Why Genealogy is a Decisionist Fave

“If you are searching for your own noble blood, genetic research has both good and bad news for you. If you follow a pedigree, with all its forkings, back to the eighth century, you will trace over a trillion forks—an impossibility, because that is more than the number of people that have ever existed. When Joseph Chang developed the first statistical model of heredity in 1999 to explain the paradox, he established that many forks disappeared if our ancestors were closely related to one another, and that if you go back seven thousand years, “you reach a point in time when all the individuals who have any descendants among living people are ancestors of all living people.” So you might have pharaohs in your ancestry, and possibly caesars and Holy Roman emperors as well. Yet because of the swapping of DNA fragments during sexual reproduction, the DNA of our ancestors becomes diluted very quickly. Only 1 percent or less of an ancestor who lived four centuries ago is present in your DNA.

None of this, of course, was understood before the discovery of DNA in the 1950s. ” –Tim Flannery, 2019. “Our Twisted DNA,” New York Review of Books, March 7.

This is also to say that any story you already want to make about the past v. present, you can make with the pseudo-social science “technique” genealogy. It’s made to subvert the reason of democracy with the reason of Great Men. Just as Nietzsche prescribed. Psychology and Criminology are mostly the refuge of scientistic frauds, and Economics is the discipline of scientistic knavery. Eschewing scientism, Anthropology is mostly dedicated to turning youthful romanticism into a tool for binding the righteousness of the global peasantry under global elite interests. Sociology has put in plenty of effort monitoring poor men of color, and marketing for anti-democratic liberal parties.

But I’m glad we have statisticians and scientists to call bullshit on philosophy, the queen enterprise of hyper-abstracting elite interests.


Making us see

“I truly believe that our societies work by a constant effort to not see reality. There is another scene I often recount: it was when Jean-Luc Godard was receiving an honorary César in the 1980s or in the 1990s, during the Césars ceremony in France. Godard was invited to go on the stage set for the ceremony, in order to receive his César, given that night by Isabelle Huppert. So he went on the stage. All the people in the room, dressed in tuxedos and expensive dresses, were expecting him to deliver a speech in which he would thank his producers, his screenwriters, eventually his mother, as people always do in this kind of situation. But instead, Jean-Luc Godard said, more or less: I would like to thank the telephone operator who works for Gaumont, the cleaning women, etc. And suddenly, the audience laughed. If you thank a screenwriter, everybody thinks it’s moving, but if you thank a cleaning woman, people think it’s funny. Godard was making an important statement about the system that sustains the art milieu; he was underlining the fact that, when you make a piece of art, a movie, there are some people who clean the studio for you, some people who stay ten hours a day in an office to answer the telephone for you.

The situation is the same when you are a writer: you are invited to give a lecture, your publishing house pays for a hotel room for you, and someone in this room cleans your bed, cleans your bathroom. It’s all a system. So when Godard pointed out the way this system works, people laughed as if it was a joke. I saw their laughter as a kind of physical, bodily response in order not to be confronted by what Godard said. Their laughter was a strategy to escape reality, to not see a structurally violent situation.So when I write, I ask myself, How can I prevent people from escaping what I’m trying to show?”
–Édouard Louis



“Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault taught me something very important: that there is no truth without anger. That anger is a key to understand our world(s), that it’s maybe even the most scientific tool human beings invented.

If I take a concrete example, my mother had to face, during all her life, extreme difficulties: poverty, precarity, male domination, and male violence. She wanted to wear make-up but my father didn’t want her to; he would say that make-up was for sluts (sic). During twenty years of her life, she endured this masculine violence, but most of the time, when she was talking about herself, she would say: But my life is OK, it could be worse, I cannot complain. Why so? Because her mother and her grandmother before her, and her daughters endured the same violence. This violence became so systematic, it was so present around her, that she ended up thinking that it was «normal». That’s a tragedy; how can you change the world if violence is so systematic that people end up not seeing it anymore?

