Filed under: reviews, war-machine | Tags: civil war, communism, empire, french, introduction to civil war, journal, on war, other means, sass, sassy, thought, tiqqun, war
From the IEF blog:
“Introduction to Civil War is an alternative origin myth. Introduction to Civil War is the vademecum when you show up to fight club, or any strange twelve-stepesque community of friends. Introduction to Civil War is the book to keep out of the hands of children who are ready to subtract themselves and all of their classmates and teachers from production. Introduction to Civil War is a molecule of a war machine.
The text was originally published in Tiqqun 2, a short-lived French journal of radical thought. Emerging out of the fervent struggles of the European anti-capitalist movement, Tiqqun located itself within a nexus of radical feminist thought, Foucault’s studies on biopolitics, Italian Autonomia, situationist-inspired theory, and Benjaminian approaches to history. The editors intentionally practiced a desubectivizing operation of anonymity, and the texts themselves, a feminist/Deleuzian operation of multiplicity. Where there are many links between the journal’s thought and the editors’ participation in the struggles of the late ’90s and early ’00s, it would be difficult to claim Tiqqun as specifically “anarcho-autonomous,” “ultra-left,” or whatever else Sarkozy and Glenn Beck claim to be the ideological bogeyman behind the French editors, who are now being accused of this or that terrorist enterprise (see: Nov. 9 ‘09 Tarnac Arrests). Tiqqun was a journal that examined the exceptional situation of everyday concentration camps, and theorized from that point, highly influenced by Giorgio Agamben. Today, Tiqqun’s contributions are becoming available to English speaking worlds, and their final concept “civil war” emerges as visible and viable.
Civil war: the continuation of communism by other means. History will decide whether or not civil war replaces Foucault’s concept of contesting the meaning of the social (social war), but one thing is clear from Tiqqun’s contributions: if the social has dissolved, and governance is now only techniques of managing its collapse, then civil war becomes the necessary condition of this existence. And if this is the case, then the last bit of poetry found at the end of Introduction to Civil War, “How is it to be Done?,” may be accurate in exclaiming the only way for us, within this condition of global civil war, to touch on our humanity again will be in a collective negation, namely, an unlimited human strike.
Civil war presupposes the state. Even by advocates of the state’s own admission, the state serves as a preventative measure. Tiqqun locates the elementary human unity not in the body, which quickly becomes subject, but in form-of-life (16). Since all thought is strategic (20) they begin here because the state is the consequence of a certain metaphysics that governs each form-of-life at play in the self—an attenuation of difference through subjectivity. Tiqqun proposes that another metaphysics, a negative one, can be made present, within which forms-of-life might be left to play. This free play of forms-of-life, this “principle of their coexistence” (32), is nothing other than the condition of civil war that the modern state was developed in order to suppress.
This logic reveals a hidden fact regarding the formation of the modern state. If forms-of-life take place through bodies, animating bodies with taste and inclinations to lose themselves and to pass into another’s spheres, then the development of the state, the borders and executions it visited upon worlds, were also visited upon selves. When the state is the suppression of the self, civil war is not only inevitable but already omnipresent. From the absolutist state to the welfare state to the liberal state, the state serves as merely a parenthesis in civil war, first as an attempt to exclude bare life from a territory, then from a population, then from the singular body. From classical politics to biopolitics, the state sets out on a steady course of encountering its own impossibility. This steady course is civil war.
With and against Marx’s dictum that the history of human societies is a history of class struggle; Tiqqun reads the history of forms-of-life as the history of civil war. The story of the state, namely “status,” is the story of an attempt made to freeze this free play of forms-of-life. Again and again, it fails, and out of each successive failure develops a new form of governance and new techniques to suppress civil war. The present conditions of “Empire” are nothing more than an outgrowth of these failures. The modern state is nothing more than a complex set of governing and neutralizing apparatuses that continue the political suppression of civil war by other Clausewitzian means.
But what does sovereign power do that classical politics doesn’t? Drawing on Hobbes and Schmitt, Tiqqun argues that the modern state is a theater of operations in which the intensity of ethical difference is neutralized and every image of difference is pulled to the center for a endless photo-op. Classical politics, through a holistic and despotic state, arranged an order of moral codes via absolute force in order to come to some higher meaning. Classical politics put religion and the sphere of ethics into the theater of the political by including kings as the living heirs to God and individuals as the loyal disciples of God’s moral order. In contrast to the rituals of redemption offered through the bloody play of forces contesting territory under the reign of classical politics, sovereign power can point its population to nothing. The modern state is quite literally the management of life, devoid of transcendental authority. The modern state governs, but learns not to govern too much. Moreover, the modern state applies the classical maxim cuius regio, eius religio, and contends and defeats all opposing religions in order to continue as the hand of god on an earth without God.
