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Posts Tagged ‘late capitalism’

“The rise of Fascism around the world has been happening quickly and it’s a lot to take in. So we wanted to take a minute to review the electoral gains made by anti-immigrant & far-right movements here in Québec and Ontario over the past few months.

It’s only been a month since François Legault’s CAQ won a majority government in Québec and they’ve already made it clear that they intend to decrease the amount of immigrants arriving in the province, make new immigrants take language and ‘values’ tests, ban non-Christian religious symbols in the civil service, and further privatize the health care system.

In Ontario, it’s been over four months since Doug Ford’s PC party won a majority and they’ve already rolled back minimum wage & basic workplace protections, privatized prescription drug insurance, returned elementary & high schools to a 1998 sex-ed curriculum, and threatened to withhold funding from universities that won’t host Fascist speakers.While both these right-wing parties were influenced & supported by far-right movements, neither are themselves Fascist.

 But in the short time since their victories, we’ve started to see more explicitly white nationalist candidates become electorally viable.

In Toronto’s mayoral election this past week, white nationalist Faith Goldy came in 3rd place. She beat the only leftist candidate in the race and received over 25,000 votes.In Mississauga’s recent mayoral election, far-right anti-Muslim candidate Kevin Johnston came in 2nd place, receiving over 16,000 votes. He accomplished this while also defending himself in court over hate crime charges.

Elections aren’t accurate measures of popular opinion. And as Anarchists, we don’t put stock in them as vehicles for the kind of political change we need. In fact, we strongly believe that attempts to achieve state power are not the answer. The reason we’re focusing on elections is because they’re becoming an increasingly possible bridge between far-right movements and the state power they desire.

Now, the Canadian government certainly doesn’t need Fascists at its helm to continue the ongoing genocide against indigenous peoples, to promote imperialism around the world, repress labour in the name of capital, or to continue to impose systems of structural white supremacy, patriarchy, ableism, and cis-heteronormativity onto the territories it stole through colonization. But today’s growing Fascist & other far-right movements are beginning to view the prospect of state power as a realistic horizon. And this prospect represents a mode of state repression that we’re largely unequipped to resist.

It’s also important to note that this isn’t coming out of nowhere. The rapid growth of the far-right has been made possible by decades of centre-right political gains.

While a lot of attention has been paid to the way far-right groups have influenced and supported certain parties and candidates, the lines of support and influence are in fact cyclical, flowing in both directions.

On a national level, you can draw a straight line between the Liberals’ post-911 fear mongering (the ‘Anti-Terrorism’ and ‘Public Safety’ acts, the use of Security Certificates against Muslim men, Project Thread & other baseless cases brought against Muslims), the Conservatives’ mid-2000s anti-Muslim attacks (the ‘Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices’ act, attempts to ban Muslim women from wearing the niqab, the proposed hotline for people to make accusations against Muslim neighbours), and the growth of anti-Muslim groups like PEGIDA Canada or the WCAI. 

 A similar line can be drawn between the anti-immigrant discourse of the Liberals’ border policy reforms (shifting from immigrants to ‘temporary foreign workers’ in the 1990s, the creation of the CBSA), the Conservatives’ expansion of those policies in the mid-2000s (referring to refugees as criminals, vastly reducing new immigrants, increasing ‘temporary foreign workers’, detentions, and deportations), and the recent growth of anti-immigrant groups like the Soldiers of Odin, Storm Alliance, or the Northern Guard.

In Ontario, 8 years of PC attacks on poor and working people, massive transfers of wealth and reductions of social services, followed by 15 years of Liberal Party ‘austerity,’ created public messaging (and a dire economic context) that now undergirds most far-right organizing in the province. 

Over the past 25 years, both parties consistently attacked organized labour, built public support against them, and normalized back to work legislation as a means to end strikes for good. It’s not surprising that workers experience attacks and death threats at picket lines today.

On a more local level, a quick survey of the wards where Faith Goldy drew the most support closely resembles the map of Rob Ford’s support base, built back in 2010 & since expanded by his brother. Again, the far-right’s growth isn’t coming out of nowhere.People have been well primed for Fascism by exposure to decades of racist, nationalist, and capitalist propaganda from the Canadian political mainstream. 

As far-right media outlets like The Rebel have begun to eclipse more mainstream publications, it’s easy to forget how much groundwork was laid before their arrival.In Québec, over a decade of multi-party anti-Muslim rhetoric laid the groundwork for the growth of far-right anti-Muslim groups like La Meute, Atalante, and last year’s mass murder at the Québec City Islamic Cultural Centre. Between the Liberals’ ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ debate & Bouchard-Taylor Commission, the PQ’s ‘Charter of Quebec Values’, the Liberals’ Bill 62, and the CAQ’s upcoming ban on non-Christian religious symbols, there’s been an anti-Muslim consensus within Québec’s political mainstream.

Politicians in Québec have spent years stoking xenophobia to harness fading nationalist sentiment, now successfully mobilized against Muslims and immigrants on a mass level. This has translated into mass support for far-right groups in Québec, who have been growing rapidly and increasing their influence on (and proximity to) state power.In Ontario, support for the far-right hasn’t reached the same level but it’s growing. And these movements are beginning to use elections to normalize their ideas and expand their base. 

With media outlets like The Rebel and Ontario Proud now reaching wider audiences than most mainstream publications, this growth seems set to continue.

In this context, we need to take the far-right’s aspirations for state power more seriously and understand how elections increasingly fit into their strategy. But responding with leftist electoral campaigns is a strategy doomed to cooptation and failure. 

Only by building popular resistance to the ideas of both the far-right and the political mainstream that paved their way (including false electoral solutions) can we win. Because if the Fascists achieve state power, it won’t matter how good we are at fighting them in the streets.”

– Treyf, “The Far-Right and Recent Elections in Ontario & Québec.” October 26, 2018.