Only if you are angry you understand that this violence is not normal. Anger is what allows you to take a step back and to understand the social structure you are stuck in. Bourdieu’s and Foucault’s books are full of rage, and so are my books, I hope.” –Édouard Louis

The 20th Century French Empire’s Philosophy Project: Derrida Thinks of Justice in Slavery

Kierkegaard said that, philosophically, it is impossible to escape regret. Alain Botton told this to a Google executive crowd. The point of philosophy, Botton added, is to let people down gently. In the 20th century French Empire, as its elites, consolidated through its elite universities, were mobilizing under the Marshall Plan to direct France through industrialization, winnowing out rivalristic global capitalist champions, its imperial philosophers were tasked with gently letting down democratic aspirations. Democracy, as a logic optimizing the average condition, was profoundly regrettable. It would not be missed. The global restoration of patrimonial capitalism would also be a little regrettable, but there was to be consolation in its privileging justice at the margins.

In Typewriter Ribbon (1998) and Without Alibi, Derrida worked over the possible relation between the singularity and “inorganic, dead universality,” mechanical repetition, the machine. He concluded Without Alibi arguing that the project of his cohort, the mid-20th century French Empire philosophers, was to imagine how singularity and the machine could coexist in a relationship Derrida called differance.

You could also say it like this: In the 20th century, elite-trained empire intellectuals from Philosophy to Economics pursued the long-standing dream of substituting out incorrigible, far-from-incorruptible humanity for an ownable, self-reproducing, perpetual-motion work machine realizing the delegated agency of the sovereign, a True because absolutely-free humanity.

The idea has been that this True Humanity will be liberated from responsibility for engaging the complex, artful/intuitive pleasure ‘calculus’ prescribed by materialist philosophy, by being able to reliably delegate their agency on such a self-reproducing, perpetual-motion work machine. Then it will be free of duress, and able, under the counsel of idealist philosophers, to produce reason deduced from singular interest, and just because attuned to the exception.

Yet it is also clear that repeatedly the global capitalist aristocracy (per Burke) has achieved this state of True Humanity, reducing humans to self-reproducing automatons–economically, a substitution. Most recently, while philosophers (via a “Modest Witness” service ethic) and capitalists’ states (via scientistic positivist service) have effectively reconstructed citizens and other humans into “service workers” within the machine,  realizing automaton self-reproduction, True Humanity has proliferated as an oligarchy of millionaires, billionaires, trillionaires. A wholly-owned world is a world made for the relief of suffering oligarchal. We may never reach the asymptotic transition into perfect utopia, but the world remainder is, percentage-wise, insignificant, not enough to dissipate sovereignty in democracy. As in other slavers’ societies, the idealist utopia is achieved again. A True Humanity is liberated to dispense justice at the margins, at its decisionist discretion, in perfect harmony with its interest.

The empirical problem for idealist philosophy is that their real utopia does not result in liberty or justice, or even in much liberty and justice. It results in empirical ecological devastation and human stunting (though we now conceive of that humanity as a sub-human or non-human machine of delegated agency). Positing positivism as the True extent of science, valorizing the structure of thought, its priesthood, and its justice centering the exception, we can try to retreat from the empirical world into the text or the shadowy thought cave, but, contra Kierkegaard, some forms of decisionism are more regrettable than others. Justice centering the exception and reviling the bulk of humanity can only produce reason in the imagination. It cannot realize it in the world.



Note that this analysis relies on a critical realist-type perspective that does not reduce scientific knowledge to positivism, as for example Canguilhem was not able to dismiss democratic knowledge by using genealogy to relativize physics, but French philosophy had to wait for Foucault to reduce science to professionalized (state-serving) Criminology and Psychology as social science.

Writing Plan:

  1. First refute the reduction of science to positivist scientism.
    1. Recover Toulmin & Goodfield’s historical-comparative account of science.
    2. Go back to Canguilhem?
    3. Then go forward to show how Bourdieuian and critical realist approaches work to transcend positivist reductionism, as an alternative to the reduction of social science to cheap Modest Witness service in a surveillance political economy context.
  2. Redefine positivist science as partial or incomplete scientific method that is historically undertaken when scientists either wish to contribute to a political  Risorgimento or are coerced into it.
    1. Give Perry Anderson’s example of early 20th century Italian communist positivist science, as well as contemporary privatized commercial science.
  3. Prometheus Unbound: Discuss how science escapes its bounds, though the sovereign market tries to tie it down. Use the development of epigenetics from the Human Genome Project as an example.
  4. ipsum lorem

