"For Derrida, melancholy implies an ethical stance, a relation to loss in the mode of vigilance and constant re-attunement. You do not have to know or understand the meaning of a loss and the full range of its disruptive consequences, but you somehow stand by it, leaning into a depleting emptiness. It takes courage to resist the temptation to bail or distract oneself. Entire industries stand ready to distract the inconsolable mourner."
I watched the marathon, 9+ hour Oakland City Council meeting last night - attended by hundreds of well-informed, passionate Oaklanders who stridently covered every single potential concern (and statistical reality) about Bratton and his pernicious brand of penal confinement of already oppressed communities - only to sadly see what so often happens when you work within our wholly corrupt, democratic system: complete obeisance to neoliberal articles of faith by alleged liberal Democrats. If the racist doctrines of conservative-think-tank-conceived “stop and frisk” & unabashedly classist “broken windows” theory can hold sway over politicians in Oakland - the whole country is truly lost.
What happened in Oakland last night was the apotheosis of what Loic Wacquantcalled, “the invisible hand paired with the iron fist,” or, the application of “the dogma of the efficiency of the market to the realm of crime and punishment.” In Prisons of Poverty, Wacquant also notes that this application “has as its mission to bolster the social, racial, and economic order via the punitive regulation of the behaviors of the populations prone to visible and offensive deviance because they are relegated to the bottom of a polarizing class and caste structure.” Basically - if you’re black, brown, or otherwise discomfiting to white, middle class consumers, the prevailing prescription of the state is carceral warehousing and other forms of coercive control and domination. Like “stop and frisk.”
Of course, Bratton himself is a red-herring. These ideas weren’t born solely from his ample forehead as Zeus mythically bore Athena. Instead, they are the product of a slew of unabashed white supremacists like Charles Murray, George Kelling, James Q. Wilson, Lawrence Mead, and were produced in large part by long-deceased (and endlessly discredited) Iran-Contra CIA spymaster William Casey’s think tank the Manhattan Institute and others like the Heritage Foundation, the Adam Smith Institute, the Bradley Foundation, the Institute of Economic Affairs, etc… to spread their unsubstantiated and profit-serving “theory” around the globe. That profiteering charlatans like Bratton and his partners at Kroll (Robert Wasserman and Kelling) have peddled this snake oil so successfully from Boston to Giuliani’s NY to London to Villaraigosa’s LA to Milwaukee to Paris to Baltimore to Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago and now to Quan’s Oakland should be the final proof that the Democratic Party is now, and perhaps always has been, irreconcilable to people who want to see the world outside of a free market framework.
All of this, of course, is only compounded by the repeated allegation that Kroll has succeeded with this “theory” (and their unique ability to implement it through consultancy) by distorting the data they themselves collect (see also: LAPD). As Chief Howard Jordan noted in his own presentation before the City Council last night, “cops count” - which, as echoed recently by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, is quickly becoming the ironic mantra of the internationally-organized, neoliberal policing strategy campaign he has now allied himself with in Bratton and Kroll. Yes, “cops count,” and when you’re running a quota-guided campaign of repression like “stop and frisk,” the people who tabulate the data probably shouldn’t be trusted with that responsibility, should they?
As a country, we need to take a long, serious look at ourselves and our penchant for “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacious zealotry - to divest ourselves of the notion that complex issues like crime and public safety can be solved with simple, single-bullet solutions (which, given the excessive-yet-sanctioned violence of the police - is perhaps a terrible turn of phrase in this case) and to take a little more time out of our day to recognize and appreciate complexity. Broken Windows has never empirically been proven to reduce crime. Data that does demonstrate a correlation between supercop Bratton and crime reduction does not equal causation. Myriad factors should be considered. After all, just because I drink coffee every morning and have never been attacked by a fire-breathing, scaly dragon does not mean that coffee is a magic elixir that prevents dragon attacks.
We need to do better, friends - and it starts with refusing conventional, market wisdom as the basis for everything we do. It starts with understanding that we are fighting not just against a single, isolated and racist cop like William fucking Bratton - but rather a highly coordinated and resurgent system of white supremacy functioning through the retrenched security state that has now gotten its toe hold in beloved Oakland, California. We saw what beautiful, brilliant speeches made before a supposedly sympathetic City Council can do. The vote was 7-1. We saw what packing a meeting, sending up over 250 of the best community orators I’ve every had the pleasure to witness to plead for reason could do. The Oakland City Council could have thrown a crumb to its constituents - it could have voted to exclude the polarizing figure Bratton represents from admittedly needed, OPD restructuring efforts while still enacting all their other misguided, pro-Law & Order measures on their agenda. The forces of neoliberal capitalism, however, wouldn’t even concede that much. Instead, they plowed forward with the politics of fear - steamrolling an intelligent and concerned citizenry, many of whom will now be increasingly in the crosshairs of a further unleashed police force, in their total capitulation to efficiency, force, coercion and control.
I think I saw a glimmer of what needs to be done last night. After @hyphy_republic was forced from the microphone by overbearing pigs doing the council’s bidding, a group of BRLP comrades situated themselves near the microphone to prevent any recurrence of intimidation toward the remaining speakers. They stood resolute before the pigs, ensuring that the rest of the speakers would have the time they needed to say what had to be said. It’s that kind of inter communal self-reliance that needs to be encouraged, not derided as “hooliganism” as the Oakland City Council so often does. It’s that kind of solidarity we need in our communities.
We have a lot of work to do.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul: wide shot green.
masha tupitsyn on a prev. post comments on globalization’s lack of past lives. there can be no past lives in liquid modernity.
"You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist? And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it."
- Junot Diaz (via Tatiana Richards)
oh my goodness this is beautifully relevant. humongously sad and inspiring at the same time, too
- Alex: omg I will call you my potato
- Alex: from now on
- Alex: my beautiful sparkling potato of joy
- Alex: I think you need to reclaim potato
- Alex: because you're a moth of effervescence who deserves good things
"At Mommy’s house, the floors are also mommy, the dust that floats around the rooms is also mommy, when you open the door of Mommy’s house, I’m under Mommy’s feathers like an unhatched egg. All the dreams that are dreamt in Mommy’s house come from Mommy’s fountain, the fountain at Mommy’s house is never dry. Mommy weaves dream-nests so nicely with the feathers hauled from the fountain. Breakfast at Mommy’s house: teacup is feathers, coffee is feathers, and even feather-teaspoons, feather-sandwiches, a winged breakfast."
excerpt from Kim Hyesoon’s poem “Mommy Must Be a Mountain of Feathers.” Translation: Don Mee Choi. (via travelcoat)