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“Following the 1992 LA riots, leftist commentators often opted to define the event as a rebellion rather than a riot as a way to highlight the political nature of people’s actions. This attempt to reframe the public discourse is borne of ‘good intentions’ (the desire to combat the conservative media’s portrayal of the riots as ‘pure criminality’), but it also reflects an impulse to contain, consolidate, appropriate, and accommodate events that do not fit political models grounded in white, Euro- American traditions. When the mainstream media portrays social disruptions as apolitical, criminal, and devoid of meaning, Leftists often respond by describing them as politically reasoned. Here, the confluence of political and anti-social tendencies in a riot/ rebellion are neither recognized nor embraced. Certainly some who participated in the London riots were armed with sharp analyses of structural violence and explicitly political messages – the rioters were obviously not politically or demographically homogenous. However, sympathetic radicals tend to privilege the voices of those who are educated and politically astute, rather than listening to those who know viscerally that they are fucked and act without first seeking moral approval. Some Leftists and radicals were reluctant to affirm the purely disruptive perspectives, like those expressed by a woman from Hackney, London who said, ‘We’re not all gathering together for a cause, we’re running down Foot Locker.’ Or the excitement of two girls stopped by the BBC while drinking looted wine. When asked what they were doing, they spoke of the giddy ‘madness’ of it all, the ‘good fun’ they were having, and said that they were showing the police and the rich that ‘we can do what we want.’ Translating riots into morally palatable terms is another manifestation of the appeal to innocence – rioters, looters, criminals, thieves, and disrupters are not proper victims and hence, not legitimate political actors. Morally ennobled victimization has become the necessary precondition for determining which grievances we are willing to acknowledge and authorize.

With that being said, my reluctance to jam Black rage into a white framework is not an assertion of the political viability of a pure politics of refusal. White anarchists, ultra-leftists, post-Marxists, and insurrectionists who adhere to and fetishize the position of being “for nothing and against everything” are equally eager to appropriate events like the 2011 London riots for their (non)agenda. They insist on an analysis focused on the crisis of capitalism, which downplays anti-Blackness and ignores forms of gratuitous violence that cannot be attributed solely to economic forces. Like liberals, post-left and anti-social interpretive frameworks generate political narratives structured by white assumptions, which delimits which questions are posed which categories are the most analytically useful. Tiqqun explore the ways in which we are enmeshed in power through our identities, but tend to focus on forms of power that operate by an investment in life (sometimes call biopolitics) rather than, as Achille Mbembe writes, “the power and the capacity to decide who may live and who must die” (sometimes called necropolitics). This framework is decidedly white, for it asserts that power is not enacted by direct relations of force or violence, and that the capitalism reproduces itself by inducing us to produces ourselves, to express our identities through consumer choices, to base our politics on the affirmation of our marginalized identities. This configuration of power as purely generative and dispersed completely eclipses the realities of policing, the militarization of the carceral system, the terrorization of people of color, the institutional violence of the Welfare State and the Penal State, and of Black and Native social death. While prisons certainly “produce” race, a generative configuration of power that minimizes direct relations of force can only be theorized from a white subject position. Among ultra-left tendencies, communization theory notably looks beyond the wage relation in its attempt to grasp the dynamics of late-capitalism. Writing about Théorie Communiste (TC), Maya Andrea Gonzalez notes that “TC focus on the reproduction of the capital-labor relation, rather than on the production of value. This change of focus allows them to bring within their purview the set of relations that actually construct capitalist social life – beyond the walls of the factory or office.” However, while this reframing may shed light on relations that constitute social life outside the workplace, it does not shed light on social death, for relations defined by social death are not reducible to the capital-labor relation.”

– Jackie Wang, “Against Innocence: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Safety.” LIES Volume 1-10

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“And that the stupendous proliferation of social codes today into professional and disciplinary jargons (but also into the badges of affirmation of ethnic, gender, race, religious, and class-factional adhesion) is also a political phenomenon, the problem of micropolitics sufficiently demonstrates. If the ideas of a ruling class were once the dominant (or hegemonic) ideology of bourgeois society, the advanced capitalist countries today are now a field of stylistic and discursive heterogeneity without a norm. Faceless masters continue to inflect the economic strategies which constrain our existences, but they no longer need to impose their speech (or are henceforth unable to); and the postliteracy of the late capitalist world reflects not only the absence of any great collective project but also the unavailability of the older national language itself.”

— Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Duke University Press, 1991. p. 17

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On the website for Unicor, the newly renamed Federal Prison Industries — the 84-year-old government-run corporation that utilizes incarcerated people for labor — there’s a section called “Shopping.” There, you can benefit from the fruits of the company’s “Factories With Fences” program, which produces items manufactured by the 182,797 inmates of the nation’s federal prisons: socks, solar panels, goggles, shelving, license plates, office furniture. For $139, you can buy the Chrome Frame Matrix HD Chair for your office or home in ebony, wine, sapphire, or indigo, knowing it was made by prisoners who serve Unicor at dozens of facilitiesfrom Canaan, Pennsylvania, to Atwater, California. If you are looking for labor, prisoners can also be contracted for your company, for services ranging from manufacturing to call center duties. After all, it’s a fantastic deal: The pay rate for inmates ranges from 23 cents to $1.15 an hour. This, partners are told, offers companies “minimized overhead costs to help drive bottom-line improvements. (Seeing this bargain laid out in the crisp, airless language of convenience capitalism both elides the skin-crawling horror of incarceration and somehow underscores it.) Unicor has a capsule history of the federal U.S. prison labor program on its website, which notes that prison work programs originated in the United States with the nation’s founding in the 1700s, and that “despite periods of criticism from detractors, increasingly constrictive procurement laws, misinformation and stigma,” they have “endured.”

The latest “test” to prison labor comes not from outside detractors or procurement laws, but from within the prisons themselves. On August 21, a loosely connected network of incarcerated activists, led by the group Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, announced a nationwide prison strike. One of the ten demands released by the protesters is an end to prison slavery – a demand for a full and fair wage just noting it specifies as based on the prevailing wage in their state or territory for any labor performed while incarcerated.

The strike was inspired by a riot at the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, South Carolina, on April 15, which left seven inmates — Corey Scott, Eddie Casey Gaskins, Raymond Angelo Scott, Damonte Rivera, Michael Milledge, Cornelius McClary, and Joshua Jenkins — dead. Prisoners stated that the surge of violence was due to inhumane living conditions, punitive sentences, and the prison warehousing rival gangs in the same units.

The date was set for August 21, the day Nat Turner’s slave revolt began in 1831. It’s meant to last until September 9, the anniversary of the Attica State Peniteniary uprising, a mass prisoner takeover of an upstate New York prison in 1971 that ultimately led to significant reforms in the New York carceral system.