France’s “Socialist Party,” that (like the MB NDP) only had ties between party heads and teachers’ union managers, dissolved into “liberalizers around Fabius for whom Silicon Valley was the model for a modernized tech-driven market society’ old-style social democrats and social Catholics like Delors who drew the lesson that national Keynesianism was dead and the PS should put itself at the head of a renewed project of European integration; and the remnants of the deuxieme gauche for whom the turn to the market could be interpreted as a radical, liberatory break from a statist past” (Howell, 2019, Catalyst).

In which it is clarified that France was run by conservatives, for the advancement of France’s patrimonial oligarchy, for the whole 20th century. They were not liberal. They were not socialist. They were capitalist, but capitalist aristocrats, per Burke. They were conservatives managing continental capitalist catch-up. People, they sponsor and circulate philosophy and theory to support that interest. I think it is time we get really critical about the ways that we ingest that interest.

In England (compare to Bourdieu’s Social Structures of the Economy analysis):

“Hamilton-Paterson sees the destructive impact of the ‘money men’ on industries more clearly. The catastrophic and unnecessary fate of ICI (which broke the hearts of some of my own chemical-engineering relatives) came about as men and women with long shop-floor experience and technical qualifications were pushed out of management by newcomers who claimed to be financial wizards. They weren’t. They played the great corporation for short-term stock-market gains, and they lost.

Hamilton-Paterson adds the example of Network Rail’s bungled electrification of Great Western (its cost rose in two years from £874 million to £2.8 billion). ‘That’s privatisation for you: layers upon layers of managers and accountants who know nothing about railways. The old British Rail alternative was layers upon layers of experienced railwaymen who knew nothing about accountancy but who did know exactly what electrifying a line entailed and simply got on and did it.’ Later in his book, he attacks the notion (‘holy writ’ today) that a college degree in management enrols one in a portable profession in which it hardly matters what a company does.” –Neal Ascherson, “As the toffs began to retreat” LRB 40(22).



Distinguishing Marxism from Conservatism

At first I thought JB Foster was rebuking Davos. But then I realized he was only aiming at social democracy and social citizenship, which he/MR conceives as the barrier to the world simply recognizing that MR’s monopoly capitalism framework is correct and from that collectively deducing the revolution.

Let’s focus on this bit, which is not true:

Many of the symptoms of the failure of capitalism described above are well-known. Nevertheless, they are often attributed not to capitalism as a system, but simply to neoliberalism, viewed as a particular paradigm of capitalist development that can be replaced by another, better one. For many people on the left, the answer to neoliberalism or disaster capitalism is a return to welfare-state liberalism, market regulation, or some form of limited social democracy, and thus to a more rational capitalism. It is not the failure of capitalism itself that is perceived as the problem, but rather the failure of neoliberal capitalism.

In contrast, the Marxian tradition understands neoliberalism as an inherent outgrowth of late capitalism, associated with the domination of monopoly-finance capital. A critical-historical analysis of neoliberalism is therefore crucial both to grounding our understanding of capitalism today and uncovering the reason why all alternatives to neoliberalism and its capitalist absolutism are closed within the system itself.” –John Bellamy Foster 2019

That is just MR branding and sales.

The difference is about the strategy for dealing with an entitled, sovereign, fortified global ruling class, and its differential capacity to colonize, direct, or regulate state managers and police/militaries. That is what different kinds of Marxists are really arguing about.

That sets Marxists apart from conservatives and conservative liberals, who are instead arguing that centering the justice of the exception will structurally, logically inscribe all the liberating discursive and institutional change that is possible.

The threat posed to others by capitalist-organized nations is real. What can be done? The conservative-liberal answer is to follow the US’s or France’s (Marshall Plan-funded) elitist paths of top-down orchestrated industrialization, winnowing out the capitalist mega-winners while supplying co-optative trickle-down supports for a smallholding guard class, launching those megacapitalists into the global capitalist class, and turning the state into an international protector of capitalist property and negative rights (See Howell, Chris. 2018. The French Road to Neoliberalism. Catalyst 2(3)).

