Christopher Law on Judith Butler, Anti-Semitism and the force of discourse

Force_of_Nonviolence.jpgChristopher Law on Judith Butler, Anti-Semitism and the force of discourse at the Verso blog. Butler’s book The Force of Nonviolence: The Ethical in the Political is forthcoming from Verso in 2020:

Here’s the book’s description:

Judith Butler’s new book shows how an ethic of nonviolence must be connected to a broader political struggle for social equality. Further, it argues that nonviolence is often misunderstood as a passive practice that emanates from a calm region of the soul, or as an individualist ethical relation to existing forms of power. But, in fact, nonviolence is an ethical position found in the midst of the political field. An aggressive form of nonviolence accepts that hostility is part of our psychic constitution, but values ambivalence as a way of checking the conversion of aggression into violence. One contemporary challenge to a politics of nonviolence points out that there is a difference of opinion on what counts as violence and nonviolence. The distinction between them can be mobilised in the service of ratifying the state’s monopoly on violence.

Considering nonviolence as an ethical problem within a political philosophy requires a critique of individualism as well as an understanding of the psychosocial dimensions of violence. Butler draws upon Foucault, Fanon, Freud, and Benjamin to consider how the interdiction against violence fails to include lives regarded as ungrievable. By considering how ‘racial phantasms’ inform justifications of state and administrative violence, Butler tracks how violence is often attributed to those who are most severely exposed to its lethal effects. The struggle for nonviolence is found in movements for social transformation that reframe the grievability of lives in light of social equality and whose ethical claims follow from an insight into the interdependency of life as the basis of social and political equality.

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Tarik Kochi, Global Justice and Social Conflict: The Foundations of Liberal Order and International Law – Routledge, 2019

9780367406813Tarik Kochi, Global Justice and Social Conflict: The Foundations of Liberal Order and International Law – Routledge, 2019

Global Justice and Social Conflict offers a ground-breaking historical and theoretical reappraisal of the ideas that underpin and sustain the global liberal order, international law and neoliberal rationality.

Across the 20th and 21st centuries, liberalism, and increasingly neoliberalism, have dominated the construction and shape of the global political order, the global economy and international law. For some, this development has been directed by a vision of ‘global justice’. Yet, for many, the world has been marked by a history and continued experience of injustice, inequality, indignity, insecurity, poverty and war – a reality in which attempts to realise an idea of justice cannot be detached from acts of violence and widespread social conflict. In this book Tarik Kochi argues that to think seriously about global justice we need to understand how both liberalism and neoliberalism have pushed aside rival ideas of social and economic justice in the name of private property, individualistic rights, state security and capitalist ‘free’ markets. Ranging from ancient concepts of natural law and republican constitutionalism, to early modern ideas of natural rights and political economy, and to contemporary discourses of human rights, humanitarian war and global constitutionalism, Kochi shows how the key foundational elements of a now globalised political, economic and juridical tradition are constituted and continually beset by struggles over what counts as justice and over how to realise it. Engaging with a wide range of thinkers and reaching provocatively across a breadth of subject areas, Kochi investigates the roots of many globalised struggles over justice, human rights, democracy and equality, and offers an alternative constitutional understanding of the future of emancipatory politics and international law.

Global Justice and Social Conflict will be essential reading for scholars and students with an interest in international law, international relations, international political economy, intellectual history, and critical and political theory.

The good news is that, unlike many Routledge books, this is available in paperback as well as hardback and ebook. There is also a promotional 20% discount code of FLR40.

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Books received – Kirkpatrick, Carlisle, Stratford, Carrigan

books-1.jpgKate Kirkpatrick, Becoming Beauvoir; Clare Carlisle, Philosopher of the Heart: The Restless Life of Søren Kierkegaard; Elaine Stratford, Home, Nature and the Feminine Ideal: Geographies of the Interior and of Empire; and Mark Carrigan, Social Media for Academics, second edition. Elaine and Mark’s books were sent by the publishers – I was interviewed for the first edition of Mark’s book.

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Cat Moir, Ernst Bloch’s Speculative Materialism: Ontology, Epistemology, Politics – Brill 2019

2019-10-25-Ernst-Block-Cat-Moir.jpgCat Moir, Ernst Bloch’s Speculative Materialism: Ontology, Epistemology, Politics – Brill 2019

In Ernst Bloch’s Speculative Materialism: Ontology, Epistemology, Politics, Cat Moir offers a new interpretation of the philosophy of Ernst Bloch. The reception of Bloch’s work has seen him variously painted as a naïve realist, a romantic nature philosopher, a totalitarian thinker, and an irrationalist whose obscure literary style stands in for a lack of systematic rigour. Moir challenges these conceptions of Bloch by reconstructing the ontological, epistemological, and political dimensions of his speculative materialism. Through a close, historically contextualised reading of Bloch’s major work of ontology, Das Materialismusproblem, seine Geschichte und Substanz (The Materialism Problem, its History and Substance), Moir presents Bloch as one of the twentieth century’s most significant critical thinkers.

Currently only an expensive hardback, but since it’s part of the Historical Materialism series, this should mean a paperback will follow. There’s also a discussion of the book at the University of Sydney on 25 October 2019.

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Stuart Schrader, Badges without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing – U California Press, November 2019

Now published – Stuart Schrader, Badges without Borders

Progressive Geographies

9780520295629.jpgStuart Schrader, Badges without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing– University of California Press, November 2019

From the Cold War through today, the U.S. has quietly assisted dozens of regimes around the world in suppressing civil unrest and securing the conditions for the smooth operation of capitalism. Casting a new light on American empire, Badges Without Borders shows, for the first time,  that the very same people charged with global counterinsurgency also militarized American policing at home.

