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Last night at the Glasgow School of Art Mark Fisher took the stage to discuss accelerationism. I have to say that up until last night I had given only a passing interest to accelerationism, seeing it as not linked to my reading in antipsychiatry. But for all that its necessary to focus our readings it is myopic to act as if something like accelerationism can be passed by, as if it registered no effect on the left at all. The relevance of accelerationism first of all comes from its success in circulating around left tendencies, in appearing in different contexts, and in stirring us on the left, on both sides of an increasingly spurious divide between anarchism, autonomism and traditional Marxism.

What follows is less a report on the specifics of what Mark talked about, although that’ll be in there, but more my first attempt at really engaging with accelerationism, something I’ve been reticent to do until now as I’ve largely felt that accelerationism has functioned as an intellectual meme. But this is probably the strength and weakness of the term. As it spreads it everywhere forces a kind of decision. It seems impossible for most people to discuss accelerationism without endorsing it a a tendency or dismissing it as an irrelevance. I’m most interested in the stakes involved in this decision and in how accelerationism really operates as a force that it has become impossible to be indifferent to.

The double-bind of desire

Among the most interesting aspects of Mark’s talk last night was his continued insistence on desire. Its here that I think it is impossible for someone involved in a renewed antipsychiatry can first connect up with accelerationism. First and foremost psychiatry operates according to the regulation of desires and behaviours. One is mad if one’s desires are unacceptable and/or if one’s actions betray aberrant desires. This is something that antipsychiatrists have always emphasised. Foucault is perhaps the clearest on this question in his interrogation of proto-psychiatric techniques and strategies that constituted the therapeutic battle between doctor and patient.

The first is that these four elements introduce a number of questions into psychiatric practice that stubbornly recur throughout the history of psychiatry. First, they introduce the question of dependence on and submission to the doctor as someone who, for the patient, holds an inescapable power. Second, they also introduce the question, or practice rather, of confession, anamnesis, of the account and recognition of oneself. This also introduces into asylum practice the procedure by which all madness is posed the question of the secret and unacceptable desire that really makes it exist as madness. And finally, fourth, they introduce, of course, the problem of money, of financial compensation; the problem of how to provide for oneself when one is mad and how to establish the system of exchange within madness which will enable the mad person’s existence to be financed.

 

For now I’ll simply assert my agreement with Foucault on this point, although I hope to expand on it elsewhere. We could perhaps quickly state that the question of madness, of identifying mad subjects, always passes through the question of desire, of what it is the mad person wants and what actions and beliefs they are invested in, what libidinous attachments they have formed, half-formed, wrenched themselves away from or had shattered in front of them. This is part of what Foucault will isolate in the confessional apparatus of Christianity that will again be seen in the psychoanalytic confessional: one must articulate one’s desire before the cure can be effected. This is still seen in today’s psychiatry among the new hysterical subjects with the proliferation of bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and anorexia nervosa. These diagnoses codify experiences of aberrations in desire first and foremost. The so-called new symptom is circulates more around the question of desire than it does cognition, and this is perhaps proven by the disappearance of the term “desire” from psychiatric literature. Instead we see the accumulation of theories about impulse control, motivational deficits, obsessive-compulsions. With this is the deployment of procedures for the manipulation of these psychological constructs, chief among them the motivational interviewing techniques and the mindfulness based protocols that seek to attach subjects to proper desires via “values work”, and which may remain open to repurposing among radicals.

The question of desire doesn’t just circulate around madness, although this is one of the aspects in which the engineering of desires by capitalism effects casualities. We can talk of psychic wounds when we talk about madness, but we could just as well talk about libidinal wounds. Capitalism effects double-binds. Its not so much that there is this injunction to Enjoy! It is more that there is the injunction to Enjoy Responsibly! The command is issues at once to enjoy but also to isolate a limit that is never explicitly specified. Libidinal subjects are then forced into the situation of enjoyment in which enjoyment becomes an ethical moment without any existing rule of thumb. What is the limit? Where is the limit? Does one transgress it? Is that enjoyment? The double bind is a perverse command that undoes itself, dissolves itself by doubling back on itself, the second fork in the injunction sweeping back to cancel the first.

