Neg 1NC’s 1NC: Afro-Pessimism (remembrance)

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Afro-Pessimism – Neg lab DD


(notes would be inserted here)



1NC: Afro-Pessimism (remembrance)

The 1AC’s use of the state as an ethical actor re-enforces the antagonism of blackness in white civil society - this whitewashes anti-black violence and re-enforces the racist power-structures that render the USFG coherent

Wilderson, 03 (Frank, “Gramsci's Black Marx: Whither the Slave in Civil Society” an American writer, dramatist, filmmaker and critic. He is a full professor of Drama and African American studies at the University of California, Irvine. Pp. 6-8, AF)

The value of reintroducing the unthought category of the slave, by way of noting the absence of the Black subject, lies in the Black subject’s potential for extending the demand placed on state/capital formations because its reintroduction into the discourse expands the intensity of the antagonism. In other words, the slave makes a demand, which is in excess of the demand made by the worker. The worker demands that productivity be fair and democratic (Gramsci's new hegemony, Lenin's dictatorship of the proletariat), the slave, on the other hand, demands that production stop; stop without recourse to its ultimate democratization. Work is not an organic principle for the slave. The absence of Black subjectivity from the crux of marxist discourse is symptomatic of the discourse's inability to cope with the possibility that the generative subject of capitalism, the Black body of the 15th and 16th centuries, and the generative subject that resolves late-capital's over-accumulation crisis, the Black (incarcerated) body of the 20th and 21st centuries, do not reify the basic categories which structure marxist conflict: the categories of work, production, exploitation, historical self-awareness and, above all, hegemony. If, by way of the Black subject, we consider the underlying grammar of the question What does it mean to be free? that grammar being the question What does it mean to suffer? then we come up against a grammar of suffering not only in excess of any semiotics of exploitation, but a grammar of suffering beyond signification itself, a suffering that cannot be spoken because the gratuitous terror of White supremacy is as much contingent upon the irrationality of White fantasies and shared pleasures as it is upon a logic—the logic of capital. It extends beyond texualization. When talking about this terror, Cornel West uses the term “black invisibility and namelessness” to designate, at the level of ontology, what we are calling a scandal at the level of discourse. He writes: [America's] unrelenting assault on black humanity produced the fundamental condition of black culture -- that of black invisibility and namelessness. On the crucial existential level relating to black invisibility and namelessness, the first difficult challenge and demanding discipline is to ward off madness and discredit suicide as a desirable option. A central preoccupation of black culture is that of confronting candidly the ontological wounds, psychic scars, and existential bruises of black people while fending off insanity and selfannihilation. This is why the "ur-text" of black culture is neither a word nor a book, not and architectural monument or a legal brief. Instead, it is a guttural cry and a wrenching moan -- a cry not so much for help as for home, a moan less out of complaint than for recognition. (80-81) Thus, the Black subject position in America is an antagonism, a demand that can not be satisfied through a transfer of ownership/organization of existing rubrics; whereas the Gramscian subject, the worker, represents a demand that can indeed be satisfied by way of a successful War of Position, which brings about the end of exploitation. The worker calls into question the legitimacy of productive practices, the slave calls into question the legitimacy of productivity itself. From the positionality of the worker the question, What does it mean to be free? is raised. But the question hides the process by which the discourse assumes a hidden grammar which has already posed and answered the question, What does it mean to suffer? And that grammar is organized around the categories of exploitation (unfair labor relations or wage slavery). Thus, exploitation (wage slavery) is the only category of oppression which concerns Gramsci: society, Western society, thrives on the exploitation of the Gramscian subject. Full stop. Again, this is inadequate, because it would call White supremacy "racism" and articulate it as a derivative phenomenon of the capitalist matrix, rather than incorporating White supremacy as a matrix constituent to the base, if not the base itself. What I am saying is that the insatiability of the slave demand upon existing structures means that it cannot find its articulation within the modality of hegemony (influence, leadership, consent)—the Black body can not give its consent because “generalized trust,” the precondition for the solicitation of consent, “equals racialized whiteness” (Lindon Barrett). Furthermore, as Orland Patterson points out, slavery is natal alienation by way of social death, which is to say that a slave has no symbolic currency or material labor power to exchange: a slave does not enter into a transaction of value (however asymmetrical) but is subsumed by direct relations of force, which is to say that a slave is an articulation of a despotic irrationality whereas the worker is an articulation of a symbolic rationality. White supremacy’s despotic irrationality is as foundational to American institutionality as capitalism’s symbolic rationality because, as Cornel West writes, it… …dictates the limits of the operation of American democracy -- with black folk the indispensable sacrificial lamb vital to its sustenance. Hence black subordination constitutes the necessary condition for the flourishing of American democracy, the tragic prerequisite for America itself. This is, in part, what Richard Wright meant when he noted, "The Negro is America's metaphor." (72) And it is well known that a metaphor comes into being through a violence which kills, rather than merely exploits, the object, that the concept might live. West's interventions help us see how marxism can only come to grips with America's structuring rationality -- what it calls capitalism, or political economy; but cannot come to grips with America's structuring irrationality: the libidinal economy of White supremacy, and its hyper-discursive violence which kills the Black subject that the concept, civil society, may live. In other words, from the incoherence of Black death, America generates the coherence of White life. This is important when thinking the Gramscian paradigm (and its progenitors in the world of U.S. social movements today) which is so dependent on the empirical status of hegemony and civil society: struggles over hegemony are seldom, if ever, asignifyingat some point they require coherence, they require categories for the recordwhich means they contain the seeds of anti-Blackness. Let us illustrate this by way of a hypothetical scenario. In the early part of the 20th century, civil society in Chicago grew up, if you will, around emerging industries such as meat packing. In his notes on “Americanism and Fordism” (280-314), Gramsci explores the “scientific management” of Taylorism, the prohibition on alcohol, and Fordist interventions into the working class family, which formed the ideological, value-laden grid of civil society in places like turn of the century Chicago:

The objectification of blackness means that we are ontologically murdered over and over again with no contingency, Black flesh becomes the enslaved profit for white society

Spillers, 87 (Hortense, professor at the University of Vanderbilt, 1987, The John Hopkins University Press, “Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: An American Grammar Book”,, 7/6/14, KM)

Among the myriad uses to which the enslaved community was put, Goodell identifies its value for medical research: “Assortments of diseased, damaged, and disabled Negroes, deemed incurable and otherwise worthless are bought up, it seems … by medical institutions, to be experimented and operated upon, for purposes of ‘medical education’ and the interest of medical science” [86-87; Goodell’s emphasis ]. From the Charleston Mercury for October 12, 1838, Goodell notes this advertisement: ¶ ‘To planters and others. – Wanted, fifty Negroes, any person, having sick Negroes, considered incurable by their respective physicians, and wishing to dispose of them, Dr. S. will pay cash for Negroes affected with scrofula, or king’s evil, confirmed hypochrondriasm, apoplexy, diseases of the liver, kidneys, spleen, stomach and intestines, bladder and its appendages, diarrhea, dystentery, etc. The highest cash price will be paid, on application as above.’ At No. 110 Church Street, Charleston. [87; Goodell’s emphasis] ¶ This profitable “atomizing” of the captive body provides another angle on the divided flesh: we lose any hint or suggestion of a dimension of ethics, of relatedness between human personality and cultural institutions. To that extent, the procedures adopted for the captive flesh demarcate a total objectification, as the entire captive community becomes a living laboratory.The captive body, then, brings into focus a gathering of social realities as well as a metaphor for value so thoroughly interwoven in their literal and figurative emphases that distinctions between them are virtually useless. Even though the captive flesh/body has been “liberated,” and no one need pretend that even the quotation marks do not matter, dominant symbolic activity, the ruling episteme that releases the dynamics of naming and valuation remains grounded in the originating metaphors of captivity and mutilation so that it is as if neither time nor history, nor historiography and its topics, shows movement, as the human subject is “murdered” over and over again by the passions of a bloodless and anonymous archaism, showing itself in endless disguise. Faulkner’s young Chick Mallison in The Mansion calls “it” by other names – “the ancient subterrene atavistic fear…” [227]. And I would call it the Great Long National Shame. But people do not talk like that anymore – it is “embarrassing,” just as the retrieval of mutilated female bodies will likely be “backward” for some people. Neither the shameface of the embarrassed, nor the not-looking-back of the self-assured is of much interest to us, and will not help at all if rigor is our dream. We might concede, at the very least, that sticks and bricks might break our bones, but words will most certainly kill us.

