What is necessary from my own perspective is a form of theory which is self-sabotaged from within- that already knows and anticipates incorporation and recuperation by late Capital, and in doing so gains part of its very efficacy as praxis via such incorporation. If the problem for Deleuze and Guattari or Antonio Negri was that for the former a tool-box of philosophy is liable to be de-systematised and used in perverse manners, and for the latter that a theory based around the politics of emotion slides too easily into a world of motivational speaking and team-building exercises (the end of Negri's Insurgencies is especially guilty of this, a hallmark card world of undeserved and dangerous optimism...) then a new approach to the problem of our contemporary socio-political times is required, shorn of faux-naive renunciations of responsibility. If "radical" theory is either ignored, constrained to discussion within academic departments, or grotesquely twisted/lifted out of context to be used by capitalism, then the solution must be to think the interaction between the political and the theoretical in a new articulation.
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
Theoretical Explosive Devices in an endless Asymmetrical War.
This piece at Poetix reminded me of something highly intriguing which arose during my Philosophy Masters-- the issue of the misappropriation of (largely post-Marxist) theory by organisations and institutions entirely ideologically contraposed to it. One noteworthy example was the fondness of the Israeli Defence Force for tactics derived from concepts extracted from Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus, using their notion of smooth and striated space as inspiration for innovative battle stratagems leading their forces to advance through Palestinian walls rather than accept the pre-existing topology of sniper-laden backstreets (for more information see: http://info.interactivist.net/node/5324). More interesting is the incorporation of post-structuralist political theory into modern business/management schools. Even a philosopher as blatantly Marx-influenced as Antonio Negri is capable of utilisation, carefully stripped of revolutionary import and his ideas removed and redeployed in a modular fashion. Zizek touched upon this issue in his rather weak anti-Deleuzean book Organs Without Bodies, but although his point itself (that Deleuzean concepts often come uncomfortably close in certain lights to ideological vectors for capitalism, and that in many ways Deleuze is THE ideologue for late Capital) is not argued very strongly, as a provocation it potentially opens up new directions: Deleuze isn't really an ideologue for late capitalism, of course, but what if he was...?
In a certain sense this theoretical paradigm would be entirely terroristic in nature, concepts as improvised explosive devices deployed in an endless asymmetrical conflict, wherein the border between theory and praxis is redefined. In a sense theory-as-weapon has no particular recourse to truth, or indeed to rational coherence, any more so than is required in order for it to become attractive enough to be reabsorbed by the engines of capitalism. If there is no outside left, if integrated globalised consumer-capitalism is as intractable as it appears, then the only position from which to act which remains is perhaps inevitably from the inside, acting on the same plane as Capital.