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Behind the shutters










The Stucco Angel by Jaime probably

Their form of resistance to neocolonial violence remains locked

within the boundaries demarcated by civil society which serves to re-
instate its power and create docile subjects. The idea that America can
be a part of a more liberal and ethical engagement results in massive
Culp 9 [Andrew, Graduate Program In Comparative Studies at Ohio State,
"Producing Pacification: The Disciplinary Technologies of Smart Bombs and
National Anti-War Organizing]
The liberal-bureaucratic wing of the anti-war movement is a stark example of
civil society operating according to governmentalized biopolitics. Large national
groups like ANSWER, UFPJ, and Code Pink work as clearinghouses for local, national, and international
expressions of anti-war sentiment. The two major angles of attack coordinated by these groups are
Speaking out works to establish power
individualized speaking out and demonstrations. 48
according to the model of confessional outlined by Foucault in The History of Sexuality (61-
2). Lets begin with the simple act of speaking out via a website . A website will first
convince you that something can be done about the Iraq War: it is only a few clicks
away! Next, after you click through, you are provided a short information blurb to educate you on the
issue, like the political and economic minutiae of an upcoming Congressional spending bill. Following that,
the national group provides a channel for you to voice your concerns, whether it is via email, phone, or
Because they want to increase their impact, the group supplies you a
form letter or talking points, maybe with market-researched language in
order to increase its efficacy. Lastly, the group gets you to sign up yourself and some friends so
that you will be contacted when the next important item they need you to speak out on (another
Congressional bill?) arrives. Its doubtful that your message goes directly to the Congressperson but your
message is recorded by a staffer and compiled into a report. If youre lucky, you receive a letter with a few
short comments on the politicians position on the issue, and a reminder that you are one among many
constituents but that your contribution is important to the democratic process. The result is a far cry from
the democratic vision of Gramscian civil society. From start to finish ,
the process of speaking out
outlined above was never meant to publicly open up to the realm of social
contestation and State mediation or multiplying intersections with a plurality
of economic, cultural and ideological social forces. Rather than challenging the
hegemony of the State, many civil society institutions like national anti-war groups,
recuperate and reorient the multiplicity of anti-war sentiments that exist in
society. 49 Articulating anti-war sentiment requires transforming the elements being represented in civil
society. In Hegel, this transformation is a progressivist educational process that negates and integrates
elements, abandoning particularity while producing an abstract universal. Foucaults historico-empirico
approach provides a concrete analysis of this process without the essentialism or teleology of Hegel. The
transformation of the antiwar multiplicity into the intelligible political form of
civil society happens through disciplining, increasing the general productivity
of subjects by creating a docile social body with all of the associated consequences
eliminating antagonism, effacing differences, and producing subjectivities that have interiorized the
liberal-bureaucratic protest groups
generalized logic of the State (Hardt 31-33). For example,
are saturated with individuals who constantly keep track of news and
upcoming legislation, gradually becoming subject experts, likely more informed and more
motivated than Congressional staffers. These self-appointed experts heavily influence the groups theyre
involved in, spamming their allies with an overwhelming amount of emails and redirecting the energy of
In an act of political triage, anything
the group toward very specific policy-oriented ends.
that is not thought to be immediately intelligible within the halls of Congress
is branded as irrelevant or out of touch. Alternative subjectivities that are
incompatible with the current political process are either recuperated or
excluded, occluding possible worlds that exist without the State or governmentalized forms of power.
Civil society must then be understood as the process of taking rowdy subjects
and re-educating them about the proper channels of State intervention ,
turning dissenters into priests of the State form. Those familiar with the non-profit industrial complex
know the story well: idealistic young kids intern with an advocacy group, quickly learn organizing skills and
50 become 60+ hour a week road warriors, usually burning out after about two years. Reflecting back they
might be able to identify a few critical successes but bigger questions loom large about what type of
expertise they now have as one friend mentioned to me I know how to play the game. I can chat up the
press, schmooze with politicians and get warm bodies to an event. But, as I've become a non-profit insider
In a
I've become an outsider to the community I intended to help and the future I wanted to create.
world where civil society institutions are co-extensive with the State, it is
increasingly difficult for organizers not to act as a relay between subjects and
the halls of Congress or other civil society organizations, extending resonances deep
within the hearts and minds of those ostensibly oppositional subjects not yet invested in the
governmentalized logic of the State. In addition to being governmentalized, national anti-war organizing is
also biopolitical. Liberal-bureaucratic organizing adopts the two-step individuation and massification moves
crucial to biopower. United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ) is a good example. On their website, they state,
Since our founding in October 2002, UFPJ has spurred hundreds of protests and rallies around the country,
and organized the two largest demonstrations against the Iraq war followed by a list of accomplishments.
Each event is described in terms of how many individuals and organizations participated and where the
event took place. For instance: UFPJ initiated the call to action for a global day of protest on March 20,
2004, the one-year anniversary of the Iraq War. More than 2 million people worldwide took to the streets
that day, holding over 575 protests in more than 60 countries. The details of the day are reduced to
convenient, delimited, and countable 51 points with the clarity of an accountant. If one cared enough to
inquire about each individual protest, there are lists and lists that represent the day in terms of its
this calculative account is
numerical strength and global reach. According to Giorgio Agamben,
endemic to the biopolitical logic of liberalism . Humanitarian organizations,
Agamben argues, attempt to depoliticize catastrophes and have therefore lost any
ability to grasp human life outside the figure of bare lif e, which considers life in its
bare essentials life alone and nothing else (HS 133). Though a different type of non-governmental
organization, liberal-bureaucratic anti-war groups have adopted the same strategy in order to maximize
their numbers they open their arms to anti-war sentiment of all stripes, de-fanging the antagonistic force
of dissensus by deploying disciplinary techniques of pacification to maintain order. Agamben argues that
oppositional organizations have a secret solidarity with the powers they are
trying to fight the biopolitical act of constituting and reproducing a population-as-such,
whether it be the people of a State or the members of a protest group, involves a fundamental split
between a speaking people and their political representation as a People that creates an absolute
separation between the speaking being and the living being of the bureaucratic machine (Means 30-5;
the barely enthusiastic crowds of protestors at anti-war
Remnants 156). No doubt,
mass mobilizations tend to look like well-decorated zombies compared to the
raucous red and black labor marches in the heyday of American unionism or the angry mob that stormed
the Bastille. But if the point is just to have a few good photos and a headcount for the press release, does
it really matter? 52 Subjugated Groups and Zombie Authoritarians In national anti-war organizing the ends
have become all but assumed while group selfpreservation has become paramount. All of the
Obamas election as President because he was
organizations have had a hard time reacting to
ostensibly the anti-war candidate but doesnt fall in line with the strong call
for immediate withdrawal. There is a lot of general talk about holding Obama accountable to
make sure he ends the war but it rarely goes beyond that, general talk. World Cant Wait (WCW) is a
particularly interesting case because of their myopic focus on the Bush Regime. In a moment when
staying on message is considered paramount, their message of drive out the Bush Regime was
consistent and unwavering. Bushs status as a lame duck president set in early and WCW knew that they
would have to deal with a major shift. A 2007 speech by national steering committee member Dennis Loo
found deep within the organizations website provides amazing insight into the Maoist strategy of WCW.
The title of the speech is The One Percent Solution and explains how he envisions 1% of Americans
getting involved in the current Declare It Now campaign which asks people to make the color orange part
of their everyday lives more on the color orange later. Loos diagnosis of the current moment is that the
Bush Regime is both morally and politically bankrupt and has created a vacuum that people will not know
how to fill on their own. The critical leadership to concretely fill the leadership vacuum of the nation are the
leaders of WCW, backed by the three million Americans that he hopes to have fill their ranks through the
1% campaign. In one section, Loo systematically explains his strategy: 53 Bringing forward the millions
who we need and who are aching to act in some way that will make a difference depends upon leadership
We are the ones who can and
and a critical part of that leadership is right here in this room.
are positioned to play that role in changing the political situation , of
recognizing the crossroads that we are in and taking hold of the moral high
ground and not letting go! Creating a competing leadership AND bringing forward millions are
interconnected and indispensable to each other: we need a leadership and a broad support base for that
leadership. We need 1% to step forward to constitute our active base. This 1% will do several things: 1) It
will create the favorable ground, the breathing room, the loyal, determined, solid base for the new
competing leadership; 2) It will create the backbone of a network of activists who can be mobilized quickly
and all over the nation; 3) It will make visible the determined resistance of tens of millions and it will
concentrate and help to focus the inchoate sentiment of the majority against Bush and Cheney; 4) It will
impact the wider population, allow us to by-pass the MSM [Main Stream Media] and make real to the wider
population another path as a real possibility. At first glance Loos words appear to be polemic or political
daydreaming he is asking for nothing short of getting three million Americans to help boot out the federal
government and international telecommunications giants in order to put him and other WCW leaders in
their place; and this was to take place in the 15 months between when the speech was given and when
Bush leaves office. Upon closer inspection,
his comments are some of the few public
strategy documents for WCWs campaigns . Even though WCWs fascist-charismatic
tendencies drive them to obscure their member count, given the scope and reach of WCW, which has
helped turn out hundreds of thousands for anti-war mobilizations, there are hundreds if not thousands of
people who are actively working to realize Loos vision. 54 The fascist-charismatic social democracy
presented by WCW is different from the social democracy of liberal-bureaucratic groups .
