New Left Review Roundup

Malcolm Bull: Levelling Out

“Equality has had no fiercer critic than Nietzsche, whose ‘fundamental insight with respect to the genealogy of morals’ is that social inequality is the source of our value concepts, and the necessary condition of value itself.  His rejection of equality is unequivocal. He distinguishes himself absolutely from the ‘levellers’ and ‘preachers of equality’. There is, he claims, ‘no more poisonous poison’: ‘it seems to be preached by justice itself, while it is the end of justice’, for ‘men are not equal’.

However, Nietzsche’s anti-egalitarianism is not unnuanced…”

Jules Boykoff: The Anti-Olympics

“If the Games have always represented the grand political logic of the day—classical imperialist muscle-flexing, Cold War inter-bloc rivalry, Pax Americana—they now typically also summon an upsurge of political contestation wherever they go. The IOC’s official charter forbids the expression of anti-Olympic dissent, stating in Rule 51, ‘No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas’. Nevertheless, when the Olympics touch down in a host city, protest soon follows. Global summits like the WTO and G20 became the focus for a major wave of international activism with Seattle. The Games, too, have been revealed as the avatar of an unaccountable world order of power, wealth and spectacle, wreaking permanent social damage on the urban environment…”

Michael Denning: Wageless Life

“Wageless life has almost always been seen as a situation of lack, the space of exclusion: the unemployed, theinformal. I do not claim to solve this semantic problem: my own working vocabulary—the wageless—is a parallel construction. However, I want to insist that we decentre wage labour in our conception of life under capitalism. The fetishism of the wage may well be the source of capitalist ideologies of freedom and equality, but the employment contract is not the founding moment. For capitalism begins not with the offer of work, but with the imperative to earn a living. Dispossession and expropriation, followed by the enforcement of money taxes and rent: such is the idyll of ‘free labour’. In those rare moments of modern emancipation, the freed people—from slavery, serfdom and other forms of coerced labour—have never chosen to be wage labourers. There may be a ‘propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another’, as Adam Smith put it, but there is clearly no propensity to get a job…”


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