1. Teil: Civil War, Forms-of-life “Whoever does not take sides in a civil war is struck with infamy, and loses all right to politics.” Solon, The Constitution of Athens
The elementary human unity is not the body – the individual – but the form-of-life.
The form-of-lilfe is not beyond bare life, it is its intimate polarization.
Each body is affected by its form-of-life as if by a clinamen, an attraction, a taste.
Bloom refers less to an absence of taste than to a special taste for absence.
This taste, this clinamen, can either be warded off or embraced. To take on a form-of-life is not simply to know a penchant: it means to think it. I call thought that which converts a form-of-life into a force, into a sensible effectivity.
In every situation there is one line that stands out among all the others, the line along wich power grows. Thought is the capacity for singling out and following this line.
‘My’ form-of-life relates not to what I am, but to how I am what I am.
What Empire demands is not that each conforms to a common law, but that each conforms to its own particular identity.
The experience one form-of-life has of another is not communicable to the latter, even if it can be translated.
Every attempt to grasp a ‘people’ as a form-of-life – as race, class, ethnicity, or nation – has been underminded by the fact that the ethical differences within each ‘people’ have always been greater than the ethical differences between ‘peoples’ themselves.
Civil war is the free play of forms-of-life; it is the principle of their coexistence.
War, because in each singular play between forms-of-life, the possibility of a fierce confrontation – the possibility of violence – can never be discounted.
This society has forged this negative concept of violence in order to reject anything within it that might still carry a certain intensity or charge.
ONE finds speaking of civil war repugnant. But when ONE does it anyway, they assign it a circumscribed place and time.
The point of view of the civil war is the point of view of the political.
When, at a certain time and place, two bodies affected by the same form-of-life meet, they experience an objective pact, which precedes any decision. They experience community.
today, when ‘society’ is nothing more than a hypothesis, and hardly the most plausible one at that, any claim to defend this society against the supposed fascism lurking in every form of community is nothing more than a rhetorical exercise steeped in bad faith.
There is no community except in singular relations. The community doesn’t exist. There is only community, community that circulates.
15 / Gloss:
Every community is both an actuality and a potentiality.
When two bodies animated by forms-of-life that are absolutely foreign to one another meet at a certain moment and in a certain place, they experience hostility. This type of encounter gives rise to no relation. (…) Hostility is therefore the impossibility for bodies that don’t go together to know one another as singular. Whenever a thing is known in its singularity, it takes leave of the sphere of hostility and thereby becomes a friend – or an enemy.
For me, the hostis is a nothing that demands to be annihilated, either through cessation of hostility, or by ceasing to exist altogether.
Hostility distances me from my own power. [= Gegenteil von community]
Between the extremes of community and hostility lies the sphere of friendship and enmity. Friendship and enmity are ethico-political concepts.
The concept of love. We should acknowledge that the false alternative it has managed to impose on everything – ‘do you love me, or not? – has been incredibly effective in masking, repressing, and crushing the whole gamut of highly differentiated affects and all the crispy defined degrees of intensity that can arise when bodies come into contact.
I am bound to the friend by some experience of election, understanding or decision that implies that the growth of his power entails the growth of my own. Symmetrically, I am bound to the enemy by election, only this time a disagreement that, in order for my power to grow, implies that I confront him, that I undermine his forces. [vgl. Schmitt –> Betonung der Entscheidung und des Freund-Feind-Schemas]
What is at stake in confronting the enemy is never its existence, only its power, its potentiality. Not only can an annihilated enemy no longer recognize its own defeat, it always ends up coming back to haunt us, first as a ghost and later as hostis.
All differences among forms-of-life are ethical differences. These differences authorize play, in all its forms. These kinds of play are not political in themselves, but become political at a certain level of intensity, that is, when they have been elaborated to a certain degree.
I will show how civil war continues even when it is said to be absent or provisonally brought under control. My task will be to display the means used by the relentless process of depoliticization that begins in the Middle Ages and continues up to today, just when, as we all know, ‘everything is political’ (Marx). In other words, the whole will not be grasped by connecting the dots between historical summits, but by following a low-level, unbroken, existential sequence.
I speak of civil war in order to embrace it and to raise it to its highest forms.
I call ‘communism’ the real movement that elaborates, everywhere and at every moment, civil war.
My own moral ambitions (…): spread a certain ethic of civil war, a certain art of distance.
The Modern State, The Economic Subject
“The history of state formation in Europe is a history of the neutralization of differences – denominational, social, and otherwise – within the state.” Carl Schmitt, Neutralität und Neutralisierungen
The modern state, insofar as it still exists, defines itself ethically as the theater of operations for a twofold fiction: the fiction that when it comes to forms-of-life both neutrality and centrality can exist.
