Saturday, January 28, 2017

'White Male'

MRA activists have historically been subjected to violence from feminists and their allies. And the reasoning behind this is evident; for the celebration of men as such, men as functioning in lockstep with abusive men, violating womyn, etc., ought to be shameful. Similarly, the celebration of being white is ridiculous if it is not distanced from lynching and violence carried out against APOC folks. Unqualified celebration of whiteness, then, leaves open the criticism of association with white supremacists; qualified whiteness or maleness that unequivocally makes the association with violence impossible should be sufficient for getting on with the celebration--if celebration were even to be a thing that anyone should care about. The problem is that no one would have ever thought of celebrating whiteness if it were't for the fact that folks have been attacking whites for simply being white. That is, everyday white people don't like being told there is something wrong with them; for there isn't; there would only be something wrong with them if they were actual white supremacists, and being white (in skin colour) is obviously not sufficient.

I've written before that being white and male in the intended sense is a matter of performance; being white male means living at the peak of privilege, which is ugly/repulsive in itself. Being white in this sense is a matter of not necessarily being white; thus one that is black can become white, while remaining black; for Obama was performatively white even though he was black. Accordingly, white people, if they are white in the performance sense, pass easily; Black people might perform very well but may have difficulty passing in every context. The question for bio-political beings is a question of passing; if anyone can perform whiteness, anyone can fail to pass. The advantage of being white in the sense of having a white body is therefore that one might be 1] perceived to pass, when in fact they are complete privilege-failures, and 2], that if they want to perform, such can come "naturally". Being an anarchist makes 1] the only possibility for white people, to say nothing of the easy simplicity assumed by the conditional at 2]: There is nothing natural about being a capitalist, whether white or APOC; thus, it is not easier for white people to get the hang of capitalism because privilege, now, in late capitalism, is more than likely simply a matter of earning it. That is, anarchists shouldn't want privilege. Hence, 2 seems to be a non-starter. We no longer live in a world that assumes only APOC folks are revolutionary subjects. Performing white is all it takes to avoid the marker; for anyone can be captured and rendered "bare life".

People know there is nothing wrong with being white. Anarchists should affirm that there is something wrong with being performatively white. Without making a qualification about what we mean by saying there is something wrong with being white, we allow for trolls like Milo whatever the fuck his name is to affirm there is nothing wrong with being white. When will anarchists agree? When their APOC friends authoritatively permit them to do so? Fuck that.

The Significance of Trump in the Age of Exception.

The limits and reality of counter-state violence is gestured at by Walter Benjamin in his Kantian Critique of Violence. We take it as obviously true, without conspiracy, that States only let us get away with what they can handle. This is because resistance is legal. 

A moment in radical left reality, say a march, or a parade, is oK if it is permitted. Therefore a moment outside its purview is the unpermitted march. Cops hate this; but chances are good that they will lead the entire way anyway, containing it from becoming an insurrection. The march or parade or legal protest becomes extra-legal when it turns into a riot, or an unlawful assembly, first; declared whimsically by the cops, first as unlawful (perhaps, which is to say not-necessarily), then as riot, then finally as abandoned insurrection. Yet, even Ferguson wasn't genuinely abandoned; it was left to be as such, as though this event! would eventually fizzle, thereby justifying further biopolitics. For the State there must not be an outside!

The paradox of Sovereignty, as outlined by Giorgio Agamben, is that there are few checks on the limits of power that the constituitive function of power maintain (and so), can legally undermine. The possibility of martial law, slowly eroded from legality, attests to the brute fact that the Sovereign can will whatever, come what may, against whomever may come to challenge. The outlaw who can, somehow, outrun the legality of the state and its imposition, is the one that can retain a moment of the state of nature, against that which, it seems, contains every possibility of violence in its orbit.  The contract that our European ancestors gave up, from administering justice themselves over to the one that would do it on our behalf--do we still believe this incredible proposition?--permits the state to will into reality whatever it likes, from "pacified/pacifying" means of violence in everyday police reality and maintenance, to the brute force of fiat law ex nihilo caught up in the concept of martial law. If, however, martial law in the microscopic merely entails the creative act of law, then every moment of police impunity carries this reality, making martial law the rule, and rarely the exception. 

