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Becoming Ungovernable – On Di Cesare’s Book “The Time of Revolt”

The Italian philosopher Donatella Di Cesare’s minoritarian book „The Time of Revolt“ can certainly be read as a complement and extension to Andrew Culp’s „Dark Deleuze“ and Joshua Clover’s „Riot.Strike.Riot.“ From the very first pages, the police as a formation of the security state play an important role for Di Cesare. If Clover had already spoken of the fact that today the police can be sighted by rioters on every corner and dominate public space to such an extent that any political dissent articulated in the streets has from the outset merely the character of the tolerated and at the same time of that which can be eliminated at any time, Di Cesare also locates the police in the context of an economy of public space.

Originally published by Non Copyriot. Written by Achim Szepanski.

Their separating and selecting power, which goes far beyond processes of normalization, decides who is granted belonging in public space and who is excluded or even locked up in prisons. Only the police are legally authorized to exercise extra-legal functions, Di Cesare writes, citing Walter Benjamin in this context, who speaks of the „ignominious of an authority“ that operates ceaselessly in the interstice of law-making and law-maintaining violence. For Di Cesare, the function of the police is synonymous with an interpretative violence that it monopolizes and with which it can also always flexibly force its procedures in public space and apply them to the bodies of the population. Its violent sovereignty is as intangible as it is haunting, Di Cesare writes, resting on a dark ground that makes it possible to establish the police state within the rule of law, ensuring legality on the one hand and juridical extraterritoriality on the other. Agamben writes: „It is the margin of discretion that even today determines the actions of the police officer who, in a concrete situation of danger to public safety, acts in a sovereign manner, so to speak. But even when he exercises this discretion, he does not make a real decision, nor does he prepare the decision of the judge, as is usually claimed. Any decision concerns causes, while the police act on effects, which are by definition undecidable.“ And further, „The security state is a police state: but in legal theory the police is again a kind of black hole … It is surprising, however, that the police now coincides with the actual political function, while the term politics is reserved for foreign policy. Thus, in his treatise on police science, von Justi refers to politics as the relationship of a state to other states, while he refers to the police as the relationship of a state to itself. It is worth reflecting on this definition: (and I quote), „Police is the relationship of a state to itself.““

This security state has its historical model in Thomas Hobbes‘ Leviathan. If one speaks of a permanent insecurity, then one quickly comes to a generalization of suspicion, every citizen is suspicious and can be a potential terrorist, so precisely the secret services and governments, and must therefore be monitored. According to Hobbes, only the Leviathan or state can provide security, in that the citizens enter into a contract with each other quite voluntarily, which sets the stage for the state, which provides them with security and thus, however, also dominates them. The citizens are left only with bare survival, which, however, the state, which is the beneficiary of this contract conclusion, is not allowed to touch.

Alluding to the connection between politics and the police, as described by Jaques Ranciere, the latter, according to Di Cesare, not only has the function of ordering public space (and/or managing its disorder), but rather it manages the order of sayability and visibility, thus assuming functions of politics.

German social philosopher Kurt Röttgers, in particular, emphasizes the distinction between politics and the political. While the former, as the business of the urban citizen, is still determined by action theory, is oriented toward a goal and toward the formation of power blocs, and is usually organized hierarchically, the political corresponds to a micropolitics that knows the third, which here does not occupy a meta-position, but is at all times in a rotation of three positions (self, other, and the third). The Third always sees other than the Self and the Other, but it does not have the absolute overview, just as this is true for the other two positions. The third always remains the disreputable stranger and, as a quasi stateless person, eludes the state and territorial orders.

The defense of the elites and the persecution of the subalterns by the police reveal a political architecture to which Di Cesare gives the name „immunitarian democracy.“ In her essay on the Corona crisis, „Sovereign Virus? The Breathlessness of Capitalism,“ she shows that the demand of this kind of democracy does not prioritize participation but protection and security. If the Greek citizen was interested in participation in public power, the citizen of immunitarian democracy prefers first and foremost the preservation of his own security. A model prevails in this type of modern democracy that first developed in the United States and later spread throughout the Western world. It can be summed up for Di Cesare in the formula „noli me tangere.“ All that the citizen asks of democracy is: don’t touch me. People, bodies, and ideas must be able to exist, move, and express themselves untouched – that is, without being inhibited, coerced, or forbidden by any external authority. The entire tradition of liberal political thought is based on this negative conception of freedom, confusing, moreover, guarantees with freedom, because ultimately the state must then guarantee free movement after all. However, the political system of guarantees and insurance policies is nowhere near reaching the places where, for example, the globalization losers live today. Interned in camps, parked in urban voids, discarded and piled up like garbage, they wait patiently for the opportunity to be recycled.