The paradox of law, which is the founding thesis of the norm, is as follows: law is in force only in its imposition; law appears only in the act of law. If law is fungible or malleable, this is because it has no justification other than its logic. “It is my pleasure” says the modern sovereign. The norm develops from this essential lacuna of law, but things are as they are not simply because they are, but because of material practices, because of how they are. Norm as nomos emerges from specific means deployed through apparatuses of control.
Enter the reign of the economy. There could never be an economic subject without a political subject. Tiqqun reads Foucault’s study of biopolitics not as a story of power outmaneuvered by the deployment counter-subjectivities, but instead as processes of subjectivization by a vast number of apparatuses. Such massive, overdetermined subjectivization mitigates vital and substantive opposition. Capitalism could not have spread across the globe without first the physical neutralization of hostile populations and practices—which is to say, the condition of war had to be neutralized, in order for “peace” to become the normal condition.
Through Tiqqun’s matrix of civil war, we learn that the development of capitalism, primitive accumulation, and war are not mere periods of tragedy that human society had to endure as the necessary, teleological process of the modern state. Instead, they are the originary operations, the operations that are repeated in order to maintain the status of the so-called peace of citizen-subjects. The Hobbesian operation of exclusion/inclusion is looped on an endless repeat. With the advancements of liberal techniques of government, the operations no longer take the form of a visible exposition of disciplinary force aimed at beating a hostis out of a population, (viz., an external military affair). Rather, these neutralizing operations take form in self-managed policing (viz., an internal police). Foucault explains the process of how the “delinquent” was made into an enemy of society; Tiqqun clarifies that the criminal practices had to be excluded and named “anti-social” in order for there to ever be a formal workers’ movement that could be associated with a public social (albeit, illegal) justice.
Introduction to Civil War exposes the modern uneasiness with “violence.” Violence must be excluded not because it threatens to turn the earth into a pit of corpses (capital has no qualms with such a process), but because it threatens to break the imaginary boundaries of subjects, and release forms-of-life to their free play. Hobbes remains the originary political theorist, in that we can already see the beginnings of self-managed subjects through the threat of exclusion. What must be excluded from a living being in order to include it in the caring arms of the state (and thus give it political-subjectivity) is precisely what attaches it to worlds and what gives it the capacity to encounter others. The exclusion of bare life produces docile bodies. The forced retreat into the self typifying the modern subject must be understood not merely as the process which the western individual was founded, but specifically as the process that generated economic “man” whose stupid (literally: stupefied) concept of freedom ends where all else begins.
Thus, what Tiqqun calls “the black magic of the economy” is deployed at all levels to integrate all human life into “society” first as living beings (zoe) then to continue functioning as legal subjects (bios). But this process can never generate today’s citizen-subject as a perfect artifice of legal behavior. On the contrary, by forcing the political-economy, the process makes society—the massive circulation of legal practices of freedom—indistinguishable from the state. Through the proliferation of the police, the dark memory of the state’s violent origin exposes each terrified citizen to the paradox of its existence.
The liberal state and the welfare state, or liberal democratic and social democratic institutions, are not distinct modes of government but rather two poles of the modern state. Tiqqun argues that the management of a certain social definition of happiness was all it took for the liberal state to control its population (118). With police and with publicity, the liberal state could cynically keep order, but the police and publicity developed in a way that served and exceeded the institution of the nation-state. With the collapse of liberal and social hypothesis, the police and publicity were able to shed their institutional justification and become exposed as mere apparatuses of sovereign power. Through this collapse, this folding up of the liberal state, police and publicity gain a new important role; they are exalted as the super-institutional poles of Empire. Techniques of policing transform into Biopower and techniques of publicity transform into Spectacle. The state itself does not disappear just yet, but it is demoted, and Spectacle and Biopower begin the reign of Empire (118).
It is in the planned-environment of Empire that Tiqqun calls on us to take a partisan position: to intensify the play of forms-of-life beyond their attenuation; to loosen the nooses of subjectivity that Empire places around our necks (176). Civil war is where forms-of-life can freely play. An armed joy of bank expropriations, strikes, bombings, occupations, pirate radio stations, riots, and experimental forms-of-life (such as those in 1977 Italy) rises to a new metaphysical plane in the history of the citizen-subject. Civil war can never be routed. Each hyphen between a citizen-subject contains an intense flow of inclinations. What Tiqqun makes abundantly clear is that these intense inclinations are themselves the many protagonists of history. Civil war, not the state; the form-of-life not the subject, takes us, gives us meaning, and exposes us to a new plane of experience. The Imaginary Party—Tiqqun says “we,” (174)—can be understood as the party for civil war. It is a fragmented plane of consistency where each practice that prefers not to conjure away forms-of-life calls home. Unlike other discourses that rely on a single revolutionary-subjectivity, Tiqqun’s Imaginary Party is nothing but a multiplicity, but unlike Negriist dreams of global civil society, the Imaginary Party does not shy away from the global civil war.
