So far as we feel sympathy, we feel we are not accomplices to what caused the suffering. Our sympathy proclaims our innocence as well as our impotence. To that extent, it can be (for all our good intentions) an impertinent –if not inappropriate– response. To set aside the sympathy we extend to others beset by war and murderous politics for a reflection on how our privileges are located on the same map as their suffering, and may –in ways we might prefer not to imagine– be linked to their suffering, as the wealth of some may imply the destitution of others, is a task for which the painful, stirring images supply only an initial spark.

Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (via afghangry)

Among others there are two kinds of philosophizing: there is a privileged philosophy pedal by those protected by the fortress called the neoliberal Academy and there is the nomadic “Homeless” philosophy. The philosopher of the former category can talk about Philosophy but their words betray them in the very professing of it. Then there are those who profess a philosophy from the point of view of poverty. This category of philosophizing connects the words with the action. The seeds of a revolution can only be grown from The germs of a philosophy from the point of view of poverty.

Creston Davis from his conversations with teacher Alain Badiou, using Deleuzian terms against the hypocritical neoliberal academy (via multiverse-honeybears)

…We are something like apparitions today; juggling a multiplicity of selves through the noise; the “you” you are on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Tinder…wherever…at your day job, your night job, your hobby, your primary relationship, your friend-with-benefits, your incredibly astonishing range of extracurricular activities. But this hyperfragmentation of self gives rise to a kind of schizophrenia; conflicts, dissocations, tensions, dislocations, anxieties, paranoias, delusions. Our social wombs do not give birth to our true selves; the selves explosive with capability, possibility, wonder.

Tap tap tap. And yet. We are barely there, at all; in our own lives; in the moments which we will one day look back on and ask ourselves…what were we thinking wasting our lives on things that didn’t matter at all?

The answer, of course, is that we weren’t thinking. Or feeling. We don’t have time to think anymore. Thinking is a superluxury. Feeling is an even bigger superluxury.


柄谷行人, 探求 I


柄谷行人, 探求 I

The new art of government therefore appears as the management of freedom, not in the sense of the imperative: “be free,” with the immediate contradiction that this imperative may contain. The formula of liberalism is not “be free.” Liberalism formulates simply the following: I am going to produce what you need to be free. I am going to see to it that you are free to be free. And so, if this liberalism is not so much the imperative of freedom as the management and organization of the conditions in which one can be free […] Liberalism must produce freedom, but this very act entails the establishment of limitations, controls, forms of coercion, and obligations relying on threats, etcetera.’

Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics (via thegreatrefusal)


JOAN CRAWFORD:  This famous scene from “Mommie Dearest" shows Joan Crawford — played by actress Faye Dunaway — confronting the Pepsi Cola board of directors after the death in 1959 of her husband, Al Steele, who had been the company’s president. Crawford was initially advised that her services were no longer required. After she told the story to Louella Parsons, Pepsi reversed its position and Crawford was elected to fill the vacant seat on the board of directors. I love the way this encounter reflects the tensions of gender and power in corporate America.

Jodi Rudoren and Isabel Kershner and the rest of the reporters at the New York Times Jerusalem bureau actually have to devote endless stores of energy to avoid reporting on all of the outrages unfolding all around them. Instead of reporting on the Prawer Plan to ethnically cleanse Bedouin citizens of Israel, for example, or the anti-African race riots in Tel Aviv—pivotal events in the history of the state of Israel—Rudoren covers a beauty contest for Holocaust survivors or takes to Facebook to complain about how she missed her spinning class but made up for it by scaling the steps of a building in Gaza destroyed by Israeli bombing. And when Kershner covers the national campaign to expel non-Jewish Africans, she focuses the story on the liberal Israelis and their anguished souls, rather than on the Africans who are being rounded up and placed in camps for the crime of not being Jewish. Just imagine if they went out and covered what was actually happening on the ground and clinically detailed the logic and planning behind it.
 When I stayed in Jaffa, just five minutes south of Tel Aviv, I witnessed racist extremism all around me through the state-orchestrated process of Judaization. In Jaffa, this process takes the form of a very politicized kind of gentrification, with wealthy Tel Aviv tech entrepreneurs and wealthy American Jews being planted into the heart of this poor, deliberately neglected community—where, by the way, there are/were five hundred standing eviction orders, almost all for Palestinian residents. Judaization in Jaffa also has relied on the increasing presence of religious nationalists not so different from the fanatical settlers in the West Bank. My favorite fish restaurant, a Palestinian-owned place where I would sometimes hang out with friends and colleagues from Tel Aviv, was attacked and firebombed by right-wing extremists. A house down the street was attacked and just weeks before one of the oldest Muslim graveyards in Palestine was vandalized in a “price-tag” attack by settlers. This is inside the heart of “Israel proper.” Soon after that a group of settlers won an auction to build a religious nationalist yeshiva in the middle of Jaffa.

