Enemies and Friends

Moving Beyond Practices of War in Human Services Practice *** By Christopher J. Kinman, 2006 (First published in Confluences: Politics of the Gift in an Institutional World) 300 - 34334 Forrest Terrace Abbotsford, BC, Canada V2S 1G7 christopher@rhizomeway.com *** I will begin with two stories. These stories both depict and invite patterns of conflict, of war. I believe that the feeling of conflict within these stories will be more than familiar to the reader. Two children, age six and four, are separated from their parents by the child-welfare authorities. There is admission that there had been violence between the parents and a concern that their might have been violence directed toward their children as well. The parents are told what they must do to have their children returned. They do all they are told, in the time frame requested of them, yet, those workers responsible for them feel uneasy about returning the children. Repeatedly the parents express anger at the government workers for breaking promises. The workers, in response to the parents’ frustration, express unease at the idea of the children returning home. Much pain and conflict ensues. At times, the outcomes of these conflicts feel simply unfair, with lasting costly consequences. On one rainy day, the caregiver of two teenage boys is taking the boys to the gym for a workout. Just one block from their destination their vehicle is quickly surrounded by a police swat team with high powered weapons pointed at them. They are made, one by one, to exit the car and crawl, hands and knees, through the puddles to the side of the road, where they are required to lie down on the rain drenched pavement. They are displayed before cameras, humiliated, left soaking and cold, sworn at and belittled by the officers, informed that they are good-for-nothing scum. Eventually they are carted off to jail, young people and caregiver included. No of them are permitted to contact a lawyer or speak with the government child-welfare authorities for many hours. About twelve hours after this all began they are released. The young people are freed with no further obligations. However, the caregiver is given a promise to appear in court about six weeks later. He is accused of cultivating and trafficking drugs. Because of this accusation he has to be removed as the caregiver to these boys. Several weeks later, just one business day before the caregiver’s court date, all charges are dropped. The caregiver was innocent. He was never involved in any cultivating or trafficking of drugs. In the meantime, the boys lost their formal and informal connections with the caregiver, and the caregiver was very likely unable to return because one of the workers assigned to the boys continued to have difficulty accepting his 1

innocence. She believed that the police must have known something for them to have engaged in such an act. And the caregiver was, for some time, because of the cloud that now rested over him, not able to engage in the profession he loved. I am a family therapist, a systemic therapist. My work is immersed in worlds where conflict abounds. And for the various players within these conflictual spaces, enemies emerge, often very real enemies challenging one‟s sense of security. The reality of these enemy relationships is that not only are they accompanied by separations between people, and not only are they associated with hurtful and even complicated divisions, but, ironically, they also enable the formation of tight bonds that intimately connect people together. My desire is to talk about work in these places of conflicting discourses, these places which repeatedly generate enemy/friend relations. And more so, my desire is to talk about ways of practice that can assist in creating spaces of interaction where something other than friend/enemy production can emerge. To get to this place I begin in a stark and frightful political place that can all too often feel rigidly true.

Enemy/Friend Production and the Awakening of the Political
For Schmitt, it is indeed nothing more and nothing less than the political as such which would no longer exist without the figure of the enemy and without the determined possibility of an actual war. Loosing the enemy would simply be the loss of the political itself… (Derrida, p. 84) Carl Schmitt was a German philosopher who was a friend of the Nazi‟s and has continued on as a friend of conservative warlike politics in Europe, America and beyond. Schmitt talked of friendship; he connected it to the political, to those ties that are built amidst one group who is in opposition to some other group. Along with friendship came the necessity of the enemy; someone who could be fought and destroyed, within the political realm. In fact, the political, those actions that can be taken for political ends, claims Schmitt, can only occur in the light of an enemy. The enemy in Schmitt‟s world is a requisite for all political pursuits. Schmitt‟s echoes ring incessantly as we ponder George W. Bush and his neo-conservative colleagues. The discourse in left-leaning circles is loud. It sounds like this:   

the conservative movement suffered after the loss of the Soviet empire, for the red enemy was no more; a new enemy must be fanned to life; this task is obligatory for the conservative political agenda; after the disasters of September 11, 2001, the new enemy was handed to the conservative cause; 2

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terrorism and terrorists became solidified as the new enemy calling for the resurrection of the conservative political agenda; the result was a new war, a conservative war, a war on terrorism.