Etymologically, the modern State stems from the Indo-European root st-, which refers to fixity, to unchangeable things, to what is. (…) Today … the opposite becomes clear: it is civil war – stasis in Greek – that is permanence, and the Modern State will have been a mere reaction proces to this permanence. [zentrales These des Textes/Kapitels]
In both theory and practice, the modern State came into being in order to put an end to civil war, then called ‘wars of religion’. Therefore, both historically and by its own admission, it is secondary vis-a-vis civil war.
The continuity of the modern State – from absolutism to the Welfare State – shall be that of an endlessly unfinished war, waged against civil war.
By instituting the fault between inner self and outer workds identified by the Reformation, the modern State managed to extinguish the civil wars ‘of religion’ and with them the religions themselves.
The modern State renders religions obsolete because it takes over for them at the bedside of the most atavistic phantasm [??] of metaphysics: the One. [cf. Laruelle] (…) all the arguments it advances in its own defense will in the end boil down to this: ‘Outisde of me, disorder.’ Quite untrue: without it, a multiplicity of orders.
The modern State, which purports to put an end to civil war, is instead its continuation by other means.
What at the molar level assumes the aspect [eher Form!] of the modern State, is called at the molecular scale the economic subject.
The modern State means, among other things, a progressively increasing monopoly on legitimate violence, a process whereby all other forms of violence are delegitimized. [does the rise of modern mercenaries – Blackwater etc. – mean the beginning of end of the modern State?] the State succeeded in creating the economic subject, in containing each being within its Self, that is, within his body, in extracting bare life from each form-of-life.
Ideally, the political subject will thus be reduced to nothing more than a pure vote, a pure voice.
the individual produced by this process of economic embodiment carries within him a crack. And it is out of this crack that his bare life seeps. (…) by caching civil war inside each person, the modern State put everyone at war against himself. This is where we begin.
The founding act of the modern State … is the institution of the fictitious split between public and private, between political and moral.
the State’s method of neutralizazion sets up two chimerical, distinct and interdependent monopolies: the monopoly of the political and the monopoly of critique.
the modern State presupposes the state of things that it produces; how it grounds the arbitrariness of its own demands in anthropology; how the ‘war of each against each’ is instead the impoverished ethic of civil war imposed everywhere by the modern State under the name of the economic, which is nothing other than the universal reign of hostility.
At each moment of its existence, the police reminds the State of the violence, the banality, and the darkness of its beginnings.
society no longer exists, at least in the sense of a differentiated whole. There is only a tangle of norms and mechanisms through which THEY hold together the scattered tatters of the global biopolitical fabric, through which THEY prevent its violent disintegration.
This counter-history [of the State] reveals a political monopoly that is constantly threatened by the recomposition of autonomous worlds, of non-state collectivities. (…) the State ended up with the opposite of its aim (…): all aspects of life had become political, not in themselves as singular entities, but precisely insofar as the State, by taking a position, had there too formed itself into a party.
society is no longer distinguishable from the State.
Blooms are no longer subjects – not economic subjects and even less legal subjects. They are creatures of imperial society.
“Therefore the sage takes its place over the people yet is no burden; takes his place ahead of the people yet causes no obstruction. That is why the empire supports him joyfully and never tires of doing so. It is because he does not content that no one in the empire is in a position to contend with him” Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
The history of the modern State is the history of its struggle against its own impossibility. (…) Empire is, on the contrary, the assumption of both this impossibility and these techniques [deployed to ward off this impossibility]. (…) Empire is the turning inside out of the liberal state.
The liberal State developed two sub-institutional practices that it used to control and keep at bay the population [… 1)] police [… and 2)] publicity [Öffentlichkeit] (…) All that was needed to consolidate power was to control the social definition of happiness and to maintain order in the public sphere.
[World War I:] these sub-institutional practices give birth to the two super-institutional poles of Empire: the police becomes Biopower, and publicity is transformed into the Spectacle. From this point on, the State does not disappear, it is simply demoted beneath a transterritorial set of autonomous practices: Spectacle, Biopower.
If Empire is the assumption of the modern State’s impossibility, it is also the assumption of the impossibillity of imperialism. Decolonization was an important moment in the establishment of Empire, logically marked by the proliferation of puppet States. Decolonization means: the elaboration of new forms of horizontal, sub-institutional power that function better than the old ones.
