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How do I engage in political masochism within a debate round?

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As a white person running wilderson (I could argue that I'm a blackened body since I'm Palestinian, however if we assume that I am solely white), how would I engage in what wilderson calls "political masochism" within the round? Could I do it with a narrative, at the beginning of my speech? For all those wondering, this question is based off of this card:

 

Wilderson 8 (Frank, “Biko and the Problematic of Presence,” in Biko Lives!: Contesting the Legacies of Steve Biko, p. 102)

Even if these White radicals had been persuaded by Biko and Black Consciousness that the essential nature of the antagonism was not capitalism but anti-Blackness (and no doubt some had been persuaded), they could not have been persuaded to organize in a politically masochistic manner; that is, against the concreteness of their own communities, their own families, and themselves, rather than against the abstraction of “the system”—the targetless nomenclature preferred by the UDF. Political masochism would indeed be ethical but would also bring them to the brink of the abyss of their own subjectivity. They would be embarking upon a political journey the trajectory of which would not simply hold out the promise of obliterating class relations and establishing an egalitarian socius (what less articulate and more starry-eyed White activists in the United States refer to as “vision”), but they would be embarking upon a journey whose trajectory Frantz Fanon called “the end of the world.”22 The “new” world that class-based political “vision” is predicated on (i.e., the dictatorship of the proletariat) isn’t new in the sense that it ushers in an unimaginable episteme; it is really no more than a reorganization of Modernity’s own instruments of knowledge. But a world without race, more precisely, a world without Blackness, is truly unimaginable. Such a world cannot be accomplished with a blueprint of what is to come on the other side. It must be undone because, as Biko, Fanon, and others have intimated, it is unethical, but it cannot be refashioned in the mind prior to its undoing. A political project such as this, whereby the only certainty is uncertainty and a loss of all of one’s coordinates, is not the kind of political project Whites could be expected to meditate on, agitate for, theorize, or finance. And though it might not be the kind of project that Blacks would consciously support, it is the essence of the psychic and material location of where Blacks are. Caught between a shameful return to liberalism and a terrifying encounter with the abyss of Black “life”— caught, that is, between liberalism and death—some White activists took up the banner of socialism, others espoused a vague but vociferous anti-apartheidism, and most simply worked aimlessly yet tirelessly to fortify and extend the interlocutory life of “the ANC’s long-standing policy of deferring consideration of working class interests . . . until after national liberation had been achieved.”23

 

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As a white person running wilderson (I could argue that I'm a blackened body since I'm Palestinian, however if we assume that I am solely white), how would I engage in what wilderson calls "political masochism" within the round? Could I do it with a narrative, at the beginning of my speech? For all those wondering, this question is based off of this card:

 

Wilderson 8 (Frank, “Biko and the Problematic of Presence,” in Biko Lives!: Contesting the Legacies of Steve Biko, p. 102)

Even if these White radicals had been persuaded by Biko and Black Consciousness that the essential nature of the antagonism was not capitalism but anti-Blackness (and no doubt some had been persuaded), they could not have been persuaded to organize in a politically masochistic manner; that is, against the concreteness of their own communities, their own families, and themselves, rather than against the abstraction of “the system”—the targetless nomenclature preferred by the UDF. Political masochism would indeed be ethical but would also bring them to the brink of the abyss of their own subjectivity. They would be embarking upon a political journey the trajectory of which would not simply hold out the promise of obliterating class relations and establishing an egalitarian socius (what less articulate and more starry-eyed White activists in the United States refer to as “vision”), but they would be embarking upon a journey whose trajectory Frantz Fanon called “the end of the world.”22 The “new” world that class-based political “vision” is predicated on (i.e., the dictatorship of the proletariat) isn’t new in the sense that it ushers in an unimaginable episteme; it is really no more than a reorganization of Modernity’s own instruments of knowledge. But a world without race, more precisely, a world without Blackness, is truly unimaginable. Such a world cannot be accomplished with a blueprint of what is to come on the other side. It must be undone because, as Biko, Fanon, and others have intimated, it is unethical, but it cannot be refashioned in the mind prior to its undoing. A political project such as this, whereby the only certainty is uncertainty and a loss of all of one’s coordinates, is not the kind of political project Whites could be expected to meditate on, agitate for, theorize, or finance. And though it might not be the kind of project that Blacks would consciously support, it is the essence of the psychic and material location of where Blacks are. Caught between a shameful return to liberalism and a terrifying encounter with the abyss of Black “life”— caught, that is, between liberalism and death—some White activists took up the banner of socialism, others espoused a vague but vociferous anti-apartheidism, and most simply worked aimlessly yet tirelessly to fortify and extend the interlocutory life of “the ANC’s long-standing policy of deferring consideration of working class interests . . . until after national liberation had been achieved.”23