Tiqqun’s concept of communism by other means performs of a particularly interesting operation from this point. Moving beyond the false consciousness of the Left, Tiqqun concludes “There is no visible outside anymore […] Madness, crime or the hungry proletariat no longer inhabit a defined or recognized space, they no longer form a world unto themselves, their own ghetto with or without walls” (131). If there is no longer any pure outside but rather exteriority present at every inch of the biopolitical tissue, then the Imaginary Party is not a political party that contends for power, nor a class that wishes to overthrow another class, nor a multitude that sees its desire reflected back at it through its representations of power. The Imaginary Party is the party of the political only insofar that through its presence it exposes each citizen-subject to the intensity of what it means to act politically.
Despite Tiqqun’s insistence on the need to reclaim violence (34), we learn this need is not in order to simply pose a greater technology of violence against their state’s violence, but rather for each body to become at home with its capacity for force. So-called “terrorism” today exposes citizens of Empire to the conditions they have placed on forms-of-life. What Tiqqun advances in terms of civil war, is in actuality a perverse war-machine. The Imaginary Party is full of precisely the content you might imagine. In a queer gesture, Tiqqun explains that “Empire is not the enemy with which we have to contend, and other tendencies within the Imaginary Party are not, for us, so many hostis to be eliminated, the opposite is, in fact, the case” (182). This means that the capacity for force, that inaugurates an element of the Imaginary Party, is specifically a force directed inward. Through the release of forms-of-life to their free play, Empire’s meaninglessness and its lack of substance are totally revealed. The warlike penchants of forms-of-life form a war-machine only insofar that these penchants conjugate “friends” and “enemies” whose ethical distinctions are far more intense then any banal promise of security that Empire can articulate.
Introduction to Civil War ends exactly where you might expect: at the question of “how?” Like Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, Introduction to Civil War, is not (despite the Library of Congress) an essay of critical theory, but rather a text at home with Clausewitz and Blanqui. Although their insistence on Heidegger’s “the they” and all this Schmittian talk of “friends and enemies” situates Tiqqun in a framework of armed struggle, the anonymous editors break free in their concluding piece. What Tiqqun theorizes and what Tiqqun strategizes operations within are two different disciplines. Perhaps this is one of the most difficult positions for Tiqqun to articulate: What it might mean to live communism, and what it might mean to spread anarchy? History (or perhaps the messiah if we go by Benjamin), will have the final say, but what is irreducible in Introduction to Civil War is the feeling of meaninglessness that is the alibi of daily reproduction and the fact that whatever new struggles are emerging do not fit into the normative nor formal leftist conception of revolution or revolutionary subjectivity. Perhaps forms-of-life will animate bodies and advance what the religious wars in Europe only dreamed of. Perhaps everything will be in common, especially our fragile bodies. Or perhaps Tiqqun has misread something of our times and the coming community will have no allegiance to flesh and sinew, nor even thought. Either way, whether it is through the phantom of terror itself gaining substance (Baudrillard) or the inauguration and multiplication of collectivities whose ethical tissue is robust and whose thought is strategic, Tiqqun concludes that the time of the now is decisive. Empire or civil war?”
Filed under: Milwaukee area, update | Tags: agamben, anarchy, barbarians, bleu marin, carl schmitt, CCC, civil war, clastres, communism, critical animal studies, critical theory, Deleuze and Guattari, derrida, discussion, negativity, nihilism, theory, tiqqun, violence, war
Weaving two seemingly divergent themes together through various conceptions of sovereignty, October will focus on the relationship and subsequent separation between humans and animals through the lens of domestication and civilization, while November will focus on questions of conflict – both as the fabric that maintains the present and the force that may tear it asunder.
1pm on Saturdays at the CCC (732 E Clarke St.)
October: Critical Animal Studies
2nd ‘The Snake’ by D.H. Lawrence (plain text)
9th ‘The Animal That Therefore I Am’ by Jacques Derrida (book)
16th ‘The Open’ by Giorgio Agamben (book)
23rd ‘On Behalf of the Barbarians’ by Bleu Marin (zine)
November: War, Violence and Enmity
6th ‘Theory of the Partisan’ by Carl Schmitt (zine)
13th ‘Introduction to Civil War’ by Tiqqun (book) zine version
20th ‘Nomadology: The War-Machine’ By D & G (zine)
27th ‘Archeology of Violence’ by Pierre Clastres (book)
This series is perhaps considerably less introductory than previous anarchist oriented and theory discussion series that we’ve attempted, though anyone who is interested is certainly welcome to participate. Most of the texts will be available for free to pick up beforehand from the CCC or can be found online to download (and linked to from this post and if made into zines will be added to the zine archive).
Many of the texts can be found here
Filed under: update | Tags: 1970s, community, french, italy, nanni balestrini, red brigades, short stories, terrible community, tiqqun, zines
“Nanni Balestrini was born in Milan in 1935. Known both as an experimental writer of prose and verse and as a cultural and political activist, he played a leading role in avant-garde writing and publishing in the sixties. His involvement with the extra-parliamentary left in the seventies resulted in terrorism charges (of which he was subsequently acquitted) and a long period of self- imposed exile from Italy.
Let A Thousand Hands… is an extract translated from the novel La Violenza Illustrata (Einaudi, 1976). Using one of Balestrini’s favorite techniques, it is a montage of newspaper reports of the death of Mara Cagol, one of the founders of the Red Brigades.
FIAT (1977) is a first-hand account of work (or its refusal) at the infamous FIAT plant in Turin, Italy.
His major novels are Gli Invisibili (Bompiania, 1987; tr. The Unseen, Verso 1989) and L’editore (Feltrinelli 1989).”
“Everyone knows the terrible communities, having spent time in them or being within them still because they are always stronger than the others. And because of that one always stays, in part – and parts at the same time. Family, school, work, and prison are the classic faces of this form of contemporary hell. But they are less interesting as they belong to an old form of market evolution and only presently survive. On the contrary, there are the terrible communities which struggle against the existing state of things that are at one and the same time attractive and better than “this world.” And at the same time their way of being closer to the truth – and therefore to joy – moves them away from freedom more than anything else.
The question we must answer in a final manner is of a more ethical than political nature because the classic political forms and their categories fit us like our childhood clothing. The question is to know if we prefer the possibility of an unknown danger to the certainty of a present pain. That is to say if we want to continue to live and speak in agreement (dissident perhaps, but always in agreement) with what has been done so far – and thus with the terrible communities – or, if we want to question that small portion of our desire that the culture has not already infested in its mess, to try – in the name of an original happiness – a different path.
This text was conceived as a contribution to that other voyage.”
Filed under: update | Tags: ardent press, books, crime, french stuff, insurrection, reading is cool, stopping time, tiqqun
This book compiles newly translated TIQQUN texts such as: Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Juene Fille, Theses on the Terrible Community, and others, plus original material by the editors. We should have copies of this for $7 dollars as soon as we receive them from Ardent press.
From the Ardent Press Description:
“What citizens are abandoned to in the guise of “existence” is no longer anything but a life or death effort to make themselves compatible with empire. But for the others, for us, each gesture, each desire, each affect encounters in some way the necessity of annihilating empire and its citizens.
On this criminal path, we take our time. What we are talking about here is nothing less than the constitution of war-machines.”
Filed under: Milwaukee area, update | Tags: CCC, communization, discussion, french, milwaukee, reading, supplementary, texts, the imaginary party, the invisible committee, tiqqun
Especially with these ideas it can be very helpful to have a more thorough preliminary reading of texts which have influenced the Invisible Committee / TIQQUN / the Imaginary Party and other things they’ve written. Introduction to Civil War is coming out in a few weeks, so maybe it’s a bit silly to have this on the list, but since it came out before Call or The Coming Insurrection it should hopefully offer some further insight into and give a more rounded understanding of the ideas. Some other good places to focus on as a start would be: Foucault’s History of Sexuality volume 1: the Introduction, The Coming Community (of which the title of TCI references) and Other texts by Giorgio Agamben.
If people have other suggestions please share them. Texts that specifically deal theoretically with communization would be helpful. The first issue of Endnotes is a good place to start for a general understanding of the idea and history, but this isn’t exactly the same place that the Invisible Committee is coming from.
