Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Infinite Strike | La Grève Infinie

The Institute for Experimental Freedom's European appendages and friends are proud to release an English translation of “La Grève Infinie” (Infinite Strike). This text was written on Oct 27th 2010 from within the events transpiring throughout the French strikes and blockades. It has appeared throughout France, and is available in at and

Although the US is not France, we can't help but find a certain resonance with the strike, with the determinacy of struggle. We welcome the return of causseur, of the vandal, of course! We delight in the fine fractures that link our deep sense of despair with the its negation—the secret solidarity between our weakness our others strength. And so, as a means of reverberating the call, the IEF offers this text to those of us who are everywhere homeless, and everywhere foreign.

Within the text—which is just overheard within the event—we see a clear proposition. The elementary strategy of “shutting it all down.” Blockade the oil refineries, extend all self-reductions beyond ourselves, block the ports, defeat the police, shut down the nuclear reactors. Realize all strikes as a position.

Practice makes perfect.

Infinite Strike | Readable

Infinite Strike | Imposed for Print

With love and in struggle,

The Institute for Experimental Freedom | Nov 2010


It's clear. The Party of Order seeks, with all the forces at its disposal, to have us return home. On this point, at least, the unions and the government are of one accord. Doubtlessly banking upon our most miserable inclinations, our insidious predilection for the emptiness and absences in which we have so perfectly forgotten how to live and struggle. Here they are mistaken. We will not go home; we who are everywhere homeless. For if there exists a single place that we might deem inhabitable, it's within this event, in the intensities taking shape therein, thanks to which we are living. In accordance, above all, with the means we will be able to provide ourselves.

It's clear. An insurrectional process gathers strength to the extent that the givens that make up its particular understanding of reality become, imperceptibly, blaring truisms. Being given that Capitalism is a universal lie, the form of its negation, inversely, will be that of a plurality of worlds combined jointly by the truths that hold them together.

The words by which a situation becomes comprehensible to itself directly determine both its forms and its spirit. The forced objectifications will manage, at best, to trace vague contours around a muchness. The diversity of analysis, be they those of the sociologists or those of the radical activist, put about the self-same concert of confusion: broken-winded apology or interested pessimism. In either case one is struck by the want of so much as a glimmer of the tactical sense by which a voice finds its real comprehensibility, a veritable Common which could liberate the possibilities opened-up by the situation, and through which one could rid oneself, like a nightmare upon waking, of our programed despondency. The trenchancy of this voice resides as much in its choice of words as in the positivity of its orientation.

An opening gesture proves necessary to set out the strategic intelligibility of the events in progress. That of situating oneself, of orienting oneself. To speak from somewhere, not simply from behind one or another point of view, but from the position of a party.


This movement, to name but one of its virtues, has, from the very outset, approached matters from the root. Generalized economic blockades, deliberate organization of a total paralysis, refusal to compromise or negotiate. Direct, crude language. From there it has simply given material form to the slogans habitually condemned to languish as expectations or simulacra. The strike has materialized itself in so many bodies, in so many determinations. And it's for this reason that it appears as something truly menacing. So it is, from the perspective of practices set in place, that the movement situates itself beyond a simple social movement, that it participates already along the lines of an insurrectional process. This is our point of departure.


Let us set down a fact: there no longer exists, at the present, anything of the old revolutionary movement. And as those who'd taken over the watch plunge ever deeper into the morass of self-satisfied civicism, we can feel out, from time to time, the sensation of an emptiness. It's precisely this emptiness that we will need to inhabit, to transform into an opportunity.


In France a singular superstition afflicts a great majority of bodies who otherwise pride themselves on being so rigidly secular: the belief, a reedy thing, though apparently unshakable, in the reality of the "social movement". The misfortune of this acceptance resides in the following: it's a belief which no longer credits the least amount of faith among its adherents. From "victories" to "defeats", from sporadic mobilization to conclusive demobilization, it's a belief ever more clapped out and threadbare. Never mind that the object of this belief is itself the heir of a historical catastrophe, that of the classical workers' movement. The latter, as underlined by Mario Tronti, was not defeated by Capital, but rather by Democracy. Not by some external victory on the part of the former, but by as a result of the internalization of the latter. To the extent that this pack of illusions goes unrecognized, the burden placed upon those who struggle is that much greater.


A movement defines itself negatively in accordance with its limits. Its field of action is nevertheless circumscribed by that beyond which it dares not venture. This predefined scope assures that the movement remains nothing but the hysterical conjuration of a predictable end. The very life of a movement is directed under the sign of this headlong rushing ahead, this frenzied effort to forestall the end for which it had been set going in the first place. Its end is frightening in that it means nothing less than its death. A temporality separated from the course of History. No enduring project or vocation. The movement is to be forever started over again, laboriously, from the beginning, out of the same nothingness. From such a beginning we can only ever start over, without learning, since there's nothing to learn, ad infinitum. Close the parenthesis.


