www.nettime.org
Nettime mailing list archives

<nettime> RE: form
Hengdorn_Maedford_Sumatra-Bang on Thu, 13 Feb 2003 07:43:05 +0100 (CET)


[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> RE: form


Dear Jeffrey,

Of course you are right--the rationales for wealth-mongering have always
been complex and varied, and have never themselves directed the mongering:
rather, the wealthy have always deployed these opportunely, flexibly, and
with cleverness.

Indeed, it has never been a case of "God commands to cream the poor" or
"Nature suggests to crush the unfortunate," but rather "We have found it
correct to cream/crush the unfortunate poor, and Nature/God doth find this
most meet." Let us thus place the hegemony where you say it belongs:  
squarely upon the plutocracy, rather than on the orthodoxies that furnish
its ever-shifting justification.

Your second point is also quite attractively put. Indeed, countries with
governments that do things for people seem to have happier people; some
concern and control by the state seems to be better (for people) than the
law of the financial jungle.

But the "planned economy" I referred to, that characterizes today's most
neoliberal countries, is not one planned by a state with the accord of its
citizens, but rather is planned by the "winners," i.e. the largest
corporations, precisely because of the democratic state's planned absence,
an absence planned by those same corporations.

The health care system in the United States is an excellent example, where
the largest HMOs have planned an absence of decent alternatives for all
but the fairly well off, leaving everyone else with health care far below
the standards of Western Europe or Japan, or, alternately, with no health
care at all.

This is the law of the jungle writ small!

In any case, both of these points bring us back to the initial moments of
this discussion of ours, in which I so brutally misunderstood your
interest in the WTO's "vacant positions" as an interest in those
intellectual contentions of ours that do not hold water, of which I cited
two examples: our positions (a) that the abolition of government
intervention will yield prosperity, and (b) that fewer laws against
pollution will make the air cleaner.

Over the course of our speaking, you have been privy to the exposition of
at least five or six more such positions that we at the WTO insist on yet
that hold no water at all. And you have observed us wandering into the
realms of absolute heresy to find an appropriate fundament, having lost
our way everywhere else.

Under these conditions, with your eye so priviledgedly on our bankruptcy,
I ask you now: what, given such corruptness as ours, might you see as
useful or interesting in an engagement with us? Is there a way you might
help us to hew a renewed plan of hope and/or action, something based more
in reality than our ever-mired past footsteps? Or do you simply wish to
learn what you can from our failures?

Any or all of these are acceptable. In each case, there can resound a
clear "Why not?"

With an eye to the future, always, and despite all with hope,
Hengy

On Mon, 10 Feb 2003, Wolf, Jeffrey wrote:

