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LoSt dOg

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Hey up, Lost dog is a zine for those with no money and a political eye on how much we are being shafted. Eclectic and hopefully fun with serious commentary and sillyness shoulder barging each other for space. Based in Squats in Hackney our haphazard collective are always looking for more fools to join in.

Contents

A View From Ajar………………………

Ham short

.. Bettsy Bubble…………………………….………….Sue denymph Dog……………………………………………A Leader She May

..

….……

Sad Clowns……………………………

...

…………...A

sad Clown

Thought and the State…………….……....……………...…Pergus

Protest too much?

Philosophe sans Oeuvre

……..………………. Images by Kyp Kyprianiou

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Observations from Ajar:

A Psychospatial Analysis of SelfEnforced NonVertical Posture

The

first

known public

adventure in improbable posture

occurred

in

a

bus

stop opposite

the

new

town

hall.

Five

individuals participated, using ropes and harnesses to maintain

posture at various angles. The spatial intervention lasted 3 hours, and disinterested

conversation

was

maintained

throughout.

Although

public

engagement

was

minimal,

several

participants

reported

interesting effects which obliged us to pursue matters further. Edited extracts from four out of five participants are printed below (the fifth participant is currently experimenting with voluntary loss of language faculty, and showed reluctance to write up a report).

Participant 1: J

(standing at 4 degrees forwards from vertical)

...everything

was quite normal at first, though a bit awkward.

I had to crane my neck slightly to see the others, apart from

Gibbles who had placed his nearhorizontal face directly between

my feet

...

apart from that I felt nothing unusual

...

It

was after

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about one hour that things started to change. I was particularly

aware

of

the

verticalness

of

various

objects

around

me,

in

particular the side of the shelter and the angles of buses. When looking at my precariously positioned comrades in the shelter, a

strange

geometrics

would

arise

below

my

vision.

Our

conversations quickly turned to the subject of perspective and contrast. I don't remember much more in detail, but I retain a certain nostalgia for the experience.”

Participant 2: Harticot

(sitting at 29 degrees left from vertical)

“The pain! Constantly straining to maintain a straight back at such an angle was like torture. After 45 minutes or so I was

ready to make my excuses and leave but I stayed strong. After a while, we where talking about the relative merits of lobster and crab meat at the time, I believe, the pain left. I felt a certain tranquil[sic] in my less than symmetrical situation, and with it a strong affinity with my cosubversives and particular members of the public who passed waited with us in the bus

stop ...

Perhaps through our collective physical unease we became

bound within the brain.

Participant 3: sgt. Gibble

(standing at 73 degrees backwards from vertical)

“The process of waiting interests me. I feel we made a successful intervention into the dynamics of the waiting crowd through both the longevity of our wait and the abruptness of the

visual we presented

...

My position was one of submission and

trust,

facing upwards

...

from

about

25centimeters from

the

ground

I made attempts

 

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SaD clOwNs

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8

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Betsy Bubble

We always knew it would be kept a secret. It wouldn’t be a televised nationwide search. That would be too easy. We wanted her to be fresh, unknown, as though sprung from collective imagination, or fallen from a star. As though we had raised her and groomed her all her life for her vocation, her previous life erased from all recorded memory. We started by sending representatives around to drama schools, local talent shows, state teen beauty pageants. It wasn’t hard to do. It was as though all of young America was secretly hoping for exactly this, and preparing themselves accordingly; displaying themselves and waiting. We drew up a list of certain necessary qualities. Blonde, thin but with the type of body likely to develop curves and breasts, proficient in ballet, gymnastics and street dance, strong singing voice, heart melting

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smile, irrepressible energy, below average intelligence, submissive, with encouraging parents. It didn’t take long to find her. Her name was Olivia Green. Fourteen years old from Peru, Indiana. Dreamt of being an actress. Failing school but her parents didn’t mind because they encouraged her more in her prospective career than her studies. The dream of all proud parents. She was just on the brink of sexuality, like a swollen fig ready to burst open. A flower ready to bloom as the caresses of dawn’s rays coaxed her latent femininity out of its confused cocoon. Of all of this, however, she was unaware. She still had no idea how her male dance instructor looked at her when she did those moves she saw on MTV. But that was a good thing. The plan was to suppress her adolescence for a while. We weren’t exactly sure for how long. It would become apparent through public attention.

When we told her parents about the project they signed the contract immediately, which they could hardly read for the tears of pride welling in their childish eyes. She cried as well and thanked us over and over again, giving us each a little hug and jumping up and down with excitement, her tiny unsupported breasts jiggling subtly. And what girl wouldn’t be grateful for this, the greatest opportunity for fame one could wish for? She would be the nation’s princess, the sweetheart of the world. We christened her with her new name; Betsy Bubble.

It was the beginning of summer when we let Betsy explode onto the screens and billboards of the world. We timed the children’s programme and the TV adverts for simultaneous release. We were careful not to link the show – ‘Betsy Bright Eyes’ – too blatantly with any products of Bubble Inc. though it was a contractual rule that she must be shown chewing gum in at least half of each episode, and at least two bubbles must be blown by any character. The first single,

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‘Pop’ was scheduled for release at the end of summer. She took the world by storm, just as we knew she would. Her perfect white smile, her supple young body, her shining green eyes. She was irresistible and became the number one idol of 6-16 year old girls

(according to polls in Vogue Girl, Pout, Cosmo Girl, Girl Talk and

Bratz magazines). We had pre-prepared all the appropriate merchandise; posters, dolls, pencil cases etc. so that shops could stock them immediately. That’s the way to do it. You have to know exactly how long the public will wait before moving their attention elsewhere. Luckily we created a multi-staged plan to ensure the public never turned their eyes away from our precious Betsy.

After the first album she went on a world tour. She was almost sixteen. When we discovered several ‘count-down’ calendars until Betsy was ‘legal’ we knew it was time for the next phase; the eagerly awaited transition phase. The outfits she was to wear on tour were chosen very carefully; no cleavage, no mini skirts, just feminine, figure hugging clothes, especially chosen to accentuate her nubile, virginal body. We then urged her to make a press statement promoting chastity. My colleague wrote it for her. “I am still a young girl. I value my body and I respect myself. I am waiting to fall in love before I get into adult things. I encourage all girls around the world to stay pure until they are older.” It worked. She was hailed as a feminist icon by several women’s magazines. But a quick internet search revealed even more inappropriate Betsy website than we could have hoped for.

On her 17 th birthday we presented her with her new image and her new name: Bitsy Babelle. She didn’t like it at first, but we found her the right friends to push her into her destined direction. We surrounded her with some young celebrities and heiresses and gave her some pocket

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money and time off to party before recording her new album. We organised a photo shoot for FHM in which she showed off her new short, tousled hairstyle with blonde and red streaks. Several of the photos showed her wearing strategically ripped clothes, leaning back in a suitably submissive position. She appeared on the cover with 5 inch hoop earrings, winking at the millions of men in the world. “I’m not a little girl anymore,” read the tagline we wrote for her. “Wow, I can’t believe I really look like that,” she squealed when we showed her the article. “Of course, Bitsy.” We decided it would be counter-productive to explain air-brushing to her at this stage. “You’re a super star. You’re the most beautiful woman in the world.” “Woman?” she said, her watery green eyes shining at us, as if asking permission.

The

money

rolled

in,

poured

in,

far

surpassing the original

projections. Every week or so at the office somebody would come in wearing a more expensive suit than everybody else and we all had to update our wardrobes accordingly.

