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<nettime> The Politics of Being Clandestine


I'm new here. I'm a dj at radioActive radio San Diego. I'm not sure if 
this appropriate material for the list, but I'll try. Here's an essay 
about the recent actions that happened in San Diego, CA on January 20th. 
Please critique, edit, post, dismiss, etc. I would love feedback. thanks.


             The Politics of Being Clandestine: RTS J20 SD

The Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army - Border Faction (CIRCA-BF) 
consists of 33 rotating members who come from different affinity groups, 
collectives, and disOrganizations. We are all locals; we are all 
multinationals. We are a network of bodies without organs. We are in your 
group, your class, your family, your television, your neighborhood. You 
don't see us, but that is exactly our strength: our invisibility.

The Aestheticization of Politics

To not exist is our goal. Until then, we will joyously work hard to 
construct the conditions that allow for moments of autonomy and 
spontaneity to occur. Unpredictability, Spontaneity, Risk -- these element 
s are being systematically eliminated from the practice of everyday life. 
We (dis)organized a Reclaim the Streets on January 20th in symbolic 
solidarity with the counter-inauguration protests in DC in order to 
retrieve the self-empowering aforementioned characteristics and import 
them back into the practice of everyday life. We believe that creative, 
nonviolent direct action is the appropriate methodology for achieving 
these ends.

One does not need to read Foucault to note the formal similarities between 
prisons and schools, both temporally and spatially. The paths we think we 
freely move on, the words we think we freely speak, the media we think 
freely report and even the concepts we think we freely conceive are all 
heavily determined by inherited institutional, linguistic, and economic 
norms of power.

For example, from one side, Reclaim the Streets was a successful action 
for the throngs of protesters and people who won the streets, broke 
innumerable laws, and gathered peacefully to dance, sing, chant, and 
share. From the other side, Reclaim the Streets was a success for the 
police who surrounded the route, contained the crowd at most of the times, 
protected property and allowed for the purely aesthetic manifestation of a 
political will to occur. In other words, the politics of Reclaim the 
Streets, like all politics today, can also be interpreted as purely 
aesthetic: self-expression under the guise of change. The aestheticization 
of politics is logical result of Fascism, as Walter Benjamin writes:

Fascism attempts to organize the masses without affecting the property 
structure . . . Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not 
their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a 
right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an 
expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the 
introduction of aesthetics into political life [via] an apparatus which is 
pressed into the production of ritual values.

What does it mean to live in a country where expression is more important 
than change, where simulacra are more important than reality, where the 
possibility of political theatre is warmly received by all, but the 
reality of political resistance is dismissed as fantasy?

The First Question of Political Philosophy

But why do we adhere so closely to the regulative norms of power, 
language, and capital? In Empire, Hardt and Negri write:

A long tradition of political scientists has said the problem is not why 
people rebel but why they do not. Or rather, as Deleuze and Guattari say, 
"the fundamental problem of political philosophy is still precisely the 
one that Spinoza saw so clearly (and that Wilhelm Reich rediscovered): 
'Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as though it were 
their salvation?' The first question of political philosophy today is not 
if or even why there will be resistance and rebellion, but rather how to 
determine the enemy against which to rebel. Indeed, often the inability to 
identify the enemy is what leads the will to resistance around in such 
paradoxical circles. The identification of the enemy, however, is no small 
task given that exploitation tends no longer to have a specific place and 
that we are immersed in a system of power so deep and complex that we can 
no longer determine specific difference or measure. We suffer 
exploitation, alienation, and command as enemies, but we do not know where 
to locate the production of oppression. And yet we still resist and 
struggle .

The Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army - Border Faction is a movement 
of bodies not identical to themselves which seeks to identify those 
localities of repressive power in order to put pressure on them until 
temporary autonomous zones can erupt with joy. When we search for the 
enemy, we don't look outside. We look for the structures of power that we 
have internalized, repressing autonomy, wills of resistance, and radical 
freedom. We do not dismiss power altogether; power produces as many 
subjects, imaginations, loves, and freedoms as it represses. We reject, 
ambivalently, the representation of others and ourselves through the 
manipulation of language, images, and ideas that certain forms of power 
mandate. If the signs we use to communicate and structure our everyday 
life are organized to produce commercial output at the expense of human 
contact, then we are enslaved to a language that will never allow for 
radical thought to articulate itself.

Anarchist Architects

As just one faction of the global network of Clandestine Insurgent Rebel 
Clown Armies, we decided that a Reclaim the Streets action--a tactic used 
in Britain, France, Germany, Australia, New York, San Francisco, 
Washington D.C.--would be effective not in actually changing any political 
structures, but in collecting bodies that contain the will to resist and 
allowing them to freely associate. San Diego does not need a political 
party to organize resistance to the status quo. The concept of the 
=93political party=94 is itself status quo. What it needed was a 
coming-out party. What it needed, was a street party.

We are nothing more than anarchist architects, guerilla event planners an 
d stage crews. We built a stage, minimally, for the possibility of a 
non-dogmatic politics to emerge. We do not take the credit for Reclaim th 
e Streets. The people of San Diego made it possible. We were the actors, 
dancers, cyclists, jugglers, photographers, students, musicians, soldiers 
, workers, doctors, lawyers, mothers, and lovers; we were the invisible 
hosts who prepared the scenery, made the dinner, decorated the house, sen 
t out the invitation, and played the music. We were simultaneously, 
indistinguishably guests and hosts. In other words, the distinction 
between host and guest is completely illusory. The party had no center, n 
o leader, no limit. It was as flexible as capital and fluid as 
information. Many loci emerged, minor circles of activity, organization, 
creativity, and autonomy. There were no hosts or guests, there was only 
carnival. The only distinction that remained was between the authority of 
the cops and the humanity of the people.

