If you would like to get a quick sense of how ubiquitous securitythinking has become in our everyday lives, I can recommend a couple of social experiments. At your next celebration where bringing a gift is the anticipated social norm, take the intended recipient aside and as you hand them their present, politely warn them, “I just need to let you know, this item does not meet established safety standards.” Note the recipient's reaction. This is particularly effective when you are not well known to the recipient (although I would not recommend it, especially if the recipient is a parent accepting the present on behalf of a child). Here's another statement that can be used to great effect, particularly in Ottawa where many of the people I meet through friends and acquaintances work for the federal government. After saying hello and asking the obligatory, “And where do you work?” respond to their job title with the following: “Oh, I could never work there. I would never qualify for the security clearance.” Or, you can substitute: “I'd never pass the background check.” It usually has the same effect: awkward silence or a quick change of topic. Indeed, perhaps the only other intentional security-related faux pas that seems to surpass both of these statements is to say outright, “I am against security.” (It helps to maintain a dead-pan expression and offer no follow-up explanation.) The point here is not to be the designated social pariah at future social events but rather, even if you never try these social experiments yourself, to think about the meaning of the responses you would likely receive. Like other, far more sophisticated experiments in social psychology, the point is to bring to light a part of the human condition that is otherwise unseen or misunderstood. It is, in this case, to scrutinize the power of the ideology of security. We are bombarded with all sorts of security indicators today that signal to us safety, social status, inclusion, and desirability in a manner that would be utterly alien to previous generations. Our security mindset has been conditioned by the myriad institutions we come into contact with on a daily basis and by our making and consumption of commodities: the security–industrial complex.
In mid-November of 2014, my friend and colleague Georgios Papanicolaou and I participated in a unique meeting of radicals, academics, police executives, and police union leaders in Athens, Greece. The three-day workshop was organized by the Nicos Poulantzas Institute and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and funded by Transform Europe!: a pan-European network set up by the coalition of the radical left in the EU parliament. The theme of the workshop was “Democratizing the Police in Europe with a Particular Emphasis on Greece.” This was also the title of the policy paper Georgios and I had written and it served as the focal point of discussion for the gathering. The Nicos Poulantzas Institute was by now well recognized by the European Left as the think-tank and policy laboratory of Greece's emerging Syriza party. A political party that a few months later would ride its anti-austerity platform, its strong grass-roots mobilization of the working class, and its outright rejection of the established oligarchical parties of the Centre-Right New Democracy (ND) and the Centre-Left Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), to a historic victory in the 2015 election that January. But already in November the prospects for a Syriza government were looking promising. Polls were indicating that the Greek electorate was fed up with widespread government corruption and a never-ending national debt and recession. Voters were also angry that their own politicians had almost bankrupted the country, stole hundreds of millions of Euros, and turned over the future of the nation to the “Troika” (European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund, and European Commission) of Eurocrats and banksters.
There was now a palpable energy on the streets of Athens. It felt to all like we were on the cusp of a historic change to both Greek and European politics, and perhaps even to the nature of the EU itself. Yet despite all of this hope a dark cloud still loomed ominously on the political horizon. It was a familiar cloud that workshop attendees, from war-weary communists to old-guard police, were all too familiar with. It was, in fact, Greece's new Finance Minister Yiannis Varoufakis who would later more aptly describe this gathering cloud as the coalescing of Greece's “dark forces.”
