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World Civil War

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liam sionnach
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Joined: 29-01-10
Jan 29 2010 18:36
World Civil War

This was taken from the Institute for Experimental Freedom blog

Its number one in a series of glosses, which are intended to clarify terms the IEF uses and a lot of the texts it distributes uses (i.e., insurrectional anarchist and communist theory). The concept "world civil war" is a key term for understanding a both our current conditions and the history of past antagonisms. Strangely, its first coined by Carl Schmitt (a utopian fascist, who was an important jurist in the Weirmar Republic, and then later during the thrid reich). Coincidentally its also used by Hannah Arendt, and is a central concept for the little brown book: "Call."

World Civil War | Gloss 1.

Civil war presupposes the modern state. In some ways, civil war can be read as both what was outside of history and then, with the development of the modern state, what became included in history. A comment like “The history of societies thus far is the history of class struggle” has a secret intelligence contained within it when we read it through our magic decoder matrix: civil war.

History and society were only really unified with the development of the modern state. The modern state in Hegel became the subject of history for his philosophy. Marx, among other Young Hegelians made this their object of critique. However, lurking bellow the surface of such idealism in Hegel was Hobbes and the concept of sovereignty. The state of nature in Hobbes was a sort of permanent potential of war of all against all. Law, enforced by the state, would create a clear divide between what was inside the law and what was outside of it; generating “civil society” (or “the civil state) on the inside, and civil war on the outside. This meant that living beings would only be included in human society (and thus, history) once they became subject to the rule of law; all manner of imperial practices come with ease.

However, even in Hobbes's hypothesis, there remained a permanent problem. Law, which gives human society its so-called order, can only be enforced through means which appear indistinguishable from civil war. What Marx discreetly references is not that class struggle is the history of living beings on the planet, but that class struggle is civil war inside the gates; and is the general conditions of capitalism.

The concept of a “world” may be important in some of the ways “world civil war” is used. “The evident is not merely a matter of logic or reasoning. It attaches itself to the sensible, to worlds” (p4, Call). A world is a zone of meaning, sense—“before time, absolutely, there is sense.”(Ok, War it is Tiqqun 1) History is the reification of time as Man's time, and perhaps even the concealment of civil war. It locates a living being as subject to the sensuous praxis of generating and reproducing human society. Civil war is the free play of bios, of forms of life; life which acts in a world. “Civil,” because worlds are not limited by the boundaries or laws of nation-states and because conflict can take place in myriad of spheres, with a multiplying array of techniques. “War,” because the potential for doing violence to the most just must not be discounted, ever. On a terrain with a multiplicity of worlds, only forms of life who feel their power can act decisively.

Even in Hobbes, if there were not civil war, there would be no need for Leviathan. Leviathan wasn't a god on earth, as much as the political equivalent of someone who's afraid of the dark. The modern state therefor had as its object the warding off of an ever present civil war. It coded civil war as “evil”, and put religious apparatuses to work. We could say the modern state's practices of government had the character of a war against civil war. The development of techniques of governing which corresponded (liberalism) excluded and disciplined dangerous elements. At certain times these elements were juridically coded as “the hostis” (hostile, unknown, outside), and came in the way of invading parties, but also in the way of crime, and later, sickness.

What we call “world civil war” develops out of the modern state's failure, and each and every elaboration of civil war. Reading its history religiously, we learn that good does not triumph over evil; moreover we learn that coding the state as the hand of god reaches a threshold because its teqinches of power continuously collapse into the terrain of evil. Law cannot be enforced without the possibility of doing violence to the most just. Civil war is then the omnipresent aporia of the modern state. It cannot prevent transgression and revolt and yet it is logically demanded to develop itself to do just that.

