Sanding and filling

“Empire is well-armed to fight the two types of secession it recognizes: secession ‘from above’ through golden ghettos—the secession, for example, of global finance from the ‘real economy’ or of the imperial hyperbourgeoisie from the rest of the biolpolitical fabric—and secession ‘from below’ through ‘no-go areas’—housing projects, inner cities, and shanty-towns. Whenever one or the other threatens its meta-stable equilibrium, Empire need only play one against the other: the civilized modernity of the trendy against the retrograde barbarism of the poor, or the demands for social cohesion and equality against the inveterate egotism of the rich.” – Tiqqun, This Is not a Program

Now get back to work

“Empire is when the means of production have become the means of control and the means of control the means of production. Empire signifies that henceforth the political moment dominates the economic moment. And the general strike is powerless against it. What must be opposed to Empire is the human strike. Which never attacks the relations of production without attacking at the same time the affective relations that sustain it. Which undermines the unavowable libidinal economy, restores the ethical element—the how—repressed in every contact between neutralized bodies.” – Tiqqun, Introduction to Civil War (emphases in original)

Neither high nor low

“The Welfare State, which first took over for the liberal State within Empire, is the product of a massive diffusion of disciplines and regimes of subjectivation peculiar to the liberal State. It arises at the very moment when the concentration of these disciplines and these regimes—for example with the widespread practice of risk management—reaches such a degree in ‘society’ that society is no longer distinguishable from the State.” – Tiqqun, Introduction to Civil War

Everyone’s downwind

“What an intimate brotherhood is this in which we dwell, do what we may to put an artificial remoteness between the high creature and the low one! A poor man’s breath, borne on the vehicle of tobacco-smoke, floats into a palace-window and reaches the nostrils of a monarch. It is but an example, obvious to the sense, of the innumerable and secret channels by which, at every moment of our lives, the flow and reflux of a common humanity pervade us all. How superficial are the niceties of such as pretend to keep aloof!” – Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Outside Glimpses of English Poverty”

Setting elements freely against one another

“The liberal State is a frugal State, which claims to exist only to ensure the free play of individual liberties, and to this end it begins by extorting interests from each body, so that it can attach them to these bodies and reign peacefully across this new abstract world.” – Tiqqun, Introduction to Civil War

Taking care of business

“If in doing any kind of work people look after the harmony of the positive and negative factors; if in planting trees they follow the suitable periods of the four seasons; and if at dawn and at dusk there is no suffering from cold or heat; then revenue will be enormous. If important duties are not obstructed by small profits; if public welfare is not injured by private interest; if men exert their strength to tillage; and if women devote their energies to weaving; then revenue will be enormous. If the methods of animal husbandry are improved, the qualities of the soil are examined, the six animals flourish, and the five cereals abound, then revenue will be enormous. If weights and measures are made clear; if topographical features are carefully surveyed; and if through the utilization of boats, carts, and other mechanical devices, the minimum amount of energy is used to produce the maximum amount of efficiency; then revenue will be enormous. If traffic on markets, cities, passes, and bridges is facilitated, so that needy places are supplied with sufficient commodities; if merchants from abroad flock to the country and foreign goods and money come in; if any unnecessary expenditure is cut down, extravagant clothing and food are saved, houses and furniture are all limited to necessities, and amusements and recreations are never over-emphasized; then revenue will be enormous. In these cases, the increase in revenue is due to human effort. Granted that natural events, winds, rain, seasons, cold, and heat are normal and the territory remains the same, then if the people can reap the fruits of the abundant year, then revenue will be enormous too.” – The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu (trans. and ed. W. K. Liao)

Mandelbrot politics

“The essential function of the representation each society gives of itself is to influence the way in which each body is represented to itself, and through this to influence the structure of the psyche. The modern State is therefore first of all the constitution of each body into a molecular State, imbued with bodily integrity by way of territorial integrity, molded into a closed entity within a self, as much in opposition to the ‘exterior world’ as to the tumultuous associations of its own penchants—which it must contain—and in the end required to comport itself with its peers as a good law-abiding subject, to be dealt with, along with other bodies, according to the universal proviso of a sort of private international law of ‘civilized’ habits. In this way, the more societies constitute themselves in States, the more their subjects embody the economy.” – Tiqqun, Introduction to Civil War (emphasis in original)

It’s nothing personal

“When the cartwright finishes making carriages, he wants people to be rich and noble; when the carpenter finishes making coffins, he wants people to die early. Not that the cartwright is benevolent and the carpenter is cruel, but that unless people are noble, the carriages will not sell, and unless people die, the coffins will not be bought.” – The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu (trans. and ed. W. K. Liao)

If

“If all officials indulge in studies, sons of the family are fond of debate, peddlars and shopkeepers hide money in foreign countries, and poor people suffer miseries at home, then ruin is possible.

If the ruler is fond of palatial decorations, raised kiosks, and embanked pools, is immersed in pleasures of having chariots, clothes, and curios, and thereby tires out the hundred surnames and exhausts public wealth, then ruin is possible.

