Showing posts from April, 2020

Two Terrible Strategies

[I posted this to facebook years ago - February 5, 2017 to be exact.  It seems relevant again.  See below for an update.] Let’s talk strategy, because the left sucks at strategy. In particular, let’s look at asymmetrical political strategy, when your opponent has way more power than you. This applies to Berniecrats dealing with establishment Democrats. It may also apply to the radical left dealing with Berniecrats, though it’s debatable how much power Berniecrats actually have.* The essence of political strategy is leverage. The first thing to realize is that, although your opponent has more power than you, that doesn’t mean that you are powerless. The immediate goal is to figure out what kind of power you do have, and then think about how you can leverage that power to get to a stronger position.   Having leverage and using it: this is how you take over. Let’s start with: Two Terrible Strategies.

Action and Spectacle

Not only is the way that we discuss politics a symptom of the spectacular nature of capital; the state itself is a symptom of the spectacular nature of capital.  The sudden moment when jack-booted stormtroopers bust through your door, beat you with nightsticks and point a semi-automatic at your head is way more spectacular than the slow, constant, decades-long oppression of poverty, racial geographical neighborhood disparity, preventable protracted disease and ill-health and lack of access to healthcare, lifelong psychological indoctrination to patriarchal relations and unspoken ideology, and so on.  That's why people who are oppressed by spectacular capitalism will be viscerally, emotionally ready to battle against the former kind of spectacular oppression, and not the latter kinds.  They will stockpile weapons and canned food, readying themselves for an imagined apocalyptic tyranny that is always right around the corner, but it never occurs to them to rise up against the myria

A Defense of the Ego

I love egos.  I love big egos and small egos and purple egos and polka-dot egos. It's astonishing, when you bring up the word "ego" how people will immediately begin to snarl, their lips curling in aggression and disgust.  But ego is simply the Greek word for "I".  It represents the self, or more often, the self-concept.  If you say, "I hate the ego," this is not too far from saying, "I hate I" or "I hate myself" or "I hate the very concept of myself." When I use the term "ego," I am thinking of the mental construct that you create, to some degree consciously and mostly unconsciously, on the basis of your social and cultural context, to represent yourself to yourself as a distinct individual being, with your own desires, attributes, personality, and so on. There are some people out there who think that egos are bad, and that they should be annihilated - that if we could attain permanent egolessness, we

The Bomb and Antism

In his "History of Sexuality, Volume 1" Foucault famously wrote that "Where there is power, there is resistance, and yet, or rather consequently, this resistance is never in a position of exteriority in relation to power."  According Foucault's reckoning, if there were a form of power without any possible resistance, this would not be power as such, but "mere subjection".  Elsewhere he speaks of the "zero degree" of power. But this only goes to show how shallow and inadequate Foucault's theorization of power was.  He treats the possibility of resistance as an eternal verity, an a priori , axiomatic truth, for which he feels no need to provide anything like evidence.  Most importantly, he treats it as trans-historical, as a reality without a history - he feels no compulsion to explain how it is that this resistance became possible.  It is a being, not a becoming: there "is" resistance.  The idea that it will always be possible

...In Which I Pick a Fight with Walter Benjamin

Science is good for the contentions that can be proven or disproven through evidence. For everything else, there's philosophy. So philosophy cannot be proven or disproven. That's not a bug. It's not really a feature, either. It's just a reality. So what can philosophy do? It can (1) present a coherent vision of the world, that, while neither provable nor disprovable, is compelling for its elegance, its parsimony, its unity, its beauty. (2) Not offer any clear answers, but provoke and disrupt our complacent assumptions by providing insightful questions. (3) crystallize and articulate our unspoken and unthought phenomenological intuitions if only for the purpose of clarifying them for ourselves so that we can then dispel them or dispose of them. (4) (5) (6) ... 100 things philosophy can do. The problem comes in not so much when someone writes something that cannot be either proven nor disproven. Science has its validity, and philosophy has its own se