Sunday, March 14, 2010

war porn (1): joysticks

When quantity passes into quality, the whole situational context is altered and a new situation emerges.

As demonstrations of new powers of genocidal violence and state terror, Auschwitz and Hiroshima were qualitative leaps of this kind. These new social facts entered history, objectively changing everything.

The scale of the Nazi genocide, meticulously planned and accounted for behind a veil of Nacht und Nebel, was only retrospectively exposed.

The vast Manhattan Project that developed the first nuclear weapons on secret presidential order was kept from the American public until the weapons were actually used; Truman triumphantly announced the atomic bombing of Hiroshima as a fait accompli.

Today, right now, we are living through another qualitative leap in the power of terror and death. But unlike these precedents, this leap has just begun and can still be stopped.

This one, if it is not stopped, will likely be the real legacy of the dirty so-called war on terror.

Without shame or apologies, Obama of the Nobel Peace Prize is presiding over a rapid escalation in the force of unmanned drones used by the US military and CIA for surveillance and assassination in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen.

Introduced by Bush II in tiny numbers, there are now an estimated 7000 drones in operation – and the number is rising fast.

Bomb and missile-carrying drones such as the MQ-1 Predator (cost: $20 million per system) and MQ-9 Reaper ($53 million each) are flown by “joysticks” from air-conditioned rooms in Langley, Virginia, and Creech Air Force Base north of Las Vegas. “War porn,” the troops call it.

 A small number of defense contractors, including Boeing subsidiary Insitu and General Atomics, will split the $3.5 billion allotted for drones in the 2010 budget.

To assassinate Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud on 5 August 2009, it took the CIA sixteen drone attempts over fifteen months, killing between 207 and 321 people in the process. How many were civilians? “Disputed,” but the war wagers are sure it’s worth it.

Evidently, so are Israel, Germany and the UK, all of which fly their own fleet of combat drones. Every state that can, obviously, will follow.

Is Finnegan awake? No paranoia needed, to read the writing on this screen.

Already in development: insect-size “nano” drones, which, The New Yorker reports, “can fly after their prey like a killer bee through an open window.”

Reflect on that, in the glare of the last decade. Reflect on the leap in objective power the state gains by this. Reflect on the state of “democracy” and the rule of exception. Can anyone doubt this will alter social reality and the possibilities for a future?

For now, it takes the appearance-form of assassination power (always with “collateral” killing) – but this obviously does not exhaust potential applications. (And again: where is the outrage and debate over this policy of assassination? Is it now already normalized?)

Reality: killer robotics will expand and combine with qualitative increases in powers of surveillance (think: merger of Google with the NSA) unless massive public outcry and determined protest prevent it.

For the moment, there’s still time to organize it.

“Drones Are Lynchpin of Obama’s War on Terror,” dossier by Spiegel Online, 12 Mar 2010.

Interview with P.W. Singer (author of Wired for War), Democracy Now, 6 Feb 2009.

Jane Mayer, “The Predator War,” The New Yorker, 26 Oct 2009

general strike

In Greece on 11 March, hundreds of thousands of workers responded to Parliament’s passage of austerity measures with a 24-hour general strike – the third in a month – bringing airports and public transportation to a standstill.

The strike was called by the main unions, the GSEE and the public-sector ADEDY, which together represent half of Greece’s five million wage-workers.

In Athens and Thessaloniki, tens of thousands protested in union-organized demos.

In Athens as Parliament passed the austerity package on 5 March, employees of the National Printing House occupied and shut down the government presses in an attempt to block the measures from becoming law. (In order to become law, they must be formally published. The government ignored this law, of course.)

ADEDY has called for another general strike on 16 March.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

genealogy of the current regime

“Le fer brûlé. Le fer brisé, le fer devenu vulnérable comme la chair.”
Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima mon amour, 1959/60

[Iron, material of vaunting structures, symbols of progress from an age of optimism. Ironies of history "made vulnerable as flesh."]

“On August 6, 1945 a New Age began: the age in which at any given moment we have the power to transform any given place on our planet, and even our planet itself, into a Hiroshima. On that day we became, at least modo negativo, omnipotent; but since, on the other hand, we can be wiped out at any given moment, we also became totally impotent. However long this age may last, even if it should last forever, it is the “Last Age”: for there is no possibility that its differentia specifica, the possibility of our self-extinction, can ever end – but by the end itself.”
Günther Anders, “Theses for the Atomic Age,” 1959

Collective denials and evasions still in force, blocking, freezing, blinding. Who wants to know, who has time to know, who has the luxury and attention needed to know – and what would anyone do with such knowledge anyway?

Hiroshima: regrettable necessity of the “Good War” against fascism? That lie was long ago exposed, but the exposure still goes unregistered in the place where it counts.

To think and grasp: the global imperialist context 1914-1945 as a single social process (WWI, Russian Revolution, rising US power, defeat of revolution in Germany, fascism in Italy, crisis and Depression, Stalinism, Nazism, crushing of Spanish Republic, WW2, Auschwitz, Hiroshima).

If Auschwitz and Hiroshima cannot be separated from the global process and master logic of capitalist modernity, as it actually unfolded, then what emerges as decisive is the course of class struggle over those three decades. Above all: the defeat of revolution in the capitalist core (Germany, Italy, Hungary) transforms the Russian Revolution into the state capitalism of “socialism in one country,” setting the stage for both Stalinism and Nazism.

Not to say it could not have happened otherwise. Not to deny that this historical period is complex and contradictory. But to acknowledge and to insist on the pressure of the master logic, behind and in the specific processes of Auschwitz and Hiroshima.

This is what the linkage of Auschwitz and Hiroshima, still so controversial, still so resisted, expresses: not that these event-processes are identical or equivalent, but that they must be grasped and thought together, across their obvious differences. What this “and” says is that both are specific appearance-forms of a single social essence.

And that they in turn transform the way in which this essence will from then on unfold: changing the form of the capitalist state, initiating the normalization of exception. The post-1945, post-Auschwitz, post-Hiroshima global regime: our social reality.

“Crucially, these genocidal techno-administrative forces were developed in a specific global conjuncture of class struggle: they are products of defeats suffered by the exploited and from now on are aimed at the exploited, as the weapons of state terror. That is, they are aimed at humanity itself, at the potential humanity carries in itself to overcome its fears and collective self-oppressions and make the social passage from necessity to freedom.”

which terror trumps?

State terror: terminal powers of enforcement.

Auschwitz: objective demonstration of a new state power, administrative-industrial genocide.

Hiroshima: objective demonstration of another new state power, the Weapon of Mass Destruction that self-justifies the merger of science and war machine.

Political necessity of the new regime of exception: an absolute enemy, someone, somewhere, preferably a dark bearded face, an imago to be targeted with trembling and enjoyment, the terminating focus of all displacements in the politics of fear.

This is how the capitalist process reproduces and enforces its own conditions today. And new techno-powers now emerging may also prove qualitative: killer drones and terminator robotics combining with god’s eye satellite and internet surveillance.

Through the chains of mediation – administration, integration, culture industry, spectacle, biopower, “war on terror” – state terror points back to the valorization-accumulation process driving our commodity world, the master logic of capitalist modernity.

But now a new factor points more immediately to the same master logic: collapsing ecologies, degradation and depletion, species extinction and climate change.

In the form of looming planetary meltdown, the capital accumulation process itself becomes directly genocidal.

The more the economies grow, the warmer it gets perforce, sentencing more to misery and death, bringing us all closer to critical tipping point. But in a capitalist world, economies that don’t grow also mean unemployment, misery and death: neo-imperialist war machine.

The alternative to this viciously self-terminating “progress”: global reorganization, collective passage to non-domination, a sustainable social logic.

Formerly, in Marxist vision, this passage was the leap to freedom. Today, the urgency with which it begins to bear down makes it appear rather on the side of constraint: the rational self-constraint now demanded by the same instinct for self-preservation that long ago reversed into its irrational opposite.

Benjamin: revolution as the emergency brake on a runaway train.

The actual problem we face: how to organize the reorganization in a non-catastrophic way.

Eros, the liberation of nature, passes through the passage to classless society, but does not end there.

Ecological meltdown begins by impacting us differently but must end by imposing humanity on us indifferently. Could this constraining imperative then bypass the class struggle, realizing its aims more directly?

Maybe, but not likely, so long as the entrenched regime of class relations retrenches and enforces, as it now is doing.

Which terror trumps? Monstrous question for politicized erotics.

for the love

Damien Hirst, For the Love of God, 2007. 27 human teeth and 8601 diamonds embedded in cast platinum. Reported cost of materials: £13 million. Price: £50 million.

