Archive for Michael Hardt

Even if a Ballot is Silenced, the Voice Behind it Cannot Be

Posted in Political Focus with tags , , , , , , on June 17, 2009 by Bonni Rambatan
The Persian Bay

Pirates for Iranian people! Yarrrr!

Hey all you posthuman pirates, insurgents, and revolutionaries, ready your canons, some folks in Iran need a hand. Here’s how you lend one.

So I thought I would have time for more hibernation and read more intensely those thick books on my shelf, but then it appears an interesting event has happened. So there was this Iranian election on the 12th, but I have been sitting around idly even as all the violence take place (I’ve never been the bleeding heart type, mind) — I thought it was nothing more than the usual protest, without conditions for an Event.

But as time passes it becomes more and more apparent that this is a revolution that has much significance. Heck, even the final boss of the Internet is joining the battle. Which means you can, too.

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s line of thinking throughout their work is how today’s Empire can only be resisted from within — how? By none other by the multitude’s sheer power to act. First and foremost, the multitude needs to take hold of the facilities of communication and make it their own — free speech is the ultimate and perhaps only weapon against any kind of fascism in the broader sense.

It goes without saying that, whatever it takes, Iranian bloggers need to be protected at all costs. This is the dawn of a new age and we cannot by any means let the old ways of censorship and repression have their way. This world is free, after all — in masks (proxies or literal Guy Fawkes masks), every individual has nothing to lose but his chains.

So here I repost again from the link above how to make actual these virtualities of the multitude against restriction of free speech:

  1. Do NOT publicise proxy IP’s over twitter, and especially not using the #iranelection hashtag. Security forces are monitoring this hashtag, and the moment they identify a proxy IP they will block it in Iran. If you are creating new proxies for the Iranian bloggers, DM them to @stopAhmadi or @iran09 and they will distributed them discretely to bloggers in Iran.
  2. Hashtags, the only two legitimate hashtags being used by bloggers in Iran are #iranelection and #gr88, other hashtag ideas run the risk of diluting the conversation.
  3. Keep you bull$hit filter up! Security forces are now setting up twitter accounts to spread disinformation by posing as Iranian protesters. Please don’t retweet impetuosly, try to confirm information with reliable sources before retweeting. The legitimate sources are not hard to find and follow.
  4. Help cover the bloggers: change your twitter settings so that your location is TEHRAN and your time zone is GMT +3.30. Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location and timezone searches. If we all become ‘Iranians’ it becomes much harder to find them.
  5. Don’t blow their cover! If you discover a genuine source, please don’t publicise their name or location on a website. These bloggers are in REAL danger. Spread the word discretely through your own networks but don’t signpost them to the security forces. People are dying there, for real, please keep that in mind…

To do more action, find out more information, I would reccommend you once again to join the protest.

Even if a ballot is silenced, the voice behind it cannot be. This age does not belong to authorities. This age belongs to the legion that forgives nothing and forgets nothing.

G 20: A Romance of the Politics of Failure?

Posted in Political Focus with tags , , , , , , on April 14, 2009 by Bonni Rambatan
Protestors photograph riot police outside a Lloyds Bank in London, on April 1, 2009. (ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo by Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

I should have jumped right into the foray and gave my thoughts on the G 20 protest in the beginning of this month. I take the blame and full responsibility for not doing so. Rest assured I have been following the news, including the tragic case of Ian Tomlison. I am going to comment on both.

First of all I would like to credit K-Punk (via The Kubrickian Gaze) for my title, a phrase he mentioned to conclude his excellent response on the G 20 protest. Indeed, in every protest, it is always a question of whether it is another impotent protest, a mere acting out only to “get owned by the police,” as Lenin put it, or whether it has the capability of merging into a larger protest, a new Left.

That in itself of course has no inherent answer — as a good Badiouvian I maintain that the nature of truth is always militant and never given. However, I have a question: how, exactly, can any protest merge into a larger, combustible one in this day and age? This is not skeptic cynicism but actual curiosity from my part. While we may be similar to the end of the 19th century in terms of cynicism and thinking that the world is over, we do have one major difference, which may either be a drawback or a potential: all protests today are always-already directly aimed at Empire.

In the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century we surely do not lack bloody protests everywhere. In those times, they resonate from one to the next — the commons in each new place witness the struggle in another place and appropriate the dreams as their own, then organize their own struggle, and off the chain went: Paris, Shanghai, New Delhi, Jakarta, Hanoi…

Today, we skip the appropriating part. Every struggle is always-already a struggle in the name of the global citizen. K-Punk mentioned how the environmentalist protests are meaningless, since it is a protest everyone can agree on. But is not every protest today like this? One only needs to see the placards in the G 20 protests:  Besides “Climate Emergency,” they have “Gaza: End the Blockade,” “Planet Before Profit,” “We Won’t Pay for Their Crisis,” “Jobs not Bombs”… When you get right down to it, who does not agree with those? Certain parties would come to mind, but really, are these not obvious demands already?

I think this is our real problem — that we know exactly what we want, we know exactly what is going on, but at the same time we know nothing about what we want — “of course that would be the ideal world, but we all know it’s impossible,” and so on — and we know nothing about what is going on — if we are asked why we are living in a world so far away from what we dream of, we either take it as given or blame a Bad Father. I often call today’s society “the society of perversion” not for nothing — it acknowledges and disavows castration at the same time.

