16 March 2020

Judith Butler, in her new book The Force of Nonviolence (excerpted here): “To link a practice of nonviolence with a force or strength that is distinguished from destructive violence, one that is manifest in solidarity alliances of resistance and persistence, is to refute the characterization of nonviolence as a weak and useless passivity. Refusal is not the same as doing nothing. The hunger striker refuses to reproduce the prisoner’s body, indicting the carceral powers that are already attacking the existence of the incarcerated. The strike may not seem like an ‘action,’ but it asserts its power by withdrawing labor that is essential to the continuation of a capitalist form of exploitation. Civil disobedience may seem like a simple ‘opting out,’ but it makes public a judgment that a legal system is not just. It requires the exercise of an extra-legal judgment. To breach the fence or the wall that is designed to keep people out is precisely to exercise an extra-legal claim to freedom, one that the existing legal regime is failing to provide for within its own terms. To boycott a regime that continues colonial rule, intensifying dispossession, displacement, and disenfranchisement for an entire population, is to assert the injustice of the regime, to refuse to reproduce its criminality as normal.”

(I came to this after hearing an excellent interview with Butler on Politics Theory Other.)