SYRIZA Wins: Reflections While the Tide is Turning

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There is a war between the ones who say there is a war and the ones who say there isn’t. ∼ Leonard Cohen It is probably uncontroversial to argue that the Greek elections of the 25th January will be remembered as one of the most important in the history of Greece, of the Eurozone and of the post-​1989 Left on an international scale. Indeed, SYRIZA’s 36.3% enabled the party of the radical Left to form a coalition government with the small party of the Independent Greeks (more about this later), which is arguably the first leftist government of the Eurozone and the first government elected post-​2008 in Europe committed to putting an end to austerity. Any discussion about SYRIZA can be of exhaustive length and…

A Right to Breathe

RIght to Breathe

The air is taken away from us; “we cannot breathe”. This is a commentary which draws inspiration from an evocative piece of writing by Jerome Roos which appeared earlier in Reflections on a Revolution. The title of his text, “From New York to Greece, we revolt ‘cus we can’t breathe”, describes how the lack of lack of free air has become a symptomatic challenge for the functioning of democracies worldwide. The iron hands of power seem to tighten themselves around the throats of fragile bodies both close and faraway. At the heart of Roos’ critique are Eric Garner’s now famous last words, which he repeated 11 times before the air was finally forever taken away from him: “I can’t breathe”. The brevity of…

Rewinding the Battle of Algiers in the Shadow of the Attack on Charlie Hebdo

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In the classic 1966 film Battle of Algiers, Ali, a young, illiterate, unemployed bricklayer and draft dodger is arrested in Algiers for petty street crimes (he is a card swindler). In jail, Ali meets, unbeknownst to him, a member of the Algerian FLN (National Liberation Front) who recruits him after his release by putting a gun in his hand to see if he will shoot a French policeman in broad daylight. Ali passes the test (though the FLN has him fire blanks) and Battle of Algiers unfolds as a biography of a movement seeking its historic anti-​imperialist mission in the deposition of French rule. We now know that at least two of the dead Muslim men who shot and killed a total of 17 French citizens last week — 12 staff…

“I am Charlie and I guard the Master’s house”

Photograph: Stephane Mahe/Reuters

We condemn the Charlie Hebdo killings. We wholeheartedly and unreservedly condemn the killings and believe that no justification exists or can ever exist for them. We feel it necessary to make our condemnation explicit because we have found that there is a tendency to read an absence of condemnation into any discussion that does not halt at the point of condemnation. If you do read an absence of condemnation of the killings into this piece, ask yourself if what you truly demand of us, between your declarations of “Je suis Charlie” and your unyielding and uncompromising defence of free speech, is silence on this issue beyond a condemnation of the atrocity and those who enacted it. Charlie Hebdo defended its publication of…

‘Not Afraid’

Image by Marine des Mazery

There is a close relation between satire and secularism as the latter came to emerge in Europe. Secularism, as is well-​known, gained strength historically as a reaction to an era of European inter-​religious violence and massacres. It was not only a desire for the separation of Church and State as the classical formula has it. It was also an attempt to keep religious affect out of politics. This was in the belief that religion, because it was faith rather than reasoned thinking, produced too much of a narcissistic affect: a belief unable to ‘keep its distance’ from what it is believing. It was thought that this narcissism was behind the murderous intensity of religiously driven conflicts. Being able to laugh at yourself literally means being…

‘Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone’? Modern Ireland, Inauthenticity and the Request to Revise Ireland v UK

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In 1971 the Hillside Singers, in a song designed to inspire worldwide unity, sang of how they’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony; apparently the inspiration for the song came from the writers’ experiences while delayed at Ireland’s Shannon Airport. Documents recently unearthed by the Irish human rights NGO The Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) and publicised in the Irish television documentary The Torture Files show that, also in 1971 and in a grotesque parody of the song, the British government had a different understanding of teaching the world to sing in harmony. A 1977 memo to the then Prime Minister James Callaghan from his Home Secretary Merlyn Rees regarding the then ongoing Ireland v UK1 case in the European Court…

