Class Notes (AP English)

Today, in Kafka. Worked on the first chapter in The Trial and the entirety of The Metamorphosis.

We spent some time addressing similarities between the two narratives. Students are usually quick to pick out the “one morning” aspect, but this is a good brainstorming and close reading exercise. Encourages the readers to see structure they’d likely otherwise leave unexamined, especially in light of Kafka’s apparent simplicity.

We examined the third paragraph of the story to discuss narrative tension a little bit. After all, teachers often use the word without really offering ways for students to see it and work with it, never mind explain what it is.

Gregor’s gaze then turned towards the window, and the murky weather — one could hear the raindrops striking the windowsill— made him quite melancholy. ‘What if I went on sleeping for a while and forgot all these idiocies,’ he thought, but that was quite impossible, as he was used to sleeping on his right side and in his present state he was unable to get himself into this position. However energetically he flung himself onto his right side, whenever he did so he would rock onto his back again. He must have tried a hundred times, shutting his eyes so that he didn’t have to see his jittery legs, and he only gave over when he began to feel a slight ache in his side, something he had never felt before.

There’s tension between the opening lines and what follows.

I like this paragraph a lot. I also like the transition from it to the next paragraph which begins with Samsa complaining about his “strenuous calling”, complaining about life as a traveling salesperson. The first part of the story is full of strenuous struggling that quickly turns to acquiescence to state of being and affairs.

The paragraph above begins with something I know my students will dig–a meditation on common melancholy. We know Samsa will end up spending many hours with his insect head against the bedroom window peering outside. Here we are introduced to his inclination and an aspect of his personality that many readers might find in common with him when in similar mood. The opening sentence and a half might first appear incantantion, words recited in spite of content. But the lines are not obfuscatory at all. 

Samsa looking out the window produces a confinement and a restriction within the prose. His response to the rain on the window sets a gloom, of course, and his thought about “all these idiocies” is a nice meta-commentary about that which is to come. It’s not about the situation, then. The story is about something else. And we enjoy the melancholy. There’s a pleasantness to lying in bed rainy mornings that work destroys. One would like to sleep in on murky weather mornings.

The second part of the paragraph gives us so much of the kind of inner-monologue description that we expect from Kafka. Whereas Samsa begins the day invoking melancholy, he very quickly turns to pragmatism and rationality, in spite of his grotesque situation. 

Josef K. and Gregor Samsa are different characters, to be sure. However, the omniscient narrator seems the same. This isn’t always the case with authors who prefer the third person. I told the students I enjoy thinking of Samsa struggling to move, disgusted with himself, and closing his eyes so he doesn’t have to look at his stupid bug legs wiggling out of control. Samsa is not a “jittery” person. However, he will come to embrace his change without protest. He’ll acquiesce to isolated alienation, and we’re going to watch a person slowly learn to give up. The murky weather is the perfect beginning to the tale in which a character’s pointless pragmatism and remnants of his proud social achievements whither away in mere months.

If I had time, I’d have students re-read Miller’s Death of Salesman, even though it’s over thirty years older, and Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener. Bartleby just stops eating, too. We’d compare and contrast two vermin, the dead letter and the insect. And we’d compare two salespeople, both of whom author’s are asking us to pay special attention to for reasons that might not be instantly comprehensible.

With The Trial we opened our discussion with Kafka’s excellent illustration of power, class, bureacracy, and the Law, in the first ten pages of the novel. Kafka’s innovation comes with problematizing the way readers will no doubt think about “the Law”:

There’s been no mistake. After all, our department, as far as I know, and I know only the lowest level, doesn’t seek out guilt among the general population, but, as the Law states, is attracted by guilt and has to send us guards out. That’s the Law. What mistake could there be?

In response, K. admits “I don’t know that law”. And his guard responds, “All the worse for you.”

All students will get the common notion that ignorance of the law does not make one innocent of breaking the law, but Kafka presents ignorance in a complex way. K. is ignorant (in his mind, innocent,) of the Law, even mistaking It as merely one law of many. And K. is ignorant about himself. K. is the kind of character who wants to get into other people’s heads and doesn’t really bother spending time in his own. K. wants “to slip into his guards’ thoughts somehow and turn them to his own advantage”. K. is manipulative and he’s used to being able to wield the power to manipulate because of his social status. He’s only capable of seeing status. His guards are lowly, so why would he not be able to manipulate them.

I really like the mean bit of foreshadowing to K.’s execution when the guard, in response to K. saying that the law “probably exists only in your heads” merely responds, “You’ll feel it eventually.” Harsh.

dagNotes: Notes On Whiteness, White Power, Capitalism & Anti-Capitalism

Bear with me fleshing out some language.

This is the mistake they* make: that whiteness is a quality we can sense, that it’s in some significant way material. That we can examine it and eradicate it without transforming society. It’s talked about like it’s a simple sin, a mistake, a form of revisionism, or an act, sometimes rising to a crime. We use words like transparent and opaque. We excuse its appearance as careless at best, mistaken at worse. We outline it as if it were a structure, like an organized cell.

Whiteness and White Power are now you see it now you don’t like part of a tacky magician’s act: white power is the reappearing thing itself, whiteness the object pulled out of a hat. Or, the result of birth. As in, I was born this way. What can I do about it.? A matter of rhetoric. Or worse, I’m not white. I’m free from guilt. I can do no wrong. Or, the not-white other who can actually claim he’s the hope himself for change simply for being not-that and nothing else.

White power isn’t material. It’s culture. It’s in the spirit of place: Great Britain, America, Europe. It hovers above the wreck of The Enlightenment. It infuses western religion with a sense of dominion over human being. It’s power is an idea that people have faith in but cannot utter. It’s a refusal as much as it is testimony or plan. It resists its own narrative but calls on the narrative of its individual constituents for proof of their allegiance to a man-made purpose. Seek self-help. Confess your sins. Do it alone.

Whiteness is powerful in the same manner Capital is self-valorizing. It’s the result of doing being. We let it happen because it’s how we tell the story of Nature organizing human action. It’s History itself. We shouldn’t romanticize it, manipulate it, look at it as a tragic formation of ideas. It’s not the debris in the rear-view mirror. It’s always already forgotten. It’s essential to character and habit.

Yet, it’s a wreck after all. A mess. On the other hand, it’s an order of being that instills within individuals a sense of duty to individualism that profits community regardless of location and direction. It’s purpose without purpose. It’s a dumb notion of Freedom based in the liberty to freely exploit. Dumb because it ignores the essential goal of its labor: to destroy everything first and then myself. It’s dumb because it ignores all science that it relies on in favor of the imaginary representations of reality in fanciful ideological formations. One wouldn’t be too mistaken to infer that individuals’ labor in white capitalist societies is to prove the value of its ideological assumptions about individual labor in white capitalist society.

