Bulletin N°540




20 September 2012
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,

Re-reading R.D. Laing’s influential book of the 1960s, The Politics of Experience (1967), I came across a passage which rings as clear today as it did during the period of the Vietnam War, when it was written:

It is difficult for modern man not to see the present in terms of the past. The white European and North American, in particular, commonly has a sense not of renewal, but of being at an end; of being only half alive in the fibrillating heartland of a senescent civilization. Sometimes it seems that it is not possible to do more than reflect the decay around and within us, than sing sad and bitter songs of disillusion and defeat.   . . .
We are born into a world where alienation awaits us. We are potentially men, but are in an alienated state, and this state is not simply a natural system. Alienation as our present destiny is achieved only by outrageous violence perpetrated by human beings on human beings. This book attempts to document some forms of our contemporary violation of ourselves. (from the Introduction to The Politics of Experience)

Laing locates the science of psychology at the start of his book; he writes that: “Experience is the only evidence. Psychology is the logos of experience. Psychology is the structure of the evidence, and hence psychology is the science of sciences.” (p.18) He then  goes on to develop this notion of our own increasing alienation from our experiences :

Our capacity to think, except in the service of what we are dangerously deluded in supposing is our self-interest and in conformity with common sense, is pitifully limited: our capacity even to see, hear, touch, taste and smell is so shrouded in veils of mystification that an intensive discipline of unlearning is necessary for anyone before one can begin to experience the world afresh, with innocence, truth and love.  . . . 
What we call ‘normal’ is a product of repression, denial, splitting, projection, introjections and other forms of destructive action on experience. . . . It is radically estranged from the structure of being.  . . .
Our behavior is a function of our experience. We act according to the way we see things.
If our experience is destroyed, our behavior will be destructive.
If our experience is destroyed, we have lost our own selves. (pp.26-28)

The violence of invalidating the experiences of others goes on every day in a myriad of ways. The end product of this violence is a person who experiences him/her self no longer as a full person, but as only a fragment that is constantly “invaded by destructive ‘mechanisms’ in the face of which he is a relatively helpless victim." (p.35)


As the fall semester gets underway here in French universities, the prevailing sense is “the calm before the storm”. The European economic crisis is worsening, Israeli jingosim against Iran is constantly sounding in the background, and despite heavy censorship in the French media a foreboding feeling that "all is not well" prevails. . . . .

The predictable scramble for job security in a time when job opportunities are vanishing inspires the usual dogged competition and reproduces the "normal" alienation from society; but also we discover an unexpected conviviality and social solidarity that has surfaced among a growing number of “victims” of the capitalist collapse. Choosing between abject schizophrenia and aimlessness or creative engagements in restructuring society, a growing number of people –particularly young people—are opting for cooperative, non-alienated relationships.

Several events are planned this week on campus at Grenoble U. by le jardin d'utopie

jeudi 20 septembre
18h00 : Soirée débat / Prostitutions : Quels enjeux actuels du débat ?
20h00 : réunion Sortir du Nucléaire 38
vendredi 21 septembre
20h00 : « Laissons le pétrole sous la terre ! L’initiative Yasuní-ITT en Équateur »
samedi 22 septembre
14h30 : Après-midi pour les sans-papiers
16h00 : Goûter-apéro de rentrée de la BAF
20h00 : La nuit du ciné club d’Antigone
lundi 24 septembre
16h00 : permanance de la bibliothèque féministe
la suite | le calendrier

And next month, L’Association Entropie has organized a four-day conference on the Grenoble campus :

“Vivre L’Utopie”.
or more details please see: http://vivrelutopie.free.fr/

The 6 items below may inspire CEIMSA readers to make new discoveries of hidden qualities in old relationships, within the global system we are now enduring, and to invent new means by which these relationships can be developed.

Item A., sent to us by George Kenney, of Electric Politics, is an audio interview with Chuck Thompson, author of Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession.

Item B., from The Real News Network, is a report on the recent setback suffered by Israeli war mongering.

Item C., from Reader Supported News, is an article by Larry Gabriel on “Detroit's Good Food Cure.”

Item D., from Democracy Now! , in an  interview with David Graeber on the “Occupy Wall Street Protest.”

Item E., from If Americans Knew, is an article by Alison Weir, “ Justice for All: Alexander Cockburn, Palestine, and U.S. media.”

Item F., sent to us by University of California Art Professor, Fred Lonidier, is an appeal for support for Colombian Professor Renán Vega Cantor, who has been threatened for his political views and his criticism of post-liberal policies in Colombia.

And finally, we offer CEIMSA readers the opportunity to view the recent documentary film on creating new 'agents of change' for a more humane world, followed by an interesting critique of the film's basic premises :

American Autumn: An Occudoc
(Film Documentary: 1h 15 min.)
Dennis Trainor, Jr.
Filmmaker Dennis Trainor Jr. commenting on his new film and the challenges facing the Occupy Movement
(Interview: 10 minutes)


Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
Director of Research
Université de Paris 10


from George Kenney :
Date: 30 August 2012
Subject: “Better Off Without ‘Em.”


