‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Lebanon: A Ruling Class in Perpetual Crisis

On May 6th, citizens of Lebanon had the opportunity to vote in a general election for the first time in nine years. The timing of the 2018 parliamentary elections in Lebanon was no coincidence. It followed a near decade-long absence that saw parliament extend its own...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Burial at Sea

A glance at the results of the Italian election in March confirms that the trend towards the populist right continues to gather strength in Europe. Support for the Five Star Movement sharply increased in the southern regions and in the islands particularly.  I had...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Open letter to the picket-line crossers

Dear colleague, Over the past few weeks of the UCU strike to defend pensions, you have repeatedly crossed picket lines of lecturers and students from your institution. Many of us have asked you to support an action aimed at preventing the imposition of pension poverty...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

A Free Zone Unlike Any Other

A French hamlet is being threatened by a multinational company’s plans for an airport. The eviction is being carried out by thousands of police officers and soldiers. Is it bizarre for the French state to deploy its army and police force against its own citizens to...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Syria and the Problem of Left Solidarity

Since January, Syria has seen escalations in violence and civilian casualties in two conflict areas. Afrin, the Kurdish-held enclave along the Turkish border, has seen increased fighting since the Turkish military entered the area by force on January 19th this year....
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

A Place to Call Home

A place to call home. A simple thing. Labour once had a vision, housing for everyone, though what makes a home is perhaps not so simple. As Kim Dovey writes, home is deeply intertwined with our identity. It centres the relationship between ourselves and the earth,...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Guilt and the Left

“Use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?” — Hamlet   For as long as I have been a part of the Left, for most activists there has been a tacit subjective injunction at various times to feel guilty about various things: the...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Not: Marxism as ‘Organised Sarcasm’

Women, children, and revolutionaries hate irony. —Joseph Conrad     I. Gramsci is supposed to have claimed, in one of his recondite quips, that Marxism is ‘organised sarcasm’[1]. There is something terribly appealing about the idea of sarcasm, red in tooth...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Salvaging the Dormant: On Language

‘Tamil will die a slow death The languages of the West will triumph in this world.’ So says the simpleton; Alas! what an accusation! —Subramania Bharati     I. We live among the ghosts of languages. Here in Philadelphia, the streets are named for and in...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

L’autonomie s’organise

A note on the text[1]: The piece that follows was originally given as a talk at the event ‘L’autonomie s’organise’ (autonomy gets organised) organised by Penser l’émancipation at the Bourse du travail in Saint- Denis, France, 2 March 2017. Other speakers were Morgane...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

What happened to the workers’ movement?

Too often people on the radical left find ourselves thinking with concepts we’ve inherited from the past that have become misleading because the realities to which the concepts refer have changed fundamentally. This happens a lot when we talk about the...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

The Plague of ‘Whiteness’

“As long as you think you’re white,” James Baldwin said, “there’s no hope for you.” And if this seems counterintuitive — as though one might think white people are the only people with hope — he went on to say: “Insofar as you think you’re white, you’re irrelevant. We...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Making and Getting Made: Towards a Cyborg Transfeminism

‘I feel confined, only free to expand myself within boundaries.’ Major Motoko Kusanagi, Ghost in the Shell In the 1995 anime version of Ghost In The Shell, we’re offered both the dream and the nightmare of trans politics. Ghost In The Shell is particularly incisive,...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

The Cone of Uncertainty: Parenting on the Edge of Climate Change

There’s a special kind of dread that breeds in the path of a hurricane. They call it the ‘cone of uncertainty’ – that brightly coloured funnel on the weather map that traces the possible paths of a storm. It’s a statistical mishmash created from dozens of predictions...
Contractions: Salvage Perspectives #5

Contractions: Salvage Perspectives #5

We have said that there has not for decades been so good a moment to be a fascist. We have said that this is an epoch of unprecedented social sadism, that it is too late to ‘save’ the world, particularly in the face of climate catastrophe, and that we struggle instead...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Platform Capitalism and the Value Form

According to the speculations of techno-futurologists, left and right, the machines are here to liberate us. Most of the discourse is dominated by the neoliberal right such as Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee and Andrew Haldane, chief economist of the Bank of...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Solidarity, Race and Class: On David Roediger