White power is the will to expend everything first at the expense of Myself. (It’s always My Self in relation to others.) Forget the stupid medieval notions of the sin in the king’s hoard–the old king who takes everything for himself condemning his realm to rot and ruin and finally becoming the festering dragon protecting its useless treasure. The capitalist’s goal is nothing less than a barren landscape heaped with useless gold coin. (Ron Paul, I’m thinking of you.) The white power mad capitalist has nothing to protect. His goal is nothing less than the purposeful extinguishing of all natural resources for nobody but himself.

I often wonder how anyone would think it’s possible for me to do everything I want for myself and benefit others by so doing. The notion that such human action is possible must be based in the idea the Nature as it organizes us will infinitely provide resources to expend. It’s patently stupid thought.

This is the end of Ron Paul’s notion of Liberty, of Hayek’s Liberal Social Order. It’s the Republican reason for stalling government to promote corporatism. It’s the hope behind Obama’s neoliberalism. It’s not “Yes We Can” after all, it’s “Yes You Should Have Some, Too”.

Fleshing out the character and habit of whiteness is one manner to better understand white power. We can see it, in a way. White power, on the other hand, is a part of the practice of contemporary capitalism. No matter where you find it, what’s most conspicuous about it is its whiteness-for-itself. Capitalism uses white power as a kind of warrant for the free market (like I’m a free man,) as if its promotion were the point all along, and by simply doing things in the free market is to not be a slave.

I suppose this is why to be anti-white power, to be anti-fascist, to be an environmentalist, to be anti-racist, to be feminist, is necessarily to be anti-capitalist. To say otherwise is to accept white power, to embrace white ideology and its absurd ideological framing of societies.

*“They” are capitalists: liberals, progressives, activists. Of course, conservatives, corporatists and fascists.

dagNotes: On defining racism

Anonymous asked: I’ve always had a hard time sympathising with white people when they cry racism, being a POC myself. But I have a hard time explaining to myself why racism against white people isn’t a legitimate ‘thing’ when in countries with a lots of cultural insularity tend (like Japan?) to be prejudiced against white people. I think you’ve talked about this before with an anecdote about your experience in a heated soccer game? And how about prejudice between ethnic minorities, like between China and Japan?

1. White is neither a nation(ality) nor an ethnicity. Being white is not comparable to being Chinese or being Japanese.

2. Racism is a particular form of discrimination. Of course, an individual can discriminate “against” people with white skin. Race, on the other hand, is a socially constructed category created to define white as a race in comparison to other races for socio and geo political and economic purposes. Racism is a systemic form of violence “against” people of color. I’ll address Korea since you recalled my earlier post about my experiences. The hatred that some Koreans express for Japanese and Americans, where it can be observed, is related to the results of actual events. That’s not racism. The systemic violence directed towards people of color over a rather long and persistent period of time by what has come to be defined broadly as white culture is racist. Manifest Destiny is racist. The British Empire is/was racist. Korean nationalism is not.

Racism is an aspect of whiteness and white power. It serves a purpose. Namely racism is the practice of indoctrinating white people into a white ideological order. (See Lillian Smith’s Killers of the Dream and her chapter, “Two Men and a Bargain”). Of course, all individuals are composed as white subjects in a racist culture. Thus, even Koreans must confront white ideology in global capitalist culture. Never mind Korea and Koreans, we see my claim proven as Asian capitalists attempt to define their own Capitalism, Capitalism-with-Asian-values (from Singapore and praised in SE Asia especially). It’s proponents won’t like what I claim, but the name for this brand of Capitalism literally puts Asia in perspective in relationship to Capitalist culture, does it not? It’s Capitalism, a Western or white value, with Asian value added. It’s nothing new. In fact, it’s a capitulation to white ideology and a reluctant acceptance of being composed as white subjects–that is, a frank acceptance of racist Capitalist culture. It’s a means to participate in the bargain, hopefully participate, in the bargain Lillian Smith wrote about in her book.

Reposting to make it rebloggable.

dagNotes: The reason I wrote "White is not a skin color"

Anonymous asked you: 

Whiteness is what you say it is, but it is also a skin color, no?

Anonymous asked you:

What is “white”? Define it, please. Honest question.

“White is not a skin color.” When I write this, white people scratch their heads and complain. Why would a white guy say this? They ask. I’ve deleted as many anonymous asks as I’ve attempted to answer. If you’ve been reading my blog over the last 48 hours, you’ll notice I’ve been dealing with white people who have a problem with the statement. Some anons are being genuine, like the second ask above. Some people are confused, like the first ask. What is white? Others are being dense. Others are just bigots.

I don’t know why this is so hard to understand. Many people with many different kinds of skin colors are referred to as white. I am white. That identity has almost nothing to do with the actual color of my skin. I’m trying to make a point about what white-ness is.

What is essential to being white? In the US, the Supreme Court used to argue who was and wasn’t white for purposes of citizenship because until rather recently only white immigrants could become US citizens. People born in the US are citizens. If you wanted to naturalize, you had to be a “free white”. Look at Ozawa v United States (1922) and read about the Oriental Exclusion Act of 1927. The US would permit Asian American children to be citizens because they were born in the US but refused to permit Asian immigrants to naturalize. White by Law is the book on this subject. I wrote about it yesterday.

Looking at the legal construction of “free white” in the United States is significant because we learn that white is something people claim they can see but actually has to do with things other than biological classifications and empirical evidence. In Thind v United States (1923), the Supreme Court deemed Asian Indians ineligible for citizenship because U.S. law allowed only free whites to become naturalized citizens. But Indians were considered Caucasians. Certainly, Thind had a point. Right? The court conceded that Indians were “Caucasians” and that anthropologists considered them to be of the same race as white Americans, but argued that “the average man knows perfectly well that there are unmistakable and profound differences.” “Unmistakable” might have to do with looking, but “profound”? It’s hard to argue that “profound” isn’t baldly racist. This caused major problems for all Asians who were now certainly not citizens, even if their children were. The process of losing one’s citizenship is called (without irony, of course,) denaturalization. That’s right. One day you’re legally white, naturalized of course, the next you’re profoundly and unmistakably not white, nor have you ever been. Some of these denaturalized people owned land in places like California. But there were laws prohibiting non-citizens from owning land. Guess what happened. There are many stories like this about the white majority fretting over who is actually white.

In addition, white is an identity that people often claim and for different reasons are accepted as white–this happens to Asians all the time–or consistently rejected–“Hispanics”, in the US, have never been permitted to identify as white. In addition, there is the complex issues surrounding passing white. A ton of literature out there about passing. And we know, on Tumblr, there are many white social justice bloggers, especially feminists, who will claim they aren’t white. How do they get this power? White people are educated to believe that race for others is a concrete reality but for them a simple matter of identification. “I’m not white. I’m German.” “I don’t identify as white.” Oh LUXURY! To be able to not identify as white.

