Deterrence unto Death: Running fast into a neighbour’s knife

Ship with large number of undocumented migrants runs aground at Rhodes

“Once gunships have driven them back to their shores, boats need to be confiscated and burned on a huge bonfire.” Katie Hopkins, UK Conservative Pundit (2015) “We understand that by withdrawing this rescue cover we will be leaving innocent children, women and men to drown who we would otherwise have saved. […] when word [got] round they will think twice about making the journey. And so eventually, over time, more lives will be saved” UK Foreign Office Minister Baroness Joyce Anelay (2014) Days before around 900 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to get to Europe, Katie Hopkins commented in The Sun that such migrants are “like cockroaches”, “built to survive a nuclear bomb.” You are probably wondering who Katie Hopkins is. Well, I do not watch much…

Ferries not Frontex! 10 points to really end the deaths of migrants at sea

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On April 20, the Joint Foreign and Home Affairs Council of the EU released a ten-​point action plan outlining their response to the recent deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. Many other proposals have also been made over the last few days. We are activists who have been involved in the struggles against the European border regime for several years and who have been in touch on a daily basis with hundreds of people who have crossed the Mediterranean through Watch The Med and the Alarm Phone project. Faced with the hypocrisy of the “solutions” that have been proposed so far, we feel compelled to undermine their falsity and attempt to open up an alternative space for reflection and action. We…

The Atmosphere of Revolution?

1917-Russian-Revolution

I want to follow up on a post from last year about the general strike, using the idea of silence as that which binds it together in its negativity (or catastrophe as Sorel would say). As I reread that piece for a book that I’m trying to write about crowds, I realised that one of the key points is the atmosphere generated by a crowd-​in-​strike. The danger, however, of valourising atmospheres is that we begin to lose sight of the relation between the material political action and the atmosphere produced. Atmosphere becomes free foating, mysterious and unhitched from events. Lenin, Bataille and Luxemburg give us a clear sense of what is at stake. After the 1905 December revolution, Lenin harries the mensheviks for calling for the creation…

Teaching: Notes on the Thought of Luce Irigaray

silentium

One of the major concerns for Irigaray regarding education, and in my view perhaps the most important one, involves the absence of horizontal relations in the classroom. Indeed, Irigaray writes: Education is still based on the characteristics of the male subject, and seldom takes interest in the values of the female subject. Subject-​object relations, competitive relations with a peer, or peers, within a one-​many configuration, and hierarchical relations define the dominant model. What is lacking is a culture of horizontal relations between different subjects (Irigaray, 2008b, p. 210). Horizontal relations in the classroom involve relations between teachers and students, as well as relations among students, which do not just do away with projecting the subjectivity of a self in a position of power on an other,…

The Germanwings Disaster: A ‘Muslim-​Australian’ Perspective

Janus

The intentional downing of the Germanwings aircraft on 24 March 2015 triggered an urgent media inquiry into the identity and motivations of co-​pilot Andreas Lubitz. Armed with not much more than a grainy photograph of an unassuming man posing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, journalists pressed Marseille prosecutor Brian Robin for a positive identification of first Lubitz’s ‘ethnicity’ and then his ‘religion’ to which came Robin’s reply: ‘he is not listed as a terrorist, if that is what you are insinuating.’ With the media and the authorities scrambling to locate Lubitz’s hypothesised Muslim-​ness, I was reminded of the events in Sydney last year. When a Lindt cafe was stormed and besieged by Man Haron Monis, our Prime Minister soberly announced that Australia had…

Six Books: International Law, Human Rights and the Politics of the Turn to History

TWAIL-EVIL

What do we mean by the turn to history in international law? We are speaking about a growing body of scholarship that is engaged in the task of bringing history to international law in a number of ways: telling the history of international law, contextualising international law within modern history, bringing non-​Eurocentric philosophies of modern history and its crisis to bear on the theory of international law, and historicising international law discourse. It is also possible to say that we are experi­­encing a turn, or an intellectual shift, because the default position of international law theory has been, for centuries, a systemic and synchronic one, accompanied by a reluctance to deal with its own history and its embeddedness in the history of the modern world.…

