I Would Simply Blow Up A Pipeline: the Left and Just Stop Oil

EDITION: 5th Birthday.

In their hostility to disruptive action, left intellectuals have much more in common with the authoritarian centrism of Keir Starmer than with actual militants.

This is the first part of a short series of texts theorising Just Stop Oil. Introduction, Part 2.

Just Stop Oil make, or ought to make, us confront our own failure, our own complacency, our own indifference, our own complicity. They make us confront our own failure because they show that resistance is possible. They deny us the consolation of taking refuge in our helplessness. But who then is the “our” of “our failure”? Almost all of us, without particular distinction. It includes, of course, the senior managers or owners of oil companies, the Prime Minister, the powerful figures of state, elected or unelected, and the media. But it also includes those of us, like me, for whom “the climate crisis” (on Just Stop Oil’s terms)1 is a (or the) central political issue. Those of us, like me, who write, or talk about, or publish work on ecology. What have I done, really, against “the climate crisis”? Very little in terms of what it means, or what response the situation demands. Does this inaction mean that I effectively (despite my theoretical concerns) condone what’s happening?

In exploring the left critique of Just Stop Oil it will, unfortunately, be necessary to rely mostly on tweets. For a wider criticism of disruptive climate action there are more sources, notably in the work of Andreas Malm, but tweets, including about actions undertaken by Insulate Britain, offer a useful source. Offering a slightly wider context of arguments around disruptive action is useful, moreover, given the promise to escalate disruptive action in April. One hopes that, if such an escalation is undertaken, those on the left who have criticised similar forms of disruption will change their minds. We will see.

Left writing on Just Stop Oil for publications has been very sparse, and this often reflects a cautious, sceptical attitude. From a quick search, Tribune appear to have published two pieces: one focusing on Labour’s attitude to policing of Just Stop Oil, and the other on how police treated journalists covering JSO’s actions. Indeed, the former goes out of its way to insist that it is wrong to “uncritically support” Just Stop Oil because they do not “directly oppose” capitalism, “the root cause” of the climate crisis. Novara have published more, including a good piece by Diyora Shadijanova against criticism of disruptive action from “armchair strategists”, which overlaps a little with my rejection of “I would simply” criticisms. However, extensive analytical treatments, especially those in sympathy with Just Stop Oil, have been absent. There has been greater engagement with Just Stop Oil on left TV shows like Tysky Sour (though this has largely focused on exploring the deficiencies of mainstream media coverage), and the Owen Jones Show, which notably gave Emma Brown space to present Just Stop Oil’s analysis and position.

The working class are invoked not as a revolutionary class, or even a potentially revolutionary one, but a group who must, at all costs, be spared “inconvenience”.

There have been a range of ‘left’ criticisms of Just Stop Oil, and particularly in the wake of their soup-throwing action, in which the glass protecting one of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers paintings was covered with canned tomato soup. Most of the criticisms amounted to little more than taking refuge in helplessness—a justification of indifference. Many were made in the name of “the working class”, who were invoked not as a potential basis for power or transformation, and still less as people who may have an interest in ecology or in taking action against “the climate crisis”. Not a revolutionary class, or even a potentially revolutionary one, but a group who must, at all costs, be spared “inconvenience”.2 Here parts of the left merge with Starmer and authoritarian centrism, not just in his particular criticisms of Just Stop Oil, but in their wider conception of “class politics”, wherein the existence of the state is justified through its suppression of politics, its suppression of possible working class inconvenience.

The absolute “strategic” prohibition on inconveniencing the working class in the imperial core is shared, moreover, by Andreas Malm’s How to Blow up a Pipeline, notably his description of Extinction Rebellion’s attempted disruption of the tube at Canning Town as “the stupidest action ever undertaken by the climate movement in the global North”.3 One can gloss these criticisms thus: “I would simply blow up a pipeline, rather than inconvenience some imagined working class cleaners or working class motorists”. Working class art lovers are, of course, never invoked—perhaps because to imagine such a group would be to imagine the working class as capable of thinking, activity, and culture, rather than a passive agglomeration of individuals, in need of protection from “inconvenience”. Here in a prohibition that is absolute, even as Malm goes to great lengths to refute moral prohibitions on violence, investigation into the possibilities of one form of leverage is blocked.