Immunitarian democracies are characterized by a culture of fear that is anything but a spontaneous affect. Rather, it is sustained by the diffuse suggestion that there is an omnipresent danger that threatens people, be it terrorism or corona, and that also creates a sense of extreme insecurity. The phantasmatic „we“ then submits, at least temporarily, to the emergency and its decrees. In the process, as in the Corona crisis, the heterogeneous spheres of politics and medicine can overlap. It is then no longer possible to know where the law ends and health care begins. Political action then tends to assume a medical modality, while medical practice becomes politicized. Again, Di Cesare adds, National Socialism provided the model – scandalous as it may seem to recall it.

It should be added that this model of immunitarian democracy cannot be separated from the conception of the security state, which has long since become a paradigm of governance that understands security not as the prevention of unrest but rather as the ability to govern it and steer it in a normalizing direction once it has occurred. Agamben writes in this regard. „I mean the paradoxical convergence of an absolutely liberal paradigm in economics with an unprecedented and equally absolute paradigm of state and police control. When the state targets effects rather than causes, it is forced to expand and multiply controls. The causes must be known, while the effects can only be checked and controlled.“

DI Cesare then arrives at a phenomenology of revolts, highlighting their heterogeneity, discontinuity and diversity, but wants to bring into play the concept of constellation for connections and similarities that, in her opinion, do exist, wherein in this the unexpected simultaneity of events without beginning and the mobilizations that are at the same time sudden interrupt the habitual flow of the system. Here, for Di Cesare, it is necessary to find an „underlying guideline“ of the revolts and to discover their revolutionary kinetics.

Institutional politics and its governance always attribute only the unmanageable and chaos to revolt, which is why for Di Cesare it is important not to view revolt from within the state, but rather to view it as a particular symptom of the actually unmanageable from the outside, in which it also situates itself and opens up a gap to the state order. Andrew Culp, in his book Dark Deleuze, has even attempted to formalize the outside: two terms are conceived within a single object (for example, the liberal and authoritarian components of the state), with the third term of the resistant nomadic striving not at all to synthesize the two terms or to perpetuate difference, but to establish a relationship to the outside. According to Culp, contradictions should be replaced by the radically exclusive disjunction. To escape dualism and the golden mean, one must extend the conceptual pairs by a third term, a completely independent term, which comes entirely from the outside. Culp argues for a non-teleological path of negation and resistance to renew the barbaric forces of the outside. In the context of the figure of the migrant, Thomas Nail has also recently called for a new barbarism. It can be said of the barbarians that, first, they do not speak in the official language of politics, and second, they fight with their actions the established norms of civilization.

And Di Cesare shares another point of view with Culp’s Dark Deleuze, namely, to identify the revolt as a clandestinity, a secrecy that serves to bring forth the underground fugitive whose metaphorical affairs are the crypts and catacombs. Culp also brings the metaphors of crypts and catacombs into play: far from equating the crypt with the end or with death, this is a projection of a new subterranean architectural power. From the metaphor of the tomb Culp also draws the moment of conspiracy. It is saturated with negativity, but not in the sense of antinomies. One should learn to say no decisively to those who take the world as it is.

The outside, which the revolt tries to take in, is by no means, as is gladly claimed from right to left, apolitical; rather, for Di Cesare it is hyperpolitical, precisely because it resists state politics and its demarcations, which locate only chaos and anarchy in the outside. On the outside of state politics, on a global level, for example, are migration movements; on a local level are the youth of the suburbs. The radical questioning of the state in all its forms requires the redefinition of a political space that, despite the diversity of events that give rise to revolt, challenges an interconnectedness of the same that stages not only the struggle against the economic miseries of the surplus population and for the share of the shareless, but also politics of dissent, distance, and disruption, resisting the thoroughly contingent state order as well as the command of the police. In his book „Riot.Strike.Riot“, Joshua Clover has drawn attention to the internal dynamics of the riot. Usually the riot is conceived in the context of deprivation, lack, and deficit, while for Clover it indicates in itself the experience of surplus, surplus danger, surplus instruments, and surplus effects. The most important surplus, however, is the action of the population itself, the moment when the insurrection explodes the police management of the situation and it still decouples itself from everyday life. Di Cesare speaks here of a short-term exile or disintegration.