We are already seeing the social hierarchy being registered in more subtle criteria: type of work and responsibility, level of education and culture (the wayof consuming everyday goods may itself be a kind of ‘scarce commodity’), participation in decision-making. Knowledge and power are, or are going to become, the two great scarce commodities of our affluent societies.
 But these abstract criteria do not prevent us, even today, from reading a growing discrimination in other concrete signs. Segregation by place of residence is not new, but, being increasingly linked to a consciously induced shortage and chronic speculation, it is tending to become decisive, in terms of both geographical segregation (town centres and outskirts, residential zones, rich ghettos, dormitory suburbs, etc.) and habitable space (the inside and outside of the dwelling, the addition of a ‘second home’, etc.). Objects are less important today than space and the social marking of space. Habitat thus perhaps has an opposite function to that of other consumables. The latter have a homogenizing function, the former a differentiating function in terms of space and location.
 Nature, space, clean air, silence—it is the incidence of the pursuit of these scarce commodities and their high price which we read in the differential indices of expenditure between two categories at opposite ends of the social spectrum. The difference in expenditure between workers and senior managers on essential goods is 100:135, but it is 100:245 on household equipment, 100:305 on transport and 100:390 on leisure. One should not see these figures as showing a quantitative graduation within a homogeneous space of consumption, but see, through them, the social discrimination attaching to the quality of goods sought after.
 There is much talk of the right to health, to space, to beauty, to holidays, to knowledge and to culture. And, as these new rights emerge, so ministries emerge with them, such as the Ministries of Health, or of Leisure. And why not add Beauty and Clean Air? This whole phenomenon, which seems to express a general individual and collective advance, rewarded in the end with embodiment in institutions, is ambiguous in its meaning and one might, as it were, see it as representing quite the opposite: there is no right to space until there no longer is space for everyone, and until space and silence are the privilege of some at the expense of others. Just as there was no ‘right to property’ until there was no longer land for everyone and there was no right to work until work became, within the framework of the division of labour, an exchangeable commodity, i.e. one which no longer belonged specifically to individuals. We might ask whether the ‘right to leisure’ does not, similarly, mean that leisure too has reached the stage of technical and social division which work did before it and has thus, in fact, come to an end.
 The appearance of these new social rights, brandished as slogans and emblazoned on the democratic banner of the affluent society, is in fact symptomatic, therefore, of the elements concerned acquiring the status of distinctive signs and class (or caste) privileges. The ‘right to clean air’ signifies the loss of clean air as a natural good, its transition to commodity status and its inegalitarian social redistribution. One should not mistake for objective social progress (something being entered as a right in the tables of the law) what is simply the advance of the capitalist system—i.e. the progressive transformation of all concrete and natural values into productive forms, i.e. into sources
 1 of economic profit;
 2 of social privilege.