White is a real problem. White is there. I am white, right. But what does it mean to be white? It most certainly doesn’t mean my skin pigmentation is closer to it than others. The point I’m making when I write “White is not a skin color” is to reinforce that white is not a biological reality or something you can see for what it is by looking at white people. You want to bang your head against the wall about the artificial and unjust construction of whiteness over the centuries, then go ahead and have a petty existential crisis about it. It won’t change the social realities. Only white people ever complain about this kind of discussion and this kind of point. I’m not sympathetic. If I can do it, so can you.

Part of the problem with whiteness is that it’s difficult to define. The power structure that composes individuals as white subjects is transparent and intangible, yet it feels concrete. As the Supreme Court of the US used to argue, you know white when you see it. The question is what are you seeing?

dagNotes: on "guilty of being white" (& rejecting racist sentimentality)

Anonymous asked you:  What is your opinion of this Minor Threat song?

I’m sorry
For something I didn’t do
Lynched somebody
But I don’t know who
You blame me for slavery
A hundred years before I was born


I’m a convict
(guilty!)Of a racist crime
(guilty!)I’ve only served
(guilty!)19 years of my time


These Minor Threat lyrics often get brought up. I’m not going to guess at what Anonymous Ask is up to with this question, but I can tell you that many white kids simply lack the maturity to properly reflect about what this song illustrates and how that’s different from what it means.

You ask me, “What is your opinion of this Minor Threat song?” Sounds like what it was: a song written by an inexperienced and naive white, adolescent male whining about being a white minority in a high school where the black kids take out their frustrations on the young white punks. Too bad so sad.

White kids always deny privilege. It’s a typical song and many white punks wrote lyrics like these that haunt them now that they’ve become legends.

I’ll tell you what. The white kids that use lyrics like these as an example of someone backing their anger over an improperly perceived guilt are fucking idiots, and not much better than the white supremacist boneheads who use this as one of their hardcore anthems. But let’s look at the song itself.

“Guilty of being white” is a statement of fact. In his high school, MacKaye was guilty of being white. He’s white. For his metaphor, he’s using legalese not the term of emotion. He’s not feeling guilty; he IS guilty. That part of the song is accurate. The lines “you blame me for slavery/ a hundred years before I was born” are stupid whining white nonsense. Pure dread–the dread that comes with facing the righteous anger of oppressed people of color. I promise, if MacKaye wrote this song now, he’d have a different sensibility.

The sentiment expressed in the song by MacKaye’s adolescent self, however he meant it, is complex even though fucked up. It represents a resistance to betraying white privilege. He wants to associate as white to the not-white people who blame him for something he hasn’t done. I often write about possessive whiteness. Whiteness is the last thing a white person will want to betray. That’s how racism works. And it would have been a poor choice for him to make. Did he make that choice?

Well, this is something we argue about in the hardcore scene that is often majority cis white male and their sympathetic cis white girlfriends. Things are only a little different nowadays. The scene is certainly more diverse, but the element and spirit from the 80s when hardcore punk was often a white reactionary movement still lingers because we still listen to the songs.

When MacKaye whines about being “a convict of a racist crime” you can look at it this way. He’s correct. He’s always going to be white. It’s a life sentence, to use his prison metaphor. The song, in many ways, illustrates a white battle with privilege. He wants to deny it, but he cannot. He didn’t hurt anybody. But the desire to be innocent is a pull towards unexamined and safe whiteness. I like the song nowadays because it captures a supremely immature lyricist. He betrays himself in his song. He’s naive and he’s troubled. What will he do? It’s fucking dramatic. It reminds me of my teen years when I began to learn to betray my white privilege.

I’d argue that the lyrics are much more complex than they first appear. They are an accurate portrayal of white, adolescent angst about race, whiteness, and a racist heritage unique to the United States. Who wants to inherit that? In the first stanza, the writer outright denies privilege. That’s absolutely wrong. On the other hand, the second stanza admits the burden is his and for life. The song, at best, illustrates a struggle that many white kids can identify with in spite of sharing whining sentiments that (one hopes) MacKaye later rejected. I wonder about him. Has he always repressed his white privilege. Would he still continue to deny it? I doubt it, but you never know. Pride is a tough emotion to confront if it’s been long repressed.

I’ll share my own story. I went to New London High School in New London, Connecticut. When I attended, it was mostly black students with a small percentage of white students and other non-white students. I was a budding punk and a complete spazz. I was constantly under the threat of getting my ass kicked by students of color. One semester, Duane, a homeroom classmate, chased me to first period almost everyday. I used to fantasize about yanking his comb from his hair and choking him with it, but he’d have beaten me silly if he wanted. I’m not kidding. I still vividly remember Duane’s comb.

I was a late-blooming runt. I took my lumps. I didn’t, not once, blame it on the fact that I was white and he was black. We had racial tension at the school, don’t get me wrong. But I’m no bigot. It would have been convenient to blame it on racial disputes, wouldn’t it. Fact is, Ian MacKaye, like me, would have been under threat of getting his ass kicked by white assholes, too, in some wealthier suburban school. I understand MacKaye’s song, though I don’t sympathize with it. In fact, I reject its sentiment.

That said, he, like me and all white kids, have to fight this battle on our own. I try to encourage white kids to betray their privilege. To deny privilege is to embrace white supremacy. One need only deny to be a racist and to embrace racist sentimentality that calls for white association.

Let’s get something right. This song is not proof about how bad it is for white kids nor is it a fighting song for oppressed whites. It’s a song written by a young man in which he struggles to come to terms with why black people hold him in contempt. It’s a very immature and naive song because it’s completely unsympathetic to people and cultures of color. It’s selfish and self-righteous. It’s a whining mess, like much of mid to late 80s hardcore punk. And I should know. That’s my generation. I graduated from high school in 1988.

dagNotes: On Whiteness

Whiteness seeks equivalency. Whiteness denies difference. Whiteness insists humanity is best described in terms of consumption and employment. Progressive whiteness is liberal. Reactionary, regressive whiteness is conservative. After all, whiteness relies on common sense and binary logic, hence, denies paradox. Whiteness is a tonic for the disorganization in the spontaneous social order of free market capitalism; it’s a disciplining and civilizing order. Whiteness, thus, is an aspect of capitalism.

To be anti-racist demands one be anti-capitalist.

dagNotes: A little bit on how I see privilege and white power working, even in Korea

In my last post, I talked about the problem with white people coming to Korea and suddenly becoming conscious of race. Except, they don’t see white power and privilege, which is everywhere on display. They see racist Koreans.

Then, I received an anonymous ask shouting at me for being white and calling out white supremacists and racism. An obvious troll, but one who provides me with an opportunity to discuss why white people experiencing racism like the young woman in the former post are so misinformed.

I’m white. I argue I have a responsibility to betray my inherited privilege and unearned ambition. And not for any reward either. Simply because I, like everyone else, have an ethical obligation to fight the white power structure that constructs individuals as white subjects. White people don’t exist. Whiteness is constructed and protected and inherited. I may be able to benefit most from this racist ideological apparatus that shapes capitalist society, but I should reject it. It’s a moral obligation, in my opinion.

