On Necrocapitalism: A Plague Journal | Left Wing Books

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On Necrocapitalism: A Plague Journal

378 pages
$30.98 (CAD)
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“A virus is haunting the globe, one of pandemic proportions, whose threat has necessitated unprecedented measures to forestall death and violence worse than the present crisis. But the cruelty, violence, and depredations that have accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic aren’t merely detritus in the wake of its spread; they characterize the necrocapitalism of this conjuncture.” – from the Prologue

As the pandemic transitioned from science fiction to reality in early 2020, a number of writers and thinkers in the imperialist metropoles declared the impossibility of writing in the face of a future that is foreclosed. And yet, due to the nightmare that capitalism has been since its beginning, numerous writers and thinkers from the margins have always written in the face of such foreclosure. Meanwhile, other contemporary thinkers sought to conceptualize the unfolding pandemic according to conceptions of bio/necropolitics, forgetting the foundation upon which these conceptions have always existed.

The M.I. Asma writing group came together to stake out a different terrain, thinking through the pandemic as events unfolded while also always working to think beyond the capitalist imaginary. Writing between April 2020 and May 2021, the authors set out to produce a serial theoretical­philosophical project focused on class struggle in the midst of the COVID­-19 pandemic. The authors approached the pandemic as an occasion to think capitalism according to what it always has been, what the pandemic reveals about its current ideological deployment, and how we can think about a communist alternative in the face of exterminism.

This book collects, with some revisions and with a new epilogue, the entries from the On Necrocapitalism blog, where M.I. Asma’s interventions first appeared. 

M.I. Asma is the collective designation for six authors from Canada and the United States, representing a variety of revolutionary anticapitalist theoretical persuasions: J. Moufawad-Paul, Devin Zane Shaw, Mateo Andante, Johannah May Black, Alyson Escalante, and D. W. Fairlane. 

What People Are Saying

“Framing the ongoing present––and deadly non-futurity(ies)––of the COVID-19 pandemic within the historical framework of ‘necrocapitalism,’ this dynamic, multivocal project is a radical testimonial against the thick normality of targeted peoples’ casualties, suffering, and immiseration. Unapologetically, joyfully, and simultaneously theoretical, narrative, and polemical in presentation, the authors defend as they illuminate the possibilities of a communism for the present as well as the endangered future. What might it mean to apprehend the outpouring of humanist concern, charity and philanthropy, emergency funding, and outraged demands for care under the terms of pandemic as evidence of necrocapitalism’s advancement, rather than signs of its collapse or momentary dysfunction? I urge readers to bask in the writers’ incisive, explosive, and utterly necessary dismantling of liberal ideology as an extension of racial capitalist, white nationalist domestic and global warfare––that is, of liberal discourse as fundamentally complementary to the spectrum of contemporary right-wing reaction, not antagonistic to it.”
Dylan Rodríguez, Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California Riverside, former President of the American Studies Association, and author of White Reconstruction

“A live and immediate snapshot of thinking in and through the COVID-19 pandemic, On Necrocapitalism stands as an important document of an indelible year. ‘M.I. Asma’ insists on the rigor and energy of a non-universalist ‘we’ that refuses to return to business—literally—as usual.”
Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb, Associate Professor of English at the University of Toronto, and author of Epidemic Empire

“Is the pandemic really unprecedented? Not according to these authors, who demonstrate that the events of the last two years are wholly predictable within the logic and imprisoned imaginary of capitalism itself. Part manifesto, part chronicle, part theoretical rumination, On Necrocapitalism recasts debates about defunding police, essential workers, dystopian codification, and reformist temptations, providing necessary revivification of communist horizons that de-exceptionalize crisis and dispense with pragmatism. An inspiring read.”
Jasbir K. Puar, Professor and Graduate Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, and author of The Right to Maim and Terrorist Assemblages

Table of Contents

Preface        4
Prologue        9

A: Necrosis (April 23 2020–May 29 2020)        17
Diagnosis and Departure        19
From Žižek to Communist Possibility        28
Below the Surface Froth        37
Bourgeois Philosophy in the Time of Pandemic        42
Unequally Distributed Vulnerability        49
Pandemic Femicide        60

B: Dystopia (June 3 2020)         79
Dystopia of the Real        81

C: Uprising (June 11 2020–July 10 2020)        107
Protesters, “Good” and “Bad”        109
On Slogans        118
On Liberal Academic Policy        123
Mass Rage and Risk        131
“Cancel Culture,” “Open Debate,” and More Liberal Discipline        138

D: Pacification (July 16 2020–August 27 2020)        149
Policy and Permanent Civil War        151
Policy and Pacification        166
“Think of the Children”        174
Children in Schools, Children in Cages        180
Viral Atomization and the Family        189
Migrant Labor in the Pandemic        197
The Irreconcilable        214

E: Capture (September 4 2020–January 15 2021)        227
On the So­-Called “Antifascist Vote”        229
On Abstention, Infantilism, And Organizing        234
Down Girl Imperialism        238
On Long Crises and Speedy Recoveries        252
Nihilist Reconciliation        260
The Misleading Nature of “Trumpism”        273
Slavering in the Outer Dark        280
Science and Social Welfare Opportunism        284
The Content of Insurgency        291

F: Normalization (February 12 2021—May 8 2021)        299
Two Errors of Normalization        301
Time Theft in the New Normal        307
Rampage and Rollout        312
“Disease Poetics”        318

Epilogue        335

Works Cited        351