 

 

I think Wilderson's argument here is that theoretically speaking, white people can engage in a praxis of political masochism, that is a process of readily affirming their own humiliation and death of their subjectivity, and it could be "ethical" in a sense because it is oriented towards the "end of the world"

 

I think the real thesis of the argument is in the quote : "is not the kind of political project Whites could be expected to meditate on, agitate for, theorize, or finance" 

 

In the context of this evidence, Wilderson seems to argue that in a vague sense, yes, "white afro-pessimism" could be a thing, but because of how whiteness operates and what political masochism entails in terms of affirming the death of white subjectivity, it's not a project that white people are going to want to do, or can be expected to do. 

 

My understanding is that under a Wildersonian interpretation of Afro-Pessimism, white people engaging in Afro-Pessimism is an oxymoron, because white engagement is anti-black in itself. Using the suffering of black bodies as a white person for the ballot only serves to reify a process of "safe distancing" by which you are able to think yourself as a "radical," while safely maintaining a distance from the real task of affirming your own death. White Afro-Pessimism would just make black bodies more fungible.

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This isn't exactly the card I was looking for, but it may help in understanding Wilderson's argument.

Wilderson ‘8 Associated Professor of African American Studies and Drama @ UC-Irvine (Frank B., Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid South End Press, pg. 407-411) //Amogh

So, let’s bust “We” wide open and start at the end: White people are guilty until proven innocent. Fuck the compositional moves of substantiation and supporting evidence: I was at a conference in West Oakland last week where a thousand Black folks substantiated it a thousand different ways. You’re free to go to West Oakland, find them, talk to them, get all the proof you need. You can drive three hours to the mountains, so you sure as hell can cut the time in half to drive to the inner city. Knock on any door. Anyone who knows 20 to 30 black folks, intimately—and if you don’t know 12 then you’re not living in America, you’re living in White America—knows the statement to be true. White people are guilty until proven innocent. Whites are guilty of being friends with each other, of standing up for their rights, of pledging allegiance to the flag, of reproducing concepts like fairness, meritocracy, balance, standards, norms, harmony between the races. Most of all, Whites are guilty of wanting stability and reform. White people, like Mr. Harold and those in the English Division, are guilty of asking themselves the question, How can we maintain the maximum amount of order (liberals at Cabrillo use euphemisms like peace, harmony, stability), with the minimum amount of change, while presenting ourselves—if but only to ourselves—as having the best of all possible intentions. Good people. Good intentions. White people are the only species, human or otherwise, capable of transforming the dross of good intentions into the gold of grand intentions, and naming it “change.” These passive revolutions, fire and brimstone conflicts over which institutional reform is better than the other one, provide a smoke screen—a diversionary play of interlocutions—that keep real and necessary antagonisms at bay. White people are thus able to go home each night, perhaps a little wounded, but feeling better for having made Cabrillo a better place…for everyone… Before such hubris at high places makes us all a little too giddy, let me offer a cautionary note: it’s scientifically impossible to manufacture shinola out of shit. But White liberals keep on trying and end up spending a lifetime not knowing shit from shinola. Because White people love their jobs, they love their institutions, they love their country, most of all they love each other. And every Black or Brown body that doesn’t love the things you love is a threat to your love for each other. A threat to your fantasy space, your terrain of shared pleasures. Passive revolutions have a way of incorporating Black and Brown bodies to either term of the debate. What choice does one have? The third (possible, but always unspoken) term of the debate, White people are guilty of structuring debates which reproduce the institution and the institution reproduces America and America is always and everywhere a bad thing—this term is never on the tale, because the level of abstraction is too high for White liberals. They’ve got too much at stake: their friends, their family, their way of life. Let’s keep it all at eye level, where Whites can keep on eye on everything. So the Black body is incorporated. Because to be unincorporated is to say that what White liberals find valuable I have no use for. This, of course, is anti-institutional and shows a lack of breeding, not to mention a lack of gratitude for all the noblesse oblige which has been extended to the person of color to begin with. “We will incorporate colored folks into our fold, whenever possible and at our own pace, provided they’re team players, speak highly of us, pretend to care what we’re thinking, are highly qualified, blah, blah, blah…but, and this is key, we won’t entertain the rancor which shits on our fantasy space. We’ve killed too many Indians, worked too many Chinese and Chicano fingers to the bone, set in motion the incarcerated genocide of too many Black folks, and we’ve spent too much time at the beach, or in our gardens, or hiking in the woods, or patting each other on the literary back, or teaching Shakespeare and the Greeks, or drinking together to honor our dead at retirement parties (“Hell, Jerry White, let’s throw a party for Joe White and Jane White who gave Cabrillo the best White years of their silly White lives, that we might all continue to do the same White thing.” “Sounds good to me, Jack White. Say, you’re a genius! Did you think of this party idea all on your own?” “No, Jerry White, we’ve been doing it for years, makes us feel important. Without these parties we might actually be confronted by our political impotence, our collective spinelessness, our insatiable appetite for gossip and administrative minutia, our fear of a Black Nation, out lack of will.” “Whew! Jack White, we sound pathetic. We’d better throw that party pronto!” “White you are, Jerry.” “Jack White, you old fart, you, you’re still a genius, heh, heh, heh.”) too much time White-bonding in an effort to forget how hard we killed and to forget how many bones we walk across each day just to get from our bedrooms to Cabrillo…too, too much for one of you coloreds to come in here and be so ungrateful as to tell us the very terms of our precious debates are specious.” But specious they are, as evidenced by recent uproar in the Adjunct vs. Minority Hire debates, or whether or not English 100 students should be “normed.” The very terms of the debate suture discussions around White entitlement, when White entitlement is an odious idea. White are entitled to betray other Whites, nothing else… Beyond that you’re not entitled to anything. So how could you possibly be entitled to decide who should pass and who should fail? How could you possibly be entitled to determining where the sign-up sheet for Diversity Day buses will or will not be placed, and how funds should be allocated? Okay…so some of you want to hire a “minority” as long as s/he’s “well mannered and won’t stab us in the back after s/he’s in our sacred house;” and some of you want to hire an adjunct (Jill or Jeffery White) because, “What the hell—they’ve been around as long as Jack, Joe, Jerry, and Jane White, and shucks fair is fair, especially if you’re entitled.” And entitlement is a synonym for Whiteness. But there’s only one job, because for years you’ve complained about the gate, while breathing collective (meaning White) sighs of relief that it was there to protect you from the hordes. (Somewhere down the street in Watsonville an immigrant is deciding whether to give his daughter or his wife up for the boss to fuck that he might have a job picking your fruit. Somewhere up the road in Oakland a teen is going to San Quentin for writing graffiti on a wall. And you’re in here trying to be “fair” to each other, while promoting diversity—whatever that means. By the time you’ve arrived at a compromise over norming or faculty hires—your efforts to “enlighten” whoever doesn’t die in the fields or fall from the earth into prison—the sista has been raped and the brotha busted. But then you’ve had a difficult day as well.) So, do what you always do. Hire the most qualified candidate. Here are some questions and guidelines to speed the search committee on its way and make everyone feel entitled.