“Visiting the skull is a very different experience from reading about it. One is led in a small group up a narrow staircase, and into a pitch black room. One stumbles toward the skull, the only visible object, sitting in the center (one presumes) of the room, under a vertical spotlight, behind the glass of one of Hirst’s trademark vitrines, on a plinth which raises it up to nearly head height. Under the single point of light in the room, it glitters, sparkles, shines – no burns – with a ravishingly beautiful light, the piercing beams of the fiery reds, earthy yellows and icy blues of its diamonds twinkling like – to coin a phrase – the stars brought down to earth.”

“As we shuffle around in the dark, the only things we can find to say, in hushed tones, are the various media clichés we have already read, but these don’t really help us make sense of what we are – or are not – experiencing; as litanies, they seem more a ritual defense than anything else. Our allotted two minutes with the skull is quickly up (for there is a strict time limit to the viewing), and we are ushered out of the room by security guards, blinking, dazzled, and bemused.”

Luke White, “Damien Hirst’s Diamond Skull and the Capitalist Sublime,” 2009

capitalist art

"Life transforms itself into the ideology of reification - actually the mask of death."
Adorno, 1951

In an essay that caps a long critical engagement with Hirst’s provocative art, Luke White argues that Hirst’s skull is an “art of the capitalist sublime: an art which presents capital as its unrepresentable object of desire.”

Hirst’s art, White acknowledges, “is, indeed, ‘capitalist art,’ produced within and entirely accommodated to capital: it is made for purchase by an elite class of global capitalists – advertising gurus such as Charles Saatchi and hedge-fund billionaires such as Steve Cohen, not to mention the oligarchs and tycoons from Russia and East Asia who have more recently risen as Hirst’s clients. Accommodated to their needs and interests, it provides a highly ideologized vision of the world. It is, furthermore, a work of the media ‘spectacle’ on which present-day capital relies, forming itself in response to the world of mass-cultural consumption of which art is increasingly a part.”

At its best, Hirst’s art captivates and speaks to us “through its staging (though not as such its critique) of the antagonisms of capital in highly condensed, multilayered images, embodied in sculptures with a haunting presence.”

It is our own ambivalence to these antagonisms, our own ambivalence to the capitalism that dominates us, White suggests, that constitutes our fascination with Hirst. The diamond skull, he concludes, “is haunted by the violence and exploitativeness of capital, at the same time as it embodies its ideological phantasies.”

missed tooth?

It’s too easy, White warns us, to simply dismiss Hirst, through an annihilating critique that fails to confront the real fascination operating in his art.

Point taken. And White’s discussion of the antagonisms staged in For the Love of God is strong and convincing. To make these antagonisms visible and available to reflection already pierces its glittering halo, without failing to give the devil his due.

My reservation: today the link between capital and death is even deeper than White registers. Capital has become in actual fact what it always was potentially: a techno-genocidal automaton busily destroying the very conditions of life. Or rather, and more horribly, compelling each of us to contribute to this process, and thus surrender, every day of our lives.

What speaks mutely in many of Hirst’s works is a coldness, an absence of life and warmth – the coldness of an objective process we have for decades been helpless to restrain or change.

There was a moment in postwar culture when this coldness was mirrored effectively as a critical artist means. That was the bite of dissonant modernism. But compared to Hirst, even Beckett’s stare is a warm and compassionate protest.

There is no protest to Hirst’s coldness. It mirrors, but without a trace of that passion or compassion that leads us back to each other in urgency. This lack of heart, this absent clenched fist of humane outrage at our present impotence, is the missed encounter at the heart of Hirst’s work. It marks not just Hirst’s failings as an individual artist, but the crystallized failure of a whole historical moment.

Needing heart, needing warmth, as well as honesty and truth, from anything that would call itself art, now more than ever, what shall we say to or about skulls that leave us “blinking, dazzled, and bemused” but not warmed or more human?

Speaking of Hirst, should we not ask this, as well?

“The yawning jaws, the wreathed lips, the enormous teeth, the bulging eyes, composed a striking death’s-head....The mule, in his opinion, had died of old age. He had bought it, two years before, on its way to the slaughterhouse. So he could not complain. After the transaction the owner of the mule predicted that it would drop down dead at the first ploughing. But Lambert was a connoisseur of mules. In the case of mules, it is the eye that counts, the rest is unimportant. So he looked the mule full in the eye, at the gates of the slaughterhouse, and saw that it could still be made to serve. And the mule returned his gaze, in the yard of the slaughterhouse....I thought I might screw six months out of him, said Lambert, and I screwed two years.”

Beckett, Malone Dies, 1952/56.

