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Pandemic Reads

During the past weeks since pandemic measures have forced me to spend a lot of time at home and online, I've read a number of essays and projects, and have listened to a number of podcast episodes, that I think are worth investigating for those looking for free readings and broadcasts that are interesting, enlightening, or challenging. While many of these have to do with the pandemic––since that is clearly the main concern for a lot of think pieces and projects––some published during this period are about other issues but are still well worth examining.

The first is a "rapid response" collection of essays, edited by Greg Bird (and old friend of mine) and Penelope Ironstone entitled Writing In The Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic: From Vulnerability to Solidarity. Although much of the theoretical framing comes from a "biopolitical" register––a theoretical register I have issues with––it also distances itself from Agamben's recent proclamations, and some essays…
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Combat the Liberalization of Marxism!

Back during one of the multiple strikes my labour union embarked upon (and I can't remember which one), I ended up in an online email exchanges with more than one union member who identified as "Marxist"––who wanted the strike to end early so we could get back to teaching––who got mad at me for telling them that they should stop calling themselves Marxist for capitulating to management and aping the political line of our neoliberal employer. Did I imagine myself as the only authoritative interlocutor of Marxism, they demanded, to dare to suggest they were poor Marxists for their capitulationism? Obviously I don't imagine myself to be such an authority, and these hyperbolic questions were clearly rhetoric designed to obscure what was actually at stake. While I do believe there is only one scientific way to conceive of Marxism as an unfolding science (i.e. Maoism), and have argued this to the best of my abilities, I still understand there are other valid ways of interp…

Reading In The Time of COVID-19

In this time of a global pandemic, where people are under some form of quarantine, a number of authors are providing links of their work that don't break copyright and/or don't place small presses under extra stress. For those comrades and fellow travellers stuck at home––either luckily being able to work from home, or dealing with unemployment––reading radical theory might be beneficial.

In the spirit of those authors who have already started providing links for free electronic copies of work they can provide links for, I am more than happy to provide similar links of my own work. And if folks are willing to provide me a small appreciation through my paypal account if they are working from home and have the means, that would be nice, but largely that is unnecessary. So here are two links to work of mine that possibly might be worth reading in these interesting times.

The first of these works––my essay trilogy concerning enlightenment, science, and sovereignty––was already mad…

Thoughts on the Pandemic and "Biopolitics"

The events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have led to an explosion of analysis and debate within the ranks of those academics who are interested in the notion of biopolitics. Since biopolitics (following Foucault's instantiation of the term) concerns the political and social power over life itself, and is focused on "that domain of life over which power has taken control," a global pandemic and various state responses to the control of bodies––demonstrated by quarantines and medical interventions––is an opportunity to wax eloquent about biopolitics in the hope of using this rubric to explain what is happening. The fact that the biggest living theorist of biopolitics, Giorgio Agamben, who linked the biopolitical to the notion of sovereignty and the Schmittian notion of "state of exception" (so that, for a long time, these three notions were inseperable), revealed himself as a COVID truther who denied the need for a quarantine and instead treated any form of q…

The Bigger Plague is Capitalism

Experiencing a pandemic in real time is surreal. The culture industry machine has pre-transcribed such events in multiple movies, books, and comics. We grew up with The Plague, The Stand, innumerable zombie films and books, more "realist" films like Outbreak… And then later iterations of the same pandemic fantasies––from 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead to The Passage and The Girl With All The Gifts to Contagion. We have been utterly saturated in fictional pandemic paranoia, both fantastic and realist, though we always assumed even the "realist" depictions were fantastic despite the fact that humanity has indeed experienced (and survived) multiple pandemics. But here we are, with COVID-19 declared a global pandemic, and we cannot help but understand it according to these fictions which means it appears simultaneously fantastic and nightmarish.

To be clear, while the pandemic is real it is not the most significant medical emergency on the planet. The most signific…

Thoughts on the US Electoral Machine, Its Spectacle, and the Current Bernie Sanders Phenomenon…

Although there are many things that annoy me about social media, recently I have become most annoyed by the prevalence of information regarding the US electoral machine. That is, I often feel I'm being subjected to the vicissitudes of the US electoral circus for four year spans, rather than every four years, due to the lead up to the elections and the sub-circus that is the primaries. Not content with subjecting their own population to their bourgeois dictatorship, they have to broadcast the performance of their shitty failed state democracy to the rest of the world. Not that I care about the performance of democracy in other capitalist nations, including the one in which I live, but at least I'm not subjected to these 24/7. Also, for a country that likes to proclaim itself as the beacon of democracy and freedom to the rest of the world, I find it rather odd that even amongst bourgeois democracies as a whole––all of which should burn along with their class dictatorships––the U…

The World Is Better Without Christie Blatchford

Lenin once remarked that "[d]uring the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the “consolation” of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it." Curiously enough, there is also a similar tendency amongst liberals and social democrats regarding reactionary intellectuals and public intellectuals. During the lifetime of these people, their peers on "the left" will distance themselves from their clearly backwards ideas but, upon their deaths, the same progressives will find ways to extol them, celebrat…