‘I myself am war’

‘I imagine human movement and excitation, whose possibilities are limitless: this movement and excitation can only be appeased by war. I imagine the gift of an infinite suffering, of blood and open bodies, in the image of an ejaculation cutting down the one it jolts and abandoning him to an exhaustion charged with nausea. I imagine the earth projected in space, like a woman screaming, her head in flames. Before the terrestrial world whose summer and winter order the agony of all living things, before the universe composed of innumerable turning stars, limitlessly losing and consuming themselves, I can only perceive a succession of cruel splendours whose very movement requires that I die: this death is only the exploding consumption of all that was, the joy of existence of all that comes into the world; even my own life demands that everything that exists, everywhere ceaselessly give itself and be annihilated. I imagine myself covered with blood, broken but transfigured and in agreement with the world, both as prey and as a jaw of TIME, which ceaselessly kills and is ceaselessly killed. There are explosives everywhere that perhaps will soon blind me. I laugh when I think that my eyes persist in demanding objects that do not destroy them.’
George Bataille, from the Practice of Joy before Death (in Visions of Excess). Heraclitean Meditation
The war model
Biopower is ‘the power to make live. Power won’t make die, but it will regulate mortality’, says Foucault. With biopower you get the notion of a ‘social body’ as the object of government. Biopower optimises life chances and operates through surveys for the prevention of epidemics and scarcity. Its government works through management and the regulative mechanisms that are able to account for aleatory and ‘unpredictable’ phenomena on a global scale, by determining equilibrium and keeping events within an acceptable average.

In the course delivered at the Collège de France in 1976, named ‘Il faut défendre la société’ Foucault asks whether Reich and Nietzsche’s positions (repressive hypothesis and warring forces) are reconcilable since repression is nothing but the political consequence of war, just as oppression, within the classical theory of political right, is the abuse of sovereignty within the juridical order. Here Foucault tries to show how a certain historical political discourse, unlike political theory and jurisprudence, has adopted the war model as a tool of analysis of political relations. (1)
An analysis of peace is complementary to one of the state of exception: nowhere is the notion of peace more crucial than in Hobbes. Hobbes is the thinker of peace par excellence, because his idea that politics can pose an end to war was functional to silence the war of his period. For Hobbes it is the state of war that is a permanent threat to sovereignty, rather than war itself. The state of war is the multitude. Us.
In this context he turns von Clausewitz’s formula around: war is a continuation of politics by other means, and traces the main characteristics of the historical discourse of what he calls the ‘war of races’. (2)
The 'war of races' is parallel and co-functional to the notion of ‘civil society’, whereby a state of war internal to a supposedly unitary sovereign body functions on the basis of an operation of internal colonialism.
Before Hobbes, in political theory, there existed a whole discourse based on notions of conquest, war and usurpation that looked at the ‘relation of domination of a race on another and at the permanent threat of a revolt of the defeated against the winners’. Hobbes needs to silence the historico-political discourse that was operative in the struggles of his time (3) and that looked at domination rather than sovereignty and law. His natural jurisprudence aimed at neutralising this radical discourse, which Foucault on the contrary wants to bring back into play.
Why does it matter what we call things? In fact, the point of these 1976 lectures is that
the juridical-political reading of power in terms of sovereignty is a trap, created by power itself. It is the way power uses to speak of itself.
‘War is conducted through the history that is made and through that which is told’. (4)
From the 18th century onwards Western knowledge has been organised around the ideas of peace and order and has had to disqualify struggle and war as possible registers of truth.
‘This is what makes historicism unbearable to us and with it the sort of indissociable circularity between historical knowledge and the wars that it talks about whilst being traversed by them. The history of races is a counter-history. It aims at showing the sealed truth of power, how kings, sovereigns and law rest their power on abuse and murder. Power is unjust not because it has decayed since its golden times, but simply because it does not belong to us. (5)

Racism is the biopolitical update of this war paradigm, because the moment life becomes the object of power racism operates in societies of  normalisation as what makes it possible to decide and regulate what can live and what cannot.