And as some folks are claiming, I’m not doing this to point the finger at white privilege. I’m actually trying to examine how it works for myself and in my life, and I’m writing about it. DagSeoul isn’t a “white people are privileged” blog. So, please stop sending me stupid shit in my ask-box about that.


I don’t go around claiming I’ve experienced racism in the manner most white people do. Most talk about angry black people, hateful hispanics, crazy Koreans–jealous others whose envy for power causes them to hate their whiteness so much that they act in a racist manner. Of course, that’s utter nonsense. It’s bullshit. That’s not racism. Yelling at whiteness, hating whiteness, having a problem with white people isn’t always racist. It’s a sign of white power. It’s a response to white supremacy.

I play football almost every Saturday in Korea. I live in a Korean neighborhood, so all my teammates are Koreans. They’re all men. They’re almost all younger than me. I’m bigger than all of them. Stronger. I’m not the most skilled footballer, but I’ve played since 1978. I’ve got skill. I can score. I’m fast. I know and love the game. And, I can run all day. When a bald (I shave my head) and bearded white guy is booking down the field with the ball, it’s intimidating. A lot of Korean guys are super-fit and strong, but smaller than me. When I run into them at full speed, I feel it, but they really feel it. And I play a much more physical style of football than Koreans do. Fans of the game will understand this. Most guys love it when I show up with my Korean teammates to play. They talk to me on the field. It’s fun. But it’s not always fun.

When I first arrived, a colleague took me around to meet various clubs in the area. Word got around rather quickly that there was a foreigner who wanted to play and he was good. I got asked to play by my team. I was invited. I considered myself lucky. I really figured I’d have to find foreigners to play with, but I wanted so much to play with Koreans. It’s one of the reasons I was excited about coming here. Anyway, I felt accepted. In a few months, I had twenty-five younger brothers. It was a wonderful feeling.

One of the teams we regularly played often got very mad at my teammates that I was playing so well. It appeared that way to me. I didn’t get it. I’ve since learned that some Korean players think its unfair that they should have to play a foreigner. I’m big and strong and can hurt them. I don’t hurt them, but we’re talking intimidation here. I had so intimidated a couple of players that they couldn’t contain their frustrations any longer. After a day of playing together, they confronted me and my team. We almost had a brawl. My teammates were standing up for me. I was pulling guys away from one another. And one player on the other team yelled, “Yankee, Go home!” Some of us laughed. Some of my teammates wanted to fight. The oldest players stepped in and yelled at everyone. My wife had showed up to watch. She was very upset.

Simple story, right? I play. I play with Koreans. I play well. A little physical, but nothing dirty. I score goals. My team wins a lot. The frustrated players on the other team blame the foreigner for fucking up the peace. One guy says something insulting. Many white people would call it racist. Dude’s a hater. It’s not even racist.

Once, I parked my scooter in front of a cafe and the owner told me to move it somewhere else. She didn’t want it in front of her shop. I told her it was legal. She yelled at me for being a spoiled foreigner. Many white people would call it racist. But. It’s not even racist.

I’ve been involved in pushy moments in the crowded subway where I’ve been yelled at in Korean, called out as a rude foreigner. Many white people would call it racist. But. It’s not even racist.

Koreans who call me out for doing things Koreans often do and explicitly scolding me as a foreigner are often referred to by white people in Korea as racist Koreans. They’re not racists.

White people love to see racism against them. And why not. White power works that way. White people are raised to feel precious and deserving of good treatment. They deserve respect. Why would anybody pick on them because of who they are?

Fact is, there are haters in Korea. The longer I live here, on the other hand, the more I recognize my white privilege is in full effect here. And the rudeness with which I’m treated at times simply requires a little patience and understanding. This might sound patronizing, but it’s not. After all, I was brought here and treated well because of who I am, treated well in a manner that the majority of Koreans will never experience.

I’m often asked, Why would you come to Korea? Koreans talk about their country being no bigger than a booger (우리나라는 코딱지 만큼…)  or no bigger than a palm (우리나라는 손바닥 만큼…). Why would I come to a place most Koreans can’t leave? Well, the answer is because I’m privileged. That’s the answer. The humiliating aspect of that answer is its correlation: I can leave whenever I want to. In other words, I can go home. I have a place to go other than here. I can return. That’s what Koreans see me as sometimes, but especially when they’re annoyed at me. They are confronted with privilege. And they sometimes take it out on me. It’s not racism. Try telling that to many white people in Korea, though.

I’d have to be a real dick to deny this privilege. That guy yelling “Yankee, go home” at me is reaching for something to say at all in the face of my belligerent presence in his life. He was being a dick, but he can’t speak English and he yelled the one insult in English he knew might hurt my feelings. The power he feels that oppresses him in a daily manner is a problem with Korean culture, centuries of oppression. Shit I don’t get. But I’ve added another element. Now he has to play soccer, on his day off, with a white guy who reminds him of a specific and painful lack of privilege and I’m going to knock him down, too. I’d be a dick not to expect some sort of response.

About that Farber book and Kerouac, in my bag 1990-1991

I remember I read Farber’s “Student as Nigger” before I enrolled in college. I bought it and On the Road from a used bookstore in 90 or 91 and carried both around with a few other books for a while. I quickly lost interest in the Kerouac, which I found fun to read but didn’t trust at all. I expected Sal and Dean to get it on, but what sex was there was with young Latinas. Hardly transgressive. I thought, even then and in Denver where I understood the attraction, what a fucking white-power jackass Kerouac must have been–or how naive he was about women–or what a sexist hater. I was young enough still to be influenced by misogyny, classism and  racism of my upringing. Not my parents, but my neighborhoods, schools, cities, churches. I was learning how to speak for myself about how I felt, learning how to defy culture for my work. Saying no to Kerouac was a big deal for me. Not a popular view of On the Road, but I took one look around me and my friends to see who else was reading Kerouac and quickly decided I didn’t want to be in that crowd. I was discovering Charles Mingus anyway and he set me straight. Burroughs was my man, too. I was still in his clutches, obsessed with his novels.

Farber’s essay kicked ass. I loved the incendiary language meant to piss (white) people off. I loved the materialism. I loved how earnest it was. I carried the book for a long time. I left On the Road at home.

dagNotes: on individualism

“There is a deep complementarity between individual agency and social arrangement. It is important to give simultaneous recognition to the centrality of individual freedom and to the force of social influences on the reach of individual freedom. To counter the problems that we face, we have to see individual freedom as a social commitment.” –Amartya Sen

I just read this Sen quote being reblogged and praised.

I want to say about it that when it comes to socialism and individualism, libertarians typically muck it up. And for obvious reasons that I need not go into here, reasons that have to do with white, enlightenment notions of capitalism and liberty, as well as the free market.