At the launch of David Roediger’s collection, Race, Class and Marxism it was invigorating to see so many people crowd into the un-air-conditioned space on a hot Friday evening to hear four brilliant thinkers talk about race. And so it was dispiriting that during...
Comments on Roediger’s Class, Race and Marxism

Comments on Roediger’s Class, Race and Marxism

Over the past three decades, David Roediger’s work has fundamentally reshaped the study of race and racism, both in the US and internationally. Starting with his path breaking collection of essays, The Wages of Whiteness[1], Roediger (and his collaborator Elizabeth...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Race, Class and Roediger’s Open Marxism

The early 1990s was a desperately inhospitable moment for critical thought and political practice. The antisystemic cycle of protest comprising worker struggles and movements against racism and sexism had drawn to a close: comprehensively defeated through a...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

The Meaning of Macron

‘I’m a Maoist … a good political programme is one that works.’ — Emmanuel Macron The 2017 French presidential elections were historical in many ways. The first crucial aspect is, of course, the fact that the Front National made it to the second round —...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Monster Terrorist F(l)ag

In early October, the Egyptian regime arrested fifty-seven people on charges of “debauchery,” ‘inciting sexual deviancy’ and ‘joining an outlawed group’ as part of a continuing security crackdown on Egypt’s LGBTQ community, which now includes ten to fifteen years in...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Socialism for Jingoes

  Brexit has made immigration an impossible subject to avoid, and in several trade unions and the Labour Party socialists are divided. Three schools of thought predominate. They are all rotten. Each of them borrows from enemy arsenals rather than recovering the...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Alt-Right 2.0

Even though the banquet hall was equipped with an open bar, a few attendees kept streaming down into the hotel lounge, buzzed on cheap-wells and jokes stolen from the forgotten back-alleys of 4Chan.  After several conference attendants had gone up to the bartender...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Country for Old Men

Giuliano Poletti made one of the more remarkable interventions in recent political life as he offered his view of the ‘brain drain’ of mostly young Italians departing for more prosperous shores. According to the Democratic Party’s labour minister, ‘If 100,000 have...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Give Us Peace: On the Scottish Conservatives

They make a desert and call it peace —Calgacus In 1968, a few months after Winnie Ewing’s shock victory for the SNP in a by-election to the hitherto safe Labour seat of Hamilton, Tom Nairn sought to get to grips with Scottish nationalism in the pages of the New Left...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Absolute: On the British General Election

‘Obedience to the force of gravity. The greatest sin.’ — Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace ‘Things can only get better. Can only get better, if we see it through.’ — D:ream An uncharacteristically subdued President Trump described the result of Britain’s snap general...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Centre

I. Nothing is forever, except absence. And if the bromides of the British pundit class seem timeless, that is because the political centre registers as an absence. Credibility, they’re saying. What Corbyn needs now, and sorely lacks, is credibility. How does one get...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

The Walls of the Tank: On Palestinian Resistance

NAKBA How do you keep on fighting when everything is lost? Ask a Palestinian. A Palestinian is someone who is wading knee-deep in rubble. Palestinian politics is always already post-apocalyptic: it is about surviving after the end of the world and, in the best case,...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Notes on Walls

A wall is always going to be beautiful. In the future, it will be ‘impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful’, in the words of the President, however tawdry and inadequate to its own stated purpose it actually is when built, if ever built at all. One of...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

The Time of Monsters: France’s Presidential Election

‘The age of party democracy has passed. Although the parties themselves remain, they have become so disconnected from the wider society, and pursue a form of competition that is so lacking in meaning, that they no longer seem capable of sustaining democracy in its...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Thirteen Reflections of Golden Don in the Hall of Mirrors

These with a thousand small deliberations Protract the profit of their chilled delirium, Excite the membrane, when the sense has cooled, With pungent sauces, multiply variety In a wilderness of mirrors. What will the spider do Suspend its operations, will the weevil...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

None Shall Pass: Trans and the Rewriting of the Body

‘Wanting’ has an obvious double meaning. To want something in the ordinary sense is to wish for it. But want is also lack. The two meanings are not necessarily separable. To want for nothing is not necessarily to have everything, but to be without nothing that one...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Class and Brexit

