In a short letter to the press, in which he referred to Mexico, Graham Greene substantially expressed his view of the world.
“I must thank Mr. Richard West for his understanding notice of The Quiet American. No critic before, that I can remember, has thus pinpointed my abhorrence of the American liberal conscience whose results I have seen at work in Mexico, Vietnam, Haiti and Chile.”
(Yours, etc., Letters to the Press. 1979)
Mexico is a peripheral country with a difficult history, and undeniably the very long border that it shares with the most powerful nation on earth has largely determined its fate.
After his trip to Mexico in 1938, Greene had very hard words to say about the latter country, but then he spoke with equal harshness about the “hell” he had left behind in his English birthplace, Berkhamsted. He “loathed” Mexico…” but there were times when it seemed as if there were worse places. Mexico “was idolatry and oppression, starvation and casual violence, but you lived under the shadow of religion – of God or the Devil.”
However, the United States was worse:
“It wasn’t evil, it wasn’t anything at all, it was just the drugstore and the Coca Cola, the hamburger, the sinless empty graceless chromium world.”
He also expressed abhorrence for what he saw on the German ship that took him back to Europe:
“Spanish violence, German Stupidity, Anglo-Saxon absurdity…the whole world is exhibited in a kind of crazy montage.”
As war approached, he wrote: “Violence came nearer – Mexico is a state of mind.” In “the grit of the London afternoon”, he said, “I wondered why I had disliked Mexico so much.” Indeed, upon asking himself why Mexico had seemed so bad and London so good, he responded: “I couldn’t remember”.
And we ourselves can repeat the same unanswered question. Why such virulent hatred of Mexico? We know that his money was devalued there, that he caught dysentery there, that the fallout from the libel suit that he had lost awaited him upon his return to England, and that he lost his reading glasses, among other things that could so exasperate a man that he would express his discontent in his writing, but I recall that it was one of Greene’s friends, dear Judith Adamson, who described one of his experiences in Mexico as unfair. Why?
The answer might lie in the fact that he never mentioned all the purposes of his trip.
In The Confidential Agent, one of the three books that Greene wrote after returning to England, working on it at the same time as The Power and the Glory, he makes no mention whatsoever of Mexico, but it is hard to believe that the said work had nothing to do with such an important experience as his trip there.
D, the main character in The Confidential Agent, goes to England in pursuit of an important coal contract that will enable the government he represents to fight the fascist rebels in the Spanish Civil War, though Greene never explicitly states that the country in question is Spain. The said confidential agent knows that his bosses don’t trust him and have good reason not to do so, just as he has good reason to mistrust them.
We, who know Greene only to the extent that he wanted us to know him, are aware that writers recount their own lives as if they were those of other people, and describe the lives of others as if they were their own. Might he not, then, have transferred to a character called D, in a completely different setting, his own real experiences as a confidential agent in Mexico?
Besides wishing to witness the religious persecution in Mexico first-hand, his mission might also have been to report on developments in the aforesaid country and regarding its resources -above all its petroleum- in view of the imminent outbreak of the Second World War. Read more
Being a Dutch art historian, working in Germany, I was asked to give a short introduction in English to an Israeli artist working in the Netherlands. The inherent confusion, the mingling of languages, that follows from this is a good starting point to talk about the work of Joseph Semah.
Because there is even another language we will have to talk about: Semahs language of images.
Does art have a mother tongue? Who understands the language of art? Or more specific: who understands Joseph Semahs art?
Semah is often said to be a difficult unintelligible artist – which is, let me state this right at the beginning, not true. And Semah being presented as an Israeli artist who explores both European and Jewish thought and the interplay between these two, most spectators may feel as if they miss something. But what is missing might be the point. You cannot expect a spectator to know both the European and Jewish tradition and the main mistake when dealing with Semahs work seems to me, this urge to start from such knowledge instead of plain curiousness. So the strategy I suggest to you is plain curiousness: you will discover things you did not know.