In the fall of 1999 I participated in a rally in support of striking public school sanitation workers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, eastern Canada where I was then a member of the local branch of the International Socialists (IS). I held a placard in support of the sanitation staff union local as about eighty of us marched to a local city high school. We listened to firebrand denunciations about the plight of the workers that outlined an alarming story: where there was once salaried and unionized employees of the public sector, the school board had begun to “contract-out” the sanitation of its schools. Former municipal employees who earned a decent income were now either summarily dismissed (with compensation) or were compelled to join the private firm that acquired the sanitation contract. They were paid significantly less, worked longer hours, had fewer breaks, and were scheduled just short of accruing overtime hours. The rally took place at the same time that the “living wage” movement was just beginning to catch on in North America. After the speeches there was even an incursion into the high school led by some IS members who marshaled (they said “radicalized”) the students in support of the workers. It was a tactic I had argued strongly against but my protests had fallen on deaf ears. The debacle of dozens of high school students aimlessly streaming out of their classes with only a pretense of interest in the rally was more than enough to push me even further toward my exit from the IS. (It also didn't help that I later denounced my comrades as “paperboy Bolsheviks” before being escorted from a meeting … never to return.) But in the lead up and again on the day of the rally, I tried to understand why a show of solidarity and such provocation for this particular group of workers was so important to our IS chapter.
I raised this same question with a senior Marxist comrade (who was not an IS member) on the lawn outside the Halifax Citadel National Historical Site. His response was at once familiar and surprising.
In the summer of 1991, I worked at an industrial bakery in west Toronto. It was a dated, three-story brick building that sprawled over three city blocks. I spent eight hours a day, five days a week, standing in a fruit-cake assembly line sprinkling assorted candied fruit atop an endless stream of baking pans. There was flour dust everywhere. We wore hair-nets and masks. The heat emanating from the industrial ovens on a humid night often made work unbearable. Droplets of sweat mixed with airborne flour making tiny balls of dough atop the hairs on my forearms. Our only respite was an occasional breeze of cool night air that would float through a bank of large windows facing south on to Dupont Street. It was a mind-numbing job but it paid enough and I needed to save up for tuition. Over and over, I would pick up a handful of candied fruit and spread them over the top of the dough. I would do this from 3:30pm until 11:30pm. We had two breaks and a twenty minute lunch. It was union policy that we would alternate stations on the line but the foreman ignored the rules. We rarely complained. Some of us were far better and faster at some tasks than others. Sometimes I would be switched to pecans. A portly Croatian woman with a kind face named Majda, however, would always be the smoother. She would hold a piece of four-inch wide Plexiglass, dip it in a bucket of warm water, and run it over the top of the lumpy, raw dough. She would then pass the smoothened cake dough in its pan down the line to me. Majda was a full-timer. She was fast but not particularly cheery. She sat on a stool. The rest of us had to stand. The foreman would bring her coffee. He never brought coffee to the rest of us. She took shorter breaks than the fifteen minutes mandated. She even urged the rest of us to hurry up when we took too long getting back to our stations. “Don't be lazy,” she'd say and, “We don't get paid to sit.” I would have hated her but she reminded me of my mother.
On a cool October evening in 1970, Alex Ling locked up his Chinese import store in the west-end of Toronto. Pausing with keys in hand, he sighed as he looked up the Bloor Street sidewalk. All around him were sad indicators of the area's steady commercial decline. “For sale” and “for rent” signs hung on boarded-up windows. Small specialty shops, once bustling centres of a vibrant immigrant community, now desperately clung to a trickle of pedestrian traffic. The Polish delis, Ukrainian bakeries, and small clothing boutiques were closing shop. Anchoring either end of the Bloor West Street strip, new subway stations at Runnymede Road and Jane Street replaced the old electric street-car line siphoning thousands of commuters underground. The freshly minted Dufferin Mall was attracting shoppers from kilometers around and the gigantic Yorkdale Shopping Centre and the CF Toronto Eaton Centre were set to do the same. Bloor Street West was dying a slow death and Ling could stand it no longer.
For the next few years Mr Ling and a small cadre of business owners would toil against heavy odds to establish a beach-head in what would become a global struggle for the survival of city centres, village squares, and mini-Main Streets from Toronto to Tirana. Today, Mr Ling is a feted international elder statesman of what should rightly be regarded as one of the most important political movements of the last half-century. While the fight against the rise of massive corporate retail has become almost ubiquitous, in 1970 the Bloor West Village was unique. It was a lone but promising legislative experiment based on a simple solution to a common problem. While business associations had always existed alongside the rise of urban entrepreneurialism, such groups were invariably voluntary and their funding entirely dependent on the good will of their subscribers. Business owners who did not contribute would still unfairly reap the benefits of their more communal neighbours’ efforts. The Bloor West Village was the first geographic business area to legally force property owners to pay a property tax surcharge collected by the city, authorized by the province, and managed locally by an elected Board of Directors.