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I think Wilderson's argument here is that theoretically speaking, white people can engage in a praxis of political masochism, that is a process of readily affirming their own humiliation and death of their subjectivity, and it could be "ethical" in a sense because it is oriented towards the "end of the world"

 

I think the real thesis of the argument is in the quote : "is not the kind of political project Whites could be expected to meditate on, agitate for, theorize, or finance" 

 

In the context of this evidence, Wilderson seems to argue that in a vague sense, yes, "white afro-pessimism" could be a thing, but because of how whiteness operates and what political masochism entails in terms of affirming the death of white subjectivity, it's not a project that white people are going to want to do, or can be expected to do. 

 

My understanding is that under a Wildersonian interpretation of Afro-Pessimism, white people engaging in Afro-Pessimism is an oxymoron, because white engagement is anti-black in itself. Using the suffering of black bodies as a white person for the ballot only serves to reify a process of "safe distancing" by which you are able to think yourself as a "radical," while safely maintaining a distance from the real task of affirming your own death. White Afro-Pessimism would just make black bodies more fungible.

 

Under a Wildersonian interpretation, is there anyway for a white person to reduce himself to "blackened" in some way. The card that you cut above made the point that it should never be expected of white people to engage in good intentioned revolution, does that mean that is always the case? Additionally do you think that if one was blackened they could run afropessimism without performatively contradicting their advocacy? Would it be a good idea to perhaps say that I am not advocating for afropessimism but believe we need to discuss it? I remember hearing that during an RFD of an LD round but am unsure.

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Under a Wildersonian interpretation, is there anyway for a white person to reduce himself to "blackened" in some way. The card that you cut above made the point that it should never be expected of white people to engage in good intentioned revolution, does that mean that is always the case? Additionally do you think that if one was blackened they could run afropessimism without performatively contradicting their advocacy? Would it be a good idea to perhaps say that I am not advocating for afropessimism but believe we need to discuss it? I remember hearing that during an RFD of an LD round but am unsure.

