Category Archives: disengagement

Amador Fernández Savater: “Like lost children”

‘Thus, like lost children, we feel our way towards the revolutions of the 21st century. Without ever dissociating again what is wanted and how it is wanted, as in the old question of what to do, where the end justified the most aberrant means, but rather accepting that the means already prefigure the ends or that there are only means, means without ends, “pure means”.’

Josep Rafanell i Orra: “The world returns: Outlines of an anti-politics”

‘Only our enemies persist with identities. We cannot consent to our camp, that of friends, being devastated by exasperated social identities, as if it were a new business for politics. We have learned that only de-identification signals the eruption that defeats the police order. … Let us be clear: against the police, what is called for is not a politics of identities, but one of commoners or commonalities under construction; not “I am this or that”, always scarred at not being enough of what one claims to be, but what am I becoming in the infinite variation of the relations between beings?  The important question remains. If the community is the affirmation of shared forms of life, it is also the confrontation with that which denies its possibility.  We are not done with the insurgencies. But how can we get beyond the circle of destitution, and then beyond the new social constitutions which again separate us from the plural worlds of common lives?’

Jérôme Baschet interviewed: “History is no longer on our side”

‘What I call “liberated spaces” [espaces liberés] should not be construed as protected islands, where we live out a charming life in the midst of the surrounding disaster, but as spaces for combat. “Free space” implies that we must free ourselves from something, from what oppresses us or causes us to slowly die; it implies that there is a struggle. In reality, these spaces are not entirely liberated, but only in the process of being so: they are not free of what oppresses and attacks them, nor consequently of the need to fight against them. At the same time as they are building from now on a different, clean reality, escaping as much as possible the norms of the economic world, they also have an intrinsically antagonistic dimension.’

Jacques Fradin: “The insurrection of the yellow vests and the revolution of the revolution”

“The uprising of the yellow vests can be interpreted as a resurgence of the oldest movements of revolt … Or, rather, this uprising can also be interpreted as the first insurrection of a new revolutionary era, the era of the revolution of the revolution – symptomatic of a new political era that emerges by dissolving or destituting liberal hegemony.”

Emily Cataneo: “Give Me Liberty or Something Else”

“The prickly problem of a New England secessionist utopia

Andrew Culp interviewed “On Giving up on this World”

‘What might it mean, Culp asks, to “give up on all the reasons given for saving this world?” In response, this interview explores the pathways offered by a “dark” Deleuze, a politics of cruelty, Afro-Pessimism, partisan knowledges, destituent power, and tactics of escape.’

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.”