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Published by s0metim3s
Mitropoulos, "Universal War in a Quasi-Industrial Manner"
Mitropoulos, "Universal War in a Quasi-Industrial Manner"

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Published by: s0metim3s on Sep 07, 2013
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Written for the first series of edu-factory discussions, March 2007: http://www.edu-factory.org/ http://www.edu-factory.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=38&Itemid=33
Universal War, In a Quasi-industrial Manner Angela Mitropoulos
ή θα νικήσει ο τρόμος, ή θα νικήσει ο δρόμος 
As is more or less well-known, Kant’s writings on the university, collected under theheading of The Conflict of the Faculties, are preoccupied with establishing limits, borders – above all, the limits to conflict. I won’t go into the details – suffice perhapsto reiterate the main points. On the one hand, there is the distinction between philosophy (which includes the ‘life sciences’ and sociology) and what he refers to asthe ‘higher faculties’ of law, theology and medicine – ‘higher’ because closer tosovereignty. In its initial formulation, this distinction is rendered as the difference between thinking and doing, contemplation and action. This is also for Kant, and as itassumes conventional form in liberalism, a distinction between a freedom assigned tothought (as the so-called autonomy of reason) and the limits upon action in deferenceto sovereignty.On the other hand, and as might be expected, Kant goes on to distinguish betweenlegal and illegal forms of conflict. Regarding the illegal forms of conflict, they arefurther bifurcations of the previous categories, or what he deems to be their excess. Itwould take too long to reiterate those in their complexities, but one of these, the onehe considers to be the most dangerous, should be underscored. For Kant, the freedomof reason does not presuppose a freedom of action or, indeed, freedom to speak  beyond the university. It is a semi-private, intellectual freedom that is endowed to theuniversity by the sovereign. The university, in short, negotiates the proper relation between autonomy and obedience or, to put it another way and insofar as Kantassumes this as its parallel, between intellectuals and the state. In this, it might benoted that Kant is a kind of anti-Pascalian:
one does not have to believe, but kneel youmust 
.In any case, what is remarkable I think about Kant’s account is that these boundariesare not strictly speaking the boundaries of the university. They are, if I might put itlike this, the internalisation of the border of the university within the university – andone cannot understate the sense in which this marks a significant turn in concepts of the university, or inaugurates a modern understanding of the university. And, moresignificantly than this, they are the proposition of the limits of politics elaboratedthrough the paradigm of the university, which is to say: as a
.In some respects, it is possible to explain this preoccupation with division and itsorganisation by recourse to historical location. Kant’s writings on the university arefirmly situated within, and seek to navigate, the conflicts between medievalabsolutism and the development of an emerging managerial class. One only has toread his assertions of intellectual mastery coupled with a disdain for – in his terms –  pleasure-seeking, useless theory, to see the traces of much later, Fordist accounts of the proper relation between the university and the state in view of the divisions of 
labour, its superintendance, innovation and so forth. And this conflict, and itsconstrual of what is proper to conflict, will be inscribed within the university, but alsouniversalised as the proper form of politics – that is, politics as a ‘competition of ideas’ that is constrained (to an interminable and self-managed dynamic of competition among other things) by its very sense of language as divorced fromaction.That is, Kant’s ruminations on the proper valences of conflict foreground whatMarx’s discussion of ‘real subsumption’ can only but hint at, namely: the conditionsof the political. In other words, they indicate the seemingly paradoxical circumstanceof a politics in which there are borders but no ‘outside’, in the sense that those bordersare internal or, to be more precise, internalised as an ongoing condition of institution.This suggests it is not so much that, paradigmatically speaking, the factory is nowsuperceded by the university, since the installation of a certain division betweenmanagement and manual labour was both coincident and premised on the emergenceof the modern university. It is no small matter that Kant announces the modernuniversity in these terms:It was not a bad idea, whoever first proposed and conceived a public means for treating the sum of knowledge (and properly the heads who devote themselves toit), in a quasi-industrial manner.Rather, in the current integration and in the trajectory of the coincidence of the factorywith the university, politics is not only reduced to a question of the limits of conflict,where conflict is accepted as interminable, but it is not, and nor does it signal for allthat – which is to say, Kant will insist on this – war. I will come back to this. This iswhy, for Kant, attempts to cross the limits participates on both sides of those limitsand, moreover, why any sense of the border as the distinction between inside andoutside is annulled in a cosmopolitan universality (and the cosmopolitan university, itmight be added) which, nevertheless, retains borders, but in the more emphatic senseas checkpoints, filters and the demarcation of zones, identities and peoples. Divisionsare universalised, multiplied, internalised – even as division itself becomes an objectand preoccupation. This is also why, and for some time now, universities have beenmesmerised with the motifs of ‘cutting edge’ research, inter-disciplinarity, marginswhich suggest less the walls of an ivory tower than an opportunity for innovation.There remains much to be said with regard to the borders of the university in ageopolitical sense, not least the centripetal forces of Europe and the US and theaccompanying flows of labour, capital (symbolic and otherwise), and students. Just asthere is a sense in which the relation and conflicts between the internets and theuniversities remains to be played out, though I doubt few if any universities canmuster the legal and financial pressure of, say, studios and record companies. Yet,insofar as the ‘problem’ of politics becomes posed as a question of the distinction between legal and illegal forms of conflict, these ‘border disputes’ becomeincreasingly vectored and understood as matters of competition and questions of  juridico-commercial propriety – for the most part, as issues of copyright – andapproached as frontiers, which is to say: as a space to be colonised.But if Kant’s schema presents a world in which competition is interminable, proliferating and internalised, but this fact is disavowed as indicating a state of (perpetual) war, it should go without saying that Kant’s attempts to protect the

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