In the aftermath of the shock Brexit result, discussions on its causes and consequences have been frankly bizarre. So far, the have focused on bygone folk stories about sovereignty, migration, and globalisation, disconnected from any wider understanding of capitalism...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Bannon in the High Castle

The great normalisation has commenced. The universal belief amongst the establishment that Trump would be catastrophic for the Republic has given way to sycophantic supplications that the grandiosity of the highest office in the land will eventually mollify much of...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Disaster Islamism

Of what is Islamic State the name? Since September 2014, the self-styled caliphate and its adherents have captured and then lost thousands of square kilometres of territory in Syria and Iraq, killing – and in many cases enslaving and torturing – thousands of people in...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Stormont’s House of Cards On the Edge of Collapse

The 2 March election for the Northern Ireland Assembly is, barring a huge upset, likely to see a rough continuity in the strength of the political forces. The real question is whether the DUP and Sinn Féin – who will almost certainly retain their dominance on both...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Sweet ’16: Notes on the US Election

The acute capitalist crisis of 2008 has in the years since developed into a chronic complaint, to be managed but not overcome. In wealthy countries, ultra-low interest rates prop up consumer spending and, for investors, prolong the ‘asset-price Keynesianism’ described...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Celebrity Apprentice: Notes on the US Election

The acute capitalist crisis of 2008 has in the years since developed into a chronic complaint, to be managed but not overcome. In wealthy countries, ultra-low interest rates prop up consumer spending and, for investors, inflate the value of stocks, bonds, and other...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Trump’s Airport Kingdom

Like everyone else, I went to America for Trump’s inauguration. The whole vast European media establishment has its quadrennial migratory stampede, rushing over to the marshy grazing-grounds between the Susquehanna and the Potomac, to watch the great empire pretend to...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

SERF ‘n’ TERF

As I sit down to write this, I am haunted by images circulating in the wake of another brutal murder. In one of them the person in question, still living, has the gloved hands of a Turkish riot cop on her arm. Hande Kader, may she rest in power, was a sex-working...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

What’s the Matter with the ‘White Working Class’?

I. On both sides of the Atlantic, there is one group of people who terrify and enrage the punditocracy. The legend that is the ‘white working class’, a trope long in gestation throughout the noughties, has finally struck back with a vengeance. Conservatives in...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Trump: Day One

On inauguration day, Washington DC was a dystopian urban desert. Black grill fences lined downtown streets in multiple directions, concrete barricades squatted around every corner, and helicopters droned endlessly overhead. There were few cars, the whole place overrun...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

A Letter from Eugene Debs on Immigration

My Dear Brewer: Have just read the majority report of the Committee on Immigration. It is utterly unsocialistic, reactionary and in truth outrageous, and I hope you will oppose with all your power. The plea that certain races are to be excluded because of tactical...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Saturn Devours His Young: President Trump

I. How could it possibly be? Donald Trump, who exchanged the racist dog whistle for a howling at the moon. Donald Trump, who waxed ‘braggadocious’ about sexual assault. Donald Trump, who exhorted his supporters to violence, wished it on his rivals, and openly...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

1997

Walking down the wooden steps last Monday night, the dead-eyed glare of Young Labourites hit you hard. Three days into conference and the bum-fluff and teenage skin is showing through; their father’s suits, 20 years of growth and ale before they fit, are beginning to...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Finance, Economics and Politics

The financial system accentuates all the absurdities of capitalism, but it does this in a way that can make finance appear to be separate from the capitalist economy, rather than an inevitable outgrowth from it. Almost every observer of capitalism makes a distinction...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

White Overseers of the World

For Cedric Robinson, capitalism has been characterised by chaos which cannot be captured by a unifying language.i If that is the case, it is not for lack of trying. In the mid-nineteenth century, abolitionist discourses sutured diverse geographies by interpreting the...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Guarding Capital

In the summer of 1981, I took a job as a security guard at the Bank of America World Trade Center in San Francisco. I had signed up for the Latin workshop at U.C. Berkeley, and working the graveyard shift was the only way I could attend class each day, complete hours...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Technically Female: Women, Machines, and Hyperemployment