Why do the movements today occupy the squares and not, say, the universities or the factories? What united almost all political parties and movements, from the communists to the syndicalists to the anarchists until well into the 20th century, was the understanding that labor and the working class can constitute a common world, which, if capitalism is overcome, will be a new community of horizontality. Baudrillard, in his book The Mirror of Production, pointed out that even larger parts of Marxism were imbued with the anthropological idea of „man as producer,“ which came to a head in the world-historical significance of the working class and the teleology of the dictatorship of the proletariat. But if today the global proletariat is split into the official wage-earning class, the precarious, the industrial reserve army and the surplus proletariat, and can no longer easily organize a common resistance, for example through the strike, and moreover not only labor power is exploited, but almost all of life is capitalized, then, according to Di Cesare, there is necessarily an exodus of the insurgents from the factories, schools and universities to the public squares, a last space still available for the insurgents struggling for common ground to assemble, although here Di Cesare hears a „mixture of resistance and resignation.“ The revolt, which contains anarchic upheavals and a „against“, is also in the historical course still before the revolution, then accompanies it, but is increasingly seen as the negative pole, even determined as the chaotic, apolitical and much too spontaneous antipode, with which it must ultimately also always fail. Even Bakunin and Marx, each in his own way, insist on the dichotomy of revolution and revolt, which led the latter, for example, to underestimate the force of the Haitian revolution of the Black Jacobins. Against the sedentariness of revolution, which seeks to conquer the command centers of the state and power according to plan and program, revolt remains nomadic, joining the homeless, the migrants without passports, the barbarians and vagabonds.

Di Cesare goes into detail about Camus‘ book „Man in Revolt,“ which led to the break with Sartre and whose merit, for Di Cesare, lies in having introduced an existential dimension into the revolt, without, however, having drawn the appropriate political consequences from it. While the insurgent draws a line with his rigorous No, he at the same time says yes to the freedom of his existence. Otherwise, also for Camus the revolt remains short-lived and shows its quite positive impotence in the fact that it renounces power. Di Cesare counters this by saying that revolt can very well have longer-term effects, which are shown in a non-static history in which the past remains alive through witnessing – undoubtedly a metaphysical approach, so that it is also not surprising that Di Cesare in this context comes to speak of Walter Benjamin’s messianic didacticism, which corresponds to Marx’s image of the locomotive, that races forward through history in the course of progress, the image of the emergency brake, which stands for interruption, ruptures, and discontinuity, indeed for an ecstatic and eruptive revolution, which in Benjamin, however, is only occasionally accompanied by revolt, that of the poor and their uprisings, and, borrowing from Bakunin, also that of the anarchic and the intoxicating, which must be rescued in the revolution.

While Marcuse himself still marginalizes the 68 revolt in relation to the revolution, for Di Cesare it is the Italian philosopher Furio Jesi who, with his book „Spartacus,“ does not approach the revolt as a failed revolution, but rather, quite in contrast to the revolution, which remains integrated in historical time, as an event that interrupts historical time and prepares the front garden for another time, casting an untimely glance at the day after tomorrow today, which does not give a damn about the revolutionary and realistic view of tomorrow. Di Cesare writes: „Because of this constitutive untimeliness of itss, revolt is an impatient epiphany to the day after tomorrow.“

It was Hannah Arendt who assigned politics to public space, a space of appearance to which, entirely in the tradition of liberal democracy, many protest movements have also claimed a right, a space, as Judith Butler says, where bodies gather to achieve a politically motivated visibility. But precisely by accepting the rules and regulations that apply in public space, one is oneself craving political recognition, which no matter how confrontational the disputes are, usually comes with democratic and communicative understanding, see Habermas.

