Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

Thesis titles I won’t use

 The modern revolutionary Peking opera Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, carefully revised, perfected and polished to the last detail with our great leader Chairman Mao's loving care, now glitters with surpassing splendour. I’ve been thinking a bit about what I want to end up writing about; I’m having difficulty not scoring potential topics on the basis of how many Maoist poster titles I could work into the chapter titles. My current not-actually-going-to-use title is Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy: Action and Utopia in Post-enlightenment Political Thought. I’m trying to figure out how to work the utopian socialists, Marx, Agamben on dynamis, Butler and Mahmood on agency, maybe Lenin, maybe Spinoza, maybe Kant, into some kind of critical take on the centrality of action to most (particularly radical) political theory. I think it’s fair to say I need to figure out a way to restrict the range of my interests here.

Veils and the desires that animate them

"Are you making the international sign of the wanker under your robe?" Jack Straw asks Well, one thing at least about the controversy that followed Jack Straws remarks about women wearing veils can be disposed of pretty quickly: the argument that veils impede communication is entirely spurious. Of course covering ones face removes some of the cues that are used in understanding, but so what? Human communication is massively redundant, precisely so that we can continue to communicate even when elements are screened out for whatever reason. Accents and dialects, tongue studs, brightly colored clothes, terrible haircuts – all these things impede communication, and all of them are accepted as a matter of course. Read more↴

Stop me before I psychoanalyze again

I’m writing a presentation on neo-liberalism for a class on development economics tomorrow, and I have just inserted a quote from Lacan. Is this wise, I wonder?

To: Undergraduates

It’s probably unneccessary to end a four-page paper, in which you describe the “political” features of your shared house, by saying that “a deeper understanding of these complex systems will require further research.”

It’s also, particularly if you know your paper is going to be marked by a graduate student, quite possibly late at night when they’re not in such a great mood, probably unwise to claim that the extra-curricular activity you’ve chosen to write about requires “more work than a graduate student’s whole thesis.”


Well, not really, obviously. Nuclear bombs anywhere are hardly good news, and I’m not going to endorse North Korea as an example of good government, socialism, or anything else. Still, I’m quite scared enough that the US has nuclear weapons, and I find it difficult to be any more worried that some other states might have them. The only possible response for those of us in nuclear powers to the apparent North Korean nuclear test is to increase our opposition to the nuclear weapons nearest at hand (and there’s more thinking to be done about how anti-nuclear activism fits in with the anti-Iraq-war movement). Our slogan should be, then, “No Nukes Anywhere: Unilateral US Disarmament Now!”

(The title of this post was an attempt to imitate the inimitable sloganeering of the Sparts. As befits the true revolutionary vanguard, they’re well ahead of me: “For the unconditional military defense of the remaining deformed workers states”)

Womble riot threat

Sack Parliament - No More Wars The WOMBLES are some of the nicest anti-capitalists you could hope to meet, and they’re not stupid, either. So, if they are involved in this planned blockade of parliament, they probably know what they’re doing. Still, this action sound rather heroic: in the positive sense, but in the sense of “heroic failure,” too. Good luck to them, anyway.