GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

June 25, 2019

From Metapolitics to Politics

Filed under: GA — adam @ 10:55 am

Let’s say neoabsolutism is the organization of those who seek out commands from the central authority, in distinction from those who make demands upon the central authorities. In distinction from, not in opposition to (even if opposition is sometimes necessary)—this distinction runs through as well as across individuals, and neoabsolutists try, not to “purify” themselves by refraining from making demands, but to keep making demands increasingly subordinate to commands—ultimately, demands should be converted into requests for materials needed to fulfill commands. You make demands when you see yourself as being in a transactional relation to the demandee; since no one is ever actually in a transactional relation with the central authority, demands are meaningful insofar as they are in fact at the lower end of a chain of commands issued by the central authority itself, as it has been captured by one or another faction. If your demands are not at the end of a chain of command issued by the central authority, they are simply delusional. If they are, they are commands followed in disguise. So, for starters, neoabsolutists don’t make meaningless, delusional, demands—this in itself is enough to distinguish us from all other political factions.

Commands come to us through names. Names institute originary centers: a name refers to an object that is, or might be, desired, and therefore a source of rivalry; naming the thing makes the object available or divisible in an authorized and orderly way. This is the case for intimate nicknames that add a layer of protection to comrades or loved ones, slowing down the movement from attention to resentment just as much as for the names of cities which are thereby brought under central authority. The named object commands us to refrain from violently centralizing it. We refrain from violent centralization by deferring to the central authority conferring and redeeming the name: we do nothing to the object that authority would prohibit; even more, we protect it as that authority would have us do. We can always do this, even when the name is contested. Take a frivolous example: some eccentric who insists on calling New York “New Amsterdam” because his own historical inquiries have revealed to him that the British never had a right to succeed Dutch sovereignty over the city. While you are speaking with him, which is to say while the name “New Amsterdam” is in play, and you have no responsibility for preserving the name “New York,” and there is no harm in entering his imaginary space, respecting “Dutch sovereignty,” and finding out what this place, New Amsterdam, is (even if the DMV and Post Office won’t be able to indulge his fantasy). The same is true in more serious cases, where the name of a city or country is the stake in a war, insurrection, or civil war. Even when your enemy’s name is in play, you can recognize and respect the buffers he places around his name for the place or site because doing so is a way of eliciting in his speech and actions the sovereign resources that may or may not back the name. “Tell me about your [   ]” serves as both a kind of truce and a way of measuring the forces arrayed.

We are always most fundamentally naming, which is to say designating centers, not only ostensively and imperatively but declaratively—when someone asks the “point” of a book, he is asking what has been named by it. The only way we can name, which is also the only way we can speak about anything, is by providing the means to “point” to its relation to some more inclusive center; which is to say, some desire provoked by what one points at, some resentment at that desire’s at least partial or potential frustration, and some self-centering by any and all involved that would be a sign of resentment deferred. Within a ritual, mythical, magical, i.e., predominantly ostensive-imperative world, this means outlining someone’s relation to a specific set of figures and the ritual and narrative traditions determining the relations between them. If something goes wrong, the gods are against you, and if the gods are against you, you have displeased them in some way, and there are specific, and known ways in which the gods are displeased. A very rich universe, which is to say, a rich set of names, is generated out of such descriptions.

In a post-ritual, post-sacrificial, world, the disciplines take up the slack, and the centers we deal with are entities like “society,” “selves,” “community,” “morality,” “profession,” “economy,” and so on. These are all normative arenas, and if things go wrong, you have violated some of those norms by being lazy, stupid, dishonest, uncooperative, neurotic, and so on. You accept the judgment of the disciplines, or imagine yourself in a counter-discipline, where you debunk some established discipline and establish a marginalized research canon—but these counter-disciplines are invariably hyper-literal intensifications of the existing disciplines. Much of my work over the past few years has been aimed at clarifying the relationship the originary hypothesis is to have to these disciplines. It should be a transdisciplinary relationship, as GA inhabits the disciplines, turns their discourses against themselves, and essentially replaces the disciplines as GA’s minimal vocabulary of “center,” “mimetic,” “desire,” and “resentment,” and its articulation of the ostensive, imperative, interrogative and declarative speech forms comes to account for everything the other disciplines had purported to account for. This is ethical, reparative activity—the central object of the disciplines is the imperium in imperio, or, let’s say, “super-sovereign,” that is intended to reunite the signifying center and the authoritative center, fractured with the fall of sacral kingship. The demystifying, secularizing, rationalizing agenda of the disciplines (starting with philosophy) is an attempt to give names to the nameless practices and figures that fall out of the fracturing of sacral kingship, but these names can only designate proxies of would be occupants of the central authority, and the naming procedures necessarily conceal the proxy character of the named precisely because this unknowing is a condition of naming as recruitment.