Over the last four decades a number of powerful social and economic trends have begun to significantly impact both class politics and how we may theorize it. These socioeconomic trends have been exacerbated even further in the aftermath of the economic crisis of 2008–9, resulting in the re-mobilization of a wide array of popular movements crystallizing with Occupy and Syriza. Bourgeois insecurity has become more acute as evidenced by rising inequality marching in lockstep with climbing public and private policing employment since at least the 1970s. Increased inequality has also coincided with greater rates of exploitation; significant decreases in union membership; and the intensification of the everyday economic insecurity of workers, especially part-time and precarious workers, who have taken on more and more debt in order to maintain a standard of living comparable to previous generations. Emerging into popular consciousness at this time has also been the economic and social insularity of the 1 percent – an awareness that has produced a renewal of critique aimed at addressing how, in the wake of the Great Recession, there has been no clear political alternative to the retrenchment of neoliberalism through austerity and further global economic uncertainty. This generalized insecurity has taken place alongside the rhetorical rise of the “war on terror” layered over the top of an already existing “war on drugs” and a “war on crime” with their concomitant race, class, and gender implications. Warmaking as a form of peace-making or “war as peace” has become an essential facilitator for the proliferation of a security– industrial complex inextricably bound up with capital accumulation and Empire. Mass demonstrations against the ceremonial gathering of corporate and state elites during meetings of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) or the Group of Twenty (G20) have cast in stark relief the politics of the 99 percent with that of the 1 percent; have drawn visible, geographic boundaries around the permissibility of dissent; and have facilitated the occupation and colonization of urban space for the purpose of “extending the scope of productive labour” and the circuit of capital accumulation. These processes, of course, have a very long history tied to the formation of “police science” and the functional connection between wealth accumulation and the fabrication of a social order.
I think it useful to end with the commodity as the third stratum of pacification because it is only after understanding its discrete temporal and spatial aspects that we can appreciate how these qualities are embodied within the very fabric of making capitalism. We have established that dispossession and exploitation are essential codeterminant strata in the commodification process that, as I have already argued, may be understood as essential to pacification. We have also established in our review of Marx's notion of productive labor that such labor in its ideal form is labor that produces surplus-value for a capitalist enterprise in the pursuit of making vendible commodities. All other forms of economic activity under capitalist relations are under pressure toward this end. The pacification process leading to commodification continues to place relentless pressure on all business enterprises and fabricates a social and political order that, by extension, also comes under pressure from a set of compulsions. Within this third stratum of the pacification process, therefore, there are at least three more component processes that are endemic to pushing commodification forward. We may understand these as compulsions related to the security of the capitalist order. These are the compulsions to (1) valorize, (2) prudentialize, and (3) fetishize. I will examine each of these compulsions in turn before concluding with an examination of their aggregate manifestation in the system as a whole: the hegemonic character of security within an advanced capitalist system.
Before I begin my discussion of the three compulsions of commodification, it is important to understand that commodification does not mean privatization. The latter simply implies the movement of activities that were formerly the responsibility of the state to private interests. This may include a process of commodification but not always. Privatization speaks to political reassignment; commodification speaks to economic process. When Canadian public policing organizations such as the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) try to “sell” their services to police service boards through marketing, wining and dining board members, and submitting competitive bids, this may be said to mimic commodification but it is certainly not privatization because we are still dealing with public agencies. When a not-for-profit security organization such as the Corps.