In clear Schmittean fashion, people gather together, friendships emerge, connecting on the political plane to destroy the new enemy. The political is created to battle against terror, and the battle against terror is, in reciprocal manner, created to engender the political. Is Schmitt not correct? Is he not justified in this biting social critique and injunction? After all, look what happened next. In response to the neo-con creation of the political, many of us became wise to the Machiavellian deceit put upon us by Bush and his colleagues. We saw what they were up to. So, what did we do? We recognized this new political enemy, and we recreated the political ourselves. We gathered around our cause in response to the hideousness of this new enemy. An enemy certainly had come, an enemy despicable enough to enable the political to come to life in oppositional defiance. George W. and the neo-cons themselves became the new enemy. One can now see why a Nazi and fascist philosopher could actually be valued by some leftist causes. Schmitt as clearly describes the leftwing political reality as he does the rightwing. In Schmitt‟s world, friendships are formed and connections are cemented in response to the clearly identified political enemy. War becomes not only justified, but required. All “isms” can be seen through Schmittean optics. The enemy is created, friendships develop and are solidified in response to this loathing of the enemy, and political action is formed. Even those causes we value highly (if not especially those causes we value highly), including the feminist, environmental, multi-cultural, and human rights causes – they all too often find themselves cemented in Schmittean structures. Was Schmitt not all too correct? Did he not aptly describe the political structures of enemy/friend that are so familiar to us? As mentioned previously, I want to talk about Schmittean politics because in the work I do I find myself repetitively in realms of conflict, of nasty and painful conflict. Everywhere I find this eternal return that enables the political creation of enemy and friend. Sometimes it appears noble, at other times it appears shameful, but everywhere it appears. We breathe it, we swim in it, we get stuck in it; an eternal return of friend/enemy generation. So, where can we go from here? How can we possibly escape this Schmittean destruction? But stop for a moment. 3

Could it be that powerful creative processes, even political processes exist outside Schmitt‟s world?

Desire Undoing the Enemy/Friend Chasm
Let‟s enter another realm – Abruptly! Have you ever been hungry? Are there things in this world that beckon you/pull you? Does desire ever hold sway over you? Monuments to Lack Let‟s consider, for a moment, desire. In the way that desire is used… there is a link established between (desire) and the idea of lack or negativity. Jacques Derrida Mortley (1991); pp. 101. There seems to be a common understanding, at least within the Western world, as to the meaning of 'desire'. This understanding states that desire comes from a place of lack, deficiency and emptiness. Psychoanalytic tradition particularly has added to this understanding of desire by suggesting that desire comes from a loss stemming back to childhood and an individual's relations with parental figures. Mark Seem (1983) describes a new, Freudian influenced "holy trinity" as -- "daddy-mommy-me". This is the "oedipalised", all-too-common rooting of desire, and its twin -- lack -- back to a type of universal child experience of unrealised and tragic relationships with father and mother. The objects of this desire never are reached. They are always desired yet eternally unattained. The "Dark Continent" is neither dark nor unexplorable: It is still unexplored only because we have been made to believe that it was too dark to be explored. Because they want to make us believe that what interests us is the white continent, with its monuments to Lack. Cixous (p. 68).