The Bitsy thing worked for a few years. But eventually there was no further for her to go. She’d even done a film bearing her breasts (done very artistically, of course) which had caused a lot of controversy amongst Bubble Inc. executives. Some thought that would be too far too soon, but the others of us argues that most essential consideration was never to lose momentum. And so the next stage was put into action. Bitsy had to grow up fast. She took a month out to give time for the surgery scars to heal. When she arrived back on the market she was a femme fatale vamp like nobody had ever seen. Her once long fair hair was cropped and black, her clothes were elegant yet highly sexual. Her lips and nails went

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scarlet. “High class prostitute” was how she was described by one newspaper. We were very happy with the result. Her new name was Bea La Belle.

Then the backlash started. HAS THE BUBBLE BURST? read the headlines. HAS BEA GONE TOO FAR? HOW DID BELOVED BETSY TURN INTO BITCHY BEA? Somewhat unattractive pictures were printed of poor little Bea after “yet another wild night out,” but we always knew this day would come. We took full advantage of the publicity and she made the front page several newspapers and celebrity magazines at least once a week. We released statements and quotes about her drugs abuse and sexual deviancy only half of which were made up. Bea didn’t have time to notice. She’d never had so much success.

Now we have gotten to the point where we don’t know which path to take anymore. There are two options. The first is to denounce her lewd behaviour, disassociate her with our respectable company and create our new image as the moral saviour of the fallen with the proposed “Church of BubbleLove” ad campaign. The second is top secret, known about only by us, the top 12 Bubble Inc. executives. It would guarantee her infamy and eternal youth. Its code name is Plan B: “Norma Jean”.

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Dog

It’s the game of culture, burning a dead dog.

  • I didn’t see the body leave this life.

  • I saw its body leave this life.

  • I witnessed its last breaths, not as

Inhalation, exhalation, Breathing; substance of life. But the sudden, reflex, the last chance contraction of the lungs. What did it want from me, this dead dog – it was not yet dead. But I swear it didn’t die, there was no death, it had been dead all along.

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This dog who would run as if a demon round the Field; racing, chasing rabbits, dreaming, eyes flittering like a madness. Would follow her all day, Always one step behind always under her feet, never losing sight of his beloved. Would lick your ear telling you Telling you quietly so you can die with him. Be death with him. But here on the earth with him.

So what winkles of wisdom do hold your head humble? Mumble my crumble till voices dig slowly. The grave, that's slowly, he’s under my thunder, My rhyming sublimely, nay dearest French feminist. This dead dog is your dead dog.

  • I dedicate him to you.

As your book’s my dead book, Our snake charmers gone home.

  • I cannot understand how that breath was his last. Why he wasn’t death already,

Death all along.

A running, barking, loving, dead dog.

  • I can’t hate him for dying, for turning hard, for not curling up in his hole.

I’m angry at him for never quite dying,

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For desperately sucking at the air without desire or intention. There was no will to live yet no acceptance of death. A disappearance? But with my hand on his chest I’m still strocking. With my breast on the table I’m still longing. An eternal longing. Part 1 To want.

There is wanting. Needing? I cross out.

I’m crossed out and explain

  • I wan’t, it must be, but one step back, I want to want.

You, Ilove you, that much yes. But I want you I, I do not It’s wanting, it’s wanting, it’s something I can’t have. It’s wanting I want It’s swallowing my pride. It’s down with the tea and confessing my sins, It’s female nude model, It’s your hand on my thigh. But what is? What’s this? What’s knowing too much? It’s giving up a dream to set free a love.

  • I want to be yours.

The man never wants to own the dog. He wants

To be owned by the dog.

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Freed by the responsibility of feeding the wild. Thinking and reality.

To want to have you but to want to be yours It is submission or domination I come? Is it acceptance or refusal I desire? Is it for love or disgust I ask? Is it your choice or my choice or god’s choice?

  • I don’t want to be yours

  • I think

  • I want to know but I don’t know.

  • I don’t want to know because I want to want,

As the dead dog is buried, my want is alive,

Like a mad dog it’s frothing and biting and fighting. And refusing my knowledge, abusing my sentence.

  • I don’t want, I know want, know what want,

Want you want, don’t want want, don’t you want, and so want… is thus… muscles rippling he flies, feet barely touching the ground, neck straining making stretching body taut with round in cicles he streams past grey body pounding pounding round and round and heart is pumping, a terrible mourning my heart is smothering itself to stop from screaming in anguish as he’s running round his grave.

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Faster and faster as he wanted us not to cry, He mourns his own death… and thus…

  • I kill you, you kill me, to awaken me.

  • I don’t want you, I want to want you, But I know I can’t.

  • I don’t want you to want me.

  • I wan to want you to want me.

But I know you can’t And that is why I love you. And that is why you love me. Because we both know more than we know we know. And we both know more than we want to know. And we both love more than we know how to love.

The ghost in my reality, The corporeal in my imaginary, The nettles in my diversion. For I can only hate or love you.

(and this is how it’s all the same)

  • I think this much I know.

  • I think I know of grass and daisies.

The big daisies – your favourite flowers.

  • I think of billy, the dead dog, the always dead dog. Now living bellow them.

Soon to become them. The dead-dog-daisies.

  • I was there with his last breath and I love you and Was he always dead?

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Protest Too Much? Kettle Logic and the G20 Meltdown

In the interview which follows, the Philosophe sans Oeuvre and long- time collaborator Paul Reed take matters into their own hands and challenge the prevailing doxa which has come to define the G20 Meltdown protest in April 2008 as ‘little more than a feel-good feel- bad activity’, which 'made the sum total of zero difference' 2 except to show us 'the futility of the dominant mode of modern protest' 3 and to prove that a new 'theory is neccesary to move past its current impediments' 4 . We will refute what we have called ‘the K Punk Consensus’ 5 on the following ten points:

1) There is no point in having a theory of political resistance which has an a priori stance against public protest.

2) There is no point in criticising a political strategy when you do not offer a political strategy or a political subject to replace it.

  • 2 http://speculativeheresy.wordpress.com/2009/10/03/liquid-revolution-and-the-end-of-folk-politics/

  • 3 http://revolutionaryboredom.wordpress.com/2009/04/02/the-g20-pantomime/

  • 4 http://speculativeheresy.wordpress.com/2009/10/03/liquid-revolution-and-the-end-of-folk-politics/

  • 5 ’The K Punk Consensus’ is the term we have adopted to account for barrage of dismissive new media accounts of the protest which followed in the wake of the G20 Meltdown, and which finds its canonical expression in this post at K Punk.

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3) The folk-psychological reading of the protest is a facile interpretation of a complex event and grossly patronising to those that took part.

4) The failure to sustain popular interest in the protest was partly caused by the ‘neutral coverage’ of the old media in collusion with the negative assessments of its new media spokesmen.

5) Those who attended the protest represent the real grass-roots anti-capitalist movement and any political theory which aligns itself on the Left should seek to draw on their support.

6) The environmentalist wing of the anti-capitalist movement plays a vital role in raising awareness of the severity of ecological damage caused by our contemporary mode of production, and is increasingly successful at drawing in new support for the Left.

7) The G20 Meltdown was ‘the most expensive protest in British history’, which is a good indication of its real potential: the British government could not afford to have another one like it.

8) The protest was an attempt to utilise the two great weapons that current circumstances have afforded the anti-capitalist movement: the use of communicative technologies as a means of rapid mobilization, and the reliance on new media coverage as a means of circumventing the older ideological organs of the state.

9) Occurring at a sensitive moment for neoliberalism, the G20 Meltdown protest was a novel configuration of different political causes combining to form what will eventually become ‘a genuinely combustible new left' 6 .

