Introduction

On the occasion of Karl Marx’s 200th birthday this year, numerous conferences, edited volumes and special issues have celebrated his work by focusing on its main achievements – a radical critique of capitalist society and an alternative vocabulary for thinking about the social, economic and political tendencies and struggles of our age. Albeit often illuminating, this has also produced a certain amount of déjà vu. Providing an occasion to disrupt patterns of repetition and musealization, Krisis proposes a different way to pay tribute to Marx’s revolutionary theorizing. We have invited authors from around the globe to craft short entries for an alternative ABC under the title “Marx from the Margins: A Collective Project, from A to Z” – taking up, and giving a twist to, Kevin Anderson’s influential Marx at the Margins (2010). The chief motivation of this collaborative endeavour is to probe the power – including the generative failures – of Marx’s thinking by starting from marginal concepts in his work or from social realities or theoretical challenges often considered to be marginal from a Marxist perspective. Rather than reproduce historically and theoretically inadequate differentiations between an ascribed or prescribed cultural, economic, geographic, intellectual, political, social, or spatial centre and its margins, the margins we have identified and inspected are epistemic vantage points that open up new theoretical and political vistas while keeping Marx’s thought from becoming either an all-purpose intellectual token employed with little risk from left or right, or a set of formulaic certitudes that force-feed dead dogma to ever-shrinking political circles.

We have welcomed short and succinct contributions that discuss how a wide variety of concepts – from acid communism and big data via extractivism and the Haitian Revolution to whiteness and the Zapatistas – can offer an unexpected key to the significance of Marx’s thought today. The resulting ABC, far from a comprehensive compendium, is an open-ended and genuinely collective project that resonates between and amplifies through different voices speaking from different perspectives in different styles; we envisage it as a beginning rather than as an end. In this spirit, we invite readers to submit new entries to Krisis, where they will be subject to our usual editorial review process and added on a regular basis, thus making this issue of Krisis its first truly interactive one. The project is also an attempt to redeem, in part, the task that the name of this journal has set for its multiple generations of editors from the very beginning: a crisis/Krise/Krisis is always a moment in which certainties are suspended, things are at stake, and times are experienced as critical. A crisis, to which critique is internally linked, compels a critique that cannot consist simply of ready-made solutions pulled out of the lectern, but demand, in the words of Marx’s “credo of our journal” in his letter to Ruge, “the self-clarification (critical philosophy) of the struggles and wishes of the age”.

Boekpresentatie

Op maandagavond 11 juni presenteert Gijs van Oenen zijn nieuwe boek Overspannen Democratie. Hoge verwachtingen, paradoxale gevolgen, in Spui 25, van 20-21.30u. Er is een discussiepanel bestaande uit de hoogleraren politicologie Sarah de Lange en Tom van der Meer; de gespreksleiding is in handen van Irena Rosenthal. Het boek is inmiddels al in de winkel verkrijgbaar! Wie wil komen: het is gratis, wel even aanmelden.

Donations

Krisis still is a completely independent online journal, without any ties to big publication companies and factories of knowledge. This independence means that we remain dependent on your donations. Although Krisis is a non-profit enterprise, we are in need of a small annual budget for our platform to stay afloat. To keep the quality of our contributions as high as possible, Krisis works with a paid editorial assistant and a paid proofreader (while the editorial board is happy to self-exploit). Without your donation, Krisis cannot subsist. Therefore, we hope that you – reader, contributor, supporter – are willing to donate a small (or larger) amount to Krisis to secure our financial future: we need you! Donations can be sent directly to our bank account at IBAN NL33INGB0005172630.

