Time and Voluntarism in Badiou and Lazarus

How do we locate voluntarism in the political thought of Sylvain Lazarus and Alain Badiou? First, what do I mean by voluntarism. Two things mainly: voluntarism posits that consciousness declares antagonism, not that antagonism declares consciousness. Voluntarism posits that the possibility of political decisions and acts occurs from within the sphere of consciousness subtracted from capitalist time. It …

Riots and Neoliberalism

In Riot. Strike. Riot. The New Era of Uprisings, Joshua Clover argues that riots have taken off and will continue with intensity due in large part to the fact that capital can no longer afford to buy off the social peace. Capital no longer has the need to invest in producing a situation of social stability among its pool of potential labor. …

Confessions of a Mystical Freudian

Of all the different directions Freudian-Marxism took during the twentieth century, Norman O. Brown, the American philosopher, stands out as presenting a particularly compelling version. The first thing to note about Brown is that his project is distinctively American. His thought falls in line with the transcendentalists and with a certain strand of American idealism. He is widely influenced …

Affects and Lacanian Theology

One of the more admirable aspects of Colette Soler's work is her allegiance to theological concepts, which we should remember, Lacan himself took very seriously. In Lacanian Affects: The Function of Affect in Lacan's Thought, theological and philosophical concepts such as sin, guilt, God, and the ethics of virtue--all of which were crucial to Lacan's understanding of …

Elements of Islamophobia: The State, Class and Capital

I have a new essay up at Heathwood Press as part of their special series on Crisis Capitalism and Creeping Fascism – Bigotry, Racism, and the Rise of the Right in the Age of Neoliberal Barbarism. Please support Heathwood Press, an important new publisher working to revive the project of critical theory for today. Here …

Identification in Lacanian Psychoanalysis – Audio Lecture

As part of the clinical Wednesday series with the DC Lacanian Forum, I gave my third presentation to the group, this time on the theme of identification. I begin with an analysis of identification in Freud's Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego and look at Borch-Jacobsen's critique of Freud in his controversial The …

New essay on Deleuze and Islamic Philosophy

I have a review essay that explores Deleuze and Islamic philosophy. It focuses on the thought of Mulla Sadrā and his theory of the act of being in relation to Deleuze's theory of immanence. The essay is based on a reading of two new books on Deleuze and theology: Daniel Colucciello Barber's, Deleuze and the Naming …

Identification and emancipation: unary trait or unary trace?

Political philosophy has considered its project of thinking to be ‘emancipatory’ since the enlightenment. Emancipation is a term that refers to the idea of a total freedom from ignorance, from animality, or from a state of ‘self-imposed tutelage’ – as Kant would say in What is Enlightenment. Today, the question of emancipation has taken new …

David Foster Wallace and the Politics of Existential Loneliness

The David Foster Wallace movie "The End of the Tour" is generally pretty good. The acting was superb and I like the way the dialogue and the relationship between DFW and the Rolling Stone magazine journalist played out. I read Infinite Jest in my early 20's and funny enough the film noted several times that the prime …

Should Critical Theory Be Accessible?

It's widely held that critical theory and left theory more generally is too opaque for a wide audience and that's a bad thing. It's bad for a number of reasons. The more accessible one's writing, the wider your audience will be. The wider your audience, the more potential your thought has to enact change. The premise behind …

Islam as Empty Signifier and the Caliphate as Zero Institution: On Sayyid’s Recalling the Caliphate

Sayyid Qutb famously argued that Islam is in a state of jahaliya, or pre-Islamic ignorance in the modern world. This condition was total, extending both within and outside of Islamic majority societies. Qutb is considered a godfather of Islamist intellectuals because his position opened Islam to the political, and the consequence of Qutub’s idea calls …

Philosophy as Confession

My philosophical writing goes through cycles. I experience low points where my exhaustion with philosophy and the project of mastering logos and the Real is made so acute that I fall-back on writing narrative, poetry, or fiction. This fall-back is always confessional in nature. It feels as if I am confessing to the master who has turned away …

Is All Identity a Social Construct? Towards a Political Taxonomy of Rachel Dolezal

The #RachelDolezal story has sent social media into a tailspin. The details of the story are covered well in this original article from the local Spokane, WA newspaper where Rachel is based. We learn that Rachel Dolezal, a black woman artist and activist, married to a black man with adopted black babies and leader of an NAACP chapter …

Religion and Communitas: Structure and Anti-Structure

One of the reasons that religion persists in human civilization is because it is able to incorporate what the anthropologist Victor Turner calls communitas into structure, or normal society. Turner is a philosophical anthropologist, and in his classic study The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure, he points out how the liminal or transitional experiences of rituals …

The Infantilization of Evangelicals in American Politics

When Karl Rove mobilized the Evangelical vote in the 2000 election, he opened a Pandora's Box that everyone would subsequently try to close -- or master. Evangelicals didn't know they had such power politically, and it scared them. This fear has led them to retreat from politics -- on a large scale -- over the last eight years. …

The Crowd and the Collective: Some Speculative Points

In Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, Freud says that “each individual taken independently is a constitutive part of different crowds." I understand this in two ways: the individual is a part of different crowds in the abstract sense that the crowd is a part of the subjective process in some way. The …

Becoming Your Own Boss. On Nightcrawler

How do we situate the film Nightcrawler by Dan Gilroy both in terms of its social commentary and genre? At a certain level, it's like American Psycho for the post 2008 economic downturn and late finance capitalism period. Both films are ostensibly about how capitalist competition creates an intense sociopathy when subjects identify with the explicit demands …

Excerpt: Thinking Islamic Governance with Continental Philosophy

I have a new essay on Wael Hallaq's book, The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Moral Predicament at the very excellent publication Society for Contemporary Thought and the Islamicate World (http://sctiw.org/sctiw_review) coming out on February 10th. My main interest in this essay, in addition to reviewing the book, is to start a dialogue with Islam and continental philosophy …

The Amputated Father: Kojève’s Theory of Revolution and Authority

With Agamben's recent invoking of Kojève's idea of the Latin empire against the German dominance in Europe, and with the recent translation of the short manifesto on authority Kojève wrote amidst the Second World War, it is worth revisiting exactly what sort of theory of revolution Kojève was concerned with. My review of The Notion of Authority: …

My Book Review of The Left Hemisphere: Mapping Critical Theory Today

My review of Remzig Keucheyan's, The Left Hemisphere: Mapping Critical Theory Today is up at the Huffington Post. As you can see from my review, I found the book to be a tremendous contribution to the field of left politics and organization and to the academic field of critical theory. Has critical theory begun to shrug off the …