This prohibition on inconvenience is a long way from, for example, Raymond Williams’s call for socialists (and it is only socialists who can do this) to “make the junction” between the the concerns of the labour movement and those of “non-political” environmentalism. Malm’s own politics of the junction can be found in Corona, Climate, Chronic Emergency, where he calls for an “ecological Leninism”—though as Max Ajl has argued, this call, presented as the innovative product of Malm’s brilliant brain, ignores those already existing social forces who plausibly could be agents of such a politics:

Forest-dwellers, small peasants, the rural proletariat, the lumpenproletariat do not appear. Where is Bolivia’s Movement Towards Socialism (Movimiento al Socialismo), decapitated by a US-backed coup but resurging hydra-like thanks to stunning self-organised peasant and Indigenous self-defence and popular mobilisation?

We might note, moreover, that Malm’s conception of “ecological Leninism” is in fact a junction between two separate categories: the red (class politics, “Leninist” forms of organisation) and the green (ecological concern). This corresponds to the society/nature dualism which has been been critiqued by Jason W. Moore, and which Malm attempts to defend in The Progress of This Storm.4 Williams’s conception of the junction, by contrast, always draws on the implicitly socialist character of ecological politics, or the implicitly ecological character of socialist politics. It is, ultimately, far closer to Moore than to Malm. It is striking that, in the concrete situations which Ajl discusses, “ecological Leninism” emerges precisely from a lived non-opposition of society/nature that exceeds the imposed categories of traditional intellectuals like Malm.

Malm’s “ecological Leninism” is in fact a junction between two separate categories: the red (class politics, “Leninist” forms of organisation) and the green (ecological concern), which corresponds to the society/nature dualism.

For Malm, as well as influential figures on the British left such as Ronan Burtenshaw, “the working class” can never be more than what Jean-Paul Sartre called “a serial group”. Pre-empting Malm’s peevish outburst, Sartre’s foundational example of the serial group is a group of commuters, waiting in the bus queue, united only as “a plurality of isolations…they exist side by side alongside a bus stop”.5 The serial group, by necessity, cannot have political effects, though it can be, and often is, affected by politics; there is an “apparent”6 (and experienced) absence of structure in the gathering, yet this is only apparent. Indeed, there are shared interests among the group – for example, “the improvement of public transport, [or] freezing of fares”.7 These are, of course, political interests, but the serial group has no coherent capacity to act upon or towards them. This condition of being affected without the capacity to act, renders the serial group often quite bad-tempered. The general individualised tetchiness of the rush hour commute is something with which many of us are familiar.

So, where Malm wants to treat commuters’ bad temper towards environmental protestors8 as if it were a direct emanation of working class life, the authentic protest against inconvenience, we might instead, see is as the peevishness of the serial group – a serial group whose membership, as Sartre notes, comprises individuals from different classes.9 How can Malm grasp the class position of the angry Canning Town commuters merely from a video clip? For Malm, one commuter’s shout of “I need to get to work, I have to feed my kids”10 directly guarantees not only that the person shouting is working class, but that everybody else on the platform was, too. But why should it? It shouldn’t need to be pointed out that some people who work, and who are dependent on their wages – City traders, senior IT support workers, solicitors – are not working class.11 Short of conducting a full sociological survey of those present, how can Malm be so confident of their class position? Is this confidence rooted in the tacit assumption that any “mob” – any angry, violent, stupid group – must necessarily be working class?

For the traditional intellectuals or institutions of the left, positing the working class as a serial group – with no capacity to persist, to learn, to create, to have its own political effects, to resurge hydra-like – provides a useful justification for their own elevated status. Insisting upon the working class (or the broad mass of popular, exploited classes) as a serial group makes organic intellectuals impossible, and reinforces the distinction between leaders and led.

Neither can such a working class have its own effects from which a left intellectual may learn. Thus Malm invents ecological Leninism out of his own brilliant mind, and junctions are made first in thought and only then, as an effect of theory, in practice. Ultimately, the traditional left intellectual is always an idealist. The immediate assertion of the working class (conceived as a serial group) against Just Stop Oil relies on the dualistic notion that ecology and class struggle are external to one another. Because of this, paradoxically, it serves as one of the great restrictions on thinking class and ecology in their real entanglements, overdeterminations, and contradictions.

For the traditional intellectuals of the left, positing the working class as a serial group – with no capacity to have its own political effects – provides a justification for their own elevated status.