JHRE Editorial: The Discourse of ‘Biocultural’ Rights

Anthropocene

There can be little doubt of the multiple complexities facing law in the twenty-​first century. Climate change alone presents a challenge of unprecedented global complexity for legal systems – a complexity arising, moreover, directly from the ‘complexity of the climate system [itself:] its myriad of parts, interactions, feedbacks and unsolved mysteries’.1 In the face of such complexities, law’s traditional institutional silos and path-​dependent responses (such as the institutional and doctrinal separation between, for example, human rights law and climate change law) seem increasingly exposed as inadequate. Law’s path-​dependent institutional and doctrinal structures relate to deeper conceptual tendencies. While law itself is a complex, multi-​layered phenomenon, it famously trades in binaries, taxonomies and other conceptual reductionisms. This – it is increasingly clear – is a deep-​seated orientation ill suited to the complexity…

Australians overseas are calling for international protests against mandatory detention of asylum seekers

Dear Australia

For decades Australia has been the subject of international institutional condemnation that has focused on Australia’s policies of mandatory detention and off-​shore processing of asylum seekers. In 2002 in the aftermath of Tampa, SIEV X, the spurious ‘children overboard’ allegations and beginning of the ‘Pacific Solution,’ the UN High Commission for Refugees articulated concern about the vilification of asylum seekers in public discourse and called on the government to provide more honest and accurate information. In July 2002, UN reports outlined that Australia had breached numerous international obligations including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In October 2012, the UN Committee on Arbitrary Detention stated in its scathing…

Being Social: Ontology, Law, Politics

Being-Social

We are pleased to announce that Being Social: Ontology, Law, Politics, edited by Tara Mulqueen and Daniel Matthews, and published by COUNTERPRESS, is now available. Being Social brings together leading and emerging scholars on the question of sociality in poststructuralist thought. The essays collected in this volume examine a sense of the social which resists final determination and closure, embracing an anxiety and undecidability of sociality, rather than effacing it. Through issues including queer politics, migration, and Guantanamo, recent events such as the occupation of Gezi Park in Istanbul, and theoretical explorations of themes such as writing, law, and democracy, contributors assess how a reconfigured sociality affects thinking and practice in the legal and political realms. With a particular emphasis on Jean-​Luc Nancy, whose work…

Conatus: political being and Spinoza

Part I — The nature and significance of the conatus Spinoza’s ‘conatus’ is a signal concept of his thought and one which appears as an axiom of modern treatments, particularly those of a political nature. Famously, the conatus doctrine provides: Each thing insofar as it is in itself, endeavours to persevere in its being. PROPOSITIO VI. Unaquaeque res, quantum in se est, in suo esse perseverare conatur. Traditionally the source of this doctrine has been identified as an amalgam of Hobbes and Descartes. From Hobbes Spinoza takes the view that this endeavour is an infinitesimal striving which characterises (human) individuality and is the origin of consciousness; from Descartes he draws the idea that this striving is explicable in entirely rational terms as a kind of inertia.…

Live blog: Warwick Summit on Protest

warwick-injunction

We’ll be liveblogging the Warwick Summit on Protest today from 16:00 UK time. The Summit was proposed by Warwick Law School’s Centre for Human Rights in response to events on campus last term which saw the University summoning the police to a Free Education demonstration that involved an occupation of Senate House. Students claim that a peaceful protest was disrupted by police intervention and that among other things CS spray was deployed on a student, a taser was drawn with the threat of use, and several students were otherwise assaulted. More details, including the University’s and police’s version of events, can be found here. Note: we are running the liveblog because it has been decreed that the one permitted video stream be unavailable to…

Law’s Catastrophe and the Greatness of Syriza

Src

Two narratives compete for the truth of today’s global political stage. On the one hand, there’s the narrative of leftist irresponsibility and incorrectness. On the other, an austere narrative of correctness based on the general notion that there’re certain obligations we must fulfil as a matter of necessity. At a more particular level, this second narrative is often accompanied by the assertion that only the right wing can be trusted to play well the game of chess that is global politics and economics. Leftists are fated to err, or else, kick away the chessboard in desperation. According to the first narrative, from Athens to Caracas, leftist governments demonstrate their irresponsibility when they make public promises that are impossible to fulfil in the…

