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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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5

WE DO FEEL READY to blame someone. Clinton’s campaign was doomed from the start. “Not our President”? Not our Party either. The Democrats — festooned this season with celebrities and capitalists to an unthinking degree — rarely talked about what workers and the dispossessed needed to build their lives. Most voters could hardly name a thing Clinton was for. Instead, the campaign piped into every swing-state living room a nonstop stream of American success, the sunshine pabulum of the DNC: “America is great because America is good,” “America is already great.” Anger, loss, and economic trauma could be overcome by a genial disposition, an endless exhibition of proper behavior with an extra helping of negative ads correcting Trump for his crude (never “criminal”) actions.

—p.5 The Intellectual Situation (1) by n+1 3 years, 9 months ago

WE DO FEEL READY to blame someone. Clinton’s campaign was doomed from the start. “Not our President”? Not our Party either. The Democrats — festooned this season with celebrities and capitalists to an unthinking degree — rarely talked about what workers and the dispossessed needed to build their lives. Most voters could hardly name a thing Clinton was for. Instead, the campaign piped into every swing-state living room a nonstop stream of American success, the sunshine pabulum of the DNC: “America is great because America is good,” “America is already great.” Anger, loss, and economic trauma could be overcome by a genial disposition, an endless exhibition of proper behavior with an extra helping of negative ads correcting Trump for his crude (never “criminal”) actions.

—p.5 The Intellectual Situation (1) by n+1 3 years, 9 months ago
15

Theories of history are always theories of the future, and Presidents’ theories of history often involve occult, oracular communications with the future. George W. Bush, as the disaster of his presidency wore on, became a desperate reader of biographies. When Bush said “history will judge,” history was a kindly future biographer who would rescue him from the condemnation of every historian of the present. As time wore on, his speeches amounted to little more than clumsy, frantic prayers to that future pardoner. When Bush called himself “the decider” and called his memoir Decision Points, he was not just arrogating power to himself or speaking businessman-ese; he was suggesting that history consists of individual decisions, a leader alone in a room with limited options, a red pill and a blue pill, time marching mechanically on. With such a narrow view of history, and such a record of terrible decisions, it’s not surprising that decisiveness was his only remaining virtue.

—p.15 The Obama Speeches (9) missing author 3 years, 9 months ago

Theories of history are always theories of the future, and Presidents’ theories of history often involve occult, oracular communications with the future. George W. Bush, as the disaster of his presidency wore on, became a desperate reader of biographies. When Bush said “history will judge,” history was a kindly future biographer who would rescue him from the condemnation of every historian of the present. As time wore on, his speeches amounted to little more than clumsy, frantic prayers to that future pardoner. When Bush called himself “the decider” and called his memoir Decision Points, he was not just arrogating power to himself or speaking businessman-ese; he was suggesting that history consists of individual decisions, a leader alone in a room with limited options, a red pill and a blue pill, time marching mechanically on. With such a narrow view of history, and such a record of terrible decisions, it’s not surprising that decisiveness was his only remaining virtue.

—p.15 The Obama Speeches (9) missing author 3 years, 9 months ago
21

I have no doubt that affirming these narratives was the only way for a person of color, in the period Obama arrived on the national stage, to achieve leadership in this majority-white country. In the Clinton and Bush years, for someone like Obama to cast his or her life story in more radical terms — in the anticolonial framing, for instance, that I grew up with — would have meant abandoning mass electoral success within the two-party system. But once in office, this affirmation came at the price of rejecting a broader left imagination that had long overflowed the bounds of a staid Americanism. And it had profound costs at a time of national reckoning. At a moment when the country faced convulsive social crises, and more and more of his supporters called for a fundamental reconstruction of American institutions, Obama marshaled his personal story and oratorical gifts to defend hollow tenets: the righteousness of American primacy, the legitimacy of global market liberalism, the need for incremental reform, the danger of large-scale structural overhaul. The consequence — intensified by a virulent right — was that fundamental problems continued to fester and became harder to ignore: mass incarceration and structural racism, dramatic class disparities in power and opportunity, interventionism abroad, and national-security abuses at home. Obama was, in a sense, the most that was possible in 2008. But his limitations, which were really the limitations of a broad generation of center-left politicians shaped by the fallout of the 1960s, point to what is now needed for radical liberation movements to reach the political center and defeat the forces of reaction.

