Friday, October 7, 2011

Oh yeah, we made a snapback hat

The Institute for Experimental Freedom is proud to announce the release of the dumbest commodity we've made as of yet. The Coast to Coast Hoodlums (very) limited edition snapback comes as an ode to all y'all who can't stop gettin ignorant. Even though some dummies are talking their stupid mouths, the rest of y'all are holding it down, wil'n out, and keeping your mouths shut. So ya know, if you wanna buy a black hat with a red bill and trim or something, we got you.

Black/Red "quality" wool-twill
$ 23.00 USD plus shipping
Check out the sweet close up image with bad photoshop shadowing below.


If you reeeeeealy want us to make more of these let us know 
Thanks for the kind comments!

So a bunch of people have said they'd like us to make more. We'll PNDR--who we are apparently advertising just by mentioning (and we understand how ridiculous that is, but hey its 2012)--is having some design contest, and we're trying to avoid having to pay to make more of these, so I guess if you're on that you should go to and vote for this hat, and then we'll get some cash and there will be more sweet hats in the world. And don't worry, we won't tell anyone about your streetwear habits.
Also, let it be known, while we are actually attempting to sell out this particular commodity, we don't endorse paying for things. So if you buy a hat from us, or if we win, from them, make sure to make up for it...

-IEF - 17 May 2012

Sunday, September 11, 2011

These colors still don't know how to run correctly

Ten Years Later

IEF | On a Day of Remembrance for Fallen Heros

9/11, ten years later. Ten years of terror and counterterror—ten years of innocent blood—and the nightmare finally appears to be over. Osama is dead, the war is won[1], and most importantly, a new wave of resistance is sweeping the globe, a resistance that has nothing in common with the terrorists or their enemies. If the most nightmarish aspect of the last decade was its unreality—a dream-world corpse-machine—today's struggles are striking because they are real. This is the moment we have waited for: a moment without distractions, a moment ripe for revolution. And yet, perhaps there is a lesson still to be learned before we close the chapter.

At one level, at least, the terrorists did win. Nobody today thinks of exporting democracy. Not only democracy, but the whole idea of a smooth space of cultural exchange has been thrown into confusion. Without this idea, which was always utopian, it is difficult to believe in the neutrality of the market; at an intuitive level, the "economy" loses its self-evidence. Not that this implies any sort of anticapitalist groundswell. It simply generalizes the knowledge that capitalism is sustained only by continual war. One must be willing to die for the economy. And if not, one must find something else worth dying for. There are a thousand mechanisms for suppressing this knowledge—the attempted reconstruction of the soldier as a computational nexus, the surgical precision with which Osama was eliminated—but they cannot erase it. We saw it on TV.

The dirty wars of the eighties, like the terrorist attacks of the same era, were maintained at a subliminal level, as real events that could be represented or misrepresented, discussed or brushed under the rug by politicians and commentators. One saw the smiling face of Arafat or the Gipper, but not their hands. In our era—which revolves around 9/11 but began some years before—the opposite has been true. The events are their own representation. This was as true for the Seattle black bloc as it was for the embedded journalists in Afghanistan. The magic of 9/11, the sorcery that gave a symbolic act material consequences, was that it took this truth to its conclusions. By becoming a perfect image, it broke the stream of images, and thus broke the stream of events—of nonevents—as no mere event could do. The reluctant nihilist's apology for Al Qaeda, "At least they did something," reveals an unconscious understanding of this fact.

If propaganda is a visible lie pointing towards an invisible truth (if only the truth of consolidated power), pornography is a visible truth pointing towards nothing. The great propaganda event of our century was not propaganda at all. It was a pornographic nightmare that swallowed the world.

Towards the end of the decade, we active nihilists began to catch on. Against a depleted anarchism preaching "back to the community, back to the real," we radicalized the most unreal aspects of the summit protest. It began as secession from activism: do not seek affinity on the basis of political abstractions and their associated imperatives, but on the basis of shared conditions and the desires that inhabit them. Plan B was above all an organizational proposal, a proposal to establish affinity through the immediate gesture of attack. 100-200 = 1000. The exact texture and meaning of the gesture was ambiguous at first; eventually, through experimentation, it revealed itself as the pornographic. Invisibility did not mean merely evading detection, refusing communication; it meant a communication of meaninglessness. Although we did not find strangers spontaneously joining us in the street, we observed a certain resonance among worlds that seemed to make us stronger. This was the second secession: the social terrain of insurrectionary generalization became the image-world, in which spatial and temporal fragmentation mean nothing. "Shared conditions" ceased to mean physical or even social proximity; it meant the universal emptiness that our gesture revealed as act.

The difference between the terroristic strategy and our own had less to do with our squeamishness than with our rejection of professionalization. A central criterion for action: is it reproducible, does it promote or inhibit spontaneous antagonism? We articulated this tactical distinction as a matter of strategic principle, a gulf between ourselves and the theocrats. In retrospect, this was an exaggeration.

September 11 was a Hollywood production, with an executive producer and a massive corporate staff; with the advent of YouTube, Hollywood is passé. Ours is the age of participatory spectacle. Therefore, the tactical departure (or resuscitation) that we attempted was, rather than an internal development of the anarchist milieu, a selective reactivation of possibilities in adaptation to the times. A new iteration of capitalist sociability made a certain theoretical hypothesis realistic, and so we took the torch held out to us. Held out to us by terrorism. We were not the only vector of this historical transmission, but we were one of them. The result, which we witness in London as much as Athens, is a diffuse pornographic intelligence: Osama Spontex.[2]

Our own experiments eventually ran aground on the difficulties of sustaining a project that expresses itself only as emptiness. The secret thread of revolutionary commitment running from event to event did not matter at the level of our social reproduction or our material support base, for the simple reason that it was secret. We dispersed in various directions. Some formed communes, some got serious about Marx, some returned to building the anarchist movement. In every case, we took a step back from the extreme hypothesis. Without abandoning the insurrectionary strategy of rupture, we reinscribed rupture within a logic of continuity.