If the ruler is greedy, insatiable, attracted to profit, and fond of gain, then ruin is possible.

If the ruler enjoys inflicting unjust punishment and does not uphold the law, likes debate and persuasion but never sees to their practicability, and indulges in style and wordiness but never considers their effect, then ruin is possible.

If the ruler is stubborn-minded, uncompromising, and apt to dispute every remonstrance and fond of surpassing everybody else, and never thinks of the welfare of the Altar of the Spirits of Land and Grain but sticks to self-confidence without due consideration, then ruin is possible.

The ruler who relies on friendship and support from distant countries, makes light of his relations with close neighbours, counts on the aid from big powers, and provokes surrounding countries, is liable to ruin.

If the ruler is boastful but never regretful, makes much of himself despite the disorder prevailing in his country, and insults the neighbouring enemies without estimating the resources within the boundaries, then ruin is possible.

If words of maids and concubines are followed and the wisdom of favourites is used, and the ruler repeats committing unlawful acts regardless of the grievances and resentments inside and outside the court, then ruin is possible.

If the ruler is narrow-minded, quick-tempered, imprudent, easily affected, and, when provoked, becomes blind with rage, then ruin is possible.

If the state treasury is empty but the chief vassals have plenty of money, native subjects are poor but foreign residents are rich, farmers and warriors have hard times but people engaged in secondary professions are benefited, then ruin is possible.”

The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu (trans. and ed. W. K. Liao)

The new and improved new and improved

“The historicity specific to the fictions of ‘modernity’ is never that of a stability gained once and for all, of a threshold finally surpassed, but precisely that of a process of endless mobilization. Behind the inaugural dates of the official historiography, behind the edifying epic tale of linear progress, a continuous labor of reorganization, of correction, of improvement, of papering over, of adjustment, and even sometimes of costly reconstruction has never stopped taking place. This labor and its repeated failures have given rise to the whole jittery junk heap of the ‘new.’ “ – Tiqqun, Introduction to Civil War (emphasis in original)

Long ago and far away

“When the Grand Way was pursued, a public and common spirit ruled All-under-Heaven; they chose worthy and able men; their words were sincere, and what they cultivated was harmony. Thus men did not love their parents only, nor treat as children only their sons. A competent provision was secured for the aged till their death, employment for the able-bodied, and the means of growing up to the young. They showed kindness and compassion to widows, orphans, childless men, and those who were disabled by disease, so that they were all sufficiently maintained. Males had their proper work, and females had their homes. They accumulated articles of value, disliking that they should be thrown away upon the ground, but not wishing to keep them for their own gratification. They laboured with their strength, disliking that it should not be exerted, but not exerting it only with a view to their own advantage. In this way selfish schemings were repressed and found no development. Robbers, filchers, and rebellious traitors did not show themselves, and hence the outer doors remained open, and were not shut. This was the period of what we call the Great Community.” – The Li Ki (trans. James Legge)

The old guard

“All of the men go first. Men who went to work every day, smoked cigars and wore fedoras, men who might have strayed but didn’t leave their wives, trade them in for younger models. Played ball with their sons and walked their daughters down the aisle at their weddings. These were men who poured tumblers of scotch and read the paper when they got home. Men who golfed on the weekend, played tennis, pinochle, poker, and couples Bridge with their wives. They didn’t read GQ or Esquire, didn’t need to. They knew how to tie a tie, do a push-up, and wax the Cadillac. They took Polaroid pictures at birthday parties and paid the bills. That their wives didn’t have to work was a point of pride, as was putting their children through college, affording a second home in a gated community in Boca or Palm Beach with automatic sprinklers and manicured putting greens. They left nest eggs and continued to take care of their wives from the grave.” – Betsy Lerner, The Bridge Ladies

Statistically

“Most murder victims in America are black people shot dead by other black people. Blacks represent 13% of America’s population, yet in 2015 they represented 52% of the slain. . . . Criminologists have for decades argued about what makes young black men so much likelier to commit murder than young men of other ethnicities. The answer lies in some combination of poverty, family instability, epidemics of drug use in the wretched inner-city districts into which many blacks were corralled by racist housing policies, and bad, or non-existent, policing.” – “On murderous streets,” The Economist, July 1, 2017

The art of the deal

“It is not at all clear to me what a negotiation is. Union and management, say, terrorist and foreign minister, buyer and seller, kidnapper and F.B.I. agent, husband and wife, at least two parties anyway, disagree. They exchange views. A strike, perhaps, a war, a bankruptcy, a murder, a divorce impends. One side begins, and claims it can accept no less. The other responds, saying it can afford no more. It is clear to both sides, from the start, that both positions are false. They proceed to bargain then, in what is called good faith. Bad faith exists when a side takes both positions to be absolutely true, then deals with something other than negotiation in its heart—stalling for time, for instance, so that friends can arrive and bomb the house. Good faith negotiation requires a liar’s margin of some sort. ‘I can’t stand it,’ somebody says. ‘I can’t help it,’ someone else replies.” – Renata Adler, Speedboat