Chance are good that Trump won't do much that his predecessors already were wont to do. His cronies, however, the alt-right that are dying for a chance to be accepted by Trump--at present his sin is a mere act of omission--have somehow been enabled to carry out the divisive work his own genesis as possibly-president required. The white-privilege protector who carried out a shooting for which he was absolved with his word: "self-defence," did so as though the state of nature wasn't really challenged, even though, importantly, the violent legality of the act as such, undermines the monopoly on violence of the Sovereign. Perhaps then what we witnessed here is a moment of doing the right thing by the lights of the Sovereign, on behalf of the Sovereign, which was forgiven without reprimand. Free Policing! Witness Leviathan!

I predict that Trump will do nothing extraneous with respect to growth in power, that unity will be the goal by way of biopolitical mastery (the ultimate goal being political docility). I propose that the divisive elements caught up in the origin of Trump, must be occluded, somehow, and yet that the state of exception as martial law (lawlessness) will be permissible everywhere so long as one acts only on the way to the divisions that already exist and already make life disturbing. Trump, then, is merely an intensified Obama. Under Obama we already saw the possibility that anyone deemed a terrorist could be thrown in jail without trial; we saw nothing done by a "Black" president for police powers that carry out racist shootings; under Trump we will see the term terrorist figure itself as indicating anyone that doesn't put America first, which is understandable, indeed reasonable for its citizens, and a total joke for members of other Sovereign nations. And we will probably see more police. But this was a long time coming. 

I also want to say that it is very possible that Trump functions to recuperate the radical right, a real threat to state sovereignty. These must then get a pass, just as the Black bloc is given a pass, for the most part. They must be punished, or seem to be on the whole and for the most part, but carrying out such acts must never be made impossible, for the obvious reason that people got to sublimate somehow, given repressed desires. If Trump never condones racist acts of the police (turning them instead to iterations of proper job-functioning) and sometimes ignores racist shootings so long as they can have some legal justification (in the above case, self-defence), then it will forever be the case that the white rebel is contained, and the ultimate legality of the USA is never overturned. A little goes a long way. That is, I bet Trump will never clean his robes of his origins because governmentality must contain and make docile every american citizen, even reactionaries. Let's hope the real racists never realize they've been duped...

Friday, January 20, 2017

Negation II

To say that one is Anti-X implies that one is against something, opposed, in opposition. Strictly, being an enemy of X is to be opposed to X. 

But the matter is hardly easy to address, which is why the word of the margarine word contains so much insight: It is too easy to say that if you are not with us, you're against us, that, if you are in opposition to leftism (because it is pro-state/civilization), you agree with right wing politics.--As if these positions were easy to figure. In Negation I, I implied that there is a world of difference between double negation contained and spelled out in Logical operations, whereby not-not A is logically equivalent to A (boolean equivalency), and, on the other hand, the operation that occurs in a delicate qualification when we bracket the position and negate, as in not(not-A); for in the latter moment, the term has a different meaning, because the negation being negated does not permit alteration. Of course, it is not that this operation of bracketing functions coercively to deny the reduction to boolean equivalence, obviously; it is that this possibility might shed some light on some contradictions and difficulties in anarchist practise. Consider being against the left. By now most of us can see that being post-left doesn't mean one is right wing, alt-right or whatever; the explanation is that the margarine world (Cf. Margarine Words) is a rendering only by coercion and ignorance, of logical reductions switched and imposed upon pragmatic uses. However, the important thing is that the margarine word as a logical maneuver doesn't have any loyalty. Given that most of us can see that post-left signifies a position beyond the right and beyond the left, perhaps this can-opener can help us to see other issues. To gather the question before us, I want to note that Nationalism is not a special property of Fascism, unless Left Fascism means something. Now, Antifa doesn't seem to see the point spelled out by Fredy Perlman  here; only groups roughly associated with Neo-Nazis fit the bill; rarely, if ever, Stalinists; rarely, if ever, Maoists. The critique that both these authoritarian positions are fascisms because capital creates classes, because the state never withered away in Leftist Countries is important; but even more important is the historical fact that Nationalism has supported popular leftist uprisings. It would seem then that, prima facie, Nationalism is not sufficient for defining right wing politics. Perhaps we can untangle the problem by making a concerted effort to understand the social imaginary around "race". 