The liberal-
bureaucratic group is happy to retain distance from the State despite
governmentalizing itself and its constituents. WCW , in its desire to seize the power of
the State form instead follows the trajectory of what Deleuze and Guattari called a
subjugated group. Guattaris analysis of socialist revolutionary groups maps almost exactly onto
WCWs plan: they interpret Bushs low approval rating as a clear mandate from the masses, but this
possibility was only accepted by turning the party, once a modest clandestine group, into an embryonic
State apparatus able to direct everything, to fulfill a messianic vocation and substitute itself for the
masses (DI 197). And WCW is absolutely certain they have the masses on their side, we have a majority
of people on our side right now. Is there any question that there isnt[sic] tens of million of people right
now who want to do something? The problem with the masses according to WCW, however, is that the
Bush Regimes lack of strong political and moral leadership has created a vacuum that the masses will not
spontaneously fill. The dont hold the capacity to do it themselves, Loo argues, The political establishment
and the corporate medias complicity with the Bush agenda have deprived the American people of the
traditional sources of leadership that they look to protect them from dictatorial and fascist threats like the
Bush agenda. Loos solution is to set up a competing leadership that establishes legitimacy through high
moral standing and political prowess. Loos analysis follows the path of a subjugated group as outlined by
Deleuze, with the detachment of a supposedly expert avant-garde as a leadership who claims to see
through the ruse of ideology the smoke and mirrors of the Bush Regime the election of a disciplined,
organized, hierarchized proletariat the 1% and a 55 residual sub-proletariat that is excluded or
reeducated those who believe it but dont show it. The result is a reproduction of the same divisions that
capitalism introduced into proletarian society, providing a foundation for capitalist relations of production
(DI 198). When a group enters this state, it has severed itself from the real and subjectivity and imposes
imaginary phenomena like Oedipalization, superegoification and groupcastration instead. The result is a
hierarchical organization that deploys a number of repressive measures to maintain the centripetal force
necessary to guarantee its existence. Death, dispersal, and creative ruptures are blocked in the fear that
they might threaten the survival of the group (197). Rumors about WCW provide a multitude of examples
local WCW chapters being purged because of disagreements over its sister
Maoist organization the Revolutionary Communist Party or members being
muzzled when not taking the party line. Deleuze and Guattaris argument is much more
powerful than the tired criticisms of authoritarian purges, however. Instead of just explaining how groups
grasp for power when they fear that may soon lose it, Deleuze and Guattari have an explanation for the
elaborate strategies that might otherwise appear as delusional. One consequence is ends-means reversal
where desire is not invested in achieving the aims of the organization but is displaced onto the
maintenance of the institutional structure. The Declare It Now campaign is an excellent example, there
are only two fundamental actions involved in the campaign: wearing orange and getting others to wear
orange. Loos analysis extensively covers tactics on how to wear orange, various aspects of the everyday
in which one could incorporate orange, and a multitude of suggestions on how to convince others to wear
The ultimate purpose of orange is limited, however, to creating a
common signifier for the inchoate majority to represent their support for 56
the WCW leadership. The stark contrast between a highly developed system of group membership
and the almost nonexistent strategy reveals an intense desire to repress death. Once the associated
imaginary Oedipal processes take over, a whole world unfolds for the fascist-charismatics where phantom
masses already possess a structure of subjugation, complete with leadership, a mechanisms of
transmission, and core membership, aimlessly reproducing the errors and perversion they are trying to
oppose (198). The task of WCW has been redirected to the suppression of the radicalism itself instead of
transversal connections of desire to other groups through multiplicity. Ultimately, WCW by crushing
multiplicity seems to mirror the same neo-liberal capitalist system they wish to replace, producing zombie
It is time to
subjects who only know how to reproduce the institutional form. Knowledge and Truth
bury the 60s mantra speak truth to power. There is no doubt that speaking truth intervenes within a
field of power, but as Ward Churchill likes to remind us, some people pretend they are
speaking truth to power as if power doesnt know what it is doing . Too many
activists assume that because they have convictions that they hold dearly that somehow when they speak
them, the world will suddenly be remade in whatever image of utopia they have in their head. Disaffection
grew after the Iraq War began; apathy and depression spread and appeals to civil society changed form. It
was almost as if there was recognition of the fundamental contradiction of liberalism. Appeals to the State
had been ignored and no matter how 57 intelligible or strong the message had been sent to the Bush
Administration, it was plainly apparent that they hadnt influenced the march to war. Politicians unflinching
steamrolling of pre-war protest became a rallying point for the few who continued strong, now calling it a
truly un-democratic system; if politicians can completely ignore one of the loudest pronouncements of civil
instead of using it as an opportunity for rethinking
society, something wasnt right. But
the whole foundation of social democracy, most antiwar organizers solidified
their commitments to social democracy with increasing shrillness as if restoring
the lost dignity of American liberalism would cause a rupture in the dense field of justification that
legitimated the US to attack Iraq. The 2004 reelection of Bush and a Republican-dominated Congress, seen
by most as a litmus test for the continuation and escalation of the US occupation of Iraq, pushed some
over the edge, often in self-marginalizing directions including accusations of a Bush-Cheney imperialist
cabal and conspiracy theories about 9/11, but most just dug in more. On the liberalbureaucratic side, the
response was an intensification of the same campaigns focused on electoral strategies or impeaching
Bush and Cheney. The fascist-charismatics fanatically increased their tunnel-vision focus on torture,
believing that it was a fundamental contradiction in the War on Terror that could not be resolved without
revealing the violent totality of US Imperialism. What solidified between the poles was righteousness about
the truth (we were right all along) that somehow meant that they would get their just deserts. This
section challenges the humanist notion that truth ultimately prevails. Alternatively, I propose that
knowledge is implicated in a much more complicated politics of truth that 58 requires an analytics of the
force of truth from the dipositif in which that truth is enmeshed. A Smug Mug One of the largest
impediments to the success of the anti-war movement has been its smug righteousness. The extent to
which anti-war sentiment was expressed at the register of truth and truth alone is astounding. Thinking
that they could cause a substantial rupture in the justifications for war, Cindy Sheehan and the Gold Star
families personally went after Bush, thinking that they had him in a double bind over the killing of
innocents. Slogans over the false pretenses for war were ubiquitous, usually taking their aim at then
President George W Bush: When Clinton Lied, No One Died Liar In Chief Where Are The W.M.D.s?
W.M.D.s = Weapons of Mass Deception and so on. Endlessly repeated, they seemed to indicate that if
Bush or the war planners were proven wrong, the war would become untenable. Being right or correct
There is no universal truth that manifests
has only an indirect ability to effect change.
objects or sways ideas merely based on truth-value . Rather, 'Truth' is to be
understood as a system of ordered procedures for the production, regulation,
distribution, circulation and operation of statements . 'Truth' is linked in a circular
relation with systems of power which produce and sustain it, and to effects of power which it induces and
As crowds of anti-war protests paraded
which extend it. A 'regime' of truth (P/K 133).
around caricatures of Bush they were creating a community of resistance but
instead of posing a serious challenge to the war in Iraq, they masked a whole
geography of power. In their article Bushs Mug, Coleman and Thomas articulate four critiques of
the economy of ridicule surrounding the 59 face of Bush. First, it focuses on a Presidentialism that places
the identity and personality of the President as paramount whether they are honest, personable, etc.
Second, it is an investment in a juridical conception of sovereign power that focuses on the office of the
Presidency as the critical juncture of American politics instead of the whole relay of power Foucault
articulates in biopower. Third, it situates US geopolitics on a temporal plane that confines structural
phenomena like neo-liberalism or imperialism to the space of Bushs term as President. And fourth, it
places the White House as the center of public scrutiny, ignoring the diverse network of the military
War on Terror
industrial complex (Bushs Mug 17-20). Their predictions seem have come true: the
has not ended and the military industrial complex has not changed . And because
anti-war resistance was so deeply invested in opposing Bush, they lost most of its steam now that the
Obama might be seen as an incremental
charismatic figure of Obama is in office. For some,
marks a shift away
improvement over the last eight years; the shift in Presidential administrations
from the fascist pole of liberal governance. The shift is to the liberal-yet-
charismatic pole that is much more savvy at managing spectacle, however,
and does not indicate a challenge to the two-party monopoly that is the
foundation for American liberal governance. In fact, the liberal and fascist poles share
authority while one governs the other recharges until the pendulum swings in the opposite direction.
Power therefore oscillates between the two poles, preventing escape. Symbolic
Protest As the State lodges itself within the interiority of its subjects, it also de-values practices that might
challenge the reproduction of its conditions for existence. According to 60 Foucault, this is the fundamental
Liberalism produces freedom and requires its subjects to
contradiction of liberalism.
exercise their freedom (i.e. speaking subjects), which reproduces the conditions for
liberalism. Freedom can be a risky enterprise, however, so liberalism always limits, controls, coerces,
and threatens subjects in order to produce the specific form of freedom needed for liberalism and
These are the docile subjects of the prison, generalized
liberalism alone (BB 63- 5).
across the whole of society. The de-valued practices that groups elect to
continue despite their de-valorized status often take the form of facile
gestures. These gestures have taken on the name symbolic protest, a strange acknowledgement of
the semiotic power that is rarely accompanied by the rigorous analysis of the production, articulation, and
circulation of signs like that developed by semiotics

This metaphysical truth is the logic of modern imperialism.

Imperialism proper is actualized in deceptive outflanking, not direct
conquer; makes itself appear benign. This metaphysical violence
actualizes itself in racism, sexism, and colonialism
Spanos 2k [William V, Oracle of Binghamton, Americas Shadow, p.53-8]
Heidegger's analysis of this relationship between knowledge production and (imperial) power in the
Parmenides has its point of departure in the "truth" predicated by metaphysical ontology. I am referring to
the prevailing (Roman) concept of truth as veritas: as the adequation of mind
and thing (correctness). This, we recall, is the reduced truth that, in the name of
certainty, was precipitated by the splitting and hierarchizing of an earlier
(Greek) understanding of truth (a-letheia: unconcealment), in which the
negative (pseudos: dissembling) was understood, not, like the Roman falsum, as an
antithetical negative, but as belonging "positively" with the "positive": "The
essence of negativity is nothing negative, but neither is it only something
'positive.' The distinction between the positive and the negative does not
suffice to grasp what is essential, to which the non-essence belongs. The
essence of the false is not something 'false.' "95 Whereas in Heidegger's earlier texts it is the "truth" of
metaphysics (veritas} he solicits, in the Parmenides it is the "false" (Latin, falsum}, the reduced
counterterm of "truth" under- stood as the correspondence of mind and thing. But the purpose is the same:
the disclosure of the violence that informs this privileged binary opposition. In the first phase of his inquiry
into the relationship between meta- physical perception and imperialism, Heidegger traces the Roman
falsum back to the Greek sfallo "to overthrow, bring to a downfall, fell, make totter" which, according
to the directive inhering in the stem following the privative prefix, was not for the Greeks the
the Romans represented the
counteressence of a-letheia. By way of demonstrating that
ontological site as a domain or territory to be mastered, Heidegger suggests that
their bypassing of the Greek pseudos, which is affiliated with lathos
(concealment), was intended to put the truth (of being) and its binary opposite, the
false at the service not simply of certainty but of the imperium: The realm of
essence decisive for the development of the Latin falsum is the one of the imperium and the "imperial."
We will take these words in their strict sense On its way through the French language, "commend"
["entrust to protection and shelter- ing cover"] became commandieren, i.e., more precisely, the Latin
imperare, im-parare = to arrange, to take measures, i.e., praecipere, to occupy in advance, and so to take
possession of the occupied territory and to rule it. Imperium is the territory [Ge- biet] founded on
commandments [Gebot], in which the others are obedient [botmdsig]. Imperium is the command in the
Command, thus understood, is the basis of the essence of
sense of commandment.
domination, not the consequence of it and certainly not just a way of
exercising domination.... In the essential realm of the "command" belongs the Roman "law," ius.
