A couple of days ago, LI made the argument that U.S. policy in Iraq had brought about civil war, instead of preventing it. And, furthermore, that the common view, which is that the U.S. has spent its entire time trying to prevent a civil war, was wrong – that the U.S. intention, per the criminals in the White House, corresponded to a weakening of Iraq that would entail, at the least, factionalization, and more probably, violence on a civil war scale. Brian, in a comment on this post, logically reduced LI’s argument to the one that the U.S. intended the partitioning of Iraq.
That made me think about the difference between intentions and conditions. And that made me think, golly, I’ll just write a whole fucking post on this intrinsically fascinating topic!
It is the LI position that the larger, institutionalized social forces, like the state, or businesses, or parties, operate in reality not to institute some rigid intention or goal, but to produce the conditions that will make push forward the self-organizing of a set of goals. But that this never seems to be the case. It always seems that institutions, like people, follow some intention.
Francois Jullien is the guy who has started LI thinking about these things, got us out of our shitty trance, shook us awake for a fleeting shitty moment. In “A treatise on efficacy” Jullien compares the Western and Chinese notions of how states and enterprises operate. For instance, he considers Sun Tzu’s notion that the general, before battle, should “ban omens and dismiss all doubts.”
“The whole of this Chinese thought is prompted by a single concept: whatever happens “in any case” “cannot not happen” (once all the conditions are ascertained); in other words, it is “ineluctable” (bi)
“This idea of the ineluctability of processes and so also of success for whoever is capable of profiting from it recurs constantly throughout all Chinese thinking. Even a thinker such as Mencius subscribes to this logic of consequentiality, despite the fact that he adopts a position altogether opposed to the theses of the strategists, since he considers that sovereignty depends not on the relation of forces and therefore the art of warfare, but on the sway exercised by morality. Or rather, morality is itself a force, and a particularly strong one, because it possesses great influence and uses this to effect, in a diffuse and discrete fashion. Be concerned for your people, Mencius tells the ruler, share your pleasures with them, and you will inevitably progressively come to rule over all other princes. That is because all peoples will desire to pass under your authority; they will open their doors to you and will be unable to resist you. Through violence, you will inevitably eventually come to grief, for the power at your disposal is limited and arouses rivalry.”
Okay. When we put up quotations here, we have this audio-visual image in our head – the quote hangs there, on the screen, as we mouth into the dark, Professor Unrath on his downers. In reality, of course, the quote falls behind us – like landscape revealed in the window of a bus, falling away from the passenger who tries to keep it in his visual space for the longest. Sorry Charley. Anyway, to illustrate the importance of the ineluctability of processes, LI is thinking: for a long time – for three years, actually – we have felt something like the very chiton scraped off our nerves whenever we read the inevitable sign off line of the pro-war or MSM set about Iraq. The deal will be some fucking essay or news report considering another fucking disaster. Or announcing the administration’s latest move, which has the integrity, coherence and logic of some mad male masturbator’s theory of bitches, caught on the q.v. as he retires to the institutions communal bathroom. And yet, after the careful, pawful consideration, with the utmost respect for the sacred powers that be, of this luminous turd, one that will have negative consequences even relative to the very goals it is supposedly designed to support, the belligeranti and the sheepsouled journalist then elevate themselves, as though they were standing above mere probability and bowels, and will pretend that war is some crazy ass amalgam of miracles and chances and write something to the effect that - but suppose Iraq gets better in the next three months, or – but things can still turn around in Iraq. Oh fucking A. Oh my right and left buttocks. Oh my very dick, let it gangrene and fall off me – for this is the crazy motherfucker of the thing that makes me think I have wandered into a vast den of the lobotomized, a zombie zone, where the disconnect between the conditions that are ascertained and the supposed uncertainty of what follows from them has become the gospel that we believe, in spite of the mounting pile of corpses (smell the magic!) in front of our very eyes. In this sad and idiot bombed zone, the zone of the mind, where the terrorists are D.C. courtiers and the target is your synapses, the melancholy of that sign off optimism is that, really, it is an invitation to lose it all right there. Take out cock, pussy, cerebellum, inner organs, and all the change and keys in your pocket, put it in the tray, and let the monsters of the governing class eat it all right before your astonished, or actually tranquilized, eyeballs. What the fuck? Why not believe anything? It is as if I decided to build a birdhouse, but couldn’t predict, before I finished it, whether it was actually a supersonic automobile.
Now, why - as we pass into the interns’ white chambers and calmly discuss today’s autopsy, stripping off our green rubber gloves – why have dialectics and structure, or the Way and process – why have they so utterly vanished in Middle Class America? White magicians and black know that dialectics and structure haven’t vanished from reality itself. But LI suspects that the disappearance of the political power of the working class is intimately related to the fall of dialectics and structure, or process and the way, and the rise of a peculiar seriality interiorized in the very heart of middle class existence. Our friend, IT, has written a dissertation that tells part of that history. The repressed, in the U.S., is dialectics and structure, and our great post-industrial growth industry is in managing the return of that particular repressed, which takes all kinds of threatening forms in the rabies festival (in which LI has a tent at least) outside the gated community.
A subject to which we will return later.
“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears
Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann
"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads
"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads