Category Archives: Dissertation

iustum enim est bellum quibus necessarium et pia arma ubi nulla nisi in armis spes est
[Only those wars that are necessary are just, and arms are sacred when there is no hope except through arms.]

Machiavelli – The Prince, XXVI (quoting Livy 9.1.)

Can we talk about violence when no physical or biological object is hurt? This would be a case of what is referred to above as truncated violence, but nevertheless highly meaningful. When a person, a group, a nation is displaying the means of physical violence, whether throwing stones around or testing nuclear arms, there may not be violence in the sense that anyone is hit or hurt, but there is nevertheless the threat of physical violence and indirect threat of mental violence that may even be characterized as some type of psychological violence since it constrains human action. Indeed, this is also the intention: the famous balance of power doctrine is based on efforts to obtain precisely this effect.

Galtung, J. (1969). Violence, Peace, and Peace Research. Journal of Peace Research6(3), 167–191.


Senior jobcentre executives have warned staff of the risk of benefit claimants attempting suicide as controversial changes to sicknessbenefits are being pushed through.

The warning, contained in an internal email sent to staff by three senior managers of the government-run jobcentres, warns staff that ill-handling of benefit changes for vulnerable claimants could have “profound results” and highlights the case of one suicide attempt this year.

It emphasises the need for the “utmost care and sensitivity” when dealing with customers, as a result of “difficult changes which some of our more vulnerable customers may take some time to accept and adjust to”.

The email, adds: “Very sadly, only last week a customer of DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] attempted suicide” – which it adds is “said to be the result of receiving a letter” informing him that his sickness benefit would be cut off.

And yet the Tories label us the violent thugs …

Jobcentre bosses warn of suicide risk among benefit claimants

Everything unknown and alien is primary and undifferentiated: that which transcends the confines of experience; whatever in things is more than their previously known reality. What the primitive experiences in this regard is not a spiritual as opposed to a material substance, but the intricacy of the Natural in contrast to the individual. The gasp of surprise which accompanies the experience of the unusual becomes its name. It fixes the transcendence of the unknown in relation to the known, and therefore terror as sacredness. The dualization of nature as appearance and sequence, effort and power, which first makes possible both myth and science, originates in human fear, the expression of which becomes explanation. It is not the soul which is transposed to nature, as psychologism would have it; mana, the moving spirit, is no projection, but the echo of the real supremacy of nature in the weak souls of primitive men. The separation of the animate and the inanimate, the occupation of certain places by demons and deities, first arises from this pre-animism, which contains the first lines of the separation of subject and object. When the tree is no longer approached merely as tree, but as evidence for an Other, as the location of mana, language expresses the contradiction that something is itself and at one and the same time something other than itself, identical and not identical. Through the deity, language is transformed from tautology to language. The concept, which some would see as the sign-unit for whatever is comprised under it, has from the beginning been instead the product of dialectical thinking in which everything is always that which it is, only because it becomes that which it is not. That was the original form of objectifying definition, in which concept and thing are separated. The same form which is already far advanced in the Homeric epic and confounds itself in modern positivist science. But this dialectic remains impotent to the extent that it develops from the cry of terror which is the duplication, the tautology, of terror itself. The gods cannot take fear away from man, for they bear its petrified sound with them as they bear their names. Man imagines himself free from fear when there is no longer anything unknown. That determines the course of demythologization, of enlightenment, which compounds the animate with the inanimate just as myth compounds the inanimate with the animate. Enlightenment is mythic fear turned radical. The pure immanence of positivism, its ultimate product, is no more than a so to speak universal taboo. Nothing at all may remain outside, because the mere idea of outsideness is the very source of fear. The revenge of the primitive for death, when visited upon one of his kin, was sometimes appeased by reception of the murderer into his own family; this, too, signified the infusion of alien blood into one’s own, the generation of immanence. The mythic dualism does not extend beyond the environs of existence. The world permeated by mana and even the world of Indian and Greek myth know no exits, and are eternally the same. Every birth is paid for with death, every fortune with misfortune. Men and gods may try in their short space to assess fate in other terms than the blind course of destiny, but in the end existence triumphs over them. Even their justice, which is wrested from fatality, bears the marks of fatality: it corresponds to the look which men—primitives, Greeks and barbarians alike—cast from a society of pressure and misery on the circumambient world. Hence, for mythic and enlightened justice, guilt and atonement, happiness and unhappiness were sides of an equation. Justice is subsumed in law. The shaman wards off danger by means of its image. Equivalence is his instrument; and equivalence regulates punishment and reward in civilization.

