1 July 2013

Quote of the day, yay!

"There's a contradiction on the right in this tendency to both ideologically propose one kind of traditional bourgeois-style family while at the same time undermining its conditions of possibility through neoliberal state policy and so on.


This is one of the promises of one strand of communist thought – that a different social organisation could bring into being a form of life that will enable us to bear the irrevocable disaster of our unhappiness, that it will give credence to our striving for happiness, that it will generalize the heroic and disperse it into everyday life, although I am myself generalizing hopelessly here. These inaccurate conflations are always happening at the level of the individual, so that for one person the detonation of a series of bombs on public transport is bound up with the start of a relationship, or for another the tail-end of the Cold War coincides with their father's death, and so on. How do these convergences become available to others? How do they become available to thought or to politics?


Mental illness may be the wrong framework in which to understand the depression and suicide of for example someone who has recently lost their job and can't foresee any way to continue living their life. Perhaps this so-called depression is not a pathological symptom but an accurate and proportionate reaction to real circumstances. What does the medical word 'depression' do to our understanding of that circumstance?


We could see from both points of view: that capitalism is misery and against misery we should aim our anarchic joy, OR that capitalism is enforced happiness and against this happiness we should raise our righteous misery.


We were alarmed by a tendency to replace class analysis with an analysis of misery, so that people who felt inexplicably burdened by the fact of their more or less bourgeois background would offer up examples of unhappy incidents in their lives as if this in itself proletarianized them. We wondered if it was politically meaningful that the rich are also unhappy, though we speculated that the rich may be, statistically speaking, less unhappy than the poor. We were aware that in conflating 'happiness' and 'mental health' we were running the risk of naturalizing not only one but two problematic concepts. We were aware that our way of speaking was in some ways self-pathologizing."

-- Hannah Black, 'On post-Fordism and mental health', talk for Auto Italia's Immaterial Labour Isn't Working project, 4 May 2013


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