On Civil War

David Theo GoldbergAnti-racism

Politics today is nothing short of civil war.

The driving question is no longer so much whether this or that conflict is a civil war but what political work the notion of “civil war” is being exercised to do. States descend into civil wars when contrasting conceptions of life within them are deemed irreconcilable. Living, for a considerable proportion of the state’s inhabitants, is made unbearable. Those at least nominally controlling the state apparatus insist on obedience and deference to its way of being, on pain of erasure. Civil wars are struggles over competing ways of being in the world, over their underlying conceptions, over control of the state and its apparatuses to materialize and advance these commitments.

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The Social Contract and the Game of Monopoly: Listening to Kimberly Jones on Black Lives

Debarati SanyalAnti-racism

As Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, the United States was poised to cross the threshold of 100,000 COVID deaths. We were grieving those who lost their lives to the virus, cut off from friends and family, gasping for breath alone in emergency rooms, nursing or private homes, detention centers, on the streets….We were holding our breaths as we read the daily toll of the pandemic, disproportionately taking Black and Brown lives. Far from being a “great equalizer,” COVID-19 reveals the virulence of structural racism. African Americans are dying of the virus at three times the rate of white people in America. As some official channels urged us to follow the protocols of social distancing and physical isolation in the interests of collective care (and others defied precautions in the name of rugged individualism), an officer in uniform sank the full weight of his body into the neck of a man who once said he wanted to touch the world. “I can’t breathe, man, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe sir….”. Chauvin’s impassive gaze at the iPhone recording the murder, surrounded by accomplices, bystanders, and witnesses, conveyed absolute confidence in his impunity. He looked as though he was snuffing out a life that did not register as human, or as a life at all. It is the expression we might see on the face of an arrogant hunter with his kill, or someone merely resting their knee on an insensate thing.

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