Marc Lafia on Sun, 28 Oct 2018 17:10:00 +0100 (CET)

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Greeting All

Well worth reading the entire interview. But here is a pertinent excerpt.

Learning to Love Again: An Interview with Wendy Brown

CC: Would you say that a paradox that flows from that faith is then how to actually achieve that freedom with others while taking into account the force and the power of difference? How to cope with the inevitable drive toward some form of individuation or recognition of the integrity of self through difference? Would you say that this is an ongoing agitation in mapping the project of freedom with others? 

WB: Is it a problematic of difference? Absolutely. To return again to Marx, I think he made it too simple, since the whole project of freedom with others was allowed to come to rest in labour, rather than in what we have come to understand as a multiplicity of other activities where difference actually has a more persistent rather than resolvable quality. That is the burr under the saddle of the project. On the other hand, I don't think that difference stymies or overthrows it. Difference complicates it. The project of freedom with others means not only beginning to look to some sort of sharing of power or collective engagement with the powers that condition our lives, but requires reckoning with the unknowable, the enigmatic, the uncomfortable, without then ceding to a radical libertarian ‘let us all go off with our differences' as if they were natural and ahistorical. This requires that we deal with differences not simply as social phenomena but as a domain of subjectivity and psyche, a domain much political and social theory has only recently been willing to approach.

Sent from my iPhone

On Oct 28, 2018, at 11:01 AM, Keith Hart <> wrote:

 >I do think that I, some self, alone, is ultimately incapable of politics, as is the endless multiplication of selfsameness<

Each of us is a 'self' who belongs to all humanity. These extremes are mediated by a plethora of divisions. Individuals can't act alone n politics, but we can choose with whom to act, how, when and why. The notion of this as a lifetime commitment is as irrelevant in this world as expecting a job for life.

The classes that Marx and Engels identified are not written in stone. The idea that workers have no self or small property except in their labour and the petty bourgeoisie only their selfishness and small property was always a misreading of Manchester society then and now. Beatrice Webb writes in "My Apprenticeship" that she found a new civilization in the North built on three institutions, each of which was built on collective and individual principles: the chapel (congregation and Protestant individualism), union (combination in the work place and private ownership of tools) and the coop (combination in the market and private property) which spawned a rival socialism to Marxism.

C L R James, who renounced the party but never Marxism, argued that the most difficult thing i any historical struggle (anti-capitalist, anti-colonial etc) is to work out is who the sides are. You then do your best for your side. His American Civilization (written in 1950 and published in 1993) came up with totalitarian bureaucracy vs democracy which isn't a bad label for how our world is divided. Classes certainly do and will play their part in these conflicts. Fanon's class analysis of the anti-colonial revolution in The Wretched of the Earth is exemplary of this method. This is a man who, when he came to France from Martinique refused to accept that he was Black, claiming rather to be French, a communist and a doctor. After living through the Algerian genocide, he attacked the national bourgeoisie and proclaim became a/the leading Pan-Africanist before dying of cancer at 36.

Political parties and unions were  weak and conservative in late colonial Africa, representing a tiny part of the population: the industrial workers, civil servants, intellectuals and urban shopkeepers. This was a class unwilling to jeopardize its own privileges. They were hostile to and suspicious of the mass of country people who were governed by customary chiefs supervised in turn by the occupying power. A nationalist middle class of professionals and traders opposes the superstition and feudalism of the traditional authorities. Landless peasants moved to the town where they formed a lumpenpretariat. Eventually colonial repression forced the nationalists to flea the towns and take refuge with the peasantry. The latter introduced the former to the reality of colonial rule in return for political education. Only then, with the rural-urban split temporarily healed by crisis, does a mass anti-colonial movement take off.    

Lenin said that he was just another bourgeois politicians with some extremist rhetoric until he came back to Russia and saw the soviets on the streets of St. Petersburg and Moscow. Revolutions are not made by sedentary intellectuals deciding between class and identity politics. They are made when whole peoples are on the move; then the radical politicians need to make their untested categories empirical and watch the people.

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