Age of no consent

This column appeared in The Gauntlet on March 22, 2012

You have never had consensual sex. The sex you have now is not consensual, nor will you ever have consensual sex so long as you continue to live as you do. Rape, sexual abuse and assault are merely the tip of a sexually violent iceberg. Given the direness of our present circumstances — the inherent barbarism of the social, economic, political, religious, academic and cultural corrals into which we are captured and contained — it is fair to claim that it is impossible for anyone to adequately consent to sexual activity in the present. And what’s most sinister is that we’ve been ‘educated’ to think that all is well. While it may seem harsh or absurd to think that a statement that echoes of the obscene charge that “all sex is rape” could be legitimate, to deny it suggests that one is suffering from a terrible case of false consciousness. We have become numb, no longer capable of feeling the flow of sinister authority that permeates the fabric of our lives. We are incapable of making autonomous and well-informed decisions, incapable of being in touch with ourselves and our own sexualities. We’ve been normalized to sexual violence and the vital force of our erotic passions has been drained, leaving the substance of genuine consent unobtainable.

The issues of consent cut a wide swath of possible discussions in all sorts of fields of interest, but none of them evokes as furious and emotionally infused reactions as the issue of sexual consent does. Clearly we are pressing on sensitive tissue. Dare I say that our nerves are so frayed perhaps because we, at heart, understand that something integral is lacking in our sexualities? That sexuality’s intimate core is missing, or has been stolen? Do we not sense that some grave and grievous injustice is being done in every porn film, night club, brothel, fatherly household or kangaroo rape trial? Yet we don’t face up to this reality, perhaps because we know that the rot exists not only on the periphery — in the porn flicks, whorehouses and violent rapes — but that its roots extend through the entirety of the whole, the bulk of matter, and into our very beds. Must I remind you that most sexual assaults and rapes are perpetrated by friends, family or acquaintances — and if we are finally being honest with ourselves and one another, even when we, men and women the same, tell ourselves that our sexual activity is mutually and genuinely consensual, we are refining our skills of disavowal. The behemoth that is our way of life is thoroughly infected. The laws, the language, the imagery — everything our senses can be imbued with, even one another, has been infused with patriarchy’s dominating, savage values. The same system that allows spliced and splayed ‘women’ to be devoured also liquidates our capacity to make well-informed judgements and to understand and appreciate our own sexualities. We live under the same roof, and eat the same stale, mouldy bread as the whore and rapist do.

We grudgingly accept the old cliche “sex sells,” not because we understand it as ‘truth,’ but because we aren’t allowed to believe anything else. Sex is pleasurable, erotic desire animates our lives; but that doesn’t justify the sort of logic that packages our passions into marketable, measurable and manageable hedons. Even if a seemingly innocuous phrase like “sex sells” contained a nugget of truth (although I don’t know how it would), it has been used against us, inoculating us from birth with a false sense that the hyper-sexualization of our world is an inevitable consequence of ‘human nature,’ of Homo economicus. Or worse, we tell ourselves that sexual violence is an exception, perpetrated by perverts. But we know better. We can do better. The bastions of patriarchy are far from being inevitable consequences of ‘the way things are.’ Walls do fall, whether through lack of upkeep, nature’s wrath or by our own hands. But rather than waiting for the situation to improve or placing our hopes on reform (which, lest we forget, only buries the problem deeper) we ought to take sexual and erotic freedom, and the revolutionary struggle necessary to achieve it, seriously. We must, as Wolfi Landstreicher told us, “ . . . truly allow the expansiveness of passionate intensity to flower and to pursue it where the twisting vine of desire takes it.”

No one wants to admit that their sex life is not and never has been consensual. But there is nothing fantastical and utopian about believing that it is possible to form new ways of life where we congregate with one another as autonomous equals, adequately informed and genuinely in touch with ourselves. Bringing to fruition the way we ought to live — where loving and erotic relationships of infinite variety are legitimately possible — requires overturning and annihilating the destructive order at hand, adopting struggle as a way of life, passionately and incessantly dreaming and doing. Accepting sex’s current non-consensual nature is a bitter pill to swallow, but perhaps it is just the right medicine to cure us of our sexual woes.

Curve appeal

This article appeared in the Gauntlet on March 15, 2012

Females everywhere, rejoice! The cultural arbiters have loosened the shackles and chains, allowing a little more body mass to fit into fashion’s cuffs. Curves and full-figures may finally be welcome in the hallowed halls of fashion, health and beauty. But there are a few conditions: don’t get too curvy, and you damn well better be pretty.

