Struggle for Ideas - Or how to put the strategy of defence into action

I would never have considered a lecture, considering the notion of war, if I hadn’t gotten this call. But since I got it, I kept hearing myself saying: you need to be more aggressive, you need more war, more aggression, a wider range of weapons than only that of the verbal communication, to enter the battlefield. You have something to fight for, don’t you?

But the concept of war is alien to me. I erased it as a possible strategy for reaching certain goals I say I want to fight for. Aggressively transgressing borders of others in order to expand my position by force, leaving behind a trail of mental or physical casualties and demolitions, is something completely alien to me.

I do consider myself a builder, a sharer, a distributor rather than a strongholder. I want to make available, create opportunities. Not to castrate or erase. The concept of a fortress is strange to me. I am in favour of flexible borders, porous ones which are penetrable and allow penetration. Being protected by flexibility, mobility, the possible, the potential, the many rather than by walls and barbed wire is what I have to offer.

These are all nice goals. But am I effective enough? Aren’t these nice goals just an expression of myself, a more modern version of these old artists who’s art expressed their personal anger, fear or hope?

Don’t I need a King Frederick II of Prussia, who on the eve of a battle rebuked an hesistant young officer: “Dog. Were you hoping to live forever?”
The fool.

And don’t I know that Sarpedon said to Glaukos in the 12th Book of the Iliad: My friend, if you and I could escape this battle and live forever, ageless and immortal, I myself would never fight again...But a thousand deaths surround us and no man can escape them. So let us move in for the attack.

But a thousand deaths surround us and no man can escape them.
But I can
But I can
But I can
But I can....

The few survivors of the 17th Lancers battallion who have managed to reach the enemy battery thrust their lances into the traitor they had sought.

Warships change course and move into the distance, leaving a smoke screen behind them.

He wanted to be untraceable, always between everything, always moving, always aware of potentiality.
Most people, he said, think about themselves as airports or trainstations, not as planes or trains between airports, I like to think of myself as an airplane rather than an airport.
I like to be both, the lady said. Yes, yes , he hastily admitted, yes. Yes of course both:
The One (that is me) ànd the Other (that is you). At one and the same time, but in a same time that is out of joint. The One forgets to remember itself to itself. It keeps and erases the archive of this injustice, that it is, of this violence that it does.

Yes, yes, hope belonged to the little boy, but he forgot that it is important to know to whom he belonged, which dark powers had the right to claim him.

As soon as there is the One, there is murder, wounding, traumatism. The One, the I, guards against the Other, it protects itself from the other. The One makes itself violence, it violates and does violence to itself. It becomes what it is, the very violence that it does to itself. The One is at war with itself. Not with the other. That is a misunderstanding. The war is always already there: at home.

They ask me to think about ways of struggling with what is nowadays called a state of exception, that becomes a rule.
Every state of exception that lasts becomes a rule by the sheer fact that it lasts.
An exception needs to be revisited. No, that is not enough, revisiting. It needs to mutate to keep its status of exception. There is the rule that wants to kill the exception. There is the rule of the european culture (or the american) which wants nothing else but to kill the exceptions.

So, he says to himself, so, little boy, you have something to defend.
Yes, yes, I do have quite something to defend.
Now what are you waiting for?
But he stays there, doesn’t go into action. Lifts his eyebrows: attack, attack, he says, what to attack for? I said: I have something to defend.

So, you are waiting for this beautiful moment when an assault against the world order is set in motion?

No, I am waiting for this moment when an assault against me, my values has been set in motion? The defence needs an attack in order to come into motion.

But the attack is there, she screamed, don’t you see this, blind man? You are already permanently under fire.

And he looked at her with this Deafman’s Glance. He noticed everything, all the disorder, everything he called injustice, but he didn’t feel attacked.

I have never quite understood those who have so often reproached me, she said, for having squandered this fine troop around me in a senseless assault. I admit that I was the one who chose the moment and direction of the attack, and I therefore take full responsability for everything that happened. But what did you expect? Were we supposed to refrain from fighting an enemy that was already on the move against us?
Those who never take action, who are waiting for the attack, would like to believe that you can freely determine the quality of your fellow combattants and the time and place where you can strike an unstoppable and definitive blow. But in reality you have to act with what is at hand, launching a sudden attack on one or another realistically attackable position the moment you see a favourable opportunity; otherwise you fade away without having done anything. Yes, yes, there are risks, but what the heck, you said you have something to defend, didn’t Clausewitz note that “in war neither side is ever certain about the situation of the other. One must become accustomed to acting in accordance to certain probabilities”. It’s an illusion, she said, to wait for a time when one will be completely aware of everything. Hey man: wake up.
This society, she said, you said, wastes by default, wastes by separation and exclusion, it wastes this huge potential of energy and intelligence of 6 billion inhabitants. It makes you angry you said, she said. No it doesn’t makes you angry, it makes you sad, it makes daddy sad. And even louder he sung: Fuck the pain away. Fuck the pain away. Fuck the pain away. You fuck your aggression away, man, this is the violence One does to oneself. And she started to attack him, to beat him, but she stopped immediately as she realised that this was exactly what he needed in order not to come into action.
He shouldn’t be beaten, his mind should. He misses some links. But how to ever connect them. She is desperate. It is she that is alone. It is history that is left alone, not he, who lives comfortably on promises and hopes, for his good causes.

Early black milk, we drink it in the evening, we drink it in the morning, the afternoon, we drink it at night, we drink and we drink.
We, we drink milk.
But, a man lives in the house who plays with the snakes, he writes, he writes when it starts to become dark in his country: your golden hair, Margaretha, he writes and he walks in front of the house, stars are flashing he whistles to his dogs to come and he orders us: play, play loud now and dance.....

But a thousand deaths surround us, Sarpano said, and no one can escape them, so let us move in for the attack.

And again some undefined sadness took hold of him. The sadness of not knowing how to act. The sadness of impotence for action. He had to do something, she was right, but for gods sake what, if not to attack, what?

I need to get some bright idea, he thinks.
And we see how he throws himself backwards on the couch. His housecoat opens with the fall. His genitals are shown in all their glory.
We see how he tries to get Einstein into his mind, it is as if he were opening up his skull, he relaxes completely (his dick is growing), he allows as much oxygen into his brain as possible, he tries to open up the manifold of membranes, to let these thoughts arise, which would normally not come through. This isn’t stimulated by drugs, hein, it is pure natural concentration in some kind of superrelaxation. He activates the synapses in his brain, which tremble sexually in the horny style of a vain peacock showing off his tail. The synapses are in some utmost state of desire to know, to connect to these thoughts which might save the world. This openmindedness together with his dick in full strong and hard shape makes him feel great and active now , tomorrow, he says to himself, tomorrow I will start up a revolutionary cell.
This whole enterprise exhausted him so much that he goes to bed and falls asleep confidently after a quality day.

And she, she stayed up all night. She recapitulated what has happened.
He says that he has something to defend: this waste of energy and intelligence caused by strategies of seperation and exclusion. It is huge. He wants to change the world. Doesn’t know where to start. Doesn’t want to attack anyhow. He has something to defend, he says, but doesn’t want to offend. But when you say that you have something to defend, then you have something to fight for, don’t you?. But he doesn’t want to fight. He waits to be attacked. But he ìs already attacked. This waste of energy and intelligence that, he says, makes him furious, is the result of attacks. This is not a natural phenomenon. It is the product of circumstances. Don’t fool yourself.
There are a thousand deaths around us and no one can escape them. So let us move in for the attack.
But he doesn’t see the attack. An attack in his mind has to manifest itself physically as some violent and cruel assault. Not these faceless spinnoffs of some neo liberal capitalism, the ruling culture which eat all the exceptions, in the form of untraceable attacks that everybody and nobody seem to be responsible for. He needs the cruel face of an enemy before he can come into action. He sees too many movies. In times of precision bombings, cruel faces are as invisible as the bombing airplanes, man.
I will never get him into action, she thinks.
But he, at least he can take some responsibility for his interventions. He should run them as an office. The office he is, and assess the relation between his investment and the effectivity. When the use of force is not a concept to consider then maybe the military is. I mean, as in discipline and efficiency, goal orientedness. Does he assesses severely enough the effectivity of his actions. No of course not, he allows himself to fool around with the good courses he says he is for. Every now and then celebrating a small success. But nothing obliges him. He is free. He can talk at the dinner table with conviction. He knows what is wrong. But never assesses the effects of his operations. He doesn’t run his actions for the good causes he is after, as a disciplined business, as a strategic operation, he is just busy with it, very busy. It is time consuming yes, he is busy, but don’t ask for the results. He cannot fail, he can’t go broke as he is not running a strategic office; he is a free floating operator. Acting on the waves of his anger. Just to feel good and to be good. But the results of his actions are never assessed, only hoped for. The dark powers that take hold of him are the powers of the flexible, the nomad, the adaptable, the comfortable. The flexible world he would like to create is exactly the world that is laming him to come into action. As long as he doesn’t marry his aim for a flexible, moveable, borderless world with discipline, result orientation, strategy assessment, he will continue to only serve himself. And continue to have his good causes on a starvation diet.
Listen man, she thinks, when the offensive action is out of the question, then the offensiveness can be in the efficiency of this office that you are, of good causes you say you want to fight for. Run your office of good ideas and concepts more consequently. Assess goals and targets, and effectivity of strategies more severely. It is wartime, man.
Go and run the office of your ideas. Efficiency, almost military efficiency doesn’t compromise your goals, doesn’t compromise you, on the contrary, it makes them realisable.
Business of action, we call this. The business of action as a military operation. Or how to put the strategy of defence into action.

Jan Ritsema

I paraphrased here and there Guy Debord, Jean-Luc Godard, Derrida and Celan, thanks.