One might read this experience as a transitional phase in a continuing revolutionary progression. A nihilist moment was needed to clear out the vestiges of liberal, pacifist, and socialist compromise, so that a fighting movement could be reborn, a movement ready for the coming struggles. From a tactical perspective, the militant potential of the antiglobalization movement needed to be isolated and developed so that it could enter into new configurations: anti-austerity and anti-police struggles as the two fronts of tomorrow's class war. Maybe.

On the other hand, this return to bread and butter seems to resonate with a broader trend: the pacification of the image-world. When Greece burned in 2008, it was the European media, not the rioters, who talked of the "700 euro generation." The Greeks called themselves an image, an image from the future—and the generalization and success of the revolt (among Greek cities and towns, and also globally), was achieved at the level of images. In this respect, the more recent Egyptian insurrection was conservative, not only for its rapid recuperation by democratic demands and regime change, but also for its representation as secret, subliminal: everyone knows that what mattered is what happened in the street, away from the cameras; everyone knows about the media blackouts, the inaccessibility of truth. This gives credibility to an equally subliminal strategy for revolution, which limits attack to the real, to the explicable, to the truth suppressed by lies, to the antipornographic—a strategy that meshes seamlessly with the endgame of the counterterrorist decade. Namely, the return to normalcy of a system that digests and commodifies even the abnormal.[3]

The terrorisms will continue, with or without us, ever more diffuse. Certainly, the strategy of subliminal struggle will bear fruit, as surely as the activist strategies of the past. It will find its limit, though, in constructing a social body that can only normalize or exclude the spontaneous nihilism of our time. We do not want to repeat the spinelessness of our earlier excursion, nor do we want to democratize terrorism. But we are not content with this limit.

1 The continuing hostilities in Afghanistan have become yet another multilateral police action, more like Belgrade than Fallujah.

2 Mao Spontex denotes the attempt in post-68 France to elaborate the theory of revolutionary guerrilla warfare without reference to a centralized party-apparatus. Its intellectual expression is exemplified by writers like Deleuze, Foucault, and Guattari. Practically, it is supposed to have influenced (and learned from) the Italian Autonomia. The ideas seem to have affinity with the Invisible Committee's idea of the Party, which (incidentally) also references anomic violence in the terrorist manner.

3 "We didn't do it for the lulz." Anti-austerity is a political abstraction inviting a new activist imperative. It differs from the old anarchist abstraction only in presenting itself as concrete, economic, specific to the times. Anti-austerity action without an anti-austerity ideology might be another matter. Whether or not that's a good idea is another question.

Monday, May 30, 2011

New Pamphlet about the Struggle in Wisconsin | Early Spring for the Badger

Early Spring for the Badger is a collection of anonymously written notes on the Wisconsin February – March 2011 Struggle against Austerity Measures. Contained is a collection of communiques and actions, reflections on the struggle, critique concerning the themes of democracy, race, policing, madness, and violence, and propositions for a revolutionary strategy within the global anti-austerity struggle.

The first 100 print-run of Early Spring for the Badger was distributed at the Look to Wisconsin Conference in Milwaukee May 20.

The demonstrations against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was only the first spectacle of what will become the US struggle against Austerity, and the consequences of global economic turmoil. This pamphlet hopes to sharpen the anarchist and communist critique and point towards a trajectory from which a meaningful counter attack can be realized.

Read Online PDF

8.5x11 Imposed for Print PDF

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Delete Me, I'm so Ugly | New text on Madness & Despair

Forty years ago, the Socialist Patients Collective, embarked on a project to turn illness into a weapon. To hold on to the fear and paranoia that dresses our despair in its most vibrant colors; to claim that experience as valid, and as the very condition on which modern capitalism reduces sense, claim bodies as its subjects, and functions to generalize alienation. The gun followed shortly.

Three stories separated by almost a century links the terror of woman. In Daldry's The Hours, Mrs. Dalloway lives and continues to reveal the tragedy of our world. There is nothing comforting that calls on the bodies marked dysfunctional to restrict their desire toward death. The body wants to fall, to submerge, to cough, to inhale the dark liquid and dissolve.

The house wife goes on strike, alone, acting as does the marginal factory or service worker. Stealing no longer keeps despair at bay; cheating can't bring back the years of doomed performances ahead. The future is always bleak. Addiction, a slow death. She drowns her children, she murders herself. She interrupts, in the most grotesque and elementary form, reproduction, and she assaults the meaning of this world. Minus one.

Madness, addiction, dysfunctional positionalities. I am terrified by the pen mark of the doctor, and of the indifference afforded to me by the consciously depressed. I want to make sense of it, but I can't. My texts, my speech, constantly acquiesce to the demand for rational discourse, molds into another author-function—disciplining her, and making room for me, and repeating the operation that gives encouragement to others who want to play with power. My experience drifting through twelve step programs will always remind me of a sense that there are those who want to hurt us, and then repair us. Who want to manage our despair, and reproduce the addicted-rock-bottom-body, the broken-mad-body, as a petri dish on which to make a different functional subject. While it's important not to equate madness with addiction, the scandal of these dysfunctional subjects is nevertheless similar. The sadness provoked by the realization that these experiences find analogous homes in what could be called an emotional commons requires unblinking eyes, and, in the days we can get out of bed, collective self-organization of care. Should it surprise anyone that this “care” has come and will come again in the form of “force?” We chose to publish Delete Me, I'm so Ugly in order to contribute to a reading of our times through the lens of despair, to hone in on the intelligence of madness, and to continue to ask “Of what does our congregation consist?”

