Doubles—Neg vs Wake lw 1NC

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Doubles—Neg vs Wake LW


1nc prison of debate

Their attempt at academic change sustains power’s ability to constrain ANY resistance by turning those victims of power into ghosts. The tradition of liberal citizenship is a ghostly attempt to remember past political struggles that ultimately fetishize movements of the past, especially in academic subculture—this turns the case.

Occupied UC Berkeley 2k9., the necrosocial: civic life, social death, and the UC, nov. 19
Totally managed death. A machine for administering death, for the proliferation of technologies of death. As elsewhere, things rule. Dead objects rule. In this sense, it matters little what face one puts on the university—whether Yudof or some other lackey. These are merely the personifications of the rule of the dead, the pools of investments, the buildings, the flows of materials into and out of the physical space of the university—each one the product of some exploitation—which seek to absorb more of our work, more tuition, more energy. The university is a machine which wants to grow, to accumulate, to expand, to absorb more and more of the living into its peculiar and perverse machinery: high-tech research centers, new stadiums and office complexes. And at this critical juncture the only way it can continue to grow is by more intense exploitation, higher tuition, austerity measures for the departments that fail to pass the test of ‘relevancy.’ But the ‘irrelevant’ departments also have their placeWith their ‘pure’ motives of knowledge for its own sake, they perpetuate the blind inertia of meaning ostensibly detached from its social context.  As the university cultivates its cozy relationship with capital, war and power, these discourses and research programs play their own role, co-opting and containing radical potential.  And so we attend lecture after lecture about how ‘discourse’ produces ‘subjects,’ ignoring the most obvious fact that we ourselves are produced by this discourse about discourse which leaves us believing that it is only words which matter, words about words which matter.  The university gladly permits the precautionary lectures on biopower; on the production of race and gender; on the reification and the fetishization of commodities.  A taste of the poison serves well to inoculate us against any confrontational radicalism.  And all the while power weaves the invisible nets which contain and neutralize all thought and action, that bind revolution inside books, lecture halls. There is no need to speak truth to power when power already speaks the truth.  The university is a graveyardasí es. The graveyard of liberal good intentions, of meritocracy, opportunity, equality, democracy. Here the tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. We graft our flesh, our labor, our debt to the skeletons of this or that social cliché. In seminars and lectures and essays, we pay tribute to the university’s ghosts, the ghosts of all those it has excluded—the immiserated, the incarcerated, the just-plain-fucked. They are summoned forth and banished by a few well-meaning phrases and research programs, given their book titles, their citations.  This is our gothic—we are so morbidly aware, we are so practiced at stomaching horror that the horror is thoughtless.In this graveyard our actions will never touch, will never become the conduits of a movement, if we remain permanently barricaded within prescribed identity categories—our force will be dependent on the limited spaces of recognition built between us.  Here we are at odds with one another socially, each of us: students, faculty, staff, homebums, activists, police, chancellors, administrators, bureaucrats, investors, politicians, faculty/ staff/ homebums/ activists/ police/ chancellors/ administrators/ bureaucrats/ investors/ politicians-to-be.  That is, we are students, or students of color, or queer students of color, or faculty, or Philosophy Faculty, or Gender and Women Studies faculty, or we are custodians, or we are shift leaders—each with our own office, place, time, and given meaning.  We form teams, clubs, fraternities, majors, departments, schools, unions, ideologies, identities, and subcultures—and thankfully each group gets its own designated burial plot.  Who doesn’t participate in this graveyard?

