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<nettime> The Necro-Social: Occupied UC Berkeley, 18 November 2009
Patrice Riemens on Mon, 23 Nov 2009 07:30:40 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> The Necro-Social: Occupied UC Berkeley, 18 November 2009

Bwo Multitudes-infos list/ Vincent Bonnet
Author unknown
Original at: http://bit.ly/1SQaG2

The Necrosocial

Occupied UC Berkeley, 18 November 2009.

Being president of the University of California is like being manager of a 
cemetery: there are many people under you, but no one is listening.
UC President Mark Yudof

Capital is dead labor which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living 
Karl Marx

Politics is death that lives a human life.
Achille Mbembe

Yes, very much a cemetery.  Only here there are no dirges, no prayers, 
only the repeated testing of our threshold for anxiety, humiliation, and 
debt.  The classroom just like the workplace just like the university just 
like the state just like the economy manages our social death, translating 
what we once knew from high school, from work, from our family life into 
academic parlance, into acceptable forms of social conflict.

Who knew that behind so much civic life (electoral campaigns, student body 
representatives, bureaucratic administrators, public relations officials, 
Peace and Conflict Studies, ad nauseam) was so much social death?  What 
postures we maintain to claim representation, what limits we assume, what 
desires we dismiss?

And in this moment of crisis they ask us to twist ourselves in a way that 
they can hear.  Petitions to Sacramento, phone calls to Congressmen.even 
the chancellor patronizingly congratulates our September 24th student 
strike, shaping the meaning and the force of the movement as a movement 
against the policies of Sacramento.  He expands his institutional 
authority to encompass the movement.  When students begin to hold 
libraries over night, beginning to take our first baby step as an 
autonomous movement he reins us in by serendipitously announcing library 
money.  He manages movement, he kills movement by funneling it into the 
electoral process.  He manages our social death.  He looks forward to 
these battles on his terrain, to eulogize a proposition, to win this or 
that.he and his look forward to exhausting us.

He and his look forward to a reproduction of the logic of representative 
governance, the release valve of the university plunges us into an abyss 
where ideas are wisps of ether.that is, meaning is ripped from action.  
Let.s talk about the fight endlessly, but always only in its managed form: 
to perpetually deliberate, the endless fleshing-out-of. When we push the 
boundaries of this form they are quick to reconfigure themselves to 
contain us: the chancellor.s congratulations, the reopening of the 
libraries, the managed general assembly.there is no fight against the 
administration here, only its own extension.

Each day passes in this way, the administration on the look out to shape 
student discourse.it happens without pause, we don.t notice nor do we care 
to. It becomes banal, thoughtless.  So much so that we see we are 
accumulating days: one semester, two, how close to being this or that, how 
far?  This accumulation is our shared history.  This accumulation.every 
once in a while interrupted, violated by a riot, a wild protest, 
unforgettable fucking, the overwhelming joy of love, life shattering 
heartbreak.is a muted, but desirous life.  A dead but restless and 
desirous life.

The university steals and homogenizes our time yes, our bank accounts 
also, but it also steals and homogenizes meaning.  As much as capital is 
invested in building a killing apparatus abroad, an incarceration 
apparatus in California, it is equally invested here in an apparatus for 
managing social death.  Social death is, of course, simply the power 
source, the generator, of civic life with its talk of reform, 
responsibility, unity.  A  .life,. then, which serves merely as the public 
relations mechanism for death: its garrulous slogans of freedom and 
democracy designed to obscure the shit and decay in which our feet are 
planted. Yes, the university is a graveyard, but it is also a factory: a 
factory of  meaning which produces civic life and at the same time 
produces social death.  A factory which produces the illusion that meaning 
and reality can be separated; which everywhere reproduces the empty 
reactionary behavior of students based on the values of life (identity), 
liberty (electoral politics), and happiness (private property).  
Everywhere the same whimsical ideas of the future.  Everywhere democracy. 
Everywhere discourse to shape our desires and distress in a way acceptable 
to the electoral state, discourse designed to make our very moments here 
together into a set of legible and fruitless demands.

Totally managed death. A machine for administering death, for the 
proliferation of technologies of death. As elsewhere, things rule. Dead 
objects rule. In this sense, it matters little what face one puts on the 
university.whether that of Yudof or some other lackey. These are merely 
the personifications of the rule of the dead, the pools of investments, 
the buildings, the flows of materials into and out of the physical space 
of the university.each one the product of some exploitation.which seek to 
absorb more of our work, more tuition, more energy. The university is a 
machine which wants to grow, to accumulate, to expand, to absorb more and 
more of the living into its peculiar and perverse machinery: high-tech 
research centers, new stadiums and office complexes. And at this critical 
juncture the only way it can continue to grow is by more intense 
exploitation, higher tuition, austerity measures for the departments that 
fail to pass the test of .relevancy..

But the .irrelevant. departments also have their place.  With their .pure. 
motives of knowledge for its own sake, they perpetuate the blind inertia 
of meaning ostensibly detached from its social context.  As the university 
cultivates its cozy relationship with capital, war and power, these 
discourses and research programs play their own role, co-opting and 
containing radical potential.  And so we attend lecture after lecture 
about how .discourse. produces .subjects,. ignoring the most obvious fact 
that we ourselves are produced by this discourse about discourse which 
leaves us believing that it is only words which matter, words about words 
which matter.  The university gladly permits precautionary lectures on 
biopower; on the production of race and gender; on the reification and the 
fetishization of commodities.  A taste of the poison serves well to 
inoculate us against any confrontational radicalism.  And all the while 
power weaves the invisible nets which contain and neutralize all thought 
and action, that bind revolution inside books, lecture halls.

There is no need to speak truth to power when power already speaks the 
truth.  The university is a graveyard.así es. The graveyard of liberal 
good intentions, of meritocracy, opportunity, equality, democracy. Here 
the tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain 
of the living. We graft our flesh, our labor, our debt to the skeletons of 
this or that social cliché. In seminars and lectures and essays, we pay 
tribute to the university.s ghosts, the ghosts of all those it has 
excluded. the immiserated, the incarcerated, the just-plain-fucked. They 
are summoned forth and banished by a few well-meaning phrases and research 
programs, given their book titles, their citations.  This is our gothic. 
we are so morbidly aware, we are so practiced at stomaching horror that 
the horror is thoughtless.

In this graveyard our actions will never touch, will never become the 
conduits of a movement, if we remain permanently barricaded within 
prescribed identity categories.our force will be dependent on the limited 
spaces of recognition built between us.  Here we are at odds with one 
another socially, each of us: students, faculty, staff, homebums, 
activists, police, chancellors, administrators, bureaucrats, investors, 
politicians, faculty/ staff/ homebums/ activists/ police/ chancellors/ 
administrators/ bureaucrats/ investors/ politicians-to-be.  That is, we 
are students, or students of color, or queer students of color, or 
faculty, or Philosophy Faculty, or Gender and Women Studies faculty, or we 
are custodians, or we are shift leaders.each with our own office, place, 
time, and given meaning.  We form teams, clubs, fraternities, majors, 
departments, schools, unions, ideologies, identities, and subcultures.and 
thankfully each group gets its own designated burial plot.  Who doesn.t 
participate in this graveyard?

In the university we prostrate ourselves before a value of separation, 
which in reality translates to a value of domination.  We spend money and 
energy trying to convince ourselves we.re brighter than everyone else.  
Somehow, we think, we possess some trait that means we deserve more than 
everyone else.  We have measured ourselves and we have measured others.  
It should never feel terrible ordering others around, right? It should 
never feel terrible to diagnose people as an expert, manage them as a 
bureaucrat, test them as a professor, extract value from them their 
capital as a businessman.  It should feel good, gratifying, completing.  
It is our private wet dream for the future; everywhere, in everyone this 
same dream of domination.  After all, we are intelligent, studious, young.  
We worked hard to be here, we deserve this.

We are convinced, owned, broken.  We know their values better than they 
do:  life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.  This triumvirate of sacred 
values are ours of course, and in this moment of practiced theater.the 
fight between the university and its own students.we have used their words 
on their stages:  Save public education!

When those values are violated by the very institutions which are created 
to protect them, the veneer fades, the tired set collapses: and we call it 
injustice, we get indignant.  We demand justice from them, for them to 
adhere to their values.  What many have learned again and again is that 
these institutions don.t care for those values, not at all, not for all.  
And we are only beginning to understand that those values are not even our 

The values create popular images and ideals (healthcare, democracy, 
equality, happiness, individuality, pulling yourself up by your 
bootstraps, public education) while they mean in practice the selling of 
commodified identities, the state.s monopoly on violence, the expansion of 
markets and capital accumulation, the rule of property, the rule of 
exclusions based on race, gender, class, and domination and humiliation in 
general.  They sell the practice through the image.  We.re taught we.ll 
live the images once we accept the practice.

In this crisis the Chancellors and Presidents, the Regents and the British 
Petroleums, the politicians and the managers, they all intend to be true 
to their values and capitalize on the university economically and 
socially.which is to say, nothing has changed, it is only an escalation, a 
provocation.  Their most recent attempt to reorganize wealth and capital 
is called a crisis so that we are more willing to accept their new terms 
as well as what was always dead in the university, to see just how dead we 
are willing to play, how non-existent, how compliant, how desirous.

Every institution has of course our best interest in mind, so much so that 
we.re willing to pay, to enter debt contracts, to strike a submissive pose 
in the classroom, in the lab, in the seminar, in the dorm, and eventually 
or simultaneously in the workplace to pay back those debts.  Each bulging 
institutional value longing to become more than its sentiment through us, 
each of our empty gestures of feigned-anxiety to appear under pressure, or 
of cool-ambivalence to appear accustomed to horror, every moment of 
student life, is the management of our consent to social death.

Social death is our banal acceptance of an institution.s meaning for our 
own lack of meaning.  It.s the positions we thoughtlessly enact.  It.s the 
particular nature of being owned.

Social rupture is the initial divorce between the owners and the owned.

A social movement is a function of war.  War contains the ability to 
create a new frame, to build a new tension for the agents at play, new 
dynamics in the battles both for the meaning and the material.  When we 
move without a return to their tired meaning, to their tired 
configurations of the material, we are engaging in war.

It is November 2009.  For an end to the values of social death we need 
ruptures and self-propelled, unmanaged movements of wild bodies.  We need, 
we desire occupations.  We are an antagonistic dead.

Talk to your friends, take over rooms, take over as many of these dead 
buildings as you can. We will find one another.

Life and death are not properly scientific concepts but rather political 
concepts, which as such acquire a political meaning precisely only through 
a decision.
Giorgio Agamben

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