We won’t forget the night of December 6th that easily. Not because the assassination of Alexis was incomprehensible. State violence, as much as it might try to construct itself into more productive formations of sovereignty, will endlessly return to dear and archetypal forms of violence. It will always retain within its structure a state disobeying the modernist command for discipline, surveillance and control of the body - opting, rather, for the extermination of the disobedient body and chosing to pay the political cost coming with this decision.
When the cop shouts “hey, you”, the subject to which this command is directed and which turns its body in the direction of authority (in the direction of the call of the cop) is innocent by default since it responds to the voice reproaching it as a product of authority. The moment when the subject disobeys this call and defies it, no matter how low-key this moment of disobedience might be (even if it didn’t throw a molotov to the cop car but a water bottle) is a moment when authority loses its meaning and becomes something else: a breach that must be repaired. When the manly honour of the fascist-cop is insulted he may even kill in order to protect (as he himself will claim) his kids and his family. Moral order and male sovereignty - or else the most typical form of symbolic and material violence - made possible the assassination of Alexis; they proped the murder, produced its “truth” and made it a reality.
Along with this, at the tragic limit of a death that gives meaning to lives shaped by its shade, revolt became a reality: this incomprehensible, unpredictable convulsion of social rhythms, of the broken time/space, of the structures structured no more, of the border between what is and what is to come.
A moment of joy and play, of fear, passion and rage, of confusion and some consciousness that is grievous, dynamic and full of promises. A moment which, regardless, will either frighten itself and preserve the automations that created it or will deny itself constantly in order to become at each moment something different to what it was before: all in order to avoid ending up at the causalıty of revolts suffocated ın normalıty, revolts becoming another form of authority whilst defending themselves.
How did this revolt become possible? What right of the insurgents was vindicated, at what moment, for what murdered body? How was this symbol socialised? Alexis was “our Alexis”, he was no “other”, no foreigner, no migrant. High school students could identify with him; mothers feared losing their own child; establishment voices would turn him into a national hero. The body of the 15-year old mattered, his life was worth living, its ending was an assault against the public sphere - and for this reason mourning Alex was possible and nearly necessary. This sphere turned against a community us who revolted don’t identify with, exactly like Alexis did not identify. This is a community, regardless, in which many of us many have the priviledge to belong since the others recognise us as their own. The story of Alexis will be writen from its end. He was a good kid, they said. The revolt, which we would have been unable to predict, became possible through the cracks of authority itself: an authority deciding what bodies matter in the social network of relations of power. The revolt, this hymn to social non-regularity, is a product of regularity… It is the revolt for “our own” body that was exterminated, for our own social body. The bullet was shot against the society as a whole. It was a wound on every bourgeiois democrat who wants their own security to be reflected upon the state and its organs. The bullet was a declaration of war against society. The social contract was breached - there is no consensus. The moral and political act of resistance became possible, understandable, just, visible at the moment when it came under the terms and conditions of justice of the dominant symbolic order encompassing the social fabric.
This starting point does not cancel the righteousness of the uprising. Because the dominant Speech, the authority that gives name, shape and meaning to things, the range of dominant ideas from which the concept of social segmentation derives so as to control the hierarchical social relations have all already excluded the “hooded youths” from this community. They have cornered them at the community’s dangerous borderline in order to set the limits of disobedience.
They tell us to resist but not in this fashion, they say, because it is dangerous. What the social legitimation we came across at the beginning of all this has got to tell us is that even if we are tangled in the web of authority, even if we are its creations, we are inside and against it; we are what we do in order to change who we are. We want this historical moment to adopt the content we have set ourselves and not the meanings from which it can escape overnight.
It is not possible for this authority to bloodlessly cross the boundary between obedience and autonomous action, since if the rebels need to muster up their masculinity in order to fight the cop, they need to question it at the same time because it constitutes the authority they use to fight the cop. And this ambivalence lies at the heart of our subjectivity, it is a contradiction that tears us apart and forms the moral splendour that takes place in the margins of the rebellion, outside and inside us, on the quiet nights when we wonder what is going on now, what has gone wrong, and we can only hear silence.
Nothing exists without the meaning assigned to it. Resistance strategies can turn into strategies of authority: Chaos will recreate a hierarchy in social relationships unless we fight with ourselves while fighting the world, some selves that we formed as part of this world: we have grown within the moral and political limits this world sets, within the moral-political ties in which the self comes into being… It will recreate itself into a hierarchy, should we not bring off male macho behaviour that goes berzerk and gets carried away by emotion, should we adopt positions that densify in positions of authority.
Friday, December 19, 2008