Simon Critchley. The Faith of the Faithless. 2010
notes from a video lecture
We are living through a long anti-1960s.
Today we think we know better than to create utopias.
Original sin: ontological defect prevents construction of better world
We polish the bars of our prison cells with John Gray, Adorno, Agamben.
Politics mediates between experience of organization and subjective ethical individualism.
Our time: collaborative experimental politics. Trapped within institutional framework; communal reenactment.
Radical politics a reenactment [banalization, repetition] in mannerist form, of Situationism.
"The Coming Insurrection" by the Invisible Committee: petty bourgeois, atomized, prosecuted by French authorities for "pre-terrorism."
"Governing has never been anything other than pushing back by a thousand subterfuges the moment when the crowd will hang you."
Situationist International's Marx-Hegel is now replaced with Agamben's law/life dichotomy: violence separated from life by politics.
Invisible Committee: argue for anonymous zones of opacity where communes might be formed. "Inoperative" refusing tyranny of work [Blanchot]
Foci of desertion, shelter away from civilization's abyss.
"Abandon ship to make it sink."
"One does not tidy-up a home falling off a cliff."
The human strike.
Zones of opacity > rural.
Cities > Designer Resistance. [00:20:18]
The Coming Insurrection echos many strands of 15th to 19th century utopianism.
Emphasis on secrecy, invisibility, and itinerancy.
Politicization of poverty, mendicancy, refusal of work.
Affirmation of a life no longer exhausted by work or police.
Cessation from civilization risks getting stuck in reenactment gestures of the old Situationist gestures.
Political mediation and connection to workers and unemployed not posed.
We need a better political cartography.
Desire for cessation, exodus, escape from doomed civilization is understandable.
This is called Marcionism: separation of old from new, law from life.
Globalizing, atomizing, legal regime; a space must be made possible for another type or group collective life.
Retreat from old order [the current order] with experiments in shared communalism.
Agamben, Badiou: return to Paul. Stretched line between life and redemption.
Heretical reading of Paul.
Marcionite: separate creation from redemption; order life around two gods; gnostic sense of creation & resistance.
Need for cessation, change of resistance: end of all-too-public] anti-globalization movement allows Invisible Committee to arise and seek resonances near and far.
"Resonance" of a body in one location makes another in another area start to shake.
Politics not a question of struggle for visibility, but opacity, anonymity, and resonance. Giving up the internet.
Some groups going back to hand-traded pamphlets, circulating human to human.
Bewitched by numbers, previous movements thought that scale of protest was criterion of effectiveness. Clearly it is degree of resonance.
What follows from rejecting this utopian communalist perspective?
John Gray? Carl Schmidt? Barack Obama?
To abandon the utopian means abandoning idea that another world is possible.
Resign ourselves to liberal democracy: the rule over the rule.
Utopia conceivable without violence?
Violence not reducible to act in here and now relateable to justice.
Violence is a phenomenon historically, a double-act between human subjects; repetition effect from which people cannot free themselves.
Colonialism: violence never abstract for colonized.
Violence is muscular assertion of colonized for their liberation.
Violence against colonizer allows colonized to remake themselves, pace Fanon.
[Critchley is] Skeptical of "men" remade by patience of the knife [Sartre].
Zizek: mannerist explanations of violence, distancing it.
Non-violence is a tool that also prevents violent overthrow; non-violence is a negotiating strategy. Non-violent thoughts within a regime based on a thousand years of oppression cannot be taken seriously; it is an abstraction.
Techniques of direct action [non-violent warfare] can be effective tactically for a time.
Must ethics of non-violence be forgone? Or exclude possibility of violence?
Solutions are insoluble if violence is excluded as matter of principal [Walter Benjamin].
Why should anarchists be only agents who have to decide to be non-violent before political action begins? [State and its cops never obliged to]. If so required, anarchists become spectators.
Turn to violence is usually result of provocation and is understandable.
SZ in "Resistance is surrender" says contra Critchley's position:
Truly subversive to reject making huge universal demands upon the powerful and instead bombard them with myriad finite demands which don't allow for excuses and rejections.
But... in political actions infinite demands can be ignored.
We must be attentive to what exceeds the situation, that exceeds its limits.
Infinite demands are a response to unlimitedness of situations.
In concrete situation we might begin with finite demands.
It will be accommodated or not and that might end struggle.
Once the finite demand is rejected or acceded to, the struggle ends.
Politics must refuse accommodation at level of state or government.
Organization of demand must extend beyond concrete groups to radicalize, to call into question the whole state. Resonance.
Make finite demands that allow something unlimited in the initial context to take shape. This will allow particularity to be superseded.
[Rodney King, UK riots].
Spontaneous interconnection between different locations of struggle.
Defensive struggles can open into something new. Utopian moments.
Infinite demands: to see what is in terms of what is not, and vice versa; embracing a double or affirmative nihilism of world politics.
Focus on that which has no existence in world of neoliberal hegemony.