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Showing posts from 2020

War of Position and Academic Freedom

In one part of Demarcation and Demystification I wrote about what I called the "annihilationist" aspect of philosophy that is linked to its clarifying aspect, both of which are concerned with the overall demarcating and demystifying that defines philosophical practice. That is, while philosophy is often about forcing clarity (through arguments and critical examination), sometimes it can be used to demand the demolition of wrong ideas and ideological constellations.:Take, for example, those philosophers who placed themselves in service of the concrete struggle against modern slavery by demanding the annihilation of every theoretical terrain and province that generated pseudo-truth procedures dedicated to the moral, religious, economic, and scientific justification of this social-historical edifice. Entire theoretical structures were singled out for liquidation; their potential clarity was no longer at issue, the clarity of choice [i.e. the logic of choosing one position over …

Another Negative Obituary: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

It's a testament to the imagination of a certain swathe of liberals that imagine themselves "leftwing" that Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death has resulted in performative mourning and lamentations that seek to depict her as some kind of anti-fascist hero. In the midst of large-scale uprisings in response to the state violence against black lives––rebellions met by the same state violence––the partisans of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (now "immortalized" as RBG as if she is on the level of MLK) want a Supreme Court justice as a hero. A cop-loving, self-proclaimed American patriot, whose only accomplishments have been in defending a certain class of white women––and even then she was a mediocre yankee politician. In a time when a large number of grass roots organizers are putting themselves at risk, when many of them have been incarcerated and murdered, the RBG partisans want to apotheosize a legal representative of the liberal wing of settler-capitalism merely because she …

On Monuments and Moral Panic

The moral panic surrounding "cancel culture" that I discussed in a previous post has blossomed into an outrage over the multiple statues and monuments of racists and slavers that have that have been torn down, defaced, and renamed. And as has been the case with the entire discourse of so-called "cancel culture" this outrage is largely more performative than misplaced. That is, while the explicit justification for this outrage is that the destruction and replacement of these statues/monuments is that "history" is being "cancelled", those making these claims generally do not care about history as something to be rigorously studied. Rather, they are upset that a ruling class conception of history––purely ideological without critical depth––and its concatenation in monumental symbols of power is being challenged. Hence, the claims that a decapitated statue, a renamed building, etc. constitute an attack on history are merely performative claims. Nobo…

On Ajith

As I have argued and asserted for a long time, Ajith is one of the important thinkers of the modern Maoist movement. His Against Avakianism, though it is largely concerned with the deviation of Avakian's "New Synthesis", uses this debate within the ICM to establish significant principles just as Engels' Anti-Duhring established similar principals against Eugen Duhring who is now a nobody. Just as we don't read Anti-Duhring to learn about the thoughts of Eugen Duhring, we shouldn't read Against Avakianism as a historiography of Bob Avakian's thought: it is what is established against this deviation that matters. This is not to say that Against Avakianism has the same theoretical status as Anti-Duhring; the analogy, here, is meant to indicate that it possesses the same function––it theoretically "spills" beyond its polemical target.
For those outside of the Maoist International Communist Movement (ICM), it might seem a bit strange that an entire bo…

Apparently Aristotle Is In Danger of Cancellation

After the release of that ludicrous Harper's letter that claimed the biggest threat to civilization (civilization defined as the liberal marketplace of ideas) was "cancel culture", numerous philosophers have gone out of their way to defend this hot take with even worse hot takes. The most asinine and yet pretentiously self-assured of these was Agnes Callard's Should We Cancel Aristotlethat was not only a massive red herring but paradigmatic of the kind of assessments of reality that come out of mainstream [bourgeois] philosophy. That is, as I have noted so many times, there are a lot of philosophers who talk about problematics they haven't studied in great detail, accepting certain flawed parameters as a priori correct and then, upon this faulty conception of the world, build an entire argument they think is meaningful. It's a bit like an astronomer of the bygone era accepting the Ptolemaic conception of the world as fundamentally correct, never bothering to …

On the Passing of Comrade Zia

As many of my readers will be aware, Comrade Zia of the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan [CmPA] recently passed away. Zia was not only the chairperson of the CmPA's Central Committee, but he was instrumental in building the contemporary Maoist movement in Afghanistan and played a key role in the construction of the international Maoist movement. He was not only involved in building the now defunct Revolutionary Internationalist Movement [RIM] but, with the CmPA and other former member groups of the RIM, played a leading role in the line struggle against the rightist line that cohered around the RCP-USA and that led to the RIM's dissolution. Indeed, one of the two major responses to the RCP-USA's "new synthesis" was likely written by Zia (the other being Ajith's Against Avakianism). Since then, the CmPA's attempts to help rebuild a new Maoist international was recognized as significant and exemplary by Maoists everywhere, as the obituaries from mult…

The Riots and Bourgeois Ideologues

Just as the riots responding to the pig execution of George Floyd have revealed the racist violence of the settler-capitalist state––that in the midst of a pandemic the ruling class is willing to spend more on police repression than healthcare, to murder those upset by police murder while tolerating reactionaries demanding that the economy start up again––it has also revealed the poverty of liberal thought, and particularly (in the case of this blog post) the poverty of mainstream academic "political philosophy". After all, institutionalized political philosophy has always sought to justify the dominant political order often beginning with the a priori and unquestioned assumption (that it takes as "non-ideological") that liberal capitalism is normal and good. The authorities of such political philosophy function as the ideologues of this normalization and determine (along with mainstream ethical philosophers), within universities and whenever they are called on as …

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…

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…