Occasioned by the publication of a French edition of Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, Jean-Philippe Cazier's interview with Judith Butler first appeared in Diacritik.
Judith Butler, November 2015. via Vimeo.
Your book explicitly draws on texts by numerous philosophers, notably Levinas and in particular Hannah Arendt. But it also seems to have a strong attachment to Spinoza’s work. We can establish numerous specific links between this book and Spinoza’s philosophy, for example its core interest in the notion of relations, its reflection on the "power" of the "mass," the question of the body and what a body can be, the problem — one that runs through several of your books — of the unliveable lives produced by a violent régime, etc. In general terms, what does your philosophical work owe to Spinoza’s writings? And more precisely: why do you think it is interesting to use Spinoza today in order to think through the political and ethical problems you pose in your book?
It is true that Spinoza remains in the background of my thinking. Perhaps you have detected that his thought is surfacing more explicitly in my own. I am aware, for instance, that his notion of persistence, and his philosophy of life are quite important for my understanding of the political realm. I also consider myself to be close to Etienne Balibar’s early work on Spinoza and politics. It might be important to consider some paths from Spinoza to contemporary politics that does not necessarily move through Deleuze, even though Deleuze brings out a very important dimension of bodily action as rooted in the capacity to be affected. The point is not only that the conatus, that desire to persist in one’s own being, is enhanced or diminished depending on the dynamic interactions with other living beings, but that a desire to live together, a pulsation that belongs to co-habitation, emerges that forms the basis of consensus, and that this political principle and practice follows from the very exercise or actualization of the desire to persist in one’s own being. One desires to persist in one’s own being, but that can only happen if one is affected by the other, and so without that fundamental susceptibility there can be no persistence.
A controversial landmark in science studies, Donna Haraway's Primate Visions: Gender, Race and Nature in the World of Modern Science was first published by Routledge in 1989 and reissued by Verso in 1992.
"How," Haraway asks at the book's opening, "are love, power, and science intertwined in the constructions of nature in the late twentieth century?"
What may count as nature for late industrial people? What forms does love of nature take in particular historical contexts? For whom and at what cost? In what specific places, out which social and intellectual histories, and with what tools is nature constructed as an object of intellectual and erotic desire? How do the terrible marks of gender and race enable and constrain love and knowledge in particular cultural traditions, including the modern natural sciences? Who may contest for what the body of nature will be? These questions guide my history of the modern sciences and popular cultures emerging from accounts of the bodies and lives of monkeys and apes.
Taking primatology as a "storytelling craft," Haraway reconstructs the history of studies of primate behavior in the United States through a series of interlinking essays in cultural studies, the history of science, and feminist analysis. In the essay below, from the book's first section — "Monkeys and Monopoly Capitalism: Primatalogy Before World War II" — Haraway locates the discipline's foundation in a larger process of colonial extraction.
Detail from Fig 2.2 in Primate Visions: "A Monkey-College to Make Chimpanzees Human," from International Feature Service Inc., 1924. Robert M. Yerkes Papers. Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.
Before the Second World War, non-human primates were already the subject of international western interest, with research stations and conservation areas fostered by France, Belgium, Russia, Germany, and the United States. Literally and figuratively, primate studies were a colonial affair, in which knowledge of the living and dead bodies of monkeys and apes was part of the system of unequal exchange of extractive colonialism. Primate bodies grounded the discourses that rested on a flow of value from the lands where monkeys and apes lived to the lands where they were exhibited and textualized. Nonhuman primates were a fundamental part of the apparatus of colonial medicine. Part of the ideological framework justifying this directed flow of knowledge was the great chain of being structuring western imperial imaginations; apes especially were located in a potent place on that chain.
An economics professor at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, Costas Lapavitsas (born 1961) visited Barcelona last week to present his latest work, Eurozone Failure, German Policies and a New Path for Greece. In this text he advocates Greece leaving the euro, as an instrument for overcoming the country’s crisis. Critical of Alexis Tsipras, Yanis Varoufakis and Syriza (he had been an MP for the party before the third deal with the Troika), Lapavitsas is conscious that his positions regarding the EU and the euro are still in the minority among European progressives. Nonetheless, he believes that "the first step for the Left is to say that the currency union has to end."
Oriol Solé Altimira's interview with Lapavitsas was first published in El Diario. Translated by David Broder.
A year ago you were in Madrid for the presentation of the Plan B for Europe. How do you think that this initiative has developed?
The Madrid discussions were interesting, because a lot of people came and there was a good atmosphere. Nonetheless, they were politically confused, because various ideas were presented on what the Left ought to do about Europe, without any concreteness. People still think that it is possible to change the European Union. One year later, I think that this position has lost supporters. More people have realised that if we want an alternative, a different path or different strategy, we have to take radical steps also with respect to the institutions and the EU.
First published in Le Monde. Translated by David Broder.
No European sovereign, no real budget; no budget, no viable economic policy. As long as Europe does not break out of this dilemma, the Eurozone will remain mired in the vicious circle of stagnation, resentment, and conflicting responsibilities. If a budgetary federalism is out of reach, it is crucial that we can adjust exchange rates in order to give dynamism to growth and employment. And this requires leaving the currency union.