I think a simple maxim exists that can preserve the integrity of individuals within socialism. The individual must be a subject in social relation with others. This is in opposition to popular libertarian interpellation of the individual, a constitution of the individual as a subject being-free-from-others.

That’s it. An individual is only an individual being with others.

dagNotes: When we fuck shit up,

we do it with smiles–with fun, with joy, encouraging others to celebrate the undermining of capitalist social order, the destruction of the status quo, with us,

and all of us together with our tongues out, spreading the real rapture news.

Capitalists hate that. And I like hearing them whine about us enjoying fucking up their cozy concrete. Without a care about government, god, money: all those things they depend on to keep us in vertical order.

And lots of rude swearing, because you’re not supposed to do that. Get in touch with your dirty side, the little feral child you keep in the back of your mind. Let that kid out now.

Fuck decency.

dagNotes: notes on authenticity and whiteness

balkon asked you: 

What is the “one kind of individual” that is supposed to be “the always authentic individual”? What does authenticity have to do with whiteness in the US? Is authenticity, as an ontological concept, at ends with equality?

Authenticity and whiteness. Complex topic. I’ll just unpack a little. This post will be an effort to explore a couple of ideas. Feel free to participate, add, and/or ask more questions. This kind of stuff isn’t easy to write about, but it’s not impossible and deserves attention. And I’m not going to be a jerk and refer you all to a link with an essay about it. There’s a lot out there about white people seeking authenticity, ontological race, authenticity and race, and ontological whiteness. I love that kind of writing and read it myself. However, I also like trying to work these things out for myself as a writer. So, let’s leave the scholarship aside for a moment and think this through for ourselves.

One particular annoying aspect of whiteness is that white people get great pleasure from evaluating others’ authenticity. Think about Stateless-Crusader seeking to preserve what he thinks makes him white or white allies to poc. Anyway, I’m going to attempt to think about authenticity in a different manner. 

Whiteness is the primary motivating force behind a subject seeking to be white. Many people like to think there can be no ground for whiteness because there is nothing that is white. A lot of white tumblr feminists, for example, like to say they don’t identify as white. Well, that’s cute, but incredibly misinformed and absolutely a sign of white supremacy. It’s a denial about a reality. Just because race has no biological reality doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a social one, right? The white race may be socially constructed but, despite its lack of scientific grounding, white does have a reality in subjects who actively seek to be (or not to be) white. I write about this behavior as possessive whiteness.

White people use their whiteness when it’s convenient. Progressives are worse about it than the admitted racists, in my opinion. The white bigot is a proud bigot. When he’s unconscious of his bigotry, he is still proud of his nation. Progressive bigots aren’t proud. They attempt to repress their whiteness via association with poc or white people who deny privilege. An interesting topic for later: Why do so many white progressives conflate denying privilege with fighting racism?

I use subject rather than individual because white power, in the United States at least, is an ideology that constitutes all individuals as white subjects. The oppressive results are immediately apparent if the mechanism itself is difficult to illustrate. White privilege, on the other hand, is simply to not be a person of color. White individuals need not do anything to be or become privileged. They are always already privileged. Thus, whiteness itself is always at odds with equality.

Authentic whiteness is another thing altogether. Can there be an authentically white person? I’d say, No. Nevertheless, all subjects of white power do seek authenticity. So, what are they seeking if they need not seek to be white? Authenticity is debated in tumblr social justice circles all the time. It’s stupid, though that’s not the kind of authenticity we’re talking about. Let’s remember that. Let’s look at authenticity and whiteness in a different manner. Let’s introduce intersectionality.

We have to look at both race and class together. What does it mean to be an authentic American? Is there a cultural sense of what the ideal American is? If so, then we have a standard for US citizens to seek authenticity. That standard has a powerful ideological apparatus that socially organizes its subjects within a white power structure. 

The ideal American has always been a white, Christian, educated, free, middle-class male. He has never existed but has a long history. We’d have to look back at least as far as the Puritans, if not further, to begin to find a historical grounding for what it means to be white and to find a ground for authentic whiteness itself. We want to examine both character and habit. It’s not a person we’re looking for, but a set of ideas. Whiteness (to be white) is not a person but a social movement and a desire–in other words, a seeking behavior in response to a disembodied and voiceless demand. I mention Puritans only because they were concerned with finding providence in nature while living in the wilderness and that is such an important aspect of whiteness. Whiteness has a destiny. It has an always yet-to-be-fulfilled aspect to it.

To be authentically white is to be upwardly mobile, for example. Another important aspect of whiteness is to acknowledge status-seeking behavior, to represent it, and to reward it. To be authentically white is to be seeking an individuality that is free from social obligation and at its own convenience.

Authenticity is important to whiteness because it makes the value of whiteness apparent.

dagNotes: How poverty/class does its thing in service of white supremacy and patriarchy

I just wrote about Graeber’s take on student loan debt:

Way too convenient an argument. This is like Baz Luhrman’s Debt. This kind of argument hog-ties imagination to value in a way that I don’t like at all. Moreover, it de-racializes slaves-slavery once again reminding me that so many white intellectuals romanticize both wealth and poverty in harmful ways that illustrates a rather boldly ignorant perspective on the realities of poverty in the United States and around the world. It insists we’re all in this together in an a priori manner that is entirely bullshit.

I want to insist on the last point–we must remember working against racism, that is, working against patriarchal white supremacy is working against capitalism. There’s a lot of colorblind nonsense in radical politics: for example, when anarchists yap about slavery. It’s careless rhetoric.

White supremacy has such a powerful legacy in the US because of a bargain poor whites accept that permits them a passive inheritance of whiteness for cooperation with the employing classes’ unearned ambition, inheritance, and social status. The rich get to be rich and the poor get to be white, with an added bit about a promise to poor people, in general, for upward mobility in return for dedicated work over the long term. Thus, poor whites do much of the labor of struggling against people of color on behalf of white supremacist wealth and power. Poor people are not in solidarity. Capitalism has worked hard on this.

We’re not all in this together because we’re the 99%. We’re not all in this together because we’re employees. We’re not all in this together because we’re poor. White supremacist capitalism has driven a wedge into that apparently natural solidarity. We’re all in this together only when we’re actively acknowledging how white power has strengthened oppressive class society through racism and patriarchy. To insist otherwise is colorblind bullshit. When we struggle together, we must learn to struggle contra the traditions of individualism, intellectualism, and culture that have naturalized other oppressions in service of an argument for classed society.

It’s not difficult to do. And I don’t understand the reluctance for Marxists and Anarchists to consistently do it. David Graeber needs to stop calling student debtors slaves.

dagNotes: The Sine Qua Non in Derrick Jensen's Shallow Resistance

Jensen has a theory. His theory is developed to support a simple claim. The claim is “Civilization is bad.” Everything Jensen thinks about and says is meant to act as a warrant for this central claim.

