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Weaponized Thought: Ethical Militance and the Group-Subject Author(s): Emily Apter Source: Grey Room, No. 14 (Winter, 2004), pp. 6-25 Published by: The MIT Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1262648 . Accessed: 04/02/2014 21:32
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EMILYAPTER

As leftist political traditions are accused of "theory terror"-that is, causally linked by conservative opinion to a postmodern ethical relativism deemed responsible for the decadent turn of global democracy-it seems imperative to investigate how the discourse of "terror"has supplanted critical accounts of ethical militance. Such an investigation would dare to confront the terror inherent in thought itself without lapsing into free associations between theory and its radioactive cousin "terrorism" by bringing into renewed focus the laws and principles of revolutionary logic that accord theory and critique the power to terrorize, as well as the power to effect what Alain Badiou calls an "Event."For Badiou, the Event refers to an epochal realization of world-historical change: the French Revolution, the October Revolution, the Cultural Revolution, or the name Marx taken to stand in for the advent of class consciousness. From his adherence to "communist invariants" in the Jacobin play The Red Scarf,1 to his intent to purge art of all "isms" for the sake of a new political art form (Handbook of Inaesthetics); from his mathematically driven political ontologies (developed in Theory of the Subject, Being and Event, Manifesto for Philosophy, and Logics of the World), to his scathing attack on the bad faith of human rights discourses (Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil); and from his commitment to a "politics without party" (the activist period of L'Organisation Politique), to his outline for an intractable universalism in Saint Paul. La fondation de l'universalisme, Badiou has set the terms for a political theory of ethical militance that reinvigorates the tradition of revolutionary thinking, experiments with a formal logic of revolutionary groups, and focuses attention on the importance of radical theories of the subject to the regrounding of ethics. If Badiou's writings have increasingly been used as a reference point for defining militance in the post-September 11 political climate, they must be seen in the broader context of "red thinking" pre- and post-1968 that undergirds the parameters

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Gerhard Richter. Funeral (Beerdigung), from October 18, 1977,1988. Oil on canvas, 6' 6%/4" x 10' 6". The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection, gift of Philip Johnson, and acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest (all by exchange); Enid A. Haupt Fund; Nina and Gordon Bunshaft Bequest Fund; and gift of Emily Rauh Pulitzer. Courtesy: SCALA/Art Resource, NY. c Gerhard Richter and the Museum of Modern Art.

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and tenor of theory today, especially in the immediate aftermath of the so-called ethical turn. The early-1970s, as now, confronted the embrace of terrorist tactics by the left and the right and saw its revolutionary stance of ethical militance compromised by the impetus toward militarization. For this reason, and in the interest of marking a refusal to abandon the program of a revolutionary future, I want to alight topographically on key moments of 1970s art and politics (primarily in France) that reveal the tension between militance and militarization, filtering them through the post-ethical communism of Badiou. Such examples supply more than just historical context and material density for the ongoing project of "red thinking"; they encapsulate the way in which the seventies recycled a Jacobin politics of the Terrorthat imagined stopping the clock before the Revolution devoured its own. Filtered through the lens of Badiou's theory, these examples prompt a renewed look at the politics of the group-subject as they informed, and continue to inform, radical agendas for freedom and justice.

Jean-Pierre Gorin and Jean-Luc Godard's film Ici et ailleurs, made in 1970 at the invitation of the Palestinians as a documentary of the Palestinian Revolution and transformed in the course of production into an anguished reflection on the entrapment of revolutionary images within the televisual culture of consumption, offers a glimpse into the proximity between militance and militarization as it conveys what happens when a radical group becomes armed. An opening shot reveals a training camp and a Palestinian leader speaking to the people with his gun by his side. After a flash heading-"Armed struggle"-the film cuts to close-up footage of a machine gun giving fire. The enemy is not in the picture-this is rifle practice-but the point is to assign pride of place to the weapon, honoring it as an autonomous subject of the film as if it were the mouthpiece for the cause. Ici et ailleurs commemorates the short-lived, euphoric period of 1970-1971 in the life of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), during which rituals of self-armament in daily life imparted a jubilant group subjectivity, a sense of marvelous hope, sealed, in the eyes of its participants, by cathexis with the gun. "In 1967 in the West Bank, for the first time in my life I felt that I was a real human being. I had a gun in my hand," the charismatic PLO commander Salah Tamari would confide to journalist Jonathan Dimbleby.2 Remembering his first sojourn with the Palestinians in 1970, Jean Genet would observe how

