jstenner + politics   1426

Henry Giroux Puts a Lens on the Nightmare of Neoliberal Fascism
This part practically restates my concept for WestFAILia: "History unexpurgated provides us with a vital resource that helps inform the ethical ground for resistance, an antidote to Trump’s politics of disinformation, division, diversion and fragmentation. Moreover, history reminds us that in the face of emerging forms of authoritarianism, solidarity is essential. If there is one thing that the important lessons of history in the work of writers such as George Orwell have taught us, it is that we must refuse to be complicit in the mockery of truth."

What we are witnessing is not simply a political project to consolidate power in the hands of the corporate and financial elite, but also a reworking of the very meaning of literacy and education as crucial to what it means to create an informed citizenry and democratic society. In an age when literacy and thinking become dangerous to the anti-democratic forces governing all the commanding economic and cultural institutions of the United States, truth is viewed as a liability, ignorance becomes a virtue, and informed judgments and critical thinking are demeaned and turned into rubble and ashes. Under the reign of this normalized architecture of alleged common sense, literacy is regarded with disdain, words are reduced to data and science is confused with pseudo-science. Traces of critical thought appear more and more at the margins of the culture as ignorance becomes the primary organizing principle of American society.

Neoliberalism is the face of a new fascism. After decades of the neoliberal nightmare both in the United States and abroad, the mobilizing passions of fascism have been unleashed unlike anything we have seen since the 1930s and 1940s. Extreme capitalism has destroyed any vestige of a substantive democracy, produced massive economic suffering, tapped into a combination of fear and a cathartic cruelty, and emboldened a brutal lawlessness aimed at those considered “disposable.” It is time to repudiate the notion that capitalism and democracy are the same thing, renew faith in the promises of a democratic socialism, create new political formations around an alliance of diverse social movements and take seriously the need to make education central to politics itself. As Walter Benjamin reminds us, fascism is the product often of failed democracies, and under the reign of neoliberalism, we are in the midst of not simply a dysfunctional democracy, but in the grip of an extreme form of gangster capitalism wedded to unbridled forms of corporate power that produce massive inequalities in wealth and power, and aggressively wage war on everything crucial to a vibrant democratic society.
politics  neoliberalism  fascism 
5 days ago by jstenner
Silencing the Subaltern
If there is something novel about postcolonial theory, it is not that its practitioners are the first to insist on the importance of the local — though they often make out as if they were. Their claim to innovation has to rest on their success in recovering dimensions of agency that other radical theories are unable or unwilling to recognize.

In Spivak’s and Bhabha’s cases, the political agency of the women in their texts is not so much recognized as it is whittled down, so that it is recognized on the condition that it is confined to issues of gender. Bhuvaneswari and Draupadi are both dedicated militants in revolutionary movements, yet in neither case does Spivak acknowledge, much less analyze, the importance of their choices in this domain. Bhabha takes a story of women’s amalgamation of their gender identity to class solidarity and turns it into a struggle of one against the other. Guha, for his part, demarcates and then sanctifies the biological as not just an acceptable domain of struggle for women but the natural one. The accompaniment to this curious promotion of gender as the preferred site of resistance for women — however narrowly it is defined — is the consistent denigration of class politics, indeed of organized politics in most any form. It is not that struggles of the latter kind are denigrated tout court, but they are presented as irrelevant or unnatural for women.

What makes this contrasting treatment of the women characters’ politics interesting is that the denigration of their class agency is not a case of unbalanced treatment. It is not that Spivak and Bhabha, for example, just give more importance to one aspect of their women’s political involvement than to another. Rather, they altogether suppress aspects of the texts that would invite another interpretation. The elements of the narratives that highlight the women’s commitment to organized and class politics are simply ignored. We only learn about them by reading the texts ourselves. In other words, aspects of political agency that are very much part of the textual record are suppressed by the narrative favored by the theorists — the very sin of which they accuse the holders of grand narratives. In this case, it is a quite particular and narrow conception of gender politics displacing and marginalizing the various dimensions of the women’s broader political agency.