Their argument that making this argument in a debate round actually changes something ignores the coordinates of academic power/knowledge at play in the debate tournament itself which will always commodify their activism to justify the institutional and depoliticizing structure of the activity

Occupied UC Berkeley ‘9., the necrosocial: civic life, social death, and the UC, nov. 19
In the university we prostrate ourselves before a value of separation, which in reality translates to a value of domination.  We spend money and energy trying to convince ourselves we’re brighter than everyone else.  Somehow, we think, we possess some trait that means we deserve more than everyone else.  We have measured ourselves and we have measured others.  It should never feel terrible ordering others around, right? It should never feel terrible to diagnose people as an expert, manage them as a bureaucrat, test them as a professor, extract value from their capital as a businessman.  It should feel good, gratifying, completing.  It is our private wet dream for the future; everywhere, in everyone this same dream of domination.  After all, we are intelligent, studious, young. We worked hard to be here, we deserve this. We are convinced, owned, brokenWe know their values better than they dolife, liberty, the pursuit of happinessThis triumvirate of sacred values are ours of course, and in this moment of practiced theaterthe fight between the university and its own studentswe have used their words on their stages: Save public education! When those values are violated by the very institutions which are created to protect them, the veneer fades, the tired set collapses: and we call it injustice, we get indignantWe demand justice from them, for them to adhere to their values.  What many have learned again and again is that these institutions don’t care for those values, not at all, not for all. And we are only beginning to understand that those values are not even our own. The values create popular images and ideals (healthcare, democracy, equality, happiness, individuality, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, public education) while they mean in practice the selling of commodified identities, the state’s monopoly on violence, the expansion of markets and capital accumulation, the rule of property, the rule of exclusions based on race, gender, class, and domination and humiliation in general.  They sell the practice through the image.  We’re taught we’ll live the images once we accept the practice. In this crisis the Chancellors and Presidents, the Regents and the British Petroleums, the politicians and the managers, they all intend to be true to their values and capitalize on the university economically and socially—which is to say, nothing has changed, it is only an escalation, a provocationTheir most recent attempt to reorganize wealth and capital is called a crisis so that we are more willing to accept their new terms as well as what was always dead in the university, to see just how dead we are willing to play, how non-existent, how compliant, how desirous. Every institution has of course our best interest in mind, so much so that we’re willing to pay, to enter debt contracts, to strike a submissive pose in the classroom, in the lab, in the seminar, in the dorm, and eventually or simultaneously in the workplace to pay back those debts.  Each bulging institutional value longing to become more than its sentiment through us, each of our empty gestures of feigned-anxiety to appear under pressure, or of cool-ambivalence to appear accustomed to horror, every moment of student life, is the management of our consent to social death. Social death is our banal acceptance of an institution’s meaning for our own lack of meaning.  It’s the positions we thoughtlessly enact.  It’s the particular nature of being owned.

The 1ac hopes to awaken consciousness to the needs of black liberation, the question of the negative is where does that awakening take place? In academia? In debate? The silence of the affirmative on this question is problematic—the university structure is not neutral

Harney and Moten 13. Stefano Harney, Professor of Strategic Management Education at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Singapore Management University and a co-founder of the School for Study and Fred Moten, Helen L. Bevington Professor of Modern Poetry at Duke University, “Politics Surrounded,” The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study, pg. 41
Here one comes face to face with the roots of professional and criti- cal commitment to negligence, to the depths of the impulse to deny the thought of the internal outside among critical intellectuals, and the necessity for professionals to question without question. What- ever else they do, critical intellectuals who have found space in the university are always already performing the denial of the new society when they deny the undercommons, when they find that space on the surface of the university, and when they join the conquest denial by improving that space. Before they criticise the aesthetic and the Aes- thetic, the state and the State, history and History, they have already practiced the operation of denying what makes these categories pos- sible in the underlabor of their social being as critical academics.

The slogan on the Left, then, “universities, not jails,” marks a choice that may not be possible. In other words, perhaps more universities promote more jails. Perhaps it is necessary finally to see that the uni- versity produces incarceration as the product of its negligence. Perhaps there is another relation between the University and the Prison – be- yond simple opposition or family resemblance – that the undercom- mons reserves as the object and inhabitation of another abolitionism. What might appear as the professionalization of the American uni- versity, our starting point, now might better be understood as a cer- tain intensification of method in the Universitas, a tightening of the circle. Professionalization cannot take over the American university – it is the critical approach of the university, its Universitas. And in- deed, it appears now that this state with its peculiar violent hegemony must deny what Foucault called in his 1975-76 lectures the race war.

