COVID-19, Biopolitics and Abolitionist Care Beyond Security and Containment

Photo Credit: Decarcerate PA BY EVA BOODMAN In the first week of May 2020, Darlene “Lulu” Benson-Seay and Andrea Circle-Bear died from COVID-19—the first women known to have died from the virus in prison.[1] Given the unsanitary, crowded, and punishing state of those institutions, …

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“If they come for her child in the morning…”: Detained/Incarcerated Children in the time of COVID-19

Photo Credit: Dignidad Rebelde BY MICHELLE RASCON-CANALES             Institutions detaining unaccompanied refugee minors amount to a million-dollar business model each year and a billion-dollar federal budget. These institutions follow a penal model, are locked away on monitored entry and exit, and have controlled movement …

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When the U.S. Don’t Love You Back: Surviving A Pandemic in A Racist & Xenophobic Society

Photo Credit: Jallicia Jolly & Sadiyah Malcolm By JALLICIA JOLLY To be a person of color and an immigrant in this country is to know its cyclical violence intimately. It is to feel precarity written across your flesh as you embody inequalities. It is …

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Prison Justice Activists in Ontario Shed Light on What Authorities Refuse to Disclose

Decarceration with no reentry plans; lockdowns as social distance; and rapidly spreading infection without protection Photo Credit: Wikipedia BY DANIELLE HURD and HEATHER McKEOWN As concerns surrounding COVID-19 continue, there have been heightened calls for action within Canadian jails, prisons, correctional institutions, and immigration …

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Democracy Against Representation: A Radical Realist View

by Paul Raekstad


In recent years, radical movements from the Arab Spring to Occupy and beyond have been calling for “democracy.” These movements also claim to reject representation—a keystone of many contemporary liberal understandings of democracy. How can we make sense of this? There is ongoing debate about this in these movements and their descendants, part of which consists in figuring out what we should take “democracy” to mean. This article tries to contribute to this process of collective self-clarification by reconstructing one notion of what we could take “democracy” to mean. Thereafter, we will see how we can use this concept to make sense of the critique of representation in many contemporary radical movements and how useful it can be for helping to guide social change and the practices seeking to bring it about. I will thus argue that a coherent conception of democracy can be found, and that it can be a powerful tool both for understanding and critiquing the shortcomings of contemporary societies and for guiding our efforts to overcome them.

Already Something More: Heteropatriarchy and the Limitations of Rights, Inclusion, And the Universal

There have been significant expansions in civil and human rights for queer and trans people, yet systemic power relations that cause violence and harm continue. How might we account for this contradiction? This article examines how this problem does not exist in the “misapplication of rights” but rather in the root connections between heteropatriarchy, settler colonialism, and universal rights. This article argues, by way of engagement with a genealogical inquiry into the colonial disciplining of “civility” through the imposition of the gender binary and heterosexuality, that demands for LGBT inclusion into the sphere of universal protection via rights-based redress is inherently limited because of its colonial construction. This article builds from contemporary queer and trans critique of the mainstream gay rights agenda, and aims to demonstrate that incorporation through the achievement of rights-based inclusion ultimately will not shift the deeper power dynamics of heteropatriarchy within settler colonialism.

Burn it Down: Abolition, Insurgent Political Praxis, and the Destruction of Decency

“Let us burn this motherfucking system to the ground and build something better.”

-Claire Vaye Watkins

In this article, the authors examine the ways in which the state, broadly understood as a technique, practice, and effect of modern governance and its optimization, creates impossible conditions for radical political transformation in the U.S. To illustrate these conditions, the authors show how the state relies upon notions of decency or civility to enact and elide blatant colonialism. The authors draw from the following examples to advance this argument: the “EPA Spill” or the ongoing environmental genocide shaping life across occupied Indigenous lands in the U.S. Southwest; the surprising, yet all too ordinary, election of President Trump; and the racist detainment of children from Central America in the name of humanitarian “law and order.” The authors contend that because these acts illustrate how Euro-American colonial norms continue to shape everyday violence, abolition as a praxis and vision must contend with how to burn down all of the mechanics of contemporary governance, to cooperatively dismantle the state as such, before promoting alternative social systems and political worlds. One way that the authors propose to accomplish this is to incinerate decency as an organizing precept for democracy, civic comportment, and political participation.