Exit

While most of the left responded to Bush’s Iraq speech with its obligatory capitol-steps sloganeering and advice on making a graceful withdrawal, others proffered very different ideas of exit.

Commie Curmudgeon:

People today think the system is corrupt. But they don’t think that joining the marches of the present will have any effect on anything. A good number might have thought it would for those couple of demos in 2003 when there were a million people protesting the war worldwide, but they saw with their own eyes that these marches had no effect whatsoever on the actions of the U.S. and U.K. governments. People today do not believe in working within the system; in fact, most people don’t do anything political “within the system”; a majority don’t even vote. But they don’t see how they could have any effect by doing anything “outside” the system, either, especially if being “outside the system” amounts to attending these lame marches, which follow a very old and boring script. […]

A number of people whom I know who’ve stopped going to these marches not only think the system is corrupt; they actually want to overthrow the system altogether. They are the complete opposite of all the people who these “anti-war groups and scholars” supposedly see as wanting to work inside the system. But those people whom I know (which group often includes myself) don’t see these grand, tame, quiet strolls in the sunlight and/or these dreary, penned-in rallies as having all that much effect on anything.

Paolo Virno, from here:

One thus understands why democratic political thought sank on confronting youth movements and the new trends of dependent labor. To put it in the terms of a beautiful book by Albert O. Hirshman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, the Left has not seen that the exit-option (abandoning a disadvantageous situation as soon as possible) was becoming prevalent over the voice-option (protesting actively against that situation).4 Instead, it has morally denigrated the category of “exit” behaviors. Disobedience and flight are not in any case a negative gesture that exempts one from action and responsibility. To the contrary, to desert means to modify the conditions within which the conflict is played instead of submitting to them. And the positive construction of a favorable scenario demands more initiative than the clash with pre-fixed conditions. An affirmative “doing” qualifies defection, impressing a sensual and operative taste on the present. The conflict is engaged starting from what we have constituted through fleeing in order to defend social relations and new forms of life out of which we are already making experience. To the ancient idea of fleeing in order to better attack is added the certainty that the fight will be all the more effective if one has something else to lose besides one’s own chains.

Rosi Braidotti, Metamorphoses, p. 169:

Massumi avoids the holier-than-thou conceptual purity that haunts so many other Deleuzians and recognizes that the Deleuzian process of becoming need not be a normative standpoint. Consequently it does not entail the injunction to give up identity politics or to stop fighting for basic rights. Nor does it inevitably amount to a vote of no confidence in oppositional politics, from consciousness-raising to civil disobedience. The point is quite simply not to block the process at any one point, but rather to inject movement into politics.

Boundaries must be set and reset; boundaries become thresholds: ‘it is less a question of abandoning the politics of specific identity than of supplementing and complicating it’ (Massumi 1992:210). This amounts to the recognition that processes continually go on, in an internally differentiating manner. This can also be fulfilled through the strategy of creative or strategic mimesis as a positive simulation that does not essentialize an original. The point is to aim at the transformative impact of one’s political processes. I have argued throughout this book that feminist politics of location have inaugurated the kind of in-depth transformative politics that philosophical nomadism seems to be preaching with such passion. The feminist strategy of affirming the virtual feminine by a collective revisitation of its multiple sites of visualization is one good example. The production of alternative figurations for the new singularities being produced collectively at the moment is another. These alternative subject-positions express the transformation they embody and act as the free-floating affectivity, which Massumi describe as a tendency without an end, or an non-self-consuming, non-capitalizing process.

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