Reading, summary notes

For Wednesday, read part 3 of “Revolution in Reverse” (“on alienation”).

Also, here are the notes we put on the e-board today (with a little more explanation):

Graeber, part 2:
1. Violence is a form of human interaction that allows for influence on the other without understanding of the other. 

2. Violence is contrasted with “interpretive labor”: the work of trying to put yourself in other peoples shoes. Interpretive labor requires the exercise of the imagination — we have to imagine how things look from another’s perspective.

3. Here are some situations that show the relationship between violence and interpretive labor:

Situation 1: peaceful society (no real threats of violence). Here, people must engage in interpretive labor in order to get one another to do things.

Situation 2: one side has weapons. This gives them the ability to not engage in interpretive labor, and to ignore the perspective of others. They can simply boss them around with threats.

Situation 3: both sides armed. Now a different kind of Interpretive labor is required, that of military strategy — getting inside the mind of your opponent.

Situation 4: one side overwhelmingly armed. Here, there is unlikely to be overt violence, because if those without weapons rose up, they would simply be crushed. But those in power still have no need for interpretive labor — they can boss the others around without understanding their lives. The point, though, is that there is concealed violence in this situation — structural violence (like race, gender, or class oppression).

4. “structural violence” leads to “lopsided structures of imaginative identification.” Those on top can remain oblivious o the experience of those on the bottom; those on bottom spend a lot of time thinking about and even caring about those on top.

5. Structural violence is often codified through bureaucracy – it is made to look like it is simply the rules. But, any attempt to directly challenge those rules will bring, usually, police. From this perspective, police  are the representatives of the structural violence. 


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