Demonstration against the Panther 21 trial. New York, 1969.
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the young soldiers maintained their arms, took them apart in order to clean them, greasing and reassembling them with great haste. Some achieved the feat of disassembling and reassembling their weapons blindfolded for success at night. Between each soldier and his arm there was an amorous, magical relationship. Since the feddayin were barely beyond adolescence, the gun, as arm, was the sign of a triumphant virility.3 In this ecstatic account, folded into a bitter expose written in 1982 of the horrors witnessed in Chatila, the gun emerges as a totemic ensign: the equivalent of the Black Panthers' self-image accoutered in beret, black jacket, and gun (to the rallying cry "What we need now are guns and more guns!"); or the Red Brigade's mantra "Never Again Without a Rifle!"; or the heraldic logo of the Red Army Faction, featuring a machine gun encased in a black star; or the Weather Underground's anti-Viet Nam poster pairing a gun with the slogan "Piece Now!"; or the image, evoked by Mahmoud Darwish in his account of Beirut under siege in 1982, of the "RPG[rocketpropelled grenade] kids [Lebanese-born Palestinian refugees] ... armed with a rage for release from the senility of the Idea."4These cameos of self-armament encapsulate what Darwish calls "the sport of active death," a phrase suggesting a desire for the deathly agon that goes beyond the foot soldier's noble willingness to perish for God and country.5 In Ici et ailleurs the machine gun signifies something other than hope; it consecrates an erotic contract with fatal destiny. This fatality is historicized as documentary clips of fedayeen engaged in military exercises, community building, and political education slam into harrowing stills of Black September and the charred and defaced bodies of revolutionaries massacred by the Israeli-backed Jordanian army. In a matter of months, so the narration goes, "this has become that," "ceci est devenu cela." From a contemporary vantage point "ceci est devenu cela" reads not so much as shorthand for a revolution that failed but as a presage of intifadas to come. The Palestinian casualties of 1970-1971 ask to be interpreted not as an end to armed struggle but as an inaugural episode in the ongoing bid for statehood and the right of return. But the film shows, too, what happens when thought becomes weaponized and radical groups assume the restraints and sacrifices of group fealty characterisFor under these tic, according to Bataille of "the structure and function of the army."6 in and the last two armed insurrectional conditions, decades, groups, El Fatah have become hard to from included, increasingly distinguish paramilitary operatives: IRA details; the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; the Abu Sayyaf

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network in the Philippines; Sri Lanka's contraband-financed Tamil Tigers; the UNITA people's party in Angola; Columbia's FARC guerrillas engaged in arms and drug traffic; the Mafia-style commando units of the Kosovo Liberation Army; the Algerian GIA (Armed Islamic Group), set up, as one commentator describes it, "as a combination of a mystical and a military organization that acts on fatwas"-each is representative of how insurgent rebel armies can seemingly flip into or be mistaken for state or cartel-controlled paramilitary troops.7 The point here is not to hold radical thought accountable for allowing ethical militance to free-fall into paramilitary terror (misrecognizing its own camouflage, as it were), but rather to see how ethical militance might be preserved, kept at a remove from terrorism even when it comes mimetically close to militarization. This might appear to be a naive or futile task, like attempting to rescue Marxism from Leninism, or secular revolution from jihad, or armed struggle (posited as the right to resist Western institutions of democracy) from suicide bombing, but under the present political circumstances, in which denunciations of terrorism veer into blanket indictments of revolutionary ideology, accusations of sedition, or, worse, authorizations of imperial warmongering, it becomes necessary to resuscitate what was good about the Jacobin vision of a just and equal society regulated by the general will and infused with philosophical partisanship. In his chapter on "Oath,Conjuration, Fraternization or the 'Armed' Question" (in The Politics of Friendship), Derrida examines the partisan as post-Enlightenment insurgent, a figure born in Berlin during what von Clausewitz called "an enormous spiritual moment" in the life of the Prussian state.8 The partisan eschews the codes of conventional warfare (including the dictates of constitutional and international law), blurs the boundaries between enemy and friend (the partisan "has no enemy in the classical sense of the term" according to Derrida), radicalizes the hostility of the friend-enemy, and maintains the tradition of "telluric autochthony" (a sense of national destiny qualified as "an aggravated national feeling united to a philosophical culture").9A kind of theory terrorist, the partisan embodies the ambivalence of pious thought bound to violent polemic. Derrida even suggests a connection between armament and critique when he discerns "the enemy present in the very form of the question."10In this formulation the question itself is mobilized as a form of armament-"It is the army," says Derrida.11 Derrida's depiction of partisanship as a variant of weaponized thought invites a reconsideration of those parts of the Terrorthat produced a vigilant civic rigorism worthy of detachment from the narrative of revolutionary show trials, personality

Gilles Deleuze, Universite de Vincennes, from L'Abecedaire de Gilles Deleuze (avec Claire Parnet), dir. Pierre-Andre Boutang, c. 1996.
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cults, and serial beheadings that defined the Enlightenment version of the nightmare of history. It is this Jacobin virtue, engine of successive generations of enrages and insurgents, that might be drawn on to respond to the question of what's left of the revolutionary left in a state of emergency imposed by the right. It prompts a bold rethinking of the Jacobin origins of radical thought that would explain, for example, why in a 1985 pamphlet titled Considerations sur l'assassinat de Gerard Lebovici the situationist gauchiste Guy Debord might so willingly accept the charges of theory terrorism levied at him by the right: I accept the last two names: "theoretician," that goes without saying, although I have not practiced that exclusively nor with a specialized title, but in the end I have been one as well, and one of the best. And I also accept "enrage," because in 1968 I acted in concert with the extremists who at the time gave themselves that name; and in addition because I have an affinity for those
of 1794.12

Debord embraces the moniker "Terrorist" in the same pamphlet out of solidarity with the French film producer and left-wing publisher Gerard Lebovici, who was shot execution-style in his car in an underground car park as retribution, it was widely held, for his publication of "terrorist"Jacques Mesrine's The Death Instinct, a book the French government had banned. In his pamphlet Debord seeks to avenge the media's savage treatment of the left in the mid-eighties; his target, as it was earlier in his life, remains the society of the spectacle.