This word is connected with jubeo: to enjoin [heissen] by injunction [Geheiss], to let something be done by
bidding and to determine it through this doing and letting. The command is the essential
ground of domination and of iustum, as understood in Latin, "to-be-in-the-right" and "to have a
right." Accordingly, iustitia has a wholly different ground of essence than that of dike, which arises from
aletheia. (P, 40)96 In this remarkably resonant passage Heidegger points to the affiliation between
the word praecipere, which possesses the same stem as those words cited above that reveal the
epistemological act as a grasping or mastering and "metaphysics," the perception of
being from the end or from above. It is an affiliation that transforms being into a
spatial totality, a territory to be "occupied in advance." In keeping with this insight,
the second phase of Heidegger's analysis invokes the visual metaphorics informing metaphysical inquiry to
demonstrate that the false, as a fundamental dimension of commanding, is related to over-
seeing, or, to suggest the continuity between Heidegger's and Foucault's thought, swr-veillance: To
commanding as the essential ground of domination belongs "being on high" [or "above," Obensein]. That is
only possible through constant surmounting of others [Uberhohttng], which are thus the inferiors
[Unteren]. In this surmounting, in turn, there resides the constant ability to oversee [super-vise and
dominate, Ubersehen-konnen]. We say "to oversee something," which means "to dominate it"
[beherrschen]. (P, 40) This oversight of an Absolute Subject, understood in Derrida's terms as a
"Transcendental Signifier" or "center elsewhere" that is "beyond the reach of free play," is not, as it is
understood in ordinary discourse, a matter of the failure of attention. It is the proper form of vision.
Seeing, as it is understood in the ontotheological tradition, is not passive
reception of that which the eye perceives. It is an action, a praxis: "To this
commanding view, which includes surmounting, belongs a constant being-on-
the-lookout [Auf-der-Lauer-liegen]. That is the form of all action that oversees
[dominates from the gaze], but that holds to itself: in Roman, the actio of the actus." And it is
this reifying oversight, which, in putting everything/time it sees in its "proper"
place, is an action, that identifies it essentially with the imperialist project: The
commanding overseeing is the dominating vision which is ex- pressed in the often cited phrase of Caesar:
veni, vidi, vici I came, I oversaw [ubersah], I conquered [Heidegger's emphasis].Victory is only
the effect of the Caesarian gaze that dominates [Vbersehens] and the seeing
whose proper character is actio. The essence of the imperium resides in the
actus of constant "action." The imperial actio of the constant surmounting of
others includes the sense that the others, should they rise to the same or
even comparable level of command, will be brought down in Roman: fallere
[participle: falsum}. This bringing-to-fall [das Zu- Fall-bringen: "the occasioning of an ac-cident"
(from the Latin, cadere, "to fall or perish")] belongs necessarily to the domain of the
imperial. (P, 40) Having thus established the literal identity of metaphysical ontology, over-seeing or
surveillance, and imperial domination of the Other(s), Heidegger goes on in the last and most resonantly
contemporary phase of his meditation on the provenance of the Western idea of the false to distinguish a
primitive and implicitly uneconomical and inefficient (resistible) imperial practice from a fully articulated
("proper") and highly economical, efficient, and virtually invulnerable-imperial practice. It should not be
overlooked thatthis developed form of imperial practice is informed not only by
the metaphorics of vision but by the affiliated figure of the circle as well: The
"bringing-to-fall" can be accomplished in a "direct" assault [Ansturm] and an
overthrowing [Niederwerfen: literally, "throw- ing down"]. But the other can also be
brought down by being outflanked [durch die Um-gehung] and "tripped up"
from behind. The "bringing-to-fall" is now the way of deceptive
circumvention [Hinter-gehen].... Considered from the outside, going behind the back is the
roundabout and therefore mediate "bringing-to-fall" as opposed to immediate
overthrowing [Niederwerfen]. Thereby, those who are brought to fall are not
annihilated, but are in a certain way raised up again within the boundaries
[in den Grenzen] which are staked out by the dominators. (P, 40) In thematizing this
imperial practice's textualization (mediation) of power its appropriation of truth for the purpose of
domination the distinction Heidegger locates in Roman imperialism cannot but re- call Foucault's and
Said's differentiation between power relations in the ancien regime and in the Enlightenment. More
specifically, it points proleptically to their disclosure of the complicity of the microcosmic table the
structural model of knowledge production with the colonization and pacification of the Other:
staking out [Abstecken] is called in Roman pango, whence the word pax peace. This is,
imperially thought, the fixed situation of those who have been brought to fall .
In truth, the "bringing- to-fall" in the sense of deception [Hintergehens] and
roundabout action [Umgehens] is not the mediate and derived imperial actio, but
the imperial actio proper. It is not in war, but in the fall- ere of
deceptive circumvention [hintergehenden Umgehens] and its appropriation to
the service of domination that the proper and "great" trait of the
imperial reveals itself. The battles against the Italian cities and tribes, by means of which
Rome secured its territory and expansion, make manifest the unmistakable procedure of roundabout action
and encirclement through treaties with tribes lying further out. In the Roman fallere, "to bring-to-fall," as a
go- ing around, there resides deceiving [Tauschen]; the falsum is the insidiously deceptive: "the false."
What happens when the Greek pseudos is thought in the sense of the Roman falsum^ The Greek pseudos
as what dissimulates and thereby also deceives is now no longer experienced and inter- preted in terms of
concealment [Verbergen], but from the basis of deception. The Greek pseudos... is transported
The end of the pursuit
[iibergesetzt] into the imperial Roman domain of the bringing-to-fall. (P,41)
of knowledge, according to this developed postcolonial form of imperial
practice, is to produce peace, but this peace will be achieved only by the total
colonization and pacification of the Other. Theory (understood as a mode of inquiry that
privileges seeing, theoria) and practice are coterminous. The Pax Metaphysica is the Pax
Romana. My intention in invoking Heidegger's ontological genealogy of imperialism has not been to
offer an alternative to that of Foucault, Said, and most postcolonial critics who would interrogate
imperialism as an economic and/or political practice or as economico-political practice to which cultural
texts contribute in a fundamental way. As Heidegger's entanglement with the German National Socialist
project testifies, his restricted ontological focus is hardly adequate to the complex actualities of modern
the contemporary
imperial practice. My purpose, rather, has been to demonstrate that
postcolonial critique of imperialism is disabled by a significant lack or,
perhaps more accurately, by a resonant unthought in its discourse. What I have
tried to make explicit by reconstellating Heidegger's de-struction of the metaphysical thinking of the
ontotheological tradition (and by thematizing the affiliative system of sedimented tropes inscribed in it)
these oppositional
into the context of more "practical" postcolonial critiques of imperialism is that
discourses, whether Foucauldian or New Historicist or Marxist or
nationalist, tend to be blind to (or refuse to take seriously) the
enabling degree to which Western imperialism is not simply a
practice as such, but a deeply inscribed ideological state of mind
produced by a "truth" endemic to a metaphysical ontology . More
specifically, they overlook the fact that the modern imperial project is informed
by a re-presentational or a "visual" problematic that has its constructed
origins in the origins of the very idea of the West. These oppositional
discourses, in short, are blinded by their overdetermination of "practice" to the
reality that the idea of the West and imperialism are synonymous. To wring a turn
on Enrique Dussel's resonant insight into Descartes's "I think; therefore I am," the identity of the collective
Western subject is epitomized by the statement: "I think; therefore I conquer." In other words, my
invocation of Heidegger's meditation on the genealogy of the Occidental concept of the true and the false
suggests that the contemporary genealogies of imperialism, which have turned to
his- tory against the prior hegemony of "theory" in order to undertake their critique, have not been
historical enough. The disabling consequences of this failure are manifold,
but the most serious has to do with the relationship between the West as a
state of mind that sees/grasps the truth of being and as a relay of imperial
practices this state of mind compels. The preceding interrogation of the
ontotheological tradition has shown that the metaphysical orientation it privileges at the outset
involves the re-presentation of being. That is to say, it metaphorizes (i.e., reifies) the mutable be-
ing of being. More specifically, it reduces being to the micro- cosmic figure of the
centered circle supervised by the panoptic (solar) eye, a figure that becomes
increasingly complex, especially in the period of the so-called Enlightenment,
in its internal structure and its relation to the exterior Other (the periphery). This
means that the Western consciousness at large comports itself before "reality," no
matter what its site, in such a way that it transforms "it" into a region or
territory or domain that it can survey at a glance. As such an optical
technology, it perceives and orders renders intelligible, brings "peace" to
every differential thing and every differential event it encounters according
to the taxonomic imperatives of its measuring center. The West represents the end of
this ocularcentric operation as the truth that brings the peace of fulfillment, of a completed development.
this intelligibility
But the destruction of the ontology of the ontotheological tradition discloses that
and this peace of the Western dispensation this Pax Metaphysica are the
consequences of a blindness to or a coercion or accommodation of any thing
or event that is external to its circumference: is the result, that is, of its
colonization of the "false." As such a transcendental diagramming or structuring machine that
renders being intelligible by accommodating "it" to its luminous mea- suring center, then, the Western
consciousness is an imperial consciousness not simply in relation to
ontological alterity. It is also an imperial consciousness in relation to what the
dominant culture represents as all the "more practical" differential sites
that constitute the continuum of a territorialized being: from the
individual subject (and the educational institutions that reproduce it) through gender
and race relations all the way across to the collective "Third World"
subject. To reconstellate Foucault's commentary on Bentham's Panopticon quoted earlier into this
more deeply backgrounded historical context, the imperial Western consciousness itself,
from its beginning, is "the diagram of a mechanism of power reduced to its
ideal form; its functioning, abstracted from any obstacle, resistance or friction, must be represented as
a pure architectural and optical system: it is in fact a figure of political technology that may and must be
detached from any specific use." As I have shown, this figure is the (gridded) centered circle that is the
symbol of Beauty and/or Perfection and of Domination. In the modern (post-Enlightenment)
era, the actio of this polyvalent diagram of knowledge/power takes the
form of indirection. Its actio is strategically intended not simply to hide the
totalizing imperial will to power operative in it, but to encode that power in
the semblance of a benign project in behalf of the "improvement" (cultivation,
develop- ment, maturation) of the "unimproved" (uncultivated, underdeveloped, adolescent) Other. It
represents the act of violence as a mediating and disinterested project intended to bring peace to warring
The circumference's "center elsewhere," which was always visible and
thus vulnerable in its prior historical allotropes, becomes naturalized and
invisible in its latest guise. In so doing, it also becomes a far more efficient
and irresistible instrument of imperial power, since power in this "en-
lightened" dispensation is internalized as knowledge in the Other on which it
is practiced.

Moreover, the trading of suffering for a ballot cleanses our colonial

psyche, obfuscating the violence the other faces everyday, while
stripping them of their enigmatic features.
Baudrillard 94. Jean Baudrillard, dead French philosopher, former professor emeritus at
the University de Paris X, The Illusion of The End, pg. 66-70
We have long denounced the capitalistic, economic exploitation of the poverty of the 'other half of the
We must today denounce the moral and sentimental
world' ['autre monde].
exploitation of that poverty - charity cannibalism being worse than
oppressive violence. The extraction and humanitarian reprocessing of a
destitution which has become the equivalent of oil deposits and gold mines.
