“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

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

My shit’s imperial

Disrespect my click, my shit's imperial
Fuck around and made her milkbox material
You feel me? Suckin dick, runnin your lips
'Cause of you, I'm on some real fuck a bitch shit, uhh.. – Notorious B.i.g, Get Money

Bush is not a fascist. Is he the worst American king? I doubt it. Match him insignificance with the insignificances of the pygmy American kings – the Pierce’s, Hayes’ Arthur’s, Coolidge’s – and he is at home in it, a pig in shit. As for the pharaohs, a Kennedy, an Eisenhower, a Reagan, they all contrived moments of horror infinitely more dangerous than Bush’s pipsqueak war on terror. However, the common perception of fascism that haunts the lefty commentariat and has spread to the liberals is not wholly wrong. As in the 1930s, before our eyes and under our noses the democracies are rotting. And as in the 30s, there’s a palpable rise in the level of political frustration. It is as if the political process has ground to a halt. At the same time, the political stakes, at least rhetorically, rise higher and higher. It is the auction effect – the objects upon which we bid are second rate, and we even know that there are more important objects, ones that our lives depend on, that aren’t included in the auction, but we are under the spell and can only bit as the auctioneer manifests some other object – here’s the Libby trial and commutation, here’s the wiretapping and the illegal torture prisons, here’s Cheney’s claim that his office is somehow separate from the executive branch, here’s the lying attorney general. The auctioneer has been selling cheap knock offs since the Berlin wall fell, and we know it, but we are afraid to leave the auditorium. The slogan of the nineties – no alternative – which found its disgusting prophets in Friedman and Fukayama, is now where we live. That hurts. And yet the living is good – the middle class, it is true, stagnates, but its credit cards are ever hopeful, the CEO class has impressed upon the worlds most advanced economy a Brazilian like inequality and no one cares or can even see it, the American army in Iraq is but a ghost coming home in ghost coffins or shut up in the VA hospitals where the bits are extracted from their brain stems and they are sent home to merry lifetimes full of unremittingly violent nightmares but that is their business, party contributions from the blogosphere are rising and rising and candidates have broken through to that blockbuster movie level where the amounts by which they are bribed have become a competition we can all look on with pride. It’s paradise. Everybody thinks the country is on the wrong track and the future is black, but don’t send your son or daughter marching into it without an I-phone and tutorials in raising the SAT score. Perhaps they won’t be useful when the world turns belly up, fucked out and poisoned, but we’ll hopefully be dead by then.

Hazlitt, talking about a similarly poisonous calm in 1816, wrote that the Jacobin’s “hatred of wrong only ceases with the wrong. The sense of it, and of the barefaced assumption of the right to inflict it, deprives him of his rest. It stagnates in his blood.” Soooo true – as one misfit liberal can testify.

So these are the similarities that bring us back to – the Bataille essay! So let’s plunge into it:

“In opposition to the impoverished existence of the oppressed, political sovereignty initially presents itself as a clearly differentiated sadistic activity. In individual psychology, it is rare for the sadistic tendency not to be associated with a more or less manifest masochistic tendency. But as each tendency is normally represented in society by a distinct agency, the sadistic attitude can be manifested by an imperative person to the exclusion of any corresponding masochistic attitudes. In this case, the exclusion of the filthy forms that serve s the object of the cruel act is not accompanied by the positioning of these forms as a value and, consequently, no erotic activity can be associated with the cruelty. The erotic elements themselves are rejected at the same time as every filthy object and, as in a great number of religious attitudes, sadism attains a brilliant purity. This differenciation can be more or less complete – individually, sovereigns have been able to live power in part as an orgy of blood – but, on the whole, within the heterogeneous domain the imperative royal form has historically effected an exclusion of impoverished and filthy forms sufficient to permit a connection with homogeneous forms at a certain level.” – Bataille, The psychological structure of fascism.

Having developed an overview of society in which the homogeneous and heterogeneous tendencies are defined, functionally, with relation to each other as they make up the social whole, and defined, substantially, with relation to utility, Bataille can now address the specific topic of the psychological structure of fascism. For Bataille, fascism is not an exception to other forms of rule, but rather is an exaggeration of previous tendencies in the fraught relation of the sovereign to the ruled. This relationship has several levels of concurrence and of conflict. As in the quote above, the form of the relation should be sexual, and yet in practice it is systematically a-sexualized. Policy is the anti-fuck. The evacuation of a sexual content from the sexual form is reflected, actually, in the violent, sexual language of political polemic, which has always been full of assfucking, dicksucking, being fucked over, shitting, pissing – an orgy of malign frustration that whirls through Mazarinades and revolutionary tracts and the whole subliterature of politics, even up to now. In a sense, politics is sex without arousal.

Bataille was very impressed with a religious fact that also impressed James Frazer in The Golden Bough: the untouchability of the sacred person. Any theory of sovereignty that avoids the issue of untouchability, to Bataille, detours around the central sovereign function, and in fact misses the social configuration in which that sovereignity gains its real power – which is not the power to be obeyed, to use Weber’s metric, but the power to infuse a certain standing moral panic within the homogeneous social part.

Taking this view, Bataille sees in the fuhrer prinzip merely the latest outcropping of an old and archaic form of power:

‘There is hardly any need to suggest at this point that the possibility of such affective formartions has brought about the infinite subjugation that degrades most forms of human life (much more so than abuses of power which, furthermore, are themselves reducible – insofar as the force in play is necessarily social – to imperative formations). If sovereignty is no considered in its tendential form – such as it has been lived historically by the subject to whom it owes its attractive value – yet independently of any particular reality, its nature appears, in human terms, to be the noblest – exalted to majest , pure in the midst of the orgy, beyond the reach of human infirmities. It constitutes the region formally exempt from self-interested intrigues to which the oppressed subject refers as to an empty but pure satisfaction. (In this sense the constitution of royal nature above an inadmissible reality recalls the fictions justifying eternal life.) As a tendential form, it fulfills the ideal of society and the course of things (in the subject’s mind, this function is expressed naively: if the king only knew…). At the same time it is strict authority. Situated above homogeneous society, as well as above the impoverished populace or the aristocratic hierarchy that emanates from it, it requires the bloody repression of what is contrary to it and becomes synonymous in its split-off form with the heterogeneous foundations of the law: it is thus both the possibility of and the requirement for collective unity; it is in the royal orbit that the State and its functions of coercion and adaptation are elaborated; the homogeneous reduction develops, both as destruction and foundation, to the benefit of royal greatness.”

This paragraph will lead us into a consideration of another modality of the heterogeneous: war.


Scruggs said...

What a meretricious lead-in.

But it worked.

roger said...

Mistah Scruggs! Ho ho ho! Have a good fourth, man. And when, o when, are you going to aid the forces of good by doing some photomontage of the odious Romney? While politics might be dead in these here states, we can still, at the very least, make dog torturers suffer.

Scruggs said...

When I finish mulling over the Bataille you've tricked me into reading, that's when.