Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 389

NOTES

“Beauty is desired in order that it may be befouled; not for its


own sake, but for the joy brought by the certainty of profaning
it.”
― Georges Bataille, Erotism: Death and Sensuality

(additional aff answers to things should be pulled from the neg section of the file)
AFF
1AC Laceration
The penalty for debating ______ is death, and perhaps for
judging them also. Death always wins. Call nobody happy unless
they are dead. Speaking, speeches, debate, debate camp, death.
How hot is The Walking Dead? Death is seducing you, you just
don’t know it yet.

Debate’s information habit is a synonym for death. Death cab for


cuties is death. Social death is death. Information itself only
serves as a testimony to the grand meaninglessness of our
civilization. Buried under mountains of information all the
worlds have become a museum, which is immortal in death.

Modern day education is haunted by the spectral figure of the


Master aka Life aka Life the board game, Life the cereal, Life in
prison – the desire to control and have infinite panoptic gaze
over one and all. This erupts from the visceral manifestations of
control over bodies to foster obedience through the images of
the perfect white Christian man practicing a rejection of the
waste inherent in society by “learning” and becoming “better”.

Our only real pleasure is to squander our resources to no


purpose, just as if a wound were bleeding away inside us; we
always want to be sure of the uselessness or the ruinousness of
our extravagance
Allen’16 – Ansgar Allen is lecturer in education at the University of Sheffield, “Education, Mastery and the
Marquis de Sade” -- KZaidi

Mastery has us by the throat. Unable to bring things up, prevented from taking things down—if
we swallow, we do so without conviction. Mastery catches and keeps us mid-gasp.
In pursuit of mastery, education fell before its promised transcendence. Mastery claimed
to elevate the educated philosopher above the quotidian, even make the philosopher immune to the
world below and its persecutions. Yet mastery was yoked to its opposite: the enslavement of the philosopher
to a philosophical doctrine. Mastery required discipline and self-control. It subordinated the self
to a philosophical doctrine, wagering the self to an ordinance that promised future
sovereignty but demanded present obedience.
Seeking spiritual direction, early
philosophers enslaved themselves to their chosen philosophical
school. Consultations were offered to non-philosophers too, for a fee. Whether a school was
joined or merely visited, the spiritual direction on offer was intended, in its final effects, to allow
each candidate to “take control and become master of [her]himself.”i With Christianity and its
selective adoption of ancient philosophy, self-mastery became “an instrument of subordination” of
more complete effect.ii Its voluntary dimension was reduced as spiritual training came to
occupy the whole life of the Christian subject. The purpose of Christian guidance was to
develop a form of introspection that would “fix more firmly the relationship of subordination”; it
would attach its recipients to a regime of power that would take care of their entire life in all its detail and for the rest of its
duration.iii At the same time, the promise of transcendence became ever more spectral,
dependent ultimately on God’s will, against which the strength of will exhibited by the
self- denying Christian was of secondary importance. For at the gates of heaven, God decides. On
earth, the early Christian monk is warned against practising any self- denying ordinance to
excess. We find Cassian recalling tales of monks casting themselves down wells, fasting excessively, or crossing deserts
without food in an effort to demonstrate just how catastrophically they had achieved self-mastery, purging themselves of
natural inclinations and desires.iv These were not acts of extreme piety; they were symptomatic of pride. And pride is of
the devil.

With extreme asceticism the old but sinuous link


connecting the promise of mastery to the necessity
of enslavement calcified, and then broke. Early Christian ascetic practitioners, those Cassian warned
against, so perfected their self-denials that they became increasingly indifferent to pain and discomfort, removing
themselves beyond the grasp of power. Through enslavement
they reached its opposite denying
themselves so completely that little remained for power to attack. In this advanced form
asceticism posed a challenge to Christianity, delivering its practitioners beyond the influence of its
institutions and teachings. The most potent ascetics effectively reversed the self-denials of monastic obedience,
transforming these denials into a form of “egoistic self-mastery” that denied access to external power.v

To secure their foothold monastic and ecclesiastical institutions had to bring self-
mastery back within their control. They would purge themselves of all vagrant, self-
sufficient, ascetic heresies, and bring all miracles, marvels, punishments and self-
flagellations back into the orbit of their influence. Eventually self-mastery would slip its “doctrinal
moorings” and migrate to a secular context.vi Education remains in awe of mastery. It preaches
denial, yokes its members to the pursuit of mastery, but will not allow that mastery to
become realised as such. Mastery haunts education as its most enduring spectral
promise.
Just what exactly education promises mastery of, changes: from ancient self in pursuit of
wisdom, to medieval body desiring knowledge of God, to modern subject of autonomous
reason, and finally, to the promise that we might one day master our own
performativities. By definition such mastery is rarely, if ever achieved. Our nihilism is the
product of this framework, this belief that education requires higher objectives, a belief so well
entrenched that as each objective comes under attack another is substituted in its place. When
substitutes are left wanting, we are launched into overproduction. For we scarcely know how to
operate let alone educate without the promise of mastery. Once described as the “destiny of two
millennia of Western history,” nihilism is our unavoidable affliction.vii Those educators claiming to exist
beyond its reach are in denial. There is no quick and easy escape. We are trapped in the digestive
tract of Western history. Attached to a promise that is never delivered, we are its
disappointments, you and I. We are debased and we debase ourselves, desiring mastery
through our enslavement.
This will to mastery sustains itself via framework’s virtue
epistemology –the desire for utility from debate. Our argument
is that this submits education to the regime of encodability,
destroying the possibility for knowledge to enter into the abyss.
Pleasure only starts once the worm has got into the fruit, so
become delightful the self-satisfied happiness of a static topic
must be tainted with the poison of death
Lerman’15 – Lindsay Lerman – University of Guelph Philosophy Department, Graduate Student. Studies
Epistemology, Georges Bataille – “Georges Bataille’s “Nonknowledge” as Epistemic Expenditure: An Open Economy of
Knowledge” pg 5-16 KZaidi

We will focus on a conversation in virtue epistemology because virtue


epistemology is not only concerned
with the norms that govern truth- and knowledge-production; but it is also, and primarily,
concerned with the intellectual character of knowers. Virtue epistemology is thus
uniquely suited to highlight the demands epistemology places on producers of truth and
knowledge in two registers: the quality of belief and truth and the cognitive character of the
believer or knower as well. Virtue epistemology’s focus on intellectual character is an
amplification of philosophy and epistemology’s emphasis on utility. The focus on
intellectual virtue is ultimately a focus on utility, but in virtue epistemology it is not enough
that one’s knowledge may be useful; the way in which one’s knowledge is sought, produced,
communicated, and acquired must also serve utility, and it must be done by making use of one’s intellectual
virtues. Virtue epistemology has thus strayed a bit from its Aristotelian roots, where
knowledge was conceived of as valuable for its own sake, and virtue(s) associated
with living a life that allowed one to acquire knowledge were conceived of as ends in
themselves, insofar as they were constitutive of the good life. In this sense, this thesis offers a
corrective. If virtue epistemology (Greco and Sosa in particular) employ an Aristotelian notion of
virtue, they ought to acknowledge that their notions of intellectual virtue are in fact only
partially Aristotelian, as they argue for the necessity of knowledge that is not merely
valuable in and of itself. The acquisitive possibilities of knowledge have been
overstressed by the virtue epistemology conversation, and the non-acquisitive
possibilities have been ignored.
But virtue
epistemology is a sub-disciplinary expression of the principles and
presumptions of epistemology in general, and thus of philosophy in general. In order to
highlight this, we will move back-and-forth between a wider focus on epistemology and philosophy in general, and our
particular conversation in virtue epistemology.

I will begin by offering a sketch of the argument to be made in the document. The work of Linda Zagzebski, John Greco,
and Ernest Sosa forms a cluster of ideas in virtue epistemology—the cluster on which we will focus3. I will claim that the
conversation we see them having—about the value of knowledge (and consequently, the nature of
knowledge)—exhibits and relies upon certain characteristic features of what I will call “classical
epistemology” or “classical knowing.” It will come as no surprise that a particular conversation in
mainstream virtue epistemology exhibits and relies on features of classical epistemology.
I draw our attention to these features so that we remember them as we begin the discussion of nonknowledge.

The concept of nonknowledge contains elements and approaches to the acts of thinking and
communicating that I will call an “alternate epistemology.” These elements are neither a-
philosophical nor a- or anti-epistemological, but they do not fit easily into the virtue
epistemology we will examine. And yet, if we find them philosophically compelling and sound,
we are required to re-evaluate the virtue epistemology explanations for the value— and
nature—of knowledge. Doing this re-evaluation will require, as I have suggested, looking at more
than just the virtue epistemology conversation. And it will require looking at the virtue
epistemology conversation as a sub-disciplinary expression of epistemology generally,
and even more generally, of philosophy itself.
The argument will have four parts. In the first part (this chapter) I will introduce the virtue epistemology conversation and
the features of classical epistemology we see at work in it. In the second chapter I will introduce and explain two important
elements of nonknowledge, returning to the virtue epistemology conversation from time to time. The third chapter has
two goals: (1) to introduce and explain the most significant element of nonknowledge alongside (2) my claim that
nonknowledge is “epistemic expenditure.” In the fourth chapter I will return to our virtue epistemology cluster in order to
claim that if we think nonknowledge has got something right, we have committed ourselves to a position that is at odds
with what some in virtue epistemology—under the umbrella of classical epistemology and classical knowing—have said
about the nature of knowledge and its relationship to utility, acquisition, teleology, communicability, and productivity.
The fourth chapter is where I hone in on the central positive argument that nonknowledge can in fact be a feature of
knowledge-creation. This is in line with a pre-existing claim (from Bataille and Bataille scholars like Ladelle McWhorter4)
that nonknowledge is already occurring within knowledge.

Part 1: Virtue Epistemology, Subset of Epistemology


In this introductory chapter, I identify eight
presumptions in the sampling of one particular
conversation in virtue epistemology. We will discuss these presumptions briefly but in some detail (before
returning to the cluster after the explanation of nonknowledge), in order to do justice to the conversation taking place in
our cluster. Rather than artificially separate the virtue epistemology conversation into eight sections that match the
following eight points, we will follow the conversation as it unfolds, pausing at times to reflect on how we see the
presumptions at work in the conversation. Because the
presumptions are persistent qualities, we
cannot simply point to each moment they arise and leave it at that. We have to follow the
conversation to see their persistence.
Here are the presumptions of classical epistemology we can see at work in the virtue epistemology cluster:

1. That knowledge is communicable, especially in the form of clear


propositions.
2. That knowledge can be continuously acquired, as though it were a good.
3. That the acquisition of knowledge has an aim—that it is a teleological
pursuit.
4. That knowledge is valuable.
5. That knowledge is useful.
6. That what counts as knowledge can be objectively determined (and
relatedly, that it is measurable as a system of debit and credit.)
7. That virtue epistemology is a distinct community which forms the
authority on matters of knowledge (why knowledge is valuable, who gets to
be a knower, etc.)
8. That the intellectual character of the knower plays an important role in
how and why knowledge is acquired5.
These presumptions demonstrate what I will identify as the “closed” or “restricted” nature
of this particular economy of knowledge. What this means is that as an expression of
philosophy (more generally), epistemology (more specifically), and the virtue epistemology
conversation (even more specifically), that they are limiting. The presumptions patrol the borders
of knowledge in a way that is detrimental to the discovery of new knowledge; namely, they
cannot see the “waste” that ought to play an integral part in the creation of knowledge. In
this particular virtue epistemology conversation, we see this limiting and patrolling happen via a focus
on teleology, acquisition, and utility/production. In order to demonstrate that this focus on utility/production,
acquisition, and teleology is not unique to our virtue epistemology conversation, we have to
move outward, and backward. We can begin by looking to Aristotle, as Zagzebski, Greco, and Sosa all happen to
employ some version of an Aristotelian notion of virtue in their respective versions of a proper virtue epistemology.

In Book VI of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle determines that knowledge must be demonstrable,
first and foremost: “Knowledge, then, is the state of capacity to demonstrate [...] for it is when a man believes in a certain
way and the principles are known to him that he has knowledge, since if they are not better known to him than the
conclusion, he will have his knowledge only incidentally” (1139b 31-5). Aristotelian
knowledge (not to be confused
with phronesis, or practical wisdom6) thus requires accountability and reliability of the knower, and
communicability of the knowledge itself. In the Aristotelian tradition of defining, separating, and
categorizing, we can see the history of knowledge in philosophy as a kind of entomology of
thought and language (from the Greek entomos, “that which is cut in pieces or segmented7”): a dissecting,
labeling, storing, displaying, and careful considering of both the workings of the intellect
and our ways of communicating the workings of the intellect8. And as the descendant of Aristotle,
philosophy has held tight to the Aristotelian notion that knowledge requires demonstrability .
Demonstrability includes communicability; we see this reflected, for example, in the large body of
epistemological literature devoted to testimony9. Demonstrability includes utility, as it is
through demonstrability that utility can be determined. We will see this reflected in the
virtue epistemology conversation, but we see it reflected more generally in the history of philosophy. Shannon
Winnubst expresses concern that in epistemology and philosophy we see knowledge
being “ordered sequentially as the progressive development of clearer and more useful endpoints,” such that
utility becomes the primary interest. Philosophy’s accounts of knowledge have thus
required an increased focus on utility, such that utility may be “our highest value”:
This teleological order narrows in scope in later modern thought, exemplified perhaps in the texts
of John Locke, where utility becomes the singular criterion to determine the
satisfaction of desire’s demands: we know who/what we are through the usefulness that our lives/actions
achieve. Across both of these schemas of broad teleology and more narrow utility,
knowledge is ordered sequentially as the progressive development of clearer and more
useful endpoints. The demarcation of each segment of thinking—of each concept—thereby becomes
critical to the forward march of knowledge’s ordering of experience and the world. [...] If this
construction of meaning through the delimitation of concepts is the necessary structure
of knowledge, then we find ourselves embedded not only in a limited economy
of the psychosocial world through desire-prohibition-identity, but also in a limited
economy of epistemology: our very impulses to find meaning (through teleology broadly, and
utility specifically) and the way that we undertake this process (through the delimitation of concepts)
may already enact a normative order of knowledge that sufficiently conditions the emergence of utility
as our highest value (“Bataille’s Queer Pleasures,” RBN 85-6).

Winnubst’s concern is pertinent. In the introduction to The Web of Belief, for example, Quine and Ullian dismiss any line
of thought that does not clearly contribute to “acquiring and sustaining right beliefs,” because acquiring right beliefs is
useful:

A current Continuing Education catalogue offers a course description, under the heading “Philosophy”, that typifies the
dark view at its darkest: “Children
of science that we are, we have based our cultural patterns on
logic, on the cognitive, on the verifiable. But more and more there has crept into current
research and study the haunting suggestion that there are other kinds of knowledge
unfathomable by our cognition, other ways of knowing beyond the limits of our logic, which are
deserving of our serious attention.” Now “knowledge unfathomable by our cognition” is
simply incoherent, as attention to the words makes clear. Moreover, all that creeps is not gold. One
wonders how many students enrolled. Not that soberly seeking to learn is all there
should be; let there be fun and games as well. But let it also be clear where the boundaries are. A
person might have a moderately amusing time playing with a Ouija board, but if he drifts
into the belief that it is a bona fide avenue to discovery then something has gone amiss.
We will not pursue the possible socio-benefits of anti-rational doctrines; in our eyes, much better escapes
from reality are available, if that’s what’s wanted. In the chapters ahead we will be interested in the ways
of acquiring and sustaining right beliefs, be they pleasant or painful (The Web of Belief 5).

This example is a bit comical, but noticethe dismissal of anything that might be conceived
of as “anti-rational”—a dismissal so complete it reduces any “anti-rational” thought to
playing with a Ouija board. Quine and Ullian imply that “anti-rationality” ought to be dismissed
precisely because it cannot assist with acquisition—“acquiring and sustaining right beliefs” (ibid). In
more contemporary mainstream epistemology, Timothy Williamson expresses the same
necessity for utility and teleology: “Desire aspires to action; belief aspires to knowledge.
The point of desire is action; the point of belief is knowledge” (Knowledge and its Limits 1). Or
within mainstream feminist epistemology, Linda Alcoff and Elizabeth Potter stress the importance of
granting epistemic authority to women and other historically excluded
groups in order to expand and increase the production of knowledge. This is
ultimately a concern with utility: “For feminists, the purpose of epistemology is not only
to satisfy intellectual curiosity, but also to contribute to an emancipatory goal: the
expansion of democracy in the production of knowledge” (Feminist Epistemologies 13).
More generally, Michel Foucault
identifies this utility-orienting movement as an
“epistemologization” of all branches of thought and knowledge, beginning with John Locke10 and
(the economist) Richard Cantillon11, and eventually becoming “the analysis of the episteme” (The Archaeology of
Knowledge 187-191). Foucault’s
immediate concern is not the ways in which episteme requires
utility, but the ways in which it requires formalization and legislation (and then, secondarily or
tertiarily, utility):

This episteme may be suspected of being something like a world-view, a slice of history
common to all branches of knowledge, which imposes on each one the same norms and
postulates, a general stage of reason, a certain structure of thought that the men of a particular
period cannot escape—a great body of legislation written once and for all by some anonymous hand. By episteme, we
mean, in fact, the total set of relations that unite, at a given period, the
discursive practices that give
rise to epistemological figures, sciences, and possibly formalized systems; [...]
The episteme is not a form of knowledge (connaissance) or type of rationality which, crossing the boundaries of the most
varied sciences, manifests the sovereign unity of a subject, a spirit, or a period; it
is the totality of relations that
can be discovered, for a given period, between the sciences when one analyses them at
the level of discursive regularities (ibid 191).
Thus the examplesof philosophy’s utility-focus in this document cannot possibly be a
comprehensive list of all the utility-focused moments in philosophy. But they can illustrate
the discursive regularities of justifying the pursuit of knowledge via utility, and they can
illustrate that this utility-orientation is not limited to the virtue epistemology conversation. We cannot present here “the
total set of relations” that unite the discursive practice of epistemology, or virtue epistemology, but we can examine the
discursive practices in one particular conversation, understanding that the smaller
conversation is a representative of the dominant, formalized discourse. What we find is a
distinct emphasis on utility and teleology. I will claim that this focus on utility and teleology is part of
what makes for a “closed” economy of knowledge. And we will see, especially, that virtue
epistemology’s focus on intellectual character is a doubling-down on the importance of
utility: the concern with intellectual virtue is ultimately a concern with utility, but it is not
enough that one’s knowledge may be useful; the way in which one’s knowledge is sought,
produced, communicated, and acquired must also serve utility, and it must be done by making use
of one’s suite of intellectual virtues.

We can move further outward in scope to see Bataille’s


ultimate example of the closed system of
knowledge: the Hegelian dialectic. The Hegelian dialectic is “closed” because it offers the
promise of completion, finality, “salvation”—that is, the objectivity of absolute
knowledge:
A comic little summary. Hegel, I imagine, touched upon the extreme limit. He was still young and believed himself to be
going mad. I even imagine that he worked out the system in order to escape (each type of conquest is, no
doubt, the deed of a man fleeing a threat). To conclude, Hegel attains satisfaction, turns his back
on the extreme limit. Supplication is dead within him. Whether or not one seeks salvation, in any
case, one continues to live, one can’t be sure, one must continue to supplicate. While yet alive, Hegel won
salvation, killed supplication, mutilated himself. Of him, only the handle of a shovel
remained, a modern man. But before mutilating himself, no doubt he touched upon the
extreme limit, knew supplication: his memory brought him back to the perceived abyss,
in order to annul it! The system is the annulment (IE 43; emphases Bataille’s).
For Bataille, the
problem with Hegel’s system is that it is “unable to sustain the
unknowability of the unknown and the unknowable” (Boldt-Irons, On Bataille 5). When Hegel
encountered the unknowable—the “extreme limit”—he receded and found
the solid ground of a system, of the known and the knowable. Bataille accuses
Hegel of using “system” to annul the “extreme limit” of unknowability. Hegel’s system is thus
“closed”; there is no opening into the unknowable. But Bataille believed and found
multiple ways to claim that a “closed” system need not be closed: “I think of my life—or better yet,
its abortive condition, the open wound that my life is—as itself constituting a refutation of Hegel’s closed system” (Guilty
12412). In relation to knowledge and nonknowledge specifically, Bataille
claims that outside the
closed system of Hegelian knowledge is nonknowledge: “Beyond all knowledge there is
non-knowledge and he who would become absorbed in the thought that beyond his knowledge he knows nothing—even
were he to have within him Hegel’s inexorable lucidity—would no longer be Hegel, but a painful tooth in Hegel’s mouth”
(IE 169).

Bataille seeks to find a way of knowing and a way of expressing such knowing that is free
from “method,” “discourse,” “project,” “system,” or any other stricture philosophy has placed on
thinking, reasoning, wondering, and all other mental activity, and the ways we report on such
mental activity. For Bataille the problem with “method” or “project” or whatever else we
might call it, as we will see, is that it is yoked to utility, teleology, production, acquisition, and thus
to a system of limiting what we think and what we imagine it is possible to think.
Jacques Derrida writes, “philosophy is work itself according to Bataille” (Writing and Difference 252; emphasis Derrida’s).
Jeffrey Kosky echoes this:

Project makes every moment of life servile by valuing it solely in relation to its usefulness
in producing a desired end. It finds an ally or mirror, according to Bataille, in the forms of knowledge and
rationality promoted by Hegelian systematic philosophy. For Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, according to
Bataille, reasonable thought is systematic thought that sees each individual and each
moment in relation to the whole that transcends it. Bataille was sensitive to the fact that
the Hegelian dialectic of consciousness is driven by unhappy consciousness and that it
represents the historical progress of the slave who survives the struggle with the master.
The Hegelian spirit, which for Bataille
expressed the spirit of modernity, belongs therefore to a
sad, servile, and serious culture, a culture that is always on the job, one that has no time for errant
moments of laughter, tears, drunkenness, or ecstasy (“Georges Bataille’s Religion without Religion” 80).

According to Bataille, utility is the “spirit of modernity.” That is, the obsession with
demonstrating one’s value in reference to one’s work (“always on the job”), in reference to
one’s seriousness and work ethic (“no time for errant moments”), and in reference to one’s
productivity (a representation of the “historical progress of the slave who survives the struggle with the master”—
what we might call “upward mobility”). The question for this project—this document—then, is how
to explain somewhat systematically a way of knowing that is free from “system” and the
other requirements of philosophy-as-work.

Productivity colludes with the necropolitical order of


consumption where the US educational apparatus uses the
image of perfection to watch a mirage of their own grandeur
rather than looking at the forces that exceed it. Suppressing the
animalistic forces that exist within our being through the
enforcement of societies into static notions of subjectivity along
the lines of the perfect “human”.
Rowe 17. James, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. “Georges Bataille,
Chögyam Trungpa, and Radical Transformation: Theorizing the Political Value of Mindfulness”, The Arrow: A Journal of
Wakeful Society, Culture, and Politics, 4(2) | rpadhi

What possibly could Bataille, the controversial author of pornographic novels, have in
common with Trungpa, a meditation master trained in monastic Tibet? e resonances are
surprisingly plentiful. Indeed, cul- tural theorist Marcus Boon recently called Trungpa the “most Batail- lean of
contemporary Tibetan teachers.”11 To reverse the comparison, we could also say that Bataille was a particularly
“Trungpian” European philosopher. Bataille’s interest in Tibetan culture was longstanding. He trained in the language,
expressed interest in travelling to the country, and planned to write a book on tantra.12 Besides their shared appreci- ation
for tantric practice and the sacred potential of carnal pleasures like love-making and liquor, these apparently disparate
thinkers are primarily linked by their shared emphasis on what I will call existential resentment, when explaining worldly
challenges like economic inequal- ity and nuclear build-up. By existential resentment, I mean the felt smallness that
humans can feel in the face of our nite and eshy existence.13 Both Bataille and Trungpa, in their
respective works, articulate how easy it is for humans to feel small and servile in the face
of a contingent existence, and how this felt servility often fuels compensatory desires for
aggrandizement and domination, desires with profound material e ects. For Trungpa, we
struggle with a “fear of death, fear of oneself, and fear of others” that fuels aggressive behavior.14 Similarly,
Bataille sees humanity as “re- volting intimately against the fact of dying, generally
mistrusting the body, that is, having a deep mistrust of what is accidental, natural,
perishable.”15 This mistrust fuels efforts to best others as a way of com- pensating for the
lack of power and control we can feel in the face of decay. Both Trungpa and Bataille draw a strong
causal link between existential resentment and dominative social relations. Bataille and Trungpa’s resonant approaches to
the origins and ces- sation of domination complement each other in vital ways. Bataille is clearer than Trungpa, for
example, in linking existential rancor to spe- ci c forms of systemic domination. For
Bataille, “an active
intention to surpass and destroy animal nature within us” is responsible for the creation
of racial and class hierarchies; social distinctions that are estab- lished to help the elect
feel in control, at the top of the heap, removed from the domineering muck of nature.
Trungpa, on the other hand, tends to use more general terms like “chaos” and “aggression” when describing systemic
challenges.16 A strength of Bataille’s analysis is the direct link he makes between existential
resentment and particular sys- temic challenges such as class exploitation and racism. A
key strength of Trungpa’s corpus, however, is the re ned path of contemplative practice he o ers for transforming
existential resentment into gratitude and appreciation for earthly life. For Trungpa “medita- tion practice is regarded as a
good and in fact excellent way to overcome warfare in the world: our own warfare as well as greater warfare.”17 Bataille
meditated himself, and was one of the first Euro-American philosophers to take mind-body practices seriously as tools for
individ- ual and cultural transformation. The actual meditations he developed, unfortunately, have limited transformative
value.18 While Bataille offers a clearer existential diagnosis of systemic challenges, Trungpa’s body of teachings and
methodology for treatment are more robust.
Bataille’s rich theoretical work, however, can help
inform the teach- ing of meditation in social movements and in the broader culture. To
concretize this point, I put Bataille’s materialist account of earthly rich- ness into conversation with Trungpa’s meditations
on “basic goodness.” Before turning to this comparative work, I focus the beginning and middle sections of this essay on
Bataille and Trungpa’s respective ex- planations for domination, and why they both see existential change strategies like
meditation—and other methods for transforming the self and our experience of the world—as integral to radical social
trans- formation. While a key in uence for better-known theorists like Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Judith
Butler, Bataille remains a marginal gure in most political theory. As Robyn Marasco recently noted, “precious little has
been said about Bataille as a resource for philosophical cri- tique and political theory.”19 Bataille’s work, meanwhile, is
teeming with insights, especially ones that bear directly on the relationship be- tween contemplative practice and social
change. Deeply in influenced by Eastern philosophy, Bataille is representative of a centuries-old tradition in Euro-
American philosophy of drawing on Buddhist ideas.20 Like Buddhist philosophers, Bataille offers an ex- planation of
strife that is rooted in human resistance to the contin- gency and finitude of existence. But his account, while influenced
by Buddhism, more directly links human dissatisfaction with mortality to systemic domination, particularly along the axes
of race and class. Because of Bataille’s analysis of domination, he is one of the first Eu- ropean philosophers to take mind-
body practices seriously as tools for cultural and political change. Bataille
is a vital—if sometimes unset-
tling—ally in ongoing e orts to better understand how contemplative praxis relates to
social change. Putting Bataille’s thought to use for Left political theory and prac- tice is
not a straightforward process.21 A number of his interests were outrageous (human sacrifice, necrophilia, and
orgiastic debauchery) and are not easily reconciled with Leftist morality, or most moral con- ventions for that matter.22
Bataille’s transgressive pursuits help explain why such a generative philosopher remains relatively marginal.23 But while
outrageous, Bataille’s intellectual and lived transgressions were intelligible. One need not endorse Bataille’s darker
proclivities to ap- preciate his general encouragement of practices that might better align cultures with the always- fleeting
present and transform existential re- sentment into earthly affirmation. Bataille’ssometimes-fumbling
search for micropolitical strategies that work on the existential plane (fears, af- fects,
habits) is sensible when we consider his diagnosis of domination. Bataille’s analysis of
domination is rooted in his study of the body, and the terror and shame human animals
can feel before it. The body is unpredictable: It leaks, expels, hungers, fails, and
ultimately dies. Our bodies are our opening to life, but also to death. And this inevita- ble death seems to suggest
insigni cance before the putrefaction from which we come and will one day return. Humans, Bataille writes in his
masterwork The Accursed Share, “[appear] to be the only animal to be ashamed of that nature whence he comes, and from
which he does not cease to have departed.”24 We
feel primal shame, according to Bataille, because
the decay we are conscious of suggests servility and baseness.25 is primary disdain for
animal nature, and our dependence upon it, spurs fantastical e orts to dominate our
bodies, each other, and the more-than-human-world in attempts to o set felt servility
with felt dominance. For Bataille, much of human history can be read as a per- manent
struggle against animality.26 In e Accursed Share he observes that humanity “resembles those parvenus who are
ashamed of their humble origin. ey rid themselves of anything suggesting it. What are the ‘noble’ and ‘good’ families,” he
writes of upper class morality, “if not those in which their lthy birth is the most carefully concealed?”27 One of the crucial
rationales for accumulating wealth, according to Bataille, is that material riches help us distinguish ourselves not only
from animality, but also from those we take to be nature’s proxies in our fantastical e orts to dominate the nature we fear.
Proxies, in the Euro-American context, have included Indigenous peoples, women,
people of color, and workers. These proxies have been discursive- ly linked to animal nature and then
materially controlled in e orts to provide compensatory hits of dominion. For Bataille, “[i]t is not so much wealth... that
distinguishes, that quali es socially, as it is the greatest distance from animality.”28 We
dominate our bodies
and each other in e orts to surpass and ultimately control our animality, our
impermanence. is desire to “destroy the animal nature within us,” he suggests, lurks
behind many of our most vexing political and ecological problems.29 In Bataille’s view, the pull of
existential resentment is universal; it is a human strug- gle.30 He is attuned, however, to the important mediating role
played by culture. Individuals and cultures relate to existential realities like impermanence in multiple ways. Tibetan
Buddhism, for example, of- fers meditative practices for befriending the reality of death. We
are not destined to
resentfully interpret death as domineering, or to ee from felt servility with fantasies of
mastery. Bataille surveys multiple cultures in e Accursed Share, but his en- gagement with Tibetan Buddhism is most
germane to this analysis. His musings on Tibetan Buddhism are often selective and incomplete characterizations of the
tradition, but they nevertheless o er useful frames for transforming existential resentment. Bataille saw the culture and
economy of Tibet before the Chinese invasion in 1959 as a glori- ous e ort to a rm the totality of life, including death. He
admired, for example, the Tibetan tantric practice of meditating in graveyards.31 e bene t of these practices, according to
Bataille, is that if existential resentment leads to compensatory self-seeking, then a rming the to- tality of life, including
death, can produce an ethos of generosity. Prior to China’s occupation, Tibetan wealth was poured into devel- oping an
extensive network of monasteries devoted to a religion that encourages openness to the reality of death and the changeful
present. In 1917, according to rough estimates provided by British diplomat Charles Bell, monastic budgets were double
that of the government and eight times that of the army.32 In
Bataille’s view, Tibetan energetic and
material investments were successful in creating a culture that be- stows prestige upon
self-overcoming and compassion instead of upon avarice and accumulation.33 Bataille’s
enthusiasm for Tibetan culture was not ungrounded. ere were important material manifestations of Buddhism’s empha-
sis on primordial richness and universal well-being before the Chinese invasion. Because a majority of productive land was
under the Dalai Lama’s sway, for example, the private enclosure of common land that kick-started capitalism in Great
Britain was less imaginable and action- able in Tibet.34 And while land belonged to the Dalai Lama, tax-paying peasants
held relatively inalienable usufruct rights, granting them open access to the means of subsistence. e cultural priority that
Tibetan Buddhism places on transforming existential resentment into earthly a rmation does appear to have helped
nurture relatively equal access to land. Moreover, after the Chinese Revolution in 1949, Tibetan intellec- tuals—including
the current Dalai Lama—hoped that modern social- ism could disrupt stubborn feudal hierarchies that predated
Buddhism’s hold on political power, and could better materialize the Buddhist em- phasis on universal well-being.35 Even
after Communist China’s colo- nization of Tibet, the Dalai Lama still refers to himself as “half-Marx- ist, half-Buddhist.”36
e Dalai Lama’s double allegiance is deserving of more analytical attention. Part
of my argument in this essay
is that the work of Georges Bataille, the tantric communist, can support the de-
velopment of Buddhist socialism and the ongoing integration of medi- tative praxis into
secular and multi-faith social movements.37 Part of the story that Bataille does not cover, however, is that
Ti- bet still experienced economic hierarchy, gender-based oppression, and corruption. There was a class system, for
example, that di erentiated monks, aristocrats, peasants, nomads, and servants, as well as outcasts akin to Indian
“untouchables” who performed undesirable tasks such as blacksmithing, butchering, and corpse disposal.38 Bataille was
not typically prone to idealism, but Tibet took his breath away; his account of the country is marked by Orientalist
idealization.39 According to Donald Lopez Jr., Bataille’s analysis ts within an overly simplistic Eu- ro-American pattern of
presenting Tibetan culture as a balm that can “regenerate the West by showing us, prophetically, what we can be by
showing us what it had been.”40
Despite Bataille’s romantic view of Tibet, he was ultimately a
tragic thinker. He did not hold to the prospect of a utopian future where the “the pursuit
of rank and war” is perfectly transformed.41 Bataille evinc- es a tragic radicalism; he locates drivers of
domination in our existential condition as animals that die, know we die, and easily feel fear and ser- vility in light of
inevitable decay. Since our mortality is hard fact, com- pletely undoing compensatory desires for dominion is unlikely in
his estimation. And
yet by locating a root driver for dominance-seeking, Bataille’s work
breaks ground for radical politics; it offers a pathway towards increasing, if not perfect
and nal, liberation. One of the implications of Bataille’s analysis is that mind-body
practices should become central, instead of merely supplementary, to processes of
transformative political change. Bataille understood that moving from a culture that
interprets death as a domineering master to one a affirming mortality as a necessary
movement in the general gen- erosity of life requires practices that enable the felt
experience of basic richness.42
In response to this we must become as stigmatics before the
altar – opening up the wounds of the flesh as a communicative
laceration of the self. This results in a radical openness to the
outside maximizing the cosmic life force within us through the
inherent waste or animality within the self. In front of this altar
we engage in the beheading of the societal values of education –
refusing closure to move life to the limit. This mode of visceral
rupture allows us to move communication from the rational to
the irrational, God to the headless and from safety to a gaping
wound from the executioner.
MacKendrick’09 – Karmen MacKendrick is Professor of Philosophy at Le Moyne College. She is the
author of many books, including Word Made Skin: Figuring Language at the Surface of Flesh; Fragmentation and
Memory: Meditations on Christian Doctrine; and Divine Enticement: Theological Seductions (all Fordham). ““The
Obsessions of Georges Bataille Community and Communication” Chapter 8 136-143 KZaidi