(Photo: Damien Hirst, A Thousand Years, 1990)

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Solidarity with student strikers and occupiers getting their struggle underway in California and across the US: For education as commons, as human right and public good – free, open and critical, tuned to the promise and aiming beyond the miserable given.

Outrage at hurtful and threatening racist idiocies at UC San Diego during Black History Month, solidarity with the UCSD Black Student Union. Dignity, power in dignity.

Struggles percolating, emerging, seeking their visions and means. Let loose the learning, the sharing, the discussing and deciding. From those campuses the whole monster comes into view:

From education to social priorities as such,
from priorities to the wars,
from the wars to the system,
from system to system change.

Needed counter-pressure from below.

crisis fallout

Not everyone will swallow the discourse of austerity, of “tighten your belt” and shit out your soul, delivered from on high (EU, etc.), with rude tonalities of necessity and no alternative.

It matters now, in the pitiless relation of forces, what kind of Left remains – if any remains. No one is fond of the parties and unions, and only fools give them blind trust. But those were the basis for organized self-defense. Where they have been crushed or corrupted into their unprincipled opposite, the working classes exist as object of exploitation but no longer as political force.

Of course movements can be organized again from scratch, outside the old structures – but then, where are they, and who, if not us, would need to do this work?

In Greece, where more than in most countries remnants of an organized Left persist, alongside a robust autonomist culture, resistance to austerity measures is also stronger and more explosive. (This is partly what is meant when Euro politicians talk condescendingly of Greek “backwardness.”)

The austerity package just passed by Parliament was the work of the ruling “socialist” PASOK party and supported only by the far-right LAOS. The rightwing party New Democracy and SYRIZA, the Radical Left Coalition, voted against it, while the Communist KKE boycotted the vote.

On the day the measures passed (5 March) the main unions went out on strike and rallied outside, the communist PAME in the morning and the GSEE and public-sector ADEDY in the afternoon.

In the demos, 87-year old Manolis Glezos was tear-gassed in the face by riot cops -- near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

In 1941, during the Nazi occupation, Glezos and Apostolos Santas climbed the Acropolis and tore down the swastika flying there. For that act of defiance, they tortured him. He was imprisoned again during the Civil War and again under Papadopoulos and the Colonels.

Glezos was hospitalized for respiratory problems.

allegory and automaton (3)

Having put these two images together, what have I done?

This conjunction becomes an argument. The collision it stages forces these two images to do polemical work.

The two very different charges of these loaded images are each underwritten by overwriting: each includes its own legend or caption.

The staged encounter, then, of two visual scriptings: one, arch irony of a gate to hell (“Work sets you free”), bears a charge of utter repulsion; the other, meager chalk-trace of a rebellious intention (“Never work”), is charged with attraction.

One synecdochically cites a historical fragment (part for whole, part for whole, unfolding out all the way to capitalist modernity as such: gate for Auschwitz, Auschwitz for Nazi genocide, etc.), or, if not that far, then still to the limit, the outer threshold of spectatorial-historical consciousness, before perhaps collapsing back, whole mountains of corpses recorded in other photos, seen and remembered, volumes of horror and terror documented and catalogued, generating something like aura-in-reverse.

The other invokes as it condenses a whole history of avant-garde provocation in one three-word graffito. Scrawled on a Parisian wall by Debord in 1953 or 54, the imperative détourns Rimbaud (Letter to Izambard, 13 May 1871: “Travailler maintenant, jamais, jamais; je suis en grève.”) while echoing the blustering taunts of Berlin Dada and reasserting the active linkage of poetry and revolution that drove Surrealist program and praxis (Manifesto of the Dadaist Central Revolutionary Council, 1919, demanding “progressive unemployment”; cover of La Révolution surréaliste, No. 4, 1925: “WAR ON WORK!”; Ralentir travaux, poems from 1930, etc.). And on to the Lettristes – all refracted through Marx (Capital, vol. 3, reduction of the workday as the “basic condition” of freedom), Lafargue’s Right To Be Lazy (1883) and perhaps Luxemburg’s Mass Strike (1906).

Holding a place within the legend, for years hardly more than a rumor, of the Situationist International, these words then reappeared a decade and half later during another May. Absorbed into the history of 68, they were transfigured into a cipher of freedom, winging, all eros.

If these two visually impoverished images together generate a certain force of seduction, then this rhetorical effect derives from the apparent adequacy of the visual argument.

The linking juxtaposition becomes an immediate refutation: genocidal modernity is followed directly, as the eyes slip unhindered over the marginal gap, by the call to general strike promising a radical new form of labor and life.