Introduction

While super-hurricane climate and super-offensive politicians are tying up news headlines, the new issue of Krisis brings together philosophical perspectives on urgent political issues. Our first article explores the interrelation between philosophy and activism head-on, when Joost Leuven analyses the role of theory in contemporary animal rights advocacy. Against the backdrop of social research suggesting that animal rights advocates are often weary of taking clear philosophical positions, Leuven argues as to why the articulation of philosophical theory should be an intrinsic aspect of the practice of advocacy. With similar exigency, Michiel Bot’s work focuses on the case of Dutch politician Geert Wilders’s employment of ‘giving and taking offense’. Bot examines one of the architects of modern political rhetoric and demonstrates the enduring salience of Adorno and Marcuse for the 21st century. The article by Pieter Lemmens and Yuk Hui focusses on two philosophers that have recently waded into the discussion of the Anthropocene, Stiegler and Sloterdijk, and explores their Heideggerian inheritance. This exploration prompts serious questions as to whether Stiegler and Sloterdijk have convincing answers to the Anthropocene’s moral and political challenges.

In addition, Rob Ritzen interviews philosopher Chiara Bottici, author of A Philosophy of Political Myth and Imaginal Politics. As the imaginal’s power – be it fake-news, digital propaganda or conservative utopias – becomes more and more visible, Bottici’s work attempts to build a philosophical framework for investigating the role of images and narratives in politics.

As part of our review section, Sudeep Dasgupta considers Gloria Wekker’s book White Innocence against the backdrop of current politics of race, Matthijs Kouw presents the Dutch geophilosophical work Water by René ten Bos, and Temi Ogunye reviews Alejandra Mancilla’s cosmopolitan exploration of The Right of Necessity. Finally, Marc Tuters discusses Alberto Toscano and Jeff Kinkle’s Cartographies of the Absolute in relation to Fredric Jameson’s legacy.

Dronedeutung: Introduction

The promise of modernity’s drone-assisted conquest of air space is far from uncomplicated. As unmanned air vehicles become more ubiquitous, with implementations ranging from intelligence-gathering and covert military attacks to cultural production and everyday logistics, this special issue of Krisis captures the technical, aesthetic, economic, psychic, and political challenges facing the rise of the drone. Attending to the multiple deployment and employment of drones, the various contributions to this issue sustain a critical engagement with the conceptual confusions and practical contradictions in related debates, thus collectively generating a counterpoint to reductionist accounts of scientific determinism, drone fetishism, and political spectacle.

To invoke and provoke the everyday, “These Cryptical Skies” by Rob Stone (Emily Carr University of Art and Design) opens the issue by bringing home the unease of displaced technologies through sonic imagination and biomimicry. Moving from patterned cacophonies to discursive shifts, “Drone Visions: Tomas van Houtryve’s Blue Sky Days and the Rhetoric of Precision” by Øyvind Vågnes (University of Copenhagen) evaluates the role of euphemism in shaping public perception of the so-called War On Terror. Echoing the kind of precarious aesthetic that can lead to the uninvention of precision suggested by Vågnes, the next article tackles the prominent image of the drone operator as PlayStation killer head-on—“Embodiment, Subjectivity, Affect in a Digital Age: Understanding Mental Illness in Military Drone Operators” by Alex Edney-Browne (University of Melbourne), by questioning the assumption that the virtualization of violence yields a decrease in empathy, argues that mediation can also constitute feelings of proximity and stimulate peer-recognition. 

Continuing with the construction of complex understandings of drone capabilities, “Those Who Feel the Fire Burning: Drone Perception and the Aesthetico-Political Image” by Halbe Kuipers (University of Amsterdam) reflects on the metaphysical and ethical implications of image-making when drones participate in filmic world-making. To investigate the phenomenon of the drone further still, a 2015 debate transcript follows, in which Krisis’s own Eva Sancho Rodriguez (University of Amsterdam) moderates a discussion between Willem Schinkel (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and Rogier van Reekum (Erasmus University Rotterdam and Krisis member) in the context of Drift, an annual festival of contemporary philosophy organized by students of the University of Amsterdam. The issue ends with two book reviews: Sigmund Bruno Schilpzand (University of Amsterdam) on Grégoire Chamayous’s A Theory of the Drone and Tobias Burgers (Freie Universität Berlin) on Ian Shaw’s Predator Empire: Drone Warfare and Full Spectrum Dominance.