A Philosophy for Communism: Rethinking Althusser Panagiotis Sotiris attempts a reading of the work of the French philosopher centered upon his deeply political conception of philosophy. Althusser’s endeavour is presented as a quest for a new practice of philosophy that would enable a new practice of politics for communism, in opposition to idealism and teleology. The central point is that in his trajectory from the crucial interventions of the 1960s to the texts on aleatory materialism, Althusser remained a communist in philosophy. This is based upon a reading of the tensions and dynamics running through Althusser’s work and his dialogue with other thinkers. Particular attention is paid to crucial texts by Althusser that remained unpublished until relatively recently.
This chapter introduces the notion of the coloniality of homelessness as a way to make sense of how the anthropological imaginaries of Euro-American sovereignty were mapped onto a political economy of homelessness and nomadic forms of life and labor. By tracing the conceptual mapping of homelessness through the colonial encounters of anthropology and urban ethnography, we can see how constructions of homeless culture are bound up with the racial logics of Eurocentrism that distinguished superior Aryan races from inferior nomadic ones. The coloniality of homelessness, therefore, refers to the way in which the very notions of home and homelessness were constructed through a chronotopology of modernity that divides bodies and populations into a racial logic of modern and pre-modern forms of space, time, life and labor. This insight, I argue, helps make sense of the claim that the very concept of homelessness obscures the issue of housing, which is itself a project of both neoliberalism and colonialism.
Homeless youth present a problem for the entire community. Children are vulnerable to falling through the net as levels of support break down; institutions that are designed to shelter them often fail runaway children. They are the major focus of this chapter and the lack of support they receive to forge their own identity. So they risk it on the street. One moral dilemma created by institutions is whether to fulfill the rights claims of parents to reunite them with their children and the safety of the children, not knowing the environments from which they fled. A concept of community is analyzed that is most fitting for the predicament of these children. It is argued that the meaningfulness of an individual’s life, the homeless youth, can be in a community that is viewed as normative, enhancing support for a quality life together.
The distinction between the artes liberales (liberal arts) and artes serviles (servile arts) is a distinction going back to the Greek world. One field of study is devoted to use-less knowledge (understood as significant though non-pragmatic), and the other devoted to practical, pragmatically justified problems in the concrete world of daily labour. While the details of such a distinction require delineation, the basic idea emerges: Practical problems are conceptually distinct from philosophical ones—in the strong, Platonic conception of philosophy (as the use-less love of wisdom). Problematically, though, this implies that ethical questions are bound to the use-less, that is, the questions addressed are pursued with no reference to social and political utility. This, I suggest, creates a form of cognitive dissonance. I will argue, the distinction denotes two spaces which, inevitably, have the potentiality to overlap. More than that, their point of interaction resides in precisely the points at which philosophical speculation has direct bearing on practical, servile questions. One of these areas, I argue, resides in ethical debates—including the problem of homelessness.
One third of the homeless population is mentally ill. This chapter demonstrates that percentage is sustained by a Libertarian view of rights; namely negative rights. Such rights do not fulfill the subsistence rights, rights that are positive and claim security, food, and shelter. The right to have a home is stymied by a series of ad hoc ordinances which satisfy rights of non-interference which leaves homeless to fend for themselves on the streets. An argument is developed for autonomy in proportion to what can be exercised by people without a home; conventional autonomy. Conventional autonomy overrides libertarian autonomy and defends the claim rights of the homeless to have a home.
The following is a narrative examination of homelessness through the conversations and stories of two homeless men, George Waters and John “Pops” Moore, whom I came to know through my work at a Boston homeless shelter. I use a narrative style rather than a more academic analysis because my interest in the homeless was born not out of an interest in homelessness as abstract institution, but out of many conversations I came to have with actual homeless people living on the streets, in abandoned buildings, dumpsters, and subway stations. I hope, through this approach, to move past the institution of homelessness and focus instead on individual homeless people.
The value of household is important in Aristotle for exercise of autonomy. In this chapter autonomy is central to supportive arguments of rights to a home and civic personality. One can find analogous lack of autonomy in American slaves’ as they are deprived of property and thereby a home with the plight of the homeless. It is argued that autonomy is a necessary condition for full development of moral personality. Since our society makes the home primary locus of autonomy it hinders full moral personality among the homeless.
This chapter examines the homeless’ right to public dwelling such as libraries and parks. The increased number of ordinances that restrict their taking refuge in public locations due to perceived dangerousness and offensiveness is shown to be baseless. Instead, the economic system is designed in such a way that it marginalizes the most vulnerable citizens by denying them safe space off perilous streets. After demonstrating several arguments as weak, it is concluded that the homeless have rights to public dwelling as their alternatives are restricted from their options.
This chapter presents the political thought of Hannah Arendt and examines how her views about public and private space are essential to democratic participation. Human nature requires a home, a base for happiness from which one’s activities can lead to public and complete happiness. The homeless lack a private space, so remain vulnerable to the public look as well as the elements of weather. The chapter argues that the local homeless analysis is transferable to wider global homelessness, much of it caused, as it is in the twenty-first century, by people fleeing totalitarian states. Her work uncovers the existential and political necessity for having a home.
The interactions and perceptions of homeless people and law enforcement officers have not been widely researched to date. However, the research that has been conducted has generally shown that homeless people do not hold high levels of trust toward police officers. The current study adds to what we do know about how homeless men view police officers by allowing homeless men residing at an emergency homeless shelter in a large, urban city to share their opinions and to discuss their previous interactions with law enforcement officers in focus group sessions. Several salient themes were evident across the focus group sessions: homeless men do not trust law enforcement officers and actively avoid any interactions with them; they believe that law enforcement officers perceive them to be involved in criminal activity and problematic; they believe that the business community shares these views; the gentrification that is occurring makes the situation worse as homeless people believe they are more unwanted than ever; homeless men try to conceal their homeless status while outside of the shelter to avoid negative interactions; and stigma occurs as a result of their homelessness.