Antanas Mockus had just resigned from the top job of Colombian National University. A mathematician and philosopher, Mockus looked around for another big challenge and found it: to be in charge of, as he describes it, a 6.5 million person classroom.
August 21, 1978
Why would I wish for the slightest posterity, the least trace, since the beings whom I have loved and love most will leave none, neither I nor a few former survivors? What would it matter for me to outlive myself in History’s cold and mendacious unknown, since the memory of maman will not outlive me or those who have known her and who will one day die in their turn? I would not want a ‘monument’ for myself alone.
—Roland Barthes, Mourning Diary
ikr, just feel kinda like sea versions of these things
if it was one of those 200 year old turtles though that they killed because they wanted to know it’s age more precisely to within ten years or something, well i’d probably care more then
cos you know, turtles have eyes and legs and stuff
horribly anthropocentric of me I know but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
“I’ve never been able to get behind the idea of “biopolitics.” This is mostly because in the French context of its conceptualization, “biopolitics” has always been offered as a supplement or a chastisement of the idea that class politics are the real politics. But I’ve never taken Marx to be saying that class politics trump other politics, and so the so there! biopolitical theories direct at Marxism has always seemed to me beside the point: one more excuse not to think about political economy. I’m even less excited about theorizing the “post-human,” for the same reason. For me, Latourian theories of the agency of objects, and Spinozan monisms that emphasize our interconnectedness, while obviously correct – and even beautiful – as far as they go, blow up into an ethics of humility whose organizing claim is that human species-arrogance is destroying the planet. Which doesn’t seem like the problem. Isn’t it rich people who are destroying the planet?”
— Chris Nealon, "Letter Four on Value and Poetry"
Clam found off Iceland was 507 - “the oldest animal on Earth”, until British scientists killed it
Another fucking story about humans killing fascinating creatures to “learn stuff”.
When a clam was dredged up from the bottom of the sea of Iceland, a team of scientists eagerly cracked it open - killing the oldest animal in the world.
The mollusc was 507 years old - when it was born, Michelangelo was just about to start work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
The process of opening clams to study their “growth lines” is fatal. The clam was named Ming after the Chinese Ming Dynasty, which was in power when it was born.
hmm, honestly this strikes me much more as “another fucking story about an animal we only know is fascinating because it was killed by humans”
also come on if that clam hadn’t lived a full life by that age
The call-out discourse thrives on the myopic logic of the breaking news item, on the regressive structure of the stirred-up scandal. It isn’t fond of contextualizing called-out actions in a way which elicits analytical generosity, but it is quick to demand its own errors and insensitivities be contextualized in such a manner. Its main expressive range is an obnoxious blend of didactic and tabloidy, high-minded hortative homiletics blurring almost seamlessly with a sort of sickened and burnt-out (yet compulsively inexhaustible) sense of prurient “social responsibility”, just-so stories leavened by a beatification of abolitionist moral anger, scot free of any sense of the creative nullification of power possible in the real movement. In its ambit, micro-aggressions – an absolutely indispensable concept through which to understand the fine-grained, capillary depth of oppression (in a way the S.A.W.C.M. subjective-structure [straight, able-bodied, white, cis, male] furiously refuses to acknowledge, time and time again) – lose all contextual proportion, becoming cooked evidence of sweeping endorsements, by those who inflicted them, of the most egregious structures of heterosexist, racial, sexist, cissexist, able-ist persecution and pillage (while the calling-out of the call-out discourse itself depends on exaggerating this in order to refute the entire legitimacy of attending to micro-aggressions altogether). Incoherence, muddle-headedness, stubbornness, in relation to one’s remarks, or a disappointing indifference toward their impact, are not named as such, nor explained for what they are – namely, forms of intellectual imprisonment, which do injustice to the full relevance of critical paradigms – like Marxism – which don’t actually need to be at loggerheads with pedagogies of difference at all. Instead, they are metastasized into egregious indications of a liberationfrom care, which misappropriates and mangles the intersectional meaning of “privilege” as referring to the insulation from care such imprisonment proffers to the S.A.W.C.M., not its innate structural liberation from relating, the incapacity for care. The language of ineradicable suffering that is the currency of the penological state, the proliferating categorizations of dysfunction and deviancy which belong to contemporary therapy, the responsibilization of the subject that is part and parcel of the privatization of social problems, the social justice entrepreneurialism so necessary to moving products on the market: all of these, and more, form the moral architecture of call-out discourse. Most curious, however, for