(11. 11. 2011)

Between War and Struggle[1] 

“The intellectual spoke the truth to those who had yet to see it, in the name of those who were forbidden to speak the truth: he was conscience, consciousness, and eloquence. In the most recent upheaval, the intellectual discovered that the masses no longer need him to gain knowledge: they know perfectly well, without illusion; they know far better than he and they are certainly capable of expressing themselves. But there exists a system of power which blocks, prohibits, and invalidates this discourse and this knowledge, a power not only found in the manifest authority of censorship, but one that profoundly and subtly penetrates an entire societal network. Intellectuals are themselves agents of this system of power-the idea of their responsibility for “consciousness” and discourse forms part of the system. The intellectual’s role is no longer to place himself “somewhat ahead and to the side” in order to express the stifled truth of the collectivity; rather, it is to struggle against the forms of power that transform him into its object and instrument in the sphere of “knowledge”, “truth”, “consciousness” and “discourse. “”

"Intelektualac/ka je govorio/la istinu onima koji su tek trebali da je vide, u ime onih kojima je bilo zabranjeno da govore istinu: on/ona je bio/la savest, svest i elokvencija. U najskorašnijem prevratu3 intelektualac/ka je otkrio/la da ga/je mase više ne trebaju kako bi sticale znanje: veoma dobro su znale, bez iluzije; znale su mnogo bolje od njega/nje i zasigurno su sposobne da izražavaju same sebe. Ali postoji sistem moći koji blokira, zabranjuje i poništava taj diskurs i to znanje, moć koja se ne nalazi samo u manifestaciji autoriteta cenzure, već koja duboko i suptilno penetrira celokupnu društvenu mrežu. Sami/e intelektualci/ke su agenti tog sistema moći – ideja o njihovoj odgovornosti za “svest” i diskurse čini deo sistema. Uloga intelektualca/ke nije više da se postavi “negde ispred i po strani” u cilju izražavanja prigušene istine kolektivnog; već, da se bori protiv oblika moći koje ga/je pretvaraju u objekt i instrument u sferi “znanja”, “istine”, “svesti” i “diskursa”. "

Intellectuals and experts customarily draw their legitimacy from their ownership on the truth. Experts in their accumulation of data, its organization, its instrumentalization, and its presentation and distribution while intellectuals in the interpretation and representation of life experience. The people, animals or things from which they draw their data and life experience usually go by the name methodologies. Intellectuals and experts are usually grasped as those who in advance are responsible for alerting the society, before a coming catastrophe, but historically and especially in the 20th century and till today, not only were they not able to see and foresee these catastrophes in time let alone prevent them, they mostly took part in their creation. The relatively powerless resistance that there was comes under the saying “too little, too late”. It follows that the power of the intellectual is mainly not in her/his knowledge itself but in the network of socio-political connections that s/he acquires through the institutional and informal networks of knowledge distribution. “A wide range of professionals (teachers, psychiatrists, educators of all kinds, etc.) will be called upon to exercise functions that have traditionally belonged to the police.” “Širok spektar profesionalaca (učitelji, psihijatri, edukatori svih vrsta, itd.) biće pozvani da vrše funkcije koje su tradicionalno pripadale policiji.” The power is in her/his position in the system and since the “system of intellectuals” or what is called here “radnici/ce u kulturi” is more amorphic than other systems of power - one can have a position in it even without being tied to an institution. This relationship keeps him chained to both ideological and social position in that sense renders him/her politically powerless. But since this system of institutional knowledge requires him/her to always produce something new, s/he either closes him/herself in the discussion of theory itself becoming autistic to the materialistic conditions of its production and distribution, as part of the conditions of representation. Or s/he needs to appropriate the knowledge of the masses, acquired by way of experience in order not only to promote but even maintain his/her power position. The exchange, in this case, is that “the people get a voice”, sometimes some social or material benefits but remain relatively powerless. This, many times, becomes obvious when two or more groups of intellectuals, two or more “theories”, fight between themselves on the right to power, legitimizing themselves through “representation of the people” excluding from their discourse the act of appropriation of the needs and claims of the actual people. Whether the groups truly believe in their theories or if it is just a cynical act for all intellectual groups to maintain their power is irrelevant to the act of appropriation of the location of subjectification of the actual people. “This is why the notion of reform is so stupid and hypocritical. Either reforms are designed by people who claim to be representative, who make a profession of speaking for others, and they lead to a division of power, to a distribution of this new power which is consequently increased by a double repression; or they arise from the complaints and demands of those concerned. This latter instance is no longer a reform but revolutionary action that questions (expressing the full force of its partiality) the totality of power and the hierarchy that maintains it.” “Zbog toga je ideja reforme toliko glupa i licemerna. Ili su reforme dizajnirane od strane ljudi koji tvrde da su reprezenti, koji stvaraju profesiju od govora u ime drugih, a oni i vode podeli moći, distribuciji te nove moći koja je otud povećana duplom reprezentacijom; ili nastaju iz žalbi i zahteva onih kojih se to tiče. Ova poslednja instanca nije više reforma već revolucionarna akcija koja dovodi u pitanje (izražavajući punu silu svoje parcijalnosti) totalitet moći i hijerarhiju koja ga drži.”

