Murmurs and Antagonisms

Orthodoxy via Heresy

On Not Being Unworthy: Antifascism, Racism, and Trump

Donald Trump is president. And I’ve already yelled at my father, cried alone, watched friends cry, witnessed friends worry, seen friends planning for the worst as best they could, partaken in this planning. I’m still processing. I posted initial thoughts on Facebook but there’s more to work through. Everyone has a hot take. Everyone has a desire to explain how we failed. It’s most certain that someone failed. But shifting blame and responsibility to third party and non-voters (statistically improbable), to Clinton’s pandering to the elite (evidenced and clear but not primary origin of people’s hatred), to the failure of the two parties to reach out to working class white people, all these are shifting blame and all them true to some extent.

Can we straight up give people the barest dignity of agency? White men and women, the majority of whom voted for Trump hold a lot of blame. They voted, they chose. Whoever voted for Trump consciously is to blame. I don’t care why so much as they did this. Do all these persons support Trump fully? Of course not. But they clearly support Trump enough to vote for him. Today at an event to lament and express anger and sadness two white men spoke. One spoke, scared shitless, of how he was a Republican but wanted to try to understand people’s hurt. No one said anything except encouraging him to look at the faces. The second white man spoke and stated how he had voted for Trump because of the same fears as everyone there. He hadn’t listened. And much has been sad about the failure to listen. Also true.

I don’t have clear thoughts. But it’s worth noting a few things, scattered thoughts:

  1. Liberal fantasies are failures. The liberal consciousness cannot account for white rage. Liberalism has become the location for celebrities and easy memes. It’s predicated on a naive cosmopolitanism and humanism that makes Trump being elected unfathomable.
  2. Leftist politics needs to exercise caution. As my friend Sean has stated in various places: suddenly remembering that poor white people are harmed by capitalism and systems must not mean we ignore racial antagonism.
  3. What this moment, the next succession of moments, demands of us is hard. It demands that we somehow find a way to sit with the family we have (though no one is obligated to do so) who voted for a man we find repugnant. It demands radical education. If Jared Sexton is right that ” Blackness is theory itself, anti-blackness the resistance to theory,” then radical education is an encounter with Blackness. It is, as Frank Wilderson states, trying “to develop ways and means for your speech and action to be authorized by a Black/slave grammar of suffering rather than the grammar of suffering of subalterns.” It demands disruption. When the KKK take to the streets in December to celebrate: throw rocks, stop them, disrupt their movement. It demands getting involved with local organizations. It demands staying angry. It demands that if Trump follows through with his threat to create a registry for Muslims you register. It demands that disrupt walls being built. What it demands is everything other than checking out, sitting out. Be creative, disrupt, think more from the grammars of suffering and not those of dominance.
  4. If you’re white: start educating yourself; start listening; don’t question anger; don’t question ideas. If you want to question ideas educate yourself and find friends who will engage with you. Build relationships. The work is on us. The goal is not to get persons of color to be our fans, to ignore their distrust of us, their anger. The goal ought to be to find ways to be comrades together, to keep working to fight in good faith as best you can. The goal is to educate yourself and step back. Anger, distrust, that is all valid and okay. All we can do is to sit with those who hurt and do the work to educate ourselves, to think new ways. That is on us. Never on our friends of color. Ever.
    [Addendum: If you’re white and “woke” get off your ass and do the work to educate other white people. Correct white people. Call them out. Shame them to be better.]
  5. If you’re male identified/straight: listen to your LGBTQ friends. Care for them. Educate yourself. Stand with us. And learn to see how the World favors you.
  6. The World is anti-Black.
  7. Antifascism is always self-defense.

 

I’ll probably have more theoretical and articulate thoughts later. But these are concrete thoughts I can articulate right now.

Letters: A Reply to John

To John,

I will probably just attempt to feel my way around in your thought as best as possibly and not so much respond critically but engage productively (which sounds goddamn trite).

