Thursday, 14 July 2016

A Summer Chill (2)

End times sleekness was always my weakness. 

'The theory of recuperation has always been recuperated', and every standpoint's continued presence in the world represents only the suspension of the world's desire to crush it. Where the totality is realised through the fortifications built against its expansion, whatever is reconciled with the conditions of its appearance, must appear on precisely those terms. Only a quantitive presence in the world (rate of hits, follows, views, re-posts, mentions) now distinguishes objects. The bigger a project's footprint, the more accurately it represents the world's jackboot stamping on its own face. Success always expresses compatibility, whilst relative obscurity is now the sole measure of relative resistance. Where every technologised conversation articulates violent containment through the abstraction of shared interest, critique becomes the preserve of those who have not kept up and neglected to tick the box of their own inclusion. It is a rule, beginning with the formulation, 'the less friends, the least incorporated' that may be invoked, as Debord indicates in Comments, in all topics from weather, geographical location, time, wine and politics. Just as the writer's desire not to be read ought to function as the sole condition of writing, so the refusal of quantifiable networking ought to be realised as the sole condition of friendlessness. The square peg narrator, more or less aware of its own neuro-atypicality, occupies the last unmobilised vantage point from which the process of voluntarist-subsumption may be critically observed. 

Whilst recuperation as a concept may still have some explanatory power where applied to the mutual strategies of capture exhibited between rivals (themselves already subject to the pull of a generalised surface tension), it has little environmental relevance. Nobody now dares to identify recuperative flows as an integral process of reproduction. Nothing begins outside. No agency is ever twisted to the purpose of a greater power. Nothing is captured, and nothing escapes. Everything was already here and everything must last forever. Radical milieus are condemned to persist on life-support, conserved by what they oppose, packaged and distributed to the fluctuating market in radical milieus. No intelligence may now sustain the argument that what positions itself is not also positioned. No intelligence may sustain the argument that what positions itself as opposition does not recapitulate what it positions as what it opposes. What must be opposed, already opposes itself. 

The decline of the concept of recuperation coincides with the decline in theory of revolutionary expropriation, the last flickerings of which were lived out in the movement of the squares in 2011. The recuperative movement assumes implicitly a tendency moving in the other direction, a counter movement by which the subject de-arrests captured objects and extracts them from the fatality of their orbit. The expropriatory counter to recuperation in the SI's lexicon was of course 'detournment'. The back and forth movements of expropriation and counter-expropriation pivot on the historical struggle to direct the world's objective wealth, and more precisely on the naive representation of the upcyclable core of useful production. In 1965, Adorno could still write, 'to rethink how to put society on the right path [...] it ceaselessly produces the forces that initially promote destruction but that tomorrow or the day after, [...] could actually make possible a paradise on earth.' Within 10 years, and the commencement of a generalised expulsion of labour from manufacturing industry allied to the social democratic turn towards monetarist policy, the idea of an objectivity inherent to the historical product became wholly ideological (Callaghan's Labour government instituted 'neoliberalism' 3 years before Thatcher was elected, 5 years before Regan). In a world where the expropriative process has detourned revolutionary practices, the potential for a revolutionary subject to occupy the spaces now generated by the forces of production have withered away. There is nothing of the world for the revolution to seize now that does not also return it to the same position. 

There is nothing an emancipatory subject might now recognise in the world without compromising its project, without finding itself belonging unutterably to the moment it repudiates. Like Orpheus with a selfie stick, the subject has internalised the command to look back, and thereby activate the clause of its non-appearance. The historical event of post-subjectivity is now written into the character of commodities. The aura of triumphal invulnerability surrounding the present's edifices is drawn from that event from which the productive apparatus finally passes beyond the historical threshold at which the subject still has potential capacity to direct it. The totality now evades consciousness and the objective escape of social process from human interference is retroactively triggered by attempts to grasp at it. Every device, system, network, structure, mechanism, relation and ideology arrives with the in-built ruins of itself as it necessarily would have appeared before the subject, if the subject had inhabited that world where it still had the capacity for dictatorship. 