Revolution appears to answer, visually does answer, the brutal datum of the pendant, a global regime of forced labor that in itself routinely and necessarily “murders” the freedom and happiness of those it exploits – and which, under the rule of enforcing exception, repeatedly becomes literally murderous on a global scale.

But in the skip across the seam of the montage, the instantaneous passage from image to image, contracting time and space and excluding reflective mediations, what falls out?

The steps of struggle – difficult processes of pedagogy, organizing, strategy – are jammed and compressed impatiently into the brilliant gesture of spontaneity, the quick clandestine performance of a sole agent.

Were it that easy!

What Marx actually writes in volume 3 (Chapter 48):

“The realm of freedom really begins only where labor determined by necessity and external expediency ends; it lies by its very nature beyond the sphere of material production proper.”

But he continues: “Freedom [in the realm of irreducible “natural necessity”] can only consist in this, that socialized man, the associated producers, govern the human metabolism with nature in a rational way, bringing it under their collective control instead of being dominated by it as a blind power; accomplishing it with the least expenditure of energy and in conditions most worthy and appropriate for their human nature. But this always remains a realm of necessity. The true realm of freedom, the development of human powers as an end in itself, begins beyond it, though it can only flourish with this realm of necessity as its base. The reduction of the working day is the basic prerequisite.”

This collective or socialized control (gemeinschaftliche Kontrolle), note, is over not nature but the metabolic interaction with nature. It is our relation to nature, Marx argues, that has to be mastered.

The lines bear an opening to a radically different relation with nature, internal and external. But the misrecognitions and false resolutions also latent in this promise helped to lead in twentieth-century practice to the reproduction of forced labor, a “socialist” extraction of surplus, episodic terror and the usual ecological abuse.

Everything at stake in processing the mirroring nightmares of “really existing socialism” unfolds from those lines – which should be read urgently together with Benjamin’s Thesis XI, along with all of Adorno’s and Marcuse’s glosses on it, already sampled in posts below.

Work to be reinvented, relations reorganized, so as to abolish structural domination between people and between people and nature: a potential social transformation the actualization of which remains a problematic in search of solutions.

If we are inclined to read this visual argument as a call to autonomist exodus à la Hardt, Negri and Virno, we would at least need to look the strategic problems of aim and agency in the eye: withholding labor-power from the wage relation is a means of struggle, not its end.

While it temporarily breaks the circuit of capital, the stoppage of production, even on a massive scale, does not necessarily break capitalist power. Persisted in, the general strike throws up new problems of scarcity. In itself it is not the needed reinvention of work and dissolvent of divisions of labor (not painters but people who sometimes paint, etc.).

Exemplary intransigence, as in Debord’s photo, promises happiness but doesn’t solve the problem. The solutions are yet to be found, although – of course – collective searching is the finest practice.

Clarified perhaps: Even when images appear to speak, they never say all that needs to be said. Images that “argue” by force can lose in reflective power what they gain by rhetorical assertion.

No image, any more than any concept, is identical to its referent. It takes the labor of critical interpretation and reflection to gauge the gaps between word, image and reality – and to draw (allegorically or in other words – and always in other words – by means of questions) the conclusions.

the debt to Benjamin
allegory and philosophy
allegory and automaton (1)
allegory and automaton (2)
dreaming naked
shudders of freedom?

Monday, March 1, 2010

phantoms of liberty

(addendum to on tea partiers)

The legions of Earl Gray (aka Fox, aka Beck) marching on Rome drag with them a pitiless engine of partisan siege. The aim of it: to pummel the first Black president.

In the tea bag, a heady mix of rage, myth and toxins. Venoms spurt in all directions. Within the simmering legions, ugly elements circulate: militiamen and border vigilantes, Patriots and John Birchers.

They speak of Tyrants and Liberty, wave The Constitution.

Rightward scurrying Obama they paint as Black Socialist Tyrant, conjuring old racist fears of slave risings and plantations up in flames - the ghosts of Toussaint L’Ouverture and Haiti’s Black Jacobins.

But palpably, in the fearing and seething: the deeper identification with power, impotence longing for a Tyrant – the still-shared fantasy of an invincible super sovereign bristling with nukes, dungeons and robotic terminators.

Proof: of the sacred war machine, that absolute black hole of “big government” expenditure, to which all common goods must be sacrificed, not one word. About that of which naught need be said, tea baggers are glad to be silent.

Obama’s person is despised but in the King’s true body, the executive function as such, the imago, dear to the heartland, of Avenging Protector persists.