-The Coming Insurrection by The Invisible Committee (book)
-Introduction to Civil War by TIQQUN (book)
-Invisible Politics: An Introduction to Contemporary Communization by John Cunningham
-Human Strike After Human Strike by Johann Kaspar (from Occupied London #4)
-Bring Out Your Dead by the Endnotes Collective
Filed under: Milwaukee area | Tags: anarchist discussion, anarchy, call, CCC, claire fontaine, communism, french, human strike, invisible committee, milwaukee, TCI, tiqqun
This month focuses on the contemporary theoretical contributions of the French comrades of Tiqqun, the Invisible Committee, etc who make strategic proposals for the current biopolitical conditions of social war. These texts deal with the physical life of humans and identity as a terrain of civil war, decategorization as a tactical necessity, and friendship as a weapon, to name just a few things…
If you’ve ever been interested in or confused by these ideas (human-strike, whatever singularity, form-of-life, civil war, etc), please come.
All texts are available at the CCC (732 e Clarke st.) or here to print out.
Feb. 7th – Call
Feb. 14th – How is it to be done?
Feb. 21st – Ready-Made Artists and Human Strike
Feb. 28th – Preliminary Materials on the Jeune Fille (coming soon)
after human strike, to reach
where there is nothing but,
where we are all,
-How is it to be done?
Filed under: reviews | Tags: anarchy, anonymous, commune, communization, France, human strike, invisible committee, occupied london, Tarnac, tiqqun, whatever
This isn’t exactly new. It maybe came out about six months ago. However the concepts that this piece works through and plays with are still very useful. Its main merit is summarizing the collective project of all the recent TIQQUN and Invisible Committee texts, which could be both introductory and a kind of cliff notes for people who have been already engaged with these ideas.
From Occupied London #4:
Silently, and without much notice until recently, a series of collective, anonymous French texts appeared between 1999 and 2007 that effectively slashed open a gap into the seamless fabric of banal political critique. Packed within the two issues of the journal Tiqqun—subtitled, at one point, Conscious Organ of the Imaginary Party—is a minefield of ideas barely tapped and hardly translated, including: Theory of Bloom, Theses on the Imaginary Party, Man-Machine: Directions for Use, First Materials for a Theory of the Young Girl, Introduction to Civil War, The Cybernetic Hypothesis, Theses on the Terrible Community, This is Not a Program, and How is it to be Done? Subsequently, an anonymous Call surfaced which responded to Tiqqun’s provocations, laying out more clearly just how it is to be done. Finally, in 2007 the Insurrection to Come emerged, that searing text by the “Invisible Committee” which the French government has recently described as a “manual for insurrection.” Using it as their only evidence, the Minister of Interior has accused the alleged writers of “conspiracy to terrorism” in relation to the recent rail sabotages.
Perhaps, at the risk of becoming accomplices in a thoughtcrime, it is time to seriously look at this family of texts. For as we will see, although the government is wrong to accuse them of terrorism, they are right to be afraid of the ideas housed within. For if they are to be thought through, then what they are describing is nothing less than the dissolution of the modern world as such. But this goal is nothing to fear for all those who desire worlds other than this one, worlds in which our ability to collectively exist outstrips any governmental, capitalist, or societal attempt to capture our desires. What follows is a skeleton that emerges from a reading of four of those texts—Introduction to Civil War, How is it to be done?, Call, and Insurrection to Come—which can hopefully guide one through the shifting fields of meaning that are produced therein.
In a series of theses and notes, the Introduction to Civil War lays out the biopolitical horizon in which our modern lives are situated. This horizon is conceived of as a global “civil war” amongst forms-of-life. How is it to be done? poetically marks the ethical necessity of becoming-anonymous, of dis-identifiying with all received and all possible forms of political classification. To realize this en masse, we must pass through the unchartered waters of the Human Strike, that form of action in which inoperativity becomes synonymous with possibility. In seven propositions and scholia, the Call critiques existing forms of activism as not only irrelevant, but reactionary as well. Once this is accomplished, the desertion of activism can begin, in which living communism and spreading anarchy constitute the dual sides of the same structure of revolt. The Insurrection to Come, after outlining the seven circles of hell in which contemporary French politics resides, opens up onto a strategy of resistance centered on the irreversible multiplication of articulated communes. The commune names both the work of self-sufficiency shared amongst comrades as well as the incessant blockages, liberations, and points of confrontation that populate and crack the metropolis itself. What is the reason for all of this? Survival and its correlate, joy.
There are two moments which these texts all are crafted around, two simultaneous and overlapping possibilities of action which are articulated within a widening zone of indistinction called the commune. These two moments, although empirically indistinguishable, are logically discrete; they signify the two sides of communisation. That is, on the one hand, a subjective decomposition occurs through becoming a whatever singularity in the human strike; and on the other hand, a collective reconstitution occurs through forming and experiencing a consistency of intense strategies of sharing, blockading, and liberating territory. Like a möbius strip, the inside flips outside in the “center” of this politics-without-name. For instance, describing the politics of the whatever singularity, it is written,
Becoming whatever is more revolutionary than any whatever-being.
