Saturday, May 27, 2023

Florida, Man! The War Against Higher Education


Alligator has to be the best University Mascot

“What is happening in Florida will not stay in Florida." From the AAUP's Report on Florida

There is no shortage of critical responses to what is happening to higher education in Florida. There is the report from the AAUP cited above, and the podcast I co-host even dedicated an episode to it. In many, but not all of these cases, these responses have dovetailed with DeSantis' political career, focusing on the person, the policy, and the overall strategy. See for the example the great episode of Know Your Enemy. 

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

One Amendment to Rule them All: Symptomatically Reading the Bill of Rights


Photos from the Ameriguns by Gabriele Galimberti

If one wanted to find a text to confirm Louis Althusser's thesis that the writings of the young Marx were not yet Marx, and thus best left to the dustbin, one could perhaps find not better contender than "On the Jewish Question." Much of the essay is a response to Bauer, and part of a long forgotten debate. When Marx breaks free of this debate in the final paragraphs it is to engage in horrible stereotypes of Jewish materialism and greed that many have considered to be not only anti-semitic, but symptoms of self loathing. I am not entering into these debates here, but will say that I have regretted every time I taught the text. If there is one argument for considering to read the essay, as well as to teach it, however, it has to do with the reading and analysis that Marx puts forward of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.

Thursday, May 04, 2023

The Spinoza Effect: on Matthys' Althusser Lecteur de Spinoza

In the last year or so there have been two books published on Althusser and Spinoza. Juan Domingo Sánchez Estop's Althusser et Spinoza: Detours et Retours and now Jean Matthys Althusser lecteur de Spinoza: Genèse et enjeux d'une éthico-politique de la théorie. This is perhaps not surprising, after all Althusser confessed to being a Spinozist famously in 1972, but I would argue that there are still some surprises to be found in terms of this combination. First, and most fundamentally, it is surprising to see two full length studies on Althusser and Spinoza since as much as the name and concepts of Spinoza played fundamental or pivotal roles in Althusser's thought, underlying his own concepts of structural, or immanent, causality, symptomatic reading, and ideology, Althusser wrote very little on Spinoza. I have often thought that the Althusser Spinoza connection exists more in its effects, in what it made possible in the writing of  Macherey and Balibar, to name just two proximate effects, rather than in Althusser's thought. Estop and Matthys both contest such an interpretation, arguing for a Spinozism that is more immanent and more consistent in Althusser's works than the few times he is mentioned by name.