pretty

—p.21 Decolonizing Obama (20) by Aziz Rana 3 years, 9 months ago

I have no doubt that affirming these narratives was the only way for a person of color, in the period Obama arrived on the national stage, to achieve leadership in this majority-white country. In the Clinton and Bush years, for someone like Obama to cast his or her life story in more radical terms — in the anticolonial framing, for instance, that I grew up with — would have meant abandoning mass electoral success within the two-party system. But once in office, this affirmation came at the price of rejecting a broader left imagination that had long overflowed the bounds of a staid Americanism. And it had profound costs at a time of national reckoning. At a moment when the country faced convulsive social crises, and more and more of his supporters called for a fundamental reconstruction of American institutions, Obama marshaled his personal story and oratorical gifts to defend hollow tenets: the righteousness of American primacy, the legitimacy of global market liberalism, the need for incremental reform, the danger of large-scale structural overhaul. The consequence — intensified by a virulent right — was that fundamental problems continued to fester and became harder to ignore: mass incarceration and structural racism, dramatic class disparities in power and opportunity, interventionism abroad, and national-security abuses at home. Obama was, in a sense, the most that was possible in 2008. But his limitations, which were really the limitations of a broad generation of center-left politicians shaped by the fallout of the 1960s, point to what is now needed for radical liberation movements to reach the political center and defeat the forces of reaction.

pretty

—p.21 Decolonizing Obama (20) by Aziz Rana 3 years, 9 months ago
23

In my own life, these elements formed a very particular identity, one I shared with many other children of color born in the ’60s and ’70s. I was a “third world” American. I grew up in a household that did not see the history of the United States as a long, exceptional national drama about the fulfillment of founding ideals. Instead, I was raised to view the US through the struggles against colonialism that were engulfing Asia and Africa. The United States was divided between racially privileged insiders and nonwhite peoples, whose land and labor served as the basis for elite wealth and power. As in apartheid South Africa, the fact that American society was founded on oppression meant that liberation would require more than inclusion in the existing social order. It would require a full-scale transformation of the country, on terms of real material equality for those subordinated. The goal was not civil rights but decolonization. I was thoroughly American, but of a specific kind: in my family, Malcolm and Martin were linked not to Jefferson and Washington but to Lumumba and Cabral.

—p.23 Decolonizing Obama (20) by Aziz Rana 3 years, 9 months ago

In my own life, these elements formed a very particular identity, one I shared with many other children of color born in the ’60s and ’70s. I was a “third world” American. I grew up in a household that did not see the history of the United States as a long, exceptional national drama about the fulfillment of founding ideals. Instead, I was raised to view the US through the struggles against colonialism that were engulfing Asia and Africa. The United States was divided between racially privileged insiders and nonwhite peoples, whose land and labor served as the basis for elite wealth and power. As in apartheid South Africa, the fact that American society was founded on oppression meant that liberation would require more than inclusion in the existing social order. It would require a full-scale transformation of the country, on terms of real material equality for those subordinated. The goal was not civil rights but decolonization. I was thoroughly American, but of a specific kind: in my family, Malcolm and Martin were linked not to Jefferson and Washington but to Lumumba and Cabral.

—p.23 Decolonizing Obama (20) by Aziz Rana 3 years, 9 months ago
24

When Obama came of age politically, a vibrant American left still existed. Arriving in the United States in 1973, my father found himself surrounded by people like my mother: students, white and nonwhite, radicalized by growing economic uncertainty, the failures of civil rights liberalism to transform the everyday experience of poor minorities, and the ongoing abuses of the national-security state, which spied on citizens, infiltrated and violently suppressed social movements, and prosecuted illegal wars abroad. Despite the factionalism on the left, virtually every constituency my father interacted with — from Panther offshoots to antiwar activists to more traditional democratic socialists — shared a basic critique of American capitalism and global power.