Fear of the wretched and inscrutable enemy at large in the Global South feeds the wish for a grimacing strong man in the White House basement. Let him be more terrible than terror itself: ungloved, water-boarding, rampaging.

Hitting-out still underwriting war machine’s taking-out.

Tea machine as the “new American revolution,” from below? Unlaughably not. Restorationist reaction to merest whiff of change, more like it. Faux-radical, extreme only in its middling hatreds.

Its politics, translated into votes, prepares the return of Republican power and strengthens the Party’s right wing.

For the world, it means more killing, in waste and wrack. More war, more obstruction, more avoidance – of history, of planet in meltdown, the automaton of systematic antagonism, blind and miserable rule of domination.

refracting terror

“Somewhere in the heap, a wild equine eye, always open.”
Beckett, The Unnamable, 1953/58

As the wars went on, missiles and phosphorous pounding down on civilians across the Global South, computer animator Lena Gieseke mapped the space of Picasso’s great protest of the terror wreaked on Guernica.

Not unproblematic, her technical “exploration.” The last thing we need is another cartoon trivializing what weapons keep doing to bodies. (Nor does Picasso escape this old problem of the enjoyment factor intrinsic to aesthetic semblance, at work in all images, even painful representations of the worst.) 

But her risky estrangement convinces – and the more so by not reassuring. She fingers the questions raised, without pretending to fix the relation between her “three-dimensional reproduction” and Picasso’s painting. The haunting result disturbs on many levels, even as it activates the image shards of horror all of us are forced to carry in our heads.

exemplary delusion

“Bomb Power translates directly to information power. Secrecy emanated from the Manhattan Project like a giant radiation emission.”

“And the power of secrecy that enveloped the Bomb became a model for the planning or execution of Anything Important, as guarded by Important People. Because the government was the keeper of the great secret, it began to specialize in secret keeping.”

Garry Wills, Bomb Power, 2010

In the wake of Hiroshima, a new structural-strategic trend: the long-term concentration of executive power, mutating the US state. Wills traces, step by step, the formation of the new regime: a National Security State operating beyond and largely against the US Constitution.

Wills documents the crimes and abuses accumulated by every president from Truman to Bush II, shifting power steadily to the executive branch and there merging with the war machine.

To Wills’ conclusions, we would only need to add: this mutation of the US state unfolding from a new power of terror corresponds to its enforcing functions in the post-1945 global order.

In all of this Obama takes his place, here as elsewhere brings no change.

status quo autobellum

War machine: Pentagon and its global web of bases, but also the houses of mist, that vast, multi-agency spying and counterinsurgency apparatus netting planet and space; plus the industrial sector that supplies both; plus the scientific R&D apparatus installed in universities and corporate labs; plus the new mercenary assets operating outside military codes of engagement, discipline and accountability; plus the new bases in the culture and affect industries that sell and spin the wars to the public (what Der Derian calls the MIME-Net, the military-industrial-media-
entertainment network).

A dense concentrate of economic and political power, pulsing through sites in and out of the US state. Whole institutional continents veiled in secrecy become loci of quasi-autonomous interests and power, competing for funding and presidential ear, often at odds in aims and priorities, tactics and strategy, measures to be taken.

It’s a war in there, the war machine. Over it, fueling it: the valorization-accumulation process, master logic of capital, mediated through imperialist great gaming. Out there, in the wars, smart operators have never ceased to make a killing.

binding axes

In the war machine, unity appears as emergency projection - as wartime convergence of the king’s two bodies, the official function and actual person of Commander in Chief, enthroned in the Oval Office or touring the forts and estates in Air Force One.
Before the hated enemy, contradictions are deferred, internal rivalries managed: yessir, yessir, united we stand.

Imperfect, but still control, as real and terrible as it gets. US presidential elections – ultimate staging of sanctioned political struggle under the current global order. As we’ve seen, an election worth stealing.

War gives command over this machine its maximum unity; permanent emergency normalizes it. Repeat accumulation, with surplus: power mirrors capital’s spiral.

As in Benjamin’s thesis contra Schmitt, the state of exception suspending the rule proved to be part of it: the rule is, that the exception enforces the rule. What rules is the rule of exception and rule together: permanence in accumulating power and catastrophe.

A complexly commanded but precisely deployable power of terror – state terror, the terror of enforcement. And globally, the US role, capital guarantee.

Entrenched empire of functional death-power, deep wound and legacy of Hiroshima.