Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Present as Conspiracy: Vaughn and Martin's The Private Eye

Brian Vaughn and Marcos Martin's The Private Eye is a web only comic that has a critical view of the internet. Set in the not too distant future, in the year 2076, it takes place in a time in which values regarding privacy and anonymity have been completely transformed, or "revalorized"--to use Nietzsche's terminology. Privacy is held as a sacred right, so much so that everyone has a secret identity, or several, and masks to wear when they go out in public. A generalized secret identity might seem like a critical take on the conventions of the superhero comic, but Vaughn and Martin's critical target is less the conventions of their medium than those of our world. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Personalized Ideology (or Ideology Personified): Silva's Mood Economy

Do not demand of politics that it restore the “rights” of the individual, as philosophy has defined them. The individual is the product of power. What is needed is to “de-individualize’ by means of multiplication and displacement, diverse combinations. The group must not be the organic bond uniting hierarchized individuals, but a constant generation of de-individualization.  Michel Foucault, Preface to Anti-Oedipus. 

In the past few weeks I have returned again and again to the idea of "negative solidarity" that I outlined on this blog. I found myself mentally bookmarking news reports and articles that seem to be evidence of hostility to any collective organization for wages or benefits, not to mention larger or more structural transformations. The affect of ressentiment, the distinct sense that someone somewhere was benefiting at your expense, seemed prevalent. (Of course the "someones" in this situation are always those on social welfare programs, state employees, etc., never capitalists, investors, etc.) However, negative solidarity risked having all of the characteristics of what Althusser called a "descriptive theory," a sophisticated sounding recasting of what one already knows and thinks. The dangers of descriptive theories is that they provide a moment of recognition, ("That is it, dude; totally,")but no way to move forward. So the question which I returned to again, is how to account for the genesis and constitution of negative solidarity, how to move beyond description. This is a question of socio-political theory, but it is a necessary precondition of political action as well.  Negative Solidarity is in that sense another name to the barrier of any politics whatsoever.