> Hengdorn:
> 
> Your e-mail certainly raises issues on many levels. It is difficult to know
> where to begin. I will avoid discussions of Swedenborgiasm (sic),
> principally because I am unfamiliar with it. (Although, did you know that
> Daniel Burnham, a principal architect and developer of Chicago, who lived in
> my home suburb adjacent to the city, was an adherent?)
> 
> First, your intellectual history of the justification of wealth-exploitation
> is interesting. Basically you argue that God was a justification for wealth
> transfer until the mid-19th century, at which point Darwinism (or
> Nietzschean philosophy, I suppose) superseded the divine as a rationale for
> exploitation (might makes right). I am not sufficiently grounded in
> intellectual history to affirm or contradict this claim. You ascribe a
> considerable degree of hegemony to rather diverse orthodoxies, though. Is it
> possible that that these broad philosophies were accepted and utilized in
> more variegated and nuanced ways? For example, just to take an example for
> literature, "Crime and Punishment" ultimately seems a rebuttal to "Thus
> Spake Zarathustra," and maybe this exemplifies in microcosm the tension
> between accepting new rationalist, nihilist philosophies and clinging to the
> orthodoxy of the Church.
> 
> Second, you argue that the pre-eminent economies yield a fair degree of
> state intervention, and fail to conform to the lean, neo-classical model of
> an unfettered free hand. I tend to agree with you on this, but again the
> intellectual landscape is cluttered. Clearly certain states have higher
> levels of state intervention coupled with higher standards of living, lesser
> disparities in wealth distribution, etc. Yet there seems no absolute basis
> for justifying these economies as preferable per se. Yes, Japan has higher
> levels of state intervention. And yes, in many ways one might find Japan a
> preferable place to live (than the US). Needless to say, though, its
> financial sector is a shambles, as are several broad macroeconomic indices
> such as productivity, with implications for specific microeconomic sectors
> (like health care). Similarly, one might laud the German model of corporate
> governance. Yet its unemployment rate is far above that of the US. Who is to
> say what is the right trade-off? I whole-heartedly agree that the state has
> a role in preventing well-defined instances of market failure (such as
> promoting information transparency and preventing conflicts of interest in
> the US capital markets regulatory system), but anything beyond this seems a
> judgment call.
> 
> Once more, I think these are fascinating questions I love to delve into, and
> if I could gain further insight into them by working or interning this
> summer at the WTO, I would be thrilled.
> 
> Thanks,
> Jeff
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Hengdorn Mford Sumatra-Bang [mailto:hengy {AT} gatt.org] 
> Sent: Saturday, February 08, 2003 6:38 PM
> To: Wolf, Jeffrey
> Subject: RE: form
> 
> 
> Dear Jeffrey,
> 
> Wow. At this point, I must say, I am quite fiercely struck--as I think it
> would be impossible for any feeling soul (or thinking brain) not to
> be--(a) by your enthusiasm and steadfastness, and (b) by the new name of the
> company for which you worked.
> 
> I think it is important to stumble upon this latter item (b) just for a
> moment, especially in view of your interest in the "emerging markets"  
> domain.
> 
> Let us look at things closely. The doctrine of market freedom is of course
> at its root intended to give license to the profitable activities of the
> most wealthy--especially within "emerging markets," i.e. among the domestic
> and remote poor, whether these be the peasants of 18th-century England or
> the teeming masses of today's Bangladesh.
> 
> For of course wealth-deriving activity has had to be justified in one way or
> another, especially to the "emerging markets" at whose expense it is often
> conducted. There is no point in announcing to the poor and to others that
> the wealthy need to be more wealthy than they currently are "just because"!
> You can see this! Always, there must be reasons, especially so far as
> convincing the "emerging markets" goes.
> 
> Until roughly the mid-19th century, these reasons and justifications were
> founded in the empyrean realm. Wealth, during this period, was a mark of
> divine favor, and the pursuit of wealth was therefore pleasing to the
> godhead in question. This of course mirrors the respect that folks in those