Dear Francis,

We don't parse it this way in our conversation but it seems to me that the fundamental evil of slaveholding cannot lightly be shaken off. The consequences go beyond American political institutions, well beyond our convenient amnesia. In critical ways those consequences bound our current sorrows. But to see the problem in more concrete terms one must look at life in the South. Chuck Thompson has done just that, taking two years to travel through the South and then penning his latest book Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession (Simon & Schuster, just published). If you think this title sounds silly you may be surprised at Chuck's thoughtful observations. And he's put his finger on a part of the problem that -- as far as I can tell -- has escaped journalists, commentators, and academics: the leverage of a corrupt southern culture is increasing while the rest of us have nowhere to shelter. 

We've got to get past our idealizations about people of good faith having different views. We're in a much more complex, dangerous struggle.

An advisory for those with tender sensibilities: Chuck's book is filled with profanity and vulgar asides. More than a few I find wickedly funny but your milage may vary.

As always, thanks for listening!




Detroit's Good Food Cure
Larry Gabriel, Yes! Magazine
Gabriel reports: "Weekend mornings are the busiest days of the week at D-Town Farm. That's when up to 30 volunteers from across Detroit come out to till the earth and tend the crops at the seven-acre mini-farm on the city's west side."

September 7, 2012

Another Take on American Divisions


better off without 'em

Stipulating hypothetically that religion is the big dividing line in American life (per last week's show), it seems not unreasonable to make a case that religious divisions manifest mainly through sectional politics. Taking it a step further one might well wonder about sectional differences generally, despite the taboo. Lucky for us, Chuck Thompson has spent two years exploring the South with a skeptical eye and has written up his findings in an extremely funny, somewhat vulgar satire titled Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secessionhttp://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=electricpolit-20&l=ur2&o=1 (Simon & Schuster, just published). Taboo or no, he's put his finger on certain things worth thinking about. Thanks Chuck! Total runtime fifty nine minutes. Nē frontī crēde.


from The Real News Network :
Date: 7 September 2012
Subject: Israeli warmongering.

Gareth Porter: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs told reporters in Britain that an Israeli strike would be ineffective and then said, “I don’t want to be complicit if they [the Israelis] choose to do it.”

Porter Report - After Dempsey Warning, Israel May Curb War Threat


Watch full multipart The Porter Report

from Reader Supported News :
Date: 7 September 2012
Subject: Urban farming.

Gabriel reports: "Weekend mornings are the busiest days of the week at D-Town Farm. That's when up to 30 volunteers from across Detroit come out to till the earth and tend the crops at the seven-acre mini-farm on the city's west side."

Detroit's Good Food Cure

Larry Gabriel

from Democracy Now! :
Date: 19 September 2011
Subject: Occupy Wall Street.
As President Obama prepares to outline a deficit-reduction plan that includes tax increases, as well as cuts to programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, anthropologist David Graeber proposes a radical solution: cancel the debt of the nation's poor. "Debts between the very wealthy or between governments can always be renegotiated and always have been throughout world history. They are not anything set in stone," says Graeber, author of "Debt: The First 5,000 Years," on Democracy Now! today. "It's generally speaking when you have debts owed by the poor to the rich, debts becomes a sacred situation, more important than anything else. The idea of renegotiating them becomes unthinkable." On the Occupy Wall Street protest, Graeber says, "If you look at who showed up [in Egypt and Spain], it was mostly young people, and most of them were people who had gone through the educational system who were deeply in debt and who found it completely impossible to find jobs. ... The system has completely failed them ... If there's going to be any kind of society worth living in, we're going to have to create it ourselves."

David Graeber on the Occupy Wall Street Protest & Forgiving Debt of the American Poor



from Alison Weir, If Americans Knew :
Date: 19 September 2012
Subject: Alexander Cockburn, Palestine, and US media.

Justice for All: Alexander Cockburn, Palestine, and U.S. media
Alison Weir
Daily Censored Online Edition and CounterPunch
August 2012


from Fred Lonidier :
Date: 20 September 2012
Subject: Support Colombian Professor Renán Vega Cantor.

Below  is a letter from a member of UC/AFT Local 2034 and officer of the San Diego Faculty Assn./AAUP.  My Local requests this be passed as a resolution at our next Delegate Meeting next Wednesday.  It seems very important to support this as both academic freedom and union organizing in our global world.


Dear Board members:

I hope you all had a restful and productive summer.  I'm writing to see  if you will be willing to support professor Renán Vega Cantor. Vega Cantor is a famous professor at the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional in Colombia and a winner of the Premio Libertador of Pensamiento Critico in Venezuela, among other distinctions. Renán has been fighting neoliberalism and the privatization of the university in the past several years. More recently, he was involved in the creation of a union, the Asociación Sindical de Profesores Universitarios (ASPU). Due to all of these activities, the administration of the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional has first questioned his academic credentials, and more recently he has received "death threats" (he has been "señalado" by paramilitary groups). Everything is explained in the letter that I am attaching, but basically he has been forced into exile to do what we try to do at the SDFA. We are coordinating an international campaign to support his return and we wanted to ask for your signature and to see if the SDFA, as a group, will be interested in endorsing the letter. Although there is a campaign in Europa, Latin America, and the Arab World, they believe that support from the US (for all the wrong reasons) would put a lot of pressure in the administration of the university to protect him and guarantee his return.

Those who want to sign  individually as well can email me before Tuesday september 25 at lmartincabrera@yahoo.com<mailto:lmartincabrera@yahoo.com>
I'm also including this interview with Renán  in Spanish for those who want further information about the case.



In unity,


P.S. Fred could you please forward to other labor groups for endorsement