Archive for February, 2009

7 Theses for an interventionist publication

February 2, 2009

1- For those with sensitive stomachs, pseudo-criticality is the alternative strategy to digest the spectacle.

2- The exterior event (the revolutionary insurrection) is the spectacle that has haunted radical thought and practice for too long. Just as Copernicus’ On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres was written through and through in a Ptolemaic language, Marx’s thought too is built on the foundation of imaginaries and categories that belong to the bourgeoisie. The first task of radical thinkers is to think the imaginary proper to the task of overcoming capitalism.

3- The imagination of the exterior event (the revolution) centrally hinges on the promise of a return to the origin: the agrarian community. Even the idea of workers organizing themselves in worker’s councils borrows its aesthetics from the village; even barter and gift giving as alternative means of distribution are entirely agrarian practices. Most fundamentally, the promise of the return to the origin is also the promise of the restoration of the One, the hope of the resurrection of a dead God. Thus, just as in the Romantic fantasies of the rural, the village community is connected through the soil or the Nature, and this connecting Nature constitutes the agrarian field of communicability, the revolutionary resurrection is bound to rely on the party or the (proletarian) state to give the masses a unifying language (i.e. to constitute its field of communicability). The One, the God or the Nature, this time is restored as the state or the party (although the name may vary). From the perspective of the exterior event, the publication is the voice of the insurrectory party: at best propaganda. But since God and the party are dead, and Nature is only a fantasy of the past, we should come in terms with a new condition of politics of the masses: masses as pure multiplicities. Thus, the first question of radical politics in our time: how to organize the masses as pure multiplicities? The radical publication is a means of such manner of organization.

4- Against the exterior event we should invoke the interior event as the proper paradigm of radical politics. The interior event is the innovative thought that takes the field of communicability (or more generally the mode of praxis and the mode of production) as its proper object. The radical gesture does not constitute law, nor does it derive legitimacy from some constituted law, but takes the vicissitude of constituent and the constituted as its proper object. The radical gesture does neither produce nor consume, but takes the mode of production-consumption as its object. Similarly, a radical political publication does not simply communicate this or that message (especially this or that scandalous banal fact of bourgeois politics). Rather, the radical publication grasps and manipulates the field of communicability and enriches humans’ senses and their capacity to present themselves.

5- Politics is the realm of pure means. The pure means are the objective unfolding of the interior event. A publication derives its politics not simply from its political tendencies. It is the technical and technological tendencies of a publication and their relation to the interior event that determine the politics of the publication.

6- The relation of a political publication to an apolitical publication is like the relation of cinema to photography.

7- Critical thinkers for too long have strived to uncover capitalism’s obscene underside. While that surely is a noble practice, it is far more urgent in our time to neutralize capitalism’s sublime overside. The production of the sublime, i.e. the good, and not the production of falsehood, is the task of the bourgeois media (a task at which social democrats and progressivists are the main conspirators). The truly critical publication neutralizes the sublime, constitutes the world as mundane, and seeks passion, love, and eventality in that mundane world.

-Bahram Norouzi, December 2008