One difference between the kind of anarchist groups I like and the classic Marxist group, for instance, is that we don’t start by defining reality – our points of unity are not our analyses of the situation, but rather what we want to do, the action we want to take, and how we go about it. Plus you have to give one another the benefit of the doubt. One of the principles of the consensus process is that you can’t challenge anyone on their motives; you have to assume that everyone is being honest and has good intentions. Not because you necessarily think it’s true, but as an extension of what might be considered the fundamental anarchist insight: if you treat people like children they will tend to act like children. If you treat them like adults, there’s at least some chance they will act responsibly. Ironically, I found this habit of generosity, this giving people the benefit of the doubt, was the exact opposite of the way I was taught to argue as a scholar.
I wrote an essay on the way games have depicted climate change for Memory Insufficient. I was pretty happy with how this turned out, and the plan is to whip it up into a more fleshed out paper later in the year. I haven’t had a chance to read the other essays but if prior issues of Memory Insufficient are any guide, they’ll be worth checking out too.
The first from Abigail Levin’s (2010) ‘The Cost of Free Speech – Pornography, Hate Speech and their Challenge to Liberalism‘, p.150:
…censorship does not, and indeed cannot, operate in anything like the way that classical Millian liberal accounts suppose – that is, contrary to Mill’s account, subjects are not potentially censored by the state after speaking or after forming an intention to speak. They are ‘censored,’ if the term even makes any sense, well before they start to speak, and they are censored by repressive discourse itself, much of which is state driven. On the classical liberal conception of censorship, ‘censorship is an act of external interference with the internally generated communicative, expressive, artistic, or informational preferences of some agent’ (Schauer 1998: 150). This view takes for granted the traditional liberal account of subjectivity, where a subject is uncontroversially endowed, or deemed to be endowed, with the privacy and autonomy to formulate her own preferences, thoughts, and feelings. This picture takes the distinction between the internal – the realm of the agent – and the external – the realm of the other, usually the state – for granted. On the other hand, a Foucauldian account, including Butler’s, would problematize this distinction: if subjects are a production of power that is to some degree external to them, it would follow that there is no sharp distinction between the private, autonomous subject and the external world, composed of forces that act upon such subjects.
And Althusser’s (1969-70) ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses’:
…an ideology always exists in an apparatus, and its practice, or practices. This existence is material.
Of course, the material existence of the ideology in an apparatus and its practices does not have the same modality as the material existence of a paving-stone or a rifle.
An individual believes in God, or Duty, or Justice, etc. …The individual in question behaves in such and such a way, adopts such and such a practical attitude, and, what is more, participates in certain regular practices which are those of the ideological apparatus on which ‘depend’ the ideas which he has in all consciousness freely chosen as a subject. If he believes in God, he goes to Church to attend Mass, kneels, prays, confesses, does penance (once it was material in the ordinary sense of the term) and naturally repents and so on. If he believes in Duty, he will have the corresponding attitudes, inscribed in ritual practices ‘according to the correct principles’. If he believes in Justice, he will submit unconditionally to the rules of the Law, and may even protest when they are violated, sign petitions, take part in a demonstration, etc.
Throughout this schema we observe that the ideological representation of ideology is itself forced to recognize that every ‘subject’ endowed with a ‘consciousness’ and believing in the ‘ideas’ that his ‘consciousness’ inspires in him and freely accepts, must ‘act according to his ideas’, must therefore inscribe his own ideas as a free subject in the actions of his material practice. If he does not do so, ‘that is wicked’.
Indeed, if he does not do what he ought to do as a function of what he believes, it is because he does something else, which, still as a function of the same idealist scheme, implies that he has other ideas in his head as well as those he proclaims, and that he acts according to these other ideas, as a man who is either ‘inconsistent’ (‘no one is willingly evil’) or cynical, or perverse.
Watching this video makes me giddy. The world seems to peel back and the ground folds away beneath you, and if you concentrate on it in just the right way, you can step through the portal, temporarily, into a zone or region completely unlike anyplace you’ve ever been or ever will.
I got chills watching these real, true heroes of the anti-war movement discuss the reasons for their break in to an FBI field office in order to expose the truly horrible actions of the FBI. For some reason, the details of the COINTELPRO campaign the FBI waged against the anti-war left wasn’t something I was privvy to. Like so much successful (and unsuccessful) historical left activism, the history of these movements and individual actions is not taught in schools, hardly anyone mentions it, and to our great detriment.
The only reason I decided to even make a possible list (and it is pretty tentative, stuff could definitely move around a but in there with a bit more thought) is b/c of Andi McClure’s very encompassing poll.