Category Archives: agonism

Susan Buck-Morss: “Global Civil War: Solidarity by Proxy”

“In the twenty-first century any world war is a civil war, and any civil war affects the world. Does this mean the end of the Age of Revolutions, or a whole new understanding of what revolution entails?” (video)

Harrison Fluss: “Behemoth and Leviathan: The Fascist Bestiary of the Alt-Right”

“The alt-right imagination … is torn between two opposing ‘animal spirits’. These are Behemoth and Leviathan. Originating in the Bible, these beasts gained philosophical meaning in Thomas Hobbes’ political philosophy, and entered fascist thought through the writings of the Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt. … These beasts are a pair of opposites: Behemoth is autochthonous, representing the stable order of earth-bound peoples. Leviathan is thalassocratic, embodying the fluid dynamism of seafaring peoples. Behemoth signifies terrestrial empires, while Leviathan suggests commercial trade and exploration. The former stands for traditional, divinely sanctioned state authority, the latter for the spirit of pirate-capitalist enterprise (what Schmitt calls ‘corsair capitalism’). … Today, the ‘Traditionalist’ philosopher Aleksandr Dugin and the ‘neoreactionary’ philosopher Nick Land are the standard bearers of Behemoth and Leviathan, respectively. “

“How do people excluded from political life achieve political agency?”

Martin Breaugh:  The Plebeian Experience: A Discontinuous History of Political Freedom (Columbia, 2013) “identifies fleeting yet decisive instances of emancipation in which people took it upon themselves to become political subjects.”

Jacques Rancière: “Democracy, Equality, Emancipation in a Changing World”

“A free social space … is a space where assemblies can practice forms of direct democracy intended … to make collective decisions on concrete matters. In such a way a form of political action tends to be at the same time the cell of another form of life. It is no longer a tool for preparing a future emancipation but a process of invention of forms of life and modes of thinking in which equality furthers equality.”

Alberto Toscano: “Notes on Late Fascism”

10 Preliminary Theses:
‘T1: late fascism is bereft of non-contemporaneity or non-synchronousness;
T2: the psychic structure of fascism operates through a form of mass narcissism;
T3: it operates through a performance of fanaticism devoid of inner conviction;
T4: late fascism is a conservative politics of antagonistic reproduction;
T5: it is not the politics of a class, a group or a mass, but of a manipulated series;
T6: the racialized signifier of class functions as a spectre, a screen, a supplement;
T7: late fascism is driven by a desire for the state and a hatred of government;
T8: it reacts against a liberal reaction, it is not primarily counter-revolutionary;
T9: it is an offshoot of an endogenous protracted crisis of legitimacy of capital;
T10: it is a symptom of the toxic obsolescence of the modern figure of the political, namely a “national and social state” in which citizenship is organised across axes of ethno-racial and gender identity, and articulated to labour.’

Yavor Tarinski: “Individuals and minorities in the framework of direct democracy”

Choice between participation and civil liberties is false: “There is no inherent contradiction between individual freedom and broad civic deliberation. Instead the one contributes for the development of the other. By its very nature direct democracy requires constant polemical debate and questioning of the ‘now’, which demands the creation and maintenance of colorful and pluralist social amalgam.”

Adrian Bonenberger: “The Left must Organize for Violence”

Arming for violence:  ‘But this does not mean that “the left” cannot turn things around. On the contrary, “the left” can and should begin militarizing, immediately. By taking back the means of violence that is every American’s Constitutional right, “the left” will be able to bargain again on its own terms—or, failing that, expose centrists as the collaborationist stooges they are, and “the right” as fascists, elitists, despots and authoritarians.’

Ezra Klein: “Trump thrives on heightening the divisions in American politics.”

Winning and governing by division:  ‘If Obama’s contention was that there’s no “them,” only “us,” Trump’s contention is that there really is a “them” — a “them” of immigrants and Muslims and terrorists and Black Lives Matter activists and elites and crooked journalists — and so it’s all the more important for the “us” to stick together.  This is how he won the primary. It’s how he won the election. It’s how he intends to govern. If Obamaism was about strength through unity, Trumpism is about power through division.’

‘The price of all this division is, well, division. It is unknown if Trump can hold together a governing majority with such low approval numbers, so little interest in conciliatory rhetoric or legislation, and such an angry, activated opposition. He may prove to be the president who convinces the Democratic coalition that voting in midterm elections really is important — and if so, he will have done the Republican Party terrible, lasting damage. Usually, the strategy of breaking the country in half is pursued by coalitions certain they represent the bigger half; in this case, it’s being tried by the coalition representing the smaller, albeit geographically more efficient, half.  But this is the experiment we began today. Obamaism is dead. Welcome to Trumpism.’


Paul Stoller: “Going Public: Resistance In The Age Of Trump”

“In the post-truth world of Trumplandia there is a clear need for scholars to go public—as a form of resistance. This need is particularly acute in the social sciences in which scholars attempt to make sense of the human condition. Why is there discrimination and hate and cruelty in the world? Why is income and social inequality so historically persistent? Why do people not act in their best interests? What are the social factors that lead to needless suffering and premature death? Why have our politics become so mean-spirited?”

Michael Quirk: “Eleven Theses on American Democracy”

Sanders’ proposed revolution “is a strong democratic socialist/social democratic challenge to the crumbling neoliberal doctrines of the present-day Democratic Party. It expresses the yearning of many for effective political participation, as opposed to the best government money can buy. It challenges the plutocracy in the name of both freedom and equality. But most importantly … it is a movement that does not begin and end with electoral politics, and even less with the prospects of a Sanders presidency.”