You asked how I could consider myself Christian still. I still ask myself that. Of course, on one hand, the easiest answer is we’re all Christian inasmuch as we’re Western. And, while I think that to be at least generally true, I think it’s an exercise in avoiding the question. The question is still: how can I continue to be a Christian with the body I inhabit? Our bodies are ours and not ours. And I guess by that I mean a body which I had little say over is one I came to inhabit (not that I am anything other than that body). Lacking a “say over” my body has been the tension I’ve existed in. My body is read as male and relatively masculine at that and, similarly though not analogous to your experience with anti-blackness, I cannot escape the trans-antagnostic structure that frame my body while giving it a context under which to make it make sense. So how can I believe in God? How can I identify with Christianity? The answer is to some extent still to be determined.

But I wanted to touch on your tautology. I think your tautology traces a methodological commonness between us, or at least a shared assumption. It assumes that everything, at its core, is theological. And I think I would articulate it differently: namely that theology isn’t so much the study of statements about God (religious confessions) nor is it simply about religious practice but a study of explicit names of God. If your conclusion (via Feuerbach) holds, that theology is anthropology, I think it’s also to some extent fair that theology is genealogy.

Which fits nicely with conceptions of God’s death. God has died yet we require new names for God and I think you touch on this in stating that “God is a socio-instituted concept… God is real, but God did not have to be and does not have to be.” And I think that’s pretty apt. Though, I guess, for me, and here I might have a disagreement. I agree that God did not need to be but I do think the term God has a distinct referent. What that referent is I’m not sure. But if we need to name God and naming God isn’t some reductively Christian argument that “Money is God” I would contend that we are naming an actual Object/Subject. I think this to be true because I think naming God, theology, fundamentally originates in an encounter with something/one (whatever that might be). Along the lines of Julien Baker: “But I think there’s a God and he hears either way/and I rejoice/and complain.”

I like your “Matrix of Man” which seems to be the antonym (or at least a contextualizing partner) of intersectionality. And I say that since I don’t think one can identify as intersectional, or rather, make it an identity claim. Since intersectionality is a method of analysis, a tool to confront crossing forms of material oppression, I wonder if the “Matrix of Man” is a correction or at least a less positive encounter with material. And this is hard to work out in my brain so let me try to put it into this form:

1) Intersectionality is a tool to analyze the criss-crossing points of material oppressions. As such it’s useful to an extent but it has a strange rigidity. It can encounter and define and excavate but I’ve always felt that it was still a bit too rigid to encounter material harms;
2) In complement or antithesis to intersectionality the “Matrix of Man” seems more fluid, more topological and less geographical. Less oriented at a crossing but existing on a plane, a plane that enfolds us.

Are intersectionality and “Matrix of Man” absolutely opposed? No, I doubt it. They are antonyms but complement one another. Maybe intersectional is particular and “Matrix of Man” is more generalized, less centered on a foci or point but on self-justifying institutions that perpetuate themselves.

I find your last few sentences kind of intriguing since it seems to be a weird resignation. But I don’t think it is. I think it’s denying an outside, that we’re always inside this bullshit. And being inside means a refusal, what Beauvoir calls an “explosion in the heart of the world.”

So, why am I still a Christian? I’m not sure if I am or not (depends on how you define that term). I know there’s a God, am inclined to accept that the basic claims of Christianity are probably true-without-being-True, and I want to follow Jesus but following Jesus too often means following a white, cisgender, heterosexual norms (the whole “not called to heterosexuality but to holiness” stuff). And being within a Christian world (your Matrix is explicitly and distinctly Christian for us in the West I think) means to some extent learning to find ways of saying no to that World such that I could exist without it.

Your friend,

Jonas

 

________

First post in this series of letters: On God and Theology

Bathrooms: A Redundant Take

I didn’t want to write this. I really didn’t. Partly because it means reliving parts of growing up that are harmful, partly because it means saying what has been said before. But I have to, just to make some things clear.

Yesterday, Russell Moore published this startlingly simplistic blog post  was pretty much immediately ripped to pieces by Twitter, especially progressive (queer) Christians. Rightfully so. What Russell Moore says in this piece trickles down through the denomination he is a part of. Moore is the head of the Ethics commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. A Convention that this church is a part of. The pastor of this church in Georgia spoke at a town hall meeting and said that this situation was perverse. This situation refers to the simple idea of letting people piss where they feel comfortable. Moore’s theology has been rightly criticized and questioned, though I doubt he will change a thing. What’s disturbing to me is that on my Facebook feed images like this have been shared:

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What’s disturbing is that Moore’s theology masquerades as the loving side of biblical theology. His theology is predicated on the exact same assumptions as Kevin Swanson, Bill Jack, and others. The theology Bill Jack and Kevin Swanson share is one of violent behavior. Swanson advocates bringing back the death penalty for gay people (and presumably trans people). Bill Jack, on Swanson’s radio show, pretty much took time to rip on my college (Calvin College) for being LGBTQ friendly. I emailed him about that because for a while I considered him a mentor, a friend, a man I respected. I attended Worldview Academy (the religious organization he is affiliated with) for three years, I was on staff as an intern for a week, I thought he was a good man. Now I’m frightened by him. But I emailed him to correct some things and to make an appeal personally. I wrote (in part):

“I’m also a queer student. 
I’d like to write you and wonder about your radio broadcast about my school. How much do you know about Calvin College? You seem to have exhibited an inability to understand a few key things about the CRC and Calvin Chimes.”
To which Bill replied:

“…in response to your claim that Calvin College has drawn you closer to Jesus, who is this Jesus you say you worship?  Show me this Jesus who winks at sin, excuses vile behavior and fails to call one to repentance.  What truth and what beauty has Calvin taught you if it is outside of Scripture? In short, support your position from Scripture, not from feelings or from Calvin College statements, my young friend.  I fear you are in danger of God’s wrath and God’s discipline.”

Bill recently, along with my former debate coach from Colorado, decided to propagate fear, hate and mocked the plight of trans individuals on Kevin Swanson’s radio show.

All this to say, I don’t intend to say what Jesus would or would not do. Nor am I interested in decrying this as not “real Christianity” because it is very much real Christianity. It is very clearly based on an interpretation of sacred texts of Christianity. It’s very explicitly their way of following Jesus. And it is violent and evil. I didn’t want to write this post because the religious right has been castigated a lot (most times deservedly, others times not) but this was too much.

Trans people are being threatened with violence, being threatened by men who want to protect their daughters from sexual violence by threatening to assault (even shoot) trans persons. The issue is that this theology trickles down through families, through people. Moore’s theology is two steps too close to Swanson’s for comfort. And extending grace is becoming impossible and frankly less and less lie a valid option.

If your theology resembles Moore’s or Swanson’s or Jack’s you are willfully participating in violent theology. And if you’re okay with being complicit in that I might not be able to have a conversation in good faith with you. Nor should you expect any queer person to have a conversation in good faith with you.

Christianity is and has been violent. It has also been good and beautiful. Choose which form of it you want to partake in, because I know which side I’m on and it’s with the trans girl who just wants to piss, it’s the trans guy who just wants to shower, and it’s with then-binary person who simply wants to change after a sporting event.

As stated, this post is redundant, has been state more clearly by better people. But these men (Swanson, Jack, Moore) have a readership, audience, and have influenced hundreds (thousands) of people. They have an impact on people, their theology has an impact on people. And it’s worth calling them out and naming what they’re saying as evil. Because it is evil. But this is redundant, won’t change anyone’s minds, but it needed to be said because I grew up around these people and their theology. I saw it wreck me, watched it wreck others, and I’ve seen it lead to throwing people to the margins and mockery.

To anyone still in speech and debate in Colorado with Steve Vaughn: get the hell out.

To anyone tied to Worldview Academy or Bill Jack: get the hell out

To anyone tied to Kevin Swanson or Moore: get the hell out.

 

