Time to post a few more pieces of inspirational art in a final fit of procrastination.
I get pretty critical of certain strands of Marxism, and prefer to present myself as a left-accelerationist (in contexts where that's understood) or as a what @michaeljswalker 'class war social democrat' (in those where it isn't), but I try never to dismiss communism outright.
I may see myself as more an Owenite than a Marxist in some respects, but I cannot listen to this song without something stirring within me, and I recommend it to anyone quick to dismiss communists because of the historical arc of state communism in C20th:
Against all the wretched propaganda of Aristocracy and Empire, from the resurgent upstairs/downstairs utopia of Downton Abbey, to what @HealthUntoDeath calls the 'cupcake fascism' of Bunting and Bakeoff, the true gem of 2010s British television IMHO is Peaky Blinders.
There are various intrinsic reasons for this, from its preservation of the UK model of short tightly plotted series, to the incredible performances delivered by every single actor, with the early opposition between Cillian Murphy and Sam Neil being a truly epic confrontation.
Yet its context elevates it to the level of true cultural importance, because it portrays a time and a place that are almost always forgotten: Birmingham, that glorious city ever eclipsed by London, and the post-WW1 period, whose troubles and possibilities are equally forgotten.
It shows us not just the gritty underbelly of working class organised crime, and the deep and unsettling trauma of those who survived the trenches, but also the hopes of communists and unionists, the smirking evil of Churchill, and the ascendent malice of British fascism.
What better time than now to remind everyone of Mosley's rotten Aristocratic cooption of the Labour movement, or his truly scary charisma and genuine will to power, at a cusp point in history that could have gone otherwise:
For me, it's one of the few things that has made me feel a connection to my great grandparents generation, whose realities are obscured in media and education, and whose living memory has almost vanished from the world. It breathes life into kin I can otherwise never meet.
I've said before on here that the main thing I learned about my Nana's father growing up is that he came back from digging the trenches with scarred lungs, only to descend into the bowels of the earth, to breathe coal dust, for it was his only choice. But there are more stories.
He also said that he would sooner break his sons' legs than have them go down the pit. And his best friend offered to adopt his unborn daughter during the strikes of '26, when they were evicted, and starvation broke their resolve and forced him back down the pit once more.
But on the other side of my father's family, the Wolfendales were illegal bookmakers taking bets on the races for families in Silksworth, a family trade that survived beyond prohibition. The Shelby's are the closest thing I've seen in any media to the true history of my surname.
Not that they ever had anyone's legs broken, let alone killed (as far as I know).
I've talked a lot about video essays of late, and this one () by @PhilosophyTube had a big effect on me. He reminds us that we're all the bastard children of kings and monsters, but we get to choose which bits of our heritage define us. These are mine.
But what of our future, and the visions thereof? I've talked a bit about this of late too, in various forms, from sci-fi literature and cyber/info-punk RPGs, but I haven't mentioned any TV shows yet, and this is as good a point as any to pivot from class war socialism to l/acc.
Let me tell you, if you haven't already, to watch The Expanse. It's basically the best bit of science fiction television ever created, based on one of the most well developed visions of the future and its political turmoils ever turned into a sequence of books. I love it dearly.
What televisual and cinematic visions of the future have serially failed to produce since the 90s is i) a vision of Promethean projects as anything but a Checkov's gun waiting to foil human hubris; and ii) a vision of Promethean politics as the contestation of the future.
These peculiar failures of collective imagination are complicit in the slow cancellation of the future Mark called capitalist realism, and I've tried to articulate a Prometheanism that responds to this, based on the active techno-socio-political contestation of the future.
See my talk on Prometheanism and Rationalism for details (deontologistics.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/pro…), and check out The Wandering Earth () if you want to see what Promethean cinema that by all rights should make Roland Emmerich weep.
But I'm here to talk about The Expanse, whose fifth season has just begun, a season based on my favourite of all the books, because it dramatises the roiling non-linear contestation of the future of humanity caught between competing trajectories. It's also achingly beautiful.
The ways in which the limited zero-G effects are used to build tension, through a realistic presentation of the counter-intuitive twists of orbital mechanics, are absolutely sublime. The nostalgic traces of cyberpunk aesthetics have been washed away, and gritty solarpunk remains.
'But Pete,' I hear you say, 'doesn't it display a stagnant overpopulated earth in which your cherished l/acc basic income has solidified cosmic class divides? Doesn't it portray a Red Mars whose techno-communist dream is unravelling? Isn't all this a bit anti-l/acc?' Fuck no.
Having visions of the future that orient us in the Promethean task of contesting it is about more than the provision of shiny utopias, its also about projecting those contestations forward in a way that helps us understand its trade-offs and dangers. This is hyper-l/acc.
Utopia is only ever a snapshot of an unfolding project, never a fixed destination, and this is but one reason I continuously denounce those alternatives to Prometheanism that would dissolve strategy into tactics, substituting ritual for praxis ().
Every attempt to substitute the positive task of strategy for the negative theology of ritual, defining some eschatological horizon beyond which is unthinkable and unrealisable by means of anything but the negation of the present is complicit in the outcomes it fails to contest.
I keep sharing this piece for its perfect summation of this logic, even if it endorses precisely that which I denounce (metamute.org/editorial/arti…). Give me neither insipid optimism nor hyperbolic pessimism, give me strategic opportunism, in every domain.
But again, I'm supposed to be talking about the expanse. So let me praise one final bit of it, one of my favourite characters of all time, Amos Burton, who is a one man extrapolation of the trajectory of The Wire pushed far into the future ().
Yet he is so much more than this. Many will mistake Amos for an anti-hero, a sort of cynical foil to the painfully sincere moralism of Captain James Holden. But Amos is as true a hero as any portrayed in television, and indeed truer than most. Not a knight of faith, but of duty.
Amos is a character almost entirely without hope, whose cynicism is bone deep yet completely compatible with the fortitude required to do what is right even when nothing in your life has ever prepared you to do so. A man without a conscience, yet with a resolutely moral will.
Amos's strength of character has nothing to do with the most of the impulses virtue ethicists would have us cultivate, because he simply has no such impulses. They were either never there or burned out of him from birth by the worst humanity had to offer. It makes no difference.
His temperance, wisdom, and justice are internalised rules of The Churn, the Hobbesian law of nature under which all are equal, in which he sees himself as no better than any other. But his fortitude and courage are absolute and unwavering in their orientation toward the Good.
If anything he is the best demonstration of the Kantian claim that there is nothing so good as a good will, directed by reasons toward action in the absence of sentiment or indeed any of the consolations of character. There is nothing as moral as a moral sociopath.
And why is this contextually important? Because Amos has eaten black pills blacker than any pushed by the dealers in theoretical darkness you'll find translating their aesthetic fascination with sociopathy into elaborate excuses for immoralism in the contemporary political scene.
If The Expanse as a whole symbolises the political contestation of the future, then Amos embodies the ethical contestation of the present. He perfectly encapsulates Gramsci's maxim: "pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will"
A Kantian hero who would murder any murderer who came seeking his friends without a second thought, and not think himself better than the beast he bested, at least, not in any way that might forgive his own sins.
Right, that's my thread on contemporary television, class war, l/acc and the ethics and politics of contestation. Enjoy!

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More from @deontologistics

13 Jan
It's hard to believe it's been four years since Mark left. What a day to talk about the meaninglessness of death. If there's one thing Meillassoux is right about, it's that nothing less than the complete and total resurrection of the restless dead could make death meaningful.
Who wouldn't want to hear what he had to say about the absolute fucking state of this place (Earth)? That excuse to hear his insights might be a reason to hate this state just a little less. But we can't, and so it doesn't. How I wish it were otherwise.
Mark's death wasn't uniquely his own. There was nothing authentic about it. It was the same desperately sad story that you will hear over and over again throughout your life as unquenchable misery pulls meaningful people into an indifferent void.
Read 25 tweets
13 Jan
I know I'm being pretty harsh on Agamben, but I actually agree with him that we need a critique of healthcare provision (both physical and mental), because the systems established to gate access to diagnosis/treatment often diminish autonomy as much as they enable it.
But we need to be able to look at the concrete details of these institutions without giving ourselves a free pass to ignore the discourses of medicine, psychology, and psychiatry whenever we want. Bad critique is epistemically capricious where good critique is responsible.
This is as good at time as any to repost some unrolled threads from 2019 in which I talk about expanding Mark Fisher's work on the politics of mental health to healthcare more generally (threadreaderapp.com/thread/1181998…) and discuss bipolar disorder specifically (threadreaderapp.com/thread/1173211…).
Read 6 tweets
12 Jan
I'm strongly committed to the virtue of sincerity, but we are all put in positions in which we bend the truth to fit the shape of our discursive context, in ways that produce misunderstandings we can't anticipate. Sometimes (good) rules of thumb get read as (bad) iron laws.
Here's the most common white lie I tell students, friends, and strangers alike: there are no bad questions. I say this to disinhibit people, so they begin asking questions, and so the process of asking them will refine them and take us in an interesting dialectical direction.
This solicitation of thought in process, in which imperfections are encouraged as a way to draw out and develop ideas, is a crucial feature of the generosity required to perform Socratic midwifery properly, rather than 'own the [libs/trads/etc.]'. It's about sincerity, not irony.
Read 61 tweets
12 Jan
Here's a meta-thread organising the Laruelle thread ('Non-Laruelle') into chapters, which will be expanded as it continues to expand. Chapters will be subdivided into parts.
The beginning of the overall thread is here (), and chapter/part links will go to the first tweet in each section. There may be a few accidental forks her and there, but the thread is linear for the most part.
Read 8 tweets
11 Jan
I think we tend to overplay the weirdness of the way internet meme culture intersects with post-neoliberal politics, because we see history from the inside, which produces extreme dissonance between our familiarity with a meme in one context and its appropriation by another.
This produced a bunch of hysterical overreactions to the appropriation of Pepe by the alt-right, and the memetic war machine of the Boogaloo Bois, when historically they’re pretty normal. Grass roots movements use any symbolic resources to hand when building social networks.
This is one way in which a counter-culture bootstraps itself, by creating systems for authenticating in group speech for passing information amd organising. This is what makes it cohere as a platform for action. Divergence from the mainstream culture is a feature not a bug.
Read 7 tweets
11 Jan
Reminder of my opinion of most philosophical uses of the term 'consciousness'.
The main thing I've written on this is 'Mysterianism and Quietism in the Philosophy of Mind', which probably has my best thought experiment (so far): (deontologistics.wordpress.com/2019/09/17/tfe…)
But you will find the themes explored here also pursued in 'Varieties of Rule Following' (deontologistics.wordpress.com/2019/12/27/tfe…), which tries to demolish the other major pillar of Wittgenstein's quietist legacy, in an explicitly computational fashion.
Read 6 tweets

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