The extortion of the spectacle of poverty and, at the same time, of our
charitable condescension: a worldwide appreciated surplus of fine sentiments
and bad conscience. We should, in fact, see this not as the extraction of raw materials, but as a
waste-reprocessing enterprise. Their destitution and our bad conscience are, in effect, all part of the waste-
products of history- the main thing is to recycle them to produce a new energy source. We have here an
escalation in the psychological balance of terror. World capitalist oppression is now merely the vehicle and
alibi for this other, much more ferocious, form of moral predation. One might almost say, contrary to the
Marxist analysis, thatmaterial exploitation is only there to extract that
spiritual raw material that is the misery of peoples, which serves as
psychological nourishment for the rich countries and media nourishment for our daily
lives. The 'Fourth World' (we are no longer dealing with a 'developing' Third World) is once again
beleaguered, this time as a catastrophe-bearing stratum . The West is whitewashed in the
reprocessing of the rest of the world as waste and residue. And the white
world repents and seeks absolution - it, too, the waste-product of its own
history. The South is a natural producer of raw materials, the latest of which is
catastrophe. The North, for its part, specializes in the reprocessing of raw
materials and hence also in the reprocessing of catastrophe. Bloodsucking
protection, humanitarian interference, Medecins sans frontieres, international solidarity, etc. The last phase
of colonialism: the New Sentimental Order is merely the latest form of the New World Order . Other
people's destitution becomes our adventure playground. Thus, the humanitarian
offensive aimed at the Kurds - a show of repentance on the part of the Western powers after allowing
Saddam Hussein to crush them - is in reality merely the second phase of the war, a phase in which
charitable intervention finishes off the work of extermination. We are the consumers of the ever delightful
our own efforts to
spectacle of poverty and catastrophe, and of the moving spectacle of
alleviate it (which, in fact, merely function to secure the conditions of
reproduction of the catastrophe market); there, at least, in the order of
moral profits, the Marxist analysis is wholly applicable: we see to it that
extreme poverty is reproduced as a symbolic deposit, as a fuel essential to
the moral and sentimental equilibrium of the West. In our defence, it might be
said that this extreme poverty was largely of our own making and it is therefore normal that we should
profit by it. There can be no finer proof that the distress of the rest of the world is at the root of Western
power and that the spectacle of that distress is its crowning glory than the inauguration, on the roof of the
Arche de la Defense, with a sumptuous buffet laid on by the Fondation des Droits de l'homme, of an
exhibition of the finest photos of world poverty. Should we be surprised that spaces are set aside in the
Arche d' Alliance. for universal suffering hallowed by caviar and champagne? Just as the economic
crisis of the West will not be complete so long as it can still exploit the
resources of the rest of the world, so the symbolic crisis will be complete only
when it is no longer able to feed on the other half's human and natural
catastrophes (Eastern Europe, the Gulf, the Kurds, Bangladesh, etc.). We need
this drug, which serves us as an aphrodisiac and hallucinogen. And the poor
countries are the best suppliers - as, indeed, they are of other drugs. We
provide them, through our media, with the means to exploit this paradoxical
resource, just as we give them the means to exhaust their natural resources
with our technologies. Our whole culture lives off this catastrophic
cannibalism, relayed in cynical mode by the news media, and carried forward
in moral mode by our humanitarian aid, which is a way of encouraging it and
ensuring its continuity, just as economic aid is a strategy for perpetuating
under-development. Up to now, the financial sacrifice has been compensated
a hundredfold by the moral gain. But when the catastrophe market itself
reaches crisis point, in accordance with the implacable logic of the market, when distress
becomes scarce or the marginal returns on it fall from overexploitation , when we run out of
disasters from elsewhere or when they can no longer be traded like coffee or other
commodities, the West will be forced to produce its own catastrophe for
itself, in order to meet its need for spectacle and that voracious
appetite for symbols which characterizes it even more than its voracious appetite
for food. It will reach the point where it devours itself. When we have finished sucking out the destiny of
others, we shall have to invent one for ourselves. The Great Crash, the symbolic crash, will come in the
end from us Westerners, but only when we are no longer able to feed on the hallucinogenic misery which
comes to us from the other half of the world. Yet they do not seem keen to give up their monopoly. The
Latin America are really going flat out in the
Middle East, Bangladesh, black Africa and
distress and catastrophe stakes, and thus in providing symbolic nourishment
for the rich world. They might be said to be overdoing it: heaping
earthquakes, floods, famines and ecological disasters one upon another, and
finding the means to massacre each other most of the time. The 'disaster
show' goes on without any let-up and our sacrificial debt to them far exceeds their
economic debt. The misery with which they generously overwhelm us is something we shall never be able
to repay. The sacrifices we offer in return are laughable (a tornado or two, a few tiny holocausts on the
roads, the odd financial sacrifice) and, moreover, by some infernal logic, these work out as much greater
gains for us, whereas our kindnesses have merely added to the natural catastrophes another one
immeasurably worse: the demographic catastrophe, a veritable epidemic which we deplore each day in
pictures. In short, there is such distortion between North and South, to the symbolic advantage of the
South (a hundred thousand Iraqi dead against casualties numbered in tens on our side: in every case we
are the losers), that one day everything will break down. One day, the West will break down if we are not
soon washed clean of this shame, if an international congress of the poor countries does not very quickly
decide to share out this symbolic privilege of misery and catastrophe. It is of course normal, since we
refuse to allow the spread of nuclear weapons, that they should refuse to allow the spread of the
catastrophe weapon. But it is not right that they should exert that monopoly indefinitely. In any case ,
under-developed are only so by comparison with the Western system and its
presumed success. In the light of its assumed failure, they are not under-
developed at all. They are only so in terms of a dominant evolutionism which
has always been the worst of colonial ideologies. The argument here is that there is a
line of objective progress and everyone is supposed to pass through its various stages (we find the same
eyewash with regard to the evolution of species and in that evolutionism which unilaterally sanctions the
superiority of the human race). In the light of current upheavals, which put an end to any idea of history as
a linear process, there are no longer either developed or under-developed peoples .
Thus, to
encourage hope of evolution - albeit by revolution - among the poor and to
doom them, in keeping with the objective illusion of progress, to technological
salvation is a criminal absurdity. In actual fact, it is their good fortune to be able to escape
from evolution just at the point when we no longer know where it is leading. In any case, a majority of
these peoples, including those of Eastern Europe, do not seem keen to enter this evolutionist modernity,
and their weight in the balance is certainly no small factor in the West's repudiation of its own history, of
its own utopias and its own modernity. It might be said that the routes of violence, historical or otherwise,
are being turned around and that the viruses now pass from South to North, there being every chance that,
five hundred years after America was conquered, 1992 and the end of the century will mark the comeback
of the defeated and the sudden reversal of that modernity. The sense of pride is no longer on the side of
wealth but of poverty, of those who - fortunately for them - have nothing to repent, and may indeed glory
in being privileged in terms of catastrophes. Admittedly, this is a privilege they could hardly renounce,
even if they wished to, but natural disasters merely reinforce the sense of guilt felt towards them by the
wealthy by those whom God visibly scorns since he no longer even strikes them down. One day it will be
the Whites themselves who will give up their whiteness. It is a good bet that repentance will reach its
highest pitch with the five-hundredth anniversary of the conquest of the Americas. We are going to have to
lift the curse of the defeated - but symbolically victorious - peoples, which is insinuating itself five hundred
years later, by way of repentance, into the heart of the white race.

Also transparency is p bad

Baudrillard 81 (Jean, sexiest author ever, Simulacra and Simulations;
Implosion of Meaning in the Media)//ML
We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and
less meaning. Consider three hypotheses. Either information produces meaning (a
negentropic factor), but cannot make up for the brutal loss of signification in
every domain. Despite efforts to reinject message and content, meaning is lost and
devoured faster than it can be reinjected . In this case, one must appeal to a base
productivity to replace failing media. This is the whole ideology of free speech, of media
broken down into innumerable individual cells of transmission, that is, into "antimedia" (pirate radio, etc.).
Or information has nothing to do with signification. It is something else, an operational model of another
order, outside meaning and of the circulation of meaning strictly speaking. This is Shannon's hypothesis: a
sphere of information that is purely functional, a technical medium that does not imply any finality of
meaning, and thus should also not be implicated in a value judgment. A kind of code, like the genetic code:
it is what it is, it functions as it does, meaning is something else that in a sense comes after the fact, as it
does for Monod in Chance and Necessity. In this case, there would simply be no significant relation
between the inflation of information and the deflation of meaning. Or, very much on the contrary, there is
information is directly
a rigorous and necessary correlation between the two, to the extent that
destructive of meaning and signification, or that it neutralizes them. The loss of
meaning is directly linked to the dissolving, dissuasive action of information,
the media, and the mass media. The third hypothesis is the most interesting but flies in the
face of every commonly held opinion. Everywhere socialization is measured by the
exposure to media messages. Whoever is underexposed to the media is
desocialized or virtually asocial. Everywhere information is thought to produce an
accelerated circulation of meaning, a plus value of meaning homologous to
the economic one that results from the accelerated rotation of capital.
Information is thought to create communicati on, and even if the waste is enormous, a
general consensus would have it that nevertheless, as a whole, there be an excess of meaning, which is
redistributed in all the interstices of the social just as consensus would have it that material production,
We are
despite its dysfunctions and irrationalities, opens onto an excess of wealth and social purpose.
all complicitous in this myth. It is the alpha and omega of our modernity,
without which the credibility of our social organization would collapse. Well,
the fact is that it is collapsing, and for this very reason: because where we
think that information produces meaning, the opposite occurs. Information
devours its own content. It devours communication and the social. And
for two reasons. 1. Rather than creating communication, it exhausts itself in the
act of staging communication. Rather than producing meaning, it exhausts
itself in the staging of meaning. A gigantic process of simulation that is very familiar. The
nondirective interview, speech, listeners who call in, participation at every level,
blackmail through speech: "You are concerned, you are the event , etc."
More and more information is invaded by this kind of phantom content, this
homeopathic grafting, this awakening dream of communication. A circular
arrangement through which one stages the desire of the audience, the
antitheater of communication, which, as one knows, is never anything but the
recycling in the negative of the traditional institution, the integrated circuit of
the negative. Immense energies are deployed to hold this simulacrum at bay,
to avoid the brutal desimulation that would confront us in the face of the
obvious reality of a radical loss of meaning . It is useless to ask if it is the loss of
communication that produces this escalation in the simulacrum, or whether it is the simulacrum that is
there first for dissuasive ends, to short-circuit in advance any possibility of communication (precession of
Useless to ask which is the first term, there is
the model that calls an end to the real).
none, it is a circular process that of simulation, that of the hyperreal. The
hyperreality of communication and of meaning. More real than the real, that
is how the real is abolished. Thus not only communication but the social
functions in a closed circuit, as a lure to which the force of myth is attached.
Belief, faith in information attach themselves to this tautological proof that
the system gives of itself by doubling the signs of an unlocatable reality. But
one can believe that this belief is as ambiguous as that which was attached to myths in ancient societies.