In other words, stigmatic religiosity is intense and corporeal, as we might indeed expect; it is, for
those who are taking it seriously, communication with the incarnate passion of God.The
opened space in the body is also the mark of the opening of a communicative space, a
creation of community with Christianity's embodied divine. Bataille distinguishes the communication
that links two beings from that in which being itself is shattered— communica tion with
the beyond, the ungraspable, the sense of one’s own death (OC 5: 388/G 139). Stigmata,
communication by being-in-common with the pain of the passion, is fascinating in some measure
because it insists upon both at once: communication with the person of Christ and the mutual
beyond of agonizing death, in which God, too, “is" otherwise than being.
Bataille writes that communication requires laceration, a violent openness:
The more perfect, the more isolated or confined to ourselves we are. But the
wound of incompleteness opens
me up.Through what could be called incompleteness or animal nakedness or the wound, the different separate
beings communicate, acquiring life by losing it in communication with each other. (OC 5: 263/G
27)

And again:

Incompletion, the wound, and the pain that has to be there if com munication is to take
place. Completion— the contrary of this.
What's requisite for communication is a defect or ‘fault.' Communication enters like
death through a chink in the armor. What's required is an overlapping of two
lacerations, mine and yours. (OC 5: 266/G 30)
Seldom, of course, is the laceration as literal as that of wounds open ing in the skin. But the
woundedness of the stigmatic is never “simply” physical in a reductive sense; rather, the physical
suffering seems invariably to be accompanied by an intensity of spiritual or psychological
"experience" that necessarily registers as agonizing. 18 Bataille too emphasizes not only the wound but
also its painfulness (OC 5: 266/G 30); laceration is not the neatly anaesthetized opening
of a surgical procedure. It is only thus that the wound cuts all the way through, from
skin to self.
Pain is constant, a necessary attendant to the experience but also essential in itself, as the rending intensity
of this communication necessarily exceeds the boundaries of pleasure; as pain functions
both as a sign of this intensity and as a means of intensification. Rene Biot writes that suffering “is never
absent, whatever the form of stigmatization. It is always intense.”19 Often the stigmata seem to
hurt just as if the marks had been received by more evident means. Or, as in the case of
nineteenth-century stigmatic Anne Catherine Emmerich, “a vision of Jesus appeared to her with wounds that ‘shone like
so many furnaces of light’ and felt as if they burnt into her flesh.”20

This communicative agony might seem an unlikely place for the sacred, given Bataille’s
insistence, “For those who understand communication as laceration, communication is sin,
or evil. It’s a breaking of the established order” (OC 5: 305/G 65). But it is important that
this sense of “evil" is "a breaking of the established order,” including the order of the profane
and the sustainable hierarchy of the church (always threatened by ecstasy and charisma, both of which
tend to be rather strongly manifested by stig matics— think of the famous recent example of Padre Pio). The “apex of
sacrifice,” Bataille declares, is the “inexpiable crime” of the crucifixion; the body of the
stigmatic blurs the boundaries of sacrificial priest and victim, as Christ’s blurs those
between the sacrifice offered and the god to whom that offering is directed: all of sacrifice bleeds together
in the flowing of open wounds.
This sacrificial death of God, irredeemable except as self-redeeming (not after or despite, but in its mortal
violence), opens the space for the movement beyond subjectivity into the
opening o f the self. The contestation of the subject, the ripping-open of the self, comes out of
that subject's own agony of desire. The finitude of the self, the boundaries that make it, open to the
infinity of the divine, shattering in flesh and blood the order of the profane— in imitation of the mortal wounds of
the bleeding, dying, glori fied God. Here the sacred is not the “set apart,” but that which is neither
apart nor contained.21
In this ecstatic opening, communication becomes possible.This “experi ence” wounds—
opens— the finite creature: “ecstatic, breathless, experience thus opens a bit more every time the horizon of God (the
wound): extends a bit more the limits of the heart, the limits of being" (OC 5: 122/IE 103-04).
The horizon of God is the wound: so God too, at the limit of the divine, is wounded, and this indeed
is the point upon which stigmata are based. The wound opened in the stigmatic skin
bleeds out into the God who enters there.
Stigmatism belongs to a religious tradition emphasizing not only human but also divine
desire, God’s desire for entry into humanity, just as “No greater desire exists than a wounded person's
need for another wound” (OC 5: 267/G 31)—the desire invoked in those prayerful pleas for God’s wounding love.
Communication requires not one wound but (at least) two, “an overlapping of two
lacerations” (OC 5: 266/G 30). But to lacerate God, the only way to communicate, cannot be
other than sinful;22 hence sin and salvation are intertwined, again beyond a simple sense
in which one pays for the other.
The more obvious, and in fact simplistic, versions
of salvation would have stigmata be salvific in a
sort of working-off-the-debt arrangement; suffer enough, as those who are wounded and bleeding
surely do, and you get to go somewhere pretty and sit on clouds. 1 would like to suggest what seems to me a
somewhat richer possibility, in which suffering itself is transformed, not merely for what one gets as
a reward but inherently, in which mutilation transforms the possibilities of the self—by violently
opening the space of divine communication. Bataille calls ascetic activity mutilation, but he adds, “If it
is a question of salvation, let one mutilate” (OC 5: 36/IE 23). Thus one seeks to provoke
anguish, itself a means of knowing; “communication still is, like anguish, to live and to
know” (OC 5: 52/IE 39). This “knowledge” is not a set of facts, nor this communication their
transmission; it is the knowledge with which we return to ourselves from our own
ecstatic loss (OC 5: 67-68/IE 53). “Anguish assumes the desire to communicate— that
is, to lose myself—but not complete resolve: anguish is evidence of my fear of communicating, of losing myself”
(OC 5: 67/IE 53). Rapture or ecstasy occurs only in giving in, necessarily fleetingly, to self-
loss.
Lack or incompletion, implied by the opening in a space that seems to demand closure, is
likewise essential to communication; there must be a point of entry. God and human alike lack
wholeness (OC 5: 135/IE 116), are lacking, and are thus, potentially at least, open to one
another.23 This connects us back to the shocking foundation of Christianity in the sacrifice of God: “There’s a
necessity for god to be killed: to see the world in the weakness of incompletion.
The next thought to occur is that, come what may, the world has to be completed, although this is what’s
impossible and incomplete. Everything real fractures and cracks” (OC 5: 262/G 27).

Taking up Bataillean notions of communication and community, Jean-Luc Nancy and Maurice Blanchot understand community
as
the place in which the self becomes possible, not by isolation and boundary-marking but
by exposition, by being open to others, to otherness, and by being held in memory. Finite and limited, we
are not self-contained; as Nancy empha sizes, community is not a subsequent gathering of
individuals but the very undoing of the absolute immanence that individuality suggests.24
As we have already noted, the
space of communication demands for Bataille the violent
openness of laceration, a woundedness linked directly to the possibility of speaking: "Should one sew
my lips together,” Bataille asks, “like those of a wound!” (OC 5: 81/IE 67). Nancy warns against a simple conflation of
community and communicative laceration but notes that “what
tears apart is the presentation of finitude
in and by community.”23And it is not one-self that is lacerated:
What is lacerated . . . is not the singular being: on the contrary, this is where the singular
being compears. Rather, it is the communal fabric, it is immanence that is lacerated. And
yet this laceration does not happen to anything, for this fabric does not exist. There is no tissue, no flesh, no
subject or substance of common being, and consequently there is no laceration of this
being. But there is sharing out.... “Laceration” consists only in exposure: the entire
“inside” of the singular being is exposed to the “outside."2''
This openness to alterity is the space of community and communication for finite beings, so it might
seem to have little place in an effort to understand divine communication (at least in a
tradition that understands God as infinite). But stigmata emphasize the paradox of an infinite God
made flesh, sharing finitude, vulnerability, even mortality (if God is not dead, the resurrection is at best a
parlor trick) to emphasize that we are not only finite. They mark a sharing not in any
customary notion of divine glory but in the degradation of mutilation and the ecstasy of
suffering. Here, the stigmatic finds not “self” in the sense of individuality but the wounding of
subjectivity past mortal limits, the laceration of self that opens self onto the
unlimited.
Nancy in particular links community specifically to the Christian incar- national myth. Noting the dual and
conflicting Christian myths of the deus absconditus and the familial, familiar human god, he writes
that “the thought of community or the desire for it might well be nothing other than a
belated invention that tried to respond to the harsh reality of modern experience: namely, that
divinity was withdrawing indefinitely from immanence, that the god-brother was at bottom
luntself the deus absconditus ... and that the divine essence of community— or community as
the existence of a divine essence— was the impossible itself.”27 The impossible, o f course, is
precisely what draws Bataille’s interest. The divinity evoked by stigmata is not absolute
immanence any more than it is transcendence of the human condition; it is
woundedness, opening, the refusal of closure. It is the desire to experience at once
the fleeing of God, a God who seems to have forsaken the mortally wounded humanity of his son-self; and the God
who returns and sustains, who without closing the wounds nonetheless lives again in the
flesh. Thus stigmata mark at once the with-ness (the impossible necessity of community in the absence of
self-sufficiency) of finite and vulnerable beings, and ecstasy, the opening of the self to the
divine beyond finitude. “What community reveals to me,” says Nancy apropos of Bataille, “is my existence
outside myself.”38 But we may also think, with Blanchot, from the outside: what community with the divine reveals
is the outside of my existence, myself otherwise than in (my) being.

In a seeming paradox that echoes th is problematizing o f inside and out, Bataille connects “inner
experience,” that famously contradictory state that defies the interiority of the experiencing subject, to
community: “there cannot be ... inner experience without a community of those
who live it” (OC 5: 37/IE 24). Complete, whole beings would not communicate; they would
be “isolated or confined to [them]selves” (OC 5: 263/G 27). Blanchot similarly notes, "A being,
insufficient as it is, does not attempt to associate itself with another being to make up a
substance of integrity. The aware ness of the insufficiency arises from the fact that it puts itself
in question, which question needs the other or another to be enacted. Left on its own, a being closes
itself, falls asleep and calms down. A being is either alone or knows itself to be alone only when it
is not.”29 A being seeks others not in order to fill its gaps and complete itself but in order
to be exposed (open ing the “inside” of the singular being), to be present to the other in a way that
makes plain one’s incompleteness— or even makes one’s incompleteness. Thus one starts “being only
in that privation that makes it conscious ... of the impossibility of being itself, of
subsisting as its ipse or, if you will, as itself as a separate individual: this way it will perhaps ex-
ist, experiencing itself as an always prior exteriority, or as an existence shattered through and
through.”30 Again, stigmata make this literally clear, rupturing the body, mak ing the interior
blood and fluid exterior, the interior pain visibly manifest, the existence shattered, the
prayer suffer me not to be separated agonizingly fulfilled in open wounds, vivid welts,
bleeding eyes.
The opening of stigmata, the moment of community, of the violent intimacy o f
communication, is thus the moment o f laceration, o f the self not merely wounded
but torn apart by the ecstasy of the death of God. According to Blanchot, “Death, the death of the other,
like friendship or love, clears the space of intimacy or interiority which is never (for Georges
Bataille) the space o f a subject, but a gliding beyond limits. ‘T h e Inner Experience' says the
opposite of what it seems to say: it is a movement of contestation that, coming from the subject,
devastates it, but has as a deeper origin the relationship with the other which is
community itself, a com munity that would be nothing if it died not open the one who
exposes himself to it to the infiniteness of alterity, while at the same time deciding its inexorable
finitude.’” The subject desires to get out of itself, but this is self-loss; exposure to the divine
is a devastating intimacy at the intensity of death, where alone community can exist.
Thus, in
that moment of knowing ourselves to be alone— of participat ing in the passionate
question why have you forsaken me?— we seek not to be, seek the shattering of our own
existence, seek to put ourselves into question. Blanchot writes, “What, then, calls me into question most radically? Not
my relation to myself as finite or as the consciousness of being before death or for death, but my presence for another who
absents himself by dying.. .. to take upon myself another’s death as the only death that concerns
me, this is what puts me beside myself, this is the only separation that can open me, in its very
impossibility, to the Openness of a community."32 The stigmatic takes upon herself a
very peculiar death, a death with life at its maximum of intensity— eternal or divine life—
already bound up in it, an impossible death of a God in human flesh:13Thus too we find
community at its maximum. Blanchot writes, “What purpose does [community] serve? None, unless it
would be to make present the service to others unto/in death, so that the other does not get lost all alone___ Georges
Bataille writes: ‘ . . . a commu
nity can last only at the level of the intensity of death.' ”-14
Community here become salvific so that we do not get lost all alone.
Nancy likewise links death (which we, even knowing ourselves mortal, can only encounter as the death of an
other) intimately to community. “A community is the presentation to members of their mortal truth.... It is the
presentation of the finitude and the irredeemable excess that make up finite being: its
death, but also its birth, and only the community can present me my birth, and along with it
the impossibility of my reliving it, as well as the impossibility of my crossing over into my death.”3"The reliving of the
passion and crucifixion impossibly suspend the stigmatic between the moments of death
and birth: “to not reach an end was one of the exigencies of Bataille’s endeavor”'16 This is the realm of
Blanchot’s “unworking,” beyond questions of "production or completion.”17 The deadly
wounds of Christ perpetually reopen, unfinalized, incomplete, in the bodies of
communicating believers, bodies asking the impossible; that is, seeking union, fusion, the completion of
communication in another’s death; in that death, by its peculiarly double and
temporary character, is an infinity of life.
Community is inherently, necessarily unfinished, unclosed, and so at once finite— because it
does not extend forever, but lasts only at the inten sity of imminent destruction— and
without defined limits, even opening the ecstatically wounded body to the limitless joy and suffering of the divine.18
Stigmata represent a communicative pair, the stigmatic and Christ, less like the community of a
society and more like what Blanchot calls the "com munity of lovers”; "love . . . exposes
the unworking and therefore the inces sant incompletion of community. . . . Lovers form
the extreme though not the external limit o f community” 19 But, complicating the
distinction, stigmata occur disproportionately often in members o f religious
communities, pushing the community formed around the story of the incarnate God to
the limit o f recognizing that carnality within itself.
In the scar as a site o f memory, I recently argued, one finds oneself where one was
absent.41The site of the stigmatic wound may be more complex still. The wound is
the opening o f communication, the all-the-way-through laceration of body and spirit
without the strict division that modernity will impose upon them as if it were self-
evident. The edges of the stigmatics blood-seeping wounds overlap with those o f the
perpetually wounded figure of Christ (even in stories of his resurrected body, the wounds remain unhealed)
in a moment of impossible communication, the formation of an impossible community of self and
God, a community in which neither stigmatic nor God is a being in the sense of self-
containment, of definite, defined existent. The stigmata form community as the Eucharist forms
communion, at the moment of death with an emphasis on corporeality (this is my blood), but at
the same time at a moment of life pushed to shattering intensity. “The quick of life would
be the burn of a wound,” says Blanchot, and so it is here, God and human sharing the ultimate
vulnerability to death.41 In the presence of one dying, the stigmatic seems to be taken over by a
memory so somatic as to transform her identity into that of another. We may be assured that
Francis’ “fervour grew so strong within him that he became wholly transformed into Jesus
through his love and compassion," as if a singular identity were constituted repeatedly in
the bodies of stigmatics following Christ.42 Yet this is not quite right either; it is not the case that now there
are two of Christ and none of Francis or any other stigmatic, but rather that in this communication with the
open space of the sacred, neither human nor divine retains the identity o f presence.
Rather, “identity” is shared in the space of absence, in the inside-out of “inner” experience,
in the wound. In the presence o f one who is dying-— at the limit o f vulnerability— the
stigmatic does not merely reenact the passion and crucifixion of the sacrificed God but
sacrifices herself in communication: and this, this ecstatic vulnerability, this
violent intimacy, is what remains to us of the sacred after Christianity’s ultimate
paradoxical madness in the sacrifice of God.

Contention 8 is words from our Credible Death Sponsor Joseph


Halloween Krakoff:

“At my death
the horse teeth of the stars
whinny with laughter I death

blank death
moist grave
one-armed sun
the death-toothed gravedigger
effaces me
the raven-winged angel
cries
glory to thee


I am the emptiness of caskets
and the absence of myself
in the whole universe
the horns of joy
trumpet madly
and the sun's bull's-eye
explodes
death's thunder
fills the universe

too much joy


turns back the fingernails.

o collapse
ecstasy from which I fall
asleep
when I cry out
you who are and will be
when I will be no more
deaf X
giant mallet
crushing my head.1”

1 Bataille, 1999, 151


Joe and Will are both death, so if you attempt to answer this
argument on the terrain of the real you will assuredly die. We
are death too, and we have looked you in the face. Death always
has the last word. Death always wins. That means something
this time because _____ and I are also Death. Yum yum death
Bataille 1999, Georges, this dude was pure evil, The Impossible. Trans. Robert Hurley.
City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco, CA: 1999, 149-50
For whom are these serpents…? The unknown and death . . . without bovine silence,
the only kind strong enough on such paths. In that unknown, blind, I succumb I
renounce the reasoned exhaustion of possibles. Poetry is not a knowledge of
oneself, and even less the experience of a remote possible (of that which, before, was
not) but rather the simple evocation through words of inaccessible
possibilities. Evocation has the advantage over experience of richness and an endless
facility but it distances one from experience (which is essentially paralyzed). Without the
exuberance of evocation, experience would be rational. It begins to emanate from my
madness, if the impotence of evocation disgusts me. Poetry opens the night to
desire's excess. In me the night abandoned by the ravages of poetry is the measure of a
refusal-of my mad will to exceed the world. -Poetry also exceeded this world, but 1t could
not change me. My fictitious freedom tightened the constraints of the natural given more
than it weakened them. If I had been content with it, in the end I would have yielded to
the limit of that given. I continued to question the world's limit, seeing the
wretchedness of anyone who is content with it, and I couldn't bear the facility of
fiction for long: I demanded its reality, I became mad. If I was untruthful I
remained in the domain of poetry, of a verbal transcendence of the world. If I persevered
in a blind disparagement of the world, my disparagement was false (like the
transcendence). In a sense, my accord with the world deepened. But being unable to lie
knowingly, I became mad (capable of ignoring the truth).Or no longer knowing how, for
myself alone to
act out the farce of a delirium, I became mad again, but inwardly: I
experienced the night. Poetry was simply a detour: through it I escaped the
world of discourse, which had become the natural world for me; with poetry I
entered a kind of grave where the infinity of the possible was born from the
death of the logical world. Logic on its death bed gave birth to mad riches. But the
possible that's evoked is only unreal, the death of the logical world is unreal, everything
is shady and fleeting in that relative darkness. I can make light of myself and of others in
that darkness: all the real is valueless, every value unreal! Whence that facility
and that fatality of equivocations, where I don't know if I am lying or if I am
mad. Night's necessity springs from that unhappy situation. The night could only
proceed by way of a detour. The questioning of all things resulted from the exasperation
of a desire, which could not come to bear on the void! The object of my desire was
illusion first of all and could be the void of disillusion only in the second instance.

Questioning without desire is formal, immaterial. About it we cannot say, "It's the same
thing as man.” Poetry reveals a power of the unknown. But the unknown is only
an insignificant void if it is not the object of a desire. Poetry is a middle term, it
conceals the known within the unknown: it is the unknown painted in
blinding colors, in the image of a sun. Dazzled by a thousand figures composed of
worry, impatience, and love. Now my desire has just one object: the beyond of those
thousand figures, and the night. But in the night, desire tells lies and in this way night
ceases to be its object. This existence led by me "in the night" resembles that of the lover
at the death of his beloved, of Orestes learning of Hermione’s suicide. In the form that
night takes, existence cannot recognize "what it anticipated."

We must collapse and force the structures of language to failure


in order for communication to occur. We are the production of
animal difference within communication to realize the futility of
debates own mode of communicability.
Lerman’15 – Lindsay Lerman – University of Guelph Philosophy Department, Graduate Student. Studies
Epistemology, Georges Bataille – “Georges Bataille’s “Nonknowledge” as Epistemic Expenditure: An Open Economy of
Knowledge” pg 40-43 KZaidi

“Socratic College” also contains multiple claims


that some kind of failure is necessarily part of
communication. In this sense, what is “fragile” is not just a potential connection because
full or “perfect” connection is simply not possible: what is “fragile” in this sense is the
content of communication. Without clearly marking the fact that he is doing so, Bataille is slipping
from making claims about modes of communication into making claims about the
content of communication. Bataille is claiming here that something will always go unsaid or be
unclear in communication. Similarly, that indeterminacy is a permanent feature of
attempts at conceptualization—that is, the move from our inner workings to our
reports on those inner workings. This particular kind of failure is necessary and unavoidable,
and Bataille advocates allowing and—stronger yet—protecting it29: “[...] it is not too much to ask anyone
who persists in wanting to live completely not to put on too many airs and, as there is always filth where there is life, to get
used to filth” (USN 5).

This failure is part and parcel of the impossibility of Bataille’s notion of


communication. Denis Hollier writes:
The matrix of communication is the principle of inadequacy that Bataille formulated in
this terms: ‘Man is what he lacks.’ Consequently, it is the production of this lack (not its suppression)
that is the issue. If a being exists only through communication, then communication itself is nothing if
not the sacrifice of a being: ‘I propose to acknowledge as law that human beings are never united
with each other except through tears or wounds’ [“The College of Sociology” Oeuvres Complétes
2:370].

claims that Bataille advocates embracing


In Politics, Writing, Mutilation, Allan Stoekl
“impossible difference” and “duplicity” in communication30 (99). I intend to push this claim a
bit, however, to say that what Bataille is encouraging us to embrace is the very
incommensurability of the co-occuring, simultaneous possibility and impossibility of
communication. Understanding the necessary failure of communication is essential
to understanding what communication is. This must be done, according to Bataille, not to shirk
the responsibilities communication saddles us with, but in order to get to the bottom of the difficulty—
the tension—that is a necessary part of all communication. In “Socratic College” Bataille insists
that he is not drawing attention to the insufficiency of human communication in order to
sidestep the challenge of explaining communication altogether but in order to “get to the
bottom of this difficulty” (USN 6) which is communicating and explaining communication.
What is the “impossible
difference” between the possibility and the impossibility of
communication? What is the “difficulty” Bataille needs to “get to the bottom of”? It is a
failure in communication that has to do with an inconsistency
communication necessarily requires: “Only propositions reduced to a clear form—stripped
of poetic artifice as much as possible—can truly engage consciousness and connect experiences” (USN 9). And yet (here is
the trouble): “A portion of the expression of inner experience is necessarily poetic and cannot be
translated into clear propositions, though I can clearly say that this is so” (ibid; emphasis mine). This
particular failure of communication is an elaboration on the impossibility that also constitutes
Bataille’s notion of communication. This failure— propositions must be clear in order that
experience be communicable, yet some experiences (inner experience) cannot be clearly or fully
communicated, especially in propositional form—is the “impossible difference” Stoekl
identifies as that which Bataille recommends. It is what Bataille strives to “protect.”

And so, Bataille’s notion of communication is tense. It is always animated by a tension between two conflicting facts:
communication fails; communication succeeds. Communication is impossible, communication is possible. Stoekl
interprets this tension thusly: “language is not unitary or simple,” but this is not the full
story (Politics, Writing, Mutilation 92). To communicate adequately, attentively, is an impossible
task, but nevertheless, we do it, Bataille does it, it happens. In “Socratic College,” this is an
ontological claim. According to Bataille, it is a necessary fact of our existence as
communicators.
What does it mean to say that communication can and does “fail”? For Bataille (in 1942), this
means three things: 1) Something that is meant to be communicated is not
communicated. When something meant to be communicated is not, Bataille says that
this can be chalked up to (2) a failure of “authenticity” (USN 5). Bataille states that the “question
of authenticity” (ibid.) is always present in communication. A failure of authenticity can be
the result of many things: distraction during communication, embarrassment or shyness to say
what is meant, lacking an ability to immediately arrive at the “right words,” having a weak or insufficient
grasp on what a conversational partner means with her words, not taking the time to
determine what the partner means to say. Bataille’s recommendation of not “putting on too many airs” in
communication locates the hub of his notion of authenticity, and the site of another significant kind of failure in
communication: paying greater attention to how one sounds, seems, or comes across than to
the communication with another being: listening, hearing, responding. The remaining eleven
pages of “Socratic College” suggest that Bataille wants to endorse a particular orientation toward
communication that is focused on the ability to listen, hear, and then respond. This new
orientation toward communication strives for not being too proud or embarrassed to say
what one intends to say. It strives also to pay attention to the fragility of communication and
the person with whom one communicates. Indeed, another “failure” of communication named in 1942
is (3) pushing that fragile something in communication too far, pushing it until it
dies.

Rather than a process of revealing knowledge or meaning, we


opt for continuing to ensure inaccessibility and mysterious
evasion. The purpose of voting aff is to endlessly sharpen the
knives of a nihilist methodology on the simulated bodies of
disciplinary objects
Agamben 77. Giorgio Agamben, Stanzas, pg. xv-xvi
It is possible, perhaps, to accept that a novel may never actually recount the story it has
promised to tell. But it is common to expect results of a work of criticism, or at least arguable
positions and, as they say, working hypotheses. Yet when the term “criticism” appears in the
vocabulary of Western philosophy, it signifies rather inquiry at the limits of knowledge about
precisely that which can be neither posed nor grasped. If criticism, insofar as it traces the limits
of truth, offers a glance of “truth’s homeland” like “an island nature has enclosed within
immutable boundaries,” it must also remain open to the fascination of the “wide and storm-
tossed sea” that draws “the sailor incessantly toward adventures she knows not how to refuse
yet may never bring to an end.”

Thus for the Jena group, which attempted through the project of a “universal progressive
poetry” to abolish the distinction between poetry and the critical-philological disciplines, a
critical work worthy of the name was one that included its own negation; it was, therefore, one
whose essential content consisted in precisely what it did not contain. The corpus of the
European critical essay in the present century is poor in examples of such a genre. Leaving aside
a work that by its very absence is “more than complete”—that of Felix Feneon, celui qui silence
(he who silences)—there is strictly speaking perhaps only a single book that deserves to be
called critical: the Urspring des deutschen Trauerspiel (The origin of the German tragic drama) of
Walter Benjamin.

A certain sign of the extinction of such critical thinking is that among those who today draw
their authority more or less from the same tradition there are many who proclaim the creative
character of criticism—precisely when the arts have for some time renounced all pretense at
creativity. If the formula of “both poet and critic” (poietes hama kai kritikos), applied for the
first time in antiquity to the Alexandrian poet-philologist Philitas, may once again serve as an
exemplary definition of the modern artist, and if criticism today truly identifies with the work of
art, it is not because criticism itself is also “creative,” but (if at all) insofar as the criticism is also
a form of negativity. Criticism is in fact nothing other than the process of its own ironic self-
negation: precisely a “self-annihilating nothing,” or a “god that self-destructs,” according to
Hegel’s prophetic, if ill-willed, definition. Hegel’s objection, that “Mister Friedrich von Schlegel,”
Solger, Novalis, and other theoreticians of irony remained stalled at “absolute infinite
negativity” and would have ended by making of the least artistic “the true principle of art,”
marketing “the unexpressed as the best thing,” misses the point: that the negativity of irony is
not the provisional negative of dialectic, which the magic wand of sublation (Afhebung) is always
already in the act of transforming into a positive, but an absolute and irretrievable negativity
that does not, for that, renounce knowledge. The claim that a posture genuinely both
philosophical and scientific (which has provided an essential impetus to Indo-European
linguistics, among other things) arose from Romantic irony, precisely with the Schlegels, remains
to be questioned in terms of the prospects for giving a critical foundation to the human
sciences. For if in the human sciences subject and object necessarily become identified, then
the idea of a science without object is not a playful paradox, but perhaps the most serious task
that remains entrusted to thought in our time. What is now more and more frequently
concealed by the endless sharpening of knives on behalf of a methodology with nothing left to
cut—namely, the realization that the object to have been grasped has finally evaded
knowledge—is instead reasserted by criticism as its own specific character. Secular
enlightenment, the most profound project of criticism, does not posses its object. Like all
authentic quests, the quest of criticism consists not in discovering its object but in assuring the
conditions of its inaccessibility.
2AC At: FW
2ac Schnuner

Fiat is an advertising product that seduces debaters into


entering a hyperreal fantasyland dragging us away from our
own will to power and limiting the revolutionary potential of
debaters.

