The security state and a theory of destituent power

by Giorgio Agamben A reflection on the destiny of democracy today here in Athens is in some way disturbing, because it obliges us to think the end of democracy in the very place where it was born. As a matter of fact, the hypothesis I would like to suggest is that the prevailing governmental paradigm in Europe today is not only non-democratic, but that it cannot be considered as political either. I will try therefore to show that European society today is no more a political society: it is something entirely new, for which we lack a proper terminology and … Continue reading The security state and a theory of destituent power

To go beyond the capitalist state

by Steve Fraser “All that is solid melts into air” is even truer about the hyper-flux of everyday life today than it was when those words first appeared in the Communist Manifesto more than a century and half ago. Truer, that is, with one major exception.  In our political life we are fixated on the past, forever looking backward. Arguably, national politics over the last half century has polarized between efforts to defend and restore the New Deal Order and relentless attempts to repeal it and replace it with something even older.  The liberal left has fought to extend or … Continue reading To go beyond the capitalist state

Radical democracy against cultures of violence

by Henry A. Giroux Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. –– Nelson Mandela Guy Debord once argued that the spectacle suggests society’s desire for sleep.[1] He was enormously prescient, and his words and work are more important today than when they were first written. The spectacle has been energized and reworked under the forces of neoliberalism and now promotes a mix of infantilism, brutality, disposability and lawlessness. As the visibility of extreme violence is endlessly reproduced in various cultural apparatuses and screen cultures, it functions increasingly, alongside a range of other economic and political … Continue reading Radical democracy against cultures of violence

Hope in the age of looming authoritarianism

by Henry A. Giroux I can understand pessimism, but I don’t believe in it. It’s not simply a matter of faith, but of historical evidence. Not overwhelming evidence, just enough to give hope, because for hope we don’t need certainty, only possibility. — Howard Zinn In the current historical moment, the line between fate and destiny is difficult to draw. Dominant power works relentlessly through its major cultural apparatuses to hide, mischaracterize, or lampoon resistance, dissent, and critically engaged social movements. This is done, in part, by sanitizing public memory and erasing critical knowledge and oppositional struggles from newspapers, radio, … Continue reading Hope in the age of looming authoritarianism

The difference Democracy does (and does not) make to peoples’ lives

by Jeff Noonan With unnoticed irony, Roger Cohen, writing in The New York Times on Bastille Day, July 14th, 2013, lamented the weeks of protest in Egypt that culminated in the army’s removal of the government of Mohammed Morsi.  Cohen argued that since the street protests overturned the results of a free election, they were undemocratic, even though massively popular.  “When is a coup not a coup?  It seems when tens of millions of Egyptians support it and choose to portray it as part of a continuing revolution that was betrayed by the ousted President, Mohammed Morsi, of the Muslim … Continue reading The difference Democracy does (and does not) make to peoples’ lives

Taking notes 29: Abundance and Apocalypse

by Steven Miller Somewhere in the ‘90s, world production crossed the historic line into Economic Abundance. Humans now produce, through the global economy, so much wealth every year that it is no longer necessary for anyone to be impoverished. The UN has long held that the world produces enough food to end hunger forever; the problem is how it is distributed. This is essentially based on ability to pay. The reality of Economic Abundance is carefully censored and hidden, because it immediately raises the fact that people today have the capacity and the tools to — if they wished — … Continue reading Taking notes 29: Abundance and Apocalypse

What does Revolution mean today?

by Jeff Noonan On May 31st what began months before as opposition to the cutting down of trees in Taksim Square in Istanbul exploded into country-wide opposition to the increasingly authoritarian rule of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  As was the case with the Arab Spring and Occupy, the Turkish youth and workers’ movement caught global commentators unawares.  Turkey had been held up as a model of “moderation” amongst “Muslim” countries:  tolerant, democratic, capitalist, a NATO member, and a trusted American ally.  Suddenly, the social fissures that had opened up the space for revolution in Tunisia and Egypt, for Occupy … Continue reading What does Revolution mean today?

Teaching democracy and revolution

by Angelo J. Letizia The next dialectal step toward demolishing capitalism and bringing the next phase of the Enlightenment is brewing. As Marx noted, the present world contains the seeds to its own destruction. The present world is the womb of the new world. But this dialectic or historical movement is not immutable; we cannot sit around and wait for it to sweep us into the golden age of history like Marx prophesized (Zizek, 2009). We must take control of it and the first step to controlling the dialectic of history and the Enlightenment is through education, this includes higher … Continue reading Teaching democracy and revolution

Lockdown, USA: The Boston marathon manhunt

by Henry A. Giroux A tragedy of errors: nobody knows any more who is who. The smoke of the explosions forms part of the much larger curtain of smoke that prevents all of us from seeing clearly. From revenge to revenge, terrorism obliges us to walk to our graves. I saw a photo, recently published, of graffiti on a wall in NYC: ‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’. — Eduardo Galeano[1] The American public rightfully expressed a collective sigh of relief and a demonstration of prodigious gratitude towards law enforcement authorities when the unprecedented manhunt for … Continue reading Lockdown, USA: The Boston marathon manhunt

Taking notes 21: The dangerous dreams of Slavoj Žižek

by Jerome Roos When George Orwell first sent in his celebrated dispatches from revolutionary Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s, the British socialist magazine The New Statesman infamously refused to publish them for being too critical of the Stalinist crackdown on the Trotskyist and anarchist militias. As editor Kingsley Martin put it in a letter to Orwell, “it is an unfortunate fact that any hostile criticism of the present Russian regime is liable to be taken as propaganda against socialism.” Still, Orwell, who had been embedded in the Trotskyist POUM and had fought the fascists side-by-side … Continue reading Taking notes 21: The dangerous dreams of Slavoj Žižek