> olden times had for the godhead, whether they were scholars, politicians,
> military folk, or most importantly the "emerging markets"  
> themselves.
> 
> In the second period--after Darwin, roughly--the wealthification of the
> already wealthy was promoted as the only "natural" possibility, building on
> the "survival of the fittest" refrain that had by then lodged itself deep in
> the psyches of scholars, politicians, etc., as a likely bed for
> justification of anything whatsoever (including, of course, as it turned
> out, some of the 20th century's most gruesome excesses).
> 
> Finally, at the start of the 21st century, this model of natural justice in
> the human landscape has begun to reveal its age. It is now standard college
> fare that life in the natural world is based more on cooperation than on
> competition. It is also terribly clear that those modern economies most
> hewing to "Darwinian" neoliberalism have what can only be described as
> planned economies, with the "fittest" lording it over the rest in regal
> splendor and with the "least fit" puttering about the backwaters with no
> hope of ever attaining dry ground. In these settings there is neither
> competition nor cooperation, but only hierarchy, classification, and stasis.
> 
> Nature has never been like this, Jeffrey--neither for Darwin nor his
> successors. And so the "Darwinian" model no longer provides a useful
> ossature for championing the supremacy of wealth-deriving activities.
>  
> Ironically enough, it is becoming quite clear to many that the only such
> fundament possible may be precisely those empyrean realms forsworn by the
> wealth-apologists just after Darwin! For to judge from the detailed
> eyewitness accounts of August Swedenborg--the 18th-century predicter of the
> great Lisbon earthquake and founder of Swedenborgianism, which still has
> adepts in Pennsylvania--heaven is a series of perpetual hierarchies,
> flexible only in so far as is necessary, with each supernal ring admitting
> only those elements of inferior rings that further the plans of the Most
> High.
> 
> The ranks upon ranks of Swedenborg's angels are intended somehow to serve
> all humankind, rather than just the wealth of a small elite. But the basic
> layout of this heaven--a kind of rotisserie grill, or series of
> same--resembles today's corporate order far more than does the natural
> world.
> 
> Do you know if the flamboyant and eccentric CEO of "divine" is perhaps a
> Swedenborgian? Is he from Pennsylvania? These things are interesting, in a
> human-interest sort of way.
> 
> In any case, to sum up, I think this conjuncture--the presence on your
> resume of this item ("divine"), with your interest in how we interface with
> the "emerging markets" that are always, always in question--augurs a most
> productive relationship between us, in which much could be brought from one
> to the next, from next to the one, ad infinitum.
> 
> I say, let us begin. How would you like to do so? What is the first thing to
> do?
> 
> With every best hope, 
> Hengy
> 
> On Thu, 6 Feb 2003, Wolf, Jeffrey wrote:
> 
> > 
> > Dear Hengdorn:
> > 
> > In response to your queries, "divine interVentures" (now just 
> > "divine") was of course a play on "divine interventions" and 
> > emphasized that (at the time, at least) the company dispensed a fair 
> > amount of venture capital. There is/was no "godhead," although the CEO 
> > is flamboyant and eccentric, to say the least.
> > 
> > "Moot" Court simply means that students compete against each other in 
> > advocacy competitions. The competition, then, is what is "moot;" the 
> > outcome affects neither fictional plaintiff nor defendant (more 
> > properly, appellant or appellee). As for "Green," that is simply the 
> > person from whom the competition took its name.
> > 
> > I have a specific interest in emerging markets/developing countries, 
> > so any opportunities you know of within GATT/WTO for this summer would 
> > be most appreciated. If you could forward the attached resume, or let 
> > me know of the appropriate contact person, I would be most 
> > appreciative. Even should you not know of someone within (or outside 
> > of) GATT/WTO who works on emerging market issues, I would be rather 
> > excited to engage in its overall work, be it with developed countries, 
> > etc.
> > 
> > Thanks for taking the time to look over my resume,
> > Jeff
> > 
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Hengdorn Mford Sumatra-Bang
> > To: Wolf, Jeffrey
> > Cc: Population Center
> > Sent: 2/5/2003 12:36 PM
> > Subject: RE: form
> > 
> > Dear Jeffrey,
