John Steppling Quote

“I am struck almost daily, I think, with the fact that the worst and often most psychologically unstable and damaged people are in the positions of the most power. And the second horror is the apathy of those who are able to see this. They see it and justify to themselves their own lack of action. There is another group, the not apathetic, but the rationally fearful. And this sort of leads back full circle to the first horror. For it is not insane or irrational, at all, to fear arrest and punishment by the state. By the organs of the state. And the power of these organs of state are in existence because the people in authority are never so crazy as not to protect their own authority and power.”

John Steppling, “Algorithm Kids”

 

Bonus links: Critique of Cynical Reason and Alain Badiou Quote and Snakes in Suits

John Steppling – Communism, Fascism and Green Shaming

Link to an article by John Steppling:

“Communism, Fascism and Green Shaming”

 

Much of what Steppling discusses with regard to what he calls “green shaming” is explained succinctly here:

“The rise of the affect(s) and the sanctimony around affective intuition are very much related to some signifiers being out of our reach, and this often involves a gross ideological mystification. Valorization of affectivity and feelings appears at the precise point when some problem — injustice, say — would demand a more radical systemic revision as to its causes and perpetuation. This would also involve naming — not only some people but also social and economic inequalities that we long stopped naming and questioning.

“Social valorization of affects basically means that we pay the plaintiff with her own money: oh, but your feelings are so precious, you are so precious! The more you feel, the more precious you are. This is a typical neoliberal maneuver, which transforms even our traumatic experiences into possible social capital. If we can capitalize on our affects, we will limit out protests to declarations of these affects — say, declarations of suffering — rather than becoming active agents of social change. I’m of course not saying that suffering shouldn’t be expressed and talked about, but that this should not ‘freeze’ the subject into the figure of the victim. The revolt should be precisely about refusing to be a victim, rejecting the position of the victim on all possible levels.

***

“this bind derives precisely from the subjective gain or gratification that this positioning offers. (Moral) outrage is a particularly unproductive affect, yet it is one that offers considerable libidinal satisfaction. By ‘unproductive’ I mean this: it gives us the satisfaction of feeling morally superior, the feeling that we are in the right and others are in the wrong. Now for this to work, things must not really change. We are much less interested in changing things than in proving, again and again, that we are in the right, or on the right side, the side of the good. Hegel invented a great name for this position: the ‘beautiful soul.’ A ‘beautiful soul’ sees evil and baseness all around it but fails to see to what extent it participates in the perpetuation of that same order of things. The point of course is not that the world isn’t really evil, the point is that we are part of this evil world.”

“Too Much of Not Enough: An Interview with Alenka Zupančič”

See also Beautiful Soul Quote

Élisabeth Roudinesco Interviewed on the 30th Anniversary of Jacques Lacan’s Death

“the idea that the unconscious expresses itself, that it is language, is a very powerful and politically subversive notion. This is one of the fundamental reasons for the hatred that Freud, Lacan and psychoanalysis in general constantly provoke. The idea that the subject is traversed by her or his unconscious and that language is of capital significance is opposed to all those theories that reduce man to his behaviour, to the sum of his bodily attitudes. This is a truly political debate. If we dwell on behaviouralism, then we abolish the freedom of the subject. Behaviouralism knows only machine-men. Conversely, Freud initiated a theory of freedom determined by the unconscious. It is, moreover, this disposition that allows for his rapprochement with Marx. Man is free to make his own history, but there are psychic and social determinations that act unbeknownst to him. This idea is still today a subversive one.”

Élisabeth Roudinesco, “Élisabeth Roudinesco Interviewed on the 30th Anniversary of Jacques Lacan’s Death”

Bonus link: “‘There Can Be No Crisis of Psychoanalysis’ Jacques Lacan Interviewed [By Emilio Granzotto] in 1974”

Summary of Dupuy on Social Hierarchy

“The arbitrariness of social hierarchy is not a mistake, but the whole point, with the arbitrariness of evaluation playing an analogous role to the arbitrariness of market success. Violence threatens to explode not when there is too much contingency in the social space, but when one tries to eliminate contingency. In La Marque du sacré, Jean-Pierre Dupuy conceives hierarchy as one of four procedures (‘dispositifs symboliques’) whose function is to make the relationship of superiority non-humiliating: hierarchy itself (an externally imposed order that allows me to experience my lower social status as independent of my inherent value); demystification (the ideological procedure which demonstrates that society is not a meritocracy but the product of objective social struggles, enabling me to avoid the painful conclusion that someone else’s superiority is the result of his merit and achievements); contingency (a similar mechanism, by which we come to understand that our position on the social scale depends on a natural and social lottery; the lucky ones are those born with the right genes in rich families); and complexity (uncontrollable forces have unpredictable consequences; for instance, the invisible hand of the market may lead to my failure and my neighbour’s success, even if I work much harder and am much more intelligent). Contrary to appearances, these mechanisms don’t contest or threaten hierarchy, but make it palatable, since ‘what triggers the turmoil of envy is the idea that the other deserves his good luck and not the opposite idea – which is the only one that can be openly expressed.’ Dupuy draws from this premise the conclusion that it is a great mistake to think that a reasonably just society which also perceives itself as just will be free of resentment: on the contrary, it is in such societies that those who occupy inferior positions will find an outlet for their hurt pride in violent outbursts of resentment.”

Slavoj Žižek, “The Revolt of the Salaried Bourgeoisie”

This is essentially a rejection of the liberal philosopher John Rawls‘ position, as articulated in A Theory of Justice.  See also Review of …And the Poor Get Prison

Timothy Bryar – Preferring Zizek’s Bartleby Politics

Link to an article by Timothy Bryar:

“Preferring Zizek’s Bartleby Politics,” International Journal of Žižek Studies, Vol 12, No 1 (2018).

 

Bonus links: Crowds and Party“Rimbaud’s Systematic Derangement of the Senses” and “John Cage’s Queer Silence or How to Avoid Making Matters Worse”

Bonus quote: “When the self ceases to exist, the world exists.” Alejandro Jodorowsky, The Finger and the Moon: Zen Teachings and Koans

Victor Serge Quote

“Early on, I learnt from the Russian intelligentsia that the only meaning of life lies in conscious participation in the making of history. The more I think of that, the more deeply true it seems to be. It follows that one must range oneself actively against everything that diminishes man, and involve oneself in all struggles which tend to liberate and enlarge him. This categorical imperative is by no way lessened by the fact that such an involvement is inevitably soiled by error: it is a worse error merely to live for oneself, caught within traditions which are soiled by inhumanity.”

Victor Serge, Memoirs of a Revolutionary

 

Bonus links: La La Land: A Leninist Reading” and “Preferring Zizek’s Bartleby Politics” (“a true Act occurs without the guarantees of a pre-determined ethical edifice.”)