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Zunguzungu
By Aaron Bady
Anyone claiming to be an expert is selling something. I brandish my ignorance like a crucifix at vampires.
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The Jimmy McNulty Gambit: Mike Daisey and the Thickening Crust of Our Awareness

This post is partially building on the argument that Slavoj Žižek eventually makes at the end of his recent talk on The Wire, a talk which is, at least, usefully wrong about lots of things, and strikingly insightful about a few.In season five of The Wire, Jimmy McNulty invents a serial killer and tries to use the press to spur a systemic reaction to an irritant that doesn’t really exist, but also sort of does exist. Marlo, after all, is actually a serial killer, just not the kind that anyone really wants to actually try to stop. So he invents one that the system really does dislike, the kind of sensational killer that gets people excited. This fails, of course, but that’s not the important thing; the important thing is why he even tried.

After all, Jimmy McNulty’s problem is not only that he’s an unscrupulous narcissist, but that he combines that quality with a streak of good intentions, a kind of idealism and desire to do some version of the right thing. Cynics and fatalists wouldn’t fall into this trap, because they’ve never expected the world to be different, or never imagined that they could change it. Those who want to work within the system – for whatever reason – will be co-opted or will simply adjust their expectations relative to what it is that they can reasonably accomplish within the bounds of that system (Carcetti being McNulty’s doppleganger in that sense). And, of course, many don’t want to change the system at all.

But McNulty’s problem was that dangerous coupling of his belief that he could change the world with the idea that he should. And because the world he lived in didn’t allow him that possibility – because, by season five, it had been pounded into his skull that you can’t get results by following the normal channels – he rejects the reality he inhabits, the true stories it would be possible to tell, and decides to invent a new story, to imagine the kind of reality that will provoke the system into taking the kind of action he wants it to take.

If there’s a certain radicalism to this gesture, we should also note that the most he can do is make the system do what it always does anyway: in this case, throw police at a crime it thereby propagates and reproduces. But the main thing is why, and how: the fiction comes into existence because an immovable object has been met with a force that can’t accept that it is stoppable. Within the normal course of the system, Marlo can’t be moved, because the system is not built to move him. But because McNulty can’t imagine his own failure, he imagines that failure out of existence. He tells the story he needs to be true.

* * *

Mike Daisey wasn’t the first person to make up a false personal story as a way of raising the kind of “awareness” that will necessitate change, nor was #StopKony the first hyper-successful campaign to take a massively complicated political-economic-military problem and reduce it to the narrative of a great white savior. See, for example, Greg Mortensen, who is similar to both, in the way that both are similar to each, or to a Tom MacMaster, the hoaxter behind “Gay Girl in Damascus.”

The pattern, the trend, and the continuity are far more interesting than the individual stories. Part of it is simply the usual racist narcissism of The West, of course, which is and which must always be History’s Protagonist, for which all problems become nails, the better to be serviced by our hammers. But while this is the Occam’s razor explanation – and it’s the true one – there is also more to see here, more to say: what these fiction writers also have in common is a certain objective sense in which they are right, in which the story they are telling is true. While their subjective accounts tend to be the least true part of it (the most damning lies have to do with Daisey’s description of his personal experiences, for example), but behind those subjective untruths, we also find a broad field of objective accuracy: Foxconn is a terrible place to work, Joseph Kony really is a nightmare, building schools in Afghanistan is a good thing to do, and Syrian repression is no joke. Marlo really was a serial killer.

This is not a defense, of course, but it is worth saying: if we only emphasize the lies in these accounts, we thereby overlook the extent to which they were saying true things. And it is also worth remembering that truth is not an either/or. One can easily deceive by telling nothing but the truth – telling it selectively, misframed, etc – and one can also tell a kind of truth by using statements which are, on their own, untrue. This is why fiction matters, and why journalism never rests on quite the firm bedrock of objectivity that it needs to pretend it does. But again, this is not a defense, just an attempt to describe a problem that we often have vested interests in failing to acknowledge, the blurriness of the line that separates fact from fiction.

I say this to clear away the temptation of easy moralism, of making “true” seem like it would be the easy way to be right. For if truth and fiction are not black and white – and they are not – then it is simply not enough to condemn Mike Daisey for lying. Moralizing about that, after all, allows us to imagine a simplistic world in which telling the truth would have been the right choice. If you tell the truth the right way, we imagine – if you tell the version of Mike Daisey’s story that didn’t narcissistically mythologize – then the real problems that really do exist could be dealt with. But this isn’t the case, is it? If you tell the truth with scrupulous accuracy and breadth, people are as likely to doze off as be scandalized.