10) Accordingly, ‘we cannot therefore co-operate with people who openly state that the workers are too uneducated to emancipate themselves and must be freed from above’. (Marx and Engels, Circular Letter, 1879)

6

http://nastybrutalistandshort.blogspot.com/2009/04/this-ruckus-is-sponsored-by.html

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Interview with Paul Reed

Philosophe sans Oeuvre: Can you briefly introduce yourself in terms of your philosophical background, your political standpoint, and your current projects.

Paul Reed: I’m Paul Reed, one of the co-organsiers of the monthly Radical Theory Group which was previously based at rampART until the recent eviction, but is now currently located at the LARC, and runs on the first Friday of every month from 6 o’ clock. What’s great about this reading group is that it manages to draw in a wide cross-section of the general public who are interested in learning about political theory, rather than just the usual students and academics. As an undergraduate I studied for a degree in English Literature, before studying history with Paul Gilroy at Queen Mary. My current research explores the relationship between the ‘blat’ economics of the late Soviet Union 7 with the growth of new social movements which exist within neoliberal governments. Basically, my guiding question is to what extent does the growth of these social movements (such as ‘squatting’, ‘free schooling’, etc) depend upon the current political system, and to what extent can they effectively challenge it.

PSO: Can you give us an overview of your personal experience at the G20 Meltdown Protest?

  • 7 See Alena Ledeneva’s Russia’s Economy of Favours for an analysis of how the soviet planned economy depended upon an internal freemarket of private favours. The concept of ‘Blat' derives from the colloquial Russian expression for the black market and is used by Ledeneva as a network concept which combines an economic determinable response to the intrinsic shortfalls of the soviet system with an emergent potential for subjective resistance.

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PR: Sure. I arrived at the protest outside the Bank of England with a photographer friend of mine just as the police were beginning to seal off the area, around 1 o’ clock. We got some great pictures of police horses being forced to step over sitting protesters who were trying to keep open the access to the demonstration; inevitably one of the protesters gets trodden on, but none of them moved until the police dragged them off. I was also quite close by when we heard the jubilant roar of the crowd as the windows of the Royal Bank of Scotland were smashed. It was an exhilarating moment: at that point it was still early in the day and nobody knew how the demonstration was going to end up Soon afterwards we ended up getting forced out of the area by the police, and after a few failed attempts to get back in through the kettle we ended up recuperating for most of the afternoon in the ‘fluffy’ climate camp. Initially, the climate camp protest had appeared to have all the political content of a ‘back to the sixties’ parody, with its obligatory tree-huggers, samba band, and cool ‘chill-out’ zone. Yet there I would witness the most courageous acts of resistance of the whole demonstration. Around 6 o’ clock, the now kettled and overcrowded climate camp was invaded by the riot police, who waded in swinging batons and using their shields to shove people over. But, amazingly, the protesters didn’t panic; instead, they literally stood up to them with their hands in the air, forcing the riot police to strike at non-aggressive citizens if they wanted to take over the protest space. This they did, but eventually stopped, presumably because it could have looked very bad for them if word got out to the media. At this point my friend gets struck on the hand by a baton, and I saw young girls getting beaten with police truncheons. But it was their courage which kept the Climate Camp going and prevented the protest as a whole from being broken up. In the end, the riot police decided to

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kettle us in until some nearby solidarity protests had subsided, before finally letting most of us stagger home around midnight, whilst packs of police continued to hunt down the few remaining protesters through the streets. Needless to say, this experience has left a profound impression on me.

PSO: Can you summarise what you think were the main positive outcomes from the G20 Meltdown protest?

PR: Happily. Firstly, and contrary to received opinion, the protest struck its target in a very direct way: it cost the government and the financial centre of London a serious amount of money. So whilst it might have looked like a harmless spectacle to the folks at home, for those of us who were there, and for those who were forced to cancel work and pay for security, it was a very different story. Using a kettle not only contains heat, it stirs it up, and costs the system a lot of energy, and if the Daily Telegraph acknowledges the G20 Meltdown protest as ‘the most expensive police operation in British history’ then you don’t need to be a brain surgeon to figure out that a few more of these costly protests and the government might reconsider its policies, because it’s a very sensitive time for neoliberal administrations right now. Secondly, we shouldn’t underrate the value of the experience for those involved. Watching the Royal Bank of Scotland get its windows smashed in; watching teenage protesters stand up and defend their camp site from an illegal invasion by heavily armed riot police-it certainly demonstrates the growing strength of public dissent. What was interesting about this protest was that, unlike the Stop the War movement, the G20 Meltdown seemed to bring out a new configuration of political resistance, mobilised by the fall-out from the credit crunch. This is only based conjecture, but to me there seemed to be a greater diversity of people involved in this protest than I’ve seen

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before at demonstrations, ranging from rebellious school children skiving off from school to unemployed city bankers who wanted to find out what was going on. I hope they learned something about the vulnerability of a government which needs to police a public demonstration with such violence. And no-one will forget about the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson This might be in bad taste, but there's an irony in the fact that up until the death of one of their newspaper sellers, the Evening Standard had been wholly supportive of the London Metropolitan police. Afterwards they were distinctly more critical, if only for a short while. Lastly, and without wanting to trivialise the event as some kind of networking opportunity, I think the protest should be remembered as a kind of practical unification of what Owen hetherely has called ‘a genuinely combustible new left’. It’s irrelevant whether the protestors knew which policies were being decided upon at the G20 summit, and it really doesn’t matter if everyone present had previously agreed upon a stable set of non- contradictory demands. The protest has a kind of emergent logic of its own, in which the different issues of the protesters all coalesced into a legitimate critique of how things currently stand. Of course, it’s up to the political theorists to find a way of coherently articulating and reinforcing these demands, but this can only happen post festum.

PSO: What do you say to those theorists on the left who would argue that for all its good intentions, recent large-scale public protests have achieved nothing concrete or sustainable? As an example, the Stop the War movement has the record for the largest public protest in British history, and yet it has completely failed to achieve its stated aim. Similarly, and despite coinciding with a particularly vulnerable moment in the history of neoliberalism, there hasn’t been any noticeable change for the better in our government’s economic policies since the G20 Meltdown protest.

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PR: I’m tempted to respond with the quip which Mao gave when asked about the French Revolution: ‘it’s still too early to tell’. But in a way this is true for the G20 protest: one cannot assess the concrete effects of a revolutionary event according to the standard measures of party politics. Of course, we have to pragmatically assess the outcomes of the event at some point, in relation to some future political objective; to say that we cannot measure all the effects of the protest on the day or six months after is not to the same as contending that we can never know the effects of an event. The one original aspect of the protest, which to my knowledge no-one has yet really picked up on, was the integral role of new media technology for contemporary political activism. In theory the government will always be able to find money to contain protests so long as the media is behind them, but if the media turned against them, then it wouldn’t be so easy for them to justify a costly war against the will of the general public. This is why the role of the media is crucial to the protest, and why in particular, the new media has a vital role to play in terms of bypassing the established ideological organs of the state. It’s easy to criticise the protest as one big spectacle, and this is precisely what the government is banking on, but isn’t there something encouraging about the fact that it generated so much media interest? Never has a protest been photographed so much; never has a protest been given so much instant relay to the general public through new media technology. Doesn’t this at least demonstrate that the people are interested in a revolutionary politics? Of course you can interpret this ‘interest’ in a positive or a pejorative sense. During the actual protest I’d naively hoped that all this instantaneous media coverage would somehow set off a kind of chain reaction enabling the protest to spread. Perhaps the police also feared this too, which would explain why they were using the dubious Section

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76 of the Counter Terrorism Act to intimidate photographers into deleting their footage. 8 The fact that there were more photographers than policemen also had some immediately practical benefits too. Effectively, they restrained the police from becoming too brutal, and when the police did manage to kill someone then there was a camera around to see exactly how they did it, and that’s how we all got to see the appalling footage of Ian Tomlinson’s death. It’s instructive to recall how it wasn’t the liberal media who brought the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson to public attention. Until those private videos surfaced, the BBC and the liberal broadsheets had managed to studiously avoid the widespread police brutality on display at the protest in favour of their usual ‘neutral coverage’, which basically meant portraying the whole thing as the work of a few hundred blood-crazed anarchists trying to break into the Bank of England. In fact, I’d argue that despite the great efforts of the organisers to publicise the event, and in particular the ingenious showmanship of Chris Knight who delighted reporters with his jokes about hanging bankers from lamp-posts, the key reason why the G20 Meltdown became such a damp fuse was due to the lack of support from both the old and the new media. In the same way that the police will always deliberately underestimate the attendence figures of a political protest in order to downplay its significance, the closed ranks of the old-media coincided with the cynical views of the new left, and both were equally to blame for the still birth of the protest.