Terms like "racism" are nearly meaningless because they tend to be vaguely univocal, to the point that it is difficult to convince someone that falls under racism, from one side, to think of themselves as such. If racism was originally defined as being anti-Black, that a racist¹ is one that is trying to protect the white race, then, analogously, the idea is that, in its second stage, it is racist² to be against immigration because such is an effort to protect White (read: national) privilege. The racist¹ position is that, the one that has been rendered included (bare-life, on the way to full inclusion, however subordinate) ought to remain subordinate with respect to rights; in the second sense, the idea is that those that have been included, without rights ought not to have rights, and ought to be returned wherever, and that those not yet included ought to remain excluded. The aporia surrounding this double sense is that everyday people think we are talking about racism¹ when we are talking about racism², and that, importantly, protecting national privilege has, at once, something properly historical to do with being white--which everyone accepts--but which now (under racism²) means the problem of having become (or becoming) white. Thus, one can easily point to the problem of the black President leading the Empire of white privilege; his blackness was never poor; it was never the APOC revolutionary figure set to challenge white privilege, because, National privilege is no longer white privilege in the sense that reifies external bodily markings. Anyone can become an enemy of the state, anyone can become bare-life under the continuous threat of martial law defined as such in an exemplary and ontologically explicit way for the prisoner or the homeless person. These have been rendered right-less; and it is because the state gives us rights that these can be taken away. The State is Sovereign and independent of us in its capacity to narrow and make explicit the ontology of Martial Law, which need not be totally explicit. Thus, if anyone can be rendered bare life, anyone can participate in the production of wealth that is signified by the meaning of Becoming White.  The obvious conclusion which returns to mark race¹ and race² as a mere and difficult analogy to argue is that not All National Privilege is the sole property of white people, because, being a white person isn't necessary for Becoming White.  

And so, the average poor person in the west may very well be anti-immigrant--given the problem of vying for scraps, for jobs--but it is difficult to label them racist because, as they would insist, they are evidently not anti-black. They do not hate all blacks--they have black friends, they might say--they are just pro-nationalist, and as such, it is a consequence for them to despise Others in the way things are going badly, Others in an uncertain future that might still be controlled to their redneck favour through a few petty reforms of law. The redneck that hates the immigrant, perhaps not explicitly but rather simply because they themselves are patriotic, is no more common on the left than on the right, since patriotism is neither explicitly left or right. The racist that thinks all blacks should be lynched deserves nothing good, obviously. What I want to say is that the redneck living in the woods that doesn't really care about much except life with their family and survival, may very well be a racist, but it is not simply because they love their country that they are racist. It is mere rhetoric to label them nazis; the negation of what anti-fascists say poorly is not noncoercively reducible to neo-nazi fascism. Nationalism is not essentially neo-nazi fascism. This is another consequence of the logic of the margarine word; we have to watch the slippage it creates. And not because racists deserve a free pass, but rather because everyday people aren't political. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Archaeology: Developing Agamben's Homo Sacer

Zoe And Bios

Zoe and Bios are two terms that indicate Nature and Culture, respectively; and these two terms animate the analytic of Agamben's Homo Sacer.  (Henceforth, HS)

First, it is important to note that zoe, or bare life, is functionally defined by bios, as that which is prior to capture, as that which is not yet included specifically into the citizenry. Yet here the term indicates that which is also included in being excluded. That is, even though Zoe is technically excluded from bios, it is also marked as biopolitical; the process (one might say of domestication) is one of being released from existence (invisible) to zoe (very visible) in order to be included in bios (passable). That is, with zoe, one is banned from bios in order to be included in bios, or, perhaps, to be further excluded. It is the latter moment that constitutes the camp, where one is neither bios nor zoe, if we take zoe to mean the intention for X is to be included in bios. 

This frame of zoe and bios has always been part of the history of the West. Aristotle noted that human being (men, more specifically) is "animal with the capacity for politics" (HS, 3, 7), and yet, in order for it to achieve eudaimonia, it requires being grafted into politics. Of course, not all men were potentially political. According to the history of the concept of The People (cf., Homo Sacer, pp 176-7), the term People traces an index of ambiguity; for the term, "The People", cannot fail to exclude the mass, a group of people incapable of rule, one might say, but of which it would be more precise to say, as rendered incapable of ruling by the ruling class. Aristotle says that the common man, with his hands dirty from the trades, has not acquired the capacity to be contemplative enough to participate in politics. It was always the exclusion of poor people, refugees, migrants, from ruling everyone that made the construction of Zoe possible; yet, if class politics are essential in the modern state, the concentration camp as permanent potential zone isn't surprising. If the need to define bios, traced in Nazi Germany as the need to define the Germanic people by way of eugenics, is part of what we do--and the trace, The People, indicates this possibility--, then the camp is not some distant moment in the past, but is, rather, "the hidden matrix and nomos of the political space in which we are living." (HS, 166).


