Bulletin N°475

 

Subject: ON LAWS OF NATURE, LAWS OF MAN, AND PALPABLE EXISTENCE.


6 January 20011
Grenoble, France
 
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
A couple of weeks ago, over Christmas vacation, I read excerpts from Frankenstein (1816) to my children. At first it was difficult to convince them that Mary Shelley (1797-1851) had written a love story. The only daughter of the famous English feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was a romantic, and her novel was the story of unrequited love, evidently a familiar experience in this family.

"But what does this have to do with quantum physics that you've been reading about?" ask my older daughter.
"Yes," chimed in the younger, "and you haven't read us 'The Night Before Christmas' this year."

I explained that their attention spans had been truncated by watching too much television, and again they protested. Their opinion was firm: Frankenstein was a mass murderer and he should be dealt with according to the law, which was to say: arrested, imprisoned, tried, and executed.

When I attempted to argue that there were extenuating circumstances in this case, they dismissed my appeal with a shrug: "There are always extenuating circumstances!" (which was the point I wanted to make, but somehow with a different meaning attached).

A few days later, I turned to another literary giant to make my point about the limits of the legal system, as concerns justice and human well-being; this time appealing to my children's French pride, I told them that the famous French author, Anatole France (1844-1924), had once written that: “La loi, dans un grand souci d'égalité, interdit aux riches comme aux pauvres de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain.” This they were willing to think about . . . .

That evening we went to a concert. It was Beethoven's Ode à la Joie, where their mother was singing in the huge choir. After the thunderous applause, we all met in the lobby;  I found my daughters reading a theater journal that they had found on a nearby literature table. On the cover was the announcement of the coming play, "Ni dieu ni maître, même nageur," and at the bottom of the same page was a quote from the late-18th-century pirate, Charles Bellamy, who frequently raided the colonial coast of New England.

Maudit sois-tu, tu n'es qu'un lâche, comme le sont tous ceux qui acceptent d'être gouvernés par les lois
que les hommes riches ont rédigées afin d'assurer leur propre sécurité. Ils nous font passer pour des
bandits, ces scélérats, alors qu'il n'y a qu'une différence entre eux et nous, ils volent les pauvres sous
couverts de la loi tandis que nous pillons les riches sous la protection de notre seul courage...
They found this quote not altogether irrational; but still there is the practical matter of staying alive in an unjust society, something that Jesus Christ had failed to do after delivering his famous Beatitudes.


The 5 items below may inspire CEIMSA readers to contemplate the relationships between law, and justice, and human well-being.

Item A., from Reader Supported News, is an article by Lynn Parramore on the Torture of Bradley Manning by US Military Authorties.

Item B., from Noam Chomsky, is an update on the propaganda coming out of Israel.

Item C., sent to us by Dominique Jégou, is an update on the continued repression against the Roms in Grenoble.

Item D., sent to us by Isabelle C., is a Wikileaks release of the US embassy cable which recommends drawing up list of countries for 'retaliation' over opposition to genetic modification.

Item E., sent to us by NYU Professor Mark Crispin Miller, is the report on a new book in France, a "little red book," that calls out for a new "resistance".


And finally, we invite CEIMSA to contemplate this portrait of Mr. Bradley Manning, "6 X 12" by artist Stephen Pitt. For over six months now, Manning has spent twenty three hours a day in solitary confinement in a 6 by 12 foot cell, under unrelenting lights, with neither pillow nor sheet, waiting to be tried.

Six by Twelve
by Stephen Pitt

Six By Twelve, cartoon by Stephen Pitt

Is the US government attempting to compel Manning to make possible false confessions that would implicate Julian Assange and WikiLeaks?


Sincerely,
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
http://dimension.ucsd.edu/CEIMSA-IN-EXILE/


________________
A.
from Reader Supported News :
Date: 21 November 2010
Subject: War is a lie.
http://www.readersupportednews.org/


Let us pause for a moment to remember the thousands of people being tortured in American prisons, including Bradley Manning, and let us send our own message back to our government: We are Americans. We will not accept the intimidation and coercion of our fellow citizens, even from the Pentagon. Most assuredly, we will not accept torture in our name. Not of the accused. Not of the mentally ill. Not even of convicted criminals.

Bradley Manning: Tortured Until Proven Guilty
by Lynn Parramore

Bradley Manning has been held in solitary confinement, which ma 


______________
B.
from Noam Chomsky :
Date: 25 November 2010
Subject: Israeli propaganda.


While intensively engaged in illegal settlement expansion, the government of Israel is also seeking to deal with two problems: a global campaign of what it perceives as 'delegitimation' - that is, objections to its crimes and withdrawal of participation in them - and a parallel campaign of legitimation of Palestine.


Breaking the Israel-Palestine Deadlock
by Noam Chomsky


____________
C.
from Dominique Jégou :
Date: 5 January 2011
Subject: Repression against the Roms continues in Grenoble.


Bonjour,

Suite à la série d’événements qui se sont déroulés au 38 rue Pascal depuis septembre et tout dernièrement à l’expulsion le 28 décembre de deux familles avec des enfants en bas âge (dont une petite fille aveugle, de 4 ans) en pleine période de Plan Grand Froid, nous avons été amené à faire le point sur l’utilisation par le CCAS de Grenoble de ce bâtiment. Le texte dont que vous pouvez lire sur Indymedia Grenoble (cf. Lien ci-dessous) reflète l’état à ce jour de notre connaissance du dossier, il peut comporter quelques inexactitudes, résultant de l’opacité de pratiques que nous mettons un certain temps à déchiffrer.

