Friday, April 21, 2017

Revisionism on the Fly

Did you ever wonder, when you were young & sitting in history class listening to lectures about thirties Germany, how you would have reacted had you been there?

Well, keep a diary, 'cause now you know.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Unlike fascism, capitalist totalitarian machines endeavor to divide, particularize, and molecularize the workers, meanwhile tapping their potentiality for desire. These machines infiltrate the ranks of the workers, their families, their couples, their childhood; they install themselves at the very heart of the workers' subjectivity and vision of the world. Capitalism fears large-scale movements of crowds. Its goal is to have automatic systems of regulation at its command. This regulatory role is given to the State and to the mechanisms of contractualization between the "social partners." And when a conflict breaks out of the pre-established frameworks, capitalism seeks to confine it to economic or local wars. From this standpoint, it must be acknowledged that the Western totalitarian machine has now completely surpassed its Stalinist counterpart.  -- Felix Guattari, "Everybody Wants to be a Facist", from Semiotext(e) "Anti-Oedipus" issue, vol. 2, no. 2, 1977 (added emphasis mine)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Let's Be All Nice and Polite About This, Porg

Those of us squarely on the side of punching Nazis continually find ourselves being beaten over the head with MLK. I'm frankly a little sick of it.

I am not going to be the authority on this, but I have spent some time looking at the civil rights movement. The confusion I find in most discussions about King is that white liberals always talk about nonviolence as if it was a principle, when in fact it seems to be a strategy. The difference is crucial: nonviolence as a principle means violence is never OK, while nonviolence as a strategy means that violence becomes an option when a nonviolent strategy is no longer effective.

King had very little choice but to employ a strategy of nonviolence: had he not, the white power structure in the south would have annihilated his movement before it had even gained the smallest of footholds, and it would have done so with the overwhelming support of the white population of the US. It is hard to believe that King would have stood strong through the violence the movement suffered had there been another choice.

I also believe that he had to be aware of the currency afforded him as a "reasonable alternative" to the more militant positions staked out by Malcolm, the Nation of Islam, and the Panthers. The white establishment may not have wanted to deal with King, but they wanted to deal with Elijah Muhammad, Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, or Malcolm X even less. And, with the promise of violent insurrection on the table, the liberal establishment obviously chose the nonviolent spokesman as the most reasonable negotiation partner. The degree to which King profited from the more militant positions of his peers should be clear . . . and it should be equally clear that, without the option of violent insurrection, the principle of nonviolence would be impotent.

So, as you liberals share your "Resist" memes on facebook, please take the time to consider what "Resist" really means. No rational person has violence as a first option, but neither would a rational person take violence off the table . . . "by any means necessary", as Malcolm famously said. Without Malcolm and his militant peers, we have no Martin Luther King Day today.

Oh, and while we're at it, lose that fucking poster with the Muslim woman wearing a star-spangled hijab. It was created by a white man, and it's really fucking insulting. It's clueless and white. Thanks for your cooperation.

“The great majority of Americans… are uneasy with injustice but unwilling yet to pay a significant price to eradicate it.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

As long as white Americans take refuge in their whiteness—for so long as they are unable to walk out of this most monstrous of traps—they will allow millions of people to be slaughtered in their name, and will be manipulated into and surrender themselves to what they will think of—and justify—as a racial war. They will never, so long as their whiteness puts so sinister a distance between themselves and their own experience and the experience of others, feel themselves sufficiently human, sufficiently worthwhile, to become responsible for themselves, their leaders, their country, their children, or their fate.
James Baldwin : Open Letter to My Sister, Angela Davis 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

As Adorno recognized long ago, there is a kind of artifice to this rebellion that belongs less to what we used to call political reality than it does reality television.  It is true that Trump says outrageous things and that (as his champions might say) “he tells it like it is.”  But the strange aspect to this candor is that one cannot get over the impression that he hardly means what he says.  He is as likely to reverse his opinion the next moment and deny what he has just said.  Even those who support him will say that one shouldn’t take offense because this is just Trump being Trump.  When he “tells it like it is” the authenticity of his performance is precisely the performance of authenticity, rather than the candor of somebody who is announcing without embarrassment what everyone already thinks.  With the casual bluster of a talk-radio host, attitude displaces meaning, and the telling displaces what is told.  It is true, of course, that Trump constantly invokes political correctness as an evil force of liberal repression, and it is therefore tempting to consider him a kind of impresario for what liberalism has repressed. But Trumpism is less the “undoing” of repression than he is an event of political theater in which everyone gets to experience the apparent dismantling of repression without actually changing anything. Even his unabashed misogyny, racism, and demagogic remarks about Muslims merely recapitulate a repertoire of stereotyped attitudes that have long characterized American public discourse.  Too easily condemned as exceptional, Trump’s exceptional “vulgarity” is actually not exceptional at all:  it is a symptom of a culture that has succumbed to the thoughtlessness of received typologies.  Hence the importance of Adorno’s remark that the authoritarian personality represents not a pathology from which others can claim immunity.  It represents “the total structure of our society".
Peter E. Gordon — The Authoritarian Personality Revisited: Reading Adorno in the Age of Trump