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This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

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3

[...] accidents are the proper subject of this book.

I don’t mean happenstances, or missteps—too many liberal commentators frame our current political moment as a baffling mistake; history taking a wrong turn. I mean “accident” as it was used by late theorist and urbanist Paul Virilio: the accident which is contained within, and brought into the world by, the inventions of progress—what gets hailed as progress—itself.

“When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane, you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution,” he wrote. “Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress.” Invent the car, invent the car crash. Invent nuclear power, invent the H-bomb. Invent networked online communications, invent totalized, mutually enforced surveillance and even new modes of election fraud. The accident is not the inevitability—the advent of the car did not, of course, determine any given car crash—but it brought to life the possibility of such things, to which we are all too often blinded by the propaganda of progress as some smooth, unidirectional passage. Accidents happen; technical progress determines what kind of accidents can exist.

Virilio applied the concept of the “accident” to technological advancement and its logic of acceleration. But the idea is useful broadly, when looking at the operations through which society, selves and power are produced and organized. For example, if the current growth of fascism is an accident, in a sense cribbed from Virilio, it is not because it is a diversion, antithetical to liberal capitalism. The accident was baked into the context.

—p.3 Introduction (1) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago

[...] accidents are the proper subject of this book.

I don’t mean happenstances, or missteps—too many liberal commentators frame our current political moment as a baffling mistake; history taking a wrong turn. I mean “accident” as it was used by late theorist and urbanist Paul Virilio: the accident which is contained within, and brought into the world by, the inventions of progress—what gets hailed as progress—itself.

“When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane, you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution,” he wrote. “Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress.” Invent the car, invent the car crash. Invent nuclear power, invent the H-bomb. Invent networked online communications, invent totalized, mutually enforced surveillance and even new modes of election fraud. The accident is not the inevitability—the advent of the car did not, of course, determine any given car crash—but it brought to life the possibility of such things, to which we are all too often blinded by the propaganda of progress as some smooth, unidirectional passage. Accidents happen; technical progress determines what kind of accidents can exist.

Virilio applied the concept of the “accident” to technological advancement and its logic of acceleration. But the idea is useful broadly, when looking at the operations through which society, selves and power are produced and organized. For example, if the current growth of fascism is an accident, in a sense cribbed from Virilio, it is not because it is a diversion, antithetical to liberal capitalism. The accident was baked into the context.

—p.3 Introduction (1) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago
11

[...] We are observing a phenomenon that Martin Luther King Jr. noted well in his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” We are dealing with “the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.’” There is no shortage of irony in the invocation of MLK by today’s white moderates in order to decry Antifa tactics as violent; in fact, I believe (if one can so speculate) that these same commentators would have been critical of his radical nonviolence, predicated as it was on the provocation of violent spectacle. It is a great liberal tradition to stand on the wrong side of history until that history is comfortably in the past.

oof

—p.11 We, Anti-Fascists (7) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago

[...] We are observing a phenomenon that Martin Luther King Jr. noted well in his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” We are dealing with “the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.’” There is no shortage of irony in the invocation of MLK by today’s white moderates in order to decry Antifa tactics as violent; in fact, I believe (if one can so speculate) that these same commentators would have been critical of his radical nonviolence, predicated as it was on the provocation of violent spectacle. It is a great liberal tradition to stand on the wrong side of history until that history is comfortably in the past.

oof

—p.11 We, Anti-Fascists (7) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago
16

And what of the fascisms in each of us who would be anti-fascist? “Kill the cop inside your head!” goes the anarchist dictum. As philosopher John Protevi noted in his 2000 essay, following Deleuze and Guatarri, “A thousand independent and self-appointed policemen do not make a Gestapo, though they may be a necessary condition for one.” How do we remove ourselves as participants in such a condition? Easier said than done. We cannot simply be anti-fascist; we must also practice and make better habits, forms of life. Rather than as a noun or adjective, anti-fascist as a gerund verb: a constant effort of anti-fascisting against the fascisms that even we ourselves uphold. Working to create nonhierarchical ways of living, working to undo our own privileges and desires for power. The individualized and detached Self, the over-codings of family-unit normativity, the authoritarian tendency of careerism—all of them paranoiac sites of micro-fascism in need of anti-fascist care. Again, easier said than done. But better than a faulty approach to anti-fascism that frames it as some pure position, when it is anything but. We act against fascists in the knowledge we need to act against ourselves, too. The strategy is always to create consequences for living a fascist life and seek anti-fascist departures.