Dialectic of Enlightenment – Adorno & Horkheimer

Abstraction, the tool of enlightenment, treats its objects as did fate, the notion of which it rejects: it liquidates them. Under the leveling domination of abstraction (which makes everything in nature repeatable), and of industry (for which abstraction ordains repetition), the freedom themselves finally came to form that “herd” which Hegel has declared to be the result of the Enlightenment.

Dialectic of Enlightenment – Adorno & Horkheimer

But because the unique self never wholly disappeared, even after the liberalistic epoch, the Enlightenment has always sympathised with the social impulse. The unity of the manipulated collective consists in the negation of each individual: for individuality makes a mockery of the kind of society which would turn all individuals to the one collectivity. The horde which so assuredly appears in the organisation of the Hitler Youth is not a return to barbarism but the triumph of repressive equality, the disclosure through peers of the parity of the right to injustice. The phony Fascist mythology is shown to be the genuine myth of antiquity, insofar as the genuine one saw retribution, whereas the false one blindly doles it out to the sacrifices. Every attempt to break the natural thralldom, because nature is broken, enters all the more deeply into that natural enslavement. Hence the course of European civilisation.

Dialectic of Enlightenment – Adorno & Horkheimer

Enlightenment dissolves the injustice of the old inequality – unmediated lordship and mastery – but at the same time perpetuates it in universal mediation, in the relation of any one existent to any other. It does what Kierkegaard praises his Protestant ethic for, and what in the Heraclean epic cycle is one of the primal images of mythic power; it excises the incommensurable. Not only are qualities dissolved in thought, but men are brought to actual conformity. The blessing that the market does not enquire after one’s birth is paid for by the barterer, in that he models the potentialities that are his by birth on the production of the commodities that can be bought in the market. Men were given their individuality as unique in each case, different to all others, so that it might all the more surely be made the same as any other.

Dialectic of Enlightenment – Adorno & Horkheimer

The principle of immanence, the explanation of every event as repetition, that the Enlightenment upholds against mythic imagination, is the principle of myth itself. That arid wisdom that holds there is nothing new under the sun, because all the pieces in the meaningless game have been played, and all the great thoughts have already been thought, and because all possible discoveries can be construed in advance and all men are decided on adaptation as the means of self-preservation – that dry sagacity merely reproduces the fantastic wisdom that it supposedly rejects: the sanction of fate that in retribution relentlessly remakes what has already been. What was different is equalised. That is the verdict which critically determines the limits of possible experience. The identity of everything with everything else is paid for in that nothing may at the same time be identical with itself.

Dialectic of Enlightenment – Adorno & Horkheimer

The doctrine of the equivalence of action and reaction asserted the power of repetition over reality, long after men had renounced the illusion that by repetition they could identify themselves with the repeated reality and thus escape its power. But as the magical illusion fades away, the more relentlessly in the name of law repetition imprisons man in the cycle – that cycle whose objectification in the form of natural law he imagines will ensure his action as a free subject.

Dialectic of Enlightenment – Adorno & Horkheimer



THREE ACTIVISTS who were in Chicago for the demonstrations against the NATO summit were arrested in a midnight raid on May 16 and now face terrorism charges—in a case that civil liberties advocates and antiwar organizations are calling a “frame-up” designed to intimidate those who wish to protest war and austerity.