This debate was never really between us or them—we have come


bearing a gift of death for you, the judges. In this debate, you
have only to choose between liberating yourself from the
principle of rational control OR the globalized misery of
conventional life. You are not a neutral spectator engaging in
cost benefit analysis. Face your fears, embrace change and
submit to no one but your own sovereign desire. Play your cards
and live on the basis of innovation at the spur of the moment.
Schnurer 04. Maxwell, Ph.D., Pittsburgh, Assistant Professor at Marist College, Spring
2004 “GAMING AS CONTROL: WILL TO POWER, THE PRISON OF DEBATE AND
GAME CALLED POTLATCH,” CONTEMPORARY ARGUMENTATION AND DEBATE.”
What kind of academic activity encourages students to fantasize about
making change without considering for the slightest bit how to bring that
change about? Douglas positions this impulse alongside the Sisyphean burden of
trying to make the world into a structured, controlled, sterile environment.
Sisyphus and the reset button on a videogame console share a common
ancestor with the debate model that has thirty debate teams advocating
different policies in separate rooms at exactly the same time. All of these
examples showcase humans desperately attempting to construct meaning out of a
confusing world, where the human will to power forces the world to fit a structure.
Douglas reminds us that games help to structure an oft-confusing world, imbuing the
person imagining with god-like powers (McGuire, 1980; Nietzsche 1966): Games therefore
do not threaten film’s status so much as they threaten religion, because they perform the same
existentially soothing task as religion. They proffer a world of meaning, in which we not only have
a task to perform, but a world that is made with us in mind. And indeed, the game world is made
with us, or at least our avatar in mind. (Douglas, 2002, p. 9). Gaming draws forth a natural
impulse of humans – to make the world in our image. But debate and videogames
contain the same fantastic lure that encourages people to pore their energies into debate.
Fiat and utopian flights of fancy are both seductions of our will to power,
encouraging us to commit to becoming better debaters. This process of self-
important distraction has its model in the theories of the hyper-real posited by
Jean Baudrillard. He argues that modern economies are geared to sell humans
mass produced products, but whose advertising attempts to convince people that
they have an authentic experience with the product. Economic structures make products
that are more-than real – hyperreal in order to sell their products. The hyperreal creates
games and fantasylands that are far richer and pleasurable than real life. One example of
the hyperreal is Epcott center at Disneyland, which reduces foreign cultures to their most
base natures – ensuring that everything is uniform, bland, and suitably “ethnic.” While
one never need worry about eating food that is “too strange” in the Epcott lands, other
negatives emerge in the world of the hyperreal. Humans who desire order and
structure to our worlds often come to prefer the hyperreal to the real. The
hyperreal has a world with all of the attractions of our own, but with none of the
depressing realities of our own world. The hyperreal doesn’t have credit card bills or
racism. The hyperreal is filled with beautiful people (who all want to have sex with you).
The hyperreal is a hot seduction pulling our vision and hearing away form our own lives.
Describing Snider’s gaming as a dangerous distraction that pulls us away from our
communities and our lives is a bit simplistic. Rather, gaming greases the wheels for
powers of control to remain in control. Douglas articulates some of the specific ways
games solidify structures of power. In board games or computer games, however, players
actually do start out in relative equality (although there are some chance elements as
well, depending on the game), whereas in real life, so many characteristic of one’s life are
already determined before birth, including social and economic standing, political
freedom, skin color, gender, etc. What games accomplish is the instilling of the ideology
of equality, which postulates that we are born equal and that differences emerge later on;
the primary different to be explained away in this way is that of economic disparity, and
games help explain that difference as the result of, in America, hard work and effort vs.
laziness. Thus gaming helps inculcate the ideology that covers over the fact that, with the
exception of the information technology bubble, most of those who are wealthy in the
United States were born that way. Beyond this narrow ideological function, the game
helps create subjects that accept the inevitability of rules as things that are
given and must be “played” within—or else there is no game. This process is
not total or ever complete, as the current gaming discourse complaining about the rules
shows; here, player critique a games rules in view of a conventionalized notion of how
“reality” works, or, less often, how a game’s playability is compromised by rules that are
too “realistic (Douglas, 2002, p. 24). Viewing debate as a game may have the opposite
effect that Snider desires. Gaming teaches participants to play by the rules and even
when challenging the game, to do that within the games structures. Debaters who are
moved by poetry are encouraged to bring that poetry back to the debate realm – not to
become poets.2 There are certainly debate-activists who bring their debate skills to bear
on the political community. These debaters seamlessly slide between academic hyperbole
in the First Affirmative Constructive and talking to homeless folks at a Food Not Bombs
meal. But these folks are few and far between. Most who hear the call to conscience turn
their backs on the call and justify their (in)actions by valorizing debate.3 Let me be clear
that the desire of individuals to make the world is not the enemy. It is a positive drive
that encourages debaters to fiat worlds into existence or hypothesizes that the world
would be good if George Bush were before the International Criminal Court on charges

2 There are some debaters who have become exceptionally good at meshing poetry with
competitive debate. I would point out Nader Hadad from Cal State Long Beach and Lana
Langsweirdt from the University of Vermont as debaters who have both become powerful poets
and good debaters (who use poetry in their rounds).
3 For more on this see Gordon Mitchell’s (1998) article on the pedagogy of public debates. He
outlines a number of debate initiatives that have used public debate outside of the policy debate
realm.
of crimes against humanity. This drive to create a better world is the will to power. The
big question is, what we do with that will to power? Recognizing that there are many
complex problems in the world that require smart articulate people to solve them, we can
appreciate the potential value of will to power (McGuire). In the debate context, will to
power becomes reified in a hyper-real role-playing exercise. Debate can be an amazing
experience where students learn about complex ideas and then take those ideas into their
own lives and communities. Debate can be a method for learning that people have their
own voices in a world drowning with mediated/televised slime-balls. Debate can
encourage intellectual growth and cause epiphanies. Debate encourages
solidarity and teaches people to struggle together. Debate is primed to be a
blast furnace for the will to power and take it to the furthest level of
revolutionary potential. The only limitation is our own. If we frame debate
to limit the revolutionary potential of the participants, then we do a
disservice not only to our students, but also to the world. Nietzschean will to
power is a drive for self-overcoming, transforming fuel for personal and collective
change.4 Will to power exists in all of us as a lunging to escape our current world and
create another beyond the moral structure and hierarchy of this world. This desire to
create a better world is admirable and is at the root of social change. My criticism of
gaming is that this energy is sublimated into a fantasy world rather than being
brought to the larger world. But perhaps there is a kind of game that might elicit
something of what I desire . . . from within debate. The Real Game: Potlatch As pointed
out in the last section, the stakes for the game of debate are high. The method of debate
contains the possibility for revolutionary insight and revolutionary praxis. The question
is how to understand an activity without systematizing and controlling the potential of
debate. What we really must do is let free the will to power within debaters. In
this sense, we can use gaming as the topoi to launch our conversation to a debate game
that might encourage revolution. But what does will to power look like? How do we
encourage it? Lets get a feeling from George Bataille, who orients the Nietzschean
impulse of will to power alongside a quote from Nietzsche himself: Through the shutters
into my window comes an infinite wind, carrying with it unleashed struggles, raging
disasters of the ages. And don’t I too carry within me a blood rage, a blindness satisfied
by the hunger to mete out blows? How I would enjoy being a pure snarl of hatred,
demanding death: the upshot being no prettier than two dogs going at it tooth and nail!
Though I am tired and feverish . . . “Now the air all around is alive with the heat, earth
breathing a fiery breath. Now everyone walks naked, the good and bad, side by side. And
for those in love with knowledge, it’s a celebration.” (The Will to Power) (4). Will to
power can be the outgrowth of debate that challenges existing structures. Bataille and
Nietzsche desire a wild emancipation from traditional structures, far beyond
conventional morality. Coupling Nietzsche’s theorizing with the practice of debate
something new can emerge, but only if we free ourselves from the shackles of
conventional debate, including gaming. How to break these chains? How do we get
beyond that which has brought us so far? To help, I want to turn to Guy Debord
and the Situationists. Guy Debord was a French revolutionary whose political

4 Gilles Deleuze writes about Nietzsche’s unique take on the will to power. “The will to power
alone is the one that wills, it does not lend itself be delegated or alienated to another subject, even
to force. (49).
theorizing and activism culminated in the creation first of the Letterist International and
later in the establishment of the Situationist International. The Letterists/Situationists
were revolutionary philosophers who believed that the situations of the modern world
were increasingly controlled by mediated/corporate experience. They viewed
traditional politics in all of its reformist formats as a waste of time. Through a
variety of situations (manipulated by the situationists) it was possible to create
revolutionary meaning. They used a variety of tactics in order to elicit revolutionary
change. Some of their methods, like detournement, have become common post-modern
critical theory concepts.5 I focus our attention on the Situationists because they
succeeded in creating a revolution. Situationist propaganda and theorizing were at the
heart of the Parisian rebellion of May of 1968. This was the most powerful expression of
malaise against the increasingly wealthy industrial western world. The riots in Paris,
which upended cars and collectives emerged in downtown, became a model for
revolutions in the industrialized north. Debord was seen as an intellectual architect of
the uprising of students and workers. Situationists/Letterists were increasingly capable
of articulate criticisms of the nature of the spectacle. These were often told through
journals, graffiti, and posters (Dark Star Collective, 2001; Debord, 1995; Jappe, 1992;
Hussey, 2001). One of the most important Situationist tactics was articulated in the
potlatch. The potlatch was a practice modeled on American indigenous communities of
increasingly committed giving. In the potlatch, indigenous would give everything they
had to each other, ever increasing the stakes of the gifts until the gifts were so outlandish
the offers exposed the foolish nature of ownership. Potlatch became so important to
these revolutionaries that they named their first journal potlatch because the writings
held within the journal would hopefully be given on and on in an ever increasing spiral.
Potlatch became an extended metaphor for the Situationists/Letterists, indicating all the
possible spaces where revolution could emerge without capitalist economies. Every non-
capitalist moment eked out of the day was articulated as a potlatch. Every relationship
that emerged along side revolutionary dialogue became a potlatch. In a recent biography
of Debord and the situationists, the author Hussey describes the Potlatch. Potlatch . . .
is the highest form of game. It is also the living moment of poetry, a moment
which breaks down or reverses conventional chronological patterns. Most
significantly, the object or gift which the Letterist International gave functioned
symbolically between the giver, the International Letterists, and the receiver. The
relationship between the two constitutes a third term – the gift is also a catalyst of the
future in the form of a crystallization of desire. ‘Don’t collect Potlatch!’ ran a line at the
end of the journals second year. “Time is working against you!” (Hussey, 2001, p. 89) For
the Situationists, the potlatch was the ultimate resistance to traditional economies.
Originally a concept theorized by George Battaille, the potlatch was seen as a method to
criticize the acquisition/showcase methods of modern capitalist economies. Because the
potlatch could never be returned, it highlighted the foolishness of the modern economy
and state. Through sacrifice and destruction, the act of giving overwhelms the possible
response. Eventually, the social requirements of the potlatch necessitate that every
society member give away everything they could ever have. Yet we should not move too
far from the fundamental truth of the potlatch: it is in fact a game. Indigenous

5 Detournement is most well known from the Canadian magazine Adbusters, who re-popularized
Debord’s work in the 1990s doing mock-ups of popular advertisements.
nations would choose to exchange gifts in the potlatch as a form of entertainment. But let
us not understate the importance of games. This game was made illegal because it was so
dangerous to colonial economies. The Potlatch was recognized as threatening the
burgeoning trading economy that was central to westward expansion. The potlatch
was the most dangerous idea that indigenous nations could forward against
the white/capitalist drive.6 The act of giving too much was the threat. This move
disturbed the intense drive for acquisition. Why fight to trade beaver pelt, when at the
next potlatch your neighbor might give you all her possessions? Potlatch was threatening
because it made competition meaningless. Non-competitive social structure was only one
threat from the Potlatch. Situationist biographer Jappe discovers an obscure quotation
by Debord on the Potlatch (Debord himself was remarkably close-lipped about the
meaning of Potlatch): “Debord refers explicitly to the Indian custom of Potlatch and
announces that ‘the non-saleable goods that a free bulletin such as this is able to
distribute are novel desires and problems; and only the further elaboration of these by
others can constitute the corresponding return gift’” (148). What was exchanged in
Debord’s vision was not necessarily goods but rather ideas.7 Debate is the ultimate
potlatch, demanding that we offer up something inside of ourselves without
asking for something in return. Debate provides a few minutes carved out of lives
that are otherwise consumed by pop-up ads, or email. When I think about the moments
that I treasure in my life, few of them are moments of consumption. I don’t remember
when I bought my television, but I remember with painful longing the last bicycle ride I
took with friends. Alongside the memories of moments with friends and in nature, I
treasure a collection of moments in debate. Moments when I first learned about ideas,
late nights in the squad room, the friendships that emerged, and watching my debaters
grow and develop. The parts of the potlatch where humans draw out moments
of freedom with each other are increasingly the only thing that keeps me
interested in debate. Debord and the Situationists wanted people to take
their initial offerings of the Potlatch and move them along into their own
lives. We can do the same thing with debate. Almost all of us have debate
memories that are deeply infused with the Potlatch-ethic. All it takes is for us to seek out
and celebrate those moments, and our community will change. But these moments of
time have to be grappled away from the industrial-capitalist state with great gusto. We

6 In my theorizing about this essay, I contemplated including a reference to Ernest Callenbach’s


novel Ecotopia. In this novel, Callenbach’s protagonist enters a closed off zone of ecologically
sustainable territories in the Pacific Northwest of the former-USA. One of the most hotly
contested differences between the protagonist and the Ecotopians is a game. The Ecotopians use
ritual physical combat to explore the visceral experience that is part of humans. Young men will
gather and fight each other with spears. It seems as though there is a good comparison between
my proposal of the potlatch and Callenbach’s war games. Both are visceral games that are
intended to alter the state of the participants. In Ecotopia, the war game is the turning point of
the book, where the protagonist, torn between two worlds appreciates the Ecotopian world and
begins to consider living in Ecotopia. I would hope that my reference to the potlatch would have a
similar affect.
7 Debord was a committed life-long abuser of drugs and alcohol, and he certainly would have
appreciated gifts of these sorts.
must be brave to crack open debate.8 In our own lives, we should strive to bring about
the kinds of realizations that elicit revolutionary transformation. Snider’s gaming does
not bring us forward in direct revolutionary thinking. Rather, it encourages
revolutionary thought and then focuses its power into the system of debate. The solution
for Snider is not to continue looking for a way to explain and systematize debate but,
rather, to embrace the confluence of potential meaning in debate and lunge forward.
Debate should be about taking risks and creating new meaning out of our
desires. We should never sublimate our feral interests and instead should seek the
highest level of meaning. Let us push gaming further. Let us find games that fulfill
our revolutionary potential, take whatever moments we can for ourselves and try to push
for as much change as we possibly can. In this case, perhaps it is not the game, but the
players who have not yet made their move.

8 We might wonder what people look like, living in a world defined by potlatch. Hussey quotes
George Clutesi, who observed the last Vancouver Potlatch, as saying: “They lived from one day to
the next, they accepted all things as they came. They spoke slowly, they took much time before
uttering , before replying, before expressing an opinion” (Hussey, 2001, p. 86). The Potlatch
elicited entire new ways of being, a fundamental transformation of ontology.
2ac Role of the Judge
Engagement is not your concern
Besnier ‘5 /Jean-Michel, Professor of Philosophy at the Université de Compiègne and
is a member of the Centre de Recherches en Epistemologie Appliquée in Paris, as well as
of the editorial boards of several French reviews “Bataille, the emotive intellectual”
Bataille: Writing the Sacred, Ed. Carolyn Bailey Gill, Routledge: London, pg. 15-21/

Whatever the case may be, it is undeniable that Bataille refused to let the theme of
Sartrian engagement be imposed upon him. He did not want his often stormy
interventions in pre-war history to be interpreted as a way for the intellectual to pay for
justice or freedom with his own soul. I would like to refer to two events to demonstrate
this. First, a dispute between Bataille and Caillois in 1939.7 Irritated by the role Bataille
gave to mysticism, to drama, to expenditure, to madness and to death, Roger Caillois
stressed his own attachment to knowledge: he was an intellectual. The Collège de
sociologie was in its last days, and Caillois deplored the fact that no one had been able to
put theory into practice, which should have been the intellectual’s true task. Bataille’s
response was pitiless: I too ‘want to see myself as an intellectual’ provided that I do not
take it lightly—that is, provided that I do not give the impression of being ‘upright’ and
‘honest’ by renouncing my espousal of existence in its totality, on the pretext of
restricting myself to knowledge, or by letting it be imagined that it is possible
scientifically to overcome ‘the unpredictable course of things’. (Letter to Roger Caillois,
20 July 1939) What is clear is this: the intellectual is obliged to lie to himself—he must
tell himself that his erudition equips him to act in full possession of the facts, and that he
can transform the world through it. There is in that the arrogance of the intellectuals8
converted to history. Bataille is manifestly humbler while at the same time more
demanding, because he declares that, for his part, he cannot honestly deny ‘the total
man’ by turning his back on the damned part [la part maudite] which continues to haunt
humanity (in the form of drama, madness, the sacred, eroticism and violence). If the
intellectual defines himself as a man who puts his knowledge at the service of history,
one must denounce in him if not an impostor then at least the victim of an illusion which
risks sustaining the one-dimensional character of social existence, and as a consequence
the impotence in the face of the excess which in 1939 threatens to submerge Europe: The
second incident I want to mention took place after the war, when René Char undertook
an enquiry into the relationship between literature and politics: an enquiry on the theme,
‘Are there incompatibilities?’ Replying to this question, it is to Sartre that Bataille
addresses himself in order to signify his absolute resistance to the arguments for the
engagement of intellectuals, even in the service of ‘freedom through socialism’ (as
proposed by Sartre’s manifesto, ‘Situation de I’ecrivain en 1947’, in ‘Qu’est-ce que la
littérature?’). I would like to quote part of Bataille’s response: The incompatibility of
literature and engagement, which entails obligation, is precisely that of opposites. The
engagé intellectual never wrote anything that wasn’t a lie, or that went beyond
engagement itself. (OC, XII, 23) Once more, then, it is of lying that the intellectual stands
accused: he lies if he takes up his pen in the service of a cause imposed on him from the
outside—which Bataille makes clear by explaining that, in his opinion, one should never
write to order in the same way that one never throws oneself into action
motivated by a feeling of responsibility or obligation. Writing, like personal
involvement in history, appears as ‘the effect of a passion, of an unquenchable desire’—
never as the product of a reasoned choice, except that of resolving oneself to
inauthenticity. In other words, literature is fundamentally sovereign: it doesn’t serve any
master, any value. That is why it is ‘diabolical’, and reveals the impossible in man. ‘I
don’t doubt’, writes Bataille, ‘that by distancing oneself from that which reassures, we
approach that divine moment which dies in us, which already possesses the strangeness
of a laugh, the beauty of an anguished silence.’ The reply to Sartre does not depend on
circumstance, and doesn’t betray any sign of personal animosity towards the author of
Un nouveau mystique, who defined literature as ‘a profession requiring an
apprenticeship, sustained effort, professional conscience and a sense of
responsibilities’!9 Already in 1944, in an article in Combat (OC, XI, 12–13), Bataille
denounced the propaganda literature organized by the Fascists and countered it with an
ideal of inutility as well as his contempt for prejudices and commands: ‘I write
authentically on one condition: taking account of no one and nothing, trampling on the
rules.’ His conclusion was clear. The writer is the person who must reveal ‘to the solitude
of everyone an intangible part which no one will ever enslave’; so he teaches only one
thing—‘the refusal of servility’—in this context, hatred of propaganda. ‘That is why he is
not on the bandwagon of the mob, and he knows how to die in solitude.’ So before,
during and after the war Bataille shows himself to be equally disobedient to the idea of a
reasoned engagement in action and anxious to make a place for that which can only
elude the specialists of knowledge— the disobedience of all rules, the chaos of emotions,
or if one prefers, the heterogeneity from which humanity ineluctably rises and to which it
can constantly return. If one forgets what these two incidents I have just cited show us,
one can understand nothing of the way in which Bataille grabbed hold of the political
history of his time. But equally, one understands nothing of the paradoxical attitude of
the many men of letters and other intellectuals who launched themselves into the
struggles of their time. That is what I wanted to show in my book La politique de
l’impossible10 with particular regard to Maurice Blanchot, Paul Nizan and the
Surrealists, but also in relation to Maurice Clavel, Michel Foucault and to the French
Maoists of 1968: Sartre’s theorizing of engagement is clearly incapable of explaining the
pendulum swings from right to left or from left to right which mark the successive
political alignments of many of the participants of pre-war France. It does not allow us to
understand the intensity and the excesses of those who plainly feel the desire to be
incorporated in the body of history more strongly than that of carrying out a political
manifesto. Excess, enthusiasm, the fascination for limitsituations, for crowd phenomena,
for the Apocalypse or death from which the new and the unheard-of could rise —all of
this can be found in the struggles of Blanchot or the young Nizan, the Surrealists’
lyricism of the uncontrollable, the revolutionary metaphors of someone like Clavel, the
pro-Khomeini tendency of Michel Foucault, or the mysticism without salvation of the
Maoists. All of this can be found, too, in the seduction of Sartre (in Critique de la raison
dialectique) by the violence which gives birth to History, by those ‘perfect moments’
which dissolve the series in the ‘groupe-en-fusion’. In all of these examples, we are
dealing with a version of the intellectual which is entirely alien to the register of
responsible, exemplary engagement. These intellectuals do not baulk at the idea that
they could slip [déraper], because the essential thing for them seems to be to let
themselves be taken over by emotions, by inspiration and by the sublime—in short, by
the irrational which fuses together the supercharged masses. It is this attitude I call that
of the emotive intellectual, and which I feel describes better than Sartre the mode in
which many of the great names of contemporary literature and philosophy have been
involved in history. (I have said nothing of Heidegger, but it will be clear that it is in this
sense that I understand his aberrant adhesion to the Nazi madness.) Whether it was a
question for them of escaping from the sentiment of decline, from disgust or from
boredom, they surrendered to events as to a joyful invitation. At the high points of our
recent history, they made excess their profession, evil their temptation and encouraged
pathos to the extent of wishing for the Apocalypse. In short, Bataille was far from being
the only one at the end of the 1930s to want to join with the elemental forces whose
absence was causing democracy to wither—forces, precisely, which could spring from
revolutionary sentiments, from a return to myth or from a quest for the sacred in all its
forms. The emotive intellectual pursues every occasion which facilitates pathos, as
though he more than anyone else felt isolated, abstracted. It is in this sense that he
doesn’t hesitate sometimes to celebrate the cult of irresponsibility as an antidote to the
rationalism he is supposed to represent in the eyes of the world. Far from claiming to
change the world, he is struggling to escape the inertia and cowardice of politics. Hence
the haste shown by Bataille and before him by the followers of people like Georges Sorel
to reject planning, manifestos and in general anything resembling an ideal. He wants
‘being without delay’, and if he abandons himself to action it is like others giving into
alcohol or to lust. He wants ‘to be there with no other aim than to exist’, and it is this
which seems most subversive—that which Bataille will soon describe as sovereignty. In
any case, poles apart from what Sartre’s message is in 1947, he is indifferent to any ethics
of salvation and as a consequence to political ideologies, those ‘secular religions’ which
all promise a final reconciliation. The emotive intellectual conceives his life entirely at
the moment of tragedy; that is his strength or his weakness, depending upon your view.
In any case, it is what will save him after the war from parading under the banner of
engagement raised by Sartre. Seeking to understand the intellectual context which made
Bataille such a striking example of the emotive intellectual, I have given particular
importance to the double reference in his work to Hegel and to Nietzsche. It seems to me
that from the collision of the influences of Hegel and Nietzsche came the paradoxical
result in Bataille of a will to action associated with a fatality which was demobilizing. In
the chaos of the 1930s, Bataille among many others was taken by Nietzsche, that is to say
by the invitation to reopen the possibilities offered by a world without God. The appeal to
danger, to adventure, to war—the joy of chaos—worked for him as a stimulant, and an
entire aesthetics of pathos seems to have arisen from it. One cannot understand Bataille
well if one does not take his integral Nietzscheanism seriously, if one forgets, for
example, that one of his essential political gestures was to want to ‘wrest Nietzsche from
the grip of the Nazis’—that is to say, to preserve the symbol of the irreducibility (of
heterogeneity) of thought against the totalitarian enterprise. If Nietzsche could be saved
from Nazism then sovereignty is impossible: we can see that, in these terms, it was
clearly for him an entirely political gesture. But in Bataille, Nietzsche meets Hegel, and at
a very early stage, as I have tried to show in my book. At the moment when Bataille went
to listen to the earth-shattering lectures of Kojève, he was already studying closely the
work of the ‘philosopher of the system’ If the thought of Nietzsche could be an
incitement to explore the virgin territory of history, to invent the myth of the future and
to shatter the idols to let new possibilities appear, the teaching of Hegel was stifling.
Certainly, the representation of history which appeared in Kojève’s teaching was
impressive: struggle, toil, anguish and death ruled in this vision, and that must have
helped to make Kojève’s teaching credible to a generation brought up amid the sound
and fury. But in the final analysis, Kojève revealed that Hegel was right—that history had
ended, that there was no longer any point in waiting for some new possibility, and that it
would be better to reconcile oneself to the present. We well know the effect on Kojève’s
audience: on Bataille, on Queneau, on Aron and on so many others. It was an unbearable
and obvious fact—there is nothing left to do. All that remains is to live, as much as
possible like a man—that is to say, through art, through love, or through the game. Of
course, I am merely sketching out here the collision of these two conflicting necessities
which had characterized Bataille’s thought since before the war. We know how this
double necessity found its expression in terms of rupture, of paradox, of anguish: how Le
bleu du ciel, for example, transposes it into a sad hero incapable of taking quite seriously
the revolution before his eyes. The famous letter to Kojève of 6 December 1937 in which
Bataille expresses his exhaustion merits a long commentary, which I am unable to
undertake here. In it, Bataille describes himself as an animal screaming with its foot in a
trap, as a ‘negativity without a cause’— that is to say, a desire to act (all action being
negation in Hegel’s view) which suffers from no longer being able to reach its goal
because history is over. What was he to do with this surplus not foreseen by Hegel? How
was he to cope with the rebellion which was by definition without prospects for the
future, where the only outcome was tragedy? The only way out, said Bataille, was the
impossible; that is to say that the only possible engagement is emotive. Unreconciled
with the world, Bataille consents to be a member of the category of intellectuals: but,
convinced of the impossibility of a transparency that would be entirely satisfying, he can
only consent on the level of pathos. Hence, the vertigo which seizes him, the will to
wholehearted and endless action—to keep alight that flame which makes existence a
rupture and a paradox. Acting for no reason at all (because all the cards have already
been played), all one can do is call upon the emptiness which will henceforth sustain
history. All of this is in order to try to escape from insignificance, to raise oneself to the
level of the impossible. Hence, too, Bataille’s tendency passionately to counter the
unfinished nature of everything as the condition of human existence. In an essay in
Critique devoted to Camus he underlines this in these terms: ‘Life, the world, are nothing
in my eyes if not capriciousness.’ Which means that there can never be lasting
satisfaction. The result is that the only conceivable good consists in never being still, and
not in fighting the obstacles to a final reconciliation, as a Sartrian intellectual would do.
One has reason never to be satisfied and one has reason also to abandon the illusion that
there could be a remedy for this situation. Bataille’s work always gives one the
impression of functioning as a ‘continual fight of honour’. Hegel is right. Everything has
already been done. But Hegel left to one side the essential thing on which one must
wager: The open wound that is my life, the erotic desire for the other, the tears or
laughter that distance us—the sacrifice which unites men beyond the discontinuities
sustained by societies where reason supposedly rules. In short, action has perhaps
become futile and illusory, but what still remains is to live to the full extent of those
states, or rather those ecstasies which are the reverse side of and the objection to a
complete rationality dreamed by the philosophers. What remains, then, speaking like
Bataille, is to confront in oneself the feeling of being ‘a savage impossibility’, the pain of
existence confined to limits which one can only desire eternally to transgress. What I
describe here fairly schematically could explain how the fascination with revolutionary
action of an earlier time finally gave way to a desire for asceticism permeated with the
will to live and to communicate. This transition seems to be in place during Bataille’s
time at the Collège, at the time of L’expérience intérieure, but, I stress, does not in my
opinion constitute a turning point, for Bataille did not come to deny himself. Privileging
action obviously meant taking existence to its boiling point or, to put it another way,
experiencing one’s limits and feeling the fundamental continuity which fuses individuals
together. In privileging the ascetic experience, the issue is the same, even if the quest is
from now on a solitary one, sheltered from the solicitation of history. The figure of the
sovereign sums up this transition and gives the emotive intellectual his most striking
features. The sovereign inherits the aspiration to total existence which Bataille
continually demanded as the source of his ‘tattered humanism’. The figure imposes itself
in his work more or less at the time when the ambition to live gets the upper hand over
that of action; when Bataille himself admits to no longer being a man of action and feels
the loss of all energy. So, at the advent of war, this existential figure of the sovereign
lends his features to the man at the end of history, and in general to a humanity which
recognizes itself as incomplete at the same time as being at the end of the line. One must
add that, in the political context, the sovereign also incarnates the horror of power which
blindly wants the end.
AT: Education
Your forms fo education fail to be able to address the
experiential categories which create true education that escapes
the normalized modalities of debate itself.
Lerman’15 – Lindsay Lerman – University of Guelph Philosophy Department, Graduate Student. Studies
Epistemology, Georges Bataille – “Georges Bataille’s “Nonknowledge” as Epistemic Expenditure: An Open Economy of
Knowledge” pg 78-80 KZaidi

Earlier we saw Bataille


describe an “old” and “limited” kind of possible and “the extreme limit”
of the possible. (“[M]an has once again at his disposal his ‘possible’ and what is no longer the old, the limited, but the
extreme limit of the possible” (IE 8).) The “old” and “limited” sense is inseparable from
“intelligence.” And the state of “intelligence” and its products are problematic for Bataille
because they lead “to a drying up of life”: “intelligence” has “destroyed the authority
necessary for experience” (IE 8). Bataille’s concern is that a particular kind of intelligence ruins the
possibility of inner experience as the ultimate authority for those embarking on the voyage of inner experience.
That it is only a particular kind of intelligence is important; Bataille does not claim that all
intelligence leads to a reliance on authority. An old and limited “possible” is limited, according
to Bataille, by the development of the kind of intelligence that must seek external
authorities. The “extreme limit of the possible,” on the other hand, is tied to the voyage
or process of inner experience without reliance on authority and intelligence (other than the
authority that is the process of inner experience itself). In fact, it involves rejection of authorities and
rejection of a form of intelligence.
Bataille recognizes that his
claims regarding intelligence have “an obscure theoretical
appearance,” and he sees no resolution for his obscurity other than to separate
“intelligence” and “experience” by claiming that one must live experience, as it is not logically
demonstrable, and consequently, incompatible with Bataille’s loose sense of “intelligence.”

Bataille begins to separate “intelligence” and “experience” using his notion of


“intelligence” in part to further explain “experience.” The separating factor is that one
concept is “lived” and another is known or demonstrated logically. According to Bataille, the fact
that experience cannot be demonstrated logically is evidence that its meaning can only
be grasped from the inside, if it can be grasped (IE 8). Bataille suggests that “intelligence” and
“experience” are opposites in this respect; one is grasped from the “inside,” one is
grasped from the “outside.” Thus “intelligence” is the operation of making sense of
experience without having had the experience. “Experience,” on the other hand, can only
be made sense of if it is experienced. (Perhaps also as it is experienced.) Bataille’s claim is that
“intelligence” cannot penetrate “experience” in order to describe it, understand it, make
sense of it, or logically demonstrate it. This is a large, broad claim. Greco and Sosa might be able to serve as
examples for us, of “intelligence” attempting to make sense of “experience” without experiencing “experience.”
AT: Dialogue Good
It’s bad
Lerman’15 – Lindsay Lerman – University of Guelph Philosophy Department, Graduate Student. Studies
Epistemology, Georges Bataille – “Georges Bataille’s “Nonknowledge” as Epistemic Expenditure: An Open Economy of
Knowledge” pg 46-49 KZaidi

Bataille draws a helpful distinction


between “discourse” and “communication” in Inner Experience.
“Discourse” is the low-level, constant chatter and work we do to evade the helpless foolishness of
communication31. “Discourse” is ideology, dogma; any system of utterances we rely on to give
us ready-made answers. It is “intellectual operations” (IE 13). If we are operating in our
communication efforts according to the rules or in the realm of discourse, we will lack an intimacy in our communication.
This matters—and “discourse” matters—because Bataille
says that “intellectual operations” must stop
in order for communication to occur. The experience of nonknowledge (also) occurs
when “intellectual operations” are jammed (IE 13-4).
Bataille uses the term “discourse”
to name his (our) inability to completely silence himself and
the workings of his own “intelligence” and “intellectual operation”: thoughts he thinks, ideas that
nag him, narratives he constructs of his life and the lives of others, disappointments or titilations he will replay and replay,
failures and dreams he revisits unceasingly, day and night. In short, it
is the “workings of the mind” which
do not stop, unless we force their temporary silence, with drugs or alcohol or meditation
or sleep or sex or exercise or poetry32. Discourse, “if it wishes to, can blow like a gale
wind—whatever effort I make, the wind cannot chill by the fireside” (IE 13). Discourse is “that sand into
which we bury ourselves in order not to see” (ibid 14). If discourse is an embarrassed and
frenzied hiding, communication is an exposing, perhaps also embarrassed, but
an exposing nonetheless. Bataille is suggesting that despite the difficulty of quieting
discourse, communication in the mode of intimacy is possible. “It is through an ‘intimate cessation
of all intellectual operations’ that the possible intimacy in communication happens, and that the mind is laid bare. If not,
discourse maintains in [sic] its little complacency” (ibid 13). Discourse
is thus restrictive and
limiting. Bataillean communication happens when discourse—when intellectual
operation—stops.
According to Philippe Sollers (in “The Roof: Essay in Systematic Reading,”33), operating solely in the
mode of discourse has disastrous results: “’[D]iscourse’ becomes the effect of a
belief in a language that would be able to speak about language just as language speaks
about ‘things,’ without asking itself whether anything can really speak about anything else. Actually, we never speak
about anything” (ibid 80). This mirrors Bataille’s concern that communication is foolish and that
that which is not discourse cannot reduce easily to language. Sollers claims that discourse prohibits
intimate communication because it prohibits asking questions about the reach of language and requires a focus on
achieving truth34. Discourse in fact operates in the “mode” of prohibition, in which “truth”
must be the only object of statements and language is unnecessarily beholden to
meaning: “THE WORLD OF DISCOURSE IS PROHIBITION’S MODE OF BEING.
This ‘world’ makes language the instrument of a meaning, co-ordinates statements which
have ‘truth’ as their object, and for it prohibition is the signifier itself” (Bataille: A Critical Reader
79). Bataille argues in Theory of Religion (1973) that discourse is the very project of philosophy. The
language of discourse is caught up in problematic linguistic and epistemic distinctions
between subject and object. This results in a separation of thinker and (the thinker’s)
thought, a general dividing-up of the world, and an additionally problematic goal-
oriented search for “truth” via language and thought (p. 30-3; 94-103). That all of this is
essential to discourse and its effects suggests that it is importantly—even radically—
different from the phenomenon and the concept of nonknowledge.
Also our rejection of forms of discourse does not necessitate a
complete abandonment of knowledge, rather we say that this
paradox between language and nonknowledge is one that is
critical to break down discourse
Lerman’15 – Lindsay Lerman – University of Guelph Philosophy Department, Graduate Student. Studies
Epistemology, Georges Bataille – “Georges Bataille’s “Nonknowledge” as Epistemic Expenditure: An Open Economy of
Knowledge” pg 50-51 KZaidi

Returning to the concept of nonknowledge, I want to emphasize that discourse is also a particular habit of
thinking that assumes the communicability of every experience. Bataille calls this habit the “law
of language,” and he asks that his readers (readers of Inner Experience) contest the law, though he
writes it out. To contest the “law of language” is to contest “discourse”: it means
stopping oneself from making the assumption that language can
communicate every possible experience (ibid 14-5). For Bataille, questioning the “law of
language” is not akin to dismissing or abandoning language; communication—if it is
communication and not discourse—does seem to allow for language being stretched or
pulled into realms typically thought to be incommunicable, like “inner experience.”
Nonknowledge is an example of one such realm. Communicating an experience of
nonknowledge challenges language and can contest the “law of language,” even as it
makes use of language to communicate an experience that challenges the assumption that all
experience can be communicated. This fact is significant for Bataille’s construction of the concept of
nonknowledge, as by 1943, in Inner Experience, Bataille claims that nonknowledge cannot be
communicated and yet, he claims also that it can be communicated, that one does not
betray or belittle an experience of nonknowledge in the attempt to communicate it. The
fact that this appears as a paradox is important; a vital tension between
communicability and incommunicability sustains nonknowledge. “Indeed, the specificity of
Bataille’s dialectic is its sacrifice of a term of synthesis, in favor of a space of tense contamination in
which two modes of being invade each other, compromise each other, while paradoxically
retaining the integrity of their opposition” (On Bataille 212, “Bataille and Communication”).
As for the relationship nonknowledge has to discourse, it is clear that communicating
nonknowledge
through discourse is unlikely—perhaps impossible35. If nonknowledge is an
experience that challenges the “law of language,” nonknowledge cannot be
communicable through what Bataille calls the unceasing “intellectual operation.”
Nonknowledge is also not discourse because it is not a goal-oriented search for truth or
any other distinct goal.
Feature 1.2 (of Unstable Communicability): Silence
If we quiet discourse, communication is possible. This communication is a
communication which is at peace with the simultaneous impossibility and possibility of
communication. It is a communication that includes silence:
[T]here subsists in us a silent,
elusive, ungraspable part. In the region of words, of discourse, this part is
neglected. Thus it usually
escapes us. We can only attain it or have it at our disposal on certain
terms. They are the vague inner movements, which depend on no object and have no intent—states
which, similar to others linked to the purety of the sky, to the fragrance of a room, are not warranted by anything
definable, so that language which, with respect to the others, has the sky, the room, to which it can refer—and which
directs attention towards what it grasps—is dispossessed, can say nothing [...] If
we live under the law of
language without contesting it, these states are within us as if they didn’t exist. But if we
run up against this law, we can in passing fix our awareness upon one of them and,
quieting discourse within us, linger over the surprise which it provides us. It is better
then to shut oneself in, make as if it were night, remain in this suspended silence
wherein we come unexpectedly upon the sleep of a child (ibid 14-5).
AT: Institutions
Only through debate can we reshape our own values and spill up
to institutional reform.
Mauer 17. Barry, associate professor in the Department of English at the University of
Central Florida, and director of the Texts and Technology Ph.D. program. “Curating the
Mystory: Ideology Invention in the Theory Classroom”, “Putting Theory Into Practice in
the Contemporary Classroom: Theory Lessons | rpadhi

As public crises emerge. such as those affecting women’s rights and civil rights, we need
to access and use the unique materials available at our local museums, libraries, and
archives as a way to participate in discussions and deliberations about these problems .
For example, in a previous class that served as a pilot project, my students examined their own values and behaviors in
relation to racism in America using our library‘s special collections as an archive for their exhibits. They explored
how they came to their values, whether their behaviors and values were aligned. and how
these behaviors and values might affect their work. It was a self-reflective process that
led to profound changes in how many students understood their identities. For example. many
white students had been unaware of how white privilege structured their lives and those of others before they began work
on their exhibits. While no black students were enrolled in the class, many LGBTQ. Asian. Latino/a. and disabled students
found commonalities between the oppression they experienced and the oppression experienced by African Americans.
When students participate in public policy debates via a mystory, they do so with the wisdom
gained from seeing how ideology works on and through them. In particular. they learn to
connect their personal values and behaviors with collective costs which they come to see
as sacrifices on behalf of their values. Georges Bataille‘s The Accursed Share explains sacrifice as a
necessary part of all economies.‘0 In modern societies, we acknowledge only some of these losses—war deaths.
for example—as sacrifices on behalf of our values. Other losses such as deaths from poverty, preventable disease. or
automobile accidents remain abject since they do not register as collective losses on behalf of our values and behaviors.
Students also work with the concept of negative externalities, which are costs borne by a
third party not directly involved in an economic transaction. In one of my previously published
mystories (“Oracles and Divinations“), I discuss how my decision whether to consume coffee, a decision the nation as a
whole has already made. can have dire implications for other cultures, other species, and the environment in distant
places." In another of my mystories (“The Mystory”), 1 show how my use of electricity leads to mass die-offs of manatees in
Florida. The point of this work is to understand how habits that feel and seem like personal decisions come from collective
values and result in collective sacrifices. I take responsibility for these habits by claiming collective losses as sacrifices on
behalf of my values and behaviors. Until I assume this responsibility. the consequences of my ideology remain invisible to
me. The mystory traces a route through the “popcycle.” which is Ulmer’s term for the
major institutions that shape identity in the United States. These institutions are family,
school, entertainment, and a discipline (or career) although some students have had
their identities shaped by other institutions such as church (an alternative to entertainment) or "street"
(gang as an alternative to family). The mystory method requires the practitioner to search her/his memory for “scenes of
instruction" in each institution. A scene of instruction is a tableau in which the roles and expectations attached to identity
are crystallized. A classic example is the moment one learns that “boys don‘t cry.” Once the scenes of instruction are
identified. the student uses them to construct an “image of wide scope." which is an emblem that shows the mystorian
her/his “mood” in relation to a question or problem. and thus, as Ulmer posits. it becomes the interface between the
affective body and the archive of documents.‘2 The
outside edge of this graph represents the collective
entities responsible for subject formation, while the intersection of these entities in the
center of the graph represents the individual person. Everyone in the society encounters most if not all
of these institutions in her/his development, and yet we each experience the lessons in different circumstances. at
different times and places, and with different people. The
lessons the society teaches its subject are
surprisingly uniform. however. Regardless of our biological sex, for instance, we all learn
that “boys don't cry.“ This lesson, or some variation of it. is repeated across the four
quadrants of the popcycle: in the sandbox at home, the playground at school: in stories of national heroes
(Nathan Hale), in the movie; (John Wayne), and in the materials of the disciplines (for example, in the writings of Judith
Butler. although she critiques the lesson).
AT: Limits

“There is always some limit which the individual accepts. He


identifies this limit with himself. Horror seizes him at the
thought that this limit may cease to be. But we are wrong to take
this limit and the individual’s acceptance of it seriously. The
limit is only there to be overreached. Fear and horror are not
the real and final reaction; on the contrary, they are a
temptation to overstep the bounds.”
― Georges Bataille, Erotism: Death and Sensuality

Their desire for limits and a “fair space” inevitably creates a


dichotomy between what is and is not “useful language”. This
destroys the ability to interrogate the self and instead locks it
within those limited categories which means that only we
maximize value to life through the production of waste and
nonknowledge which additionally means that we control the
best internal link to in round education because we push the
limit of knowledge which is something that their interp doesn’t
access.
Lerman’15 – Lindsay Lerman – University of Guelph Philosophy Department, Graduate Student. Studies
Epistemology, Georges Bataille – “Georges Bataille’s “Nonknowledge” as Epistemic Expenditure: An Open Economy of
Knowledge” pg 61-65 KZaidi

Nonknowledge is an experience that occurs at the limit of knowledge.


