The Political

The First World War Interrupted: Artefacts as International Law’s Archive (Part I)


Separated from us by the barrier of a century. Inaugurator of a fully mechanised modernity. Eye-​opener for the birth of a new, horrified, global society. Premonition of a future to come. This is the Great War. As one supremely tragic bookend to the ‘long’ nineteenth century, the ‘Great War’ is offered to international lawyers as a turning point — as a hinge between the…

Legal infrastructure, differentiated space and the spectacle of ‘lawful protest’: The Australian G20 (Safety and Security) Act 2013

Brisbane Exclusion Zone

Queensland is this year host to various G20 meetings, most prominently the Finance Ministers’ Meeting that was held in Cairns on 20 & 21 September and next month’s Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane on 15 & 16 November. At a cost of over $450 million, a massive security operation is being coordinated by the Commonwealth Government Taskforce (G20

Civilians, Combatants, and Histories of International Law

If the only deaths worth mourning are those of children, we have become complicit with the oppression that dehumanizes their communities. Image by Israeli artist Amir Schiby in tribute to four boys killed on a beach In Gaza

In the media coverage of war, whether reports on individual incidents or the numbing tallies of casualties, the distinction between civilians and combatants is central and frequently contested. The killing of the four boys who had been playing soccer on a Gaza beach has become emblematic for Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians because the boys were…

A Brief Reflection on the Hard Left

If the only deaths worth mourning are those of children, we have become complicit with the oppression that dehumanizes their communities. Image by  Israeli artist Amir Schiby in tribute to four boys killed on a beach In Gaza

Why use the term ‘hard-​left’ to describe candidates to the left of the Labour Party? What is ‘hard’ about these candidates, by contrast with political parties who oversee draconian cutbacks to expenditure in health and education and social services, or parties who set the police on social welfare claimants whilst releasing fraudulent figures on fraud,…

Six Theses on Anxiety & the Prevention of Militancy


Today’s public secret is that everyone is anxious. Anxiety has spread from its previous localised locations (such as sexuality) to the whole of the social field. All forms of intensity, self-​expression, emotional connection, immediacy, and enjoyment are now laced with anxiety. It has become the linchpin of subordination. One major part of the social underpinning of anxiety is the multi-​faceted omnipresent web of surveillance. The NSA, CCTV, performance management reviews, the Job Centre, the privileges system in the prisons, the constant examination and classification of the youngest schoolchildren. But this obvious web is only the outer carapace. We need to think about the ways in which a neoliberal idea of success inculcates these surveillance mechanisms inside the subjectivities and life-​stories of most of the population.

Cupcake Fascism: Gentrification, Infantilisation and Cake

Eliza Koch

The Cupcake as Object The cupcake is barely a cake. When we think about what “the cake-​like” ideal should be, it is something spongy, moist, characterized by excess, collapsing under its own weight of gooey jam, meringue, and cream. It is something sickly and wet that makes your fingers sticky. The cupcake is none of these…

(K)not Politics: Thoughts on Ukraine and Protest

Freedom and Kiev central square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti.

The events in Ukraine have caused many to wonder what sparked the protests in November and why things unfolded into such violence this February. How do we understand European and Russian interest in this country, and what media, what sources of information can be trusted? Ukraine has once again raised the question of the political;…

Some Reflections on the #ACCELERATE MANIFESTO

Xanti Schawinsky, Shakespeare Die beiden Veroneser, Räuberballett, 1925Xanti Schawinsky Estate © Xanti Schawinsky Estate

The Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics (MAP) opens by noting the depth of the current crisis – “cataclysm” – and a negation of the future by “coming apocalypses”. No need for alarm however: there is nothing political-​theological here whatsoever, so those who came looking for that might as well stop reading now. Absent, too, is the usual refrain about the…

What’s Going on in Venezuela?


It’s difficult to briefly explain the situation in Venezuela right now. The difficulty lies in the fact that it is complicated, like most things. No matter how various political protagonists, human rights groups and news media would like to paint things as simple, black and white, they are not. To understand one has to dig…

A Generation Gaining its Voice


I ended 2013 listening to Glen Greenwald’s keynote address at the Chaos Computer Club’s 30c3 conference in Hamburg. Though Greenwald was convinced that change is possible, he was certain it would not arise through political debate or democratic processes. Instead his optimism is vested in the skills of his peers, and in encryption technologies such…

Badiou’s Jurisprudence: The Event of Law and The Law of The Event

Verges 3

In a lecture published in the Cardozo Law Review in 2008, Alain Badiou articulates his understanding of Being, Event, and Simulacrum in relationship to Logic and Law. With an incredible power of precision, Badiou reminds his audience of Aristotle’s three main pillars of the process of thought (Identity, non-​contradiction, and the excluded middle), which he then…

Post-​Modern Absurdities: Chomsky, Post-​Structuralism and Science

No Place Like Noam

I like Noam Chomsky. I like how he can cut through the vagaries and distortions of much mainstream thought. I like how he always contextualises political events and has a deep sensitivity towards, and knowledge of, history. I like how he made William Buckley ­— latter day cause célèbre of neo-​cons — look like a gurning imbecile by quietly and consistently…

A Leaderless Resistance: Balochistan


In April 2010, Baloch guerilla commander Dr Allah Nazar gave a ceremonious reception to Jagoo at a Balochistan Liberation Front’s (BLF) camp in Balochistan’s Awaran district. Those BLF fighters, who hadn’t seen Jagoo before, gossiped in hushed tones about his identity. “He fixed a machine gun. A bullet had been stuck inside the gun and it’d been out of order…

Vulnerability and the Protestor Desired

By Ricardo Alvaraz, from Global Voices (Creative COmmons Licence)

I. In September of last year, Charlene González, a University of Puerto Rico undergraduate student removed her top in the University plaza as part of a performance/​protest against institutionalized gender discrimination in the university and in Puerto Rican society at large. In a matter of minutes, campus and state police were alerted and upon refusing to cover herself,…

What’s “Left” of Communism? Part I of II

Red Star

In his 1980 book The Inoperative Community, Jean-​Luc Nancy famously claimed that communism is, “… no longer the unsurpassable horizon of our time.” Three years later Benedict Anderson, in his groundbreaking book Imagined Communities, showed us how alliances based on common identity are much stronger bonds that alliances based on ideology. All of this seemed…

The Political in the Contract Classroom


When we started ‘The Public Life of Private Law’ one of the conversations we wanted to have with participants, and with others following the series, was about teaching private law from a critical perspective. In particular, we wanted to think about how those of us who fell into teaching private law through a mixture of necessity and serendipity, but…

Counterpress and Critical Legal Strategy

Stacy Douglas 'red & black II (an invitation)', 5" x 7" acrylic on textured card stock. Reproduced with permission

In 2007, Daniel Bensaïd suggested that we turn to the question of strategy. Traditionally, strategy is distinguished from tactics. Where strategy is the ‘use of engagement to obtain the plan of war’ in von Clausewitz, tactics are the short term acts which win battles. Bensaïd’s strategy, however, is slightly different. It is not the means…