This critique identified capitalism, white supremacy, and the national-security state as the three pillars that sustained economic and racial hierarchy in the United States. At home, it required imagining the black freedom struggle as a poor people’s campaign for all who were excluded: African Americans, immigrants, indigenous peoples, and the white working class. The goal was to replace capitalism with a more equitable economic order, one in which wealth would be redistributed to abolish poverty and increase the actual social power of ordinary individuals. The overarching demand from the left was for self-determination.

As for foreign affairs, the problem was not simply the Vietnam War — which anyway had formally come to an end in 1973 — but the cold-war mentality and national-security infrastructure that enabled continuous intervention abroad and the sabotage of dissidents at home. Left activists called for a new internationalism built on the self-determination of communities in the Global South. With these twin demands — self-determination at home and abroad — activists rejected the liberal assumption that had come to define cold-war politics: that an easy transition to racial and class harmony in the US was possible, and could be accomplished alongside the establishment of a global Pax Americana.

—p.24 Decolonizing Obama (20) by Aziz Rana 3 years, 9 months ago

When Obama came of age politically, a vibrant American left still existed. Arriving in the United States in 1973, my father found himself surrounded by people like my mother: students, white and nonwhite, radicalized by growing economic uncertainty, the failures of civil rights liberalism to transform the everyday experience of poor minorities, and the ongoing abuses of the national-security state, which spied on citizens, infiltrated and violently suppressed social movements, and prosecuted illegal wars abroad. Despite the factionalism on the left, virtually every constituency my father interacted with — from Panther offshoots to antiwar activists to more traditional democratic socialists — shared a basic critique of American capitalism and global power.

This critique identified capitalism, white supremacy, and the national-security state as the three pillars that sustained economic and racial hierarchy in the United States. At home, it required imagining the black freedom struggle as a poor people’s campaign for all who were excluded: African Americans, immigrants, indigenous peoples, and the white working class. The goal was to replace capitalism with a more equitable economic order, one in which wealth would be redistributed to abolish poverty and increase the actual social power of ordinary individuals. The overarching demand from the left was for self-determination.

As for foreign affairs, the problem was not simply the Vietnam War — which anyway had formally come to an end in 1973 — but the cold-war mentality and national-security infrastructure that enabled continuous intervention abroad and the sabotage of dissidents at home. Left activists called for a new internationalism built on the self-determination of communities in the Global South. With these twin demands — self-determination at home and abroad — activists rejected the liberal assumption that had come to define cold-war politics: that an easy transition to racial and class harmony in the US was possible, and could be accomplished alongside the establishment of a global Pax Americana.

—p.24 Decolonizing Obama (20) by Aziz Rana 3 years, 9 months ago
27

But the Obama Administration’s reforms all fell within the same philosophy that long informed the “American century”: faith in markets and in technocratic and national security experts (despite the repeated and catastrophic failures of all three), and suspicion of politics formed through mass democratic mobilization. We can see the consequences across numerous policy arenas. Obama’s signature educational program was the aptly titled Race to the Top. The program encouraged states to give teachers whose students got higher test scores bonuses and to fire those whose students tested poorly. This focus on teacher evaluation and student test-taking deemphasized the central driver of unequal educational achievement: poverty and the structural conditions that reproduced it. Without a sustained attempt to link poverty to the classroom, tests, accountability, and assessments served mostly to create a competitive setting for a small number of individuals to excel and for many to fail. For all the talk of boosting outcomes for all, Race to the Top, in keeping with its name, was an educational vision for the “gifted” — making sure that school was a meritocratic mechanism, tied to market ethics, that functioned to make the cream rise.

