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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Intellectuals’ Duty vis-à-vis war — “OBSTRUCT”

Excerpting, editing by Carolyn Bennett

“… It is now more important than ever to study militarization, not through false academic neutrality, but rather with the express purpose of ending it.  Randolph Bourne emphasized this in his 1917 essay ‘The War and the Intellectuals.’” Intellectual and activist Adrienne Pine was speaking in early April at a conference focused on “Confronting U.S. Militarism.”

In the context of war, Dr. Pine spoke of the dilemma and duty of intellectuals.

“Intellectuals whom the crisis has crystallized into an acceptance of war have put themselves into a terrifying strategic position. … There seems no choice for the intellectual but to join the mass of acceptance.” 

“… The terrible dilemma arises — either support what is going on, in which case you count for nothing because you are swallowed in the mass and great incalculable forces bear you on; or remain aloof, passively resistant, in which case you count for nothing because you are outside the machinery of reality.

“To follow Sartre, a true intellectual is not one who makes apologies for the war machine —Sartre refers to such academics as technicians of practical knowledge.  In today’s parlance, we might call them tools of empire. 

“A true intellectual, according to Sartre, is a radicalized companion of the masses.  We should be all using the academy not because of its inherent, removed or abstract value, but rather as a strategic tool that gives us symbolic legitimacy that can enable us to be more effective in this radicalized companionship.” 

“Randolph Bourne rightly notes … that obstruction often disqualifies academics as legitimate critics. 

“Yet it is our duty as intellectuals … to accompany our compañeras y compañeros [fellows, comrades, friends] throughout the hemisphere by obstructing —

OBSTRUCTING the State Department
OBSTRUCTING the U.S. Military Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)
OBSTRUCTING the ‘civil society’ groups funded and orchestrated by USAID and other shadowy governmental and non-governmental actors with the aim of usurping democracy throughout the Americas, and
OBSTRUCTING all the other actors who work constantly and diligently to prevent us all from having the choice to live without the war machine.

Given the importance of the academy in legitimating and strengthening the mission of SOUTHCOM to increasingly militarize the hemisphere — it is vital that we activists, intellectuals, intellectual activists, activist intellectuals come together in strategy and action to OBSTRUCT the militarization of the hemisphere and of our daily lives; and where necessary, to obstruct the academy. …”

Sources and notes

“Obstruct Militarization and the Usurpation of Democracy” (by Adrienne Pine, her text was first published in her blog on April 16, 2011, under a Creative Commons license, her blog is ), “Address to the ‘Confronting U.S. Militarism: Educational & Strategy Conference,’ Latin American Solidarity Coalition, Washington, D.C., April 8, 2011,  http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/pine170411.html

Dr. Adrienne Pine is a militant medical anthropologist who has worked in Honduras, Mexico, Korea, the United States, and Egypt. In her book, Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras, she argues that the symbolic violence resulting from Hondurans’ embodied obsession with certain forms of ‘real’ violence is a necessary condition for the acceptance of violent forms of modernity and capitalism. Pine has worked both outside and inside the academy toward creating a more just world.

She has collaborated with numerous organizations and individuals (before and after the June 2009 military coup in Honduras) to bring international attention to the Honduran struggle to halt the state violence (in its multiple forms). She has also conducted extensive research on the impact of corporate healthcare and health-care technologies on labor practices in the United States.

Adrienne Pine is an assistant professor in American University’s Department of Anthropology. Her credentials include Ph.D., Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley; MA,  Demography, University of California, Berkeley, MA, Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
BA, Anthropology, Brown University; Languages Spoken: Spanish (fluent), Korean (proficient), Arabic, French, Nahuatl (conversational), http://www.american.edu/cas/faculty/pine.cfm

September 26, 1997
“Southcom, the headquarters for all U.S. military operations in Latin America south of Mexico, closes its base at Quarry Heights, Panama, and moves to Miami, Florida. The base at Quarry Heights had opened in 1916” [Britannica].

“The United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) traces its origins to 1903 when the first U.S. Marines arrived in Panama to ensure U.S. control of the Panama Railroad connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans across the narrow waist of the Panamanian Isthmus. …With the implementation of the Panama Canal Treaties (the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977 and the Treaty concerning the Permanent Neutrality and Operations of the Panama Canal), the U.S. Southern Command relocated on September 26 1997, to Miami, Florida,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Southern_Command#History

Jean-Paul Sartre (b. June 21, 1905, Paris, France, d. April 15, 1980, Paris) was awarded and declined the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964. He was a French novelist, playwright, and exponent of Existentialism.

Randolph Silliman Bourne (b. May 30, 1886, Bloomfield, N.J., d. December 22, 1918, New York City) was an American literary critic and essayist. After returning from a year in Europe (1913-1914), Bourne focused on the progressive education theories of pragmatist philosopher John Dewey, who had been his teacher at Columbia University. Two books resulted: The Gary Schools (1916) and Education and Living (1917).

Sartre and Bourne bio notes ref. Britannica


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