“We are men! We are not beasts, and we do not intend to be beaten or driven as such,” said Attica inmate Elliot “L.D.” Barkley, in one of the first public statements made by the protesting prisoners in 1971. Barkley, the most visible face of the Attica uprising, was shot in the back and killed when authorities stormed the prison to quell the uprising, leaving thirty prisoners and ten prison guards dead.

The first demand of the 2018 strike echoes Barkley’s words across decades: It is a call for “immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.” The rest are concretizations of this demand: that the label of “violent offender” should not result in anyone being barred from rehabilitation programs; that current and former prisoners regain their voting rights; an end to racist over-charging of black and brown people; and an end to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, which severely restricts the ability of prisoners to file federal lawsuits, among others.

The strike is as sprawling and difficult to track as America’s prison state itself, a system that encompasses some 2.3 million people. Its participants are largely anonymized by the activists who publicize their resistance, for fear of retaliation by prison authorities. By its very nature, it vexes publications, as the incarcerated individuals taking part are purposefully tucked out of sight and kept from communicating with the press. But reports have trickled out — particularly in activist-aligned outlets like Democracy Now! and It’s Going Down — of ICE detainees hunger-striking in Washington State; prison work stoppages in South Carolina; boycotts of commissaries in Florida; and more hunger strikers, in Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, and California. Many groups of strikers have released local demands. These reports are smuggled out like the contraband they are, to whichever ears on the outside are willing to receive them.

At New Folsom Prison in California, 26-year-old Heriberto Garcia, in the tenth year of a fifteen-years-to-life sentence for voluntary manslaughter, recorded himself refusing food in his cell and smuggled the video to a revolutionary press in Chicago, which posted the video to Twitter. “I was introduced to the gang life at the age of 11. I ended incarcerated at the age of 16 and have been down ever since,” he wrote to correspondents at True Leap Press last year. “I’m still evolving with the struggle and will continue as long as I’m alive.”

Sympathizers on the outside have staged a variety of actions to show solidarity to incarcerated strikers. In Minneapolis, protesters set off fireworks outside one of the city’s juvenile detention centers, accompanied by music by the anarchist marching band Unlawful Assembly. In Brooklyn, marchers banged drums while Metropolitan Detention Center inmates flashed contraband cellphones through narrow windows; in other states, activists have participated in banner drops, created solidarity graffiti, and clashed with police in marches.

Inside prison walls, incarcerated individuals who engage in active resistance must contend with a system designed to impose punishment and tighten the vice of privation. Activists have reported retaliatory solitary confinement, transfers, and the deprivation of clean clothes and showers for prisoners who have helped to organize hunger strikes and work stoppages. In America’s prisons — the gray archipelago of warehoused men and women tucked in towns, behind great casements of cement — a great shadow economy moves forward. Every consumer annoyance in the outside world — phone-company fees, health insurance premiums — has a parallel that exists in the prison economy, only contractors are free to exploit a captive audience. Prisoners stripped of their liberty have to further contend with exorbitant fees for outside phone calls; charges for medical care; erratic or extortionate prices in prison commissaries; and perhaps most grotesquely, in 43 states, “room and board fees” for incarceration itself.

Imprisoned men and women are the drivers of this multibillion-dollar shadow economy: its laborers and its prey. The work stoppages and hunger strikes are the weapons of those from whom all others have been stripped. The hands that assemble thousands of chairs and tables and solar panels, that sew socks and table linens, that print and bind books for pennies, have no recourse beyond stilling themselves from that work, in the face of fearful punishment. Over the past decades, prisoners have packaged holiday coffees for Starbucks, stitched lingerie for Victoria’s Secret, and answered calls for AT&T, and farmed tilapia for Whole Foods, among dozens of other blue-chip brands. The small luxuries — cheese, chocolate, soap — of the commissary are all they have to boycott, and those who can are doing so. Hunger itself is the last offensive of the incarcerated person, when the only freedom left for a body is the freedom to devour itself. It’s the freedom once expressed by the poet Marina Tsvetaeva, who wrote, after her husband was shot and her daughter imprisoned by Stalin:

In this madhouse of the inhuman
I refuse to live. With the wolves of the marketplace
I refuse to be. I refuse to swim
with the sharks, on a current of human spines.

In America, our gulags are run not just to punish, but for private companies’ profit, for the sake of the smooth and ugly Chrome Frame Matrix HD Office Chair and its buyers, made in prison. The act of striking is a rebuke not just of individual prison conditions, but of the grinding, predatory march of the prison economy itself. America is punitive — we have the largest number of incarcerated individuals in the world — and it is harsh to those it punishes. It is not a coincidence that those subject to the abysmal conditions of the carceral state are disproportionately racial minorities. Black Americans are incarcerated at five times the rate of whites across the country, and at ten times the rate of whites in some states. Modern prison slavery, as criminal-justice reform advocates have pointed out again and again, is an extension of our nation’s original sin, the forced labor of black bodies. The acts of defiance smuggled to our eyes and ears from within the system are necessarily small, necessarily isolated from one another, necessarily borne of the cramped and violent framework in which they are contained. It is on us to amplify them to their appropriate enormity, to let the fire of that fierce, noble hunger rise in us, and turn insatiably to justice.

– Talia Lavin, “#Prisonstrike: A Rebellion Inside America’s Profitable Gulag Archipelago.” Village Voice, August 31, 2018.

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“Calling someone a “hipster” is a license to spew all kinds of demented hate. Since the term carries connotations of slackers and trust funds, the image of “hipsters on food stamps” is designed to provoke the conclusion that someone is lazily taking advantage of the system. Certainly that was how things played at the blogof the libertarian Reason magazine, which mocked the notion that someone might both deserve economic assistance and make art and wear odd clothes.

One wouldn’t expect any better from libertarians, who have built an entire ideology around the worldview of twelve-year-old boys. But they aren’t the only people who react to stories like this with rage or contempt rather than empathy. Consider the following comment, left under my friend’s response to the article about him:

I’m sorry but you are a selfish, whiny leach. I can say this because I a middle-aged woman and have been trying to find work for two years without success though I have a masters degree in a fairly desirable field. I have dwindling savings and two kids. Because I stayed home with them for a few years I don’t qualify for unemployment and that has also damaged my marketability in the job world. Despite all of this I have never resorted to public assistance and will not. In addition, I have a back problem that surgery did not correct so I am in physical pain 24 hrs a day. Still I have taken temp jobs and we have cut back in many ways. I am proud of my fortitude and resourcefulness, because we will make it through this time and my kids will learn valuable lessons from me about self-reliance.