In fact, this is precisely the problem that empowers the Mike Daisey’s and Tom MacMaster’s to get creative: because reality won’t cut it, isn’t outrageous enough, we must sex up the story for it to get any traction, and it must get traction, it MUST. Children literally working their fingers to the bone? That’s outrageous. But children who grow up into a world of endless toil, one that offers little human dignity or hope of self-realization but only metaphorically “works their fingers to the bone” will produce little outrage. That’s normal, our normal.  Yawn. And that “yawn” at what is and should be maddeningly outrageous is not even a new problem. Upton Sinclair thought that when people read The Jungle, they would get upset about the capitalism, about the working conditions, about the crushing and cruel exploitation. In fact, people got upset about the thought that there was rat shit in their food.

A lot of what drives this post, parenthetically, is trying to understand what Jay Rosen notes to be the bizarre spectacle of Mike Daisey being questioned by Ira Glass and actually trying to talk his way out of an impossible conundrum. The horrible silence and stammering stretches on and on and on, as he keeps trying to say the thing that will exculpate him, but which does not exist. And yet he’s so very sure that it’s there that he keeps looking, keeps going. Beyond the narcissism, this is where the lies come from, and where the belief comes from that a lie is true, must be. The truth is not enough, these people think; I have to tell the story that will get results, results that will testify to their deeper truth.

But the deeper problem, I think, is that telling stories is the only way these people can conceptualize getting results. And because appealing to the public sphere to be scandalized and to demand reforms is the only kind of result they can envision – because this is how they imagine justice works – the story will inevitably become what it needs to be to appeal to that kind of conscience, whatever will appeal to that sense of the public’s fickle taste. No one in the West will care about the reality of Syrian repression, thinks Tom MacMaster; I need to invent an Angelic White Victim to speak in place of those whose stories are not, as such, sufficiently compelling to compel action can only speak and be unheard.

The result will be twofold. On the one hand, as the producers of outrage crank it up to eleven, the threshold for what to takes to produce real outrage will rise as well. Ghosh is talking about 9/11 and suicide bombing, of course, but it’s still an apt way of phrasing the way our outrage economy tends towards an equilibrium.As Amitav Ghosh puts it, quite nicely:

The thickening crust of our awareness is both a sign and a reminder of our unwitting complicity in the evolution of violence: if that which mesmerized us yesterday ceases to interest us today, then it follows that the act which will next claim our attention will be even more horrific, even more resistant to yesterday’s imagination, than the last.

This complicity is worth thinking about very carefully; if a certain level of violation is required to provoke our interest, then does feeding that interest with stories that reach that threshold only reinforce the fact that a broad range of stories do not interest us? Does the “we must do anything” of the #StopKony campaign also mean that anything less than child-raping scans as less outrageous by comparison

Perhaps more importantly, because such stories are derived from their audience – and its imaginative capabilities – they will for that reason demand and privilege reactions to the problem that are maddeningly simplistic in their very imaginable practicality. Kony is bad and so he must be killed by the military, because that’s something we can picture, can visualize; fundamentally restructuring the Central African system of political economy and governance is impossibly and unthinkably remote. Apple is bad and must be regulated (or shunned or something), because, again, that’s something simple we can imagine happening (as opposed to any alternative to the advanced industrial capitalism that makes Foxconn all but inevitable). And MacMasters later admitted that he had given his story an ending, an ending that is striking by its plausible realism: “I was going to end the story with having her be free, and get out of country — end of story.” But this ending is necessary precisely because individual escapes happen every day (while a real solution to the Syrian crisis is unthinkably complicated). I find myself constantly thinking of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, here, the book that imagined revolutionary change flowing out of sentimental tears. For underpants gnomes, though, substitute God. Each of these outcomes are imaginable, in part, as a direct consequence of the fact that they do not trouble the status quo. We can imagine those reforms, because they are essentially superficial adjustments of a system that not only remains intact, but which we – in our thinking about what is and isn’t possible – rely on and presume.