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

It is as if the G 20 is expected to either deny the whole thing — we know they already know it but we know that they know that we know how our sufferings are inevitable — or to produce some sort of magical cure, that suddenly they prescribe a magical plan to cure all ailness. Curiously, this is exactly the same mental state a traditional patient has when visiting a psychotherapist of any kind — for them to either say that s/he is not sick or to shove them a magical pill that would cure the illness instantly.

Being a good Lacanian, K-Punk’s take comes off as excellent (except for the “grand philosophical system” part):

Time to withdraw from the feelgood simulation of politics. Time to give up the gratification of displaying wounds inflicted by the police as signs of grace, evidence that we are on the side of the Good. Time to relinquish the easy jouissance of impotent acting-out. Time to face the fact that organising marches isn’t the same as political organisation. […] It’s time to think, not in order to finesse some grand philosophical system, but with the goal of identifying what new forms of organisation can succeed in these conditions. Time to give up on the romance of a politics of failure and plan to win.

I mentioned I would comment on the case of Ian Tomlison. I feel really bad for Tomlison, not really because of the tragic case itself, but because his death has been turned into a spectacle to reassure the existence of the Bad Father — it is as if today we need more and more futile tragedies like this to reassure ourselves, often in vain, that those deaths mean something.

It is time to stand up and realize that the Big Other does not exist. For so long as it is taken for granted that it does, quoting Deleuze, “the people are missing“. More than anything today, we need a new figure of the analyst to, first of all, make the people appear for itself.

On The Idea of Communism

Posted in Political Focus with tags , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2009 by Bonni Rambatan

Hello hello, TPM readers! Thank you for being faithful even in these times where I am blogging much less than usual — two weeks of unexplained absence, without a drop in the reader count! Thank you for standing by! Well, I have been doing several projects, and am also writing my thesis, but here I am :-)

To start the month, why don’t we review a bit of what happened on March, an event that started on the appropriately dangerous Friday the 13th and ended on the following Sunday. I am talking, of course, about On The Idea of Communism conference, hosted by Slavoj Žižek at Birkbeck College, which included names like Alain Badiou, Terry Eagleton, Peter Hallward, Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, Jacques Ranciere, Judith Balso, Bruno Bosteels, Alessandro Russo, Alberto Toscano and Gianni Vattimo. Jean-Luc Nancy I think was supposed to be there but could not attend due to Visa problems (which reminds me of my own case last year).

I would have loved it if I had actually attended and this were an actual report, but I didn’t, so for conference notes I would refer you to Andrew Osborne’s post here. I watched several videos on YouTube as well, one of which I linked above.

I want to just comment on this conference. First of all, it is a really exciting conference and perhaps could not have had better timing. We are living in times in which people have less and less faith in both world politics and economy. It is true that people in many places, including my own country, still irrationaly fear communism (the most popular response in my country being that communism is forbidden by religion — LOL?), but it nonetheless should be conceived as the perfect time to think. Žižek suggested us to take Lenin as an example: in the harsh times of 1915, he retreated to Switzerland to read Hegel.

About the times we are facing today, Alain Badiou puts it very nicely. I quote from Osborne’s blog:

Today we are nearer the 19th century than the 20th century  with the arrival of utterly cynical capitalism. We are witnessing the return of all sorts of 19th century phenomena such as pirate nationalisations, nihilistic despair and the servility of intellectuals.

Badiou then of course goes on in his usual manner mentions of the need for a strong subjectivity to change the coordinates of possibilities in order to create the Event, the rupture in existence to which we can militantly assert a new truth. This is important and stressed again by Žižek in the conclusion, that a change is not a change in actuality but a change in possibilities. Thus, our task is to think of the possibility of possibilities, to do the impossible — not the usual Kantian “we must, because we can,” but the Badiouvian “we must, because it is impossible.”

I also love what Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri have to say, although the ideas they mention are nothing new if you have read their work, Empire. How can I not love it when the entire notion is similar to the original theme of this blog (I say original, because lately it has become more and more Lacanian than Marxist, I know), that is, one that interrogates the notion of cognitive capital, digital property, and the commons in this day and age of biocybernetic reproduction. Copyright conflicts are the new terrain of the struggle of the commons — now you know why I love calling myself a pirate.

Antonio Negri stressed another importance of communism, one I tweeted in three tweets. It is an importance already mentioned by Tronti and Lenin, as @semioticmonkey corrected me. Indeed, communism is opposed to socialism, and in the same way that psychoanalysis is opposed to ego psychology. There is no equal State, as there is no healthy ego. Communists must organize the decline of State, as psychoanalysts must sustain the efficacy of the ego. Both communism and psychoanalysis must act with an ethics of the Real and acknowledge the redundancy of the agent.

But all in all, in the end, we still do have a question. Is communism a program, a movement to bring back politics and its efficiency that is faithful to a continuous revolution — do we need to organize a continuous decline of the State in order to change our possibilities, as Žižek would argue? Or is it merely a philosophical idea, and what we need now are militant communists, not communism per se, acting to the fullest extent the ethics of the tragic hero, the ethics of the Real, in order to produce an Event, as Badiou maintained?