[-empyre-] sample from today

Ana Valdes agora158 at gmail.com
Wed Nov 12 09:28:01 EST 2014

I read Hakim Bey (William Lambert Wilson) at the beginning of the net when Autonomedia started and we all believed the myth "information want to be free". He was a big inspiration for me as well and I think his theory of the TAZ, temporary autonomous zones, is an interesting contribution to a new geography based more on the imaginary than on political borders. 

Enviado desde Samsung Mobile

-------- Mensaje original --------
De: Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com> 
Fecha:11/11/2014  18:22  (GMT-03:00) 
A: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au> 
Asunto: Re: [-empyre-] sample from today 

Ana, well not always. Remember Conrad's The Secret Agent? But anarchist had less power than institutional power  to wreak destruction and, as far as I know, none of them was a suicide bomber, the tool that gives the modern terrorist the ability to influence minds far beyond their numbers.

Interestingly, Hakim Bey regards himself an anarchist and now lives some place, I think, upstate New York in "retirement." His books on Sufism, its subversive position within Islam, had a great influence on my work.

I always wandered the adoption of "Hakim Bey" as a nom de guerre since Hakim Bey is the name of the uniformed Turkish police officer, played by Orson Wells, in the film A Cask for Demetrius.



On Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 1:04 PM, Ana Valdés <agora158 at gmail.com> wrote:
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I had a discussion with Murray Bookchin once, he visited us, the anarchist collective I lived with at that time, in Stockholm. We translated into Swedish his book about Ecology. He was a true individualist anarchist, he was very suspicious about us, about how we manage to live together work together and spend free time together :)
He defended the right to wear weapon and to defend himself against anyone wanting to harm him. For us his these about citizen militie and armed vigilantes to watch the autogestionated societies was unthinkable.
You are totally right, the anarchists nihilists from the end of the 19th century and beginning to the 20th century were considered today's terrorists :) But their agenda was less bloody ;(

On Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 3:26 PM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com> wrote:
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Ana, in the United States, the Libertarians have an idealized version of 19th century America, a De Toquevillean paradise, where "freedom" prevailed. In my view, all these are different, but very related, expressions of alienation. What is the cause of these splintered explosions of violence? At the heart, it seems to me, is the fall of the Soviet Union. In the preceding bipolar world, where there was an overarching threat of a world war/nuclear explosion, these alienations (always there) were suppressed, very often with the tacit consent of the governed. After the fall, the overarching, unimaginable, maximal threat gone, the tacit contract of the cold war is gone. Previously suppressed (or unheard) voices begin to speak with potentially, often violent, centrifugal force. Ironically, a lot of the violence, which the majority of us experience virtually, is primarily the result of increased freedom; second, the exponential advance in digital technology that makes these expressions--often of alienating violence we choose to call terror(ism)--visible to us. One should remember "terrorist" is a word (an ism) coined by politicians starting in the 1970's.

I wonder how "terrorist" is different from "anarchist" which was the word of choice a hundred years ago. Do they, in subtle ways, mean different things? Perhaps, "anarchist" (along with had, in 19th century, a philosophical structure underpinning it. Some political thinkers/actors openly embraced it (read The Parisian Arcades or The Possessed). Whereas, in our day, no one, no group embraces the term terrorist; but tries to rationalize it, often calling the opposing party the real terrorist. In that sense, terrorism is a violence with no human face, no intellectual rational; it is a convenient term for those actors of "rationalized violence" (states or would-be states) to distinguish themselves from it.

We all in this thread have been asking how an individual, particularly as an artist or a thinker or an actor, can react in the face of the pervasive omni-visible, often virtual but potentially actual violence. In my view, the best an individual can do is to analyze and develop a consciousness of the machinations of this violence, the methods, the techniques it uses to impose itself on the rest of us.



On Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 10:48 AM, Ana Valdés <agora158 at gmail.com> wrote:
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Thank you Murat! I feel that the apocalyptical utopies from Boko Haram and ISIS trying to shape their own worldorder are signs of our time. ISIS is invoking the Caliphate, the go back to Al Andalous, a kind of golden age where Paradise loomed with it's fruits and rewards. Boko Haram want, regarding to their narrative, go back to the Africa from before colonization, a continent where mighty empires lived in harmony with the Earth. 
The fact they impose their new order with terror and harshness is a kind of symbolical and pagane cosmogony, they want take distance from "our" gods, for them education in Western terms is an abomination, the suicide bomber who killed himself yesterday killing 50 students is a true representant of their philosophy or beliefs. For us is education normalization, progress, development, enlightenment, for them is education a deadly sin.

On Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 12:46 PM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com> wrote:
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Ana, the "kind of new structure without visible heads[, a] new kind of feudal contract... inhabited by people without voices" is actually exactly what the largest modern states are striving for, China, the United States, Russia: to give enough food and trinkets and spectacles and popular wars to the population so that, at least passively, they support you, always the implicit threat of violence ("punishment" or withdrawal of goods) against those who want "to have a voice." This is a kind of "benevolent feudalism," la familia of an idealized Godfather-like Mafia. In the United States, the financial institutions and a small number of corporations are our invisible citizens, who supposedly, as "job creators," are feeding the rest of us and can keep us at least passively happy..

One should not forget the place of digital technology which, it is becoming progressively clearer, is the tool that enables the concentration of power and wealth (therefore, the production of supportive mythologies) in the hands of fewer and fewer people.



On Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 12:01 AM, Ana Valdés <agora158 at gmail.com> wrote:
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Thank you Gabriela for your interesting description of the non-violent answer to the state violence installed in Mexico. I was in Yucatan when I did my field work in social anthropology and met many zapatistas and indingeous working in the caracoles, the free zones kept by the zapatistas at that time.
It was same years before I was in Gaza and it strucked me Gaza and Mexico and Italy shared a common denominator: a weak state left the citizens vulnerable and frustrated and the field was overtaken for organizations who cared for the everyday life. It explained how the drug cartels when the Colombian Pablo Escobar was alive cared for the citizens in the small towns and got a lot of support from the people.
In Mexico it was the zapatistas who built up a feeling of community and started to autogestionate or selfgovern the territories abandonned by the state.
In Gaza was Hamas who took care of the police and the daycare.
Hakim Bey explains it with his TAZ, Temporary Autonomous Zone, where he uses the examples of the camorra in Italy and the zapatistas as well to explain territories separating themselves from the central state, far from them, a kind of new structure without visible heads. A new kind of feudal contract. The "Non Places" in Marc Augés terms, in the middle of nowhere, inhabitated by the people without voices.

On Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 1:51 AM, Gabriela Vargas-Cetina <gabyvargasc at prodigy.net.mx> wrote:
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Dear all,

Thank you for this month's discussion and thank you for bringing in what is happening in Mexico to this very difficult but very needed conversation.  Here in Mexico the news have been emotionally draining for most everyone, and now that our President has left to go to China for diplomatic talks, many Mexicans are asking for his resignation.  The newspapers have been commenting here in Yucatan how people even from the wealthier strata of regional society are going to the marches and protests over the murder of the students.  I guess we are all trying to perform out our grieving in some way, collectively, so as to feel safer and feel we do have control over our spaces and lives.  A very important thing that is happening is that most everyone is chanting repeatedly "no more violence" and "no to violence": Apparently the burning of the door of the National Palace was done       by a soldier from the Mexican army in order to justify the intervention of the police against the crowd of protesters; at least that is what even the major newspapers say.

I would like to suggest here that the performance of violence and violent performances are now giving way to the performance of non-violence, but this is arguably a different kind of performed violence.  The installations using empy chairs, cards, mementos and photos of the students, public performances of those marching throwing themselves to the ground and remaining motionless for many minutes, the holding of signs on cardboard or cloth, and the chants hostile to the government are all part of so-called non-violent demostrations, but they are in fact violent, and they are meant to shake our government officials and public peace keepers to the bones.  I am not sure these tacticts are working, since neither our politicians nor the rest of the world seem to pay any attention or be in the least disturbed, but they are bringing about a new, publically-constructed collective understanding of non-violent protest.  And it is also a way to re-construct some feeling of being safe.

I find it interesting that the collective performance of       non-violence is meant as a violent act, and that it is expected to stop the physical violence of the killings and forced disappearances that sadly mark everyday life today in much of Mexico.  To my mind, it is a reinvention of passive aggression, this time in collective forms.  But all in all, perhaps it is a good step in a good direction.  

Thanks again for this discussion.

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

On 11/10/14, 4:19 PM, Ana Valdés wrote:
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Maybe Mexico is too near the US to be worth some alert in Google? :(

On Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 7:51 PM, Diana Taylor <diana.taylorny at gmail.com> wrote:
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Yes of course you did-- I was referring to the Google                 news feed reported by Alan. I thought THAT was interesting in its omission. Apologies if you thought I was referring to your posts Ana!

Diana Taylor
University Professor
Professor of Performance Studies and Spanish, NYU
Director, Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics

On Nov 10, 2014, at 3:51 PM, Ana Valdés <agora158 at gmail.com> wrote:

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Some quick answers: Jon, check the archives of -empyre and you can read Alicia Migdal's quotations of Agamben and its Homo Sacer.
And Diana, two days ago I posted to the list the links with live strem to the protests in Mexico when the news of the killed 43 students reached us. And Alicia and me discussed it in the list.

On Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 2:04 PM, Jon McKenzie <jvmckenzie at wisc.edu> wrote:
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typographic t/error: "the neutral observer of vita contemplativa"

On Nov 10, 2014, at 9:59 AM, Jon McKenzie <jvmckenzie at wisc.edu> wrote:
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