On Politics, Punishment, and Pleasure

I saw this headline in a screen shot on Twitter and had to Google it to make sure it wasn’t “fake news”:

“Biden hopes to avoid divisive Trump investigations, preferring unity”
Biden has told aides that he’s concerned that investigations would divide the country but that he would leave decisions up to an independent Justice Department.

We already know Biden is just going to keep the machine going. He (and Harris) don’t have any progressive or radical wrenches to stop the wheels from turning. A recent example of this is the re-hiring of Cecilia Muñoz who, under the Obama administration, defended the Deporter in Chief’s mass deportation policies and immigration concentration camps – where children remain in cages. Where illegal hysterectomies are done. Yes, we know abolition – or reform – is not on this administration’s agenda.

But to shield a Murderer/Rapist/Racist in Chief from legal investigations? From “justice?” From punishment? Here’s where it gets tricky for me: I believe in abolition. I want to help work towards a world that does not equate “justice” with punishment. But, to be completely honest, I also want Donald to rot in a prison cell. And then rot in hell (even though I’m a recovering Catholic and don’t buy in to the whole heaven/hell thing anymore).

Which brings me to Tuesday. I was witness to “50 Years of Imagining Radical Feminist Futures: A Conversation with Angela Davis and adrienne maree brown.” Davis has been denouncing the prison industrial complex and urging us towards abolition long before #DefundthePolice / #AbolishPolice chants and signs became the norm at current social uprisings. She’s also been asking us to recognize that the state /justice system informs our emotions around punishment in our personal relationships. More specifically, why do we instinctually want to make others hurt equally or more if they hurt us? Similarly, brown challenges us to examine our relationship between punishment and pleasure. During the panel, brown asked, “Why do we enjoy policing each other? What would satisfy our need for accountability?”

How do we make accountability pleasurable? It feels outrageous to type that and read it aloud to myself. And to try and fit Tru*p into this equation – into accountability outside of punishment – is probably not the best place to begin because I can’t even “radically imagine” that. If we know that inflicting punitive justice does not help us, then why it so difficult to stop?