Take a breath. The sweep of this lack-desire is broad. Cixous connects it to the masculine (as opposed to male) preoccupation with the "Dark Continent", the unexplored place that becomes the ground of slavery and repression. And, this form of desire is saturated through with ideas of Schmitt. For with Schmitt, friendship emerges from a clear and measurable awareness of the lack and the wrongs of the enemy. This form of desire has certainly influenced most of the "human service" professions and institutions, where work in these fields usually entails assessment of loss and dysfunction and a treatment process that seems to never arrive. But in a deeper and more obtrusive way human services can be seen to be enslaved by a Schmittean form of lack. For example, in the human services industries, an enemy must be produced. This enemy could be many things, from: mental illness, poverty, prejudice, alcohol and drug abuse, ignorance, sexual abuse, etc. And these certainly are things that most of us despise. In response to this enemy people gather together, the political is created, and war emerges. Sometimes this war is explicit, like Nancy Regan‟s war on drugs. At other times this gathering together is ironic in its politics and in the nature of the battle that ensues. Remember, for example, the war that was waged on Nancy Regan‟s war on drugs. Permeated throughout human services is the necessity for an enemy to be produced in order for the political to form. In fact, in human services, an enemy is almost always required for money to be applied. Money, along with legislation and bureaucracy, are the primary weapons utilized toward the destroying of these blights upon our society. However… I'm not a righteous soul living out the tragedy of its condition. Gilles Deleuze

Deleuze and Guattari on Desire Two writers from France -- Gilles Deleuze, and Felix Guattari -- in bold aplomb shatter the assuredness of this lack-desire. They suggest that desire is a positive force, coming from what surrounds one, from the wealth of experiences and interactions, and from one's investment in a person or thing -- not from a lack or a loss (Deleuze & Guattari, 1984). And in their view, desire enables a body "to become other than it is, and to thereby resist" (Fox, 1994, p. 67). So desire, according to Deleuze and Guattari, comes from what a person is connected to, the world of lived experience, and certainly not from what the person is not connected to.


In this realm of gift or abundance, desire emanates from, and within, one's interaction with the very gift and abundance that surrounds one. A person‟s and a people‟s desire, and, I might add, even their pain, comes from a place of experience, memory, connections with community, and cherished goods. Take an everyday type of occurrence. I love sashimi (That is, I love the Japanese way of preparing uncooked fish). I long for, I desire sashimi. I could easily eat it every day. This desire for me certainly does not come from a place of lack. Before I had experienced sashimi, when I truly lacked it, I did not desire it at all. In fact, quite the opposite occurred. My lack of sashimi tended to create a repulsion for sashimi, not a desire for it. My desire for sashimi came because I experienced sashimi. And, we are suggesting that this form of desire enables us to find a way out of this Schmittean form of political action. Lack-Based Politics Lack does not come from a place of connection, rather, it comes from a place of ignorance. And, lack, in turn, requires ignorance not desire for its survival. There are at least two specific practices necessary to ensure a Schmittean, lack-based politics is able to form, these include: 1. Ensure that experience and connection is limited. Do not let people and their thoughts, their desires and their ideas mix and mingle. 2. It is essential that the enemy not be encountered face to face. It is required that the “friends”, those on your side of the political divide, not engage with those identified as enemy in any meaningful interaction what-so-ever. For if we are able to interact with the enemy, the enemy might cease to feel like an enemy. And this is precisely what happens. This is the very Achilles heal for Schmittean political formation. The Schmittean perspective produces practices of separation and regrouping, practices that ensure that people and their ideas find little room for interactions of significance to occur outside these separations and regroupings.


Escaping the Schmittean Trap How to escape the Schmittean influence? The methods of escape are everywhere around us, everywhere where we can observe practices that connect people and keep conversation and interaction circulating. These types of practices were dramatically observed in American/Soviet politics. Remember when Ronald Regan went to meet with the enemy. The enemy by name was communism, but by face was Gorbachev. Regan met with Gorbachev, and to his surprise, he liked the man. And Gorbachev, in turn, liked Regan. This was the undoing of the American/Russian enemy formation. And the ideologues on both sides of the war were most disturbed. Schmittean political formation fell apart because two men met together, ate together, talked together. Now, it might be beneficial to reflect again, to challenge again. Can it not be argued that Deleuze and Guattari themselves have fallen into the Schmittean dilemma. Can it not be argued that they have created a new enemy, the enemy of “lack” or “deficit”? Can it not also be argued that a new political action can form in response to the evils of this lack and deficit? Could not this very form of argumentation suggest that we are actually connected together in enemy/friend connections and are thoroughly engaged in war against the enemy called “lack”? Perhaps! But how does this explain the connections formed between Regan and Gorbachev? How does this explain the undoing of the enemy distinction between America and the Soviet Union? If anyone is caught in a trap here it is probably Schmitt himself. For the undoing of Schmitt‟s political process occurs all around us every day. And, the giving of language to this undoing is most likely as old as language itself. Loving One’s Enemy For example, remember the words of the Christian gospels about “loving your enemy”. Schmitt, who was a loyal Catholic, accepted these words, but only on the personal level, not on the political level. And here the friend/enemy distinction becomes unglued. For with Regan and Gorbachev, it was this very personal level of loving ones enemy that undid the political. Following up on this idea of “loving your enemies”, let me stress several thoughts. 