PSO: It has been argued that a key reason for the failure of the G20 Meltdown was mainly due to the fact that the general public were shrewd enough to see that the spectacle of protest was just that: the usual suspects indulging in a display of affective politics. The protest

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may have made the few activists who attended it feel like they were doing something worthwhile, but to the rest of the country it was just a naïve and insignificant spectacle which cost them a lot of money.

PR: I don’t deny myself the affective dimension of politics, whether it’s from the sense of enthusiasm I felt on the morning, or the anger I felt when I saw young girls at the climate camp getting beaten with truncheons by riot police. By the time we were let out of the kettle around midnight, my overall impression was that these kinds of protest are simply barbaric: very soon it became little fun for either the protesters or the police (although clearly the unarmed protesters had a much harder time of it if we compare injuries). But protests are necessary. It’s sad that we still have to stoop to this level in order to make a point, but hasn’t it always been this way? Those in power will do all they can to prevent their privileges from being taken away from them, and likewise, there’s nothing ‘moral’ about the protestors who are coming together only to fight for their fair share of the pie. So the affective dimension to this kind of protest does not come from feeling morally sanctified through your good efforts. But it does takes genuine courage to break the law at a protest for political reasons; it’s genuinely frightening and genuinely dangerous. But the reasons why people turn up to a protest precede this affective element. Why attempt to psychologise the event as some cry for attention from a big father? Not only is this a dubious application of a reductive folk-psychology to a complex event, it’s also a patronising condemnation of that active minority of people who get involved in real politics outside of the party electoral system. Of course, the general aim of these demonstrations is to steer governments towards more egalitarian policy decisions, and they seldom manage to overthrow capitalism in one go; but neither do they sit around and wait for other people to do their politics for them. To be a priori against public demonstrations is a

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useless limitation for a critical theory of resistance.

useless limitation for a critical theory of resistance. PSO: Couldn’t it be said that this ‘general

PSO: Couldn’t it be said that this ‘general aim’ was the cause of the problem? The aggregate demands of the protest amounted to little more than an insipid socialist reformism, of the kind exemplified by the Socialist Workers Party. That is, a politics which is based upon the soliciting of pity and an empty promise to nurse the wounds of an anachronistic working class. Basically, the demands of the G20 Meltdown protest were either too weak or too unrealistic to inspire the people.

PR: The G20 Meltdown organisers were an original political configuration and not a covert wing of the Socialist Workers Party. Although the SWP did try and reclaim the protest as their own in the aftermath of Ian Tomlinson’s death-and the cynicism by which they used his death to propagate their own cause was a particularly ugly

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example of Realpolitik-they did not predominate the organisation beforehand. In fact, so far as I understand it, the SWP were so miffed by their lack of influence on the G20 Protest that they decided to have their own separate and explicitly ‘peaceful’ demonstration in Trafalgar Square, far from the maddening crowd. It’s ironic that the SWP wouldn’t want to dilute their very particular demands by joining in with the masses. It’s also hypocritical to criticise the weakness of a demand without postulating any of your own. How far does one have to capitulate to the norms of the contemporary political field before one’s goal is recognised as viable? At what moment is a mass political movement able to achieve ‘practical sufficiency in itself’ through unifying around a determinate goal? Does this occur before, during, or after the event? In practice, politics is too messy and ad hoc to be fully grasped by an abstract political theory. It may seem like I’m making a gratuitous attack on the SWP at a time when we should be seeking to unify all those groups who are loosely associated with the left. But the SWP are more than capable of taking care of themselves and in my view their position on the protest was damaging to the anti-capitalist movement, as were the dismissive accounts of the G20 Meltdown delivered by the new media spokesmen on the left. (which, incidently, were based upon the negative assessments of the protest by the SWP:

See how Mark Fisher’s piece on the protest draws upon the ‘evidence’ from SWP Supporter, Richard Seymour, at Lenin’s Tomb.) For the record, I am also opposed to the Khmer Rouge, Hugo Chavez, Tony Blair and Terry Eagleton.

PSO: Why should the demands of the active minority who protest take precedence over the silent majority who votes and stays silent? Your position would seem to imply that we should always consider political demonstrations as the direct manifestation of an a priori emancipatory political subject. There have been moments in the past,

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particularly in the 1940’s, when the will of the people has been led astray. What gives the G20 protesters their legitimacy? To provide an example closer to home, the London squatter movement justifies its appropriation of private property on the grounds that it aims towards a more equitable re-distribution of wealth, when in fact it could also be viewed as a de facto black market operation which takes over properties in the interest of a particular social milieu (primarily middle class students and those who can afford to risk an alternative lifestyle). For all their good intentions, these squatters effectively undermine the stringency of a democratically validated legal system for their own advantage. Whilst we can both agree that private property is a pernicious institution, it is also one which needs to be carefully dismantled. Why should we immediately advocate all political resistance as if pure anarchy were a kind of good in itself?

PR: My flippant response would be to say that the only valid challenges to the institution of private property are the most expedient ones. But really, I don’t have an adequate solution to this problem. I would agree with you and say that these activist groups have no privileged access to any fool-proof political theory, and if I’m honest, then I’d be afraid if some of them ever actually managed to get into a position of power. Yet I can say that many of them are very well- informed about politics, certainly more so than your average student or academic. In their defence it could be argued that these activist groups are self-validating to the extent that the people involved in them make the strongest political demands. This would entail a dangerous logic in which a) politics is about expressing the will of the people, b) and these activists have the strongest will, so c) their political struggle becomes justified. It sounds very brutal to express it in this way, but politics is not a whipped-cream cake: the struggle for the new left to achieve power is not about the achievement of an ahistorical abstract

36

good, whether you codify this in terms of an innate anarchistic tendency in humanity or the application of an ideal mathematical truth onto society; it doesn’t get you off the hook from doing the dirty work: for me, politics is a prescription based on a hypothesis which is at best grounded in the speculations of the historical method.

PSO: To press you on this point, doesn’t ‘faith’ then become the ultimate motivating force behind your political activism? You have no guarantees that your political standpoint is valid, yet you justify your antagonism towards neoliberalism by the hope that something better will replace it. Isn’t this still a form of faith in the power of revolutionary politics for revolution’s sake?

