Ian Alan Paul on Thu, 26 Jan 2017 03:58:06 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> 10 Preliminary Theses on Trump

   10 Preliminary Theses on Trump

   Ian Alan Paul, January 2017

   1. Trump's power is fundamentally virtual in form.

   Propose this, suggest that, lie about yesterday, declare the
   inevitability of that which is yet to come, retreat from one position
   while advancing on two more, contradict oneself, tweet about the
   greatest possible number of arbitrary things, attack, provoke, feign
   movement, never apologize or restrain oneself, hint at gesture, sound
   the dog whistle, appear still, expand interpretations, proliferate
   noise, introduce turbulence, obscure predictability in dense fogs of
   possibility. Trump's power arises not from any individual act but from
   the multiplication of possible acts.

   2. Defending truths against Trump is to mistake the present battlefield

   Journalists and politicians alike are unable to meaningful respond to,
   resist, or rebuke Trump because they approach him as something singular
   and consistent, whereas he acts multiply and chaotically. They aim to
   pull down something which already is, whereas Trump has already
   departed from the here and now towards any number of things that could
   possibly be instead. While everyone keeps busy defending fragile
   shelters of truth, Trump has moved into his golden palace built on a
   foundation of a glistening "what if?"

   3. As Trump proceeds, what is imaginable, permissible, and ultimately
   doable for the Right will multiply in every direction and across every

   In the back of a bus, like a little schoolboy, Trump can barely contain
   his excitement as he describes how he can "grab them by the pussy."
   Words that used to only be whispered slowly reappear in everyday
   conversations with a dangerous allure. Young men on college campuses
   complain about white genocide. Swastikas are sprayed on barn doors. A
   family sits down for breakfast at a diner with camouflage assault
   rifles strung over their shoulders. The right, feeling liberated at
   last from liberal political correctness, feminist shaming, white guilt,
   academic criticism, media reporting, and any kind of scrutiny in
   general, go on to dream of the birth of new worlds that resemble
   imaginary old ones.

   4. The left, sensing fascism on the horizon, retreats to defend the
   walls of a liberal democracy hallucinated in the fever of the present.

   Don't normalize this! Investigate Russia! Organize for the midterms!
   Start the impeachment process! Release the taxes! The constitution must
   be defended at all costs! These will be the rallying cries of the
   liberal Left that finds solace in the fantasy of an uncompromised past,
   the inverse mirror of the Right's "traditional America." This is an
   America without Guantanamo Bay. An America where drones have never seen
   flight. An America without police executions. It is an American
   democracy that irresistibly arcs towards justice. It's an America that
   doesn't exist. In the terrifying shadow of Trump's virtuality, the left
   seeks out security in the same institutions that enabled his

   5. Trump's virtuality is the virtuality of capital.

   Trump is the avatar of a neoliberal insurrection against the liberal
   forces that have historically attempted to soften, slow, humanize, and
   manage capitalism. He is the bleeding edge, the frothing crest of a
   wave of deterritorialization, the spray-tanned frontier of global
   capital. He is the combed-over contagion that will finally bring the
   capitalist crisis that has so far largely been contained in the Global
   South to the Global North. For both Trump and capital, limits are only
   there to be overcome, success means success at any cost, and everything
   that exists only exists for the taking by those with the courage and
   ingenuity to dare to. It is never a question of whether something is
   possible, but rather of what new transgression needs to be performed to
   make it so.

   6. Only those parts of the state that are absolutely necessary to
   defend wealth will remain.

   The police and army will become increasingly indistinguishable and will
   find support while the extraneous is slashed, cut, and left to
   decompose in the heat of rapidly rising global temperatures. As more
   and more is secured for capital, everything will become less so. When
   everything becomes property, simply being alive constitutes
   trespassing, and as the rich accumulate impossibly large sums of wealth
   they will find that they have no safe place to keep it. The distinction
   between politics and war, if there ever were a meaningful one, will
   become impossible to see in the clouds of tear gas that will
   persistently hang in the air of financial centers.

   7. The reterritorializing forces of capital no longer keep up with the
   accompanying forces of deterritorialization, unavoidably leading us
   into new intensities of capitalist crisis.

   The disciplinary power of jails, hospitals, schools, checkpoints, and
   border fences now do little to ward off riots and waves of migrants and
   refugees. Closed bank branches in Athens burn while the bottom of the
   Mediterranean and the deserts of Arizona become ever more populous
   graveyards. Markets flash-crash as algorithms detect something that
   humans cannot. Energy corporations that endlessly lobby against
   environmental restrictions now simultaneously make pleas for responses
   to climate change. The flows unleashed by the global economy are
   spilling over the dams meant to profit from them, and even those at the
   top find themselves in the floodplains below. The possibilities of the
   new threaten to wholly extinguish life in the now.

   8. As lived reality becomes ever more precarious and ultimately
   unsustainable, life will require more and more mediation to be managed.

   Images will accelerate and proliferate at rates unimagined as possible
   before. Pepe the Frog will be remixed, reinterpreted, recaptioned, and
   reuploaded by every political tendency and faction, while videos of
   Richard Spencer being punched by the black bloc will be synchronized
   with every song to ever appear on Billboard Top 100 charts and uploaded
   to a playlist on youtube. Presidential press conferences will be
   accompanied by applause tracks, while social network executives will
   prepare to become politicians. Everyone will retweet Trump and Trump
   will retweet everyone. Writers in Eastern Europe will make up news
   stories for websites in Mexico to undermine trade deals with China.
   Everything will become more recognizable and less distinguishable as
   the deepening poverty of reality is compensated by ever more
   sophisticated forms of media.

   9. When the present has fully entered into its own formal
   disintegration, Trump's virtuality will necessarily become our own.

   As a life becomes less possible, it will increasingly have to resort to
   what it can become instead. Sometimes this will only become manifest as
   pure fantasy: in the American dream, in shiny skyscrapers that
   effortlessly and gracefully float above the chaos below, on a rural
   commune, in outer space, on The Apprentice, in the wild wildernesses
   beyond civilization that fill survivalists' minds. At other times, this
   will become manifest in radical experimentation in the streets that
   find themselves in direct confrontation with Trump's storm troopers.
   Either way, the present will overflow with many different versions of
   what must become possible instead.

   10. The present crisis being virtually ushered in by Trump must be met
   with a crisis of our own making.

   As things increasingly disintegrate, it will not be possible to remake
   what has become undone. Awash in a world without limits or meaning, a
   place where the possibility of life itself has become threatened by the
   possibilities unleashed under capitalism, the only way out may be to
   introduce a crisis of a different kind, one that posits a fundamentally
   different register of possibility. In the playful invention of new
   repertoires, in the forging of new collectivities, in the
   experimentation with new practices of living, perhaps something else,
   something otherwise can begin. In the coming years, it will be our task
   to make possible that which cannot be under capitalism.

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