The Sovereign is the one that has the legal capacity to establish martial law, which is a legal moment (thus, justified) in which (s)he can suspend the law (HS, 15). In this moment of suspension, the rule of law that certain crimes are punishable, is no longer present. In this moment whereby the sovereign can act as they please, they have legally made themselves an exception to the law; rather than suppose that the chaotic state of nature is left at the gates of the city, those captured by the (papa)ratus are forced to yield (with the threat of remaining zoe to the paparatus), to the sovereign which takes into itself the possibility of redressing the state of nature writ large. The state of nature is not what is prior to domestication; no, the state of nature is the result of the sovereign suspending the rule of law; the creation of chaos (in order to produce the filial desire for order) (HS, 35). Given that the legal function of the Sovereign contains the legal possibility of illegality, or rather, the possibility of this term no longer making sense, the Potentialities of the state conjoin as legality and extra legality, whereby the law and the state of nature become indistinct.  Only the Sovereign is legally outside the application of martial law; everyone within becomes potentially zoe. 

If individuated natural violence is inadmissable because it is extra-legal, because it short circuits the need for the maintaining violence of the state (the police), then the only extra legal violence that is permissible is the forever potential natural violence of the sovereign in enacted martial law. What justifies this potential? What a silly question. Some might say that it is because we, the people, cannot do anything about it that it justifies itself. It is because the sovereign is independent that we cannot do anything about its potential (and ongoing) violence. We are impotent before the law because it has made itself indefeasible. To explain the genesis of this situation, we might affirm that it is precisely because our legal system is defined as "representational" that something like the state of exception or martial law can have a potential legitimate function. It is that everything is already in play, and only things in play can challenge what is already in play. Therefore, stopping altogether, which is what is required, is out of the question because the game is in motion.

What of the Constitution? What of the need for re-election? So many of us know that its rigged against us, that we can do nothing to stop it; that the continuity of the health of the nation is what defines the capacity of the Sovereign to Dissolve as it pleases. Our existence is already fully biopolitical in the fact that natural violence is already always out of the question. What constitutes the maintenance of violence is something outside the state, necessarily; but all that is outside the state (culture) is what is natural; The extra-legalized sovereign, in Potential Act, fills this space. What Constitutes is merely the capacity to say such is unconstituted; and the state, the elite, the wealthy, the rulers, bios, relative to the nation, have taken away every capacity to say such is unconstitutional. 

Now, that doesn't mean there isn't the possibility of overthrowing the law; that organized messianic violence and the destruction of everything couldn't be possible; the problem runs deeper. It's that we who desire revolution, we on the side of god that wish to abolish property and class, must contend with the mini-sovereigns that would oppose us (HS, 84). In the state of ban, perhaps, it is possible for a revolutionary to kill without impunity; but a revolutionary already kills without remorse because they know the game is stacked. The mini-sovereigns, in the ban, can also kill, and it is to be expected that they will also kill for the health of the biopolitical community.

So long as we don't step out of line, the liberal reasons, everything goes well. Since they agree with the rulers that everything is well, that is, all is well in the mere potentiality of the law, they will kill the one that willfully steps out of line, that threatens their conception of peace, if the maintenance of violence doesn't already. Whether or not the State will kill us, depends on how much we threaten the more or less majority ruling on peace, on how much we fall under the notion of terrorist. 

The Government of the People for the People sounds nice, provided the terms are univocal; above I reiterated Agamben's position that they are equivocal; that bios rules whatever it defines as zoe. With the constitution we are told that our rights will be protected, and we are deceived into thinking that we ratified it. We can look at them, more or less, and, relative to our own nation-states, say that they are very utilitarian; but the question is always and only whether we have in fact given them to ourselves, or whether they have been given to us. And the test is simply that if they are altered by rulings, or acts of amendment, whether we can do anything about it. If they are taken away, and public outcry does nothing, obviously it is the government of a people by another people. Only a complete destruction of the legal apparatus can make it so that we are a people that rules ourselves. If we think that our representatives listen to us, we aren't listening to what they are saying: At best they could only ever do what is going to guarantee their re-election, which is always and forever stacked against the individual.


At the end of Homo Sacer, Agamben outlines four "arbitrary" possibilities given the analytic of bios, all of which have something to do with Homo Sacer. I haven't really outlined this particular concept because I have already been talking about it. The concept is taken from Roman Law, whereby a person is marked as being sacred (but not capable of sacrifice). The term itself trades on an ambiguity at the root of being set aside. To be set aside, like a pig in Jewish gastronomy, simply means to have been taken outside the realm of ordinary politics (bios) whereby a person would have been protected by the sovereign. 