On the other hand, we can read “world” synonymously with “global.” World civil war develops as the excess of liberal techniques of power. Capitalism generates a fracture in the being of Man's time, elaborating the fracture caused by the state. Two representations develop. On the one hand, the bourgeoisie, who managed, tuned, and attempted to master capital, and on the other hand, the proletariat, who produced all value and whose subjugated existence pulls the two into an intense conflict. Because war between nation states is governed by international law, a war between non-state actors forces both parties to develop techniques of war which are out-side the law. From the moment the first partisan disrupted the separation between solider and civilian, the development of an exceptional and irregular technique of war was set into motion. Whereas capitalism created the conditions where the state was no longer the authorizer of the political, and in fact becomes another technology for the bourgeoisie to deploy in order to neutralize intense political relationships, class struggle within capitalism returns the question of the political to forefront and cuts across national boundaries by deploying the figure of an irregular fighter in the image of the proletariat across the earth. Class struggle was the prior most intense configuration of civil war, because of its international dimensions, its ethical character which transforms any conflict into absolute enmity, and because of the proletariat's capacity to hold the threat of a self-negation: The proletariat is the class which abolish class society through its own self-abolition. However, if the proletariat who came in the way of the working class general strike, and later the diffuse irrationality of autonomous armed joy were defeated—as it was—then what would survive this condition was the representation of the bourgeoisie (at a planetary level) with a new paradigm of war without the limits of national boundaries and international law; who stood on a new terrain without a stable enemy but rather a globe of hostilities which could be intensified, if need be.

With the development of a War on Terror and permanent counter-insurgency, world civil war now returns to its initial terrifying presence. Capital, liberated from the tyranny and stupidity of bourgeois management acts as its own sovereign force and subsumes all hostile forms of life: The phase of real subsumption. The state as an appendage of capital is deployed to give meaning to the world of images by imposing the category of enemy on any one of its own excessive consequences. The ontological character of this gesture is completed once the enemy has been reintegrated into the symbolic-order, either through rehabilitation (democratization) or exclusion (a fair amount of killing).

However, perhaps the proletariat has not been defeated. Perhaps the proletariat is still the class, or vocation, which abolishes class society—and elaborates civil war. In the conditions of civil war against the bourgeoisie with the development of industrialism, the proletariat's force of negation was contingent on a strategically positioned portion of workers: the industrial working class. However with the dissolution of the both the factory and its inhabitants, and with the integration of subculture and all manner of past “revolutionary subjectivities” into the rationality of commodity production; perhaps there are different conditions and different contingencies from which a more terrible proletariat is awaiting to be revealed. In these different conditions, civil war is elaborated by an equally diffuse, almost imperceptible irregular fighter. The pure negative potential of a planetary multi-cultural petite bourgeoisie. An impure hostis humani generis. An army of sleeper cells with allegiance to no identity; with no more statist fascinations or illusions of a just society; and with no use in the economy of superfluous labor, already begins to advance civil war to its logical and redemptive conclusion: the dissolution of society, social war.
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Armed Sheep
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Jan 30 2010 18:41

Curious how this novel radicality (really?) stands incorporating a rather archaic, if persistent notion of nature itself as that red and green tapestry on a black fabric of ubiquitous war, (or could we say "violent struggle") still disseminated from a time well before Hobbes but systematized and articulated loudest by that philosopher, and to this day foundational to the perseverance of Calvanist as well as Machiavelian discourse on the control, suppression or manipulation of one's own (or everyone else's) inner violence, the struggle, competition and conflict still seen to intertwine neo-darwinist and neo-fascist avant gardes. But rather than suppress or negate, we are to embrace the war of all against all. Either way, life sucks and then ya die. How does one end a vicious cycle emerging from a root a priorism by iconizing or joining with it? If life itself is such a nasty, brutal and short affair, do you think folks will willingly embrace anything beyond banal survival, murder or immolation? Or is that the plan? Are you saying art is the supersession of survival and the only consistent art is an expressive sado-masochism? Or do I misinterpret?

