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Posts Tagged ‘liberalism’

basquiat-earth

Seeking recognition is always servile. We have little interest in visibility, consciousness raising, or populist pandering. Recognition always treats power as a give-and-take. On the one hand, the dispossessed use recognition as respite from exploitation; while on the other, the State expects its authority to be recognized as the first and final say. According to this logic: for the dispossessed to even get a step up, they must first acknowledge a higher power than themselves.

The particulars of our own time are even more obscene. Following the spread of economic rationality on a global scale, it is clear that the flow of forces has reversed. The State pornographically exposes its long-protected interior for others to abuse while lasciviously grooming what is beyond its regular reach. Recognition chastely reassures the State of its powers. All the while, the most banal State functions are farmed out to the highest bidder. So when their parking ticket is authored by a private corporation, those who seek recognition fall back on the State dictum that nothing good comes from the outside. (more…)

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Room of the Ninja Turtles, 2003 shadow chamber series

This post contained an draft version of a dissertation section. A more recent version is now available on theĀ works page.

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This post contained an draft version of a dissertation section. A more recent version is now available on theĀ works page.

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FILL IN THE blank. X is to contemporary AIDS activists as Norman O. Brown or Herbert Marcuse was to student radicals of the New Left. Alternatively, if American labor organizers of the 1930s might all be imagined to have carried about with them in their back pockets a copy of The Communist Manifesto, and if antiwar demonstrators and campus protesters of the late 1960smight all be imagined to have carried about with them in their jeans a copy of Life Against Death or Love’s Body, Eros and Civilization or One-Dimensional Man, what book do we imagine the more reflective members of ACT UP to carry about with them in their leather jackets? What is the single most important intellectual source of political inspiration for contemporary AIDS activists-at least for the more theoretically- [16] minded or better-outfitted among them? When I conducted an admittedly unsystematic survey in 1990 of various people I happened to know who had been active in ACT UP/New York during its explosive early phase in the late 1980s, and when I put those questions to them, I received, without the slightest hesitation or a single exception, the following answer: Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume I.

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A lot of the paleo-leftist criticisms of post-structuralism is that it pulls the rug out from tried and true models of politics. Some people blame it on New Left undermining of the strong base of Old Left labor politics. One of the contemporary standard-bearers is Todd Gitlin, a former student leader in the Students for a Democratic Society. SDS was one of the ‘transitional’ organizations that bridged both the old and new divide – a fusion of labor politics, civil rights concerns, and the ‘new’ youth movement of the 60s. There are many examples of these figures, usually orthodox marxists or movement types who lament the loss of late 19C/early 20C style mass mobilizations. Nostalgic mis-remembering of a time where there were clear battlelines and straightforward politics.

I’ve been doing a little work tracking down Foucault’s use of the term “pleb.” It has come up in conversations with friends over the preferred ‘subjects’ of Foucault. Spivak’s criticism of Foucault in “Can the Subaltern Speak?” is a condemnation of Foucault’s fetish for the mad, insane, criminalized Others. What generally follows is a critique of Foucault, arguing that he merely trying to reintroduce the Other into an economy of power that’s stacked against his preferred subjects and the tools he provides are relatively useless. (more…)

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