KPFA’s “Against the Grain” re-aired C.S. Soong’s interview with me regarding my most recent book, and in particular the final chapter on the value-concept of democracy. Click here to either listen to the interview online or download it. Here is the description of the discussion:
“Is ‘Democracy’ a Distraction?”
In the face of the contemporary infatuation with democracy in the West, what should the left do with a term and a concept often used to mask injustices and inequities? Gabriel Rockhill discusses some of the key conjunctures in the history of democracy; he also asserts that a focus on democracy may actually distract us from the task of building a just society.
Gabriel Rockhill, Counter-History of the Present: Untimely Interrogations into Globalization, Technology, Democracy Duke University Press, 2017.
A special thanks to Rahman Bouzari and Shargh Newspaper for the Persian translation of my article “Is May 1968 About to Happen Again, or Be Surpassed? Mass Strikes, Occupations and the Fight for the Future Perfect in France.” Click here to read the Persian version.
My article, “Is May 1968 About to Happen Again, or Be Surpassed? Mass Strikes, Occupations and the Fight for the Future Perfect in France,” was published here in CounterPunch and here with photographs on RED. It was workshopped, as all of RED’s articles, in our collectively resourced, anti-capitalist research collaborative (not to be confused with academic peer-review or nepotistic editorialism).
It is unclear what has become of Macron’s anti-utopian plans to recuperate the spirit of ’68 for the purposes of liberal modernization. Whatever becomes of them, they have already been powerfully pre-empted by a politics of rejuvenation and transformation that many hope will outstrip ’68 (slogans like ‘You are going to wish this was as small as ’68!’ or simply ‘Fuck ‘68’ are already circulating). Much remains to be seen and done, however, and the past political education of all of those involved will now confront the immediacy of a situation in which it is forced to be actualized. The past is only truly alive in the future, after all, meaning in the future perfect that it will have become. The best way to commemorate May 1968 would not only be to rejuvenate it, bringing it back from the dead as it were, but to surpass it. Tearing it out of the mausoleum of consecration by making it into a living transformation, May will only be what it will have become in its future perfect after 2018.
I will be presenting and discussing chapter two of Counter-History of the Present , entitled “Are We Really Living in a Technological Era?,” at Yale University on Friday April 6th, 2018 at 12 p.m. (Loria, 190 York Street, Room B-50). The event is organized by the Internet Culture Working Group and co-sponsored by the Marxism and culture Working Group. In addition to discussing this chapter and framing it in relation to the overall project of a counter-history of the present, I will outline my current research on the subterranean history of the national security state’s manipulation of the intellectual and cultural means of production.
My article, “Academic Black Shirts Brutally Assault Students in France,” was published here in CounterPunch and here on RED. A special thanks to John-Patrick Schultz for his insightful comments and suggestions.
In scenes reminiscent of Mussolini’s black shirts, a dozen or so militants dressed in black, some wearing ski masks, brutally beat peaceful protesters who were participating in a general assembly while occupying the School of Law and Political Science in Montpellier, France. Armed with Tasers, cudgels with nails, and reinforced punching gloves, the assailants unleashed a bloody assault on the night of March 22, sending three students to the hospital and injuring many more. The security guards at the university stood idly by and watched the beatings, while the police and riot forces remained outside the university and did not enter to prevent the assailants’ attack.
I presented the following lecture at Missouri State University on March 22, 2018: “Critical and Radical Theory: Toward the Reinvention of Critique in the Current Conjuncture.”
This paper proposes a critique of critical reason. Neither a full-scale rejection nor a simple internal modification, such a critique seeks to foreground both the strengths and limitations of some of the dominant strategies, methodologies and sociopolitical orientations of critical theory, broadly construed. The ultimate goal is hence affirmative and productive: to rethink critical social theory for the 21st century.
Although the general stakes of the paper touch on issues integral to ‘continental’ philosophy since at least Kant, it will specifically concentrate on the Frankfurt School heritage. It takes Horkheimer’s canonical essay, “Traditional and Critical Theory,” as its palimpsestic reference point in order to sketch the lineaments of a radical theory. Understood as an attempt to reflexively reinvigorate social theory beyond its now institutionalized forms of ‘traditional critical theory,’ it questions the latter’s persistent Eurocentrism and phallocentrism, its academic distance from political praxis, its contemporary professionalization as a brand of moral and political philosophy, and its gradual withdrawal from the daunting project of an analysis of society in toto (from psychic forces and aesthetics to political economy and history).
The overall objective of the paper will thus be to work through one of the major critical traditions in continental philosophy in order to push beyond it, subjecting it to a critique that aims at honing a radical edge too often dulled by the institution of ‘critical theory.’
I participated in a France 24 debate entitled “Le français…and the world: Can Macron’s plan boost French influence?” (3/20/18). I argued that instead of continuing to push an imperial language on the world à la Macron, crushing innumerable local languages along the way, France should start teaching Arabic and African languages in schools as a way of addressing its colonial past and present.