Welcome to Bookmarker!

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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5

This book is about the phenomenal growth of California’s state prison system since 1982 and grassroots opposition to the expanding use of prisons as catchall solutions to social problems. It asks how, why, where, and to what effect one of the planet’s richest and most diverse political economies has organized and executed a prison-building and -filling plan that government analysts have called “the biggest . . . in the history of the world” (Rudman and Berthelsen 1991: i). By providing answers to these questions, the book also charts changes in state structure, local and regional economies, and social identities. Golden Gulag is a tale of fractured collectivities—economies, governments, cities, communities, and households—and their fitful attempts to reconstruct themselves.

—p.5 Introduction (5) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago

This book is about the phenomenal growth of California’s state prison system since 1982 and grassroots opposition to the expanding use of prisons as catchall solutions to social problems. It asks how, why, where, and to what effect one of the planet’s richest and most diverse political economies has organized and executed a prison-building and -filling plan that government analysts have called “the biggest . . . in the history of the world” (Rudman and Berthelsen 1991: i). By providing answers to these questions, the book also charts changes in state structure, local and regional economies, and social identities. Golden Gulag is a tale of fractured collectivities—economies, governments, cities, communities, and households—and their fitful attempts to reconstruct themselves.

—p.5 Introduction (5) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago
7

The California state prisoner population grew nearly 500 percent between 1982 and 2000, even though the crime rate peaked in 1980 and declined, unevenly but decisively, thereafter (see figs. 1 and 2). African Americans and Latinos comprise two-thirds of the state’s 160,000 prisoners; almost 7 percent are women of all races; 25 percent are noncitizens. Most prisoners come from the state’s urban cores—particularly Los Angeles and the surrounding southern counties. More than half the prisoners had steady employment before arrest, while upwards of 80 percent were, at some time in their case, represented by state-appointed lawyers for the indigent. In short, as a class, convicts are deindustrialized cities’ working or workless poor.

—p.7 Introduction (5) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The California state prisoner population grew nearly 500 percent between 1982 and 2000, even though the crime rate peaked in 1980 and declined, unevenly but decisively, thereafter (see figs. 1 and 2). African Americans and Latinos comprise two-thirds of the state’s 160,000 prisoners; almost 7 percent are women of all races; 25 percent are noncitizens. Most prisoners come from the state’s urban cores—particularly Los Angeles and the surrounding southern counties. More than half the prisoners had steady employment before arrest, while upwards of 80 percent were, at some time in their case, represented by state-appointed lawyers for the indigent. In short, as a class, convicts are deindustrialized cities’ working or workless poor.

—p.7 Introduction (5) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago
11

The practice of putting people in cages for part or all of their lives is a central feature in the development of secular states, participatory democracy, individual rights, and contemporary notions of freedom. These institutions of modernity, shaped by the rapid growth of cities and industrial production, faced a challenge— most acutely where capitalism flourished unfettered—to produce stability from “the accumulation and useful administration” of people on the move in a “society of strangers” (Foucault 1977: 303). Prisons both depersonalized social control, so that it could be bureaucratically managed across time and space, and satisfied the demands of reformers who largely prevailed against bodily punishment, which nevertheless endures in the death penalty and many torturous conditions of confinement. Oddly enough, then, the rise of prisons is coupled with two major upheavals— the rise of the word freedom to stand in for what’s desirable and the rise of civic activists to stand up for who’s dispossessed.

heading: WHAT IS PRISON SUPPOSED TO DO AND WHY?

—p.11 Introduction (5) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The practice of putting people in cages for part or all of their lives is a central feature in the development of secular states, participatory democracy, individual rights, and contemporary notions of freedom. These institutions of modernity, shaped by the rapid growth of cities and industrial production, faced a challenge— most acutely where capitalism flourished unfettered—to produce stability from “the accumulation and useful administration” of people on the move in a “society of strangers” (Foucault 1977: 303). Prisons both depersonalized social control, so that it could be bureaucratically managed across time and space, and satisfied the demands of reformers who largely prevailed against bodily punishment, which nevertheless endures in the death penalty and many torturous conditions of confinement. Oddly enough, then, the rise of prisons is coupled with two major upheavals— the rise of the word freedom to stand in for what’s desirable and the rise of civic activists to stand up for who’s dispossessed.

heading: WHAT IS PRISON SUPPOSED TO DO AND WHY?

