m of care – sept 1
part 5 on david graeber‘s there never was a west
from notes on video link:
this chapter can also be read as a standalone. It’s were Graeber puts down his compelling reasons for anarchism, showing (after Benjamin) the incompossibility of democracy and State as monopoly of violence, and the murderous consequences of this impossible marriage.
Just to get the taste of it: “It’s precisely when one considers the problem of the modern state’s monopoly of coercive force that the whole pretence of democracy dissolves into a welter of contradictions. Walter Benjamin (1978) summed it up nicely by pointing out that any legal order that claims a monopoly of the use of violence has to be founded by some power other than itself, which inevitably means by acts that were illegal according to whatever system of law came before. The legitimacy of a system of law, thus, necessarily rests on acts of criminal violence. American and French revolutionaries were, after all, by the law under which they grew up, guilty of high treason. Of course, sacred kings from Africa to Nepal have managed to solve this logical conundrum by placing themselves, like God, outside the system. But as political theorists from Agamben to Negri remind us, there is no obvious way for “the people” to exercise sovereignty in the same way. (…) much of the slaughter of the twentieth century derives from some version of this contradiction. The demand to simultaneously create a uniform apparatus of coercion within every piece of land on the surface of the planet, and to maintain the pretense that the legitimacy of that apparatus derives from “the people,” has led to an endless need to determine who, precisely, “the people” are supposed to be.
“The People” must be evoked as the authority behind the allocation of violence, despite the fact that any suggestion that the proceedings be in any way democratized is likely to be greeted with horror by all concerned. Mann suggests that pragmatic efforts to work out this contradiction, to use the apparatus of violence to identify and constitute a “people” that those maintaining that apparatus feel are worthy of being the source of their authority, has been responsible for at least sixty million murders in the twentieth century alone” Looking forward to seeing you Simona Ferlini
notes/quotes from video (wasn’t on zoom call):
16 min – simona: most interesting part for me.. last one.. the impossible marriage of state and democracy.. because.. violence..
17 min – simona: on the relationship of violence and property.. can’t have one w/o the other.. the monopoly of violence inside borders et al.. everybody is king inside his property.. a producer/structure of violence.. now.. we are projecting this model all over the world.. and the contradiction of govt by people and by state explodes.. you can’t pretend to have democracy inside a nation.. you must pretend the people are a uniformed thing w/one will that can be rep’d.. the moment you pretend to have world democracy .. the impossibility comes to the scene .. people cannot decide together for the whole world.. so can exist only when rep’d
need ie: curiosity over decision making et al
23 min – simona: war makes it possible for people to id w abstract rather than concrete everyday people/community.. and the decisions you have to take in order to live together and coop
again.. decision making is unmooring us law et al
24 min – kelig: text from lost people.. relates to power and sovereign.. ‘royal power as a matter of people gathering together.. making them agree to royal rule.. ‘ .. et al..
34 min – simona: fetish guarantees a contract.. today guarantee of contract has been taken by the state.. the one who decides the last instance.. so the one who has the ultimate power .. the person that rep’s .. that makes the multitude present.. one being.. can only be done by putting the sovereign outside the system.. this sovereign is a fetish..
49 min – vassily: i had difficulties w this text.. he talks about a lot of contradictions.. ie: idea that there can be a demo state.. and state must always assume that there is demo principle behind it.. and the state has things for people who run the states that rep democracy.. ie: pm meeting w the people.. so states are contradictory.. they’re functioning in an oligarch manner.. claiming a demo underpinning.. but.. might be possible to force it if we have enough people.. to bend its institutions/practices in a demo origin.. i wonder if this is what david is pointing to.. i know he’s in favor of prefiguration.. building something new in old shell
54 min – simona: i think this text is quite clear about id politics.. makes sense as soon as id’s are politically relevant.. as soon as you are not people in sense of multitude.. but are a people.. id’d as a jew, american, bolivian.. et al.. that is id politics is relevant when you build the fiction of a people that exists despite all the many diffs
1:19 – avi: not in the technical sense that david describes B .. but in the daily use of B by people who work in social services.. there is some interesting work to be done to explain that a critique of B is not a critique of org.. or even admin.. this is lost w/in popular convo around this point.. seems difficult to explain .. if someone is not familiar w the rojavan context what this might mean..
1:21 – vassily: on film bits/min.. aids people saying we don’t have time because we’re dying.. about crises.. what is the crisis he is talking about.. and why does he use this term.. i think the term crisis is very problematic.. ie: people happy about it because they know how to solve it.. rulers, experts.. this management of crisis is why we hear the term so often now from govt.. in marxist tradition .. crisis viewed as a possibility.. i guess.. i think.. this is more what david is talking about
1:29 – simona: in debt.. he stresses the idea that this is the moment when everything is changing.. that’s why.. the dawn of everything.. if ever a moment we can really make a change.. because times are shifting..
1:31 – simona: next session on sept 15 on walter benjamin.. really related to all we’ve discussed..