Ep. 63 – Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch

[Edited to add: Federici published an earlier version of this book in Italian in 1984; the English book Caliban and the Witch, published in 2004, as a synthesis of the earlier work and her ongoing research, thinking, and experiences, including time living in Nigeria in the 1980s. This context bears on our discussions of colonialism and the slave trade in the episode. Thanks to a listener for pointing this out.] 

In this episode, join James, Emily, and John for a discussion of Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation. We attempt to parse her engagement with/extension of Marx’s concept of primitive accumulation, and question whether the figure of the witch in this text is a historical materialist one, a metonymic one, or some combination of the two. We also ask after the analogizing of witch hunts with the slave trade, draw on James’s rich knowledge of witchcraft to interrogate the role of actual witches in the text, think through the idea of capitalism’s historical inevitability, and perhaps even reveal ourselves to be different kinds of Marxists in the process!

Thanks to listener Jonathan Lowell for the request to read Federici. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, “Post Digital,” from their album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Links:

 

Image of Silvia Federici, sitting on a chair while turned to the camera.

Silvia Federici in 2014. Photo by Marta Jara, used under CC BY-SA 3.0 es license. Found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvia_Federici#/media/File:La_escritora_y_activista_feminista_Silvia_Federici_(cropped).jpg

 

Cover of the book Caliban and the Witch

 

Interview: Jason Ortiz on #RickyRenuncia and Puerto Rican Sovereignty Movements – Epistemic Unruliness 26

In this new installment of Epistemic Unruliness, James interviews Jason Ortiz, president of the Connecticut Puerto Rican Agenda, to discuss the recent #RickyRenuncia Uprising in Puerto Rico. To place these protests in their long historical context, Jason and James transport the listeners to the island of Borikén, home of the Taíno Rebellion of 1511, and condense over 500 years of anticolonial movements in Puerto Rican history to a 90-minute conversation. The pair details the various iterations of U.S. colonialism that have ensnared Puerto Ricans in global political economic confrontations over the twentieth century as the Caribbean formed a microcosm of Cold War statecraft, with Puerto Rico and Cuba figuring as proxy theaters for Washington and Moscow’s war games. As the Iron Curtain fell and the new millennium dawned, Puerto Rican colonialism entered a reconfiguring phase with the near-collapse of global financial markets during the Great Recession of 2008 and the subsequent neoliberal austerity regimes it catalyzed. Hurricane María’s devastating landfall in September 2017 served only to amplify the material and political precarity of Boricuas caught in the dual maelstroms of the American Empire and the Anthropocene.

When a team of investigative journalists released a cache of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s homophobic, misogynistic, and classist chat messages in July 2019, Puerto Ricans seized the 500-year moment once again and initiated the #RickyRenuncia/#RickyResign Uprising. Nearly a million Boricuas took to the streets of San Juan, (and many more in la diaspora), staring down police tear gas canisters as they banged their pots and danced perreo to reggaeton and trap music, giving new life to the adage of Emma Goldman lore, “if I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution” (Si no puedo perrear, no es mi revolución).

Support us on Patreon to help us upgrade our recording equipment, potentially provide episode transcripts, and more – plus, you may have the chance to jump your request to the top of the request queue. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the opening and interstitial music, “Post Digital,” from their album FutureCommons. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Links:

National Puerto Rican Agenda

Full 889 page cache of Roselló documents from the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo

The New York Times interview with Colectiva Feminista en Construcción who organized the initial protests of the Uprising

Fernando Tormos-Aponte’s Jacobin article “Puerto Rico Rises”

Sandy Plácido’s historicization of Caribbean anti-imperialist movements in The Washington Post

Video montage of “Perreo Combativo” dance protest, July 25, 2019A

NPR coverage of Bad Bunny, Residente, and iLe protest song: “Afilando Los Cuchillos”

Minority Cannabis Business Association

to demonstrate the protests

#RickyRenuncia protester. Photo courtesy of Resumen Latinoamerica

Ep. 62 – Rosa Luxemburg, The Accumulation of Capital Part III

In this episode we (finally!) get to the third section of Rosa Luxemburg‘s The Accumulation of Capital“The Historical Conditions of Accumulation.” This juicy–and oft-quoted section–addresses the ongoing nature of primitive accumulation and the violences of capitalism, the non-capitalist markets required for the expanded reproduction, and the ways this reproduction necessitates imperialism and militarism. The team mulls over what, precisely, Luxemburg means by external, non-capitalist markets (can they be internal to capitalist states? Does she necessarily mean colonized states “abroad”?) We parse the difference between Luxemburg’s “political geography” and “social economy”, the implications of her critique for neo-Marxist framings of neoliberalism, and the ways she enlivens, expands, and reinvigorates Marxist thought. And, most importantly, we raise the eternal question of whether Crate & Barrel is part of Marx and Luxemburg’s schematic Department I or Department II of the capitalist economy. Join us for the final episode of the trilogy!
Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, “Post Digital,” from their album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.
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Ep. 61 – Rosa Luxemburg, The Accumulation of Capital Part II

