I wrote this a little while ago, on attitudes towards GM technology, and how conventional opposition is more usually based on sensationalist ideology rather than engagement with the difficult complexities involved. Some time after Greenpeace signed their name to an open letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, arguing against having an EC chief scientific advisor. Rather than have the selection process open to scrutiny (so that those with corporate affiliations – and therefore conflicts of interest – would find it harder to be appointed) and have their advice publically published (for similar reasons) the letter – signed by 9 organisations (including, for some reason, the “Cancer Prevention and Education Society”) – argued against the very position of a scientific advisor. Their sop to the necessity of evidence-led, scientific advice was that advice could come from “a variety of independent, multi-disciplinary sources….” In short: lobbying. I’m perhaps being cynical, but it’s the multinational corporations who really have the power when it comes to lobbying, not groups like Greenpeace, since they have more money to throw at the issue (and a charity should really spend its money on the cause it was founded to deal with, not meetings with bureaucrats).
Originally posted on Unfortunate Conflict of Evidence:
Perhaps I’ve just misunderstood Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: the point I took away has always been that it is essentially Victor’s own fault that his creation becomes monstrous. His disgust, rejection and eventual fear initially creates and then subsequently sustains the creature’s sense of alienation, which in turn creates its hostile reaction both to him and to the world in general. Surely it’s therefore slightly odd, and yet rather apposite, that genetically modified organisms are so often referred to as “Frankenstein foods”. The phrase is thrown around a lot, and is clearly chosen because it sounds scary and creates the appropriate rhetorical effect that the speaker wishes to evoke.
But it is appropriate because the instinctive and emotive reaction by some to the prospect of genetically modified food and organisms is inherently counterproductive and only invites problems later on. Many people seem to loathe the idea of GMOs and resist them at every turn…
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Centre for Social and Political Thought Research Seminars: October 3rd, Lucy Finchett-Maddock (Sussex): ‘Protest, Property and the Commons – Being Naughty with Law’.
For our inaugural research seminar we are hosting a talk by Lucy
Finchett-Maddock (Sussex University) on the subject “Protest, Property and the Commons – Being Naughty with Law’.
The Seminar will take place on Friday, October 3rd in Arts A108 from
15:00-17:00. All are welcome. Please find attached an abstract of the talk:
‘Protest, Property and the Commons – Being Naughty with Law’
In this seminar will be discussed the central themes of the upcoming monograph ‘Protest, Property and the Commons: Performances of Law and Resistance’ (Routledge, 2015). Emanating from a PhD thesis on squatting in London, the central elements of the book are concerned with the manner in which state law manifests itself and is used in resistance movements, as well as the other way around; the constitutional understanding of law as the law of the peoples originating with its constituents and in resistance itself. By choosing to focus on squatting and ‘social centre’ movements, the role of ‘occupation’ of space and place in understanding the construction of property is important, whereby literature on both spatial and temporal understandings of law and resistance are most useful in seeing the movement of law within struggle and vice versa. What has become clearer, by thinking law and resistance as a series of performances (and through using poststructuralist as well as posthumanist performativity theories), is the inevitable importance of not only space but time (or indeed ‘space-time’) in the institutionalisation of protest as it becomes forms of legality, most lucidly property as the focus on squatting and social centres describes so clearly. Recent work on liminality and ‘naughtiness’ will be referred to in order to elucidate these movements between resistance and law, and their theatrical, oft mischievous elements.
Studies in Social and Political Thought Annual Conference June 5th 2014. University of Sussex.
Theme: Extremes and Extremism
Keynote Speaker: Prof. Andrew Bowie
Call for Papers.
Extremes and Extremism of many different forms have become central questions of social and political thought in the past few years. Often a way to discredit an opponent or social movement, to be in the extreme has carried with it many loaded connotations. The rise of both the far right and far left have challenged the liberal consensus of political pragmatism. Taken together with the ‘war on terror’ and the perceived necessity of austerity, governments have sought ever more extreme measures. The recent NSA and GCHQ revelations demonstrate the lengths governments are willing to go in the name of national security. Austerity legislation in many countries has been seen as an attack on the most vulnerable. The reactions to these measures, in the wake of the financial crisis, have included mass protest, political gains for parties on the margins and a huge increase in state sponsored violence.
To say that we live in times of extremity appears to be a way of shifting meaning and understanding into pre-existing intellectual discourse. To for example label the Assad regime in Syria as extreme does not aid greater understanding but perhaps merely pushes discourse into ideology. To counter terrorist organisations by describing them as forms of extremism does not illuminate but rather makes opaque the reasons behind such organisations.
Extremes and extremism cannot only be seen in terms of the obviously political; philosophically the idea of the extreme is well documented and can be seen in writes as diverse as the Stoics, Nietzsche and Marxism. It could also be argued that economic theories such as Hayek could be understood in extreme terms.
We are therefore seeking papers of around 20 minutes that will engage theoretically and practically with central concepts of extremes and extremism, and their relationship with the social, economic, or political manifestations. We will also accept papers that do not deal exclusively with the main topic of the conference but are engaged with issues in the general area of social and political thought.
Possible approaches include, but are not limited to:
Liberalism and Political Theory, Political Parties, Contract Theory, Recognition Theory, Nietzsche, Marxism, Theories of Biopolitics, Instrumental Reason, Critical Theory, Post-Colonialism, Discourse and Democratic Theory, Structuralism and Post-Structuralism, Power and Resistance, Hegemony, Sovereignty, Revolution and Legitimacy.
Please send abstracts of up to 350 words to Alex Elliott at, firstname.lastname@example.org by 20/04/14. Successful applicants will be notified early May 2014.