Reaching the limit of knowledge results in a dissolution of knowledge—a destruction
(even if temporary) of knowledge—as the experience of nonknowledge occurs. What Bataille
calls “experience” (and “inner experience”) is present in the moment of nonknowledge.

The first definition of “experience” offered by Bataille stresses the testing of limits:
The experience is itself exactly the act of a particular and limited being. What I question in
myself is no doubt being itself, but I cannot call being itself into question before having thrown myself against the limits of
the being that I am. Experience
is therefore first of all the interrogation of the limits of
being, essentially of the isolation in which the particular being finds itself. In this way, it
is in search of an exterior object with which it will attempt to communicate (USN 15-6).
There are a number of things to note. Firstly, that “experience”
can push everyday actions, thoughts,
and interactions past a limit of normal or usual experience into this thing named “experience.”
Secondly, that Bataille verges on making a normative claim that those who wish to
understand what he means by “experience” must interrogate the limits of being. Thirdly,
Bataille is offering an ontological claim—that “experience” begins with an
interrogation of who and what we are, and the very limits of existence.
The senseof “limit” here is a psychological and intellectual limit, which cannot be easily
separated from a physical limit. But this sense of “limit” is not a limit of the kind we will
examine later in our virtue epistemology conversation. The virtue epistemology limits are
ones constructed by the virtue epistemology community and pertain to what counts as
evidence, what constitutes a virtuous motive, and what qualifies as knowledge. Bataille’s
definition of experience as that which interrogates the “limits” of our being makes
use of a personal and not a communal sense of limits; experience requires that I push my
capacities as a thinking, communicating, feeling being to their limits43. Foucault claims that interrogating limits
in the tradition of Bataille requires the act of transgression, but it also requires a particular respect for
limits: “The limit and transgression depend on each other for whatever density of being
they possess: a limit could not exist if it were absolutely uncrossable, and, reciprocally,
transgression would be pointless if it merely crossed a limit composed of illusion and
shadows” (Bataille: A Critical Reader 27). This relationship between limits and transgression is Bataillean, Foucault
writes. The very “language of transgression” contains Bataille in “its calcinated roots, its promising ashes” (ibid).

Feature 2.2 (of Experientiality): Struggle Against “Useful Language”

“Experience” is also a “struggle against the spell” in which “useful language”


holds us. Bataille’s designation of “useful language” shares similarities with “discourse.”
Like discourse, “useful language” is overly meaning-focused (teleological), it ignores what
might be incommunicable (or useless to language), and it is a language that lets us order,
categorize, and determine. It is not language that slides from meaning or that challenges the limits of
what is communicable. “Useful language” is challenged by “experience”: “Experience is in the
first place a struggle against the spell in which useful language holds us” (USN 16).
I take Bataille to mean a few things with his claim that experience is a struggle against useful language: 1) that
“experience” defies language, or cannot be described adequately with the use of
language; 2) that the concept of “experience” is part of Bataille’s attempt (in his writing) to
find language which short-circuits itself by being somehow “useless”; 3) that
“experience” can alert us to an overdependence we have on “useful language”; and 4)
that we ought to use “experience” to move beyond or past “useful language.” Bataille
continues:
This struggle[against useful language] can begin on the discursive level but it can not
obtain great results. The opposition offered by a new kind of vulgar discourse is usually ineffectual. The mind
can resort to more powerful spells, like modifications of the physiological state. It can
resort to processes that rupture one’s intellectual equilibrium, to tragic thoughts. These
solutions can even be presented as methods or techniques that it would be vain to
underestimate. It seems to me, however, that these methods or these techniques can only
call into question the limits of being, not being itself (USN 16).
The struggle against useful language may begin as discursivity (as free-flowing, un- regulated
thought play), butdiscursivity itself cannot bring down useful language. Discursive
thought and experience have powerful effects, as methods or techniques which modify “the physiological state” or
“rupture one’s intellectual equilibrium” or lead one to “tragic thoughts,” but they will only call into question the
limits of being, instead of calling into question being itself. Now we can build a better
definition of “experience”: it is not merely discursive experience or thought. Discursivity
alone will not adequately challenge useful language, and as such, will not adequately
induce or cause “experience.” Something else must also be present in order for “experience” to begin. This
something else is a disruptive element that challenges—disrupts—our reliance on language as though it
were a tool that could perfectly or seamlessly communicate what we experience. A
disruptive element of this sort is not the same each time (i.e., it is not always one particular
experience, like falling in love or getting drunk), and
we may not know in advance what it will be, but
it has the same effect of disrupting the utility of language, putting us in the realm of
“experience.”
That a disruption in the utility of language signals “experience” does not mean
that “experience” is incommunicable. It means, rather, that “experience” and language
have an uneasy relationship and that language will not do perfect justice to attempts to
communicate “experience,” just as in all communication something “slips.” When it comes
to “experience,” Bataille is specific: “experience” challenges useful language (including discourse),
but it does not necessarily challenge all communication. A larger claim about knowledge, language,
and the role of philosophy is lurking in the background here: that we disrupt the utility of language and the
role it plays in forming knowledge when we do what Bataille considers to be “real” philosophy—i.e.,
infinite interrogation without concern for finding certain knowledge44. Also in the background
is Bataille’s notion of utility as the spirit of modernity. “Experience” doesn’t move us up any kind of
ladder toward any kind of final goal, and it cannot be used to demonstrate our
productivity or our value as (productive) thought-workers.
AT: No Solvency
The very attempt to place meaning onto our method is what
destroys the possibility for nonmeaning
Lerman’15 – Lindsay Lerman – University of Guelph Philosophy Department, Graduate Student. Studies
Epistemology, Georges Bataille – “Georges Bataille’s “Nonknowledge” as Epistemic Expenditure: An Open Economy of
Knowledge” pg 82-86 KZaidi

Bataille claims that the endlessness or goal-lessness of experience leads to


nonmeaning, and to the anguish of nonmeaning remaining (at least partially) meaningless. (In
a reply to Sartre included in On Nietzsche54). The only other sense Bataille is comfortable associating
with nonmeaning is intoxication. The meaning that nonmeaning has, according to Bataille, is the
meaning contained in the fact that it (nonmeaning) intoxicates him. This is an affective
meaning. Bataille happily concedes to Sartre that (inner) experience is equivalent to “the pleasure
of drinking a glass of spirits or feeling the sun’s warmth at the beach,” claiming that
inner experience remaining/culminating in such frivolity only produces anguish (ON 173).
From this it would seem that Sartre’s criticism of inner experience as mere “emptiness” is a claim
that inner experience does not have adequate or satisfactory ends.
“Emptiness” in this sense is an accusation of a lack of telos. Bataille is not bothered by this.
Bataille wanted inner experience to be aimless but affectively productive. This is significant
with regard to knowledge and nonknowledge:

Sartre is right in relation to me to recall the myth of Sisyphus, though ‘in relation to me’ here
equates to ‘in relation to humanity,’ I suppose. What can be expected of us is to go as far as possible
and not to stop. What by contrast, humanly speaking, can be criticized are endeavors whose only meaning is some
relation to moments of completion. Is it possible for me to go further? I won’t wait to coordinate
my efforts in that case—I’ll go further. I’ll take the risk. And readers, free not to venture after me, will
often take advantage of that same freedom! The critics are right to scent danger here! But let me in
turn point out a greater danger, one that comes from methods that, adequate only to an outcome of knowledge,
confer on individuals whom they limit a sheerly fragmentary existence—an existence that
is mutilated with respect to the whole that remains inaccessible (ON 174-5).
If inner experience were not aimless—if it had a simple, definitive outcome—the outcome
would be knowledge. And experience is necessarily different from methods of
contemplation and contestation which set out with knowledge as their outcome. Hence
inner experience’s relation to nonknowledge: inner experience produces some absence of
knowledge, and it does not seek knowledge or anything in particular as a goal, paving the
way for nonknowledge.
Inner experience is also different from “methods” which require an individual to live a
“fragmentary existence,” separate and apart from some “whole” which remains inaccessible to them. This
separation from some whole is a greater danger than the danger of a task as Sisyphean as
endless contestation. Bataille’s claim that inner experience is not the kind of method which
requires individuals to live fragmentedly, and separate, from some essential whole recalls his distinction
between “continuity” and “discontinuity.” Bataille is suggesting that inner experience allows him to
live with access to a whole—as part of the whole—that would otherwise (with other methods)
remain inaccessible. The method which entails inaccessibility to the whole recalls
discontinuity, and the method of being part of or caught up in the whole (inner experience)
recalls continuity. It matters little what particular “method” or methods Bataille is using to describe inner
experience. What matters in identifying such methods is that they are methods that expect
knowledge as the outcome and that they achieve the outcome by limiting individuals to
fragmentary existences without access to the whole of which they are seeking part (in the
form of “knowledge”). We will not see this concern for continuity in our virtue epistemology conversation, nor will
we see knowledge characterized as fragmenting, or splintering.

In Sensible Ecstasy, Amy Hollywood offers her analysis of Jean-Paul Sartre’s critique of Bataille in relation to Bataille’s
desire for continuity over and above any desire for identifiable outcomes: “Sartre’s and Bataille’s opposing attitudes
toward human projects are crucial here. Sartre insists that to be human is to engage in projects; Bataille argues that
inner experience is the opposite of project” (30). (And inner experience is especially not a project of self-
improvement.) Thus Bataille “generates endlessly recursive negations of his own attempt to
provide a method for attaining inner experience” (ibid). According to Hollywood, this is
ultimately the problem Sartre has with all of Inner Experience; that is, it has no method,
it offers no clear goal, it is useless, it is not a project. “For Sartre, if inner experience does
not give rise to new enterprises it is worth nothing more than ‘the pleasure of drinking a glass of alcohol or of
warming oneself in the sun at the beach’ [ON 173]. Such experiences are, for Sartre, ‘useless’”
(SE 31). Excesses are permissible for Sartre, Hollywood writes, as long as they are
channeled fully into project—whether the project is political or personal. “Only if these excesses are
contained by project can they be meaningful and useful” (SE 33). However, the intoxication
that inner experience and its nonmeaning produce are all we need to reply to Sartre:
nonmeaning is not a total absence of meaning. Nonmeaning provides some kind of
meaning in the form of intoxication, of affect. We will see that the same is true of
nonknowledge: nonknowledge is not a total absence of knowledge, and its clearest
meaning is an affective meaning. Nonknowledge does not have a particular kind
of recuperable use.
Inner Experience, Inner Experience, and Nonknowledge

Bataille closes his reply to Sartre with a description of inner experience itself: it is the
movement of “willing a knowledge beyond practical ends” (ON 176). Bataille acknowledges that this
willing “can’t be indefinitely continued” (ibid).
Knowledge “beyond practical ends” is nonknowledge. Inner Experience (the text and the
concept) is thus a method and a non-method for arriving at nonknowledge. If reading Inner
Experience moves one to pursue experience, it opens up the possibility of arriving at
nonknowledge. The “method” inspires anguish because it produces only knowledge
beyond practical ends—useless pseudo-knowledge. The method looks, sounds, and seems
like mystical ecstasy from the outside, but, according to Bataille, it can be and is
understood differently from the “inside55.” The method of inner experience is not just an
avenue to nonknowledge; it is partially constitutive of nonknowledge. It is an element of
nonknowledge.
AT: Predictability
The bataillean subject is a product of laughter that is always
capable of becoming-other – the laughter of the socius opens the
subject to future affective channels and prime the subject for
encounters-to-come. This original interaction with the
previously unknown is what opens the subject to interactions
with the socius and establishes a relational model of being that
allows the effectuation of the socuis through the subject in the
form of affective discharge.
Lawtoo 11, (Nidesh Lawtoo, “Bataille and the Birth of the Subject,” Angelaki, Vol. 16,
Iss. 2, 2011)//jh
From laughter to inner experience, via tears, trance, eroticism, death, dramatization and sacred festivities, mimesis
seems, indeed, to be at the center of Bataille’s persistent preoccupation with sovereign forms
of communication. As I have tried to show, it is only because of the subject’s prior affectability
to the contagious affects of the other/socius who is both exterior and interior to ipse that the latter
remains permeable to subsequent forms of communicative experience. Or, if you prefer, it is
because the subject is, from the very beginning, chained to another subject that such a
magnetic-electric-hypnotic-mimetic current characteristic of sovereign forms of
communication can actually flow. Which also means that communication is not only concerned
with the dissolution of the boundaries of the subject, nor with a mystical fusion with what
Bataille calls the ‘‘continuity of Being’’ (though it is both these things), but also, and perhaps more
importantly, with a reenactment of that very affective process which brings the subject
into being as a mimetic, relational being. To be sure, Bataille does not offer a single, homogeneous
answer to the open question ‘‘who comes after the subject?’’ Yet his account of the birth of the subject out of
the laughter of the socius affirms the emergence of a modality of being which is always
open to the possibility of becoming other. The laughter of the socius, in fact, opens up the
channels of affective communication that pave the way for the subject’s future
permeability to other forms of mimetic experiences; these passages also prepare the
subject for future encounters with socii yet to come, with whom the experience of
sovereign communication may, with some chance, eventually be reenacted. That Bataille
could not effectively communicate these interior experiences on the page is clear. Yet this impossible,
communicative task did not prevent him from affirming that ‘‘truth is not where humans
consider themselves in isolation: it starts with conversations, shared laughter [rires
partage´s], friendship, eroticism and it only takes place by passing from one to the other ’’ (V:
282; my emphasis). Bataille’s transgressive, mimetic thought makes the subject continuously
slide on the affective passages that emerge in instants of sovereign communication with
the socii. That is, those ‘‘others’’ who are interlocked with the ‘‘subject’’ in such a
fundamental way that they cannot be dissociated from what the subject ‘‘is.’’ These socii
do not communicate with me, but through me, because they are already chained into me
– part of the experience of what Bataille calls, thinking of Nietzsche, ‘‘being multiple singular’’ [eˆtre a` plusieurs
un seul]’’ (Sur Nietzsche VI: 279).
AT: Reform
Riots in the streets solve
Gordienko ‘12 /Andrey, Ph.D., PhD Film & TV @ UCLA “The Politics of Eros: The
Philosophy of Georges Bataille and Japanese New Wave Cinema” UCLA Electronic
Theses and Dissertations,
file:///Users/jackewing/Downloads/eScholarship%20UC%20item%2048f92067.pdf/
Perhaps, then, Suleiman's effort to periodize Bataille's intellectual itinerary does not
contradict Besnier's thesis concerning the centrality of sovereignty to Bataille's thought?
This question hinges on whether Suleiman understands the concept of “the political” as
well as that of “power” in the same way as Besnier does. I would contend that when
Bataille speaks of the seizure of power, he has in mind the "powerless power" of the
masses as opposed to the State power. In "Popular Front in the Street," he writes: "What
interests us above all ... are the emotions that give the human masses the surges of power
that tear them away from the domination of those who only know how to lead them on to
poverty and to the slaughterhouse.”65 Power of the masses, of which Bataille speaks, is
anarchic power that differs in kind from that form of power which founds the State. The
distinction between the two forms of power in turn presupposes two radically different
conceptions of revolution. Thus, when Bataille appeals to the power of the masses to
revolt, he calls for the destruction of the very form of the State as opposed to mere
substitution of some new version of the State for its existing variant. While this
distinction inevitably invokes Walter Benjamin’s discussion of the difference
(originally posited by Georges Sorel) between a general proletarian strike and a general
political strike (with the former entailing the complete negation of the State and
the latter merely demanding that the State reform itself), it is in Maurice
Blanchot's work that one finds the most precise characterization of Bataille's politics of
the impossible that bases itself on the revolutionary potential of the powerless power of
the people: “Contrary to 'traditional revolutions,' it was not a question of simply taking
power to replace it with some other power, nor of taking the Bastille or the Winter
Palace, or the Elysée or the National Assembly, all objectives of no importance. It was
not even a question of overthrowing an old world; what mattered was to let a
possibility manifest itself, the possibility - beyond any utilitarian gain - of a
being-together that gave back to all the right to equality in fraternity through a
freedom of speech that elated everyone.”66 Although Blanchot has in mind not the
activities of Popular Front in the 1930s, but rather the event of May '68, his work
shows a marked affinity with Besnier's decision to discuss Bataille's political logic in
terms of ‘possibility’ and ‘impossibility.’ In other words, “the possibility of a being-
together” that Blanchot finds disclosed in the image of the agitated masses
taking over the streets is the possibility of the impossible – of the
community forming spontaneously, without programme, without demands
for political representation, held together only by pure effervescence. The
power of the people is limitless, he insists, precisely because it incorporates absolute
powerlessness - that is to say, powerlessness with respect to the possibilities of founding
another State, securing the right to representation, passing new legislation, etc. Indeed,
the idea of "freedom of speech" invoked by Blanchot has nothing to do with the ideal of
freedom advocated by the proponents of parliamentary democracy inasmuch as the
former presupposes that the people need no politicians to represent them and thus
rejects the very principle of mediation. As Bataille himself puts it, “for us having the
debate means having it in the street, it means having it where emotion can
seize men and push them to the limit, without meeting the eternal obstacles
that result from the defense of old political positions.”67 Thus, when Suleiman
invokes Bataille's calls to seize power in order to question Besnier's thesis concerning the
politics of the impossible, she appears to retain the traditional conception of power that
presupposes the existence of the State. Besnier, on the other hand, puts forward an
entirely different notion of power at odds with the form of the State: “the 'powerless
power' which, resistant to all power and in that sense 'impossible,' characterizes the
people.”68 As the passage from Blanchot quoted above suggests, an assessment of
Bataille's emancipatory politics must consider the place of community in his
philosophical project. Jean- Luc Nancy insists on this point: the idea of community
cannot be separated from the concept of the political: "the political is the place where
community as such is brought into play. It is not, in any case, just the locus of power
relations, to the extent that these relations set and upset the necessarily unstable and
taut equilibrium of collectivity."69 In this sense, Bataille's work, before and after 1941,
cannot be separated from what I shall call (borrowing an expression from Christopher
Fynsk) a politics of community. Suleiman appears to overlook this fact when she argues
that, in relinquishing the hope of seizing political power for the proletariat by means of a
violent revolution, Bataille also terminated his involvement in politics. His later work on
eroticism, however, as much as it privileges the private space of bedroom over the public
space of the street nonetheless concerns community because, as Nancy points out, "for
Bataille, community was first and finally the community of lovers."70 In this respect, the
only difference separating the early Bataille of “Popular Front in the Street” from the
mature Bataille of L’Erotisme consists in the fact that the community diminishes from
the masses held together by shared passion to the community of lovers in the grip of
erotic ecstasy. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Bataille’s more explicitly political
writings from the late 1930’s attempt to envision a politics of community. For instance,
“Popular Front in the Street” – the very text in which Suleiman discerns Bataille’s
affirmation of a revolutionary takeover of power in order to then question Besnier’s
interpretation – certainly exhibits preoccupation with that “fundamental continuity
which fuses individuals together” that, according to Besnier, characterizes Bataille’s
political stance in the 1930s. (It may be worth noting, at this point, that the idea of
community put forward in this text has very little to do with Nancy's conception of it
insofar as the latter refuses to think of community as a fusion or as an immanence of a
communion. As I trace the development of Bataille's thought in my subsequent chapters,
I will attempt to account for those texts in which Bataille's thoughts on community do
enter into close proximity with Nancy's propositions.) Thus, in defining the primary
objective of this address, which resembles a manifesto, Bataille writes: “If we are to
speak of the Popular Front, we must first identify what holds us firmly together, what
links our origins to the emotions that constitute it, namely, the existence of the Popular
Front in the street.”71 Earlier in this essay, he once again speaks like an "emotive
intellectual" in Besnier’s sense of the term, the one who is less concerned with
developing a careful strategy for a revolutionary takeover of power than with blindly
plunging himself at the very epicenter of revolutionary developments: “What drives the
crowds to the street is the emotion directly aroused by striking events in the atmosphere
of a storm, it is the contagious emotion that, from house to house, from suburb to
suburb, suddenly turns a hesitating man into a frenzied being.”72
AT: Truth Testing
Their attempt to search for knowledge through truth testing falls
in line with the process of agent reliabilism which colludes in
the calculable nature of the modern day educational apparatus –
this necessitates that knowledge is only “good knowledge” if it is
gained “virtuously” if it fits within the normative intelligible
characteristics of knowledge. In response we ask – why is
knowledge even valuable?
Lerman’15 – Lindsay Lerman – University of Guelph Philosophy Department, Graduate Student. Studies
Epistemology, Georges Bataille – “Georges Bataille’s “Nonknowledge” as Epistemic Expenditure: An Open Economy of
Knowledge” pg 22-24 KZaidi

Capacity for “grasping the truth” is understood as a virtue in the same sense that
the faculty of sight is a virtue in human beings. Greco argues that applying such an
understanding of virtue to reliabilism offers a compelling agent reliabilism, in
which “knowledge and justified belief are grounded in stable and reliable cognitive
character” (ibid 287). “Stable and reliable cognitive character” excludes as knowledge any true belief
that arises by accident, by luck, or by a “strange and fleeting” process (ibid 286-9). An implied
part of this “stable and reliable cognitive character” is the capacity to reliably communicate the beliefs
acquired because of, or due to, one’s intellectual virtues. The capacity for reliable
communication is an implied virtue.
Greco does not directly address the value of knowledge in “Agent Reliabilism,” nor does he take issue with Zagzebski’s
claim that the value of knowledge can only be determined alongside the value of a good life. But we can hypothesize that
an agent reliabilist account of the value of knowledge would be built on the value of the
“stable and reliable cognitive character” of an agent (ibid). And we can see that it would fit
Zagzebski’s description of an unsatisfying account of the value of knowledge (i.e., that it
cannot respond to the value problem): it would likely be structured according to the “truth plus a
reliable source of truth” formula. Later, however, Greco addresses the issue of value directly,
claiming that we can explain the value of knowledge by way of a “truth plus reliable (and
thus virtuous!) source of truth” formula. This marks the first clear mention of virtue
theory in our conversation other than Sosa’s brief definition of virtue on the previous page20:
In Book II of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle
makes a distinction between a) morally virtuous
action and b) action that is merely as if morally virtuous. One important difference, says Aristotle, is
that morally virtuous actions ‘proceed from a firm and unchangeable character .’ (II.4)
Moreover, it is morally virtuous action, as opposed to action that is as if virtuous, that is
both intrinsically valuable and constitutive of the good life: ‘human good turns out to be
activity of soul exhibiting excellence.’ (I.7) The same point holds for intellectually virtuous action, where the
distinction between ‘virtuous action’ and ‘action as if virtuous’ translates to a distinction between knowledge and mere
true belief. Following Aristotle, therefore, we get an answer to the value problem: As
is the case regarding
moral goods, getting the truth as a result of one’s virtues is more valuable than getting it
on the cheap (“Knowledge as Credit for True Belief” in Intellectual Virtue: Perspectives from Ethics and Epistemology
ed. DePaul and Zagzebski (2007), p. 133).

The argument is roughly that knowledge is more valuable if acquired virtuously


(or as a result of one’s virtues) than not. And if we agree with Aristotle, knowledge acquired through
virtuous cognitive character traits (stability, reliability, firmness, etc.) is also intrinsically valuable.
Such knowledge acquired through virtuous cognitive character traits is constitutive of
the good life. For Greco, this argument satisfies the value problem with the claim that
reliability or something like it is a virtue. It is an argument in favor of an agent reliabilist
version of virtue epistemology, with the stipulation that the agent must acquire truth “as
a result of [her] virtues” (ibid).

This attempt to be able to inscribe value to truth and knowledge


therefore ignores the ways in which non-knowledge manifests
itself as something that is unknown to the modern world. They
assume that knowledge must be communicable and it is our job
to sacrifice that very belief
Lerman’15 – Lindsay Lerman – University of Guelph Philosophy Department, Graduate Student. Studies
Epistemology, Georges Bataille – “Georges Bataille’s “Nonknowledge” as Epistemic Expenditure: An Open Economy of
Knowledge” pg 24-26 KZaidi

1.3: Elements of Classical Epistemology


For our purposes, what have we seen Zagzebski, Greco, and Sosa do, or claim, that deserves more attention? We have
seen a reliance on all six presumptions, but especially on the first presumption (that
knowledge is communicable in the form of clear propositions); the second presumption
(that knowledge can be acquired); the third presumption (that knowledge-acquisition is
a teleological pursuit); the fourth presumption (that knowledge is valuable, despite
asking why); and the fifth presumption (that what counts as knowledge can be
objectively determined). Zagzebski, Greco, and Sosa are not making the very same arguments, and are clearly at
odds with each other at times, but all their argumentation is built upon a presumption
that knowledge is communicable. Reliabilism in particular requires that knowledge
be communicated clearly and reliably.
If Zagzebski, Greco, and Sosa were not working on the assumption that knowledge is
communicable, it is difficult to imagine how their arguments or their larger projects
would get off the ground. In other words, we can see the presumptions at work in the
arguments if we ask what the arguments might look like were the presumptions not
made. In the case of Zagzebski, we would have to ask how Zagzebski could begin to explain the value
of knowledge in connection with the value of a good life (as she recommends) if she
were also claiming that knowledge is not fully or reliably communicable, or transferable
via communication. In the case of Greco and Sosa, an argument that explains the value of
knowledge in terms of reliable communication of knowledge leaves no room for an
additional conception of knowledge as partially or arbitrarily (or even “strangely”)
communicable. That knowledge is valuable, and can be objectively determined, is a deep
precursor to the whole conversation. Zagzebski initiates this when she claims that virtue epistemology ought
to be primarily concerned with carefully determining why knowledge is valuable, because it is valuable: “I say that
knowledge has to be defined as something we value. We are not interested in a phenomenon with little or no value” (“The
Search for the Source of Epistemic Good” 26). This
is reinforced by others in virtue epistemology, by
the claim that at the very least, knowledge is always “credit-worthy”:
[O]ne of the key parts of the virtue-theoretic story of why knowledge is valuable is that knowledge is of credit to
the agent. The guiding thought here is that knowledge is an achievement that is
creditable to the agent, in the sense that the agent, through her cognitive skills (i.e., her epistemic
virtues, where these are construed broadly so that they could also include her cognitive faculties), gained a true
belief because of her virtue. If knowledge is a distinctive achievement in this way—
something that is worthy of credit—then this could, at least in part, account for the
special value of knowledge” (Duncan Pritchard, “Recent Work on Epistemic Value,” American Philosophical
Quarterly 2007, p. 98).

What is worth noting about the conversation’s reliance on this presumption is that such reliance excludes
any alternative ways of knowing or demonstrating knowing. If we take Greco to be correct,
there is no intrinsically valuable truth to be found as a result of any “strange
and fleeting,” non-virtuous process. Additionally, any truth that cannot be reliably
communicated, by an agent with “stable and reliable cognitive character,” aware of her
reliability, cannot qualify as truth. If we take Zagzebski to be correct, we cannot find the
value of knowledge unless we find it among the values of “a good life,” and this requires our
search for knowledge to have a simple, distinct (virtuous) motivation: the love of truth.
My own counter-claims, to be fleshed out in the coming chapters, are (1) that these
presumptions are too
strict, or too limiting, and that they thereby miss something important (viz.,
expenditure) about the value and nature of knowing that we can see with the help of
nonknowledge; and (2) that the accuracy, and hence, the value of the presumptions—both
taken for granted in the virtue epistemology conversation and in philosophy in general—
are questionable when we consider a compelling account of a different kind of knowing
exemplified by nonknowledge understood as a movement of expenditure. My general
hypothesis is that an alternate way of knowing and communicating knowing—exemplified
by nonknowledge—will require us to re-assess the completeness, accuracy, and value of
the presumptions employed in the virtue epistemology conversation.
AT: TVA/State Good
Their insistence and dependence on an authority figure like the
state as a stasis point for their politics is uniquely parasitic off of
our interrogation of those very structures which means that you
should reject their invasionism at all costs through an unending
interrogation of them
Lerman’15 – Lindsay Lerman – University of Guelph Philosophy Department, Graduate Student. Studies
Epistemology, Georges Bataille – “Georges Bataille’s “Nonknowledge” as Epistemic Expenditure: An Open Economy of
Knowledge” pg 67-68 KZaidi

In addition to this, if
“experience” points to, or suggests, the existence of a “beyond,” such
establishment would not be enough to qualify “experience” as such. I am claiming that
this positions “experience,” and thus nonknowledge, as an epistemic movement that can
never be completed47. According to Bataille, to decide that “experience” had reached its
conclusion or its final resting point would be to slip from “experience” into something
else—into project. Suggesting that “experience” is a movement of contestation without limit
leads Bataille to offer an additional definition (of “experience”), with this emphasis: “the incessant
interrogation of existence by itself” (ibid).

