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Theses on the Imaginary Party (part 2: thesis 11-20)
08/21/2009, 3:32 PM
Filed under: war-machine

“11) Each of the failures of this society must thus be comprehended positively, as the work of the Imaginary Party, as the work of negativity, that is to say the human: in such a war, all who deny one party, subjectively, do but objectively rally to the other. The radicalism of the times imposes its conditions. As long as there is the Spectacle, the notion of the Imaginary Party is that which renders visible the new configuration of hostilities. The Imaginary Party claims the totality of those who in thoughts, words or acts conspire to the destruction of the present order. The disaster is its work.

12) Up until a certain point, the Imaginary Party corresponds to a specter, to an invisible presence, to the fantastical return of the Other in a society where all otherness was suppressed, to a separate accounting for all that was generalized. But this bad dream, this idea of suicide that passes by the head of the Spectacle, can not delay -in respect to the character, itself imaginary, of the present social production- engendering its reality as consciousness becoming practice, as immediately practical consciousness. The Imaginary Party is the other name of the shameful sickness of shaken power: paranoia, which Canetti too vaguely defined as “the malady of strength”. The despairing and planetary deployment of always more massive and sophisticated techniques to control public space materializes in a piquant fashion the madhouse insanity of wounded domination which still pursues the old dream of the Titans for a universal state; when it is no more than a dwarf among others, and upset with that. In this terminal phase, it speaks only of the fight against terrorism, delinquency, extremism and criminality, because it is constitutionally forbidden to explicitly mention the existence of the Imaginary Party. Besides, this represents for it, in combat, a certain handicap, because it can not designate its fanatics to hate “the veritable enemy that inspires an infinite courage” (Kafka).

13) However it is necessary to know that this paranoia does not lack for reasons, in respect to the direction of historical development. It is a fact that at the point where we have arrived in the process of socialization of society, each individual act of destruction constitutes an act of terrorism, that is to say it objectively aims at the entire society. Thus, at the extreme of suicide that manifests itself in a gesture where death and liberty blend, which delimits, suspends, and annuls the sovereignty of Biopower -and which acquires by that the meaning of a direct derogation of domination- sees itself thus delight a strong force of consummation, of production and reproduction of its world. Similarly, when the law rests on nothing more than its promulgation, that is to say on force and caprice, when this enters a phase of autonomous proliferation, and atop it all, when no ethos is no longer contained in it, then all crime must be comprehended as a total contestation of a solidly ruined social order. All murders are no longer the murder of a particular person- if such a thing as a “particular person” is still possible- but pure murder, without object or subject, without culprit or victim. It is immediately an attempt against the law, which does not exist, but wishes to reign everywhere. From now on, the tiniest infractions have changed their meaning. All crimes are become political crimes, and it is precisely this that domination must at all costs make occult, to veil from all that an epoch has passed, and that political violence, this living corpse, comes to demand the reckoning of all the forms that one does not know it in. It is in this manner, of which the Spectacle could have an intuition, that as the Imaginary Party manifests itself it is escorted by a certain trait of blind terrorism. Certainly, one can interpret this as the moment of the interiorization by all developed commodity societies of the negation that they hold in an cathartic but illusory exteriority of “really existing socialism”, but it is there however its most superficial aspect. It is also permitted for each to diminish the insoluble character by certifying the general rule that “a political unity can not exist under the form of res publica, of the public, which finds itself put into question each time that it creates a space of non-publicity which is an effective disavowal of this publicity”. It is certainly not rare, thus, that certain take the Party as “disappearing in the shadow, but transforming the shadow into a strategic space from whence come the attacks which destroy the place where until now imperium manifested itself, which dismantle the vast background of official public life, that a technocratic intelligence would not know to organize” (Carl Schmitt, Theory of the Partisan). It is a constant temptation, in effect, to conceive the positive existence of the Imaginary Party under the familiar species of the guerrilla, of civil war, of partisan warfare, of a conflict without a precise front or a declaration of hostilities, without armistice or peace treaty. And by these many aspects, it is verily a question of a war that has nothing behind its acts, its violence, its crimes, and which appear to have no other program, on this point, than to become conscious violence, that is to say conscious of its metaphysical and political character.

14) Because the Spectacle cannot, in virtue of the congenital aberration of its vision of the world no less than from strategic considerations, say anything, see anything, nor understand anything of the Imaginary Party, of which the substance is purely metaphysical, the particular form under which the latter makes irruption into visibility is the form of catastrophe. The catastrophe is that which reveals, but cannot be revealed. By that, one must understand that the catastrophe does not exist save for the Spectacle, of which it is the sudden and unalterable ruin of all its patient labor to make pass as a world that which is only its own Weltanschauung; that besides signals by this that it is incapable, like all that is finished, of understanding destruction. In each “catastrophe” it is the mode of commodity unveiling that finds itself unveiled and discontinued. Its character is in evidence as it flies into pieces. The totality of categories, of which it enforces the use, fear an exploding reality. Interest, equivalence, calculus, utility, work, and value are put to flight by the non-assignability of negation. Therefore the Imaginary Party is known in the Spectacle as the party of chaos, crisis, and disaster.