What this amounts to saying is that postcolonial theory should not be described as a theory that systematically dismantles master narratives. Instead, it should be taken as functioning with its own preferred narrative — a distinct unease with class and organized politics, whether as an analytical category or as a form of political engagement. This anxiety with class also sits well with the general intellectual climate in which postcolonial theory has developed and flourished. As Aijaz Ahmad observed in his intervention two decades ago, the field came into its own precisely when working-class movements around the world fell into a steady retreat and a general pessimism set in about class politics. During the years in which postcolonial theory has flourished, the sense of despair very quickly morphed into a general hostility to class which has not only pervaded cultural studies but has extended to most every nook and cranny of the academy. This at least partially explains why the rather blatant antipathy to women’s class agency and the pessimism regarding resistance have largely escaped scrutiny in the field.

Regardless of the reasons, a dismissal of women’s class agency is evident in these texts, and it has profound implications for postcolonial theory’s political claims. Our reading confirms the observation made by other critics: that postcolonial theory has not so much enriched the critique of a globalizing capitalism as it has weakened the resources to resist it.
politics  gender  class  subaltern 
13 days ago by jstenner
How Identity Politics Has Divided the Left: An Interview With Asad Haider
In “Mistaken Identity,” Asad Haider argues that contemporary identity politics is a “neutralization of movements against racial oppression” rather than a progression of the grassroots struggle against racism. Haider, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz, puts the work of radical black activists and scholars in conversation with his personal experiences with racism and political organizing. He charts out the process through which the revolutionary visions of the black freedom movement — which understood racism and capitalism as two sides of the same coin — have been largely replaced with a narrow and limited understanding of identity.

Identity, he argues, has become abstracted from our material relationships with the state and society, which make it consequential to our lives. So when identity serves as the basis for one’s political beliefs, it manifests in division and moralizing attitudes, instead of facilitating solidarity.

“The framework of identity reduces politics to who you are as an individual and gaining recognition as an individual, rather than your membership in a collectivity and the collective struggle against an oppressive social structure,” Haider writes. “As a result, identity politics paradoxically ends up reinforcing the very norms it set out to criticize.”
identity  race  politics 
19 days ago by jstenner
Russia and the War Party
As they righteously celebrate the virtues of multiculturalism, diversity, and tolerance, liberal Democrats – now more than ever a neocon party of war – have come to embrace just the opposite: fierce hostility against other nations and cultures, smug provincialism, a recycled McCarthyism that spews hatred at even the slightest dissent from super-patriotic orthodoxy.  They pretend victim status when they are the ones targeting, attacking, smearing, and warmongering.

Worse yet, to satisfy their narrow political agendas they are perfectly ready to risk military confrontation with a nuclear power – a conflict that could lead to unprecedented global catastrophe.  Nowhere in this parochial text do the authors express the slightest concern for the horrors that might result from years of U.S./European hostility toward Russia.  Despite an unlevel economic and political playing-field, it is worth remembering that in nuclear matters Russia has rough parity with the West.  This might deter the neocons of both parties or it might not, the sad reality being is that liberal Democrats exemplified by Isikoff and Corn have little to offer the world beyond continuous war shrouded in a flimsy, desperate identity politics.
politics  Russiagate  identity  democrats 
7 weeks ago by jstenner
After the Future | AK Press
After the Future explores our century-long obsession with the concept of "the future." Beginning with F. T. Marinetti's "Futurist Manifesto" and the worldwide race toward a new and highly mechanized society that defined the "Century of Progress"...

After the Future explores our century-long obsession with the concept of "the future." Beginning with F. T. Marinetti's "Futurist Manifesto" and the worldwide race toward a new and highly mechanized society that defined the "Century of Progress," highly respected media activist Franco Berardi traces the genesis of future-oriented thought through the punk movement of the early '70s and into the media revolution of the '90s. Cyberculture, the last truly utopian vision of the future, has ended in a clash, and left behind an ever-growing system of virtual life and actual death, of virtual knowledge and actual war. Our future, Berardi argues, has come and gone; the concept has lost its usefulness. Now it's our responsibility to decide what comes next.