All of which is simply to say: it’s in the nature of grand structural transformations that we will always have great difficulty picturing what the end-state would look like. And because we feel we have to, we tend not to, falling back on the narrative patterns we know better. It’s hard to imagine a future without militaries or a world without capitalist production, because we don’t live in that world, or that future; everything we do know about the range of possibilities we inhabit is derived from the economic and political conditions of it, of our knowable world. And since we live in a world that produces capitalist exploitation as reliably and as organically as militaries produce conflict and police produce criminals, we will always have difficulty in imagining what a system that didn’t organically do so would look like; we will always be confined to the solutions which that system produces for itself, which the world we live in makes thinkable, possible. In short: we can imagine killing Kony, or fining or shunning Apple only because doing so would do nothing to disable the systemic forces that make Kony possible in the first place, would do nothing to change the system that makes it economically “necessary” to treat workers the way Foxconn does.

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43 Responses to “The Jimmy McNulty Gambit: Mike Daisey and the Thickening Crust of Our Awareness”

  1. Anonymous says:

    You could have saved a lot of time and words and keyboard wear by just typing out, “Fake but accurate.”

  2. Moralism left completely to the side, Daisey did a monstrous amount of permanent damage to the efforts and credibility of those who report on and oppose workplace abuses, and more broadly, to everybody working against the economic status quo. Within the fictionalized Baltimore, Jimmy McNulty did no damage whatsoever to any such effort nor to anybody’s genuine credibility, least of all to anyone opposing an economic status quo.

    I’m sorry, this essay’s comparison is completely ridiculous. Just a solipsism-enabling mess from top to bottom.

    • Rob, first The Wire is a hook, the comparison between fiction and reality is not even implicitly the point of the article.

      Second, Daisey didn’t do any permanent damage. Apple certainly will face increased scrutiny and pressure in the short term. As far as general damage to “everybody working against the economic status quo”, that’s ridiculous. Those people have plenty of obstacles to confront before anything like Daisey’s story even crosses their minds. Like earning a living doing it and Having people see/read it.

      • If you believe that labor reporting (what little there is that remains) from here on in will not have to unfairly contend with summary dismissal by the PR armies of the economic status quo using the mere names of “Apple” or “Daisey”, then your level of media literacy desperately needs raising.

        The very idea that “scrutiny” of real workplace abuses will somehow increase to produce unambiguous exposures of abuse in the wake of this episode would be laughable if not so painfully wrong. Each opportunity to discuss what Foxconn and the like actually do now must contend with the story of Daisey’s bullshit, wielded by the subjects to muddy the waters, creating exactly the kind of change-suppressing “scrutiny” Foxconn and its clients will take every time they can.

        If I were employed by Apple in that capacity, I would use the gift Daisey and Ira Glass gave me every single chance I got. I’d welcome your “scrutiny” every time. Hell, I’d even fund it.

        • colinmorris says:

          Hey, long-time listener, first-time caller. Just curious what you guys are using to type these comments.

          I wonder if arguing about Daisey’s guilt isn’t a reality-bending abstraction itself. What motivates it? Not sure. But I do appreciate your work here, because reading it is really helping me put off the reconciliation of my reaction to labor reporting (objective and stretched) and my reaction to the super soft keys on this MacBook.

          Thanks.

          • Yes, because being a customer of a company automatically grants to that company the customer’s carte blanche to abuse its workers to the point of suicide. Truly, yours are the contributions of an intellectual and ethical colossus.

            And thanks for the THIRD proof of my point on this small blog about how labor reporting has been permanently damaged by this showbiz douchebag named Mike Daisey.

            Keep ‘em coming!

          • colinmorris says:

            Hey, all I’m saying is we vote with our wallets. I think arguing about what to do with Daisey’s remains after his tar and feathering, hanging, etc. is reductive. The points raised in the post are interesting, but the real conversation is still about where the responsibility for unsafe labor conditions lies.

            I didn’t say our purchases give Apple the right to use unscrupulous manufacturers, but we do benefit from that economy.

            It’s hardly a reason to respond with sarcastic name-calling, and hardly proof of whatever vague point you claim to have made about permanent damage to labor reporting.

          • Yes, 3 people showing up to diminish the genuine abuses at Foxconn, minutes after I said that’s exactly what would happen en masse — this fairly qualifies as a “vague point”.

            Sure it does.