Derridean partisanship and the image are evoked not to romanticize terrorism, nor to over-fetishize the embattled condition of the left under siege, but rather to underscore the extent to which the example of the revolutionary enrage comes close to realizing Badiou's Pauline "theorem of the militant" (which posits the universal address of truth, of fidelity, love, and hope)13 alongside a revolutionary secularism awaiting articulation, one that would block what Lacan diagnosed as the suicidal drive of revolutionary hope.14

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Badiou is particularly interesting because he opts for militance against all odds. In positing equality in the collective being of citizen-militants as the norm of the general will, in boldly arguing (against metaphysical pluralism) for a universal and univocal Truth in the face of a glaring lack of clear directives for distinguishing "truth-events" from historical lies, Badiou refuses to renounce the possibility of revolutionary change. His injunctions to "Keep Going" (as in Beckett's "I can't go on, I will go on") or to "Get up and walk," display a militant conviction, a zealous contestation of political realism or politics as usual, coupled with an abiding belief in the revolutionary community to come. Badiou's marching orders invoke a quickening of the blood, a stiffening of resolve, a posture not entirely remote from what Heidegger called "standing reserve," a readiness that shatters the quiescence of being.15In these commands Marxist utopianism and the charge to change the world are reawakened. Badiou is begging for a fight against the commercialization of value and the society of calculation.16 It is not national ideology or religious belief that drives Badiou's will to revolt but rather a condition whereby revolt is seen as the only way to act against economic imperialism, social inequality, and the slackness of everyday life. Badiou, as Slavoj Zizek notes, is here entirely consistent with, and of course entirely conscious of, Lacan's understanding of desire. When Lacan formulates his maxim of psychoanalytic ethics, "ne pas ceder sur son desir, "that is, "don't compromise, don't give way on your desire," the desire involved here is no longer the transgressive desire generated by the prohibatory Law, and thus involved in a "morbid" dialectic with the Law; rather, it is fidelity to one's desire itself that is elevated to the level of ethical duty, so that "ne pas ceder sur son desir" is ultimately another way of saying "Do your duty!"17 Badiou's injunctions constitute no simple code of "do and do not" (typical of some forms of fundamentalist thinking, from Christian fundamentalism to conservative Islam), but rather an alliance of logic and politics. They derive their militance from a political ontology vested with a Truth-value that is "true" in the mathematical sense-algorithmically ordered and subject to proof. In this context however, Badiou's commitment to set theory as the road to a radical situationism of the Truth-Event appears to return to the old philosophical game of thinking up possible worlds governed by formal logic, from Kantian categorical imperatives to Wittgensteinian propositions. For ethical truths to be mathematically true, they seem to risk justifying some form of mind trap or theory terror in the name

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of the matheme. (Mathemes, as Joel Dor reminds us, are the "mathematical formulations devised by Lacan with the aim of making psychoanalytic theory more rigorous and precise.")18 Indeed, the echoes of this position can be heard in Gorin and Godard's film in the text message that (oh so accurately) predicts for the Palestinians a "prolonged war . . . commanded by the logic of the people." The phrase "the logic of the people" carries the whiff of terror familiar from so many fatal perversions of the revolutionary mandate, but it, too, like Badiou's notion of militance, warrants extraction from the predictable narratives of revolutionary failure.

If, as I am suggesting, ethical militance brokers dangerous liaisons between logic and politics, this liaison proves, nonetheless, to be indispensable to theories of political collectivity that seek to supplant bourgeois individualism with a new notion of the group or ontological set. The idea of the group-subject-though it might have diminished over the years as a utopian attempt to foment an antibourgeois ego-ideal within the radical collective, or as the dream of an alternative order of secular statehood-is worth revisiting. What might it offer a militant ethics of community defined outside, transverse to, or below the radar of the nation-state? In Hardt and Negri's Multitude the group-subject may be identified with an antiglobalist iteration of Gramsci's Marxist-Leninist proletarian revolutionary mass subject, who dispenses with the individual ruler on the way to a classless society, what the authors call a "perpetually modulating atopia."19Between Marx's mass subject and Hardt and Negri's multitude, and providing what is possibly the crucial link between them, lies the theory of group ontology outlined by Deleuze and Guattari in the wake of May 1968 and subsequently taken up and transformed into a virtual mathematical ontology of the set by Badiou.

It was within a culture of group activism-collective bargaining, discussion groups, group sex, communal property-that the conceptual category of the group-subject took hold as a kind of Venn diagram of militant subjectivity. Often this group identity has been dismissed as lifestyle politics. But as Julia Kristeva notes, the "savage strike" against bourgeois morality and the traditional conception of love"-achieved through "groupsex, hashish etc."-produced nothing short of "aworldwide movement

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that contributed to an unprecedented reordering of private life," a jouissance to be achieved not "in private" nor even away from the world, in the extra-territoriality of religion, but "in the public domain, extended from the family to society and to the nation."20Constructing what she calls "a new type of inadmissible sublimation" by unleashing eros on paternalism, Deleuze, in Kristeva's estimation, emerged as the "most original and radical of contemporary French thinkers," the one who "put the family, God and language into question without trying to get away from
them."21