What didn't take place on J20

As hundreds of people were penned in at 4th and Market, a tactical 
Furniture subFaction of our Border Faction was busy preparing 5th and 
Market for the Party. This was our destination; this was our goal. Many 
people did not know that a Reclaim the Streets party is intended to reach 
an intersection, block it, occupy it, and party there until the blockade 
can be moved. In London, cars crash into each other, blocking entrances to 
highways so that the people can party until the sun goes down. In Germany, 
people rise on 20ft. tall tripods in the center of intersections, 
dangerously placing themselves in harms way so that the people can party 
around them.

The tactical March subFaction was trying to split the people into multiple 
marches in order to approach the final destination from multiple sides. 
Unfortunately, the police were scared enough to block off every cross 
street from 4th Ave, not allowing any rapid splits or detours to occur. 
The heart of the Gaslamp, the arteries of capital in downtown San Diego, 
must be protected, they thought. Protected from what? The possibility of 
people nonviolently controlling their own corporeal paths of movement; the 
possibility of multitudes not submitting to the laws of force and capital.

Were we overzealous in trying to occupy 5th and Market? We don=92t think 
so. As the aesthetic and geographical center of commerce in San Diego, we 
were prepared to temporarily blockade the roads so that a festive party 
could emerge in the middle. The tactical Furniture subFaction placed two 
couches in the intersection, hung a 20 ft long banner between two street 
lights that read "RECLAIM THE STREETS", dropped beach balls and streamers, 
and ran away, expecting the crowd to arrive any second. The police, 
however, blocked off the multitudinous protesters at 4th Ave., containing 
the CIRCA-BF teams inside, along with/as the plethora of individuals, 
collectives, and organizations.

The couches were moved, the banner was cut, and the people were just one 
block away. If the march had a couple hundred more people, it would have 
been strong enough to break through the police blockade, declared 5th and 
Market occupied, and had the Reclaim the Streets party right there. We di 
d not have that luxury. However, the spontaneous and creative protesters 
outmaneuvered the police and eventually did make it to the crosswalk at 
5th and Market. Our party was contained between 4th and 5th instead of at 
the intersection at 5th and Market, but we were ecstatic. We made it. The 
streets were ours. All of our plans changed, and yet, that was the bigges 
t success of all: organizing an event that allowed, in fact, required 
spontaneous movement, multivalent politics, and creative aesthetics. 
Reclaim the Streets is a border zone; it straddles preparation and 
receptivity, order and chaos, movement and stability, joy and fear.

Who is CIRCA-BF?

Anyone who makes art until there noses bleed with fumes of passion, anyone 
who wheatpastes until they reek of moldy yeast, anyone who graphic designs 
until their hypertexts are overflowing with biopolitics, anyone who drives 
an hour to stay up late to paint masks and falls asleep on the couch, 
anyone who has to negotiate a school schedule, a job, a loved one, a 
family, anyone whose dreams are infected with the taste of anticipation, 
anyone who not only is willing to learn but to teach, anyone who goes to 
bed a liberal and wakes up an anarchist, anyone who goes to their first 
direct action training and then proceeds to organize one, anyone whose 
bellies are on fire with fear, love, and courage, anyone who drinks more 
coffee than water, eats more pizza than vegetables, anyone who decides to 
become a guerilla audio engineer, anyone who emails so much that it 
congests cyberspace with virtual invitations to a party in San Diego, 
anyone who brings their unsuspecting friends to street party and maybe 
just maybe converts them into revolutionaries, anyone who papers maches 
like its 2nd grade all over again, anyone who attends meetings and makes 
consensus as if they were making babies, anyone who gives up a night on 
the town for a night at an art party, anyone who doesn't just hope for 
temporary autonomous zones within everyday life but makes them happen, 
anyone who brings chips, beer, paint, salsa, tape, screws, dogs, wires, 
and all those minute applications of life that are essential to 
productivity, anyone who can't sleep at night because that indefinite 
moment that will erupt like a volcano of joy has dominated their waking 
life, anyone who dances to the beats of DJ Q-bert, sings along with 
against me!, and makes their own music too, anyone who is scared, 
depressed, and overly committed yet still unable to let go of a project 
like this, anyone who remembers to cover their the media, legal, and 
aesthetic bases, anyone who is willing to go to jail for the political 
cause of dancing, anyone whose soul is stitched to their body with the 
flesh of resistance, anyone who thinks absurdity is just as meaningful as 
clarity, anyone who believes that events should be constructed not 
spectated, anyone who believes our philosophic ancestors the Situationist 
s when they said with their graffiti "Be Realistic. Demand the 

We do not speak for ourselves or others. This is a text with no uniform 
structure of meaning, but rather, a playground for readers to enjoy 
meaning actively within.

CIRCA-BF homepage: http://www.elsewhere.org/cgi-bin/postmodern/

Notes: 1. Benjamin, Walter "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical 
Reproduction: Epilogue."

2. Hardt and Negri, "Empire" Chapter 2.6: Imperial Sovereignty



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