I had the chance to respond to Jodi Dean's Communism or Neo-Feudalism at Red May. The following are are a revised version of my response.
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Monday, May 18, 2020
Anyone who has read this blog knows that I am influenced by the work of Etienne Balibar. His work has profoundly shaped my published work. I have even considered writing a book on Balibar, and have dedicated a few notes to what the book would entail. A provisional title of this book is Etienne Balibar: A Study of the Unity of his Thought. The title is stolen from Lukács’ book on Lenin.
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Breaking Bad and its spinoff/prequel Better Call Saul began with a premise that is familiar to nearly everyone. A mild mannered chemistry teacher moonlights as a producer of crystal meth in order to save his family from being bankrupted from his cancer diagnosis. However, as the title suggested it was initially a show about, well, breaking bad. This is particularly true of the first season in which Walter White is between two deaths, liberated from his life as a chemistry teacher, he not only cooks meth he also does all those things that we dream of but never do. He confronts someone who is bullying his son and blows up the car of an obnoxious lawyer.
Saturday, May 02, 2020
I had played with the concept of idea of what I called "right workerism," the way in which work, and the value of work, became not a critical perspective on capitalism but its justification previously on this blog. The protests against lockdowns in various states has provided the opportunity to reflect on its meaning again.
Tuesday, April 14, 2020
Yves Citton and Jacopo Rasmi's book Générations Collapsonautes: Naviguer par temps d'effondrements either arrived at the best time or the worst time. It showed up in my campus mailbox in the week before spring break. Under different circumstances this would be a great time to get a surprise book. However, this year, the week before spring break was also the week that I learned that my campus would be closed after break, and all classes moved online, it was also the beginning of social distancing, and a week in which I did many things, visit friends, go out to eat, practice aikido, for the last time. In other words, I received it as the world began to collapse.
Wednesday, April 01, 2020
What Follows is heavily indebted to a conversation about zombies and vampires at Red May Seattle in 2017, and is in some sense written as a reflection on the powers of collective thinking (in other words, I am not entirely sure who said what about zombies versus vampires)
In Capital Marx famously writes,
"Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has purchased of him."
It is a great line, one that gave birth to not only memes but also entire subfield dedicated to the analysis of monsters in capital. What follows is a contribution to that study.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
The young Lucien Sève looking a lot like Jon Hamm
In graduate school I only knew one thing about Lucien Sève and I do not even think I had the facts straight. I knew him only as Althusser's interlocutor within the PCF, and I think that I imagined him as some kind of party apparatchik. I only corrected this image very lately, after reading Yves Schwartz as well as Isabell Garo and André Tosel. What is striking to me about Sève's work, at least as much as I have read, is how much of it anticipates and intersects with the anthropological turn in contemporary Marxism, in the work of Balibar and Virno.
Monday, March 16, 2020
1. The television (and the internet) will always be on, filling up time. That is their job. It doesn't mean that you have to watch, or that the information will be useful.
Friday, February 21, 2020
I give blood regularly, platelets actually. I started giving blood in high school when it could get you out of class. Sometime ago I was convinced to start giving platelets. There is a tradeoff to this, you recover more quickly from giving platelets but it takes nearly three hours when everything is said and done. Oh, and once you give platelets the red cross will hunt you down for the rest of your life asking you to give again and again. The big plus is that you get to watch a movie.
Sunday, February 09, 2020
Image from here
One of the many merits Martin Hägglund's This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom is that it makes a connection between finite, our mortality, and not only Marxist but the broader product of democratic socialism (Hägglund's democratic socialism often sounds a lot like communism, but life is too short to mince words). For far too long, in philosophical circles, finitude, the fundamental fact that we are going to die, was see as the exclusive purview of Heidegger with all of its corollaries of authenticity, individuality, and seizing one's historical destiny.