But the horizons of true historical action hang not upon this sad canvas, there isn't any "return to normalcy." What there is, on the other hand, is the persistence of a revolutionary project, with its subterranean accelerations and decelerations. With respect to such a process there exists but one time. A time in which nothing left undone is forgotten. What there is are two camps: on one side there are those who seek to carry out a total strike, an irreversible blockade of the circulation of flows, and, on the other side, the scabs and the cops. The entirety of the social landscape is subject to this cruel partition.


To the extent that a strike recognizes itself as forming part of this process it remains one of the rare sites in which a transmission of experience persists. The strike doesn't set out to commemorate past struggles, but rather to recall them: which is to say, to restore them to memory. This is done not only for the sake of the strike itself, but for the carelessness of a world occupied with the organization of forgetting.


One must always take care to see that the terrain upon which a situation is articulated isn't chop full of mines. Such is our case. First step: abandon the neatly demarcated terrain upon which a thing, an event, is understood in the form of a thing. A thing never exists for-itself, for nothing exists outside of the intelligence beholding it. It is possible that by dint of usage the term "social movement" no longer serves to designates anything but a particular form of powerlessness, the semantic operation of a certain sociology, which, from the moment it finds acceptance, paralyzes any and all strategic elaboration as much as any form of collective intelligence. This stems from the fact that sociology has itself been completely socialized. It invests every discourse with the same obsession for statistical calculation, allowing only for a laborious objectification of reality via a handful of depressing categories. That which shapes and gives form to our worlds remains firmly beyond its grasp. For them, our friendships represent no more than a handful of aberrant variables. The unknown of their equations. The infinity of a strike.


Saint-Nazaire. The demonstrations called for by the unions lead systematically to confrontations lasting several hours. Heroic displays of rock-throwing and hastily set-up barricades. "Sarkozy, you're fucked", intoned by the thousand. A courthouse jointly stoned by diverse groups of rioters. A friend said, "how beautiful to see a city rise up against its police."


The true orientation of the struggle is not to be found between opposing classes, Capital versus Labor, but rather a partisan opposition between those who make a pathological cult of work and those for whom it inspires a simple disgust. From here on out there are those who still want to work and those who would prefer not to.


A disquieting omerta reigns within the interior of the movement. It consists in the denial of what the events themselves ceaselessly demonstrate, namely, a pained rejection of work. Not merely a local protest against a quantitative extension of the latter, but a total indictment of the manner in which work is everywhere experienced. Which is to say, as a disaster. The rejection is unequivocal. Work. The looming shadow of death. The "theft of human energies", mesmerizing its victims. We are witnessing the agony of the classical world of Work, and with it the disappearance of the figure of the Worker. The ruination of the cozy intimacy that the latter had achieved with his hardship. Even though work has always been experienced as a prolonged torture, one still finds "mind over matter" specialists who attempt to determine the threshold beyond which work becomes intolerable.


Traditional politics is founded upon a few axioms, invariably presented as unsurpassable a priori. The principle of "governmentality"; the organization of a social need in virtue of which "things must be governed", failing which they would invariably fall into chaos. "Work" is likewise postulated, like a blackmail, affirming nothing but the obligation to "make a living", under any circumstances and however possible. Thus a narrow solidarity unites the apparent diversity of political conceptions and their attendant neurosis, all deriving, in the final analysis, from the same feeble anthropology. On the one hand, the cybernetic project of generalized governance, on the other, the anarchist ideal of a heavenly autonomous governance. The myth of full-employment directed toward sustainable development and the self-managed fable of voluntary work, lotted out along egalitarian lines. In either case we see the same managerial apparatus applied to life and living, the same ferocious will to suppress our better instincts. The same objective of desperate regulation. Mobilization and Total Appropriation constitute at once the ethico-practical ideal of the most inveterate activism and the very power which it pretends to combat.


Return of the paradox: the contestation of a reform remains the prerogative of the most advanced reformists. Calculating the future to the point of abandoning any present, any form of presence. The exemplary schizophrenia of the anarcho-syndicalist, codifying, from the present on, the posterity of the revolution, legislating the "after". But to legislate the after is to have already forgotten the now, to have let slip away the absolute necessity of a present which escapes us and for which we are on strike. The density of a time that couldn't be reduced to the platitude of a bare chronology. A foreseeable future will always be at war with the invisible destination of the present. A programed thereafter will never rhyme with the here and now. Freeing up a bit of "leisure" in the interest of an improved management of labour-time harks back to the most suspect utopias. One cannot qualitatively improve work by a quantitative reduction of its duration. There is no duration of labor for the very reason that labor is duration, a time one endures.