All too often we construct our ideal selves along the lines of the superficial imagery with which we are inundated daily. And while many of us will be somewhat familiar with the inoculating role held by media and advertising — their powerful effect on people’s self-images — far too few of us understand that things can and ought to be different. It pains me to point out the gross problem surrounding the inclusion of ‘full-figured’ models into the fold. Most of us understand that the ‘normal’ from which curvy models are categorized as ‘plus-sized’ (“full-figured,” “extended-sized,” “outsized” or “curvy” as the labels go) is a sick valuation. And yet we find this barbie-look logic and its stigmatizing language around every corner. The emaciated and contorted women splayed out in every film and advertisement are quite far from any serious measure of normalcy. So while it is certainly comforting to finally see a few women with slightly more realistic bodies being showcased, the language and symbols that capture them (and us along with it) do nothing for conceptions of beauty and self-worth, and do nothing to limit the proliferation of rape culture that infects the fabric of society.

From the point of view of the system in which we live it, makes sense to impose the demands of fashion and beauty upon us. As fashion ever changes, so too must our wardrobes. As the stringent demands of beauty and health weigh down upon us, so too must we continue to push our bodies and budgets to their limits. I need not even mention the abhorrent effect that the demands of fashion and beauty have on our psychology and self-worth — after all, we all know more than a few people suffering from eating disorders, performance anxieties, mental body distortions and related varieties of depression. With the expectation on us to achieve the ‘look’ — the toned, well-groomed and well-dressed body, the ‘technologies of the self,’ as it were — we spend our time in gyms, malls and salons. Such pursuits have the appearance of improvement or betterment, but their primary effect is to distract us from the far more important task of genuine personal growth. There is little money to be made off of moral development, as the more one grows and refines the strength of their own presence, the less reliant one is on the exchange of commodities and the systems of submission. Plus-sized doesn’t let any of us off the hook from the system’s coercions, nor does it open up the sufficient space for resistance to its demands, it just tricks us into thinking that something is being done to make the system better.

With the disfigured bodies of both men and women on the cover of every magazine, in every advertisement and in every film, I can sympathize with those who feel hopelessly distressed by the crushing dissonance between appearance and reality. Yet we all have the capacity to shake off the shackles that call our healthy sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers and friends overweight. The inclusion of curvy is, despite our best wishes, not a real start to constructive dialogue. We ought not lay down our guns, nor take our fingers off the trigger. Thinking that plus-sized models are an acceptable start to a genuine metric of health is as disappointing as saying that hate literature and harlequin romances are positive for literacy on the grounds that they get people reading. While the trappings of fashion and beauty’s discourses are certainly immense, creeping into every conceivable corner of our daily experience, the more we develop and learn — enhance ourselves, not our looks — the more we begin to see the possibilities of genuine possibilities. Too much is still at stake for us to consider this change as being anything more than a small skirmish in a brutal war of attrition fought over the meaning of health and well-being.

Against disingenuous community

This column appeared in the Gauntlet on March 8, 2012

Constantly in our ears like cheap linguistic currency is the word ‘community,’ as if each of us instinctively understands the merit of its ceaselessly repeated use, as if each of us are still intimate members, comrades, brothers and sisters of one meaningful togetherness or another. It is the intensity, the vibrancy of life, the density of presence and thought that gives genuine community its critical identity. But, to adapt a phrase from the Invisible Committee: community has everywhere already disappeared.

Continuous effort is made to sell us on the idea that the problems we face in our era — the decay of social and environmental fabrics — stems from an estrangement from communities, as if we accidentally decided to leave them behind once upon a time, and that we ought to pay heed to the various calls for a new coming together. Posted on every telephone pole, newsletter and cafe message board are posters and pamphlets begging us to assemble and reintegrate into this or that community. Are we to accept this call to community without haste? Is community actually a source of meaning or value? No, it is not. Community has become false consciousness in a world long liquidated of all vital forms — genuine community has been replaced with sanitized and homogenized relationships and norms. By accepting the vapid buzzword community we co-opt ourselves into the operations of the organs and apparatuses of domination, into a logic of submission.