While the group subject was certainly antifamilialist, philosophically it was also many other things. Indeed, the Deleuzean group-subject drew on a plurality of sources and influences impossible to summarize within the confines of this discussion. The parameters were defined by Spinoza's notion of "the laying out of a common plane of immanence on which all bodies, all minds, and all individuals are situated"22;as well as by Spinoza's concept of the "extensive" relation (propelling new compositional sociabilities and intensities). Bergson's neo-vitalist "logic of multiplicities"23 and Ruyer's concept of "real extension" (partes in unitate), qualified as a "fusional multiplicity," might have been equally constitutive.24 Crucial, too, for both Deleuze and Guattari, was the thesis of Gilbert Simondon (1924-1989), published in 1958 as L'individuation a la lumiere des notions de forme et d'information. Breaking down the distinction between individuation and individualization, Simondon cast the subject not as a result, but as a milieu of individuation, more a situated event than a stasis of being. This bio-philosophy of ontogenesis, governed by the principle of fluctuatio animi, led to a theory of phased being (l'individu polyphase) emphasizing a state of becoming always engaged with unfolding subjective futurity. Polyphased becoming, the basis of Simondon's "transindividual collective," yields a Deleuzian ontology "in which Being is never One," in which the subject, "individuated, remains multiple."25 Group subjectivity was also indebted to the early Deleuzian concept of an absolute singularity that sees difference and repetition as enabling the unfurling multiple of the one (worked out in those quintessential philosophical works of 1968, The Logic of Sense and Difference and Repetition).26The group-subject that emerges from these two works offers an ontology of singularity aligned with the collective life-form, harking back to Bergsonian elan vital in which essence "individualizes" through serial repetition, and differentiation retains the essence of singular being. Deleuze drafted from the neo-vitalist ontologists a nondialectical, anti-individualist theory of the subject. As Brian Massumi has shown in an essay entitled

Gilles Deleuze, Universite de Vincennes, from L'Abecedaire de Gilles Deleuze (avec Claire Parnet), dir. Pierre-Andre Boutang, c. 1996. 14 Grey Room 14

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"Deleuze and Guattari's Theories of the Group Subject through a Reading of Corneille's Le Cid,"group subjectivity was effected through a perambulation around individual/society binarism: They don't add yet another synthesis of the individual and society, with still more mediations. They abolish both terms and all mediations in one simple move: by saying that the individual is a group. The distinction they make is not between a group subject and an individual subject, but between two kinds of group subjects, both of which exist on the so-called individual level and the societal level at the same time and without foundation.27 Massumi's emphasis here on deindividuated ontology is well-exemplified in a short text by Deleuze titled "Three Problems of the Group," which he drafted as a preface to Guattari's 1972 book Psychanalyse et transversalite. In this sketch of a friend, Guattari is seen to embody group subjectivity in his very person: It so happens that a political militant and a psychoanalyst converge in the same person, and, instead of staying compartmentalized, they are endlessly imbricated, running interference, communicating, taking each for the other. This is a rare occurrence since Reich. Pierre-F6elixGuattari preoccupies himself very little with the problem of the unified self. The self belongs to things that must be dissolved, subject to the coordinated assault of political and analytical forces. The words of Guattari, "we are all group cells," designate the search for a new subjectivity, a group subjectivity, that refuses to let itself be enclosed in a totality ready to revert to the ego, or worse still, the superego, but which extends itself to several groups at one and the same time, divisible, multipliable, open to communication and forever revocable. The test of a good group is that it refuses to think itself as unique, immortal and full of significance, like a bureau of defense or security, or a veterans' ministry, but instead branches out to confront the possibilities of non-sense, of death or implosion, "precisely because of its opening up to other groups." He himself is this kind of group. Guattari naturally incarnates two aspects of the anti-Ego: on the one hand, like a catatonic stone, he has a blind and hardened body penetrated by

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death the moment he takes off his glasses; on the other hand, he burns like a thousand flames; he teems with multiple lives the moment he looks, acts, laughs, thinks, attacks. He is named Pierre and F6elix,schizophrenic forces.28 In this relatively undercommentated yet significant text, Deleuze summarizes the distinction drawn by Guattari between groupes assujettis (subjectivated subjects) and groupes-sujets (group-subjects). Groupes assujettis are characterized by hierarchy, vertical or pyramid organization, and a drive to self-conservation that excludes other groups and discourages creative ruptures and collective enunciation. They promote the production of stereotypes that cut subjectivity from the real and constitute the imaginary of oedipalization, superegoicization, and the castration of the group. Groupes-sujets by contrast, are defined by transversal relations that challenge totalities and hierarchies, act as supports of desire and confront their own limits as they seek connections to mass desire or the desires of other groups. The anti-oedipal, antistatist drive embedded in the group-subject allows psychoanalysis to be brought to militant revolutionary groups. This is precisely the move that Deleuze credits to Guattari. For Deleuze, Guattari personifies a revolutionary war machine that resists oiling the wheels of a new state-apparatus as it hurls libidinally charged intercepts at the organizational hierarchies of state power. Desire and truth are associated with a schizoid group-subject committed to analysis (in the psychoanalytic sense) and girded against paranoid spasms.