—p.27 Decolonizing Obama (20) by Aziz Rana 3 years, 9 months ago

But the Obama Administration’s reforms all fell within the same philosophy that long informed the “American century”: faith in markets and in technocratic and national security experts (despite the repeated and catastrophic failures of all three), and suspicion of politics formed through mass democratic mobilization. We can see the consequences across numerous policy arenas. Obama’s signature educational program was the aptly titled Race to the Top. The program encouraged states to give teachers whose students got higher test scores bonuses and to fire those whose students tested poorly. This focus on teacher evaluation and student test-taking deemphasized the central driver of unequal educational achievement: poverty and the structural conditions that reproduced it. Without a sustained attempt to link poverty to the classroom, tests, accountability, and assessments served mostly to create a competitive setting for a small number of individuals to excel and for many to fail. For all the talk of boosting outcomes for all, Race to the Top, in keeping with its name, was an educational vision for the “gifted” — making sure that school was a meritocratic mechanism, tied to market ethics, that functioned to make the cream rise.

—p.27 Decolonizing Obama (20) by Aziz Rana 3 years, 9 months ago
28

[...] TPP should not be understood as a trade deal (of its thirty sections, fewer than ten deal with tariffs). It was an attempt to protect transnational corporations’ property rights. Stated commitments to union rights and anti-discrimination norms came at the cost of constraining the larger capacity of the state to pursue social-democratic interventions in labor, health, and safety. TPP was premised on open borders for capital, while for labor the default remains a system of limited bargaining power and restricted movement. The agreement was not only a direct repudiation of the left imagination but an unambiguous embrace of the consensus market liberalism that emerged toward the end of the cold war and flourished after it.

—p.28 Decolonizing Obama (20) by Aziz Rana 3 years, 9 months ago

[...] TPP should not be understood as a trade deal (of its thirty sections, fewer than ten deal with tariffs). It was an attempt to protect transnational corporations’ property rights. Stated commitments to union rights and anti-discrimination norms came at the cost of constraining the larger capacity of the state to pursue social-democratic interventions in labor, health, and safety. TPP was premised on open borders for capital, while for labor the default remains a system of limited bargaining power and restricted movement. The agreement was not only a direct repudiation of the left imagination but an unambiguous embrace of the consensus market liberalism that emerged toward the end of the cold war and flourished after it.

—p.28 Decolonizing Obama (20) by Aziz Rana 3 years, 9 months ago
29

Whether consciously or not, Obama crafted a set of political narratives aimed at this new electoral coalition. His story beautifully embodied the aspirations of the upwardly mobile, white and black, who saw in themselves and their children the dream of educational achievement and professional success. To poor minorities and immigrants, not to mention white working-class union members who stayed true to the Democratic party, there were fewer tangible benefits. Yet Obama the living symbol held real power — and the centrality of Obama the person to that power was, ultimately, the problem. The sheer charisma of his story and personality captured just enough of the white voters to whom the Party no longer catered culturally or economically, and at the same time expanded the vote among minorities whose material conditions had not substantively improved. He succeeded in providing liberalism with a temporary vitality that Party leaders tragically mistook for a permanent one. Remove Obama, and the exhaustion of the old cold-war and creedal American center lay exposed.

damn

—p.29 Decolonizing Obama (20) by Aziz Rana 3 years, 9 months ago

Whether consciously or not, Obama crafted a set of political narratives aimed at this new electoral coalition. His story beautifully embodied the aspirations of the upwardly mobile, white and black, who saw in themselves and their children the dream of educational achievement and professional success. To poor minorities and immigrants, not to mention white working-class union members who stayed true to the Democratic party, there were fewer tangible benefits. Yet Obama the living symbol held real power — and the centrality of Obama the person to that power was, ultimately, the problem. The sheer charisma of his story and personality captured just enough of the white voters to whom the Party no longer catered culturally or economically, and at the same time expanded the vote among minorities whose material conditions had not substantively improved. He succeeded in providing liberalism with a temporary vitality that Party leaders tragically mistook for a permanent one. Remove Obama, and the exhaustion of the old cold-war and creedal American center lay exposed.