In this groundbreaking exposé, Stuart Schrader shows how the United States projected imperial power overseas through police training and technical assistance—and how this effort reverberated to shape the policing of city streets at home. Examining diverse records, from recently declassified national security and intelligence materials to police textbooks and professional magazines, Schrader reveals how U.S. police leaders envisioned the beat to be as wide as the globe and worked to put…

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‘Le Temps musical’ video – Elliott Carter, Pierre Boulez, Roland Barthes, Jean-Claude Risset, Gerald Bennett, Michel Decoust, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze

Many thanks to all who commented on Twitter and Facebook on yesterday’s photo – especially Alistair Leadbetter and Rangel Luis Manuel.


FRANCE – FEBRUARY 23: Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes and Pierre Boulez in Paris, France on February 23, 1978. (Photo by Gilbert UZAN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

From left to right, the people are Elliott Carter, Pierre Boulez, Roland Barthes, Jean-Claude Risset, Gerald Bennett, Michel Decoust, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze.

[Update: on Facebook, Caleb Salgado suggests it isn’t Elliott Carter, but might be Milton Babbitt. Babbitt seems less likely, but it might not be Carter. There are some other images of this person with Foucault here. There is also an image of Carter in 1978 here (picture 4)]


There are some details on the event here.

Rangel also sent a link to a video of the event, organised by IRCAM at the Centre Pompidou. It includes Foucault’s contribution, which I’d not seen before.

It can be seen here.

Posted in Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Books received – Gabrys, Arendt, de Beauvoir, Prideaux, Brown, Milgram

Jennifer Gabrys, How to do Things with Sensors; Hannah Arendt, Between Past and Future; Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex; Sue Prideaux, I am Dynamite! A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche; Wendy Brown, In the Ruins of Neoliberalism; and Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority.

Jennifer Gabrys’s book was sent by the publisher; the rest were bought new or second-hand. Most are related to this year’s teaching.

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Boulez, Barthes… Foucault and Deleuze – who else is in the photo?

Yesterday I posted this picture on Twitter, asking who the three middle figures were – left to right, Boulez, Barthes, ?, ?, ?, Foucault and Deleuze. The photo was taken from Monoskop, which says it was taken at IRCAM, Paris, in February 1978.

[Update: see below for details, but it seems like it is Jean-Claude Risset, Gerald Bennett, Michel Decoust]


I said that I thought the person next to Barthes was the composer Jean-Claude Risset, and @BarthesStudies suggested that the composer and conductor Michel Decoust was next to Foucault. But they also indicated that this was a cropped version of a larger picture, found in Marie Gil’s biography of Barthes, or at Getty Images:


This includes another figure I don’t recognise.

So, that would mean – unknown, Boulez, Barthes, Risset, unknown, Decoust, Foucault, Deleuze.

Anyone help with the other two people?

Update: Alistair Leadbetter has suggested that Elliott Carter and Gerald Bennett may be the two others. The conference programme is here – which lists Bennett, Risset and Decoust. Carter’s work was featured in a concert immediately before the conference.

Posted in Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Wendy Brown, In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West, Columbia UP, 2019 – and New Books Network discussion

9780231550536.jpgWendy Brown, In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West, Columbia University Press, 2019

Across the West, hard-right leaders are surging to power on platforms of ethno-economic nationalism, Christianity, and traditional family values. Is this phenomenon the end of neoliberalism or its monstrous offspring?

In the Ruins of Neoliberalism casts the hard-right turn as animated by socioeconomically aggrieved white working- and middle-class populations but contoured by neoliberalism’s multipronged assault on democratic values. From its inception, neoliberalism flirted with authoritarian liberalism as it warred against robust democracy. It repelled social-justice claims through appeals to market freedom and morality. It sought to de-democratize the state, economy, and society and re-secure the patriarchal family. In key works of the founding neoliberal intellectuals, Wendy Brown traces the ambition to replace democratic orders with ones disciplined by markets and traditional morality and democratic states with technocratic ones.

Yet plutocracy, white supremacy, politicized mass affect, indifference to truth, and extreme social disinhibition were no part of the neoliberal vision. Brown theorizes their unintentional spurring by neoliberal reason, from its attack on the value of society and its fetish of individual freedom to its legitimation of inequality. Above all, she argues, neoliberalism’s intensification of nihilism coupled with its accidental wounding of white male supremacy generates an apocalyptic populism willing to destroy the world rather than endure a future in which this supremacy disappears.

There is a discussion of the book at the New Books Network. Thanks to dmf for the link.


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Setha Low and Mark Maguire (eds.), Spaces of Security: Ethnographies of Securityscapes, Surveillance, and Control – NYU Press, 2019

9781479870066.jpgSetha Low and Mark Maguire (eds.), Spaces of Security: Ethnographies of Securityscapes, Surveillance, and Control – NYU Press, 2019

An ethnographic investigation into the dynamics between space and security in countries around the world

It is difficult to imagine two contexts as different as a soccer stadium and a panic room. Yet, they both demonstrate dynamics of the interplay between security and space. This book focuses on the infrastructures of security, considering locations as varied as public entertainment venues to border walls to blast-proof bedrooms.

Around the world, experts, organizations, and governments are managing societies in the name of security, while scholars and commentators are writing about surveillance, state violence, and new technologies. Yet in spite of the growing emphasis on security, few truly consider the spatial dimensions of security, and particularly how the relationship between space and security varies across cultures.

This volume explores spaces of security not only by attending to how security is produced by and in spaces, but also by emphasizing the ways in which it is constructed in the contemporary landscape. The book explores diverse contexts ranging from biometrics in India to counterterrorism in East Africa to border security in Argentina. The ethnographic studies demonstrate the power of a spatial lens to highlight aspects of security that otherwise remain hidden, while also adding clarity to an elusive and dangerous way of managing the world.

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