In late January of 2015, I hosted a talk at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, delivered by Jeff Halper, an internationally recognized activist-scholar based out of Israel. He was visiting Ottawa on a fund-raising tour and I was meeting him for the first time. Halper is the founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. I quickly came to like him. Short, stocky, white-bearded, and affable, Jeff delivered an impactful and well-researched presentation about the Israeli security–industrial complex. His talk was based on his forthcoming book1 that examined how Israel “strategically niche-fills the contours of the world's arms and security industries” and, moreover, on how the Israeli state's continuing “securocratic” order may be understood within the context of a capitalist world-system based on pacification. A colleague in my Department aptly summarized his presentation as equally “enlightening and terrifying.”
Yet, despite the power of his talk, one point kept gnawing at me. Why was it that despite decades of domination into all facets of Palestinian life, the Israeli state had found no way of making the Palestinians productive? In fact, contrary to what pacification theory would suggest, the Israeli securocratic order had shown a clear disinterest in fostering any productive activities in the occupied territories. Yet the key elements were there: violent and relentless dispossession; the obliteration of means of self-sufficiency; and the exercise of military and policing domination. Still, there was no tangible evidence that the Israelis cared much about extracting any surplus-value from the Palestinians. Were they a particularly poor example of colonial rule? Where was the commodification of labor and the intensification of work? Certainly, there were small-scale examples here and there. Cheap, security-vetted Palestinian laborers were allowed to work in Israel but, of course, were not permitted to vote. Small shops did produce some goods, often as coops organized by women. But clearly these projects did not come close to addressing the overriding motor of pacification as I have described it: the exploitation of labor; the making of productive subjects. This had been a matter of some concern for me both theoretically and politically as the Left tried to take stock of the capitalist order in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008.
Abstract The paper illustrates the results of a correlation study focusing on linguistic variation in an Italian region, Tuscany. By exploiting a multilevel representation scheme of dialectal data, the study analyses attested patterns of phonetic and morpho-lexical variation with the aim of testing the degree of correlation between a) phonetic and morpho-lexical variation, and b) linguistic variation and geographic distance. The correlation analysis was performed by combining two complementary approaches proposed in dialectometric literature, namely by computing both global and place-specific correlation measures and by inspecting their spatial distribution. Achieved results demonstrate that phonetic and morpho-lexical variations in Tuscany seem to follow a different pattern than encountered in previous studies.
It is a well-known fact that different types of features contribute to the linguistic distance between any two locations, which can differ for instance with respect to the word used to denote the same object or the phonetic realisation of a particular word. Yet, the correlation between different feature types in defining patterns of dialectal variation represents an area of research still unexplored. In traditional dialectology, there is no obvious way to approach this matter beyond fairly superficial and impressionistic observations. The situation changes if the same research question is addressed in the framework of dialectometric studies, where it is possible to measure dialectal distances with respect to distinct linguistic levels and to compute whether and to what extent observed distances correlate.
Abstract In this paper the role of concept characteristics in lexical dialectometric research is examined in three consecutive logical steps. First, a regression analysis of data taken from a large lexical database of Limburgish dialects in Belgium and The Netherlands is conducted to illustrate that concept characteristics such as concept salience, concept vagueness and negative affect contribute to the lexical heterogeneity in the dialect data. Next, it is shown that the relationship between concept characteristics and lexical heterogeneity influences the results of conventional lexical dialectometric measurements. Finally, a dialectometric procedure is proposed which downplays this undesired influence, thus making it possible to obtain a clearer picture of the ‘truly’ regional variation. More specifically, a lexical dialectometric method is proposed in which concept characteristics form the basis of a weighting schema that determines to which extent concept specific dissimilarities can contribute to the aggregate dissimilarities between locations.
BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS
An important assumption underlying most if not all methods of dialectometry is that the automated analysis of the differences in language use between different locations, as they are recorded by dialectologists in large scale surveys, can reveal patterns which directly reflect regional variation. In this paper, in which we focus on lexical variation, we want to address one factor, viz. concept characteristics, which we will claim complicates this picture.
The argumentation which underlies our claim consists of three consecutive logical steps. As a first step, we analyse data taken from a large lexical database of Limburgish dialects in Belgium and The Netherlands, in which we more particularly zoom in on the names for concepts in the field of ‘the human body’.