There could perhaps be a critique of Just Stop Oil as liberals with a can of soup (following Lenin’s “liberal with a bomb” epithet for Russian anarchist, populist and nihilist terrorists). However, if we take the Leninist tradition as consisting in a commitment to concrete analysis of concrete situations, the limits of this analysis become clear. Lenin’s counter to the ‘liberal with a bomb’, and their conformist political effects is, indeed, the class struggle: “only revolutionary classes,” he says, “can serve as a prop for parties which are to any real extent revolutionary.” In Bolivia, for example, things would be different—but in Britain, there is no social force that could be the agent of ecological Leninism. Leninism as concrete analysis of a concrete situation, considering the balance of forces and forms of organisation, diverges from “Leninism” as a set of transhistorical political and organisational commitments, which are applied, from above, to any and all situations.12

The other side of taking refuge in helplessness is this sort of “I would simply…” criticism. It’s a criticism which posits a desired socialist (or working class) environmentalism, or capacity for militant action, which does not in fact exist, against a politics which does, at least, have the virtue of actually existing.

Consider, for example, the PCS Museum Branch’s criticism of the Van Gogh action. They pointed to the work they had done with various environmental groups, which had led to the PCS conference having “repeatedly passed motions supporting the aims of climate change protests,” with members of pressure groups such as Art Not Oil, BP Or Not BP, and Culture Unstained supporting PCS pickets in return. Now, this is not nothing—there is a junction being made here—but equally, it is not very much. We should be able to understand the morally serious militants of Just Stop Oil feeling that, given the urgency of the situation (people, particularly but not only in the Global South, are dying now, and without dramatic changes soon things will get even worse), motions at PCS conference are not enough, and that treating them as some huge success looks very much like the same old indifference.

Given the urgency of the situation, motions at conferences are not enough, and treating them as some huge success looks very much like the same old indifference

It is not late 2019; there is no longer an opposition Party with a dedicated manifesto for nature, and which promises a combined Green New Deal and Green Industrial Revolution (a proposal which, unlike certain conformist or underworked versions of the GND, went some way towards making the necessary junctions). For Just Stop Oil, the wrecking of what junctions do exist—the loss of a few supportive conference motions—may be a small price to pay in such a grave situation, and insisting what has been joined represents anything like enough, and is the only possible path, looks like complacency and indifference.

Whether they are positing a fantasy of an actually existing powerful ecosocialist politics in Britain, or holding that the working class are an absolute limit on any climate politics (or both), left critics are, ultimately, terrified of politics, because politics might mean a loss of control for them. In 1982, Williams criticised the sort of unpolitical ecology (and this critique certainly could have been levelled at Extinction Rebellion)13 which addressed itself solely to various national or world leaders—“the leaders of the precise social orders which have created the devastation”—and begged those leaders “to reverse their own processes…to go against the precise interests, the precise social relationships, which have produced their leadership” At this juncture, we could and should extend the criticism to include the leaders of the labour movement, and its intellectuals (and I am not sparing myself from blame here).

One can publish as many articles as one wants saying “only anti-capitalism can save the planet”, but without militant and practical conclusions being drawn from this on a fairly large scale, these arguments start looking at best like flag-planting: a possessive claim on environmentalism that has little practical justification. At worst, they represent an alibi for continuing to do nothing until and unless actually-existing ecological struggle ‘correctly’ applies the given anti-capitalist arguments. Strikingly, whilst these arguments were common responses to the emergence of Extinction Rebellion, they have been made less often with Just Stop Oil. Perhaps, unlike Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil have not (yet?) reached a limit point where disappointed members might then be “recruited” to the left. Perhaps this is because that, post-2019, there is no substantial ecosocialist project to recruit people to. Ultimately, the argument that “Just Stop Oil…does not centre on systematic, socialist economic change”, when made, serves largely as a pretext for the left (and particularly the left most attached to the institutional labour movement) to ignore them.

Just Stop Oil have made something happen (though it is still unclear what), despite and outside of the institutions and the practices of the left. This critical indifference, and the disruptive tactics that result from it, represent a clear challenge to those on the left who are also the leaders of the social orders who have created the devastation (to borrow Williams’s terms). Indeed, as Althusser argues, trade unions and left-wing parties are part of the state apparatuses,14 not outside them. They (perhaps we) are not up to the task.

Politics proper requires a bravery, an élan, and an originary disobedience: a refusal of the authority of the given paths and the ‘correct’ way of doing things.

