ego, freedom, humanity, justice, other, peace, philosophy, Politics, truth, war

Explosions in the Sky

Common to both capitalism and democracy is competition as the basic principle of social organization. Politics in a purely competitive key has a majoritarian ring — it is monistic, totalizing, self-absorbed — whereas philosophy from the competitive perspective — and we may wonder whether there have yet been any others — are egologies. The complementary model, or sharing, has been more frequently preached than practiced. Yet it is the meaning of language: the demand for social justice is expression par excellence, the very thirst for peace. Both violence and love aim for the other in their vulnerability, but only in non-violence can truth reconcile us together.

Like a smooth or empty space, peacefulness operates without principle, without direction, without form. Yet even as a formal relation to another, it connotes a kind of difficult freedom, a consciousness which refuses to compete, which questions not its abilities but rather itself as such. A force grasps hold of us, an explosion which limits without thereby enslaving us — a relationship which forms the lineaments of a new kind of relationship between human beings, as well as between human beings and themselves.

Yet non-violence would never really be an emptiness, a pure void or absolute gap — even if war enjoys the practical status of something like an ultimate cosmic principle. While the future may appear bleak, I believe we can find a way to think, act and speak together, singularly as well as plurally, and to do so more peacefully — that is to say: more freely, more honestly, more creatively, more joyously.

The difficulty of freedom is also the problem of war: it lies entirely within the fact that the future demands our service as individuals. There is no middle-ground. We become responsible for slavery, which faces us at every turn as the “primal” injustice. The material conditions of others, the ravages wreaked upon human beings by historical “consequence,” present us with a non-transferrable ethical demand, one which is active in a concrete and fundamental sense in every dimension of life. Inhumanity is a silent anonymity, the obliteration of language, freedom and society all at once — a negative indication of the primacy of our responsibility.

Peace can only begin with myself. The passivity such a mode of human existence implies indicates a kind of subjectivity completely different than the one we have inherited from Greek philosophy. Yet passivity indicates not a lack of reason, but rather the submission to a dimension of absolute externality: a responsibility which is unlimited, which is not a debt, which is not restricted by the extent of an active commitment.

The hostages’ responsibility for their captor.

corruption, culture, enlightenment, exhaustion, free spirit, Gay Science, individuality, Nietzsche, progress, religion, superstition, war

Nietzsche, Corruption, Exhaustion

In book I, section 23 of Gay Science, Nietzsche deploys a theory concerning the rise of the individual in relation to the signs of corruption in a society. This corruption signifies for Nietzsche the development and culmination of superstition in a culture. Superstition in this text is equated with the “second-order free spirit.” Unlike the religious advocate, the superstitious is always more of a person, meaning that the appearance of this attribute is the development of the progress of the intellect in its movement of becoming more independent; thus superstition is the delight and celebration of the cultivation of individuality and individuals. Similar to his attacks on “the good” in Zarathustra, Nietzsche reminds us that the term “corruption”—which here, as elsewhere, appears as a positive condition (for the growth of ‘riper’ individuals no less)—actually stems from a value judgment made by the religious status quo against the rise of superstition. In this sense, Nietzsche strikes against the reactionary (can we say, re-reacts?) and affirms that, on the contrary, this development of superstition is “actually a symptom of enlightenment.” Superstition and corruption become here the means by which morality, its means of capture and containment, its stratification of the individual, and its disciplinary ‘No’ of auto- and trans-policing all lose their primacy in governing and guiding the actions of the individual, which, to follow Nietzsche, we will interpret as the inevitable symptom of the decline of the legislative and repressive power of the collective.

Continue reading

capture, Christianity, domestication, herd morality, individual, Manu, morality, Nietzsche, power, virtue, war, Zarathustra

The Will to Virtue and the Morality of Capture



“Neither Manu, nor Plato nor Confucius nor the Jewish and Christian teachers have ever doubted their right to lie. They have not doubted that they had very different rights too. Expressed in a formula, one might say: all the means by which one has so far attempted to make mankind moral were through and through immoral” (Twilight, 505).