a discourse which situates itself so emphatically on the Left, is how little class privilege features as a standard basis upon which to be called out (or, more precisely, it is not a standard basis upon which to call people out, at least, for “identitarians”; not so for “anti-identitarian” socialists, who never stop calling out the “divisive identity politics” of the call-out culture on this count and are, in this respect, themselves are a part of that culture, of which, again, I shall add more momentarily). Thus, the ascription of “white” and “male”, in particular, to an oppressive subjective-structure which organizes society around itself is far more common than the assignation of, say, “middle-class”, for “identitarians”. Why, exactly, is the middle-class subjectivity – surely one of the most socially oppressive and economically false subjective-structures at work today – not subject to the same casual nomination practices in call-out culture? If it’s not knowable in the same way as ‘white’ and ‘male’, how come? It isn’t hard to deduce that it’s because any middle-class subjective-structure posited in the same terms as that of “white” and “male” would have to encompass the real social position of the interlocutors of the S.A.W.C.M. themselves.
This, then, is the basic point to Fisher’s article. Between a call-out culture which does not push back on class privilege in the same manner as it does subjective-structures like whiteness and maleness, and a socialist Left which he feels has failed in its duty to interrogate the class privilege of the call-out culture itself, there has arisen a yawning chasm in attending culturally to the way in which class structures subjectivity from the Left, such that (a) class politics has become the almost exclusive province of the populist reactionary muck-raking of the Right, and (b) it appears as though real straight, able-bodied, white, cis, men and the marginal opponents of the hegemonic S.A.W.C.M. subjective-structure share nothing in common, that their alliances can only be coalitional, never amalgamated or enduringly integrated in any dimension, for to do so would automatically re-smother difference. These seem to me legitimate, serious and urgent criticisms. But Fisher’s manner of accounting for this impasse threatens to reduplicate it, enmeshed as it remains in the communicative aesthetic of emancipatory disavowal which underwrites the media structure of call-out culture, as an activity which allures exactly by offering the pleasure, in line with elaborate public enactments ofone’s supposedly advanced understanding of privilege, of never having to count one’s self in. Thus, exactly to the extent that he truncates the problem of the reproduction of class privilege on the Left to the practice of “identitarianism”, Fisher misses how it is not so much identity politics, at all, but the denunciation of identity politics itself that is something like the core hidden curriculum of the Left’s class privilege. In this respect, what has been so instructive about the replies to this article has been the way in which exactly none of them that I have so far read have actually come to a principled defense of identitarianism in itself. Notice that this response from Angela Mitropoulos damns Fisher exactly by insisting that he, too, bowdlerizes class down to a mere identity politics and so traffics in all that’s awful about identitarianism. Or, in other words, identitarianism remains the enemy here. On Facebook, a different variation on this theme played out when a friend of mine came to a qualified defense of Fisher’s article. He dissented from it, in insisting that identity has to be understood as the internal differentiation produced by the capitalist social totality (a point with which I’d agree actually) – thus, acknowledging its intrinsic necessity to a Marxist account of capitalism – only then to argue that the article actually articulates class as a social relation of exploitation, which meant, for this person, that Fisher’s claims that identity political consciousness suppressed class solidarity in and of itself held up because class is a “structure” which supersedes and orders social relations of oppression, while identity is a structured differentiation inside that structure. But identity politics is always already a politics of structure which extends to through to the status of class as that which encapsulates the total logic of the oppressions, not in order to necessarily insist that capitalism, as the mode of production, isn’t singularly stationed with respect to the social totality but, rather granting capitalism is at the center of it, to say that the violent total reproduction of the mode of production is nonetheless not the same thing as the last-instance exploitation of the working class primarily. Exploitation can only function through the displacement of the universality of the working-class via the work of gendering, racializing, sexualizing, sexing, abilitizing, which is what the global division of labour (and its crossing-through of the domestic) is all about. In this way, why Fisher’s article is, indeed, identity political with regards to class is because it actually exposes, both wittingly and unwittingly, through its drawing attention to the matter of class privilege, how deeply the labour question is an identity question, no matter how much we desire to take class out of that equation, situating it purely above the fray of internal differentiations, as that unity toward which all our sections must transcend.