Joseph Semah, Paul Groot and Mohammed Sabet simultaneously reading Baruch de Spinoza “Tractatus theologico-politicus” in the Hebrew, Latin and Arabic languages: 23 Feb. 2008 Amsterdam (Galerie Ferdinand van Dieten – d’Eendt).
More at www.josephsemah.nl
Climate change poses the greatest threat to human civilization as we know it. Yet, governments around the world are reluctant to take drastic action to avert a climate change catastrophe even though we have the means to do so, as I will point out in the latter part of this essay.
But let’s take things from the start and look at the latest attempt of the part of the world’s governments to redress the problem of climate change, i.e., the Paris Agreement of late 2015.
In contrast to the Kyoto Protocol, whose provisions run out in 2020, the Paris deal includes no legally binding carbon dioxide emissions limits. There are no mandatory emission limits and no mandatory payments to help poor nations develop clean energy technologies, nor to mitigate the damages caused by climate change on poor nations, when the damage was historically caused by the rich nations. Mandatory emissions limits are necessary for the carbon market to operate. What is traded in the carbon market is the right to exceed one’s mandatory limits. With no mandatory limits, there can be no carbon market. The entire world is clamoring for a “price on carbon”: this is the carbon market. The six largest oil and gas companies in the world publicly support a price on carbon (Including Shell, BP, Statoil, Total and Engie). Yet the Paris Agreement undermines the very foundation for a price on carbon by requiring no mandatory emission limits.
Why did the Paris climate change negotiations move away from mandatory targets on carbon emissions and adopted instead a voluntary approach to the climate change challenge? Because a legally binding treaty that needed ratification by governments back home would have reduced substantially the chances of reaching any kind of an agreement.
This is certainly the case for one of the world’s biggest polluters, i.e., the United States. Any treaty on climate change that made its way to Capitol Hill would be shredded into pieces by the Republican-controlled Congress.
However, as time goes by, it is certain that more and more people will realize that the political compromise made in Paris over mandatory emissions comes at a great cost. Our ability to control rising temperatures caused by carbon dioxide accumulated in the air is greatly hindered since voluntary agreements guarantee failure.
But there is more. As the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report points out, carbon emission cuts are not enough to slow down global warming. According to IPCC, we are headed with certainty towards an increase in temperatures by three degrees Celsius by 2100, although there are scientists who believe that two degrees of warming is “a recipe for disaster.” It suffices to recall the superstorm Sandy that closed down New York City for weeks, with flooded subways, leaving entire neighbourhoods without electricity, no schools, no law enforcement, and automobiles floating in the streets of this proud city. Climate change means an increase in the frequency and severity of such climate events. This means three or four Superstorm Sandies every year in New York, and the city cannot survive such climate change.
In addition to reducing drastically emissions through mandatory limits and adopting clean energy systems, it is now imperative that we utilize negative carbon technologies to remove existing carbon dioxide from the air. This was required by the IPCC, the scientific foundation of the climate negotiations, in its November 2014 5th Assessment Report. We procrastinated too much and now we have to massively reduce the CO2 that is already in the atmosphere in addition to reducing emissions. There are carbon negative technologies in Silicon Valley, like those employed by Global Thermostat, that are operating at SRI in Menlo Park California, which can offer a solution to the greatest threat facing the future of human civilization as we know it. This requires that we accept mandatory emission limits and reactivate the carbon market that is based on mandatory emissions, and was trading $175Bn/year by 2011.
The funding from the carbon market suffices to implement and scale up carbon removal around the world, as the IPCC requires, for example through carbon negative carbon plants that clean the atmosphere while they produce electricity- and do all of this in a low cost and profitable fashion. A proposal made by the author in Copenhagen COP15 was to use the Kyoto carbon market to offer finance to scale up globally such carbon negative carbon plants in poor nations, thus providing electricity that is needed by 1,3 Bn people around the world that currently have no access to electricity, all this while cleaning the planet’s atmosphere. This was called the Green Power Fund and required $200Bn/year for building carbon negative power plants; instead the Green Climate Fund was made into law, changing one word in its title and severing its connection from the source of funding, the carbon market of the Kyoto Protocol.