If you don’t resist, you won’t be hurt

“The idea of hostages is very deep. Becoming pregnant is taking a hostage—as is running a pawnshop, being a bank, receiving a letter, taking a photograph, or listening to a confidence. Every love story, every commercial trade, every secret, every matter in which trust is involved, is a gentle transaction of hostages. Everything is, to a degree, in the custody of every other thing.” – Renata Adler, Speedboat

How do we know this

“Marine insurance is the granddaddy of all insurance. It predates written history. The ancient Phoenicians and Egyptians developed the concept of insurance to reduce their risks in commerce on the Tigris, Euphrates and Nile. Waterborne commerce offered huge rewards. A ship owner could realize a 300-percent profit on a single voyage. The risks, however, were enormous. Ships and their cargo were lost to storms, shoals and pirates. The loss of a ship would ruin the owner financially. To avoid this risk, ship owners formed associations and pooled their resources to compensate ship owners who incurred losses. Insurance was born.” – William C. Stewart, Jr. (ed.), Subrogation Recovery: Principles and Practices

And still do

“The ‘Tidewater’—the broad coastal plain along the Atlantic—had spawned one kind of culture. The ‘upcountry’ beyond—the great central plateau or Piedmont and the mountains forming its western border—had engendered a far different one. Tidewater North Carolina was rich. Upcountry was poor. Tidewater was a land of rice and indigo plantations worked by armies of slaves. Upcountry was a warren of small farms, each tillable by ‘a man, a mule, and a nigger,’ provided all three worked from dawn to dusk. In the three lower colonies, the Carolinas and Georgia, the Tidewater planters controlled the legislature, made the laws, fixed the taxes, and dominated the courts.” – Milton Lomask, The First American Revolution

Same as it ever was

“This is the age of crime. I’m sure we all grant that. It’s the age, of course, of other things as well. Of the great chance, for instance, and the loss of faith, of the bureaucrat, and of technology. But from the highest public matters to the smallest private acts, the mugger, the embezzler, the burglar, the perjurer, tax chiseler, killer, gang enforcer, the plumber, party chairman, salesman, curator, car or TV repairman, officials of the union, officials of the corporation, the archbishop, the numbers runner, the delinquent, the police; from the alley to the statehouse, behind the darkened window or the desk; this is the age of crime.” – Renata Adler, Pitch Dark

Finding the value

“What’s new? the biography of the opera star says she used to ask in every phone call, and What else? I’m not sure the biographer understood another thing about the opera star, but I do believe that What’s new. What else. They may be the first questions of the story, of the morning, of consciousness. What’s new. What else. What next. What’s happened here, says the inspector, or the family man looking at the rubble of his house. What’s it to you, says the street tough or the bystander. What’s it worth to you, says the paid informer or the extortionist. What is it now, says the executive or the husband, disturbed by the fifteenth knock at the door, or phone call, or sigh in the small hours of the night. What does it mean, says the cryptographer. What does it all mean, says the student or the philosopher on his barstool. What do I care. What’s the use. What’s the matter. Where’s the action. What kind of fun is that. Let me say that everyone’s story in the end is the old whore’s, or the Ancient Mariner’s: I was not always as you see me now. And the sentient man, the sentient person says in his heart, from time to time, What have I done.” – Renata Adler, Pitch Dark (emphasis in original)

We can fix that

“There exists an order of social problem that appears to be insoluble, but is not. At least not in the terms in which resolution of it is represented as impossible. A problem of that sort has at least some of the following features: it appears immensely complicated, with a resolution of any part of it seeming to bring about the aggravation of another; it has a long history, in the course of which it seems to grow, to accrete difficulties, and to merge and overlap with other problems, so that an attempt to solve the single problem appears hopeless without an assault (for which no sufficient resources can exist) upon them all; perception of the length and nature of that history must be inaccurate, and the terms in which it has been defined must be so imprecise (or so precise, but inapposite) that any formulation of the problem leads inevitably to argument, and great energy is dissipated in argument of that sort. Ideally, in other words, in its historical dimension, such a problem appears to have existed forever; and in its contemporary manifestation to be inextricable from every other problem in the world. Ideally, too, there should have grown up, over time, a number of industries and professions nominally dedicated to the eradication of the problem but actually committed, consciously or unconsciously, but almost inevitably out of self-interest, to the perpetuation of the problem, and of any misconceptions of it, for all time.” – Renata Adler, Pitch Dark

The great balance

“Detectives and prison guards need criminals, social workers require that people should continue to be poor; there are, in short, many workers with a vested interest in the failure of institutions that employ them, and in the insolubility of problems they are paid to solve. The perfect instance occurs in the narcotics laws. A substance, cheap to manufacture, is addictive. It is outlawed. Being outlawed, it becomes rare and expensive. Immediately, and for the first time, it becomes profitable for someone, the seller, to make people addicted to it. The law generates a criminal apparatus which in turn generates a law-enforcement apparatus. With time, their personnel become the same.” – Renata Adler, Pitch Dark