—p.16 We, Anti-Fascists (7) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago

And what of the fascisms in each of us who would be anti-fascist? “Kill the cop inside your head!” goes the anarchist dictum. As philosopher John Protevi noted in his 2000 essay, following Deleuze and Guatarri, “A thousand independent and self-appointed policemen do not make a Gestapo, though they may be a necessary condition for one.” How do we remove ourselves as participants in such a condition? Easier said than done. We cannot simply be anti-fascist; we must also practice and make better habits, forms of life. Rather than as a noun or adjective, anti-fascist as a gerund verb: a constant effort of anti-fascisting against the fascisms that even we ourselves uphold. Working to create nonhierarchical ways of living, working to undo our own privileges and desires for power. The individualized and detached Self, the over-codings of family-unit normativity, the authoritarian tendency of careerism—all of them paranoiac sites of micro-fascism in need of anti-fascist care. Again, easier said than done. But better than a faulty approach to anti-fascism that frames it as some pure position, when it is anything but. We act against fascists in the knowledge we need to act against ourselves, too. The strategy is always to create consequences for living a fascist life and seek anti-fascist departures.

—p.16 We, Anti-Fascists (7) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago
22

We must delineate what we are, and are not, willing to name “violence.” I don’t believe a smashed bank window or a burning trash can on the Berkeley campus outside a Milo speech to be victims of violence or to produce victims. But that is not an absolute distinction related to animate versus inanimate objects—for a smashed mosque window or a swastika on a Jewish grave would, by my lights, produce legitimate victims of violence. The latter, but not the former, are in service of an ideology—white supremacy—in which violence inheres. There is a crucial distinction between destruction as collateral damage of a political end (say, in the goal of disrupting a neo-Nazi gathering), versus as its central tenet (genocide).

Anti-fascist violence is thus a counterviolence, not an instigation of violence onto a terrain of preexisting peace. A situation in which fascists can gather to preach hate and chant “blood and soil”—this is a background state of violence. The problem we face, then, is not so much that of necessary violence as it is one of impossible nonviolence.

—p.22 We, Anti-Fascists (7) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago

We must delineate what we are, and are not, willing to name “violence.” I don’t believe a smashed bank window or a burning trash can on the Berkeley campus outside a Milo speech to be victims of violence or to produce victims. But that is not an absolute distinction related to animate versus inanimate objects—for a smashed mosque window or a swastika on a Jewish grave would, by my lights, produce legitimate victims of violence. The latter, but not the former, are in service of an ideology—white supremacy—in which violence inheres. There is a crucial distinction between destruction as collateral damage of a political end (say, in the goal of disrupting a neo-Nazi gathering), versus as its central tenet (genocide).

Anti-fascist violence is thus a counterviolence, not an instigation of violence onto a terrain of preexisting peace. A situation in which fascists can gather to preach hate and chant “blood and soil”—this is a background state of violence. The problem we face, then, is not so much that of necessary violence as it is one of impossible nonviolence.

—p.22 We, Anti-Fascists (7) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago
30

In my web of belief, my bathroom ghost sits somewhere liminal; he’s not part of how I typically navigate the world, which requires constant banal prediction. That it remains there, however, is ethically important. Your ghosts, too, your demons, your holy visions, don’t need to exist; you could no doubt account for them scientifically. The bombastic tendency of Western science is to pathologize, and thus to dismiss such things. But the question of what realities are possible should not just be answered by the measurable components of what already has been. Does maintaining the reality of your ghost hurt you or help you? Does a collective commitment to something mystical, outside “reason,” cause more harm than good? My bathroom ghost is a heuristic (again, not a metaphor) for considering what is desirable to allow in our worlds as opposed to that which we should explain away. Because even though I could explain him away, he will still come and scare me. So I might as well make epistemic room for him; it’s more interesting to do so.

—p.30 Ghost Stories (25) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago

In my web of belief, my bathroom ghost sits somewhere liminal; he’s not part of how I typically navigate the world, which requires constant banal prediction. That it remains there, however, is ethically important. Your ghosts, too, your demons, your holy visions, don’t need to exist; you could no doubt account for them scientifically. The bombastic tendency of Western science is to pathologize, and thus to dismiss such things. But the question of what realities are possible should not just be answered by the measurable components of what already has been. Does maintaining the reality of your ghost hurt you or help you? Does a collective commitment to something mystical, outside “reason,” cause more harm than good? My bathroom ghost is a heuristic (again, not a metaphor) for considering what is desirable to allow in our worlds as opposed to that which we should explain away. Because even though I could explain him away, he will still come and scare me. So I might as well make epistemic room for him; it’s more interesting to do so.