Drawing on his own involvement with the Autonomia movement in Italy and his collaboration and friendship with leading thinkers of the European political left, including Félix Guattari and Antonio Negri, Berardi presents a highly nuanced analysis of the state of the contemporary working class, and charts a course out of the modern dystopian moment.
art  politics  power  future  utopia  gradseminar 
9 weeks ago by jstenner
A New Study Shows How American Polarization Is Driven by a Team Sport Mentality, Not by Disagreement on Issues
She writes, “The effect of issue-based ideology is less than half the size of identity-based ideology in each element of social distance. … These are sizable and significant effects, robust to controls for issue-based ideology, and they demonstrate that Americans are dividing themselves socially on the basis of whether they call themselves liberal or conservative, independent of their actual policy differences.”
politics  identity 
10 weeks ago by jstenner
The New Cult of Consensus | nonsite.org
Finally, there’s racial consensus history—the oldest, most deeply entrenched version of consensus history—the one most closely linked to contemporary politics. Here we see the familiar elements of consensus history in their most unvarnished form: The instinctive resort to taxonomy, the relentless invocation of timelessness, the methodological idealism, the preference for mono-causal explanation, the hostility to class analysis and with it the staggering condescension directed toward those who don’t measure up to the enlightened racial views of university professors, metropolitan elites, and the New Yorker magazine.

In some ways this is the most frustrating form of consensus history because it emerged in the early sixties from a much-needed critique of progressive as well as consensus historiography, both of which had failed to deal with the issues of slavery and racial discrimination in American history. Frustrating as well because racial consensus history appears, on the surface to posit a fundamental conflict, albeit one based on racial identity. The problem, then, is not that historians in the sixties began addressing issues that had been ignored for far too long. The problem was the way they went about addressing those issues.

In place of a homogenized American Mind, for example, historians began to speak of a singular “white mind” or “white America,” alongside an equally singular “black mind” and its counterpart, a unitary “black community.” As Judith Stein, Cedric Johnson and others have demonstrated, black communitarianism smooths over the basic conflicts of interest between the black professional-managerial class and the black working class. The same critique applies to the dubious concept of an undifferentiated White Mind—a mind that is more or less racist more or less all the time. Variations were merely taxonomic—a question of what kind of racism was on display in any given setting.

If nothing ever changes, why bother to struggle? If politics has always been a waste of time for progressives, why bother with the hard work of organizing to make the world a little bit better? Consensus leaves us with no options other than the flamboyant rhetorical gesture, the chest-thumping screech of outrage, and ceaseless wailing against the dying of the light. If the way we are is the way we always always were, isn’t that the way we will always be?
history  consensus  politics 
february 2018 by jstenner
The hysteria over Russian bots has reached new levels | Thomas Frank | Opinion | The Guardian
This is the reason why: we have here a former spokesman for Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, one of the best-funded, most consummately professional efforts of all time, and he thinks it was an act of off-the-hook perceptiveness to figure out that Trump was aiming for disgruntled Sanders voters. Even after Trump himself openly said that’s what he was trying to do.
politics  social  social_media  Russiagate  thomas_frank 
february 2018 by jstenner
As Senator, I Have No Choice But to Accept Donations From This Churning Vortex of Death That Ate Your Children - McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
I know, I know. It looks bad that I take millions of dollars in political donations from Charybdis. But it’s not like I’m beholden to her pro-whirlpool agenda. Just last year, I wrote a grant in the budget to help schools waterproof their buildings.
politics  guns  rubio 
february 2018 by jstenner
Hyping the Mueller Indictment | The Nation
There is more to reevaluate. “At the heart of the Russian fraud,” writes The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos, “is an essential, embarrassing insight into American life: large numbers of Americans are ill-equipped to assess the credibility of the things they read.” Osnos is referring to the average voters presumably swayed by Russian troll farm employees. But as the journalist Max Blumenthal argues, the insight very much applies to the “well-educated coastal liberals” who have made Russiagate their top political issue over the past year. In the service of a narrative to explain—and, many hope, reverse—Donald Trump’s improbable victory, partisan thought leaders and credulous journalists have flooded the media landscape with a barrage of innuendo, supposition, and overblown claims.
politics  Russiagate 
february 2018 by jstenner
The Panthers and the Patriots
RT @jacobinmag: The story of how a group of poor whites in Chicago united with the Black Panthers to fight racism and capitalism.
politics  racism  collaboration  socialism  marx 
february 2018 by jstenner
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