Longer article with some ideas about police reform. It speaks about defunding and disarming the police, crowd control and, use of excessive force. It lays out an alternative approximation to a problem that seems to be hostage to ready made rhetorics. Pick up a coffee and enjoy.
For the longest while I've been thinking about police reform in the light of what is going on in Chile, my country, and three common rhetorics that have been found across countries with social upheavals in the past year or so.
On the one side, we have the more conservative, right-wing if you will, that calls for 'law and order' and use of force (to the extremes of me having actually heard people say that protestors and looters should be dealt with el paredón a.k.a. firing squad). These people are also completely oblivious to the realities of marginalized communities and neighborhoods – they are blinded by their own realities, which they use as benchmark.
And, on the other, people on the left, incited by what some characterize as anarchist, who use the slogan ACAB ('All Cops Are Bastards') who make an apology of violence against the police ('the first line defenders') and equate awful societal conditions to physical violence. These people have been seen to call to defund the police and are completely desensitised to the consequences of their violent behavior.
In between, there's a bunch of well intentioned citizens who tend to sway one way or another depending on the news, their experiences and the opinion of their closest circles. I would add academics and other politicians to this mix by the mere common ground of the fact that they will “condemn violence across the board” and also “defend the right to protest” as republican values.
In short, all of these rhetorics are expressions of a main underlying problem. A problem which in its own way undermines the possibilities of a State that owns the monopoly of legitimate violence (as opposed to narcos, organized crime, violent groups, etc.) and that there's value in having a strong, respected police organization fiercely controlled by civilian powers (congress, citizens, justice departments).
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'How is it possible that these guys are not ultra famous?' was the first thing that came to mind on a cold winter morning of 2020. I was listening to 'AM Waves' – Young Gun Silver Fox's album released in 2018 – a mixture of new sounds made old, with a West Coast aesthetic that reminisces 70s pop, rock & soul.
AOR or Yacht Rock is what this is, a genre that in it's purest form evoques the sights of sandy beaches, cliffs, blue oceans, convertible cars on an open highway with a cold breeze that combs your hair. This is the place, paradise if you will, where both Young Gun Silver Fox and Mamas Gun have taken me as we sheltered in place for months.
September 18, 2020
I'm going to start by declaring that the more I read his books, I have found a certain personality/academic affinty with Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I tend to attribute this “closeness” to the fact that he is one of the few people that I have read recently who have written non-fiction in a way where the personality and style of the author really shines through. [I wonder how many fights he must have had with his editors...] The fact that he is also an avid humanities, philosophy and classics reader (yes, please!) shines through his book. However, I can see how people would be bored by that and would deem those references as pretentious or even pernicious to his core argument. I've heard many people say that in order for your argument to be effective with a wide audience, you need to make it as easy as possible (I don't think you always want/need to appeal to a wide audience). I'm pretty sure that Taleb wrote it in such a way where the book would find its audience and not à l'envers. After all, appeal and fame is not everything, according to him. Moreover, it would seem that he derived much more pleasure from writing it his way rather than conforming with editorial directions. In spite of the possible critiques that one could make to his style or the extensive usage of references to epistemology, philosophy or greek classics; if you are into those things (as I am), you will like it.
April 19, 2020
This mammoth of a book came into my hands highly recommended – not only by the wise internet crowds and professional book reviewers at prestigious news papers – but also by trusted friends: the very few that were brave enough and had the discipline to read through the sometimes immensely emotionally taxing 1288 pages of this book (well, that's the count on the edition I was able to procure from my favourite bookshop before it closed down because of COVID-19).
As with all accounts of historical events there's no 'absolute truth' and in 1200 pages you are most certainly going to find inaccuracies and mistakes. However those faults do not take any merit away from the point that Fisk was trying to make in his 'opus magna'. In fact and, if anything, the central motivation of this book was summarised by him quoting Amira Hass: “There is a misconception that journalists can be objective ... What journalism is really about is to monitor power and the centres of power.” This is his account of Middle Eastern history and a very personal one at that.
'What made you decide to operate in our country?'
'Can't you see the state in which the peasants live?' Che asked. 'They are almost like savages, living in a state of poverty that depresses the heart, having only one room in which to sleep and cook and no clothing to wear, abandoned like animals ...'
'But the same thing happens in Cuba', Selich retorted.
'No, that's not true,' Che said. 'I don't deny that in Cuba poverty still exists, but the peasants there have an illusion of progress, whereas the Bolivians live without hope. Just as he is born, he dies, without ever seeing improvements in his human condition.'
This biography achieves what I thought was inconceivable when dealing with a figure like Ernesto “Che” Guevara: being relatively objective.