Perhaps you consider yourself a member of an authentic community: you and your group share common goals, common language and common values. Perhaps you even see community as being outside of, or subversive to the violent and reductive organs and apparatuses that regulate the fabric of our lives. But none of these associations so calmly dubbed community contains the raw density of life’s vital essence: the heart of genuine community. Even the Occupy movement, which in many ways has been an effort to reestablish genuine community, is under constant threat of having its heart purged of the life-sustaining fluids. Just as porn mutates sexuality into violent obscenity, so too does ‘community’ render genuine forms of the vibrancy of life into disturbing obscenity, making it, as Jean Baudrillard would say, “immediately proffered for view . . . for devouring.”

Accepting the present form of community means, at best, acting out a pseudo-struggle, and at worst, harbouring a complacency to the frameworks and discourses that label, categorize, rape, pillage, reduce, package, market and sell. Furthermore, the boundless growth of different forms of community does not open up the space for authenticity. Rather, it directly corresponds to, as Agamben put it, the boundless growth of apparatuses, the extreme proliferation in the processes of proliferation, in which we living beings are incessantly captured. New types of community does not mean the formation of new freedoms, since that same newness is synonymous with the bulldozing finance-speak of ‘emerging markets.’

It is no longer enough (was it ever enough?) to turn on Pete Seeger’s rendition of Little Boxes while in the company of friends and imagine yourselves to be subversive. After all, there is a line of clothing, eco-friendly garbage, magazines and nicknacks — an entire lifestyle — available for such niche markets.

But the situation is far from hopeless. Genuine community is far from having been made impossible. It is always just beneath the surface, and it’s tiresome trying to continually convince ourselves of the dangers in engaging in anything remotely reminiscent of it. The question of tactics is still open, always open, as the ground is increasingly and incessantly shifting, allowing we clever of minds to act, respond or plan perpendicularities accordingly. If we ever hope to establish genuine forms of community then we must ceaselessly dream, experiment, participate, critically consider and most importantly, act.

The necessity of resistance

 This article appeared in the Gauntlet on January 26, 2012.

Our era has been polluted, perhaps to the point of terminal illness, by the mechanisms and apparatuses of an immense behemoth: the hegemonic totality called Empire. Its machinations are global in scale, and the old alliances and divisions no longer matter. It is no longer east versus west or democracy versus Islam or any other manifestation of this traditional dichotomy, but us versus the system. Whether we live in a so-called liberal democracy or under a military dictatorship, or in an economy of wealth or poverty, we all become sublimated into the dominion of Empire.

Most of us fail to see Empire for what it is: an undesirable, all-encompassing, all-consuming system, whose sole purpose is self-perpetuation at any cost and whose main tactic is pacification of the spirit. Empire seeks to reduce any things and all things to itself. Empire was once simply a cancer, an accidental mutation in the genes of one hegemony or another — but the cancerous lumps were not extracted with enough speed or precision, and now the cancer is an organism in its own right.

The organs of the organism of Empire twist and turn to produce the acidic slime that corrodes all things external, all things still dense with the intensity of life. We are left with a numbness of mind, an ultra-personalization that has bankrupted the soul, a pathological ‘individuality’ that endlessly reticulates us into the horror of sameness. And thus we find ourselves consumed and contained in the bio-political tissue of Empire.

Empire is undesirable — this is no longer open for debate. The important question is how can we annihilate Empire? What is to be done? How is it to be done? When we try to fix, reform, better Empire, all we do is make its apparatuses and organs more sensitive and supple, that is, more efficient in the constant liquidation of all alternative vitalities. We must annihilate Empire. The worry is that Empire’s enormousness, all-pervasiveness and the efficiency of its organs and apparatuses have made subversion impossible. As soon as alternative space is born — that a density of essential vitalities forms — Empire infiltrates it, its values are corroded, its terminology and turns of phrase are reduced to slogans and bumper stickers.

But subversion is not impossible; insurrection, so long as synapses are still capable of making new connections, is always possible, no matter how thin the hope. If Empire were capable of eradicating all forms of subversion, all opportunities for alternatives, then the organs and apparatuses of Empire would become obsolete, the gears and guts would grind to a halt and the human spirit would die.

We must adopt resistance as a way of life. We must be sensitive to the ebb and flow of Empire’s bio-political tissue. It is only through being perceptive to their subtle movements that one can ever create a space for subversion, and, when the moment is right, to command insurrection. We must sharpen the blades of our critical thought. One ought to be like Marx and Engels’s shopkeeper, who understands that there is a difference between what a person says and who a person is, between Empire’s appearances and Empire’s reality. We need a mental toolkit capable both of digging deep beneath the surface, and when necessary, to dissect with the utmost precision. We need a will-to-action that keeps us from passivity. The machinations of Empire have convinced us that lifestyle is bought and sold  — one needs merely to shop at the right stores to be the person they wish to be. This trick performed by Empire has led so many into passivity and sameness, into the pathological horror of ‘individuality.’ What is needed is a willingness to act.