One both believes and doesn't. One does not ask oneself, "I know very well, but still." A sort of inverse
simulation in the masses, in each one of us, corresponds to this simulation of meaning and of
communication in which this system encloses us. To this tautology of the system the masses respond with
ambivalence, to deterrence they respond with disaffection, or with an always enigmatic belief. Myth exists,
but one must guard against thinking that people believe in it: this is the trap of critical thinking that can
only be exercised if it presupposes the naivete and stupidity of the masses. 2. Behind this exacerbated
the pressure of information pursues an
mise-en-scne of communication, the mass media,
irresistible destructuration of the social. Thus information dissolves meaning
and dissolves the social, in a sort of nebulous state dedicated not to a surplus
of innovation, but, on the contrary, to total entropy.*1 Thus the media are producers not of
socialization, but of exactly the opposite, of the implosion of the social in the masses. And this is only the
macroscopic extension of the implosion of meaning at the microscopic level of the sign.
implosion should be analyzed according to McLuhan's formula, the medium is
the message, the consequences of which have yet to be exhausted. That means that all contents
of meaning are absorbed in the only dominant form of the medium. Only the
medium can make an event whatever the contents, whether they are conformist or
subversive. A serious problem for all counterinformation, pirate radios,
antimedia, etc. But there is something even more serious, which McLuhan himself did not see. Because
beyond this neutralization of all content, one could still expect to manipulate
the medium in its form and to transform the real by using the impact of the
medium as form. If all the content is wiped out, there is perhaps still a subversive,
revolutionary use value of the medium as such . That is and this is where
McLuhan's formula leads, pushed to its limit there is not only an implosion of the
message in the medium, there is, in the same movement, the implosion of
the medium itself in the real, the implosion of the medium and of the real in a
sort of hyperreal nebula, in which even the definition and distinct action of
the medium can no longer be determined. Even the "traditional" status of the media
themselves, characteristic of modernity, is put in question. McLuhan's formula, the medium is the
message, which is the key formula of the era of simulation (the medium is the message the sender is the
receiver the circularity of all poles the end of panoptic and perspectival space such is the alpha and omega
of our modernity), this very formula must be imagined at its limit where, after all the contents and
messages have been volatilized in the medium, it is the medium itself that is volatilized as such.
Fundamentally, it is still the message that lends credibility to the medium, that gives the medium its
determined, distinct status as the intermediary of communication. Without a message, the medium also
falls into the indefinite state characteristic of all our great systems of judgment and value. A single model,
whose efficacy is immediate, simultaneously generates the message, the medium, and the "real." Finally,
the medium is the message not only signifies the end of the message, but
also the end of the medium. There are no more media in the literal sense of
the word (I'm speaking particularly of electronic mass media) that is, of a mediating power between
one reality and another, between one state of the real and another. Neither in content, nor in
form. Strictly, this is what implosion signifies. The absorption of one pole into another, the short-circuiting
between poles of every differential system of meaning, the erasure of distinct terms and oppositions,
including that of the medium and of the real thus the impossibility of any mediation, of any dialectical
intervention between the two or from one to the other. Circularity of all media effects. Hence the
impossibility of meaning in the literal sense of a unilateral vector that goes from one pole to
another. One must envisage this critical but original situation at its very limit: it is the only one left us.
is useless to dream of revolution through content , useless to dream of a
revelation through form, because the medium and the real are now in a single
nebula whose truth is indecipherable . The fact of this implosion of contents, of the
absorption of meaning, of the evanescence of the medium itself, of the reabsorption of every dialectic of
communication in a total circularity of the model, of the implosion of the social in the masses, may seem
catastrophic and desperate. But this is only the case in light of the idealism that dominates our whole view
of information.
We all live by a passionate idealism of meaning and of
communication, by an idealism of communication through meaning, and,
from this perspective, it is truly the catastrophe of meaning that lies in wait
for us. But one must realize that "catastrophe" has this "catastrophic" meaning of end and annihilation
only in relation to a linear vision of accumulation, of productive finality, imposed on us by the system.
Etymologically, the term itself only signifies the curvature, the winding down to the bottom of a cycle that
leads to what one could call the "horizon of the event," to an impassable horizon of meaning: beyond that
nothing takes place that has meaning for us but it suffices to get out of this ultimatum of meaning in order
for the catastrophe itself to no longer seem like a final and nihilistic day of reckoning, such as it functions
Beyond meaning, there is the fascination that results
in our contemporary imaginary.
from the neutralization and the implosion of meaning. Beyond the horizon of
the social, there are the masses, which result from the neutralization and the
implosion of the social. What is essential today is to evaluate this double
challenge the challenge of the masses to meaning and their silence (which is not
at all a passive resistance) the challenge to meaning that comes from the media and its fascination. All the
marginal, alternative efforts to revive meaning are secondary in relation to that challenge. Evidently, there
is a paradox in this inextricable conjunction of the masses and the media: do the media neutralize
meaning and produce unformed [informe] or informed [informe] masses, or is it the masses who
victoriously resist the media by directing or absorbing all the messages that the media produce without
the media
responding to them? Sometime ago, in "Requiem for the Media," I analyzed and condemned
as the institution of an irreversible model of communication without a
response. But today? This absence of a response can no longer be understood at
all as a strategy of power, but as a counterstrategy of the masses themselves
when they encounter power. What then? Are the mass media on the side of power in the
manipulation of the masses, or are they on the side of the masses in the liquidation of meaning, in the
violence perpetrated on meaning, and in fascination? Is it the media that induce fascination in the masses,
or is it the masses who direct the media into the spectacle? Mogadishu-Stammheim: the media make
themselves into the vehicle of the moral condemnation of terrorism and of the exploitation of fear for
political ends, but simultaneously, in the most complete ambiguity, they propagate the brutal charm of the
terrorist act, they are themselves terrorists, insofar as they themselves march to the tune of seduction (cf.
Umberto Eco on this eternal moral dilemma: how can one not speak of terrorism, how can one find a good
The media carry meaning and countermeaning, they
use of the media there is none).
manipulate in all directions at once, nothing can control this process , they are
the vehicle for the simulation internal to the system and the simulation that destroys the system,
according to an absolutely Mobian and circular logic and it is exactly like this. There is no alternative to
this, no logical resolution. Only a logical exacerbation and a catastrophic resolution.
Their aff is an injection of meaning into the university which sustains
the university as a site of social conditioning.4
Anonymous UC Berkeley Student 10. The University, Social
Death, and the Inside Joke,
Universities may serve as progressive sites of inquiry in some cases, yet
this does not detract from the great deal of military and corporate research,
economic planning and, perhaps most importantly, social conditioning
occurring within their walls. Furthermore, they serve as intense machines
for the concentration of privilege; each university is increasingly staffed
by overworked professors and adjuncts, poorly treated maintenance and
service staff. This remains only the top of the pyramid, since a hyper educated, stable
society along Western lines can only exist by the intense exploitation of
labor and resources in the third world. Students are taught to be oblivious
to this fact; liberal seminars only serve to obfuscate the fact that they are
themselves complicit in the death and destruction waged on a daily basis.
They sing the college fight song and wear hooded sweatshirts (in the case of hip liberal arts colleges,
flannel serves the same purpose). As the Berkeley rebels observe, Social
death is our banal
acceptance of an institutions meaning for our own lack of meaning.[43]
Our conception of the social is as the death of everything sociality entails; it
is the failure of communication, the refusal of empathy, the abandonment of
autonomy. Baudrillard writes that The cemetery no longer exists because modern
cities have entirely taken over their function: they are ghost towns, cities of
death. If the great operational metropolis is the final form of an entire culture,
then, quite simply, ours is a culture of death .[44] By attempting to excel in a
university setting, we are resigning ourselves to enrolling in what Mark Yudoff so
proudly calls a cemetery, a necropolis to rival no other . Yet herein lies the punch
line. We are studying in the cemeteries of a nation which has a cultural fetish
for things that refuse to stay dead; an absolute fixation with zombies. So
perhaps the goal should not be to go Beyond Zombie Politics at all. Writes
Baudrillard: The event itself is counter-offensive and comes from a strange
source: in every system at its apex, at its point of perfection , it reintroduces
negativity and death.[45] The University, by totalizing itself and perfecting
its critiques, has spontaneously generated its own antithesis. Some
element of sociality refuses to stay within the discourse of the social, the
dead; it becomes undead, radically potent. According to Steven Shaviros The
Cinematic Body, zombies mark the dead end or zero degree of capitalisms logic
of endless consumption and ever expanding accumulation, precisely because
they embody this logic so literally and to such excess .[46] In that sense, they are
almost identical to the mass, the silent majorities that Baudrillard describe as the ideal form of resistance
to the social: theyknow that there is no liberation, and that a system is
abolished only by pushing it into hyperlogic, by forcing it into
excessive practice which is equivalent to a brutal amortization .[47] Zombies
do not constitute a threat at first, they shamble about their environments in
an almost comic manner and are easily dispatched by a shotgun blast to the
face. Similarly, students emerge from the university in which they have
been buried, engaging in random acts of symbolic hyperconsumption
and overproduction; perhaps an overly enthusiastic usage of a classroom
or cafeteria here and there, or a particularly moving piece of theatrical
composition that is easily suppressed. Disaster is consumed as cheesy spectacle, complete
with incompetent reporting, useless information bulletins, and inane attempts at commentary:[48]
Shaviro is talking about Night of the Living Dead, but he might as well be referring to the press coverage of
Other students respond with horror to the
the first California occupations.
encroachment of dissidents: the living characters are concerned less about
the prospect of being killed than they are about being swept away by
mimesis of returning to existence, after death, transformed into zombies
themselves.[49] Liberal student activists fear the incursions the most, as they are in many ways the
most invested in the fate of the contemporary university; in many ways their role is similar to that of the
Beyond Zombie Politics
survivalists in Night of the Living Dead, or the military officers in Day.
claims that defenders of the UC system are promoting a Zombie Politics;
yet this is difficult to fathom. For they are insistent on saving the
University, on staying alive, even when their version of life has been
stripped of all that makes life worth living, when it is as good as social
death. Shaviro notes that in many scenes in zombie films, our conceptions of protagonist and
antagonist are reversed; in many scenes, human survivors act so repugnantly that we celebrate their
infection or demise.[50] In reality, Zombie
Politics are something to be championed,
because they are the politics of a multitude, an inclusive mass of political
subjects, seeking to consume brains. Yet brains must be seen as a metaphor
for what Marx calls the General Intellect; in his Fragment on Machines, he describes it as the
power of knowledge, objectified.[51] Students and faculty have been alienated from their
labor, and, angry and zombie-like, they seek to destroy the means of their alienation. Yet, for Shaviro,
thehardest thing to acknowledge is that the living dead are not radically
Other so much as they serve to awaken a passion for otherness and for
vertiginous disidentification that is already latent within our own
selves.[52] In other words, we have a widespread problem with aspiring to be this
other, this powerless mass. We seek a clear protagonist, we cannot avoid
associating with those we perceive as still alive. Yet for Baudrillard, this constitutes
a fundamental flaw: "at the very core of the 'rationality' of our culture, however, is
an exclusion that precedes every other, more radical than the exclusion of
madmen, children or inferior races, an exclusion preceding all these and
serving as their model: the exclusion of the dead and of death."[53] In
Forget Foucault, we learn the sad reality about biopower: that power itself is
fundamentally based on the separation and alienation of death from the
reality of our existence. If we are to continue to use this conception, we risk
our very lives have been turned into a
failing to see that
mechanism for perpetuation of social death: the banal
simulation of existence. Whereas socialized death is a starting point for Foucault, in
we see a return to a reevaluation of
Baudrillard and in recent actions from California,
society and of death; a possible return to zombie politics. Baudrillard
distinguishes himself as a connoisseur of graffiti ; in Forget Foucault, he quotes a
piece that said When Jesus arose from the dead, he became a zombie. [54]
Perhaps the reevaluation of zombie politics will serve as the messianic
shift that blasts open the gates of hell, the cemetery-university.