Readable PDF

Imposed for Print PDF

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Poster & Comments on Wisconsin Anti-Austerity Struggle

Okay, We're weirded out as much as the next hater that Madison law-enforcement have joined the very nice occupation of WI capitol building, bringing their riot gear. If we wanted to be vulgar, we could say, well, so far the struggle's character is arguably captured in the image of what critical race theorists would say is "whiteness." However, it would clearly be a bit dishonest to say that's whole story. Nonetheless, the struggle, like other anti-austerity struggles stakes its claim on an image of past illusions restored: that of a working democracy, with liberal subjects contesting their value in the economy. Civil discourse in the labor of producing a "social" that is no longer tenable, and that defines the borders of inclusion in "civil society," which no longer can have borders. In content and in form, it has so far taken measures to extract and make invisible the naughty elements.

On the other hand, diffuse sick outs and doctors notes and international solidarity are a fascinating development. The fact that some have said "get a little bloody," might be part of the union bosses in the US falling into the same powerlessness as the CGT. Whereas it might be a threat of violence that no body who wants society to keep functioning actually wants to come to fruition, it might also reveal how this shit is so bad that the unions need to talk a big game. Eitherway, a funny thing happens when authoritative voices say it's okay to get wild and those who listen start to define their own parameters of force. All that being said, policing is a function that anyone who serves the concept of The People, and anyone who protects the flows of capital can perform. Cops, snitches, para-military, bosses, managers, citizen-arresters, military, fascists, blablabla. Optimism: What else could it mean when the uniformed subjects of this refuse their role? We can only hope those who will be at the decisive fault line understand their historical task.

So, General Strike eh? Sorel? Divine violence anybody?

11x17 Poster

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Enemies We Know Poster Series

As proof that we are not merely the purveyor of false promises we submit to you, finally, the Enemies we know poster series. Sorry about the wait, but you did savor the anticipation, no?


Each lovely piece of rhetoric is to be printed black and white on 11x17. We have taken care to adhere to certain design criticism, and believe we have achieved a quality result. The headings and drop caps are set in Pixture, a pixelated typeface referencing the centuries old Fraktur. We did this to make reference to the technological and cybernetic content of the posters—all this talk of “apparatuses.” The body text is set in Plexes Pro. We might live to regret this decision, but we think the humanistic warmness of Plexes doesn't subordinate its speaking power. Type decisions by our contemporaries attempt desperately to achieve a kind tone in order to make the short-attention span of a likely user forget she is looking at a piece of propaganda. We, on the other hand, will use the deceptive “I” statements to achieve a more subtle result. Plexes is undeniably “user-friendly,” but remains a disruptive internety text in it's strange “k.” Hopefully, our design decisions effect the results we'd like. If not, at least some citizen will be a little less cheerful when they experience the poster as if they were texting, “I've painted a world at peace that can only be described as war.


As we mentioned before, to cancel out, or add your own brand: Adobe Acrobat, Tools, Advanced Editing, Touch Up Object Tool/ Touch Up Text. Or whiteout or whatever.


Walls, windows, your room, police cars, etc.

Oh yeah

If you see any of these shits posted around, and find yourself armed with camera, why not catch a couple flicks and send them our way.

Enemies We Know poster series

Intro (i.e RIP Democracy LOL)




Mad love for the Asheville May Day Defendants, and the Egyptian proletarians

IEF | Cold-ass South | Winter '11

Friday, January 28, 2011

Belated Letters to Insurgents and Good Tidings | part 2

L. Desormais,

My never ending apologies for truant letters. The metropolitan trenches have this way of deepening my lack of faculties—making what words should come with ease into an endeavor all its own. Our congregation is so very far from the lovely scent of open conflicts. Still heeding the watchwords and making sense of the inspiring images and messages from distant lands, we lack the immediacy of speech. All of this makes communication remain a potentiality to be realized, rather than the result of the dispositions we take on during conflict. There is still a road ahead of us.

It's not difficult to understand or conceptualize a strategy of general withdrawal from production. What is bothersome remains the technical operations that follow this strategy, and the confusion surrounding the question “Of what does our congregation consist?” The answer to one informs the other. Understanding the makeup of our collectivities would give us insight in to both the questions of “What material resources, languages, and terrain do we already possess?” and “What role do we play in modern society?” What means we employ in order to withdraw from this role would be informed by the former question of what we already have at our disposal. I'm sure you can empathize—it's hard to know whether or not a collective should put its efforts into cheerleading the various protagonists that emerge in struggles that are geo-socially foreign—through means of revolutionary solidarity, public discussions, and general propaganda. Or if a collective owes it to the struggles taking place to seek out, make links and, with a careful hand, tie together the threads of a coherent active minority position that can itself contribute in its own unique way to the emergency situations when they come. One does not exclude the other—and it's best to simply wager and go for it—but I think a collective still must suss it out collectively in order to make the best wager.

