory. That was 1967. Look at what [Fall] wrote in 1967. He said this just before he died. He said Vietnam is literally dying under the worst attack that any country has ever suffered and it was very likely that Vietnam as a cultural and historical entity was going to become extinct under the American attack. And McNamara reads this and says [Fall] changed his mind about the efficacy of what we were doing. Not only did he write that, but every reviewer read it. Nobody comments on it. Nobody sees anything funny about it. Because if we want to destroy a country and extinguish it as a cultural and historical entity, who could object? Fall was talking about South Vietnam, notice, not North Vietnam. The killing was mostly in South Vietnam. The attack was mostly against South Vietnam.

Not only is it interesting that this happened, but also interesting is the fact that no one noticed it. I wrote about it, but I have yet to find any commentator, scholar, or anyone else, who noticed this fact about the Pentagon Papers. And you see that in the contemporary discussion. We were "defending" South Vietnam, namely the country that we were destroying. The very fact that McNamara can say that and quote Bernard Fall, who was the most knowledgeable person, who was utterly infuriated and outraged over this assault against South Vietnam, even though he was a hawk, who thought Saigon ought to rule the whole country - you can quote him and not see that that's what he's saying - that reveals a degree of moral blindness, not just in McNamara, but in the whole culture, that surpasses comment.
I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.
I know women sometimes start believing they’re not meant to do something, especially when there are cultural or family restrictions where they live, so they put that limitation on themselves. Even if the opportunity comes, they don’t see it, they’ve forgotten about it. So it’s important not to forget, to always be prepared.
If you go to a desert, you will hear this mysterious voice: Be wise, protect your forests!
Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.
The fanatical exultation of American troops is, at its root, a refusal of Americans to accept all the horror they do is the citizen's fault. It's a refusal to actually break down and cry and feel bad that the American lifestyle and comfort has a cost of human lives and misery.
The world gets improved in fits and starts, in small ways more than in large ones, and thanks to the unseen, unthought infrastructures that undergird it more than the civic or scientific or artistic victories we celebrate in the streets or in the theaters.
To build a bridge, you don’t need millions of people. You need enough people to build a bridge so that a million others can cross over it.
Freedom has to be in tension with something, or it’s just randomness.
"The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy"
Glance at the sun. See the moon and stars. Gaze at the beauty of the green earth. Now think.
[..] it is becoming increasingly obvious, that the state is not based on men of strong spirit and natural power. It is increasingly based on the ignorance and passiveness of the people.
The driving idea behind denialism was always to delay action for a few decades. Well that worked perfectly. Now they will move on to saying it's all too late for gradual mitigation, and they can swoop in with highly expensive adaptation measures, publicly funded in perpetuity. This stage of rentier/disaster capitalism could be what pushes our global civilisation off the cliff.
Unanimity of opinion is a very ominous phenomenon, and one characteristic of our modern mass age. It destroys social and personal life, which is based on the fact that we are different by nature and by conviction. To hold different opinions and to be aware that other people think differently on the same issue shields us from Godlike certainty which stops all discussion and reduces social relationships to those of an ant heap. A unanimous public opinion tends to eliminate bodily those who differ, for mass unanimity is not the result of agreement, but an expression of fanaticism and hysteria. In contrast to agreement, unanimity does not stop at certain well-defined objects, but spreads like an infection into every related issue.
If, in Récoltes et Semailles I'm addressing anyone besides myself, it isn't what's called a "public". Rather I'm addressing that someone who is prepared to read me as a person, and as a solitary person. It's to that being inside of you who knows how to be alone, it is to this infant that I wish to speak, and no-one else. I'm well aware that this infant has been considerably estranged. It's been through some hard times, and more than once over a long period. It's been dropped off Lord knows where, and it can be very difficult to reach. One swears that it died ages ago, or that it never existed - and yet I am certain it's always there, and very much alive.
"The Life of a Mathematician - Reflections and Bearing Witness" (1986)
The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise...
the hidden reality of human life is the fact that the world doesn’t just happen. It isn’t a natural fact, even though we tend to treat it as if it is—it exists because we all collectively produce it.
"The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy"
I'm tired of gurus and I'm tired of cults. Either we take advantage of the opportunity and try to reach people, or just forget it.
The Grand Inquisitor explains that you have to create mysteries because otherwise the common people will be able to understand things. They have to be subordinated so you have to make things look mysterious and complicated. That's the test of the intellectual. It's also good for them: then you're an important person, talking big words which nobody can understand. Sometimes it gets kind of comical, say in post-modern discourse. Especially around Paris, it has become a comic strip, I mean it's all gibberish. But it's very inflated, a lot of television cameras, a lot of posturing. They try to decode it and see what is the actual meaning behind it, things that you could explain to an eight-year old child.

There's nothing there. But these are the ways in which contemporary intellectuals, including those on the Left, create great careers for themselves, power for themselves, marginalize people, intimidate people and so on.
"Chomsky on Anarchism" (2005)
The conversation took a turn towards how should we handle harassment at our events. During this discussion, a fairly well-known member of the programming community joined the open space. This person, who had not participated in the first half of the open space, quickly took over and steered the conversation. He stated that if put in a similar situation, he would stand up for himself and tell the harasser to leave him alone. Not only did he state that he would do this, but he also felt this was the responsibility of any person being harassed.

At this point, I felt it was relevant to explain that a white male prominent in the programming community is not being put in the same situation as a woman attending the conference. The privilege and power differentials are completely different, and it is bullshit to act like they are the same. I was then yelled at by another man in attendance for “making assumptions” about the speaker. At the time, I apologized to move things along and avoid derailing the conversation, but I find this deeply problematic. Despite popular opinion to the contrary, pointing out someone’s privilege in a situation is not an insult.

It’s privilege that says it’s the victim’s responsibility to make a harasser go away, and that the situation will turn out well if they try to do so. What may be reasonably easy and safe for one person may not be for another. Women are often socialized differently than men to handle conflict, and the harassment they receive does not always take the same form. If you want to get an idea of what women often deal with, try reading @EverydaySexism. It isn’t exaggeration. This is the daily lived experience for many women. The situation is not the same, and claiming so is misguided in the best of cases and harmful in the worst.
All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.