Two distinct rules of practical apprehension are now discernible. The first is associated with the problematic of opposition in a situation where the truism, nothing is what it seems is elaborated beyond the dream's navel. The underlying condition by which the process of abstraction is extended through commodity production, where every commodity artificially orchestrates specific needs around itself, locking populations into monopolistic forms, now begins to escape the constraints of value production and further disturbs the relation between appearance and substance as a social category of organisation. The upwardly spiralling relation between value's essential components: need, labour, use, commodity, abstract representation (as the system's invariant escalatory factor and source of measurement) becomes need', labour', use', commodity', representation' but also tends toward radical simplification: seeking immediacy and resolution at a higher order. The system of real abstraction, under the sign of Thanatos, seeks to abandon the category of 'appearance' and the domain of 'realisation' and thereby separate itself as an immediate identity. The use-core at the heart of the current commodity form and the intrinsic historical wealth of objects persisting as the category of use-value beyond the fetter of productive relations, is no longer discernible outside of those relations. Use-value is supplanted by dependency-value with the fetter now fully integrated as 'firmware' into the product's function - the emancipatory idealism of re-purposing is already left behind. But equally, components in the process of realisation: abstract labour as variable capital, the realisation of surplus value, use-value as market constraint, even exchange itself, become fetters themselves before the potential of a fully automated immediacy confined within an addictive environment. Without these specific relations of production, these specific commodities cannot appear; without these specific-form commodities as their output, these specific processes from which they are inseparable, become immediately obsolete. The 'profit motive' as a deus ex machina has lost its explanatory power for the ongoing escape from itself of what is now anachronistically called 'capitalism.'

It is not a coincidence that a higher order integration of use and exchange as a means for immediately realising relations of dependency (and thus by-passing relations constituted by the process of surplus value extraction) should result in a second order (bund-type), or contingent, essentialism, that is reflected in the essentialism articulated by oppositional ideologies. At the heart of oppositionist ideas is the assumption of a self-evident difference between what is opposed and what opposes it. The 'difference' is not so much put into question here as its self-evidence. It has become a motif of oppositional movements, facilitated by communications technology, to ironically rehearse the arguments made against them that they are 'no different' or 'as bad' as what they oppose: antifascists are no different to fascists; anti-racists are just reverse racists; the goal of anti-sexists is to invert sexist categories. If these accusations do not bear scrutiny on their own terms, the ironised defence against them on grounds of their self-evident absurdity serves only to reproduce ideological constraints that directly impact on the capacity for critique. Saint-Just was the first to formulate the irony, 'You have to punish not only the traitors, but even those who are indifferent; you have to punish whoever is passive in the republic, and who does nothing for it.' But those who describe themselves as anti-fascist, even 'militant' anti-fascist', are mystified that their bund continues to uncover 'fascists' in their midst. The self-evidence of the difference they assert between themselves and fascists impedes their critical engagement with both the general perversity of ideological motivation and what it is exactly that they are constituted in opposition to.

I am against imperialism, be it French, British, US or Chinese. I am not an 'anti-imperialist', since that is a political position supporting national liberation movements opposed to imperialist powers.I am (and so is the proletariat) against fascism, be it in the form of Hitler or Le Pen. I am not an 'anti-fascist', since this is a political position regarding fascist state or threat as a first and foremost enemy to be destroyed at all costs, i.e. siding with bourgeois democrats as a lesser evil, and postponing revolution until fascism is disposed of.
Anti-fascism is the domain where the policy of 'anti-cosmopolitanism' and the chant, 'Hamas Hamas Juden ins gas', are numbered amongst, but not the worst of, its products. Certain formations of the fascistic appear within anti-fascism and nowhere else. Orwell was the first to observe that the military struggle against fascism must result in 'the general movement [...] in the direction of some kind of Fascism. Fascism called, no doubt, by some politer name, and because this was Spain–more human and less efficient than the German or Italian varieties. The only alternatives were an infinitely worse dictatorship by Franco.' This was two years before the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Anti-fascism is not to be unmasked as 'fascism' but it always carries within it, elements of the fascistic which it utilises to close down, on grounds of exigent mobilisation, that which queries both the logic of mobilisation and its exigency. The question of the non-identity of anti-fascism, and its failure to realise that which carries no trace of the fascistic, cannot be engaged from within the self-evident separation of the oppositional Bund to that community of fact (the involuntary identitarian disclosure of Gemeinschaft) to which it is opposed (and as this is represented within the relation of 'opposition'). 

The spilt entrails of anti-fascism must be read again in more detail, but for the moment, it is of interest to observe that similar structures are reproduced within other oppositionist tendencies. Repeatedly, those political formations that are orientated towards an emancipatory politics, autonomously select the same strategic, and mythological, means of self-realisation at the threshold of practice. They seem compelled at the point at which they begin to realise an intervention to invoke a self-evident difference between themselves and what they oppose. If the identity invoked within an elective  project is both fluid and composite, then that which is opposed is represented as definite, fixed and crucially, externalised. The enemy is also always a target. Both agency and identity is assigned to the enemy-target amalgam: the enemy chooses his violence; the enemy has full understanding of his purpose; the enemy's person is identical with his function; the enemy personifies those forces which can only be overcome through violent confrontation with the personification of those forces. A fascist is nothing but a fascist. A racist is nothing but a racist. A misogynist is nothing but misogynist. A homophobe is nothing but a homophobe.  A wife beater, a rapist, a child abuser, a thief, a drug dealer, a pimp. None of these, as they appear in the image repertoire of the vigilante, is anything but a self-evident target for justifiable retribution. 