War on the commitment to war breaks open the memory of the con- quest. The new American studies should do this, too, if it is to be not just a people’s history of the same country but a movement against the possibility of a country, or any other; not just property justly distrib- uted on the border but property unknown. And there are other spaces situated between the Universitas and the undercommons, spaces that are characterized precisely by not having space. Thus the fire aimed at black studies by everyone from William Bennett to Henry Louis Gates Jr., and the proliferation of Centers without affiliation to the memory of the conquest, to its living guardianship, to the protection of its honor, to the nights of labor, in the undercommons.

The university, then, is not the opposite of the prison, since they are both involved in their way with the reduction and command of the social individual. And indeed, under the circumstances, more uni- versities and fewer prisons would, it has to be concluded, mean the memory of the war was being further lost, and living unconquered, conquered labor abandoned to its lowdown fate. Instead, the under- commons takes the prison as a secret about the conquest, but a secret, as Sara Ahmed says, whose growing secrecy is its power, its ability to keep a distance between it and its revelation, a secret that calls into being the prophetic, a secret held in common, organized as secret, calling into being the prophetic organization.

Paradoxically their demand for a ballot posits them as the critical intellectual counterinsurgency, worse than the status quo because the 1ac can be held up as an example of the neutrality of debate, allowing more radical theories to be disregarded as “unprofessional.” Remember this every time they claim we have no alternative.

Harney and Moten 13. Stefano Harney, Professor of Strategic Management Education at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Singapore Management University and a co-founder of the School for Study and Fred Moten, Helen L. Bevington Professor of Moden Poetry, “Politics Surrounded,” The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study, pg. 29
Introducing this labor upon labor, and providing the space for its de- velopment, creates risks. Like the colonial police force recruited un- wittingly from guerrilla neighborhoods, university labor may harbor refugees, fugitives, renegades, and castaways. But there are good rea- sons for the university to be confident that such elements will be ex- posed or forced underground. Precautions have been taken, book lists have been drawn up, teaching observations conducted, invitations to contribute made. Yet against these precautions stands the immanence of transcendence, the necessary deregulation and the possibilities of criminality and fugitivity that labor upon labor requires. Maroon communities of composition teachers, mentorless graduate students, adjunct Marxist historians, out or queer management professors, state college ethnic studies departments, closed-down film programs, visa- expired Yemeni student newspaper editors, historically black college sociologists, and feminist engineers. And what will the university say of them? It will say they are unprofessional. This is not an arbitrary charge. It is the charge against the more than professional. How do those who exceed the profession, who exceed and by exceeding es- cape, how do those maroons problematize themselves, problematize the university, force the university to consider them a problem, a dan- ger? The undercommons is not, in short, the kind of fanciful com- munities of whimsy invoked by Bill Readings at the end of his book. The undercommons, its maroons, are always at war, always in hiding.

The maroons know something about possibility. They are the condi- tion of possibility of the production of knowledge in the university – the singularities against the writers of singularity, the writers who write, publish, travel, and speak. It is not merely a matter of the secret labor upon which such space is lifted, though of course such space is lifted from collective labor and by it. It is rather that to be a critical academic in the university is to be against the university, and to be against the university is always to recognize it and be recognized by it, and to institute the negligence of that internal outside, that unas- similated underground, a negligence of it that is precisely, we must insist, the basis of the professions. And this act of being against al- ways already excludes the unrecognized modes of politics, the beyond of politics already in motion, the discredited criminal para-organiza- tion, what Robin Kelley might refer to as the infrapolitical field (and its music). It is not just the labor of the maroons but their prophetic organization that is negated by the idea of intellectual space in an organization called the university. This is why the negligence of the critical academic is always at the same time an assertion of bourgeois individualism.