Dominique Jégou, Lucien Eymard, membres du Collectif Solidarité Roms
Le 38 rue Pascal : l'étrange destin d'une maison d'instituteurs.
Le CCAS de Grenoble squatte-t-il ce bâtiment ?

http://grenoble.indymedia.org/2011-01-05-Le-38-rue-Pascal-l-etrange-destin




_____________
D.
from Isabelle C. :
Date: 5 January 2011
Subject: US targets EU over GM crops.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2010/nov/28/us-embassy-cables-wikileaks


US embassy cable recommends drawing up list of countries for 'retaliation' over opposition to genetic modification.


WikiLeaks: US targets EU over GM crops

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/03/wikileaks-us-eu-gm-crops

_________________
E.
from Mark Crispin Miller :
Date: 4 January 2011
Subject: In France, a "little red book" calls out for a new "resistance".

The little red book that swept France
The latest call to (non-violent) arms has turned a 93-year-old war hero into a publishing phenomenon. John Lichfield reports.


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-little-red-book-that-swept-france-2174676.html

Take a book of just 13 pages, written by a relatively obscure 93-year-old
man, which contains no sex, no jokes, no fine writing and no startlingly
original message. A publishing disaster? No, a publishing phenomenon.

Indignez vous! (Cry out!), a slim pamphlet by a wartime French resistance
hero, Stéphane Hessel, is smashing all publishing records in France.
The book urges the French, and everyone else, to recapture the wartime
spirit of resistance to the Nazis by rejecting the "insolent, selfish" power of
money and markets and by defending the social "values of modern democracy".

The book, which costs ¤3, has sold 600,000 copies in three months and
another 200,000 have just been printed. Its original print run was 8,000.
In the run-up to Christmas, Mr Hessel's call for a "peaceful insurrection"
not only topped the French bestsellers list, it sold eight times more
copies than the second most popular book, a Goncourt prize-winning novel by
Michel Houellebecq.

The extraordinary success of the book can be interpreted in several ways.
Its low price and slender size - 29 pages including blurbs and notes but
just 13 pages of text - has made it a popular stocking-filler among
left-wing members of the French chattering classes. Bookshops report many
instances of people buying a dozen copies for family and friends.

But Mr Hessel and his small left-wing publisher (which is used to print
runs in the hundreds) say that he has evidently struck a national, and
international nerve, at a time of market tyranny, bankers' bonuses and
budget threats to the survival of the post-war welfare state. They also
suggest that the success of the book could be an important straw in the
wind as France enters a political cycle leading to the presidential
elections of May 2012.

In a New Year message Mr Hessel, who survived Nazi concentration camps to
become a French diplomat, said he was "profoundly touched" by the success
of his book. Just as he "cried out" against Nazism in the 1940s, he said,
young people today should "cry out against the complicity between
politicians and economic and financial powers" and "defend our democratic
rights acquired over two centuries".

In a party-political aside which might or might not undermine his new
status as political prophet, Mr Hessel went on to imply that "resistance"
should begin with a rejection of President Nicolas Sarkozy and a vote for
the Parti Socialiste.

The book has not pleased everyone. It also contains a lengthy denunciation
of Israeli government policies, especially in the Gaza Strip. Although the
final chapter calls vaguely for a "non-violent" solution to the world's
problems, the book also suggests that "non-violence" is not "sufficient" in
the Middle East. Mr Hessel, whose father was a German jew who emigrated to
France, has been accused by French jewish organisations of "anti-semitism".

Mr Hessel was born in Berlin in 1917. He emigrated to France with his
family when he was seven. He joined General Charles de Gaulle in London in
1941 and was sent back to France to help organise the resistance. He was
captured, tortured and sent to concentration camps in Germany. After the
war, he helped to draft the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights in
1948.

Jean-Pierre Barou, the joint head of the small Montpellier-based publishing
house Indigène, which commissioned the book, said Mr Hessel had revealed
a "deep sense of indignation in France".

As a political tract, the book contains no especially original analysis of
the world's problems.

"They dare to tell us that the State can no longer afford policies to
support its citizens," Mr Hessel says. "But how can money be lacking ...
when the production of wealth has enormously increased since the Liberation
(of France), at a time when Europe was ruined? The only explanation is that
the power of money ... has never been so great or so insolent or so selfish
and that its servants are placed in the highest reaches of the State."

The originality of the book is the suggestion that an organised
"Resistance" is now called for, just like in 1940. "We, veterans of the
resistance ... call on young people to revive and pass on the heritage and
ideals of the Resistance," the book says.

How people should resist the power of money and the markets - by peaceful
means, the book insists - is not made entirely clear.

A message of resistance

* "I would like everyone - everyone of us - to find his or her own
reason to cry out. That is a precious gift. When something makes you want
to cry out, as I cried out against Nazism, you become a militant, tough and
committed. You become part of the great stream of history ... and this
stream leads us towards more justice and more freedom but not the
uncontrolled freedom of the fox in the hen-house."

* "It's true that reasons to cry out can seem less obvious today. The world
appears too complex. But in this world, there are things we should not
tolerate... I say to the young, look around you a little and you will find
them. The worst of all attitudes is indifference..."