“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

Monday, February 23, 2015

he do the police in several voices - Kristen Ross's police conception of history

Kristin Ross, in her excellent book, May 68 and its afterlives, begins with a meditation on what she calls the police conception of history, riffing off Jacques ranciere. She begins in this way because she has noted a strong tendency in the 1990s to dismiss 1968 as a failed revolution. Nothing happened, is the refrain.

Nothing happened.” In a recent text, Jacques Ranciere uses that phrase—only in the present tense: “Nothing is happening”—to represent the functioning of what, broadly speaking,he calls “the police.”

Police intervention in public space is less about interpellating demonstrators
than it is about dispersing them. The police are not the law that
interpellates the individual (the “hey, you there” of Louis Althusser)
unless we confuse the law with religious subjection. The police are
above all a certitude about what is there, or rather, about what is not
there: “Move along, there’s nothing to see.” The police say there is
nothing to see, nothing happening, nothing to be done but to keep moving,
circulating; they say that the space of circulation is nothing but the
space of circulation. Politics consists in transforming that space of circulation
into the space of the manifestation of a subject: be it the people,
workers, citizens. It consists in refiguring that space, what there is to do there, what there is to see, or to name. It is a dispute about the division
of what is perceptible to the senses.

Ive been giving this some thought in relation to the coverage about the Greek crisis. Fridays agreement was immediately greeted by an overwhelming chorus of nothing happened in the press. The Greeks, poor dumb bastards, tried to turn the agreement in something that would end their economic depression although no, it is never phrased that way. Would try to welsh on their debt that is the preferred meaning. Since Europe has gotten bored with unemployment figures not seen since the end of World War II, it isnt an issue.



Still, the rush to say, nothing happened, seems exactly the kind of thing Ranciere is talking about. Indeed, something did happen the Greeks were able to hammer down the primary surplus required by the Germans or, to do pretend talk, by the Troika. This is, as far as  can see, the first time one of the collapsed periphery nations Ireland, Portugal, Spain came away with a concession. One would think that there was something to see, there.

But, as if Wolfgang Schaubles Id were dictating all the stories from Bloomberg to the Guardian, from Le Monde to Liberation the story was essentially that the Greeks failed, and that there was nothing to see.

The police fate awaiting mass movements has now become routinized in public response. If there is nothing to see, if the police win every time, then the fight beccomes futile, or becomes a spectacle. It is one of the unconscious vices of the critical school, of negative dialectics, that it can assist the police endeavor, or make it seem like, at most, the important thing is to resist.
Maybe the important thing, however, is to win. Maybe a negativity disconnected from any sense of victory quickly becomes a myth-machine.

Maybe I am claiming that this is possible, not that this is always and everywhere what is happening.

Something is happening, however. Dont move on. Watch. At the very least, watch.

No comments: