Saturday, January 15, 2005

our Mussolini

...under Fascism the middle class took over and identified itself with the power of the State. We cannot foresee the political forms of the future, but in a middle-class country like Italy, where middle-class ideology has infected the masses of workers in the city, it is probable, alas, that the new institutions arising after Fascism, through either gradual evolution or violence, no matter how extreme and revolutionary they may be in appearance, will maintain the same ideology under different forms and create a new State equally far removed from real life, equally idolatrous and abstract, a perpetuation under new slogans and new flags of the worst features of the eternal tendency toward Fascism. Unless there is a peasant revolution we shall never have a true Italian revolution, for the two are identical. Christ Stopped at Eboli
If one is a chronological literalist, the first question would then have to be, Ok, so where was the USian formation of Fascism that has produced the exploitative middle-class ideology we detect in corporate USia, the RIAA, economics of efficiencies, Jaysusian adorers of the status quo, insurance ideologists, advertising modalities, NPR music programmers, real estate pilgrims, pharmaceutical breakfasters, evangelical commodities traders, newspaper publishers, admirers of CNN, soccer SUVistas, churchlady advocates of genocide and transgendered rightwing enterpreneurs?

This would set off a predicable series of hugger-mugger surveys of the academically handicapped diachronic artifact which carries the soubriquet: American History. Theories and candidates would vie for the place of honor - it was Taft who ushered in the middle class! ad naus.

Another possibility holds that the middle class was already given all the necessary tools in the Constitution. Still, the aggressive affirmation of its ideology should at least betray itself in history in the form of some State-determining manifestation.

E.g., the one we have now. So long as we do not think of history as a merely linear series of events, howsoever justified in remembrance, but rather consider that causes can follow effects, as well as precede them, that, indeed, as Benjamin and others have noted, the future can be what is shaping the past, it's possible to argue that Mr. Bush and his incestuous Goonsquad are shoring up USian middle-class protectionism with every breath they take. This administration was necessitated by the gawdfearing millionaires whom it both affirms and metaleptically heralds.

Social security, State security, Secure Security in an insecure World - the haves have, the Lord provides, or doesn't, works in mysterious ways, HE.

The rich are beyond help. It's the poor that must be pulverized before, during and after the State, under the guise of moderating its meddlesomesness, maximizes its expropriative powers of exception, and after the middle class reaches hegemonic consumptive bliss, otherwise known as capital in its purest form, free from the tedious spectacle of labor laboriously laboring.

What is suburbia, if not the Edenic figleaf that disregards any representation of the world of labor?

::(later):: An excerpt from Agamben's book, State of Exception (U.Chic) can be found here (thanks Dean).

9 Comments:

Blogger The Happy said...

Tnanks, just ordered the Agamben.

1/15/2005 9:45 PM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

I will be interested in your thoughts on it. This is from a notice by Brett Neilson of the book before it was released in translation:

The French état de siège (which finds its origins in the eighteenth century Revolution), article 48 of the Weimar constitution (mobilized over 250 times before 1933), the Italian decreto di urgenza (which became the normal means of governmental legislation following World War II), the emergency powers of the British parliament (introduced with the Defence of the Realm Act in 1914), and the capacity of the U.S. president to issue 'executive orders' (which allowed Lincoln to suspend to writ of habeas corpus in 1861, Wilson to assume emergency powers in 1917-18, and F.D. Roosevelt to declare a national emergency six hours after assuming power in 1933)--all of these attest the inextricable link between the state of exception and the normal functioning of the bourgeois democratic state. Far from being a hallmark of totalitarian rule, the state of exception 'presents itself as a zone of indetermination between democracy and absolutism.

1/16/2005 7:19 AM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/16/2005 7:19 AM  
Blogger Jon Husband said...

I ordered it too. This grabbed my attention at 7.00 a.m like a hand shooting out of the screen, pincing my nose and pulling my face close:

Giorgio Agamben uses such circumstances to argue that this unusual extension of power, or "state of exception," has historically been an underexamined and powerful strategy that has the potential to transform democracies into totalitarian states.

........................................

Agamben ultimately arrives at original ideas about the future of democracy and casts a new light on the hidden relationship that ties law to violence.

1/16/2005 10:14 AM  
Blogger Jon Husband said...

exception - a theory of Stealth Bondage ?

1/16/2005 10:18 AM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

Agamben can be read alongside W. Benjamin on the question of the state and state violence, and the law. WB's theses on history, for one:

http://www.tasc.ac.uk/depart/media/staff/ls/WBenjamin/CONCEPT2.html

1/16/2005 7:24 PM  
Blogger Dean said...

The University of Chicago Press has just published State of Exception by Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben. An excerpt is on our website, titled "A Brief History of the State of Exception," a historical overview of the the issue Agamben confronts philosophically throughout the text. See the excerpt at:
http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/009254.html

1/17/2005 1:34 PM  
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