Here we have a person who has been marginally employed for two years and suffers physical pain twenty-four hours a day — and rather than demanding something better for herself, she demands that other people suffer more!

Vicious and unhinged discourse is widespread on the Internet, but this example is worth noting because the sentiment it expresses is by no means unique. This attitude — a petty and mean-spirited resentment — is depressingly common even among the working class. It sometimes seems to amount to no more than the sentiment that justice consists in everyone else being at least as miserable as you are. At one level, it’s an attitude that reflects diminished expectations, and can be partly blamed on the weakness of the Left and the defeat of its historical project: when you don’t believe any positive social change is possible, there’s little left to fall back on but bitterness and resentment.

This resentment is also at the heart of a lot of hating on “hipsters.” People see others whom they perceive to have lives that are easier, cooler, or more fun than theirs, and instead of questioning the society that gave them their lot, they demand conformity and misery out of others.

But why? The false (but not without a grain of truth!) intimation that hipsters are all white kids who are subsidized by their rich parents legitimizes this position, but even if it were accurate it wouldn’t make the attitude of contempt any more sensible. For even if creative and enjoyable lives are only accessible to the privileged, that’s not a damning fact about them so much as it is an indictment of a society that has so much wealth and yet only allows a select few to take advantage of it, while others are forced to waste their lives chained to their useless jobs and bloated mortgages.

The rage directed at the figure of “a hipster on food stamps” is only intelligible in terms of the rotted ideological foundation that supports it: an ideology that simultaneously glorifies the suffering of the exploited and vilifies those among the dispossessed who are deemed to be insufficiently hardworking or self-reliant. It treats some activities (making art) as worthless and parasitic, and others (working temp jobs) as totems of “resourcefulness” and “self-reliance,” without any apparent justification.

This is what we have learned to call the work ethic; but the vociferousness with which it is expressed masks its increasing hollowness. For just who counts as a hard worker, or a worker at all?

The work ethic is a foundational element of modern capitalism: it assures the overall legitimacy of the system, and within the individual workplace it motivates workers to be both economically productive and politically quiescent. But the love of work does not come easily to the proletariat, and its construction over centuries was a monumental achievement for the capitalist class.

After years of struggle, discipline was imposed on pre-capitalist people who rejected regimented “clock time” and were prone to take a holiday on “Saint Monday’s day” whenever they had been too drunk the Sunday before. In America, a Protestant ethic equating work, salvation, and moral virtue arose in an economy full of artisans and small farmers, and was maintained only with great difficulty through the transition to more grueling and alienated forms of industrial labor.

In the twentieth century, perpetual war and labor’s Fordist compromise with capital provided a moral and material justification for the work ethic: during wartime (hot or cold), work could be equated with the patriotic struggle for national preservation, while the postwar golden age rested on an understanding that if workers submitted to capitalist work discipline, they would be rewarded with a share in the resulting productivity increases in the form of rising wages.

Today, the work ethic still serves as a guiding value from one end of the political spectrum to the other. The Right, including its latest Tea Party iteration, presents itself as the defender of the hardworking many against the slothful and indolent. To take just one recent example, a Republican candidate for governor of South Carolina has proposed mandatory drug testing for recipients of unemployment insurance, echoing an early proposal from Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.

On the Left, the rhetoric of “working people” and “working families” is ubiquitous; indeed, in the wake of Clinton’s assaults on the welfare state, it seems that the poor can only justify their existence and their access to benefits and transfers if they can somehow be portrayed as “working.” So New York State’s social democratic quasi–third party calls itself the “Working Families Party,” and the union-led One Nation march in Washington promotes the slogan “Putting America Back to Work.”

Such appeals to the moral superiority of work and workers are often rooted in producerism: the notion that the fruits of society’s wealth and labor should return to those who directly perform productive labor. Producerism is hostile both to parasitic elites at the top of society and to the allegedly unproductive indigents at the bottom, hence its relationship to the political left and right is ambiguous.

But in post-industrial capitalist society, “work” has come to be disconnected from any conception of directly producing something or contributing work with any specific content. Work is increasingly defined formally: as whatever people do in return for wages.

With this elision, the material foundation of the work ethic is gradually undermined, and today the absurdity of the work ideology becomes readily apparent. For while it has never been the case that labor was rewarded in proportion to its contribution, it is now quite obvious that wage work is not identical to productive activity, and that the rewards to labor have lost any connection to the social value or desirability of the work performed.

Indeed, it sometimes seems that the distribution of wages is, to a first approximation, the exact inverse of the social utility of work. Thus the workers closest to our most fundamental needs — food and shelter — are non-unionized residential construction workers and migrant fruit pickers, lucky to even earn the minimum wage. At the same time, bankers are given millions for the invention and trade of sophisticated credit derivatives, even though most of their work is equivalent to — and as we’ve now discovered, quite a bit more destructive than — betting on the outcome of the Super Bowl.

This perverse reversal of values has a fractal quality, as well, so that even within individual occupations the same inverse relationship between wages and social value seems to hold. Plastic surgeons have easier jobs and vastly greater earnings than pediatricians, and being a celebrity pet groomer is more lucrative than working in an animal shelter.

Whether his art is any good or not, my artist friend on food stamps contributes more to society than the traders at Lehman brothers, by simply not wrecking the global financial system. He may well have contributed more than our anonymous commenter in her temp jobs, if they were anything like some of the temp assignments I’ve had: entering rejected applications for health insurance into the insurance company’s computer, for example, a tiny step in an inhumane decision made by an industry that should not even exist.

Note, moreover, that the commenter’s defense of her worth was based on her temp jobs and refusal of public assistance, and not on one of the few activities that is widely agreed to be valuable and necessary human labor — raising children.

In this context, it seems impossible to speak of the value of hard work without questioning both the equation of useful work with wage labor, and of high wages with high social value. But the ideology of the work ethic is nonetheless powerful, because it reassures people that their lives are meaningful and valuable, so long as they participate in waged work.

And ideologies can stumble along in zombie form for a remarkably long time, even when the historical conditions that gave rise to them have completely disappeared. The work ethic, in all its morbid forms, may have already degenerated from tragedy to farce, but that alone will not be enough to abolish it. We need an alternative to erect in its place.