All previous strategies of resistance have been consumed or are in the process of being consumed by Empire, but this is not a point of distress. There’s no pre-conceived formula for successful subversion beyond simple ‘doing,’ and thus there is limitless possibility for the creation of legitimate alternatives in the face of Empire. We need not digest the metaphysical baggage of our revolutionary forefathers. That is, we are without maps, or, at least, the maps we have been given are of no value to us any longer, giving us the full capacity to set sail and chart radical, new geographies. There is no such thing as being too weak or being too remote to resist Empire, as its limbs operate everywhere on all levels, and every effort is crucial. The possible expressions of resistance — the promotions of provocation — are limitless, so long as something rather than nothing is being done. It is useless to wait for the revolution to come or for Empire to destroy itself. Empire must just be opposed outright and at every opportunity.

We must establish a density of place — of vitality, capable of resistance to the global manager/administrator that is Empire. We must take seriously the words of Tiqqun: “Presence triumphing through theft, fraud, crime, friendship, enmity, conspiracy. Through the elaboration of modes of life that are also modes of struggle. Politics of taking-place. Empire does not take place. It administers absence through a hovering threat of police intervention. Whoever tries to measure up against the imperial adversary will be preventively annihilated. From now on, to be perceived is to be defeated. Learn to become indiscernible. Blend in. Revive the taste for anonymity, for promiscuity. Renounce distinction in order to evade repression: arrange for the most favorable conditions of confrontation. Become crafty. Become pitiless. To do so, become whatever.”

Empire may be an all-encompassing and all-consuming system, but subversion and the creation of alternative spaces — new densities of vitality through ‘whatever’ — is not only a possibility, but a necessity.

Of eschatological concern

This column appeared in the Gauntlet on Jan. 11, 2012

On New Year’s eve, drink in hand — as the clock geared itself towards 2011’s terminal moment — I found myself on the deck of the tallest penthouse in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, peering out on the sprawling beach city down below. Having grown weary from the inane smalltalk around me, I escaped my fellow bourgeoisie party-goers for the open air. As I watched the beach party below a fragment of conversation drifted out from the party behind me: “Well, the Mayan calendar ends this year . . .” A mere gust of words, but my mind took sail.

Many of us are familiar with the 2012 end-of-the-world scenario, wherein various astronomical, astrological, numerological, mythic and archaic phenomena have been interpreted  to strongly suggest that the end of this year is the end of all years, whether through utter catastrophe or deeply transformative events. And while scientists and scholars the world over have heavily invested themselves in attacking and deconstructing the 2012 mythos that your hippy aunt rants about every family get-together, I suggest that we ought to give it some serious consideration. After all, the world is at stake.

Eschatology, the ‘study of the end,’ ought to cause concern in every one of us. While the Mayan calendar predictions are most likely pseudo-intellectual garbage in the vein of Nostradamus or Ayn Rand, there should be no doubt in each of our minds that something deeply worrying is unfolding across the globe. Philosopher Slavoj Žižek has warned us that the domination of global capitalism that we embarrassingly tolerate has brought the world right to the edge of total catastrophe. The four horsemen of Žižek’s apocalyptic vision are ecology (impending ecological catastrophes), economy (the global financial meltdown), biology (the biogenetic revolution and its impact on human identity) and society (social divisions leading to the explosion of protest and revolutions worldwide.)

But we don’t need to face this fatalistic alignment with resignation, as the Second World War propaganda maxim “keep calm and carry on” would tell us. These end of days are an opportunity to transform the world. We can treat Žižek’s prescription of global catastrophe as a call to arms, not an admittance of defeat. The late Terrence McKenna — psychedelic-scientist extraordinaire — informed us in his 1975 book, The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching, that certain patterns of ‘novelty’ underlay historic events, reaching a ‘zero point’ [extreme point] of novelty sometime by the end of this year. McKenna wasn’t interested in treating the 2012 phenomenon with a pessimistic/apocalyptic bent, but as a point of radical evolution or transformation of global consciousness — a sort of planetary awakening that would have the potential to give birth to the sort of world we presently only dream of.