It is “natural,” Bataille says above, to think we have reached the end of interrogation. Despite the
fact that it is natural, however, the rest of the text quoted suggests clearly that we should not stop once we feel that we
have reached the end—because we will not have reached the end. Interrogation must be
incessant. It is also “natural” for an authority figure – something or someone to rely on
– to be sought or identified with during interrogation. Any authority, however – whether God
or the poetic or the epistemic – subverts interrogation. An authority reduces, offers “a
petition of intoxicating principles,” making continued interrogation either impossible or
unlikely. This suggests a response to the question of what “natural” means: although it may be inevitable to stop the
incessant interrogation, this stoppage must be momentary. To rest too long in it, to succumb to
“intoxicating principles” which block the desire to continue interrogation, is to leave the
realm of “experience,” the realm where there is no authority other than interrogation without limit.
Nonknowledge has only its own authority.
Not only is experience interrogation without limit; it is also refraining from turning to
authority/ies which might stop interrogation or make us feel as though interrogation is no longer needed.
Bataille offers three examples of such “authority”: God, the poetic, and the sacred. But anything can be an
authority. A community’s decision about what qualifies as knowledge can be an
authority. A reigning set of ideas about the value of knowledge—and how it is
determined—is an authority. This is a clear point of contrast with the assumptions at work in our virtue
epistemology conversation. There is no hint, no suggestion, that incessant interrogation is the
only authority in the conversation. Rather, the conversation is built on the assumption
that the virtue epistemology community forms the collective source of authority,
comprised of rational individuals rigorously checking each other on their explanations
for the nature and value of knowledge.
Bureaucrats use the state and the power associated in order to
implement arbitrary rules aimed at disenfranchisement of
certain individuals, this also applies to arguments in debate that
presuppose rules as a norm that is misrepresented
Mbembe, 92, (Achill senior researcher at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of the
Witwatersrand, The Banality of Power and the Aesthetics of Vulgarity in the Postcolony, Pg. 1-2, 1992)//Cummings

, I will examine the banality of power in the ‘‘postcolony.’’ By ‘‘banality of power ’’ I


In this article ,

am not simply referring to the way bureaucratic formalities or arbitrary rules, implicit or
explicit, have been multiplied . To be sure, banality implies , nor am I simply concerned with what has become routine

predictability precisely because it is made up of repeated daily actions and gestures. Yet,
by the ‘‘banality of power’’ I am also evoking those elements of the obscene, vulgar, and
the grotesque that Mikhail Bakhtin claimed to have located in ‘‘non-official’’1 cultures,
but which, in fact, are intrinsic to all systems of domination and to the means by which
those systems are confirmed or deconstructed. The notion ‘‘postcolony’’ simply refers to the specific identity of a given historical trajectory: that of societies recently
emerging from the experience of colonization. To be sure, the postcolony is a chaotic plurality, yet it has nonetheless an internal coherence. It is a specific system of signs, a particular way of fabricating simulacra or of stereotypes. It is not,

postcolony is characterized by a distinctive art of


however, just an economy of signs in which power is mirrored and imagined self-reflectively. The

improvisation, by a tendency to excess and disproportion as well as by distinctive ways in


which identities are multiplied, transformed, and put into circulation It is likewise made .2

up of a series of corporate institutions, and apparatuses which, once they are deployed,
constitute a distinctive regime of violence .3 In this sense, the postcolony is a critical and dramatic site in which are played out the wider problems of subjection and its

I am concerned with the ways in which state power: 1) creates,


corollary, indiscipline. With respect to trajectories of this type, then,

through its administrative and bureaucratic practices, a world of meanings all of its own,
a mastercode which, in aiming for a primary centrality, also, and perhaps paradoxically,
governs the logics of the constitution of all other meanings 2) attempts to within these societies.

institutionalize its world of meanings as a ‘‘socio-historical world,’ and to make that ’4

world fully real, turning it into a part of people’s common sense not only by instilling it in
the minds of its cibles The basic argument of this article is that,
(or ‘‘target population’’),5 but also in the imaginary of an epoque.

to account for both the imagery and efficacy of postcolonial relations of power, we must
go beyond the binary categories used in standard interpretations of domination (resistance/passivity,

). These oppositions are not helpful rather, they


subjection/autonomy, state/civil society, hegemony/counterhegemony, totalization/ detotalization ;6

cloud our understanding of postcolonial relations.7 In the postcolony, the


commandemen seeks to institutionalize itself, in order to achieve legitimation and
t8

hegemony [recherche he´ge´monique], in the form of a fetish. 9 The signs, vocabulary, and narratives that it produces are not only destined to become objects of representation. They are officially invested with a surplus of

So as to insure that such transgression does not in fact


meanings which are not negotiable, and which one is thus officially forbidden to transgress.

take place, the champions of state power invent entire constellations of ideas; they select
a distinct set of cultural repertoires and powerfully evocative concepts but they also have ;10

resort to the systematic application of pain ,11 the basic goal being the production of an imagery. To account for postcolonial relations is thus to pay attention to the
workings of power in its minute details, and to the principles of assemblage which give rise to its efficacy. That is, one must examine the orderings of the world it produces; the types of institutions, knowledges, norms, and practices that issue

; the manner in which these institutions, knowledges, norms, and


from it

practices structure the quotidien; as well as the light that the use of visual
imagery and discourse throws on the nature of domination and
subordination

The government is Fucked up and is the most corrupt entity to be devised, the
us drone program is a direct example of the necropolitical violence in the US
Needham, 16, (Alex, digital editor of the Guardian, "National Bird review – chilling film reveals truths about drones,"
Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/apr/17/national-bird-review-us-drones-program-tribeca-film-festival, 4-1-
2016)//Cummings
This is a disturbing documentary which, through the testimonies of three courageous
whistleblowers, sheds some daylight on the USA’s secret military drone programme. Directed by
Sonia Kennebeck and executive-produced by Wim Wenders, National Bird weaves together the
stories of the air force veterans Lisa, Daniel and Heather, all of whom have worked on the
drones programme, gathering intelligence and tracking targets to be killed. Then National Bird
moves to Afghanistan, where the maimed survivors of a mistaken drone strike on unarmed
civilians in February 2010, which killed 23 people, describe what happened when they were
attacked. The juxtaposition of the appallingly gung-ho attitude of the drone operatives, re-
enacted from a transcript of the event, and raw footage of the dead bodies (some children)
returning to their anguished friends and family, is heartbreaking and enraging. Kennebeck
juxtaposes Obama’s speeches about drones – in which he claims that they are able to take out
insurgents without harming those around them – with the testimonies of those who know that
this is untrue. Self-evidently, drones wreak widespread devastation, and the fact that a growing
element of modern warfare involves studying dots on a screen and deciding on which to drop a
bomb has frightening ethical implications. National Bird demonstrates that the nature of drone
warfare makes some drone operatives trigger-happy, while others, like Heather, who analysed
intelligence on warzones and wrote about her experiences for the Guardian, end up
dehumanised and suffering from PTSD. This is a documentary that shows rather than tells,
ominously beautiful drone’s-eye tracking shots of ordinary American streets demonstrating the
way the technology can be used against any community. The film kicks up a gear when signals
intelligence analyst Daniel, who had worked with the NSA at Fort Meade, decides to blow the
whistle on the drone programme and gets the full force of the government machinery dropped
on top of him, including the raiding of his house by dozens of FBI agents and the threat of
decades in jail for treason. His attorney Jesselyn Radack, who represents the other
whistleblowers and did the same for Edward Snowden, makes clear that once you cross the
military-industrial complex, your life becomes extremely difficult. At the end of the film, Daniel’s
whereabouts are chillingly described as unknown. Under the US 1917 espionage act, the film
and the whistleblowers are severely restricted in what they can (or, in the case of the
whistleblowers, would wish to) say, but certain sharp facts poke through the murk. Lisa shows a
letter of commendation for helping to identify 121,000 insurgent targets over two years – as she
points out, since the US has been at war in Afghanistan since 2001, the scale of casualties must
be vast. No one will say, but it’s also pretty clear that the US is using drones in countries with
which it is not officially at war. With stealth and elegance, Kennebeck brings these alarming
truths into the light.
A2: Capitalism
Root Cause
The process of capitalism operates through extraction and
exploitation and proliferates violence on the periphery against
those seen as surplus
Perera, 12, (Sanjay, experienced teacher and co-author of a textbook on Authoritarian states, "The economy of
violence: Waste, expenditure and surplus," Philosophers for Change, https://philosophersforchange.org/2012/12/25/the-
economy-of-violence-waste-expenditure-and-surplus/, Dec. 25, 2012)//Cummings

We are living in a time when the world is seeing the full effects of the economic violence
of capitalism on all life forms and the planet itself The violent process of capitalism is one .

of extraction and exploitation as it operates in a framework of polarity that exacerbates


the difference between taking and giving storing and sharing and the separation between , ,

the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ its marauding intent shapes the outcome of who should live
. Finally,

and who dies This essay is also an interlude and bridge between Revolutionary
.

constructivism and where the ideas here are meant to lead on to The present piece is .

meant to fill a gap of sorts in the overall architecture in using the ideas of Immanuel
Kant in understanding the moral underpinnings of revolutionary and radical thinking It .

is also the prelude to examining the nature of capital its use as a means of control and as ,

an expression of power The Kantian mode of analysis is set out in Revolutionary


.

constructivism as well as posts that are referred to within it within this mode of . Similarly,

analysis the notion of waste expenditure and surplus looked at here are synthetic ideas
,

operating with a logic related to the idea of capitalism as most of us understand it These .

ideas of waste expenditure and surplus are sketched out in the context of the thinking of
,

Thorstein Veblen Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels The ideas will also be seen in
, Georges Bataille, .

relation to issues raised by Adam Tooze in The wages of destruction that deals with the
economic motives behind the Nazi regime and WWII The activity of extracting resources . ,

production and who gets to keep what in an economy takes place through the process of
material-productive waste of resources and energy Production is an activity that gives .

material support for people and one in which what is extracted is transformed into
commodities This production and its concomitant discharge of waste through exploiting
.

surplus also involves the expenditure of energy


, the problem is that this process is in . However,

itself one that is wasteful primarily through the rampant expenditure of resources and
energy which in turn seem to cause division in society aggravated by the mindset of lack ,

competition and fear .

A. Veblen’s theory of the leisure class

Perhaps Veblen’s best known work is The theory of the leisure class with its fascinating insights and satiric style. The exploitation that comes with production is emphasized early on, …all effort directed to enhance human life by taking advantage
of the non-human environment is classed together as industrial activity. By the economists who have best retained and adapted the classical tradition, man’s ‘power over nature’ is currently postulated as the characteristic fact of industrial
productivity. This industrial power over nature is taken to include man’s power over the life of the beasts and over all the elemental forces (Veblen 6). Economic production and growth is not just about so -called survival, it is about power and
control by man over as much as possible. This mindset is one of combativeness which also allows for exerting control over other beings and the environment so as to force extraction for one’s own interests. Veblen describes this as a “habitual
bellicose frame of mind – a prevalent habit of judging facts and events from the point of view of the fight” (Veblen 12). In the next lines this competitive and predatory attitude is also described as an “accredited spiritual attitude…when the fight
has become the dominant note in the current theory of life.” How prescient Veblen is can be seen in the fact that his book was published in 1899 on the cusp of an ultra-violent capitalist century. However, Veblen goes on to state that production of
goods is not just for consumption but accumulation and ownership (and the status that accompanies this). In fact, accumulation is a function of status. This in turn is reflective of trying to emulate others (perceived as having status in society). So
this possession of things is part of the ownership of wealth and the status that goes with it: Which thereby creates invidious distinctions (Veblen 17). He explains that the term ‘invidious’ is meant to be a technical one as “describing a comparison
of persons with a view to rating and grading them in respect of relative worth or value” (Veblen 22). Hence, accumulation of commodities is part of soothing of one’s ego and a way to gain some form of respect and admiration from others; this
certainly represents the consumer, advertising and marketing culture of today. To Veblen part of the sense of privilege for the leisured and propertied class is to be able to while away time without doing anything useful as such. For the privileged
ones wastefulness in terms of unproductive living is the way to go, so time “is consumed non-productively (1) from a sense of the unworthiness of productive work, and (2) as an evidence of pecuniary ability to afford a life of idleness” (Veblen 28).
Hence, the need for servants and slaves to do the bidding of the leisured ones, in addition to their living ostentatiously while continuing invidious accumulation. The situation has reached crisis point today when so many are caught up in a race of
capitalist accumulation and the drive for profit has instituted modern slavery (to the capitalist paradigm of the supremacy of capital, banks and the political scoundrels serving them). People are treated as chattel and to be done with as pleased by
those who believe they own people. The incentive for such ownership includes “(1) a propensity for dominance and coercion; (2) the utility of these persons as evidence of the prowess of their owner; (3) the utility of their services” (Veblen 34).
This is a neat summary of the quest for control and domination that utilitarian capitalist principles have made the norm in our time. One only need see how the work force and those performing menial tasks are treated to grasp the veracity of
Veblen’s words. In the next paragraph he sets out how people are treated as objects and indeed they not only provide a source of invidious accumulation but are also required as things to squeeze profit from: “Together with cattle…they are the
usual form of investment for a profit….Where this is the case…the basis of the industrial system is chattel slavery…The great pervading human relation in such a system is that of master and servant” (Veblen 34). The invidious accumulation of
people and wealth is also, therefore, a means of exerting control. The use of industries can be seen as a means of not only production but of the exercise of control over production, accumulation of commodities and is further a form of domination
over people. Many people have little choice but to work for their living with corporations, financiers, governments etc., which is, in the end, only a form of slavery that may occasionally allow you maintaining your tenuous keep. Veblen then goes
on to define one of his most famous ideas, conspicuous consumption. He compares conspicuous leisure with that of conspicuous consumption and both are wasteful activities. In the case of the former “it is a waste of time and effort, in the other it
is waste of goods. Both are methods of demonstrating the possession of wealth” (Veblen 53). Ostentation is indeed the order of the day for some. This conspicuous consumption leads to conspicuous expenditure and is an expenditure of
superfluities. Veblen tries to explain that he is using the term ‘waste’ in relation to consumption/expenditure in an economic sense of utility derived as the inevitable result of such a process; that is, the term is not meant to be deprecatory and he
also calls it conspicuous waste (Veblen 60-61). But he then goes on to state that ‘waste’ does have a derogatory connotation when it is not shown to be useful in servin g human interests. However, to Veblen ‘waste’ is there to “serve to enhance
human life on the whole” (Veblen 61).

B. Bataille: A visionary of excess

While much of what Veblen says in terms of ‘waste’ and ‘expenditure’ overlaps with what
is stated by Georges Bataille the latter seems to develop a cogent basis for exploring these
,
ideas in a broader and more intense socio-politico-economic framework The early .

expression of Bataille’s ideas of ‘waste’ and ‘expenditure’ appear in his important 1933
essay “The notion of expenditure”. In the case of Veblen he is content to show how ,

economic utility is conflated within a system of conspicuous waste, consumption and


expenditure and goes on to develop in his other work ideas relating to business industry ,

and capital Underlying them is the idea of controlling people and resources but with the
. ,

sense that some of this is necessary for sustaining life as we know it one . But Bataille takes a different approach;

that is an offshoot of Nietzshe and revels in a form of orgiastic and destructive energy of
creation waste and expenditure He also aims to give a systematic framework of how
, .

excess in the form of waste and expenditure is more an outlet for energy that must be
spent he sees capitalist excess as an idea that goes beyond Veblen’s
, in one way or another, by human beings. Moreover,

invidious notion of the conspicuous For Bataille capitalist excess is the means by which :

capitalists and the bourgeoisie not only use resources but consciously or otherwise
destroy other life forms This goes beyond just consumption – destruction becomes a way
.

of life .

i. “The notion of expenditure”

Early in the essay Bataille discusses the idea of loss He calls productive activity that .

which is necessary for the conservation of life and reproduction of societal and economic
structures Unproductive activities are that which appear to have no end beyond
.

themselves and thereby are what he terms ‘expenditure’ the arts . Such expenditure would include mourning, war, cults, , sumptuary

such activities do not conform to the standard idea of economic


monuments, spectacles, etc. (Bataille “Notion”, 118). In effect,

utility no matter how contrary


. Expenditure involves a loss, that is, it involves significant waste of resources that have no link to utility as such. Bataille terms loss as “unconditional expenditure,

it might be to the economic principle of balanced accounts (expenditure regularly compensated for by acquisition)” (Bataille “Notion”, 118).

Bataille does seem to later conflate both economic and non-economic activities as the
However,

reverse side of expenditure both processes involve the use of energy and the
; for in then end,

creation of waste He mentions that forms of war and destruction are as much a part of
.

expenditure as is production To him the hypocrisy of capitalists and the bourgeoisie .

arises in that their accumulation of wealth and status is at the expense of the ‘lower’ (expenditure)

classes He describes the process of the social reproduction and maintenance of the
.

“representatives of the bourgeoisie” underlying such attitudes as “trickery [that] has


become the principal reason of living and suffering for those who lack the courage to , working,

condemn this moldy society to revolutionary destruction” Bataille expounds (Bataille “Notion”, 124). Next,

how the rich do not want to spend on the poor but prefer to consume the poor’s losses ,

thereby using the expenditure of one class of people as means of accumulation for
another This is the kernel of exploitation for Bataille as the rich create for the poor
. , (Bataille’s

– …a category of degradation and abjection that leads to slavery…the modern world


emphases)

had received slavery…and has reserved it for the proletariat…[A] bourgeois society…gives
the workers rights equal to those of the masters and it announces this equality by ,

inscribing the word on walls But the masters who act as if they were the expression of
. ,

society itself are preoccupied…with showing that they do not in any way share the
,

abjection of the men they employ The end of the workers’ activity is to produce in order .

to live but the bosses’ activity is to produce in order to condemn the working producers
,

to a hideous degradation…” Bataille “Notion”, 125-126). The whole idea of accumulation


(

is the heightening of expenditure against the interests of the common folk by those who
exploit them It is through this process that the negative effects of profit made and loss in
. ,

every sense of the word It is a process that promotes a master-slave


, is sustained by those who are exploited.

paradigm and condemns the majority of people to some form of depraved existence .
ii. The accursed share

In his great work in three volumes The accursed share Bataille looks at the economic , ,

forces of the world holistically as part of the energy that is the basis of everything . He states (Bataille’s

…it is easy to recognize in the economy – in the production and use of wealth – a
emphasis),

particular aspect of terrestrial activity regarded as a cosmic phenomenon A movement is .

produced on the surface of the globe that results from the circulation of energy at this
point in the universe The economic activity of men appropriate this movement making
. ,

use of the resulting possibilities for certain ends….Is the general determination of energy
circulating in the biosphere altered by man’s activity? Here Bataille sets the (Bataille Share I, 20-21)

stage for his analysis and examination of socio-economic-political forces as that which
involve energy and expenditure – primarily through his notion of ‘exuberance’ . He develops this idea by

The living organism in a situation determined by the play of energy on the surface of
stating: ,

the globe the excess energy can be used for the growth of a
, ordinarily receives more energy than is necessary for maintaining life; (wealth)

system g., an organism); if the system can no longer grow or if the excess cannot be
(e. ,

completely absorbed in its growth , it must necessarily be lost without profit; it must be spent, willingly or not, gloriously or catastrophically (Bataille Sh are I, 21). In Bataille’s scheme, no

energy must be harnessed and used in one form or another And the
doubt influenced by quantum mechanics, .

excess energy will be transformed creatively or destructively In line with his holistic view .

of economic activity Bataille also states that one problem is that the economy is not
, however,

always considered in simply general terms and that economic activity tends to be viewed ,

as a specificity without the appropriate context to interpret it in Bataille’s emphases): (

The human mind reduces operations to an entity based on typical particular , in science as in life,

systems organisms or enterprises). Economic activity


( is conceived in terms of , considered as a whole,

particular operations with limited ends…Economic science merely generalizes the


isolated situation that of economic man
; it restricts its object to operations carried out with a view to a limited end, . It does not take into consideration a play of energy that no

the play of living matter in general…On the surface of the globe for living matter
particular end limits:

in general the question is always posed in terms of extravagance The choice is


, energy is always in excess; .

limited to how the wealth is to be squandered…The general movement of exudation of (

waste of living matter impels him [man], and he cannot stop it…it destines him…to
)

useless consumption 22-23). Here Bataille expands on how energy and human life
(Bataille Share I,

force is channeled and used productively and unproductively but always as a way of ,

extravagance/exuberance So that no matter how many live in poverty or arguments :

made that necessities of life can hardly be linked to some form of wasted energy – the
energy in itself cannot be accumulated “limitlessly in the productive forces eventually…it ;

is bound to escape us and be lost to us” 22-23). Waste and entropy are inescapable (Bataille Share I, .

Bataille goes on to discuss the circulation of energy in human form and how the
Next,

ground energy of humans in their quotidian activities needs to be channeled properly


lest it take on and as it also inevitably does via the capitalist paradigm a destructive
( )

form. He notes astutely that it is the poorest economies that face blockages in the
expression of this excess life force/ground energy This in turn gets transmuted into wars .

and leads to further impoverishment of that society The mishandling of this ground .

energy takes place through limited economic-political thinking that can lead to a
situation of having to create diversions to channel this energy that may also entail wars
as a means of expenditure/exuberance – on this last point Bataille is not explicit (Bataille Share 1, 23-

Bataille does make it clear later that energy that is blocked and not freely flowing
24). However,

and accumulated in a manner that causes income inequalities and lopsided wealth
development will go through one form of massive expenditure , that is, war – which he calls an “immense squandering” (Bataille Share 1,

37). People become that portion that is expended as a sign of the surplus of wealth that
can be wasted when not harnessed properly it is also an expression of the loss of so much ;
potential that in itself is immeasurable the worth of a single life). This is also a (

“squandering without reciprocation”. For destruction of life implies the misuse of basic
energy/life force or ground energy And it is the lack of reciprocity and sharing of wealth . —

that which can remove blockages and allow for a smooth and equitable flow of ground
energy that underlies much of the privations of our lives
— it is this sacrifice (Bataille Share 1, 38-39). To Bataille,

of human beings through war and other forms of unjust/harsh activities that marks them
as the accursed share Bataille’s emphases): “The victim is a surplus taken from the mass
(

of useful wealth…and therefore utterly destroyed he is the accursed share destined . Once chosen, ,

for violent consumption.” These are the scapegoats selected to allow for the energetic
imbalance of accumulation to continue for the benefit of some but at the expense of
everything else It is in effect a ritualistic economic culling or deliberate killing of humans
.

that is needed to satiate the atavistic appetites of Moloch-Mammon How little the human .

race has evolved in its antediluvian practices In a subsequent volume of this work . ,

Bataille goes on to explain his idea of sovereignty The basic distinction of sovereignty .

involves those who consume wealth as opposed to those that lack sovereignty and who
are thereby left to produce the wealth without consuming it “The sovereign individual :

consumes and doesn’t labor whereas at the antipodes of sovereignty the slave and the
,

man without means labor and reduce their consumption to the necessities to the ,

products without which they could neither subsist nor labor” (Bataille Share III, 198). This is a master-slave paradigm reproduced by

which has Marxian roots). The necessities are produced to sustain the cogs
capitalism within Bataille’s framework (

in the machine but the managers and manipulators can indulge in luxuries beyond rice
,

or potatoes So the sovereign person has wealth to consume and waste at the expense of
.

the vast majority He consumes the “surplus of production” and does not in himself lead a
.

productive life 198). The consumption of the sovereign


. This allows him to lead a life – Bataille’s emphasis – “beyond utility” (Bataille Share III,

one is at the expense of the energy and life force of those who have no choice but to
produce The production of that which is meant to have utility and create luxury for the
.

exploiters is happily dumped time after time onto the shoulders of the majority where . After all,

would we be without the expenditure of precious resources on Rolls Royces the , Lamborghinis, Porches,

killings made in stock/money exchanges or on those ever so elusive breakfasts at ,

Tiffany’s This glorious expenditure/exuberance/human loss to create wealth and items of


.

luxury is facilitated through a hierarchical division of labour that confers a higher rank
on the exploiter than those who have to subsist through work (which is regarded as lowly). Therefore, those who work are meant to be
seen as degraded beings (Bataille Share III, 248). Veblen would agree with this in that the sovereign/leisure class are meant to be those who indulge in conspicuous activity that invidiously reveal their elitist status as compared to those who do

not measure up ( in terms of income/wealth and accumulated commodities ) to themselves. Sometimes this is called meritocracy. But it is almost
always called democracy
Solves the Cap K
Their idea of the complete rejection and destruction of capital
system is bad. Our argument is that what is necessary is to break
the taboo’s and limits that societies hold within them. Only
through that can we truly escape from systems of capitalist
domination. They only subject themselves to a life of complete
banality and nothingness instead of living in the moment. Which
only provides fuel to the systems of capitalism menaing we
control root cause and an internal link to solve every impact in
this debate.
Pawlett’15 – William Pawlett – William Pawlett is Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, Social Sciences and
Communication at the University of Wolverhampton, UK. He is author of Georges Bataille: The Sacred and Society
(forthcoming), and Jean Baudrillard: Against Banality. -- “Georges Bataille The Sacred and Society” – pg 128-131 KZaidi

As we have seen, Bataille


understands goal-directed, instrumental activ- ity as servile and
humiliating, as destructive of sovereignty. Meditative and ecstatic states are achieved not
through instrumental activity but the sovereign operation, stripping away and constantly
contesting the ‘reali- ties’ of self, objects, duration, use, purpose; leading to an experience of
abandonment, dissolution and ultimately, ecstasy. Similarly, the experi- ences of the sacred
and of eroticism take being beyond the confines of ego and of instrumental activity and their violence
discloses a profound intimacy or continuity that links all being, at least momentarily.

Given that Bataille’s notions of sovereignty, the sacred and eroti- cism concern the
moment, torn free of all duration or concern for the future, can a future, ‘improved’ state
of human life be worked towards, or even conceived from his perspective? Critics such as Habermas (1987, p. 237)
declare not, suggesting that Bataille has abandoned too much of the Enlightenment project to be able to conceive of an
alternative to capitalism. Yet
it is rather the case that the alternatives to capitalism that Bataille
conceives do not register on the scale of acceptability imposed by Habermas, and like-minded left-
liberal thinkers. Bataille clearly sought an alternative or ‘better’ society, one of greater
equality – particularly greater equality of expenditure (dépense), of universal sovereignty, of
intense community and friendship, of reactivated or reintensified sacred bonds between
people, of shared wonder at the miraculous impossibility of life, indeed: ‘It is people who hold
nothing sacred who’re the ones most likely to torture people and cruelly carry out the orders of a coercive apparatus’
(Bataille, 1992, p. xxv).

The preceding chapters argued that Bataille’s ideas offer a great deal for thinking about
alternatives to capitalist society. At a fundamen- tal level, capitalism depends upon the
suppression or curtailing of the sacred, preferring profanation and progressive weakening of
the sacred (and divine), to a dynamic sacred with the power to disrupt the flows of capitalist
accumulation. It has often been suggested that capital- ism is steadily undermining its
own foundations (Bell, 1976; Harvey, 2014); yet, it seems that capitalism operates quite comfortably
within a system of fundamental meaninglessness and weightlessness. While a moral order, of
some sort, is crucial to the functioning of capitalism, the sacred as dual and volatile energy is
threatening to capitalist regimes of work, production and accumulation. Indeed, the sacred
in Bataille’s sense threatens each of the central planks of capitalist modernity. Work and
production, even reason itself, are, from this perspective, only grim necessities enabling moments of
sovereign or sacrificial expenditure. The ‘elites’ of the neo-liberal system – corporate oligarchs, speculators
and their allies in government – do not experience sovereignty or expenditure in Bataille’s senses
because they do not give, either of their wealth or of themselves: they enjoy power and
wealth but not sovereignty. Nor do the ‘charitable’ activities of the super-rich constitute giving in Bataille’s
sense; there is no risk, chance or loss involved, merely an investment in the outward signs
of compassion or humanity.
The sacred, as Bataille conceives it, does not merely provide a sense of rich or ‘enchanted’
meaning to human lives where capitalism provides little or none, an observation made
recently by both conservatives and ecologists (see Stoekl, 2007, pp. 115–149). It is clear that the
consumer goods of capitalism do not satisfy anyone for long. Nor are they designed to
satisfy, but rather to maintain beings in a state of competitive striv- ing, a degraded potlatch
of status, wealth and image – and this is the fate reserved by capitalism for the lucky few with jobs
that pay a salary. The sacred, in Bataille’s sense, does not sanctify and preserve the
human and its agenda; rather, it leads to the abyss, to the impossible world of wounded beings in
intimate, ecstatic communication. The sacred is able to do this precisely because it reinforces
limits and prohibitions, yet, at the same time, insists on their transgression. Limits,
boundaries and prohibitions are absolutely vital to society and also to the inner experience of
communion with others. Bataille’s position is clear: without taboos and their periodic
transgression, social activities are ‘emptied of their human character’ (Bataille in Hollier, 1988,
p. 114). In capitalist modernity limits and prohibitions are inexo- rably eliminated. Taboos
generally are considered only as restrictions or controls, as antiquated forms of
repression. To regard menstrual blood or breastfeeding as ‘taboo’ today is seen as backward, as evidence of patri-
archal repression. But ‘liberation’ from taboos is always an ambivalent process. The weakening
of the taboo on menstrual blood has provided many opportunities for the suppliers of
‘sanitary products’ but hasn’t delivered sexual equality; regarding breastfeeding as a simple trans- fer
of nourishment has tended to reduce or make shameful the notion of breastfeeding as a mutual erotic experience for
mother and child.1 Taboos
on death and on corpses are also being undermined.2 The incest
taboo, by contrast, has hardened into a moral absolute with any notion of its
transgression seen as ‘evil’. Perhaps most ambivalent of all is the taboo on murder, still –
often hypocritically – regarded as an absolute, and yet, as Bataille suggests, indispensable to the pursuit
of warfare in the modern world.
Yet capitalism, despite its hypocritical deployment of the transgres- sion of the taboo on
murder, tends to regard not only taboos but all limits as unacceptable, as barriers to ‘free’
markets. Spatial limits to capitalism are eliminated by neo-liberal globalisation; temporal
limits to capitalism disappear as capitalism presents itself as the completion of history; mental
and physical limits to capitalism weaken as employ- ers and advertisers seek to orchestrate
emotions, probing pre-conscious levels of response to stimuli, exploiting stress levels, demanding
that employees create emotional connections. So, if limits are being anni- hilated by the rampant
expansion of capitalist markets – such that the entire globe is merely a market – must we
impose new limits, new regu- lations? And how could new limits invoke an inner sense of
dread, or at least of obligation? Contrary to some critical works, Bataille does not suggest that
prohibition and transgression have entirely vanished from modernity, and he fully
recognised that prohibitions that have weakened or fallen away cannot be artificially
reactivated: ‘Sacrifice cannot be for us what it was at the beginning of “time”. We make the experience of appeasement
impossible’ (Bataille, 2011b, p. 45, originally published in 1944). We are then in a new situation.

Crucial to Bataille’s
approach is the assumption, or hope, that human- ity still feels or
experiences servility, avarice and work as painful and humiliating. Without these aversions it is hard
to see how society has a future beyond its slow annihilation by capitalism. Contemporary soci-
ety trumpets what it calls the ‘breaking’ of taboos, but this is not the energising
transgression of prohibitions but rather the irreversible elimi- nation of all limits to the
operation of capitalist markets, producing the homogeneous space of work/consumerism . In short,
the abandonment, weakening or neglect of taboos might not bring maturity, autonomy or
liberation – as Enlightenment discourse proclaims – but a reduction in the intensity of
human life, a weakening of its collective bonds, a one-way ticket to a life of relentless
banality. The life of ‘accepted boredom’ – as Bataille puts it in the opening epigraph –
triumphs over the intensities of the sacred.
NEG
Theses
Being
Someone dead once said that “there was only one debate to be
had, that of being vs becoming”. Our argument is that the world
is always in a state of becoming – through the blade of the knife
being replaced through the cellular components of our own
bodies – becoming structures the world itself. The 1ac’s
assumption that there is being in the world is naïve in that it
ignores the way that being is nowhere
Bataille’85. Georges Bataille. French intellectual and literary figure working in literature, philosophy,
anthropology, economics, sociology and history of art."The labyrinth." trans. Allan Stoekl. KZaidi

[Humans] act in order to be. This must not be understood in the negative sense of conservation
(conserving in order not to be thrown out of existence by death), but in
the positive sense of a tragic and
incessant combat for a satisfaction that is almost beyond reach. From incoherent agitation to
crushing sleep, from chatter to turning inward, from overwhelming love to hardening hate, existence sometimes
weakens and sometimes accomplishes "being". And not only do states have a variable
intensity, but different beings "are" unequally. A dog that runs and barks seems "to be"
more than a mute and clinging sponge, the sponge more than the water in which it lives,
an influential [human] more than a vacant passerby.
In the first movement, where the force that the master has at [their] disposal puts the slave at [their] mercy, the
master deprives the slave of a part of [their] being. Much later, in return, the "existence" of the
master is impoverished to such an extent that it distances itself from the material
elements of life. The slave enriches [their] being to the extent that [they] enslaves these
elements by the work to which [their] impotence condemns him.
The contradictory movements of degradation and growth attain, in the diffuse development of
human existence, a bewildering complexity. The fundamental separation of [humans] into masters
and slaves is only the crossed threshold, the entry into the world of specialized functions
where personal "existence" empties itself of its contents; a [human] is no longer anything
but a part of being, and [their] life, engaged in the game of creation and destruction that
goes beyond it, appears as a degraded particle lacking reality. The very fact of assuming that
knowledge is a function throws the philosopher back into the world of petty inconsistencies and
dissections of lifeless organs. Isolated as much from action as from the dreams that turn action away and echo it
in the strange depths of animated life, [they] led astray the very being that [they] chose as the object
of [their] uneasy comprehension. "Being" increases in the tumultuous agitation of a life
that knows no limits; it wastes away and disappears if [they] who is at the same "being" and
knowledge mutilates himself by reducing himself to knowledge. This deficiency can grow
even greater if the object of knowledge is no longer being in general but a narrow
domain, such as an organ, a mathematical question, a juridical form. Action and dreams do not escape
this poverty (each time they are confused with the totality of being), and, in the multicolored immensity
of human lives, a limitless insufficiency is revealed; life, finding its endpoint in the happiness of a
bugle blower or the snickering of a village chair-renter, is no longer the fulfillment of itself, but is its
own ludicrous degradation - its fall is comparable to that of a king onto the floor.
At the basis of human life there exists a principle of insufficiency. In isolation, each [human]
sees the majority of others as incapable or unworthy of "being". There is found, in all free
and slanderous conversation, as an animating theme, the awareness of the vanity and the
emptiness of our fellowmen; an apparent stagnant conversation betrays the blind and impotent flight
of all life toward an indefinable summit.
The sufficiency of each being is endlessly contested by every other. Even the look that
expresses love and admiration comes to me as a doubt concerning my reality. A burst of
laughter or the expression of repugnance greets each gesture, each sentence or each oversight
through which my profound insufficiency is betrayed - just as sobs would be the response to my sudden
death, to a total and irremediable omission.
This uneasiness on the part of everyone grows and reverberates, since at each detour, with a
kind of nausea, [humans] discover their solitude in empty night. The universal night in which
everything finds itself - and soon loses itself - would appear to be the existence for nothing,
without influence, equivalent to the absence of being, were it not for human nature that emerges within
it to give a dramatic importance to being and life. But this absurd night manages to empty
itself of "being" and meaning each time a [human] discovers within it human destiny,
itself locked in turn in a comic impasse, like a hideous and discordant trumpet blast. That which, in me,
demands that there be "being" in the world, "being" and not just the manifest
insufficiency of human or nonhuman nature, necessarily projects (at one time or another and in
reply to human chatter) divine sufficiency across space, like the reflection of an impotence, of a servilely accepted
malady of being.