The global civil war has always been between the dazzling urbanite and not only the rural hick, but the countryside itself. It is the transformation of the country to resemble the city in order to prove (in the sense that alcohol is "proved" through it's burning) the self-fulfilling prophecy. The citizenist project (war) thereafter becomes self-evident, open to neither question nor negation.

liam sionnach
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Feb 2 2010 19:20

The perspective of civil war is the perspective of "the political." It's no mistake that, if you read into the American neoconservative movement, it accompanies a specific critique if the modern state. Through them, we can see Schmitt's perspective of the this fight: practices which make democracy and totalitarian governance appear indistinguishable. However, I don't think that means utopian thought is completely negated, but it may mean in these conditions our fantasies change. I think nothing about the present would suggest otherwise. It's been said, but I'll say it again: in post-industrial democratic societies, if you want to rebel, it would appear that the thing to do is to run up in the crowd and start shooting--whether at work, school, or in public spaces.

The perspective of civil war, is sort of indifferent to whether or not we accept war of all against all. The point is this is just Hobbes' bad dream. If techniques of governance have been advanced through this rubric; a war against civil war, then its worth looking into what makes the bourgeoisie tremble, to understand by what means we supersede those limitations. All of this in order to help proliferate and communiucate between self-organized forces of pure negation--so as to elaborate a position beyond the production of death.

All this aside, I think perhaps "art is the suppression of survival, and it is only consistently expressed in a sadism and masochism." Or perhaps I would say "erotic practices of power." Either way, there would appear to be a lot of potential, even in our stupid milieu, for experimenting with consensual practices of power and violence, and developing non-verbal methods of communication.

The last thing you said about "the citizenist" project. I'm not sure if I follow you, and if so, I'm pretty sure I don't agree. I don't think we're merely talking about inside vs outside; precisely because that was a fiction, that our time makes very clear. The metropolis is a network which links the urban, and the suburban, the so called city and the country. There is no outside precisely because the imperial logic of policing and governance, but more specifically because capital nurtures all of our utterances into the shared language of value.

And to be clear, this is just our thoughts on world civil war. We may depart from other comrades because we think word civil war is fulfilled through its supercession or interruption by social war (I understand this is sort of convoluted). Social war, on the other hand, can be seen as our sort of positive project which is still negation (sort of how others talk about communization)--the production of the real existing impure hostile worlds which, through war-like practices, ward off the state everywhere. war-machines who are the enemy of mankind, and through their own gifts of enmity to this or that figure of the planetary multicultural petty bourgeoisie, impose their own terms of engagement and their own rhythm of conflict--their own kairos within chronos; a poem of decisive moments.

Civil war is important to class struggle because it forms a different mode of intelligence, for us to collectively develop a new political education. A Messianic view (see: “Another Cold Year for the War-mth”) of Class struggle is important to social war because it poses the terms of engagement at the level vocations—operations rather than identities. Class struggle describes the relation of capital to the proletariat, civil war describes the relations of inside to the outside, social describes the struggle for the contingencies and possibilities of the social, but in the conditions of world civil war, all of this reaches a threshold. There is no longer an outside, there is no longer a real-existing classical proletariat with his homeland of liberty and equality, and there is no longer even a social which conditions can contest. In world civil war, there is either annihilation or redemption.

The challenge that world civil war poses to the sleeping insurgents is not: “life or death?” or “how do we justify our violence?” its rather a question of “the production of death? Or the death of production?” By what means do we lose ourselves through a collective production of ourselves as the monsters we want to be? And how do we return the violence, the power, the collective faculties which produce the modern state and police to use? These are far more interesting and decisive questions than “by what means do we wish to hide under our beds or suppress the dark,” don't you think?

Armed Sheep
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Feb 3 2010 18:04

Thank you Liam. I see your point. But it may be that civil peace which is defined as the absence and suppression of civil war, and civil war as defined as transgression against the "peace process" do not live in a binary space. Stepping outside of dialectics, we see that civility rests insuperably upon violence and exploitation (without regard to its virtual or material forms), although we call this capitalism and those who recognise it label the oppositional stand "class struggle" in an attempt to reduce it down to us versus them. "Us" never seem able to come together for very long.

