Wall Street, War Street

HARDT Wall Street, War StreetThe latest issue of Tidal:Occupy Theory, Occupy Strategy (open access online) includes a brief (two-page) article by Michael Hardt that offers a sharp reminder:

‘To organize against the debt society in the US today we have to find a way also to challenge the war machine.  The war business is a permanent profit maker for Wall Street… War funds are raised primarily through debt.  So when you hear about troop withdrawals from Iraq or Afghanistan, don’t be fooled into thinking that war is yesterday’s issue or that the US war machine is declining or that you can expect a peace dividend next year. The United States is engaged in a “long war,” a seemingly permanent military project for which Osama Bin Laden or Al Qaeda or the Taliban or Saddam Hussein temporarily serve as the prime targets but are really stand-ins for a more vaguely defined enemy and much broader objectives.’ 

Hardt identifies three drivers (or ‘logics’) of the war machine – imperialist, neo-liberal and humanitarian – that will be familiar to most readers (at least in this capsule – pod? – form).  He concludes:

‘There are many reasons to oppose the US war machine, with its complex of military and security operations, installations, and institutions. It is a killing machine, a racist machine, a misery machine, and much more. It’s also a debt machine, and thus perhaps, when engaged together with other contemporary issues posed by debt, a movement can also begin to erode the foundations for our seemingly permanent state of war.’

What interests me is not simply the neoliberal ‘logic’ pursued by our masters of war – and Jamie Peck‘s work surely shows that we need to be assiduous in unpacking its multiple logics and (trans)formations – but also the way in which it reaches deep into the practices of military violence.  We need to expose not only the ‘business of war’ – the parasitic synergies between advanced militaries and the corporations of the international arms industry (‘Big Arma‘), and the deadly embrace between advanced militaries and the private contractors to whom more and more tasks are outsourced – but also the ways in which (at least since the days of McNamara’s ‘technowar’) advanced militaries have increasingly internalized the language, models and metrics of the Corporation. Fans of Joel Bakan will know why I use the capital – I’m talking about more than PowerPoint.

Security and development

Stability coverMany readers will already know of Taylor & Francis’s Conflict, security and development and perhaps of Oxford’s Journal of conflict and security law  (whose recent issue focuses on Cyberwar and International Law and includes time-limited open access articles from Mary Ellen O’Connell and Michael Schmitt, who have made prominent – and different! – contributions to the current debate over drones).

Now there’s a new entrant to this rapidly expanding field. Started late last year, Stability: international journal of security and development is available on open access here; the journal publishes contributions on a continuous basis, grouped into two issues at the end of May and the end of November.  The international editorial board includes Mary Kaldor.

Contributions to the second issue have now started to appear.  The editors write:

Stability: International Journal of Security & Development is a fundamentally new kind of journal. Open-access, it publishes research quickly and free of charge in order to have a maximal impact upon policy and practice communities. It fills a crucial niche. Despite the allocation of significant policy attention and financial resources to a perceived relationship between development assistance, security and stability, a solid evidence base is still lacking. Research in this area, while growing rapidly, is scattered across journals focused upon broader topics such as international development, international relations and security studies. Accordingly, Stability’s objective is to foster an accessible and rigorous evidence base, clearly communicated and widely disseminated, to guide future thinking, policymaking and practice concerning communities and states experiencing widespread violence and conflict.

The journal will accept submissions from a wide variety of disciplines, including development studies, international relations, politics, economics, anthropology, sociology, psychology and history, among others. In addition to focusing upon large-scale armed conflict and insurgencies, Stability will address the challenge posed by local and regional violence within ostensibly stable settings such as Mexico, Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia and elsewhere.

Stability is an open-access and peer-reviewed journal. It cultivates research and informed analysis and makes it available free of charge and without the delays commonly encountered in traditional journal publishing.  Stability’s content combines the best of academic research with insights from policy-makers and practitioners in order to have a tangible and timely impact.  The journal features research into those interventions, including stabilisation, peacekeeping, state building, crime prevention, development cooperation and humanitarian assistance, which address conflict, criminality, violence and other forms of instability.