The discourse of the war of races, with its battles, its victories etc, will be replaced by a post-evolutionist biological theme of the war for life: differentiation of species, selection of the strongest, conservation of races etc. Equally, the theme of the binary society divided in two races and two groups foreign to one another will be replaced by that of a society biologically monist. Its character will be that of a society which is undermined by heterogeneous elements that are not essential because they do not divide the living social body into two hostile sides, but are almost accidental. There you have the idea of infiltrated foreigners or deviants as sub-products of society. Finally, the theme of a necessarily unjust state, according to the counter history of races, will be transformed into a state that is not the instrument of a race against another, but the protector of integrity and superiority and purity of one race. So, the idea of race comes to take the place of the idea of a war of races. (6)
From the end of the 19th century this racism has undergone two transformations: Foucault asserts that state racism is biological and centralised; hence, whilst in Nazism state racism is inscribed back into the legend of warring races, in Stalinism the adaptation of revolutionary discourse of the war of races is inserted into scientism and police management.
Back to us
Newspaper cuts cuts cuts cuts
Back to us
now we inhabit the war paradigm we inhabit racism we inhabit a discourse (that is the materiality of language in its concrete effects) and a state of war which is not of racism vs. anti-racism nor of war vs. anti-war but rather one fought along lines drawn on ‘biological’ grounds incisions that are like scars on the social bodies their shapes vary according to geopolitical locations and have nothing to do with ethnicity but all to do with evolutionism and biopower our bodies a biological justification for the assassinations carried out by states is crucial to managing populations and rests on a play between the intolerance of difference and the fostering of hierarchies of being just as the legitimation of security and policing rests on the presumption of a social unity an identity a self-same social organism a ‘civil’ society that needs to be defended from dangers whether endemic or not.

‘The problem is uncontrolled immigration’ = ‘I hate them pakis.’

‘We need to fight home grown terrorism’ = ‘send those sand diggers back to the desert.’

‘Our labour force is suffering due to outsourcing’ = ‘the chinks are stealing our jobs.’

And we can go on until our ears hurt … this speech unfolds and flows in the streets as in the Houses of Parliament and its wordage is that of identity politics the way power speaks of itself the accomplished suicide of the Left that after years of struggle for political representation conquered a choice between positive and negative discrimination, whilst in the process it helped to accomplish it codify it register it and it is now wrapped around us like a straight jacket hence the madnesse.

This doesn’t work: let’s speak another language

Desire and power

Deleuze asks in a letter to Foucault dated 1977: how can power be desired? (7)
He concludes that power is an affection of desire.
Remember Foucault's manifesto-style prose in the Introduction to their Anti-Oedipus, which he calls an Introduction to non-fascist life? ‘Don't become enamoured of power!’ He says.
Deleuze and Guattari use similar twists and turns of logic with desire as Foucault does with power. But Foucault has a problem with desire, and Deleuze tries to solve it.
We know that Foucault ascribes the overemphasis on desire to a progressive scientisation of the ethical discourse that derives directly from a sorrowful idea of the subject practised in early Christianity (8). This idea finally culminates into the psychoanalytical category of the Ego, a subject that has a particular relation to truth and to the practices of the self modulated on the subjugating coordinates of self-negation and self-deciphering. See for instance his 'Sexuality and solitude', when he describes Augustine's libidinisation of sex. And as Augustine says, ‘Inter faeces et urinam nascimur.’
What is pleasure? How do we explain the disappearance of pleasure from discourse? Foucault asks. Is his just another way to criticise the repressive hypothesis? Perhaps more than that.
It is the constitutive element of freedom in all power relations.
Foucault counterposes ‘practices of freedom’ to ‘processes of liberation’.
In fact, by recognising that power can only operate on the terrain of freedom, those practices allow us to understand current forms of subjectivation as much as the possibilities intrinsic to power relations themselves. 
On the other hand, Deleuze keeps distinguishing between the emphasis of desire on deterritorialisation, and the emphasis of pleasure on re-territorialisation. But that doesn’t work. ‘Bodies and pleasures are the rallying points of counterattack against the noise of the bourgeois economy of Christian ascetism’, Foucault says in his Volunté de savoir.
And we add that they are also the field of the aesthetics of existence, that is a deprise de soi, or a line of flight from subjectivation, whichever language you speak. So, bodies and pleasures do produce deterritorialisations. But they are also the field of play for ethics. Now, for Deleuze and perhaps Guattari it is the conjunction or conjugation of these lines of flights into a 'veritable diagram' that constitutes the assemblage, the war machine produced by desire, a clear picture.
But what does Foucault's pleasure leave us with instead? ‘Just’ experience, it seems. That experience that Kafka calls: ‘seasickness on dry land’. Or Bataille’s upturned orb, the bloodshot eye of knowledge?