Guattari himself remained wary of the susceptibility of red armies to co-optation by the state and never fully specified (except, perhaps in his 1991 collaboration with Negri on the broadside Communists Like Us: New Spaces of Liberty, New Lines of Alliance) how collective agents articulating new forms of desire would actually succeed in rupturing the fabric of social determinism or in effecting "une derive de l'histoire." And yet his ideas came out of and gave rise to the radical praxis of guerrilla groups. In his "Remarkson the RAF Spectre: 'Abstract Radicalism' and Art," Klaus Theweleit evokes 1967 as the year of 'group explosion,' a year that saw 'suband group-languages,' bubble up from the underground into the public sphere, drawing on the languages of Marxism, psychoanalysis, militant internationalism (anti-USA/anti-Vietnam)" and what he calls "the speech mode of sexualized impertinence that seized everything."29Theweleit acknowledges the influence of Deleuze

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and Guattari's notion of subjective multiplicities (later formulated in their book Mille plateaux) on the ideology of the Red Army Faction (RAF): "1,000 planes, 1,000 poles, the emergence of voices from many places where silence had been imposed; the RAF came from the same generational background."3?0 Deleuze and Guattari's was also in Theweleit's to Baader-Meinhof's essential, resolve view, Anti-Oedipus to fight institutionalized paternalism in all its forms, including "parent terror, teacher terror, officer terror,block warden terror, terror from judges and police."31In fighting terror with terror, the RAF realized the full meaning of the expression "thinking red," a term used by the military in reference to "thinking like the enemy" in order to second-guess his hand in a war game. Where the RAF took "thinking red" to the arena of armed violence, binding it to a code of honor that gave shape to the underground cell, their counterparts in France tended to ground their revolutionary praxis in a mixture of violent agitprop and nonlethal obstructionism, observable, say, in Alain Badiou's depiction of himself in the red years as an agent provocateur of the classroom whose target was none other than Deleuze: For the Maoist that I was, Deleuze, as the philosophical inspiration for what we called the "anarcho-desirers," was an enemy all the more formidable for being internal to the "movement" and for the fact that his course was one of the focal points of the university. I have never tempered my polemics: consensus is not one of my strong points. I attacked him with the heavy verbal artillery of the epoch. Once, I even commanded a "brigade" of intervention in his course. I wrote, under the characteristic title "Flux and the Party," an enraged article against his conceptions (or supposed conceptions) of the relationship between politics and mass movements. Deleuze remained impassive, almost paternal. He spoke of me as an "intellectual suicide."32 Though Badiou's self-portrait as an enrage describes the displacement of the Deleuzian "group" by the more hard-line "brigade," it is a brigade that resists any real call to arms, for Badiou, like most of his cohort, Maoist or otherwise, tended to channel his flirtation with militarism into what he calls, in L'Etreet l'evenement, a kind of "gauchisme speculatif."33As the ex-situationist soixante-huitard leader Rene Vienet argued in Enrages and Situationists in the Occupation Movement, France, May '68 (written in the thick of the events), or as another May student leader, Antoine Liniers, held (in a book chapter titled "Objections to the Taking Up of Arms"), terrorism-the so-called real thing-was generally not endorsed by French

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militants.34 Liniers attributes this recoil from armed violence (including his own group's inability to carry out a plan to assassinate the ex-Collaborationist Paul Touvier in 1985) to a number of factors, predominant among them the French left's historic deference to the French Communist Party,the lack of a radical Christian tradition comparable to that which energized the Italian Red Brigades, and an absence of the visceral anti-Nazi, anti-NATO sentiment that galvanized the RAF.35If in the context of France May 1968 the form assumed by ethical militance was the group itself-multiple, fractious, formless, yet connected-it was a heavily discursive, selftheorized group subjectivity. By the mid-1970s such discursivity gained layers of "theory." Situationist projections of the commodification and subjective impoverishment of everyday life; Lacanian-inflected Marxism (typified by Althusser and his students Ranciere, Balibar, Foucault) that posited the policed, ideologically surveilled subject; Lacan's formulas of subjective destitution, along with his ritual unmasking of the Master's discourse; and Deleuze and Guattari's socialization of the individual contributed to a politics of the group that seems increasingly relevant as a corrective to the contemporary zeitgeist in which isolate bourgeois existence is fully capitalized despite the lure of collective activism on the Internet.

It is surely no mere happenstance that the art and politics of the 1970s have come back to haunt us in the wake of 9/11. A rash of recent documentaries and art projects scour the representational surface of the not-so-distant radical past in an effort to reconstruct the culture of group solidarity that inspired the surrender of the bourgeois ego and the weaponization of thought. The movie Human Weapon provides a history of suicide martyrdom for political causes emphasizing how group subjectivity was key to effecting any "passage a l'acte." My Terrorist, an autobiographical film, charts the effort of a former Israeli flight attendant, wounded in a foiled 1972 hijacking attempt, to release her assailant from a British prison in the name of an alternative to the Israel/Palestine stalemate. A documentary on The Weather Underground traces how the incredibly rapid succession of American political atrocities from the late 1960s into the 1970s-the My Lai massacre, the murders of Black Panther leaders Mark Clark and Fred Hampton, the assassination of Salvador Allende, Kent State-led inexorably to the group's conviction that violent acts of sabotage were the only means possible in a war stacked in favor of the militaryindustrial complex. And moving from film to performance, a 2002 video by the artist