For fragments, and not debts, we are

T. Zartaloudis, Athens 2008

It may be the case that one could note the peculiar appearance of the thinking minister. A thinking minister is not suddenly a liberated or a good minister, but at least a minister who thinks and does not just administer or govern; thus maintaining for a number of possibilities previously and thoughtlessly curtailed. What possibilities? Not towards this or that eschatological or even other more modest end but towards good living. A living that cannot be separated from the good, and a good that cannot be separated from the living. For the potentially good minister may have realized, after all, that there is no sovereign master to whom his ministry owes its existence and validation of the good. Then what of the good if there is no…

The Greek Debt ‘Confidence Trick’

Greek Debt 'Confidence Trick'

As William Shakespeare said in Much Ado About Nothing, “Let every eye negotiate for itself And trust no agent.” As so it seems appropriate to cast our ‘eye’ upon the discourses that have defined the current Greek financial crisis from both the left and the right. These discourses have failed to draw the curtain back enough to reveal the true nature of the ‘Oz’ like problem Greece faces today. As Costas Douzinas so aptly stated in his recent article on CLT, Syriza:The Greek Spring: There is no blueprint or textbook and the new government will be tested every step along the way. It is a tall order for a small country and party. But if the Greek spring succeeds — it is a big if — it will mark…

To Question Law, Without Condition

Occupy Central Protestor 2014

Take your time but be quick about it, because you do not know what awaits you (Jacques Derrida).1 The heady days of Occupy Central have passed. The 79 day occupation of the centre of Hong Kong — alongside other sites in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay — dominated life and work for many in the city and became a focus of attention for international media. The movement is now in a period of reflection and consolidation, searching both for new strategies of engagement and, perhaps even, a sense of its soul or animating force. These are more quotidian times, far removed from those exceptional days in August last year. The future of Hong Kong, its path to democracy, its relationship with China, its legal and political institutions,…

Why we should worry about the theoretical foundations of human rights law and practice

Eugène Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People

Ivor Crewe, the former Essex Vice-​Chancellor, and a political scientist, used to compare contemporary human rights activists to 19th century Christian missionaries, spreading the gospel to less enlightened peoples. There is more than a grain of truth to this ironical jibe, aimed at his colleagues in the Human Rights Centre. Late last year I was invited to make presentations on behalf of the Council of Europe in Bosnia and in Macedonia. I have just been twice to Russia. I am about to go and do human rights work in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan for the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and through my EHRAC project I take many cases to the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg against Russia and other countries of the Former Soviet…

Syriza’s new contract between Greece and Europe

Alexis Tspiras

On Sunday 8 February 2015, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras explained the government’s policy commitments. Thanks to AnalyzeGreece and GreekReporter, we are happy to publish excerpts from his statement. The new contract between Greece and Europe which will be reflected in a Medium Term Plan for National Reconstruction, respects the Eurozone operating rules, but does not condemn the Greek economy to eternal recession based on absurd and unreal requirements on primary surpluses, which are a different name of austerity. I want to reassure the Parliament and the Greek people we are steadily working towards a viable agreement with our partners. And I am optimistic that we will succeed. Because that agreement is at the same time a signal that Europe remains focused on its democratic principle and tradition of respecting the…

Syriza: The Greek Spring

Syriza Victory

According to an oft-​repeated cliché, the recent Syriza victory has historic significance. Its place in history books as the first elected left government in Europe is assured. But its importance goes further. The Syriza victory is an important marker in three historical periods or concentric cycles that started in 1949, 1968 and 1989. The year 1949 symbolises the beginning of the Cold War. The Greek civil war ended with the defeat of the left. In the long period afterwards, which culminated in the 1967 – 1974 Colonels dictatorship, the people who formed the backbone of resistance to the Nazi occupation were persecuted, exiled and imprisoned. A strong right-​left divide was established with the right dominant and the left accepting its political defeat and retreating…

‘We are not with the State, We are with the Community’

We are not with the State, We are with the Community

All that we see or seem Is but a dream within a dream. — E. A. Poe1 In an interview that Alexis Tsipras gave to the journalist Stavros Theodorakis in June 2012, we hear Tsipras explaining SYRIZA’s manifesto and saying: ‘We are not with the State, We are with the Community’.2 I had to pause and replay this over and over. I was startled by the distinction Tsipras had made between the State and the Community. On 25 January 2015, the Greek People or more precisely 35.5 % of the people voted SYRIZA into government and Alexis Tsipras became the new Prime Minister.3 I am writing this not as an expert in Greek politics but as somebody touched by the SYRIZA-​led shift in socio-​political discourse and…