resistance

The domination-resistance paradigm has been replaced by modulation that de-centers power and makes it impossible to cut the head off of the king.  Resisting the clutches of the school didn’t make one free of the police, or even the asylum for that matter.  It was only vulnerable to entropy and sabotage.  But when considered with the even more complicated relational network of control societies, formulating a radical political project on resistance to domination is inadequate.  Contemporary resistance has to consider that governance thrives primarily off of transgression.  Capitalism is crisis, and the State gets legitimacy and power from managing them.  Addressing problems or even provoking a crisis is where governance works best. The path to resistance requires being both faster and slower than capital, to be more collective but more selective, and to be more free but also more committed.

You’ve got to take the good with the bad. Just as Marx criticized the Proudhon for imaging capitalism to have a good side that could be kept and a bad side that could be left behind, we can criticize attempts to simply become-communist without a fight.[1] A naïve illusion that ‘it’s always better in analog’ follows a Luddite logic that will only end in defeat. Communism, or the revolution, or whatever, will have to come from a unique combination of speed up and slowing down. It’s not just about being joyous, then you’re only thinking about yourself. Don’t leave it purely up to change, think like a writer planning out a monograph; you need to cast your gaze wider in order to find the right combination of joy and sadness.

This is how it should be done: Lodge yourself on a stratum, experiment with the opportunities it offers, find an advantageous place on it, find potential movements of deterritorialization, possible lines of flight, experience them, produce flow conjunctions here and there, try out continuums of intensities segment by segment, have a small plot of new land at all times. It is through a meticulous relation with the strata that one succeeds in freeing lines of flight… [ATP]

Faster But Slower: We are much faster than global capitalism.  It injects the world with pregnant potential before the slow process of capture catches up to complete the revolution of its gigantic circuit.

So here are a few things to consider:
1)   Hijacking often overwhelms the original. Contra Baudrillard, Deleuze reminds us the simulacrum carries the potential to differ. So much so, that the original can have less power than its iterations. The internet is full of examples, they usually go by the name of “memes.” A picture from some obscure video game, anime character, or web-user is made into the face for an event. While a significatory reading would try to ask why that particular image was chosen, they lose track of the real force behind its (more or less) meaninglessness: the event. Like the schizophrenic body, the schizophrenic meme is made to envelope that rides a wide of transversal connections.

  1. Transductive Politics. For politics, the aim would then to construct events with an eye to their transductive potential.  Experimenting with the ‘long tails’ of local change as they’re transmitted into other milieus.  Or alternatively, insulating a milieu from the change catalyzed inside it by external forces.
  2. Occupy to escape!  Find a line of flight, take it, and intersect it with others. Peer-to-peer filesharing is the perfect example.  Once something is propagated on the internet it is nearly impossible to stop.  And with protocols like BitTorrent, you can create distributive networks that make regulation nearly impossible

2)   Slow the gears! Low-Fi can win the day. Deliberate slowing down sabotages a system whose sole means of survival relies on the process of speeding things up. The low-fi revolution was able to wrest rock and roll away from corporations in the form of punk. It was done again when ‘indie’ took on grunge’s slow dive into nu-metal and modern rock. Anyone who’s been to an underground punk show can tell you, it’s only partially about the music. Slowing down simultaneously demonstrates that there is something to the ‘human-scale economics.’  Every slowdown is a valorization of the contingency and the becoming-otherwise that cuts off flows. And that’s where lo-fi is won and lost – if it’s only about a repeatable aesthetic, it’s only a matter of time until the record labels catch on. But if there’s something else embedded in the culture – a DIY ethic or an anti-capitalist ethos – then the pathos can stay underground. (Films follow a similar trajectory: think Art House and Blair Witch to Hollywood’s Indie conglomerates)

  1. As Mario Savio declared in 1964: “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.

Create a Politics of Rhythm! If combined, speed and slowness can create a counter-rhythm to the rhythm of Capital and the State.  Like the combination of waves the to make interference, the combination of rhythms results in a new pattern. First, one must first produce a rhythm that is out of sync.  Only then can one begin to experiment, opening up new worlds of motion through improvisation.