The reason the Climate Fund had its connection severed from its very source of funding, the carbon market of the Kyoto Protocol, was none other than the insistence of the US Congress – through its unanimously voted Byrd-Hagel Act — that there be no mandatory emissions limits.
But there is technology that can remove carbon from the atmosphere as required by IPCC. It is already operating in the Silicon Valley.
The carbon negative technologies in Silicon Valley, like those employed by Global Thermostat, which are fundamentally different from the now defunct carbon capturing and storing technologies, can offer a potential solution to the greatest threat facing the future of human civilization as we know it.
Such technologies, if employed on a global scale, can be used to clean the air from carbon dioxide, acting like trees do but much faster, as is needed now. Moreover, they are quite inexpensive and offer the potential of financial rewards, thus making them an attractive incentive to investors and enterpreneurs since, again, the logic of the global economy is not going to change overnight and we certainly cannot wait for the materialization of the “ideal society” for the planet and the future of human civilization to be saved.
At the same time, this is not to suggest that technology is magic. Technology does not exist in a vacuum nor can it be expected to be our robotic slave. We need to change today’s global financial institutions and the prevailing economic values as well. Economic values decide what is meant by economic progress. Today, economic values are based on short-sighted goals and on individualistic markets that defy logic, since they assign no value to clean air, to clean water or to biodiversity on which human survival depends. Assigning no value to the global commons–clean water, clean air, and biodiversity–leads to actions that threaten human survival. This has to change and can change. In the new Anthropocene era, humans are the most important geological force on the planet, and only with the right economic values can humankind survive.
Graciela Chichilnisky is Professor of Economics and of Statistics at Columbia University, Visiting Professor of Economics at Stanford University, Founder and CEO of Global Thermostat, and the architect of the Kyoto Protocol Carbon Market. www.chichilnisky.com
The world cannot avoid catastrophic climate change by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases alone. Part of the solution must be removing CO2 that is already in the atmosphere, as Graciela Chichilnisky explained at the 2015 Blouin Creative Leadership Summit. She is the CEO of Global Thermostat, a firm whose revolutionary technology will be used in carbon-negative power plants that generate electricity while cleaning the atmosphere. Her equipment can convert existing fossil fuel plants, and the global carbon market’s clean development mechanism can help developing nations pay for the thousands of new clean power plants needed.
The plants will also generate revenue by using the extracted CO2 to produce carbonated beverages, fertilizers, and even synthetic gasoline. Chichilnisky envisions a future where Global Thermostat inexpensively licenses its technology to franchises all over the world, which can use crowdfunding to spread as fast as needed. She says this “is critical to resolving the climate change problem.”
Five years have come and gone, and we could not be more pleased. What started as an extensive, online flyer for the books we published, has become a fully grown website with over 2500 articles filling 424 pages.
Visits to the website continue to increase. This month, March 2016, we will be welcoming 20.000 monthly visitors to the site.
We can break these numbers down into the following categories. There’s still slightly more male than female visitors: 54 to 46 percent.
Sixty percent of our visitors is younger than 35 years old. Eleven percent is over 55.
23% of visits come from the USA, the Netherlands is second with 13%. New in the top 10 of visiting countries are Zimbabwe (3rd place with 7.6%) and Sudan (4th place with 7.4%). Kenya is in 5th place with 5.3%. Rozenberg Quarterly has had visits from 163 countries.
We are lucky enough to be in the luxury position of receiving many article submissions. Over 250 articles are currently awaiting publication. We also have 24 full text books lined up for publication on the website.
But all this expansion and the fact that we want to expand the site even more means we need funding to keep it up and running. Besides calling on our readers for donations, we have recently begun placing Google Ads, but other advertisers are welcome.
And if your institute or department is interested in presenting publications in a dedicated section, please contact us to discuss the possibilities and pricing options.