First of all these words are not limited to Christianity. The concept of loving your enemy is found scattered throughout human cultures.


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Secondly, the injunction, as I like to hear it, is not an injunction at all. It is not a call to love your enemies. It is not a new law, a new institutional requirement. Rather, loving your enemy is a description of what will happen, if people talk together, eat together, laugh together. Loving your enemy is a process that takes discipline and thought to stop. It is not a process that requires a legal injunction to enable it to occur. Schmitt‟s very languaging that insists on the creation of an enemy undoes his political goal. By languaging someone as an enemy, curiosity and desire take over, and eventually connection occurs. The very naming of someone as an enemy predicts that interactions occur that enable a loving of the enemy. And, if the practice of loving one‟s enemies is embraced, the very act of calling them enemy necessitates their being loved. *** “One must love one’s enemies” straight away transforms enmity into friendship, etc. The enemies I love are my friends. So are the enemies of my friends. As soon as one needs or desires one’s enemies, only friends can be counted. Derrida, p. 33

Practice Outside Schmittean Friend/Enemy Politics In the undoing of these Schmittean political processes some clear direction emerges for practices that address interactions of conflict. First of all let me suggest what these practices would not be.  These practices, I suggest, are not “therapeutic” practices, they are not actions that trained professionals take upon people. I believe that “therapeutic” practices, as such, are typically embedded in Schmittean ideals, necessitating enemy production for the very presence of the therapeutic. These practices also have little to do with fighting an enemy. In the same vein, they have little to do with combating wrong ideas, wrong practices, etc. And, these forms of practice are not about combating evils, even evils that may genuinely disturb us, such as violence, poverty, injustice, etc.

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The practices we are talking about are those that enable the Regans and Gorbachevs of this world to talk, to eat, and to laugh together. I am suggesting that these practices create numerous ways of ensuring that encounter, connection and understanding can emerge between people and peoples.


The practices we are talking about might not be about the “therapeutic,” but they are about the communal, they are about rhizome connections circulating within abundance. These practices are actions that people engage in together toward the desire of relationship itself.

Three Inter-Actions As stated above, we emphasize those practices that lead to connection and move away from destructive conflict. And these practices are communally oriented, rather than professionally and therapeutically oriented. They are ways of interacting that create places of inter-action where relational valuing occurs. At the risk of appearing limiting we emphasize three types of inter-action. 1) Conversation (The Rhizomatics of Language) Family Therapy has a history of bringing people together for the practice of talking together. The talk, however, is often directed toward a specific identified goal or process, and it is typically oriented toward the solving of some identified problem. While this type of conversation may be valuable in that it, at the very least, it brings people together in inter-action, however, this is not the primary type of talking together I am referring to in this context. I find it valuable to imagine language as a form of responsive touching. Our actions of speech are, therefore, actions of response to the touch produced by the speech of the other. Within this context all speech swirls and twists with responsive movements, not simply within a straightforward dyadic conversation, but rather within the rich complexity of rhizome space. The responsive movements of speech become overwhelming in their communal convolutions. Talking, therefore, enables a circulation of touch to occur, or more accurately, it joins in with numerous circulations of touch and response that are in current movement. Conversation, talking together, opens up rhizome space that enables relationships to produce and reproduce, but this talking does not have to be strategic in its intent, it does not have to be oriented toward the Schmittean destruction of an enemy – as so much of the therapeutic traditions are oriented. The action of talking together -- these inter-actions, or as John Shotter (1993a, 1993b) calls them, „joint actions‟, enable relationships to be established and communally confirmed. To re-emphasize – in a movement away from actions of war, the inter-actions of communal conversation are productive within themselves over the rigid need of conversations strategically aimed at problem eradication. 2) Communion (Food and Drink)