The current media discourse contrives to stage the climate of the strike as though it were a question of some recently discovered branch of meteorology. One frets over a fuel shortage as if it were an imminent heat-wave; one casts the riots of the high-schoolers after the fashion of an unexpected snow-fall; one prattles on about the strike just as one might ruminate over a capricious storm front. Thus each in his manner would have it in for the weather, groaning over their provisions. "May the blockers by struck down by the wrath of the people!" But it doesn't hold. Inserted among the endless ream of news updates, the nightly display of so many "malcontents", of "we're-being-held-hostage"s and "frustrated-at-the-pumps", presented in the manner of tourists stranded by a flood in India or Chilean miners trapped in the bottom of a hole, shows itself to be a decidedly precarious strategy on the part of those in power.


In a world where the circulation of flows extends upon a global scale, the party of the blockade, of the insurrection, cannot logically prevail without having forged, globally in its turn, the solidarities necessary to endure. The field of action proper to the latter, like the breadth and reach of its ambitions, knows no limit.


Barcelona, September 29, 2010. Day of the general strike. One day against ten years of murmuring silence. What had seemed so securely locked-up in the ghetto of the "anti-system" milieu sparks up, catches fire again, and catches fire at last. Ten years of socialist democracy will not have been equal to forty years of fascism. The order put to heel that day looked every bit the frightened Falangist. Everyone was back on the street, across loose stones and broken glass, the laughter and the cheers going up, as if to give chase to the hasty exit of the police.


Once again, the appearance of the "vandal". Nevertheless, no one is really taken-in any longer by this stylistic figure. The dramatic mise en scene of the latter is played to little effect. Perhaps only the innocents at the student union, or the members of the veterans' society remain capable of being thus stirred. But what's going on today? One could speak of a certain return, our return: a return to working-class violence, a return to youth violence in the streets, a return to the violence of the "old" who pass stones to the "young" in homage to that which they'd never ceased wanting. The words of an old man in Lyon to a young rioter, "we give you the stones we can no longer throw." What had been so perfectly unlearned and forgotten reappears today with all the violence of a thing repressed. The magic linked to the figure of the "vandal" seems to have lost its efficacy to the precise extent that the suburban delinquent, the foreigner, the anarchist, in sum the outsider, no longer serve to delimit anything. How can one seriously speak about exteriority, about marginality, in a world bereft of any outside? The question of violence is no longer posed, but everywhere imposed.


By the same token, the practices of rioting that so regularly punctuate the movement deserve to be recognized as another, mores specific, more surprising form of the blockade. The uncontrollable recurrence of looting and confrontations spanning several days that leave the city centers in total paralysis. The GIPN (the french domestic counter-terrorism unit) in arms, facing down the unarmed crowds. A lesson is to be drawn: the strategy of an economic blockade can never be disassociated from the imperious necessity of annihilating and/or routing the totality of police forces.


One never locates oneself simply within a movement, but always in relation to it, facing it, perhaps even in opposition to it. Opposing all of that which is incoherent or flimsy, the reflux of despair, where it flows back into emptiness. It's a question of attacking the material and affective conditions that bind us to this world. The return to normality must be rendered not only impossible, but undesirable. To establish a cartography of everything which holds us: flows, forces, affective states, logistics, and supplies. To acquire, across the conspiring weave of our friendships, the insurrectional know-how to rout this world. We've learned the opening letters of the alphabet of sedition: blockading the refineries, the oil depots, the ports. Allowing the streets to fill with garbage and transforming the latter into barricades. Smashing the shop-windows that reflect our absence. The question put to us might just as easily be: how to shut off, definitively, the nuclear reactors? How to turn the strike into desertion? How to care for, nourish, and love one another without leaving this world in peace?

"Una salus victis nullam separe salutem."

"The sole salvation of the vanquished
Is to await no salvation."

France, October 27th, 2010.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Enemies We Know

The Institute for Experimental Freedom is proud to announce the release of “Enemies We Know.” This project was originally intended to be a 4-part poster series, and will be released in this medium as well. However, after careful consideration and reflection, these short texts are currently being released as an easily reproducible pamphlet—designed with high contrast black and whites, easy readability, and succinct critical messaging. This pamphlet serves the purpose of an “instead of an introduction,” and because it is not designed to spread ideology, it focuses on clarifying who and what are our enemies, rather than what is our program. The three known enemies that are the subjects of this pamphlet are “Police,” “Bosses,” and “Rapists.” Each is examined from their functional role within the environment they serve and exposed as an amorphous set of practices rather than a substance. Our intention is not to merely name the enemy—who doesn't know know the name of that occupying force in blue? Rather, our intention is to elaborate an analysis of what function each realizes, and how they can be disarmed, undermined and neutralized. In a world of such confusion, it's nice to know certain truths.