Civilization is not going to end until it ends. Humans are not going to organize to end it. Civilization is, after all, dependent on human organization. If we organize, we civilize. It doesn’t matter how wealthy or poor, how educated or developed, we all are. Civilization is based in organization, in social being. Jensen appears to argue the point of civilization is to or should be to destroy civilization. It’s a paradox his shallow theory cannot embrace. The keystone to good philosophy is to be capable of dwelling in complexity and paradox. His theory dwells in little more than his own version of common sense about social organization. His notion of society is a naive holistic view: we are all one human species destroying the planet as a result of our civilization.

Jensen wants to argue that civilization as it has been organized is destined (it’s not like we mean it) to destroy the planet. But that’s not very engaging, is it? It’s not even interesting. We all know we’re doing harm. Even the idiots who claim humans can’t hurt nature don’t want to hurt the planet though they want to cultivate the free market. Civilization, even according to Capitalists, doesn’t intend to destroy “the real planet”. On the other hand, the social organization for our market(s) almost certainly does. Free market capitalism is constructed on the premise we can, nae must, exploit all our finite resources. The free hand of the market is a destructive hand. Jensen has taken the problem with free market capitalism–that it freely exploits without condition–and applied that principle to human being–that it’s we who are destined to organize to exploit without condition.

Jensen mistakes capitalism for Capitalists. A lot of people do this. I live in a capitalist society but I am not a Capitalist, nor will I ever be. It’s important for his claim that people like me be implicated as Capitalists because his claim is that civilization (not just as it is, but as it always was and will be) is bad. This is too simplistic. Capitalism is the problem. The market, nature in neoclassical economic theory, socially organizes us, not Capitalists. Jensen’s notion of civilization is a direct result of social organization. He’s literally an insider. He’d like to be seen as an outsider: Let’s Destroy Civilization! Unfortunately, he’s criticizing social organization from within a secure and authorized zone in the market. (Never mind that Jensen is a well known critic of radical anticapitalist action. People who do actually go out and destroy things bother him. He’s fully embraced civilization.) I could develop this more: nature in Jensen’s work is that thing we are civilized in opposition to and nature in capitalism is the free market. Jensen, for some reason, doesn’t see this. I know the reason. If he did, he’d have to admit that capitalism might be the thing that is set in opposition to nature rather than human civilization itself.

In an interview where he was asked several questions about how to solve the real problems he’d illustrated from dying oceans to dioxins in mothers’ breast-milk, he suggests we should imagine aliens coming to the planet and magically cleaning everything up, even detoxifying mothers’ breast-milk. He claims if aliens did this we would do everything we could to make sure the aliens couldn’t do it again. For Jensen, it’s always about proving civilization is bad (or technology is bad). He claims we wouldn’t change given the opportunity, even if it cost us nothing. To my mind, such claims are useless. It’s obvious to me he’s referring to the ongoing and necessary exploitation of finite resources in capitalism. Capitalism won’t stop exploiting resources ever. That’s how it works. He’s referring to this and applying it to human nature. In other words, Derrick Jensen is capitalist, small “c” capitalist. Capitalism is the sine qua non for his shallow theory of resistance.

Jensen’s claims are almost as silly as libertarians arguing they know what a truly unregulated free-market capitalist economy would look like. They don’t know. We can’t know. Jensen doesn’t know what it means to live without civilization because people don’t live without civilization. Quite frankly, I think Jensen is a bit of a privileged douche because he likes to point to people, the poorest people on the real planet, as happily living without things like medicine and electricity and hot showers. When I think of what I saw in rural Cambodia and compare it to how Jensen represents those people in his arguments, his representations become insulting, essentializing, demeaning, uncaring, naive, ignorant, and I could go on but what’s the point. Jensen’s point isn’t about those people, those civilized people. It’s nice to be able to talk to children about the fact that taking shorter showers is not going to solve our water problems. Children in first world countries can think about that and the smart ones will get your point. But what then? So, 90%, at least, of our water goes to support agriculture. It’s a problem that we’re not appropriately addressing and Jensen wants us to think about whether we can actually appropriately address the problem at all. OK, then. Now what? I’d like him to visit the poorest people on the planet and I’d like to hear what example he’d use with them to make them understand how awful civilization is. Who would he use in comparison to them? Jensen’s argument unravels rather quickly outside of the first world. (Of course, he’d deny my desire to focus on class.)

Jensen talks about “the real planet” all the time in contrast to the planet civilization imagines. That’s not a bad start. He’s on to something there. Of course, his theory is retrogressive. We know what ideology is. A smart child understands that reality is not imagination. Sesame Street teaches this sort of thing. We know what make believe is. It’s kind of a stupid point to make: “The REAL Planet is dying.” When push comes to shove in his interviews, he boils everything down to a paradigm shift and the call for organized political resistance. In other words, Jensen offers nothing new. He has found a place for himself to become a professional activist. He publishes, he interviews, he blogs, he organizes. I’m not satisfied that he’s capable of embracing the destruction of civil society for all the reasons I’ve listed above.

dagNotes: on personal experience

I’ve been thinking about teaching a lot lately because I miss it. I love the reading and writing I’ve had and will have over the next year, but I really will be excited to get back in the classroom. As a result, I’ve been thinking about personal experience in general.

In my last post, I wrote:

you can always tell the “left-y” kids who are going to grow into thirty-something reactionary, populist conservatives. they’re the ones who find alex jones funny now and who secretly troll conspiracy sites. they’re into anything spectacular and violent.

I have over a decade of experience with this in writing, ethics, composition, and freshman-seminar courses. Young and reactionary conservatives, who are vocally loyal to their communities, churches, and/or parents often are the most willing to listen, read, study, critically think, and revise their thinking about society. I don’t know if this speaks to my pedagogical principles or my teaching style, but the conservative kids spent more time active in class, in my office, and walking campus with me talking about their anxieties, their social problems, their daily lives.

This is not to say that my mission was to turn students. Don’t get me wrong. As a teacher, I can care less. Let me put it better: Teaching to transgress is not about teaching conservatives to be left wing. I know there are teachers out there who try to teach to and do things for or against their students. I’m not like that. As a matter of fact, I tend to teach writing instensive classes, and so I really can’t do that if I’m at all focused on working on their writing and voices, no matter how much I dislike their prose, verse, and voices.

Anyway, I’m stating something I observed between 1999-2007 in my classrooms. Many of those young men–it tends to be the men, though it’s not a given–experienced transformation through transgression during their Freshman and Sophomore years in college and university. Just going to school and registering for courses that “have nothing to do with what I’ll be doing” was transgression enough to get them talking. Being able to speak in public and learning to become more articulate as speakers and more precise and graceful as writers permitted them a space to not only mature but to grow as citizens. As a lecturer and adjunct, the quiet students remain enigmas to me and I long ago learned to let them be. My job isn’t to examine students. It’s to work with them, along with them, on a project–achieving the objectives in our syllabus. I should mention, I’ve had bigots, homophobes, religious zealots, klan members even–haters of all kinds have participated in my classes. I’m not talking about the odd freak who gets caught being nasty in public.

