Crisis of Sovereignty

Jean Camaroff: the sources of sovereignty have become radically destabilized—whether we are talking about the power that underwrites currencies of value, or the conditions that stabilize the meaning of language; whether we’re talking about the authority that enables law enforcement (effective police forces, for instance) and the keeping of order in a specific territory—whatever we have assumed underlies such authority in its modern form has become radically ambiguous. The tangible source of supreme authority vested in the democratic state and all that it implied—whether this was Fort Knox and the Bretton Woods System, or the monopoly over the means of violence and the means of death—all have been undermined in their orthodox modern form. Hence the reaching for more clear, seemingly certain sovereigns, theologies, divinities.

Continue reading “Crisis of Sovereignty”

Lines in the Sand

Replacing power/knowledge, I suggest the tripartite lines of rigid-supple-escape developed by Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus.  In their anti-essentialist ontology, Deleuze and Guattari posit that heterogeneous collections of elements come together in particular relations to form assemblages, contingent formations that produce certain effects.  Capitalism, for instance, is an assemblage.  One way to describe how assemblages are organized is by the lines that compose them.  For Deleuze and Guattari, there are three types of organizing lines: supple lines, rigid lines, and lines of flight.  Continue reading “Lines in the Sand”

Power: Breaking the Liberal Domination-Resistance Paradigm

Theories of power previous to Foucault were largely based in terms of sovereign or juridical power – roughly equivalent to the dynastic power of the monarch and the legal power of the social contract.  The sovereign view of power imagines power as an original right held by the king to which the subject responds.  As the state form emerged, power arrangements were recast according to a social contract that posits citizen-subjects that are afforded a minor autonomy that both limits and authorizes the power of government.  While most political and social theory is stuck within these two types of power, Foucault emphasized two forms of power that he argues have displaced the importance of sovereign and juridical power: disciplinary power and biopower.  Continue reading “Power: Breaking the Liberal Domination-Resistance Paradigm”

desire

But what is it that I am referring to when I say “desire”? In a few words, I refer to three processes. First: the impulse of attraction, which draws us towards certain universes, and the impulse of repulsion, which pushes us away from others without us knowing exactly why, blindly guided by the affects that each of these encounters generates in our body. Second: the forms of expression that we create in order to bring into the visible and utterable the sensible states that such connections and disconnections progressively produce in our subjectivity. Third: the metamorphoses of ourselves and of our territories of existence, which are fabricated in this process.

–Suely Rolnik, “Deleuze, Schizoanalyst”

Ghost Stories

Transcript of a talk I gave December 10th, 2011, as part of an Occupy event entitled “Economics Justice, Economic Resistance.”

I. OCCUPY

I want to begin with two stories from the first weeks of the Occupy protests in New York City.

Think first of CNN’s Erin Burnett, who, in her segment “Seriously?!”, which covered Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park downtown, asked the question, “What are they protesting?” What did she decide? That “nobody seems to know.”

Or, to use our favorite whipping boy, Fox News, look to the outtakes from their show “On the Record.” The Occupy interviewee, dogged with the question of how he wants the protests to “end,” artfully finds ways to refuse the question. His response? “As far as seeing it end, I wouldn’t like to see it end. I would like to see the conversation to continue.”

By now, I’m sure we have each come up with our own way to respond to this feigned ignorance. Some try to add to the seemingly endless list of demands. Others gesture to the Trotskyite desire for a permanent revolution. Even others try to simplify things down to a few key points.

II. GHOST STORIES

Today, I would like to propose something much more profound:

We need to learn how to tell ghost stories.

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how to be an anarchist

If ‘anarchy’ is organization without authority, then the physical world exists almost exclusively in anarchy. In fact, as anthropologist Pierre Clastres argues, societies without a state aren’t evolutionarily ‘behind the times’ but constitute well-functioning human orders that anticipate the state and intentionally ward it off.[i] But, while some self-identified anarchists choose to be rocked to sleep to lullabies of primitive dreamtime, this project is something altogether different. Anarchism, as opposed to anarchy, is understood here as a conjunctural practice carefully constructed to intervene within problematics both historically and materially singular. Anarchy existed first as a nightmare to transcendent authority – first to the Priest and then to the King – whose paranoia began to secrete its own atheism, and only later was it taken up and given a material existence. Just as communism was the specter haunting Europe in the midst of an industrial revolution, as parts of the world now slip into post-industrial decay, anarchism extends as a figure of chaos hiding in the shadows of all ‘society.’ Continue reading “how to be an anarchist”

Capitalism is an Abusive Relationship

is capitalism jealous or possessive toward you?
does capitalism try to control you by being very bossy or demanding?
does capitalism isolate you or demand you cut off certain relationships?
is capitalism violent and/or does it lose its temper quickly?
does capitalism pressure you sexually, demanding sexual activities you are not comfortable with? Continue reading “Capitalism is an Abusive Relationship”