> > 
> > I enjoyed your resume very much. Is there really an enterprise that 
> > describes itself as "a divine interVentures company"? That is quite 
> > funny! Imagine that as a common descriptor. "I work for a divine 
> > interVentures company. Do you?" "I go to a divine interVentures 
> > school."  "I am a divine
> > interVentures type of person, really." "Have you met my divine
> > interVentures wife?"
> > 
> > Is there some sort of godhead involved in "divine interVentures"? Not?
> > 
> > I also like the fact that there is such a thing as a "Green Moot Court 
> > Competition." What on earth is a "Green Moot Court"? What for that 
> > matter is "moot" in this context? Perhaps we could imagine some 
> > potential scenarios!
> > 
> > In any case, it is clear from your resume that you have substantial 
> > talents and knowledge. Probably greater than my own! This is certain 
> > to my mind. It is also clear that in today's world, there is a very 
> > great need for your kind of talents and knowledge. Most of the world's 
> > poorest countries are trampled upon by wealthier countries every day 
> > in the WTO because they lack your kind of expertise. This leads to 
> > exacerbation of those poor countries' situation in today's difficult 
> > world. Did you know that? It is quite very well documented. Moreover, 
> > unfortunately, your kind
> > of expertise permits the wealthier countries and companies to trample
> > upon
> > these poorest countries and populations as they desire. Well, that is
> > the
> > world today!
> > 
> > We can call this situation post-colonial, or, for simplicity, 
> > colonial.
> > 
> > Perhaps we could arrange to reverse this? Your sort of talents could 
> > help. But how specifically could we do so (reverse), according to you? 
> > Perhaps you, Mr. Ixtabal-Mono and myself could arrange an entente 
> > regarding this matter?
> > 
> > With the very best wishes,
> > Hengy
> > 
> > On Wed, 5 Feb 2003, Wolf, Jeffrey wrote:
> > 
> > > Dear Hengdorn:
> > > 
> > > I have attached a copy of my resume in lieu of the form which I 
> > > could
> > not
> > > seem to download. Please let me know if there are any suitable job
> > openings
> > > for this summer for which I might be qualified.
> > > 
> > > Thanks,
> > > Jeff
> > > 
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: Hengdorn Mford Sumatra-Bang [mailto:hengy {AT} gatt.org]
> > > Sent: Tuesday, February 04, 2003 6:05 PM
> > > To: Wolf, Jeffrey
> > > Subject: RE: form
> > > 
> > > 
> > > p.s. Oh!! I can see I have made another error. It was not you who
> > referred
> > > to "vacant positions," nor even "open positions"--it was another!! I
> > have,
> > > byzantinely, mixed up the two inboxes. Please forgive my confusion.
> > Here
> > > is the original question from the other interlocutor, so that you
> > might
> > > have insight into the answer and an understanding on how best to
> > proceed:
> > > 
> > > > Dear Sir/ Madam,
> > > > 
> > > > could you possibly inform me about any vacant possitions within 
> > > > GATT
> > 
> > > > and WTO. Thank you in advance
> > > 
> > > On Tue, 4 Feb 2003, Hengdorn Mford Sumatra-Bang wrote:
> > > 
> > > > Dear Jeff,
> > > > 
> > > > Oh!! I am afraid there has been one of the most grotesque
> > > > misunderstandings of all time and all history!
> > > > 
> > > > You are now speaking about *open positions*--whereas before you 
> > > > were
> > 
> > > > speaking about *vacant positions.* It is clear from your phrasing
> > that
> > > > in your mind, these are the same thing: to wit, jobs that are free
> > to
> > > > be occupied (e.g. by you).  Whereas in *my* little mind, the 
> > > > former
> > > > (*vacant
> > > > positions*) referred to those stances taken by the WTO which are
> > vacant of
> > > > all substance and value! Now we can clearly see how "not on the 
> > > > same
> > page"
> > > > we were in this matter! Ha!
> > > > 
> > > > Clarifying the situation, then, I must reiterate that the two
> > > > categories I listed were intended to represent vacant (or empty)
> > positions
> > > (or stances)
> > > > of the WTO, which are not to lead to any more fuss and widgeting
> > about on
> > > > the part of anyone whosoever, least of all you. Jeff, there are
> > surely
> > > > useful things to be done in this world, but not under the rubrics 
> > > > I mentioned! You had best commit yourself to better methods of 
> > > > using a
> > 
> > > > personal life!
> > > > 
> > > > I hope that this interests you!
> > > > 
> > > > Best wishes,
> > > > Hengy
> > > > 
> > > > On Tue, 4 Feb 2003, Wolf, Jeffrey wrote:
> > > > 
> > > > > The former area interest me more than the latter (i.e., the
> > > > > abolition of government determination of economies). In
> > particular,
> > > > > I am interested in emerging or developing countries, rather than
> > > > > developed or industrialized countries, although I am interested in
> > 
> > > > > both. I would be happy to work in any legal, financial or
> > > > > administrative capacity related to any such endeavors. Thus I
> > would
> > > > > be appreciative if you could inform me of any open positions in
> > > > > these fields.
> > > > > 
> > > > > Thanks,
> > > > > Jeff
> > > > > 
> > > > > -----Original Message-----
> > > > > From: Hengdorn Mford Sumatra-Bang [mailto:hengy {AT} gatt.org]
> > > > > Sent: Tuesday, February 04, 2003 9:50 AM
> > > > > To: Wolf, Jeffrey
> > > > > Cc: Population Center
> > > > > Subject: RE: form
> > > > > 
> > > > > 
> > > > > Dear Jeffrey Wolf,
> > > > > 
> > > > > Thank you for your excellent question, and excuses for the great
> > > > > good
> > > > > lateness of my response. Your question arrived via the byzantine
> > > excesses
> > > > > of our internal routing contraptions, and I have only now been
> > able to
> > > > > phrase its response appropriately.
> > > > > 
> > > > > The WTO and the GATT, in that order, do, as you mightily 
> > > > > suggest,
> > > > > have a number of vacant positions. If you would like details of
> > the
> > > > > relative vacancy of the two above things, then know henceforward
> > > > > that the WTO has a good number more vacant positions than the
> > GATT,
> > > > > although the GATT does not lack in these either.
> > > > > 
> > > > > I would like to suggest that the vacant positions of the WTO can
> > > > > potentially be headed by the following two items, although truly
> > any
> > > > > other items might likewise suffice:
> > > > > 
> > > > > * The abolition of government determination over the portions of 
> > > > > a
> > 
> > > > > nation's economy subject to market forces will benefit in the 
> > > > > long
> > 
> > > > > term all countries thus abolished, determinationwise. As you can
> > > > > perhaps guess from this phrasing, the position here stated has
> > never
> > > > > been verified, and there is even contrary evidence--all of which
> > > > > relegates it to the dustbin of vagueness at best.
> > > > > 
> > > > > * A higher degree of permissivity with regards to behavior in 
> > > > > all
> > > > > matters economic, including those causing substantial pollution, 
> > > > > will benefit the environment, as such permissivity will free
> > greater
> > > > > capital towards the improvement of same (the environment, not 
> > > > > the
> > > > > capital). As this grammatical uncertainty intimates, this notion
> > is
> > > > > also quite vacant of substance and substantiability.
> > > > > 
> > > > > I would like to suggest that there is a great deal more
> > information
> > > > > to be
> > > > > conveyed in the cirumstances, and would welcome inquiries
> > regarding the
> > > > > aspect or aspects of our operations that interest you most.
> > > > > 
> > > > > With very best wishes,
> > > > > 
> > > > > Hengdorn Mford Sumatra-Bang
> > > > > 
> > > > > On Mon, 20 Jan 2003, Wolf, Jeffrey wrote:
> > > > > 
> > > > > > Actually I was e-mailing regarding the Internship Application
> > Form
> > > > > > -
> > > > > > could you please send that?
> > > > > > 
> > > > > > Jeff
> > > > > > 
> > > > > > -----Original Message-----
> > > > > > From: Population Center [mailto:humanresources {AT} gatt.org]
> > > > > > Sent: Monday, January 20, 2003 3:27 PM
> > > > > > To: Wolf, Jeffrey
> > > > > > Subject: Re: form
> > > > > > 
> > > > > > 
> > > > > > Dear Jeff,
> > > > > > 
> > > > > > Best apologies for a clear mess. I hope you are speaking
> > regarding
> > > > > > the current attached form, which is to communicate information
> > > > > > regarding the organization.
> > > > > > 
> > > > > > If not please after perusing inform with more information.
> > > > > > 
> > > > > > Best,
> > > > > > Haarkkonen Ixtabal-Mono
> > > > > > 
> > > > > > On Mon, 20 Jan 2003, Wolf, Jeffrey wrote:
> > > > > > 
> > > > > > > Dear Sir/Madam:
> > > > > > >  
> > > > > > > I apologize, but I seem to be having trouble downloading the
> > MS
> > > > > > > Word version of the form. Could you please e-mail me a copy?
> > > > > > >  
> > > > > > > Thanks,
> > > > > > > Jeff
> > > > > > > 
> > > > > > 
> > > > > 
> > > > 
> > > 
> > 
> 

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo {AT} bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net