Franco Berardi: Future Civil-War or Žižekian Emancipatory Politics?

Franco “Bifo” Berardi in his latest doomsaying tirade on e-flux offers us a vision of the world gone mad: “Mental illness is not the rare malady of an isolated dropout, but the widespread consequence of panic, depression, precariousness, and humiliation: these are the sources of the contemporary global fragmentary war, and they are spreading everywhere, rooted in the legacy of colonialism and in the frenzy of daily competition.”

As we hear from Dana Priest and William M. Arkin in their  Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State, America has grown a massive Security State that is not just concerned with turning its eye outward, but has entered into a private spy world aimed directly at its own citizenry. Since 9/11 the FBI’s counterterrorism structure had grown three times larger than it had been before. Straitlaced criminal investigators whose goal in life had been to send bank robbers to prison— the sooner, the better— were now trying to turn themselves into spies and the FBI into a domestic intelligence agency that monitored more and more people— with all the appropriate legal authority, of course.1

Even at the level of day to day life we don’t face mass censorship. We still have Habeas corpus. And the odds of any single person being victimized by a wrong-door raid, shot or beaten by a cop, or otherwise victimized by militarized police violence are slim to nil. But perhaps we have entered a police state writ small. At the individual level, a police officer’s power and authority over the people he interacts with day to day is near complete. Absent video, if the officer’s account of an incident differs from that of a citizen— even several citizens— his superiors, the courts, and prosecutors will nearly always defer to the officer.2

Social Darwinism reigns everywhere without anyone blinking an eye. Henry  A. Giroux in book after book dealing with education and youth, the dumbing down of Americans and the gap between the elite and the rest of us has widened to the point of no return short of some great revolution. Politics has become an extension of war, just as state-sponsored violence increasingly finds legitimation in popular culture and a broader culture of cruelty that promotes an expanding landscape of selfishness, insecurity, and precarity that undermines any sense of shared responsibility for the well-being of others. Too many young people today learn quickly that their fate is solely a matter of individual responsibility, legitimated through market-driven laws that embrace self-promotion, hypercompetitiveness, and surviving in a society that increasingly reduces social relations to social combat. Young people today are expected to inhabit a set of relations in which the only obligation is to live for oneself and to reduce the obligations of citizenship to the demands of a consumer culture.3

As Berardi testifies “Neoliberal deregulation has opened the way to a regime of worldwide necro-economy: the all-encompassing law of competition has canceled out moral prescriptions and legal regulations. Since its earliest phases, Thatcher’s neoliberal philosophy prescribed war among individuals. Hobbes, Darwin, and Hayek have all been summoned to conceptualize the end of social civilization, the end of peace.”

Necrocapitalism: The Order of Terror, Death, and Exclusion Economics

As Berardi reminds us “take the Sinaloa Cartel and Daesh and compare them to Blackwater and Exxon Mobil. They have much more in common than you may think. Their common goal is to extract the maximum amount of money from their investments in the most exciting products of the contemporary economy: terror, horror, and death. Necro-capitalism is the emerging economic order of the world.”

Christian Laval and Pierre Dardo in their critical appraisal of Neoliberal Society “The New Way Of The World: On Neoliberal Society” offer us a view onto what they term neo-liberal reason as compared to the Fordist era instrumental reason:

Firstly, contrary to what classical economists thought, the market arises not as a natural datum, but as a constructed reality which, as such, requires the active intervention of the state as well as the establishment of a specific system of law. In this sense, neo-liberal discourse is not directly articulated with an ontology of the market order. For, far from seeking the foundation of its own legitimacy in some ‘natural order of things’, it consciously and openly accepts its character as a ‘constructivist project’.

Secondly, the essence of the market order consists not in exchange, but in competition, itself defined as a relationship of inequality between different units of production or ‘enterprises’. Consequently, constructing the market involves asserting competition as a general norm of economic practices.  In this respect, it must be acknowledged that the main lesson of the ordo-liberals has prevailed: the state’s mission, going beyond the traditional role of ‘night watchman’, is to establish the ‘framework-order’ on the basis of the ‘constituent’ principle of competition, ‘to supervise the general framework’,  and ensure its respect by all economic agents.

Thirdly – an even greater novelty – compared with both original liberalism and the ‘reformist’ liberalism of 1890– 1920, the state is not simply the vigilant guardian of this framework, but is itself subject to the norm of competition in its own action. According to the ideal of a ‘private law society’,  there are no grounds for the state forming an exception to the rules of law for whose application it is responsible. Quite the reverse, any form of self-exemption or self-subtraction on its part can only disqualify it in its role as an inflexible guardian of such rules. The consequence of this absolute primacy of private law is a gradual hollowing out of all the categories of public law, which tends not towards their formal abrogation, but to defusing their operational validity. The state is now obliged to regard itself as an enterprise both in its internal functioning and in its relationship to other states. Thus, the state, on which it is incumbent to construct the market, must at the same time be constructed in accordance with market norms.

Fourthly, the desideratum of universalizing the norm of competition goes well beyond the boundaries of the state. It directly affects individuals considered in their relationship with themselves. In fact, ‘entrepreneurial governmentality’, which must prevail at the level of state activity, finds a kind of continuation in the self-government of the ‘individual-enterprise’. More precisely, like the private actors of ‘governance’, the entrepreneur-state must indirectly conduct individuals to conduct themselves like entrepreneurs. The mode of governmentality specific to neo-liberalism thus includes ‘techniques of governing that exceed express state action and orchestrate the subject’s conduct toward him- or herself’. 5 The enterprise is promoted to the rank of model of subjectivation: everyone is an enterprise to be managed and a capital to be made to bear fruit.4

So what we gain out of this is that the State has itself is becoming privatized, acting as a Corporate Enterprise enforcing an entrepreneurial governmentality of its partners and citizenry, treating other nations not as sovereign entities but as “free-market” trading partners of competitors, either accepting them in alliances or criminalizing them as pirate entities to be dealt with harshly and aggressively. Because everything is developed through a computational model, a mathematical and statistical / probabilistic or algorithmic scheme of a “constructed reality” game-strategy based on relationships of inequality rather than equality and democratic fairness. The Global Neo-Liberal Order acts within larger non-national systems of economics, law, and trade systems that act outside the restrictions of the older forms of Sovereignty, Law, and Territory.

As Saskia Sassen told us in Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages, private actors are shaping new forms of authority that go beyond the familiar private forms and mixed public-private forms. They are also shaping insufficiently recognized new forms of public authority. The international domain is particularly active here: partly because it has never been as regulated as the national domain and today, in the context of privatization, deregulation, and marketization, the international domain becomes increasingly transnational as the community of states, or community of national authorities, encompasses relatively fewer cross-border transactions, as the latter become increasingly economic. The proliferation of private regimes not delegated by governments can be seen as indicating that markets need more “regulation” than common notions of market neutrality suggest. The current moment makes this need for governance legible and is in that sense a heuristic moment. “Soft law” becomes increasingly present because it deals with the issues that hard law cannot accommodate, especially in the international setting.5

In her latest book Expulsions, Sassen outlines the emergence of what she terms the economy of “expulsion”: that the move from Keynesianism to the global, era of privatizations, deregulation, and open borders for some, entailed a switch from dynamics that brought people in to dynamics that push people out. Such a switch from incorporation to expulsion might also be emerging in China and India; China, especially, has seen a massive incorporation of people into monetized economies, but now is also experiencing sharpening inequality, new forms of economic concentration at the top, and corporate bullying.6 Realizing that even the State is now a growth corporation rather than a stabilizing force against the financiers and Wall-Street, etc. she sees a new systematic profit system in place across every aspect of the Global Economic System: our institutions and assumptions are increasingly geared to serve corporate economic growth. This is the new systemic logic. Perhaps not all, but enough corporations have sought to free themselves from constraints, including those of local public interest, that interfere with their pursuit of profit. Anything or anybody, whether a law or a civic effort, that gets in the way of profit risks being pushed aside— expelled.(Expulsions, KL 2877)

Even those south of the border Drug Cartel Kingpins are now listed in Fortune Magazine as prominent business men rather than as killers and criminals:  “The narco business is a pillar of the Mexican economy, and in fact the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, was listed by Fortune magazine as one of the most prominent businessmen of 2012. Why not? After all, he is just a neoliberal entrepreneur who deals in deregulated kidnappings, drug trafficking, and murder. (Berardi)”.

As Angela Davis affirms in her Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture speaking to communities that are subject to police surveillance are much more likely to produce more bodies for the punishment industry. But even more important, imprisonment is the punitive solution to a whole range of social problems that are not being addressed by those social institutions that might help people lead better, more satisfying lives. This is the logic of what has been called the imprisonment binge: Instead of building housing, throw the homeless in prison. Instead of developing the educational system, throw the illiterate in prison. Throw people in prison who lose jobs as the result of de-industrialization, globalization of capital, and the dismantling of the welfare state. Get rid of all of them. Remove these dispensable populations from society. According to this logic the prison becomes a way of disappearing people in the false hope of disappearing the underlying social problems they represent.7 This is exclusionary economics maxed, and the privatization of humans-as-“waste” in the social-darwinist mode of politics in our current era.

With the rise of a global network society (ICT’s – information and communications technologies, entertainment systems, etc.) the latest chapter in world insurrection is taking place within this alternate reality studio: (Berardi) “Like neoliberal corporations investing money in the ultimate business, the Iraqi-Syrian caliphate and the Mexican narco army pay salaries to their soldiers, who are necro-proletarians. The narco business recruits unemployed young men from Monterrey, Sinaloa, and Veracruz. The caliphate recruits young men from the suburbs of London, Cairo, Tunis, and Paris, then trains them to kidnap and slaughter people at random. Daesh salaries have been estimated to be as much as one thousand US dollars a month. The group acquires this money from ransom, oil, and taxes imposed on millions of Sunni people. They deliver a postmodern medievalism, but one that is not at all backwards. On the contrary, it is an anticipation of the future.”

Maybe Mckenzie Wark has it right as our world devolves into a disintegrating spectacle when he remarks in The Spectacle of Disintegration: Situationist Passages out of the Twentieth Century that the holy spectacle subsumes even the signs of its enemies into its nave of all knavery, when all other practices retreat to the margins, it is time for the devil’s party”. 8 Going on to say,

There’s nothing that isn’t in somebody’s database, somewhere. While refusing the vanity of assuming that one is under surveillance by any agency of consequence, one should perhaps be a little discreet about what one says to just anybody. Socrates had a point when he suggested that the written word goes out like an orphan into the world. Some thoughts should be kept within that other family of those who adopt each other for the sole purpose of carving out quiet spaces for the practice of life.(ibid., p. 193)


Just today on the news a film video of Homs, Syria was captured by a Russian broadcasting showing that the former home of one-million people is now nothing but a cinematic apocalypse of ominous proportions where nothing remains but the husk of bombed out buildings, and street after street, emptied of humans and filled with the mighty ghost of the dead; a city where time has fallen into ruins and rubble in a civil-war that has taken an estimated 250,000 people if not more, and the migrations of millions to the North. Is this the future? Is this ground zero for the coming civil-war of all against all? Berardi asks: “The failure to deal with the new wave of migrants from the East has exposed the political fragility of the European Union, and now fuels a new outburst of fear, racism, shame, and bad conscience. … From the Balkans to Greece, from Libya to Morocco, are the ten million people amassing at these borders going to be the perpetrators of the next terrorist wave? Or will they be the victims of the next Holocaust?”

Is There A Way Out?

Speaking of the recent terror in France Berardi asks: “A small group of fanatics has provoked fragmentary global civil war. Can it be stopped?” He goes on to say, “In the present condition of perpetual economic stagnation, emerging markets are crumbling, the European Union is paralyzed, the promised economic recovery is elusive, and it is hard to foresee an awakening from this nightmare. The only imaginable way out of this hell is to end financial capitalism, but this does not seem to be at hand.”