You don’t need to believe that an ancient Mesoamerican society presciently predicted that the planet Nibiru will collide with Earth come Dec. 21, 2012, but you ought to realize the severity and seriousness of the situation. This end of times need not be a zero-point of devastation, but a chance to make things right, and give birth to a new society, a new consciousness, a new world.

But for such a vision to be realized we need to remember Paul Goodman: “The solution of this issue is easy, easy in theory, easy in practice . . . direct action.” No more keeping calm. No more carrying on. It’s time to act.

I left the party just before midnight. Slightly intoxicated, I wandered to the beach. There in the sand, surrounded by euphoric strangers, I listened to the countdown, then watched as fireworks erupted all across the city, beach and sea — the light flooded the skies from every conceivably corner of the city. I felt the cool of the surf wash up over my feet.

Of mythic bootstraps

 This article appeared in the Gauntlet on Dec. 1, 2011.

     You did not get to university, nor got through university, nor achieved the success you have on account of your hard work and determination, and if you think you did then you’ve convinced yourself of one of our society’s most vicious, false and damaging lies. Shame on anyone who convinces himself or herself of the self-serving bias of self-driven-success.

The old adage, ‘to pull oneself up by one’s own bootstraps’, was once a hilarious metaphor used to mock those who had convinced themselves that their success in life could be attributed to their own labours and grit, and not the fortunate circumstances in which they existed. Somewhere down the line, as threads of history twisted, swelled and pulsed, the metaphor came to be thought of as a witty observation on the ‘true capacities of man,’ a metaphor encapsulating the misleading rugged individualism, and not the blatant falsity that its underlying meaning reveals it to be. Bootstrap-style arguments are guilty of the bias of self-made-success, echoing the sorts of fictional stupidities of self-determination that you’d find in one of Ayn Rand’s harlequin romances.

Yes, I’ve worked hard, and yes, many others work hard too (that said, I’m slightly perturbed at the number of suburban kids claiming that their job at the mall is hard work), but success is determined by one’s economic base and not how obsessively individualistic one can be. I consider myself quite successful relative to my peers and to many of the people I grew up with, but that success is not and should not be predicated on some absurd rugged individualism. The moral and financial support I received from family and friends, the strong ethics reinforced by my community, the fortunateness that I was born handsome, athletic and charismatic, and the level of economic stability and opportunity afforded to a white male like myself in North America are the key factors to the degree of success I’ve achieved.

No amount of personal anecdotes about one’s suffering, striving, balancing of budgets, juggling of jobs or pure determination and effort lends any support towards the idea that success is self-created. Rather, such anecdotes reveal that the giver of personal fantasies of self-created prosperity is mired deep within a complex delusion of individualized grandeur, and have failed to approach themselves and the world with any degree of critical thought or humility.

Take, for example, the following two real anecdotes. The first is from someone who, for the sake of avoiding embarrassing her, we will call Sam. It is a prime example — echoed by countless numbers of people across North America — of the fantasy of self-made prosperity:
“I’ve paid for everything myself since I was 14. My car, my education, my rent, it’s all paid for through my hard work. Considering the fact that I had nothing to show for myself other than my grades, I didn’t play on sports teams and I wasn’t part of school teams. I have multiple disadvantages against me, and to be honest, half the time I’m surprised that I didn’t end up committed rather than in an institute of higher education. I work at a fucking shoe store for less than minimum wage plus commission (which most of the time still leaves me at less than minimum wage) and I’ve cut out all necessities that I don’t deem necessary in order to pay my bills, yet for some reason I still fail to see the point of stomping around screeching bullshit and blaming the banks and ceos who worked just as hard as anyone else to get to where they are. My dad is the manager of an oil company. Do I blame him and his colleagues for the fact that I can’t afford cable and right now I work a shit job in order to pay my bills? No. I don’t.”

The second anecdote, from Christian Louden (real name) is an excellent example of a thoughtful and honest vision of one’s own successes:
“I (more or less) dropped out of junior high, lied about my age to get a job, and helped support my family at the age of 14. I later went on to graduate from high school, and eventually university, thanks to student loans.
Hard work did not save me, luck did. I’m lucky my situation wasn’t worse, I am lucky I had friends and family to support me, I am lucky I was born white and male in one of the wealthiest cities in Canada. There are people who work much harder than I do, and they don’t get shit.”