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The US anarchosyndicalist group Recomposition published an article, that is well worth reading, on the same day (uncannily) that I published my last post on black blocs. My last post dealt with the black blocs but a large part of its real scope lay in a discussion of media and communication in the age of the integrated spectacle. I’ve just finished reading the Recomposition piece I think it is a good beginning to theorising what I have been calling a “post-spectacular media strategy”, especially in its insistence that media isn’t just a tool for transmission but is itself a form of tactical political organising. In this post, I want to contribute to that effort by focussing in on media ontology and media’s own affectivity.

Lately I’ve been writing a bit about the need to develop a “post-spectacular media strategy” in revolutionary politics. In part this is a call for such a development and a reflection on the fact that such a tendency already exists on the revolutionary left. This tendency is born out of a recognition that we have become dispersed, lacking the kinds of centres for organisation that Fordist industrial labour afforded us, and that the media has become a new kind of public space. This is especially the case in an age where more and more of us are coupling our nervous systems to the disembodied space of the internet. The last generations prior to real time’s conquest of lived time and the generation of digital natives that are growing up around us, we are constantly wired in.Whatever other effects this might have, it means that social media is often our most authentic experience of social space.

In previous posts (here and here), and in the comments to a post on the libcom website, I have been trying to argue for a need to recognise the crucial importance of harnessing the spectacle as a weapon for revolutionary politics. One of the strongest points of the Recomposition piece is the fact that it also highlights the non-spectacular affect of this weaponisation:

If we take a political approach to any media, the paper presents the potential to engage workers who create its content, and opportunities to dialogue with others through the act of distributing it. If our goals are to do capacitation work through generating content and working around it, then IWWs could rethink how they want the paper to function within the organization beyond professionalism or the attraction of a good publication. Additionally, if the paper is thought of less as a physical thing and more as a node of content and interaction, a robust online publication could offer a field of activity that could engage potentially hundreds of IWWs and the people they work with. The General Organizing Bulletin likewise is another place where debate, dialogue, and discussion could give chances for IWWs to grow beyond local contexts which can wax and wane with the ups and downs that inevitably come with workplace and community organizing.

What is at stake in the above is an understanding of the materiality of networks of communication and how they themselves act as modes of organising bodies. In this way media becomes more than just a tool for the broadcast of information- it becomes a mode for producing an affective resonance between bodies in such a way as to engender new affective assemblages, and it provides means for physically connecting bodies, as a kind of vanishing intermediary, and therefore of affecting a material redistribution of the sensible. As such, it can make us aware of our connections via a shared situation whilst providing a way for bodies to come both physical and nonphysical contact.

One of the weakest parts of the Recomposition piece comes from their underdeveloped media ontology. This is expressed in phrases such as

Communication, which media is built out of, is a form of interaction and relationship between people.Communication is action, and one that demonstrates and potentially changes relationships in society.

While it is important to realise that Recomposition isn’t an organisation attempting to produce ontologies it is nonetheless expressing or operating with a kind of unarticulated ontology. The presupposition here is that media is made up of bits of communication and that communication is an action. I’d agree that communication is an embodied mode of acting in the world- it produces affects on other bodies- but to claim that media are built out of such action neglects it’s own specific corporeality.

To be fair to Recomposition, the obliteration of materiality that is presupposed here is pretty rampant throughout a lot of Marxist and Marxian inspired theory (cf. almost everything written about immaterial production). Yet media isn’t immaterial- it is not its own separate “semiosphere” as Bifo likes to claim. The cloud-based internet that first appears so immaterial is dependent on very material bodies. First of all, there have to be computers or laptops or smartphones. For the internet to work these must be networked, and this requires the existence of cables, sockets, routers, processors, date centres, internet exchanges, cable and fibre-optic street boxes (the ones you sometimes see technicians fiddling with- so we can include those technicians and their tools, their van and the roads that take them there).