In his recent Trouble in Paradise: From the End of History to the End of Capitalism Slavoj Zizek asks of us, what is more desirable, a still, inert life of small satisfactions, not a true life at all, or taking a risk that may well end in a catastrophe? This choice is the core of what Badiou is aiming at with his formula mieux vaut un désastre qu’un désêtre: better a disaster (the catastrophic outcome of an event) than a non-eventful survival in a hedonist-utilitarian universe— or, to put it in brutal political terms, better the worst of Stalinism than the best of the liberal-capitalist welfare state.9

He’ll ask, Why? In explanation he every historical situation contains its own unique utopian perspective, an immanent vision of what is wrong with it, an ideal representation of how, with some changes, the situation could be rendered much better. When the desire for radical social change emerges, it is thus logical that it first endeavors to actualize this immanent utopian vision— and this endeavor is what characterizes every authentic emancipatory struggle. Here, however, problems begin: why have all attempts hitherto to do this, to actualize the utopian potential immanent to a historical situation, ended in catastrophe? (Zizek, KL 2643)

A good question, one difficult to answer. Speaking of Marx’s on “accelerationism” theoretic of capitalism in which Capital is ultimately engaged in nothing but a desperate flight forwards in an attempt to escape its own debilitating inherent contradiction. Marx’s fundamental mistake was to conclude from these insights that a new, higher social order (Communism) is possible that would not only maintain, but even raise to a higher degree and effectively fully release, the potential of the self-increasing spiral of productivity which, in capitalism— on account of its inherent obstacle (contradiction)— is again and again thwarted by socially destructive economic crises. (Zizek, KL 2652)

Our Debt Society:  Notes Toward a Gift Society?

Yet, each time it reinvents itself out of this crisis and moves forward gaining a new renewed sense of its inherent power to overcome its limits through a form of creative destruction through what Berardi and Sassen see as a “necro” or “expulsion” social economy. As I argued in Deleuze & Guattari: Further notes on Debt… the “great book of modern ethnology is not so much Mauss’s The Gift”. 9 It was in their study of Nietzsche and Maus that they’d center in on debt and its emergence in society, how debt is open, mobile, and finite blocks of debt offer an extraordinary composite of the spoken voice, the marked body, and the enjoying eye.” (Anti-Oedipus, p. 190) Expanding on this they comment that the triangulation of voice, marking, and eye is the economic and political “theatre of cruelty” – the debt system as the theatre of territorial representation which is formed by the three sides of a savage this triangle “that implies the triple independence of the articulated voice, the graphic hand, and the appreciative eye” (p. 189). In fact the point of this system of pure pain is the inscription of debt relations as obligations of guilt based on the code and law of social responsibility to the Dead Ancestors:

All the stupidity and the arbitrariness of the laws, all the pain of initiations, the whole perverse apparatus of repression and education, the red-hot irons, and the atrocious procedures have only this meaning: to breed man, to mark him in his flesh, to render him capable of alliance, to form him within the debtor-credit relation, which both sides turns out to be a matter of memory – a memory straining toward the future. (p. 190)

For Zizek we are caught in this trap of the “theatre of cruelty” and should not expect or demand some Great Rupture or Way Out, because it has and will always be co-opted and turn against us. So what should we do? He’ll outline the work of Kojin Karatani, whose basic premise is the use of modes of exchange (instead of modes of production, as in Marxism) as the tool with which to analyse the history of humanity. Zizek goes on to say, and I quote at length:

Karatani distinguishes four progressive modes of exchange: (A) gift exchange, which predominates in pre-state societies (clans or tribes exchanging gifts); (B) domination and protection, which predominates in slave and feudal societies (here, exploitation is based on direct domination, plus the dominating class has to offer something in exchange, say protecting its subjects from danger); (C) commodity exchange of objects, which predominates in capitalism (free individuals exchange not only their products but also their own labour power); (X) a further stage to come, a return to the gift-exchange at a higher level. … All three of them are necessary for the reproduction of capitalist society. (Trouble, KL 2702-2718)

So these three modes of exchange, gift, domination, and commodity reinforce each other, and exist at different levels and complications in our world today. He’ll mention the primitive forms of gift exchange, Sloterdijk’s update with a Socialist form, and Thomas Piketty’s “realist” counter-point to Sloterdijk.

We know that for Marcel Mauss in The Gift he focused on the way that the exchange of objects between groups builds relationships between humans. It analyzes the economic practices of various so-called archaic societies and finds that they have a common central practice centered on reciprocal exchange. In them, he finds evidence contrary to the presumptions of modern Western societies about the history and nature of exchange. He shows that early exchange systems center around the obligations to give, to receive, and, most importantly, to reciprocate. They occur between groups, not individuals, and they are a crucial part of “total phenomena” that work to build not just wealth and alliances but social solidarity because “the gift” pervades all aspects of the society: politics, economics, religion, law, morality, and aesthetics.