According to the Berkeley kids, when we move without return to their tired meaning, to their tired
Baudrillards words about semiotic
configurations of the material, we are engaging in war.[55]
insurrectionaries might suffice: "They blasted their way out however, so as to
burst into reality like a scream, an interjection, an anti-discourse, as
the waste of all syntatic, poetic and political development, as the smallest
radical element that cannot be caught by any organized discourse.
Invincible due to their own poverty, they resist every interpretation and every
connotation, no longer denoting anyone or anything ."[56]

The role of the judge is to be an anti-intellectual meaning-refuser

Baudrillard 96. (Jean Baudrillard, The Perfect Crime, pg. 96)
Say: This is a simulacrum, you are merely a simulacrum, this war is a
simulacrum -- everyone bursts out laughing. With forced, condescending
laughter, or uncontrollable mirth, as though at a childish joke or an
obscene proposition. Everything to do with the simulacrum is taboo or obscene, as is
everything relating to sex or death. Yet it is much rather reality and obviousness which
are obscene. It is the truth we should laugh at . You can imagine a culture
where everyone laughs spontaneously when someone says: `This is
true', `This is real'. All this defines the irresolvable relationship
between thought and reality. A certain form of thought is bound to the
real. It starts out from the hypothesis that ideas have referents and that
there is a possible ideation of reality. A comforting polarity, which is that of
tailor-made dialectical and philosophical solutions . The other form of thought
is eccentric to the real, a stranger to dialectics, a stranger even to
critical thought. It is not even a disavowal of the concept of reality . It is
illusion, power of illusion, or, in other words, a playing with reality, as
seduction is a playing with desire, as metaphor is a playing with truth. This
radical thought does not stem from a philosophical doubt, a utopian transference, or an ideal
transcendence. It is the material illusion, immanent in this so-called `real' world .
And thus it seems to come from elsewhere. It seems to be the
extrapolation of this world into another world. At all events, there is
incompatibility between thought and the real. There is no sort of necessary or
natural transition from the one to the other. Neither alternation, nor alternative: only
otherness and distance keep them charged up. This is what ensures the
singularity of thought, the singularity by which it constitutes an event,
just like the singularity of the world, the singularity by which it too constitutes
an event. It has doubtless not always been so. One may dream of a happy conjunction of idea and
reality, cradled by the Enlightenment and modernity, in the heroic age of critical thought. Yet critical
thought, the butt of which was a certain illusion -- superstitious, religious or ideological -- is in
substance ended. Even if it had survived its catastrophic secularization
in all the political movements of the twentieth century , this ideal and
seemingly necessary relationship between the concept and reality would, at
all events, be destroyed today. It has broken down under pressure from a
gigantic technical and mental simulation, to be replaced by an autonomy of
the virtual, henceforth liberated from the real, and a simultaneous autonomy
of the real which we see functioning on its own account in a demented -- that
is, infinitely self-referential -- perspective. Having been expelled, so to speak,
from its own principle, extraneized, the real has itself become an extreme
phenomenon. In other words, one can no longer think it as real, but as
exorbitated, as though seen from another world -- in short, as
illusion. Imagine the stupefying experience which the discovery of a real world other than our own
would represent. The objectivity of our world is a discovery we made, like America
-- and at almost the same time. Now what one has discovered, one can never
then invent. And so we discovered reality, which remains to be
invented (or: so we invented reality, which remains to be discovered).
Why might there not be as many real worlds as imaginary ones? Why a single real world? Why such an
Truth to tell, the real world, among all the other possible
ones, is unthinkable, except as dangerous superstition. We must
break with it as critical thought once broke (in the name of the real!) with
religious superstition. Thinkers, one more effort! 1 In any case, the two
orders of thought are irreconcilable. They each follow their course without
merging; at best they slide over each other like tectonic plates, and
occasionally their collision or subduction creates fault lines into which reality
rushes. Fate is always at the intersection of these two lines of force . Similarly,
radical thought is at the violent intersection of meaning and non-
meaning, of truth and non-truth, of the continuity of the world and
the continuity of the nothing. Unlike the discourse of the real, which
gambles on the fact of there being something rather than nothing, and
aspires to being founded on the guarantee of an objective and decipherable
world, radical thought, for its part, wagers on the illusion of the world. It
aspires to the status of illusion, restoring the non-veracity of facts, the non-
signification of the world, proposing the opposite hypothesis that there is
nothing rather than something, and going in pursuit of that nothing which
runs beneath the apparent continuity of meaning. The radical prediction is
always the prediction of the non-reality of facts, of the illusoriness of the state of fact. It begins only
with the presentiment of that illusoriness, and is never confused with the
objective state of things. Every confusion of that kind is of the order of the
confusion of the messenger and the message, which leads to the
elimination of the messenger bearing bad news (for example, the news of
the uncertainty of the real, of the non-occurrence of certain events,
of the nullity of our values). Every confusion of thought with the order of
the real -- that alleged `faithfulness' to the real of a thought which has
cooked it up out of nothing -- is hallucinatory. It arises, moreover, from a total
misunderstanding about language, which is illusion in its very movement,
since it is the bearer of that continuity of the void, that continuity of
the nothing at the very heart of what it says, since it is, in its very
materiality, deconstruction of what it signifies. Just as photography
connotes the effacing, the death of what it represents -- which lends it its
intensity -- so what lends writing, fictional or theoretical, its intensity is
the void, the nothingness running beneath the surface, the illusion
of meaning, the ironic dimension of language, correlative with that of the facts
themselves, which are never anything but what they are [ne sont jamais que ce qu'ils sont]. That is to say,
they are never more than what they are and they are, literally, never only what they are [jamais que ce
The irony of the facts, in their wretched reality, is precisely that they
qu'ils sont].
are only what they are but that, by that very fact, they are necessarily beyond.
For de facto existence is impossible -- nothing is wholly obvious without
becoming enigmatic. Reality itself is too obvious to be true. It is this
ironic transfiguration which constitutes the event of language. And it is to
restoring this fundamental illusion of the world and language that
thought must apply itself, if it is not stupidly to take concepts in their
literalness -- messenger confused with the message, language confused with
its meaning and therefore sacrificed in advance . There is a twofold, contradictory
exigency in thought. It is not to analyse the world in order to extract from it an improbable truth, not to
adapt to the facts in order to abstract some logical construction from them, but to set in place a form, a
matrix of illusion and disillusion, which seduced reality will spontaneously feed and which will,
consequently, be verified remorselessly (the only need is to shift the camera angle from time to time). For
reality asks nothing other than to submit itself to hypotheses. And it confirms them all. That, indeed, is its
ruse and its vengeance. The theoretical ideal would be to set in place propositions in such a way that they
could be disconfirmed by reality, in such a way that reality could only oppose them violently, and thereby
reality is an illusion, and all thought must seek first of all
unmask itself. For
to unmask it. To do that, it must itself advance behind a mask and
constitute itself as a decoy, without regard for its own truth. It must pride
itself on not being an instrument of analysis, not being a critical tool. For it is
the world which must analyse itself. It is the world itself which must
reveal itself not as truth, but as illusion. The derealization of the world
will be the work of the world itself. 2 Reality must be caught in the trap,
we must move quicker than reality. Ideas, too, have to move faster than
their shadows. But if they go too quickly, they lose even their shadows . No
longer having even the shadow of an idea. ... Words move quicker than
meaning, but if they go too quickly, we have madness: the ellipsis of
meaning can make us lose even the taste for the sign. What are we to
exchange this portion of shadow and labour against -- this saving of intellectual activity and patience?
What can we sell it to the devil for? It is very difficult to say. We are, in fact, the orphans of a reality come
The ultimate
too late, a reality which is itself, like truth, something registered only after the event.
is for an idea to disappear as idea to become a thing among things .
That is where it finds its accomplishment. Once it has become consubstantial with the
surrounding world, there is no call for it to appear, nor to be defended as such. Evanescence of the
idea by silent dissemination. An idea is never destined to burst upon the
world, but to be extinguished into it, into its showing-through in the world,
the world's showing-through in it. A book ends only with the
disappearance of its object. Its substance must leave no trace. This is
the equivalent of a perfect crime. Whatever its object, writing must make
the illusion of that object shine forth, must make it an impenetrable
enigma -- unacceptable to the Realpolitiker of the concept . The objective of
writing is to alter its object, to seduce it, to make it disappear for
itself. Writing aims at a total resolution -- a poetic resolution, as Saussure
would have it, that resolution indeed of the rigorous dispersal of the name of
God. Contrary to what is said about it (the real is what resists, what all hypotheses run up against), reality
is not very solid and seems predisposed, rather, to retreat in disorder. Whole swathes of reality
are collapsing, as in the collapse of Baliverna (Buzzati), where the slightest
flaw produces a chain reaction. We find decomposed remnants of it
everywhere, as in Borges's `Of Exactitude in Science' . 3 Not only does it no
longer put up any resistance against those who denounce it, but it even
eludes those who take its side. This is perhaps a way of exacting
vengeance on its partisans: by throwing them back on their own desire. In the
end, it is perhaps more a sphinx than a bitch. More subtly, it wreaks
vengeance on those who deny it by paradoxically proving them right. When
the most cynical, most provocative hypothesis is verified, the trick really is
a low one; you are disarmed by the lamentable confirmation of your
words by an unscrupulous reality. So, for example, you put forward the idea of
simulacrum, without really believing in it, even hoping that the real will refute it (the guarantee of
scientificity for Popper). Alas, only the fanatical supporters of reality react; reality, for its part, does not
seem to wish to prove you wrong. Quite to the contrary, every kind of simulacrum parades around in it.