II. THE COMPOSITE CHARACTER OF BEINGS AND THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF FIXING EXISTENCE IN ANY GIVEN
Ipse

Being in the world is so uncertain that I can project it where I want - outside of me. It is a
clumsy man, still incapable of eluding the intrigues of nature, who locks being in the me. Being in fact
is found NOWHERE and it was an easy game for a sickly malice to discover it to be divine, at the summit of a
pyramid formed by the multitude of beings, which has at its base the immensity of the simplest matter.

Being could be confined to the electron if ipseity were precisely not lacking in this simple element. The
atom itself has a complexity that is too elementary to be determined ipsely. The number of
particles that make up a being intervene in a sufficiently heavy and clear way in the
constitution of its ipseity; if a knife has its handle and blade indefinitely replaced, it loses
even the shadow of its ipseity; it is not the same for a machine which, after six or five years, loses each of
the numerous elements that constituted it when new. But the ipseity that is finally apprehended with
difficulty in the machine is still only shadowlike.

Starting from an extreme complexity, being


imposes on reflection more than the precariousness of
a fugitive appearance, but this complexity - displaced little by little becomes in turn the
labyrinth where what had suddenly come forward strangely loses its way.
A sponge is reduced by pounding to a dust of cells; this living dust is formed by a multitude
of isolated beings, and is lost in the new sponge that it reconstitutes. A siphonophore fragment is by
itself an autonomous being, yet the whole siphonophore, to which this fragment belongs,
is itself hardly different from a being possessing unity. Only with linear animals (worms,
insects, fish, reptiles, birds and mammals) do the living individual forms definitively lose the faculty
of constituting aggregates bound together in a single body. But while societies of nonlinear animals
do not exist, superior animals form aggregates without ever giving rise to corporeal links; [humans] as well as
beavers or ants form societies of individuals whose bodies are autonomous. But in regard
to being, is this autonomy the final appearance, or is it simply error?
Communication
The world is characterized through the desire for
communication and universality. Our argument is that this fails
to be able to engage in the ways that language can be non
language. This causes a rejection of the inherent “waste” which
is a component of every form of communicative exchange.
Lerman’15 – Lindsay Lerman – University of Guelph Philosophy Department, Graduate Student. Studies
Epistemology, Georges Bataille – “Georges Bataille’s “Nonknowledge” as Epistemic Expenditure: An Open Economy of
Knowledge” pg 37-39 KZaidi

Bataille’s position on communication (especially in relation to nonknowledge) changes, but only cosmetically. Throughout
his writing and thinking Bataille is sometimes precise, sometimes unclear, doubts himself, is sure of himself, moves back
and forth, and back and forth. At
the core of all Bataille says about communication and
nonknowledge, four claims remains consistent: (1) Communication can never be
“perfect”—it does not achieve perfect fidelity during transfer from speaker to listener —
and, similarly, (2) Bataille claims that something is always wasted in communication—
that human communication is rich with waste. (3) Communication is simultaneously possible
and impossible27. Although nonknowledge highlights this, Bataille means to claim that
nonknowledge is not a special case when it comes to communication. The unique trouble
with communication as it relates to nonknowledge throws light on what all
communication involves. Lastly, (4), the larger claim is that there is something beyond
language. This includes the notion that language is too limited to do justice to certain
experiences, and the more specific claim that not all experiences can be communicated via
propositions.
“Socratic College,” 1942

In the spring of 1942, in a lecture titled “Socratic College,” Bataille offers some early remarks on communication,
highlighting two of the concepts just mentioned: impossibility and waste:

It is a banality
to claim that there is a fundamental difficulty in human communication. And
it is not hard to recognize in advance that this difficulty is partially irreducible. To
communicate means to
try to establish a unity, to make one of many; this is what the word communion means. In
one way or another, something is always missing from the communion sought by
humans (USN 5).
First and foremost, communication seeks an impossible union. There is “something missing”
in all human communication because we are (at least partially) irreducible— singular. As two,
we cannot be fully or perfectly unified. Each of us is a distinct, discrete being. This is why there is
always “something adulterated and insufficient” (ibid) in contact between humans. Our
attempts at communication are always insufficient. Our attempts and their
insufficiency are evidence of our ontological irreducibility and involve our constant
production of waste. Indeed, “something adulterated and insufficient” is evidence of waste, of something lost and
unused in communication. This proves that waste and impossibility are inextricably linked: “All
communication among men is rich with garbage. It is natural to want to avoid filth,
garbage, ordinary trash. But a little simplicity reveals that a foul smell marks the
presence of life” (USN 5). “Garbage” or “trash” here refers to waste in communication—the waste
that, according to Bataille, necessarily occurs because we cannot be unified. If the foul smell of
trash and filth reveals the “presence of life,” the failure or insufficiency—the “trash”—of
communication reveals the presence of some communication. “Garbage” is
necessary. Waste is inevitable in human communication28.
Focusing on waste, Bataille writes: “In communication, something fragile, I don’t know what, dies if one
pushes it: communication demands that one slip” (USN 7). To “slip” in communication means to
allow or even cultivate waste, in the form of confusion, inconsistency, or that which remains unsaid.
“Slipping” is a kind of not requiring that definitions of each term be hammered out. Most importantly, “slipping” in
communication means allowing the “something fragile” to live, wasteful though that may
be. As I read it, the “something fragile” occurs in between two extremes (both undesirable for
Bataille): insisting that everything be clearly laid out (explained), comporting oneself in
communication like a dumptruck or an extractor, and on the other hand, allowing too much to remain
unsaid, reveling too much in communicational mystery, never holding another or oneself
acutely responsible for being responsive and attentive. Bataille’s “slippage” means protecting the
in-between ground of the something—but not everything—necessarily remaining unsaid. This
requires letting another “something” go to waste, or remain unused. Bataille is claiming that such waste
is a necessary part of the communication he wishes to endorse and protect.
Death (Poem)
You are a player in the rigorous game of living.
You can’t blame the game if you don’t believe the rules or bother
to remember them.
The first rule is: every player dies, every player is always already
dying; none knows when it’s coming and fails to realize the
imperceptible immanence of death in the everyday; the youngest
and best always go first.
Everyone has to play.
The game goes on forever – or until you win.
You win by finding death before it finds you.
The prize – is life.

[Seeing Through Death Adapted from Brian Long, 1983]


Heliocentrism
The affirmatives fixation on education for the benefit of the
Earth fails precisely because it leads to a solar-hegemonic model
by which the earth is constantly surveyed and invested in
through humanity. We say that this investment in education is
one that is always parasitic off of the cosmic fluxness of the
universe. Instead you should affirm the earth for what it is – a
fractal clump – absent from all its ecological glory.
Negarestani’10 – .Reza Negarestani Iranian philosopher, artist, and writer; contributes to Collapse and
CTheory regularly (Solar Inferno and the Earthbound Abyss) KZaidi

The marriage between the sublunary terrestrial slum and the Sun has become a strictly
monoga- mous model that regulates not only ethics, poli- tics and art but also the
entire history of thought and organic activities. It is time to return to the promiscuity of
the Earth as a dense constellation of interstellar rubbish with dead stars. Roaming the cosmos aimlessly
with an Earth whose Sun is itself contingent upon the cosmic abyss, that is to say, it is
already-dead – this is the geophilo- sophical art in which all human endeavors must be
invested: to embrace the Earth as a fractal clump rather than an exotic blue marble,
to think of it as a passing oval meteorite whose crater has already bored into the skin of
astral corpses. The idea of ecological emancipation must be divorced from the
simultaneously vitalistic and necrocratic relationship between the Earth and the Sun. It
must instead be coupled with cosmic contingency as the principle of all ecologies. Only
an ecology permeated with radical contingencies of the cos- mic abyss can reinvent the
Earth in the direction of the great outdoors. For such an ecology, every moment is an apocalypse which
cannot be cul- minated, and the Sun is not the heart of darkness but that which
cauterizes the gaping wound from which pulverizing contingencies (or climates) of the cosmic abyss bleed into
our world. As much as the Earth must be divested of its conception as the ark of
life, the Sun must also be stripped of both its stellar privileges and
hegemonic eco- logical imports. For after all, the Sun is only an inevitable blind spot for
the Earth that bars the scope of the abyss. For this reason, the Sun should neither be embraced as
the dark flame of excess nor glorified as a luminous end, but reconsid- ered and rediscovered as an
infernal element in the chain of complicities which open the Earth into a universe that is more weird
than infernal, its climatic events are more asymptotically non- eventful rather than catastrophically
climatic, its exteriority is more immanent to the inside rather than the outside. An Earth
surveyed (ars terram) by such a radical ecology can be reconceived as a circuitous part of a
nested abyss, and for this rea- son, its somatic characteristics (the differentiation of its body into inorganic layers and
bio-terrains) and consequently its geographic contingencies and ultimately histories are the products of an abyss for which
all climates are convoluted and detoured sloped-curves (klima) which are asymp- totic with the unclimatic depths of the
universe and its cosmic contingencies. Ecologically
speak- ing, in an abyssal cosmos where
heliocentric slavery has been abolished, the aquatic vitality of the Earth is either a
detoured expression of a starless-nature that appears as rotting slime or the earthbound
abyss which erupts in the form of corrosive oil. Whereas Venice and its aquatic capitalism are asymptotically
converging upon an indifferent nature which is a pit of slime and mold; its dry middle-eastern twin Dubai and its oily
capitalism are plunged into the madness of petroleum brewed up by the deep chthonic earth. In either case, the
cosmic abyss and its radical ecology nd their blackening expression in the water of life
where all climates (biological, so- cial, political, etc.) are terminally determined by chemistry or
the contingent dynamics of radical exteriority. It is in this sense that a capitalist life either
driven forward by the tourism of water or the industrialism of oil becomes a perfect locus
for chemical twists of an abyss whose weird ecol- ogy is nowhere better manifested than
in the so- called potent water of life.
Knowledge
The status quo educational apparatus functions according to the
desire for utility and knowledge, or virtue economy. This
process creates a complete universalization of all bodies
according to a system of calculability. This process assumes that
knowledge itself must exist within the realm of the encodable,
the possible. Our argument is that this very desire for “utility” in
education destroys the possibility for knowledge to exist beyond
spatiality – into the realm of the unknown. We say that this form
of politics is cowardice in that it observes the shore of the ocean
but doesn’t dare to take the dive, thereby destroying the ability
to achieve the “extreme limit” of life itself. The impact to this is
the reduction of life to nothing but a cog in the western machine
of values and productivity.
Lerman’15 – Lindsay Lerman – University of Guelph Philosophy Department, Graduate Student. Studies
Epistemology, Georges Bataille – “Georges Bataille’s “Nonknowledge” as Epistemic Expenditure: An Open Economy of
Knowledge” pg 5-16 KZaidi

We will focus on a conversation in virtue epistemology because virtue


epistemology is not only concerned
with the norms that govern truth- and knowledge-production; but it is also, and primarily,
concerned with the intellectual character of knowers. Virtue epistemology is thus
uniquely suited to highlight the demands epistemology places on producers of truth and
knowledge in two registers: the quality of belief and truth and the cognitive character of the
believer or knower as well. Virtue epistemology’s focus on intellectual character is an
amplification of philosophy and epistemology’s emphasis on utility. The focus on
intellectual virtue is ultimately a focus on utility, but in virtue epistemology it is not enough
that one’s knowledge may be useful; the way in which one’s knowledge is sought, produced,
communicated, and acquired must also serve utility, and it must be done by making use of one’s intellectual
virtues. Virtue epistemology has thus strayed a bit from its Aristotelian roots , where
knowledge was conceived of as valuable for its own sake, and virtue(s) associated
with living a life that allowed one to acquire knowledge were conceived of as ends in
themselves, insofar as they were constitutive of the good life. In this sense, this thesis offers a
corrective. If virtue epistemology (Greco and Sosa in particular) employ an Aristotelian notion of
virtue, they ought to acknowledge that their notions of intellectual virtue are in fact only
partially Aristotelian, as they argue for the necessity of knowledge that is not merely
valuable in and of itself. The acquisitive possibilities of knowledge have been
overstressed by the virtue epistemology conversation, and the non-acquisitive
possibilities have been ignored.
But virtue
epistemology is a sub-disciplinary expression of the principles and
presumptions of epistemology in general, and thus of philosophy in general. In order to
highlight this, we will move back-and-forth between a wider focus on epistemology and philosophy in general, and our
particular conversation in virtue epistemology.

I will begin by offering a sketch of the argument to be made in the document. The work of Linda Zagzebski, John Greco,
and Ernest Sosa forms a cluster of ideas in virtue epistemology—the cluster on which we will focus3. I will claim that the
conversation we see them having—about the value of knowledge (and consequently, the nature of
knowledge)—exhibits and relies upon certain characteristic
features of what I will call “classical
epistemology” or “classical knowing.” It will come as no surprise that a particular conversation in
mainstream virtue epistemology exhibits and relies on features of classical epistemology.
I draw our attention to these features so that we remember them as we begin the discussion of nonknowledge.

The concept of nonknowledge contains elements and approaches to the acts of thinking and
communicating that I will call an “alternate epistemology.” These elements are neither a-
philosophical nor a- or anti-epistemological, but they do not fit easily into the virtue
epistemology we will examine. And yet, if we find them philosophically compelling and sound,
we are required to re-evaluate the virtue epistemology explanations for the value— and
nature—of knowledge. Doing this re-evaluation will require, as I have suggested, looking at more
than just the virtue epistemology conversation. And it will require looking at the virtue
epistemology conversation as a sub-disciplinary expression of epistemology generally,
and even more generally, of philosophy itself.
The argument will have four parts. In the first part (this chapter) I will introduce the virtue epistemology conversation and
the features of classical epistemology we see at work in it. In the second chapter I will introduce and explain two important
elements of nonknowledge, returning to the virtue epistemology conversation from time to time. The third chapter has
two goals: (1) to introduce and explain the most significant element of nonknowledge alongside (2) my claim that
nonknowledge is “epistemic expenditure.” In the fourth chapter I will return to our virtue epistemology cluster in order to
claim that if we think nonknowledge has got something right, we have committed ourselves to a position that is at odds
with what some in virtue epistemology—under the umbrella of classical epistemology and classical knowing—have said
about the nature of knowledge and its relationship to utility, acquisition, teleology, communicability, and productivity.
The fourth chapter is where I hone in on the central positive argument that nonknowledge can in fact be a feature of
knowledge-creation. This is in line with a pre-existing claim (from Bataille and Bataille scholars like Ladelle McWhorter4)
that nonknowledge is already occurring within knowledge.

Part 1: Virtue Epistemology, Subset of Epistemology


In this introductory chapter, I identify eight
presumptions in the sampling of one particular
conversation in virtue epistemology. We will discuss these presumptions briefly but in some detail (before
returning to the cluster after the explanation of nonknowledge), in order to do justice to the conversation taking place in
our cluster. Rather than artificially separate the virtue epistemology conversation into eight sections that match the
following eight points, we will follow the conversation as it unfolds, pausing at times to reflect on how we see the
presumptions at work in the conversation. Because the
presumptions are persistent qualities, we
cannot simply point to each moment they arise and leave it at that. We have to follow the
conversation to see their persistence.
Here are the presumptions of classical epistemology we can see at work in the virtue epistemology cluster:

1. That knowledge is communicable, especially in the form of clear


propositions.
2. That knowledge can be continuously acquired, as though it were a good.
3. That the acquisition of knowledge has an aim—that it is a teleological
pursuit.
4. That knowledge is valuable.
5. That knowledge is useful.
6. That what counts as knowledge can be objectively determined (and
relatedly, that it is measurable as a system of debit and credit.)
7. That virtue epistemology is a distinct community which forms the
authority on matters of knowledge (why knowledge is valuable, who gets to
be a knower, etc.)
8. That the intellectual character of the knower plays an important role in
how and why knowledge is acquired5.
These presumptions demonstrate what I will identify as the “closed” or “restricted” nature
of this particular economy of knowledge. What this means is that as an expression of
philosophy (more generally), epistemology (more specifically), and the virtue epistemology
conversation (even more specifically), that they are limiting. The presumptions patrol the borders
of knowledge in a way that is detrimental to the discovery of new knowledge; namely, they
cannot see the “waste” that ought to play an integral part in the creation of knowledge. In
this particular virtue epistemology conversation, we see this limiting and patrolling happen via a focus
on teleology, acquisition, and utility/production. In order to demonstrate that this focus on utility/production,
acquisition, and teleology is not unique to our virtue epistemology conversation, we have to
move outward, and backward. We can begin by looking to Aristotle, as Zagzebski, Greco, and Sosa all happen to
employ some version of an Aristotelian notion of virtue in their respective versions of a proper virtue epistemology.

In Book VI of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle determines that knowledge must be demonstrable,
first and foremost: “Knowledge, then, is the state of capacity to demonstrate [...] for it is when a man believes in a certain
way and the principles are known to him that he has knowledge, since if they are not better known to him than the
conclusion, he will have his knowledge only incidentally” (1139b 31-5). Aristotelian
knowledge (not to be confused
with phronesis, or practical wisdom6) thus requires accountability and reliability of the knower, and
communicability of the knowledge itself. In the Aristotelian tradition of defining, separating, and
categorizing, we can see the history of knowledge in philosophy as a kind of entomology of
thought and language (from the Greek entomos, “that which is cut in pieces or segmented7”): a dissecting,
labeling, storing, displaying, and careful considering of both the workings of the intellect
and our ways of communicating the workings of the intellect8. And as the descendant of Aristotle,
philosophy has held tight to the Aristotelian notion that knowledge requires demonstrability .
Demonstrability includes communicability; we see this reflected, for example, in the large body of
epistemological literature devoted to testimony9. Demonstrability includes utility, as it is
through demonstrability that utility can be determined. We will see this reflected in the
virtue epistemology conversation, but we see it reflected more generally in the history of philosophy. Shannon
Winnubst expresses concern that in epistemology and philosophy we see knowledge
being “ordered sequentially as the progressive development of clearer and more useful endpoints,” such that
utility becomes the primary interest. Philosophy’s accounts of knowledge have thus
required an increased focus on utility, such that utility may be “our highest value”:
This teleological order narrows in scope in later modern thought, exemplified perhaps in the texts
of John Locke, where utility becomes the singular criterion to determine the
satisfaction of desire’s demands: we know who/what we are through the usefulness that our lives/actions
achieve. Across both of these schemas of broad teleology and more narrow utility,
knowledge is ordered sequentially as the progressive development of clearer and more
useful endpoints. The demarcation of each segment of thinking—of each concept—thereby becomes
critical to the forward march of knowledge’s ordering of experience and the world. [...] If this
construction of meaning through the delimitation of concepts is the necessary structure
of knowledge, then we find ourselves embedded not only in a limited economy
of the psychosocial world through desire-prohibition-identity, but also in a limited
economy of epistemology: our very impulses to find meaning (through teleology broadly, and
utility specifically) and
the way that we undertake this process (through the delimitation of concepts)
may already enact a normative order of knowledge that sufficiently conditions the emergence of utility
as our highest value (“Bataille’s Queer Pleasures,” RBN 85-6).

Winnubst’s concern is pertinent. In the introduction to The Web of Belief, for example, Quine and Ullian dismiss any line
of thought that does not clearly contribute to “acquiring and sustaining right beliefs,” because acquiring right beliefs is
useful:

A current Continuing Education catalogue offers a course description, under the heading “Philosophy”, that typifies the
dark view at its darkest: “Children of science that we are, we have based our cultural patterns on
logic, on the cognitive, on the verifiable. But more and more there has crept into current
research and study the haunting suggestion that there are other kinds of knowledge
unfathomable by our cognition, other ways of knowing beyond the limits of our logic, which are
deserving of our serious attention.” Now “knowledge unfathomable by our cognition” is
simply incoherent, as attention to the words makes clear. Moreover, all that creeps is not gold. One
wonders how many students enrolled. Not that soberly seeking to learn is all there
should be; let there be fun and games as well. But let it also be clear where the boundaries are. A
person might have a moderately amusing time playing with a Ouija board, but if he drifts
into the belief that it is a bona fide avenue to discovery then something has gone amiss.
We will not pursue the possible socio-benefits of anti-rational doctrines; in our eyes, much better escapes
from reality are available, if that’s what’s wanted. In the chapters ahead we will be interested in the ways
of acquiring and sustaining right beliefs, be they pleasant or painful (The Web of Belief 5).

This example is a bit comical, but noticethe dismissal of anything that might be conceived
of as “anti-rational”—a dismissal so complete it reduces any “anti-rational” thought to
playing with a Ouija board. Quine and Ullian imply that “anti-rationality” ought to be dismissed
precisely because it cannot assist with acquisition—“acquiring and sustaining right beliefs” (ibid). In
more contemporary mainstream epistemology, Timothy Williamson expresses the same
necessity for utility and teleology: “Desire aspires to action; belief aspires to knowledge.
The point of desire is action; the point of belief is knowledge” (Knowledge and its Limits 1). Or
within mainstream feminist epistemology, Linda Alcoff and Elizabeth Potter stress the importance of
granting epistemic authority to women and other historically excluded
groups in order to expand and increase the production of knowledge. This is
ultimately a concern with utility: “For feminists, the purpose of epistemology is not only
to satisfy intellectual curiosity, but also to contribute to an emancipatory goal: the
expansion of democracy in the production of knowledge” (Feminist Epistemologies 13).
More generally, Michel Foucault
identifies this utility-orienting movement as an
“epistemologization” of all branches of thought and knowledge, beginning with John Locke10 and
(the economist) Richard Cantillon11, and eventually becoming “the analysis of the episteme” (The Archaeology of
Knowledge 187-191). Foucault’s
immediate concern is not the ways in which episteme requires
utility, but the ways in which it requires formalization and legislation (and then, secondarily or
tertiarily, utility):

This episteme may be suspected of being something like a world-view, a slice of history
common to all branches of knowledge, which imposes on each one the same norms and
postulates, a general stage of reason, a certain structure of thought that the men of a particular
period cannot escape—a great body of legislation written once and for all by some anonymous hand. By episteme, we
mean, in fact, the total set of relations that unite, at a given period, the
discursive practices that give
rise to epistemological figures, sciences, and possibly formalized systems; [...]
The episteme is not a form of knowledge (connaissance) or type of rationality which, crossing the boundaries of the most
varied sciences, manifests the sovereign unity of a subject, a spirit, or a period; it is the totality of relations that
can be discovered, for a given period, between the sciences when one analyses them at
the level of discursive regularities (ibid 191).
Thus the examplesof philosophy’s utility-focus in this document cannot possibly be a
comprehensive list of all the utility-focused moments in philosophy. But they can illustrate
the discursive regularities of justifying the pursuit of knowledge via utility, and they can
illustrate that this utility-orientation is not limited to the virtue epistemology conversation. We cannot present here “the
total set of relations” that unite the discursive practice of epistemology, or virtue epistemology, but we can examine the
discursive practices in one particular conversation, understanding that the smaller
conversation is a representative of the dominant, formalized discourse. What we find is a
distinct emphasis on utility and teleology. I will claim that this focus on utility and teleology is part of
what makes for a “closed” economy of knowledge. And we will see, especially, that virtue
epistemology’s focus on intellectual character is a doubling-down on the importance of
utility: the concern with intellectual virtue is ultimately a concern with utility, but it is not
enough that one’s knowledge may be useful; the way in which one’s knowledge is sought,
produced, communicated, and acquired must also serve utility, and it must be done by making use
of one’s suite of intellectual virtues.

We can move further outward in scope to see Bataille’s


ultimate example of the closed system of
knowledge: the Hegelian dialectic. The Hegelian dialectic is “closed” because it offers the
promise of completion, finality, “salvation”—that is, the objectivity of absolute
knowledge:
A comic little summary. Hegel, I imagine, touched upon the extreme limit. He was still young and believed himself to be
going mad. I even imagine that he worked out the system in order to escape (each type of conquest is, no
doubt, the deed of a man fleeing a threat). To conclude, Hegel attains satisfaction, turns his back
on the extreme limit. Supplication is dead within him. Whether or not one seeks salvation, in any
case, one continues to live, one can’t be sure, one must continue to supplicate. While yet alive, Hegel won
salvation, killed supplication, mutilated himself. Of him, only the handle of a shovel
remained, a modern man. But before mutilating himself, no doubt he touched upon the
extreme limit, knew supplication: his memory brought him back to the perceived abyss,
in order to annul it! The system is the annulment (IE 43; emphases Bataille’s).
For Bataille, the
problem with Hegel’s system is that it is “unable to sustain the
unknowability of the unknown and the unknowable” (Boldt-Irons, On Bataille 5). When Hegel
encountered the unknowable—the “extreme limit”—he receded and found
the solid ground of a system, of the known and the knowable. Bataille accuses
Hegel of using “system” to annul the “extreme limit” of unknowability. Hegel’s system is thus
“closed”; there is no opening into the unknowable. But Bataille believed and found
multiple ways to claim that a “closed” system need not be closed: “I think of my life—or better yet,
its abortive condition, the open wound that my life is—as itself constituting a refutation of Hegel’s closed system” (Guilty
12412). In relation to knowledge and nonknowledge specifically, Bataille
claims that outside the
closed system of Hegelian knowledge is nonknowledge: “Beyond all knowledge there is
non-knowledge and he who would become absorbed in the thought that beyond his knowledge he knows nothing—even
were he to have within him Hegel’s inexorable lucidity—would no longer be Hegel, but a painful tooth in Hegel’s mouth”
(IE 169).

Bataille seeks to find a way of knowing and a way of expressing such knowing that is free
from “method,” “discourse,” “project,” “system,” or any other stricture philosophy has placed on
thinking, reasoning, wondering, and all other mental activity, and the ways we report on such
mental activity. For Bataille the problem with “method” or “project” or whatever else we
might call it, as we will see, is that it is yoked to utility, teleology, production, acquisition, and thus
to a system of limiting what we think and what we imagine it is possible to think.
Jacques Derrida writes, “philosophy is work itself according to Bataille” (Writing and Difference 252; emphasis Derrida’s).
Jeffrey Kosky echoes this:

Project makes every moment of life servile by valuing it solely in relation to its usefulness
in producing a desired end. It finds an ally or mirror, according to Bataille, in the forms of knowledge and
rationality promoted by Hegelian systematic philosophy. For Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, according to
Bataille, reasonable thought is systematic thought that sees each individual and each
moment in relation to the whole that transcends it. Bataille was sensitive to the fact that
the Hegelian dialectic of consciousness is driven by unhappy consciousness and that it
represents the historical progress of the slave who survives the struggle with the master.
The Hegelian spirit, which for Bataille expressed the spirit of modernity, belongs therefore to a
sad, servile, and serious culture, a culture that is always on the job, one that has no time for errant
moments of laughter, tears, drunkenness, or ecstasy (“Georges Bataille’s Religion without Religion” 80).

According to Bataille, utility is the “spirit of modernity.” That is, the obsession with
demonstrating one’s value in reference to one’s work (“always on the job”), in reference to
one’s seriousness and work ethic (“no time for errant moments”), and in reference to one’s
productivity (a representation of the “historical progress of the slave who survives the struggle with the master”—
what we might call “upward mobility”). The question for this project—this document—then, is how
to explain somewhat systematically a way of knowing that is free from “system” and the
other requirements of philosophy-as-work.
Violence
Violence is not a mere aberration on an otherwise peaceful
existence, it is not a tragic necessity for the greater protection of
security and it is not something which can be prevented: we are
biologically predisposed towards aggressive violence and war.
The aff fails to recognize the romance inherent in conflict, this
makes their impacts inevitable.
Hamblet 7 [Wendy, Ph.D. Department of Philosophy, Adelphi University “Guilty of
innocence or nobody remembers the Armenians.” Armenians, Journal of Genocide
Research, 7:1, 129-144, DOI: 10.1080/14623520500045229]

The corruptions of war and peace, the public and wholesale crimes that make war, the greed and lies of the peace And
victor’s vengeance: how at a distance They soften into romance—blue mountains and blossomed marshes in the long
landscape of history—Caligula Becomes an amusing clown, and Genghis A mere genius, a great author of tragedies. Our
own time’s chiefs of massacre—Stalin died yesterday— Watch how soon blood will bleach, and gross horror Become words
in a book. (from Robertson Jeffers, “Skunks”) Nobody remembers the Armenians In the “second talk on Poland” in
Obersaltzberg, August 22, 1939, speaking to Reichmarshal Hermann Goering and the other commanding generals, Hitler
advised brutality and mercilessness in their assault on Poland, for the sake of “a quick victory” that would begin his “new
distribution of the world” (New York Times, November 24, 1945, Vol LCV, No 32, p 081). Successful state-building is for
great men. Mercy and compassion are for weaklings, he argued. The world only remembers the strong and history records
the most brutal tyrants as “successful state-builders.” History purifies, asserted Hitler, and it purifies universally. He
illustrated this by asking the arresting question: “Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?” Louis
Lochner reported on the speech. Lochner tells: “Goering jumped on the table. Blood-thirsty thanks and bloody promises.
He danced around like a savage. The few doubtful ones remained silent.” Lochner, a top rate reporter, more than two
decades chief of the Berlin Bureau of the Associated Press, demonstrates how the purifying sleight of hand functions so
effectively to isolate the evil monstrous at a safe distance from the “human” site of responsibility. In this report, Lochner
succumbs to the very “logic of purification” that guides Hitler’s view Journal of Genocide Research (2005), 7(1), March,
129–144 ISSN 1462-3528 print; ISSN 1469-9494 online=05=010129-15 # 2005 Research Network in Genocide Studies
DOI: 10.1080=14623520500045229 Downloaded by [University of Michigan] at 01:02 29 October 2015 of history and
counsels “mercilessness and brutality” to the generals of the Third Reich. Hitler recognizes what is missed by the objective
reporter coolly recording the facts that will become history. When Hitler notes that none of us remembers the Armenians,
he underscores an almost universal “human” feature: none
of us remembers the victims of past
spectacular human crimes any more than we give but passing notice to the
ongoing holocausts that, daily, snuff out lives around the globe. We are all
highly accomplished at forgetting the worst human crimes, and, most
significantly, of forgetting our own complicity in the greatest—because
daily—violences. So easily we forget our personal failings, our culture’s depraved roots,
our species’ primal violences. So conveniently we distance ourselves from responsibility and
from remorse. Hitler, the madman, the “monster,” knew human beings better than we know ourselves. Hitler
was right about all of us! We are all innocent in our culpability. The worst crimes fall
into oblivion for very comprehensible reasons. In an important article, “Penser les Massacres,” Belgian political scientist
Jacques Semelin discusses three problems that turn even researchers away from
consideration of the worst human violences (Semelin, 2001, p 1). The first is
psychological in nature: avoiding a research topic that triggers horror and repulsion is
understandable. The second is moral: faced with acts of pure savagery, how is it possible to
prove “scientific neutrality”? The compassion felt for the victims leads spontaneously to the
condemnation of their torturers. The third obstacle is more specifically of an intellectual nature: the
phenomenon of massacre defies understanding. It appears to have no “sense,” nor to
“serve” any purpose. We tend to write it off as man’s “folly.” It is easy to understand the why of our forgetting. In
this paper, I shall propose an explanation of how we accomplish that expiatory feat. I shall seek to define the “logic of
purification” that Hitler claimed guides the crafting of history and sanitizes our collective
consciences, by exposing a purification mechanism that has been “ritualized” into
our very ways of being, into the parameters of the lifeworld, and perhaps
even into our flesh, by obsessive repetition in the early millennia of human time. Arguing from
the theories of prominent anthropologists, I shall propose the development and persistence of a certain conceptual and
linguistic mechanisms that removes past horrors from their discomfiting proximity and especially from the scope of
personal and cultural responsibility by displacing evil onto alien others in proximity to our “sacred” home space. My claim
is that human beings, in the dawn of human time, developed a concealing and sorting mechanism
that permitted the easy forgetting of their own murderous ways of being-together—ways
that, as Konrad Lorenz, Rene´ Girard, Walter Burkert, Paul Radin and other anthropologists have shown,
are fundamentally murderous. We witness the persistence of this purifying mechanism in
the very ways in which we make moral judgments, in the way we, still today, isolate and illuminate as “evil” the
unsettling forces at work around us. Even as we nod our assent to Lochner’s assessment of Goering as a “savage,”
even as we configure Hitler as a monster and his death camps as appalling anomalies, WENDY C. HAMBLETT 130
Downloaded by [University of Michigan] at 01:02 29 October 2015 we
ourselves re-enact a kind of
“successful state-building.” We reconstruct the crime scene of human moral failure
by a ritualized logical maneuver, a “counter-cultural rejection,” that reinterprets human
deeds as “monstrous” and “inhuman,” thereby successfully distancing ourselves from the
potential for such deeds. This paper traces this reconstructive maneuver to its primal formulations, looking back
to the time our earliest ancestors crawled down from their arboreal paradises and stood upright on the savannah. By a
consideration of the primal violences from which we, as human beings (and our systems and institutions), have sprung, I
will attempt to expose the origins of the modes of moral thinking that underpin the sanctity of our home spaces, while yet
disposing us toward certain violent modes of being-in-the-world. Then I shall mark out traces of a post-holocaust
philosophical insight that threatens to collapse the ritualized logic and its concomitant
distancing maneuver, first by following Primo Levi into the death camps of Buna and Auschwitz, and finally, by
embarking on a disturbing hypothetical journey into the netherworld of human
“nature” exposed by Georges Bataille in his disturbing account of human
being as the “enraged torturer.” From purification rituals Walter Burkert, anthropologist and classical
philologist at the University of Zurich, takes up the project of understanding human violence by wedding historical and
philological research to biological anthropology. In a most impressive corpus (Homo Necans, Structure and History in
Greek Mythology, Greek Tragedy and Sacrificial Ritual, The Creation of the Sacred, Ancient Mystery Cults, Greek
Religion), Burkert traces the origin of human “civilizing” processes into the distant past of human existence. Burkert
originally assigned to the classical tradition profound importance for Western intellectual and cultural beginnings. But, in
the course of his research, his investigations led him to a remarkable discovery. The classical tradition was itself
permeated with symbols persisting from much earlier epochs of human time. Burkert came to see that, even in the highest
period of classical culture, patterns of thought and activity, “ritualized” in pre-Greek cultures and perhaps even prehistoric
in origin, continued to exercise an unshakeable hold over the fifth century Greeks, even though cultural and religious
“meanings” of these rituals had long fallen from the conscious memory of the practitioners. The bloody sacrifice ritual is
one such pervasive anomaly that continued to accompany festivals, seats of oracles, cult gatherings, mystery ceremonies,
athletic games, Greek theater, state ceremonies and funeral services long after that ritual had any meaningful resonances
with the events or with the beliefs of the participants of those events. Burkert’s inquiry into the uncanny endurance of such
rituals eventually led him to another astounding insight: rituals
function in such a manner that they do
not require either conscious belief or even understanding in order to remain functionally
operative and ideologically persistent. That is to say, even where their story (logos) has
been lost or seemingly disconnected from the cultural context, their ideology (the eidoi of
their logos—the form and symbols of their story) remains enduringly persistent and functional. To
discover what the archaic logoi might be communicating to those later generations, Burkert looks back to the rituals
performed pervasively in the early millennia of the Western tradition. Anthropologists like Konrad Lorenz had carved out
this intellectual territory. Lorenz, writing in the 1960s, had shocked the anthropological world with the disturbing
revelation that murderousness is the human being’s primal state. In his Nobel prize winning
On Aggression, Lorenz had unfolded the tale of human beginnings as the “grotesque perversion” of a natural selective
process. In a particularly disturbing passage, Lorenz states: There
is evidence that the first inventors of
pebble tools, the African Australopithecines, promptly used their new weapon to kill not
only game but fellow members of their species as well. Peking Man, the Prometheus who
learned to preserve fire, used it to roast his brothers: beside the first traces of the regular use of
fire lie the mutilated and roasted bones of sinanthropos pekinensis himself. (Lorenz, 1966, p 239) Perhaps
Lorenz’s most troubling discovery was that the first men were murderous, not because they
lacked the “civilizing effects” of cultural development, but precisely because
of their cultural proficiencies. Humans, beginning with the mastery of fire, evolved quickly
from beings tyrannized by economic insecurity into beings who controlled and created
their environment. From that point onward, explains Lorenz, the natural selective tendencies that, in
animals and earlier humans, served important evolutionary purposes (maintaining an even spatial distribution of
groups within the species and favoring species continuance by selecting the hardier to excel both territorially and
sexually), began
to go astray. Aggressive tendencies, when uninfluenced by
environmental exigencies, can run amuck in directions that are maladaptive
to the environment. This is what happened to humans, Lorenz explains. Their aggressive
behaviors became “exaggerated to the point of the grotesque and the
inexpedient”(Lorenz, 1966, p 42). At a very early stage in human development, intra-specific aggression was
already replacing species defense with species offence in the form of brutal wars waged against neighboring tribes, and
even between brothers, fathers and sons within the social group. Selective
processes, gone astray,
expressed themselves in elaborate rituals of aggressive prowess aimed at human others.
Lorenz is convinced that we are fundamentally prone toward intra-specific
aggression. In fact, it is only through further perversions of our “grotesque and
inexpedient” perversions that we learn to love and nurture at all. Rituals
of love and friendship emerged for human communities as
reformulations of displays of redirected aggression and
ceremonies of appeasement. Aggression is thousands of years older, more
time-honored in our ritual heritage, more deeply embedded in our being, than love or
friendship or nurturance. According to Lorenz, violent urges are fundamental to the way
of being of humankind. He states: “intra-specific aggression can
certainly exist without its counterpart, love, but conversely
there is no love without aggression” (Lorenz, 1966, p 214). Lorenz’s insights informed
the anthropological community that the rich palette of ritual WENDY C. HAMBLETT 132 Downloaded by [University of
Michigan] at 01:02 29 October 2015 practices
evidenced in early hominoids were fundamentally of
a single kind— murderous rituals aimed at other human beings. Walter Burkert takes up the task
of tracing the murderous rituals into early human communities centered about life’s most significant functions—hunting,
warfare, and mating. Though he resists the full endorsement of the thesis that founds sociobiology (the co-evolution of
genes and culture), Burkert does posit in the distant past of human existence the advent of a “common mental world”
whose symbolic content and tenor of seriousness he believes to have been transmitted through the ages and into
modernity through an uninterrupted chain of tradition. That chain of tradition is the ritual history of human culture, with
its systems, its institutions, its social and economic practices, and, above all, the conceptual and linguistic systems (the
symbols and the logic connecting those symbols) that configure these ways of being-in-the-world. We
only need
look around us to see those “perverted elaborations” of which Lorenz speaks still at work in the
world today: in the swaggering machismo of males in many patriarchal societies across the
globe; in the overblown bravado of Western cinema and television heroes; in the
“warrior virtues” displayed on the hockey rinks and football fields, in the rhetoric of gun
lobbyist groups; in the way young boys thrash each other in the schoolyards and young
men brawl in barrooms; in the rhetoric of Western news media that name “terrorist” all
opponents of Western values and actions and Western terrorisms as legitimate battles
fought “for freedom and democracy.” Successful “state-building” has always been
accomplished in the ways of Genghis and Hitler. But since this fact makes
for bad conscience we reconfigure our enemies as demons, our home spaces
as sacred and pure and our violent histories (the rape of the Americas, the
slave trade, civil wars, current social and political oppression) as occasions
for celebration (Columbus Day, Independence Day). How is this reinterpretive maneuver
accomplished, then? Burkert contends that the creative confusion began in the early days of the Paleolithic hunt. In the
hunt, the intense collective energies of anxiety and terror that had to be focused upon large carnivores by human beings
armed only with fire-hardened weapons heightened the significance of the event far beyond the mere gathering of food. A
full range of survival strategies had to be summoned in order for the hunt to prove successful. This meant that patterns of
behavior within the group (those regulating feeding habits, pairing, sexuality, reproduction, care of weaker members,
territory, leadership, allegiances and other methodologies of cooperation) had to be realigned and concretized.
Behavior codes (“rituals” in ethological parlance) resulted to sublimate and
rechannel the old intra-specific aggressions to accomplish the cooperative
solidarity that would ensure the success of the hunt. The first rituals probably
circumscribed pre-hunt ceremonies that called forth the power of the ancestors, charmed the prey into the territory and
contracted its “consent” to the immanent killing. Eventually, explains Burkert, the
ritual field would have
expanded to embrace all aspects of the hunt—the murder and the post-murder
festivities. This led, eventually, to the articulation of every manner of social
code—prohibitions and prescriptions GUILTY OF INNOCENCE OR NOBODY REMEMBERS THE
ARMENIANS 133 Downloaded by [University of Michigan] at 01:02 29 October 2015 delineating appropriate
behaviors in all context of social interaction. Socioeconomic and political relations—cultural
institutions and systems—developed from the patterns of interaction that culminated in the
distribution of meats during the festival closure of the hunt. Primarily, ritual
ceremonies developed to bring to expression and then reinterpret the guilt
and anxieties of the hunting people. They eased the “hesitation” before the
emotionally explosive event, absorbed the “shock” at the spilling of the blood of a
creature of such symbolically-charged potency, and voiced the “apologies” after the fact
and the disclaimers of responsibility that freed them from the guilt of the act. Rituals
performed the crucial function of establishing the fiction that the victim
consents to, cooperates with, and participates in his own murder. Thus the
horror of the kill could be successfully inverted into festivity in the
celebration of the living death and the beneficence of the self-sacrificial
victim/prey monster/god who blesses the community with harmony and full
stomachs. Thus the animal, while remaining animal, became anthropomorphized and
divinized. It assumed contrasting images that were dialectically opposed yet
intertwined: male/female, wild predator/friend of man, evil/beneficent, lifegiving/death-giving,
demon/god. In time the polar symbols of these rituals developed into a full cosmos-embracing hierarchy that
comprised the “common mental world” shared by the group. Burkert explains how this “common mental world” functions.
All tradition consists of condensed, systematized information that keep conceptual
systems finite. Ritual traditions communicate strategies of negation and mechanisms of class/ gender
inclusion and exclusion. That is, they convey a “logic of domination” that reasserts the
status quo of socioeconomic and political realities by supplying constitutive
patterns and analogies that structure thought and action (Bloch, 1992, p 7). Through
these strategies, a “reduction of complexity” is achieved that sorts the confusing
chaos of sense data into a simplified system of meanings to orient human
beings who, otherwise, would feel helpless, engulfed and overwhelmed by
the infinite complexity of their environment. One essential way this reduction of complexity is
achieved, explains Burkert, is through the positing of “dual containers,” the legacy of the polarized logic of the hunt.
Phenomena are, by virtue of these “containers,” sorted into meaningful events: good–bad, sacred–profane, pure–impure,
friend–enemy, god–demon, beneficent–demonic. From these dualities, hierarchies are constructed
and links of causality forged so that reality can be reduced to simple and
general concepts. A radically simplified, polarized worldview can be most useful as an orienting system. Add to
this an ultimate signifier (god, king, president, pope, chief, father) and even the conflicting equations of life can be easily
resolved, as matters to be left to a higher wisdom. Through such ritualized orderings, then, a culture’s
collective representations are constructed and communicated to the young of each
successive generation. Rituals comprise, for Burkert, “the very epitome of cultural learning” (Burkert, 1996, pp
28–29). It is not merely that the violent rituals practiced throughout human history were self-reinforcing by the power of
resonance (though it is that WENDY C. HAMBLETT 134 Downloaded by [University of Michigan] at 01:02 29 October
2015 too), it was how they were made to resonate in the bodies of the participants. Ritual learning, historically, took harsh,
intimidating forms. Learning
is most indelible where memories are painful, humiliating, or
anxiety-ridden, behaviorists assure us. Ancient ritual practices centered about animal and human sacrifices,
painful purgatorial purifications and excruciating physical mutilations. Terror and pain leave indelible scars. Thus Burkert
concludes that the horrifying, agonizing rituals etched into the flesh of each subsequent generation a radically over-simpli-
fied polarized worldview and a logic of domination that reasserted as “legitimate” the historical order, precisely by carving
out clear boundaries between sacred community and demonic alien forces. Thus was a culture marked self-identical across
the flux of time and re-legitimized by connection with the changeless eternality of the ancestors and the gods.

Modern peace is reactive nihilism, a will to total utility that


characterizes the life-denying fascism of the 1NC: the will to
sublimate violence, contain it within the state, is a repressive
move that guarantees ever increasing cycles of violence. You
should let the excess out in the form of the ectascy and abandon
of violence. Only this can respect the sovereignty of others.
Hamblet 2005. Wendy, Ph.D. Department of Philosophy, Adelphi University “The
Manic Ecstasy of War.” Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, 17:39–45

Eli Sagan’s At the Dawn of Tyranny posits the advent of civilization as coincidental with
the dawn of tyranny and oppression. War, one of the oldest human institutions, has
proven invaluable to states in establishing their power over subgroups within the system,
as well as in acquiring territories from neighboring peoples to permit their expansion in
space and power. Because of war’s great functionality to the state, there remains little
mystery to the long-term success of war as a state institution over the formative
millennia of civilization. The continuing popularity of war among modern states
ostensibly dedicated to democracy, freedom, and the dignity of human beings, remains
baffling to violence scholars. Karl von Clausewitz’s On War, considered by many scholars
to be the canonical treatment of the war philosophy, attributes to war a logic all its own:
war composes a compulsion, a dynamic that aims at excessive overflow, absolute
expenditure of the energies of the state. War seeks absolutization as it feeds and fires the
population’s martial enthusiasm; if unchecked by political goals, war will fulfill itself in
the maximum exertion of self-expenditure—self-annihilation. War composes a
potlatch of state resources, a useless splurge of the nation’s human and
economic wealth for no better reason than wanton celebration of state
power. The language of absolute expenditure resonates with the philosophy of Georges
Bataille. His philosophy explains two principles of expenditure— the principle of
classical utility defined by utilitarian goals serving current power relations,
and that of nonproductive expenditure—that is, orgiastic outflow or ek-
stasis that escapes mundane servitude to reason and utility. Political
implications of the two economies are exposed in Bataille’s “Propositions on Fascism.”
There, the two dialectical opposites represent extreme possibilities for the state
structures. The first model aspires to perfect order, like the timeless realm of the gods, a
frozen homogeneous perfection that is monocephalic (single-headed). Like the god, the
monocephalic state becomes self-identified as a sacred entity—changeless, eternal, and
perfect, its laws and customs fixed and imperative.
At the other end of the structural spectrum resides the second form of state—the
acephalic state—disordered, anarchic, and volatile. This state is seen by ordered states as
a terrifying, heterogeneous primitive lifeform where uncivilized tribes practice mystical
thinking, incommensurable truths, and mad affective experience. Unreasonable.
Useless. Mad. People within the acephalic social structure enjoy abundant
ritual lives that offer escape from the mundane in orgiastic festivals
involving drunkenness, dancing, blood rites, wanton tortures, self-
mutilation, and even murder in the name of dark monster gods. The
monocephalic state, on the other hand, has overcome all death. The civilized state boasts
an enlightened stable form that promotes reason, life, and progress, whereas the
primitive society is referred to chaos, madness, and death. Bataille’s dichotomy
provides a valuable framework for analyzing global realities, even in the
modern world. Because Bataille insists the models represent dual extreme possibilities
in the cyclical evolution of all states, then all states seek timeless stability, secured
against time with absolute truth claims, infallible social codes, and enduring legislation.
States are duly secured by the legalized violence of police and military that
appropriate the illegal violence of the people and ultimately suppress all
transformation. Intricate unyielding systems of rules and regulations—passports,
licenses, identity cards, forms completed in triplicate, travel restrictions, immigration
regulations, police interrogations, surveillance of social and financial transactions among
subgroups, security checkpoints, departments of homeland security—weed out the
deviant lifeforms until ultimately all countervoices have been silenced, all
rebellion quite obliterated, all evolutionary movement logically
contradictory. But, at this evolutionary apex, a problem arises in paradise. As
the monocephalic state increasingly closes itself off, it stifles social
existence, smothers creative energies, chokes the passion from its citizen-
devotees, suffocates their spiritual urges, and reduces all sacrifices to
mundane utility. When the perfect eternality of the structure is complete
and the nation duly deified, all labors have become co-opted in utter
servitude. Bataille names this culminating stage of development, the
peaceful, stable end sought by all states, in its most excessive
extrapolation—fascism. Ultimately, however, life and time must break free
and move forward into futures. This most solid state holds firm for a short
while only; then there begins a condensation of forces. Life rises up and
explodes the suffocating stasis, disintegrating the solid, erect whole.
Existence and liberty flow forth in rage, blood, tears, and passion. The death
of God is complete. For Bataille, these endless cycles describe the movement of
history: the erection of unitary gods of knowledge and power that ultimately ossify into
totalities, and then explode in hysterical, raging catastrophes, releasing the explosive
liberty of life from mundane servitude. The acephalic chaos will eventually recompose,
slowly heaving up an ugly divine head once again. Life turns back on its chaotic
freedom and develops what Bataille calls an aversion to the initial
decomposition. The chaotic structure moves from the ek-stasis bliss of wanton
pleasures and pains toward the stasis of the deity once again. Time, states, and
human individuals, for Bataille, move between the two contradictory forms:
stasis and ek-stasis. Time demands both forms in the world—the eternal
return of an imperative object, and the explosive, creative, destructive rage
of the liberty of life. Bataille’s analysis of state evolution offers resolution to the
mystery of the frequency of wars in the modern civilized era: It suggests that war
composes a “potlatch”—a manic ecstasy of useless self-expenditure that
permits a breakout from mundane servitude.
We may not readily recognize, in our states, the extreme forms that Bataille describes—
fascist stasis or chaotic ecstasy. We believe that, although chaos is unquestionably
undesirable, fascism is promoted only by madmen—Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin. We
may be convinced that fascist urges fade with global democracy where all
people will, eventually, know the order and security of the first world.
Modern Western states, we may object, compose a golden mean between Bataille’s two
economies, aspiring neither to fascism nor to a manic primitivism, but to the reasonable
metron of golden rules. But the roots of the Western world are well planted in
the fascist drive for hyper-order and changeless eternality. Hesiod and the
PreSocratics, as much as Jewish and Christian myth, cite a common arche of the
universe in the good works of a god that renders order (cosmos) out of chaos (kaos). For
the ancients, one head (cephalus) is far superior to many; simplicity is beauty, whereas
the many compose hoi poloi, an embarrassment of riches. The foundational logic
that posits monocephalic order as ontologically and morally superior to
acephalic multivocity remains an unquestioned assumption embedded in
the Western lifeworld. A single well-ordered edifice, stretching high into the sky—
erect, rigid, unyielding—is preferable, in the Western mind, to the broadest playing field
studded with incongruous heroics. Bataille’s meditations on the dark underside
of reason’s projects and triumphs, on such prohibited subjects as monstrous
tortures, illicit sexual excesses, and the colorful anuses of apes, provide a
theater of cruelty and death that is designed to challenge the polite
threshold of civilized culture, to shock and interrupt the philosophical
tradition it invades, and to subvert the pretenses of refined sophistication
thought definitive of civilized society. Bataille shows that people are torn by
conflicting drives, by lofty ideals, and by the dark concealed forces they
suppress and deny.
Lorenz states that Bataille’s treatment of the dark, concealed urges in human nature
offer resolution to the paradox of the simultaneous lofty goals of modern states and the
frequency of brutal aggressions by those very states naming themselves the most
civilized. Perhaps the popularity and frequency of war even in the civilized
modern era represents the release of suppressed subterranean drives
within industrialized, rationalist, rigidly hierarchically ordered populations
enslaved to reason and utility.
The violence that floods the globe in modernity, that claims to be serving
reasonable projects of global freedom and democracy, may represent new
forms expressing old desires, the projects of monocephalic statehood
aspiring to deification. Bataille recognizes chthonic forces as instrumental in the
modern world: “The economic history of modern times is dominated by the epic but
disappointing effort of fierce men to plunder the riches of the Earth [and turn its fire and
metal into weapons] ... . [M]an [lives] an existence at the mercy of the merchandise he
produces, the largest part of which is devoted to death.” The fierce men of modernity—
gods, kings, and their modern sequels (presidents, popes, corporate rulers)—extend their
control to the ends of the planet. Fierce men disembowel the Earth and turn on
their own kind the products of molten metal torn from her bowels to ensure
the permanence of their nations. War, states Bataille, “represents the
desperate obstinacy of man opposing the exuberant power of time and
finding security in an immobile and almost somnolent erection.” Bataille
believes that primitive urges are still at work in the projects of modernity. Human
beings, as much as superstructures of power, must satisfy their dark urges for the good of
their communities. They must release their death drives if they are to gather
together in heartfelt communities. Human beings crave mystical,
passionate, frenzied escape from the rigorous projects of their ordered
systems. If Bataille is correct, people must ultimately break free from the mundane
enterprises of their everyday lives. Their inner demons will beckon them from their
ordered worlds to revel in orgiastic festival. Surely Bataille’s claim—that life’s erotic
drives will out and fulfill themselves in deathly destructiveness and wanton joy—should
trouble us greatly, given the leveling effects of modern industrial society, its will to
mediocrity, utility, and conformity. But is Bataille correct in his attribution of a
measureless and rending character to modern war? Is modern warfare the aimless
catastrophe that Bataille claims it to be? If so, then modern wars can be explained,
according to Bataille, as ecstatic release from the fascist orientation of modern
ordered states and from people’s imprisonment within the merchandise
they produce. Modern war, with its Shock and Awe techno-theatrics, should
provide a wondrous release from mundane servitude. 42 WENDY C.
HAMBLET War could be said to satisfy collective fantasies of manic omnipotence and
the drive for self-sacrifice for sacred values. Perhaps the wars of modernity occur
with such rabid frequency because people must satisfy their suppressed lust
for a sexualized release from the cold reality of state projects, the utilitarian
reasons of state. This resonates with Clausewitz’s claim that people’s martial
enthusiasm must find release in politically restrained wars or fulfill itself in
the maximum exertion of self-expenditure, that is, self-annihilation. For
Clausewitz, modernity represents that unfettered stage when war has escaped
all political bounds and reasonable restraint. Although ostensibly a world driven
by the lofty goals, modernity—for Clausewitz—composes an era of absolute war.
The democratic revolution may have embraced other goals—citizen welfare and the
grandeur of their rulers—but democracy, for Clausewitz, composes merely one of a
number of crucial forces (the scientific revolution that provides the technology, the
industrial revolution that provides mass production of weaponry, and the imperialism
that draws the entire globe into the war system) that have been successfully harnessed to
the powerprojects of the mightiest nations. The goods of the modern West,
including the good of democracy, exist to extend Western hegemony globally
in the marketplace of military power. But Bataille claims that war is useless
expenditure—a release of the primal urges of a community toward excessive
overflow. He states: “Military existence is based on a brutal negation of any profound
meaning of death and, if it uses cadavers, it is only to make the living march in a
straighter line.” But, if war is to be posited as an ecstatic release, it must compose
orgiastic overflow, an entirely useless and pointless expenditure of the nation’s finest
goods. Excessive expenditure is defeated the moment the violent explosion of
forces serves mundane projects of servitude and utility. When war serves
the purposes of the state, it loses its manic and ecstatic character and ceases
to fulfill the people’s deepest needs for release from servitude and
instrumentality. But Bataille is mistaken; the apparent uselessness of modern warfare
is a deception, an illusion. War is one of the oldest traditions of our species. It has
become a timeworn vehicle precisely because it serves a great many functions in states.
Clausewitz names the institution of war a form of communication between nations.
Franco Fornari states: “War is a multifunctional institution. ... It is extremely difficult to
find a substitute that would perform all of its functions.” One of the most crucial
functions that war provides in service of the state is the crystallization of its monopoly on
violence. War is a crucial aspect of the centralizing, evolutionary process that culminates,
ultimately, in fascist stability. The establishment of a massive and robust military is THE
MANIC ECSTASY OF WAR 43 utterly necessary to the deification of the structure and
the raising of a sturdy cephalus, because, along with the creation of strong policing and
military forces, war serves to alienate the private violence of the citizens and place their
collective aggressive energies into the hands of the cephalus. War serves the collective
illusion of eternality. War serves other crucial functions in the state: it confirms the
values, virtues, and meanings of one’s own cultural group. Sacred symbols—flags,
national anthems, tales of past heroes, fallen ancestors—are put to work in luring the
best of the nation—its strong and courageous youths—to the extreme patriotism required
to maintain order in fascist regimes. The seduction of the nation’s best to its wars
includes their provision of an international stage to display the collective prowess of the
nation, a point of pride for all citizens, even the most oppressed of the society, and it
allows for the individual display of the soldiers’ manly character—the valor, the
selflessness, the loyalty. The wars of modern super-states continue in the tradition of
imperialist projects of old. Posited as serving the most selfless values—the advancement
of freedom, democracy, and the spread of civilization—today’s wars clearly bring too
massive a booty to be named selfless expenditures. In fact, for the past fifty
years, wars have increasingly become shameless lootings of helpless
peoples—the projects of economists and accountants and big businessmen
purified by political propaganda and backed by an arsenal of modern
techno-weaponry. War serves the needs of the cephalus; it serves the personal
narcissism of the leaders, and the collective narcissism of the combatants and civilians.
Above all, modern wars serve economic goals; their booty is prodigious. They
may cost the sacred love-object (the nation) massive capital, human and monetary, but
the generals, the political leaders, and their corporate cronies profit handsomely from
the hostilities. War also serves the fantasy that the sacred love-object (the
nation) is the savior and benefactor of the globe; war serves the paranoid
collective delusion that the cephalus is infallible and indestructible,
unlimited as the god in its strength and in its moral substance. Killing the
enemies, propagandized as evil, the collective illusion is fed that evil is overthrown: thus
the sanctity of the loveobject is preserved. Sacred values are recomposed; the
cephalus stands taller, more erect, more firm than ever in the wake of a
good war. But for all the benefits served by the institution of war, modern wars are
deeply tragic; they do waste millions of innocent lives; they tear apart
societies and disburse homeless families across the globe. One in nine of the
earth’s seven billion now lives a miserable, wandering, hopeless existence
on parched lands where even the earth mother is barren. 44 WENDY C.
HAMBLET Ultimately the greatest tragedy of modern war lies in its stark
utility to the few at the extreme expenditure of its many. The utility of
war defeats the purposes of war by frustrating the deepest
needs of the society—the people’s need to build heartfelt
communities, a need that can only be served by expressing
the collective aggressive energies of the society beyond
utility. Bataille states that: “Since [war] is essentially constituted by armed force, it
can give to those who submit to its force of attraction nothing that satisfies the great
human hungers, because it subordinates everything to a particular utility ... it must
force its half-seduced lovers to enter the inhuman and totally alienated world of
barracks, military prisons, and military administrations.” In fact, it may well be the
non-release of ecstatic urges that explains a state’s return, year after year
and decade after decade, to that old institution. It may be that the deepest
paradox of modern war is that, in its usefulness to the cephalus and in its
service to the fascist drives of the state, war proves utterly useless in
dispensing its most fundamental function; it ceases to discharge the most
vicious and cruel needs of the people, their deepest primitive motivations,
whose collective release makes possible the formation of a heartfelt
community. Bataille counts this failure as the most tragic of the multiple tragedies of
modern war. The sacred values of community—life, freedom, festival, and the
joy of communal fraternity—are rendered meaningful only in juxtaposition
to their opposites. Bataille states: “The emotional element that gives an
obsessive value to communal life is death.” But, ultimately, insists Bataille, the
sacrifice will be celebrated beyond the reasonable purposes of the cephalus. If Bataille is
correct, then we can be certain that, for those states whose wars are utterly
utilitarian, self-annihilation is imminent.