Such negligence is the essence of professionalization where it turns out professionalization is not the opposite of negligence but its mode of politics in the United States. It takes the form of a choice that excludes the prophetic organization of the undercommons – to be against, to put into question the knowledge object, let us say in this case the university, not so much without touching its founda- tion, as without touching one’s own condition of possibility, with- out admitting the Undercommons and being admitted to it. From this, a general negligence of condition is the only coherent position. Not so much an antifoundationalism or foundationalism, as both are used against each other to avoid contact with the undercom- mons. This always-negligent act is what leads us to say there is no distinction between the university in the United States and profes- sionalization. There is no point in trying to hold out the university against its professionalization. They are the same. Yet the maroons refuse to refuse professionalization, that is, to be against the uni- versity. The university will not recognize this indecision, and thus professionalization is shaped precisely by what it cannot acknowl- edge, its internal antagonism, its wayward labor, its surplus. Against this wayward labor it sends the critical, sends its claim that what is left beyond the critical is waste.

But in fact, critical education only attempts to perfect professional education. The professions constitute themselves in an opposition to the unregulated and the ignorant without acknowledging the unreg- ulated, ignorant, unprofessional labor that goes on not opposite them but within them. But if professional education ever slips in its labor, ever reveals its condition of possibility to the professions it supports and reconstitutes, critical education is there to pick it up, and to tell it, never mindit was just a bad dream, the ravings, the drawings of the mad. Because critical education is precisely there to tell professional education to rethink its relationship to its opposite – by which criti- cal education means both itself and the unregulated, against which professional education is deployed. In other words, critical education arrives to support any faltering negligence, to be vigilant in its negli- gence, to be critically engaged in its negligence. It is more than an ally of professional education, it is its attempted completion.

A professional education has become a critical education. But one should not applaud this fact. It should be taken for what it is, not pro- gress in the professional schools, not cohabitation with the Univer- sitas, but counterinsurgency, the refounding terrorism of law, coming for the discredited, coming for those who refuse to write off or write up the undercommons.

Their activist stance commodifies the experiences of the oppressed they claim to speak for -- this renders their political act meaningless and creates a destructive model of dissent that depends upon authoritarian institutions and imprisons the rhetorical value of the 1ac via commodification that denies the dignity of the represented

James 3. Joy James, Professor of Africana Studies @ Brown “Academia, activism, and imprisoned intellectuals.”,+activism,+and+imprisoned+intellectuals.-a0133368005
Activism is as multidimensional in its appearances as the academy; as academia's alter ego, or problematic twin, it also reflects the best and worst tendencies of the marketplace. When structured by the market, activism is not inherently infused with responsible behavior or compassion. In its push for productivity--more rallies, demos, conferences, meetings--it can lose sight of effective strategies, community, and the importance of young activists exercising decision-making power. To value one's presence, i.e., just showing up for work, class, or demonstrations, over one's preparedness to fully participate in transformational acts is a feature of the crass market (where volume or quantity of a product register more than quality or utility). Likewise, expectations for unquestioning obedience to managerial elites--whether radical instructor or organizer--are also features of the market found in activism and academia. Thus, beyond confronting the social crises and military and ideological wars enacted by the state, we are disturbed, destabilized, and therefore challenged by the commodification of our own educational sites and political movements. The marketplace--as the dominant metaphor and construct--influences our consciousness and regulates our lives to shape both academia and activism. Conformity and compliance, rebellion and resistance, are often channeled through and structured by markets that turn intellect and action into objects for trade and barter in competition for status and acquisition, while making our ideals (freedom and justice) and their representatives (prisoners of resistance) into commodities. Through books, videos, and CDs, political representations are purchased and circulated with the intent of creating greater demand not only for the "product," but also for social justice, release campaigns, opposition to expanding police and military powers, and executions and state violence. For the imprisoned, the possibility of release, or at least remembrance, mitigates their social death in prison (or physical death, as in the cases of MOVE's Merle Africa and former Black Panther Albert Nuh Washington). Academics and activists use the market to highlight the human rights abuses and conditions of the imprisoned, the 2.5 million people locked in U.S. penal institutions, and the perpetuation of torture and slavery through the Thirteenth Amendment. The irony is that commodification is another form of containment. Although Harlow advocates the "activist counterapproach" to consumption, not all activism provides an alternative. Some of it re-inscribes the competition, opportunism, disciplinary mechanisms, and demands for institutional loyalty that characterize the marketplace. Activism or activists, like academia and academics, have their own forms of commerce. At their weakest and most problematic points, they share, in their respective sites, careerism, appropriation, and the assertion of "authoritative" voices. For instance, the "political prisoner-as-icon" can be deployed to minimize or silence external and internal critiques. Editors, translators, and advocates can wield iconic power as surrogates (and in surreal fashion use that proxy against the incarcerated themselves). The structural position that the non-incarcerated possess, a quite valuable commodity, permits the appropriation of voice and new forms of dependencies. Perhaps, the imprisoned use self-censorship not only as a shield against their guards (as Marilyn Buck describes in On Self-Censorship), but also as armor against their allies. Political prisoners have strategies to counter "free" progressives, given that in the social death of the prisoner rebel, the state is not the only entity that has the ability to capitalize on or cannibalize captive bodies. If indeed the political prisoner or imprisoned intellectual can be either "freed" or frozen in academic and/or activist discourse and productivity, then it is essential that academics-activists, students-scholars, directly communicate with political prisoners, as openly as possible given the structural disparities.