Cuba and the Garden State: Assata Shakur, Abolition and the Problem of Pardon

Assata Shakur being led away to trial shackled 1977

My skin is black/​My arms are long/​My hair is woolly/​My back is strong/​Strong enough to take the pain/​inflicted again and again/​What do they call me/​My name is Aunt Sarah/​My name is Aunt Sarah — Nina Simone, “Four Women” The recent announcement by US President Barack Obama to re-​establish diplomatic relations with Cuba has been taken by many as a sign of changing times, as well as Mr Obama’s last-​stitch efforts to regain foreign policy credibility for those on the left. This news has also brought about renewed calls by New Jersey police officials to apprehend Assata Shakur, who has political asylum status in Cuba. Before discussing the renewed talk about apprehending Assata Shakur (or pardoning her for something that she…

Another Merry Week in Greece: A diary in fragmented parts to come

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04.12.2014 | Thanatopolitics is an everyday spectacle The head of the Hellenic Police decides to ban public gatherings for two days (05.12 and 06.12). The formal cause of this decision was the visit of the Turkish Prime Minister in Athens. The Athenians are becoming accustomed to such ban orders. On the 6th of December 2008 a policeman had assassinated a 16 years old boy, Alexis Grigoropoulos. The teenager died in the arms of his friend, Nikos Romanos. Nikos Romanos, an anarchist prisoner is, on this day, on hunger strike, for 25 days, demanding an educational leave from the prison he is held in, in order to be able to attend his University courses. The solidarity movement for his cause strengthens by the day. Romanos, convicted…

Interruption: Five Artefacts of International Law (Part II)

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ANZAC in Egypt: Myths, Memories and Movement in the Monumental Imagining of the First World War Charlotte Peevers* The original Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (‘ANZAC’) Memorial at Port Said, Egypt (destroyed during the Suez Crisis of 1956 and replicated in Albany, WA in 1964 and at ANZAC Parade in Canberra in 1968) embodies the antiquity of architectural remembering and the transience of the ANZAC experience far beyond Australia’s shores. The destruction of the Memorial in 1956 reflects its representation, for Egyptians, as a vestige of Empire and occupation. And here the artefact is depicted in a photograph taken by a soldier occupying Port Said during the Suez Crisis. The very destruction of this original monument provided the rationale for a re-​memorialisation and mythologising…

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

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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 imperial and the modern (see Berman 1999). The extended moment of memorialisation in which we find ourselves today presents, in our view, a critical opportunity for interrupting the sensibility of this bounded past. ‘Progress’ is the lens through which, conventionally, this imperial past comes to be known as past, and our present becomes modern. Yet, we know that in making sense of the past this conventional…

From the CIA Torture Report to Ferguson and Palestine: Should anyone be prosecuted?

Image by Nidal El-Khairy. Src.

We did not need the CIA Torture Report, released a few days ago, on International Human Rights Day, to know that US officials of the highest ranks, including former President George W. Bush and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, were aware of, and condoned, or even authorised, the use of torture on war on terror suspects. Such facts had been known since the publication, for example, of the ICRC Guantanamo torture reports leaked in 2004 and 2007,1 as well as the findings of earlier Senate Committees.2 To know that the torture not only included waterboarding and force-​feeding but also ‘rectal hydration’ and detainees being forced to stand on broken limbs, strengthens the calls for accountability of those ultimately responsible, especially those at the…

Homo Sacer: The Last Act (L’Uso dei Corpi)

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Giorgio Agamben has abandoned Homo sacer. By his own admission in the foreword to his book, and having so acknowledged in the first lecture of his 2014 seminar at the European Graduate School, his latest L’uso dei Corpi — forthcoming in English translation as The Usage of Bodies — will be the last chapter of his 20-​year-​long research. Abandoned, he said and wrote, because every demanding philosophical effort cannot be pushed to an end, it cannot be concluded. In these words, there is already a sort of declaration, a signal from the place he belongs and toward the place he currently occupies in western philosophy. Homo sacer ends with a book gathering his writings and ideas over a span of 20 years, reworking the texture of a lifetime’s thought by recollecting…

Pre-​emptive States of Emergency: Martial Governmentality & the Crisis of Police

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Commenting on the investigation into the police killing of Luis Rodriguez in Moore, OK in February 2014, an attorney for the Moore, OK police department declared, “In this country, it seems we are becoming anti-​police and that the tide has turned in respecting law enforcement.”1 In the wake of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury verdicts, and the lack of any formal charges in the cases of Luis Rodriguez and so many other victims of color of police violence just this year, it is easy to see why. In this article, I focus on the pre-​emptive state of emergency declared by the Governor of Missouri in the Michael Brown case, and link this form of ‘martial governmentality’ to the…