Conversation is certainly not the only practice that is able to generate rhizome connections. Throughout human history and within the diversity of human cultures food and drink have consistently held a central place in the enabling of these relations to form. The act of eating and/or drinking together introduces almost magical influences, enabling the building of meaningful connections between people. Food historically has been connected to the gift exchange. Food and drink invite a communion, a sharing together, a coming together that is associated with the grateful, the joyous, the intimate, even the erotic. Abundance One of the powerful influences of food and drink is that they have the ability to connect us with realms we call abundance. These realms are crucial to enter if any productive move will occur. For this reason I wish to digress for a moment and explore the idea of abundance. First of all I want to discuss the historical relationship between food/drink and abundance, while at the same time recognizing the war that has historically been waged upon the very idea of abundance. Food and drink traditionally have invited us into relationships with abundance, however, within the last 100 to 150 years food and drink became more about nutrition than abundance. Nutrition in previous eras was an invisible issue. While we often hear stories of drought, starvation and malnutrition from these times, the stories tended to emerge from agricultural societies, where dependence was placed upon limited crops. If these crops were compromised by any cause, natural or human, poverty and ill-health ensued. In hunter/gatherer societies stories of starvation and drought also emerged, but these stories most typically surfaced as these societies came into conflict with agricultural, commercial and religious worlds. I suggest that outside of the institutional societies that depended upon agriculture and industry, poverty and malnutrition just did not play as large a role. Abundance was a more common experience. For example, the aboriginal peoples along the Northwest coast of North America lived with utter nutritional profusion surrounding them. It is suggested that the tidal flats in this area contain the most protein rich environments upon the planet, and the first peoples certainly made use of these proteins. Along with this abundance they also lived within the abundance of the salmon – millions upon millions of Pacific salmon coursing up the rivers and streams. A similar story can also be said of the plains First Peoples who lived within the abundances created by the buffalo. These peoples undoubtedly moved within worlds immersed in a sense of abundance. I am not suggesting that there were never hard times, but within these abundance societies the diversity necessary to survive through the hard times was built into their cultural traditions. However, when other powers destroyed the very land, plants and animals that gave them sustenance, then poverty emerged and it emerged with a vicious cruelty. Colonizing forces had discovered a particular practice that minimized the necessity of war and outright violence as a means of exercising control over other peoples. That practice was to attack the very sources of abundance for the people they were attempting to colonize. In other words, for the First Nations 10