—p.11 Introduction (5) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago
12

The relationship of prison to dispossession has been well studied. Wedged between ethics and the law, the justification for putting people behind bars rests on the premise that as a consequence of certain actions, some people should lose all freedom (which we can define in this instance as control over one’s bodily habits, pastimes, relationships, and mobility). It takes muscular political capacity to realize widescale dispossession of people who have formal rights, and historically those who fill prisons have collectively lacked political clout commensurate with the theoretical power that rights suggest (see, e.g., Dayan 1999). In contrast, during most of the modern history of prisons, those officially devoid of rights—indigenous and enslaved women and men, for example, or new immigrants, or married white women—rarely saw the inside of a cage, because their unfreedom was guaranteed by other means (Christianson 1998; E. B. Freedman 1996).

But what about crime? Doesn’t prison exist because there are criminals? Yes and no. While common sense suggests a natural connection between “crime” and “prison,” what counts as crime in fact changes, and what happens to people convicted of crimes does not, in all times and places, result in prison sentences. Defined in the simple terms of the secular state, crime means a vio- lation of the law. Laws change, depending on what, in a social order, counts as stability, and who, in a social order, needs to be controlled. Let’s look at a range of examples. After the Civil War, an onslaught of legal maneuvers designed to guarantee the cheap availability of southern Black people’s labor outlawed both “moving around” and “standing still” (Franklin 1998) [...] As we can see that crime is not fixed, it follows that crime’s relationship to prisons is the outcome of social theory and practice, rather than the only possible source of stability through control.

—p.12 Introduction (5) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The relationship of prison to dispossession has been well studied. Wedged between ethics and the law, the justification for putting people behind bars rests on the premise that as a consequence of certain actions, some people should lose all freedom (which we can define in this instance as control over one’s bodily habits, pastimes, relationships, and mobility). It takes muscular political capacity to realize widescale dispossession of people who have formal rights, and historically those who fill prisons have collectively lacked political clout commensurate with the theoretical power that rights suggest (see, e.g., Dayan 1999). In contrast, during most of the modern history of prisons, those officially devoid of rights—indigenous and enslaved women and men, for example, or new immigrants, or married white women—rarely saw the inside of a cage, because their unfreedom was guaranteed by other means (Christianson 1998; E. B. Freedman 1996).

But what about crime? Doesn’t prison exist because there are criminals? Yes and no. While common sense suggests a natural connection between “crime” and “prison,” what counts as crime in fact changes, and what happens to people convicted of crimes does not, in all times and places, result in prison sentences. Defined in the simple terms of the secular state, crime means a vio- lation of the law. Laws change, depending on what, in a social order, counts as stability, and who, in a social order, needs to be controlled. Let’s look at a range of examples. After the Civil War, an onslaught of legal maneuvers designed to guarantee the cheap availability of southern Black people’s labor outlawed both “moving around” and “standing still” (Franklin 1998) [...] As we can see that crime is not fixed, it follows that crime’s relationship to prisons is the outcome of social theory and practice, rather than the only possible source of stability through control.

—p.12 Introduction (5) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago
54

In “Questions of Theory” (1988) Stuart Hall and Bill Schwarz provide a useful definition of crisis. “Crises occur when the social formation can no longer be reproduced on the basis of the preexisting system of social relations” (96). The pivotal verb “to re- produce” signifies the broad array of political, economic, cultural, and biological capacities a society uses to renew itself daily, seasonally, generationally. Crisis is not objectively bad or good; rather, it signals systemic change whose outcome is determined through struggle. Struggle, which is a politically neutral word, occurs at all levels of a society as people try to figure out, through trial and error, what to make of idled capacities.