—p.30 Ghost Stories (25) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago
32

Derrida’s ghosts that put time out of joint shouldn’t be so strange to us digital denizens. We live with and through digital selves, and we are beyond the era in which online experiences and relations were deemed and experienced as “unreal.” We have normalized the fact of our enmeshed digital existences and expanded what we allow to be “real” selves, real experiences. How the internet functions is wholly explicable—there’s no spectral mystery as to how we integrate into net-works—but just how our phenomenology has accommodated them is a magic of sorts. It evidences our ability to relate in ways once deemed unreal. It took collective leaps of faith to see online avatars as aspects of people rather than simply pictures of them, to feel an iPhone as a bodily extension. “There you are!” I say as a friend goes green on Google Hangouts. We’ve shifted the possibilities of “there” and “where” a whole lot in recent decades. We don’t call digitally integrated life “mystical” or “paranormal”; tech companies would rather we simply call it “progress” and reap the profits for themselves.

Still, it took choice and a certain consensus (albeit hierarchically organized by Silicon Valley technocapital) to permit digital reality to become real. That choice was simultaneously one to introduce ambiguity into the real; otherwise, “IRL” would make no sense as a phrase. My ghost is possible by the same logic, although, to his credit, he will not find articulation through capitalist enterprise.

—p.32 Ghost Stories (25) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Derrida’s ghosts that put time out of joint shouldn’t be so strange to us digital denizens. We live with and through digital selves, and we are beyond the era in which online experiences and relations were deemed and experienced as “unreal.” We have normalized the fact of our enmeshed digital existences and expanded what we allow to be “real” selves, real experiences. How the internet functions is wholly explicable—there’s no spectral mystery as to how we integrate into net-works—but just how our phenomenology has accommodated them is a magic of sorts. It evidences our ability to relate in ways once deemed unreal. It took collective leaps of faith to see online avatars as aspects of people rather than simply pictures of them, to feel an iPhone as a bodily extension. “There you are!” I say as a friend goes green on Google Hangouts. We’ve shifted the possibilities of “there” and “where” a whole lot in recent decades. We don’t call digitally integrated life “mystical” or “paranormal”; tech companies would rather we simply call it “progress” and reap the profits for themselves.

Still, it took choice and a certain consensus (albeit hierarchically organized by Silicon Valley technocapital) to permit digital reality to become real. That choice was simultaneously one to introduce ambiguity into the real; otherwise, “IRL” would make no sense as a phrase. My ghost is possible by the same logic, although, to his credit, he will not find articulation through capitalist enterprise.

—p.32 Ghost Stories (25) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago
39

Liberal commentary on riots, especially on those carried out by young, black and poor people, often becomes hypercritical of the choice of targets of damage. There is marginally more sympathy for the act of smashing a Walmart window than a local mom-and-pop setup. Certainly, I’d rather see a retail giant, famed for worker abuses, smashed and burned than I would a small, local business. But above that, I also privilege the political force of a riot over the preservation of shop windows. Collective fury, inscribed onto urban terrain in the form of property damage, can be an assertion of presence and power in the face of authorities who would rather these young people remain invisible, silenced, imprisoned or dead. The disruption and destruction says it all, and it needs little accounting for in this instance. Revolutionary theorist Frantz Fanon put it well in his 1961 Wretched of the Earth: “When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because we can no longer breathe.”

[...]

To tell a furious community that their riotous actions are counterproductive patronizes the very groups who know too well that “acceptable channels” of political engagement have failed, again and again, to deliver dignity and justice to black life. Further, it ignores, as Osterweil notes, that major riots (and the threat of more) during the civil rights era helped force JFK’s hand in calling for historic legislation: “To argue that the movement achieved what it did in spite of rather than as a result of the mixture of not-nonviolent and nonviolent action is spurious at best.”

—p.39 Riots for Black Life (35) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Liberal commentary on riots, especially on those carried out by young, black and poor people, often becomes hypercritical of the choice of targets of damage. There is marginally more sympathy for the act of smashing a Walmart window than a local mom-and-pop setup. Certainly, I’d rather see a retail giant, famed for worker abuses, smashed and burned than I would a small, local business. But above that, I also privilege the political force of a riot over the preservation of shop windows. Collective fury, inscribed onto urban terrain in the form of property damage, can be an assertion of presence and power in the face of authorities who would rather these young people remain invisible, silenced, imprisoned or dead. The disruption and destruction says it all, and it needs little accounting for in this instance. Revolutionary theorist Frantz Fanon put it well in his 1961 Wretched of the Earth: “When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because we can no longer breathe.”

[...]

To tell a furious community that their riotous actions are counterproductive patronizes the very groups who know too well that “acceptable channels” of political engagement have failed, again and again, to deliver dignity and justice to black life. Further, it ignores, as Osterweil notes, that major riots (and the threat of more) during the civil rights era helped force JFK’s hand in calling for historic legislation: “To argue that the movement achieved what it did in spite of rather than as a result of the mixture of not-nonviolent and nonviolent action is spurious at best.”

—p.39 Riots for Black Life (35) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago
42

Beyond questions of justifying riots, a categorical error is made in any narrative resting on the idea of a violent “turn” in such protests. The very idea of a demonstration like those in Ferguson “turning violent”—as it was described in standard media parlance—mislocated and thus misframed violence in this context.

