JR: “Politics is not the exercise of power.”
S: What does that mean? What is politics then?
JR: “Politics ought to be defined on its own terms, a sa mode of acting put into practice by a specific kind of subject…“
S: What is that Subject?
JR: ” it involves this subject in the form of a mode of relation that is its own.”
S:This is interesting. What is the mode of relation that is its own? What kind of mode? What kind of mode becomes the subject’s own?
JR: “Politics cannot be defined on the basis of any pre-existing subject.”
to be continued…
The Subject in Post Structuralist/ Deleuzean Theory
Excellent intro into post-structuralism.
Post Structuralism on Class
Thanks to the comrade who put me on to this…
“If the first wave provided a machine for fighting misery, and the second wave a machine for fighting boredom, what we now need is a machine for fighting anxiety – and this is something we do not yet have. If we see from within anxiety, we haven’t yet performed the “reversal of perspective” as the Situationists called it – seeing from the standpoint of desire instead of power. Today’s main forms of resistance still arise from the struggle against boredom, and, since boredom’s replacement by anxiety, have ceased to be effective.
Current militant resistance does not and cannot combat anxiety. It often involves deliberate exposure to high-anxiety situations.”
“There is no entity, no identity, no queer subject or subject to queer, rather queerness coming forth at us from all directions, screaming its defiance, suggesting a move from intersectionality to assemblage…” 211
“There are no points or positions…There are only lines.
As opposed to an intersectional model of identity, which presumes that components–race, class, gender sexuality, nation, age, religion–are separable analytics and can thus be disassembled an assemblage is more attuned to interwoven forces that merge and dissipate time, space, and body against linearity, coherency, and permanency.” 212–Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times by jaspir k. puar
Who we are is contstantly in flux. We are not stable identities/ subjectivities. Intersectionalities freeze to quickly only to reveal a flow. We flow. We move. When we stop at a pariticular subject, our momentary freedom only hides pain, terror, and possible death. When we stop at a particular point is when we close off connections. New possibilities. New relations. New forms of life. To flow is to be free and to desire. To flow is to revel in the being of becoming.
There are days when I feel Muslim.
Their are days when I hate being Muslim.
There are days I am an atheist.
There are days I am agnostic.
There are days I wish for God to come down and strike the evil doers.
There are days I wish to kill God.
Am I a Kafir? I have been told to leave Mosques.
There are times I feel like an anarchist.
There are times I feel like a communist.
There are times I feel we are all cowards.
There are times I feel like a coward.
There are times I feel like I will explode into the many assemblages I am.
Only then will I will be able to sort out who I am.
I have been told that I am a great person of color.
I have been told I am white.
I have been told I am Black.
I have been told I am Mexican.
I have been told I am Arab.
I have been told I am a Jew.
I have been told I am a terrorist.
I have been told I am a camel-jockey.
I have been told I am a sand-nigger.
I have been told I am a nigger.
I have been told I am an idiot.
I have been told I am a genius.
I have been told I am a failure.
I have been told I am a disappointment.
I have been told I am a mentor.
” One way to approach Deleuze and Guattari’s politics is to see them as offering a new political ontology. Deleuze cannot accept the dogmatic ontology offered by traditional political theory. To begin our political thought with individual human beings, each of which comes with his or her own (chosen) interests, is already to give the game away. It is to concede the stability of the already given that is the foundation of the dogmatic image of thought.
The problem is not only that individuals’ interests are intimately bound up with the society in which they live. It is true, as the communitarians2 have pointed out, that liberal political theory’s isolation of individuals from their societies often paints a distorted view of people’s interests. Individuals are far more subject to their social surroundings than liberal theory would have us believe. But the problem Deleuze sees is deeper. It lies in the very concept of the individual.
Why should we assume that individual human beings are the proper ontological units for political theory? Is it possible to start with some other unit? Or better, is it possible to start with a concept that is not prejudiced toward any particular unit of political analysis, whether it be the individual, the society, the state, the ethnic group, or whatever? Is it possible to conceive politics on the basis of a more fluid ontology, one that would allow for political change and experimentation on a variety of levels, rather than privileging one level or another?
“The Search for the Subject
Revolutionary Marxism after WWII has attempted to answer three questions: the question of the subject, the question of the class (which is also the question of who can revolutionarily change the world, and where a collective subject constitutes itself that can set this process in motion), and the question of their own role in the revolutionary process. We find workerism’s answers most interesting, then and now.