And even if the action-oriented perspective of a politics of parties is not chosen, if representation and state sovereignty are questioned, the assembly of ungovernable bodies in public space, which can still be seen in Butler, remains related to a politics of appearance, with which at worst a nebulous and at the same time identitarian „we“ is constituted, which insists on democratic legitimacy and recognition of its own sovereignty.

Leftist engagement here moves entirely within the framework of recognition in the public sphere, in which one participates in demonstrations, signs petitions, or makes demands. The committed leftist yearns to be perceived in the political sphere, fights for visibility, and would also like to be in the spotlight of the powerful. For Di Cesare, however, what is revealed here is precisely a dispositive that consists in neutralizing struggles, regulating antagonisms, and managing conflict. Culp has pointed out in „Dark Deleuze“ that antagonisms are not opposites that stand in dialectical opposition to each other in order to complement each other. One of the central arguments of Deleuze’s „Difference and Repetition“ is that philosophy has reduced thinking to equivalence and logical identity between two terms. The thinking of antagonisms, on the other hand, must avoid any adjacency to the thinking of similarity, analogies, and opposition.

This political position. which is capricious to find public recognition in the democratic discourse, is opposed to the famous friend-enemy dichotomy of Carl Schmitt, who defines the political space as a war front. However, a differentiation would have to be made against Di Cesare at this point, because Schmitt first differentially defines the political as the degree of intensity of an association or dissociation of people, although this differentiation does not yet make use of friend and enemy. When Schmitt then speaks of the enemy, and in this Di Cesare is again to be agreed with, he is the disreputable stranger who questions the identity of the self or of the citizen, and must therefore be fought. But even this form of struggle still recognizes the modalities of public space, at least recognizes the other as an enemy, and thus holds on to a relationship in the struggle.

Against this politics of appearance, Di Cesare tries to bring into play a politics of rage: „When rage takes to the streets, it seeks power.“ This means that the Riot is not only about sheer destructiveness, but at least about the symbolic attack on „planetary governance,“ be it banks, luxury boutiques, or Apple’s stores. The streets and squares become the site of an encounter in which the hooded face of the insurgent attempts to unmask the hidden face of power, according to Di Cesare, which at least succeeds insofar as power becomes visible embodied in its institutionalized form, the police. Di Cesare writes, „The clash evokes the impression of finally coming into contact with power as embodied in the brutality of the sovereign police, who give body and face to politics…Power has taken off its mask.“ Conversely, the insurgent wears a mask not only to avoid being identified, but to assimilate with the other insurgents, paradoxically flaunting invisibility. This kind of escape need not be bleak, even if it is negative. Clair Fontaine writes in „Black Bloc,“ „Escape is never more exciting than when it spills out into the streets, where trust in appearances, trust in words, trust in each other, and trust in this world collapse into a mobile zone of imperceptibility.“ While the seeing represents and only the visible can be seen, there is the touching and the touched that can be described, but in a sense remains invisible. The visible offers itself to being seen and represented, while the invisible, however, can be touched. Perhaps all invisibilities owe their existence to touching in close proximity, writes philosopher Kurt Röttgers. In touching, the touched and the touched are not separated, but between them, in proximity, a withdrawal into invisibility occurs (Badiou). One of the situations in which collective touch replaces visibility is this escape. It is the event of the between that remains invisible but organizes the sequence of actions, as their temporality. „The invisible life, the invisible community, the invisible other, the invisible culture,“ Derrida writes. „More visible than the visible, that is the obscene. More invisible than the invisible, that is the mystery,“ writes Baudrillard. „Enlightenment exposure to the nakedness of the drive structure is pornographic. We, on the other hand, keep it with Rumpelstiltskin: How good that no one knows,“ Röttgers writes.

Here, however, it is important to point out the relevance of the distinction between the ontological and political meaning of flight. Imperceptibility and opacity are to be developed as political tools to combat this world. This world of difference separates the legendary „night when all cows are black“ from the night of insurrection, „when all protesters look alike.“

The primary insurgency is not a demand but a civil war, Joshua Clover concludes in unison with Tiqqun. Insurrection, Joshua Clover sums up, is a privileged tactic that today stands for the struggles in the sphere of circulation, disruption, blockade, occupation, and finally, on the horizon, the Commune. From the perspective of the insurgency itself, it is not just about the participants, their collective actions and visions, but about bringing together crisis, surplus population, and race. In this context, Joshua Clover has related insurgency to the lived experience of surplus, such as surplus danger, surplus instruments, and surplus effects. The most important surplus is the actively negating, the resisting population in the erupting moments of mass mobilization, which coalesce into an event in which the insurgency explodes the policing management of a concrete situation
and at the same time radically decouples itself from everyday life. The insurrection is the modality through which the surplus is lived. The latter is the non-subject of the political and thus at the same time the object of state violence. The violence of the police now itself becomes part of the insurgency, or, to put it another way, the flashing coalition of the insurgent surplus exists within an economy of state violence.