If you don't like the “IEF” brand and contact on the back or you wish to add your own, use Adobe Acrobat or another PDF editing program to digitally edit it (for Acrobat: tools, advanced editing, touch up object tool), or simply white it out during production. Even though, it would be more satisfying to leave anonymous letters to potential comrades, we concluded its more beneficial at this time—a time without clear escape routes—to direct a reader toward some signal that they are not alone.

After considering the social and political environment you occupy, leave this pamphlet anonymously at potential points of encounter (the cliché and historical points: cafés, bookshops, colleges, record stores, and bars).

Enemies We Know


With love; in struggle,
The Institute for Experimental Freedom

Friday, June 4, 2010

Got 55,000 Problems but a "Local Project" ain't One

To whom it may concern,

Revolution is not a risk management endeavor. It is, in many ways, a slight alteration of everything that gives life meaning, the fear of the fragility of our bodies included. Insurrection is not a game—even if it uses game-theory. Insurrection—not a military campaign, not a movement for democracy—is the contemporary method for revolution because it combats the productive process of the pacified citizen-subject. It makes everyone and everything into a device of revolt. Insurrection returns risk to eros, and meaning to love.

Whereas its good to learn from experience, we learn nothing when fear of experience is paralyzing. Now is not the time to lose courage, nor is it the time to grind our teeth against walls. It's been said by one that we ought think of revolution as the development of small businesses. You invest this here, you get this benefit there. If the I had $55,000, the I would invest it in more security and comfort for its existing franchises and political allies. Don't be fooled by the investment-anarchists, there is no project or other group that should be prioritized that requires our hasty deployment of resources. We do not have a collective pool of money that can be deployed at any time; only at the right time. On the other hand, wouldn't it be cool if we did? The only project that should be prioritized is the refinement of the practices and material solidarities that constitute a partisan warmachine of insurrection. Without access to the networks of legal aid and deception that are abundant within the false mobilization of activism, a partisan warmachine can quickly expend its resources.

Money is not a substitute for emotional support, but paying the rent of your comrade who has been traumatized by the police, in order to have more time to collectively strategize reveals a material solidarity that links friends and comrades into a singular event. It has been said that insurrection requires that its proponents accept a criminal nature of their existence. To really become present to this existence, we will need far more than the Four Star Anarchist Organization's imaginary $55,000, and as has been proven, sometimes in the art of war having a few good contacts is better than having many bad ones.

We mean it: Now is not the time to lose courage. Now is not the time to fear experimentation. Solidarity means—does anything not mean attack?

With insurrectionary love,
Liam Sionnach

For our beloved friends

as a form of life
is messy.
Count up
the habeas corpus,
walk softly
on shards of glass.

Honest, fearless,
an assault on meaning
in the utopia of meaninglessness—
is punishable by
a different frequency of
social death.

The polite police officer says
“I understand your frustrations
and we can talk about it now if you'd like to,
but your father...
when we gets home...
I just don't know.”

We're sitting
legs crossed
clutching cigarettes
holding back tears—holding it together
sipping thick black coffee
hoping to traumatize
our strange fragile bodies—
to override their emotive functions.

Soft rain, sharp plateaus of wind
enter through the little holes
in our ears
interrupting the lack of speech.
Words drop from our lips,
nothing is conveyed.

If the phone rings
we won't be any safer
but if the phone rings
we'll be able to
not-sleep calmly.

We know the script
the most savory excess is revealed.
The violence of the process
through which subjects are made
is exposed.
Through the deployment
of authoritative voices,
the rhythm of this violence
extracts this or that practice,
excluding history from
the workday, leisure, holiday
and restores a false unity
of vacant time
with infinite little atoms bouncing
off police batons.

If the phone rings
the script is confirmed
but we'll be able to
not-sleep more calmly.
An annotation
a note
in the negative space
oscillates the thought
that takes us
from the script
to a new meaning.

Take a perverse pleasure
in the torment
let tears harden
into diamonds
and coal

The violence of
marks our fungible
traces new scars.
Without innocence,
sensuous debt,

Let the blood
roll down
into the crevices
at our hips and
in between our fingers,
feel it dry
and crack
dark red.

Share its accursed
with those we
keep loving.

Touch the crevices
and veins
and take pleasure,
take time
to let those we
keep loving
dark red
against the open lips
of Grampa
on life support.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Dictatorship of Postfeminist Imagination

After a few dozen email conversations, grammatical and content edits by our beloved friends, and the addition of critical annotations, the IEF is proud to announce the release of The Dictatorship of Postfeminist Imagination.

from the preface:

This text is a sort of meta-critique of anarchist practices of feminism. It was provoked from this editor, generally, because of a certain absence of critical feminist theory within a milieu which adopts the assumptions and imperatives of identity politics. It was provoked specifically, because of the intelligence which the text “Is the Anarchist Man our Comrade?” and “Why She Doesn't Give a Fuck About Your Insurrection?” honed in on—of which many of us already know: the affects produced by our practices of consent, accountability, community and identity are weak. Moreover, because the forms, which mimic legal practices, that are taken up to combat internal gendered and sexualized oppression are empty of a consciousness of their historical development. Although this text is responding to particular texts and particular utterances which followed, as a sort of ethical practice, this text refuses the limitation of the milieu that speaks to itself in a particular jargon. By revealing the discourse that is taking place and staking a claim in it, this text intends to overflow its sad boundaries.

