“True freedom is not a freedom of choice made from a safe distance, like choosing between a strawberry cake or a chocolate cake; true freedom overlaps with necessity. One makes a truly free choice when one’s choice puts at stake one’s very existence—one does it because one simply ‘cannot do otherwise.’ When one’s country is under a foreign occupation and one is called by a resistance leader to join the fight against the occupiers, the reason given is not ‘you are free to choose,’ but: ‘Can’t you see that this is the only thing you can do if you want to retain your dignity?’
“[Martin] Luther saw clearly how the (Catholic) idea that our redemption depends on our acts introduces a dimension of bargaining into ethics: good deeds are not done out of duty but in order to gain salvation. If, however, my salvation is predestined, this means that my fate is already decided and my doing good deeds does not serve anything—so if I do them, it is out of pure duty, a really altruistic act . . . .
“What Protestantism prohibits is the very thought that a believer can, as it were, take a position outside/above itself and look upon itself as a small particle in the vast reality.”
“What this also implies is that the access to ‘reality in itself’ does not demand from us that we overcome our ‘partiality’ and arrive at a neutral vision elevated above our particular struggles—we are ‘universal beings’ only in our full partial engagements. *** [W]e should assert the radically exclusive love for the singular One, a love which throws out of joint the smooth flow of our lives.
“the true ethical universality never resides in the quasi-neutral distance that tries to do justice to all concerned factions. So, if, against fundamentalisms which ground ethical commitment in one’s particular ethnic or religious identity, excluding others, one should insist on ethical
universalism, one should also unconditionally insist on how every authentic ethical position by definition paradoxically combines universalism with taking sides in the ongoing struggle. Today, more than ever, one should emphasize that a true ethical position combines the assertion of Universalism with a militant, divisive position of one engaged in a struggle: true universalists are not those who preach global tolerance of differences and all-encompassing unity, but those who engage in a passionate fight for the assertion of the Truth that engages them.”
“what do democratic socialists effectively want? The rightist reproach against them is that, beneath their innocent-sounding concrete proposals to raise taxes, make healthcare better, etc, there is a dark project to destroy capitalism and its freedoms. My fear is exactly the opposite one: that beneath their concrete welfare state proposals there is nothing, no great project, just a vague idea of more social justice. The idea is simply that, through electoral pressure, the centre of gravity will move back to the left.
But is, in the (not so) long term, this enough? Do the challenges that we face, from global warming to refugees, from digital control to biogenetic manipulations, not require nothing less than a global reorganisation of our societies?”
“There is an even greater problem with the underlying premise of those who proclaim the ‘death of truth’: they talk as if before (say, until the 1980s), in spite of all the manipulations and distortions, truth did somehow prevail, and that the ‘death of truth’ is a relatively recent phenomenon. Already a quick overview tells us that this was not the case. How many violations of human rights and humanitarian catastrophes remained invisible, from the Vietnam War to the invasion of Iraq? Just remember the times of Reagan, Nixon, Bush… The difference was not that the past was more ‘truthful’ but that ideological hegemony was much stronger, so that, instead of today’s greater melee of local ‘truths,’ one ‘truth’ (or, rather, one big Lie) basically prevailed. In the West, this was the liberal-democratic Truth (with a Leftist or Rightist twist). What is happening today is that, with the populist wave which unsettled the political establishment, the Truth/Lie that has served as an ideological foundation for this establishment is also falling apart. And the ultimate reason for this disintegration is not the rise of postmodern relativism but the failure of the ruling establishment, which is no longer able to maintain its ideological hegemony.”
“The late night talk show hosts are all politically timid mummy-birds, puking up pre-masticated ideas, plucked from brain-dead newspapers, into the wide, expectant beaks of their audience. *** But they tend, on that ground, to be very sensitive to the ideological consensus they both form and, through laughter, police.”
Bonus link: “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” Review
“It is an old truth of Marxism that every human activity should be judged according to the objective meaning in the total context, and not according to what the agent believes the importance of his activity to be.”
For the exact opposite position, see The Fountainhead
“The distinction between profession and craft is at first difficult to make, yet it is of great importance. The craftsman survives so long as the standards for judging his work are shared by different classes. The professional appears when it is necessary for the craftsman to leave his class and ’emigrate’ to the ruling class, whose standards of judgement [sic] are different.”
“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”
“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.”
“The goal of all enemy propaganda is not to annihilate an existing force (this function is generally left to police forces), but rather to annihilate an unnoticed possibility of the situation.”
See also “Ernst Lubitsch, Censorship, and Political Correctness” (“Alain Badiou put it in a wonderful and precise way: the main function of today’s ideological censorship is not to crush actual resistance—this is the job of repressive state apparatuses—but to crush hope, to immediately denounce every critical project as opening a path at the end of which is something like a gulag.”)
“the workers must be armed and organized. The whole proletariat must be armed at once with muskets, rifles, cannon and ammunition, and the revival of the old-style citizens’ militia, directed against the workers, must be opposed. Where the formation of this militia cannot be prevented, the workers must try to organize themselves independently as a proletarian guard, with elected leaders and with their own elected general staff; they must try to place themselves not under the orders of the state authority but of the revolutionary local councils set up by the workers. Where the workers are employed by the state, they must arm and organize themselves into special corps with elected leaders, or as a part of the proletarian guard. Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary.”
Bonus links: “The Rifle on the Wall: A Left Argument for Gun Rights (Reprise)” (“The political principle at stake is simple: to deny the state the monopoly of armed force, and, obversely, to empower the citizenry, to distribute the power of armed force among the people.”), April Theses (“Abolition of the police, the army and the bureaucracy . . . to be replaced by the arming of the whole people.”), Chairman Mao Quote (“political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”), Painting & Guns Quote (“After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.”), “Draft Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” (“XXII. But any act against liberty, against the security or against the property of a man, exercised by anyone, even in the name of the law, except in the cases determined by it, and the forms which they prescribe, is arbitrary and void; the very respect of the law forbids us to submit to it, and if we wish to execute it by violence; it is permissible to repel it by force.”) and “Violence” and Links to books about black armed resistance in freedom movements and “Things That Can and Cannot Be Said” (“And I thought, fuck this. My question is, if, let’s say, there are people who live in villages deep in the forest, four days walk from anywhere, and a thousand soldiers arrive and burn their villages and kill and rape people to scare them off their land because mining companies want it—what brand of non-violence would the stalwarts of the establishment recommend? Non-violence is radical political theatre. *** And who can pull in an audience? You need some capital, some stars, right? Gandhi was a superstar. The people in the forest don’t have that capital, that drawing power. So they have no audience. Non-violence should be a tactic—not an ideology preached from the sidelines to victims of massive violence…. With me, it’s been an evolution of seeing through these things.”) and Barrett Brown on kids’ march for gun rights (“If all these hundreds of thousands of kids had brought guns with them they could have seized control of the capitol and enacted whatever anti-gun legislation they wanted. Catch-22!”) and Battlefield America: The War On The American People. And for anarchist perspectives, see “School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks” and “How Nonviolence Protects the State”