Femininity, Technologies, Work In an advert for Recognition Equipment in 1966, a young woman with a charming smile places an arm around her male colleague’s shoulder, and rests her head gently against him as he tries to read some very serious and important...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation

The below is extracted from Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor’s From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, with thanks to the publisher Haymarket Books for their permission. On 12 April 1865, the American Civil War officially came to an end when the Union Army accepted...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

The New Swedish Fascism: An Introduction

‘I think we have the potential to become the largest party,’ Sweden Democrats’ party secretary Richard Jomshof tells a Swedish news agency in December 2015. His comments follow the results of poll that the Sweden Democrats (SD), a party that emerged from the Neo-Nazi...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

BENGHAZI

Americans are afraid of Benghazi. The name, just by itself, sounds out an organised assault on Western values. BEN, the comforting tonal balance of a just and ordered world; Ben Johnson, Ben Franklin, Ben Kenobi. The sudden jolt of GHA, a descent into chaos, its...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Not a Coup But a Blaze

In death’s dream kingdom … There, is a tree swinging And voices are In the wind’s singing More distant and more solemn Than a fading star. – T S Eliot, ‘Hollow Men’. In the spectacle of plummeting share prices, currency values, property prices, and trade...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Union Jacks Flutter Over a Widening Gyre

All the wrong people are cheering. Farage, bulbous eyes swivelling and moist, lauded a victory for “the real people, for the ordinary people, for the decent people”. The citrine-tinged Trump, with customary intuition, praises the Scots (who overwhelmingly voted for...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

From Choice to Polarity: Politics of, and, and in Art

In a rough landscape in central Africa, men are at work. They carry fire, haul industrial parts, wheeze under protective masks. They’re sweating and exhausted. When at last evening comes, they clock off and shower for a long time under cobbled-together plumbing. Then...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Corbyn Blimey: Labour and the Present Crisis

The experience of three millennia has not made people any cleverer; on the contrary, it has made them more confused, more prejudiced, has driven them mad, and the result of this is the political state of present-day Europe. Engels, ‘The Condition of England II: The...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Year V

There is this not-so-rare occurrence which academics dread: you write something, but before it’s finished, someone else publishes the exact same thing and you’re left with dead words and the ludicrous task of nit-picking the other author’s argument for no obvious...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Talkers and Porkers

The Talmud tells a story of how Eleazar (2 Macc. 6) was tortured to death for refusing to swallow pork that was forced into his mouth by the Greek authorities. The forces of King Antiochus, determined to force the Jews to abandon their barbaric ancestral customs, were...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

The End of the Road: Andreas Malm on Ende Gelände

On Sunday afternoon, Swedish national television publishes what must be deemed a sensational report: for the first time, a coal-fired power plant in central Europe has been shut down by climate activists. All electricity production at Schwarze Pumpe – ‘black pump’ –...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Into the Dustbin of History

The ‘changes’ in Eastern Europe took place on the 200th anniversary of the French revolution. It seemed to many that it might be a second coming: a new revolution about, and for, human rights. At the bicentennial, the consecrated and anointed masterpiece of popular...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

The Invisible Committee’s War

The Invisible Committee, a French revolutionary collective, has emerged as an influential voice in anarchist and left-communist political thought and activism worldwide. This is partly owed to the intense repression directed against them by the state, as well as their...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

The First Test of Corbynism

Corbyn’s first nationwide electoral test was always going to be an anticlimax. Judging from the spate of news articles, psephological analyses and briefings from Labour sources in the run up to the local elections, the party was supposed to be on course to lose around...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Neither Westminster Nor Brussels

Long before this referendum was called, Salvage made our position on the European Union crystal clear. In the perspectives of Salvage #2: Awaiting the Furies, we wrote ‘If the Greek crisis has reaffirmed the imperial character of power within the EU, the so-called...
‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

Some Theses on Monsters

We live in a world being made monstrous. By us. Inhuman and obscene (and anthropocene). Not merely unhomely but uninhabitable. And it is a time of monsters. Aliens and kaiju, zombies and mutants, giant robots and costumed freaks lay waste to our cities. Rumbling urban...