The text has multiple voices, contradictions; seams which exist as a threshold between this idea and the next. It always does. It is assembled merely as a temporary space which these bodies who are attached to worlds and their meanings communicate. Although it comes from an editing process which seeks to weave an amalgamation of intelligences and sensibilities into—at the very least—the raw intellectual materials to reveal a political position, this text is also only one such rudimentary position in a long history of feminist theoretical development. And although the voices which are put to use by this assemblage may very well scoff at certain feminist writers, it would be foolish not to examine this history.

The writers, or worlds, which inhabit this text are both infantile and full of a decade of scars. We've been experimenting with our lives, our bodes, spaces, and temporalities, and we've met similar and unique pitfalls. The theory we write is an extension of the theory we inhabit. We start from the horror that we are all potential perpetrators, because we are not sure we have developed the spoken language, or gestural vocabulary to articulate our experiences, and because we can't count past one in four—or was it one in ten? We love power, we even sometimes love to authorize, but we're terrified by the means which we must encounter our power. Because we know it's often at the expense of others.

Hating the irreversible time of daily miseries
and their repetition,

-Liam Sionnach | IEF | 2010

online reading
8.5x11 imposed for print PDF

Friday, January 29, 2010

Even Feminism Desires the Text of Power & A Few Clarifications on Key Concepts

Even feminism? Yes even feminism desires the text of power

Theory is another word for nothing left to lose. The Institute for Experimental Freedom is beyond masochistic with its bodies, murmurs and texts. We publish, print and distribute works foolishly against their future renditions. The typo or technical error pale in comparison to the shame we experience the moment our desire codified in digital mappings of vectors and typography brushes against the docile or eager appetite of whoever reads PDFs, blogs or printed zines. This shame, a sort of abjection, reverses onto us as it returns ten-fold in so many little confusions: a misinterpretation of a key term, a refusal to love our refusal to be governed by value in its textual form, an anxiety regarding one's own capacity to be acted on by the text, or feeling outside of the ironic horror we cannot help but know as a world we are attached to. Years ago, we might have simply turned deaf ears to these confusions which come in the way of half-critiques. We may have been mobilized as yet another faculty of the impoverished subversive text apparatus. We could—and have, in other incarnations—modify our words, and our practices of the text as a text of pleasure, in order to suffice as rational discourse. We could be resubjectivized by the grammar of ideology and its pathetic cry for attention; the “ideas matter” of the infant in an IWW shirt who just won't shut up about Noam Chomsky, or that of the internet forum poster who believes that he might not be such a lonely loser if everyone would just read The Coming Insurrection and talk to him about it. But, we'd prefer not to.

The Institute for Experimental Freedom practices a text of pleasure and text of power, both on paper and on the body. The CrimethInc jabs in Rolling Thunder are no misnomer. We are experimental material, and we're in it for us, our friends and the friends we have yet to meet. However, this is not to say we are not a part of a stupid milieu like everyone else, nor is it to say we are not trying to find the exit; we are, carefully.

We take the practice of thought, the practice or writing, the practice of power, the questions of “what is an artist?” “what is a writer?” “what is history?” “what are our conditions?” very seriously. And we think through a ruthless experimentation with our lives—by subjecting ourselves and our friends to high frequencies of cruelty, banality, joy, and sadness—we might stumble upon something which we would carefully put close to our hearts and share—with the milieu and with what survives it. Which is perhaps another way of saying, although ideas don't matter, the practices of a discourse require critique and provocation with which we will lovingly shock the face of any of our comrades or opponents. We have been hoping this would be reciprocated. Alas, still we sit on our knees, while our “insurrectionist” and anti-state communist peers merely stumble on their dirty-talk in front of the mirror.

Nonetheless, The Institute is a warm calculating assemblage. The comments between stories on anarchist websites which have nothing to do with it, the subtle jokes of our friends and hostiles, and the horror of our lovers' Fathers do a rudimentary violence to our corporeal topographies. From the tidy paper cuts, we excrete just a little red—enough to paint our lips or a small American flag. However, perhaps we underestimate the force of nagging slits on the skin—whether it be political or otherwise. Nothing itches more than a thousand paper cuts.

So we scratch; we'll give in a little bit. But, rest assured we have no illusions that scratching will make the itch go away. On the contrary, we're hoping to pull the wounds open just a bit more.

