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Why the Center Can't Hold: A Diagnosis of Puritanized America

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ISBN: 9780692725474 Year: Pages: 364 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0142.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Philosophy
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:36
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“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” These words from Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming” provide Why the Center Can’t Hold with its organizing theme. And although Yeats was describing the grim atmosphere of post-World War I Europe, O’Neill regards the poem’s pronouncements as eerily predictive of the state of the world as we are currently observing it. O’Neill takes them as predictive of the agency in particular of the United States—the “Center”—in bringing about in the world the more general chaos we are now observing (relative to various refugee and migrant crises, the emergence of sophisticated and even postmodern forms of militant and cyber terrorism, banking and other monetary crises, environmental catastrophes under the aegis of climate change, the defunding of public higher education, the persistence of virulent forms of racism and other types of intolerance, the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands, the marginalisation and even outright elimination of human labor forces, etc.). O’Neill provides historical analyses that illuminate why this is the case, and he also asks what changes in the United States — in its politics, in its socio-cultural formations, and in its beliefs and (supposedly common) values — might help us to avoid the inevitable (and lamentable) destruction that seems ahead

Crisis States: Governance, Resistance & Precarious Capitalism

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ISBN: 9780988234086 Year: Pages: 82 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0146.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Political Science
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:35
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This is an age of crisis: economic, political, environmental, and social. Yet the nature of contemporary crisis is often misunderstood. Crisis, rather than being accidental or episodic – as is too often assumed – has been a regular feature of state practice in the neoliberal austerity regimes of contemporary capitalism. In this timely work Jeff Shantz gives special attention to the particular manufactured crises associated with austerity regimes and conditions of precarity within contemporary capitalism, and how Crisis States differ from other forms of state practice. Crisis is a powerful weapon of states and capital in the pursuit of accumulation, exploitation, and control. Engaging insights from anarchism and autonomous Marxism, Shantz lays bare the real nature and character of crisis as political and social pursuits of state and capital under precarious capitalism. Attention is also given to social resistance under crisis state conditions. Contemporary capitalism renders the oppressed and exploited precarious at the same time as opportunities are opened to render the system itself precarious. Understanding Crisis States and precarious capitalism is crucial in considering prospects for resistance.

Critique of Sovereignty, Book 1: Contemporary Theories of Sovereignty

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ISBN: 9780692282403 Year: Pages: 112 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0114.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Philosophy
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:38
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Using the Western tradition of metaphysical and political thought as a backdrop, Critique of Sovereignty (a work in 4 volumes) re-examines the concept of sovereignty in order to better understand why our ethical values and technical capacities often seem so divorced from our lived realities. On the one hand, ostensibly self-enclosed entities like the nation-state and the person are rhetorically bolstered as sites of technical agency and/or moral responsibility. On the other hand, these same entities appear fragile — if not purely fictional — in relation to ever ongoing tidal processes such as the migration, diffusion, and conglomeration of bodies, capital, ideas, etc. While some of our institutions might work some of the time, they always seem to work differently than we like to think they do. Accordingly, the forging of more humane institutions might very well entail if not require ways of thinking that strive to undo the self-imagined binds, exceptions, and sureties of thought for the sake of embracing a continuity with all that withers, decays, and falls away. Book I, “Contemporary Theories of Sovereignty,” compares the varied interpretations of sovereignty given by a range of 20th-century political theorists (Maritain, Foucault, Derrida, Schmitt, Agamben, Hardt, and Negri) with Jean Bodin’s initial outline of the concept, rendered at the outset of modern political thought in the 16th century. The analytic framework of sovereignty encountered in these comparative readings provides an initial point of departure for unfolding a method of critique appropriate to the concept of sovereignty. Sovereignty is an ideal starting point for a critique of the deadlocks between thought and reality for a simple reason: it doesn’t actually exist. When it serves as a guide to action, sovereignty may be regarded as a particularly captivating fantasy. The closer it appears, the further it recedes, and, too often, the more vigorously it is pursued.

Commonist Tendencies: Mutual Aid beyond Communism

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ISBN: 9780615849782 Year: Pages: 108 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0040.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Political Science
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:43
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As capitalist societies in the twenty-first century move from crisis to crisis, oppositional movements in the global North have been somewhat stymied (despite ephemeral manifestations like Occupy), confronted with the pressing need to develop organizational infrastructures that might prepare the ground for a real, and durable, alternative. More and more, the need to develop shared infrastructural resources — what Shantz terms “infrastructures of resistance” — becomes apparent. Ecological disaster (through crises of capital), economic crisis, political austerity, and mass produced fear and phobia all require organizational preparation — the common building of real world alternatives. There is, as necessary as ever, a need to think through what we, as non-elites, exploited, and oppressed, want and how we might get it. There is an urgency to pursue constructive approaches to meet common needs. For many, the constructive vision and practice for meeting social needs (individual and collective) is expressed as commonism — an aspiration of mutual aid, sharing, and common good or common wealth collectively determined and arrived at. The term commonsim is a useful way to discuss the goals and aspirations of oppositional movements, the movement of movements, because it returns to social struggle the emphasis on commonality — a common wealth — that has been lost in the histories of previous movements that subsumed the commons within mechanisms of state control, regulation, and accounting — namely communism.

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