However, there are dangers lurking in this kind of confrontation with power, insofar as power today is no longer readily locatable or identifiable. For Di Cesare, following Foucault, it is without a face, without a name or an address; with its capillary relations, it no longer has a center and spreads out like a network, as in the financial markets: Thus, action-oriented grand politics already has its difficulties with financial markets organized in a network form. The actions of political actors appear only as „disturbances“ in the context of the net-shaped discourse of economics. The globalized financial markets and politics cannot always understand each other; in the markets, processes organize themselves in networks, while politics organizes itself in terms of action theory, believes it has to set goals and can achieve them with an appropriate use of resources. In doing so, politics uses the form of law, be it law-setting, be it law-preserving, i.e. always crypto-violent.

It is added that tactics of resistance to capital have been adopted by capital. For example, can rhizomatic resistance to neoliberalism be effective when neoliberalism may itself be rhizomatic?

Indeed, for Foucault, power seems to be everywhere and nowhere, present in all apparatuses, spaces, and institutions, and different each time, but there is also the Foucault who thinks the intertwining of war and power that is without peace. Through these categories, Foucault registers a change that took place after World War II: the new capitalism no longer led to a period of „peace“ but, on the contrary, to the restoration of instability. Di Cesare, with the second Foucault, shifts the question of power as an invisible relation to that of a temporal event that recognizes the emptiness of power, which is everywhere and nowhere, but at the same time destitutes it, for example by interrupting both the economic and political flows of the city through blockades, pickets, and other actions. And it is this event that drives the masses into the streets. As an example of a destituting power, Di Cesare mentions the actions of the Colectivo Situaciones in Buenos Aires in 2001.

Relatively briefly, Di Cesare addresses the notion of destitution, which she locates in the writings of the Invisible Committee, Tronti, Tari, and Agamben. Agamben writes in this regard. „Whereas a constituent power destroys law only to restore it in a new form, a destituent power, insofar as it abolishes law once and for all, can open a truly new historical epoch.“ For the Invisible Committee, destituent acts or gestures are realized according to the conjunction of the positive/creative logic of creating the conditions for another world in which many worlds fit, and the negative/destructive logic of definitively ending the present world fashioned in the image and likeness of capital. That is, the destituent gestures follow a logic in which „the one divides into two“ („The destituent gesture is thus desertion and attack, creation and destruction, and all at once, in the same gesture“). That is, the destituent gestures create and destroy in one and the same act. Moreover, these collective gestures belong to that class of acts that rely on the temporality inherent to social reproduction and are realized in times of decision, that is, in times of crisis. It is not the radicals who make the movement, it is the movement that radicalizes people. Unlike those collectives that tend toward „constituent“ or „constituted“ power and locate their strategy in the dialectical relationship of recognition/negotiation with the ruling authority (in the hope of taking possession of the state), collectives that follow a destituent logic hold to the vital need to disengage and distance themselves from the dialectical trap of constituent-constituted power Tari writes in his book There is no unhappy revolution: „It is important to understand that neither the paradigm of antagonism nor that of the constituent is sufficient to meet the challenges of our current epoch. One must always find a way to initiate both a destruction of the present and an exit, an exit-not from Europe or the Euro or who knows what other state deviltries-but from this compressed time, this relationship of power and production, this stupid life, these instruments of appropriation. An exit that affirms our being here and now. Only such a presence can bring redemption.“

Di Cesare herself still criticizes the notion of destitution and its still present logic of positing and creating, pointing out that in the verb „statuere“ statehood still resonates, and therefore to volte-face in order to bring about the turning away and follow new lines of flight. What can this mean?