From these rips in our texture we'll offer these humble gifts: a series of elaborated descriptions of the terms we hold close to our hearts, which demand to be shared.

Still very much wanting the text inscribed against our unsurprisingly thick skin,

-Liam Sionnach | IEF | '10

A few clarifications on key concepts within many of the texts we publish and distribute in the way of a series of complex glosses to be irregularly posted online.

Without further adieu:

World Civil War | Gloss 1.

Civil war presupposes the modern state. In some ways, civil war can be read as both what was outside of history and then, with the development of the modern state, what became included in history. A comment like “The history of societies thus far is the history of class struggle” has a secret intelligence contained within it when we read it through our magic decoder matrix: civil war.

History and society were only really unified with the development of the modern state. The modern state in Hegel became the subject of history for his philosophy. Marx, among other Young Hegelians made this their object of critique. However, lurking bellow the surface of such idealism in Hegel was Hobbes and the concept of sovereignty. The state of nature in Hobbes was a sort of permanent potential of war of all against all. Law, enforced by the state, would create a clear divide between what was inside the law and what was outside of it; generating “civil society” (or “the civil state) on the inside, and civil war on the outside. This meant that living beings would only be included in human society (and thus, history) once they became subject to the rule of law; all manner of imperial practices come with ease. However, even in Hobbes's hypothesis, there remained a permanent problem. Law, which gives human society its so-called order, can only be enforced through means which appear indistinguishable from civil war. What Marx discreetly references is not that class struggle is the history of living beings on the planet, but that class struggle is civil war inside the gates; and is the general conditions of capitalism.

The concept of a “world” may be important in some of the ways “world civil war” is used. “The evident is not merely a matter of logic or reasoning. It attaches itself to the sensible, to worlds” (p4, Call). A world is a zone of meaning, sense—“before time, absolutely, there is sense.”(Ok, War it is Tiqqun 1) History is the reification of time as Man's time, and perhaps even the concealment of civil war. It locates a living being as subject to the sensuous praxis of generating and reproducing human society. Civil war is the free play of bios, of forms of life; life which acts in a world. “Civil,” because worlds are not limited by the boundaries or laws of nation-states and because conflict can take place in myriad of spheres, with a multiplying array of techniques. “War,” because the potential for doing violence to the most just must not be discounted, ever. On a terrain with a multiplicity of worlds, only forms of life who feel their power can act decisively.

Even in Hobbes, if there were not civil war, there would be no need for Leviathan. Leviathan wasn't a god on earth, as much as the political equivalent of someone who's afraid of the dark. The modern state therefor had as its object the warding off of an ever present civil war. It coded civil war as “evil”, and put religious apparatuses to work. We could say the modern state's practices of government had the character of a war against civil war. The development of techniques of governing which corresponded (liberalism) excluded and disciplined dangerous elements. At certain times these elements were juridically coded as “the hostis” (hostile, unknown, outside), and came in the way of invading parties, but also in the way of crime, and later, sickness.

What we call “world civil war” develops out of the modern state's failure, and each and every elaboration of civil war. Reading its history religiously, we learn that good does not triumph over evil; moreover we learn that coding the state as the hand of god reaches a threshold because its teqinches of power continuously collapse into the terrain of evil. Law cannot be enforced without the possibility of doing violence to the most just. Civil war is then the omnipresent aporia of the modern state. It cannot prevent transgression and revolt and yet it is logically demanded to develop itself to do just that.

On the other hand, we can read “world” synonymously with “global.” World civil war develops as the excess of liberal techniques of power. Capitalism generates a fracture in the being of Man's time, elaborating the fracture caused by the state. Two representations develop. On the one hand, the bourgeoisie, who managed, tuned, and attempted to master capital, and on the other hand, the proletariat, who produced all value and whose subjugated existence pulls the two into an intense conflict. Because war between nation states is governed by international law, a war between non-state actors forces both parties to develop techniques of war which are out-side the law. From the moment the first partisan disrupted the separation between solider and civilian, the development of an exceptional and irregular technique of war was set into motion. Whereas capitalism created the conditions where the state was no longer the authorizer of the political, and in fact becomes another technology for the bourgeoisie to deploy in order to neutralize intense political relationships, class struggle within capitalism returns the question of the political to forefront and cuts across national boundaries by deploying the figure of an irregular fighter in the image of the proletariat across the earth. Class struggle was the prior most intense configuration of civil war, because of its international dimensions, its ethical character which transforms any conflict into absolute enmity, and because of the proletariat's capacity to hold the threat of a self-negation: The proletariat is the class which abolish class society through its own self-abolition. However, if the proletariat who came in the way of the working class general strike, and later the diffuse irrationality of autonomous armed joy were defeated—as it was—then what would survive this condition was the representation of the bourgeoisie (at a planetary level) with a new paradigm of war without the limits of national boundaries and international law; who stood on a new terrain without a stable enemy but rather a globe of hostilities which could be intensified, if need be.