—p.54 The California Political Economy (30) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago

In “Questions of Theory” (1988) Stuart Hall and Bill Schwarz provide a useful definition of crisis. “Crises occur when the social formation can no longer be reproduced on the basis of the preexisting system of social relations” (96). The pivotal verb “to re- produce” signifies the broad array of political, economic, cultural, and biological capacities a society uses to renew itself daily, seasonally, generationally. Crisis is not objectively bad or good; rather, it signals systemic change whose outcome is determined through struggle. Struggle, which is a politically neutral word, occurs at all levels of a society as people try to figure out, through trial and error, what to make of idled capacities.

—p.54 The California Political Economy (30) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago
57

The deepening division of California into richer and poorer is a function of what Richard Walker (among others) identifies as three “central contradictions” (Walker 1995): (1) the changing mix of jobs and industrial and residential location; (2) Anglos’ fear of their demotion to minority status, coupled with capital’s differential exploitation of labor market segments defined by race, gender, locality, sector, and citizenship; and (3) the state’s failure to put idled capacities back to work through infrastructural, educational, employment, and other projects. As the multi- generational abandonment of California’s children to poverty shows, wealth does not circulate the way it used to. “Some power resources appear to be increasing within the system, while others appear to be declining” (Mike Davis 1986: 181). [...]

—p.57 The California Political Economy (30) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The deepening division of California into richer and poorer is a function of what Richard Walker (among others) identifies as three “central contradictions” (Walker 1995): (1) the changing mix of jobs and industrial and residential location; (2) Anglos’ fear of their demotion to minority status, coupled with capital’s differential exploitation of labor market segments defined by race, gender, locality, sector, and citizenship; and (3) the state’s failure to put idled capacities back to work through infrastructural, educational, employment, and other projects. As the multi- generational abandonment of California’s children to poverty shows, wealth does not circulate the way it used to. “Some power resources appear to be increasing within the system, while others appear to be declining” (Mike Davis 1986: 181). [...]

—p.57 The California Political Economy (30) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago
67

[...] The severe drought of 1976–77, preceded by several dry years, raised the specter of a permanent water shortage. Farmers responded to the crisis in different ways. Some took part in federal programs that pay farmers who agree to idle lands on which they would otherwise have grown federally designated “surplus crops” (Howitt and Moore 1994; Gottlieb 1988). Other growers used land as collateral to borrow money so that they could invest in the latest irrigation technologies or drill deep wells to supplement aqueduct-provided Sierra snowmelt with fossil water from ancient aquifers. Investor-farmers included both those who planned to keep growing the same commodity, such as cotton, and those wishing to change crops (Reisner 1986; CDF-CEI 1978). And finally, some farmers got out of the business altogether, discouraged by the prospect of expensive water.

background for why irrigated land was taken out of production: "drought, debt, and development". just interesting

—p.67 The California Political Economy (30) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago

[...] The severe drought of 1976–77, preceded by several dry years, raised the specter of a permanent water shortage. Farmers responded to the crisis in different ways. Some took part in federal programs that pay farmers who agree to idle lands on which they would otherwise have grown federally designated “surplus crops” (Howitt and Moore 1994; Gottlieb 1988). Other growers used land as collateral to borrow money so that they could invest in the latest irrigation technologies or drill deep wells to supplement aqueduct-provided Sierra snowmelt with fossil water from ancient aquifers. Investor-farmers included both those who planned to keep growing the same commodity, such as cotton, and those wishing to change crops (Reisner 1986; CDF-CEI 1978). And finally, some farmers got out of the business altogether, discouraged by the prospect of expensive water.

background for why irrigated land was taken out of production: "drought, debt, and development". just interesting

—p.67 The California Political Economy (30) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago
68

The removal of irrigated lands from production far exceeded the rate of land use for suburbanization. Some 76 percent of the irrigated land in California is in the Great Central Valley. The surge in the gross population in the valley over ten years added 1.1 million people to the area. The average California household in that area is 2.8 people (CDF-CEI 1989). If all new households represented new houses built on suburbanized farmland, at the average of three houses per acre (Sokolow and Spezia 1994), residential development over ten years would absorb about 122,000 acres, or about 16 percent of the idled acres in the Great Central Valley. Thus we can see that the idling of land, and the coming of suburbanization, did not produce a transfer of land uses, but rather stiff competition between places trying to attract developers’ capital to absorb the surplus land.