Nietzsche despises the improvers of mankind because they have typically been priests, otherwise known as “the preachers of death.” Nietzsche claims that “improvement” is actually a pretty word for the weakening of mankind in general (Twilight, 502). In physiological terms, in order to breed a docile aggregate of human semi-animals, the improvers of mankind thought that “to make them sick may be the only means for making them weak. This the church understood: it ruined man, it weakened him—but it claimed to have ‘improved him’” (503). This physiological interpretation is essential to Nietzsche’s project here: he claims that any morality “is mere sign language, mere symptomatology” (501). The problem with the domestication of mankind is that it has not had the right physicians to diagnose what could truly improve man as a whole; or, in a sense more befitting of Nietzsche’s views, the wrong question has been proposed for mankind’s progress. It is not the masses that can be elevated, but only the individual that can be ‘willed’ to be improved: the project for future physicians is to diagnose the symptoms whereby a human individual will become successful. Continue reading

apparatus of capture, culture, custom, decay, democracy, genealogy, image of thought, individual, instrumentality, Nietzsche, nomad, overman, Politics, power, religion, society, sovereignty, state, unground, universal, universal politics, utopia, war, war machine, warrior, Zarathustra

Nietzsche and the Capture and Domestication of Peoples



“You shall obey—someone and for a long time: else you will perish and lose the last respect for yourself”—this appears to me to be the moral imperative of nature which, to be sure, is neither “categorical” as the old Kant would have it (hence the “else”) nor addressed to the individual (what do individuals matter to her?), but to peoples, races, ages, classes—but above all to the whole human animal, to man (Beyond Good and Evil, §188).

Continue reading

capitalism, geometry, God, ideology, power, revolution, simulation, state, subversion, technology, unconscious, war

Reconstructing Reality


Just as total war renders ethics derisory, consumer society annihiliates the horizons of authentic experience. God, the State, Father: abysses for the erasure of thought, until the only idea of which we are capable is a permitted one. The unconscious is a battlezone of images, brands, consumption algorithms. Ideology is repetition, a recording surface for lies which grows deeper and more complex with each iteration; the con, however, is always the same: alone we are nothing, we must unite with power to stand, to be able. The subtlety here lies in the more-or-less explicit coup d’etat of individual desire; corporate life makes the public individual a double-agent between himself and his secret desires.

Simulated faces, simulated worlds: the invisible lines connecting our fates together slowly grind us into grains, instants, monads, image-fragments, partial objects. The geometric exponentiation of desire is also the micro-isolation of the infinitesimal partial object, the human subject. We are only able to simulate love for what the object is or what it does; thus love becomes currency. From the perspective of desire, the future is the possibility of authentic life, of a total human being both spiritual and material; from the perspective of power, the future promises only tighter integration, further submersion into semiotic networks — until the human being is indistinguishable from a commodity.
Continue reading

capital, creativity, image, machine, virtual, war, will

Image and Capital


We desire illusions — because we desire revelation. When we have faith, our energy inverts itself from within: the world is suddenly magically transformed, us along with it. Illusions! More like liaisons. Economy is the same way: a magic power grasps hold, a flow of energy spontaneously rearranging the underlying order of the universe. Capital is a specter and a spectacle: universal miracle machine, superego-substitute and hyper-sexual idol all-in-one. From images branded onto faces, tasks onto hands, and illusions onto gazes– somehow money is produced. Capital is the illusion; for money-as-signifier is dead, dead since capitalism declared its global aim, to include all within its dream. Capital is a pure power retreated into its own image — which has just as quickly plunged the earth right into the depths of the Virtual.

The image only is sovereign — the sovereign is imaginary. Ideal for a complex bureaucracy — where we are ruled by no one. The spectacle is again the most ancient epic, the many against the one, the story of power’s evolution: until finally machines have taken responsibility over our imagination! Once, timid and easily frightened away or turned back, now the Image has truly come into its own virtual domain. Spaces for interpretation of any kind are now entirely produced as images. There is no love but for a machine; all else is war, a war against the order of things… Hope is an image, fear a symbol; both are faces, branded onto images more deeply than their contents or design. Yet we know we can affect images — because images affect us! Micropolitics is not just local subversion, but molecular involution: unfolding, reconvergence, diffusion.

Ideology is not a dream, nor can we abandon concepts for functions: for it is our very existence in question and on trial as a false image of life… Conscience demands that we must move beyond ontology towards a new dimension, on the other sides of images — in sohrt, towards a material ethics of conviviality. Which is not to say of justice per se, but more explicitly of cohumanity, control and creativity. Never has it been clearer than in our time the essential disunity of human existence: that is, that necessity is not opposed to free will. We are not total by ourselves; our potential is only unlocked in the energy and power of a group. And as soon as a group has definite aims, a goal and an identity, it is already a war-machine. It seems we cannot escape answering some call or another; the lesson is not only that we ought to distinguish between imaginary ideals and real dreams, but even that the real image we follow has only virtual substance, one we are choosing and desiring to experience.