I give therefore I am


How are consumption and acknowledgement related to each other?

Part of consumption may be explained as need. But we can never really know where need begins and where desire takes over. The two are inextricably intertwined. I prefer to approach consumption from another angle: the desire for distinction, explored in particular by Bourdieu.3 Unlike utilitarian visions of social action, the Mauss movement4 sees the principal motive for human action as being the desire for acknowledgement. More precisely, it sees the desire for acknowledgement in terms of gifts, the desire to be acknowledged as a generous donor; and, beyond that, to be seen in terms of generativity. We wish to be seen as being involved in life-enhancing, creative action.

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Alain Caille — Eurozine

The Strengths And Weaknesses That Will Shape Iran’s Future


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The Islamic regime’s persistent fear of an outside aggressor and its direct military involvement in Syria and Iraq, and proxy actions elsewhere, have contributed to making threat and counter-threat, as well as mutual distrust, the defining patterns in the Islamic Republic’s international relations. The memory of foreign interventions and the hostility of the international community have instilled in the ruling cluster a siege mentality and sense of paranoia. Indeed, the regime’s internal and external defensive measures have aimed primarily to guard against the threat of history repeating itself in another foreign-backed coup or military intervention, similar to the one in 1953. Its regional policy adventures—either directly or indirectly—have been in pursuit of an iron-clad resistance to political dissent at home and impenetrable national security and foreign policy posture.

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Amin Saikal — Task & Purpose

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Understanding the Origins of the Pulwama Attack Inside Pakistan


Views from Pakistan.

If one is to go with what Pakistan’s foreign minister said recently then clearly there are elements in Pakistan that are acting on their own and are not in the state’s control. It’s undeniable that JeM leadership is based in Pakistan’s Punjab province and the Pulwama suicide bombing was claimed by the group. While JeM remains a banned group in Pakistan, the group’s leadership is not necessarily isolated in Pakistan when it comes to the outfits movement and networking in the country. While Islamabad has officially condemned the attack on Indian forces, New Delhi clearly blames Pakistan for the attack. If Pakistan’s government and military leadership are serious about improving ties with India, then some sort of action against the leadership of the JeM has to take place in Pakistan.

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Umair Jamal — The Diplomat

The Social Fabric of Chavismo


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What’s happening in Venezuela?

Politics is not a game of chess, and much less so when the world is no longer divided along the unipolar axis of the 1990s, when the United States could make and unmake governments –the way in which the war in Syria has mutated is testament to this. Venezuela is hostile terrain for calculated outcomes, and the Venezuelan rightwing has been a costly, poor investment: this is the fourth attempt to seize power in six years. One reason for this repeated failure is in the nature of Chavismo itself, its complexities, potency, architecture, and capacity to fight back when it is against the ropes.

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Marco Teruggi — Verso

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The Chinese Strategy of Technological Advancement and Cybersecurity


When it comes to artificial intelligence, public-private collaboration and coordination is reportedly pervasive, and China has recruited big Chinese tech firms as part of the “AI national team.” Western commentators often portray the success of Chinese technology firms as the result of unfair practices, like theft of intellectual property and the provision of state subsidies. But, as Kai-Fu Lee notes, this also stems from China’s ability to endorse particular objectives and set the tone for private capital choices, as it has done in seeking to foster the development of artificial intelligence. China likewise leads the way in providing infrastructure to support these technological developments, such as building cities and highways with built-in sensors designed to facilitate the use of driverless cars. The Chinese government views its state capitalist model as a national strength that does not contradict international trade rules, which that it needs to secure against U.S. attempts to halt or reverse China’s rise. A key question for the future of international economic law is whether these different economic models will be able to coexist under the same legal framework.

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Anthea Roberts, Henrique Choer Moraes & Victor FergusonLawfare

Ethics in the Next War


History is replete with circumstances that have forced decision-makers at every level to balance the conflicting pressures of military necessity on the one hand and military ethics on the other. In this century, however, western powers that have participated in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations have witnessed an alignment of strategic and ethical demands. In fact, the strategic demands in such operations have often been more stringent than the ethical ones. The proportionality requirements in just war theory and in international law do not prohibit foreseeable civilian casualties, but only those foreseeable civilian casualties that “would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.”[3] In recent conflicts, however, civilian casualties have carried tremendous strategic significance in addition to their moral significance.

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Joseph O. Chapa — The Strategy Bridge

“The most important relationship”: Kissinger on China…and America


In the practically last page of the book Kissinger cautions American policy-makers that “Americans need not agree with the Chinese analysis to understand that lecturing a country with a history of millennia about its need to ‘grow up’ can be needlessly grating” (p. 546). With Trump administration consciously eschewing the Messianism of universal values in favor of a more realistic (but wrongly executed) policy of national interest, Kissinger’s admonitions have less of a relevance than usual. But, as is likely, the US returns, after next election or the one after, to its traditional Messianism such notes of caution may be more apposite.

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Global Inequality