PR: But what is to be gained by this reduction of complex political antagonisms into a question of brute faith? All I can do is re-direct your question onto the problems of historical method: can we empirically determine the course of history and then judge where we should best channel our energies? For me, a politics based upon conviction deriving from practical activist experiences is superior to an ideal theory of politics based upon faith, although I know this crude assertion won’t satisfy our delicate neo-Adornians. If you are a hardworking activist for a particular political cause then it seems to me that you must have recourse to some kind of realist understanding of history which justifies your time and effort. Unless of course you are some kind of Christian existentialist and you do your good deeds for the thrill of devotion and the promise of an ideal heaven to come. But determining the course of history is no easy matter, and clearly there are serious problems with the metaphysical underpinnings of a Marxist causal history, for example. What does it mean to say that class struggle is the motor of history? This is the problem with the energetic model which underlies the Marxist philosophy as a whole: the idea that

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the capitalist mode of production is intrinsically wrong because it places artificial limits upon our infinite potential as a species, which is continuous with Marx’s conception of freely-given labour as man’s ultimate purpose. In both cases we can see how these ideas seem to coincide with a particular historical moment, in which the growth of industry was combined with the transformation of the Protestant work ethic. For me, it’s still the standpoint of history which provides us with the most reliable means by which we can make pragmatic prognostications about the future. Philosophy and science might function as history’s epistemological checks, while art stands in as the realm of pure speculation common to all three. So, from my limited understanding of our contemporary situation, I am convinced that the grass-roots political movements involved in the G20 Meltdown represent the emergent progressive elements within our society. The alternative position, which is to cast doubt on these movements until that theoretical breakthrough falls from the sky, seems much worse. The break on activism in favour of a ‘new’ political theory, or a ‘new’ politcal strategy-which of course will have no relation to what activists are currently doing-is politically debilitating, even if it's a vain delusion to believe that the revolutionary masses are being held back by the lack of a theory. Regardless of whether the views of these activists groups can be brought into line with a teleological view of enlightenment, what redeems them is the fact that they are the real social movements who are constructing actual political institutions which exist outside the limited range of professional party politics. The rampART social centre was one example, and for me its very existence precluded any need for ‘faith’. To illustrate what I mean I’ll share with you some inside information: At rampART, which had for years served as a meeting place for activist groups, there was often talk about whether the building might have been bugged by the police. Some people were sure that it must have been, while others thought that the police

38

wouldn’t bother, given that the groups who used the space posed no real threat to government. The strange thing is that I don’t think it mattered whether the building was bugged or not. Why? Because if the activist groups who operated from there were only small-scale, then the police wouldn’t have any reason to interfere, and they wouldn’t want to draw any attention to the activists' cause. Conversely, when the building was used as a meeting place for organisers of large-scale public protests like the G20 Meltdown, the police couldn’t harass them too much beforehand for risk of creating a media-outrage. Governments are still vulnerable to the media, and this is what makes the ‘K Punk Consensus’ on the futility of political protest so egregious: it’s not just that the denigration of the G20 Meltdown is an insult to those activist groups who were involved; it’s not just that to describe police brutality as the work of a bad father inflicting signs of grace on willing protesters is distasteful, it’s rather that this neo-Adornian scepticism of the ‘pseudo-praxis’ 9 of political demonstrations is an active factor in rendering them worthless.

  • 9 Adorno’s concept of ’pseudo-praxis’ designates forms of political activism such as student protests, which are undertaken for subjective reasons alone and fail to effect the objective conditions of society at large. See his essay, ’Marginalia to Theory and Praxis’ available in the Critical Models collection.

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PSO: Adorno argued that in an age where the state has control over the culture industry

PSO: Adorno argued that in an age where the state has control over the culture industry and the atom bomb, it would be absurd to believe that a government would allow itself to be toppled by a few thousand protestors marching through the streets. Political protests like the G20 Meltdown are completely contained within the state system and function as a simulation of authentic resistance whilst possessing no direct impact on governmental policies whatsoever. Whatever the long term political implications of these protests, couldn’t it be argued that the immediate task of the political theorist today is to find more effective means of organisation which will have greater traction on the decisions of neoliberal administrations already weakened by the financial crisis?

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PR: I’d agree that political protests appear like a simulation of authentic resistance as far as their conventional media representation goes, and even when you are directly involved in a protest it’s hard to shake the paranoia that ‘all this has been arranged’. There’s certainly no doubt that at every mass protest there will be a number of agent provocateurs assigned to do things which will make the protest look bad in the media, and here one might wonder about the broken windows at the Royal Bank of Scotland. This is indisputable, a tried and tested police tactic. But in the same way that the state cannot afford to create the protest as a whole, they also lack the resources to fully contain it. The organisation of a large-scale public protest should be viewed as only one aspect of a spectrum of political protest, with hunger strikes and suicide bombing at one end, and petitioning your local MP at the other. Undoubtedly, the various anti-capitialist movements should try and co-ordinate their efforts and sometimes a large-scale public protest is a way of achieving this kind of practical unity, and it can also draw in new support for the left through exposing the injustice of a democratic government which has to violently stamp out public dissent. Does a protest need to have a deteminate demand which is met by Government in order to be succesful? Look at the example of the Poll Tax Riots nearly two decades ago: they had a determinate demand, the abolishment of the poll tax, which they succeeded in achieving. Of course, the council tax which was brought into replace it was little better, but at least they had managed to achieve a determinate goal, right? Well, actually, I think the value of the Poll Tax Riots had less to do with the government’s mimed capitulation over a single issue and more to do with the formation of a violently dissenting public who proved that real resistance is possible. And the recent G20 Protest in London, far from

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being a street carnival (although some of the organisers had publicized

it in this way) was in fact the first violent protest against neoliberal

government in over ten years. Admittedly then, the aggregate demands of the G20 Meltdown protest were fairly vague and open-ended, but at least it was an organisation of something, for something. Organisation is not a good in itself. Look at the Socialist Workers Party: this party has probably the highest degree of political organisation this side of North Korea and yet it remains unsuccessful as an active force in politics. Why? Perhaps because they are more concerned with achieving a permanent inclusion within the political system as it currently stands than actively working towards real change, while all they offer in return is a miserabilist critique of how bad the world is along with the empty promise to make it a little better for the worker. If you have ever wondered what a highly organised ‘inhumanist’ politics might look like then I suggest you try having a conversation with one of their drones, and don’t forget to have your pound ready to buy their newspaper afterwards. Yet, for all that, at least their politics has some content to it, even if it’s primarily negative. Perhaps the cynicism of these neo- Adornians is worse: on the one hand, these theorists appear to lack any strong connection with grass-roots political movements (bar the respectful tilt of the cap for the odd striking factory worker), presumably because current activist group have unrealistic goals and cannot sustain a ‘practical sufficiency in itself’. On the other hand, all these theorists have to offer in return is an empty invocation to ‘organise’, without either a grand philosophical system or even a modest tactical hypothesis to back it up. And yet they still have the nerve to criticise the allegedly exorbitant demands of the protesters. Why can they not specify what their own realistic political demands might be? Perhaps they have a dim intuition that their own determinate political goals will not be theirs alone, and that they’ll be forced to recognise that many activist groups are already working to achieve these

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demands in practice. I’d say that their glib dismissal of the G20 protest is tied in with this: their reluctance to align themselves with actual political activists betrays a hidden desire to differentiate themselves from the people. Effectively, their politics becomes little more than a posture which aims to affect politics from a safe distance. Without any positive content then, political theorising just becomes a purely affective gesture, an empty posturing, of a kind which is classically figured in Hegel’s concept of the ‘beautiful soul’.

PSO: It can still be argued that the incoherencies of the demands of the anti-capitalist movement are the key factor in its current ineffectiveness, and this makes it prone to co-option by governmental rhetoric. Whilst the voice of the modern worker has been claimed by new labour, the environmentalist movement has become highly susceptible to conservative appropriation. The Climate Camp’s vague demand to ‘save the planet’ does not necessarily entail egalitarian social consequences, nor does it lend itself to any obvious political program given that there is as yet no scientific consensus on how climate change might be best tackled: everyone agrees that something should be done, but nobody knows what should be done.