In large parts of the critical responses on the left to Just Stop Oil – and to environmental movements causing inconvenience more generally – what we see, ultimately, are arguments made by enemies of politics, because politics itself is disruptive. To argue that the political and intellectual big-hitters of the left are enemies of politics may seem eccentric; as such, it deserves some explanation. We might begin in 1938, with Bertolt Brecht’s criticism of broadly Stalinist literary functionaries, including Lukács in his (and the USSR’s) Popular Front period. These people were, as Brecht said:

enemies of production. Production makes them uncomfortable. You never know where you are with production; production is the unforeseeable. You never know what’s going to come out.15

One could quite easily rephrase this to describe the left opponents of Just Stop Oil. Politics makes them uncomfortable. You never know where you are with politics; politics is the unforeseeable. You never know what’s going to come out. Their need for predictability, and absolute control, renders them enemies of politics, just as Lukács’s abhorrence of experimental modernist literature rendered him an enemy of production.

Politics proper, then, requires a bravery, an élan, and an originary disobedience: a refusal of the authority of the given paths and the ‘correct’ way of doing things, and of those, including those on the left, who are the bearers of the ‘correct’ way of doing things. It is an intervention in a situation, but the situation is complicated, contradictory, overdetermined. Because of this, one can make something happen – but it’s never fully guaranteed what. Paralleling Brecht on production, the other crucial theorist that can help us understand this aspect of Just Stop Oil is Althusser, particularly his late “materialism of the encounter” or “aleatory materialism”, and the ways in which he draws upon Machiavelli’s analysis of Cesare Borgia. We might even say, in literature: production; in politics: the encounter.16

With the encounter, there are no guarantees. Firstly, there is no guarantee of the effects of the encounter; no guarantee that the effects will be what was intended. Effects are always aimed for, but in a situation in which the state and capital have considerable power both to shape the situation and, in being affected themselves, to shape those effects in their own direction. It is not just that there are no guarantees around the effects that will be produced by the encounter between an intervention and all other elements of the situation, but that that encounter may not last, or may not even have significant effects at all. As Althusser puts it, “the encounter may not take place or may take place. The meeting can be missed. The encounter can be brief or lasting.”17

Just Stop Oil may be a flash in the pan; the encounter could be brief. Indeed, any politics of revolutionary élan, of doing things differently, runs the risk of not lasting, or of not being intelligible. The politics of the encounter comes out of nowhere, within a void constituted by political powerlessness and the inadequacy of the previous ways of doing things. Just Stop Oil is rooted, in part, in a pessimism about the existing institutions of the state and of the left, and this pessimism constitutes the void. In a sense, the politics of the encounter always comes out of despair – but despair accompanied by the refusal to take refuge in helplessness. Popular capacities will never fully be closed down by any situation.

Althusser notes that Macchiavelli is silent about where the encounter of “Italian regeneration” should take place. This silence, which comes from grasping that, because of political weakness, there is no given place for the encounter, becomes “a political condition for the encounter.” Thus, Cesare Borgia: “a man of nothing who has started out from nothing starting out from an unassignable place”.18 Just Stop Oil too, started out from nothing, from an unassignable place, not given by existing institutions. Against taking refuge in helplessness, at least some of what Machiavelli teaches us is that there are always possibilities in a situation – though that never means that success is guaranteed. He wrote that Borgia was “so ruthless and talented…I can’t find anything to criticise”19 – and yet Borgia lost because of circumstances beyond all control: he became sick at the crucial moment. Success is never guaranteed, but to be young, daring, and impulsive is to have at least a chance of making something happen.20

Traditional intellectuals, whose stock-in-trade is their expertise, are unlikely to risk the embarrassment that would come from affirming something emergent that doesn’t stick.

Part of making something happen is demonstrating that the existing categories through which we understand politics are completely inadequate, and work mostly to reduce politics to an object of technical manipulation. Symptomatic here is the resort by some to conspiratorial explanation (whether as a pathetic joke, expression of frustration or serious claim). If they, the great experts in radical politics (and, as a state worker or traditional intellectual, it is this expertise that is sold on the labour market) could not understand it, or have predicted its emergence, it simply can’t be radical politics. Here, the relationship between the given categories and taking refuge in helplessness becomes clear. The logic is as follows:

  1. One is committed to the existing practices and institutions of the left.
  2. These practices and institutions have done very little of relevance with regard to climate change.
  3. Therefore, nothing can be done. Because there are no possibilities offered by the existing institutions, practices and categories – and there can, of course, be no possibilities from outside them – there are no possibilities in the situation.