The three—Brian Church and Brent Vincent Betterly of Florida and Jared Chase of New Hampshire—are charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism and possession of an explosive or incendiary device. A judge set bail at $1.5 million for each. Two more men were charged with terrorism-related offenses over the weekend, though police are unclear about whether they are trying to connect them to the original three.

Church, Betterly and Chase were staying with other activists in an apartment building in the South Side neighborhood of Bridgeport. Shortly before midnight on May 16, police kicked in the front door, rounded up everyone inside, shackled them and placed bags over their heads before taking them to the Organized Crime Unit.

Darrin Annussek, one of the nine people detained in total and released, told CBS News: “For 18 hours, we were handcuffed to a bench and our legs were shackled together,” he said. “Some of our cries for the bathroom were either ignored or met with silence.”

Language and framing: resistance to western capitalism becomes terrorism.

Scare-mongering in Chicago

The mythologising equation of Ideas with numbers in Plato’s last writings expresses the longing of all demythologisation: number became the canon of the Enlightenment. The same equations dominate bourgeois justice and commodity exchange. “Is not the rule, ‘Si inaequalibus aequalia addas, omnia erunt inaequalia,’ [if to unequals you add equals, all will be unequal] an axiom of justice as well as of the mathematics? And is there not a true coincidence between commutative and distributive justice, and arithmetical and geometrical proportion?”* Bourgeois society is ruled by equivalence. It makes dissimilar comparable by reducing it to abstract quantities. To the Enlightenment, that which does not reduce to numbers, and ultimately to the one, becomes illusion; modern positivism writes it off as literature. Unity is the slogan from Parmenides to Russel.

Dialectic of Enlightenment – Adorno & Horkheimer

* – Advancement of Learning, Works, Vol II – Francis Bacon

Emphasis mine.

For the Enlightenment, whatever does not conform to the rule of computation and utility is suspect. So long as it can develop undisturbed by any outward repression, there is no holding it. In the process, it treats its own ideas of human rights exactly as it does the older universals. Every spiritual resistance it encounters serves merely to increase its strength. Which means that enlightenment still recognises itself in myths. Whatever myths the resistance may appeal to, by virtue of the very fact that they become arguments in the process of opposition, they acknowledge the principle of dissolvent rationality for which they reproach the Enlightenment. Enlightenment is totalitarian.

Dialectic of Enlightenment – Adorno & Horkheimer

Anyone in government, media and think tank circles who routinely and angrily accuse others of being “terrorists” or “supporters of terrorism” without recognizing that the U.S. and its closest allies are plainly and routinely guilty of that is just a rank propagandist. That the U.S., in the midst of its vaunted War on Terror, directly trained a group on its own Terrorist list — while its closest ally and Washington’s venerated former officials continue to provide ample support to that group even as it escalates its violent acts – is about as conclusive a demonstration of that fact as one could have conjured.

Report: U.S. trained terror group | Glenn Greenwald

In reaction to the revelation (in Seymour Hersh’s Our Men in Iran?) that U.S. Special Forces trained and utilized the Iranian group (cult) Mujahideen-e-Khalq or MEK – a group designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State dept.

(via theamericanbear)

Ah.  If only this sort of shit were new. Al Qaeda was trained and funded by the CIA during the Cold War.  They make the own enemies, both through the actions of foreign policy which builds exploitation and anger, and literally through the various groups they’ve funded throughout the decades in their Machiavellian plans.  Half the time I doubt the right hand knows what the left hand is doing.

As a historian, however, I am deeply aware that Guevara was much more than a grotesque criminal, as it has been suggested. Revolutions are by nature violent events, and those who oppose them are frequently at the end of that violence. By this measure, Washington, Toussaint, and Bolivar could all be considered war criminals if we look at their records – and yet, they all have monuments built to their memory in the United States. Their hands never trembled while giving orders to execute the enemies of the revolutions they led. Do not get me wrong. I am not trying to justify Guevara’s actions, but I do think that they must be examined within the historical context in which they took place.