Sloterdijk’s update as described by an ‘ethics of gift’ beyond mere egotist-possessive market exchange is that it brings us unexpectedly close to the Communist vision. (Zizek, KL 2755). Zizek goes on to comment that what Sloterdijk proposes is a kind of new cultural revolution, a radical psycho-social change based on the insight that today, the exploited productive stratum is no longer the working class, but the (upper-) middle class: they are the true ‘givers’ whose heavy taxation finances the education, health, and so on of the majority. In order to accomplish this change, one should leave behind statism, this absolutist remainder which strangely survived in our democratic era: the idea, surprisingly strong even among the traditional Left, that the state has the unquestionable right to tax its citizens, to determine and seize (through legal coercion, if necessary) part of their product. It is not that citizens give part of their income to their state; they are treated as if they are a priori indebted to the state. This attitude is sustained by a misanthropic premise which is strongest in the very Left which otherwise preaches solidarity: people are basically egotists; they have to be forced to contribute something for the common welfare, and it is only the state which, by means of its coercive legal apparatus, can do the job of assuring the necessary solidarity and redistribution. (Trouble, KL 2764-2768). Ultimately for Zizek the problem is actual possessive capitalism, not this dream utopian capitalism. This notion of “generosity” is based on the underpinning tax shelters rather than any notion of real generosity, so that like the 19th Century Robber Barons of America the Philanthropist Era seems a grand gesture but was in fact a monopolists way of gaining in one fell swoop both prestige and a shelter for his riches. Do we not see thins in Bill and Melinda Gates with their trusts and fund backed by other billionaires and supporters as both informing NGO’s and extra-governmental R&D and under the table political, social, educational, medical, etc. social-engineering projects all in the name of philanthropists gesture of good will? Some even say (Conspiracy theory?) such efforts promote at best renewed forms of under-the-belt engenics programs in Africa, India, China and elsewhere with certain problematic agricultural and pharmaceutical interventions.

Speaking of Thomas Piketty’s Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century, he mentions the history from 1975 onwards, and especially after the fall of Communism, the trend towards inequality returned; if the global capitalist system is allowed to follow its immanent logic, Piketty predicts a world of low economic growth, dismissing the idea that bursts of technological advances will bring growth back to the levels of the twentieth century. Only a strong political intervention can counteract the exploding inequality— Piketty proposes an annual global wealth tax of up to 2 per cent, combined with a progressive income tax reaching as high as 80 per cent. (Zizek, KL 2793-2797). Zizek will question Piketty’s logic saying, if “capitalism’s immanent logic pushes it towards growing inequality and a weakening of democracy, why should we not aim at overcoming capitalism itself?” (Zizek, KL 2798) For Piketty the only only feasible solution is thus to allow the capitalist machinery to do its work in its proper sphere, and to impose egalitarian justice politically, by a democratic power which regulates the economic system and enforces redistribution. (Zizek, KL 2801) Of course this is the standard progressivist argument of reformism, etc. that’s never worked before, so why should it work now? We seem to be spinning our wheels in dead arguments and living out an end-game scenario whole Rome burns.

After examining the reciprocal gift-giving practices of each, Zizek finds in them common features, despite some variation. From the disparate evidence, he builds a case for a foundation to human society based on collective (vs. individual) exchange practices. In so doing, he refutes the English tradition of liberal thought, such as utilitarianism, as distortions of human exchange practices. He concludes by speculating that social welfare programs may be recovering some aspects of the morality of the gift within modern market economies. He goes into more details than I have time or space in this short post. What’s sad is this seems all middle-of-the road rhetoric with no real answers, just more of his usual questions upon questions. Of course he’d throw back saying its up to the people (whoever they are?) to answer in the act, activating the truth of the event in movement, etc.

