on (neo)liberalism

"For revolt to remain a weapon, for it to pose any threat at all, the spell of liberalism must be broken. There is no time to waste seeking the comforts of being recognized as virtuous in defeat, of appearing on the right side of history even as history blazes and burns indifferently ahead. Success will not be measured by the degree to which we are represented by power, by the degree revolt accumulates as images, but only by whether we abolish any power that could possibly hope to ever recognize us."

--"Liberal Infernos" by Ian Alan Paul

"Realism is a demand dressed up as an observation. Realists like Margaret Thatcher insisted 'there is no alternative' to neoliberalism, but what she meant was 'stop trying to think of an alternative.' Hardin didn't just claim that some commons turned tragic, he claimed that the tragedy of the commons was inevitable – that we shouldn't even bother trying to create public goods.

The Ostrom method – actually studying how something works, rather than asking yourself how it would work if everyone thought like you – is a powerful tonic to this, but it's not the only one. One of the things that makes science fiction so powerful is its ability to ask how a system would work under some different social arrangement.

It's a radical proposition. Don't just ask what the gadget does: ask who it does it for and who it does it to."

--"Ostromizing democracy" by Cory Doctorow

"The problem with neoliberalism and financialization, which is different than other earlier moments of capitalism, is not that it’s trying to close down the imagination. Back in the nineteenth century, capitalists had no interest in the imagination of workers, and if workers’ imaginations became too grand and they thought they perhaps deserved not to starve—or that they deserved, for instance, to take over the means of production—that would be answered by brutal repressive force.

Today, in this moment of capitalism, because it’s so highly individualized and so highly based on individuals imagining themselves as competitive agents with one another, and so deeply invested in consumerism—neoliberal financialization as a system, if we can say it wants something, what it wants is for all of us to reorient our imagination and creativity towards participation within the system. So it doesn’t close down imagination or creativity. It would be more accurate to say that it puts it to work. It encourages each of us to put it to work in the name of our own individual economic survival."

--Max Haiven, in "Art/Work: On creativity, culture and labor under capitalism"

(Transcript by Antidote Writers Collective)

"The neoliberals understood from the beginning that democracy, if given its way, would inevitably be redistributive, and would inevitably engage in social justice programs (economic, cultural, social, you name it) that would benefit the disadvantaged. And if the neoliberals (all the different schools of neoliberalism—the one we call the Chicago School, Milton Friedman; the one we call the Austrian School, Hayek; the one Americans don’t know as much about called the Ordoliberal School, basically the current structure of the European Union) all agreed on two things it was these: what must govern societies is not states and not legislatures and not 'the people,' but markets on the one hand and traditional morality on the other. Because both of these are spontaneously evolved orders of cooperation and organization that don’t involve anybody’s idea of the Good. They just evolve from what works and what is effective and what is sustained over time. So the state should get out of the way.

The other thing that they all agreed on was that this meant you had to limit democracy. You had to essentially say that all legislatures should do is make universal rules, support markets, and support traditional morality; and all that democratic people should do is vote. Nothing more. Not legislate, not intervene, not engage in social justice projects, not produce egalitarianism at the political or social level (let alone the economic level)."

--Wendy Brown, in "Neoliberalism emptied the world: On free markets, traditional morality and nothing else."

(Transcript by Antidote Writers Collective)

on feminism

“The feminist framework sees sexual practices as a key site for the production of gender roles, 'sexed bodies' (the notion that bodies become 'sexed' or imbued with 'sexual difference' through discourse and through embodied, gender-reifying sexual practices), and power itself.

The critique was about rejecting the false dichotomy between sexual practice and exercise of patriarchal power. It was never supposed to be about positing a mutually exclusive boundary between sexuality/desire, and the exercises of power. It was quite literally the opposite. It was about recognizing that rape is the both the ultimate expression of the patriarchal sexualization of power AND the ultimate means of imbuing bodies, sexuality, and desires with hierarchical, power-stratified meanings.

Rape, in this feminist analysis, is the invention of patriarchal gender.”

“Sex, Desire, and Violence: What Do We Mean by 'Rape is About Power'?” by narcissus of Judith's Dagger

(CW: Sexual Violence, Sexual Coercion, Child Sexual Assault, Rape Apologia, Pedophilia (Non-Graphic))

"Gender distinctions pervade even gender liberatory efforts and institutions. Yet since the late 20th century, a range of theorists have argued for gender differentiation to be ended altogether. The call for gender abolition has been sporadically articulated both in communist theory and other revolutionary writings since the 1970s. The greater levels of violence faced by trans women suggests that we, as a group, would stand most to benefit from the abolition of gender. Yet increasingly, this aim has become a dead letter in many trans activist circles. For various reasons the term ‘gender abolition’ itself has become a term of considerable contention in recent years. For the most part the aim has become a phantasm in the worldview of reactionaries. A recent piece by notorious ‘gay Tory’ Andrew Sullivan, who decried:

… the current attempt to deny the profound natural differences between men and women, and to assert, with a straight and usually angry face, that gender is in no way rooted in sex, and that sex is in no way rooted in biology. This unscientific product of misandrist feminism and confused transgenderism is striding through the culture, and close to no one in the elite is prepared to resist it.

Yet the proposal to abolish gender does have a proud history, spanning various traditions of revolutionary thought. Through introducing the various uses of the term, I hope to provide some strategic clarity. If abolition is to be of any political use, it must be as a basis for shared action, rather than a lofty aim ever hoped for and never realised."

--"The Call for Gender Abolition: From Materialist Lesbianism to Gay Communism" by Jules Joanne Gleeson

against state and capital

"Again, capital is not an accumulated mass of material things—it is not even material things in general—but exploitative control over access to material means of survival. Insinuating that under communism, 'nobody can be rich' is a negative fundamentally denies what richness actually is under capitalism—an embodiment of successful exploitative control over access to material means of survival. There is no unexploitative method of becoming rich, of gaining ownership over material wealth—and in fact I've heard someone argue that under communism, we should expect material standards of living to decrease, because the 'higher' standards of living those of us are used to in the imperial core only exist as a result of us exploiting the periphery."

"For Fuck's Sake, Socialism Is Not 'Nobody Should Be Poor'" by parrhesia

"Montaldi once wrote of those militants he interviewed in the 1960s that they 'often see politics as "something dirty",' while adding that 'for all [of them], politics is something that requires commitment as a group as well as an individual.' This shared undertaking was to be instantiated by 'organizing the collective capacity to act' lying latent within the broader movement. The quest to identify such potentiality, searching for 'the grand in the minute' that might gesture towards a shared project able to spring forth from within – yet also reach beyond – the here-and-now, meant that militants were typically 'somewhat "outside", outside the daily behavior of others, and often "set apart" [un isolato].' In the words of Augusto Illuminati, 'for the revolutionary, the present is charged with the future,' while for Gigi Roggero, revolutionaries 'act within and against history; they do not follow the spirit of the times, but rather assault it.'"

"What Are Militants?" by Steve Wright