The threads of a different ethic are all around us, if we begin to think of all the subtle ways in which our activities contribute to social wealth outside of paid labor.

Feminists were the pioneers, showing how all of capitalism, and all of human history, was predicated on a vast and invisible structure of reproductive labor performed mostly by women, mostly not for wages. The rise of new ideologies of communal production, like Open Source and Creative Commons, have revealed how much is possible without the wage incentive. Even the great new robber barons of the digital age, Google and Facebook, are instructive. Their value rests, on the most basic level, on the work of millions of users who provide content and information for free.

If it is increasingly impossible to disentangle the productive and unproductive parts of human activity, then we can reconstruct the old producerist dogma in a new way: everyone deserves to be provided with the means to live a decent life, because we are all already contributing to the production and reproduction of society itself.

The kind of social policy that follows from this position would be very different from the narrow, targeted, programs like food stamps, whose very narrowness make it easy to demonize one group in society as parasitic — whether the demonized group is welfare queens in the nineties or hipsters on food stamps today.

Rather than the “deserving” or “working” poor, with its connotations of moral judgment and authoritarian social control, it is time to begin speaking the language of economic and social rights. For instance, the right to a Universal Basic Income, a means of living at a basic level that would be provided to everyone, no questions asked.”

– Peter Frase, “Resenting Hipsters.Jacobin, January 1, 2011. 

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“It is at the same time that the State apparatus appropriates
the war machine, subordinates it to its “political” aims, and gives it
war as its direct object.  And  it is one and  the same historical
tendency
that causes State to evolve from a triple point of view: going from
figures of encastment to forms of appropriation proper, going from
limited war to so-called total war, and transforming the relation
between aim and object. The factors that make State war total war are
closely connected to capitalism: it has to do with the investment of
constant capital in equipment, industry, and the war economy, and the
investment of variable capital in the population in its physical and
mental aspects (both as warmaker and as victim of war). Total war is
not only a war of annihilation but arises when annihilation takes as its
“center” not only the enemy army, or the enemy State, but the entire
population and its economy. The fact  that this double investment can be
made only under prior conditions of limited war  illustrates the
irresistible  character of the capitalist tendency to develop total
war.

We could say that the appropriation has changed
direction, or rather that States tend to unleash, reconstitute, an
immense war machine of which they are no longer anything more than the
opposable or apposed parts. This worldwide war machine, which in away
“reissues” from the States, displays two successive figures: first, that
of fascism, which makes war an unlimited movement with no other aim
than itself; but fascism is only a rough sketch, and the second,
post-fascist, figure is that of a war machine that takes peace as its
object directly, as the peace of Terror or Survival. The war machine
reforms a smooth space that now claims to control, to surround the
entire earth. Total war itself is surpassed, toward a form of peace
more terrifying still. The war machine has taken charge of the aim,
worldwide order, and the States are now no more than objects or means
adapted to that  machine. This is the point at which Clausewitz’s
formula is effectively reversed; to be entitled to say that politics is
the continuation of war by other means, it is not enough to invert the
order of the words as if they could be spoken in either direction; it is
necessary to follow the real movement at the conclusion of which the
States, having appropriated a war machine, and having adapted it to
their aims, reimpart a war machine that  takes charge  of the aim,
appropriates the States, and assumes increasingly wider political
functions.

Doubtless, the present situation is highly discouraging. We have
watched the war machine grow stronger and stronger, as in a science
fiction story; we have seen it assign as its objective a peace still
more terrifying than fascist death; we have seen it maintain or
instigate the most terrible of local wars as parts of itself; we have
seen it set its  sights on a new type of enemy, no longer another State,
or even another regime, but the  "unspecified enemy"; we have seen it
put its counterguerrilla elements into place, so that it can be caught
by surprise once, but not twice. Yet the very conditions that make the
State or World war machine possible,  in other words, constant capital
(resources and equipment) and human variable capital, continually
recreate unexpected possibilities for counterattack, unforeseen
initiatives determining revolutionary, popular, minority, mutant
machines. The definition of the Unspecified Enemy testifies to this:
“multiform, maneuvering and omnipresent… of the moral, political,
subversive or economic  order, etc.,” the unassignable material Saboteur
or human Deserter assuming the most diverse forms.”

– Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, “1227: TREATISE ON NOMADOLOGY—THE WAR MACHINE” in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism & Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987. pp. 420-422

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brand-upon-the-brain:

HyperNormalisation (Adam Curtis, 2016)

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“In his hopeless struggle with the power of society, the individual seeks to avert his own destruction by identifying with that power and then rationalizing the change of direction as authentic individual fulfilment … the focal points of decay in the bourgeois character, in terms of its own morality, are the prototypes of its subsequent transformation in the age of totalitarianism.”

– Theodor Adorno,
In Search of Wagner.
London: Verso, 2009. p. 7.

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“The appropriately named Jarrett Walker is the author of Human Transit,
a seminal text on transportation and cities that draws on his decades
of experience in urban planning; he has the distinction of being called
“an idiot” by Elon Musk on Twitter, when he pointed out that Musk’s
Boring Company tunnel proposals could not possibly work due to their low
capacity.

Walker’s overarching thesis is that city transit is undermined by “elite
projection,” where rich people pretend that the way they like getting
around – in private vehicles that go from door to door – can possibly
work at urban scale, despite the fact that simple geometry shows that
this is a physical impossibility.

As in, “It doesn’t matter how tightly you pack self-driving Ubers
together on our roads. If all the people who make your coffee and empty
your wastebin are in private vehicles rather than on buses and trains,
the roads will be at 5 or 10 times their physical capacity.”

This emphasis on private vehicles leads people to seize on technological
fads to defend the indefensible – hence the vogue for describing the
smartphone as the key technology for transportation, or self-driving
cars, or data-driven custom shuttle routes that re-route themselves
based on demand signals from riders’ phones.

These all share the geometric flaw: even the smallest cars, packed as
tightly as possible, multiplied by all the people who rely on buses and
trains, will overflow all the roads we have now and all the roads we
could ever build.

There is another flaw: when you make it cheaper to ride private vehicles
(rather than public transit), you siphon transit riders out of the
buses and trains, and put them on the roads, increasing congestion: so
adding “efficient rideshares” actually makes transit worse, not better

Walker tried to explain this to Elon Musk on Twitter, discussing how his
proposed Boring Machine tunnels’ narrow bores meant that on the one
hand, they couldn’t carry enough people to make an appreciable
difference in traffic, and on the other, that his proposal for allowing
private cars to run through the tunnels is nuts: “The amount of the city
that you would have to level to create enough of those elevators to get
everybody’s car into the tunnel at 5:30 in the evening, it’s
preposterous; it cannot help being. Anything that is that inefficient
has to be only for elites.” “

– Cory Doctorow, “The elite belief in Uberized, Muskized cities is at odds with fundamental, irrefutable facts of geometry.” Boing Boing, January 28, 2018.

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“In the 1920s when the process of capitalist commodification began to invest the human body, observers who were by no means favorable to the phenomenon could not help but notice a positive aspect to it, as if they were confronted with the corrupt text of a prophecy that went beyond the limits of the capitalist mode of production and were faced with the task of deciphering it. This is what gave rise to Siegfried Kracauer’s observations on the “girls” and Walter Benjamin’s reflections on the decay of the aura.

The commodification of the human body, while subjecting it to the iron laws of massification and exchange value, seemed at the same time to redeem the body from the stigma of ineffability that had marked it for millennia. Breaking away from the double chains of biological destiny and individual biography, it took its leave of both the inarticulate cry of the tragic body and the dumb silence ‘of the comic body, and thus appeared for the first time perfectly communicable, entirely illuminated. The epochal process of the emancipation of the human body from its theological foundations was thus accomplished in the dances of the “girls,” in the advertising images, and in the gait of fashion models. This process had already been imposed at an industrial level when, at the beginning of the
nineteenth century, the invention of lithography and photography encouraged the inexpensive distribution of pornographic images: Neither generic nor individual, neither an image of the divinity nor an animal form, the body now became something truly whatever.

Here the commodity betrays its secret solidarity (glimpsed by Marx) with the theological antinomies. The phrase in Genesis "in the image and likeness” rooted the human figure in God, bound it in this way to an invisible archetype, and founded with it the paradoxical concept of an absolutely immaterial resemblance. While commodification un-anchors the body from its theological model, it still preserves the resemblance: Whatever is a resemblance without archetype in other words, an Idea

Hence, even though the perfectly fungible beauty of the technologized body no longer has anything to do with the appearance of a unicum that troubled the old Trojan princes when they saw Helen at the Skaian gates, there is still in both of them something like a resemblance (“seeing her terribly resemble the immortal goddesses”). This is also the basis of the exodus of the human figure from the artwork of our times and the decline of portraiture: The task of the portrait is grasping a unity, but to grasp a whateverness one needs a photographic lens.

In a certain sense, the process of emancipation is as old as the invention of the arts. From the instant that a hand drew or sculpted the human figure for the first time, Pygmalion’s dream was already there to guide it: to form not simply an image of the loved body, but another body in that image, shattering the organic barrier that obstructs the unconditioned human claim to happiness.

Today, in the age of the complete domination of the commodity form over all aspects of social life, what remains of the subdued, senseless promise of happiness that we received in the darkness of movie theaters from dancers sheathed in Dim stockings? Never has the human body – above all the female body – been so massively manipulated as today and, so to speak, imagined from top to bottom by the techniques of advertising and commodity production: The opacity of sexual differences has been belied by the transsexual body; the incommunicable foreignness of the singular physis has been abolished by its mediatization as spectacle; the mortality of the organic body has been put in question by its traffic with the body without organs of commodities; the intimacy of erotic life has been refuted by pornography. And yet the process of technologization, instead of materially investing the body, was aimed at the construction of a separate sphere that had practically no point of contact with it: What was technologized was not the body, but its image. Thus the glorious body of advertising has become the mask behind which the fragile, slight human body continues its precarious existence, and the geometrical splendor of the “girls” covers over the long lines of the naked, anonymous bodies led to their death in the Lagers (camps), or the thousands of corpses mangled in the daily slaughter on the highways.

To appropriate the historic transformations of human nature that capitalism wants to limit to the spectacle, to link together image and body in a space where they can no longer be separated, and thus to forge the whatever body, whose physis is resemblance-this is the good that humanity must learn how to wrest from commodities in their decline. Advertising and pornography, which escort the commodity to the grave like hired mourners, are the unknowing midwives of this new body of human.”

– Giorgio Agamben, “Dim Stockings,” in The Coming Community. Translated by Michael Hardt. Theory Out Of Bounds, Vol 1. University of Minnesota Press, 1993. pp. 46-50

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I. The tendency to occultism is a symptom of regression in consciousness. This has lost the power to think the unconditional and to endure the conditional. Instead of defining both, in their unity and difference, by conceptual labour, it mixes them indiscriminately. The unconditional becomes fact, the conditional an immediate essence. Monotheism is decomposing into a second mythology. “I believe in astrology because I do not believe in God”, one participant in an American socio-psychological investigation answered. Judicious reason, that had elevated itself to the notion of one God, seems ensnared in his fall. Spirit is dissociated into spirits and thereby forfeits the power to recognize that they do not exist. The veiled tendency of society towards disaster lulls its victims in a false revelation, with a hallucinated phenomenon. In vain they hope in its fragmented blatancy to look their total doom in the eye and withstand it. Panic breaks once again, after millennia of enlightenment, over a humanity whose control of nature as control of men far exceeds in horror anything men ever had to fear from nature.

II. The second mythology is more untrue than the first. The latter was the precipitate of the state of knowledge of successive epochs, each of which showed its consciousness to be some degrees more free of blind subservience to nature than had the previous. The former, deranged and bemused, throws away the hard-won knowledge of itself in the midst of a society which, by the all-encompassing exchange-relationship, eliminates precisely the elemental power the occultists claim to command. The helmsman looking to the Dioscuri, the attribution of animation to tree and spring, in all their deluded bafflement before the unexplained, were historically appropriate to the subject’s experience of the objects of his actions. As a rationally exploited reaction to rationalized society, however, in the booths and consulting rooms of seers of all gradations, reborn animism denies the alienation of which it is itself proof and product, and concocts surrogates for non-existent experience. The occultist draws the ultimate conclusion from the fetish-character of commodities: menacingly objectified labour assails him on all sides from demonically grimacing objects. What has been forgotten in a world congealed into products, the fact that it has been produced by men, is split off and misremembered as a being-in-itself added to that of the objects and equivalent to them. Because objects have frozen in the cold light of reason, lost their illusory animation, the social quality that now animates them is given an independent existence both natural and supernatural, a thing among things.