This commitment to the existing categories and the ‘correct’ way of doing things represents a form of timidity. Traditional intellectuals, whose stock-in-trade is their expertise, are unlikely to risk the embarrassment that would come from affirming something emergent that doesn’t stick, or that has bad effects. The existing categories and grid of understanding cannot be applied, and this poses a problem for the intellectual, for whom these are also a place of safety. They allow no risks to be taken (and, following josie sparrow, almost automatic responses to be produced).

Instead of deriding what they can’t control, manage, or understand, what would it take for left intellectuals to recognise the primacy of the encounter over its theorisation?

Running counter to this timidity, Marxist theorists have sometimes been willing to risk falling into absurdity – an absurdity constituted by knowing that popular capacities can always break through, but that the situation ‘objectively’ demands despair. We see it in Stuart Hall’s ‘People Aid’ article (co-written with Martin Jacques), which presents the emergence of Live Aid and jogging (and their unification in Sport Aid) as offering new possibilities within the bleakness of the post-Miners’ Strike situation. “Politics,” the article begins, “is certainly unpredictable”. We see it, too, in Mark Fisher’s ‘Exiting the Vampire Castle’, in which the hoped-for regeneration of the left is brought about through Russell Brand: a man (at least from the perspective of traditional left politics) coming out of nothing, from no assignable place; a figure who is, in Fisher’s words, “moving, miraculous”. Fisher intuits correctly that some of the criticism of Brand was motivated by a fear of losing control, an attempt to apply given categories to an emergent situation. Ultimately, he cannot make good on this intuition, and ends up resolving it in a peevish and largely reactionary way, relying not on Althusser and Macchiavelli, but on on Nietzsche, Nick Land, and a kind of class politics that holds people in their place.21

Bob Geldof is Hall’s Borgia; Russell Brand is Fisher’s. There’s something slightly tragic about this. But the impulse behind both pieces is one of trying to affirm the encounter; they’re about possibility, a dialectic of optimism (something will happen because of popular capacities) and pessimism (the bleakness of the situation). In both Hall and Fisher, the willingness to take the risk of being ridiculous is worthy of respect. However, both were wrong. A commitment to the aleatory does not mean that one can totally suspend judgement; it means only that the existing categories cannot be timidly applied as a means of refusing to recognise the new.

Instead of deriding what they can’t control, manage, or understand, what would it take for left intellectuals to recognise the primacy of the encounter over its theorisation? Just Stop Oil don’t need this piece, though hopefully some of its militants may find it useful or interesting. I needed Just Stop Oil to happen to write it.

This is the first part of a short series of texts theorising Just Stop Oil. You can read the introduction here, and part 2 here.

  1. I am slightly cautious of “climate crisis” as a concept. I worry it takes for granted the transfer of intensified difficult (or worse) conditions for ordinary people to the terrain of politics. Indeed, part of the lesson of Just Stop Oil is that we must make that connection and transfer. I am worried too that “climate crisis” tends to aim to produce a distinct object of technical manipulation, isolating “climate crisis” from a wider, manifold crisis of capitalist ecology with cascading and often aleatory effects through the web of life. See Jason W. Moore. 2015. Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital. London: Verso Books. Nevertheless, I use it here as it reflects Just Stop Oil’s conceptualisation of the situation. 

  2. There is a particularly clear example of this pattern of thinking in the founding aims of the late, not terribly lamented, “Independent Group” (later, Change UK: The Independent Group, still later, merely, Change UK, and later still The Independent Group for Change), as well as for those of its founding luminaries who split: The Independents or, indeed, the Liberal Democrats. As josie sparrow put it at the time, “alienating policy jargon” and a distinct lack of radicalism are sustained by “appealing to some “pure” proletarian who miraculously and intuitively agrees with their anti-worker, technocratic proposals; “the vulnerable” appealed to in their mission statement, entirely passive and dependent; the figure, as Rancière notes, “for whom the possibility of losing [their] chains exists only by… decree”.” 

  3. Andreas Malm. 2021. How to Blow Up a Pipeline. London: Verso Books. p.82. Malm is more positive about Just Stop Oil’s National Gallery action, though he admits his original response was critical. Malm’s argument, however, is largely made in the service of sabotage of fossil fuel infrastructure, and not generalised disruption, with the action conceptualised as a form of awareness-raising that will run alongside sabotage: “We don’t know what, if anything, will work, which is why, perhaps, the movement needs both: flippant attention grabbing as well as surgical shutdowns, in a diversity of disruptions.” The absolute strategic prohibition on inconvenience is retained. Strikingly, significant parts of the left have also conceptualised the National Gallery action as an attempt to raise awareness, but have criticised it as such. 

  4. Andreas Malm. 2018. The Progress of this Storm: Nature and Society in a Warming World. London: Verso Books. pp.178-83,190-6. 

  5. Jean-Paul Sartre. [1960]. 2004. Critique of Dialectical Reason: Volume One, Theory of Practical Ensembles. Translated by Alan Sheridan-Smith. London: Verso. p.256. 

  6. Sartre. Critique of Dialectical Reason: Volume One. p.265. 

  7. Sartre. Critique of Dialectical Reason: Volume One. p.259. 

  8. Malm. How to Blow Up a Pipeline. London: Verso. p.81. 

  9. Sartre. Critique of Dialectical Reason: Volume One. p.256. 

  10. Malm. How to Blow Up a Pipeline. London: Verso. p.81. 

  11. See, for example, Poulantzas’s argument that, even based on “economic criteria” (that is, before we get on to the knottier questions about ideology and the social division of labour as a whole), wage earners in commerce and banks are outside the working class. 

  12. On “application” and the concrete, see Althusser’s argument regarding the theory of state monopoly capitalism “applied” by the French Communist Party in the late 1970s: “if you wanted to make [theory] ‘concrete’, you had only to apply it from above to anything that moves. Here too, the Party revived an old Stalinist tradition of dogmatic/speculative interpretation of Marxism: concrete truth is when you apply theory; theory is therefore the truth of truths, and in the end, concrete analysis becomes superfluous since it is only the truth applied. This schema of concrete truth as the ‘application’ of a higher truth had already wrought havoc in the Second International. The havoc reappeared under Stalin and did not leave the French Party untouched. Conceiving concrete analysis as the application of theory leads—unless one is diverted—into complete political dead-ends, which are still more serious than the effects of manufacturing a ‘theory’ to order.” Althusser contrasts this with “the concrete analysis of all the elements involved in the complex class relations or effects of a given situation.” Perhaps the most interesting use in Lenin is in his brief critique of Lukács’s essay ‘On the Question of Parliamentarianism’: “G. L.’s article is very Left-wing, and very poor. Its Marxism is purely verbal; its distinction between ‘defensive’ and ‘offensive’ tactics is artificial; it gives no concrete analysis of precise and definite historical situations; it takes no account of what is most essential (the need to take over and to learn to take over, all fields of work and all institutions in which the bourgeoisie exerts its influence over the masses, etc.).” 

  13. As josie sparrow put it, “developing Williams’s term… the XR leadership’s performative, impossible disavowal of the political is perhaps better understood not as ‘apolitical’ or ‘non-political’, but as antipolitical. It elides and conceals the ways in which politics operates through, on, and between us all, and in so doing, preserves and reproduces the same structures of power and authority that got us here.” 

  14. Louis Althusser. 2014. On the Reproduction of Capitalism: Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. Translated by G. M. Goshgarian. London: Verso Books. pp.94-139. 

  15. Bertolt Brecht and Walter Benjamin. [1934]. 2007. “Conversations with Brecht” in Aesthetics and Politics. Translated by Anya Bostock. London: Verso Books. p.97. 

  16. Louis Althusser. 2006. Philosophy of the Encounter Later Writings 1978-87. Translated by G. M. Goshgarian. London: Verso Books. 

  17. Althusser. Philosophy of the Encounter. p.172. 

  18. Althusser. Philosophy of the Encounter. p.172. 

  19. Niccolo Machiavelli. [1513] 2014. The Prince. Translated by Tim Parks. London: Penguin Classics. pp.40-1. 

  20. Machiavelli. The Prince. p.137. Machiavelli’s phrasing of this point rests on a particularly unpleasant and misogynistic metaphor, so I’ve paraphrased. 

  21. To put it most directly, we might say Fisher was right that some of the bearers of the “Vampire Castle”, were motivated by ressentiment, by a desire to assign all to the existing categories, by a hostility to the emergent but the bearers of the “Vampire Castle” were right that Brand was a sexist liability, no real basis for regeneration of the left.