To be abandoned to bare life (zoe), that is to say, captured and not permissibly given to bios, constitutes the most interesting possibility for militant anarchists: being outlaw. (HS, 183-4). Yet, here one is always already potentially caught under the paparatus because one is defined as zoe. Insofar as one is not caught however, and rendered a prisoner or dead, one has a curious relationship to the fuhrer, barring the fact, of course, that the were-wolf, the half-man-half animal that retains the rite to natural violence, is always an enemy. The fuhrer freely moves back and forth between zoe ad bios because whatever is his existence is defined as the proper essence for the existence of the specific kind of people. The fuhrer spoke, that is to say, and it was law; The health of the fuhrer is the health of the state. Thus the outlaw is never bios, whereas the fuhrer must always be bios or (freely) zoe. Finally, the fuhrer wants to render the outlaw who has zoe, to the group, the Jew in the camp that has neither bios nor zoe. The question of leviathan's Gears is whether the Jew in the camp is the final cause, drawing the poor. The pure bios individual (Flamen Diale) (HS, 182-3) is what life in bios holds out for the one that never has to worry about becoming zoe, say, because they are financially secure.

For Giorgio Agamben, the final (desired) position is neither zoe nor bios, but rather something prior to both (HS, 188). Form-of life picks out a being that is only its own bare existence, whereby its zoe (bare life) is already its own bios. In this final gesture we can see that perhaps what Agamben is saying is that if one is to avoid being seduced by the city, and so, seduced by the herd mentality of constituting a biopolitics that would kill the abandoned being, as if one were simply a lacky of the sovereign vying for power, one must seek eudaimonia on one's own terms, rather than presume it is given by the Sovereign. In this sense, Agamben is advocating for existential sedition.  

Early on in the text (HS, 12) Agamben notes that his conception of the ban and the logic of Sovereignty is conceived in part as a criticism of Anarchism. Anarchism is at fault for developing a morality, for developing a sense of good and evil, which will always construct a notion of bare life that it will ostracize. Whether or not mere association and disassociation is sufficient for the non-morality of the anarchic politics to come is the question, I think, that anarchy leaves open without passing into (Marxist) anarchism.

Of course, Agamben does not think that it is easy to avoid the panoptic eye; Nothing appears to offer a way to avoid the demands of the Sovereign, "it seems" (187). So long as one is in the city, one will be sorted as bios or zoe, depending on the way in which one follows the law, lockstep. But this little possibility, this little moment of breaking away and becoming existentially seditious, and (of course) invisible, might make all the difference imaginable in our way of life.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


The logic of negation is evidently ambiguous. One can be so against something that they seek to destroy it, within their intentions and actions; or one can be against something merely in intention. Passive nihilism and active nihilism speak to this distinction, and by this account passive nihilism is a prior disposition from which one acts. Pessimists seem to have the intentions to destroy and yet are blocked by something, some incapacity; classically, we would say they lack the virtue of courage because they are given over to the vice of cowardice. These bodies are mutilated ontologically.

A lifetime of doing nothing then would produce the vice; whereas acts, here and there, would be sufficient to develop the virtue of courage. Temperance (and prudence) are required to know when to act and when to remain in intention. From this it follows that actionists, those that act all the time without end, or without consideration of burnout, lack temperance (and prudence). 

Negation is then twofold; on the one hand we have anti-X whereby one has given themselves over to a cause. The cause takes over. One is bound to act, whenever, not when one should, when it is prudent, when it is wise. On the other hand, negation might be qualified, as in double-negation, which is not straight away reducible to a similarity with our enemies. The logic of the margarine word ruptures this delicate qualification. It reduces not-anti-politics to a pro-political standpoint. However, our words here betray the simplicity of our language: anti-politics doesn't just mean, univocally, whatever one says anti-X means; rather, "anti" contains the logic of delicate qualifications. Thus, one might take issue with the plan; but they are not straight away reducible to one that is against all plans. 

It turns out that pessimism and passive nihilism are not necessarily synonymous. And they shouldn't be. It allows us to say 
(1) "there hasn't yet been anything reasonable to do", 
isn't the same as 
(2) "there wouldn't be (or could't be) anything reasonable to do." 

(1) evidently negates 
(3) there is always something to do, and also 
(4) there is something to do; 
and with this idea (1), along with the argument that not all double negations are reducible to nothing, we rupture the boomerang logic that would return us to our enemies, while making our anarchist line of flight more like an ellipsis than a period.