Rawarawar comrade help what is war

Premise: desire has no object.

You need your war because desire has no object.

The realisation of desire is the cancellation of human emotion.

You can only understand war if you are an idealist.

War is a subsumption of every idea in a moment.

Annihilation is the only ontological certainty you have.

Humanism is pathetic in the face of war.

War is real. War is actuality.

God is the universal not of love, which is mostly experiential and practical, but of desire, which has no object and knows only boundaries.

We can defeat boundaries with objects because objects have weight and obey laws of Newtonian physics.

But desire has no object because desire is the experience of gravity, of being drawn, of being, of being a weight, a potential carcass, a dead weight.

Desire and war, a carcass, starved, we hunger for it; only representable by blood, red being the first colour the eye sees; a carcass, the goal of human existence, the truth of the human.

Desire equals peace when war is lost.

We never desire peace, except when we are defeated.

Desire is the suspension of actuality.

War is a suspension of desire, because it is its realisation.

Desire has no object. It is the abnegation and destruction of all objects.

The realisation of desire relates to the absolute, to the objectless need of being.

Desire and war have the same essence, they both are completely destructive.

War is destructive; it destroys things, chemicals, humans, gold.

All is incinerated.

War is unproductive expenditure, it realises desire.

Desire is the annihilation of people; we are not fighting a war, we are not real and alive, we only think that because we are dying, and confusing desire with need.

And you have desire because you can’t have pleasure.

We don’t need a dictionary of war. We need a dictionary of pleasures.

Start here: post your entry.

Desire has no object but attachments – incontrovertible, inescapable associations transgressing, fleeting incontrovertibility burst into other worlds, other dimensions.

Desire has no object – it knows only boundaries, limits, constraints, taboos; desire is defined by its outside, defined by confines – all those things that impose limits on its fruition – desire is thus its own unbreachable limit.

Desire is an empty note book, next year’s calendar, the pages of an address book yet to be filled. Desire is a moored boat faced with the encroaching tide. Desire is a decision whether to sink or swim. Desire is an affect – drowning! Gasping! Clawing! Fainting! Falling! Mauling! Squabbling with urge and object, surge and the abject indifference of the other.

Desire is nothing to do with the other, occasional recognition – and yet, all this time that we talk of an objectless force – we designate the object – we debase the forceful allure of the beautiful over the ordinary – we tether the baying donkey whose one day carcass carries our firewood home.


(1) M. Foucault, ‘Il faut défendre la société’ 7 January 1976
(2) According to Clausewitz, ‘War is nothing but a continuation of politics by other means’; therefore ‘it is not only a political act, but also an instrument of politics, a continuation of the political process by other means.’ C. van Clausewitz, Vom Kriege, book 1, chapter 1, § xxiv, Berlin, 1832. For Foucault, politics is the continuation of war by other means. ‘Il faut défendre la société’ 21 January 1976
(3) 1640-1660
(4) M. Foucault, ‘Il faut défendre la société’ 25 February 1976
(5) M. Foucault, ‘Il faut défendre la société’ 28 January 1976
(6) M. Foucault, ‘Il faut défendre la société’ 28 January 1976
(7) G. Deleuze, ‘Desire and Pleasure’, http://slash.autonomedia.org/article.pl?sid=02/11/18/1910227
(8) M. Foucault, ‘L’Hermeneutique du sujet’, 1982