[1] The Poverty of Philosophy, Chapter 2

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4 thoughts on “resistance

  1. Great blog- I just found it. It’s good to see someone else who hangs in anarchist circles writing about Theory.

    I agree with the majority of this post, but the references to A Thousand Plateau trouble me a bit.

    It seems to me the ideas you outlined are pretty much what most anarchist culture is putting into practice these days. Deterritorialization, the production of memes invisible to Empire, etc. Your criticism of what I guess you could call anarchist “jouissance”, being joyous as a revolutionary acitivity , is spot on and a major problem with revolutionary youth culture these days.

    But it seems to me that the majority of the concepts created by D&G in ATP have been subsumed into the logic of virtual capital and its supplement of liberal multiculturalism; following lines of flight, affective flows, deterritorialization….these have all become the tools of advertising and the liberal agenda. I should go back and read ATP and see if there’s much to be gotten from it. I was seduced as a kid, but it just hasn’t held up over the years.

    Looking forward to reading the rest of your blog!

    1. thanks for the kind words.

      the terms D&G use are not partisan, but the population of the field of contestation (aka terrain of struggle). the fact that things like happiness, enthusiasm, forms of escape, and resistance are being co-opted makes the struggle over them that much more important.

      may i ask, friendly, what not-yet-compromised terms you utilize for analysis?

  2. I guess I’ve moved over to the Badiou/Zizek camp of Lacanian-Hegelian analysis. It feels like the only cogent form of analysis for both capitalism and revolutionary struggle these days. My suspicion of D&G is difficult to to elucidate….in the end it seems too techno-utopian.

    Deleuze’s updating of ontological univocity was his genius; it was when he teamed up with Guattari that he lost his bearings. His investigations and experiments with emancipatory politics are too tinged with the time in which they were written, he’s too obsessed with being anti-Freudian.

    I’m all for a return to Freud, and the new wave of interest in Lacan is where it’s at, I feel.

    I do see a strain in your above post that troubles me, though. When you say,

    “A naïve illusion that ‘it’s always better in analog’ follows a Luddite logic that will only end in defeat,”

    it seems a bit too techno-utopian for me there, as well. Political experimentation and creating out-of-sync rhythms can only be performed using different methods, such as the analog used in conjunction with the digital, etc. Not just as an aesthetic device, but as an analytical and political one, as well.

    I think we can see this embracing of the “analog” (logic) in the newer forms of anarchist culture, the “looking-backward” of old-timey kids or the neo-primitivist strain (which, although ideologically obscene, I’m not quite ready to give up on just yet as being potentially valent for emancipatory struggle). There’s value in a retreat from virtuality, that is, virtuality in the sense of technological systems of knowledge; it opens up another more vital space of virtuality. Culturally, of course, but then aren’t you primarily speaking of culture in the above post?

    1. Thank you for the clarification.

      I would refer you back to the suggestion “Faster But Slower” idea that the post was framed w/in. I believe you might be making a distinction without a difference between your own perspective and the one presented here.

      Additionally, I would kindly remind you that the “virtual” is not virtual reality. Brian Massumi has a nice essay in Parables entitled “On the Superiority of the Analog” that might help you clarify the distinction. In addition, I agree that my perspective has no truck with Heidegger (aka Lacan) or any other conservative critiques of technology. I’m no futurist (though Bifo’s chapter on autonomist futurism is quite comical, in the best sense: https://wiki.brown.edu/confluence/download/attachments/73535007/B-precarious_rhapsody_semiocapitalism_and.pdf “first birfurcation”), but I think the French philosophy of science tradition, esp Serres and Stengers is quite rewarding, as well as all of the German new materialism (Kittler, etc).

      Lastly, I wonder how you find Zizek/Badiou to be commensurate with anarchism (if you do). They are unapologetic authoritarians who are guardians of revolutions long past. [[Have you read any of Andy Robinson’s work? His interventions seems decisive.]]

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