In contrast, which is what makes it a striking observation for me as opposed to something that I’d expect everyone experiences who teaches what I teach, almost every one of my younger radical friends abandoned the cause by the 2000s for lives of moderation at least, if not entirely embracing right wing populism. I know a lot of capitalist libertarians who consider themselves socially progressive but realists who were once younger idealistic social justice warriors. (District Attorney and Attorney General offices all over the US are littered with progressive burn outs. I was a public defender investigator for a few years.  The last whimper of a social justice warrior turning moderate liberal to conservative populist is usually exhaled in the halls of victim advocacy.)

I came to college a devout progressive who was learning what it meant to study history and to want to write and to teach. I wanted to study philosophy. I felt open to the experience. I was looking for discourse. It’s important to me and to my memory of 1991, especially: an openness. I didn’t arrive knowing answers. I was dedicated to education at a young age. That said, all my dogmatic Marxist-Leninist friends, my friends who were young socialists, those who toyed with actual anarchism, moved right. Every one of them. And everyone of them seemed, back then, closed.

Moreover, and as much as I hate to admit it, the most acerbic and sour-ing–a progressive trait–voices in classroom discourse tended to come from naive social justice liberals who received much self-gratification saying “that’s not correct”, whatever it might have been, whenever the Not-Right popped up in class. I see this all the time on tumblr. Or, they sat silent and self-satisfied, smirking in their seats only to turn in poorly written, trite, cliched, and boring essays week after week that showed the least engagement in course material for the most certainty of righteousness. The worst writers are always those who already know IT. I’m almost certain this has to do with social justice rhetoric and the way the mainstream and radical social justice communities implement concepts/strategies of equality and tolerance that insist on authoritarian modes of uniformity. It’s no wonder we witness so much white supremacy in social justice communities.

In my opinion, the fuel for this problem is a refusal to reject the social order in liberalism. What’s most obscene in liberal progressive societies’ loyalty to capitalism? A rejection of history. What replaces history, what liberals and progressives insist replaces that project, is a profession of personal experience. This is always history denying in its on-going presentation, a profession that is always present-ing itself can’t possibly cope with contemporaneity never mind intention. This project instills within each individual the notion of an undeniable and justified, which means never-should-be-transgressed–private social order that lends itself more to consumerism and business activity than to social work towards a shared, non-economic (in a capitalist sense of that word) cause. Notice I did not use the language of morality here. I did not refer to a shared or economic good. 

dagNotes: It's a project not a lifestyle.

Until we can secure a living wage for all workers, taking from those who’ve got more than enough is always a just response to the social malaise of the upwardly mobile, smug, self-satisfied middle and capitalist classes. I put it “taking from those” because polite society always refers to the working classes’ earning and ambition according to levels of theft, according to a relative distance from acceptable behavior. “How can they afford that?” In other words, poor people are always one authorization away from unacceptable transgressions.

Working under the table is not stealing. Putting up relatives in government subsidized housing is not stealing; sharing food stamps is not stealing; working as an undocumented immigrant is not stealing; et al. and etc. Finding a way to subsist in a society that insists subsistence is good enough is not stealing. It’s doing the right thing.

dagNotes: On homeschooling/unschooling

I was asked: How do you feel about Homeschooling or rather Unschooling? I’ve always thought the effectiveness of the former to be severely limited by the mind of the parent (or whomever is doing the homeschooling). But I was wondering what your opinions on the two were.

Great question. I don’t know if I’m going to answer it, but it got me thinking. Here’s the result. Please don’t hesitate from redirecting me or following up with other questions or points. If you like writing about teaching and pedagogy, I do to. I’ve written a lot on dagSeoul, but not a lot since I quit teaching a year ago to focus on my writing. This is very much a draft.


Homeschooling. I wouldn’t want to only homeschool my child, but I’d consider homeschooling for a time. Praise and I have actually talked about this. Probably not a shocker. We’re both educators. I think public primary school and homeschool during the middle school years, and then we’ll see what’s up for high school. Public school was important for both of us. I was snagged up on a poor-kids’ scholarship for a private college-prep school. From 7th grade until my sophomore year, I studied as hard as I’ve ever studied save for my graduate work. I also learned what rich people were like. Public school made me scrappy, a result of my neighborhoods and neighbors, and I learned some street smarts and to respect labor and teachers, especially. Prep school taught me the value in books and study and how to be a disciplined student.

I learned how to work with others and on my own in both private and public schools. Maybe that sounds trite, but it’s not. I learned to be proud of my intellectual skills and work in both places. Public school was much more regimened and not because of curriculum, but because of the teachers I had. I was ambitious, especially with my writing, and public school teachers really couldn’t handle it. The curriculum isn’t to blame. That’s a teacher’s fault and parents aren’t less likely to experience this problem than teachers. Most importantly, I learned about difference and wealth and class. I went to three high schools because my father moved us around a lot. (Economics.) If I were homeschooled, I would have missed out on a lot. That said, I learned absolutely nothing at all in my senior year of high school. NOTHING. I was bored and full of anxiety. I was ready for something high school couldn’t provide. I was punished for that readiness. Working at home that year would have likely changed my life.

Public school does a few things I really like that I don’t think homeschooling is likely to do. Not that it can’t, just that it’s not likely. Homeschooling is more likely to exacerbate the social problems of privilege whereas public schools admit the problem whether or not they properly address it. Homeschooling in capitalist society becomes a practical tool for capitalist indoctrination. Anyway, homeschooling and unschooling ignore something we take for granted with education as a project. I’ll try to get at it below.

Unschooling. Unschooling is a stupid word, in my opinion. Dubious, at least, unschooling is about an ideal pursuit that should sound wonderful to all of us. I get why it’s popular. However, it illustrates to me that people really have been schooled (check it before you wreck it) by bullshit capitalist notions re: individualism, self-reliance, experience, society, and human action, in general. Education, by definition, is removed from “natural life settings”. For fuck sake, thinking is a movement away from the thing being considered. Who the hell are we kidding? Exploration may lead to experience, but education is more than experience. Education is organized and communal experience with a purpose. I explored more than I was supposed to as a traditional public school student. I was encouraged to by my parents. I was encouraged to work at school and in my community but to think for myself and to consider what was going on around me. This is the goal. Homeschooling/Unschooling doesn’t improve the chances that this will happen for any given student. In fact, it purposefully removes students from public discourse, which I believe is the result of ignorance about how the public sphere works. Something about competition here that I would want to flesh out if I were writing at length. Homeschoolers and public schoolers and private schoolers are competing in the public sphere for a kind of legitimacy that lacks an attention to curricula and pedagogy yet attends to capitalist cultural pursuits.