You'll notice I don't mention the syndicalist, or big organization method. And though I'm sure you're familiar with critiques of unions, the left, etc, I want to put this argument to rest. Allow me to test my logic. It's not that I don't have a small yearning for the proletarian programs of the past, but as it stands no mass organization can resist the seduction of producing subjects, and no economic hypothesis can fathom a life without “the rule” and “value” as its basis. There can be no free labor when any attempt to free ourselves is limited by the process that created labor as such. Not to be such an art-douche, but forms do not exist in a vacuum. If all social forms are dominated (subsumed) by capital, no social form can be expected to generate a world free from capital. Furthermore, if we are in a period of capitalist valorization dominated by the process of producing capitalist content, then the fight is not happening primarily at the level of classical politics. Although we can see different social movements influence the policies of politicians and capitalists through legal and illegal means, we always see, in the same operations performed by these social movements, the realization of fully functioning capitalist democracies. This is why the fight is called “biopolitical,” because the war in progress takes place as conflicts over what lives are licit and illicit. This makes fomenting any real oppositional force a challenge because to be included or excluded is still to be perceived and incorporated. Would we prefer to be marked for death or for market research? We see the “protester” or “activist” take its rightful place among the loyal opposition, and we see the unions make abundantly clear just exactly what “the worker” identity has won us. We can't trust anything to wither away, but I don't think that means that we are irredeemably destined to experiment with failing forms. I think in the US in particular, because of how advanced the process of social dissolution and alienation, we are best suited to experiment with content—with what undocile means of living we find to arm us for withdraw from production. And this will always find itself antagonistic to mass organizations. If there is a dictatorship of the proletariat, or a strike as delimited as is capitalism, it will be anonymous and terrible.

Okay. As you can imagine, Obamafication in the US has not abolished the dark ages, and the citizens of this society keep hoping against hope for change. Curious, today the global north might be split on its feelings about the free flows of information. Wikileaks, rather than tuition costs—rather than meaningless labor and an equally meaningless “social life”—cause pause for alarm in this country. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that the autonomous elements of the information super highway are the state's only composite hostis, but I think the intelligence of these events shouldn't escape our gaze. The Obama campaign relied heavily on the free flow of information, incorporating the partisans of Web 2.0 into its troops. Today Obama's administration considers using military force against one of the recognized instruments of cyber political crime. One can imagine that those who hacked and attacked Visa and Mastercard as retribution for the arrest of Julian Assange and Brad Manning were also those who voted for hope and change. Someone asked if terrorism was the new paradigm of warfare, forgetting for a moment, that partisan forms have always also contained terror as their content. Today we're forced to consider what is the meaning of purely immaterial combat with material consequences? This is where I am not as well read in Baudrillard as I probably ought be.

After the spring, US anarchists felt their “we are winning” myth drift away. And with the loss of that myth, they also lost touch with the constellation of areas of revolt—the places, bodies, thoughts, and practices that generated a collective sense, or meaning. But once again we are reminded of how both the “we are winning,” and the “we have lost” myths are gaseous, and quickly dissolve without leaving any substance. Greek anarchists do what only the Greek anarchist can do. The French strikes reveal how the French areas of revolt are linked in a tactical feedback loop to Greece, to the US, to Iran, etc. England and the whole Green Isle flare up and remind us that history has not overlooked even the most panoptic societies. In Italy, the author-function literally becomes a shield to hide behind. I'm not interested in simply demanding that we keep finding inspiration in these events. To wave a flag and give backrubs when they are needed does not make a revolutionary force. Being faithful to history requires us to examine these events with suspicion and precision. What will it mean to communicate “we hear the call” each time civil war escapes its sovereign capture? To elaborate the piercing sound of revolt, and make it audible across the borders of identity and nation states. To not fall victim to the feeling that time is running out for us, but hold still the truth that even as we are repressed, it is a sign that time is running out for them.

In November, the FBI sent out a document regarding the domestic threat of “anarchist extremism.” Years before, they decided that ecological and animal liberation extremists were their public enemy. The image of detentions, deportations, and raids quickly arises. We've all felt the looming sense that Auschwitz never ended, and we've been reminded time and time again that this facility easily becomes a prison, this stadium easily transforms into a concentration camp. Katrina, New Orleans must not be forgotten, nor should September Eleven, Chile. Today, the deaths of eight squatters in New Orleans reminds us that Katrina was linked to the murder of the Lower East Side. Bordiga said that disasters were unplanned massacres in Capitalism—unplanned expenditure, where surplus labor was recycled. But fascism is not merely an extreme excess, it is an originary potency of sovereign power. The same operation that produces justice produces mass graves. How do we draw on this history? How does the image of starving ancestors give us strength when the enemy—who will accost even the dead—has never ceased to be victorious? I wonder if one of the defining operations of an insurrectional process in the US would be a constellation of actions that makes these historical tragedies immediately referenceable and contemporary. A friend said sometime in '07 that we want to give rise to that old class hatred, to make the rich, the police and the politicians tremble—to sleep uneasily with the full knowledge that something terrible awaits them—sooner or later. And in '10, the English civil war resurfaces with a resounding “Off with their heads!” Despite Charles and Camillas pouting, we live past the time when kings die. Sovereign power has a lot more to do with the whole of police operations than it does with elected representatives. But in the US we are outmoded and outmaneuvered. We expect to be arrested and imprisoned. We countdown, joking about the End of the world, but realistically anticipating our own political mortality. We have approximately five minutes before the police show up, and if we are not ready to fight them, we must be equipped to withdraw. The whole of what we are fighting for actually depends on this.