15) In the exact proportion as the catastrophe is truth to the state of fulguration, those of the Imaginary Party work to hasten the advent of this by any means. The axes of communication are for them privileged targets. They know how infrastructures that “are worth billions” can be destroyed in an audacious coup. They know the tactical weakness, the points of least resistance and the moments of vulnerability of the opposing organization. They are besides freer to choose what will be the theatre of their operations and act at the point where the smallest forces can cause the greatest losses. The most troubling, as one interrogates them, is certainly that they know all of this, without however knowing that they know it. Thus, an anonymous worker at a bottling plant pours cyanide “just like that” in a handful of cans, a young man assassinates a tourist in the name of the “purity of the mountain” and signs his crime “Le MESSI”, another “without apparent reason” blew out the brains of his petit-bourgeois father on his birthday, a third opens fire on the wise herd of his school comrades, a last “gratuitously” threw bricks at cars launched on the lively allure of the highway, when he did not burn them in their parking lots. In the Spectacle, the Imaginary Party does not appear as the work of humans, but of strange acts, in the sense understood by the Sabbatean tradition. These acts themselves are not however connected with one another, but systematically held in the enigma of the exception; one would not have the idea to see in these manifestations a unique and similar human negativity, because one does not know what negativity is; at bottom, one does not know any longer what humanity is, nor even if it exists. All this stands out in the register of the absurd, and at this price: there is nothing much that does not stand out. Above all, the Spectacle does not want to see there that so many attacks are directed against it and its ignominy. Ergo, from the spectacular point of view, the point of view of a certain alienation of the state of public explanation, the Imaginary Party is resumed into a confused ensemble of gratuitous and isolated criminal acts of which the authors possess no sense, similar to the periodic irruption in visibility of the always more mysterious forms of terrorism; all things which finish all the same, in the end, by producing the disagreeable impression that one is shielded from nothing in the Spectacle, that an obscure menace weighs on the empty order of commodity society. Indisputably, the state of exception becomes generalized. No one can any longer pretend, in one camp as in the other, to security. This is good. We know at present that the denouement is close. “Lucid saintliness recognizes in itself the necessity of destruction, the necessity of a tragic issue” (Bataille, The Guilty).

16) The effective configuration of hostilities that the notion of the Imaginary Party makes readable is marked essentially by asymmetry. We have no business, presently, with the dispute of two camps that compete for the conquest of the same trophy around which, all things told, they find themselves. Here, the protagonists move on such perfectly strange planes, one from the other, that they do not meet except at very rare points of intersection, and everything accounted for, by the whim of a certain chance. But this strangeness is itself asymmetrical: because, for the Imaginary Party, the Spectacle is without mystery whereas for the Spectacle the Imaginary Party must remain forever a mystery. From this follows a strategic consequence of the first importance: while we can without problem designate our enemy, which is besides by essence designatable, our enemy cannot designate us. There is no uniformity in the Imaginary Party, because uniformity is precisely the central attribute of the Spectacle. Thus it is from now on that all uniformity must feel itself menaced and, with it, all that it represents as currency. In other terms, the Imaginary Party knows nothing but its enemies, not its members, because its enemies are precisely all those who one could know. Those of the Imaginary Party, in re-appropriating their Bloom-being, have re-appropriated the anonymity with which they were constrained. In so doing, they turn against the Spectacle the situation it forced on them and use it as a condition of invincibility. In a certain manner, they will make this society pay for the imprescriptable crime of having stolen from them their name—that is to say the knowledge of their sovereign singularity and by that of all properly human life—to have excluded them from all visibility, all community, all participation, to have thrown them into the indistinction of the crowd, into the nothingness of ordinary life, into the mass in which homo sacer is suspended, and to have walled off from their existence the access of meaning. It is from this condition, in which the Spectacle would like to maintain them, that they depart. It is perfectly insufficient, and at the same time significant of a certain intellectual impotence, to remark that, in this terrorism, innocents receive the chastisement “of being nothing, of being without destiny, to have been dispossessed of their name by a system, itself anonymous, of which they become thus the most pure incarnation. In that they are finished social products of an henceforth globalized abstract sociality.” (Baudrillard). For, each one of these murders without motive and without designated victim, each one of these anonymous sabotages constitutes an act of Tiqqun, that executes the sentence that this world has already pronounced against itself. It returns to nothingness that which Spirit has already quitted, to death those who do not live but rather survive, to the ruin of that which has for so long been no more than ruins. And if one must accept for these acts the absurd qualifier of “gratuitous” it is because they do but lead to manifest that which is already true, but still occult, to realizing that which is already real, but not known as such. They add nothing over the course of the disaster, they record and notify.