living within the North American plains, destroy the buffalo and you can control the people. For peoples who live off the forest, rid the land of the trees, introduce agriculture and commercial enterprises in place of the forest and these peoples also can be controlled. The plan was simple, instead of waging war on the people, wage war on their abundances. Instead of the political messiness that comes along with out-and-out killing people, kill their abundances, and through this means develop relatively easy control over their lives. Abundance itself, therefore, became under attack. I want to suggest that abundance is more familiar to most people than we tend to admit. However, it seems that identifying ones absence of abundance is important at this point in history. People often attempt to gain a sense of their own identity by discovering knowledges about what they don‟t have, by plainly recognizing the limitations that plague their lives, and by coming to understand who or what kept them from receiving these abundances. After all, much of our legal system is built upon these principles. But, in spite of these current trends, abundance is certainly available to us, and, for all of us, we touch upon it regularly. The Demands of Abundance Abundance places demands upon us. It calls us to move beyond our unrecognized brushes with abundance, toward: 1. an ongoing recognition of our ongoing bodily encounter with the abundance that surrounds us (What do we touch, see, hear, taste and smell that connects us with this abundance?); 2. a recognition of rhizome connections that come to light within our contact with this abundance (Relationships emerge in the process of recognizing abundance. Some of these relationships will be new, many will be old. Some of these relationships will be with living, communicative beings, other relationships will be with those people and things we often consider dead or incommunicative. But, all the same, through and within our encounters with abundance also comes an abundance of rhizome connections); 3. a naming of the various assemblages within the abundance, and consistent with the shifting complexity of this abundance, a recurrent reviewing of our construction of these assemblages, and a continued process of renaming; 4. a celebratory movement into the abundance, that is a movement toward the ecstatic that only abundance can bring (Abundance draws us toward the ecstatic, the celebratory and the joyful); 5. and, finally, a political move that gives credence, value and protection to abundance in all its forms (That is, to create and sustain movements that enter the realms of human institutions with the intent of valuing and protecting the varied abundances that surround and sustain our communal and individual lives). This leads us back to food! For food is much more than simple sustenance, it connects us into communal spaces where abundance and gift are received and repetitively responded to. This


communal space is an almost complete environment to nurture the possibilities of connection and reconnection. One of the significant practices that has enabled a disconnection between people or between peoples through the years, a practice that has been utilized as a way of keeping friend/enemy production in play, has been the demonizing of certain foods and drinks, the turning over of certain foods into the realm of “unclean”, “undesirable” and “unhealthy”. By labelling the food as unclean and by allowing the distinction of unclean to produce strong responses of disgust, the action of coming together over food and drink is limited, and, within this limitation, the possibility of communion is restricted. At the same time, these distinctions of unclean and unhealthy only accentuate differences between people and/or peoples, and the identification of the other as enemy can be further reified. While these practices have been most evident within religious traditions, they are certainly evident within contemporary discourses about health. I suggest that within the realms of religion the overt purposes of these dietary restrictions had little or nothing to do with health, health is not a concept that was in circulation at that time. One of the purposes, I propose, was to separate a people, to create situations where differences between religious, cultural and racial identities were made distinct. The restraining of food, the demonization of food, the introduction of the unclean were effective tools to accentuate the differences between groups. 3) The Comic (Laughter) It is the body that responds to the gifts of the other, and talking is responsive only in the sense that the talking is something that emerges from the body. However, little in human experiences reveals the bodily connection to the other more than laughter does. Laughter is unique in that it cannot be ensured, it cannot even be predicted. Laughter cannot be planned in any reliable way. It is not responsive to human engineering. Nor is it responsive to instruments of power and control. Laughter, simply put, is just non-responsive to institutional ways and means. Laughter, in fact, can only emerge within the context of surprise. It is completely dependent upon a non-knowing. Because of this, laughter necessitates a certain trust between people. To laugh with a person, means that we are putting our bodies in responsive places to each other. Shared laughter can only occur within connection. Barking dogs may occasionally bite, But laughing men hardly ever shoot! Conrad Lorenz (1963) p 294


In Conclusion
An image emerges for me. Actually, a cluster of images – re-emerging. With pictures on television, in newspapers and magazines, images again of Gorbachev and Reagan – they are laughing, and, more specifically, they are laughing together. The cold war comes to a sudden and comic end in the midst of conversation, with good food, and as two men get caught up in the full belly-laugh. The enemy/friend dichotomy dissolves into full circles and trace lines of friendship in its various forms and practices.

Cixous, H. & C. Clement (1996). The Newly Born Woman: Theory and History of Literature, Volume 24. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Deleuze, G. & F. Guattari (1983). Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Derrida, J. (1997). Politics of Friendship. New York: Verso. Derrida, J. in Raoul Mortley (ed.) (1991). French Philosophers in Conversation. New York: Routledge. Fox, N. (1994). Postmodernism, Sociology and Health. Toronto: University of Toronto. Lorenz, K. (1963). On Agression. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. Seem, M. (1983) in G. Deleuze & F. Guattari. "Introduction", Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.