49 / Gloss b:
The democratic idea – the absolute equivalence of all forms-of-life – is also an imperial idea. Democracy is imperial to the extent that the equivalence among forms-of-life can only be implemented negatively, by preventing, with all the means at its disposal,, ethical differences from attaining in their play an intensity that makes them political.
Empire can only be understood through the biopolitical turn of power. (…) Biopower is the sublimation of power. (…) Empire is immanent to ‘society’. It is ‘society’ insofar as society is a power.
Empire functions best when crisis is ubiquitous.
Empire is therefore the kat-echon.
With the liberal State being turned inside out into Empire, ONE has passed from a world partitioned by the Law to a space polarized by norms. The Imaginary Party is the other, hidden side of this turning inside out.
Biopower … governs possibilities and conditions of possibility. (…) there is no such thing as death within Biopower: there is only murder and its circulation.
A process of omnivorous immanetization – reducing everything to nothing – deploys itself on a planetary scale. The goal: make the world into continuous biopolitical tissue. (…) Under the regime of the norm, nothing is normal, but everything must be normalized.
The Imaginary Party is the seat, and the siege, of potentiality.
When borders are abolished, customs checkpoints in no way disappear but are extended to virtually all places and times.
Empire has never had any juridical or institutional existence, because it needs none.
Empire makes sure to eliminate resistances to circulation, liquidating all obstacles to penetration, making everything transparent to social flows. (…) Empire has no center: it makes it possible for each node of its network to be a center.
Empire … continues to speak the only language it knows, the language of effectiveness, of the effective capacity to re-establish the normal situation, to produce public order, the smooth general functioning of the Machine.
Frank Kitson, Low Intensity Operations: Subversion, Insurgency, Peace-Keeping, 1971
‘Citizen’ is anything that shows some degree of ethical neutralization (…) difference is the elementary unit used in the imperial management of identities.
We are dealing not so much with individualities and subjectivities, but with individuations and subjectivations – transitory, disposable, modular. Empire is the free play of simulacra.
The unity of Empire is nothing other than the global uniformity of attentuated forms-of-life produced through the conjunction of Spectacle and Biopower. Its unity is more a moiré pattern than multicolored: made up of differences, but only in relation to the norm. Normalized differences. Statistical deviations. Under Empire, nothing forbids you from being a little bit punk, sllightly cynical, or moderetale S&M. Empire tolerates all transgressions, provided they remain soft.
From here on out, citizen will mean: citizen of Empire.
The only thought compatible with Empire … is deconstruction. (…) Deconstruction is a discursive practice guided by one unique goal: to dissolve and disqualify all intensity, while never producing any itself.
Nietzsche, Artaud, Schmitt, Hegel, Saint Paul, German romanticism, and surrealism: deconstruction’s task is, apparently, to produce fastidious commentaries targeting anything that, in the history of thought, has carried any intense charge.
The deconstructionist … tries to embrace his Bloomhood with bravado. (…) He can no longer see anything in what he reads that might relate to life.
deconstruction has a very specific political function. It tries to pass off anything that violently opposes Empire as barbaric , it deems mystical anyone who takes his own presence to self as a source of energy for his revolt, and makes anyone who follows the vitality of thought with a gesture a fascist.
Empire perceives civil war neither as an affront to its majesty nor as a challenge to its omnipotence, but simply as a risk. (…) Empire does not deny the existence of civil war. Instead it manages it.
The imperial operation in Kosovo was not directed against the serbs but against civil war itself.
The jurisdiction of the imperial police, of Biopower is limitless, since what it must circumscribe and put a stop to does not exist at the level of the actual but at the level of the possible.
The enemy of Empire is within. The enemy is the event. It is everything that might happen, everything that might disturb the mesh of norms and apparatuses.
It is no use to distinguish between cops and citizens. Under Empire, the difference between the police and the population is abolished. At any moment each citizen of Empire can, through a characteristically Bloomesque reversal, reveal himself a cop.
Each person is a risk, a potential hostis.
Imperial sovereignty means that no point of space or time and no element of the biopolitical tissue is safe from intervention.
63 / Gloss a:
From counter-summit to counter-summit, we see our ‘anti-globalization’ movement consumed more and more by doubt: What if inside these pompous edifices, behind these proud facades, there was NOTHING? Intuitively they realize that these grand global shells are empty, and this is, moreover, why they besiege them. These palace walls are made from nothing but good intentions. They were constructed each in their time as a reaction to some world crisis, and since then have been left there, uninhabited, unusable for anything, to serve, for example, as a decoy for the dissenting herds of Negrism.
