DAY 131: States

May 19th, 2015 § 0 comments

Are we, in the week of Nakba Day, seeing the end of the nation-state, and if so is it a good thing? This blog is never shy of asking the big questions; and following the realization that the violence of law based on class- or race- based power was being confronted by the masses from Palestine to Kurdistan to Baltimore, we awake to the news that, unsurprisingly, Manchester,

web-manc-brum-2-getty-v6Canal Street in Manchester City Centre

Newcastle and Liverpool want to secede from Tory-run England and join the Scots – a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #TakeUsWithYouScotland is threatening to go viral. (This is disappointing news for Islington, which despite voting solid Labour will be left under the iron heel of the Old Etonian Reich.) The lawyers among us can see some problems ahead (from which we might perhaps make a bit of spare cash) – such as where will the army and police of the future state come from? The Palestine Authority with its heavy Israeli subsidies is hardly an encouraging precedent. North Britain will, or might, have Trident, but this is not much use as it doesn’t want it. We have to return to Marx, of course, as usual, and his point that the state is simply

150420-freddie-gray_arrest-cell-phone-jsw_a13d55bf1ef12bf4ef0fbbf7cc9de1b0.nbcnews-ux-560-900Arrest of Freddie Grey in Baltimore

the executive arm of the bourgeoisie. Considering this, and other nascent states which we might want to support, a minimum programme seems to be:

(i) Dissolve national boundaries;

(ii) Dispossess the bourgeoisie, and give the land to the peasants;

(iii) Drop out.

You’re invited to suggest a hashtag for a movement based on these demands.

Sweating it out

Readers who have been taking exams in EU Law at Birkbeck may have noticed a question which begins: ”It is 2015 and the UK government is still committed to austerity and support for big business.” Who told the profs (Douzinas and co) what the recent election result was going to be? One suspects fraud, either at the polls or in the exam room – although the possibility of a victory for the SWP with its frankly alternative programme always seemed a bit remote.

Of course (to continue earlier meditations) you’re not likely to get many marks even at Birkbeck by proposing the defence of the late Jacques Vergès in the 1957 MCDTEAD EC007Djamila Bouhired case – i.e. denying the legitimacy of the said government, with its commitment to austerity and whatnot.

It seems to me that the setters of papers in EU law are missing out by not calling in the help of the Dardenne brothers who are always coming up with the right kind of question: ‘Sokol and Lorna are Albanians in need of Belgian nationality, and plan that Lorna should get it by marrying Claudy, a Belgian junkie who will then die of an overdose. Claudy duly dies with a bit of help, but Lorna has become pregnant and Andrei her rich Russian protector refuses to marry her (and so in his turn get Belgian nationality, which he is prepared to pay for). Advise everyone, except Claudy, who is past needing advice.’

The big picture

Readers will probably have caught up much earlier than I did with Ciprian Manolescu’s three-year-old disproof of the Triangulation Conjecture (in dimension greater than four, dimension four having of course been disposed of in 1982 by Mike Freedman). Are they, like me, I wonder, now worried about whether the universeuniverse – which is much on my mind these days – Realization_of_abstract_simplicial_complexcan be triangulated? You may riposte that the question is badly-posed; the universe has a Minkowski metric and so isn’t really a manifold in the usual sense. You may raise the question of whether it has the usual four dimensions or ten (fermionic string theory) or twenty-six (bosonic string theory) or some other number that you fancy. Not to mention the topology of all those black holes. All the same, something in the back on my mind keeps nagging away, either you can triangulate it or you can’t, and what if we happen to be living in a bit which you can’t? That might explain a lot e.g. the general breakdown of human rights, the way in which things are falling apart and the centre cannot hold. Is there a singularity, perhaps, at Jerusalem? It bears thinking about.


I should really stick with the Baltic states, where they seem to take bilingual poetry seriously. Here is a Latvian jewel from Ingmāra Balode (you can catch her reading it, rather fast, at

uz lidostu

tu it kā brauc uz lidostu man pakaļ
bet patiesībā sēdies taksī un brauc tikai atpakaļ
dūmi šoferim pīpējot sitas pret stiklu kā akvārijā
balss netrāpa telefonā trāpa tajā parkinga kartē
it kā uz lidostu
bet atpakaļ (amerika pārvēršas salā) savelkas dūrē
(gaisa atsvaidzinātājs cauri prērijai šūpojas fūrē)
pirksti ar ogli kāds zīmē to putnu no dzejoļa g. a. spirti nožūst
(arumi saritinās)
un izlīst tuša tev klēpī
neviens nekad nedzied par vīrieša klēpi
vēl vairāk  bail vēl vairāk noslēpums
bet tādas domas var izdomāt gaisā

starp mums

to the airport

it seems you’re on your way to the airport to pick me up
but you’re just getting in the taxi to go back,
the driver’s smoking, smoke pushes against aquarium glass,
a voice misses the phone entirely and enters the carpark ticket machine instead
to the airport – it seems –
but in fact you go back (america shrinks to an island) crumpling into a fist
(in the car, air freshener sways through a prairie)
fingers and charcoal, somebody drawing a bird from a poem,
apollinaire’s alcools drying out
(ploughed fields folded up)
ink flows on to your lap
why does no-one ever talk about a man’s lap
even more terrible even more – a secret
see what thoughts can appear in the air

in between us

‘kilometri vertikali starp mums’. I must try it on the next Latvian I meet.


I’m trying to branch out by showing a bit of contemporary dance, with the Ramallah ballet people here; and a bit of rai fusion by Amina Annabi. Hope it all works, it’s late at night as usual. Till next time.

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