Capitalism thrives on all war, whether all against all or any part thereof. It is only an Orwellian peace the capital promotes. It is an illusion, spectacle, hyperreal or hypocrisy. It is a clever disguise, so clever that many of its enforcers, at least in an older day, actually believed that maintaining order and peace were identical concepts. In this day, a non-violent cop would never graduate the training school. It is an oxymoron or a profession for morons who cannot tell the difference between a living, breathing body, a maggoty corpse or a cardboard pop-up.

Peace is only a euphemism for regimentation eminating from the center, the ego-position. When I said "the citizenist project – war", I meant, among other things, that through the self-fulfilling prophecy, peace is impossible and 'Utopianists' are deluded fools. Henceforth, war is peace, freedom is slavery, smack is better than sex and life is merely a violent spasm or extravagant expenditure just prior to the blissful void. This is not a paraphrase from Orwell, Baudrillard or Jack Kerouac, but, to the best of my recollection, from my sixth-grade roman catholic catechism.

You said "The metropolis is a network which links the urban, and the suburban, the so called city and the country. There is no outside..." The country exists well beyond the visual horizon of the suburb. Millions live there and although we are seeing gentrification of the rural by the suburban and do speak variations on Imperial language (except maybe in Wyoming where, although the pronunciation of English may sound familiar, the semantic domain only superficially overlaps) there is probably more revolutionary consciousness here than in the city. Think "Wild West" and you'll see we do have a transgressive historical tradition which still values autonomy over federation. Much is already being negated. The law of value is even starting to slip, as we have already begun to "progress" into a barter-style local economy with a growing self-managed production of goods (and food), and even blue-haired old ladies in walkers are giving cops dirty looks. But yes, it will take something extraordinary to phase the exchange paradigm.

But I agree, there is much which still needs negated. Tit for tat unifies (justifies) both left-liberal justice and redneck vigilanteism. The reason the surrealist option to fire a machine gun into a crowd on the street seems so attractive is because, along with suicide, that is the only free transgression we have been permitted. It is an optional investment with a guaranteed payback. It's a great economic stimulus for funeral directors everywhere, and gives street cred to every cop on every street, every paranoid legislator in every capital and every news media personality selling Wheaties on the tube.

The law of gravity suggests opposing forces inevitably become the same, that their distinctive qualities were an illusion in the first place, that everything which comes together subsequently falls apart only to come together again in a new but somehow familiar pattern. I've been thinking the last few years that democracy and totalitarian governance are indeed indistinguishable. Some would say the war or political (or antipolitical) stand against governance itself is democracy. Civil war could indicate a war for more civility, a war among/between the civil, or against civilisation itself. Clearly we are all consulting different dictionaries. I'm with you on the death of production, but I have more beefs over management and social planning and orderly conduct. I used to try to be careful with my metaphors. There are so many who only seem to have access to automated spell-check and the literal interpretation of the King James Dictionary. I often find myself there as well.

What makes the bourgeoisie tremble are all phantoms lined up on one side and on the other, the threat of losing their hold on the mass delusion and having to not only witness, but perform on reality's stage without a script. This other side is ironically labeled chaos and precarity. It does not come with a money-back guarantee. It is thought to contain even more monsters, yet we go on to criticise the Hibi Jibies for their superstitious or magical thinking. We go on to attempt moving a hundred-fifty ton traffic jam by honking our horn. Great Caesar's ghost, Batman! If this is considered sane, go crazy! And have a disorderly day! Chaos only means we may never be aware of all the consequences of our behaviour, so even a psychopath should take care when infringing upon others. A little compassion ain't such a bad notion. Democracy is such a confused topic. If it is anything to hold on to, it would be the recognition of other humans. Everyone wants to be acknowledged. It is the main source of encouragement among social beings. A nod or a wink still go a lot further than any number of committee meetings.

Without management and social planning, which are the teleological construction of the future ("productivism") – an impossible task if there is such a thing as chaos or chance happenings of unforeseen events – any other notion of democracy falls by the wayside without a good deal of luck, violence or slight of hand (the Spectacle).