amor mundi

Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

From Wendy Brown's "In the Ruins of Neoliberalism"

Just finished Wendy Brown's new book, In the Ruins of Neoliberalism, the last chapter of which, "No Future For White Men" is a real corker. Here's an excerpt:
The white male supremacism in contemporary traditional values politics becomes explicit, then, not only because nihilism pulls the moral drapery off those values and makes them contractual or instrumentalizable, but also because this supremacy is wounded without being destroyed. Its subject abhors the democracy it holds responsible for its wounds and seeks to pull democracy down as it goes down. Perhaps we are also witnessing how nihilism goes when futurity itself is in doubt... If white men cannot own democracy, there will be no democracy. If while men cannot rule the planet, there will be no planet. Nietzsche was immensely curious about what would come after the two centuries of the intensifying nihilism he expected. But what if there is no "after"?

...[Those] for whom attachments to nation, family, property, and whiteness are mobilized as a political reactionary formation... the toxic mix of nihilism, fatalism, and ressentiment with neoliberal assaults on the social and the political and valorization of markets and morals... this population rages against secular cosmopolitans oriented toward use in place of ownership and embracing racial indeterminacy, gender fluidity, "families we choose," godlessness, open borders, speculation, virtual sociality, and the rootlessness of everyday life. [They] cling to the soil, even if it is planted in suburban lawn devastated by droughts and floods from global warming, littered with the paraphernalia of addictive painkillers, and adjacent to crumbling schools, abandoned factories, terminal futures. Families become shells, ownership and savings vanish, marriages teeter and break, depression, anxiety, and other forms of illness are ubiquitous, religion is commercialized and weaponized, and patriotism is reduced to xenophobic support for troops in aimless, endless wars and useless, but spectacular border barricades. Nation, family, property, and the traditions reproducing racial and gender privilege, mortally wounded by deindustrialization, neoliberal reason, globalization, digital technologies, and nihilism... have been activated mostly by the Right. What kinds of Left political critique and vision might reach and transform them?

Friday, July 19, 2019

Where I'm At When It Comes To The Transhumanists

Today's Random Wilde

Relations are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven’t got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

"The Fragile Project"

Another indispensable contribution by Adam Serwer (The Cruelty Is The Point is, of course, another recent one), describing what was new for America in Trump's latest racist rally. I was born in 1965 and hope something like the fulfillment of the "fragile project" of equitable, sustainable, democratic polyculture might arrive before I leave this earth -- even as the festival of genocidal cruelty and suicidal denial now threatens to prevail. These passages really struck me:
White nationalism was a formal or informal governing doctrine of the United States until 1965, or for most of its existence as a country. Racist demagogues, from Andrew Johnson to Woodrow Wilson, have occupied the White House. Trump has predecessors, like Calvin Coolidge, who imposed racist immigration restrictions designed to preserve a white demographic majority. Prior presidents, like Richard Nixon, have exploited racial division for political gain. But we have never seen an American president make a U.S. representative, a refugee, an American citizen, a woman of color, and a religious minority an object of hate for the political masses, in a deliberate attempt to turn the country against his fellow Americans who share any of those traits. Trump is assailing the moral foundations of the multiracial democracy Americans have struggled to bring into existence since 1965, and unless Trumpism is defeated, that fragile project will fail... [M]ost of Trump’s predecessors had something he does not yet have: the support of a majority of the electorate. Ilhan Omar’s prominence as a Republican target comes not, as conservatives might argue, simply because her policy views are left-wing... She has emerged as an Emmanuel Goldstein for the Trumpist right because as a black woman, a Muslim, an immigrant, and a progressive member of Congress, she represents in vivid terms a threat to the nation Trumpists fear they are losing. To attack Omar is to attack a symbol of the demographic change that is eroding white cultural and political hegemony, the defense of which is Trumpism’s only sincere political purpose. Many of the president’s most outrageous comments have been delivered extemporaneously, when he departs from his prepared remarks. Last night, though, his attacks on Omar were carefully scripted, written out by his staff and then read off a teleprompter. To defend the remarks as politically shrewd is to confess that the president is deliberately campaigning on the claim that only white people can truly, irrevocably be American. Still, a plurality of Americans in 2016 and 2018 voted against defining American citizenship in racial terms, something that has perhaps never happened before in the history of the United States. There was no anti-racist majority at the dawn of Reconstruction, during the heydey of immigration restriction, or in the twilight of the civil-rights movement. The voters of this coalition may yet defeat Trumpism, if they can find leaders who are willing and able to confront it. That is not a given... The electoral coalition that gave Democrats the House represents perhaps the strongest resistance to the rising tide of right-wing ethnonationalism in the West, yet observe what the party has done with that mandate. The great victory of the House Democrats has been to halt the Republican legislative effort to deprive millions of health care coverage, a feat they accomplished simply by being elected [and even this is a premature declaration of victory given ongoing sabotage and the court cases still pending --d]. But over the past seven months, Democrats have proved unable to complete a single significant investigation, hold many memorable hearings, or pass a single piece of meaningful legislation that curtails Trump’s abuses of authority. Instead, they held their breath waiting for Robert Mueller to save them, and when he did not they, like their Republican predecessors, took to issuing sternly worded statements, tepid pleas for civility, and concerned tweets as their primary methods of imposing accountability.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Today's Random Wilde

[P]rivate property has really harmed Individualism, and obscured it, by confusing a man with what he possesses. It has led Individualism entirely astray. It has made gain not growth its aim. So that man thought that the important thing was to have, and did not know that the important thing is to be. The true perfection of man lies, not in what man has, but in what man is. Private property has crushed true Individualism, and set up an Individualism that is false. It has debarred one part of the community from being individual by starving them. It has debarred the other part of the community from being individual by putting them on the wrong road and encumbering them.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Happy belated birthday to my righteous Representative, by the way, I forgot to mention it yesterday!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, July 15, 2019

Today's Random Wilde

The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Sunday Walk And Brunch

Out and about in the molten blue of sun and sky, a little late to brunch and our diner was nicely emptied out (tho' an obnoxious straight white dude bragging about his world travels made more than enough noise to make up for the silence from the empty seats), then we had a little stroll through quiet sweet St. Mary's cemetery before returning home in time to evade the full afternoon blaze. It's vacation, so I'm trying to be lazy and badly failing at it, larding myself up with extra tasks and duties lest the true horror of actual relaxation manage to take place for the first time in years...