Social democrats are focused on the importance of organizing workers first, to colonize the state second. Social citizenship is the effort, via positive rights, to institute state accountability to the working class. Neither strategies are incompatible with revolutionary strategies, given the global ruling class will not fade away politely once everyone adopts the monopoly capital framework. No one imagines we can just have social democracy or social liberalism back without revolutionary organization and some (probably spectacular) levels of violence (violence that happens and will happens anyway). JBF’s enemy is a projected chimera, a symptom of a theoretical framework thats broadness (global monopoly capitalism) makes some things visible (finance-driven inequality, economic crisis, ecological destruction), and hides others (the boundary between Marxism and the justice of the elite, the diversity of Marxist organizational and institutional strategies for dispositional democratic development, the primary need for organizing sororite/fraternite–egaliberte dispositions, expanding (democratizing) human capacities). JBF has long been a symbolic patron of the anarchist hippie trust-fund psychological cases, Dixie & California emigres to Oregon. How is that a more noble alliance than recognizing the socialist-founded materialists who fought and built egalitarian and internationalist institutions in actually-existing social democracies? It is not. Plus, patronage is no fraternal recognition. JBF either lacks insight into his own theory’s limitations, or he excessively prioritizes marketing his brand.

MR’s own strategy is doubtful: It’s certainly not about organization. It’s definitely not about coalition. It is simply to insist that the condition of overthrowing capitalism is ideological fealty to the research agenda forwarded by Paul Sweezy and carried forward by John Bellamy Foster, analyzing capitalism as monopoly capitalism. That’s a fine hypothesis for spurring theorization at MR as a small, funded organization requiring more funding. But, given the vast real (in critical realist terms), it cannot substitute for the range of Marxist approaches and strategic hypotheses and experiments, and the need to be able to distinguish, for organization’s sake, historical-materialist contributions from antithetical, conservative contributions, perhaps to create a path back to Enlightenment egaliberte justice for moralists currently caught up in a justice of the exception approach compatible with augmenting inegalitarianism and inequality.

Foster himself shows what is at stake, in terms of coalition, in his overview of the history of the neoliberal ideal:

“Neoliberalism, as it first emerged from Mises’s pen, was thus viewed by Marxian critics in the 1920s (and even by some figures on the right) as an attempt to rationalize a monopoly or finance capital far removed from the precepts of classical liberalism. It was designed to provide the intellectual basis for capitalist class warfare against not only socialism, but all attempts at social regulation and social democracy: a no-quarter-given attack on the working class.”

Internationalism is not a sacred affect, boundless pity and self-abnegating service for the Infinite Less Fortunate. It is sorority/fraternity. It is strategic. It involves organizing. It is not people dissolving positive rights in order to bind displaced people to excessive, disorganizing competition in shit jobs and shit convenience store businesses. It is organizing across borders to help people build homes and society in places they know on Earth. Under capitalist conditions of disruption and primitive accumulation expropriation, Internationalists are pro-immigrant, not pro-migration.

Intro to Philosophical Materialism with Marie Kondo

Topic: Capitalist alienation. Source: Marx, Karl. 1844 Manuscripts.

The fullest possible appreciation of pleasure creates a need for
the prudent management of the flow of pleasures over time,
and for a mental grasp of the art of living.

–Epicurus, 341-270 BC

Because it is concerned with both recognition and distribution through time and across space, philosophical materialism is not only a foundation of scientific knowledge, it is the basis of the Marxist critique of alienation (estrangement). Normatively, the social construction of society should permit us to recognize Earthly life and mortality, and distribute the flow of pleasures across life. But constructing society upon the capitalist foundation of private property might-right systematically causes mis-recognition– dehumanizes smallholders and workers, stunts their human capacities; aggrandizes whoever owns lots of property–and perpetuates the maldistribution of credit, cooperation, resources, and pleasures.