III. By its regression to magic under late capitalism, thought is assimilated to late capitalist forms. The asocial twilight phenomena in the margins of the system, the pathetic attempts to squint through the chinks in its walls, while revealing nothing of what is outside, illuminate all the more clearly the forces of decay within. The bent little fortune-tellers terrorizing their clients with crystal balls are toy models of the great ones who hold the fate of mankind in their hands. Just as hostile and conspiratorial as the obscurantists of psychic research is society itself. The hypnotic power exerted by things occult resembles totalitarian terror: in present-day processes the two are merged. The smiling of auguries is amplified to society’s sardonic laughter at itself; gloating over the direct material exploitation of souls. The horoscope corresponds to the official directives to the nations, and number-mysticism is preparation for administrative statistics and cartel prices. Integration itself proves in the end to be an ideology for disintegration into power groups which exterminate each other. He who integrates is lost.

IV. Occultism is a reflex-action to the subjectification of all meaning, the complement of reification. If; to the living, objective reality seems deaf as never before, they try to elicit meaning from it by saying abracadabra. Meaning is attributed indiscriminately to the next worst thing: the rationality of the real, no longer quite convincing, is replaced by hopping tables and rays from heaps of earth. The offal of the phenomenal world becomes, to sick consciousness, the mundus intelligibilis. It might almost be speculative truth, just as Kafka’s Odradek might almost be an angel, and yet it is, in a positivity that excludes the medium of thought, only barbaric aberration alienated from itself, subjectivity mistaking itself for its object. The more consummate the inanity of what is fobbed off as “spirit” – and in anything less spiritless the enlightened subject would at once recognize itself, – the more the meaning detected there, which in fact is not there at all, becomes an unconscious, compulsive projection of a subject decomposing historically if not clinically. It would like to make the world resemble its own decay: therefore it has dealings with requisites and evil wishes. “The third one reads out of my hand,/ She wants to read my doom!” In occultism the mind groans under its own spell like someone in a nightmare, whose torment grows with the feeling that he is dreaming yet cannot wake up.

V. The power of occultism, as of Fascism, to which it is connected by thought-patterns of the ilk of anti-semitism, is not only pathic. Rather it lies in the fact that in the lesser panaceas, as in superimposed pictures, consciousness famished for truth imagines it is grasping a dimly present knowledge diligently denied to it by official progress in all its forms. It is the knowledge that society, by virtually excluding the possibility of spontaneous change, is gravitating towards total catastrophe. The real absurdity is reproduced in the astrological hocus-pocus, which adduces the impenetrable connections of alienated elements – nothing more alien than the stars – as knowledge about the subject. The menace deciphered in the constellations resembles the historical threat that propagates itself precisely through unconsciousness, absence of subjects. That all are prospective victims of a whole made up solely of themselves, they can only make bearable by transferring that whole to something similar but external. In the woeful idiocy they practice, their empty horror, they are able to vent their impracticable woe, their crass fear of death, and yet continue to repress it, as they must if they wish to go on living. The break in the line of life that indicates a lurking cancer is a fraud only in the place where it purports to be found, the individual’s hand; where they refrain from diagnosis, in the collective, it would be correct. Occultists rightly feel drawn towards childishly monstrous scientific fantasies. The confusion they sow between their emanations and the isotopes of uranium is ultimate clarity. The mystical rays are modest anticipations of technical ones. Superstition is knowledge, because it sees together the ciphers of destruction scattered on the social surface; it is folly, because in all its death-wish it still clings to illusions: expecting from the transfigured shape of society misplaced in the skies an answer that only a study of real society can give.

VI. Occultism is the metaphysic of dunces. The mediocrity of the mediums is no more accidental than the apocryphal triviality of the revelations. Since the early days of spiritualism the Beyond has communicated nothing more significant than the dead grandmother’s greetings and the prophecy of an imminent journey. The excuse that the world of spirits can convey no more to poor human reason than the latter can take in, is equally absurd, an auxiliary hypothesis of the paranoiac system; the lumen naturale has, after all, taken us somewhat further than the journey to grandmother, and if the spirits do not wish to acknowledge this, they are ill-mannered hobgoblins with whom it is better to break off all dealings. The platitudinously natural content of the supernatural message betrays its untruth. In pursuing yonder what they have lost, they encounter only the nothing they have. In order not to lose touch with the everyday dreariness in which, as irremediable realists, they are at home, they adapt the meaning they revel in to the meaninglessness they flee. The worthless magic is nothing other than the worthless existence it lights up. This is what makes the prosaic so cosy. Facts which differ from what is the case only by not being facts are trumped up as a fourth dimension. Their non-being alone is their qualitas occulta. They supply simpletons with a world outlook. With their blunt, drastic answers to every question, the astrologists and spiritualists do not so much solve problems as remove them by crude premisses from all possibility of solution. Their sublime realm, conceived as analogous to space, no more needs to be thought than chairs and flower-vases. It thus reinforces conformism. Nothing better pleases what is there than that being there should, as such, be meaning.

VII. The great religions have either, like Judaism after the ban on graven images, veiled the redemption of the dead in silence, or preached the resurrection of the flesh. They take the inseparability of the spiritual and physical seriously. For them there was no intention, nothing “spiritual”, that was not somehow founded in bodily perception and sought bodily fulfilment. To the occultists, who consider the idea of resurrection beneath them, and actually do not want to be saved, this is too coarse. Their metaphysics, which even Huxley can no longer distinguish from metaphysics, rest on the axiom: “The soul can soar to the heights, heigh-ho, / the body stays put on the sofa below.” The heartier the spirituality, the more mechanistic: not even Descartes drew the line so cleanly. Division of labour and reification are taken to the extreme: body and soul severed in a kind of perennial vivisection. The soul is to shake the dust off its feet and in brighter regions forthwith resume its fervent activity at the exact point where it was interrupted. In this declaration of independence, however, the soul becomes a cheap imitation of that from which it had achieved a false emancipation. In place of the interaction that even the most rigid philosophy admitted, the astral body is installed, ignominious concession of hypostasized spirit to its opponent. Only in the metaphor of the body can the concept of pure spirit be grasped at all, and is at the same time cancelled. In their reification the spirits are already negated.

