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“politics is the struggle between friends and enemies, and there’s always a loser”

November 7, 2012

 

In one fragment, Scott hits on the idea of the playground as metaphor for, and instance of, anarchist sociality, concluding that open environments with minimal supervision make for the best play. He touches on the playground example just enough to make his point, but the 2010 zine negate politics//affirm cuteness takes the concept of “playground anarchism” as a premise for further thought. While Scott glosses over, ignores, or resolves the antagonisms of free, unsupervised play (“Quarreling and a number of raids to plunder tools and material broke out […] But after only a few days many of the youngsters organized a ‘salvage drive’ to recover the materials and set up a system for sharing”), the anonymous writers of affirm cuteness recognize that “[c]hasing, wrestling and pouncing upon a playmate, breaking, smashing, and tearing apart things are all aspects of play that is free of rules.” It does not occur to Scott to question the legitimacy of the “salvage drive,” as some of the children no doubt did, or to consider the political efficacy of the most universal of playground utterances: “Fight!” Such a smoothing over of contradictions is the difference between a simple and simplistic narrative; “everyone decided to share and they were all better off” is a lie adults tell to children, not politics. Politics is the struggle between friends and enemies, and there’s always a loser.

Read More | “Anarchish: On James C. Scott’s ‘Two Cheers for Anarchism’” | Malcolm Harris | Los Angeles Review of Books