The first print of Here Comes Trouble arrived just weeks before the United Kingdom voted to exit the European Union. Someone asked me about Brexit at the book launch on the 16th of June, just a week before the vote, and I had to say it was possible despite the savage public murder of Labour MP Joe Cox. But who could have predicted it, really? Then as now, no one seems to know what that political moment meant either practically or philosophically. However, it is important to note that, contrary to the class bashing that has ensued thereafter, it is now widely acknowledged that better off, protectionist middle class voters swung the vote for Brexit; to blame a racist white working class is in itself, inherently classist. The argument that severe cuts in public services meted out by consecutive Conservative governments triggered waves of discontent, does not suffice to explain events away. Neither, in my opinion, does the manipulation of voting behaviour through the tracking a profiling of voters online. Though, of course, both austerity and (anti)-social media played a part in amplifying xenophobia and other forms of white male exceptionist pain. The greedy, redundant, British Empire assertion that two in the bush are both our god given right and in fact better than one in the hand. Funny, when you think about it, we already had a trade deal with Europe.
The second edition of Here Comes Trouble was published just weeks before the United States voted to elect an incompetent, explicitly misogynistic, racist narcissist to the United States presidency. I am beginning to regret putting out a third. Perhaps I should criticise this man more creatively, but somehow the less attention we bestow upon a petulant child as it gasps for its mothers unshackled breast the better.
Two years on and the motivation behind Here Comes Trouble to examine social, physical, economic and linguistic systems in relationship to deviancy is as pertinent as ever. Far from the comforting historization of the persecution of woman as witches and the mentally disabled as demonic, the very practice of oppressing the vulnerable and disadvantaged is, arguably, in horrific resurgence. Detention centres for newcomers and mass deportations (such as the 100 Egyptians deported from Germany on March 8th 2018 for “visa violations”, as reported by The Rahnuma Daily), reflect part of a new and at the same time very old persecution of people of colour by white Europeans.
I have personally fought against historical amnesia in the production of this work. It should therefore be made clear: to equate instances of white slavery by non-European nation-states with the scale of the white transatlantic slave project - as apologists for colonial legacies do - demonstrates an unstable, racially sociopathic position.
As Paul Seabright Professor of Economics at the University of Toulouse, France, states in his 2018 BBC Radio 4 series on “Conflict and Cooperation, A History of Trade”, at least twelve million slaves of colour were transported to the Americas;
(…) at its height one newly enslaved person was sent across the Atlantic every seven and a half minutes, day and night, three hundred and sixty five days a year, for one hundred years.
And one person died every hour during that century as a direct product of industrial slavery carried out on the high seas, often from sickness or being thrown to drown for fear of contaminating others.
In 2018, the British government still refuses to apologise or begin restitution for these barbarous acts. If anything, Brexit expresses nostalgia for this bloody and shameful legacy while dehumanising displaced persons. Many of whom have been displaced precisely by the continued malaise of so called post-colonialism.
In 2018, one could say that since the first appearance of the book, Here Comes Trouble, the deviant form has been formulated in the oppression of the feminine. Women have moved the political discourse to a serious debate about the chronic abuses of power within patriarchy. This tuning has also caused many of us men to re-asses our past endeavours with close feeling, qualified by honest reflection. I can only hope and push for a world in which equal pay, rights and representation for men and women of all backgrounds remains among the top priorities for global power in anticipation of a better system altogether.
In this regard, the #Metoo movement is a welcome product of the new networked age. Among a bleak landscape of ‘alternative facts’, psychological profiling, and racially biased algorithmic policing, new tech is anything but a benevolent force today. The #Metoo movement may well be the most positive example of what the internet can achieve for progressive ideas amongst the detritus of early 21st Century digital history. Though many dynamic, deviant forms of knowledge are the direct heirs of the new networked age, I’m also not the only one to think of the internet as a tragic form of lost commons. Outside of a serious move made by state or citizen powers to create an online environment outside of capitalist parameters, the internet is due to become a dubious ally in the construction of progressive, political debate during the anthropocene. As the nature of energy production and informational exchange mutate they give rise to new social and material paradigms. All markets are regulated. Therefore the structures deployed to achieve this regulation, operating through technological apparatuses under predictive principles (as with thermodynamics but also internet hashtags), will require close analysis under the prism of deviant knowledge, its production and human behaviour. Humanity will always work to expand the parameters laid out by our forbeares. How the novel form is received and regulated must too evolve. With new interfaces between the mechanical and the organic, that which defines the value of humanity will come under great scrutiny. The study of deviancy does not therefore end with the book in hand. There is, dear reader, plenty more trouble to come.
Alex Head, Spring, 2018