Across Europe since I've begun to write this, the Informals return. Their demand, like that of Greek Uprising, is simply a call to participate, but unlike the fierce demand of '08 to join the history taking place, the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire, and the Informal Anarchist Federation's (FAInformal) demand reanimates the partisan, a hero of honor and glory. Take a position in the new urban guerrilla war. We are reminded of the years of lead, but not so much of the Commune. Comrades in France were initially charged with being a part of such a conspiracy, but even what they were alleged was a different tone of sabotage. But what is it about the spectacle of terror that is so salient with our contemporary conditions? As I said in the beginning of this letter, we in the US don't live in the conditions where an armed group is even a hypothesis—even if violence is present everywhere. But the parcel bombs mirror in a small way the armed madness of the isolated Individuals taking their sad acts of revenge in the US. The last two years speak volumes to the terror of everyday life. More students turn their sights on their classmates and teachers. A man, after years of deliberation, crashes his plane into an IRS building as an expression of his desperation and desire for a classless society. A Dean is stabbed and the Governor of MO, who was the main target of the anarchist, escapes his blade. A man takes aim at a Parent Teacher Association. The Discovery Channel is taken hostage and demanded to learn the language older than words at gun point. The media prattle squabbles over the political identity of the AZ shooter. So many disturbed individuals frighten our public consciousness. There is literally nothing that links these strange acts besides their disturbed reality. Would any of this make more sense with a more coherent political pole of violence? I'm not sure. In Europe, a world that hasn't lost its taste for collective approaches to life, the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire and the FAInformal create a spectacle of anarchist terror. Is this armed joy or simply the same desperation and suicidal gesture as its US counterpart? It is difficult to say. I think its important to really think about these events. Many of the criticisms leveled at the Cells of Fire and FAIinformal rely on an ethical detachment from life-harming violence. Other critiques rely specifically on the results of their actions—were they effective? Effective at what? I don't think even the Cells of Fire or FAInformal think their actions cause significant economic damage or create enough of a threat to influence politics. They do openly make the argument that their actions are intended to frighten judges, bosses, politicians, and police. The partisan dignity of the armed group does have its allure, but I don't know if its enough, or if the military logic necessarily subjugates the intelligence of other strategies. From our position, an action's effectiveness should be measured in its ability to spread undocile practices. The spreading of different techniques of resisting authority and domination necessarily includes violence, but it also includes techniques of anonymity, fraud, laziness, co-operations and collective strategic thought. And so, if a thousand hands reach out and pick up the gun, and anonymous attacks proliferate and deepen, perhaps the Cells of Fire and FAInformal are correct. However, I'm not sure where these hands will come from when most people are too frightened, alienated, and disconnected to fight for even the most basic social change. I fear the Cells of Fire and the FAInformal more than likely produce themselves as specialists in a war that most people cannot even perceive. However, it must also be said that they are comrades and deserve critical solidarity. The best way for US anarchists to provide this for them will be in sowing the threads that give those isolated individuals who would sacrifice themselves against the terror of everyday life, a different option for how to fight. To make the war more perceptible, and to critically act in solidarity.

This year will be eventful—we can count on that. US anarchists will not be frightened from their task. However, to you and yours, I think it's important to stress that what you don't see on the news will be more important than what you do see. Many comrades are facing higher charges and more calculated repression. It's important to remember that techniques of repression are not deployed in order to annihilate an enemy, they are deployed in order to attenuate and make us manageable—to discipline and domesticate us. The way we resist this is by finding ways to not be harmed, or destabilized by their threats. In many ways this is why camaraderie and a sense of collective meaning is so important. Because when they begin to perceive us as a conspiracy, we have to know that the worlds we are attached to are caring, powerful, and will keep fighting no matter what happens to us. Through the process of living through this repression, the material solidarities that keep us holding on will be strengthened. We will establish certain bonds of trust and solidarity that come from sharing the intensities of war, from knowing the stakes. The actions that make reference to our comrades who are under attack let us all know we are not alone, and that we won't be neutralized. This is good, but we need to make sure that when the cases are all over the intensities—of our care and our force—are not subjugated by a desire for our collective rest. We need to take the time and consideration to generate our spaces as fighting-territories that welcome home our released comrades, and remind them that we refused to be terrorized while the state attempted to make an example of them. This is all part of the process of resisting repression.

We are now dealing with an advanced environment of repression—a more intelligent apparatus of “conspiracy” production. In these conditions, what constitutes a conspiracy in the eyes of the Law will be increasingly murky. It will be difficult to count on sympathetic jurors because there will be no social movement of which they share sympathies; the means to struggle have already been cut from the legal sphere and have already been judged as “conspiracy.” It comes as no surprise that in terms of public consciousness “conspiracy” rhymes with “terrorism.” However, this does not mean that we should shy away from such conversations that take our objectives and the stakes of struggle seriously. On the contrary, we must be prepared to elaborate this logic and share it. In many ways, this means those of us who have learned the taste for strategic thought must find new ways to share that practice.

More than likely, the events that make up the face of US anarchist practice will only be slightly altered. Some wild demonstrations, bookfairs, night-time attacks and gatherings will continue relatively unscathed by the counter-insurgency operations to come. However, there will be new places that take their position in global civil war. There will be disillusioned students from the East and West Coasts who join up and use their practical education from the occupations to begin a new conflict. Anarchists who learned so much about themselves and what they are capable of during the Oscar Grant riots, will share and apply their lessons during other emergency situations. Those who have dug-in may venture elsewhere, and those who have landed may take over uninhabited spaces, and make them livable. Perhaps research and reconnaissance will give rise to new maps and intelligence of different territories of conflict that we have not yet encountered. Twenty Ten, we experienced some growing pains, but I think we are on our way to finding those truths of which we will not let go. And from these, new worlds will be constructed, and populated. We are collectively learning how to speak and how to breathe together. A disintegrated US will take its part in a global cartography of areas in revolt. Ten thousand Spanish Civil Wars.