damn

—p.29 Decolonizing Obama (20) by Aziz Rana 3 years, 9 months ago
96

Here, unlike on the Boardwalk, everything is real. Here everything is both ghostly and real. Vacant houses. Apartments boarded up to protect against squatters. Eviction and foreclosure papers flap from the doors like tongues. NOTICE TO CEASE, NOTICE TO QUIT, papers keeping the sun out of the windows. The apartment houses rubble away into empty lots pierced by wind and drowned in the shadows cast by shuttered penthouses. Empty lots spontaneously converted for parking, a sign in the windshield of a Saturn: PLEESE DONT TAKE ME. Walking between the Boardwalk and the Professional Arts Building, walking between the Professional Arts Building and my car spontaneously parked in a dirt and, after the rain, mud lot, meant passing the porn store, which, especially if I was making the trip after sunset, meant getting accosted. By men who slept on the beach and spent their waking lives on the street, where there were fewer police and more chances to hustle. Corner of Pacific and MLK Jr. Boulevard. Guy trying to bum cigarettes. Guy trying to bum a dollar for booze. Guy trying to deal to me. “Yo, got coke, yo.” “Molly, molly.” “Got syrup.” Taking my money and not coming back. Trying it all over again the next day unabashed, and then when I told him I’d rather just talk, he got in my face, called me gay, called me a cop. A woman telling me how the check-cashing place would only cash checks made out to people with addresses in Atlantic County by people or businesses with addresses in Atlantic County. Telling me she lived in Georgia, or had once lived in Georgia, and her only hope of returning was this check from her cousin in Camden. “Ain’t Camden Atlantic County?” “No.” “What Camden then?” “Camden County.” “Goddamn.”

i just like this

—p.96 The Last Last Summer (71) by Joshua Cohen 3 years, 9 months ago

Here, unlike on the Boardwalk, everything is real. Here everything is both ghostly and real. Vacant houses. Apartments boarded up to protect against squatters. Eviction and foreclosure papers flap from the doors like tongues. NOTICE TO CEASE, NOTICE TO QUIT, papers keeping the sun out of the windows. The apartment houses rubble away into empty lots pierced by wind and drowned in the shadows cast by shuttered penthouses. Empty lots spontaneously converted for parking, a sign in the windshield of a Saturn: PLEESE DONT TAKE ME. Walking between the Boardwalk and the Professional Arts Building, walking between the Professional Arts Building and my car spontaneously parked in a dirt and, after the rain, mud lot, meant passing the porn store, which, especially if I was making the trip after sunset, meant getting accosted. By men who slept on the beach and spent their waking lives on the street, where there were fewer police and more chances to hustle. Corner of Pacific and MLK Jr. Boulevard. Guy trying to bum cigarettes. Guy trying to bum a dollar for booze. Guy trying to deal to me. “Yo, got coke, yo.” “Molly, molly.” “Got syrup.” Taking my money and not coming back. Trying it all over again the next day unabashed, and then when I told him I’d rather just talk, he got in my face, called me gay, called me a cop. A woman telling me how the check-cashing place would only cash checks made out to people with addresses in Atlantic County by people or businesses with addresses in Atlantic County. Telling me she lived in Georgia, or had once lived in Georgia, and her only hope of returning was this check from her cousin in Camden. “Ain’t Camden Atlantic County?” “No.” “What Camden then?” “Camden County.” “Goddamn.”

i just like this

—p.96 The Last Last Summer (71) by Joshua Cohen 3 years, 9 months ago
101

Maybe it could be a problem of narrative. I was living a story and now the story seems to have stopped and I don’t really care, that’s what it feels like. Like an old ship rusting in a bay somewhere. Or maybe more accurately, just a car accident. I’ve come to a stop, metaphorically. That’s what it feels like. What it looks like is also very much like a car accident.

I don’t know what to do, is the point. What should I do, Kristin? Everything’s all unhooked and I’ve become a hazard.

—p.101 Old Ship (99) by Kristin Dombek 3 years, 9 months ago

Maybe it could be a problem of narrative. I was living a story and now the story seems to have stopped and I don’t really care, that’s what it feels like. Like an old ship rusting in a bay somewhere. Or maybe more accurately, just a car accident. I’ve come to a stop, metaphorically. That’s what it feels like. What it looks like is also very much like a car accident.

I don’t know what to do, is the point. What should I do, Kristin? Everything’s all unhooked and I’ve become a hazard.

—p.101 Old Ship (99) by Kristin Dombek 3 years, 9 months ago