What’re You Talking About: Refugees, Europe, Culture

  1. Sloterdijk is correct to point out the hypocrisy of Europe: doing nothing when they could or should have and is now expecting Germany to handle this situation. He is also correct that Merkel is in a deal with the devil here, especially when engaging the eastern European countries.
  2. With the recent Austrian elections it’s clear the far-right has a grip on the political imaginations of the people. As this map shows Norbert Hofer won in a majority of area in Austria: 1300px-bundesprc3a4sidentenwahl_c3b6sterreich_2016_1-_runde-svg
  3. The issue is not one of far-right populism, or not just. In fact, when it comes down to it far-right populism has the unfortunate side effect of bringing far-right extremists along with them. In Germany Frauke Petry (the speaker for the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD)) stated in an interview that gun violence should be used against refugees on the border to stop them from entering. In the last year over 1K incidents of violence/harassment against refugees has been recorded in Germany, over 100 incidents of arson against refugees homes. Chants of “Wir sind das Volk!” are heard frequently at Pegida rallies – an ironic chant since it was previously to protest the East German regime. In the last year or so since this crisis got big there have been 369 claims of refugees doing violence to citizens (rape, assault, etc.) and all 369 turned out to be hoaxes.
  4. There is no easy solution to the crises. But Identitäre have interrupted two plays about refugees in Vienna, blaming Europe and Austria for having a role in the deaths at the Bataclan. Norbert Hofer, the leading candidate for president in Austria, wore a blue flower in his lapel in 2013, this blue flower was a way for Nazis to identify each other when the swastika and such were banned. Refugees are in camps (like Idomeni). Refugees are drowning in the Mediterranean as they try to come over to Europe. All of this is happening, and Viktor Orban and others are leading the charge to block refugees, to shut down their borders, to deport refugees, all in the name of defending their culture.
  5. This defense of culture sounds less and less like a defense of traditions and more like a defense of Leitkultur.
  6. Again, there is no easy solution. I have no idea how to solve this. From an ethical perspective Merkel did the absolute correct thing in welcoming so many refugees. But from a practical political perspective it is a nightmare for Germany. The social system is being strained, people are frustrated, and those frustrations are understandable and (in some cases) valid. But this frustration has led to the AfD winning their place in the local state parliaments in three German states, it’s led to the increased popularity of National Front in France and Marie Le Pen, of Orban and company. And a naive humanism won’t work. A naive humanism that says: welcome them all! They’re human and deserve safety! While true, these naive platitudes, lacks teeth to resist the inevitable surge of racist rhetoric and action.
  7. The far-right isn’t just a populism anymore here, there’s a very real fear of the lengths they have (and are willing to go to) to stop Middle Eastern and North African immigrants. Any solution will end up angering someone else. But what is incredibly clear is that resistance to the far-right is needed, that fascists are running over Europe, and that the chant “Nazis Raus!” is all too relevant still, and that refugees have nowhere to go back to. They’re stuck between camps with measly tents and destroyed cities, abused and harassed by smugglers, the women are assaulted, put in front of gates telling them they’re outside of the human.
  8. And this is what it fundamentally comes down to, I think: any defense of tradition or culture or place is not absent its context. In this case, the context is a Europe not too far removed from nationalism and colonialism. That being the case it’s hard to hear Norbert Hofer saying he wants to protect Austrian culture, tradition, etc. and not hear a man determining what is acceptable and human to an extent. It’s hard to hear this and not ask: what the hell do you mean? Wiener Schnitzel (ironically, probably not from Wien) and Lederhosen and Dirndl’s? And I mean that in kernes: if you defend culture and traditions: what the hell are you specifically talking about?
  9. “Ein Mittelfinger für die Nazis”

A Waste of Life

I’ve been listening to a lot of grunge/female fronted bands who do a genre of noise rock. I’ve managed in the past two days to devote somewhere near five hours of time listening to music that probably annoys people on the whole. Partly because it’s the best music for me to study to and partly because the genre piqued my interest. What’s this got to do with anything?

Well, a lot. Or a little, at least. As I write this I’m listening to a song called American Society by L7 and thinking about why the hell I study what I do at my school. These thoughts have been going through my mind the past few weeks spurred by the re-prioritization my school is undergoing, a process that I will see throughout my time at Calvin. And whether or not one thinks its good or bad it’s caused me some anxiety about why am I majoring in German and Philosophy.


Weirdly this song by L7 has been helping me make sense of this whole situation. I think my answer to the question, “What do you plan to do with a philosophy degree,” will no longer be: No idea. Rather, my new answer will: I’m trying to not drown in American society. I’m trying to find ways to come to terms with the fact that “…there is no escape from the world, no transitivity, no transcendent something.” There’s no escape from capital and the influence it exerts on my education, on the world we inhabit. There’s no escape from this and instead of trying to just play along and be drowned and be a “twentieth century [or 21st] casualty” I’ll just try to make life.

What would being a casualty look like? Just numbingly going along with the flow. But note, this isn’t resistance, this isn’t a delusional attempt to change anything. In fact, I think philosophy in many ways is fundamentally useless towards productive action or world-changing, especially geared towards a transitivity. Instead, this is me making life within what is, tyring to find ways to exist without becoming a casualty or drowning within this society.