Jean Baudrillard, The Consumer Society

Let us return, for a moment, to the specific ideology of leisure. Rest, relaxation, escape and distraction are, perhaps, ‘needs’: but they do not in themselves define the specific exigency of leisure, which is the consumption of time. Free time is, perhaps, the entire ludic activity one fills it up with, but it is, first of all, the freedom to waste one’s time, and possibly even to ‘kill’ it, to expend it as pure loss (this is why it is insufficient to say that leisure is ‘alienated’ because it is merely the time necessary to reproduce labour power. The alienation of leisure is more profound: it does not relate to the direct subordination to working time, but is linked to the very impossibility of wasting one’s time).
 The true use-value of time, the use-value which leisure desperately tries to restore, is that of being wasted. The holidays are this quest for a time which one can waste in the full sense of the term, without that waste entering in its turn into a process of calculation, without that time being (at the same time) in some way ‘earned’. In our system of production and productive forces, one can only earn one’s time: this fatality weighs upon leisure as it does upon work. One can only ‘exploit [faire-valoir] one’s time’, if only by making a spectacularly empty use of it. The free time of the holidays remains the private property of the holiday-maker: an object, a possession he has earned with the sweat of his brow over the year; it is something owned by him, possessed by him as he possesses his other objects — something he could not relinquish to give it or sacrifice it (as one does with objects in making gifts of them), to yield it back up to total availability, to that absence of time which would be true freedom. He is tethered to ‘his’ time as Prometheus was tethered to his rock, tethered to the Promethean myth of time as productive force.
 Sisyphus, Tantalus, Prometheus: all the existential myths of ‘absurd freedom’ are reasonably accurate representations of the holiday-maker in his setting, with all his desperate efforts to imitate ‘vacation’, gratuitousness, a total dispossession, a void, a loss of himself and of his time which he cannot achieve, being, as he is, an object caught up in a definitively objectivized dimension of time.
 We are in an age when men will never manage to waste enough time to be rid of the inevitability of spending their lives earning it. But you can’t throw off time like underwear. You can no longer either kill it or waste it, any more than you can money, since they are both the very expression of the exchange-value system. In the symbolic dimension, gold and money are excrement. It is the same with objectivized time. But it is, in fact, very rare — and logically impossible in the current system — for money or time to be restored to their ‘archaic’, sacrificial function of excrement. That would really be to deliver oneself of them in the symbolic mode. In the order based on calculation and capital, things are, in a sense, precisely the opposite way about: objectivized by it, and manipulated by it as exchange-value, it is we who have become the excrement of money, it is we who have become the excrement of time.
 Thus, everywhere, in spite of the fiction of freedom in leisure, ‘free’ time is logically impossible: there can only be constrained time. The time of consumption is that of production. It is so to the extent that it is only ever an ‘escapist’ parenthesis in the cycle of production. But, once again,this functional complementarity (variously shared out in the different social classes) is not its essential determination. Leisure is constrained in so far as, behind its apparent gratuitousness, it faithfully reproduces all the mental and practical constraints which are those of productive time and subjugated [asservi] daily life.

Jean Baudrillard, The Consumer Society

A thousand Hamas missiles cannot erase the stain of the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, nor can the murder of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel extenuate it. Introspection in a time of war is perhaps a lot to ask; people under attack are not inclined to guilt. But the burning of the Palestinian boy must not be eclipsed by the struggle against the aggressions of Hamas. There is no Iron Dome to intercept the conscience. The day of the atrocity against Muhammad Abu Khdeir—a revenge killing in a society that mocks revenge killings in other societies—was a dark day in the history of the state and the religion in whose name it was, however falsely, perpetrated. The maniacs who perpetrated the crime did not, in their ideas and words, come from nowhere, from no politics, from no culture. The top-to-bottom revulsion in Israel at what was done in the forest near Jerusalem, a sincere revulsion, does not end the matter. Regret, if it is to be genuine, cannot be efficient. It certainly must not become another ground for the sensation of moral superiority. The makeshift monument in the forest that was erected to the memory of the Palestinian boy was defaced, and erected again, and defaced again. Even as it endures sirens and shelters, Israeli society must cultivate its revulsion, its sickened feeling, not least because the ruin of relations between peoples is even more dangerous than the ruin of relations between presidents and prime ministers.