To consider what philosophical materialism is, watch an episode of “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” Marie Kondo deploys philosophical materialism to help people undo some of their alienation, their private suffering. While watching, try to figure out:

a) Observe the “Before MK Intervention” state of the American family. What is at stake with their relationship to the things (from commodities to irreplaceable objects) they exchange, buy, and fill their homes with? Alienation: How does that relationship with things impact peoples’ relationships within their family? How does it make them feel?

b) How does Marie Kondo get the families to make their lives sacred, and reverse alienation? What are the specific methods she recommends?

c) Does it make sense to you that together, cooperatively making the material things of everyday life apparent and sacred, distributing them consciously–prioritizing and editing (thanking and releasing), would help people restore their sovereign agency, improve peoples’ relationships, and relieve their everyday, private suffering? Is this idea within your cultural background? How might making sacred the things that make up our lives relate to thoughtfully working together to make a home, distributing pleasures over time and across the people of the household?

d) Boundaries for egaliberte sovereign agency and development: How does Marie Kondo intervene to show people in the family how to respect boundaries, to give each other room to express themselves, to develop? (See also Jantelagen.)

e) Toward de-fetishizing commodities, step one: Marie Kondo gently directs people away from both shame and also fetishizing commoditiesHow does Marie Kondo model or recommend treating the sacredness of household things “lightly,” so that while they are made visible and their (positive or negative) relationship to people’s well-being is respected, even beloved things (that “spark joy”) only contribute to, don’t become more important than the family’s relationships and family members’ well-being and human development?

Marxist theory is historical materialist, and this requires a few steps, beyond Marie Kondo, out of the house. What would concern a Marxist is how to extend, from the home to the surrounding world, relief of suffering through consideration for relationships, as relationships are mediated by human making. The first thing a Marxist would notice, after the house was tidied, was that people in capitalist society still do not have enough sovereign agency–they’re still saddled with too much delegated agency–to work constructively with others, make judgments and prioritize, respect and maintain boundaries, and feel calm and capable.

We could imagine a Marxist Marie Kondo next asking not only families, but also individuals as members of neighbourhoods, cities, provinces, countries, and international communities to consider, when de-fetishizing commodities, when making things lightly sacred (and by that, better caring for their feelings, boundaries, human development, and their relationships), a) where the things that come into their homes come from, how their making relates to broader human and Earthly suffering and relief of suffering over time; and b) where those things they throw away are going–and what that means for suffering, repair, and relationships beyond the home. This is the philosophical materialist foundation. For a Marxist, then, egaliberte social development is an expanded (and so, yes, much more heavily opposed!) society version of Marie Kondo’s decommodifying, de-alienating household organizing exercise.

confess that they are precious

How would a Sociologist deploy a philosophical-materialist or Marxist approach to study alienation? First identify a foundational sociological assumption. For example, a Sociologist would start off pretty sure that some kinds of families were systematically more exposed to mechanisms that caused alienation than others. But which families? And what mechanisms? She would develop research hypotheses. A Marxist Sociologist might hypothesize that American working class families (the who, independent variable 1) were getting overwhelmed with norms of consumerism (a mechanism, independent variable 2) clashing against wage stagnation (a mechanism, independent variable 3), causing them to lose track of the material world they were creating in their homes (an alienation result, dependent variable 1), and so causing conflict amongst families members (an alienation result, dependent variable 2) as well as shame (self-alienation result, dependent variable 3). She could study this research hypothesis by surveying people, for example. As a social scientist, she would write up and submit her empirical findings, with analysis of how they confirm, refine, or modify Marxist theory, to peer review. For example, perhaps gender relations (egalitarian, patriarchal, or a combination) turns out to also be an important variable impacting the intensity or distribution of alienation in the household. The normative engine firing this research program, this pursuit of scientific knowledge, is, in this case, contributing to the radical-democratic social construction of society, based on egaliberte and broadly-distributed sovereignty for universal human development. Such collective construction of knowledge, interpolating rigorously between a house of theory and empirical observation, is the Sociological craft.