The alternative is to wallow in the permutation of present and past to return and depart from the violence created by slavery – this opens up new avenues to challenge the normalized violence in modernity

Hartman 02, (Columbia University African American literature and history professor, 02(Saidiya V., Fall 2002, “The time of Slavery”, The South Atlantic Quarterly, Volume 101, Number 4, pp.757-777, CLF)

The point here is not to condemn tourism, but to rigorously examine the politics of memory and question whether ‘‘working through’’ is even an appropriate model for our relationship with history. In Representing the Holocaust, Dominick LaCapra opts for working through as kind of middle road between redemptive totalization and the impossibility of representation and suggests that a degree of recovery is possible in the context of a responsible working through of the past. He asserts that in coming to terms with trauma, there is the possibility of retrieving desirable aspects of the past that might be used in rebuilding a new life. 23 While LaCapra’s arguments are persuasive, I wonder to what degree the backward glance can provide us with the vision to build a new life? To what extent need we rely on the past in transforming the present or, as Marx warned, can we only draw our poetry from the future and not the past? 24 Here I am not advancing the impossibility of representation or declaring the end of history, but wondering aloud whether the image of enslaved ancestors can transform the present. I ask this question in order to discover again the political and ethical relevance of the past. If the goal is something more than assimilating the terror of the past into our storehouse of memory, the pressing question is,Why need we remember? Does the emphasis on remembering and working through the past expose our insatiable desires for curatives, healing, and anything else that proffers the restoration of some prelapsarian intactness? Or is recollection an avenue for undoing history? Can remembering potentially enable an escape from the regularity of terror and the routine of violence constitutive of black life in the United States? Or is it that remembering has become the only conceivable or viable form of political agency? Usually the injunction to remember insists that memory can prevent atrocity, redeem the dead, and cultivate an understanding of ourselves as both individuals and collective subjects. Yet, too often, the injunction to remember assumes the ease of grappling with terror, representing slavery’s crime, and ably standing in the other’s shoes. I am not proscribing representations of the Middle Passage, particularly since it is the absence of a public history of slavery rather than the saturation of representation that engenders these compulsive performances, but instead pointing to the danger of facile invocations of captivity, sound bites about themillions lost, and simulations of the past that substitute for critical engagement. These encounters with slavery are conditioned by the repression and erasure of the violent history of deportation and social death in the national imagination, and the plantation pastorals and epics of ethnicity that stand in their stead. In this respect, the journey back is as much motivated by the desire to return to the site of origin and the scene of the fall, as with the invisible landscape of slavery, the unmarked ports of entry in the United States, and the national imperative to forget slavery, render it as romance, or relegate it to some prehistory that has little to do with the present. The restored plantations of the South reek with the false grandeur of the good old days, and the cabins don’t appear horrible enough. Too easily, onemight conclude,Well, things weren’t all that bad. The starkness of the dungeons seems to permit a certain dignity; their cavernous emptiness resonates with the unspeakable. These blank spaces hint at the enormity of loss, the millions disappeared, and what Amiri Baraka describes as ‘‘the X-ed space, the empty space where we live, the space that is left of our history now a mystery.’’

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