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The Hypocrite Reader publishes reportage, criticism, history, sociology, theory, creative non-fiction, translations, manifestos, leaks, analysis, popular science, synthesis, verse, wedding announcements, and Viking-themed erotica. Just because something doesn’t fit into any of those categories doesn’t mean we won’t publish it.


We are currently assembling our July issue, “More Government,” and our August issue, "Bar." Please submit article prospectuses for August to hypocriterdr@gmail.com by July 15. A prospectus is a paragraph or so explaining what your article is going to be and giving an approximate word count. If we don’t already know each other, it would be helpful to have a few sentences about you, including any areas of expertise and previous writing experience, but no need for a full cover letter or anything like that. At the Hypocrite Reader we practice activist editing and pay our writers only in sincere appreciation. Feel free to submit prospectuses for issues further in the future as well: our September theme will be "Free Money," October "Vices and Devices," November "Lovers and Friends," December "Nocturne," and January "Dear Mom."

More Government

“I do not think that the will not to be governed at all is something that one could consider an originary aspiration. I think that, in fact, the will not to be governed is always the will not to be governed thusly, like that, by these people, at this price. As for this will not to be governed at all, I think it is the philosophical and theoretical paroxysm of something that would like to be this relative will not to be governed.” (Michel Foucault, “What is Critique?”)

The question, “should there be more government, or should there be less?” is tendentially a right-wing question, one which prejudices the issue to the right. Perhaps no one today would confess to wanting to be more ruled, even though obedience certainly has pleasures of its own; such humility is considered dangerous as well as unbecoming. But what gets elided by the question of “more government” are the forms of power the state displaces as it expands into new domains. Compulsory education limits the power of my parents, state pensions the authority of my children, employment law the power of my bosses, divorce and custody law the power of my lovers to control me. More government: less parenting, less management, not less power but a different and perhaps more tractable form of power. The Leviathan state invades “our” (whose?) homes and businesses, rendering them less dangerous places to live and work.

Or else it invades them differently, makes them more dangerous; historically it has certainly done both. Modern state power is a tool at the disposal of whoever can seize it; there are few ends for which it cannot be used. But the framework of classical liberalism, which identifies state power with power simply, reflects a decision to remain ignorant of more intimate powers--a decision which the profoundly suspect concept of “totalitarianism” serves to support even today. It is an open question whether “power” in general can ever be decreased; the call for “less government” is always a demand for some other way of ruling and being ruled.

“For three days, as the weary, marooned soldiers clutched their rifles in the wilting sun, he recalled how residents and students brought them food and escorted them to toilets, all the while bombarding them with the message that theirs was a just cause. 'Even in the restroom, there was no reprieve,' Mr. Chen said in an interview. 'If one student would go hoarse yelling, another would take his place.'” (Chinese soldier stationed in Beijing in 1989, two weeks before the army took the square.)

Hegel says somewhere in the Philosophy of Right that the bourgeoisie is the first upper class whose ideal is a non-political life. Government is something we delegate, the “night watchman” stays awake so we don't have to, laws are like sausages, politics is dirty when it's not boring and most often both. All this would have been unrecognizable to, for example, the Ancient Greek elite, for whom engaging in politics was the best and highest thing in life. (The gleeful contrarianism of Plato's claim that philosophy is *even better than politics*, that from the perspective of the philosopher *even politics* is a miserable business, is lost on us.) And the liberal-democratic system of political representation that this bourgeoisie gave birth to--voters possess the right of self-government only insofar as they delegate it at each election, the will of the people is transmuted in the ballot box into their dutiful consent every couple of years to continue to be governed.

Perhaps all these squares and parks in the news in the past few years--Tahrir Maidan Zuccotti Gezi et cetera--represent among other things a refusal to be represented. You can't be represented if you're present, or that at least is the hope; so you take over a little plot of land and refuse to absent yourselves. And the endless open-ended arguments which take place in this space beyond representation, covering everything from where the trash should go and whether the tents should be moved to the nature of justice and freedom, provide a glimpse of what it might be like to govern. It's a hopeless strategy, of course: you win or you lose but either way the park gets cleared eventually, and politics retreats into the elsewhere of representation. But the memory persists of a political happiness, of a bottomless desire for politics--the intuition that governing ourselves, in all its range in detail, really is the very best thing we can do.

Send in a prospectus by June 22nd on any relevant topic, including:

  • Parks and Recreation
  • Etymons: govern comes (via Latin) from Greek kubernao (whence our cyber- prefix): to steer, act as helmsman, perform certain (!) rites.
  • Strategies vs. tactics (recourse of the empowered vs. that of the disempowered)
  • Safe words vis-à-vis the government
  • Money and other laws of the household
  • Practices of self-government: psychotherapy, exercise, hygiene, dietary restrictions. “Taking care” of onself. “It's good for you.”
  • The appeal of government scandals
  • “Information” and “privacy”
  • The art of the commune
  • Science fiction
  • Political theology
  • The intellectual legacy of anarchism
  • The State--an adequate concept? Or does it mass the multiplicity and heterogeneity of what's going on? ...what is going on?
  • The sorts of state-technology that will be required to handle the ecological and economic crises entailed by global warming
  • The withering away of the state after the Revolution, and what comes after (more science fiction)
  • Machiavelli Hobbes Spinoza


If you’d like to provide thematically appropriate illustrations for a future article (photographs, collages, digital art, etc.) please send us a sample of your work at hypocriterdr@gmail.com. If we like you, we’ll suggest an article in the upcoming issue for you to illustrate.


Thanks for asking! The Hypocrite Reader accepts donations to help fund our print anthologies. If you’d like to help support the project, you can contribute through our PayPal account, which is linked to the email address hypocriterdr@gmail.com. If you would like to contribute through means other than PayPal, get in touch and we’ll be happy to work something out. All donations will go towards the publication of the anthologies and nothing else. Note that we are not registered as a nonprofit and donations are, unfortunately, not tax-deductible.


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