VIII. They inveigh against materialism. But they want to weigh the astral body. The objects of their interest are supposed at once to transcend the possibility of experience, and be experienced. Their procedure is to be strictly scientific; the greater the humbug, the more meticulously the experiment is prepared. The self-importance of scientific checks is taken ad absurdum where there is nothing to check. The same rationalistic and empiricist apparatus that threw the spirits out is being used to reimpose them on those who no longer trust their own reason. As if any elemental spirit would not turn tail before the traps that domination of nature sets for such fleeting beings. But even this the occultists turn to advantage. Because the spirits do not like controls, in the midst of all the safety precautions a tiny door must be left open, through which they can make their unimpeded entrance. For the occultists are practical folk. Not driven by vain curiosity, they are looking for tips. From the stars to forward transactions is but a nimble step. Usually the information amounts to no more than that some poor acquaintance has had his dearest hopes dashed.

IX. The cardinal sin of occultism is the contamination of mind and existence, the latter becoming itself an attribute of mind. Mind arose out of existence, as an organ for keeping alive. In reflecting existence, however, it becomes at the same time something else. The existent negates itself as thought upon itself. Such negation is mind’s element. To attribute to it positive existence, even of a higher order, would be to deliver it up to what it opposes. Late bourgeois ideology has again made it what it was for pre-animism, a being-in-itself modelled on the social division of labour, on the split between manual and intellectual labour, on the planned domination over the former. In the concept of mind-in-itself consciousness has ontologically justified and perpetuated privilege by making it independent of the social principle by which it is constituted. Such ideology explodes in occultism: it is Idealism come full circle. Just by virtue of the rigid antithesis of being and mind, the latter becomes a department of being. If Idealism demanded solely on behalf of the whole, the Idea, that being be mind and that the latter exist, occultism draws the absurd conclusion that existence is determinate being: “Existence, after it has become, is always being with a non-being, so that this non-being is taken up in simple unity with the being. Non-being taken up in being, the fact that the concrete whole is in the form of being, of immediacy, constitutes determinateness as such.”1 The occultists take literally the non-being in “simple unity with being”, and their kind of concreteness is a surreptitious short-cut from the whole to the determinate which can defend itself by claiming that the whole, having once been determined, is no longer the whole. They call to metaphysics: Hic Rhodus hic salta: if the philosophic investment of spirit with existence is determinable, then finally, they sense, any scattered piece of existence must be justifiable as a particular spirit. The doctrine of the existence of the Spirit, the ultimate exaltation of bourgeois consciousness, consequently bore teleologically within it the belief in spirits, its ultimate degradation. The shift to existence, always “positive” and justifying the world, implies at the same time the thesis of the positivity of mind, pinning it down, transposing the absolute into appearance. Whether the whole objective world, as “product”, is to be spirit, or a particular thing a particular spirit, ceases to matter, and the world-spirit becomes the supreme Spirit, the guardian angel of the established, despiritualized order. On this the occultists live: their mysticism is the enfant terrible of the mystical moment in Hegel. They take speculation to the point of fraudulent bankruptcy. In passing off determinate being as mind, or spirit, they put objectified mind to the test of existence, which must prove negative. No spirit exists.

– Theodor Adorno, “Theses Against Occultism,” Minima Moralia. Trans., E.F.N. Jephcott (London: Verso, 1978), section 151, pp. 238-244.

 

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“Capitalism’s history might be tracked in a genealogy of the corporate apology. That of Baum’s eponymous head was typical of this sub-epoch of viciousness, mawkishness and entitlement. An initial denial of anything untoward; a rapid U-turn and apology for ‘inappropriate’ behaviour, ostentatiously meeting a homelessness activist; ultimately, parading in the mourning clothes of victimhood. Three weeks after the exposé – of a firm already under investigation – the company closed. ‘There is blood on your hands’, Baum wrote to Joe Nocera, in whose New York Times column the scandal broke. ‘I will never, ever forgive you’.

Baum’s quivering lip should provoke only piss and vinegar. It’s true, too, that the ritual slaying of a designated scapegoat, however just, can serve as exoneration by and for the system that threw up, nurtured, rewarded their behaviour. Our rulers and their media clercs are shocked, shocked by such Baum moments, these cruelties-too-far. As if there hasn’t always been, in capitalism’s marrow, a drive not only to repression but to cruelty, to down- punching sadism. They denounce it, partake of it, propagate it.

Consensual peccadilloes are not at issue here: this is about social sadism – deliberate, invested, public or at least semi-public cruelty. The potentiality for sadism is one of countless capacities emergent from our reflexive, symbolising selves. Trying to derive any social phenomenon from any supposed ‘fact’ of ‘human nature’ is useless, except to diagnose the politics of the deriver. Of course it’s vulgar Hobbesianism, the supposed ineluctability of human cruelty, that cuts with the grain of ruling ideology. The right often, if incoherently, acts as if this (untrue) truth-claim of our fundamental nastiness justifies an ethics of power. The position that Might Makes Right is elided from an Is, which it isn’t, to an Ought, which it oughtn’t be, even were the Is an is. If strength and ‘success’ are coterminous with good, what can their lack be but bad – deserving of punishment?

Meanwhile, liberal culture wrings its hands over the thinness of the veneer over our savagery, from the nasty visionary artistry of Lord of the Flies, to lachrymose middlebrow tragedy-porn, emoting and decontextualising wars. These jeremiads beg for a strong hand, for authority, to save us from ourselves. A state, laws. As if those don’t – and increasingly – target the poor.

Class rule necessitates violence and its contested, overlapping, jostling ideologies. It justifies, or more, Orgreave in 1984, the armed wing of the state laying down manners on insurgent workers. It insists that waterboarding is not torture and anyway it defends our freedoms. It explains the necessity of the spikes carefully fitted at the bases of new buildings to ensure the homeless can’t sleep there. Rising unevenly from a fundamental necessity to capital – oppression – are brutalities necessary to sustain class rule at home; to sustain imperialism abroad; everyday sadisms so metabolised their cruelties often hide in plain sight.

The drives to such phenomena are hazy-edged, non-identical but inextricable, imbricated, mutually constituting. They’re constant but not static. The parameters and place of violence, repression and sadism change with history. And with them, from the rush of jouissance they tap, inevitably flows their excess – a scandalous, invested sadism, enjoying its own cruelty. A surplus sadism. Baum’s Halloween party.”

– China Miéville, “On Social Sadism,Salvage. December 2015.

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