Introduction: People Building the New Hegemony
Issue #1, September 1992
"[T]he 'bad subjects'...on occasion provoke the intervention of one of the detachments of the (repressive) State apparatus. But the vast majority of (good) subjects work all right 'all by themselves', i.e. by ideology... "
--Louis Althusser, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses"
Two years ago, a number of graduate students, mostly from the English department, came together to discuss the problem of how to put their political principles into practice within the terms of their professional responsibilities as academics. Two of these people, Seth Moglen and Irene Tucker, led an effort to organize a conference to address this problem. An outgrowth of these events was the formation of a group known as the Politics Collective, which has been sponsoring public discussions concerning current issues and events in culture and politics for the past year or so. Many of us who participated in these discussions felt that we had collectively come up with ideas that, if written up, would merit the attention of a wider audience. Last fall, Elliott Colla, Joe Sartelle and Annalee Newitz came up with the original idea for Bad Subjects; since then, Elliott has received a Fulbright fellowship and is going to Cairo, where he will serve as Bad Subjects' first foreign correspondent. We hope that this newsletter can help to promote radical thinking about the political implications of everyday life. In the tradition of the post-60s American left, we at Bad Subjects believe that the personal is political; we also believe that the left needs to rethink seriously its understanding of the connections between the personal and the political. The purpose of a Bad Subjects article is to take a stand, preferably one which is defiant of conventional leftist wisdom in the service of leftist politics; principled defiance is part of what it means to be a "bad subject." A bad subject is also a subject unafraid to imagine what it would mean to participate in a Utopian community in which freedom does not mean anarchy and structure does not mean domination. Rather than trying to explain more elaborately what we are looking for in a Bad Subjects article, we would prefer to allow the contents of this issue to serve as examples. In this issue, we address the relationship between professional, personal and political commitments.
But we can't be bad subjects all alone--only good subjects work well "all by themselves." That's why we need your help. We want you to write essays for Bad Subjects too. Some, but not all, issues will have a particular theme. We are currently soliciting contributions for next month's issue (deadline is Sept. 18th) on any aspect of the culture and politics of the 1992 election and Presidential campaigns. We are also looking for suitable essays on any topic for future issues. We will accept submissions at any time; special issues with a particular theme will have deadlines that we will announce well in advance. Submissions should be no more than eight pages in length, double-spaced. Leave two copies, along with your phone number, in either of the editors' mailboxes inside 322 Wheeler. We will call you if we want to print your essay; please include a SASE if you want your essay returned.
We plan to make each issue available on the first Wednesday of every month in the Bad Subjects box on the table across the hall from the English Dept. Office, 322 Wheeler Hall (UC Berkeley). This publication is produced with donated labor (special thanks to Charlie Bertsch for his valuable help!), so we can't make any firm guarantees about distribution dates--if we can't get an issue out on time, a notice will be posted at the Bad Subjects distribution box telling you when it will be available. We w ill refill the box each afternoon as long as our resources hold out. That's why we'd like you to HELP US OUT BY XEROXING copies for anyone else you know who is interested.
Welcome to Bad Subjects. Enjoy the trip.