So, why do I study what I do? Because it’s the only way I know how to make sense of the lived-life I am. Maybe it is a waste of my life (thank you Tapji for this post by the way) but in one sense it’s only a waste if life is something that can be achieved. And if that life is the typical weird American dream I’m not sure why me trying to avoid that drowning would be a waste of my life?

And maybe it is a waste but it’s a waste of an excess, an inability to live with the present conditions.

Study to make life-becomings possible, I suppose.

Further Thoughts on Calvin

[These are some unorganized, spur of the moment thoughts I’ve been having.]

  1. I just read this post by Adam Kotsko and I think it hits on a fundamental problem with how my university is thinking about education.

    It [majors] misleads students (and their parents), who generally hold some fetishistic belief in the power of a major to lead directly to a job, as though the job market is the next level of college applications. This is obviously not the case, and it is not even the case that you need to go to grad school in the field you majored in! The whole major thing is literally a lie. And it’s a lie that serves the worst trends in higher ed. It creates interdepartmental competition for “majors,” in order to maintain the department’s status, its hiring clout, and in the last resort, its very existence. It encourages a naive belief that you’re getting some set chunk of knowledge from college, which feeds directly into the naive belief that majors are direct paths to jobs.

  2. Education guided by business is flawed because it is dictated by fear, irrational presumption and idealism, and ultimately a stifling of the liberal arts. The liberal arts go deeper than just a simplistic learning to think well. Fundamentally, the liberal arts provide students a way to figure out what they love, to acquire a diversified set of skills, etc etc (not necessarily measurable; it’s why, I think, philosophy majors do well on LSAT’s).
  3. Calvin is telling us that the liberal arts (read: humanities) are useless to help students become members of society and good workers. To some extent I’m not sure I give a damn about long term goals of sustainability when Calvin, an explicitly Christian university, is caving to fear now (most certainly the opposite of a Christian habit). Fear of the new tomorrow, where another debt crisis comes and goes. Fear of not having enough interest to put money into departments. Fear which makes the immediate seem the most wise.
  4. Can we talk for a moment about “low student demand” (a term used by the administration in the email to us all)? Low student demand for the humanities comes from a fear of not having a job when one graduates. The economy dictates majors, not the other way around. Part of this plays into the (unfortunately) common assumption on campus that college is here to get you a job. (Bracket for a moment the absurdity of paying 40K a year for a job). The email also stated that the cuts were made to better align resources with demand. Demand, debt, the economy, and all the various intersections along those lines of control, put a stranglehold on students and schools.
  5. Gilles Deleuze, from his Postscript on Control Societies:

In the school system forms of continuous assessment, the impact of continuing education on schools, and the related move away from any research in universities, “business” being brought into education at every level.

To Calvin College

I get it.

We get it.

We’re aware that Calvin is in debt. And I am (at least) impressed with how much we’ve managed to reduce the debt in two years. None of us are urging Calvin to go further into debt.

We all get that there need to be cuts etc.

None of us, as far as I know, are denying these facts.

All that said, it sucks. As a double major in German and Philosophy, it sucks.

I’m literally embedded in the humanities and 3/4 of my classes occur in the same building. I’m lucky, on one hand, to be in the Philosophy Department because it’s basically safe from most cuts, if only because it has status within the world of Christian philosophy. But being in the German department is hard. Especially since we’re potentially losing the German major.

Plenty has been said about Calvin and its false advertising. When the art department faced cuts (alongside art history, history, and music) people pointed out that having a tab for ARTS on the Calvin homepage is disingenuous because, frankly, Calvin doesn’t care about the arts. Sure, we have the 106 Gallery, and the little gallery in the CFAC…but where is the Art Department? The basement of one of the buildings.

Now Calvin has proposed cutting the German, Greek, Latin, Theater, and Art History majors (and God knows what will happen to Chinese, Korean, and Japanese). Calvin is leaving the minors but…so what?

