Gilmore, what is to be done

Silva refers to this piece, it is one of her sources.

What Is to Be Done?
Author(s): Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Source: American Quarterly, June 2011, Vol. 63, No. 2 (June 2011), pp. 245-265
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Stable URL:

This was the keynote speech for ASA and she cites Vijay Prashad, whose book I have now ordered. She says her title should be something like “Universities and Unions: Institutions with Meaning for the People.” She got that phrase from Vijay Prashad’s book, The Darker Nations. Leslie: also remember Césaire, in the discourse on colonialism, said Europe was indefensible.

Then she starts to talk about the anti-state state. “I’ll turn briefly to the relationships among structural adjustment, security enhancement, and the anti-state state [three aspects of the current plitical process]. Let me make some sweeping generalizations and then get down to what is to be done.” Since Reagan, structural adjustment in the US, loss of jobs, increase in consumer debt, and increase in security enhancement and prison population.

The need for security enhancement has to do with the plan to renew and deepen inequality worldwide. The anti-state state “is normative in the United States today and is touted abroad, but with uneven results. The anti-state state is the one that candidates run against in order to get state power. Variations of the anti-state state exist outside the United States, but [not] all sovereign state forms in this era are enlivened as anti-state.”

We lost the ~1918-~1975 revolution, and the left was destroyed politically; culture and politics were decoupled and culture became the front. And the achievements of the new left and other social movements became cultural artifacts. But universities, and unions, are places where people who would otherwise not have met can get together to analyze and then change things.

“However embattled the academy is, we must direct our energy and resources as workers toward the goal of freedom, which I’m going to call tonight, for the sake of brevity, radical abolition. The abolition I speak of has roots in all radical movements for liberation and particularly in the Black Radical tradition. The abolition I speak of somehow, perhaps magically (meaning we don’t yet know how, which is what magic is, what we don’t know how to explain yet) – the abolition I speak of somehow, perhaps magically, resists division from class struggle and also refuses all the other kinds of power difference combinations
that when fatally coupled, spark new drives for abolition. Abolition is a totality and it is ontological. It is the context and content of struggle, the site where culture recouples with the political; but it is not struggle ‘s form. To have form, we have to organize.” (258)


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