Sugar-Free Kool Aid
The madman, the criminal, the drug addict. Rehabilitation and re-integration. The development of an approach to addiction which requires the addict to self- regulate through government mediated programs. Harm reduction, methadone treatment, government administered alcohol or narcotics, and safe injection sites - an increased level of surveillance – but we need our fix, don’t we? So, they grab us by the throat and force us to speak – free therapy and counseling for the addicts. Discover what makes them tick, scour their personal history, find what “it was” that “made them” start taking drugs or drinking. Or, just ask the therapist – he’ll surely tell you, “it must be their past, their trauma, their childhood.” The discovery of a particular moment, a memory, or a loss. No need to come to them, they will come find you. Community out-reach programs and the increased surveillance of spaces occupied by already marginalized groups, “here, take a pamphlet.” See - “it’s not so intrusive.”
In actuality, it’s far more sinister. What they capture is our enjoyment; they seize us by that which could create a space of experimentation with new possibilities. It is through these kinds of state sanctioned “harm-reduction” programs that those in power are able to administer to us our pleasure. “Allow me to pour you a drink.” And, to be sure, it is in doing so that they co-opt our energies and steal from us something much more important than the mere administration of our pleasure, what they take away from us is exactly this: the very possibility of resistance.
But, just take a quick look at their website, they promise us that they’re giving us back “our dignity.” Operational Value #1: “We believe in the dignity and worth of all human beings” (http://www.paarc.com). Dignity. Portland’s “Dignity Village.” A state-sanctioned project which had the goal of “cleaning up the streets,” and providing the homeless with “dignity” - the ‘dignity' of the property owner, of course! It is the liberal crusaders with their nervous smiles getting their enjoyment building tiny houses for the homeless. Their ‘true’ enjoyment, however, is in telling the other liberal crusaders that they are the ones who are building the tiny houses for the homeless.
A glimpse into our current hell: a never-ending queue, the quiet and inescapable misery of waiting forever. Waiting for the recognition one desires; for a promotion or a raise; for the revolution; to finally be made complete or become whole - for the applause at the end of the show. But the show doesn’t end and the queue doesn’t move forward and, in some sense, neither do we. Boring and predictable; in a never-ending sitcom we’ve become the laugh track that follows the cliché joke. Continuously “pushing ourselves to the limit,” but always leaving the limit intact.
Their strategies have shifted and ours must too. Their goal is not to eradicate the other, but to initially construct her as such and then assimilate this constructed exteriority to reconstitute the wholeness of the Nation-state. The benevolent nation, “look how well we take care of those on the outside.” The actual objective, however, is in bringing back into ‘society’ those who have escaped its iron grip: re-integration, no doubt. But re-integration is nothing more than a ploy, an underhanded attempt to assimilate difference. It is the trapping of all that escapes, the organization and categorization of everything that exists - or, rather, is unable to exist - indiscriminately “between things.” It is the rejection of all that exposes us to the terrifying abyss upon which we have constructed the “I.”
If capitalism (and the inherent violence and inequality of this system of organization) depends on these bourgeois cycles of enjoyment and disappointment for continuance – we must begin to sabotage this where it is most intimate, in the fields of desire and pleasure. The possibility of living and doing otherwise is dependent on the rejection of bourgeois comforts and the boring forms of enjoyment that accompany it. We need to reject the Father not when he spanks us, but precisely when he seems most lenient. When he is offering us protection from harm or administering our pleasure – when he is in the back, fixing us a drink. We must reject him when he makes us a comfortable bed and turns down the sheets. Because, on the far-left, we seem to need him to exist insomuch as he confers onto us some sense of pathetic identity, whether it is in opposition or not, and we find ourselves unable to move forward. We can only imagine organizing ourselves politically against a particular enemy – the state, capitalism, the far right, etc. – and in doing so we reproduce the validity of that which we are attempting to dismantle. They coerce us, in our resistance, to reconstitute their materiality. To give it form. We buy into his fantasy and then accuse him of stealing our enjoyment. We imagine that if he didn’t take it, or would finally just give it back, we could return to a state of harmony and completeness. Our very comfortable fantasies. We need to stop organizing around a common enemy and refuse the enjoyment we take in defining ourselves in relation to him. Because, what we actually need to do is focus on developing new tactics.
What we need is a form of organizing ourselves differently. An attempt to move beyond this trap in which we find ourselves: reactionary political resistance. It is in co-opting our energies and desire and forcing us to organize and define ourselves in relation to that which we are attempting to reject that they trap us at the exact moment we see a way out. They ensnare us in our possibility of escape. The real challenge, then, is to reimagine resistance. We need to refuse to organize ourselves around a common enemy (who has inevitably “stolen” our enjoyment) and instead begin to organize around common tactics and techniques. We must refuse to play his games. It is going to be an uncomfortable process of learning/unlearning that will take work, but it is work that needs to be done. We need to start experimenting and, in doing so, work towards creating new spaces of resistance. It will be in these spaces that we can develop and implement new insurrectionist tactics. From these pockets of resistance we can begin to interrupt capitalist flows; we can cause blockages, disruptions, and inconveniences - we can shut down highways and make the bourgeois late for work. We should, however, always remain cautious not to buy into his fantasy of a grand conclusion or a final scene. Following Foucault’s advice, we need to first change our relationship to pleasure, and then, perhaps, desire will follow.