This still links

 

and for white people being blackened, look into Wildersons extensions on Fanon's discussions on The Holocaust - understand the distinction between ontological violence and structural violence, for Wilderson the violence that black bodies experience is ontological, the suffering other bodies experience is structural (so like it's not constitutive of their lived experience)  

Edited by Theparanoiacmachine

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This still links

 

and for white people being blackened, look into Wildersons extensions on Fanon's discussions on The Holocaust - understand the distinction between ontological violence and structural violence, for Wilderson the violence that black bodies experience is ontological, the suffering other bodies experience is structural (so like it's not constitutive of their lived experience)

 

I understand that blackened bodies are structurally oppressed and black bodies are ontologically oppressed. I am Palestinian not white (I look white though). My question is if it is a contradiction to run afropess as a blackened body?

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Certain lines of reasoning make me question id ptx in debate i.e. "I'm one 16th Cherokee, I know the native struggle and should be able to read red pessimism." Sometimes I feel like running these args becomes a quest to be seen as a blackened body, to showcase your scars. I feel like the question, "I'm asian/hispanic/something, am I black enough to run wilderson?" is a harmful line of thought. 

 

Not saying discussion over identity isn't important or valuable, just questioning it in debate.

Edited by Adidas06
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Certain lines of reasoning make me question id ptx in debate i.e. "I'm one 16th Cherokee, I know the native struggle and should be able to red pessimism." Sometimes I feel like running these args becomes a quest to be seen as a blackened body, to showcase your scars. I feel like the question, "I'm asian/hispanic/something, am I black enough to run wilderson?" is a harmful line of thought. 

 

Not saying discussion over identity isn't important or valuable, just questioning it in debate.

That is true. I do feel bad for rendering the conversation to this. If discussion over identity was not in debate, I wouldn't have asked this question since I would be able to run it at that point. But since it is an aspect of debate, I want to do a very thorough job of prepping for it. 

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This post isn't specific to "What does my alt look like", but I feel like this is also a discussion that should happen here. I don't know a lot about Wilderson, but I think there are a few very important points to consider when a non-black person reads Wilderson:

 

First and foremost, you should consider how much you combat antiblack violence in the real world. Do you actively try to make a difference (not necessarily from a pessimistic / Wildersonian perspective), or are you passive about it? Or, even further, do you want to read this argument just to win? If it's the latter two, you probably shouldn't read Wilderson

 

Next, you should note the line Wilderson draws between black bodies and blackened ones. Black =/= Blackened. This may get you into some issues regarding being a blackened body, speaking about black bodies, and may bring about a Tuck and Yang debate.

 

Next, functioning almost as a subpoint to the above statement, you should consider what it means to be white versus white passing. I don't know which you'd call yourself, nor how Palestinian you are (Sorry if that sounds offensive, not my intent), but "white passing" is a term to describe people who aren't white, but could pass off as one. For example, I have several Hispanic friends who appear white, but hold tightly to their Latinx culture, and come from Latinx parents. This could come into effect as an argument, as because you are white passing, regardless if you are blackened or not, you still don't face the oppression black bodies go through.

 

Finally, you shouldn't mould your identity to fit your alt. If you consider yourself white, then you shouldn't say "Yeah I'm also Palestinian" just for the sake of being able to read an argument. PLEASE, note here that I am not trying to deny you any kind of identity, but, I feel like you should not change what you normally identify as solely to read Wilderson.

 

If these are debates you are ready to have, and you feel comfortable reading this argument and not feel like you are commodifying antiblack violence, then I'd say go for it. Again, I don't know a ton about Wilderson, but these are my thoughts on the matter. 
 

If I offended anyone with this post, lemme know, I'll either clarify or remove it.

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You could always just read it as a structural criticism - which is to say, depersonalized (i.e. not claiming that your black). In this sense, you could argue for what you said above - that we need to talk about antiblackness. I think that what is getting you into trouble in these debates is that you're looking for some way to personalize antiblackness onto you; the problem is that you'll always end up with the conclusion that your existence and actions are a manifestation of the antiblackness that you're against (so like, you're the type of antiblackness that you criticize). Spin the debate to be it more about you utilizing the positionality you currently hold as a means to combat antiblackness and not be complicit within it - don't try to find ways that you could potentially be black, or blackened; rather look for ways in which you could use your own identity and the privilege derived from said identity/positionality to do something in the struggle against antiblackness. My team last year read Revolutionary Suicide as an advocacy statement, saying that because we're not black, all we can do is put our lives on the line against antiblackness. 

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You could always just read it as a structural criticism - which is to say, depersonalized (i.e. not claiming that your black). In this sense, you could argue for what you said above - that we need to talk about antiblackness. I think that what is getting you into trouble in these debates is that you're looking for some way to personalize antiblackness onto you; the problem is that you'll always end up with the conclusion that your existence and actions are a manifestation of the antiblackness that you're against (so like, you're the type of antiblackness that you criticize). Spin the debate to be it more about you utilizing the positionality you currently hold as a means to combat antiblackness and not be complicit within it - don't try to find ways that you could potentially be black, or blackened; rather look for ways in which you could use your own identity and the privilege derived from said identity/positionality to do something in the struggle against antiblackness. My team last year read Revolutionary Suicide as an advocacy statement, saying that because we're not black, all we can do is put our lives on the line against antiblackness

Did this come in the form of an alt, if so do you know where I could find a card for that alt? I know this is essentially the same thing that Centennial KK did in 2014 by running consciezation. Additionally what is the difference between political masochism (which was what I wanted my alt to be since I am definitely white passing) and revolutionary suicide?

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You could always just read it as a structural criticism - which is to say, depersonalized (i.e. not claiming that your black). In this sense, you could argue for what you said above - that we need to talk about antiblackness. I think that what is getting you into trouble in these debates is that you're looking for some way to personalize antiblackness onto you; the problem is that you'll always end up with the conclusion that your existence and actions are a manifestation of the antiblackness that you're against (so like, you're the type of antiblackness that you criticize). Spin the debate to be it more about you utilizing the positionality you currently hold as a means to combat antiblackness and not be complicit within it - don't try to find ways that you could potentially be black, or blackened; rather look for ways in which you could use your own identity and the privilege derived from said identity/positionality to do something in the struggle against antiblackness. My team last year read Revolutionary Suicide as an advocacy statement, saying that because we're not black, all we can do is put our lives on the line against antiblackness. 

Sorry for making this two posts. But another question I have is how would I perform "Revolutionary Suicide" other than just reading it. 

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Did this come in the form of an alt, if so do you know where I could find a card for that alt? I know this is essentially the same thing that Centennial KK did in 2014 by running consciezation. Additionally what is the difference between political masochism (which was what I wanted my alt to be since I am definitely white passing) and revolutionary suicide?

it was read as an advocacy statement last year in the Surveillance topic - look in the first few pages of Revolutionary Suicide by Huey P. Newton and he'll explain what revolutionary suicide is and what it entails for those who are, what he calls, "spiritually dead" (spiritual death sounds a lot like a symptom of social death, or an early rendition of it thereof). Not really conscientization btw, that's an erroneous misconfiguration.

 

Well, revolutionary suicide sounds like it could be interchangeable with political masochism in the sense Wilderson uses it - the put your life on the line to combat antiblackness sounds like an example of an accessible thing people who aren't black can do to combat antiblackness. 

 

Sorry for making this two posts. But another question I have is how would I perform "Revolutionary Suicide" other than just reading it. 

That comes down to what you do to combat antiblackness other than read it in the debate space - being a part of groups that are against antiblackness and actively protesting it's pervasiveness in Civil Society is a form of revolutionary suicide. There really isn't one predetermined, stringent way that one performs revolutionary suicide, it's different for different people and their circumstances. 

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That comes down to what you do to combat antiblackness other than read it in the debate space - being a part of groups that are against antiblackness and actively protesting it's pervasiveness in Civil Society is a form of revolutionary suicide. There really isn't one predetermined, stringent way that one performs revolutionary suicide, it's different for different people and their circumstances.

 

But how would I perform it in the debate space? I know that in the case of Centennial KK they read a narrative at the beginning of the round and used it as their in-round performance of the alt. I've been in advocacy groups that lobby for causes like criminal justice reform but the utter lack of bills is insane, do you think a narrative based around the lack of reform could be used to show that revolutionary suicide is the only option?

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But how would I perform it in the debate space? I know that in the case of Centennial KK they read a narrative at the beginning of the round and used it as their in-round performance of the alt. I've been in advocacy groups that lobby for causes like criminal justice reform but the utter lack of bills is insane, do you think a narrative based around the lack of reform could be used to show that revolutionary suicide is the only option?

Well to be completely honest I don't think revolutionary suicide is something you perform in a debate round - to me it sounds more like a platform that we can utilize to engage the anti-black world around us. I don't think there's really much of an onus on the affirmative to prove that their method can be 1) performed within a debate round and 2. solve the problems immediately after it is performed. Revolutionary Suicide is an unending process; there is nothing teleological about it, even within the context that it was written in, the Black Panther Movement, has not yet fully realized it's goals, but yet we churn on. 

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