Setting it differently would mean not only re-articulating the relation between theory and practice (I would rather use the word experience), as Deleuze introduces it “Practice is a set of relays from one theoretical point to another, and theory is a relay from one practice to another” “Praksa je niz prenosa sa jednog teorijskog mesta na drugo, a teorija je prenos iz jedne prakse na drugu.” but revealing experience as knowledge and the masses as equal authors in the production of theory i.e. that experience and knowledge appear at once. This does not mean anti-intellectualism in the sense that one could do without knowledge or theory but it constitutes that writing is a political practice, not any more privileged by the body/spirit division, and in that setting intellectuals alongside any other social group in political struggle.

This new gained equality, between knowledge and experience when theory is set as a practice and practice as theory,  creates a new series of demands on both “old” and “new” intellectuals, it requires of the “old intellectuals” to give up a certain amount of their power by opening up the well established networks of power to their co-authors and it also requires of the “new intellectuals” to be aware of the power game that they are introduced into, in order, on the one hand, not to underestimate the need for knowledge and theory in political struggle or reduce them to mere collection of data and information, which would entail replacing the “old intellectuals” (as in “old money”) with “nouveau riche intellectuals” for the gain of power itself. And on the other hand, not to reenact the structure of power and create a hierarchy of misery in which they become “representatives of marginalized groups” and functionaries of the regime. In that the “new intellectuals” have the responsibility to struggle against the forms of power that transform him/her as an individual into its object and instrument in the sphere of “knowledge,” “truth,” “consciousness,” and “discourse“ and I would add “identity” i.e. the token veteran, worker, student, Roma, woman, gay, etc. that in his/her name maintain the division of power while leaving him/her and the group in the precarious and comfortable position of the victim. This position is comfortable in a perverse way, because it gives the illusion of power and participation without or with very limited decision-making power or the response-ability to and for knowledge, practice and experience. Regardless of the dangers of “inclusion”, practice, with its wide spectrum of positions, needs a new kind of writing and writing needs a new kind of practice.