Liberating spaces sets us free a hundred times more than any
More than putting any power into action, I enjoy the circulation of
my potentialities. The politics of the whatever singularity lies in the
Within the contemporary order of empire, where life itself is the object and ground of political power, the ability to evade capture is the same ability to confront power, for power itself is grafted onto an architecture of control which only needs to recognize something in order to neutralize it. “From now on, to be perceived means to be defeated.” Becoming anonymous while remaining singular is the modern task of resistance today, a task as offensive as it is defensive. This is, therefore, what grounds the imperative of the human strike:
Empire means that in all things the political moment dominates
the economic one.
A general strike is helpless against this.
What must be opposed to Empire is a human strike.
Which never attacks relations of production without attacking at the
the affective knots which sustain them.
Which undermines the shameful libidinal economy of Empire,
Which restores the ethical element – the how – repressed in every
contact between neutralised bodies.
What the human strikes creates is the possibility for shared worlds to communicate free of coercion on the basis of their needs. These shared worlds constitute the commune. “The commune is the basic unit in a life of resistance. The insurrectionary surge is probably nothing more than a multiplication of communes, their articulation and inter-connection.”
On one side of the commune then is the vector of self-dissolution, a process by which worn identities such as ‘activist’, ‘squatter’, ‘environmentalist’ etc., become utterly void of meaning. Against the triumph of “existential liberalism” and its emphasis on individual choice, distinct properties, social contracts, and the management of things, we must instead form worlds created out of our own shared needs and desires. If we live in a world where politics is nothing but the consumption of an identity-of-resistance, then in order to outmanoeuvre politics, we must vomit up our identities wholesale. Becoming opaque to the managers of empire, we subtract ourselves from their forms of accounting as well. Hence,
of my own desubjectivisation. I become
a whatever singularity. My presence starts overflowing the whole
apparatus of qualities that are usually associated with me.
Evading the “imperial police of qualities,” this dis-identification opens up a space in which a real singular existence can emerge.
Everything that isolates me as a subject, as a body provided with a
public configuration of attributes, I feel melting.
The bodies fray at their limit. At their limit, become indistinct.
This existence, while formally anonymous, is materially present. This is named the form-of-life. “The elementary human unity is not the body—the individual—but the form-of-life.” Expressing not the what of life but the how, this affective form traverses individual bodies, either joining with those which are compatible (friendship) or repelling from those which are irreconcilable (enmity). The free play between forms-of-life is named civil war. “‘Civil war’ then, because forms-of-life are indifferent to the separations of men from women, political existence from bare life, civilian from military; because to be neutral is to take sides in the free play of forms-of-life; because this play between forms-of-life has no beginning or end that can be declared, its sole end being the physical end of the world that no one would be able to declare.” World civil war is nothing but this situation generalized across the planet. In this situation, the enemy is not something which we stand opposed to, but rather a milieu which we stand hostile within.
If our forms-of-life are the parties to a world civil war, then how do they communicate without becoming identities, without mimicking the state-form? It is here that the force of the imaginary party and the invisible committee comes through. For in the collective drowning of one’s own assignable qualities, zones of opacity emerge which, being empty of all predicates, effectively constitute the common. Rendering oneself inoperative alongside others—that is, engaging in the human strike—reveals the possibility of communication across bodies with no names.
I need to become anonymous. In order to be present.
The more anonymous I am, the more present I am.
I need zones of indistinction
to reach the Common.
To no longer recognize myself in my name. To no longer hear in my
name anything but the voice that calls it.
To give substance to the how of beings, not what they are but how they
are what they are. Their life-form.
I need zones of opacity where the attributes,
even criminal, even brilliant,
no longer separate bodies.
In other words, “the collective creation of a strategy is the only alternative to falling back on an identity.” In this zone of indistinction born of the human strike, comes the possibility that such a strategy may take hold. By unraveling the process of biopolitical desubjectivization on one side of the commune, we find ourselves exposed to the possibility for an insurgent resubjectivization on the other. Hence, we move around, in a torsion of being, from the logic of the human strike to the strategy of communisation.