And reality, filching the idea, henceforth adorns itself with all the rhetoric of simulation. It is the
simulacrum which ensures the continuity of the real today, the simulacrum which now conceals not the
Such is the
truth, but the fact that there isn't any -- that is to say, the continuity of the nothing.
paradox of all thought which disputes the validity of the real: when it sees
itself robbed of its own concept. Events, bereft of meaning in themselves,
steal meaning from us. They adapt to the most fantastical hypotheses, just as natural species
and viruses adapt to the most hostile environments. They have an extraordinary mimetic
capacity: no longer is it theories which adapt to events, but the reverse . And, in
so doing, they mystify us, for a theory which is verified is no longer a
theory. It's terrifying to see the idea coincide with the reality. These are the death-throes of the
concept. The epiphany of the real is the twilight of its concept. We have lost that lead which ideas had over
Thought has to be
the world, that distance which meant that an idea remained an idea.
exceptional, anticipatory and at the margin -- has to be the projected
shadow of future events. Today, we are lagging behind events. They may
sometimes give the impression of receding; in fact, they passed us long ago. The simulated
disorder of things has moved faster than we have. The reality effect has succumbed to acceleration --
Events, in their being, are never behind themselves, are
anamorphosis of speed.
always out ahead of their meaning. Hence the delay of interpretation, which is
now merely the retrospective form of the unforeseeable event. What are we
to do, then? What becomes of the heterogeneity of thought in a world won
over to the craziest hypotheses? When everything conforms, beyond even
our wildest hopes, to the ironic, critical, alternative, catastrophic model ? Well,
that is paradise: we are beyond the Last Judgement, in immortality .
The only problem is to survive there. For there the irony, the challenging, the
anticipation, the maleficence come to an end , as inexorably as hope dies at the gates of
hell. And it is indeed there that hell begins, the hell of the unconditional realization of all
ideas, the hell of the real. You can see why, as Adorno says, concepts prefer to scupper themselves rather
Something else has been stolen from us: indifference. The
than reach that point.
power of indifference, which is the quality of the mind, as opposed to the play
of differences, which is the characteristic of the world . Now, this has been
stolen from us by a world grown indifferent , as the extravagance of thought has been
stolen from us by an extravagant world. When things, events, refer one to another and to their
undifferentiated concept, then the equivalence of the world meets and cancels out the indifference of
thought -- and we have boredom. No more altercations; nothing at stake. It is the
parting of the dead sea. How fine indifference was in a world that was not indifferent -- in a
different, convulsive, contradictory world, a world with issues and passions! That being the case,
indifference immediately became an issue and a passion itself. It could preempt the indifference of the
world, and turn that pre-emption into an event. Today, it is difficult to be more indifferent to their reality
than the facts themselves, more indifferent to their meaning than images. Our operational world is an
what good is it being passionless in a world without
apathetic world. Now,
passion, or detached in a world without desire? It is not a question
of defending radical thought. Every idea one defends is presumed
guilty, and every idea that cannot defend itself deserves to
disappear. On the other hand, one must fight all charges of irresponsibility, nihilism or despair.
Radical thought is never depressive. On this point, there is total
misunderstanding. Ideological and moralistic critique, obsessed with meaning
and content, obsessed with the political finality of discourse, never takes
into account writing, the act of writing, the poetic, ironic, allusive
force of language, of the juggling with meaning. It does not see that the
resolution of meaning is to be found there -- in the form itself, the formal materiality of expression.
Meaning, for its part, is always unhappy. Analysis is, by definition,
unhappy, since it is born of critical disillusionment. But language, for its part,
is happy, even when referring to a world without illusion and without hope .
That might even be the definition of a radical thinking: a happy form
and an intelligence without hope. Critics, being unhappy by nature, always
choose ideas as their battleground. They do not see that if discourse always
tends to produce meaning, language and writing, for their part, always
create illusion -- they are the living illusion of meaning, the resolution of the
infelicity of meaning by the felicity of language . And this is surely the only
political -- or transpolitical -- act that can be accomplished by the
person who writes. As for ideas, everyone has them. More than they
need. What counts is the poetic singularity of the analysis . That alone can
justify writing, not the wretched critical objectivity of ideas. There never will be any resolving the
contradictoriness of ideas, except in the energy and felicity of language. `I do not paint sadness and
loneliness,' says Hopper. `What I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.' At any rate,
better a despairing analysis in felicitous language than an optimistic analysis
in an infelicitous language that is maddeningly tedious and demoralizingly
platitudinous, as is most often the case. The absolute tediousness secreted by that
idealistic, voluntaristic thought is the secret sign of its despair -- as regards both the world and its own
discourse. That is where true depressive thought is to be found, among those who speak only of the
transcending and transforming of the world, when they are incapable of transfiguring their own language.
Radical thought is a stranger to all resolving of the world in the direction of an
objective reality and its deciphering. It does not decipher. It
anagrammatizes, it disperses concepts and ideas and, by its reversible
sequencing, takes account both of meaning and of the fundamental
illusoriness of meaning. Language takes account of the very illusion of language as definitive
stratagem and, through it, of the illusion of the world as infinite trap, as seduction of the mind, as spiriting
While it is a vehicle of meaning, it is at the
away of all our mental faculties.
same time a superconductor of illusion and non-meaning . Language is
merely the involuntary accomplice of communication -- by its very form it appeals
to the spiritual and material imagination of sounds and rhythm, to the dispersal of meaning in the event of
This passion for artifice, for illusion, is the passion for undoing that
too- beauteous constellation of meaning. And for letting the imposture of
the world show through, which is its enigmatic function, and the
mystification of the world, which is its secret. While at the same time letting its own
imposture show through -- the impostor, not the composteur [composing stick] of meaning. This passion
has the upper hand in the free and witty use of language, in the witty play of writing. Where that artifice is
not taken into account, not only is its charm lost, but the meaning itself cannot be resolved.
do not decipher. Work over the illusion. Create illusion to create an
event. Make enigmatic what is clear, render unintelligible what is
only too intelligible, make the event itself unreadable . Accentuate the
false transparency of the world to spread a terroristic confusion about it, or
the germs or viruses of a radical illusion -- in other words, a radical
disillusioning of the real. Viral, pernicious thought, corrosive of
meaning, generative of an erotic perception of reality's turmoil .

The alternative is to advocate political resistance and

emancipation that are inherent in the spectral political being
--- in the face of the 1ac, remembering the spectre of Vietnam
is an anti-metaphysical project that enables guerilla warfare
against empire capable of unsettling the totality of global
metaphysical control --- this is the first directive towards
rethinking thinking. Prefer our incalculable radicality to their
codified resistance.
Spanos 2K [William, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at
Binghamtom, Americas Shadow, 2000, p. 194-202]
It is this radical contradiction that the American Cultural Memory's remembrance of the war has
this inordinate amnesiac will to obliterate the
obsessively tried to forget. As I have shown,
disclosures of Vietnam has been the hidden ideological agenda not simply of
the American media's representation of the war in its long aftermath, but of
the intellectual deputies of the dominant post-Cold War culture, who have been
compelled by their recuperative exceptionalist "Hegelian" metanarrative to negate or sublate the
history of the Vietnam War in order to celebrate the advent of the end of history and the Pax Americana.
What needs to be remarked about this victorious post-Cold War discourse is that in affirming its universal
truth, its spokespersons are compelled to speak something different. What matters to them is not the
historically specific event of the Vietnam War, but the globally triumphant idea of liberal capitalist
democracy. Is it an accident that they insistently speak of the post-Cold War occasion in this way? What
about this "not Vietnam"? This is the first directive toward rethinking thinking in
the interregnum. An oppositional discourse that would be adequate to the
task of resisting the Pax Americana must first think this sublated negation of the
contradiction positively. This is not to say that the disclosure of this directive to think the
nonbeing of that belongs to the imperial discourse of instrumentalism is restricted to the event of the
Vietnam War. It is, as Heidegger's earlier call to rethink the nothing that modern
science "wishes to know nothing about"5 suggests, the unthought directive
precipitated by the devastations at the sites of language, the earth, and its
peoples incumbent on the "planetary imperialism of technologically organized
man."6 In a formulation of this resonant disclosure that implicates
"Americanism" with the advent of the "age of the world picture," Heidegger
writes: As soon as the gigantic in planning and calculating and adjusting and
making secure [one of the most revealing symptomatic manifestations of which is the annihilation of
space and time by means of the electronic revolution] shifts over out of the quantitative and
becomes a special quality, then what is gigantic , and what can seemingly always be
calculated completely, becomes, precisely through this, incalculable. This becoming
incalculable remains the invisible shadow that is cast around things
everywhere when man has been transformed into subjectum and the world
into picture.7 But, I am suggesting, it was the decisiveness of the Vietnam War's
disclosure of this ontological contradiction the shadow that has
rendered the retrieval of Heidegger's call to rethink the not that haunts
the discourse and practice of "Americanism" an urgent imperative of the
post-Vietnam occasion. Indeed, this is the pervasive, if only symptomatic, testimony
of the early poststructuralist theory enabled in large part by Heidegger's interrogation of
modernity, particularly, his retrieval of the "nonbeing" of being that in some fundamental
sense had its origins in the self-destruction of the truth discourse of the
Enlightenment during the Vietnam War or, more precisely, in the failure of the
global protest movements it catalyzed (most notably in France, in Germany, in
Czechoslovakia, and in Mexico) to effect essential and lasting transformations
in their respective polities. I am referring, above all, to the various critiques of Western
logocentrism that precipitated an acute and pervasive consciousness of the marginal the radical Other
that is either accommodated to or banished from the totalizing circle
articulated by the concentering imperial logos of Western metaphysics. Taking
its point of departure from the language of the countermemory established
by Nietzsche, a certain Freud, and Heidegger ("Dionysus," "the returned repressed," the
"nothing"), these critiques gave this ubiquitous Other of the logocentric Same
various names: "the other that remains other" (Emmanuel Levinas), "the negative"
(Theodor Adorno), "the differance" (Jacques Derrida), "the aporia" (Paul de Man), "the differend"
(Jean-Francois Lyotard), "the invisible of the visible" (Louis Althusser), "the deviant" (Michel Foucault),
"the catachrestic remainder" (Gayatri Spivak), "the rhizomatic," "the "deterritorialized," or
"the nomadic" (Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari), "the hybrid," "the Third Space," or "the minus in
the one" (Homi Bhabha), and so on. But what these various names for the radically
marginal have in common is not simply that they testify to the global scope
of the imperial logocentrism of modernity, but that they point to
"something" incalculable that the imperial instrumentalist thought of
American modernity cannot "comprehend" and thus contain, indeed, to the shadow, as it
were, that belongs to its dedifferentiating colonizing light. As the metaphorics
that everywhere in this early postmodern theory accompanies these names, they testify to the specter
that which, to the metaphysical eye, is not that menaces the triumphalist thinking of American
It is, further, this symptomatic awareness of the spectrality of the "not"
that belongs to but cannot be seen or said by the "triumphant" thought of the
age of the world picture that renders this early postmetaphysical thinker an
"ontological exile" from the solar "at-homeland." Aware of the global colonization of
originative thinkin by the total technologization of "enlightening" thought, this thinker becomes, in
Heidegger's resonant term, der Abgescbiedene, "the one apart":8 he is the "ghostly" (geistlich) stranger
("LP," 177)9 who wanders "at the fringe of the technically-economically oriented world of modern mass
existence" ("LP," 196) listening to the silence (the unsayable) its saying has precipitated as self-destructive
contradiction. Indeed, in thus reverting knowingly to precisely the condition of the "undomiciliated" or
"wandering" or "nomadic" Other that enabled and justified the "civilizing/colonizing" truth discourse of the
Occident, this ontological nomad in "the realm of the Between" (Abgeschiedenheit:
"apartness") becomes the invisible "ghost" who, in his/her refusal to be
answerable to the saying of the homeland, silently haunts its imperial
authority. In Derrida's "Marxian" version of this "nonbeing" that activates anxiety (that which has no-
thing as its object) in the homeland, he/she becomes the "revenant" the interred "specter"
who returns to "visit" the "visitor." It is, as I have suggested, this ontological
"specter" that the "more worldly" oriented critical discourses that have
superseded early poststructuralist theory are blinded to by their finally
"reformist" cultural politics. And it is this oversight that renders their
political marginality not exilic enough to be adequate to the
conditions of the global post-Cold War occasion. In interpreting Heidegger's
antimetaphysical discourse and that of the poststructuralism it catalyzed in terms of the spectrality that
produces anxiety in the dominant culture, I do not want to suggest that they, unlike the oppositional
discourses that have interred them as counterproductive or obsolete, are, as such, viable agents of
resisting the neoimperialism of the Pax Americana. Though this body of antimetaphysical
thought (I realize that this way of putting it is reductive of specific differences) foregrounds the
specter that menaces the truth discourse of Western modernity, it does not,
with the exception of Heidegger and perhaps the late Derrida, adequately
perceive that the imperative of the disclosure of the specter is the
rethinking of thinking itself. That is to say, its witness to the specter, as
the metaphorical way in which the spectral is articulated suggests, remains
symptomatic and thus inadequately thought. More importantly, just as the dominant
oppositional discourses whether those of neo-Marxism, the New Historicism,
feminism, cultural critique, black criticism, or postcolonial criticism discount
or tend to slide over the ontological question provoked by the annunciation of
the end of history in their overdetermination of the political site, this
poststructural discourse, with the exception of the late Derrida, discounts or tends to
slide over the political question provoked by the annunciation of the Pax Americana.