On the question of the subject, there are essentially three answers: the apology for the nineteenth-century bourgeois subject of civil society (Frankfurt School), the denial of the subject (structuralism, mainstream modern Marxism), and the concept of class composition.
The concept of class composition criticizes false materialism, which derives class struggle from the existing equal economic position of workers in capitalism. Simultaneously it is a critique of a philosophical class concept, which presents the class as a pure antagonist, as a subject that rebels and takes sides for itself, regardless of existing conditions of production. Class composition builds a bridge between subjectivity and material conditions. Marx did the prep work in his “Theses on Feuerbach,” in which he recognized human activity as something material. Therefore, the subject cannot be sought one-sidedly in the material independent of humanity, nor in an ideal independent of the material, but rather only in the co-incidence of the changes in humanity itself, its activity and thinking, with the changes of circumstances (“immanence”!).
The answer of the workerists was more fruitful than the two others, because they were developed directly out of running struggles: the class struggle didn’t work from outside “on capital,” but it constituted the capital relation. The class struggle expressed itself not only in a historical chain of conflicts, struggles and uprisings, but also in the accumulation of capital, in its “organic composition,” as Marx called it.
To the question what role we can take in this process, Marxism-Leninism gave an explicit answer: the organization into cadre parties, apart from the working class, but with the claim to be bringing it the correct “class consciousness.” This basic idea survives to this day, always popping up.
Contrary to that stands the position of the council communists, who deny any thought of a “special role” for left activists in class struggles, any “intervention from outside.” They see their own role in merely putting information at the disposal of the workers (“mailmen”).
The class-composition critique of the bourgeois subject can be formulated like this: the only material foundation on which one can speak of a subject is class composition. That is, it has to do with a collective subject that constitutes itself under the conditions of a determinate mode of production in struggle against the capital relation. Any material analysis of the subject must therefore go through the analysis of class composition. Whoever wants to revolutionarily change society must put themselves in relation to class composition.”
We have been building agents of the past for the last decade. The militant, cadre, and professional revolutionary (call this the MCP) no longer matter. A new social type has been fighting to come into existence and the current forms of organization are antithetical to this new type. Keeping this in mind the singularity, the schizo, the nomad, the cyborg, and the wolf are just some new subjectivities which I am messing with which perhaps can transcend the standard MCP. And instead of parties, groups, organizations, we should form collectives or packs (like wolf packs, thanks to Thousand Plateaus for the wolf pack).
In practice I have also seen the MCP subject become a fetish in organizations. What the MCP does becomes its own ideal, a mystical measuring stick… Some one asked me a while ago with it means to be a communist militant in this period. I have discussed this with people for so many years, but this time around, I was stunned at the question. And I had no honest response. All I could say is that I do not know. That in this period, we are trying to figure that out. But the figuring out needs to begin from the concrete experiences of our time; not from some magical past.
Our reference point for what it means to be a communist militant is either from books or from talking to older 68ers…
1. Are we artists or scientists, or artistic scientists?
“Marxists are accused of Blanquism for treating insurrection as an art! Can there be a more flagrant perversion of the truth, when not a single Marxist will deny that it was Marx who expressed himself on this score in the most definite, precise and categorical manner, referring to insurrection specifically as an art, saying that it must be treated as an art, that you must win the first success and then proceed from success to success, never ceasing the offensive against the enemy, taking advantage of his confusion, etc., etc.? To be successful, insurrection must rely not upon conspiracy and not upon a party, but upon the advanced class. That is the first point. Insurrection must rely upon a revolutionary upsurge of the people. That is the second point. Insurrection must rely upon that turning-point in the history of the growing revolution when the activity of the advanced ranks of the people is at its height, and when the vacillations in the ranks of the enemy and in the ranks of the weak, half-hearted and irresolute friends of the revolution are strongest. That is the third point. And these three conditions for raising the question of insurrection distinguish Marxism from Blanquism. Once these conditions exist, however, to refuse to treat insurrection as an art is a betrayal of Marxism and a betrayal of the revolution.”
1. When I was at the University of Washington, I became convinced that all students should wear t-shirts with their philosophical tradition/ perspective printed on the front. That at any time, someone could challenge you to a philosophical duel and you would have to defend yourself.