We may also take it, with Chombart de Lauwe, that, rather than matching up ‘aspirations, needs and satisfactions’ as it claims to do, this society creates ever greater disparities both among individuals and among social groups who are wrestling, on the one hand, with the imperative of competition and upward social mobility and, on the other, with the — now highly internalized — imperative to maximalize their pleasures. Under so many opposing constraints, the individual comes apart. The social discrepancy of inequalities is added to the internal discrepancy between needs and aspirations to make this society one that is increasingly at odds with itself, disunited, suffering from a ‘malaise’. Fatigue (or ‘asthenia’) will then be interpreted as a response on the part of modern man — a response in the form of a passive refusal — to his conditions of existence. But it has to be seen that this ‘passive refusal’ is in fact a latent violence,and that it is, by this token, only one possible response, the others being responses of overt violence. Here again, we have to restore the principle of ambivalence. Fatigue, depression, neurosis are always convertible into overt violence, and vice versa. The fatigue of the citizen of post-industrial society is not far removed from the ‘go-slow’ or ‘slowdown’ of factory workers, or the schoolchild’s ‘boredom’. These are all forms of passive resistance; they are ‘ingrowing’ in the way one speaks of an ‘ingrowing toenail’, turning back in towards the flesh, towards the inside.
 In fact, we must reverse all the terms of the spontaneous view: fatigue is not passivity set against the social hyperactivity outside. It is, rather, the only form of activity which can, in certain conditions, be set against the constraint of general passivity which applies in current social relations. The tired pupil is the one who passively goes along with what the teacher says. The tired worker or bureaucrat is the one who has had all responsibility taken from him in his work. Political ‘indifference’, that catatonia of the modern citizen, is the indifference of the individual deprived of any decision-making powers and left only with the sop of universal suffrage. And the physical and mental monotony of work on the production line or in the office plays its part, too: the muscular, vascular, physiological catalepsy of positions imposed (both standing and seated), of stereotyped gestures, of all the inertia of the chronic underemployment of the body in our society. But this is not the essential point, and this is why ‘pathological’ fatigue will not be cured by sport and muscular exercise as naïve specialists contend (any more than it will by stimulants or tranquillizers). For fatigue is a concealed form of protest, which turns round against oneself and ‘grows into’ one’s own body because, in certain conditions, that is the only thing on which the dispossessed individual can take out his frustration, just as the blacks rebelling in the cities of America begin by burning down their own neighbourhoods. True passivity is to be found in the joyful conformity to the system of the ‘dynamic’ young manager, bright-eyed and broadshouldered, ideally fitted to continual activity. Fatigue is an activity, a latent, endemic revolt, unconscious of itself. This explains its function: the ‘slowdown’, in all its forms, is (like neurosis) the only way to avoid total, genuine breakdown. And it is because it is a (latent) activity that it can suddenly go over into open revolt, as the month of May [1968] everywhere showed. The spontaneous, total contagion, the ‘powderkeg’ of the May movement can only be explained by this hypothesis: what was taken for lifelessness, disaffection and generalized passivity was in fact a potential of forces active in their very resignation, in their ebbing — and hence immediately available. There was no miracle. And the ebbing since May is not an inexplicable ‘reversal’ of the process either. It is the conversion of a form of open revolt into a modality of latent protest (the term 'protest' should indeed be applied only to this latter form: it refers to the many forms of refusal cut off momentarily from a practice of radical change).

Jean Baudrillard, The Consumer Society

The problem of ‘tolerance’ (liberalism, laxism, the ‘permissive society’, etc.) takes the same form. The fact that those who were once mortal enemies are now on speaking terms, that the most fiercely opposed ideologies ‘enter into dialogue’, that a kind of peaceful coexistence has set in at all levels, that morality is less strict than it was, in no sense signifies some ‘humanist’ progress in human relations, a greater understanding of problems or any such airy nonsense. It indicates simply that, since ideologies, opinions, virtues and vices are ultimately merely material for exchange and communication, all contradictory elements are equivalent in the play of signs. Tolerance in this context is no longer either a psychological trait or a virtue: it is a modality of the system itself. It is like the total compatibility and elasticity of the elements of fashion: long skirts and mini-skirts ‘tolerate’ each other very well (indeed they signify nothing other than the relationship which holds between them).
 Tolerance connotes morally the generalized relativity of functions/ signs, objects/signs, beings/signs, relations/signs, ideas/signs. In fact, we are beyond the opposition between fanaticism and tolerance, as we are beyond that between sincerity and fakery. ‘Moral’ tolerance is no greater than it was before. We have simply changed systems; we have moved on to functional compatibility.

Jean Baudrillard, The Consumer Society