I should hope to find my body in the care of your loving arms soon enough,


your devoted comrade,


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Belated Letters to Insurgents and Good Tidings | part 1

After Infinite Strike was posted some time ago, I received a letter from a beloved comrade translator. Like everything else, my reply suffered from sloth and soon transformed into a text better meant for others; something of a welcome to 2011, and so on. Our correspondence follows.



Ô! 'Tis exceedingly well set. Very good, very strong.

The numerals and the latin redound to your own better instincts,

to say nothing of your incorporation of the french in the larger fonts.

Brilliant. Gentle. People will complain & they will be mistaken.

Foreign Words
. Splendid. Splendid!

And now, how not to let up?...

The weather in B______ is dead dreary, empty streets, an armistice holiday.

Another fortnight of that, even less as I'm writing, and we'll be rejoined warmly

among the cozy little side street of my burg of predilection toward the south,

where we'll make winter and springtime and who knows? Lots of new friends,

gaming, suppers, heels dug in conspiring. After the final 'strophe in _______ you

ought come pay a visit.

We'd be delighted of course,

More soon from one who is happy to be,

Your devoted appendage,

And what is more,

Your admiring well-wisher,

L. Desormais

"Bless us!—what noble work we should make!—how should I tickle it off!—and what spirits should I find myself in,

to be writing away for such readers!—and you—just heaven!—with what raptures would you sit and read—but oh!

'tis too much—I am sick—I faint away deliciously at the thoughts of it—'tis more than nature can bear!—lay hold

of me—I am giddy—I am stone blind—I'm dying—I am gone.—Help! Help! Help!—But hold—I grow something

better again, for I am beginning to foresee, when this is over, that as we shall all of us continue to be great wits—we

should never agree amongst ourselves, one day to an end:—there would be so much satire and sarcasm—scoffing and

flouting, with raillying and reparteeing of it—thrusting and parrying in one corner or another—there would be nothing

but mischief among us—Chaste stars! what biting and scratching, and what a racket and a clatter we should make,

what with breaking of heads, rapping of knuckles, and hitting of sore places—there would be no such thing as living for us.

But then again, as we should all of us be men of great judgment, we should make up matters as fast as ever they went wrong;

and though we should abominate each other ten times worse than so many devils or devilesses, we should nevertheless,

my dear creatures, be all courtesy and kindness, milk and honey—'twould be a second land of promise—a paradise upon earth,

if there was such a thing to be had..."

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Book III, ch. XX.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oh yeah, that review of Introduction to Civil War for Theory & Event

So, we didn't do our research. It turns out Theory & Event is one of those online academic journals that you have to have a password to read, and after some coaxing by our friends, we decided to post this on the blog. Enjoy.

ps: If you do have a password read T&E issue here. And if you want to share your password, so we can read other cool articles online, email us.

Civil War: The Continuation of Communism by Other Means

Introduction to Civil War is an alternative origin myth. Introduction to Civil War is the vademecum when you show up to fight club, or any strange twelve-stepesque community of friends. Introduction to Civil War is the book to keep out of the hands of children who are ready to subtract themselves and all of their classmates and teachers from production. Introduction to Civil War is a molecule of a war machine.

The text was originally published in Tiqqun 2, a short-lived French journal of radical thought. Emerging out of the fervent struggles of the European anti-capitalist movement, Tiqqun located itself within a nexus of radical feminist thought, Foucault's studies on biopolitics, Italian Autonomia, situationist-inspired theory, and Benjaminian approaches to history. The editors intentionally practiced a desubectivizing operation of anonymity, and the texts themselves, a feminist/Deleuzian operation of multiplicity. Where there are many links between the journal's thought and the editors’ participation in the struggles of the late '90s and early '00s, it would be difficult to claim Tiqqun as specifically “anarcho-autonomous,” “ultra-left,” or whatever else Sarkozy and Glenn Beck claim to be the ideological bogeyman behind the French editors, who are now being accused of this or that terrorist enterprise (see: Nov. 9 ‘09 Tarnac Arrests). Tiqqun was a journal that examined the exceptional situation of everyday concentration camps, and theorized from that point, highly influenced by Giorgio Agamben. Today, Tiqqun's contributions are becoming available to English speaking worlds, and their final concept “civil war” emerges as visible and viable.

Civil war: the continuation of communism by other means. History will decide whether or not civil war replaces Foucault's concept of contesting the meaning of the social (social war), but one thing is clear from Tiqqun’s contributions: if the social has dissolved, and governance is now only techniques of managing its collapse, then civil war becomes the necessary condition of this existence. And if this is the case, then the last bit of poetry found at the end of Introduction to Civil War, “How is it to be Done?,” may be accurate in exclaiming the only way for us, within this condition of global civil war, to touch on our humanity again will be in a collective negation, namely, an unlimited human strike.

Civil war presupposes the state. Even by advocates of the state's own admission, the state serves as a preventative measure. Tiqqun locates the elementary human unity not in the body, which quickly becomes subject, but in form-of-life (16). Since all thought is strategic (20) they begin here because the state is the consequence of a certain metaphysics that governs each form-of-life at play in the self—an attenuation of difference through subjectivity. Tiqqun proposes that another metaphysics, a negative one, can be made present, within which forms-of-life might be left to play. This free play of forms-of-life, this “principle of their coexistence” (32), is nothing other than the condition of civil war that the modern state was developed in order to suppress.