We want to take up something here that we do not find in Di Cesare. There is a statement by George Jackson in prison, „I may run, but all the time that I am, I’ll be looking for a stick.“ This can be read as a commitment to consider black volatility as one that is not of this world, it is not positional. Rather, black fugacity as the unthought of the world is an immanent „no“ of non-being. The existence of the black fugitive says no to the world. This paradox could be conceived of as both fleeing and weaponizing, that is, linking the act of inventing weapons to an intervention in the world. As Jackson flees, he searches for a stick. Escape is simultaneously linked to a weapon. This is where the immanently virtual comes into play: the virtual is the set of possibilities that the world makes available. Weapons are distilled from the fabric of the world. This virtual is not outside the world, but neither is it of the world. Intervention is the weaponization of immanent virtual potentialities, but precisely to resist the logic of position or program. The „no“ of non-being, as immanence, is proclaimed by the „no“ of these potentials. It does not matter which program or position will succeed. Immanence does not offer a positive project, but a pure negativity from the perspective of the non-world.

Immanence is not a position, but the no that articulates against the position; a no that articulates against the organization. It is an antagonism to the world that is immanent to the world. But when immanence is articulated outside positionality, the distinction between negativity and positivity is lost. Immanence is indeterminate: Pure immanence – a level of indeterminacy in the play of positivity and negativity – might be called the „not“ or, following Deleuze, „being,“ where „being“ is the problematic groundlessness of the world. It is the „no“ that the world rejects at every level of organization. The world cannot rule over that which is without position. Thus, immanence acts on the world – it says „no“ to the world – without the world acting on immanence. The „not“ is pre-individual. With pre-individual immanence, in turn, the indeterminacy of positivity and negativity arises.

But now back to Di Cesare and her text. For Di Cesare, the transition from factory occupations to those of places is linked to the growing importance of a dwelling that she sees as a political-existential relationship to oneself, to others, and to the world. It is in this context that CED is discussed.

Similar to Clover, though nowhere near as well-founded and widely discussed as with this one, Di Cesare also expresses her discomfort with the legality of strikes, which she still sees as legitimate, but which lose intensity and impact as they become institutionalized. We have discussed this at length elsewhere.

The situation is similar with regard to the institutionalization of demonstrations, which for Di Cesare lose importance compared to extralegal actions because they destabilize the domestication of public space from the margins, although they are always criminalized. This is true from the hackers to the militant actions in the streets to the humanitarian actions of the migrants.

On the question of civil disobedience, for which Di Cesare presents a number of historical examples, she opposes the position of John Rawls, who does not reject civil disobedience but does not want it to cross the boundaries of the law. For Di Cesare, the disobedient act does establish in public the injustice of a law, thus allowing the dichotomy between law and justice to become visible, but it does not cross the boundaries of the public sphere, the restrictions of the law, and the political architecture of the state at all.

Using Anonymous as an example, Di Cesare then revisits the question of anonymity and becoming invisible as an attack on the politics of identification. The mask in this context is a tool used to hide oneself in order to show oneself, truly a challenge to the state that only recognizes its own masks when it comes to either hiding state secrets or, as with Corona, closing the openings to reduce contact. Richard Sennet probably had the masks of the insurgents more in mind when he wrote, „Wearing a mask is part of the essence of civility. Masks enable unadulterated sociability, detached from the unequal living conditions and emotional states of those who wear them. Civility aims to spare others the burden of one’s self.“ Sennet further assumes that despite all the surveillance techniques, human beings have remained unpredictable, that is, something spontaneous about them has escaped visibility, but at the same time, the private and state surveillance and security machineries work incessantly to eliminate this residue of the invisible – one of the methods is the installation of self-surveillance, which educators then almost euphemistically still call „autonomy.“

Anonymous and the Invisible Committee carry anonymity or invisibility quite openly in their names, and these characteristics are claimed, especially in political actions in the public sphere, with which the identity is precisely not revealed, in order at the same time to question the visibility that connects politics and the public sphere. It is clear, of course, that in this way one moves in the zone of criminality or perhaps evades political responsibility. Di Cesare cites Spinoza in this context; one might also mention Deleuze/Guattari or Laruelle, all of whom argue for the right to secrecy as a resistance to the totalitarian power of making the state and the public visible. The bourgeois constitutional state should initially have to expose its policies to public criticism, but at the same time it should be denied access to the privacy of its citizens. Both have long since changed. Today, the universal insinuation that any invisibility could be the source of future terrorism reigns supreme.