All of these are physical bodies that imply other physical bodies: raw materials, tools, factories, plants, refineries and, of course, workers. It also requires our bodies, the consumers and producers of communication: it requires the skeletal-muscular system, the eyes, the ears, the postures of human bodies- and it requires an entire range of embodied cognitive virtuosity.

To follow the full ecology of the internet would obviously require us to see where the raw materials for processing chips (for example) come from; we’d quickly find ourselves tracing one of the internet’s necessary physical components to minerals found in extremely impoverished parts of the world, where access to those minerals can often fuel violence tantamount to civil war. And even more than this, we should remember that so much of our media objects- or at least their synthetic components- will exist in the Earth’s crust far longer than the internet is likely to exist.

Without wishing to belabour the point any further, media are certainly composed of communicative acts but they can’t be reduced to those actions. They imply a full ecologistical reality.  

I would also point out that communicative agents can’t be limited to humans alone. Media themselves are communicative, as are all kinds of other non-human bodies (viruses and DNA might be perfect examples). I have attempted to give an outline of what constitutes a communicative agent elsewhere so I won’t go on here.

These ontological points aside, I think that Recomposition‘s article is an excellent place to begin thinking about a post-spectacular media strategy.My reason for stresses the materiality of media, it’s very physical manifestation, is to focus in on just how it is that communication and organisation “manifest”, in the article’s terms. Rather than trying to show up Recomposition, I am hopefully contributing to their desire to move away from thinking of media as merely message. Of utmost importance in considering how to use media for revolutionary ends is Marshall McLuhan’s insistence that the medium is the message. For McLuhan, a medium is essentially an extension of the body, a prosthetic that enhances our potency to act, opening up new capacities whilst closing down others (what he calls “amputation”). The content, or message, of a given media is thus never only what information is being communicated, nor is it only the materiality of that medium, but it is always some other materiality. Mediums are composed of- and communicate to us- what they are not:

This fact, characteristic of all media, means that the “content” of any medium is always another medium. The content of writing is speech, just as the written word is the content of print, and print is the content of the telegraph.

This forces us to consider what in being extended is also being hidden or amputated. The integrated spectacle is the becoming-image of capital- it’s attempt to render the world as immateriality- and as such we have to be mindful that it can make us lose contact with one another, even as it puts us into electronic proximity. Whenever we attempt to harness media and communication we must pay attention to their own specific materialities and to how they order the sensible realm, what proximities and distances they enact, what capacities they open and which they foreclose. We must be careful that in making use of media, the media is not also making use of us.

In other words, to have a post-spectacular use of media we must be attentive to the danger of falling for the spectacle’s most seductive illusion: the innocence of media. From an anarchosyndicalist perspective this question is crucial. Will a worker-managed autonomous media infrastructure be capable of resisting that innocence?

This post originally published on attemptatliving in April.  

Terence Blake is currently translating the latest seminar with Bernard Stiegler. In scanning through it I am reminded of the reasons I became a psychiatric nurse (proletarianisation of the mentally ill; pathologisation of the proletariat) and of why I left London (living in a city of panic that was a bunker city was doing my panic disorder no good). Here is a series of quotes on attention and what Berardi calls the possibility of the psychobomb that explodes the (bio)psychosphere of subjectivation:

Do not forget that your brain functions in time, and needs time in order to give attention and understanding. But attention cannot be infinitely accelerated. Marx described a crisis of overproduction in industrial capitalism—when

production surpasses demand, an excess workforce is fired, who in turn have less money to buy products, resulting in an overall effect of economic decline. In the sphere of semiocapital, however, overproduction is linked to the relation between the amount of semiotic goods being produced in relation to the amount of attentive time being disposed of. You can accelerate attention by taking amphetamines, for instance, or using other techniques or drugs that give you the possibility of being more attentive, more productive in the field of attention. But you know how it ends.- Franco “Bifo” Berardi.2011. Time, acceleration, and violence. Here.