Most bizarrely, though, yet perhaps most tellingly, to the list of those who refuse the mantle of identity politics can also be added those who actually are said to “practice” identity politics: the people who call out racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, cissexism. After all, don’t they do so precisely by insisting that it is the naturalized identity political interests of the white, straight, cis, able-bodied male which impels this type of political activity structurally upon them? Isn’t it the case that the philosophies of matrical difference which inform the intersectional have, nearly a decade ago now, been subject to immanent criticism about their identitarianism from within the philosophies of difference, with an emphasis placed on thinking the intersectional as a queer assemblage? In just this way, “identitarians” are, by and large, insistently anti-identitarian too, in the sense that they perceive “identity politics” to actually be the practice of normal politics, toward which their struggle for real solidarity is an effort to expunge the structuring identity which divides social relations into so many splinters. Ending the subjective-structure of locked identification is the purpose of the other-mindedness of intersectionality and its legatees, but, as often, it comes accompanied with a locked identification in regard to being the opponent of the subjective-structure of locked identification. In short: no one really actually thinks of themselves as the identity politician. That abject practice always lies elsewhere. And because Fisher, unpolemically, doesn’t want to be seen as the identity politician either, he loses what’s provocative in his critique: the very unabashedness with which he forces class into the matrix of call out culture – that is, not by counterpoising class to identitarianism but, rather, by using the terms of identitarianism to insist that complicity in class oppression be considered as a completely legitimate charge which could be leveled against every one of these interlocutory positions in the call-out discourse. Thus, Fisher’s article can be summed up with the axiom that call-out culture is, by necessity and by intention, classist, a term which only makes sense within the realms of identity political claims. The communicative aesthetic of the call-out culture shames those who, though white, though male, though cis, though straight, though able-bodied, having come from working-class backgrounds, struggle to give word to voice when one is told one already has a voice that gets represented all the time, who battle to feel intellectually adequate amid the better (or simply privately) educated who seem not to need to know much about your background because, identity-wise, they already do, who fail to integrate the wounds of class into their assumed status on the Left as the social norm of non-oppressed experience. To be painfully clear, what Fisher is getting at is the very sense in which the above pleas will predictably come over as a familiar pretext for the S.A.W.C.M. subjective-structure to be re-centralized. This incapacity for them to register any other way is exactly the sense in which the class division in this subjective-structure is silenced by its interlocutors in the call-out discourse. The more disquieting realisation, then, when one factors in class as a matter of identity political concern, is that the interlocutors of the S.A.W.C.M. subjective-structure often share a fundamental interior unity with that which they reject: this selfsame white, straight, cis, able-bodied, male subject. For, in reality, this oppressor subject is also a classed subject, and, though its class nature doesn’t coincide with the proletariat in any number of respects, it is a subject which the call-out culture has allowed to monopolize the representation of class, only objecting to what it leaves out, not objecting to – and linking the battles against sexism, racism, heterosexism, ableism, and transphobia to – the very classism of seeing the working class which happens to be white, straight, cis, able-bodied, and male as participating without any necessary qualification on class grounds in the privilege of the white, straight, cis, able-bodied male oppressor subjective-structure.