I believe a curriculum is an important part of our education. It accepts that to educate we produce a kind of social space and it insists that we have to cultivate a rhetorical space to consider any social space. Moreover, it insists we do this with others and together. It insists that social difference leads to consensus. Homeschooling/Unschooling is about relieving the conflict that social differences cultivates within classrooms. It lets parents (importantly, not students) off the hook. Home-schooled students remain absent members of a community. I mean to recall being present or being absent here. Public school is a call to be present in many ways to something homeschooling rejects as oppressive and unnecessary, namely public discourse. Nowadays, home-schooled students decry their absence via social networks, where they often share their book knowledge and betray their inexperience.

Schooling. Homeschooling, unschooling and public schooling propose to do the same thing. What, then, is different? I think there’s a dangerous element to unschooling that Newt Gingrich illustrated during his comic campaign to become the next Republican candidate for POTUS. Gingrich insisted that poor, black kids earn their keep at schools so that they could learn to understand the value of labor and money. Super offensive, right? Well, that sort of thinking about what students should do while learning is the backbone of unschooling. Rather than mediated classroom experiences about life and learning, unschooling proposes it can access natural life settings. Gingrich insisted that kids learn in their natural environments and by doing things. It’s a problem for me. Unschooling in a very significant way pretends that behavior can be unregulated but regulated.

I like the notion of a couple of years of homeschooling because I would want my child to have access to specific things as a young learner that I know a public school cannot provide. However, the notion that I can provide a more natural setting for learning than in a classroom is fantastic horseshit and purely political. John Holt famously claimed that unschooling was about allowing children the freedom to learn in the world as much as their parents could bear. Right? Anyone who’s read about this movement knows the statement. Don’t you see the problem with this? It permits what homeschooling always permits: a cultivation of parental comfort we can observe through their children’s studies. Public school embraces this problem, and for all its faults, it insists citizens recognize citizenship. And all my “anarchist” friends are kidding themselves when they talk about smashing the state. We have come to our radical-ized notions about social life and the conditions for our existence within a highly structured social sphere that will not vanish with the traditional state. We will always have a state and that state will have a public.

I was just arguing with a Christian friend on facebook about this. I told her, be religious. I don’t care. But church is for church. Your labor is for the people. I believe that much motivation behind homeschooling/unschooling is to find a way to deny this fact about labor and society.

dagNotes: clarity on my call to act against "hate speech" (Stateless-Crusader)

Yesterday, I wrote two posts in response to S-C’s ridiculous statement about the SOPA-PIPA protests. Here and here.

I noted that libertarianism should not be a shield for white supremacy. I’m not talking just traditional racism. I’m talking eugenics, nativism, nationalism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, white pride. All that backing for what is exceptionalism in white power discourse. All traditional forms of hate speech.

Hate speech is violence, and I mean it when I say I’m in it with both my body and my mind. I will meet hate speech with the appropriate response. I’ve had years of practice.

I think my first antifascist action was chasing four boneheads from a coffeehouse with a chef’s knife. I was 21. I already knew how I felt about it, but had never acted. I was working that night in the kitchen and I heard them trying street punks, if I remember correctly. I decided to be the one to insist they weren’t welcome in our scene. I had had enough. They didn’t come back.

I also regularly rolled racists out of the bar I worked at before grad school. In Denver, the boneheads hide in the rockabilly scene. So, they can blend in. Of course, they always out themselves with their hate speech. There’s nothing like walking up to a loudmouth fascist, tying his arm up behind his back and running him into the door jam on the way out to the street.

What’s with the stories? It’s not to brag. It’s to encourage and to insist. I encourage everyone who reads this, as I encourage everyone I know, to take advantage of our numbers. When a hateful bigot gets vocal, confront the hate. When he or she resists, take that pig out. Humiliate and harm. Nobody is going to get in your way. And these assholes never go to the police. They cannot afford to out themselves for who they are and what they believe. Nobody wants them. Well, except for Ron Paul who is only too happy to profit from their presence.

The call to respond to hate speech with “intellectual” discourse is a problem because it permits the worst elements of white supremacy raison d'etre to mainstream discourse. We can look to history to see the results of permissiveness.

I’m not a fighter, believe it or not. I don’t get into fights. In addition, I’ve been violently mugged. Twice. I’ve experienced the PTSD that results from having a gun held to my gut. I can’t stand violence. I’m not promoting violence. I am promoting responding to a particular kind of violence in an appropriate manner.

I refuse to stand by and watch people hurt by white hate speech and permit fascists to organize without a fight. Tolerance is for suckers.


We’re spending the week being very lazy and visiting places we first went to after meeting each other three years ago. These are from last night. We went to Myeongdong and Namsan Tower. Found two new and kind of hidden places in an alley in the Namsam neighborhood behind The Pacific Hotel. We had surprisingly good cheonggukjang with our samgyeop and then went to a bar and had buchujeon and miyeokguk. I wonder where we’ll go tomorrow and Friday?

dagNotes: obeisance to tradition; abeyance of love.

Always astonished when crass libertarians and devout social conservatives grow angry, impatient, and offended after we challenge their notions about the world we live in. However, the knee-jerk offense betrays a more complex and troubling problem than a refusal to critically think about well known problems and historical events.

On “the world we live in”. I use “we” as opposed to “they” because I accept that we have an actual society in common. The actual commons is something they reject with rank reference to voluntaryism, choice, individualism, privacy, property, and coercion or force. After all, both crass libertarians and conservatives are little more than backward-gazing authoritarians yearning for a return to a fantastic gilded age that has never existed. Their time is without place outside of the published narratives they cherish. Their fantasies spring from a finite source a long ago accounted for number of claims. 

What a dreadful life to lead never believing it necessary to examine the assumptions about what we are asked to accept about everyday life–to read the literature family, colleagues, or friends offer and not once find reason to doubt the claims inscribed within. The horror living each day to labor for an unchosen tradition saying no to anything new, insisting original social difference is alien.

The obeisance to tradition and authority is the abeyance of love. The word “choice” is precise: deferential respect is a form of suspension of being in that its respect for tradition illustrates a dreadful waiting for something to happen, an always waiting for something to occur. It’s the repetition of what has ceased to change, a past moment monumented into cultural imagination–a sterile, unlovable, permanently dying moment.

It’s no wonder social conservatives and crass libertarians persistently mourn the death of history and culture.

Christopher Hitchens RIP

About your death. I know you were suffering from an awful illness. I’m saddened by that. But the immediate and growing response to your death seems to be a well-engineered and continuing coda to your progressive past, like you’ve been slowly dying for over a decade now. It’s dullingly boring death, like a long hangover gets to be boring–that the more awful your claims, classism and white rhetoric got the more people I thought I respected liked you. Almost in spite of themselves, defended you. I suppose this was the gift intellectualism presented you, the ability to win friends and influence people with utter shite rhetoric about culture and science.

And you were a progressive who decided to support a war. That in itself is unforgivable.

I guess “rest in peace” is in order because while alive you certainly did everything you could to justify everything but.