I’m keeping this fairly short and brief but it’s worth posing the following to the administration:

Are we a liberal arts school? It doesn’t seem like it. At least, on surface we are, we still have humanities degrees on offer. But in practice I find it difficult to see how Calvin gives a rip about us. Calvin cares about numbers, metrics, factoids, not about well-rounded creative thinkers. Why are there no cuts in the sciences? In the business department? In engineering? Because numbers. Because there are more students in those departments. It’s a question worth asking and right now we’re failing.

Calvin states this on its website:

The real result of a Calvin education is this: graduates who want to expand their capacity to care, to get involved in their churches and communities, and to love God with mind, heart and soul.

Is this still the goal?

Right now the answer seems to be a good ol’ West Michigan No. A No that’s too cowardly to just come right out and say that the humanities only matter in relation to the “practical” majors.

 

Various Thoughts on Radicalism

It’s fair to say that most of my radicalization has happened through music, specifically folk punk, and I think it’s equally fair to say that my politics are fairly well expressed in a song not written for my context. When Pat the Bunny wrote From Here to Utopia he probably wasn’t thinking of a liberal arts college kid studying philosophy with about as much midwestern privilege as the next person. That said, there’s something in the lyrics that gets at a simple reality: namely that learning to think and make unthought worlds means hating the world, denying it, and still hoping for a world where “I don’t wanna have to hate everything anymore.” It’s a hope that the song gets at, that the world as we know it is problematic and young kids attempting to be radicals aren’t new at declaring the problem of the world. That this shit can’t go on, yet it does. Pat gets at this reality, the simultaneous failure of radicalism and its necessity when he says that our enemies “will teach our corpses to dance.”

Radicalism in the modern age requires a sense of nihilism. Nihilism that is guided by a reality that we live in a new geological age and the planet is beyond saving. Install solar panels on your house, recycle, do the best to care for this planet but realize you’re only slowing the inevitable. Nihilism guided by a reality of living in a world made by, and defined by, white supremacy, queerphobia, nationalism and a myriad of other evils is beyond recognition in any humane, gracious way. Course, saying that radicalism needs nihilism seems odd since nihilism is given the bad rap of being a suicidal way of seeing the world. Well, the world’s already killed itself (or at least we aided in the suicide).

The world isn’t good. It’s beyond saving in a lot of ways. At least under current models of being. But I think that’s where nihilism shuts us down and gets us outside of ourselves. But it’s not enough.

Nihilism isn’t enough. Nihilism is just facing the reality of the world but still trying to explain away suffering. What comes next is sitting within suffering, working from within it, naming it, naming the unthought, and realizing that half this shit is unthinkable, at least to our white, heteronormative, Eurocentric modes of thought.

So, am I radical? I don’t know. Radicals are basically folks who claim the title but sit on their ass and aren’t willing to do anything. I’m one of those. I’m a failure at most everything I say or claim as a belief or guiding principle. But I try and move baby steps forward. And realize that pragmatism (note: pragmatism isn’t equivalent to getting one’s hands dirty) is a luxury afforded me. A luxury not afford other folks. Face the world, name it, damn it, and move on.

“Who killed the world?”

On (Not) Voting

Let make this clear from the outset: I don’t hate America. And most times when I’ve said that I do it’s been in a fit of frustration about some incident or another. Am I jaded and cynical with regards to America and its dream? Yeah, absolutely. But I think that makes sense to some degree. I care about America, if by America we mean it’s varied people and not just some abstract ideal of America. I care about America because I hate to see it screw up constantly. But none of this is to say I want America to keep doing the whole, “We’re sorry. We’ll try to do better to live up to our liberal, democratic ideals,” shtick. Not interested in that. I want to be a part of change in America, to criticize the system, and to acknowledge the good.

This leads me to voting. I’ve been eligible to vote for almost two years now. And in neither of those two years have I voted. I remember getting my drivers license at 18 and seeing the old gentleman at the desk raise his eyebrows when I said I didn’t want to register to vote. In no way am I opposed to voting. It’s worth partaking in if your conscience so dictates and if you think it meaningfully contributes to social change. I’m skeptical, especially lately given the Citizens United ruling and the money it’s brought to political campaigns.

But the reasons I’m skeptical aren’t just because of big money, the fact that we are in no way democratic, and the neoliberal system has failed us in numerous ways. Nor is my skepticism ignorant of the major movements to secure the ability to vote for women or persons of color. Those were, and are, important movements which we’d do well to heed with the onslaught of (racist) voter ID laws. I acknowledge all of this. But I still remain doubtful about voting.