Correspondingly, those affected by the surveillance state, who virtually wish for surveillance, today give themselves the arm’s length certificate that they have nothing to hide, and are pleased that their profile on the Internet allows those who capitalize on the profiles to anticipate their wishes even before they have them. But this means that the invisible within the people concerned has become invisible to them and has been made visible to those who monitor them (Röttgers).

Cesare then rifles through the history of the mask once again, as they were used and worn by insurgents. In Culp’s „Dark Deleuze,“ the conspiracy is saturated with negativity, but not in the sense of antinomies. One should learn to say no decisively to those who take the world as it is.

Continuing with the question of anonymity, it is worth saying that there is no such thing as total anonymity, it is never perfect and complete. In times of perfecting state and private surveillance apparatuses, operating with techniques ranging from networked databases to learning recognition algorithms to biometric IDs, and doing so in the mode of celebrating moral imperatives such as openness and transparency, in these times the very question of imperceptibility, invisibility, and anonymity possesses enormous political significance, even in terms of the conception of freedom. Freedom here transforms into a negative condition or distinction, namely a freedom that consists in being no longer fit for the state and private surveillance apparatuses, for social and cultural restrictions, and for quantifying captures. This freedom, in its best moments, can open up new possibilities and foster the courage to finally speak truth to power. In addition to its radical negativity, the enormous political explosive power of invisibility lies in the creation of new social spaces for the accumulation of non-countable counter-power. Here, anonymity is a resource used to create an unbridgeable distance from power.

Cesare assumes that the silent majority shares consensus and etatism, cherishes national aspirations, and perceives itself as a citizen as a matter of course. Even in the struggles against racism and for the opening of borders to refugees, belonging to one’s „own“ national territory is taken for granted, thus confirming the nation-state and the dispositif of citizenship. In contrast, revolt is always about the violation of state borders and the border regime, political architecture, and citizenship. Di Cesare makes a case for the stateless and the resident alien.

She resists the fiction, however effective, as if the social and the relationship of the citizens to the state were based only on contracts, whereas the state, moreover, gives the citizen an identity with the identity card and accustoms him to the recognition of the order of property. It counters this with the right to flee, as Snowden, for example, has demanded, as the right to denationalize oneself and to question belonging to the territory of the state. In this context, the migrant does not only insist on free movement, but also on being accepted as a stranger. As a stranger, one should be allowed to be resident.

Di Cesare concludes by using Benjamin’s image of the insurgents shooting at tower clocks to once again argue for revolt as a temporal event, for the free moment that marks the rupture and break with the linear timeline, suspending causality and opening a field for potentialities. Unpredictable, though not without any reason, as Di Cesare assumes, the revolt erupts, realizing the potency that moments can freely connect with other moments, without ever freezing into a stage or a stadium awaiting sovereign completion. Badiou, too, distinguishes only between the unstable revolt and the stable historical form. The barricade, on the other hand, represents a revolt of time; it is erected in time to interrupt the acceleration of transport and commodities, while behind it occurs the celebration that suspends everyday life and habit and opens another time.

Much Di Cesare only touches upon in this essay. One might refer, regarding the question of the border and state sovereignty, to Steffen Maus’s new book, Sorting Machines, in which he demonstrates the flexibilization and intertwining of border policies by which states today attempt to maintain territorial control in order to both increase mobility and prevent mobility. The border as a sorting machine is a complex structure that has long transcended the nation-state paradigm in subjecting mobility to a security system, designing new zones of circulation and generating a global hierarchy of unequal mobility.

Of course, the comparison to Joshua Clover’s book „Riot.Strike.Riot“ also suggests itself, which Di Cesare’s essay cannot withstand. In his book, Clover shows that riots today are a constitutive part of the global circulation struggles against capital and its states, that is, they take place mainly in the
circulation, which must be understood, first, as an important constituent of capital and, second, as a social dispositif sui generis. The new mode of insurrectionary surplus production always remains confronted with the conditions of socioeconomic processes and transformations that respond to crises or constitute them in the first place. All this indicates the insurrection by no means as a contingent event, as Di Cesare largely assumes, but also as a necessary form of political struggle.

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