Disinvest meaning in the ballot.

Harney and Moten 13. Stefano Harney, Professor of Strategic Management Education at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Singapore Management University and a co-founder of the School for Study and Fred Moten, Helen L. Bevington Professor of Modern Poetry at Duke University, “Politics Surrounded,” The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study, pg. 154
sTefanO: For me, when I use the term ‘abolition,’ I mean it pre- cisely in the opposite way. For me, abolition is both about a kind of acknowledgement that, as Fred says, there’s no repairing or paying back the debt, so you couldn’t really have anything like an abolition of debt. I mean, you could have debt forgiveness, but I would never use the term ‘abolition’ for that meaning. And, secondly, there’s a whole history of debt that is not that history of debt, which doesn’t need to be forgiven, but needs to become activated as a principle of social life. It can become, and already is in many instances activated as something which, precisely as something that doesn’t resolve it- self into creditor and debtor, allows us to say, “I don’t really know where I start and where I end.” This is even my point around the debt between a parent and a child. If it’s really a debt, then that debt that you have is for more than you, it’s not just for you, it passes through you, but it was a generative form of affect between two be- ings that is precisely valuable because it continues in certain kinds of ways. There’s a whole history there, and what abolition means in that case is the abolition of something like credit or measurability or attribution, in a certain way.

fRed: I think this is where that distinction Stefano made between credit and debt is crucial. I think what people may mean, when they talk about the abolition of debt, is the abolition of credit. But they probably don’t even really mean that. What they probably technical- ly mean is forgiveness, which is to say, “we’ll forgive this loan. Now, if you get in debt again, we’re gonna want to get paid, goddamnit.” Whereas, what Stefano is talking about, I think and I concur, is an abolition of credit, of the system of credit, which is to say, maybe it’s an abolition of accounting. It says that when we start to talk about our common resources, when we talk about what Marx means by wealth – the division of it, the accumulation of it, the privatization of it, and the accounting of it – all of that shit should be abolished. I mean, you can’t count how much we owe one another. It’s not count- able. It doesn’t even work that way. Matter of fact, it’s so radical that it probably destabilizes the very social form or idea of ‘one another.’ But, that’s what Édouard Glissant is leading us towards when he talks about what it is “to consent not to be a single being.” And if you think about it, it is a sort of filial and essentially a maternal relation. When I say ‘maternal,’ what I’m implying there is the possibility of a general socialisation of the maternal.

But, what’s at stake, it’s like, man, we went to look at this place yes- terday, because I’ve got my whole commune plan. It’s like ten acres, way out in the woods. And it’s like a barn. The house is falling apart. I don’t think we can do it. But there was this old lady. She and her husband, they built it how they wanted it to be. She was like, “I don’t want to sell,” but she’s 91 and it’s this kind of big old place, she can’t keep up with it. People were telling us, “she owes her son a hundred thousand dollars.” And me and Laura, driving back, we were like, “how you gonna owe your son a hundred thousand dollars? How do you owe a parent a hundred thousand dollars?”That’s some crazy, bar- baric shit. You have to be a barbaric monster to even be able to think of some shit like that. You know what? It’s no more barbaric than ow- ing Wells Fargo Bank a hundred thousand dollars. You think at first glance that it’s barbaric because it appears to violate some sort of no- tion of filial, maternal relation. But, it’s barbaric because it’s a barbaric way of understanding our undercommon-ness. It’s just particularly blatant because it’s a relation between a mother and son. But, if it were a relation between me and Jamie Dimon, it’s still barbaric. And that’s the problem. So, the abolition of credit, the abolition of the en- tire way of looking at the world, which let’s say we can place under the rubric of accounting, or accountability, or accountableness, or some- thing, of calculation in that sense – the abolition of that, in a way that David Graeber thinks about it, but without any kind of sense of a re- turn to some originary state of grace, but instead carrying all of what that history has imposed upon us. Hence this argument about where the autonomists got what they got... You know, I love C.L.R. James, but the shit that we now have under his name, was never his private property. Jazz ain’t black people’s private property. And that doesn’t mean that musicians shouldn’t get paid for what they do, within the context of this shit. What I’m really saying when I say that is: any- body who’s breathing should have everything that they need and 93% of what they want – not by virtue of the fact that you work today, but by virtue of the fact that you are here.
To make micropolitics visible is to coopt it by giving resistance an object – this understanding allows resistance to be framed, to be declared a failure and prevents the immanence of imperceptible politics from coalescing around mundane practices and habitudes of existence
Tsianos et al. ‘8 Vassilis, teaches sociology at the University of Hamburg, Germany, Dimitris Papadopoulos teaches social theory at Cardiff University, Niamh Stephenson teaches social science at the University of New South Wales. “Escape Routes: Control and Subversion in the 21st Century” Pluto Press
In this sense imperceptible politics does not necessarily differ from or oppose other prevalent forms of politics, such as state-oriented politics, micropolitics, identity politics, cultural and gender politics, civil rights movements, etc. And indeed imperceptible politics connects with all these various forms of political engagement and intervention in an opportunistic way: it deploys them to the extent that they allow the establishment of spaces outside representation; that is, spaces which do not primarily focus on the transformation of the conditions of the double-R axiom (rights and representation) but on the insertion of new social forces into a given political terrain. In the previous chapter we called this form of politics outside politics: the politics which opposes the representational regime of policing. Imperceptibility is the everyday strategy which allows us to move and to act below the overcoding regime of representation. This everyday strategy is inherently anti-theoretical; that is, it resists any ultimate theorisation, it cannot be reduced to one successful and necessary form of politics (such as state-oriented politics or micropolitics, for example). Rather, imperceptible politics is genuinely empiricist, that is it is always enacted as ad hoc practices which allow the decomposition of the representational strategies in a particular field and the composition of events which cannot be left unanswered by the existing regime of control. If imperceptible politics resists theorisation and is ultimately empiricist, what then are the criteria for doing imperceptible politics? There are three dimensions which characterise imperceptible politics: objectlessness, totality, trust. Firstly, imperceptible politics is objectless, that is it performs political transformation without primarily targeting a specific political aim (such as transformation of a law or institution, or a particular claim for inclusion, etc). Instead imperceptible politics proceeds by materialising its own political actions through contagious and affective transformations. The object of its political practice is its own practices. In this sense, imperceptible politics is non-intentional - and therein lies its difference from state-oriented politics or the politics of civil rights movements, for example - it instigates change through a series of everyday transformations which can only be codified as having a central political aim or function in retrospect. Secondly, imperceptible politics addresses the totality of an existing field of power. This seems to be the difference between imperceptible politics and micropolitics or other alternative social movements: imperceptible politics is not concerned with containing itself to a molecular level of action; it addresses the totality of power through the social changes which it puts to work in a particular field of action. The distinction between molar and molecular (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, p. 275) has only analytical significance from the perspective of imperceptible politics. In fact imperceptible politics is both molar and molecular, because by being local situated action it addresses the whole order of control in a certain field. Imperceptible politics is located at the heart of a field of power and at the same time it opens a way to move outside this field by forcing the transformation of all these elements which are constitutive of this field. In this sense, imperceptible politics is a driving force which is simultaneously both present and absent. We described this in the previous chapter by exploring the importance of speculative figurations for the practice of escape. On the everyday level of escape (a level we called in this chapter imperceptible politics) speculative figuration can be translated into trust. This is the third characteristic of imperceptible politics; it is driven by a firm belief in the importance and truthfulness of its actions, without seeking any evidence for, or conducting any investigation into its practices. This is trust. Imperceptible politics is driven by trust in something which seems to be absent from a particular situation. Imperceptible politics operates around a void, and it is exactly the conversion of this void into everyday politics that becomes the vital force for imperceptible politics.