PR: It’s true that the environmentalist movement is greatly compromised by its lack of critical self-scrutiny; it seems obvious to me that we can only save the planet for ourselves and that we can’t really take the side of nature in a discussion, unless of course it is the nature that we want to see preserved. So when it comes to the environment at least, I’m a strict correlationist. 10 Personally, I can’t

  • 10 ’Correlationism’ is a term originally coined by Lenin to define philosophical idealist conceptions of the world which can only define its reality in relation to our human access to it. The (false) equation being no mind, no world to concieve of. The term is currently enjoying a revival thanks to Quentin Melliassoux’s usage

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motivate myself to struggle on behalf of the planet in order to provide beautiful scenery for rich people to lose themselves in, and it’s difficult to avoid the impression that the Greens are mainly just a bunch of complacent middle-class liberals with a sentimental approach to politics. Why should I care if ‘the polar bears are drowning’ 11 when I’m forced to work sixty hours a week in a mind-numbingly boring job, just to pay the bills? Meanwhile, another section of society has the moral luxury of buying organic food out of consideration for these polar bears or whatever. The counter-argument from the Greens would be that they are the only ones who are actively trying to preserve the bio-diversity of life on earth so that we might all still be around to appreciate it in a few more years time. For them, the old divisions between right and left no longer matter in the face of imminent environmental catastrophe brought on by climate change. Frankly, I think they are right: finding ways to address global heating and the energy crisis is not only our most pressing challenge as a species, but is also the challenge which has the most potential to unite us on a global scale. The danger is that these issues get reduced into a kind of greenwash ideology which achieves little more than making middle- class consumers feel better about themselves for buying ‘organic food’ or ‘renewable energy’. As an interesting case in point, James Lovelock’s work straddles both sides of this problem. Primarily Lovelock’s name is associated with his ‘Gaia Theory’, which argues that the earth should be viewed as a single organism which strives to make itself more hospitable for new life. 12 Whilst in practice, Gaia theory is compatible with a kind of cybernetics approach to biology, the definite theological implications of Lovelock’s concept of Gaia have been used to license the now familiar new-age mysticism about ‘saving the planet’. Yet on

of it in his seminal work ‘After Finitude.’ (2008) 11 http://hyperstition.abstractdynamics.org/archives/008891.html

change.

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the other hand, I think you’ll be hard pushed to find a contemporary scientist who is more anti-humanist, at least in the literal sense of the term: Lovelock is stoically resigned to the fact that approximately eighty percent of the human population will die out within the next hundred years as a consequence of global heating, and he believes there’s very little we can do about it. His fierce naturalism won’t allow him to take seriously the possibility of collective political acts reversing climate change, comparing them with the likelihood of convincing a shark to become vegetarian by sheer effort. I find his anti-utopian stance on humanity refreshing in terms of its critique of greenwash ideology, which is said to find its perfect symbol in the well- intentioned but practically useless wind turbines which litter our landscape like a contemporary version of the crucifix. But for all his scientific credentials, Lovelock’s standpoint amounts to a form of political quietism, which at best functions as a warning and an incitement to deal with the colossal environmental problems which cannot be solved through piecemeal reform, and at worst, it lends itself to a potential neo-fascism: a politics which accepts that those who are lucky enough to be born on one of the islands which will escape the immediate consequences of climate change should do all they can to protect its borders from the desperate hordes who will soon be seeking sanctuary there. Faced with this alternative, I’d prefer to endorse those who argue for more drastic re-constructions of species-being, and ones which will utilise all the technological resources we can get our hands on. But the problem comes when we try and find the rational justifications by which such a re-construction of the species can take place: if, as a strict naturalist, you don’t believe that human beings can be subjectively free, then what’s the point in freeing the people? Why amplify our human capacities through technical prosthesis unless you believed that the resulting increase will yield a greater potential for the development of life as a whole? And here it

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makes little difference whether you codify this concept of life in terms of ‘a culture’, or ‘a science’, or ‘the singularity’, such a privileging of the species along Aritototelian lines with its consequent teleology would be a difficult position for a strict naturalist to uphold: the constructive force of law always impinges on any dream of a natural justice, and scientists who have political convictions would do well to remember Bismarck’s quip about ‘laws being like sausages: it’s best not to see them being made.’ To return back to your question, I think the Climate Camp at the G20 Meltdown serves as a good example of the two contradictory tendencies within the environmentalist movement in general. On the one hand it stands for the expanded moral demands of a wealthy middle-class who can afford to grow sentimental over the fate of the polar bears, and on the other, protests like Climate Camp are laying the basis for what will be the most significant political movement of the next century; one which radically questions our nature as a species and explicitly demands the conscious re- construction of society as a whole if we are to survive the oncoming environmental crisis.

PSO: To end on a positive note, in your opinion what are the main opportunities which our current situation offers to a potentially combustible new left?

PR: I think our current situation offers us two main tendencies which are ripe for appropriation. Firstly, as we’ve already discussed, there’s the impending environmental crisis: whilst everyone can agree that something must be done to prevent climate change, many are as yet unaware of the severity of the problem and fail to realise that any potential solution will involve co-ordinated efforts on a global scale. The necessity of this global co-ordination is highly significant for a leftist politics, for the obvious reason that it’ll have to counter the fatalism of naturalists like Lovelock, and simultaneously expose the

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myth of the free-market as man’s natural predisposition. Arguably, it’s these twin ideologies-what Marx would call ‘the physiocratic illusion’-which do most to sustain late capitalism. These days, the popular idea of communism is still severely tarnished by its association with the real failings of a planned economy along with the widespread environmental damage caused by rapid over-industrialisation in the socialist states. Yet any proposed solution to the global environmental crisis will demand a kind of collective labour on a scale which will make the soviets seem like a modest experiment. It could be popular support for an idea of communism will return around the same time as the new left overcomes its cynicism towards the environmentalist movement. Secondly, the exponential growth in communicative technology provides the new left with the possibility of bypassing the older state supporting media and creates a new form of human socialisation. This is not to say that the world has already become communist along the lines of those who would argue that the ‘multitude’ now ‘subjectively’ owns the dominant means of production through their affective labour. Instead, it’s more a question of how this new technology might be utilised as a medium through which the left can rapidly mobilise and alert the public to injustice-basically, I think it’s an extremely powerful tool which hasn’t yet been fully exploited, and it provides a perfect forum from which the new left can develop its own political theories in tandem with the growing popular demands for social change.

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Thought and the State

Assumption: We cannot think The Political without thinking the State.

Media pundits and politicians agree: Politics is the State. Everywhere politics is restricted to ‘The Political’ that nefarious object which only exists where the terms have already been set, the scene furnished with the possibilities of the acceptable. The media is a great example: only that which fits their criteria of the political are covered: its phrasing, its always present relationship with the market determines its values:

Don't Miss

Politics

which sells and at once annuls conclusions. We have become

... consumers instead of political actors.

Lets not fool around, politics only occurs in one place: the thought of

13

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/07/04/honduras.coup.OAS/index.html

49

the political in the event of its becoming. It will be the aim of this article to try and determine this position in itself and in distinction to the position of politics as a particular activity and a particular thought. At present this particularity of thought finds it's generality in the thought of Capital and the State, and further, within the position of resistance, a specific non-thinking which mistakenly apes liberal democracy’s anti-intellectualism and urge for practicality in its motto of ‘do or die’ painfully close to Nike's 'just do it'. In both cases action becomes impoverished by a mistaken barring of thought and, denying its own theorising, miss-recognises itself; becomes the victim of the underwater movements of ideology and prejudice that sustains the power and inequity of the State and Capital. Opposed to both of these dissimulations I would affirm a thought which recognises its inception within the thought of the decision, and experiences its knowledge in the immediacy of its life. It does not deny and leave unexplored the particularity of its becoming; the tensions and antagonisms that bare it towards an unbounded solidarity. Thought and action are separate in rhetoric and ideology only

The State does not think.