Abstract In the present investigation we aim to determine to which degree various linguistic factors contribute to the intelligibility of Swedish words among Danes. We correlated the results of an experiment on word intelligibility with eleven linguistic factors and carried out logistic regression analyses. In the experiment, the intelligibility of 384 frequent Swedish words was tested among Danish listeners via the Internet. The choice of eleven linguistic factors was motivated by their contribution to intelligibility in earlier studies. The highest correlation was found in the negative correlation between word intelligibility and phonetic distances. Also word length, different syllable numbers, foreign sounds, neighbourhood density, word frequency, orthography, and the absence of the prosodic phenomenon of ‘stød’ in Swedish contribute significantly to intelligibility. Although the results thus show that linguistic factors contribute to the intelligibility of single words, the amount of explained variance was not very large (R2(Cox and Snell)= .16, R2 (Nagelkerke) = .21) when compared with earlier studies which were based on aggregate intelligibility. Partly, the lower scores result from the logistic regression model used. It was necessary to use logistic regression in our study because the intelligibility scores were coded in a binary variable. Additionally, we attribute the lower correlation to the higher number of idiosyncrasies of single words compared with the aggregate intelligibility and linguistic distance used in earlier studies. Based on observations in the actual data from the intelligibility experiment, we suggest further steps to be taken to improve the predictability of word intelligibility.
Abstract In this experimental study, we aim to arrive at a global picture of the mutual intelligibility of various Dutch language varieties by carrying out a computer-controlled lexical decision task in which ten target varieties are evaluated – the Belgian and Netherlandic Dutch standard language as well as four regional varieties of both countries. We auditorily presented real as well as pseudo-words in various varieties of Dutch to Netherlandic and Belgian test subjects, who were asked to decide as quickly as possible whether the items were existing Dutch words or not. The experiment's working assumption is that the faster the subjects react, the better the intelligibility of (the language variety of) the word concerned.
When speakers of different languages or language varieties communicate with each other, one group (generally the economically and culturally weaker one) often switches to the language or language variety of the other, or both groups of speakers adopt a third, common lingua franca. However, if the languages or language varieties are so much alike that the degree of mutual comprehension is sufficiently high, both groups of speakers might opt for communicating in their own language variety.
This type of interaction between closely related language varieties, which Haugen (1966) coins semicommunication and Braunmüller and Zeevaert (2001) refer to as receptive multilingualism, has been investigated between speakers of native Indian languages in the United States (Pierce 1952), between Spaniards and Portuguese (Jensen, 1989), between speakers of Scandinavian languages (Zeevaert, 2004; Gooskens, 2006; Lars-Olof Delsing, 2007) and between Slovaks and Czechs (Budovičová, 1987).
Abstract The present paper investigates to what extent subjects base their judgments of linguistic distances on actual dialect data presented in a listening experiment and to what extent they make use of previous knowledge of the dialects when making their judgments. The point of departure for our investigation were distances between 15 Norwegian dialects as perceived by Norwegian listeners. We correlated these perceptual distances with objective phonetic distances measured on the basis of the transcriptions of the recordings used in the perception experiment. In addition, we correlated the perceptual distances with objective distances based on other datasets. On the basis of the correlation results and multiple regression analyses we conclude that the listeners did not base their judgments solely on information that they heard during the experiments but also on their general knowledge of the dialects. This conclusion is confirmed by the fact that the effect is stronger for the group of listeners who recognised the dialects than for listeners who did not recognise the dialects on the tape.
To what extent do subjects base their judgment of linguistic distances between dialects on what they really hear, i.e. on the linguistic phenomena available in the speech signal, and to what degree do they generalise from the knowledge that they have from previous confrontations with the dialects? This is the central question of the investigation described in this paper. The answer to this question is important to scholars who want to understand how dialect speakers perceive dialect pronunciation differences and may give more insight in the mechanisms behind the way in which linguistic variation is experienced.
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