Many of us work hard, many of us show determination. Some of us will succeed, some will not. The point is that we are not born in a vacuum, nor do we exist in one. Success is not created ex nihilo. We are born into an incredibly fortunate society, and to claim it was one’s own hard work that brought about one’s successes is to blind one self in ignorant and arrogant fantasy. The appropriate response to the amount of success and privilege our society has afforded us is first to give appropriate respect where it’s due; and second, to address why other people — those at the fringes of our society (like aboriginal peoples or those condemned to poverty) and those in impoverished conditions across the globe — don’t have access to the sorts of opportunity we do. Hard work and determination are powerful values that rightly ought to be prevalent throughout society, but don’t make the mistake of leading yourself to believe that people become poor or rich on account of laziness or laboriousness — the circumstances of success are intricately tied to economic and social fortune, and are too complex to be reduced as such. Any bootstrapper/rugged individualist who would do so is as simple-minded as their arrogant simplification.

In the interests of promoting critical thought and intellectual honesty, I urge all people to recognize that this arrogant and misleading myth, that success is predicated on hard work, that one can ‘lift themselves up by their own bootstraps,’ ought to be annihilated.

“I hate the indifferent . . .”

This article appeared in the Gauntlet on Nov. 24, 2011.

The preeminent cultural critic Antonio Gramsci matter-of-factly pointed out that the most significant hindrance to social betterment is neither corrupt corporate/bourgeois government nor looming fascism. Rather, the most sizeable obstruction keeping society from realizing higher potentials is the menacing force that is indifference. Gramsci states:
“I hate the indifferent . . . Indifference and apathy are parasitism, perversion, not life . . . The indifference is the deadweight of history. The indifference operates with great power on history. The indifference operates passively, but it operates. It is fate, that which cannot be counted on. It twists programs and ruins the best-conceived plans. It is the raw material that ruins intelligence. That what happens, the evil that weighs upon all, happens because the human mass abdicates to their will; allows laws to be promulgated that only the revolt could nullify, and leaves men that only a mutiny will be able to overthrow to achieve the power.”

I too hate the indifferent.

We, as university students in the 21st century, have an unprecedented amount of potential laid out before us. We are inundated with information. We have immediate, instant and often limitless access to any event unfolding anywhere on globe. The tools for enacting change that are available to us are greater than ever before. The level of stability and the privileges that many of us are afforded give us amounts of leverage, mobility and general freedom that few people in history have ever been witness to. And yet most of us do nothing. We are all aware, or at least have the time, energy and resources to make ourselves aware, of the crises manifesting themselves both home and abroad.

We know that other nations, geographies, cultures and people have been systematically raped and pillaged by the hands of our governments and the corporations for whom we work. We know that here in Canada our government has lost accountability. We know that our banking system, which is based on the same principles as the now broken American banking system, has burdened our society with more debt than we could ever hope to reconcile. We know we extract resources in a highly unsustainable manner. We know that most institutions exist to make profit, not to benefit people’s well-being. We know that proper political representation has become a farce. We know that racism is as alive and violent as ever. We know we’ve built our homes on land stolen from the aboriginal peoples, and that we continue to subjugate them. We know our food and water supply is poisoned. We know that our system of exchange embodies the logic of a cancer cell. We know that the education we are receiving is losing its value exponentially — that barely any of us who manage to graduate will be hirable in the near future. We know that media delivers information that is filtered through the lens of corporate and political agendas. We know that our communities are fragmented. We know that our system condemns people to poverty or to the streets. We know freedom of speech is at risk of going extinct. We know people go hungry. We know people are denied basic human dignity. But we’ve forgotten that it is the duty of each and every one of us to face the encircling storm. We are struck with, as Slajov Žižek said, “such a blindness, such a violent gesture of refusing-to-see, such a disavowal-of-reality, such a fetishistic attitude of ‘I know that things are horrible [everywhere] . . . but I nonetheless believe [in the system].’”

There is no valid excuse for looking at the world’s situation and responding with indifference. It is not enough to wait until things are finally so bad that we can no longer possibly continue — which is the failed logic of those, like so many amongst us, who only dream of potentials, of brilliant future histories, rather than realizing them. Or is it the case, rather, that even the imaginations of the many have also become indifferent?

Each and every one of us must realize that we are utterly accountable to ourselves, to one another and to the world as a whole. No one gets off the hook. We are waging a new war against the system of injustices — with only one goal in mind: annihilation. Indifference is what holds us back. But, at least, I am here, as Tiqqun proclaimed, to “[alert] the stoned citizenry that if they don’t join in the war they are at war all the same . . .”