          • Tatermaster says:

            The formatting on the threaded replies on this blog is hilarious.

    • Fletch says:

      Time to look into the decaf, chief. Nobody’s out to get you.

      We get it. You’re a really big deal. Daisey made your really big deal-ness more difficult. You win. Now stop being a prick.

  3. Very good post. Here’s an example from the other end of the spectrum – anti-bullying. No one made up lies to spark this campaign, it doesn’t even have a high profile celeb hawking it. Yet every school in the country is working on it. Of course, zero instances won’t ever happen, but it has created a better climate for millions of kids already.

  4. Walt French says:

    I still think we have the cart before the horse with this outrage.

    China shifted some 30+ years ago from a horribly repressive, dogmatic policy that was killing people right and left, to a policy aimed at eventual (maybe too eventual) democracy, and quasi-capitalism.

    Special Enterprise Zones such as Shenzhen were created, and the country avidly sought this very type of export-oriented work. And the policy has been a spectacular success. A country sinking into the Dark Ages has now achieved steady growth at spectacular rates. While I saw open sewers in Beijing in 1980, this year I see subways and highways being built in provincial cities.

    I am NOT the only person to notice. The growth in well-being, health care, retirement, etc is widely recognized.

    For some years now, the government has been talking about pivoting away from export-oriented businesses, to creating a vibrant Chinese consumer, spreading the wealth from the new economy to the populace at large. Ask ANY economist who’s looked at Chinese policies; they are just as committed to Phase 2 as they were to what they’ve achieved so far.

    The shiny toys we buy from China helped get them where they are today. They are now becoming the gadgets that help the broad populace stay better connected, stay more aware, get better educated. The government invited Apple-types business there for all the right reasons, and as the population becomes more middle class, they will be happy to have Apple stores selling Made-in-China products.

    So there’s a MUCH MUCH bigger story than Daisey’s sensationalism: while he’s exaggerating the flaws, people are doing the hard work of making lives better for their country people, sending paychecks home that will soon result in consumer choice for better education, better health, better quality food, better homes and yes, better electronics to connect all around the world.

    Activism is important to me, but here it’s at risk of obscuring a much more important truth: China has welcomed this business as part of a 50-year plan of making life better for its citizenry. And obscuring that truth is almost as bad as the outright lying.

    • And there it is. It took no more than two hours for someone here to refer to Daisy as “exaggerating the flaws” of a factory whose abused, suicidally desperate workers Were Jumping Out Of Windows At Such A Clip, They Installed Netting Along The Sides Of The Building.

      Two hours. On a small blog’s comment stream.

      I presume my point about Daisey’s lasting damage to labor reporting is now taken.

      • Anonymous says:

        The original error was the media’s obsession with FoxConn suicides. In fact, FoxConn’s suicide rate was about 1/10 of the average for China’s population. I wrote this up in December 2010:
        http://gonzoecon.com/2010/12/foxconn-suicides-media-gets-it-wrong-again/

        • And once again, my point is magnificently proven.

          As we see, even on a small blog’s comment stream, workers abused to the point of suicide leaping to their deaths is an”error” and “media obsession”, as opposed to Evidence Of Abused, Suicidal Workers Leaping To Their Deaths In Enough Numbers To Cause The Factory To Install Netting To Catch Them.

          Thank you for proving my point again about what the tiny, vastly outnumbered labor reporting community actually faces, and how this self-aggrandizing asshole Daisey just made the job 500% harder.

          • Anonymous says:

            Did you even bother to read my blog post?

          • Did you come here to diminish the genuine, confirmed story of workers abused to the point of suicide? Sure looks like you did. And the more apologia that appears, the more my point is proven. Thanks!

          • Anonymous says:

            Yeah, I figured the statistical analysis would be too much for you.

          • Anonymous says:

            If I woeremy office window and hurled myself to a messy death 35 stories below, would that be conclusion proof to you of unacceptable work conditions imposed by my employer?

          • ilya says:

            I wouldn’t call that simple little formula statistical analysis. You are not comparing like with like. The number 13 appears to only include the people who jumped to death. Would a suicide outside the factory be counted in that number? Doubtful. Also, I am not sure but isn’t that number only for one factory and thus cannot be divided by the total amount of workers in all factories?

          • Admiral Akbar says:

            Yup. I spent the 15 seconds that it took for me to realize that you don’t know the first thing about statistics.

