Archive | Vol. 14/2021 | No. 3
Loick, Daniel; Thompson, Vanessa E. [Publishing editor]
Editorial: Abolitionist futures
Loick, Daniel; Thompson, Vanessa E.
Cultivating solidarity from the inside-out : abolitionist efforts to trans-gress the prison walls
Incarcerated radical intellectuals elucidate the nature of political struggle and its various arenas. Alongside these writers are solidarity groups that propagate their writings and intellectual products. Through a close reading of Black Communist trans prisoner Alyssa V. Hope’s legal efforts and writings, this article unearths how a pen-pal relationship transformed into a comprehensive abolitionist community. This case study provides an example of how abolitionists are grappling with the need to support the material needs of marginalised communities while still building otherwise possible worlds separate from a failing welfare state. Mutual aid projects, like the one formed by Hope’s supporters, showcase that otherwise possible worlds are not only possible, but they are being created right now before us.
Unruly migrations, abolitionist alternatives
This essay considers how appeals for the abolition of structures of unfreedom, situations of violence and harm, and enduring practices of neglect and dehumanisation are generated through acts of unruly migration. It does so on the basis of a close engagement with a counter-archive of migratory testimonies that was produced during 2015 and 2016 with people who had migrated – or were planning to migrate – across the Mediterranean to Europe. Drawing inspiration from Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s conceptualisation of ‘organised abandonment’, the essay suggests that key dimensions of an abolitionist politics are evident in refusals of the racialised, gendered and classed dynamics of militarism and colonialism that are integral to the border complex. In so doing, it also reflects on alternatives – transformative imaginaries and forms of organising that emerge through what are interpreted as abolitionist acts of migration.
Risky migrants and citizens in need of protection : the transformation of safety on the conjuncture of pandemic and protest
This article examines abolitionist strategies of COVID safety that present alternatives to the logics of racial profiling and risk management that are at the basis of the state’s COVID regulations. As in previous crises, queer, antiracist and other self-organized movements are leading the transformation of safety and the development of new societal visions. This article is grounded in interviews with activists in Berlin that critique a necropolitical COVID policy which treats Black people, migrants and people of colour as infectious rulebreakers – as risks rather than risk groups. This is explored with regard to three media and political debates: the so-called taboo regarding the high number of migrant COVID patients on German ICUs, the vaccination campaign in the so-called hotspots, and the protests against anti-Black racism and to commemorate the victims of the racist mass murder in Hanau (Hesse), which politicians and journalists declared to be superspreader events. Nevertheless, it is on the conjuncture of pandemic and protest that new possibilities of care and of collectivity are arising that open up worlds beyond racial capitalism.
The master’s tools : prefigurative politics and the abolition of violence
van de Sande, Mathijs
In the course of the past decade, radical political theory has seen an increased interest in ‘prefiguration’. Stemming from anarchist and feminist traditions, this idea prescribes a high measure of consistency between the means and ends of revolutionary practice. But what is the place of violence in a prefigurative politics? Does it imply nonviolence as a moral or strategic principle? Or should its practitioners at least be prepared to engage in self-defence? After reconstructing various positions on this matter, this paper seeks to offer an alternative perspective. Rather than to see violence as a means or instrument that one willingly employs in a revolutionary situation, it should instead be understood as a social given: something that is often already implied in such a context. The question, then, is not whether or how prefiguration and violence are compatible, but rather how violence could be dealt with in a prefigurative way.
Can there be non-violent political action?
The text argues for the irreducible violence of the abolition of violence. It aims to show that this is not a paradox, for violence means something else in both instances. We thus need to distinguish between violence and violence: we need a ‘critique of violence’ in the sense that Walter Benjamin has developed it (in his article with this title). The text will sketch a political reading of Benjamin’s distinction between mythic and divine violence by way of his example of education.