Tag Archives: america

“The Rhizome” by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Translated from English into American

In 2012, Sean Joseph Patrick Carney published an article for continent. titled “’The Precession of Simulacra’ by Jean Baudrillard, Translated from English into American.” The article, while entirely humorous and, at some points, lewd, served to explain Baudrillard’s rather difficult essay in terms the layperson could understand. Given the success of Carney’s translation in elucidating some of Baudrillard’s more complicated ideas, I figured a few other dead French guys deserved the same American love that we export to the world. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari have frustrated students and scholars alike for decades due not only to the intentional obtuseness of their prose, but also due to the difficultly of their ideas. Well no longer! I present Deleuze and Guattari’s (arguably) central idea, the rhizome, in bite-sized, McNugget format. One devient deux.

Translated from Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi, 3-25.

Look at these two love birds.

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Legalizing Marijuana: The Road to Security South of the Border

Three years ago, James Farwell and Rafal Rohozinski published an excellent piece entitled Mexico: America’s Number One Threat wherein they dissect the direct threat to the United States that a drug cartel ridden Mexico poses. Two years later the piece is just as important, and its argument is bolstered by El Chapo’s, the leader of Sinaloa Cartel, escape from prison. Not only does his escape place one of the drug world’s most powerful men back in a position to consolidate power, but it risks further escalation of violence by cartels “if the Mexican government tries to prove they are doing everything they can to recapture him”. Additionally, with alleged alliances between cartels arising, it’s unlikely that the violence will die down naturally. The question obviously becomes what do we do?

With marijuana legalization initiatives being pushed in multiple states, it seems like the tide on US drug policy is changing, and marijuana will be either slowly legalized on a state to state basis, or a change to the Controlled Substances Act will be made at the federal level. The former risks the creation of so called “grey markets” in limbo states (which would foster smuggling and crime to sell legally grown marijuana to states where it is illegal). On the other side, the latter would likely spark political debate and make this coming election more interesting. Given the long timeframe of state by state legalization and the quasi-legal nature of grey markets, broad federal legalization is desirable because, among other things, it would give the US the financial leverage it needs to crush cartel growth in Mexico.

2008 RAND study found that between 40 and 67 percent of exported marijuana goes to the US. To put that in perspective, in 2008’s drug landscape marijuana accounted for up to $2 billion in gross income for cartels. In addition to the raw numbers, however, is the fact that if marijuana were legalized suddenly the shock to cartels would force a reshaping of their investments and would weaken cartels to the point that they would have “less capacity to corrupt the judiciary and the police in Mexico with crumpled bills in brown envelopes”. Finally, a sudden and major disruption of cartel profits would damage already fragile market integration hierarchies in other illicit sectors by forcing cartels to shuffle around resources and reorganize their business model quickly and covertly. This would have the impact of crippling cartel’s attempts to “shift” away from marijuana giving law enforcement the time, and resources they are currently wasting fighting grey markets and quasi-legal marijuana, they need to strike the final blow to cartels that will be approaching huge profit losses in all sectors.

In fact, we’ve already seen cartel’s profits and marijuana exports drop sharply since states have started legalizing marijuana. Not only have Mexican law enforcement officials seen a 32% drop in illegal marijuana exports, but the domestic marijuana market grew 74% in one year and directly took away at least $2.7 billion of cartel revenue. In an ironic twist, life-long marijuana growers in Mexico are saying, as their profits are squashed, “I wish the Americans would stop with this legalization”.

Thus we come back to the question asked at the beginning of this post, what do we do? Given the already fragile nature of the Mexican state, the grey markets popping up around states that have legalized recreational marijuana, and the potential to hit cartels where it hurts, the solution seems simple; federally legalize marijuana by amending the Controlled Substances Act and removing marijuana as a schedule 1 drug. If nothing else, it will end the foolish DEA game of whack-a-mole that is wasting government resources and letting harder, more dangerous drugs slip through the border.

UPDATE: It will be interesting to see what happens given the Mexican government’s statement that they recaptured El Chapo.


UPDATE 1/10/16: Analysts recently commented that the capture of El Chapo “won’t have a significant impact [on Sinaloa’s functioning] other than a moral victory”, reports Gawker.

US Security Discourse: Physical and Ontological Implications


Part 1: Genealogy of War

            The past 200 years has seen a dramatic shift in the United States, the United States’ supposed “role in the world”, and, contrary to the video game series Fallout’s motto[1], even the very nature of war itself. Over 200 years ago, a group of wealthy white aristocrats decided that they had had enough of England’s “oppression” over them and they decided to revolt and form a new nation built around the pillars of liberty, equality (for some), and for lack of a better word, isolationism. In his farewell address, George Washington is quoted as having said “[i]t is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world” (Fromkin). However, this “true policy” was not to last as demonstrated by World War I wherein the US’ role shifted from stoic observer to what some neoconservatives like to call the “benevolent hegemon” (Dolman). In addition and parallel to this shift in the US’ role in the world, there was a change in the very nature of war itself. Before the 19thcentury, wars were conceived “as battles between sovereigns”, but all that changed with the advent of so called “strategic bombing” commonly credited to the Italian theorist Giulio Douhet (Collier and Lakoff 4). According to Douhet, war was “no longer [a thing] fought between armies but between whole peoples. All the resources of a country…would focus on the war effort” or, as it is commonly called, “total war” (C&L 5). Thus the rise of total war saw with it the rise of a new kind of geopolitical strategy, that of threat calculation in regards to so called “critical infrastructure”.  In addition, total war’s rise created a whole new beast, the unpredictable threat. This new kind of threat, one that “did not fit within the strategic framework” of the time, necessitated a new kind of response, that is to say, a new kind of outlook on threats in general (C&L 3). Everything was perceived as a potential target, from the obvious military bases to the less obvious roads and water towers (the “critical infrastructure”).  Everything was under attack and everyone was a potential combatant and thus the reign of the constant threat began.

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