More accurately, it fails to perceive and thus to think the indissoluble
affiliation between the question of being and the question of the polls, theory, and
praxis. If, however, we forcibly dislocate the pervasive , if symptomatic, disclosure of
the specter out of the ontological matrix where it has been embedded in the
discourse of poststructuralism and reconstellate it into the specific political
history of the 1960s particularly, the military strategy of the Vietnamese insurgents its
meaning undergoes a productive estrangement. The genocidal violence
perpetrated by the United States against the Vietnamese people and their
land in the name of the "free world" not only exposed the European origins of
the myth of American exceptionalism. It also exposed the metaphysical
principle of decidability informing this grand imperial narrative . And it was in some
sense the recognition of this arrogant American intolerance of undecidability that the Vietnamese Other
exploited to abort the goals of the cultural and political armies of a much more powerful United States .
That strategy, it will be recalled, which has been aptly called "'guerrilla
warfare" in the annals of Western military history, refused to accommodate
itselfto be "answerable" to the European concept of warfare: the binary
"frontal engagement" of opposing visible armies whose story would end in
a "decisive victory." Instead, these Vietnamese insurgents resorted to a "barbarian" strategy.
They resisted invasion of their Asian homeland not by direct confrontation,
but by an invisible nomadic mobility a "spectral" tactics, as it were that
reversed the see-er/seen binary of Western imperialism and in so
doing demolecuralized the more formidable invading army and
reduced its otherwise invincible war machine to utter
ineffectiveness. This disclosure of the Achilles' heel of the Western imperial
project constitutes the second directive of the Vietnam War for the task of
rethinking thinking in the American age of the world picture, more specifically, for the articulation
of a theory of resistance against the Pax Metaphysica that is simultaneously a
practice of political resistance against the Pax Americana . In reconstellating the
Vietnamese strategy into the postcolonial context, we not only discover the hitherto overlooked connection
between the spectral ontological Other precipitated by the fulfillment of the logical economy of Western
metaphysics in the "Americanization" of the planet and the multitude of displaced political Others the
"nonexistent" beings precipitated by the fulfillment (the coming to its "end") of the project of Western
In recognizing the indissoluble relationship between these two
imperialism at large.
hitherto disparate Others, we are also compelled to appropriate the
"eccentric" Vietnamese strategy of "unanswerability" that defeated America
as a directive for thinking the positive emancipatory possibilities of the
postcolonial occasion, that is, of the vast and various population of people unhomed by the
depredations of Western imperialism. This effort to theorize an "eccentric" adversarial
political strategy of unanswerability from the global demographic shifts
incumbent on the fulfillment of the imperial project has , is fact, already been
inaugurated by Edward Said at the close of Culture and Imperialism, if only in a tentative way.
Symptomatically, if not fully, conscious of the implications of the interregnum for thinking, Said, like
Salman Rushdie in his fiction, takes his point of departure in this theoretical initiative from his exilic
experience as emigre as an irreversibly "unhoused" Other whose difference is indissolubly related to,
indeed, was produced by, the colonizing (at-homing) imperatives of Occidental imperialism. In so doing, he
invokes a theoretical motif that was fundamental to but inadequately thought by the early postmodernists
(Heidegger, Derrida, Lyotard, for example) who overdetermined the decentering of the Occidental logos, a
motif that Said finds thought in some degree by Paul Virilio (L'lnsecurite du territoire), Gilles Deleuze and
Felix Guattari (Thousand Plateaus), and Theodor Adorno (Minima Moralia), among others. I am referring to
political resistance and emancipation that,
the possibilities not only for refuge but for
according to Said, are paradoxically inherent in the unhomed, estranging, and
dereifying mobility the spectral political being, as it were of the displaced
persons, the migrants, and the historyless Others of the imperial Occident
who, in the postcolonial era, exist "between domains, between forms,
between homes, and between languages." These are the possibilities of e-
mergence precipitated on a global scale by the thinning out or occasional
breaking of the lines of force that, by way of cultural familiarization,
domestication, and pacification, have historically bound the periphery to the
metropolitan center/homeland. I have quoted a passage from Said's all-too-brief summation of his
oppositional postcolonial project in chapter 2, but the resonant suggestiveness precipitated by the
reconstellation of the estranged political perspective he overdetermines into the ontological context I have
inferred from the decentering and disarticulating guerrilla strategy of the nomadic Vietnamese insurgents
warrants its retrieval at this culminating point of my argument: It is no exaggeration to say that
liberation as an intellectual mission, born in the resistance and opposition to
the confinements and ravages of imperialism, has now shifted from the
settled, established, and domesticated dynamics of culture to its unhoused,
decentered, and exilic energies, energies whose incarnation today is the
migrant, and whose consciousness is that of the intellectual and artist in
exile, the political figure between domains, between forms, between
homes, and between languages. From this perspective then all things are indeed counter,
original, spare, strange. From this perspective also, one can see "the common consort dancing together"
contrapuntally. And while it would be the rankest Panglossian dishonesty to say that the bravura
performances of the intellectual exile and the miseries of the displaced person or refugee are the same,
is possible, I think, to regard the intellectual as first distilling then articulating
the predicaments that disfigure modernity mass deportation, imprisonment,
population transfer, collective dispossession, and forced immigration . Having
thematized the estrangement latent in the exilic condition of the emigre the uncanny ability to see what
from the point of view of the imperial discourse of the dominant culture is otherwise invisible Said goes
on to invoke the exemplary migrant discourse of the exiled German intellectual Theodor Adorno: " 'The
past life of emigres is, as we know, annulled,' says Adorno in Minima Moralia, subtitled Reflections from a
Damaged Life.... Why? 'Because anything that is not reified, cannot be counted and measured, ceases to
exist' or, as he says later, is consigned to mere 'background.'" In the Heideggerian/Derridian rhetoric I have
emphasized in my effort to think the implications of ontological imperialism, the emigre becomes the
spectral Abgeschiedene in the "realm of the Between" who haunts the Being of the imperial culture that
has reduced him/her to nonbeing. Said rightly acknowledges "the disabling aspects of this fate." But it
does not blind him, as it does so many "progressive" postmodern or postcolonial thinkers, to "the virtues or
possibilities" of this spectral marginalization. They are and here Said announces the post-postmodern
and -postcolonial project of the inter regnum "worth exploring." "Adorno's general pattern," he writes, "is
what in another place he calls the 'administered world' or, insofar as the irresistible dominants in the
culture are concerned, 'the consciousness industry.' There is then not just the negative advantage of
refuge in the emigre's eccentricity; there is also the positive benefit of challenging the system, describing
it in a language unavailable to those it has already subdued." Admittedly, the possibilities for this "freedom
from exchange" this "last refuge" from the globalization of late capitalism that Said proffers as an
alternative to the existing oppositional discourses are, like Adorno's, the minima moralia of a damaged
political life, and, in its emphasis on survival, his alternative lacks the force of a truly positive hope. But if,
as the resonant doubleness of the language I have italicized amply warrants, the terms of his global
elaboration of these postcolonial possibilities are reconstellated into the occasion of the struggle of the
Vietnamese people against American imperialism in the 1960s, one need not, at least on this count, be
quite as pessimistic as Adorno and Said about the role of the intellectual in the global post-Cold War period
I have called the interregnum, without at the same time succumbing to "the rankest Panglossian
was precisely the Vietnamese's exploitation of the very
dishonesty." For, to reiterate, it
ontological conditions of their enforced confinement by a formidable imperial
culture that estranged that colonized space and, in so doing, disintegrated
both the cultural narrative and the decisive end-oriented imperial
practice this narrative was designed to enable. The powerless
Vietnamese masterfully transformed the United States's arrogant and
clamorous strategy to reduce the unaccountable and immeasurable Other to
nonexistent status or, to invoke Adorno's language, to consign its spectral
Otherness to "mere background" in its metanarrative which is to say, to silent
invisibility before the panoptic imperial gaze into a powerful polyvalent de-structive and e-mancipatory
it was this transformation of the debilitating, that is,
(projective) weapon. And
passivizing and silencing, effects of reification that enabled this "damaged"
Third World country precisely by way of its spectral invisibility to
disable the otherwise irrefragable operations of reification and thus
to defeat the most powerful nation in the history of the world.12 To
think the spectral as the menacing precipitate of the indissoluble relationship
between the Pax Metaphysica and the Pax Americana : this, not the "reformist"
initiative of those liberals like Sacvan Bercovitch and Richard Rorty whose oppositional
discourse continues to be answerable to the imperial language informed by
the idea of America, is the resonantly silent imperative of the interregnum,
especially for American intellectuals of the Left.13 This appeal to contemporary American
intellectuals to think the nomadic political emigre who haunts the post-Cold
War New World Order simultaneously with the ontological specter that
postmetaphysical European theorists14 have thematized as the paradoxical
consequence of the fulfillment of the logical economy of Western philosophy
is an appeal to think America globally. And it no doubt will be criticized by
those nation-oriented American intellectuals to whom it is addressed as
"traveling theory," the importation of a foreign interpretive discourse into a historically specifically
American context.15