This intentionally provocative paper makes three interwoven arguments. First, that the rise of the far-right and of authoritarian and fascistic and fundamentalist regimes and organizations around the world (but especially in the country of the essay’s focus: the US) signals the emergence of a “revenge politics.” This term is here explored in two figures, one of early and one of late capitalism: Francis Bacon and Steve Bannon respectively. The second argument is that these emergence revenge politics cannot be seen except as part and parcel of the emergence of a form of “revenge capitalism” marked by a horrific illogic that compounds the routine cruelties of capitalist exploitation with new pathological tendencies. I offer a genealogy of revenge as a tool of the powerful, but one that consistently displaces the accusation of sick vengefulness onto those whom it oppresses and colonizes. This leads to the final point: whereas it has become taboo to mention revenge as a keyword of liberation, I excavate a hidden history of radical “avenging” from proletarian, feminist and anti-colonial struggles. I propose the notion of the avenging commons as a way of thinking through not only creating living alternatives to capitalism but also reclaiming wealth and reimagining value.
RiVAL, the ReImagining Value Action Lab, publishes VAGABONDS a series of peer-reviewed occasional working-papers aimed at activating and exciting the radical imagination. Seeking to escape the confines of academic publishing, we issue VAGABONDS in print in pamphlet form, on Medium.com for online reading, and in audio/podcast form for online and off-line listening.
VAGABONDS texts must be radical, must be rigorous and must be resonant, aimed at breaking with convention and offering new ideas that are in fruitful dialogue with the key social justice struggles of our age.
The series is named in honour of all those dispossessed people–commoners, fugitives and Indigenous–whose chosen or unchosen routes and passages were and are criminalized by the powerful.
Read it online at medium.com/rival-vagabonds
Listed to the audiobook version at rival.lakeheadu.ca/revenge
Download the PDF or eBook version at rival.lakeheadu.ca/vagabonds