I’m interested in the content, obviously, but also in the continuing search for new platforms that seek to reach wider audiences than conventional academic journals.

Political concepts

A new edition (in fact the second) of Political concepts, an online magazine, includes – among many other fine things – essays by Susan Buck-Morss on Civilization, Ariella Azoulay on Revolution, Hagar Kotef on Movement and Uday Mehta on Violence.

The first edition included Ann Laura Stoler on Colony (a must-read, dazzling combination of economy and brilliance) and Adi Ophir on Concept (a characteristically artful, original and lapidary contribution).

Buck-Morss Civilization

The editors explain the project like this:

Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon is a multidisciplinary, web-based journal that seeks to be a forum for engaged scholarship. Each lexical entry will focus on a single concept with the express intention of resituating it in the field of political discourse by addressing what has remained unquestioned or unthought in that concept. Each entry will serve as a short defining essay for a concept. Through their argumentative strategies and employment of the concept in question, entries will aim to reconfigure a concept, rather than take for granted the generally accepted definitions of that concept or the conclusions that follow from them.

Political Concepts does not predetermine what does or does not count as a political concept. Our aim is to expand the scope of what demands political accounting, and for this reason we welcome essays that fashion new political concepts or demonstrate how concepts deserve to be taken as politically significant. It is our view that “politics” refers to the multiplicity of forces, structures, problems, and orientations that shape our collective life. Politics enters the frame wherever our lives together are staked and wherever collective action could make a difference to the outcome. As no discipline possesses an hegemony over this critical space, we welcome submissions from all fields of study.

We consider Political Concepts to be “a critical lexicon” because each contribution resituates a particular aspect of political meaning, thereby opening pathways for another future—one that is not already determined and ill-fated. The term “critical” in our title is also meant quite literally: Political Concepts is a forum for conversation and constructive debate rather than the construction of an encyclopedic ideal. Each entry will therefore be appended by a curated Replies section that will be updated frequently in order to maintain an ongoing exchange.

I suspect this is – or rather ought to be – the model for any future dictionaries of geography…

More to the point, though, there is now such a wealth of these online platforms that it seems clear that more and more of us want to engage with audiences beyond disciplinary boundaries and beyond the academy altogether – look, for example, at berfois, books & ideas, fast capitalisminterstitial, laterallimn, or warscapes – and that, as we become dissatisfied with conventional modes of publishing (and their often grotesque marketing models) and with ill-designed, textist forms of presentation, the death-knell of the old-style (not even retro) academic journal is sounding loud and clear.

Cultural (twists and) turns

Special issue of Theory, culture and society 29 (2012) on Topologies of Culture:

Celia Lury, Luciana Parisi and Tiziana Terranova, Introduction: The Becoming Topological of Culture

Peter Sloterdijk, Nearness and Da-sein: The Spatiality of Being and Time

Rob Shields, Cultural Topology: The Seven Bridges of Königsburg, 1736

Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson, Between Inclusion and Exclusion: On the Topology of Global Space and Borders

Penelope Harvey, The Topological Quality of Infrastructural Relation: An Ethnographic Approach

Mike Michael and Marsha Rosengarten, HIV, Globalization and Topology: Of Prepositions and Propositions

Evelyn Ruppert, The Governmental Topologies of Database Devic

Steven D. Brown, Memory and Mathesis: For a Topological Approach to Psychology

Luciana Parisi, Digital Design and Topological Control

Richard Rogers, Mapping and the Politics of Web Space

Xin Wei Sha, Topology and Morphogenesis

Brian Rotman, Topology, Algebra, Diagrams

Scott Lash, Deforming the Figure: Topology and the Social Imaginary

Noortje Marres, On Some Uses and Abuses of Topology in the Social Analysis of Technology (Or the Problem with Smart Meters)

Matthew Fuller and Andrew Goffey, Digital Infrastructures and the Machinery of Topological Abstraction