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Re: <nettime> 10 Preliminary Theses on Trump + 10 Preliminary Theses on
Ian Alan Paul on Sun, 5 Feb 2017 18:15:57 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> 10 Preliminary Theses on Trump + 10 Preliminary Theses on


   Hello Sebastian,

   Thank you for these thoughtful responses. I'll try to sketch of few
   responses quickly, which will in some way remain unsatisfactory I'm
   sure but nonetheless may clarify a few things.

"Re 1: Resistance against Trump has already become manifest, not as
radical acts of negation, but as diffuse articulations of discontent.
The resistance is in the streets already, attracted not by pure
negativity, but by Facebook events.  That's the "gasoline for the fires
to come" (and can we update that metaphor for the 21st century,
please?)"

   I would resist the conclusion that facebook / social media has much to
   do with what we've been seeing at airports over the weekend, or at UC
   Berkeley yesterday evening (
   [1]http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Protesters-storm-Milo-Yiannopoulo
   s-event-at-UC-10901829.php ). This is an open question of course, but I
   do think that the rush of media theorists to look at protests as being
   manifestations of social media posts has deeply clouded analyses in the
   recent past (looking at the movements of the squares, for example),
   just as I think it does with how people are thinking about Trump today
   (as a product of memes). There's certainly a relation, but I don't
   think it's a causal one.

"Re 3: There is an inflationary tendency at work here: "an infinite
number of other techniques" is already too many, and as "an infinite
number of other techniques known and unknown", they become entirely
meaningless. Even an appeal to all particles in the Universe, known and
unknown, to resonate with the resistance against Trump, would have a
finite number of addressees."

   I meant to use infinite here in a precise sense, and not as it's
   colloquially used. So instead of describing something "very large" I
   meant to simply say that these are sets of techniques that are "not
   finite / without limits." I also think the "unknown" part is
   particularly important politically in this moment.

"Re 4: I'm vaguely aware of how historians and philosophers have, in the
latter half of the 20th century, attempted to locate the notion and
frame the question of "power". It's always good to try something new,
but here, the use of that concept seems more like a regression. I always
thought statements like "power is most intimately known by those who
have lived their lives beneath it" were no longer possible, and that
"those who have historically been most affected by power" no longer
"populate our fantasies."

   I'm mobilizing a Spinozist sense of power here, which is centered on
   affect. I think this is a useful approach because it allows us to
   differentiate between forms and intensities of power, and to examine
   the historicity and specificity of power relations, rather than revert
   to the position of "power is uniform and everywhere" as bad readers of
   Foucault often do.

"Re 5: "As lines of riot police and make-shift barricades cut the world
into a billion different sides", I have difficulties tracing the very
geometry of that phenomenon. "Which one will you stand on?"
Statistically speaking: nowhere near any of the edges, and most likely
alone. And when "ultimately", we wipe the board clean, and a single
"line will be drawn between those who currently (or seek to) govern, and
those who desire to be and insist upon being ungovernable", then can we
please also drill a hole for those who insist that becoming ungovernable
contradicts the very notion of drawing such a line?"

   This point, along with #8, were drawing on Pierre Clastres work (as
   read through Deleuze and Guattari), and the line is meant to invoke the
   ineradicability of power, as well as its topological/differential
   dimension. If drilling a hole and going subterranean is your way of
   describing that dynamic, I don't think I would necessarily disagree,
   although perhaps that puts us more in the imagery of Marx's
   revolutionary mole, digging and digging underground until it's finally
   ready to resurface.

"Re 9: I don't think anyone doubts that "the crisis has already arrived",
and that it arrived around the same time when the idea that there is "no
possibility of rolling back time" was elevated from wild guess to
scientific fact, or when the observation that "the sheer entropy of the
present means that there is little to hold on to" was reformulated as
the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The crisis is old news, really. What
worries me more, however, is that the above is then immediately followed
by the prediction that "watching the world around us rise and fall at an
accelerating rate, those who prevail will be those who grasp the risks
worth taking", because I can't shake off the feeling that I have read
that before, even though I cannot remember where. Is this still Kevin
Kelly, or already Peter Thiel?"

   I'm one of those people who refuse to allow speculation / disruption to
   be branded, captured, and owned by capitalists. Another name for this
   is Deleuze's deterritorialization, and I would say that it is more of a
   question of political form than political content.

   Regarding the commentary on Egypt ~ all of those insights are very
   close to home. I lived in Cairo for a year immediately following the
   coup / counterrevolution in 2013 and so am very intimate with the
   ongoing history of the uprising ( I won't have time to go in depth
   here, but if you're interested you can follow up with my project on the
   subject: [2]www.ConditionsOfPossibility.com ). Of course, living and
   teaching in the West Bank at the moment deeply informs my current
   positions as well.

   I decided to deliberately label these two texts as "Preliminary" (in
   the sense that more will need to be written) and "Theses" (in the sense
   that they will have to be tested). Only time will tell what unfolds
   from here but I hope that at least some fragments of either piece can
   be put to good use.

   All of the best,

            ~i
   ________________________________
   Dr. Ian Alan Paul
   Al-Quds Bard College for Arts and Sciences
   Abu Dis, Palestine
   [3]www.ianalanpaul.com
   
   "History is made by men and women, just
   as it can also be unmade and rewritten,
   always with various silences and elisions,
   always with shapes imposed and
   disfigurements tolerated." -Edward Said

On Wed, Feb 1, 2017 at 10:31 AM, <[4]sebastian {AT} rolux.org> wrote:

     When I saw the "10 Preliminary Theses on Trump", what made me feel
     uneasy was, mostly, a matter of form: that the "10 Theses" format seemed
     strangely anachronistic, inadequate for a phenomenon like Trump, and
     that of all the attributes one could have possibly picked, "preliminary"
     looked like the least appropriate choice for something written in late
     January 2017. The most famous (and most famously wrong) "N Preliminary
     Theses on Trump" text, Nate Silver's "Donald Trump's Six Stages of Doom"
     (1), was published in August 2015, and that was the time when it was
     still possible -- reasonable, as Nate Silver would argue -- to think
     that "preliminary" might do. That has changed.  Reading the "10
     Preliminary Theses on Resistance", I'm sure that each of them is built
     around a kernel of truth, but I found it hard to get through the
     coating. To me, they sound overly romantic in the best case, and ring
     like pure kitsch in the worst. Romanticism may have its place in
     political critique, but here, it seems to come at the cost of making
     actual observations, at the expense of material reality, and how stuff
     in it actually works.

 <...>

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