[pointierte Kritik an Negri]
even if Empire could endow itself with a fake institutional facade, its actual reality would still remain concentrated in worldwide police and publicity, or, respectively, Biopower and spectacle. (…) In conditions like these, it is not a question of agitating in support of a salutary universal State, but instead of demolishing Spectacle and Biopower.
imperial domination can be described as neotaoist.
Han Fei Tzu, The Tao of the Sovereign: establish the norms by which beings will be judged and evaluated, make sure that things are named in the ‘appropriate’ way, regulate rewards and punishments, govern identitites and attach men to them. Keep to this and remaiin opaque: such is the art of empty and dematerialized domination, of the imperial domination of withdrawal.
All imperial strategies … seek to ensure that Empire never appears as such, namely, as party.This peculiar kind of peace … it is itself the result of a total, mute, and continuous war. The stakes of the offensive are not to win a certain confrontation, but rather to make sure that the confrontation does not take place. (…) It is a huge victory for Empire if nothing happens.
Guy Brossolet, Essai sur la non-bataille, 1975
Empire does not confront us like a subject, facing us, but like an environment that is hostile to us.
An Ethic of Civil War
“New form of community, asserting itself in a warlike manner. Otherwise the spirit grows soft. No ‘gardens’ and no sheer ‘evasion in the face of the masses’. War (but without gunpowder!) between different thoughts and their armies.” Nietzsche, Posthumous Fragments
We are the pariahs of Empire. (…) This is the Manichaeism of Empire: on one side there is the glorious new humanity, carefully reformatted …These are the citizens, the citizens of Empire. And then there’s us. … Us – it is a heap of worlds, of subspectacular and interstitial worlds, whose existence is unmentionable, woven together with the kind of solidarity and dissent that power cannot penetrate; and there are the strays, the ppor, the prisoners, the thieves, the criminals, the crazy, the perverts, the corrupted, the overly alive, the overflowing, the rebellious corporalities. In short, all those who, following their own line of flight, do not fit into Empire’s stale, air-conditioned paradise. Us – this is the fragmented plane of consistency of the Imaginary Party.
Insofar as we stay in contact with our own potentiality, even if only in thinking through our experience, we represent a danger within the metropolities of Empire. We are whatever enemy against which all the imperial apparatuses and norms are positioned. Conversely, the intellectual, the immunodeficient, the humanist, the transplant patient, the neurotic are Empire’s model citizen. From these citizens, THEY are certain there is nothing to fear. Given their circumstances, these citizens are lashed to a set of artifical conditions of existence, such that only Empire can guarantee their survival; any dramatic shift in their conditions of existence and they die. They are born collaborators.
To the citizens of Empire, we have nothing to say. That would mean we shared some thing in common. As far as they are concerned, the choice is clear: either desert, join us and throw yourself into beccoming, or stay where you are and be dealt with in accordance with the well-known principles of hostility: reducction and abasement.
The only way to reduce the sphere of hostility is by spreading the ethico-political domain of friendship and enmity.
An agent of the imaginary Party is someone who, wherever he is, from his own position, triggers or pursues the process of ethical polarization, the differential assumption of forms-of-life. This process is nothing other than tiqqun.
Tiqqun is the becoming-real, the becoming-practice of the world. (…) Civil war simply means the world is practice, and life is, in its smallest details, heroic.
Empire is not the enemy with which we have to contend, and other tendencies within the Imaginary Party are not, for us, so many hostis to be eliminated. The opposite is, in fact, the case.
we can invert biopolitics into a politics of radical singularity. We have to reinvent the field of health, and invent a political medicine based on forms-of-life.
Under the current conditions imposed by Empire, an ethical grouping has to turn itself into a war machine. The object of the war machine is not war. (…) Unliike an army or revolutionary organizations, the war machine has a supplemental relation to war.
The fact is nothing, the how is all. (…) Spectacle’s genius is to have acquired a monopoly over qualifications, over the act of naming.
Tiqqun is, to the contrary, the action that restores to each fact its how, of holding this how to be the only real there is.
This world is pulled between two tendencies: Lebanonization and Swissification.
In the becoming-real of the Imaginary Party, we will no doubt cross paths with those ghastly parasites, the professional revolutionaries. Even though the only beautiful moments of the last century were disparagingly called ‘civil wars,’ they will no doubt still denounce in us ‘the conspiracy of the ruling class to break down the revolution by a civil war’ (Marx, The Civil War in France). We do not believe in the revolution, we believe a bit more in ‘molecular revolutions’, and wholeheartedly believe in the differentiated ways of taking up civil war.
Empire is not the enemy, it is the hostis. It is not a matter of defeating Empire, it has to be annihilated.