          • Admiral Akbar says:

            Wait. You call yourself an economist? Now that’s just embarrassing.

      • Anonymous says:

        Except he did exaggerate the flaws. He gave the distinct impression that there were so many child laborers that all he had to do is stand outside the gate and wait for a band of 12-13 year olds to come up and out themselves to him. He made up guns that security guards weren’t carrying. He made up dorm conditions that he didn’t observe.

        Those claims matter.

      • Walt French says:

        @Rob, I majored in developmental economics over 40 years ago, and then married a woman of Chinese ancestry over 30 years ago.

        I’ve been following this story for some time.

        I won’t make light of even a single suicide. But I *WILL* contrast them to the previous regime where my wife’s family was beaten, “re-educated” and stripped of its possessions. And where they died of ordinary communicable diseases or typical third-world accidents.

        About thirty years ago, the Chinese regime threw in the towel on the Maoist dogma and adopted a quasi capitalist approach. In the intervening years, the country has gone forward — at rapid speed, even — instead of backward. People live longer, healthier and happier lives.

        Fewer people commit suicide, I will *guess.*

        Apple, WalMart, Nike, GM — really, all the big names in Western capitalism — were part of this 50-year plan that is about 30 years underway, on track, remarkably successfully.

        Is it perfect? Of course not. But do Daisey’s exaggerations and misrepresentations help the Chinese people make it better?

        You might have an honest debate about it. But there are many reasons why I think that, on balance, Daisey has made it harder to engage China on human rights. Harder for Americans to leverage our economic power for better lives for the Chinese people. (If I read it right, Daisey admitted that to say he had passing acquaintance with Chinese people was itself dishonest.)

        *YOU* may know what you’re doing, but all your words highlight is that you’re upset about not having an instant fix for China’s long march towards reasonable lives for its citizenry. Which needs encouragement for human rights, not boycotts of the very firms that are giving people the opportunity to live the way they want.

    • Anonymous says:

      Shenzhen is an other-wordly place. Where Lamborghini dealers and apartments lacking in adequate sanitation co-exist. It’s just not as simple as “Foxconn exploits workers.”

  5. Fantastic piece that captures much that needs to be said. Only two comments on that with which I disagree.

    The Koni video explicitly asks for Koni’s capture, and its wrong to say they ask for his head, even if capturing him is harder to imagine than a dead Koni.

    Secondly, is it not a bit of a tedious western obsession, this ‘whiteness’ that you bandy about? Is Oprah, through her projects in South Africa suffering from a white messiah complex? Has Mo Ibrahim fallen prey to the illness? I know the stock answer, there’s allot of history of colonialism and white racism underlying all this, and it always seeps by osmosis into anything ‘whites’ do. We can take it for granted that it underpins the actions of all the parties you mention, without deeper scrutiny.

    That might be so. But more than thirty years ago Steve Biko said, speaking to fellow blacks in South Africa, “While it may be relevant now to talk about black in relation to white, we must not make this our preoccupation, for it can be a negative exercise. As we proceed further towards the achievement of our goals let us talk more about ourselves and our struggle and less about whites.”

    Is there not a flip side to Biko’s sentiment that can be applied here?

    • Not with the Invisible Children kids, no. It’s very pertinent. The west has a tedious obsession with whiteness because whiteness is a prevalent, pernicious presence out here. It’s like accusing the residents of a flooded region of being tediously obsessed with water damage.

      • Perhaps, but it makes for silly shallow debate. African critiques of Koni campaign were far more nuanced & cogent than that coming from ideologically straight jacket that is the USA.

        • Only a white person or a disengaged foreigner could be naive enough to dismiss racial dialectic within and with regard to the West as silly and shallow.

          The Ugandan critiques were vital for the West to hear and learn from, but NO an American could not have made them instead – nor should any have attempted to! Deciding what Ugandans must want or need and then speaking for them is the problem, not the solution.

          Kony 2012 is a US-born campaign, and the racial dialectic is an important field upon which Western critics must address it.

          Race and whiteness are important components of how this thing plays out in the West. It’s not the responsibility of Ugandans to address that; they have enough on their plate.

          You, also, can choose whether it is worth your time to engage with it. You are out of line in pushing that choice on others in this case, however.