In that case, our discursive naming goes directly towards the desire, resentment and center implicit in what others have said: we can be wrong, but we are always making a hypothesis regarding what the other is doing by way of deferring violence in whatever he says or does. We can make these hypotheses increasingly explicit, and the other can, of course, respond that our hypothetical naming of him as a center of desire and resentment is really an articulation of our own self-centering of desire and resentment by which he can name us. On the face of it, and sometimes in actuality, this would lead to a kind of comically reductive cycle of accusations and counter-accusations, but if the analyses are conscientious the desires and resentments would have to be embedded in the institutions and in relation to the projects that would be their objects. In fact, naming the other would also entail naming those institutions and those in responsible positions within them, as the institutions themselves are represented as concentrations of deferred desires and resentments. But the better names will be the ones that are brought to an identification of some constitutive paradox of origin and being situating the other within the field of desire and resentment: a particular way of being inside the institution while being outside of it and representative of it.

An ongoing practice of naming that also keeps renaming the system of names within the names have their place is a metapolitical approach, similar, say, to saying that politics concerns realizing the relation between “man” and “technology.” But what does it mean for institution and organization building, strategy and tactics? What is to be done? We can bring our metapolitics closer to politics by saying that the goal is to create incrementally less reactive individuals. However someone engages you, you learn not to respond in kind, or to respond in kind only when it serves some broader purpose that includes this encounter. In other words, you respond to others demands—that is, you respond within their parameters, you pay them attention in a, to them, satisfying way, you recognize their resentments—by positing and obeying a command you all might have in common. This need not be conciliatory: the command might be that the other follow your lead; it might be that he surrender himself to you. At any rate, it’s a command that makes explicit the chain of command that would make the others’ demands more or less meaningful. This is in fact the outcome of the reciprocal naming practice.

So, the political project is to lower reactivity; and to provide ways for those engaged in lowering reactivity to find each other and collaborate; and this includes distinguishing oneself from, while surveying as possible recruits, the (so far) more reactive. The issues people normally associate with politics are secondary to building models of a post-liberal, post-sacrificial order, but that doesn’t mean they are irrelevant. Nor does it mean that neoabsolutists should not fully participate in all liberal institutions, including elections. What should be done is whatever will clarify some link in the chain of command by naming a center that will incorporate demands into that chain of command. Pro-choice people demand free and funded abortion; pro-life people demand an end to abortion. Where do we see violent centralizing here: that is, where do the respective sides each imagine its own super-sovereign, the foundation of its discipline of naming, predicated upon sacrificial markings? The embryo is not, even in purely biological terms, reducible to a “set of tissues,” or “tumor”; nor is a pregnant woman who negligently falls down, thereby causing a miscarriage, guilty of “manslaughter.” (That the pro-lifers realize the woman would be centralized in a violent way is evident in their absurd claim that only doctors would be punished for violating abortion laws.) The language of both sides is driven by the discourse of rights (and the hysterical, highly conformist political organizations the discourse requires) to have recourse to a super-sovereign conceptual order to imagine coercing the central authority. Abortion is wrong, as we can see from the somewhat demonic enthusiasm with which its promoters come to defend it against criticism; but it’s not wrong in the way the pro-lifers say. Extract “rights” from the equation and you eliminate the mobilization of the state against one’s enemies in the guise of self-protection; and if the initial move is not to imagine the mobilization of the state on one’s behalf (a kind of unknowing self-proxy-fying) then we can participate in naming practices that are articulated into more systemic practices.