The non-thought which sustains the State and Capital and frustrates resistance to it is the non-thought of the state-of-things. A frozen thought, caught in the dead time of administrative bureaucracy. The movement towards democracy and the state – so the story goes - under the gaze of the enlightenment, sought to distance the influence of the community, the church and the political, from the individuals private life. We all know the story: it was a freedom of the individual in the separation of the public and private realm. The state protects the individual from the inequities of human caprice.

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The counter history is that the State becomes, in turn, a governing system concerned with the control of society: the population, the economy, delinquency, madness, education; and any dissension towards its power, are the sole concern of the state. No longer individuals, but measurable productive forces. Its governing logic becomes self referential and self justifying. Raison d’état confirms the death of a free politics. 14

This story of our redemption by the State is lived out daily every time an alternative to the State and Capital falls victim to human caprice. It is, then, not enough to sit in awe at the State and Capital, oppose it, and seek to destroy it, if we do not attend to the very place which we argue shall replace it: the common. If we turn from a critique of the State and Capital to the alternatives that the thought of the to-come determine, we find terms and ideas which are irreducible to the State and Capital, they exceed the bounds of such terms. Solidarity and the common cannot be thought within the confines of the State-of-things. They call on a logic which is barred from the ‘Political’ and is lost when one concerns oneself with the terms ‘State’ and ‘Capital’ alone. A differential equality, which seeks to render thinkable a fulfillment of the individual that is at once the fulfillment of society; requiring a rendering of the individual that is not self-referential nor subsumed under the authority of social compliance. In the eternal choice between the individual or the community that pervades the antagonism’s of the twenty first century our answer is ‘yes please!’, we have no time for the logic of either/or, we know that our world overflows any demarcation we wish to set it. The logic of an opposition between thought and action stops the thinking of this to-come that is the productive labour of free time. Concerned with necessity, the State, Capitalism and a strain of

  • 14 Badio thermadores

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activism, require the same leveling concepts to render the practicality of their actions possible. The greatest irony of action set against theory is that this ‘action’ requires a conceptual framework to order its activity within a functional apparatus. This is an inevitability which repeats the essential risk of politics: the negotiation between an idealism which is necessary to project our desires into the world and a necessity of action which will betray any aspect of this ideal as it falls onto the rough and uneven ground of the world. We must consider an indispensable understanding of anarchism to overcome this double-bind. An-arche gestures towards the negation of the logic of imperialism, which, from Aristotle onwards, formulates the idea of arche as its guiding principle. Arche means at once order and origin, both the inceptive and dominative fact of the world (both the prime mover of the natural world and the basis of civic authority)

‘Aristotle [

...

]

justifies slavery by founding the archē of rulership

upon the archē of genesis. “Authority and subordination are conditions not only inevitable but also expedient: in some cases things are marked out from the moment of birth to rule or to be ruled.”’ 15

It is the logic which seeks to measure, collate and level the infinite variety of the social within a fixed topology. Arche became both the fact of domination and the fact of things; common sense: ‘this is the way things are’. The common sense of domination has been ossified into the common sense of competition and ambition. Again we find a conceptual apparatus that stops the thought of the to-come, that another world is possible, is lost to a logic which is bound to the dead time of the measurable and the knowable. This is again repeated in Hobbes. The logic - within Modern

15

http://www.waste.org/~roadrunner/writing/Levinas/AnarchismOtherPerson_WEB.htm

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Capitalism - of companies relation with their employees and Hobbes' conception of the leviathan's relation with it's subjects, can be shown to be almost indistinct. Both rely upon a dis-identification and cynicism caused by the necessity of absolute obedience of action with a supposed freedom of thought, leading to an inevitable cynicism and loss of a sense of responsibility towards the systemic violence’s occurring around them. That is, both the leviathan and the modern company, and in turn, the subjects caught in this subject positions, conflate obedience to ones job with the a sense of ones very survival, or being. As in Aristotle the present order of power is assumed because it is the form of order and as such protects one from dis-order. And guaranties its own continuation.

These systems thus base their success on equating their specific dominant articulations with the existence of Law completely ...

without these institutions people would be unable to draw a salary,

buy a house, or even purchase

food...

by situating ideological

compliance with subsistence Hobbes and capitalism effectively conflate such conformity to the achievement of order in toto. 16

humans are caught within the measurable value of productivity and obedience, your worth is measured by your capacity and solidarity is replaced by careerism. Importantly thought and actions separation are essential for such an operation.

Hobbes distinguishes between words and actions in terms of importance. It is only in and through the act that the word or verbal

longing can be actualized and

judged...to

think disobedience is as

harmless and non-punishable as to dream of murder. 17

  • 16 Peter Bloom 'Capitalism's Cynical Leviathan: Cynicism, Totallitarianism, and Hobbes in Moderrn Capitalist Regulation' in International Journal of Zizek Studies Vol.2.1 p.27

  • 17 Ibid p22-24

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An essential moment, then, of breaking out of this process is to end this separation of thought and action. Obviously this is not an argument for theory as such; especially a privileged and specific place of the academic, but of an increasing awareness of the place of thought within the realm of social change; more than anything it is the capacity to think, free of cynicism, that another world is possible.

An essential moment, then, of breaking out of this process is to end this separation of

The To-Come

54

whatever singularity is the impossible name for the individual after its emancipation from the ego and the State.

‘Whatever singularity, which wants to appropriate belonging itself, its own being-in-language, and thus rejects all identity and every condition of belonging, is the principle enemy of the State.’ 18

The whatever singularity is the necessary attempt to resist positioning

subjectivity in a place of antagonism with any object which we think can be determined, the point at which all that is solid turns to air. As

much as we can name our object of revolt: the State, Capital

when we

... look around us hegemony has been entrenched within the everyday and the logic of the State and Capital run through our bodies and our desires as much as through Institutions and laws.

The thought of the to-come founded the politics of liberation, not within the thought of Philosophers or Political theorists, but in the thought of the dispossessed in the decision of their revolt

‘Workerism and the feminism of difference were born in the 1960s from the opportunity opened by the enormous development of struggles; in these struggles, irreducible differences were posed, as new subjectivities were formed both in the workers’ battle against waged labour and in the feminine insurrection against patriarchal domination. It was the discovery of these differences that determined the rebirth of philosophy. It is resistance that produces philosophy.’ 19

  • 18 Giorgio Agamben The Coming Community, page 86

  • 19 Antonio Negri 'The Italian Difference' in Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural

and Social Philosophy, vol. 5, no. 1, 2009

55

Politics is of the multitude. The party, the State, informal hierarchies, political philosophy, none of these terms touch politics. Caught within functionalism, administration and ambition these places never touch the singularity of liberation, solidarity, nor the common.

‘Politics is a mass procedure because all singularity calls for it, and because its axiom, both straight forward and difficult, is that people think. Administration cares nothing for this, because it considers only the interests of parts. We can therefore say that politics is of the masses, not because it takes into account the ‘interests of the greatest number’, but because it is founded on the verifiable supposition that no one is enslaved, whether in thought or in deed, by the bond that results from those interests that are a mere function of one’s place.’ 20

Philosophy does not give any privileged access to revolutionary action, but, in holding itself away, shares in a distance and difference towards the struggles to which it speaks and from which it is born. The distance and difference which barres Philosophy from the common, of common sense and of universal comprehension is not, of necessity, an

act of elitism. Clearly it can be so, but philosophy's alienation is the alienation of the fool, the idiot, the person that 'just doesn't get it'. What is this 'it' which the philosopher doesn't get? it is nothing more than the cogiatio natura universalis: natural thought, the clear relation between thought and appearance which has been the building block of power for the last two thousand years and especially in the era of Capitalism and Democracy: common sense. The head of Ideology today is crowned with the laurels of facts and figures, empirical proof,

political necessity; the facts of life of laurels.