Hence, the need by call-out culture – when called out internally by some other member of a marginal position within the oppression matrix itself: a feminist called out by a queer activist, a male race theorist called out by a white feminist, a white feminist called out by a black feminist or vice versa, and so on and so on, through all the permutations – to dismiss their arguments, through more or less trolling or recondite means, as being proxies of the white, straight, cis, able-bodied, capitalist male subjectivity. With the first appearance of capitalism here, in the denunciation of other criticisms which arise internally, from within the oppression matrix, we encounter just about the only time that class rates mention in the call-out discourse, and find that it is only in order to establish how the S.A.W.C.M. and one’s black, or gay, or female, critic can share interests which should otherwise, by the logic of that discourse, be structurally incommensurable. With this exit-strategy, the “critique” that the call out discourse thus embodies theoretically never has to extend into self-interrogation of one’s own structural class position. But the exit-strategy is also yet another closed loop in the system, for clearly, by this logic, anyone can be subject to this claim that their interests tie back to the S.A.W.C.M. at some vector; any ideological prism on oppression politics – including one’s own Correct and Absolutely Accurate Views – has to be acknowledged as potentially subject to being denounced as secretly invested in the status quo, with no way of you knowing if this charge is correct. There is, effectively, no way to insulate one’s self from the accusation that one is working against the identity interests one claims to represent. Is it so astonishing in such conditions of deranged critical exchange that there presides an incapacity to think through the sincere motives, sound logics, andaccurate data of arguments that one doesn’t agree with, and then to actually address them with better arguments? When incommensurable identity claims are fed through the call-out discourse, there’s no responsibility to actually be accountable in devising a new measure of commensuration – in other words, an emancipatory communicative aesthetic. Faced with impasses in solidarity, there’s no sense of an obligation to have to actually solve them. After all, why would one want to solve anything with a racist, a sexist, a transphobe, a heterosexist, an able-ist? Their very intellect is the problem. It’s not a far step then, once this dynamic comes to encompass every expression of prejudice, every stupidity, every recalcitrance and incapacity to change, every insulation from care, as social media and the hyper-archive of the internet enables, to come to the conclusion that nothing simply can be solved. The reasoning becomes inescapable: if perhaps more well-intentioned overall, the Left – beyond one’s own cluster of like-minded comrades, who give one strength – is simply as reactionary as the rest of the social field.
David Cameron accepted an all-expenses paid trip to apartheid South Africa while Nelson Mandela was still in prison, an updated biography of the Tory leader reveals today.
"David Cameron asks us to judge a leader’s character – well, Gordon Brown at this time was active in the anti-apartheid movement, while Cameron was enjoying a sanctions-busting jolly. That is a measure of character.
"This just exposes his hypocrisy because he has tried to present himself as a progressive Conservative, but just on the eve of the apartheid downfall, and Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, when negotiations were taking place about a transfer of power, here he was being wined and dined on a sanctions-busting visit.
"This is the real Conservative Party, shown by the fact that his colleagues who used to wear 'Hang Nelson Mandela' badges at university are now sitting on the benches around him.”
Study for the Language of Verticals, Frantisek Kupka.
Lets be honest with ourselves, its not that the cops have been attacking ‘peaceful’ protests, it is the police who organize peaceful protests in collaboration with ‘acceptable’ and ‘legitimate’ groups, this is why they are allowed, they are completely ineffectual – what the police have been violently attacking is effective struggle and effective organization outside of their parameters.
It doesn’t matter that the occupation of Senate House was being conducted ‘peacefully’ when it was violently evicted by police, what’s important here, and why violence was used against it in pre-planned collaboration with university management, is that it was linked to a struggle that is disruptive and effective. If the occupation was about student fees again, in an environment of ineffectual policy lobbying, the students may as well have been smashing the place up for all the police could care, that would be manageable, this time it was about effective material struggle that the management cannot afford to lose, hence the lack of usual patience.
The 3cosas' genuine intention to actually win pay and pensions for outsourced workers, and not just lobby and protest about their unhappiness, is palpably felt by the university management. And the crackdown from the cops is an attempt to strangle this type of movement and organization before it generalizes, the type of movement that does not ask for permission and that aims antagonistically at improving material conditions for people, but unfortunately for the police, their strangulation efforts have backfired.
It is resonating for much wider reasons than terrible pay for outsourced workers however, although it is all of course interlinked. The state’s attempt at total control of all aspects of life, with the cops as the violence at the edges of this, seems widely and deeply felt by large sections of the population. It is everywhere, you can see it and feel it, CCTV is everywhere, cops are everywhere, barriers are everywhere, and the cops are the physical barrier to resisting the suppression of wages and lives.