With the development of a War on Terror and permanent counter-insurgency, world civil war now returns to its initial terrifying presence. Capital, liberated from the tyranny and stupidity of bourgeois management acts as its own sovereign force and subsumes all hostile forms of life: The phase of real subsumption. The state as an appendage of capital is deployed to give meaning to the world of images by imposing the category of enemy on any one of its own excessive consequences. The ontological character of this gesture is completed once the enemy has been reintegrated into the symbolic-order, either through rehabilitation (democratization) or exclusion (a fair amount of killing).

However, perhaps the proletariat has not been defeated. Perhaps the proletariat is still the class, or vocation, which abolishes class society—and elaborates civil war. In the conditions of civil war against the bourgeoisie with the development of industrialism, the proletariat's force of negation was contingent on a strategically positioned portion of workers: the industrial working class. However with the dissolution of the both the factory and its inhabitants, and with the integration of subculture and all manner of past “revolutionary subjectivities” into the rationality of commodity production; perhaps there are different conditions and different contingencies from which a more terrible proletariat is awaiting to be revealed. In these different conditions, civil war is elaborated by an equally diffuse, almost imperceptible irregular fighter. The pure negative potential of a planetary multi-cultural petite bourgeoisie. An impure hostis humani generis. An army of sleeper cells with allegiance to no identity; with no more statist fascinations or illusions of a just society; and with no use in the economy of superfluous labor, already begins to advance civil war to its logical and redemptive conclusion: the dissolution of society, social war.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Family and Historical Materialism 2010 has this way of making me oh-so proletarian

Another Cold Year for the Warmth

Death and Redemption

Theres a man goin' round taking names and he decides who to free and who to blame. Everybody won't be treated all the same.”

The fold of our history is either death or redemption. The history of the vanquished and the history of preemptive alienating and policing apparatuses yearn to conclude. We all have a door and a rotting carpet; a family and a dynasty of fuck ups; advanced social dissolution from worlds and senses to answer for. They say men make history, but not in conditions of their choosing. If it is our sensuous activity within a world, a praxis, which generates a world, then by what means do we confront the millions of potentialities which are taken from history? Those souls who are irrevocably lost, or worse yet, rendered bare life through processes of subjectivation, are prepared to be judged, not by history, but by the police. Each death is a tragedy because in “each” there is a shame of separation. The private life only becomes public in death. But this public death is itself a technique of exposure, which links the family and society to the church, to the school, to the prison. The tragedy which the living are constantly exposed to is not merely their own telos but capitalism's continuous merciless holiday. In this society, no one dies. Everyone is murdered.

What is pathetic in death is not the loss of a container of memories and affects or the fleeting away of another productive member of the family, of society, but the loss of the capacity to speak. Death acts like a nightmare on the living. Conjuring images of “once upon a time,” the living attempt to answer for the horror of a brisk wind which extinguishes light in one subtle swoop. But the sad conclusive cough of a body judged guilty of living in capitalism is repeated and shared. Each voice is rendered mute. Each potentiality perfectly aware of what strangles it daily. The tears of the living for the dead, while representing a real sadness, never conjoin to form the flood which will redeem the past. Instead, the mouth opens, limbs shake with anxiety; our small, light-colored hairs stand up searching for a warmth which is not in this world. And in the end, what could be communicated—the single gesture of communicability itself—is once again lost, irretrievable, amidst blinking lights and the flow of commodities which live so much longer than any of us.

What is redemption in such circumstances? Is it forgiving our trespasses, and forgiving those who trespass against us? By what means do we admit a presence which annuls memories, scars, blood?

My family is connected through Facebook. The eulogy for my grandmother stumbled on her truth. She took on a predictable position of women married to husbands in the twentieth century. She mothered many children and formed the foundation to a family whose care was held by a second-generation Italian pater. She, and all the other shes of the family, suffered only the absence of en-courage-ment. It is not surprising: they all left. My grandmother quietly lived as if she had been redeemed, doing the books to my grandfathers photography business, never once elaborating her own passions for paint on canvas. The eulogy concluded, as my grandmother often would, that if anyone felt despondent, the eulogist would happily go shopping with them. The analogy to government orders following the events of September eleventh to go shopping is not lost on me. There were some really good sales at Macy's

On the other side of the family, between drinks, and with far too many teenage mothers, I learned cousin Ian had been sentenced in 'Oh-four. My absence from Facebook excluded me from hearing this bullshit earlier. Was it three-strikes you're out? Did he have guns too? How long is a life-sentence? The silence of social death touches even the Midwestern Irish working class. My other cousin, who used hockey like how the black body uses football or basketball, or how southern whites use the military, received a terrible back injury and was sentenced to a fancy new oxycodone addiction. Again, if only I had Facebook... One of my sisters still clings to the myth that we're different because we didn't grow up in these fucked up conditions, but she conveniently forgot about all the suicides and boredom; the drive-by's and the addictions, even the empty refrigerators, which painfully illustrate our miserable upbringing. We all ran too, and we ran for a reason.