Part of this ties into thinking the unthought. Why is that we haven’t gotten past the whole, “If you don’t vote, don’t complain” deal? Even progressives partake of this weird logic, albeit in a more passive aggressive way. Somehow not voting is apathy, a failure to account for grassroots movements, etc. In contrast I want to start thinking what a democratic republic might look like where voting isn’t some sort of deified, often too easy, means of social change. Why is voting given so much importance?

Now, contrast the American situation with that of Greece. America doesn’t really need our vote, in fact if less people voted the system might actually be bucked a bit and change might occur. Greece needed a turn out, in both its elections and referendum because, in those moments, the vote meant something. But Greece has had a history of numerous left anarchist groups and right wing groups that clash, riot, protest, etc. America has that history too. But somehow it’s become easier for us to go vote  than to go in the streets, go to local town hall meetings, engage with local news, protest, call people out, situations where we’re actually unconvinced.

Maybe Zizek is right, we need less action and more thought. And maybe the most violent way to effect social change in a system predicated on wealth is to do nothing at all, let the system run itself into the ground, keep hoping, keep protesting, but don’t bite the bullet. As a friend recently posted on Twitter, we thought Obama was going to change the American situation but he hasn’t, not meaningfully. We think Bernie will, but Bernie is still part of the system and is less a socialist than he claims.

So, I’ll let people vote.

But I’ll be over here thinking, trying to imagine a world where we don’t need the call to vote, where voting isn’t the end all be all of politics, where politics isn’t just about elections and the current system, thinking a world better than this one, a world where thought is actually respected again. Call me a utopian, call me an idealist, call me an apathetic bastard, whatever, but I want to actually think about why we feel the need to vote, what spurs us to vote, to think like this, and then I’ll go from there.

On Gay Marriage: Pissing People Off

[This is a follow up to my post On Gay Marriage, just a few various thoughts]

1. The question, or point, the previous post was aiming towards was not one of the rightness or wrongness of gay marriage. Rather, I wanted to suggest that in  being in the world feeling multiple things at once is possible, good even. But ignoring that some of the comments made it abundantly clear that we are discussing surface level issues. Marriage is the idol of our allegedly secular (read: Christian) nation. It’s the project towards which big money has been going these past ten some years. None of this is to discount the lives lost to get us where we are today, but it is to say that marriage is just another Christian commodity, gay or not. Everyone has been sharing Justice Kennedy’s statement about marriage. Other than the fact that he sounded like an idiot high school kid he was expressing a distinctly Christian form of marriage.

2. Like it or not, these issues are uninteresting in many ways to me. It was increasingly clear over the past three years or so that gay marriage would be ruled legal in the US. It’s all centered around discourse that still partakes and finds itself embedded in the Christianity so many people seem to want eschew.  I get it. But when you’re talking about love in an American context you’re still talking about a colonizing, often Protestant love, a love that extends the Christendom project of America.

3. And that’s the rub. The liberal, capitalist elite run the social justice issues of the day and in a sense co-opt the labor of the average person. When you can make your Facebook profile picture a pride flag, when WordPress has a pride flag at the top of the dashboard the other day, it’s clear that this isn’t anything resembling a small person issue. And in many ways I can respect the middle America conservative folks who feel threatened by big money shoving an agenda down everyone’s throats. So, I get it. There’s something to be said when one’s values are threatened. Laughing conservatives off the stage is understandable but at the same time it kind of reifies the discourse.

4. If our single concern is marriage equality I think we’re missing the point. I think I’d rather combat my whiteness and subvert it to the best of my ability than worry about equality especially if equality merely means sharing HRC logos and the passionate speeches of celebrities who have nothing to lose.

5. As Yasmin Nair states, “But the sad truth that many of us learn after years in sexual playing fields (literally and figuratively) is that how many people you fuck has nothing to do with the extent to which you fuck up capitalism.”

6. I’m going to eschew sex positivity if it’s still tied to capitalist, Christian, pseudo-secular discourse. I’ll pass on talking about marriage equality while those in power are murdering the least of these.

7. Gay marriage is part of the commodity forming machine of capitalism at this point. We can definitely do better.