Bader-Meinhof, c. mid-1970s. Originally published in Astrid Proll, Baader Meinhof: Pictures on the Run 67-77 (1998). 18 Grey Room 14

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Sharon Hayes-reenacting Patty Hearst's appeal for ransom payment as she repeats and strays off "message" (itself dictated by the off-camera group voice of the Symbionese Liberation Army)-underscores the strange speech rhythm that gets established between the serial instructions of mind control and the mouthing of fractured voices speaking as one. Roland Barthes might have designated this rhythm "idiorrhythmie religieuse," a term he applied in his 1976 seminar on "Mount Athos," to ascetic, monastic federations regulated by the mystical beat of prayer calibrated to the rhythm of heart and breath. Under the general rubric "How to Live Together" ("Comment vivre ensemble"), Barthes's seminar explored a group subjectivity that could be located midpoint between the Sadean convent and the space of the ego's vow of poverty.36

Has the "now" joined the seventies of "then?" Certainly, retrospective exhumations of seventies radical movements form a fascinating pendant to the representations of ethical militance that emerged in the period itself. Consider, for example, Pierre Guyotat's novel Eden, Eden, Eden, which created a mini-scandale shortly after it was published in 1970 by Gallimard. Officially banned by the Pompidou government for its so-called pornographic content (and rereleased only after public outcry was raised in the wake of a petition signed by Sartre, de Beauvoir, Barthes, Leiris, Sollers, Foucault, Claude Simon, Derrida, and many others), Eden features a society of "all against all," a penal colony set in an abstracted landscape that recalls the razed and ravaged hilltop territories of the Algerian War. Soldiers practice rape as a form of social control, but sexual punishment blurs into polymorphous pansexualism. Guyotat's vivid scenes of interracial, cross-species, cross-gender, intergenerational copulation, prostitution, child abuse, and group sex offer a total eradication of the individual. Personhood is exploded into an expressive multiple; at once sexualized and textualized. In the words of Guyotat, "there is no 'love' but a scriptoseminalo-gramme, if one can say that, in the sense of an electrocardiogram."37 In making sexual violation and historical regression thematic coordinates, Guyotat'savowed intention was to "emancipatethe base"by reassertingthe preeminence

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of "basses fonctions" (bodily functions of the lowest order). Like Bataille's valorization of "base materialism" (identified with excess, waste, expenditure, acephalic consciousness, coprophilic desire, human matter over reason), Guyotat's social body is constructed in the name of "de-psychologizing the person."38Human subjects, no longer hierarchically superior, are placed on equal par with animals, plants, and things, generating a militant communalism that anticipates Antonio Negri's phantasm of "The revolutionary monster that has Multitude for a name" ("le monstre revolutionnaire qui a pour nom multitude").39 Guyotat's novel is a revolutionary novel of 1968, I would argue, because it shows how group subjectivity arises from the way in which erotic enslavement levels the power differentials between prisoners and their keepers. The group forms a dystopian socius, to be sure, but it reveals unsuspected reserves of revolutionary potentia.

Guyotat's novel, typifying the way in which 1970s dystopian fantasies of group sex were extended into dreams of radical communitarianism, does for narrative what Gerhard Richter's Baader-Meinhof cycle of paintings "18. Oktober 1977" does for visual representation. Painting in 1988, Richter captured the haunting of a later era by an earlier era's praxis of radical group subjectivity. Though there continues to be considerable debate over whether Richter liberated the revolutionary image from the commodified spectacle or whether he portrays, as Theweleit would have it, the "inherently unradical" status of art, parasitically feeding off the revolutionary act the cycle stands as a through representations that are the very "antithesis of art,"40 kind of homage to the idea of ethical militance as it emerged on the radical left in the 1970s. Militance is conveyed as much through the blur between photographic realism and the medium of paint as through the work's historical framing of how "an abstract desire for revolution foundered in the political vacuum," making for "a particularly helpless group autumn fantasy."41The blur effect possesses each of Richter's images in differing degrees, especially in the scenes devoted to Gudrun Ensslin, based on photos of her alive (wearing prison togs in an identification parade) and dead in her prison cell. In the pictures of dead revolutionaries, which resemble nineteenth-century gisants, the fade-out of the subject's features suggests the vanishing of revolutionary idealism or a ghostly aura originating, perhaps, in the haunting of an East German painter by "specters of Marx."And, yet, another way to deal with the blur is to see what kind of shape it assumes. In many works it becomes a form in

