These are the moments in which another world becomes possible: Lisa Guenther on Abolition

Tennessee Students and Educators for Social Justice, Rally to Stop Executions, September 15, 2014 (Photo by Luke Myers)

Abolition is both a negative process of dismantling oppressive structures and a positive process of imagining, creating, and sustaining the sort of relationships, practices, and institutions that would make oppressive structures obsolete.

Abolition is not a telos, if by telos one means the end of a process that is eventually completed, once and for all. It is not an eschaton, if by eschaton one means a redemptive end-state beyond history and politics. But there may be a sense of weak messianism, an eschatological opening to the otherwise in the midst of the everyday, that expresses the ethical and political temporality of abolition.

These are the moments in which another world becomes possible: beyond prisons, beyond slavery, beyond white supremacy. They are the hinges on which social movements turn, the point when something clicks: I get it.  Nothing can be the same again. We have work to do.

In these moments, abolition is already happening–has already happened–but the work of abolition still remains to be repeated, reclaimed, and refigured.

Abolition is a collective practice of sense-making and sense-breaking; it is both an interpretation of the world and its restructuring.  In other words, it is the critical-revolutionary work of philosophy.

—Lisa Guenther

[This post is part of a series of “Abolition Statements” from members of the Abolition Journal Collective and Editorial Review Board. See here for a brief introduction to these posts.]