Swans Commentary: Letters to the Editor - letter206



Letters to the Editor

(December 27, 2010)


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A Review of a Year in Review: Perspectives on 2010

To the Editor:

Year end reviews, gathering up all the disheartening revelations, all the outrage and disappointment of the last twelve months, can be either depressing or invigorating. Or both. Swans avoids the former mainly through the excellence of its writers. Peter Byrne, for example, in his graceful review of a book on Dissent, points the reader in a multitude of directions, to whet our anger or our curiosity to encounter a different kind of writer, all the while guiding us toward a careful appreciation of Arundati Roy, whose prose and fiction illustrate the two main intellectual forms of protest and engagement with the world.

Gilles d'Aymery's review of the year in Absurdistan trods familiar ground, but is important for highlighting the central role played by German banks in dictating what is otherwise a self-defeating policy of bailing out the banks. This reminds me of "A Low Dishonest Decade," a treatment by Peter Hehn of the British banks' role in the lead-up to WWII.

Louis Proyect's writing is as usual straightforward and compelling. I may be wrong in this, but I sense toward the end he is saying that the main actor at this moment in history, propelling itself by feeding on itself, is neither the state, nor the capitalist class, nor "Multitude," but War itself -- a grisly image reminiscent of Goya's nightmare paintings.

And there's a lot more provocative stuff like this in the rest of the reviews.

Thank you for keeping the light shining in the darkness.

Robert Wrubel
Stewarts Point, California, USA - December 17, 2010


A Review of a Year in Review: Perspectives on 2010

To the Editor:

Both Gilles d'Aymery's essay ("The Slow Agony of Absurdistan") and that of Louis Proyect ("The Autumn of the Hegemon") paint bleak but accurate pictures of the immediate future that awaits most of us -- one of economic misery, war, and ecological disaster. While Gilles sees portents of fascism, Louis sees the slow demise of US hegemony and the political arousal of those whose lives are being turned topsy-turvy.

I hesitate to be at all optimistic. Capitalism, while it is increasingly incapable of productive dynamism much less satisfying the real needs of anywhere close to a majority of the world's people, is still pretty resilient in terms of avoiding true political crisis. A long period of political stasis seems as likely as an energized and radicalized working class -- especially in the United States.

Michael Yates
Ford City, Pennsylvania, USA - December 19, 2010


The Origin of Absurdistan? Gilles d'Aymery's The Slow Agony Of Absurdistan

Hey Monsieur d'Aymery,

Absurdistan used to refer to the countries of the former Soviet Union, not to the EU and the USA -- see the entry on Wikipedia for clarification of this slight confusion.

Regarding socialists that have embraced the neoliberal mantra you forgot to mention Pascal Lamy, a true blue-blood socialist. Lamy is the Director-General of the World Trade Organization! Look, even the CGT [Confédération Générale du Travail -- General Confederation of Labour] does not use the words "workers" or "laborers" any more. It's all about les salariés (wage earners) now. Its general secretary, Bernard Thibault, is a reformist. Bye bye proletariat!

Otherwise, Marie Rennard gets a clear picture of the situation in France though with the current rise of the National Front and la petiote [Marine Le Pen], who knows, 2012 may well be 2002 redux. The award for clarity and succinctness, however, goes to Jan Baughman. There is nothing more creative than a cartoon to summarize a year filled with regression (on both sides of the ocean). All in all, a great issue. Bonne année!

Allez, bon vent!

Alouette Arouet
Paris, France - December 22, 2010

Gilles d'Aymery responds: Absolutely correct: It "used" to refer to those countries, but it was then and it is now. The word came to mind after thinking of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi and Jarry's "'Pataphysics" ("the science of imaginary solutions") -- in other words, the Theatre of the Absurd.


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Published December 27, 2010
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