A note on mixing it up, gender-wise:

Marie Kondo’s approach has been critiqued as patriarchal, as where she ignores the allocation of responsibility for emotional labor (See the patriarchal blindness to the woman’s suffering, the painful relationship dynamics in the first episode. Those are momentarily buffered by the tidying intervention; but there’s no intervention repairing that blindness.), and where she assigns women responsibility for organizing kitchens and bathrooms, where she just gives men responsibility for the garage. As well, we see that in a household with a stay-at-home mom, she models making the home sacred by lovingly greeting the husband and holding children–to the extent that the viewer becomes uncomfortable. Her other interventions are simple, brief demonstrations. The point is for the household to adopt the techniques. She seems to linger too long in these embraces, as if she is displacing the household woman from a lead role as the Madonna, though one suspects this is choreographed to make the diminutive, Japanese-speaking woman “relateable,” commercially viable. Yet for Western audiences, Kondo could de-genderize her task assignments and so enhance the collective reconstruction of relationships.

Even in bourgeois pop media, women know the deeply-grotesque side of capitalism that its exceptionalista conservative-liberal theorists professionally elide: “Only some people have access to a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables. Only some people have the kinds of jobs with steady schedules that allow for a good night’s sleep. Only some people can drink the water that comes out of their faucet.”–from a 2019 Atlantic article on the distribution of appearance in capitalism.

A 2019 article by Temma Ehrenfeld, “Why Epicurean ideas suit the challenges of modern secular life.” Aeon, July 19.

US Constitutional Dissent Briefs Toward Positive Liberty and Citizenship Rights

How the US might move, constitutionally, from formal-negative liberty to substantive-positive liberty is argued in the dissenting briefs of San Antonio Ind School District v. Rodriguez, 1973.

Universalized Private Property & Mobility: Symbolic Domination Duo

Marketing the “universalized private property” non-solution to the problems of inegalitarian unfreedom has been the worldwide political organization “stock in trade of mercantilists, capitalists, and the jurists and politicians beholden to them ever since the Roman republic” (David Abraham. 1996. “Liberty without Equality” Law & Social Inquiry 21(1): 7, citing Moore 1966 and Mayer 1971). Rousseau once argued that through obeying the General Will, we would all have property, in the state, iff no one had associational capacity (such as private property allocates). Capitalists argue that we have property in our alienable labour. Jefferson tried to define citizenship as a patrimony of 50 acre land ownership. Bourgeois revolutionaries from France to the US South have argued for the universalization of private property. It’s an idea that’s stunting and killing us. By Bush II, the “Ownership Society” was reduced to a requirement to obtain credit, or debt in order to access the conditions of life…universalizing the company mining town model, smallholder slavery to the capitalist class, prioritizing the social reproduction of the lending class, in its internal billionaire rivalry to own and direct the world.

The opposite of exclusive private property is inclusive public property, vilified by conservatives as the True trajectory of injustice, which they define via idealist philosophy, and its impoverished conceptualization of change, as decentering exception. Abraham traces the domination of the marketed non-solution in a history of US ideas and law. With this co-optative discursive strategy, “America’s greatest libertarians could be slaveholders, just as Europe’s were political-economy free marketeers,” Abrahams observes (11) in accordance with Losurdo 2011 (2006). Occasionally, usually after wars, equal protection/fundamental rights jurisprudence “chips away” at the negative-liberty polestar. “The logic and politics that each time ended the progress: a politics and logic” of universalized private property (9).


How can libertarianism remain twinned with slaver interest in the US? Abraham identifies geographic mobility as the necessary, co-optative factor greasing the relentless, little-challenged marketing of absolutist private property right as universal interest within the settler US (13). Yet in capitalism, private property is exclusive, accumulative, unequally allocating sovereign agency and collective action capacity, enhancing economic, social, and political inequality and unfreedom. Cosmopolitan mobility for the few, the ideal, rests upon the imposed, disruptive, depleting mobilization of the many—often war discharging people from citizenship and sovereign socio-material networks–home, Bourdieu said, where you are culturally literate, and by that able to navigate to your own interest, or through which you are symbolically dominated.

