Tag Archive: social change

“Craziness” & habit

In a process-relational view, there are no crazies. There are those who subjectivate with the aid of habits developed in response to conditions that have changed sufficiently that those habits are no longer very effective, or are not considered appropriate by others.

Calling someone — and treating someone as — “crazy” is a way of reifying a particular relationship between one’s own subjectivity and that other’s objectivity. In a process-relational understanding, their objectivity is an artifact of our subjectivation. In reality, they subjectivate as much as we do. Within their own history of subjectivation the habits they have developed make perfect sense. They indicate options selected from an array of possibilities to shape a certain array of subjective propensities.

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More thoughts on Egypt

Max Forte at Zero Anthropology* has a perceptive assessment of what he takes to be a (Hillary) “Clinton doctrine,” which he describes as the U.S.

hedging [its] bets by keeping a foot in almost all camps, by maintaining contact with diverse sectors in a society critical to U.S. national security interests, emphasizing “stability” when regime survival seems possible, and then emphasizing “orderly transition” when change seems probable. It is a mixture of realism and opportunism and a desire to intervene without being seen to intervene, a low cost foreign policy that builds on established bases of military aid and support for civil society groups. By maintaining open and positive channels of communication (with Mubarak, the military, the April 6 Movement, El Baradei, and even the Muslim Brotherhood [long a working ally of the U.S.]) the U.S. made sure that no matter what resulted, it would remain in the picture as a continued player of importance. Viewed in this light, there is nothing contradictory about U.S. statements on Egypt.

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The affective resonance of Tahrir Square

My thoughts on the “affective contagion” of revolutionary events such as those in Tehran a year and a half ago, or those currently happening in Cairo, have always been somewhat undertheorized. Posthegemony‘s Jon Beasley-Murray points to an exhilarating piece written by his UBC colleague Gastón Gordillo on Resonance and the Egyptian Revolution that is helpful for thinking these things through.

Gordillo begins:

“What has coalesced as a powerful, unstoppable force on the streets of Egypt is resonance: the assertive collective empathy created by multitudes fighting for the control of space. Resonance is an intensely bodily, spatial, political affair, materialized in the masses of bodies coming together in the streets of Egyptian cities in the past thirteen days, clashing with the police, temporarily dispersed by teargas and bullets, and regrouping again like an relentless swarm to reclaim the streets, push the police back, and saturate space with a collective effervescence. Resonance is what gives life to this human rhizome and the source of its power. View full article »

Egypt & everywhere

With too little time to follow the events in Egypt closely, I can’t add much to what other blogs and news sources are saying except to point to a few sources I’ve been finding useful, and to connect them up to some themes and discussions this blog has featured.

Uprisings, revolutions, and sudden political realignments are perfect subjects for process-relational philosophical reflection. Their causes are always somewhat mysterious; historians may reconstruct the events that led up to them, and may come up with theories to account for them, but these almost always remain highly contestable. They are moments when suddenly much more is at stake than is normally the case.

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more on Tehran


Planomenology‘s Reid Kane has posted an extensive analysis of the Iranian events from a perspective informed by Zizek and Agamben, among others — the first I’ve seen in this vein, though I’m anticipating others like it in the left-philosophical blogosphere. The piece draws too much, for my taste, on a monolithic (Marxist) understanding of capital and defers too hastily to Zizek’s weaker moments (I’m being respectful here). Reza‘s comments (see below the article) provide some important correctives to the piece, as does Ali Alizadeh’s piece here. But the article makes some useful points on Foucault’s original engagement with the Iranian revolution, and especially on the possibilities opened up by the new media landscape. Reid also reminds us that Guatemalan unrest had previously been dubbed “the Twitter revolution.”

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