The fold of this history is uncertain. On the one hand, everything about today, and even yesterday, just points toward the production of death. Enduring high school, when anarchy was merely a secret which Propagandhi attempted to whisper to me through power chords; or when struggle was just some band that that dude from the Locust was in, Columbine seemed perfectly reasonable. We sketched pictures of it all the time. We searched our history books, attempting to discover any time when the underdog wreaked its vengeance. We had no voice then, no words to call our own, and no world which affected us. We had only the conditions of all of that dissolving. In that time, many of us were quite literally unwanted children; and judging by the fields we set on fire, the plots to blow up schools, the churches we vandalized, and unfortunately, the animals which we tortured, we were capable of some fucked up shit. The youth of today are even worse.

On the other hand, maybe we can once more be affected by “Death to death!” Which is not to say, “peace.” But more specifically, our time, capitalist time, is a time of living-dead. Techniques of government expose life's limits to itself and generate bare life. No one knows sovereignty better than the life which is judged not worth living by the police or the life which is let to live by its manager. And because of Biopower and the Spectacle, it's increasingly difficult to separate any of these figures. Redemption in this world is not repaying a debt, atoning for guilt which we owe society. Capitalism is guilt. We owe them nothing. Redemption is giving them just that.

Walter Benjamin writes: “For we have been expected upon this earth. For it has been given us to know, just like every generation before us, a weak messianic power, on which the past has a claim. This claim is not to be settled lightly.” The day after my grandmother died, I set off for New York to do a panel about the messianic analogy within the proletariat. The day before my grandmother's funeral, I spoke of becoming sensitive to the imperceptible civil war which has taken place as class struggle and now takes place as social war. In the conditions of social war, this civil war can be felt as a war between normality and its cracks. The proletariat within this civil war is a force who is contingent on history but whose possibility lies outside of it. The proletariat cancels and fulfills history through its own self-negation. At one time, in the conditions of industrialization, classical politics, and a strategically positioned portion of the oppressed, the proletariat took form in the messianic-gesture, what Benjamin called the “divine violence” of the general strike. The proletariat, who was contingent on “a class of civil society but not of civil society,” was expressed as the industrial working class using their own labor-power—what produced value—to negate value and class society itself: redemption.

Benjamin continues, “nothing that has ever happened should be regarded as lost for history. Only a redeemed humankind receives the fullness of its past. Which is to say, only for a redeemed humankind has its past become citable in all moments. Each moment it has lived becomes a citation a l’ordre du jour [order of the day]—and that day is Judgement Day.”

The hairs on your arm will stand up. At the terror in each sip and in each sup. For you partake of that last offered cup, Or disappear into the potter's ground. When the man comes around.

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers. One hundred million angels singin'. Multitudes are marching to the big kettle drum. Voices callin', voices cryin'. Some are born an' some are dyin'. It's Alpha's and Omega's Kingdom come...

Whoever is unjust, let him be unjust still. Whoever is righteous, let him be righteous still. Whoever is filthy, let him be filthy still.”

The horror of death in capitalism must be met with a greater horror. Hollywood produced this a representation of this horror some forty-two years ago. How appropriate that in a world, where all death is murder and all life is bare life, the dead would come to life to feed on the living. The death which the proletariat brings with it is the reversal of the operation which lets bare life live or die. The violence of redemption fulfills all past antagonisms. Its operation returns everything to use, especially our fragile bodes, especially the rot of the world. The proletariat—who perhaps takes us, affects bare life—strikes against being human when human progress is analogous to capitalist development. It turns all things which have been given value above life to toys to be ruined. It makes common everything, and like the Spanish militias who danced with the corpses of nuns, it brings our dead grandmothers to share in the collective arson of beauty salons.

The insurrection which comes is not generated from the desire for a better world: there is none. It is not even the accomplishment of democracy. It is the nightmare of the past holding the future hostage, and publicly killing and feasting on it on youtube, over and over again. In our conditions, that of an absolute social war, insurrection and its total extension is the rhythm we must collectively write and impose on capitalist society. Through these experiments and repeated gestures we develop a new sentimental intelligence and different sensuous praxis which no longer accepts our shameful conditions. We impose different collectivities beyond family, nation, and society exactly at the point of their negation. We find we are not alone, exactly at the point we lose our selves. We share exactly at the point when we begin to seize. When each funeral loses what was attempting to kept it a private affair—when newspapers are terrified to write a single obituary because the will of the dead keeps leaving ruin in its wake—then we will begin to know what redemption entails.

-Liam Sionnach | IEF | Jan '10