17) That its enemy has neither face, nor name, nor anything that could be tied to an identity; that this always presents itself, in spite of its colossal designs, under the detritus of a perfect Bloom, voila that which is fit to unleash the paranoia of power. Johann Georg Elser, of which the bomb attempt November 8, 1939 in Munich did not spare Hitler save for a small favor of fate, furnishes the model of that which, in the years to come, will plunge commodity domination into an ever more sensible fright. Elser is the model Bloom, if ever such an expression did not express a crippling contradiction. In him all evokes neutrality and nothingness. His absence from the world was complete, his solitude absolute. His banality was itself banal. The poverty of spirit, the lack of personality and insignificance were his only attributes, but they never became conspicuous. When he recounts his life as a handyman, it is in the manner of an impersonality without bottom. Nothing kindled passion in him. Politics and ideology left him equally indifferent. He neither knew what Communism was, nor what National-Socialism was, and he was however a worker in Germany in the 1930’s. And when the “judges” interrogated him on his motives for an act into which he put a year and minute care to prepare, he came only to mention the augmentation of deductions upon the salary of workers. He even declared he did not have the intention to eliminate National-Socialism, but solely a few men that he judged evil. It is such a being that missed saving the planet from a world war and unparalleled suffering. His project rested on nothing but his solitary resolution, which his existence had denied, to ravage that of which he was the inexpressible enemy, that which represented the hegemony of Evil. He took his right only from himself, that is to say from the shattering absolute of his decision. The “Party of Order” will have to face, and already faces, the multiplication of such elementary acts of terrorism that it can not understand nor foresee, because they authorize themselves from nothing but the unshakeable sovereignty of metaphysics, of the crazy possibility of disaster that each human existence carries in itself in infinitesimal doses. Nothing, not even glory, can shelter from such eruptions, which aim at the social in response to the terrorism of the social. Their target is as vast as the world. Thus, all that employs itself in residing in the Spectacle must forevermore live in terror of a menace of destruction, which no one knows whence it emanates, nor what it concerns, and of which one can just barely guess that it wants itself to be an example. In similar actions of brilliance, the lack of discernable goal is necessarily a part of the goal itself, because it is by this that they manifest an exteriority, a strangeness, an irreducibility to the mode of commodity unveiling, because it is in this way that they corrode it. It is a matter of spreading the unease that makes humans metaphysicians and the doubt that cracks, level after level, the dominant interpretation of the world. Thus it is in vain that the Spectacle credits us an immediate goal, if it isn’t maybe the hope to provoke a more or less durable breakdown in the whole of the machine. Nothing is more similar to abolishing the totality of the world of administered alienation than one of those miraculous suspensions where all the humanity that the Spectacle habitually eclipses brusquely returns, where the empire of separation is defeated, where the mouths rediscover words which they must, and where humans are reborn in regard to their fellow humans and to the indistinguishable need that they have of one another. Domination sometimes takes many decades to completely recover from a single one of these moments of intense truth. But one gravely mistakes the strategy of the Imaginary Party to reduce it to the pursuit of catastrophe. One does not misunderstand any less in crediting to us the infantilism of wanting to pulverize, in one blow, who knows which general quarter where power finds itself concentrated. One does not assault a mode of unveiling like a fortress, even if the one can usefully lead to the other. Hence, the Imaginary Party does not aim for a general insurrection against the Spectacle, nor even for its direct and instantaneous destruction. Rather it arranges an ensemble of conditions such that domination succumbs as quickly and as largely as possible to the progressive paralysis to which its paranoia condemns it. Although it does not abandon at any moment its designs to achieve this itself, its tactic is not to attack from the front, but in the same action to hide itself, to orient and to hasten the issuance of the malady. “It is this that is fearful for the holders of power that it does not recognize: not letting itself be seized, being the dissolution of social facts as well as the restive obstinacy to reinvent in itself a sovereignty that the law can not circumscribe” (Blanchot, The Shameful Community). Impotent faced with the omnipresence of this danger, domination, which feels itself more and more alone, betrayed and fragile, has no other choice but to extend control and suspicion to the totality of a territory of which, however, free circulation resides the vital principle. It can encircle its “gated communities” with as many guardians as it would like, the ground will continue no less to slip out from under its feet. It is in the essence of the Imaginary Party to everywhere carve up commodity society, even at its foundation of credit. Its dissolving practice knows no other limit than the collapse of what it undermines.