But a settler society, wherein freedom is allocated by market power and yet marketed as universal private property and glorified expulsion from home, is a society of vast and pervasive symbolic domination. We are required to black-box capitalism to presume, as political-economic elites have marketed since Cato the Elder in the 2nd c. BC, that citizenship rights, positive freedom, are irrelevant to non-elite liberty. Black-boxing capitalism, we can sink into the familiar, if degraded lullaby of Ownership Society marketing, aided by a sleeping pill: freedom’s idealistic reduction to physical mobility, as proposed by that original conservativizer of liberalism, Thomas Hobbes (1651). Enjoy the institutionalized Enclosure sweeps, and give my regards to your banker, your Master.


Liberal Fart of Freedom: Mobilizing populations

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Liberal Fart of Freedom: Debt as Universal Private Property Ownership

Mobility freedom is subordinated to the Mill state’s global private property right protection obligation:

“But, then, in the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act passed on March 23, President Donald Trump not only reinstated the full amount but also added an additional $60 million, for a total of $510 million for the prison project.”

Mass incarceration:
“With 2.2 million people behind bars today and 11 million cycling through jails every year, the United States incarcerates more people, and at a drastically higher rate, than any other country in the world.

Building 1,200 more prison beds reflects our dependency on this system of racialized social control, revealing not only deeply held assumptions about crime and punishment, but also what we believe is possible for, and deserved in, rural America.” –Sylvia Ryerson & Judah Schept, 2018, “Building Prisons in Appalachia,” Boston Review.

Notes on Redoing Abraham:

  1. Writing in 1996, Abraham did not yet realize how hard a Catholicized Supreme Court would be restoring absolute private property right in upcoming years. That can be updated.
  2. His analysis of the poverty of negative liberty’s version of “autonomy,” choice, can be improved by contrasting choice, as delegated agency, to sovereign agency.
    1. We fear dependency (37) in absolute private property right regimes not because it is “entwined with collective action,” but because dependency is the denied condition within which all (except self-aggradizing property owners) make unfree choice. Within a law by, of, and for capitalists, most of our choices are non-sovereign, and we fear being called out. Anti-dependency discourse is a terrifying game of hot potato; the stakes are credit and cooperation.
    2. While the Pro-choice movement (footnote 120, p. 37) has conspicuously played by the pragmatist’s losing game, and, update, has lost massively by it within capitalism’s automated class warfare context, a subtle, thorough, and non-sexist analysis would also observe that social democracies and communist societies have, far more securely than liberal and of course conservative societies, recognized women’s right to reproductive sovereignty (see Baker & Ghodsee), because they recognize, behind the reproductive right, the societal value in the development of the woman, threatened by the high consequences of reproductive work for women’s lives in particular, particularly in commodified economies.
  3. Analysis from his comparator case, West Germany, can be improved. Instead, to grasp socialist-influenced, positive-rights constitutional law, use Sweden.
    1. While the West German constitution excerpt (38) is a fine example, point out how the positive rights constitution is sociological, where the Anglo-American liberal negative rights constitution is anti-sociological.
    2. Attack the (rather-Jewish) reduction of social democracy to merely the reproduction of “homogeneity” (per Abraham, Friedman, etc.). See my critique of Jantelagen decontextualization and fetishization. Ethnic “homogeneity” (reduction of the salience of ethnicity) is socially (not discursively) constructed by an inclusionary sociological definition of society (per Dewey 1916), as where ethnicity is converted into political subcommunity, eg. in Vansterpartiet, or political-economic variation is incorporated, as with the Sami in the Swedish Constitution (Basic Laws). There’s a reason (genetic diversity, including incorporating some isolated, genetically-distinct communities–analogous to Ashkenazi Jews) why long-traveling Swedes “look weird,” as the idealistic Germans like to say. Swedes’ national ethnicity is an historical project of inclusion. Like non-ethnic difference and inequality, ethnicity is also a construction, one that extends outside a multicultural society; it isn’t just subcommunity. It is an alternative society, sometimes (particularly when in relation with capital) functional, and otherwise often ascribed, isolating, somewhat functional (capitalism outlaws working class organization) but not very. Universal celebrations of ethnicity in liberal, negative-liberty regimes are about abstracting functional ethnicity as the universal, non-White condition, and denying the functional servitude assigned to ascribed ethnicization within capitalism.
  4. Ipsum lorem.