The police’s reach intends to be ‘total’, and that stretches from orchestrating pointless ‘peaceful’ protests on behalf of the government and arresting anyone trying to protest differently to shooting black men dead in the street. And so it is not possible, as the cops often claim in order to de-legitimise protests, for anyone to hijack this movement. Because police violence is so generalized amongst the population it is everyone’s movement anyway, and, because it is against the police, it is already illegitimate.
A violent threat lies in the polite emails received by protest organisers from police liaison officers expressing ‘concerns’ for your safety with the threat of arrest if you do not comply. Your safety is enforced by violence, which seems strange, but what they actually mean is order. The student chants of ‘You killed Mark Duggan’ as they were being violently evicted from a management building is not coincidental. Police violence is police violence. Upholding order with sticks, punches and guns. Whether that be suppressing union struggle at the University of London or shooting dead Mark Duggan in Tottenham, their intention is the same, although their fatal tactics are more commonly reserved for the working class and black communities of the country.
It is clear that removing the police from as many aspects of society as possible is necessary for any semblance of life. This is not peaceful protest, it is effective struggle and necessary resistance. Cops off campus is not so much a demand as a determination to create physical and psychological cop free zones.
(…and right on cue, as protests are becoming effective, the courts have just granted a ban on all protests on campuses at the University of London)
I do find myself getting really violently annoyed at the number of students who don’t tuck their chairs in as they leave resulting in loads of aisles blocked by furniture strewn about
but that’s because like, I’m the one having to go around pushing them all back in, and I know there are at least seven different students in wheelchairs who use the library on a daily basis, as well as one almost completely blind woman with a hilariously incompetent guide dog who’s in quite often, not to mention the shelvers and cleaners constantly going around with trolleys, and so a chair left out in an aisle is a big inconvenience for so many people, and it’s not like the students are doing this as part of a concerted political action against university management, so it just shows the complete unthinking egotism of so many of these students that they can’t do a simple thing that I had drilled into me since primary school
also the way the students take forever to fucking leave at the end of the night is infuriating and if I were allowed I would definitely violently manhandle them out of the building, it makes me so angry, especially the way that like, during the day they’re all rushing around like they haven’t got a moment to waste, but then at the end of the evening after they’ve ignored three tanoy announcements saying they have to leave over the course of 20 minutes and several of us staff getting all passive aggressive around them and telling them they really need to leave because the library is literally closed now, well then they all without fail walk at this ridiculous pace, like they’re walking underwater, kinda dazed, stopping every few feet to look at their phones, dragging the whole thing out
"what why does it matter what difference does it makes if I stay five more minutes and just finish up this paragraph?"
"well as you’ve been told countless times now the library closes at midnight and so you should have been out of the building before midnight and my bus is in ten minutes so the difference it makes is whether the workers you spend your time pretending don’t exist get home or not, meanwhile you can just bugger off to the learning grid three minutes away which is open 24 hours all year round and finish your sodding paragraph there, and then what? your essay is really good and you get a 1st for your degree like I did? and then what? you end up working a job like this having to deal with inconsiderate assholes like you? yeah mate great load of difference it’ll make”
but yeah so my argument is basically that while I would violently assault students for a lot of things, their trying to make the world a better place is not one of them, while their consistently being oblivious self-absorbed pricks is
“The university will always support peaceful and legitimate protest, but invading our working environment and blocking fire escapes is potentially life threatening and plays no part in democratic dissent. The university will never under any circumstances enter into a dialogue with any group or group of individuals who adopt this approach.”
it’s depressing but that is literally how my managers at work would think — the “environment officer” and “health and safety officer” and “facilities manager” etc. — not even ironically, not even simply as a pathetic way of trying to cover their asses for sending security and MET police in to blitzkreg an occupation — I’ve spent enough time with them to realise that this is literally the way their mind works, that “blocking a fire escape” would be as good as genocide in their eyes