1. Empire is an environment that encircles the globe. It exists above and within the multitude; it finds its expression in the formal governmental apparatuses (the nation-states), and the informal governmental apparatuses (the corporations and their technocratic vanguards), and beyond this exists in social relations across a variety of scales, ranging from the microscales of the personal and local to the macroscales of the national and global.
2. Like its predecessors, Empire requires a reliance upon labor as both a logic of control and as a matter of reproduction. Unlike its predecessors, labor in dominant countries is rendered as immaterial due to the proliferation of cybernetic technology and its collusion with the exodus from the Disciplinary Society conducted by the 1960s counterculture. The countries pushed to the margins of the system exhibit regimes of material labor, essential for the continuation of the immaterial labor elsewhere.
3. Empire is both a process of deterritorialization and a continually-updating system of homeostatic control. Deterritorialization is urged on an individual level by the requests coming from the market and the counterculture for an increase in flexibility and new modes of understanding oneself. Meanwhile, its deterritorialization comes with the ferocious impact of transnational economics on domestic markets and state governing systems. At the same time, parameters are set on how far the individual can move from the dominant system, and economic crises are utilized as means to cement top-down order and recompose class interests.
4. The condition of the multitude under Empire is that of a Diaspora, the scattering of people who are linked to a common lineage of place of origin.
5. Diaspora is the tension of the pole between two distinctive and postmodern forms: expressive and voluntary deterritorialization and nomadism, and restrictive and involuntary deterritorializaton and nomadism.
6. Expressive and voluntary deterritorialization and nomadism is the forces spoken of by Deleuze and Guattari: the circulation of flows beyond the systematic overcodings of the state and the capitalist system. Expressive and voluntary deterritorialization comes in a variety of forms, some individual and a great many collective. We can find it in certain forms of divergent arts and the lifestyles that accompany it, and in nomad sciences – science that pushes the boundaries of statist dictates and asks the questions of what constitutes ‘truth’ in our increasingly artificial environment. Other forms can come in personal experimentation, of individual revolts or attempts at living in other modes; these are complimented and furthered with local social experimentation. Expressive and voluntary deterritorialization and nomadism can also be found in large-scale social experimentation, in the linkages found between personal and local social experimentation across a vast geographical or continental terrain.
7. Restrictive and involuntary deterritorialization and nomadism is the neoliberal sublimation of the expressive and the voluntary, as well as the fall-out from the mechanics of neoliberal expansion and penetration. We can find, instead of voluntary nomadism, the large-scale forced migration of populations due to political and economic displacement, and the smaller-scale migrations of those who must journey in search of jobs and sustenance. On a microlevel, the acceleration of information technology and the speed of progress has led to a negative derangement of the senses, a lessening of attention span, and the short-circuiting of interpersonal relations. Everything that is solid is melting into air – and the result is frequent manifested through pathological disorders and self-destructive behavior.
8. The defining characteristic of expressive and voluntary deterritorialization is conjunction – the two-way communicative relationship between two bodies or movements in a way that produces something unique. A sense of togetherness.
9. The defining characteristic of restrictive and involuntary deterritorialization is fragmentation and alienation – the fragmentation of the mind due to acceleration of techno-capitalism and the alienation of the self in the competitive crowd; and the fragmentation and alienation of social relations under these same conditions.
10. Just as the expressive and voluntary can act as ‘bifurcation’ points leading to further moments and movements, so too does the restrictive and involuntary. On one hand, it can lead to a destructive reterritorialization: fragmentation and alienation, compounded with the frequency of migration and dissolution of the traditional social, leads to a higher emphasis on the notion of “identity.” The reestablishment of a tense postmodern-yet-traditional identity has led to the growth of closed existential territories, with violent manifestations found in the renewed strength of fascistic movements, racist intolerance, and religious fundamentalism. On the other hand, the experience of restrictive and involuntary deterritorialization can lead (and has lead) to positive experiments in expressive and voluntary deterritorialization.
11. Within the Diasporic existence there exists the capability of solidarity; through the environment of Empire, global peoples and a variety of actions and counter-actions are linked together in ways that have never been seen before. The key, then, is to find a way of countering the negative end of the Diasporic pole while amplifying the effects/affects of the positive end.
12. The Zone of Experimentation (ZOE) is capable of weaving threads of solidarity and expression through the Diaspora by following the logic of conjunction.
13. The ZOE is an assemblage, a strategic composition of two or more divergent entities that, frequently, maintain their own individual interests. For example, the collision of arts with nomad sciences, community-building organizations with individual experimentation, etc. etc.
14. Within each entity there are singularities – points of intensive focus that separate it from the system mechanics of the dominant order. Interaction between two or more actors in the ZOE amplifies the singularities in each, bolstering the capabilities of each group’s movements when acting together or separate.
15. The ZOE should form a horizontal enclave capable of fostering, both within itself proper and within the actors that compose it, new and divergent deterritorializing movements. As such, ZOEs can proliferation, generating offshoots capable of conjoining with other movements and ZOEs.
16. This is the principle of amplification (a nod to Elkaim), and the goal of amplification is to spread horizontally through the Diaspora of the multitude, unlike the vertical organization explicitly expressed in the various politics of speed.
I’m having trouble thinking of our international corporation drive times as being under the reign(s) of “a continually-updating system of homeostatic control”, isn’t the thin veneer of increasingly policed states taking place under the clash-of-the-titans?
I see the current condition as one of updating homeostatic control as not something that is operating one a distinctively national-level of police action, but at the nexus of multiple overlapping vectors. Police action, certainly; but these need to be transferred into the greater transnational context. Control does exist top-down, through formal hierarchy, and also across a more-or-less horizontal, informal plateau – the micropolitics of control spoken of by Deleuze in his famous essay. The intersection of these lines compose Empire, the environment engendered by the emergence of neoliberal capital. If there exists a clash of the titans on the intercontinental stage, it is a sort of blur between competition (the very real geopolitical strategies and imperatives taken by states) and cooperation (the binding of states through webs of production, shipping, finance, class, and debt) that throws into question at this stage the future of the system (will neoliberalism continue, or be replaced with the next ‘update?) as well as who will assume the role as the dominant country or region (will we see the Western world continue its slippery hegemony, or will there be the oft-discussed shift towards the East?). These recompositions of the logic of production, class composition, and political order are always following on the heels of crises, which have appeared with greater frequency and severity in the transition to neoliberalism) – but again, we can see that the event of the crisis can operate as a control mechanism: informal inability to act within the system the way it demands, thus limiting mass power and relegating it upwards to the top of the hierarchy; the state of exception; and also, in some cases, the control established in reciprocal double binds, as Mony Elkaim discussed. The structural shifts following the period of crises serve under the rubric of ‘rationalization’ – which is one of the reason I’ve been so interested in notions that assume the role of the ‘irrational,’ alongside harder analysis. The Zone of Experimentation, in my mind, is a space that seeks an outside of the system(s) of control and crisis, with the hope of establishing changes that could feedback into the system(s) and, hopefully, map out potentials for an exodus.
well I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on this front as it all seems more piece-meal and rather contested/disjointed to me, will be more interested to see how, if at all, this might make a difference in how we would approach manufacturing solutions/alternatives. I think that work-shopping some actual case-studies might bring this all into better focus.
Click to access Ephemera.pdf
Reblogged this on syndax vuzz.