Photo: Diana al-Hadid, Nolli’s Orders, 2012. Piece made from polymer, gypsum, fiberglass, steel, wood, polystyrene, plaster, aluminum foil, pigment. Photo by Jason Wyche. The piece depicts the social, economic, and psychological breakdown of Syria as a result of the imperialist war against that country.
Statement by Abram Johannes Frederick Lutes:
Peripheral Thought is a media collective with the intention of bringing together contributors of diverse national, political, disciplinary, and educational backgrounds. Our horizons are transnational, the scope of the problems and challenges we see through our respective lenses, global. Unlike mainstream journals, magazines, and platforms of a similar type, which often proscribe the prevailing world order as universal and immutable, we seek vantage points grounded in particular histories and legacies, with an eye towards building a world after capitalism, globalization, and imperialism.
Various journals and publications have appeared in the English-speaking world with a similar mission, one notable example is the The Anti-Imperialist Review, published by the League Against Imperialism. Their first issue, opening with the manifesto “Why We Appear” was published in the tumultuous year of 1931. Similar to the Review, Peripheral Thought “appears” at a tumultuous time where cracks in the world system become more evident seemingly by the day. Also like the Review, Peripheral Thought is based in the primarily global core, and we seek to elucidate a coherent theoretical defence of anti-imperialism, as well as examine the workings of empire. Thus, without implying any delusions of grandeur, Peripheral Thought sees itself in the tradition of the Anti-imperialist Review.
Our task is to help shape a critique of the present as a vehicle for a different, better world free from empire. The work of Peripheral Thought documents and interprets the conditions that face us, while honestly evaluating the balance of forces working against the current system. While such work is can be primarily understood as “commentary”, we understand the necessity to go beyond mere appraisal and criticism. The material we publish is meant as an intervention not just in the theoretical concerns, but also of the organization and strategy. We seek to be embedded in existing resistance, not above it.
We believe all this is relevant and resonant with the world’s working classes. While we insist on academic rigour, part of our mission as an open-access, web based project is to make our work as accessible as possible to wider audiences outside of academic confines, who very often are the populations on the front lines of the struggles and tensions we seek to document and examine. Thus, we invite and encourage contributions and feedback from people from all backgrounds and not just those of the ivory tower.
On the language of “Periphery” and “Core”
“…all plots are united; they are waves that seem separate, and yet they mingle.”
– Louis Antoine de Saint-Just
The name Peripheral Thought refers to a Periphery in world-systems theory, a framework we draw from frequently in our analysis. The “global periphery” under capitalism is synonymous with the global south; the vast majority of the world, composed of colonized nations engineered to serve global empire and transnational capital, which at this current juncture in history is centred in the United States and to a lesser extent Canada, Great Britain, and the European Union. The exploitation of the periphery’s natural and mineral resources, land, and labour, sustains the dominance of the “core” countries, particularly their elite. The name Peripheral Thought emphases our commitment to challenging the dominance of American and American-influenced theory in our understandings of the contemporary world, and sustain an intellectual foundation in those frameworks and theories developed or inspired by the struggle of the periphery.
Occasionally, we will play with the metaphor of core and periphery as a means of drawing out insights about the impact within the core countries of sustaining and expanding empire. In particular the relationship between empire and neoliberalism, alienation, knowledge and identity production, militarization, settler colonialism and “internal” colonialism, and working class and (anti) free-trade, politics.
As of February 2018, Peripheral Thought will contribute the broad mission described here by featuring articles, book and journal excerpts, and news reports as well as original written and multimedia content specifically discussing:
- socialism/communism and other anti-systemic movements
- the economic and cultural decline of neoliberalism
- global and local working class resilience and resistance
- globalization and anti-globalization/ nationalism, borders, and sovereignty
- transnational capitalism and liberal imperialism
- Indigeneity, and economic and intellectual Indigenization movements
- Latin America, (neo) extractivism, and the politics of South-South cooperation
- the political economy of knowledge production in higher education, especially student movements, freedom of thought and expression, and ideological hegemony
We approach these themes from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing out the best from sociology, anthropology, and political economy while grounding our theory in the practical experiences we and our collaborators are embedded in. We do this because we understand that examining empire and imperialism is impossible within the confines of a single social science. To scrutinize empire whilst illuminating effective resistance requires examining everything from global supply chains, down to the everyday experiences of farming a plot of land or mortgaging a house, and back up in conceptual scale again.
In summary, the concerns of this website, broadly understood, are a critique of imperialism, neoliberalism, and globalization, and the development of anti-imperialist perspectives on global and local social problems.