Category Archives: disengagement

For an “affirmative melancholic politics”

Advancing “the conception of an affirmative — as opposed to circuitous, nostalgic, or introspective — melancholic politics” (220), Klaus Mladek and George Edmondson (“A Politics of Melancholia,” in Strathausen, ed.: A Leftist Ontology, 2009) note that, since the early 1990s, “there has been a steady movement on the part of what might be called the poststructuralist left, represented by Derrida, Butler, and Bhabha, … toward a politics of melancholia” (210). They draw on the late Freud who believes that “the ego is constitutively melancholic, a vital defense system … said to ‘revolt’ against the extinction of objects that are unmourned and unmournable” (210). They suggest that, out of an unyielding fidelity to lost objects and values, melancholic militancy rebels against failure, refusing to allow them to sink into oblivion. Thus there may be “an affirmative, even proud dimension to the melancholic state — a dimension that recognizes doom itself as the engine of rebellion” (210).

Benjamin Noys: “Afro-pessimism Reading List” (2017)


Howard Zinn on Henry David Thoreau and When to Resist an Immoral State

‘This is exactly what Thoreau advocated in the face of evils like slavery and war: that people should withdraw their support from the government. It is not enough to hold an opinion, he said. One must act. “When the subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned his office, then the revolution is accomplished.”’

Mariana Alessandri: “In Praise of Lost Causes”

In his Don Quixote, “Cervantes detailed a life in praise of futilely resisting a corrupt world. Quixote fought giants because he could not, in good conscience, not fight them. We can similarly transform ourselves into quixotic pessimists — the kind who are called dreamers, idealists or lunatics — by reading more, rejecting common sense and reinterpreting what constitutes a waste of time. If we happen to succeed by worldly standards, we will be surprised and perhaps pleasantly so; if we fail, we will have expected it. Praise be to uncertain successes and to certain failures alike.”

Andy Beckett: “Accelerationism: How a fringe philosophy predicted the future we live in”

“The world is changing at dizzying speed – but for some thinkers, not fast enough. Is accelerationism a dangerous idea or does it speak to our troubled times?”

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro: “Landed natives against State and Capital”

‘The indians are the first natives of Brazil.  The land they occupy is not their property – not only because the native territories are “lands of the Union” [of the Federative Republic of Brazil], but because it is they who belong to the land and not the contrary.  To belong to the land, instead of being its owner, is what defines the native.  In this sense, many peoples and communities in Brazil, in addition to the indians, can be said to be, because they feel so, indigenous much more than citizens.’

#France: “To Become Ungovernable is no longer an Anarchist Fad, it has Become a Vital Necessity”

‘No revolution could be crazier than the times in which we’re already living – the days of Trump and Bashar, Uber and the Islamic State, Pokémon hunting and the extinction of bees. To become ungovernable is no longer an anarchist fad, it has become a vital necessity, inasmuch as those who govern us are obviously at the helm of a ship that is headed toward the abyss. Even the most measured observers admit that politics is decomposing, and describe the current campaign as “elusive” only to avoid having to say “non-existent”. There is no reason we should submit to a ritual that has become so obviously harmful. We’re tired of understanding why everything goes wrong.’

Geoffroy de Lagasnerie & Edouard Louis: “Manifesto for an Intellectual and Political Counteroffensive”

Ethical principles for thought and action to redefine and transform the intellectual and political scene.

CrimethInc: “This Is Not a Dialogue: Not Just Free Speech, but Freedom Itself”

On the possibility of dialogue today:  “You’re not in a dialogue. You’re in a power struggle. All that matters is how much force you can bring to bear on your adversaries to defend yourself from them. You can bet that if you succeed, they will accuse you of breaking off the dialogue, of violating their free speech. They will try to lure you back into conversation, playing for time until they need no more stratagems to keep you passive while they put the pieces in place for tyranny.  This isn’t a dialogue—it’s a war. They’re gambling that you won’t realize this until it’s too late. If freedom is important to you, if you care about all the people marked for death and deportation, start taking action.”

Michael T. Taussig on Trumpology in the era of Trumpism

“Rule through Twitter abandons the pretense of rationality required by the magic of the state, in place of which we find that other magic bound up with manifestly performative performance. What insights, then, can anthropology, with its wealth of traditions, provide? Can Trump Studies match its object of study?

In the forest we turn to what we know best, namely the riveting sense of life and lives instilled by fieldwork and the ecstatic craft of writerly practice.  What better, then, in this moment of crisis, than to undertake sweeping experimentation with forms and tones of exposition? Fight theater with theater, art with art, magic with magic. There is no other way. Trumpology will thus be an art form, not of mastery, but of the mastery of nonmastery.”