Thus, militant identitarianism appropriates the right to force without recognising the role of a defence lawyer. Self-evidence necessarily precludes even the pretence of a trial, and excludes mitigating circumstance. Where guilt is established by its obviousness, 'militant' investigation still lags behind, and refuses to supersede, the categories of the bourgeois legal system. The category of self-evidence also has its objective aspect; opposition to racism and sexism is facilitated by existing institutions, the path is already laid along which anti-discrimination campaigners may appeal to universals. Liberationist campaigns are drawn via established channels towards institutional realisation; the universality of process converges with the objective imperative to refuse 'discrimination'. Similarly, whilst anti-racism is established institutionally, its practice is reduced to exposing those individuals who do not adhere to the institution's principles.  The ordinary function of the institution is obscured by the scandal of those failing to live up to its protocols. The mode of appearance of the personified enemy developed from intersectional analysis is indicative of the foreshortening of the analytic process. The perceived necessity of urgent and simplified practical application of certain iterations of intersectionality suspend the analysis before it has completed its work. At the point of suspension it has only produced, as a self 'enabling' or foundational mechanism, the image of a victim figure at the mercy of a perpetrator figure. The project of intersectionality is intended to uncover otherwise unarticulated repressive constraints but in application it is utilised as a vehicle for conveying identity thinking and bad universals. In practice, its analysis is never intersectional enough, and degrades itself to the level of malpractice. This is not a matter of recuperation but of the simple mechanics of actualisation in an environment that perpetually incites immediate practical application of rough hypotheses via the rhetorical conventions of denunciation. In order to produce predictability along the path towards practice, the analysis must find evidence for a particular mode of enemy operation. The image of a cop beating some helpless figure has mobilising power whilst the image of a cop enabling some helpless figure finds no potential for action. In both images, the cop embodies social domination, but only the former is widely circulated as an image of repression. However, it is the second image, the image of the good cop, which carries the most information about the process of social reproduction. The path through the first image, that of the bad cop, always leads to reformism as this is where the immediatist formulation of the problem finds its solution on the problem's own terms. In this way, the problem of police abuses is solved at the level of improved policing. Critical analysis locates its object in images of the second type but radical movements are generated only from images of the first. The divergence of theory from practice results from this very basic incompatibility of object relation. 

In the interests of building a movement, the reluctance of intersectional-type analyses to direct its critique towards the difficult 'positives' of social reproduction further compromises the integrity of the critique itself. The sense of urgency for critique to realise itself as a practice relies on a basic mechanism of polarisation, if you are not with us, you are against us. If the witch trial and its correlates do not directly produce witchcraft as such (fascism is not directly the product of anti-fascism), then it is driven to uncover a particular figuration of the witch. Where critical analysis is foreshortened, oppositional practice finds its pretext in the denunciatory form which in turn establishes familiar paths to the object of critique and the manner in which it must be criticised. In his lectures published as The Courage of Truth, Foucault argues that whilst rhetoric is speech constructed to persuade an audience towards a particular path, philosophy is speech that seeks to articulate truth regardless of the audience's response. Foucault's point is that rhetoric and philosophy have a divergent relation to power and cannot occupy the same space, they are mutually hostile. Problematically, the analytical procedures of intersectionality have tended, in their practical applications, towards the rhetorical, or rather towards the rhetoric of personal moral blame. 

In application, intersectional activism has assigned subjectivity to those individuals it identifies as possessing the categories of oppression, it attributes their speech to their identity, it attributes their actions to their agency. However, at this point the intersectional project is caught in its own contradiction: on the one hand, critical analysis is directed towards the structures of social process, and on the other, individuals are criminally implicated by a forensic or pathological turn in the analysis. As a way out, the only  object adequate to the capacity of critical investigation today is the form of domination (the modes of appearance of repressive consciousness) as these are generated within emancipatory projects. At each of its successive renewals, the projects of human emancipation have organised themselves in critical relation to earlier forms.  Intersectionality, and all similar projects of identity critique, is still not intersectional enough, it must take one step further, and away from realism, and it must take something of a Borgesian turn. What are the opaque structures and tendencies of domination, the intersections of power, that intersectionality is incapable of sniffing out? Of all the objects self-dis-tort-ing-un-der-the-Heep-ish-thumb of coercion, where every object bends beneath the pressure of its own thumb, which of them careens unchallenged through the intersections of social institutions? What is it that intersectionality defends