For his part Berardi in the above mentioned essay Globalization has brought about the obliteration of modern universalism: capital flows freely everywhere and the labor market is globally unified, but this has not led to the free circulation of women and men, nor to the affirmation of universal reason in the world. Rather, the opposite is happening: as the intellectual energies of society are captured by the network of financial abstraction, as cognitive labor is subjugated to the abstract law of valorization, and as human communication is transformed into abstract interaction among disembodied digital agents, the social body is detached from the general intellect. The subsumption of the general intellect into the corporate kingdom of abstraction is depriving the living community of intelligence, understanding, and emotion.

For Berardi there is no way out only a great civil-war everywhere – “on one side, a huge wave of mental suffering, and on the other side, the much-advertised cure for depression: fanaticism, fascism, and war. And at the end, suicide.” Sounding more like Cioran and his nihilist digressions and aphorisms Berardi in his old age seems to be falling away in despair. Sad.

Conclusion: Toward a Leaderless Leader

Something rings false in Berardi’s words these days, as if he’s just fallen into a black hole of postmodern nihilism. Maybe he’s getting too old to fight, but hell I’m sixty-three almost sixty-four with a sane (lol) mind that keeps on believing we can working together construct a new framework of protest, theory, and communicative politics that will allow us to reconstruct a world worth living in against the nihilism of current Necrocapitalist and their expulsion economy.

One thing I agree with Zizek is when describing revolutionary activity today: “The goal of revolutionary activity is, on the contrary, to change the entire social situation so that workers themselves will no longer be ‘workers’.” (Zizek, KL 3149) But how? He offers a starting point, saying,

The starting point of these true revolutionaries can in fact be the very position of the ‘bourgeois’ Leftists: what happens is that, in the middle of their pseudo-radical posturing, they get wrapped up in their own game, and start truly to question their subjective position. It is difficult to imagine a more trenchant political example of the weight of Lacan’s distinction between the ‘subject of the enunciated’ and the ‘subject of the enunciation’: first, in a direct negation, you start by wanting to ‘change the world’ without endangering the subjective position from which you are ready to enforce the change; then, in the ‘negation of the negation’, the subject enacting the change is ready to pay the subjective price for it, to change himself, or, to quote Gandhi’s formula, to be himself the change he wants to see in the world. (TP, KL 3155-3161).

In fact as he reminds us what we call a ‘crisis of democracy’ does not occur when people stop believing in their own power but, on the contrary, when they stop trusting the elites, those who are supposed to know for them and provide the guidelines, when they experience the anxiety signalling that ‘the (true) throne is empty’, that the decision is now really theirs. (TP, KL 3242)

Zizek sees this as the goal, but getting there is problematique. In a stringent statement he tells us that a main axiom of radical emancipatory politics is that the Master is not the ultimate horizon of our social life, that one can form a collective not held together by a Master figure. Without this axiom, there is no Communist politics proper, but just pragmatic ameliorations of the existing order. However, we should at the same time follow the lesson of psychoanalysis: the only path to liberation leads through transference, and this is why the figure of a Master is unavoidable. So we should fearlessly follow Badiou’s suggestion: in order to effectively awaken individuals from their dogmatic ‘democratic slumber’, from their blind reliance on institutionalized forms of representative democracy, appeals to direct self-organization are not enough: a new figure of the Master is needed. (TP, KL 3361-3367).

But not just any Master, the Master cannot directly be called on to bring the solution when people find themselves in a deadlock. In such a case we only get a dictator who doesn’t really know what to do. People first have to unite their will around a determinate project, and only then can they allow a Master-like figure to lead them along the way outlined in their project. Logical as it may appear, such a notion puts the cart ahead of the horse: as discussed, true leaders do not do what people want or plan; they tell the people what they want, and it is only through them that they realize what they want. Therein resides the act of a true political leader: after listening to him or her, people all of a sudden realize what they always-already knew they wanted— listening to the Master clarifies to them their own position, enables them to recognize themselves, their own innermost need, in the project proposed to them. (TP, KL 3472)

Ultimately the Master is himself the silent one, the one who leads by not needing to be a leader. Zizek in anecdotal fashion mentions the life of Marek Edelman (1919– 2009) was a Jewish-Polish political and social activist. A man who fought against Zionism, against anti-Semitism, against Palestinian oppression by the Israeli Government which they never forgave him. As Zizek states:

When his wife and children emigrated in the wake of the growing anti-Semitic campaign in 1968, he decided to stay in Poland, comparing himself to the stones of the ruined buildings at the site of the Auschwitz camp: ‘Someone had to stay here with all those who perished here, after all.’ This says it all: what mattered was ultimately his bare and muted presence there, not his declarations— it was the awareness of Edelman’s presence, the bare fact of his ‘being there’, which set people free. (TP, KL 3493-3496).