This logic reveals a hidden fact regarding the formation of the modern state. If forms-of-life take place through bodies, animating bodies with taste and inclinations to lose themselves and to pass into another's spheres, then the development of the state, the borders and executions it visited upon worlds, were also visited upon selves. When the state is the suppression of the self, civil war is not only inevitable but already omnipresent. From the absolutist state to the welfare state to the liberal state, the state serves as merely a parenthesis in civil war, first as an attempt to exclude bare life from a territory, then from a population, then from the singular body. From classical politics to biopolitics, the state sets out on a steady course of encountering its own impossibility. This steady course is civil war.

With and against Marx’s dictum that the history of human societies is a history of class struggle; Tiqqun reads the history of forms-of-life as the history of civil war. The story of the state, namely “status,” is the story of an attempt made to freeze this free play of forms-of-life. Again and again, it fails, and out of each successive failure develops a new form of governance and new techniques to suppress civil war. The present conditions of “Empire” are nothing more than an outgrowth of these failures. The modern state is nothing more than a complex set of governing and neutralizing apparatuses that continue the political suppression of civil war by other Clausewitzian means.

But what does sovereign power do that classical politics doesn't? Drawing on Hobbes and Schmitt, Tiqqun argues that the modern state is a theater of operations in which the intensity of ethical difference is neutralized and every image of difference is pulled to the center for a endless photo-op. Classical politics, through a holistic and despotic state, arranged an order of moral codes via absolute force in order to come to some higher meaning. Classical politics put religion and the sphere of ethics into the theater of the political by including kings as the living heirs to God and individuals as the loyal disciples of God's moral order. In contrast to the rituals of redemption offered through the bloody play of forces contesting territory under the reign of classical politics, sovereign power can point its population to nothing. The modern state is quite literally the management of life, devoid of transcendental authority. The modern state governs, but learns not to govern too much. Moreover, the modern state applies the classical maxim cuius regio, eius religio, and contends and defeats all opposing religions in order to continue as the hand of god on an earth without God.

The paradox of law, which is the founding thesis of the norm, is as follows: law is in force only in its imposition; law appears only in the act of law. If law is fungible or malleable, this is because it has no justification other than its logic. “It is my pleasure” says the modern sovereign. The norm develops from this essential lacuna of law, but things are as they are not simply because they are, but because of material practices, because of how they are. Norm as nomos emerges from specific means deployed through apparatuses of control.

Enter the reign of the economy. There could never be an economic subject without a political subject. Tiqqun reads Foucault's study of biopolitics not as a story of power outmaneuvered by the deployment counter-subjectivities, but instead as processes of subjectivization by a vast number of apparatuses. Such massive, overdetermined subjectivization mitigates vital and substantive opposition. Capitalism could not have spread across the globe without first the physical neutralization of hostile populations and practices—which is to say, the condition of war had to be neutralized, in order for “peace” to become the normal condition.

Through Tiqqun's matrix of civil war, we learn that the development of capitalism, primitive accumulation, and war are not mere periods of tragedy that human society had to endure as the necessary, teleological process of the modern state. Instead, they are the originary operations, the operations that are repeated in order to maintain the status of the so-called peace of citizen-subjects. The Hobbesian operation of exclusion/inclusion is looped on an endless repeat. With the advancements of liberal techniques of government, the operations no longer take the form of a visible exposition of disciplinary force aimed at beating a hostis out of a population, (viz., an external military affair). Rather, these neutralizing operations take form in self-managed policing (viz., an internal police). Foucault explains the process of how the “delinquent” was made into an enemy of society; Tiqqun clarifies that the criminal practices had to be excluded and named “anti-social” in order for there to ever be a formal workers’ movement that could be associated with a public social (albeit, illegal) justice.

Introduction to Civil War exposes the modern uneasiness with “violence.” Violence must be excluded not because it threatens to turn the earth into a pit of corpses (capital has no qualms with such a process), but because it threatens to break the imaginary boundaries of subjects, and release forms-of-life to their free play. Hobbes remains the originary political theorist, in that we can already see the beginnings of self-managed subjects through the threat of exclusion. What must be excluded from a living being in order to include it in the caring arms of the state (and thus give it political-subjectivity) is precisely what attaches it to worlds and what gives it the capacity to encounter others. The exclusion of bare life produces docile bodies. The forced retreat into the self typifying the modern subject must be understood not merely as the process which the western individual was founded, but specifically as the process that generated economic “man” whose stupid (literally: stupefied) concept of freedom ends where all else begins.

Thus, what Tiqqun calls “the black magic of the economy” is deployed at all levels to integrate all human life into “society” first as living beings (zoe) then to continue functioning as legal subjects (bios). But this process can never generate today’s citizen-subject as a perfect artifice of legal behavior. On the contrary, by forcing the political-economy, the process makes society—the massive circulation of legal practices of freedom—indistinguishable from the state. Through the proliferation of the police, the dark memory of the state's violent origin exposes each terrified citizen to the paradox of its existence.