These infinite demands for the finite neurocognitive resource of attention- which is a form of bodily comportment to the world- provide a ceaseless stream of attentional-demand on the brain that it can’t meet. Navigating the contemporary urban environment, and not necessarily even that of the megapolis, and even sitting in a cafe today presents one with hundred of flashing signs, adverts, audio-transmissions, moving images, and so on and so on, a cacophony of signs and a chaos of noise, accelerating, multiplying, a plethora upon a plethora overlaid and overlapping that are superimposed on the physical environment with its own denizens such that the nervous system had evolved to cope with. The pathogenetic potential of this rests on these moving images, bodies and roaring sounds that activate our hominid survival networks, drawn as they are to sudden movement, to rushes of sound and in full autonomic efficiency our bodies- which are ourselves- carry out how

many assessments of threat a day, a week, a month, a lifetime? And the genius of pharmaco-capitalist production is that it produces its own consumers through the techniques of marketing.

The rise of neuromarketing is the latest modality of this particular version of technand mobilises other features of the medical technologies typically put to work for neurological and psychiatric conditions. The Pepsi Challenge has been undertaken with test participants undergoing fMRI scans. Before continuing, we should remember that there are a number of problems with the neuroimaging processes and the fact that they say nothing outside of the hermeneutics humans perform on them (cf. Richard Bental. 2011. Why psychiatric treatments fail; neuroskeptic. Nonetheless, they provide valuable data; the point is more to recall that the neuroimage is not a the revalation of truth, but is itself a tool in an ever expanding arsenal of neurotechniques. The findings reported in the journal Neuronshowed that the semiological relationship to the brand was the main indicator of verbally expressed preference and that knowledge of which drink was being drunk by altered the state of the participants brains. In particular, there were changes to hippocampal regions associated with affectivity and memory. In this study it appears to be the semiological relation to brand that determines preference of drink and therefore the activation of certain consumer behaviours (ie: buying Coke instead of Pepsi) because their is a semio-affectivity that implies an emotional relationship with a set of affective signifiers and images surrounding “Coke”. The authors of the study state that

Coke and Pepsi are special in that, while they have (Figure 3A) similar chemical composition, people maintain strong behavioral preferences for one

over the other.

Recently, Levi Bryant has attempted to construct a model of criticism called Borromean Critical Theory that corresponds roughly with psychiatric theory’s repeated calls for a biopsychosocial model of psychpathology. In this Borromean Critial Theory there are three implicated and interoperative layers of reality to be targeted for any problem, with each being according its own unique weighting and expression in a map of a given situation. These layers are the phenomenal, the material, and the semiotic. This tripartite can also be expressed in terms of the epistemic and the corporeal. What is important to note is that in this study we find all three levels in operation: the activation of the gustatory system by the introduction of the cola drink to the mouth (material) and the simultaneous sensory experience- the qualia- of taste (phenomenal), and the relationship to those particular cognitive schematic associations with the consumer brands “Coke” and “Pepsi”. Despite the near total chemical symmetry of the two drinks and the continuousness of all human gustatory systems with one another- although continuity does imply variation, so we must be careful- the overdetermining factor in the relationship to the drink, and therefore to the subjectivations responsible for producing the consumer subject, activating the repertoire of semio-sensorimotor comportment that organises consumer behaviour, and finally couples the consumer to the economy in this particular way, through this particular commodity mediation. To put this otherwise, here is a situation in which the material and phenomenological are trumped by the semiotic; the epistemic obliterates the corporeal. This is why Franco Berardi is able to call contemporary capitalism semiocapitalism. Critics of neuromarketing express concerns over the destruction of informed consent that the abandonment of rational content to advertising and a focus on stimulating affective brain states implies; yet this is already to miss the point that capital always functions on and through the recomposition and reinvestment of attention and desire. This again is summarised by Franco Berardi when he states that ‘the attention economy has become an important subject during the first years of the new century’ [Precarious Rhapsody, p.82]. This reference to an attention economy is at one and the same time a reference to the way that advertising has always attempted to marshal finite organic hominid attentional resources for economic purposes, and to the economy of that finite resource.