Maybe this is the kind of world leadership we need at the moment, the power of an empowered bare and muted presence that gives the people, the excluded, the outcast, the poor of the world an awareness that raises them to an enunciation of themselves as Subjects, the “bare fact of ‘being there’, which sets people free,” and free of work.


  1. Priest, Dana; Arkin, William M. (2011-09-06). Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (pp. 37-38). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.
  2. Balko, Radley (2013-07-09). Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces (p. 335). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.
  3. Giroux, Henry  A. (2014-02-17). Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (p. 14). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.
  4. Dardot, Pierre; Laval, Christian (2014-03-11). The New Way Of The World: On Neoliberal Society (Kindle Locations 7312-7319). Verso Books. Kindle Edition.
  5. Sassen, Saskia (2008-07-01). Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Kindle Locations 4307-4314). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
  6. Sassen, Saskia (2014-05-05). Expulsions (Kindle Locations 2851-2855). Harvard University Press. Kindle Edition.
  7. Davis, Angela Y. (2011-01-04). Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture (Open Media Series) (pp. 22-23). Seven Stories Press. Kindle Edition.
  8. Wark, Mckenzie (2013-03-12). The Spectacle of Disintegration: Situationist Passages out of the Twentieth Century (p. 193). Verso Books. Kindle Edition.
  9. Zizek, Slavoj (2015-08-18). Trouble in Paradise: From the End of History to the End of Capitalism (Kindle Locations 2615-2618). Melville House. Kindle Edition.

3 thoughts on “Franco Berardi: Future Civil-War or Žižekian Emancipatory Politics?

  1. I tell myself I don’t need to comment but damn if I not being compelled. A couple more cents in your collection basket SC to go to the development of inoperative flakes and their arte povera in the light of impossible circumstances and enough baroque irregularity to not fit into any normative, established understanding of community. I don’t know I read Berardi’s article and he sounded, there and in that moment at least, like a multitude of other internet haters. It is not like he lifted up his hand like a living pronoun and became a pointer to the door or frame of an emergent institution of exodus. Semper in his tome “Style” regarding the crystallization of flakes and our own rapport with this process writes that one has to imagine oneself in its center as the pillar or axis of its community so to speak and so he goes on, “verticality and horizonatlity are not the basic demands of the eurythmic figure; its nature is *enclosure*. It expresses the absolute concept of encirclement symbolically and therefore alludes to the encircled as the actual object, as the center of the eurythmic order […] *Eurythmy* comes into play only when the frame is used.” At least in his prolegomena Semper does not go into detail on this but he says, in my reading, that the texture of flakes grows through the insistent demand of a beat and caesuras like in the development of a musical figure that at once stimulates or disturbs but also soothes. The example he uses is his experience of the decorative patterns of a Greek Doric column. I mentioned caesura is there when we cut away the motivations of the will moving it either towards or away making it work so to speak. This the depressive situation of a decathected libido. In time, this practice, the practice of flaky pointers at the exit door that is also an emergent organization, leaves our will demotivated and so not a yo-yo of attraction and repulsion. Not continuously mind you which is another fantasy and another two cents sometime. As to the beat, a rocking rhythm… a refrain… it can be that practice that operates like a joke or witty remark that Virno in “Multitude” calls *regularity*: “regularity indicates the threshold at which language grafts itself repeatedly onto prelinguistic drives and reorganizes them profoundly”. A regular beat becomes evident always during a time of crisis when the normal rules stop working for whatever reason during whatever normative process in one’s own life or the life of a nation. For Italians a key point of reference for this “crisis of presence” is Martino’s studies on the magic of that dance form that came out of an impoverished rural Southern Italy called the Tarantella. The dance, in its original practice at least, was a refrain that warded off evil or anxiety and so as Virno notes operated not unlike the Katechon of Paul. Keep up your good work young man :-).


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