Deleuze and the Accelerationsists

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We are expected, in the name of Deleuzoguattarian anti-​fascism, to embrace capitalism as nihilist machine that has no ‘purpose’, because ‘purpose’=fascism, while forgetting that neoliberalism appeared in Germany as the form of governmentality that would immunize us against fascism by trading the political for the economic. —Benjamin Noys, ‘The Grammar of Neoliberalism’ Not to withdraw from the process, but to go further, to ‘accelerate the process’, as Nietzsche put it: in this matter, the truth is that we haven’t seen anything yet. —Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-​Oedipus With the recent publication of the Accelerationist reader1 there has been a revived interest in the relationship between the work of Deleuze and Guattari and a particular reading of Marx that emphasizes both Marx’s own dissatisfaction…

The Hunger Strike of Nikos Romanos

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We are currently witnessing one of the most beautiful and tragic moments of resistance in human history. Please join with us and sign the solidarity statement (link below) alongside educators, artists, philosophers and activists. We have now arrived at the 25th day in the hunger strike of political prisoner Nikos Romanos. He is still alive and fighting this outrageously painful battle for human rights – as an anarchist. He writes, “Last spring, I sat university entrance exams from inside the prison and got admitted to a faculty in Athens. According to their laws, since September 2014, I am eligible for educational furloughs to regularly attend classes from the beginning of the term.” In solidarity with Romanos, other anarchist prisoners went on hunger strike: Yannis Michailidis, on November 17, as…

The Podemos Wave

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The countries of Southern Europe are extremely diverse, both socially and politically. But they are taking the brunt of the impact caused by the same misguided policy imposed by Central and Northern Europe via the European Union (EU), with varying but converging outcomes. In broad terms, this amounts to chaining these countries to their peripheral position within the continent, subjecting them to unfairly disproportionate indebtness, actively disabling the state apparatus and public services, pushing the middle classes into abrupt impoverishment, forcing young people to emigrate and cutting investment in education and research, without which it becomes impossible to shed the peripheral status. Spain, Greece and Portugal are paradigmatic tragedies. Although all polls indicate high levels of disaffection and even outrage…

The Further Criminalisation of Student Protest

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The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement has served as a reminder of the wider politics of austerity and its beneficiaries in the form of tax cuts and those at its detriment experiencing wage freezes and cuts in services and benefits. It was also a reminder of how the reforms to higher education and the introduction of full fees is part of the same political programme. This point was not lost on the students who protested on Wed 3rd December. The sensitivity of universities to such protest is in inverse proportion to their willingness to debate the changing idea of the university. Increasingly, universities have sought to criminalise protest on campus while employing marketing techniques to protect their brand. The actions of police on the University of Warwick campus on…

Transgressive Substances, Transmogrification and the Tragedy of Michael Brown

My Blackness is not a Weapon

The [police] chief was informed that a hitherto inoffensive negro was running amok in a cocaine frenzy … Being fully aware of the respect the negro has for brass buttons, the officer went single-​handed to the negro’s house for the purpose of arresting him. … The officer … informed him quietly that he was under arrest … . In reply the crazed negro drew a long knife, grappled with the officer and slashed him across the shoulder. Knowing that he must kill the man or be killed himself, the chief drew his revolver, placed the muzzle over the negro’s heart and fired … But the shot did not even stagger the man. A second shot that … entered the chest, had just as little…

Governmentality: Notes on the Thought of Michel Foucault

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The title of Foucault’s lecture series of 1977 – 78 Security, Territory, Population was poorly chosen; the series should, as he acknowledges, have been called ‘Governmentality’, since the concern of these lectures is with the overarching ‘problem of government’ – that is, ‘how to govern oneself, how to be governed, by whom should we accept to be governed, how to be the best possible governor?’1 He is thus interested in the how of government – both how governing happens and how it is thought. The 1977 – 78 lectures start with the theme of biopower, one of Foucault’s thought ‘fragments’2 (as opposed to cohesive theory) on the how of power. Biopower referred to a set of procedures, or relations, that manipulate the biological features (for example, birth rate, fertility)…