They tried to bury us. They did not know we were seeds.
-- Mexican Proverb
Theresa May and David Cameron really are disingenuous; they know very well -- as we all do, but are supposed to pretend not to know -- that the more they try to bury political agitators beneath the fertile dirt of repression, the more seedlike those political agitators become. 'Radicalisation' requires only one thing -- state-inflicted trauma. And trauma can be defined as anything which steals the voice, isolating and dislocating it. As such May's extreme rhetoric over an organically unified society against which one is not permitted to 'value' differently, coupled with new 'anti-extremist' policies, if they pass into legislation, are in fact highly pro-extermist (in the sense of being productive of extremism, one might even say 'proto-extremist'), being precisely the way to circumvent what would have been legitimate political oppositions (i.e. politics itself, as the possession of the people, in the agonistic tradition bequethed to us by Athenian democracy) and to instead produce terrorists, i.e. a depoliticised category of securitisation.
If psychoanalysis were to have an innovative role in a Foucauldian genealogy of the human subject in Western societies, it would not be because it explains our nature in terms of our sexuality (this would be merely an addition to the history of attempts to define a "human nature"), but rather because it defines the sexual itself as that which profoundly disorients any effort whatsoever to constitute a human subject.1
This in fine highlights one of my problems with essentialism, particularly with essentialism of a non-strategic variety; mimesis (Irigaray) I will admit is of profound value. Essentialism as the bedrock of an identitarian politics, however, I cannot but see as problematic and ahistorical. What is 'essential' about the human condition is precisely its lacking of essence, the pure historicity of the factical elements of which the subject is a constitutive transcendence. In this sense, all identity is at root 'strategic', arising in response to a lack of innate procedures and incoherent drives in the face of a contingently granted and historical environment. I only insist on this point for politically consequential reasons, although those reasons may also be ontologically determinate. In this respect I think it is well worth making a clarification of my fundamental position on identitarian politics, which must be based on proper distinctions.
It irks me no end to see Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek 'Finance Minister' under Syriza, persistently referred to in the press -- even on the left -- as a game-theorist, when his published position on game theory is very far from being an uncritical endorsement.
I don't like it when others write in an overly gnomic way, so I suppose I should resist the temptation as well.
It's interesting that a technocratic business school graduate (now a professor) in the USA used to frequently mistake me for a post-humanist. I'm not a post-humanist, but I find it interesting that there are occasions on which I pass for one.
One may have a Marx-on-Capital, Ollivander-on-Voldemort appreciation of the achievements and greatness of popular culture without this in any way having to constitute a 'guilty pleasure'. What appeals to us appeals to us for a reason, and often that reason lies precisely in the promise of how much better it might be outside of relations of commodity, in some different system of social mediation.
Just a few hurried notes.
Firstly, why the shock? Did anyone ever seriously doubt that neoliberalism was deeply criminogenic with respect to its supply chains? You can't keep food prices 'competitively' low--further legitimating, by the way, the lowest possible wage for working consumers--without the use of extreme exploitation somewhere in the production process (including of course 'technical' production, distribution, exchange and consumption). Everyone already knew this, or at the very least deeply suspected it. By now we've become adept at disavowing our own sense of complicity, while individual expressions of guilt really do achieve nothing.
So this is going to be one of those in-betweeny, not-much-to-say updates with dribs and drabs of filler material. These take the form of a number of observations.
We continue to enjoy the rule of the coalition government: a government that lays waste to social and public networks of support and co-operation, mercilessly cutting away infrastructure and institution, slash-and-burning the fabric of collective socialisation while complaining that Britain is 'broken'; holding fire-sales of public institutions and commons to ridiculously underprice their value for private investors to gobble up; bemoaning all the while the bureaucracy and waste of state, public and civil resources while installing at every level a new and highly punitive authoritarianism intended to ensure the ubiquity of competitive, marketised behaviour. There is nothing streamlined, 'lean', or regulation-lite about austerity neoliberalism, when it comes to implementing and enforcing market 'logic', and nor is there anything personally liberating or individually self-realising about considering all persons to be autonomous entrepreneurs. Already-existing entrepreneurs, which is to say, hereditary millionaires who had the ingenious idea of being born into the right family, exhibit behaviours which are of course as phenomenally under-regulated as those of the financial sector, whose exploits triggered a global economic collapse (later blamed on state expenditure, and of course the Labour party). But for everyone else, for 'the 99%' (why not), all aspects of life must be strictly regulated by the intervention of competitive market mechanisms, from education to decisions about how to die.
Q: can/should the colour blue be reclaimed for the left? pic.twitter.com/yiIynDgoBW
— bat020 (@bat020) February 13, 2014
In answering this question, I want to contextualise the political aesthetics of blue, so to speak. This won't even touch anything like a fully-considered genealogy of the aesthetic usage of blue, but constitutes what I would consider to be a paradigmatic 'sampling'.
What I find interesting is that all social movements, from 1968 onwards, tend to confidently assert that they are 'not a unified social movement'. This even goes for the latest neoreactionary groups like the 'Dark Enlightenment'. Indeed the fact that a deep unease over asserting any kind of unity, long used as a kind of shibboleth for the new social movements, can so easily be accommodated to the new political Right, is deeply troubling. After this point, whatever was distinctly politically Leftist about the systematic rejection of 'totalising' forms of social unity, especially when the rhetoric is uncritically and unthinkingly reproduced by groups on the Left, begins to evaporate. How many accounts of social movements and groups begin by including the disclaimer, 'of course, _____ is not, and never was, a unified social force'? In this ubiquitous and flippant usage, not even functioning as a token Deleuzean valorisation of 'difference' over 'dialectic', it risks meaning virtually nothing. It risks shading into continuity with late capitalism, which has itself functioned perfectly 'through the management and distribution of differences' (Noys 2010:x)