Excerpt: “We have to recognize that fascism takes different forms and different shapes, and that it’s always an element operative under capitalist rule and bourgeois democracy. As much as it [bourgeois democracy] can help us stave off certain fascist elements, it will keep some of them in the wings in case there’s ever a real threat to bourgeois democratic and hence capitalist rule.”
My latest article was just published here in Black Agenda Report. It is part four of a four-part series entitled “Fascism: A Counter-History.” The first part is available here, the second here, and the third here.
Excerpt: “Historically, liberalism and fascism, in this broad sense, have functioned as two modes of capitalist governance that operate in conjunction with one another, following the logic of the police interrogation tactic known as good cop / bad cop. Liberalism, as the good cop, promises freedom, the rule of law and the protection of a benefactor state in exchange for acquiescence to capitalist socioeconomic relations and pseudo-democracy. It tends to both serve and attract members of the middle and upper-middle classes, as well as those who aspire to be part of them. The bad cop of fascism has proven particularly useful for governing those populations that are poor, racialized, and discontent, as well as for intervening in various parts of the world to impose capitalist social relations by force. If people are not hoodwinked by the false promises of the good cop, or they are not motivated by other reasons to be acquiescent, then the liberals’ partner in crime is on call to beat them into compliance. Those who rise up from any class in order to contest capitalism should be ready to have the liberals and their supposed regime of rights tap out, ceding the fight to their more vicious ally while looking the other way, and reminding any onlookers of the important differences between the lesser of two evils.”
My latest article was just published here in CounterPunch. It is part two of a series I’ve written on fascism (the first part is available here). Excerpt: “Given the ways in which the current public debate on fascism tends to be framed in relationship to purported liberal resistance, there could scarcely be a timelier task than that of scrupulously re-examining the historical record of actually existing liberalism and fascism. As we shall see even in this brief overview, far from being enemies, they have been—sometimes subtle, sometimes forthright—partners in capitalist crime.”
My latest article, which is part of a series I’ve written that proposes a counter-history of fascism, was just published here in CounterPunch. Excerpt: “The bourgeois concept of fascism seeks to singularize it as an idiosyncratic phenomenon, which is largely or entirely superstructural, in order to foreclose any examination of its ubiquitous presence within the history of the capitalist world order. In contrast, the historical materialist approach proposes a multi-scalar analysis of the social totality in order to demonstrate how the conjunctural specificity of interwar European fascism can best be understood as nested within a structural phase of capitalist class warfare, and ultimately within the systemic history of capital, which came into the world—in the words used by Karl Marx to describe primitive accumulation—’dripping from head to toe, from every pore, with blood and dirt.'” [read more]
My latest article examines the material history of Foucault’s relationship to revolutionary politics. Excerpt: “The contradiction that I would like to elucidate is that of the radical recuperator, meaning the intellectual who appears radical in certain circles but whose primary social function is to recuperate truly radical critique within the extant system, thereby policing the left border of critique. What interests me first and foremost, then, is how Foucault’s work—like that of other French theorists, but often with more political panache and historical flair than Derrida, Deleuze, Lacan, and co.—has played an important role in a much larger historical reconfiguration: the great ideological realignment of the Western intelligentsia, which took a gradual but decisive step to the right by distancing itself from anti-capitalist revolutionary politics. In order to see how this process unfolded in the case of Foucault, which of course involved myriad forces and was nowise due to him alone, it will be helpful to lay out and contextualize the evolution of his mercurial politics. This will allow us to bring to the fore a clear pattern and identify the man behind the many masks.” [read more]
My article, “Understanding France’s General Strike in the Context of the Yellow Vests and Global Class Warfare,” which was workshopped and published here by RED, just came out here in CounterPunch.
Excerpt: “The credibility crisis of the Macron regime is thus connected to a broader legitimacy crisis for the international system of pseudo-representative governments working for the capitalist class. As William I. Robinson has explained in books like Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Humanity, the transnational elite has sought to establish a neoliberal consensus in the era of globalization, which has required the mobilization of a social base that consensually supports it. Although the ruling class has succeeded in integrating the upper-echelons of society and organic intellectuals through ideological and material rewards, the system of global capitalist accumulation has simultaneously undermined the basis for wider hegemonic rule by stripping the popular classes of the material base necessary for their consent. In this regard, the widespread discontent with Macron’s “government of the rich” is indicative of a broader crisis of legitimacy for the global elite technocracy, which is tasked with maintaining or increasing capitalist accumulation while pacifying or subduing all of those who suffer from it.”
My latest article in the LA Review of Books is available here. It critically examines the relationship between the professional intelligentsia and the Yellow Vests: “Although France has the reputation of having a leftwing intelligentsia, some of the most visible theorists on the Left—including the self-proclaimed torchbearers of the ‘spirit of ’68’—have positioned themselves firmly against the movement or admonished it from the sidelines. This disconnect between important segments of the professional intelligentsia and one of the most powerful social movements of recent years raises very serious questions regarding the politics of intellectual life and, more generally, the relationship between the literati and uprisings. By exploring the intelligentsia’s response—both in France and beyond—to the Yellow Vests movement, this article seeks to elucidate the broader problematic of the role of intellectuals in the maintenance or transformation of the current socio-economic order […read more].”
A special thanks to all of my RED comrades for their excellent feedback and suggestions on this article, which we’ve also run here on RED’s website.
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.