—p.68 The California Political Economy (30) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The removal of irrigated lands from production far exceeded the rate of land use for suburbanization. Some 76 percent of the irrigated land in California is in the Great Central Valley. The surge in the gross population in the valley over ten years added 1.1 million people to the area. The average California household in that area is 2.8 people (CDF-CEI 1989). If all new households represented new houses built on suburbanized farmland, at the average of three houses per acre (Sokolow and Spezia 1994), residential development over ten years would absorb about 122,000 acres, or about 16 percent of the idled acres in the Great Central Valley. Thus we can see that the idling of land, and the coming of suburbanization, did not produce a transfer of land uses, but rather stiff competition between places trying to attract developers’ capital to absorb the surplus land.

—p.68 The California Political Economy (30) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago
88

How did California go about “the largest prison building program in the history of the world” (Rudman and Berthelsen 1991: i)? We have already seen that California’s political economy changed significantly in the 1970s, due both to changes in the location of industrial investment—capital movement—and to “natural” disasters. Those changes, and responses to them, provided the foundation upon which new rounds of capital movement and new natural disasters were played out. These shifts produced surpluses of finance capital, land, labor, and state capacity, not all of which were politically, economically, socially, or regionally absorbed. The new California prison system of the 1980s and 1990s was constructed deliberately—but not conspiratorially—of surpluses that were not put back to work in other ways. Make no mistake: prison building was and is not the inevitable outcome of these surpluses. It did, however, put certain state capacities into motion, make use of a lot of idle land, get capital invested via public debt, and take more than 160,000 low-wage workers off the streets.

—p.88 The Prison Fix (87) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago

How did California go about “the largest prison building program in the history of the world” (Rudman and Berthelsen 1991: i)? We have already seen that California’s political economy changed significantly in the 1970s, due both to changes in the location of industrial investment—capital movement—and to “natural” disasters. Those changes, and responses to them, provided the foundation upon which new rounds of capital movement and new natural disasters were played out. These shifts produced surpluses of finance capital, land, labor, and state capacity, not all of which were politically, economically, socially, or regionally absorbed. The new California prison system of the 1980s and 1990s was constructed deliberately—but not conspiratorially—of surpluses that were not put back to work in other ways. Make no mistake: prison building was and is not the inevitable outcome of these surpluses. It did, however, put certain state capacities into motion, make use of a lot of idle land, get capital invested via public debt, and take more than 160,000 low-wage workers off the streets.

—p.88 The Prison Fix (87) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago
101

In less than a decade, the amount of state debt for the prison construction project expanded from $763 million to $4.9 billion dollars, a proportional increase of from 3.8 percent to 16.6 percent of the state’s total debt for all purposes (SPWB 1985, 1993). During the same period, state debt service (annual expenditure for principal plus interest) increased from 1 percent to 2.8 percent of per capita income (California State Controller 1996: 161).

this is crazy

—p.101 The Prison Fix (87) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago

In less than a decade, the amount of state debt for the prison construction project expanded from $763 million to $4.9 billion dollars, a proportional increase of from 3.8 percent to 16.6 percent of the state’s total debt for all purposes (SPWB 1985, 1993). During the same period, state debt service (annual expenditure for principal plus interest) increased from 1 percent to 2.8 percent of per capita income (California State Controller 1996: 161).

this is crazy

—p.101 The Prison Fix (87) by Ruth Wilson Gilmore 3 months, 2 weeks ago