Their inevitable “try or die” re-inscribes the status quo’s limited scope of politics by maintaining the duality of forced choices, characterizing the question always as EITHER the aff OR the status quo, which is the same tactic that the current political climate uses to keep dissidents content but only on its own terms. Refuse the choices as offered, demand a third option.

Halberstam 13. Jack Halberstam, professor of English and Director of the Center for Feminist Research at USC, “The Wild Beyond: With and For the Undercommons,” The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study, Minor Compositions, pg. 8
The path to the wild beyond is paved with refusal. In The Undercom- mons if we begin anywhere, we begin with the right to refuse what has been refused to you. Citing Gayatri Spivak, Moten and Harney call this refusal the “first right” and it is a game-changing kind of refusal in that it signals the refusal of the choices as offered. We can under- stand this refusal in terms that Chandan Reddy lays out in Freedom With Violence (2011) – for Reddy, gay marriage is the option that can- not be opposed in the ballot box. While we can circulate multiple cri- tiques of gay marriage in terms of its institutionalization of intimacy, when you arrive at the ballot box, pen in hand, you only get to check “yes” or “no” and the no, in this case, could be more damning than the yes. And so, you must refuse the choice as offered.

Moten and Harney also study what it would mean to refuse what they term “the call to order.” And what would it mean, furthermore, to refuse to call others to order, to refuse interpellation and the re- instantiation of the law. When we refuse, Moten and Harney suggest, we create dissonance and more importantly, we allow dissonance to continuewhen we enter a classroom and we refuse to call it to order, we are allowing study to continue, dissonant study perhaps, disorgan- ized study, but study that precedes our call and will continue after we have left the room. Or, when we listen to music, we must refuse the idea that music happens only when the musician enters and picks up an instrument; music is also the anticipation of the performance and the noises of appreciation it generates and the speaking that happens through and around it, making it and loving it, being in it while lis- tening. And so, when we refuse the call to order – the teacher pick- ing up the book, the conductor raising his baton, the speaker asking for silence, the torturer tightening the noose – we refuse order as the distinction between noise and music, chatter and knowledge, pain and truth.

These kinds of examples get to the heart of Moten and Harney’s world of the undercommons – the undercommons is not a realm where we rebel and we create critique; it is not a place where we “take arms against a sea of troubles/and by opposing end them.” The un- dercommons is a space and time which is always here. Our goal – and the “we” is always the right mode of address here – is not to end the troubles but to end the world that created those particular troubles as the ones that must be opposed. Moten and Harney refuse the logic that stages refusal as inactivity, as the absence of a plan and as a mode of stalling real politics. Moten and Harney tell us to listen to the noise we make and to refuse the offers we receive to shape that noise into “music.”

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