Security/Capital: A General Theory of Pacification (book review)

Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, sites of increasing global inequality and laboratories for new forms of surveillance, policing and security. Yet, unlike our nineteenth century predecessors, deindustrialization has rendered a large part of the world’s population superfluous from the formal labor market, all the while forcing many others to accept low wages and a precarious existence. As capitalist classes scramble to maintain previous rates of profit, security has emerged as both an important political project, and site of conflict for millions whose very existence is closely monitored and surveilled by the various appendages of the security industrial complex. In recent years, George S. Rigakos and other scholars have contributed to a robust Marxist and materialist analysis of security through a critical examination of its role in forging a social order that is conducive to capitalist accumulation. In this process, pacification emerges as an alternative concept to the security project of capitalist elites, which helps us to make sense of how social order is maintained and reproduced. The theme of pacification is taken up in previous collaborative efforts, such as in a special volume of Socialist Studies (2013), select journal articles published by Rigakos, and more recently in his new book Security/Capital: A General Theory of Pacification (Rigakos 2016).

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“We Can Be Here Another Five Hundred Years”: A Critical Reflection on Shiri Pasternak’s Grounded Authority

“To best illustrate her convincing analysis of actually existing jurisdiction, Pasternak asks us to sharpen our metaphorical guillotines — or our skinning knives — to lop off the head of the king, the sovereign, the head of state. What authority proliferates in the absence of this false symbol of power? Surely, in Turtle Island what remains and grows in the absence of the long shadow cast by colonialism are the robust forms of Indigenous legal authority: the enduring, preexisting, and co-developed authorities existing alongside imperial and colonial legalities. But from where does Indigenous authority derive? It certainly does not come from a divine ruler, the sovereign, or the most powerful political and territorial imaginary in history: the nation-state. These realms of “civilization” categorically consign Indigenous peoples to that lawless space where life is, to quote Hobbes, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” A place we can call death. On the other hand, Algonquin political authority, Pasternak powerfully demonstrates, derives from a multiplicity of institutions, individuals, and other-than-human agents that encompass the resilience of Indigenous life in the face of constant erasure, disappearance, and elimination.”

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Paradoxes of Participation: Reflections on Jaskiran Dhillon’s Prairie Rising

by Matthew Chrisler

How does participation in Canadian Reconciliation further the colonial governance of Indigenous peoples? This is the central question of Jaskiran Dhillon’s new monograph, Prairie Rising: Indigenous Youth, Decolonization, and the Politics of Intervention (University of Toronto Press, 2017). Tracing the impact of nonprofit programs focused on intervening in the lives of Indigenous youth trapped in circuits of incarceration and social marginalization, Dhillon provides powerful new evidence for what Indigenous scholars and activists have argued is only a kinder, gentler colonialism.

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“Break Every Chain”: An Engagement with _Break Every Yoke: Religion, Justice, and the Abolition of Prisons_ by Joshua Dubler and Vincent Lloyd

by Joy James –
Spirituality without structure is not easily sustained in hostile, authoritarian environments. Although religions have historically been practitioners of organized predatory violence (the Catholic church’s child abuse scandals come to mind), Break Every Yoke illustrates how we can counter violence with religion that supports resilience and a healthy spirituality to resist: school to prison pipelines, foster care, residential homes for special needs children, detention centers, mental asylums, solitary confinement, death row, political imprisonment and mass incarceration.

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Breaking bricks with George Ciccariello-Maher’s Decolonizing Dialectics: Some friendly engagements and reflections

by Matt Evans

What is to be done? This question centers George Ciccariello-Maher’s new book, Decolonizing Dialectics, which addresses racism and colonialism through the works of Georges Sorel, Frantz Fanon, and Enrique Dussel, channelling Marxism in a praxis grounded in explaining colonialism and local conditions of the non-Western world.

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Diluting Radical History: Blood in the Water and the Politics of Erasure

In this incisive critique, Orisanmi Burton argues that Heather Ann Thompson’s acclaimed book, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising and Its Legacy actively undermines the significance of the rebellion by erasing racial violence from the normal routines of prison life, ignoring key aspects of the rebels’ critique of prisons, and distorting their radical abolitionist politics.

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