Rebellion/revolution as war

(All art by Bilal Berreni – Zoo Project)

Our movement … is in the first place a negative movement, a movement against identity.  It is we who de-compose, we are the wreckers.  It is capital which constantly seeks to compose, to create identities, to create stability (always illusory, but essential to its existence), to contain and deny our negativity.  We are the source of movement, we are the subject …

John Holloway, Change the World Without Taking Power

Let us think not of class as a fixed social category or identity, as a component part of a social system. For as so conceived, the constituent classes of any given social system are integral to it.

Let us rather think of class as collective subjects inscribed in constant processes of subjectivation through apparatuses employed in the construction of social relations. Who controls the process then “holds” power. But the holders of power can never be assured of their rule, and must therefore continually refashion and appropriate the agencies of those ruled, for the ongoing elaboration of government.

Let us then think of class as a social role made in and through relations and apparatuses of control. As such, there is then no social class intrinsically opposed to a reigning set of power relations. Classes are shaped in these very relations, and thus government is the exercise of forming socially integrative class subjects.

Let us think of class as essentially unstable, made through social relations of capture that are forced to continually run ahead of themselves, foreseeing and domesticating ever new possibilities of subjective life.

Let us think of class as heterogeneous, as constituted not by one particular kind of social relation (e.g. capitalist-worker), but as an overlapping and mutually supporting aggregate of types of relations of control (e.g., political, racial, sexual, ethnic, and so on).

Then the rebellious, insurrectionary, revolutionary class is that born of lines of flight from the dominant social relations of power; it is the excess of agency that escapes the social categorisation and confinement that defines and is defined by sovereignty (the plebe, the poor, the proletariat, the excluded, and the like); it is the immanently transgressive margin(s) of all institutionalised authority that acts not as a class in contradiction with a system, but as an enemy of existing powers.

Revolutions are carried, always, by the anonymous of a society, and always in moments and places where new times and spaces reveal themselves. The revolutionaries are at most the people, but the people as subjectivities still to be made, created. And thus they can only be the enemy, the other, of the social relations that mould the legitimate social identities internal to those relations.

Dominant relations of power may suffer crime, but not rebellion. The criminal offends a legal individual; the rebel attacks society, the “we”, the “us”, who comprise the ethical-political substance of a political authority. And if a dominant power can tolerate crime, rebellion is without excuse. To then transform all crime into rebellion, to be able to name, judge and punish all offenses as violence against the whole of society, is to radically transform the nature of power. To act against the criminal, is to act against a violator of the law and thereby reaffirm the law. Such action however presupposes a criminal event, presupposes the need to establish guilt, before any kind of punishment can be legitimately administered. The rebel however cannot be allowed to act (for the act may end in successful revolution). The rebel must be accordingly identified before the act of insurrection, which is only possible if the rebel is first a suspect, someone suspect of putting the security of the sovereign at risk. The monarch must hunt out the potential regicide.

Let us now think of the rebel, the revolutionary, under the reign of Foucault’s liberal governmentality, Hardt’s and Negri’s empire: escape beyond power is no longer possible, for there is no longer any outside to existing social relations. Indeed, all manifestations of rebellious freedom quickly become the basis for further control, as new apparatuses of domestication harness the powers of new agencies. But then all crime becomes potentially rebellion, and we are all suspects, before any one of us becomes a criminal.

Let us now think that as all crime becomes rebellion, all rebellion is equally criminalised. The enemy is transfigured into a criminal; the enemy becomes the terrorist. Our wars become police actions, and our societies become fields of battle for militarised police forces.

The enemy is intolerable to empire: how can anyone rationally object to “happiness”? What remains then are fanatics, obscurantists, totalitarians, individuals capable of mindlessly obstructing, harming, even killing the “innocent”. Such are not enemies, for enemies fight according to the civilised rules of warfare. They are rather criminals, but criminals of a new type, who like the rebels before them, are judged before they act; and even should they act, however seemingly “harmless” the action, they are to be judged and condemned for what they may potentially do, what they become suspect of being able to do.

Let us then think of the contemporary proliferation of anti-terrorist legislation in this light: as a set of apparatuses for the criminalisation of all rebellion; as a politics of control that transforms all enemies into criminals, and all criminals into suspected terrorists. (E.g., the recent law proposed by france’s minister of the interior, Bernard Cazeneuve (LeMonde 08/07/2014) or the spanish law for the security of the citizen, now awaiting only final approval by the country’s parliament (LeMonde 13/14/07/2014)).

Let us thus endeavour to think of rebellion and revolution as acts of war; let us think of the revolutionary as an enemy, an enemy of relations of power that seek to so survey and control, that their ultimate aim is that nothing should happen.

Let us then think that as power is everywhere, so too is resistance; resistance that is not a consequence of contradictions within society, but is born of acts of refusal of dominant ways of life. Revolutions are carried by the enemies of power, singularities of human communities that seek to create ways of life against what exists and for the freedom to create oneself and one’s world.

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