The error exists in the tacit suggestion that there was a situation of nonviolence, or peace, from which to turn. To be clear: any circumstance in which cops take black life with impunity, any context in which it is still necessary to state that Black Lives Matter, is a background state of constant violence.

Riotous protesters do not bring violence; the violence was there in the DNA of white supremacy and our world through which it permeates. Protester violence here is counterviolence in history’s unbroken dialectic of violence and counterviolence. Even a rhetoric of police turning violent during a specific protest ignores that policing, as an institution in this country, functions as a force of consistent violence against black life. And more often than not, cops’ roles as violent instigators are erased from media narratives. The malignant euphemism “officer involved shooting” says it all.

—p.42 Riots for Black Life (35) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Beyond questions of justifying riots, a categorical error is made in any narrative resting on the idea of a violent “turn” in such protests. The very idea of a demonstration like those in Ferguson “turning violent”—as it was described in standard media parlance—mislocated and thus misframed violence in this context.

The error exists in the tacit suggestion that there was a situation of nonviolence, or peace, from which to turn. To be clear: any circumstance in which cops take black life with impunity, any context in which it is still necessary to state that Black Lives Matter, is a background state of constant violence.

Riotous protesters do not bring violence; the violence was there in the DNA of white supremacy and our world through which it permeates. Protester violence here is counterviolence in history’s unbroken dialectic of violence and counterviolence. Even a rhetoric of police turning violent during a specific protest ignores that policing, as an institution in this country, functions as a force of consistent violence against black life. And more often than not, cops’ roles as violent instigators are erased from media narratives. The malignant euphemism “officer involved shooting” says it all.

—p.42 Riots for Black Life (35) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago
71

An overreliance on the language of First Amendment rights treats the state—the Trumpian, corporate, white supremacist state—as an interlocutor, instead of as an enemy. When we call upon the government to recognize our right to peaceful assembly, we appeal to the democratic conscience of the state. “A conscience,” as British cultural critic John Berger noted in a 1968 essay in the journal International Socialism, “which is very unlikely to exist.”

Berger highlighted a conflict inherent to the sort of public demonstrations that First Amendment rights aim to defend: “If the State authority is open to democratic influence, the demonstration will hardly be necessary; if it is not, it is unlikely to be influenced by an empty show of force containing no real threat.” It’s safe to say we live in a moment when it is clear and correct to distrust the state’s openness to democratic influence.

Berger did not reject the significance of legal protests—which manage to show, in their peaceful numbers, the potential for revolutionary action (if very rarely)—but he saw their limitations insofar as they are empty shows of force unlikely to influence the state. A rights discourse, which is only useful to defend this sort of protest, will thus echo its main limitation: defense of that which is no real threat to the powers that be.

—p.71 Know Your Rights (71) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago

An overreliance on the language of First Amendment rights treats the state—the Trumpian, corporate, white supremacist state—as an interlocutor, instead of as an enemy. When we call upon the government to recognize our right to peaceful assembly, we appeal to the democratic conscience of the state. “A conscience,” as British cultural critic John Berger noted in a 1968 essay in the journal International Socialism, “which is very unlikely to exist.”

Berger highlighted a conflict inherent to the sort of public demonstrations that First Amendment rights aim to defend: “If the State authority is open to democratic influence, the demonstration will hardly be necessary; if it is not, it is unlikely to be influenced by an empty show of force containing no real threat.” It’s safe to say we live in a moment when it is clear and correct to distrust the state’s openness to democratic influence.

Berger did not reject the significance of legal protests—which manage to show, in their peaceful numbers, the potential for revolutionary action (if very rarely)—but he saw their limitations insofar as they are empty shows of force unlikely to influence the state. A rights discourse, which is only useful to defend this sort of protest, will thus echo its main limitation: defense of that which is no real threat to the powers that be.

—p.71 Know Your Rights (71) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago
90

Remember how Meryl Streep’s character (editor in chief of an influential fashion magazine) in The Devil Wears Prada chastises Anne Hathaway’s character (the naive assistant) for thinking she had agency when she’d chosen to buy a blue sweater? A Foucauldian point well made: capital didn’t make her choose and buy that color sweater, but it did overdetermine the conditions of possibility for any such purchase.

—p.90 Policing Desire (87) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Remember how Meryl Streep’s character (editor in chief of an influential fashion magazine) in The Devil Wears Prada chastises Anne Hathaway’s character (the naive assistant) for thinking she had agency when she’d chosen to buy a blue sweater? A Foucauldian point well made: capital didn’t make her choose and buy that color sweater, but it did overdetermine the conditions of possibility for any such purchase.

—p.90 Policing Desire (87) by Natasha Lennard 7 months, 3 weeks ago