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Infrastructure, after all, is about how worlds are made, how forms of life are sustained and made viable. To think politics as infrastructural is to set aside questions of subjectivity, identity, demands, promises, rights and contracts, and instead to render visible the presumptions that the knots of attachment, adherence, care or fondness and have already been tied by nature or supposedly incontestable forms of connection (by kinship, race, money, sexuality, nation, and so on). The materialities of infrastructure render it the most pertinent political question there is. Everything else is distraction. Infrastructure is the undercommons – neither the skilled virtuousity of the artisan, nor regal damask, nor the Jacquard loom that replaced, reproduced and democratised them, but the weave.   – Angela Mitropoulos

Angela Mitropoulos‘ post above (which is an excerpt from her book) is brilliant and very timely, at least for me. Lately I have been obsessing on the need to rethink all available options for large scale social organization. Democracy? Maybe. Communism? not sure. Some hybrid? Perhaps. But one thing is for certain: what have right now really isn’t working for a lot of us. Maybe what we need is a whole new set of possibilities and a new kind of “infra-politics”, as Angela suggests above.

And, with this, I keep coming back to the idea that our real and imagined infrastructures might be the best point of departure for imagining alternatives AND, more importantly, for actually enacting new modes of existing. Infrastructure could be best understood as the intra-active medium and context of human subsistence and social relations. The skeletal supports of any social organization is its infrastructure: the ecological and material conditions of human assembly. The forces, modes and means of ecosocial (re)generation are determining, and operate at levels and in ways beneath or removed from representation, discourse and ideology. Such conditions provide the affording ‘soil’ within which the weeds of justification and ideology grow, but are not to be confused with them. Marx knew this, Foucault knew this, so many great thinkers knew it, even if they didn’t quite articulate it strongly enough. Infrastructure is the ‘weave’ that supports our worlds and organizes all consequential flows. Or, as Angela writes, “Infrastructure is the answer given to the question of movement and relation.” And engaging the social field at the multiple levels and strata that form infrastructure means augmenting political ideologies with the power of praxis and its results.

We believe it is time to rethink an infrastructural model at risk of quickly becoming obsolete. This should be, particularly in our days, a vital task for architects: vindicating and domesticating a framework for action they have habitually been sidelined from. Aware of our scarce resources, it is time to re-program the rigid models of the past, from the margins, designing flexible infrastructures free from rhetoric. – Angela Mitropoulos

Infrastructure, then, is truly about enacting worlds, or “worlding” [see Mei Zhan (2012), “Worlding Oneness: Daoism, Heidegger, and possibilities for treating the Human.” Social Text 29:4 (109):107-28]. And we need to develop the sense-abilities and response-abilities capable of sorting out what works, or what affords, facilitates and generates the most adaptive and eudaemonic (and perhaps creative) modes of human being and becoming. In a trivial sense we could say we need more Aristotle and less Plato.

To be clear, focusing on what “works” is not about seeking some naive form of neo-utilitarianism, techno-rational grid, or purified cultural deadening of diversity, but rather a rigorous and reflexive investigation and sensitivity to what is appropriate at different levels of reality and in different contexts. Praxis is about intelligent functioning not totalitarian instrumentalization. And an adaptive orientation to praxis looks at all available forms of life and relations and seeks to enhance those that generate the most positive effects, regardless of pre-established convictions, conventions and assumptions.

A focus on attending to infrastructure also fits well with we are calling “post-nihilist praxis”. Loosely, if nihilism results from the delegitimization of all appeals to transcendentals (“the death of God“), and a direct confrontation with finitude and radical contingency in all things, including language and logic, then a post-nihilist turn would be to deliberately create tools and practices and language-games – and thus infrastructures – for engaging and enacting worlds after the collapse of dogma and ideology via a more affective and corporeal ‘coping-with’. Post-nihilist praxis thus seeks to deactivate human tendencies for erecting (phallic connotation intended) yet more “gods” or universalizing ideologies in place of the old, dying and dead idols, and operate within worlds in a decidedly pragmatic way.

This, incidentally, is why post-nihilist praxis is not post-nihilism. “We don’t need another hero, we just need to know the way home”, so to speak, and to quote Tina Turner. Any strategy, practice, tools or ‘onto-stories’, as Jane Bennett has written, self-conscious and effective enough to help us adapt and be creative among the ruins of ideological certainty, and in relation to the ongoing ruination of planetary eco-systems and tradition social matrices, must be on the table.

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the-practice-turn-in-contemporary-theoryIt is through action and interaction within practices that mind, rationality and knowledge are constituted and social life is organized, reproduced and transformed. During the past two decades, practice theory has emerged as a potent challenger to prevalent ways of thinking about human life and sociality, which have until now focused either on individual minds and actions or social structures, systems and discourses. The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory is the first volume to bring together philosophers, sociologists and scholars of science to explore the significance of practices in human life.

The essays focus on three overall themes: the character and establishment of social order, the psychological basis of human activity and contemporary posthumanist challenges. Philosophers such as Wittgenstein and Heidegger who have been influential in the shaping of practice theory are also discussed. In examining these themes and thinkers the essays document how practice theory stands opposed to prominent modes of thought such as individualism, intellectualism, structuralism, systems theory, and many strains of humanism and poststructuralism.

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In the video below Brian Holmes talks about the post-war culture of machine society, autopoiesis, Marx, globalization, art, geopolitics, cultural critique, cybernetics, activism. Here Holmes is attempting to build towards a theory of ‘pathways through chaos.’ This event took place in Toronto, Canada in 2010:

Brian Holmes is a cultural theorist, activist, and historian involved with a wide array of activist and art collectives in North America and Europe. Since his participation in the Carnival Against Capital in London in 1999, Holmes has participated in activism and artistic endeavors focused on a critique of contemporary global capitalism and is talks about the need to move from geopolitics to geopoetics in his art, criticism, and scholarship. He is the author of Hieroglyphs Of The Future (2003), and numerous articles in European publications, including the interdisciplinary French journal ‘Multitudes.’

His current work can be accessed at his blog, Continental Drift: The Other Side of Neoliberal Globalization.

Beak Street, London, England: 11th June 2013 and two camps cut the capital in two. The heavy black figures,clad in stab-proof vests, weighed down by shining tools of their trade, some seemingly bioluminescent bodies reflecting the dull city lights, form soft, permeable walls of flesh and industrial fibres. Across the tarmac expanse, its broken and uneven surface silent in the summer heat, the masked and black hooded figures of the gathered protesters; their black outfits mirroring their enemy but their bodies more languid and faces more tense, raising an obsidian flag, slashed in half by a diagonal block of fresh blood red. The clash of the police and the protesters at the Carnival Against Capitalism played itself out dramatically: a man seemingly attempting to jump from a roof (or is he fleeing his pursuers?), his body crumpled and crushed beneath the care and security of those of the Met; reports of the laissez-faire use of tasers and rapid Twitter denials; the usual, almost boring when it splashes lurid across the evening news (packaged in easy to digest narratives, troubling no passive constitutions); the press release announcing the number of arrests read out over images of property destruction and hooligans with strange, hyperbolic demands. Days later, the echoes of violence still ringing like some brutal tinnitus, the new logic of urban policing and its attendant open secrets still reverberate in my ears. Again, I see the city of my self-imposed exile convulse with the spectacular rituals of struggle and the accelerated militarisation of the City that forms a central node in the cold global network of finance.