  6. Anonymous says:

    That’s a lot of words to trash Kony 2012. You could have just called it hubristic and posturing, and been done with it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I think this piece gives Daisey too much credit. He could have had much the same results by saying, “In Hong Kong I talked to people about how workers were poisoned…” and continued to say exactly the same thing. Or he could have just said from the beginning that his monologue was a dramatization based on real events.

    But he didn’t want to do those things, because they would have diminished his personal role. He didn’t just want to highlight this issue. He wanted to be the hero.

    Which, I guess, makes the McNulty comparison apt.

  8. jonahries says:

    I think your last paragraph is too short-sighted, too pessimistic- you end your line of thought too soon.
    It is undeniably awful to watch the Great White American Savior swoop down and stupid itself all over everything. But that doesn’t mean that informed action on the microcosmic scale is useless.
    Imagining new realities and ways to reach them, step by step, must be maintained as possible, or we face apathy.

  9. jonahries says:

    Stay informed! Stay sane! And don’t stop pushing! Push from inside the system, push from outside the system, push from underground below the system!

  10. As a general exercise in pondering morality this post hits on some good notes, but it seems to me that the fundraising aims, and specific actions undertaken, by the KONY campaign are sorely overlooked. It wasn’t just “raising awareness,” true or false, it had a particular ask attached.

    I don’t know if the lies are as bad as the truth in this case.

  11. Doug Hill25 says:

    Thanks for an interesting essay. I agree with much of what you’ve written.

    Some of your suggestions bother me, though, especially that we need to acknowledge “the blurriness of the line that separates fact from fiction.” Better to have said the blurriness that separates *our perceptions” of the line between fact and fiction. Unless you’re including the possibility of alternate universes existing in parallel with the universe we perceive, there isn’t, in fact, any blurriness. An event either occurs in the world or it doesn’t. Mike Daisey either saw guards carrying guns at Foxconn or he didn’t. Errol Morris’ great film, “The Thin Blue Line,” is a meditation on this.

    Similarly, I’m always suspicious of the phrase “easy moralism,” which seems a sly way of dismissing, too easily, moral judgment. I think that intentionally misleading people is wrong. I think treating human beings as disposable machines in order to realize huge profits is wrong.

    Finally, is it really that hard to imagine a world without endless consumerism and consequent industrial development? Some of the posters here seem to have difficulty on that score, but I, for one, do not. I think about it every time I take a walk in the wooded park near my home. You don’t have to lose yourself in nostalgic fantasy to picture a world that is less congested and less polluted than the world we have now. The unchecked consumerist development we’ve pursued in the United States is not the only route to a better life for people in China. That path has led to countless benefits here, but it’s also produced a host of problems. You’re right that we have a hard time imagining alternatives, but that says more about our lack of imagination than it does about the possibility of alternatives.

    BTW, I’ve recently posted an essay on my blog that resonates with some of the issues discussed here. It’s about the karmic implications of the assembly line, and it’s headlined “Foxconn and Ford, Emerson and Jobs.”

    You can find it here:

    http://thequestionconcerningtechnology.blogspot.com/2012/03/foxconn-and-ford-emerson-and-jobs.html

    Thanks again for your thoughtful essay.

    Doug Hill

  12. What a novel idea: lying to manipulate listeners into accepting the liar’s notion of truth. Why did nobody ever think of that before?

  13. Flabberty-boo says:

    Your comment that the truth will bore people is an insult to the actual suffering of the workers.

  14. JessieHellman says:

    You make mention of Jimmy McNulty, but what about the other famous liar of seaons 5–Templeton? Daisey’s lies didn’t change conditions for workers as much as they did get him on Real Time With Bill Maher.

  15. Penandapad says:

    And since we live in a world that produces capitalist exploitation as reliably and as organically as militaries produce conflict and police produce criminals, we will always have difficulty in imagining what a system that didn’t organically do so would look like; we will always be confined to the solutions which that system produces for itself, which the world we live in makes thinkable, possible. ”

    It was a good article, but goes a bit off the rails here. People are surely able to imagine other worlds then the one they were born into. At least you’d agree that Marx or anarchist writers do this (though I’m not implying you agree).

    I agree these proposals are often light on details and subtlety, but that’s not only for lack of imagination. Human systems are not as predictable as others, so spelling out any plan to fix Africa or move away from capitalism has far too many variables and moving parts to plan in detail.

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