The difficulty inherent to the practical critique of power relations is that it has achieved such a level of sophistication that only graduate students are able to understand, and thus undertake it. This would not be an issue in itself, as critique must both closely map the contortions of power and also exhibit as Bataille puts it a 'creative effervescence' in the formation of the enquiring bund, but it becomes an issue where critical practice then condenses itself into popular politics - the simplified representations extracted from complex procedures and deployed as triggers of practical mobilisation only rehearse the ideological conventions of self-instrumentalistion. Whilst it is not overly helpful to go into the etymologies, the use of the prefix 'de' is more appropriate within emancipatory projects than the prefix 'anti' and the prefix 'dis' is better than both.  Thus, the project of dis-colonisation, which seeks to also identify and dismantle interiorised subjective traits of colonisation, is better suited to self-emancipation than either 'anti-imperialism' or 'decolonisation'. Where de-colonisation theories tend to reify subjective formations as intrinsic identities, anti-imperialism validates national liberation movements and, by exteriorising 'imperialism' onto readily identified agents 'imperialists', fails to locate the expansion of national capitals as a necessary and structural trait of every state in formation. Similarly, dis-gendering (if that is a viable term) would seem to exceed the constraints implicit in both 'anti-sexism' and de-gendering (where the former precipitates quantitively as a single issue politics, the latter cleaves to gender in the abstract as a decisive category of social production).  

Methodologies of extrication are quite distinct from the conflictual conventions of both opposition and deconstruction. They anticipate, by precognition, in the powering-up of oppositionism the errors and flaws in the sub-routines of liberation: the anti-fascist forces that incorporate fascistic motifs; the anti-racists utilising coercive and reductive representations; the feminisms that internalise the discourses of the father.  The question that is to be set, after Deleuze, after Spinoza, why do humans also love what they fight against? The problematic, after Foucault, after Freud, is less a matter of identifying and suppressing agents of enemy ideologies than disrupting the conditions in which those ideologies are cultivated. It is a project undertaken alongside the attempt to disintegrate individuals from the social formations that adhere to them. At each successive crossroads, always the same crossroads, the interrogational procedures of what is now called intersectionality must ask the same questions: i. What are the types of relationships supported within this domain and what function does each type of relation perform? ii. Which of these relationships should be actively defended, which allowed to take its own course, and which must be disintegrated? iii. How are these decisions to be implemented? Emancipation was never going to take the form of a  movement, it is an invariant a-historical social therapeutic, a self-separation, and then a separation of the separations, a dividing of the relational organs from their adhesions. 

Yet the whole history of colonisation in South America and elsewhere must take into account this kind of radical renunciation of traditional values, when, during the break up of a way of life, the loss of certain elements leads to the immediate depreciation of all the rest.

But I have run out of time and still not addressed the second of my self-styled rules of apprehension. In abbreviated form, it is a variant perhaps of the first, or how I must now present it, and stripped of exposition, it appears tritely as one of those darndest things. It concerns victory (in the world where all is either victory or must be denounced as atrocity) and refers to the meteoric ascendency of particularities which must also burn-up and disperse throughout the firmament. Programmatically, it may be formulated very simply: the flourishing of a form occurs at the end of its life-cycle; where 'flourishing' is understood as that state of conspicuous environment-wide success that does not also achieve power over its conditions. Wherever the subjective flourishes, it is impelled to regress to the realm of the imaginary, and by realising its own demands it illuminates a context where desire is not constituted as the desire of the other but of the desire of the self.  What flourishes is allowed, encouraged even, and then ridiculed but never defended. The recent victories of particularised ideological forces indicate the completion of the dream-work attached to them. Every idol a bring down. A victory as President Trump would end the phenomenon of Trump. The realisation of the UKIP demand, the Brexit event, seals the fate of that conventional anti-elite national-idealist ressentiment as a pole of attraction for discontent. The ascent of ISIS marks the furthest point in the development of Islamicist-nationalism, an ideology which will now retreat much further than Raqqa. A Syriza government finishes off the Syriza movement. The mass mobilisation of an anti-war demonstation also exhausts its reserves of energy. A purported Ozymandias syndrome. Disappearance is the price for blooming. Only latency is sustained. What realises is lost, what actualises persists. Whatever survives must not flourish. Every potential is suppressed in the specificity of its realisation. Every footstep takes them further from heaven. By simple inversion, the near future's arrival immediately confounds the direst of predictions. What appears as the herald of a new era, the seeming exemplar of the age, is just another misdirection, another dead road. The only purpose of the future is to refute those ideologies orientated towards it, those ideologies employing threat as a device of mobilisation. But the train is in the station. Hurry, hurry. I wave my white handkerchief, adieu, adieu

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