The liberal state and the welfare state, or liberal democratic and social democratic institutions, are not distinct modes of government but rather two poles of the modern state. Tiqqun argues that the management of a certain social definition of happiness was all it took for the liberal state to control its population (118). With police and with publicity, the liberal state could cynically keep order, but the police and publicity developed in a way that served and exceeded the institution of the nation-state. With the collapse of liberal and social hypothesis, the police and publicity were able to shed their institutional justification and become exposed as mere apparatuses of sovereign power. Through this collapse, this folding up of the liberal state, police and publicity gain a new important role; they are exalted as the super-institutional poles of Empire. Techniques of policing transform into Biopower and techniques of publicity transform into Spectacle. The state itself does not disappear just yet, but it is demoted, and Spectacle and Biopower begin the reign of Empire (118).

It is in the planned-environment of Empire that Tiqqun calls on us to take a partisan position: to intensify the play of forms-of-life beyond their attenuation; to loosen the nooses of subjectivity that Empire places around our necks (176). Civil war is where forms-of-life can freely play. An armed joy of bank expropriations, strikes, bombings, occupations, pirate radio stations, riots, and experimental forms-of-life (such as those in 1977 Italy) rises to a new metaphysical plane in the history of the citizen-subject. Civil war can never be routed. Each hyphen between a citizen-subject contains an intense flow of inclinations. What Tiqqun makes abundantly clear is that these intense inclinations are themselves the many protagonists of history. Civil war, not the state; the form-of-life not the subject, takes us, gives us meaning, and exposes us to a new plane of experience. The Imaginary Party—Tiqqun says “we,” (174)—can be understood as the party for civil war. It is a fragmented plane of consistency where each practice that prefers not to conjure away forms-of-life calls home. Unlike other discourses that rely on a single revolutionary-subjectivity, Tiqqun's Imaginary Party is nothing but a multiplicity, but unlike Negriist dreams of global civil society, the Imaginary Party does not shy away from the global civil war.

Tiqqun's concept of communism by other means performs of a particularly interesting operation from this point. Moving beyond the false consciousness of the Left, Tiqqun concludes “There is no visible outside anymore […] Madness, crime or the hungry proletariat no longer inhabit a defined or recognized space, they no longer form a world unto themselves, their own ghetto with or without walls” (131). If there is no longer any pure outside but rather exteriority present at every inch of the biopolitical tissue, then the Imaginary Party is not a political party that contends for power, nor a class that wishes to overthrow another class, nor a multitude that sees its desire reflected back at it through its representations of power. The Imaginary Party is the party of the political only insofar that through its presence it exposes each citizen-subject to the intensity of what it means to act politically.

Despite Tiqqun's insistence on the need to reclaim violence (34), we learn this need is not in order to simply pose a greater technology of violence against their state's violence, but rather for each body to become at home with its capacity for force. So-called “terrorism” today exposes citizens of Empire to the conditions they have placed on forms-of-life. What Tiqqun advances in terms of civil war, is in actuality a perverse war-machine. The Imaginary Party is full of precisely the content you might imagine. In a queer gesture, Tiqqun explains that “Empire is not the enemy with which we have to contend, and other tendencies within the Imaginary Party are not, for us, so many hostis to be eliminated, the opposite is, in fact, the case” (182). This means that the capacity for force, that inaugurates an element of the Imaginary Party, is specifically a force directed inward. Through the release of forms-of-life to their free play, Empire's meaninglessness and its lack of substance are totally revealed. The warlike penchants of forms-of-life form a war-machine only insofar that these penchants conjugate “friends” and “enemies” whose ethical distinctions are far more intense then any banal promise of security that Empire can articulate.

Introduction to Civil War ends exactly where you might expect: at the question of “how?” Like Debord's Society of the Spectacle, Introduction to Civil War, is not (despite the Library of Congress) an essay of critical theory, but rather a text at home with Clausewitz and Blanqui. Although their insistence on Heidegger's “the they” and all this Schmittian talk of “friends and enemies” situates Tiqqun in a framework of armed struggle, the anonymous editors break free in their concluding piece. What Tiqqun theorizes and what Tiqqun strategizes operations within are two different disciplines. Perhaps this is one of the most difficult positions for Tiqqun to articulate: What it might mean to live communism, and what it might mean to spread anarchy? History (or perhaps the messiah if we go by Benjamin), will have the final say, but what is irreducible in Introduction to Civil War is the feeling of meaninglessness that is the alibi of daily reproduction and the fact that whatever new struggles are emerging do not fit into the normative nor formal leftist conception of revolution or revolutionary subjectivity. Perhaps forms-of-life will animate bodies and advance what the religious wars in Europe only dreamed of. Perhaps everything will be in common, especially our fragile bodies. Or perhaps Tiqqun has misread something of our times and the coming community will have no allegiance to flesh and sinew, nor even thought. Either way, whether it is through the phantom of terror itself gaining substance (Baudrillard) or the inauguration and multiplication of collectivities whose ethical tissue is robust and whose thought is strategic, Tiqqun concludes that the time of the now is decisive. Empire or civil war?

Liam Sionnach is a terrible “art” project gone awry. It was based in a misreading of Foucault, Deleuze, and Agamben, and in the miserable conditions of the US Service Industry. It attempted to reveal the vacancy of the author-function, but conceded to feminist critiques of anonymity. Ultimately Liam Sionnach misunderstood the meaning of “what matters who's speaking, someone said.” Although The Institute for Experimental Freedom's Liam Sionnach project has been around since '05, it has been most successful at interrupting the intellectual development of contemporary US anarchist theory from '07 to the present. Liam Sionnach has written a few pamphlets, lectured at some Universities, and contributed to journals of contemporary radical theory. Currently, Liam is pushing toward the threshold between this form of life and another, and mourning the truancy of communism.