“Our strategy is therefore the following,” says the Call, “to immediately establish a series of foci of desertion, of secession poles, of rallying points. For the runaways. For those who leave. A set of places to take shelter from the control of a civilisation that is headed for the abyss.” These foci of desertion are not given but neither are they created; they are rather established within and through what is already present. They are topological mutations of the forms we are presented with, such that experience knows no name for our modes of relation with them, except through the link between sharing and needs. “Communism starts from the experience of sharing. And first, from the sharing of our needs.” Here “needs” refers to “the relationship through which a certain sensible being gives meaning to such or such element of his world” In this view, communism is another word for the “sharing of the sensible,” the practice of coordinating worlds of meaning across the abyss of bare life.
Reconstituting worlds of shared experience “can only take the form of a collection of acts of communisation, of making common such-and-such space, such-and-such machine, such-and-such knowledge. That is to say, the elaboration of the mode of sharing that attaches to them. Sharing here is not simply a gratuitous act between individuals, but a mode of survival across bodies and spaces in a consistent series of linked events. Communising a space, knowledge or object is not changing its relations of production, but rather abolishing those relations, rendering them structurally meaningless, indeterminable. “Communising a place means: setting its use free, and on the basis of this liberation experimenting with refined, intensified, and complicated relations.”
But communising without anarchizing is hopeless, for one must constitute a threat in order for communism to be more than an isolated affair. Following the logic of anarchy implies here the task of causing inscrutable confusion and damage to the enemy while simultaneously expanding one’s power of self-organization with one’s friends. Three notes on how to do this culled from the Insurrection to Come: one, fan the flames of every crisis. Why? Because “the interruption of the flow of commodities, the suspension of normality and of police control releases a potential for self-organization unthinkable under normal circumstances.” Two, liberate territory from police occupation; avoid direct confrontation as much as possible. Expose the police for what they are: shameless parasites of the fear of people. Don’t fetishize police confrontation, rather confront the fetishization of the police. Finally, blockade everything. In a world where “power is the very organization itself of the metropolis,” where life is suspended such that capital may be free, any and every interruption has the possibility of reopening the possibility of life again. “But a blockage can only go as far as the capacity of the insurgents to feed themselves and to communicate, as far as the effective self-organization of the different communes.” In other words, blockades must contribute to both the extensive mutilation of the metropolitan form as well as the intensive circulation of self-perpetuating knowledge and affects. Perhaps, if one maintains an attention of discipline, if one wagers on a thin ridge their entire existence, then what becomes possible is that as yet unachieved goal for every insurrection: to become irreversible.
This is where we are left today. With comrades in jail, how are we to take this in, make it ours, consume it without deforming it? If the invisible has become identified, if the opaque has been made transparent, then there is no other solution but to disguise ourselves once more, opening
after human strike, to reach
where there is nothing but,
where we are all,
Filed under: update | Tags: Christian Marazzi, Deleuze and Guattari, guy Hocqenghem, intervention series, Recherches, semiotext(e), tiqqun
This series may be one of the more interesting things Semiotext(e) has done in awhile (possibly fueled by huge success of TCI, which sold out early on largely because of Glen Beck’s review and was soon after reprinted seemingly in much larger numbers than the first of only three thousand copies). With The Coming Insurrection as the start of the Intervention series you may have wondered what was next. A comment to the post on Introduction to Civil War listed them, so I went and did a basic search for information on numbers two through five.
2: Christian Marazzi: The Violence of Financial Capitalism
This first English-language edition of Christian Marazzi’s most recent book, The Violence of Financial Capitalism, makes a groundbreaking work on the global financial crisis available to a new audience of readers. Marazzi, a leading figure in the European post-fordist movement, first takes a broad look at the nature of the crisis and then provides the theoretical tools necessary to comprehend capitalism today, offering an innovative analysis of financialization in the context of post-fordist cognitive capitalism. He argues that the processes of financialization are not simply irregularities between the traditional categories of wages, rent, and profit, but rather a new type of accumulation adapted to the processes of social and cognitive production today. The financial crisis, he contends, is a fundamental component of contemporary accumulation and not a classic lack of economic growth.
Marazzi shows that individual debt and the management of financial markets are actually techniques for governing the transformations of immaterial labor, general intellect, and social cooperation. The financial crisis has radically undermined the very concept of unilateral and multilateral economico-political hegemony, and Marazzi discusses efforts toward a new geo-monetary order that have emerged around the globe in response. Offering a radically new understanding of the current stage of international economics as well as crucial post-Marxist guidance for confronting capitalism in its newest form, The Violence of Financial Capitalism is a valuable addition to the contemporary arsenal of postfordist thought. This expanded edition includes a new appendix for comprehending the esoteric neolanguage of financial capitalism—a glossary of “Words in Crisis,” from “AAA” to “toxic asset.”