To have neoabsolutists capable of deconstructing the standardized formulation of “issues” in this way requires both a “doctrine” in which all are schooled and to which all contribute as they can, and, of course, the institutions that can support such study; and infiltration in the dominant legal, scientific and other disciplines. It may be that the contemporary liberal order, that of the “victimocracy,” or “woke capital,” has evolved in such a way as to make both sides of this equation especially difficult. The tech oligopoly is designed so as to take out emergent intellectual threats, while the requirement, within the dominant institutions, of virtual loyalty oaths to the endless assault of the fringes upon the center means that a great deal of neoabsolutist politics will involve creating conditions under which training and infiltration become possible. The weakness of pre-WWII liberal institutions was that they had no consistent way of keeping the enemies of liberalism out of liberal institutions—we can see the current order as a solution to that problem, transitioning from fighting World War 2 and the Cold War to developing prophylaxes against their recurrence.

What are the weaknesses of these institutions, then? One is certainly that they don’t provide a public space wherein the ruling class can freely discuss the various challenges and options available to it—such discussions can obviously be held more privately, but not only does the current regime make that more difficult, but a more open loop is necessary if decision makers are to have the necessary feedback. This implies the possibility of elite defection, and raises the question of the means available of punishing such defection, and at what point those means would become insufficient. Another is that it is creating possibly intractable problems of governance for itself—divide and rule, via mass immigration and identity politics, might be a good strategy for a while but at some point it interferes with basic law and order and the production of a competent work force, and new generations of middle and upper leadership. A third is the corrosion of media, education, legal and other, maybe even scientific, institutions, to the point where they become useless. Where the emerging order is likely to be especially deficient, then, is in the middle, in the officer class, understood more generally, or middle to upper management. Proving worthy of elite defectors and providing at least some of the officer corps even for reluctant elites awash in SJW intrigue would then seem to be the goal of a large scale neo-absolutist politics; more proximately, what would help is seeing is the victimocrats brought out into the open so that they can be seen as the petty and vicious hands behind the curtain pulling the de-platforming levers, and made into an embarrassment. So, to take just one example, it seems to me that, preferable to Missouri Senator Hawley’s bill that would require the Big Tech firms to be certified as  “neutral” by the government so as to retain their designation as service providers rather than publishers (which would make them liable to libel lawsuits) it might be better to simply change the designation and have the DOJ initiate or support a wave of lawsuits so that the conversations, texts, emails, love affairs, etc., of the petty bureaucrats doing the banning and de-platforming within those companies can all be brought to light. The elites need to be shown, and they need to be seen to be shown: these are the people you have running things, deciding on information to be available to the public and peoples’ livelihoods.

Neoabsolutists would also be ruthless in devastating commonplaces and sentimentality regarding geo-politics, speaking straightforwardly, naming, imperial and hegemonic relations, assigning potential responsibilities to those actors with the power—rather than proposing, or fantasying, implicitly or explicitly, drastic leveling of relations between states. Yes, the US, to take the most obvious example, is everywhere, but every state is everywhere it can be. If the US is everywhere in chaotic, absurd and destructive ways, with, for example, the State Department, Defense Department and CIA all pursuing their own foreign policies, that is largely because of the liberal democratic ideologies, involving the defense of nonsensical chimeras like “human rights,” that makes it so. Here as well neoabsolutists make no intoxicating demands (“no more war!” “national self-determination!’), but, rather, carry on a continuous audit of the assets under the command of specific states which leads to the naming of institutional linkages that would best allot, within domains supervised by one or a team of powers, responsibilities for peace-keeping and coherence in government among subordinate powers. The same practice of seeking patronage of defecting elites and self-presenting as a more effective officer corps would apply here as well. In this case we can speak of a kind of “internationalist” politics, insofar as neoabsolutists in different countries wouldn’t so much collaborate with as model themselves off of each other, as all try to increase non-reactivity in their respective spaces.



1 Comment »

  1. […] GA Blog on liberal institutions and the ways they reduce reactionary efforts. […]

    Pingback by Cantandum in Ezkhaton 06/30/19 | Liberae Sunt Nostrae Cogitatiores — June 30, 2019 @ 5:14 am

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