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its own right, an anamorphic shadow, seeming to spring into legibility when the right viewing angle is found. Disengaged from the narrative of revolutionary failure, the blur communicates an affect of revolutionary vigilance that refuses to die with the "death of socialism"; it is an ethical militance unto death rather than, as some would have it, a terrorist "cult of death."42As the anamorphoses double the blurred horizontals and verticals of the bodies-horizontal when laid out on the floor, vertical when hanged-the function of the bodies as pointers cross-referencing one another is accentuated. Together these directionals diagram a group-subject that acts relationally even in death. They, as it were, "make a matheme," in the sense of Badiou's "Itis time to say that the group makes a matheme [fait matheme] for thinking the subject [pour une pensee du sujet]," advanced in a chapter of his Court Traite d'ontologie transitoire titled "Group, Category, Subject."43 Like the directionals, drawing the disparately arranged bodies into force fields of connection, the hyphen in Baader-Meinhof-a name that is itself a composite of two names that together and alone stand for many other people-helps to formalize an algorithm of group subjectivity. The hyphen becomes yet another relational sign supporting the reading of Richter's Baader-Meinhof series as a diagram of the motto: "Their being is their number," a paraphrase of Badiou's "Le Nombre est une forme de l'etre-multiple" ("Number is a form of being-multiple").44 The hyphen also doubles as a minus sign, suggesting a "subtractive" force that suctions up individual essences. The group-subject arises out of this black hole as a set of zero, positively equal to none; that is to say, equal to radical impropriety or loss of the proper. This "zeroing out" of ontology exerts its strange appeal on the formal structure of the group-subject, itself the model for the ascetic revolutionary cell, with its promise of group love in exchange for self-sacrifice and its idea of truth as mathematically true. The problem of ethical militance thus conceived would seem to assign the idea of the group a special place as cornerstone of the revolutionary multitude by collapsing the multiple into the multitude, streaming into it elements of Spinoza's plura individual, the Rousseauist general will, Sans-culottes ideals of civic conscience and Supreme Being, the Communist International, the algorithmic "transfinitude" of Cantorian set theory, the logic of multiplicities and of pre- and de-individuation put forth by Deleuze and Guattari, and a social understanding of individuality that fulfills Negri's proposition that "There is for a body no possibility of being alone."45Marrying principles of Enlightenment revolution and "a physiology of collective liberation" to analytic truth-values, the logic of the group-subject

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involves hewing to your ethical truth despite the risk of projecting into the mental space of the enemy so successfully that you assume its form (as when militance misrecognizes itself as militarism) and despite the risk avowed by Badiou that "my fidelity may well be terror exerted against myself."46For Badiou, the ethics of militancy would seem to require holding fast to the exigent logic of the mathematical proof: first, to ward off lassitude; second, to maintain the "numbers" of the groupsubject; and third, to allow the "Terror"of theory to carry on as the possibility of a revolutionary Truth-Event.

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Notes 1. For the best summary of Badiou's early political trajectory (as well as his broader philosophical engagement), see Peter Hallward, Badiou: A Subject to Truth (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), 30. 2. Jonathan Dimbledy, The Palestinians (London: Quartet Books, 1979), 132. 3. Jean Genet, "Quatre heures a Chatila," in L'Ennemi ddclar6 (Paris: Gallimard), 244. Translation my own. 4. Mahmoud Darwish, Memory for Forgetfulness. August, Beirut, 1982, trans. Ibrahim Muhawi (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995), 12. 5. Darwish, 11. 6. Georges Bataille, "The Structure and Function of the Army" (1938), in The College of Sociology 1937-39, ed. Denis Hollier, trans. Betsy Wing (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988), 137-144. 7. Ranjana Khanna, "The Experience of Evidence: Language, the Law, and the Mockery of Justice," in Algeria in Other's Languages, ed. Anne-Emmanuelle Berger (Ithaca:Cornell University Press, 2002), 110. 8. Jacques Derrida, Politics of Friendship, trans. George Collins (London: Verso, 1997), 147. In this section Derrida is drawing on Carl Schmitt's Theorie des Partisanen, Zwischenbemerkung zum Begriff des Politischen (Theory of the Partisan and The Concept of the Political; 1963) and Carl von Clausewitz's 1832 treatise Vom Kriege (On War). 9. Derrida, 146-147. 10. Derrida, 149-150. 11. Derrida, 150. 12. Guy Debord, Considerations on the Assassination of Gerard Lebovici, trans. Robert Greene (Los Angeles: TamTam Books, 2001), 75-76. First published in France in 1985. 13. Alain Badiou, Saint Paul. La fondation de l'universalisme (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1997), 97. 14. See Catherine Cle6ment'sreview of Jacques Lacan's Television, psychanalyse, I and II. Transcripts of two television programs prepared by Jacques-Alain Miller and Benoit Jacquot and first published in 1974. Catherine Cle6ment,"Une Lecon," Magazine Litt6raire no. 288 (May 1991): 101. 15. Martin Heidegger uses the term Bestand, translated as "the standing reserve," in "The Question Concerning Technology" (1949), in Heidegger, Philosophical and Political Writings, ed. Manfred Stassen (New York: Continuum, 2003), 288-289. 16. This statement paraphrases ideas presented in the chapter "Philosophy and Desire" in Alain Badiou, Infinite Thought: Truth and the Return to Philosophy, trans. and ed. Oliver Feltham and Justin Clemens (New York: Continuum, 2003), 40-42. 17. Slavoj Zizek, The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology (London: Verso, 1999), 153. 18. Jbel Dor, Introduction to the Reading of Lacan (New York: Other Press, 1998), xxiii. 19. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), 60. 20. Julia Kristeva, Revolt, She Said, trans. Brian O'Keefe, ed. Sylvere Lotringer (New York:

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Semiotext(e)/Smart Art, 2002), 35. 21. Kristeva, 21. 22. Gilles Deleuze, Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, trans. Robert Hurley (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1988), 122, 126. 23. Gilles Deleuze, Bergsonism, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (New York: Zone Books, 1991), 117. 24. See Raymond Ruyer, La genese des formes vivantes (Paris: Flammarion, 1958), and N6o-finalisme (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1952). 25. Gilles Deleuze, "Gilbert Simondon, L'individu et sa genese psycho-biologique," in L'ile d6serte et autres textes: Textes et entretiens 1953-1974 (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 2002), 124. 26. Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), and The Logic of Sense, trans. Mark Lester with Charles Stivale (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990). 27. Brian Massumi, "Deleuze and Guattari's Theories of the Group Subject through a Reading of Corneille's Le Cid," in Deleuze and Guattari: Critical Assessments of Leading Philosophers, vol. II, ed. Gary Genosko (London: Routledge, 2001), 814; emphasis in original. 28. Gilles Deleuze, "Trois problemes de groupe," in L'ile d6serte et autres textes, 270. "II arrive qu'un militant politique et un psychanalyste se recontrent dans la meme personne, et que, au lieu de rester cloisonn6s, ils ne cessent de se m6ler, d'interf6rer, de communiquer, de se prendre l'un pour l'autre. C'est un 6v6nement assez rare depuis Reich. Pierre-Felix Guattari ne se laisse guere occuper par les problemes de l'unit6 d'un Moi. Le moi fait plutot partie de ces choses qu'il faut dissoudre, sous l'assaut conjugu6 des forces politiques et analytiques. Le mot de Guattari, 'nous sommes tous des groupuscules,' marque bien la recherche d'une nouvelle subjectivit6, subjectivit6 de groupe, qui ne se laisse pas enfermer dans un tout forc6ment prompt a reconstituer un moi, ou pire encore un surmoi, mais qui s'6tend sur plusieurs groupes a la fois, divisibles, multipliables, communicants et toujours r6vocables. Le critere d'un bon groupe est qu'il ne se r8ve pas unique, immortel et signifiant, comme un syndicat de d6fense ou de s6curit6, comme un ministere d'anciens combattants, mais se branche sur un dehors qui le confronte a ses possibilit6s de nonsens, de mort ou d'6clatement, 'en raison meme de son ouverture aux autres groupes.' L'individu a son tour est un tel groupe. Guattari incarne de la fa9on la plus naturelle les deux aspects d'un anti-Moi: d'un c6t6, comme un caillou catatonique, corps aveugle et durci qui se p6nbtre de mort des qu'il ote ses lunettes; d'un autre cot6 brillant de mille feux, fourmillant de vies multiples des qu'il regarde, agit, rit, pense, attaque. Aussi s'appelle-t-il Pierre et Felix: puissances schizophr6niques." 29. Klaus Theweleit, "Remarks on the RAF Spectre: 'Abstract Radicalism' and Art," in Group.sex, ed. Eva Grubinger (Berlin: Lukas & Sternberg Verlage, 1998), 75. 30. Theweleit, "Remarks on the RAF Spectre," 75. 31. Theweleit, "Remarks on the RAF Spectre," 88. 32. Alain Badiou, Deleuze. The Clamor of Being, trans. Louise Burchill (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 2. 33. Alain Badiou, L'Etre et l'evenement (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1988), 232.

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34. Ren6 Vi6net,Enragesand Situationists in the OccupationMovement,France, May '68, trans.
Richard Parry and Helene Potter (New York: Autonomedia, 1992); Antoine Liniers, in Terrorisme et Democratie, eds. Francois Furet et al. (Paris: Fayard, 1985). 35. Antoine Liniers, in Terrorisme et D6mocratie, eds. Frangois Furet et al. (Paris: Fayard, 1985), 202-203.

36. Roland Barthes, Commentvivre ensemble: Simulations Romanesques de QuelquesEspaces Quotidiens.Notes de cours et de s6minairesau Collegede France,1976-1977,ed. ClaudeCoste (Paris:
Seuil, 2002), 66, 68. 37. Pierre Guyotat, Litt6rature interdite (Paris: Gallimard, 1972), 31. Translation my own. 38. After being officially censored by government decree, a major outcry erupted in intellectual circles comparable to a minor Dreyfus affair. Petitions in defense of the book circulated, signed by Roland Barthes, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Claude Simon (who resigned from the Medicis Prize committee that voted the book down), Marguerite Duras, Philippe Sollers, Michel Leiris, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Kateb Yacine, among others. 39. Toni Negri, "Pour une d6finition ontologique de la multitude," multitudes No. 9 (May-June 2002): 38. 40. Theweleit, "Remarks on the RAF Spectre," 96. 41. Theweleit, "Remarks on the RAF Spectre," 96. 42. See Todd S. Purdum, "What Do You Mean 'Terrorist'?" The New York Times, 7 April 2002, 5. Purdum draws on Jessica Stern's book The Ultimate Terrorists (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999) and quotes her as saying, "It's hard to say that these Palestinian bombers even have political objectives.... It's almost nihilistic. It's almost a kind of epidemic, a cult of death that comes out of a sense of cultural humiliation." 43. Alain Badiou, Court Trait6 d'ontologie transitoire (Paris: Seuil, 1998), 175. 44. Badiou, Court Trait6 d'ontologie transitoire, 149. 45. Negri, "Pour une d6finition," 42. 46. Alain Badiou, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, trans. Peter Hallward (London: Verso, 2001), 79.

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