Foucault writes “Each struggle develops around a particular source of power (any of the countless, tiny sources- a small-time boss, the manager of “H.L.M.”, a prison warden, a judge, a union representative, the editor-in-chief of a newspaper). And if pointing out these sources - denouncing and speaking out - is to be a part of the struggle, it is not because they were previously unknown. Rather, it is because to speak on this subject, to force the institutionalised networks of information to listen, to produce names, to point the finger of accusation, to find targets, is the first step in the reversal of power and the initiation of new struggles against existing forms of power.” “Svaka borba se razvija oko posebnog izvora moći (bilo kog od bezbrojnih, malih izvora – niži šef, menadžer “H.L.M.”-a, zatvorski čuvar, sudija, sindikalistički reprezent, glavni urednik novina). I ukoliko ukazivanje na te izvore – objavljivanje i izricanje – treba da bude deo borbe, to nije stoga što su oni bili prethodno nepoznati. Već, to je zato što govor o toj temi, primoravanje institucionalizovanih mreža informacija da slušaju, proizvodnja imena, uperavanje prsta, pronalaženje meta, jeste prvi korak u poništenju moći i iniciranju novih borbi protiv postojećih oblika moći.” In the period this dialog was spoken and written it was still assumed that exposing and denouncing act of power or the gaps between ideology and practice will be enough to change the system. Since then many of us have learnt that power is a cynic and that exposing it does not change or minimize its effects but on the contrary, frees it from the need to justify its actions. Foucault continues: “It is possible that the struggles now taking place and the local, regional, and discontinuous theories that derive from these struggles and that are indissociable from them stand at the threshold of our discovery of the manner in which power is exercised.” “Moguće je da borbe koje se sada odvijaju i lokalne, regionalne i diskontinuirane teorije koje izvlačimo iz tih borbi i koje su neodvojive od njih stoje na pragu našeg otkrivanja načina na koji se vrši moć.” A plenum that will consist of the society as a whole will deal mainly with its inner scissions and fragmentations; it will recognize no borders, neither those of states nor of identities and is not constituted on the basis of a central axis but exactly on the tension between the whole and the splits it contains. Centering on the splits as indispensable and communication (the only annunciation is always already in common) it opposes totalization.

“A theory does not totalise; it is an instrument for multiplication and it also multiplies itself. It is in the nature of power to totalise and it is your position and one I fully agree with, that theory is by nature opposed to power.” “Teorija ne totalizuje; to je instrument za umnožavanje koji takođe umnožava samog sebe. Priroda moći je da totalizuje, to je tvoje stanovište sa kojim se ja upotpunosti slažem, da je teorija po prirodi suprostavljen moći.” The plural, dynamic and open ended character of theory resists putting things “in order”. As opposed to disciplines or dogmas which as structures of power, theory is a practice (or a toolbox) and as it works in the public sphere it multiplies, with the difference essential to each repetition but since it has no external borders it requires no loyalty or unity and produces no mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion. Unity, that is the structure of continues repression, both in a person and in community or society, it is the state of war, while plurality, the state of exposed scissions and interruptions is the state of straggle, the state of continuous articulation. “Reality is what actually happens in factories, in schools, in barracks, in prisons, in police stations. And this action carries a type of information which is altogether different from that found in newspapers”.  “Realnost je ono što se stvarno događa u fabrikama, u školama, u barakama, u zatvorima, u policijskim stanicama. A ta akcija nosi tip informacija koje su upotpunosti drugačije od onih koje se nalaze u dnevnim novinama”. Looking at it from the perspective of time this plenum is always temporary in that it never resolves its legitimacy by way of legality and is always in the process of re-constituting itself. Deleuze writes “A theorising intellectual, for us, is no longer a subject, a representing or representative consciousness. Those who act and struggle are no longer represented, either by a group or a union that appropriates the right to stand as their conscience. Who speaks and acts? It is always a multiplicity, even within the person who speaks and acts.” “Intelektualac/ka koji/a teoretiše, za nas, nije više subjekt, svest koja reprezentuje ili reprezentativna svest. Oni koji delaju ili se bore nisu više reprezentovani, bilo od strane grupe ili sindikata koji prisvaja pravo da stoji kao njihova savest. Ko govori i dela? Uvek je to višestrukost, čak i kod osobe koja gvori i dela. Svi smo mi "grupularni" ("groupuscules")2. Reprezentacija više ne postoji; postoji samo delanje-teorijsko delanje i praktično delanje koje suluži kao oslonac i koje formira mreže.” And Foucault adds: “(the masses have been aware for some time that consciousness is a form of knowledge; and consciousness as the basis of subjectivity is a prerogative of the bourgeoisie)”. “(mase su svesne već neko vreme da je svest oblik znanja; a svest kao osnova subjektivnosti je prerogativ buržoazije)”.



[1] This text is thinking on “Intelektualci i moć: razgovor između Mišela Fukoa i Žila Deleza” found at http://old.kontra-punkt.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=55173