Join Rachel, John, and Sid as they tackle Part II of Rosa Luxemburg’s The Accumulation of Capital. Picking up where Part I left off, the team waste no time in connecting Luxemburg’s analyses of nineteenth-century economic debates to the neoliberal present. Spurred by Luxemburg’s witty inquiry into the ways vulgar economists, classical and Marxist alike, understood capitalist crises (spoiler: they didn’t quite get it), we try to think with Luxemburg about the crises of late capitalism. Should we be hopeful in moments of crisis? What’s the relation between socialist theory and practice? How are the political forms available to us different from Luxemburg’s time? From the Amazon model to Bernie Sanders’s declaration to run in 2020 to the tension between determinism/teleology and contingency in Marxist thought, the team shuttle back-and-forth across two hundred years of history.

In other words, you don’t want to miss the second installment of the first ever AAP podcast mini-series.

Support us on Patreon to help us upgrade our recording equipment, potentially provide episode transcripts, and more – plus, you may have the chance to jump your request to the top of the request queue. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, “Post Digital,” from their new album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Links:

 

 

Ep. 59 – Rosa Luxemburg, The Accumulation of Capital Part I

Join Rachel, John, and newly-appointed co-host Sid for the first entry in the first ever AAP podcast series, a multi-part exploration of Rosa Luxemburg’s The Accumulation of Capital. In Part I, the team examines Luxemburg’s account of the reproduction of capital, including its relationship to Marx’s Capital, the relation of individual capitalists to capitalism as a whole, the ‘superstructure’s’ role in reproduction, and more. What is particular about accumulation as capitalism’s form of expanded reproduction? What are the political stakes of Luxemburg’s analysis? How could we think through post-Fordism, the gig economy, and neoliberalism from the standpoint of Luxemburg? How many times can we preface a question with jokes about being vulgar Marxists? The (quasi-)answers to these and other riddles lurk in the episode.

Stay turned for the next installation of our Luxemburg series, coming your way in January.

Support us on Patreon to help us upgrade our recording equipment, potentially provide episode transcripts, and more – plus, you may have the chance to jump your request to the top of the request queue. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, “Post Digital,” from their new album FutureCommonsalways already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Links:

 

Interview: James Chamberlain on Undoing Work, Rethinking Community – Epistemic Unruliness 23

In this episode, James A. Chamberlain (Political Science, Mississippi State) joins John to discuss his recent book, Undoing Work, Rethinking Community: A Critique of the Social Function of Work. After situating the book in relation to recent political theory literature on work and labor, they delve into the way work society–and even some radical post-work thinkers–define work as the criteria for inclusion into society, and how this implicates specific kinds of social ontologies and notions of community. From there, they discuss Universal Basic Income and job guarantees, the gendering and racialization of labor, rethinking academic work, and how critiques of work interface with questions of borders and migration.

Support us on Patreon to help us upgrade our recording equipment and provide episode transcripts — plus, you may have the chance to jump your request to the top of the request queue. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. We are part of the Critical Mediations network. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the intro music, and always already thanks to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

 

Ep. 52 – Geraldine Heng, The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages

We’re back, and with an episode featuring frequent guest of the show Sid Issar joining Rachel and John! The trio engages with a two-part article (here and here) by Geraldine Heng, “The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages.” How does Heng’s work reconfigure the temporality of race and racism? What does race-making look like in the Middle Ages, and how does that change our political analyses of the present? In what ways does medieval race-making consolidate whiteness? What genealogies of racialization are lost when we focus on modernity as the exclusive origin of racism? How is Heng’s work related to other investigations into race and racism? How many times can we use Heng’s work to pithily resignify Marxist concepts in just one hour?

Join us for this journey as we come to realize that maybe not EVERYTHING is modernity’s fault.

Support us on Patreon to help us upgrade our recording equipment. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Leah Dion for the intro music, and always already to B for the outro music. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

The Hereford Mappa Mundi (world map) from c. 1300. Heng uses the map to demonstrate medieval modes of racialization.
By Unknown – unesco.org.uk, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41201813