Guevara statue sparks controversy in Ireland

Thoughts anyone?

(via stay-human)

Nelson Mandela referred to him as “an inspiration for every human being who loves freedom” while Jean-Paul Sartre described him as “not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age.”

But nevertheless, I personally find him as a revolutionary and an inspiring person regardless of his practical result of reinforcing brutal militarism. My beliefs are fishy though, but I tend to agree with him with most stances.

(via arielnietzsche)

Che is a complex figure for me. Kind of like Lenin. = There’s stuff I like about them, but there’s a lot of things that I absolutely cannot admire them because of.

(via lakrymosa)

Che is the only authoritarian socialist icon I like, and I think that’s because I admired his willingness to get his hands dirty with other workers. I remember reading something where he encouraged people to volunteer time to their communities every Sunday instead of going to church by actually getting out and loading trucks. He was problematic, absolutely, but I look at that with context.

(via violentopinions)

Those who are against Fascism without being against capitalism, who lament over the barbarism that comes out of barbarism, are like people who wish to eat their veal without slaughtering the calf. They are willing to eat the calf, but they dislike the sight of blood. They are easily satisfied if the butcher washes his hands before weighing the meat. They are not against the property relations which engender barbarism; they are only against barbarism itself. They raise their voices against barbarism, and they do so in countries where precisely the same property relations prevail, but where the butchers wash their hands before weighing the meat.

Bertolt Brecht, “Writing the Truth: Five Difficulties” (via urbaneguerrilla)

A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

John Stuart Mill (via sociopoliticaldribble)

Actually I think this quote is a bit wanky but it will be useful to remember for my dissertation so this is the easiest way to retain it.

To resort to the concept of cultural hegemony is to take a banal question-“who has power?”-and deepen it at both ends. The “who” includes parents, preachers, teachers, journalists, literati, “experts” of all sorts, as well as advertising executives, entertainment promoters, popular musicians, sports figures, and “celebrities”-all of whom are involved (albeit often unwittingly) in shaping the values and attitudes of a society. The “power” includes cultural as well as economic and political power-the power to help define the boundaries of common-sense “reality” either by ignoring views outside those boundaries or by labeling deviant opinions “tasteless” or “irresponsible.

The Concept of Cultural Hegemony: Problems and Possibilities

T. J. Jackson Lears

(via newwavefeminism)



One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others of the Day: Hint: It’s the one with the cover story about how it’s completely okay, if not beneficial, to feel unease about future uncertainties, as opposed to, say, riot in the streets until sh*t gets done.

Sadly, this is a fairly common occurrence.


This kind of makes me want to die.

A lived hegemony is always a process. It is not, except analytically, a system or a structure. It is a realised complex of experiences, relationships, and activities, with specific and changing pressures and limits.

Raymond Williams – Marxism and Literature.

The oppressors do not perceive their monopoly on having more as a privilege which dehumanizes others and themselves. They cannot see that, in the egoistic pursuit of having as a possessing class, they suffocate in their own possessions and no longer are; they merely have.

Paulo Friere, in Pedagogy of the Oppressed

He goes on to write:

For them, having more is an inalienable right, a right they acquired through their own ‘effort,’ with their “courage to take risks.’ If others do not have more, it is because they are incompetent and lazy, and worst of all is their unjustifiable ingratitude towards the ‘generous gestures’ of the dominant class. Precisely because they are ‘ungrateful’ and ‘envious,’ the oppressed are regarded as potential enemies who must be watched.

Ok. Now think about this in terms of the youth of color rioting in England. Friere is describing here the justification for police/state violence against poor people who are now destroying the material property of the oppressor class. As the news insinuates, “we must arm ourselves (with police) against those dark-skinned youth who just can’t be satisfied to not have what we have all worked so hard for.”

To this, Friere would say, “you no longer are, you merely have.”

(via usesforroots)