...

Philosophy seeks to sever this head

  • 20 Alain Badiou Metapolitics p.73

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What must be understood today is how much institutional state ideology - the assumption of the logic of the state by all individuals within society through state education, the media, and work place conservativism- requires not a call of ‘do or die’ but of ‘stop, think; revolt’. The logic of the State and Capital is the logic of crisis; of panic, ‘do or die’ reiterates this panic. Most people are too caught up in the former to entertain the later.

What must be understood today is how much institutional state ideology - the assumption of the

We know everything

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The specialists already know everything, we should just leave it up to them. But the specialists know nothing, divorced from the reality of others lives they fulfill the necessities of their function, never questioning the parameters of there authority. Another form of specialisation: the activist, chasing the newest trend in resistance, becomes lost in an ever changing certainty, always precocious. the term activist denotes and causes the creation of a subject caught in a bound solidarity. Caught up in the subjectivities prescribed to us, often assumed in resistance, we lose the true sight of insurrection: love. Love is the moment in which the multitude correspond, it is the moment of the more than one which calls us beyond the egoism of Capitalism. It is born of poverty and found in the mutual suffering of this world. The revolt of the multitude is the becoming poor of the multitude.

As much as they are irreducible, any moment when we cannot produce ourselves as the very lack of the State, its pointlessness; that is, every time a scene collapses on itself out of egoism and ambition, or shudders under the weight of the clique, we justify the necessity of the State. As a general principle: ‘when the movement is there, act as if it was not there; when it's not, act as if it was.' 21 The threat is however serious.

The understanding of 'movement' has a history which began with the revolts of France, the Paris commune etcetera, but one which at some point became Fascism, the movement of the people subsumed under the ideology of the State and Capital found in the bitter compromises of Europe - which proceeded from the internal wars between the people and the State and Capital - and the violent disavowal of this necessary contradiction in the determination, and attempted negation,

  • 21 Giorgio Agamben 'Movement' in http://www.generation-online.org/p/fpagamben3.htm

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of ‘the Jew’. If a movement becomes enamoured of itself; becomes itself for itself, it loses the decisive movement: the movement of the common, the multitude; the whatever singularity. That is, in terms of logic it becomes self referential, no longer multiple; totalising, and thus, excluding. But movements are beyond us, they are not, if they are at all, under our control.

'movement is the constitution of a power as power. But if this is true then we cannot think of movement as external or autonomous in relation to the multitude or the people. It can never be the subject of a decision, organisation, direction of the people, or the element of politicisation of the multitude or the people.'

State Democracy is the re-presentation of the population; 'movement' is the presentation of the multitude. As soon as the movement seeks to be a re-presentation it enters the logic and the function of the State.

‘the movement is that which if it is, is as if it wasn't, it lacks

itself; and if it isn't,

is as if it was,

it exceeds itself'.

It is the

threshold of indeterminacy between an excess and a deficiency

that

marks

the

limit

of

every

politics

in

its

constitutive

imperfection. ' 22

Similarly the whatever-singularity is the sign of that which presents itself in politics, manifests in an unbounded solidarity, and seeks nothing for itself.

Talking with others it seems they feel excluded from ‘Activism’ this word which has a precarious relationship with the term ‘movement’: it was a movement it is a movement, the movement is probably dead,

22

ibid

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remembering, nostalgia, a term without content: The Scene… without conscious effort the multitude are excluded and the common is lost in a precocious vanguardism. Here we see a moment of tragedy and of hope. It is a tragedy because, if we consider ourselves to be in possession of a movement, it will fall through our fingers as we grasp at its becoming. A hope because, if we cannot find it, it will constitute itself from our longing and consolidate itself forever in the thought of our emancipation.

From this point we need to become multiple, holding contradictory thoughts: we need to constitute groups and networks of resistance:

sabotage, riots, theft; human strike. We need to exit from the hegemony of Capitalism, determine new communities, new relations outside of the production of capital. But at once, we cannot let this exit allow us to think we can distinguish oursleves from the common which finds itself in the very grips of this hegemony, not only in our situation but in the very sense of our selves, as subjects. We need to be able to respond to all the manifold dissimulations by which we adhere to a structure which oppresses everyone.

The whatever singularity and the call of solidarity shatter the common sense of the separations, conducted and made natural by the power and ideology of the State and Capital, which oppose each individual against the other and reduces us to measurable value. 'Solidarity', 'the common'; 'the whatever singularity', these terms relate to a particular form of thought opposed to the privileging of the same above difference, the one over the multiple, the self over the other; the measurable over the immeasurable. In this sense, the thought that these terms relate to require multiple nominations to resist the order of the same. Further the nominations cannot relate to a particular order of the

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world - a subject as such - It is only the order of the one that cons itself into such an assumption. No, these nominations can only hope to call out in the night of dissimulations, hear others call back, and begin to come.

Similarly the terms of critique can only nominate terms which, within the thought gambled for, cannot place its analysis at the feet of a precise object; a person to blame, but, through the nominations of 'Capital', the 'State' and the 'Ego' relate the thought of the one; the measurable; the self in negation of the other, toward impossible moments that catch our freedom in dead time and bind us all in the servitude of subsumption. Solidarity is the negation of judgement. However (unlike the thought that emanates from these moments and determine, judge and condemn), from the position of difference, these nominations can only be placed in the service of a reflection upon the thought of each of these oppressions as if they were already whatever singularities, as if they were already not operating under the subsumption of the same, calling out across the fog of ideology. It is a thought outside the order of representation, a thought which is the creative production at the point of the void of the future. Action divorced from thought is a dead action condemned to repeat the values of the same; action which understands it’s generation in the thought of the decision and the creative production of the to-come; played out amongst the singularities of the common, produces freedom.

The hegemony around us conducts two movements: at once it divides us in two: friend/enemy; civilian/barbarian, and shatters us all in a personal alienation. Our response: to unify in the more than one:

solidarity and egalitarianism are the qualitive obverse of the friend/ enemy distinction. And rather than being shattered into a million

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personal alienations we forge, amidst this more-than-one, multiple singularities which find solidarity in their common relation. The bastardisation of freedom into the meritocracy which binds it to the ambition of the individual is reversed in the real separation of personal desire and social prescription in the only possible way: through the spontaneous consideration of other people found in the movement of the more-than-one. It is not enough to note that without the State we would still have a lot to deal with, a lot of problems, almost too many given the amount of trauma the Nation State itself has managed to dole out in its short life, we must affirm that these problems are ours.

Disenchantment does not restore the enchanted thing to its original state: According to the principle that purity never lies at the origin, disenchantment gives it only the possibility of reaching a new condition. 23

We are within a civil war, global in nature, a war which occurs within the social. It is applied through law, ideology, prescription, exclusion, and cowardice; as much as on any physical violence or coercion. It oppresses us all as it is directly opposed to life. It freezes labour, the law and social relations within an equalising and functional meritocracy. obsessed with the reduction of life to that of calculable effect, it can no longer consider the incalculable, immeasurable affects of an often silent violence that rages through the blood and desires of each one of us.

  • 23 Giorgio Agamben State of exception p.88

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