Such scenes are nothing new: we are so exposed to images of protest and police brutality that it is easy to forget that we are not watching some endless dystopian film. The anger as we watch the stream and read the first hand reports is somehow ambivalent- almost as much an automatism as the algorithms of digital trade. It isn’t that the anger isn’t genuine or real but it feels like a cold mathematical rage; almost like that of a cortisol come down, my own anger traces a familiar affective circuit that ingrains itself so deeply into my neurology that it functions almost autonomic. Today, anger and the anxiety that follows it have become affective default settings.

What is new is the level and openness of the police response to a completely legitimate form of democratic protest. As the protesters, assembled anarchists, Marxists and the generally fucked off, opened up a cleavages in the management of public space, and as they disrupted the becalmed tranquillity of the social, those hired hands of the state and of capitalism, the perverse henchmen of Capital (remunerated for protecting the mechanisms of their own exploitation), stepped into perform a sudden, brutal, and unanaesthetised surgery in order to close the wounds in consensuality. What is opened must be shut down; what ever operates without permission must be made permissive; and in the ritualised forms that these clashes take, boredom is a dangerous mood.

Ordinarily the police must justify themselves. Ordinarily, the police respond to a crime. Ordinarily, they must wait for civil disorder before operating as active guardians of that order. On June 11, this logic was abandoned. Riot police are not a new phenomena in London’s streets. What was new was the pre-ordering of London’s iconic red double deckers, a symbol of jolly old London, of tea and scones or the good ol’ Eastender of the BBC and Sherlock Holmes, in order to have bulk mobile containers for those they expected to arrest. Before confrontation the confrontation had already taken place: resistance had been modelled, planned for and effectively co-opted before booted feet had touched the asphalt and the gum-encrusted paving stones.Of course, the precedent of the militarisation of the City was set long ago when, as a response to terror threats, we suddenly saw armed police roaming the Embassy areas, the airports, and now routinely see tasers throughout the UK; the Olympic Games, managed by G4S, were a paramount exercise in the new society of control that functions through a military operating system. Now, protest is treated as anti-social behaviour or terror

What I find most disturbing about this is the way in which it symbolises the wedding of two form of rationality. The site of London buses used to carve up space and to house arrestees is not just a chilling perversion of a brand image, although that is frightening enough when we consider the lack of response to this (as if the public transport network and its materials were obviously always already technologies of repression). More than this, what disturbs me is the way in which the police response, obviously directed by a higher authority, establishes the total normalisation the social as a military space- wherein any contestation, any democratic expression, any identification of wrong, is a priori an act of sedition that the “public” is happy to see put down. Even more than this, it is the marriage of the logic of the pre-emptive strike with the logistical reason of Auschwitz. Let me be clear, I don’t mean that on the existential, political or social registers that the police response to the Carnival Against Capitalism was in any way on the scale   of the Holocaust: what I mean is, that the image of the buses and the rationality that conducted such a scheme clearly resonates with those of the Eichmann run train lines. And all this is taken as normal.

I have read reports that suggest this kind of police action is a response to previous unrest like the London riots of 2011: a vast libidinal discharge that set sections of the city ablaze in a genuine eruption of rage that was no less exhilarating than it was terrifying. What is the new psychology that is taking shape in a city like London and all those other city’s like it across the world? What new psychic co-ordinates are coming into focus after the utter brutality of the Turkish government’s reaction to Occupy Gezi? Is this the emergence of the militarisation of the protester’s consciousness? Surely, given that even those equipped with a theory of class struggle and biopolitical power can’t immunise themselves from the world that they describe. If the city is being militarised then so to are the consciousnesses and bodies that inhabit and are inhabited by it. But in truth, this is merely the city sloughing off its new clothes as cultural centres of commodity exchange. The earliest cities were enclosed by walls and protected by turrets: we might be seeing the return of these siege cities and of siege subjectivities. To speak the language of psychiatry, the city of London is displaying more and more of the signs of a paranoid delusional disorder. Exodus, for the majority, is neither desirable nor affordable. This is an endogenous siege that recalls the schizo-urbanism of China Meiville’s The City and The City: and when the two cities begin to bleed into one another in that novel, the only evidence is a corpse.