18) It is not so much the content of the crimes of the Imaginary Party that tend to ruin the imperium of bloody peace as their form. Because their form is that of an hostility with no specific object, of a fundamental hatred that wells up, without respect for any obstacle, from a most unreachable interiority, from unaltered depths where humans maintain a veritable contact with themselves. That is why there emanates from them a force that all the chatter of the Spectacle cannot manage to hold back. Japanese children, whom one might justly consider the most intense avant-garde of the Imaginary Party, have forged certain words to designate these absolute fits of rage, where something in them that is not them, indeed, something much greater than them, takes hold. The best-known formula is mukatsuku; at the origin it meant “to have nausea,” that is, to be possessed by the most physical of metaphysical sensations. In this special rage there is something sacred.

19) It is however manifest that the Spectacle can no longer content itself, before the massacres, crimes and catastrophes that besiege it, before this inexplicable mass that accumulates, with noting the extension of a gap in its vision of the world. Besides, it expresses without evasion: “one would like that this violence be the fruit of misery, of great poverty. It would be more easy to admit to” (Evenement du Jeudi, September 10 1998). As one can observe with a disarming regularity, its first movement is to advance an explanation at all costs, as it must ruin all that upon which it could repose in theory. Thus, when the pathetic Clinton is summoned to give reasons for and to draw the consequences of the Beautiful Gesture of Kipland Kinkel, exemplary Bloom by all accounts, he found nothing responsible save “the influence of the new culture of films and violent videogames”. In so doing, he made note of the transparence, of the insubstantiality, and of the radical liquidation of the subject by commodity domination and publicly recognized that the tragic robinsonnade upon which this pretends to found itself, the juridical irreducibility of the individual, is no longer tenable. He ingenuously saps even the principal of commodity society, without which law, private property, the sale of labor power, and until now what has been called “culture”, read all the more like literary fantasy. It would still prefer to sacrifice the whole edifice of its pseudo-justification rather than to penetrate the reasons and nature of its enemy. Because otherwise one must grant to Marx that “the coincidence of the transformation of surroundings and of human activity or of the transformation of man by himself can only be seized and rationally comprehended as revolutionary praxis”. Then, for a second time, we return to this confession that it tries at present to efface; it is the painful moment where it exhausts itself in ridiculous epilogues upon the inexistent psychology of the Bloom that has turned to action. In spite of these interminable considerations, it does not arrive at defending itself from the sentiment in the trial, which is, at bottom, that it itself is judged, and that society takes the place of the accused. It is too evident that the origin of its gesture is nothing subjective, that it is simply a part, in its saintliness, of the objectivity of domination. On this point, it comes all the same to confess, from its very lips, that verily it is a social war that it has business with, without clarifying, however, which social war, that is to say who the protagonists are: “the authors of these mad acts, these new barbarians, are not all head cases. They are most often very ordinary people” (Evenement du Jeudi, 10 September 1998). From now one it is this last rhetoric of an absolute hostility, where it presides over the naming of the enemy who is declared a barbarian and rejected as outside of humanity, which tends to impose itself in a universal fashion. To wit, it is now possible to hear, in the midst of a beautiful period of social peace, such and such a potentate of public transport proclaiming “we are going to reconquer territory”. And in fact, we see the spread everywhere, under forms most often painted over, the certitude of the existence of an un-nameable interior enemy, which pursues a continuous action of sabotage; but this time, unhappily, there are no more kulaks to “liquidate as a class”. One would be wrong, thus, to not subscribe to the paranoiac point of view, which supposes behind the inarticulate multiplicity of protests in the world a singular will armed with black designs: because in a world of paranoiacs, it is the paranoiacs who are right.

20) That the Spectacle fears harboring in its breast an imaginary party, even if in fact the inverse produces itself—in effect, it’s rather the Imaginary Party which holds in its aura the Spectacle– this suspicion betrays that while it has qualified these acts of destruction as “gratuitous”, it has not said everything. It is glaring that the ensemble of misdeeds that one attributes to “lunatics”, “barbarians”, “irresponsibles” all contribute in adjacent ways to a unique unformulated project: the liquidation of commodity domination. In the last instance, it is always a question of objectively rendering its life impossible, from propagating unease, doubt and mistrust; to make, in the modest measure of the means of each one, as much harm as possible. Nothing can explain the systematic lack of remorse in criminals, if not the mute sentiment of participating in a grandiose work of devastation. From all evidence, these people, in themselves insignificant, are the agents of a severe, historical and transcendent reason that advertises the destruction of the world–that is to say, the accomplishing of its nothingness. The sole refinement of those conscious fractions of the Imaginary Party is the fact that they do not work towards the end of the world, but the end of a world. This difference could, when the moment comes, leave a sufficient place to the most reasoned hatred. But this is without consequence for the Imaginary Party itself, which must remain the next figure of Spirit.”


Sorry if this way of posting the parts is problematic.


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