Archiv für Januar 2010

Spies and Art: in a State of Emergency

I want to talk about a series of encounters between art and surveillance and politics – in sections. The logic is perhaps convolute, and the themes sporadically surfacing and re-surfacing rather than tautly sustained. Whether the 6 sections form a whole argument or just a series of impermissably poetic scenes with little connection or truth-status is, of course, for you to decide.

Throughout this listening history of antifascist lyrics in Britcore Hip Hop, I want a quotation to be ringing in your ears. It is from Benjamin’s ‚Theses on the Philosophy of History‘ and it summons up the language of peril, of threat. Benjamin speaks of historical materialism’s need to ‘seize hold of a memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger’ – in order to make visible the true history of oppression. He continues:

The danger affects both the content of the tradition and its receivers. The same threat hangs over both: that of becoming a tool of the ruling classes. In every era the attempt must be made anew to wrest tradition away from a conformism that is about to overpower it.

1. Low-life, high art

In a radio lecture on the Bastille, the French state prison, Walter Benjamin associates conspirators and artists. The Bastille was a place of incarceration for people who had contravened against state security. There were two classes of prisoner held there; those who were accused of conspiracy and treason, and those more numerous inmates who were writers, engravers, book dealers and binders, all people who had propagated books that offended the king or his favourites. Peopled by conspirators and seditionaries, and governed by an obfuscatory command-structure, it was no surprise that the Bastille prison was rife with rumours. None of the inhabitants were quite certain who else lodged there behind the screened windows that stopped the prisoners from seeing the governor’s strolling visitors and musicians. Sometimes the prisoners developed systems of communication, tapping information in code between cells. But prisoners disappeared from between its walls as swiftly as they had appeared, subject as they were to the whims of the powerful. The storming of the Bastille, home at that moment to just sixteen prisoners, was the first visible act of destruction of the French Revolution, and it occurred, insists Benjamin, because of the arbitrariness of its punishments, and the prison regime’s remoteness from any sense of Recht, of right, of law. What was released then into the French post-revolutionary cosmos was a ragged band of writers, artists, artisans and conspirators. In short, a low-life bohemia of gossip-mongerers, art-peddlars and revolters, who dispersed into the fertile air of a new class-rule. Having occupied the same space of confinement, they forged a bond that bore offspring. For it was from their ranks that the avant-garde was born, as Clement Greenberg has told us in ‚Avant-garde and Kitsch‘ [1939]. No longer ‘at home’ in the prison, these homeless rebels agitate and aggravate from inside the vaster prison of the bourgeois world; opposed to that world, but inside it, they figure a place apart.


‚Resistance‘ as sub-jektion Tool of future strategys

As the invention task of many debates around the local presence of rooms and buildings to void the communication as assemblage of ‚metaphysics‘ and ’sub-jektion‘, there we have the counter presence of money making and commercialization bias. The ongoing strategy revails an pertaining tool of post-fascist Europe and its ‚Resistance‘ move in and out.
Lets stakin the Vinyl and force out the neuro-desease of ‚negro‘ stuff in Parkinsons chapter of racist human pathologys.

There are two basic strategies being put forth in the West and particularly the Queens royality today in regard to the challenge from radical and Islamist forces. The narrower, terror-only strategy is a far more tempting one to follow. It is less expensive, less risky, and makes it far easier to claim success. That’s why it has such enormous appeal and is generally the one being adopted.

The Terror-Only Strategy

In this approach, the problem is defined as direct terror attacks on Western territory and facilities elsewhere like embassies. The enemy is those groups which directly target the West, meaning al-Qaida and its allies plus various independent local self-made terrorists (who are influenced, of course, by Jihadist propaganda).

Since these groups have no major state sponsor, this is a narrow counterterrorism strategy which does not require confrontation or conflict with any other country. It can be handled largely as a police and criminal matter. Success is measured by an ability to keep such attacks to an absolute minimum.

Thus, a whole category of terrorist revolutionary groups and their state sponsors can be ignored. If you don’t bother them, it is hoped, they won’t bother you. (This is not without exception, though, as Western states have been willing to put sanctions on Hamas, though these are under some challenge.)

This strategy also has an internal aspect. Since only those small groups which want to attack on their territory are the problem, it can be argued that the best defense is to work with Islamist groups which, no matter how extreme their ideology and their support for terrorism abroad, don’t engage in violence on your own territory.

While there is a sharp debate over the domestic aspect of the strategy--some countries like Britain and France are ready to work with „moderate“ Islamists, others aren‘t—it has clearly won out on the international front and has been adopted by the Obama Administration.

--The Anti-Islamist Strategy

This seems closer to the Bush Administration’s view and is thus considered discredited in most Western policymaking circles. The concept here is that radical Islamist forces threaten Western strategic interests and pose the principal threat of this era.

The other side here consists, of several different forces: an Iran-led alliance (Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, Iraqi insurgents); Jihadist terrorist groups (al-Qaida and its various affiliates and the Taliban); the Muslim Brotherhoods; and some countries with radical regimes (Sudan, Libya). The key problem is not whether these forces are engaged in direct violence against Western targets, they are at war with Western interests which they seek to destroy.

In this context, they may well engage in anti-Western violence in future. But more important, they are capable of seizing control of countries or regions thus wielding enormous assets. If they succeed—or are perceived by millions of Muslims as succeeding—the entire strategic balance in the Middle East would shift. Western interests would suffer a huge setback and the imbalance could escalate over time.

Obviously, this latter strategy is far less attractive to policymakers. Why get into a possible confrontation with powerful forces and large countries if that can be avoided? Why set the standard of success so high that you probably cannot reach it?

Of course, the problem is that the larger threat is by far the more serious threat. A shift in the balance of forces in such a strategic region, leading inevitably to the encouragement of subversive and violent forces in one’s own countries, is a far more dangerous situation than the occasional bombing or shooting.

But if you believe that it is adequate to deal only with direct violence against you, it can be argued that the best solution is to engage the radical forces at home and abroad, appease them, and avoid trouble. As President Barack Obama put it, he doesn’t seek victory over Iran but a solution to the problem, which is defined as Iran developing nuclear weapons without some agreement or at all.

Terrorism is not a movement or a doctrine or a goal but only a tactic used by revolutionary groups. Their ultimate goal is to seize state power and terrorism is merely one way of trying to do so. The question, then, is whether the problem is the use of a tactic or the goal of destroying existing governments and societies to replace them with a totalitarian regime.

Understandably, this limited terrorism-only strategy is tempting as a policy since it is so hard to do anything to solve the bigger Islamist threat. But doesn’t this choice also put the West in great long-term jeopardy, discourage more moderate Third World clients, and guarantee a far higher level of anti-Western violence in future?

That’s something most Western policymakers prefer not to think about, far less do anything about.

The ‚Still Dangerous‘-Crew eradicate the affinities with any eviction of ‚our‘ rooms and spaces!