3: Guy Hocqenghem: The Screwball Asses
“First published anonymously in Félix Guattari’s Recherches in the notorious 1973 issue on homosexuality (seized and destroyed by the French government), The Screwball Asses remains a dramatic treatise on erotic desire. In this classic underground text, queer theorist and post-’68 provocateur Guy Hocquenghem takes on the militant delusions of the gay liberation movement. Hocquenghem, founder and leader of the Front Homosexuel d’Action Revolutionnaire, vivisects not only the stifled mores of bourgeois capitalism but the phallocratic concessions of so-called homophiles, and, ultimately, the very act of speaking desire (and non-desire). Rejecting any “pure theory” of homosexuality that claims its “otherness” as a morphology of revolution, he contends that the ruling classes have invented homosexuality as a sexual ghetto, splitting and mutilating desire in the process. It is only when non-desire and the desire of desire are enacted simultaneously through speech and body that homosexuality can finally be sublimated under the true act of “making love.” There are thousands of sexes on earth, according to Hocquenghem, but only one sexual desire.
Available in English for the first time, The Screwball Asses is a revelatory disquisition, earning Hocquenghem his rightful place among the minoritarian elite of Gilles Deleuze, Jean Genet, and Tony Duvert.”
4: Gerald Raunig: A Thousand Machines
“In this “concise philosophy of the machine,” Gerald Raunig provides a historical and critical backdrop to a concept proposed forty years ago by the French philosophers Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze: the machine, not as a technical device and apparatus, but as a social composition and concatenation. This conception of the machine as an arrangement of technical, bodily, intellectual, and social components subverts the opposition between man and machine, organism and mechanism, individual and community. Drawing from an unusual range of films, literature, and performance—from the role of bicycles in Flann O’Brien’s fiction to Vittorio de Sica’s Neorealist film The Bicycle Thieves, and from Karl Marx’s “Fragment on Machines” to the deus ex machina of Greek drama—Raunig arrives at an enhanced conception of the machine as a social movement, finding its most apt and concrete manifestation in the Euromayday movement, which since 2001 has become a transnational activist and discursive practice focused upon the precarious nature of labor and lives.”
5: Tiqqun: Introduction to Civil War
“Society no longer exists, at least in the sense of a differentiated whole. There is only a tangle of norms and mechanisms through which THEY hold together the scattered tatters of the global biopolitical fabric, through which THEY prevent its violent disintegration. Empire is the administrator of this desolation, the supreme manager of a process of listless implosion.”
—from Introduction to Civil War
“Society is not in crisis, society is at an end. The things we used to take for granted have all been vaporized. Politics was one of these things, a Greek invention that condenses around an equation: to hold a position means to take sides, and to take sides means to unleash civil war. Civil war, position, sides—these were all one word in the Greek: stasis. If the history of the modern state in all its forms—absolute, liberal, welfare—has been the continuous attempt to ward off this stasis, the great novelty of contemporary imperial power is its embrace of civil war as a technique of governance and disorder as a means of maintaining control. Where the modern state was founded on the institution of the law and its constellation of divisions, exclusions, and repressions, imperial power has replaced them with a network of norms and apparatuses that conspire in the production of the biopolitical citizens of Empire.
In their first book available in English, Tiqqun explores the possibility of a new practice of communism, finding a foundation for an ontology of the common in the politics of friendship and the free play of forms-of-life. They see the ruins of society as the ideal setting for the construction of the community to come. In other words: the situation is excellent. Now is not the time to lose courage.”
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: communism, form-of-life, french, IEF, intervention, introduction to civil war, theory, tiqqun
According to a well established source, Introduction to Civil War which appeared in the journal Tiqqun is being translated as a whole and made into the fifth book of the Semiotext(e) intervention series, of which The Coming Insurrection was the first.
Here is a zine designed by the IEF of the translated fragments.
11. “War” because in each singular play between forms-of-life, the possibility of a fierce confrontation—the possibility of violence—can never be discounted.
“Civil,” because the confrontation between forms-of-life is not a confrontation between States—those coincidences between a population and a territory—but between parties, in the sense this word had before the advent of the modern State. Because we must be precise from now on, let us say that they confront one another as partisan war machines.
“Civil war” then, because forms-of-life are indifferent to the separations between men from women, political existence from bare life, civilians from military;
because to be neutral is to take sides in the free play of forms-of-life;
because this play between forms-of-life has no beginning or end that can be declared, its sole end being the physical end of the world that no one would be able to declare;
and above all because I know of no body that is not hopelessly carried off into the excessive, and perilous, course of the world.