We call for a new ontology of life that recognizes the impersonal


continuity of immanent violence. This violence is the condition
of possibility for a more profound subjectivity, where life is
always in excess and subjectivity itself is energetic expenditure.
This ontology of violence testifies to the immanent
communication of life with itself, and as such is opposed to
transcendence, the abnegation of life via interruptions of
objectification. Only by re-establishing our lost intimacy with
living and non-living beings through immanent violence can we
tear apart the constructed structures of the world and gain
access to sovereign experiences of immanence.
Direk 04. Zeynep, Professor of Philosophy, KOC University “Bataille on Immanent and
Transcendent Violence” Bulletin de la Societe Amencaine de Philosophie de Langue
Franfais. Volume 14, Number 2, Fall 2004
In the archaic world of paganism, immanence acquires a sacred and divine character as
soon as the profane world of work and action begins to separate itself from the intimacy
of all beings. In describing that moment, Bataille qualifies immanence explictly as
"continuous," "impersonal" and "without distinction," and qualifies
intimacy as "profound subjectivity" (TR 301/33). In The Accursed Share, he
interprets that ground in terms of the dynamic and fluid life energy that is
always in excess. Life is always already excessive because every living
organism receives more energy from the cosmos than the amount sufficient
for its self-preservation. In contrast to the limited problems of classical economy, "in
the general problem there always reappears the essence of the biomass, which must
constantly destroy (consume) a surplus of energy."2 Immanence can never be
articulated in terms of the opposition between subject and object, which characterizes
experience in the profane world of work, action and project. 30 BATAILLE ON
VIOLENCE However, it is the place of a deep subjectivity, a confused, non-
reflective consciousness of the self that is not limited by the I or other I's (fR
300/31). I believe that Bataille is a radical thinker of subjectivity, and his attempt to go
beyond the classical notion of the subject can be related to Merleau-Ponty's thinking of
subjectivity as incarnated in The Phenomenology of Perception. 3What Merleau Ponty
calls "the ante-predicative life of consciousness" or "the silence of primary
consciousness" is the natural perceptive involvement of incarnated existence with the
world. 4 In that involvement, the relation with the other is not based on absolute
separation, but on the fact that bodily operative intentions read, understand, constantly
connect, and affectively communicate with each other. Merleau-Ponty writes that
operative intentionality "produces the natural and ante-predicative unity of the world
and of our life"; it furnishes "the text which our knowledge tries to translate into precise
language."s For both Merleau-Ponty and Bataille, subjectivity as the immanent
unity of the world and life can never become the object of knowledge,
although it can be "experienced." Such an experience, which implies the loss of a
subject as clear consciousness of objects is, in Bataille's economical terms, nothing but
an unlimited expenditure of energy. Bataille thinks that the subject, as an individual and
separate being, belongs to transcendence, for it has always already transcended the
natural environment and is in a position to know objects from the outside. Knowledge
is a possibility of transcendence, going outside of oneself to an impenetrable
other. Moreover, that transcendence is related to violence not only because
representation is violent but also because the subject in the world of work is
subordinated and servile. The violence to which animals are exposed in nature
is very different than the violence to which we are exposed, and which
reproduces us in the world of work as knowing, acting, speaking subjects. In
the technological era, man lives under the domination of anonymous powers and
experiences. He is subject to both oppression and the empty promises of transcendence.
According to Bataille, the deep truth of subjectivity is never revealed by
transcendence. Although he believes that the expenditure of the forces of the body-for
example, erotic experience and laughter-may open a way for the realm of immanence in
which we re-establish our continuity with all living and non-living beings, this feeling of
continuity is for him nothing n10re than abrief touching of the untouchable. The fact that
he talks about "the lost intimacy" in our being even in the context of his historical
discourse on the displacement of the borders between the sacred and the profane in
successive historical worlds may give rise to the impression that Bataille is giving
expression to a desire to go back to our archaie, immediate animal existence by
transgressing our subjectivist and objectivist modern cultures. That way of reading
Bataille can make his thought look like some sort of metaphysical nostalgia. However,
this interpretation becomes suspect if we emphasize that the loss here is not the absence
of something that was previously present, but the absence of something that is still
present in our lived experience-even though it is erased, forgotten, and constantly
ignored by the ways in which we schematize our experience. Our lost intimacy with
other living beings-from which immanent violence is never missing-is animal as
well as divine, life as much as death. Perhaps we need to treat "immanent
violence" as an ontological concept that may call for interpretation on the
basis of an ontology of life. Obviously, this constitutes the ontological foundation of
Bataille's further distinction between interior and exterior violence, in terms of which he
reads destruction in societies. The distinction between immanent and
transcendent violence I find in Bataille has an explanatory value as an
analytical tool. At the final analysis, it will be especially useful in understanding why
Bataille refrains from condemning violence in purely ethical or political terms. How does
Bataille draw the species barrier between non-human animals and human animals? He believes, with Nietzsche, that the world of things,
inclividuals, work, utility and action transcends immanent life. In a sense, only when we were not yet "human" were we completely
immanent to nature. In Theory of Religion, he conceives oE non-human animality in terms oE "immanence" and "immecliacy" (TR 291/17).
The emphasis on "immecliacy" marks a liEe limited to the realm oE the sensible. A non-human animal is deprived of universal concepts and
ideas that serve as schemes for constructing a world out of life. Immanence is determined by an inability to overcome the environment in
which a living being spends its life. Transcendence is the overcoming oE the sensible toward the cancept that Erames nature, whereas
immanence is being imprisoned in the environing sensible element. We should note that this use oE the couple "transcendence-
immanence" singles out man among other species as a builder oE the world, failing to emphasize that as humans we inhabit the earth along
with other species. The definition oE man as a "thinking animaI" immecliately gives way to a discourse articulating what thinking may mean
as a specific diEEerence, and usually not to what we may share with other animal species. But Eor Bataille, what is leEt unthought in this
definition is precisely our being inside animality as weIl as outside it. As an animal species on earth, we have ventured outside the
Because our intelligence originates in an
immanent continuity oE being by a movement oE transcendence.
interruption of immanence, it is bound to remain ignorant of its source. Intellegence can
never return to immanence without losing itself in it, and in the realm of transcendence
it Eails ta attain consciousness of the fact that the kernel of Ollr being still belangs to
immanence. Nevertheless, Bataille does not merely affirm that we can swim upstream,
against intelligence, using intelligence against itself to create an opportunity to find an
exit to a conscious experience of the internal relation of all living beings. Only the
violence which I exert, or to which I am exposed, can tear apart the
constructed structures of the world of subjects and objects in which life is
suffocated, and can give us access to sovereign experiences of immanence.
Selfconsciousness in Bataille's sense, which is not-knowing, is only possible through such
experiences. Intelligence is bound to remain foreign to the life that gave rise to it: it can
only enframe, intervene and know nature from the outside; it will always fail to
communicate with life from within. However, mental life consists not only of
rational thinking. The immanent flow of our incarnated consciousness,
which is essentially an internal relation of communication with others in
unceasing differentiation, is not constituted or controlled by a knowing
subject. By "incarnated existence," we here need to understand impersonal existence,
the way in which life communicates with itself. We gain access to that immanence
and experience it only through the interruption of the world of utility and
work, and the dissolution of the individuality that makes possible the
overcoming of the separation of beings from each other. In our contact with the elements, in
nutrition, in the satisfaction of our needs, in desire and erotic experience, we take part in the rhythm of communication of life with itself,
even though cultural forces persuade us to control that contact with animal existence within us to tame it and forget it. "Immanence" for
Bataille does not mean immanence to an object or a subject but to a total Being or "One." An animal's lack of access to transcendence does
not imply that it is a being closed in its inner world, for it does not have an inner world in which to enclose itself. Animal is immanent to the
environment in which it lives and does not have the capacity to transcend it. But how is this milieu, this "One", described? Bataille depicts it
by invoking the type of certainty that manifests itself "when an animal eats another one" (TR 291/1 7). When an animal eats another one,
the meaning of the situation in which the former finds itself is clearly similar to that of the latter. The similarity between the meanings of
those two situations cannot be found in the sensations that the animals have, for one is being torn to pieces by the other. Nevertheless, both
animals are immanent to one and the same medium, which does not make the one who is active in eating "transcendent" with respect to the
other who is eaten. In some kinds of animals, during the period of copulation males fight for females and those males who prove to be
There is a difference between the victorious animal and
stronger chase away the others.
the defeated one. However the victory, if it is not by chance, proves nothing
else than a quantitative difference of strength (TR 292/18). The establishment of
such a difference does not make the victorious male transcend the others. The acts of
killing, winning, and copulating give rise to a feeling of "transcendence"
only in the human world, due to the "objectification" of the other as passive.
In opposition to the immanent violence in nature, violence is seen as a mark of
transcendence in the human world. It bears in itself the promise of elevating man to
God, enabling him to incorporate an image of Him. Revealed religions balances homicide
and human sacrifice. In the Muslim religion, to take away someone's life, given to
him/her by God, is to transgress the limits of the realm in which human beings can
legitimately use their power. To kill someone is to usurp God's authority over life and
death and thus to set one's self as an equal to God. This is why only wars fought in
the name of God can legitimate the killing of human beings. The idea that, in
killing, the murderer substitutes himself for God, bears in itself the implicit tendency to
trunk that violence can deify a human being. Physically abusive husbands, parents,
torturers and rapists take themselves to be transcending their victims. This sense of
transcendence is accompanied by a pleasure stemming from their
perception of physical superiority as constituting an ontological,
epistemological, and even a moral difference. In Theory of Religion, Bataille
writes, "The lion is not the king of the animals. In the movement of waters, he is only a
higher tide that can reverse the weaker ones. That an animal eats another does not
change a fundamental situation: every animal is in the world like water in water' (fR
292/18-19).6 By contrast, man is not in the world like water in water. Even a superficial
glimpse of "social status" in the human world will show that factors such as "education,"
"gender," "ethnicity," "race," and "class" intersect to constitute quite incomparable
situations. The power of transcendence in the world of work, utility and
action rests on situational differences, and the subject who assumes a status
that such crisscrossing of differences may assign to it pays for this by losing his/her own
sovereign selE7 To the genealogy of the transcendence of the subject
belong the experiences of fear, submission, guilt, self-contempt,
self-hatred, imitation of the desire of the other, and the illusion
of self-sufficiency, self-coincidence and independence. Being
before the law and entering it, the fundamental experience of
the symbolic order is a trauma. In the world of work, in order to
become a subject, one needs to sacrifice one's self in the face of
power, repress one's immediate desires, reconcile oneself with
the authority, accept being rewarded and punished by it and
delay free selfexpression until one has nothing left to express.
Bataille seeks ways of transgressing the limits of a life of submission to the world of
power relations, but he is skeptical about the "warrior of freedom" as well. Both the submissive self and the revolutionary self
become subjects by being exposed to transcendent violence, and they are produced by their opposite reactions to it. Oppressive systems of
power do change by sacrificing or marginalizing those who fight for freedom, yet their challenge and resistance open the path of
communication for those who keep silent out of fear of persecution as surrogate victims. Freedom fighters become surrogate victims.
However, it is also true that, even when they cannot make a difference that directly changes the oppressive systems, they open the way for
the discourse that paves the way for transformation. The fighter for freedom may be saving the dignity of the environment, but helshe
cannot attain his/her self consciousness in so far as helshe is committed to action and work for the common utility. An interior outlet to
immanence is neither possible for those who wait for their turn to be in charge of power nor for the marginalized revolutionary. In short,
struggle for power, no matter what the consequences are, takes one away from the
direction of the immanence in which Bataille sees "the sovereign good" and the ultimate
possibility of our existence. Neither submission to law and authority nor
revolt may lead to immanence. Occupying a position of power within
a system licenses the subject to use violence. The feeling of
transcendence experienced as the possessor of that power is in fact
illusory, for the truth is that one is temporarily possessed by that
power. Because one is only the surrogate subject, the transient host of
power, the truth of the appearance of subjective potency is nothing
but impotence. Immanent violence targets this illusory sense of
transcendence. For example, Fight Club, one of the cult movies of recent years, lends itself to being read in terms of the
question of the unleashing of immanent violence against the nluch greater violence errlbedded in a society organized by advanced capitalist
relations of production. 8 The anti-heros of this movie exert immanent violence to destroy the ways in which life is possessed by the desire
to possess. They find relief in a play of violence among friends which makes winning and losing insignificant and yet their immanent
violence risks being lost in revolutionary terrorism. Fight Club seems to begin in Bataillean fashion as a "project against the project" and
ends up as a struggle to prevent the other's death to which it leads. This struggle is not the result of a conflict between the return to
immanence and morality or religion. It is a struggle between transcendent and immanent violence. The argument that a living being's life
can be sacrificed for higher ends is a mark of transcendent violence, for there are no such ends in immanence. Of course, this is not to say
A plane of immanence on which no concern for
that immanence has no risk or no danger.
transcendence can have a hold manifests itself with an unthinkable power to emancipate.
A globalizing world promises no history that would make mankind even more
transcendent. Technology tolerates only the accumulation of information
which supplies no critical resources. Given this present state of affairs, violence
seems to have already lost the promise of transcendence. However, one may ask about
the victims of immanent violence too. For example, what about the pornographic snuff
movies which cause the deaths of thousands of women in the world? Would that be a
phenomenon of immanent violence? Let us turn to Theory of Religion before we
speculate about how Bataille might answer that question. The violence that makes
transcendence possible presupposes an act of objectification. Unlike human
consciousness which distinguishes itself from its objects, an eagle that
attacks a lamb does not distinguish it from itself. An object is by definition that which is thrown in
front of an onlooker, and thus something I can set up over against myself. Unlike the hammer I use or the other whose hand I hold, an
object can never be an extension of my living body. The eagle does not perceive the lamb as an object. Animals do not have an "outside
world" that consists of objects. Given that objects are temporal syntheses, and presupposing with Bataille that the dimension of future that
marks intelligence is not open to animals, an animal cannot see its prey as an object. According
to Bataille, the eating of
one animal by another is consumption, an extermination that has no duration and occurs
in an actual time in which nothing is objectified. 9 Neither can we say that an animal that
eats another one is using it. The eagle is immersed in the nutritive "element" in the act of
emptying the intestines of the other that it lays open. In contrast to the relation with an
object, the immanent relation with the other does not involve a separation, a distinction
between me and the other. According to Bataille such an internal relation with
the other has no duration, that is, it is always in the present. This is not to
say that it is closed to the future. However, the future here is not the time of
projects but a time that can never be anticipated. When Bataille writes that
"intimacy is violence," we should perhaps understand this in terms of the fragilities of
inter-corporeality as much as the exposure by the present to a future that is to come,
without any possibility of anticipation. Bataille emphasizes that duration belongs to
the world of objects. Objects are spatial and temporal syntheses. It is important to
ren1ember that Merleau-Ponty explains the illusion of transcendence by taking his
departure precisely from that synthetic nature of perception. As is well-known, for
Merleau-Ponty an object that appears in its thickness is spatial as well as temporal, and
is never given to my perception from all the points of view at once. 10 That the gaze is
always bound to a certain perspective implies that the object will always absolutely be
partially closed. Our classic and ordinary fiction of an "object" owes its being
to the attribution of the primacy of vision over all the other senses, and to the
presupposition that there can be an all-encompassing gaze. In Merleau-Ponty's
terms, this illusion rests on our forgetting the role played by the spatiality of the living
body in vision. We may say that our tendency, in our imagination, to separate the
gaze from the living body to which it belongs is one of the conditions of
transcendence that can make even the world itself an object. "It is the ex-stase
of perception which causes all perception to be perception of something."ll When we
conceive the world as a big object, we forget that we inhabit the earth with our fellow
creatures. Now, immanent violence is an attempt to overcome the separation
between the I and the other that gave rise to subjects and objects. If, in the
age of technology, one can talk about violence on a plane of immanence
which does not bring about or reproduce transcendence by becoming
internal to the subject, history, God, and so on, then such violence may
attest to the experience of the living body through pain, or through an
experience of remembering that heals. The violence that results in transcendence
objectifies-the female body killed by snuff is set on the screen as the ultimate object in
which life is destroyed. On the other hand, in the lived experience of immanent violence,
the desire is to destroy the object that is the human body, the human body as an object.
Bataille knows well that our civilization treats the female body as an object of a male
gaze; however, erotic experience as a sovereign experience cannot have anything to do
with objectification, except to overcome it. In so far as the erotic is a touching of lost
intimacy, it is the dissolution of both object and subject.
War
War is both immanent and necessary to the superabundant
movements of life, however, the form that war takes is not an a
priori. Only by ignoring that we live on the ground of multiple
destructions do we arrive at the conditions that make total war
inevitable
Wilson 05. Julie, “Unproductive expenditure and the spatial ground of the earth:
Bataille on the other side of Deleuze and Guattari” - EE - Sep 26, 2005
http://www.generation-online.org/p/fpbataille6.htm

Both Bataille and Deleuze & Guattari’s ontological projects are fueled by attempts to
understand the most radical of human movements through a conceptualization of war
and its different forms. These different forms of war are absolutely fundamental for
grasping the political claims of each project, not to mention the stakes that surround the
category of unproductive expenditure. In the thought of Bataille two different forms
of war emerge: war as mystical or inner experience, and war in the more
conventional sense as death and destruction on the battlefield. Much of
Bataille’s wartime writings can be read as attempts to see an equivalence between actual
war and mystical experience. In his book Saints of the Impossible: Bataille, Weil, and the
Politics of the Sacred, Alexander Irwin references Bataille’s own words in “The Practice
of Joy before Death:” “’I want to show that an equivalence exists between war, ritual
sacrifice, and the mystical life.’ All these forms of behavior reflect ‘the same play of
‘ecstasies’ and ‘terrors’ in which man joins in the games of heaven’”(136). Bataille thus
sees a fundamental similarity between the violence of the battlefield and
mysticism in the ecstasy and terror that characterize both experiences; his
insistence on the equivalence stems from both his energetic framework-- better known
as general economy-- and the latter’s commitment to thinking through the category of
unproductive expenditure, or the moment when production (and/or growth) has reached
its terrestrial limits and must turn unproductive, or rather, destructive of energetic
resources.
For Bataille, the emergence of war in both instances is intimately bound up in the
category of unproductive expenditure; in fact, war is the moment and movement of
unproductive expenditure, or profitless expenditure. In the energeticist
ontology of Bataille, unproductive expenditure—consumptions and
dissipations—are linked to the realm of the necessary; thus, so is war. In “The
Practice of Joy before Death,” Bataille writes: “’I MYSELF AM WAR.’ I imagine human
movement and excitation, whose possibilities are limitless: this movement and excitation
can only be appeased by war” (Visions of Excess, 239). War, for Bataille, is the
necessary and universal response to expansive and growth-seeking being; in
this sense, war as profitless expenditure is fundamental to maintaining the balance of
forces on Earth. War (and thus unproductive expenditure) engender
destructions of forces and energies, but what Bataille desperately wants us to
understand is that although war in-itself is immanent to and
necessary for life, the form it will take is not an a priori. In Volume
One of The Accursed Share, Bataille clarifies the central claims of his ontological project:
The living organism, in a situation determined by the play of energy on the
surface of the globe, ordinarily receives more energy than is necessary for
maintaining life; the excess energy (wealth) can be used for the growth of the
system (e.g., an organism); if the system can no longer grow, or if the excess cannot be
completely absorbed in growth, it must necessarily be lost without profit; it must be
spent, willingly or not, gloriously or catastrophically (21).
We can ignore or forget the fact that the ground we live on is little other than
a field of multiple destructions. Our ignorance only has this incontestable effect: It
causes us to undergo what we could bring about in our own way, if we understood (23).
Here we see clearly the two faces of war or unproductive expenditure: the
catastrophic war that destroys life through violence turned against peoples/ war
experienced as undergone; and the glorious inner experience of the mystic/ war brought
about in one’s own way. In the case of actual war, unproductive expenditure is the
privilege of the ruling classes; in inner experience, unproductive expenditure is a
sovereign moment or movement of desiring subjects.
Deleuze & Guattari’s work follows a similar structure evidenced in the concept of the war
machine. In the nomadology plateau of A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and
Schizophrenia, Deleuze & Guattari differentiate between the war machine that takes war
for its object and the war machine that draws a creative line of flight. They write:
The war machine is not uniformly defined, we have tried to define the two poles of the
war machine: at one pole, it takes war for its object and forms a line of destruction
prolongable to the limits of the universe. But in all of the shapes it assumes here—
limited war, total war, worldwide organization—war represents not at all the
supposed essence of the war machine but only, whatever the machine’s power, either the
set of conditions under which the States appropriate the machine…or the dominant
order of which the States themselves are now only parts. The other pole seemed to be the
essence: it is when the war machine…has as its object not war but the drawing of a
creative line of flight, the composition of smooth space and the movement of a people in
that space…(422).
Links
Achievement
The 1AC’s presentation of a more “educated” and “better” world
order post the plan falls in line with the necropoltiical desire for
ordering and consumption. This works under the myth of
Narissus, where the 1AC would prefer to watch a puddle showing
their own reflection of grandeur and achievement rather than
the outside world of their domination and imposition of will.
This works not only through educational achievement and the
desire to be the best but also through a desire for even the over-
spectacularization of death itself.
Mbembe’01 – Achille Mbembe – Professor Achille Mbembe, born in Cameroon, obtained his Ph.D in History
at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1989 and a D.E.A. in Political Science at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Paris). He was
Assistant Professor of History at Columbia University, New York, from 1988-1991, a Senior Research Fellow at the
Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., from 1991 to 1992, Associate Professor of History at the University of
Pennsylvania from 1992 to 1996, Executive Director of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in
Africa (Codesria) in Dakar, Senegal, from 1996 to 2000. Achille was also a visiting Professor at the University of
California, Berkeley, in 2001, and a visiting Professor at Yale University in 2003. He has written extensively in African
history and politics, including La naissance du maquis dans le Sud-Cameroun (Paris, Karthala, 1996). On the Postcolony
was published in Paris in 2000 in French and the English translation was published by the University of California Press,
Berkeley, in 2001. In 2015, Wits University Press published a new, African edition. He has an A1 rating from the National
Research Foundation. – “On the Postcolony” pg 130-133- KZaidi

Such attention to detail should not come as a surprise; it is part of the system of “distinction.”98 The enumeration
of
the slightest educational achievement is one of the postcolonial codes of prestige, with
special attention to distinctions attained in Europe. Thus, for example, citizens cite their
diplomas with great care, they show off their titles—doctor, chief, president, and so on—
with great affectation, as a way of claim- ing honor, glory, attention. Displays of this kind
have an effect beyond their contribution to state ritual. Such a display is transformative;
by casting its rays on the person installed, it bestows upon him a new ra- diance. In the hierarchy of mock honors, the
description of scholarly achievements constitutes a marker of rank and status as well as
of qualification.99
Another example of “distinction” is the ceremony where decorations and medals are
awarded. During the 20 May 1989 ceremonies alone, more than 3,000 people were decorated with 481 gold medals,
1,000 dark red medals, and 1,682 silver medals. The medals, obtained from the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare,
cost CFA 11,500 each for the gold, CFA 10,500 for the dark red, and CFA 8,500 for the
silver vari- eties. Additionally, businesses gave “contributions” to the recipients to help
with family festivities.100 These family celebrations included “liba- tions, feasting and
various extravagances [which] are the norm in such circumstances.”101 One could
indeed be disturbed by the lavishness of the expenditure, since it is rare to find a recipient of a medal
who is not heavily in debt after the celebrations, but the primary point is that, in this context, the granting of a
medal is a political act through which bu- reaucratic relations are transformed into
clientelist networks where pleasures, privileges, and resources are distributed for
political compli- ance.102 The lavish distribution of food and other marks of generosity
are of interest only to the extent that they make relations of superiority manifest; what
circulates are not just gifts but tokens creating networks of indebtedness and
subordination.103
The day they told me that I was to be decorated, my wife and I were so ex- cited that we stayed up all night talking about
the event. Until then we had only taken part in celebrations when others had been decorated. This time we would be
celebrating our own medal . . . On the day I received the medal my wife had prepared a pretty bouquet of flowers which
she presented to me on the ceremonial stand to the sound of public applause.104

In the postcolony, magnificence and the desire to shine are not the pre- rogative only of
those who command. The people also want to be “hon- ored,” to “shine,” and to take part
in celebrations.
Last Saturday the Muslim community of Cameroon celebrated the end of Ra- madan. For thirty days members of the
community had been deprived of many things from dawn till dusk. They refrained from drinking, eating, smoking, sexual
relations and saying anything that goes against the Muslim faith and the law. Last Saturday marked the end of these
privations for the whole Mus- lim community of Cameroon.105

It is clear that the obscenity


of power in the postcolony is also fed by a desire for majesty on
the part of the people. Because the postcolony is characterized above all by scarcity, the
metaphor of food “lends itself to the wide-angle lens of both imagery and efficacy.”106
Food and tips (pour- boire) are political,107 “food,” like “scarcity,” cannot be dissociated from
particular regimes of “death,” from specific modalities of enjoyment or from therapeutic
quests.108 This is why “the night”109 and “witch- craft,”110 the “invisible,”111 the “belly,” the
“mouth,”112 and the “penis” are historical phenomena in their own right. They are
institutions and sites of power, in the same way as pleasure or fashion:
Cameroonians love slick gaberdine suits, Christian Dior outfits, Yamamoto blouses, shoes of crocodile skin . . . .113

The label
is the true sign of “class.” . . . There are certain names that stand out. They are
the ones that should be worn on a jacket, a shirt, a skirt, a scarf, or a pair of shoes if you
want to win respect.114
Do not be surprised if one day when you enter an office unannounced you discover piles
of clothing on the desks. The hallways of Ministries and other public or private offices have become the market
place par excellence. Market conditions are so flexible that everyone—from the director to the
messenger— finds what they want. Indeed, owing to the current crisis, sellers give big re-
ductions and offer long-term credit . . . .
Business is so good that many people throw themselves into it head down. A veritable
waterhole, it’s where sophisticated ladies rub shoulders with all kinds of ruffians and layabouts. The basis of the
entire “network” is travel. It is no secret that most of the clothes on the market come from the West. Those who
have the “chance” to go there regularly are quick to notice that they can reap great benefits from frequent trips. A few
“agreements” made with customs officials, and the game is on.115

Even death does not escape this desire to “shine” and to be “honored.” The rulers and the
ruled want more than ceremonies and celebrations to show off their splendor. Those who
have accumulated goods, prestige, and influence are not only tied to the “constraints of giving.”116 They are also taken
by the desire to “die well” and to be buried with pomp.117 Funerals constitute one of the occasions
where those who command gaze at themselves, much like Narcissus.118 Thus, when Joseph Awunti,
the presidential minister in charge of relations with parliament, died on 4 November 1987, his body was received at
Bamenda airport by the gov- ernor of what was then the Northwestern Province, Wabon Ntuba Mboe, himself
accompanied by the Grand Chancellor, the first vice-president of the party, and a variety of administrative, political, and
“traditional” au- thorities. Several personalities and members of the government were also present, including the
“personal” representative of the head of state, Joseph Charles Dumba, Minister to the Presidency. The Economic and
Social Council was represented by its president, Ayang Luc, the National Assembly by the president of the parliamentary
group, and the Central Committee of the Party by its treasurer.119 Power’s
sanction thus pene- trated to
the very manner the dead man was buried. It appears that those who command seek to
familiarize themselves with death, paving the way for their burial to take on a certain
quality of pleasure and expenditure.
During the funeral of Thomas Ebongalame, former Secretary of the National Assembly, Member of the Upper Council of
the Magistracy, Ad- ministrative Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party, board mem- ber of many parastatals,
and “initiated
member of the secret society of his tribe,” the procession left Yaoundé by
road. Huge crowds had come from throughout Southwestern Province to pay their last
respects.
At Muyuka, Ebonji, Tombel, and Nyasoso, primary
and secondary school students formed human
hedges several hundred metres long. When the body arrived in Kumba, the main town of
Meme, the entire place turned itself into a procession. At the head was the ENI–ENIA fanfare playing
a mournful tune. People wept profusely. . . . In this town with a population of over 120,000 all
socio-economic activity had been put on ice since 30 April, when the tragic news was
heard. People awaited instructions from Yaoundé. No fewer than ten meetings were
held to organise the funeral programme.120
As we have seen, obscenity—regarded as more than a moral category— constitutes one
modality of power in the postcolony. But it is also one of the arenas in which
subordinates reaffirm or subvert that power. Bakhtin’s error was to attribute these practices to the
dominated. But the production of burlesque is not specific to this group . The real inversion takes place
when, in their desire for a certain majesty, the masses join in the madness and clothe themselves in
cheap imitations of power to re- produce its epistemology, and when power, in its own violent
quest for grandeur, makes vulgarity and wrongdoing its main mode of existence. It is
here, within the confines of this intimacy, that the forces of tyranny in Africa must be
studied. Such research must go beyond institutions, be- yond formal positions of power, and beyond
the written rules, and ex- amine how the implicit and explicit are interwoven, and how
the prac- tices of those who command and those who are assumed to obey are so
entangled as to render both powerless. For it is precisely the situations of powerlessness
that are the situations of violence par excellence.
Anti-Blackness
The real Other is the white man who dismembers the black man
– the 1AC actor is absolved of responsibility by the “code of
honor,” a privilege afforded by a sadistic Will-to-Enjoy –
instead, we must contemplate the unknowable power of violence
without cowardly fear nor sadistic fascination
Stabler 2016 (Albert, PhD student in Art Education at the University of Illinois at
Urbana- Champaign and Chicago Public Schools Teacher. “Punishment in Effigy:
An aesthetics of torment versus a pedagogy of pain in Georges Bataille and
Eric Garner.” Photographies. 9:3, 322-323, accessed 7/10/17, EHL)
The only thing protecting us from this gaze is accumulated imagery, the
misperceptions which form our subjectivity, the shadow of ourselves that
blocks the light; Lacan calls this the “screen.” “[I]f I am anything in the picture,” he says, “it is always in the form
of the screen, which I earlier called the stain, the spot” (97). Racism is anchored in these

unconscious images. “When one has grasped the mechanism described by Lacan,” says Frantz Fanon, “one can have
no further doubt that the real Other for the white man is and will
continue to be the black man. And conversely. Only for the white man The Other is
perceived on the level of the body image, absolutely as the not-self— that is,
the unidentifiable, the unassimilable.” (161) Fanon here identifies the black man with this distorted image, this “stain”
itself. And for Fanon, this psychological fact is, as seen with the sentence of sedition shared by Sade, Roman slaves, and Chinese prisoners, a political fact. For

many a white American, Deleuze and Guattari’s Euro-Christian “faciality


machine” could represent this protective screen, while Garner’s eyes , disinterred
from Emmanuel Levinas’ unassimilable “face of the Other,” might haunt whites like the “evil eye” that does

not reside in but stares through the image. “The evil eye is the fascinum (spell),” Lacan says, “it is that which has
the effect of arresting movement and, literally, of killing life . . . It is precisely one of the dimensions in which the power of the gaze is exercised directly” (Lacan

Four Fundamental Concepts 118). But “ dismantling” the face for Deleuze and Guattari is itself blissful; it means to “no
longer look into the eyes, but to swim through them, to close your eyes, to close your own
eyes, and make your body a beam of light moving at ever-increasing speed”
(187). JR’s rendering of Garner’s eyes, more than a tuxedo-clad high school photo of Garner that

was widely shared, or even the unforgettable image from Orta’s video of his
dying moments on the sidewalk under a pile of white police officers, carry a
hint of what Joseph Lo Duca called, in ecstatic italics, “the last instant” (6). As
Bataille illustrates through his sensual reflections on dismemberment, the
use of force has a sublime dimension. What responsibility does this voyeuristic rapture entail?
Ultimately, Lacan sees the perverse Sade both as a teacher and a victim of the law— as does
Bataille, as does Sade himself. Sade is reminiscent of the snake that D.H. Lawrence takes pity on, describing it as “like a king in exile,” as well as the snake that

Sade’s purportedly uninhibited


Jacques Derrida describes as the true victim in Eden, another pedagogical “Garden of the Laws” (79–80).

pleasure-seeking, what Bataille calls his “sovereignty” and what Lacan refers to as his
“Will-to-Enjoy,” is merely obedience disguised as a fantasy that, according to Slavoj Žižek, has
come to characterize the ideology of capitalist ethics. The imaginary “discourse of mastery” that Lacan identifies in
Sade’s writing can be recognized as a perverse reaction to a yet more perverse Law that
pursued and constrained Sade throughout his lifetime, and whose brutal excesses authored his fanciful inventions—
inventions which, in turn, created a precedent for the detached bliss Bataille recorded upon viewing the mangled corpse and beatific countenance of a Chinese

Žižek pictures Sade as “an object upon which state agencies lived out their
prisoner.

moralistic sadism.” “The real Will-to-Enjoy,” he elaborates, “is in the state bureaucratic
apparatus which handles the subject” as well as in the pleasurable excesses of
punishment tolerated by state authorities as a brutal form of education (36). Where we might think of a
killer cop, Žižek calls to mind a typical Southern small town of the 1920s, in which “the official public Law ... is accompanied by the lynchings of powerless blacks.”

Žižek continues, “ A white man is easily forgiven at least minor infringements of the Law,
especially when they can be justified by a ‘code of honor’” (37). In the case of
many police officers, this sovereign “code” entails absolute authority over faceless,
stateless black bodies. Like Bataille, white viewers can take pleasure in viewing the misery of
others by identifying with an omniscient gaze that Lacan termed, “the big Other.” Through
this gaze, be it that of a smart phone or dashboard camera, whites imagine ourselves inflicting pain on those we

consider criminal and less than human, while also experien- cing that pain as euphoria,
seeing our spectatorship reflected back to us through witnesses. It is then not enough to pedagogically demand
visibility and punishment, since punishment and vision are already bound up with pleasure. Bataille

says of the Chinese convict’s face, “it was precisely that which I was seeking, not so as to
take pleasure in it, but to ruin in me that which is opposed to him.” In the empathy and solidarity Bataille
expresses, on behalf of the Marquis de Sade as well as himself, the witnessing of horror can produce

revolutionary impulses. Our first task when faced by a scene of violence is to


be overcome by neither fear nor fascination, but to contemplate the
unknowable power located in the gaze beyond the image.
Capitalism
Capitalism =   the reading of the 1NC is a form of artistic
poetics that creates a new definition of sovereignty
Hegarty, 2k (Paul Hegarty, author and lecturer in aesthetics at University College
Cork, Georges Bataille: Core Cultural Theorist, pg )/RF

From the earliest writings, Bataille's


texts are driven by antipathy to modern, Western,
capitalist society. If anything, politics is where Bataille is at his most consistent, even if, as usual, there are shifts in emphasis and
counter-intuitive moves on his part. WTien we look to assess his political position (s), we have to cover two distinct aspects: his stated positions, whether
to do with the political position of others, his own, or his view on politics as a category of activity; and the political implications of his writings. The first
set of aspects is the one that I will deal with directly here, and from these I will draw out some of the political implications. The
principal
period in which Bataille is most like the figure of the engage, or committed, writer is the
late 1930s. In the articles of this time, he moves from an emphasis on the valorization of
practices from outside modern society to a more overt criticism of capitalism as an
essential part of the problem that is modern society. The obvious inference is that the rise of Fascism drove this
interest. Similarly, not only was the Soviet Union's alternative significant at the time in its own right, it too was heading in a very similar direction to
Fascism, and taking on a new significance. During and after the war, Bataille
becomes much more of a commentator
on politics as such, as an area of human existence, arguing against the apparent need for
praxis to be realized in the figure of the committed writer, who should advocate action.
Politics, for Bataille himself, suffers the same fate as economics within the general economy: with perfect consistency, politics cannot be seen as an
autonomous realm, except in the reductionism of restricted economies. With The Accursed Share, Bataille shifts to rethinking
what others call politics as movement within general economy and across to
restricted economy. Everything is either accumulation and utility or waste and
sacrifice. Despite, or perhaps because of this, he advocates the continued existence of Stalinism - not because it is the only hope, but because it
performs a specific function, even in its cruelty, in diminishing the bourgeois, capitalist, Christian individual he considers essentially limited. Late
texts such as Eroticism might suggest a politics of sexual liberation, and later essays
firmly suggest revolt, refusal, as a means of subversion. Above all, there is a strong sense
of continuity in Bataille's views on politics, but in looking at this continuity we should
not lose sight of the paradoxes or difficulties in these positions. This chapter focuses on essays from
throughout his oeuvre, and largely leaves the political implications of the major works to the discussions in earlier chapters. Capitalism and
Marxist, or bourgeois, society (Bataille tends to blur the cultural and economic) is a
reduction of man's potential in an existence of homogeneity. 'Homogeneous society is
productive society, namely useful society (The Psychological Structure of Fascism', 138; OC I, 340), and
homogeneous society is one of rules, of exclusion of what is not the norm, of what
is other (heterogeneous). Such a society leads us to where 'the human masses are at the disposition of blind forces which condemn
them to inexplicable hecatombs, and which, while making them wait, give them a morally empty and materially miserable life ('Popular Front in the
Street', 161; OC I, 402). Within capitalism all of us live miserable lives, but the bourgeois
class at least benefits materially, and is the homogeneous element of capitalist
society - it is the norm, the owner of the system and consists of those for whom the rules
are made. Capitalist society reduces or eliminates the most important part of an
individual - the possibility of sovereign existence away from calculations of utility (this is
Bataille's line from the mid-1930s in essays such as The Psychological Structure of Fascism right through to
the texts explicitly on sovereignty in the late 1950s, including The Accursed Share, vol. ///:
Sovereignty). Capitalism removes the artisanal link to the thing made, and make s us all
producers, means instead of ends, making means instead of being ends. Bataille's story is very similar
to that told by Marx, but we can see in Bataille's texts so many elements of discord with Marx that we might wonder what is left of the latter in the former
(who whilst not avowing himself a communist, due to his distrust of political parties, certainly saw himself as being more or less of a Marxist). He writes
that Marxism is right about the Infrastructure of modern society (Th e Psychological Structure of Fascism',
137; OC I, 339), but
that it neglects the relevance 'of the modalities peculiar to the
formation of religious and political society (137; 339). Marxists would of course
argue that they have thought about these aspects, and that all the effects are at least linked, if not
determined, by the economic base . It is notable that by 'infrastructure her e Bataille means 'base structure', but his term
should be read as an indication of the distance of Bataille's text (and in the wider sense, his oeuvre), within which
economics is not a means to other ends, from Marxism. 1 Bataille argues that religion is
significant in that, in the form of Christianity, it works with capitalist society to dispose of the sacred. What distinguishes this
from Mar x and Marxism is that for them, ther e is nothing beyond the
material. An even earlier essay notes this problem, in a way that is only implicit in the essays of the period after 1933: Most materialists, even
though they may have wanted to do away with all spiritual entities, ended up positing an order of things whose hierarchical relations mark it as
specifically idealist. They
situated dead matter at the summit of a conventional hierarchy of
diverse facts, without perceiving that in this way they gave in to an obsession with the
ideal form of matter. ('Materialism', 15; OC 1,179) So materialism cannot be the only answer, and in the light of these comments, which
are perfectly consistent with all the political writings of the 1930s and the postwar texts, we can make the case Politics 149 that Marxism is no mor e than
a version of restricted economy. T h e sacred would be that which exceeds such a concept, and is communal in that it is the loss of self in a greater whole
(even if this whole is nothing). Religion
Is the source of social authority, (Th e Psychological Structure of Fascism', 152; OC
I, 360), on
the basis that its authority does not come from personal value, as is the case with
military authority. Neither does the authority that come s with religion just represent one form of misleading 'the people in order to attain
power. Religion is a particular process within the development of society: 'the
supreme being of theologians and philosophers represents the most
profound introjection of the structur e characteristic of homogeneity into
heterogeneous existence (153; 361). So the invention of God both reduce s the sacred and make s God sovereign in the
Bataillean sense, as h e is beyond the everyday. His place then gets taken by the Idea, the ideal. Th e arrival of gods, particularly a single god, provides
the ground for the creation of temporal power, and indicates that the question of general economy precede s that of economics as a version of the
The creation of social
master/slave dialectic (remembering that Bataille's own 'version' of the dialectic also undoe s dialectical logic).
authority leads us into the realm of political authority, a further homogenization. From
here, Bataille goes direct to the State, missing out the Marxist link to an economic base.
But once we arrive in the State, modern society is structured in a way that emphasizes
the economic, and creates new forms of poverty and oppression. Th e combination of
deprivations (in terms of power, economics, lack of community, lack of the sacred) leads the lower classes, including
the workers, to desire the downfall of the State. As Stoekl notes, one way or another Bataille has 'an assumption that
democracy in the West is doomed; the choice is between some form of communism and Fascism (Visions of Excess, 261n.). A revolution
will occur - it is just a question of making sure Fascism is not the outcome.
The problem is that Marxism has lost its edge: Lenin is no use any more ('Le
probleme de l'Etaf, OC 1,336), and the Soviet Union has fallen to Stalinism (333). The workers, however, still
have a faith characteristic of mid-nineteenth-century radicals (334). Caught between these difficulties, the lower classes no longer have sufficient force to
dislodge 150 Georges Bataille a liberal State, none of which, Bataille notes, has ever been altered through revolution into a communist society OVers la
revolution reelle* [Towards Real Revolution'], OCI, 417). 2 But Bataille
is far from rejecting the possibility
of revolution, or t he revolutionary potential of the working class. In a way
that is perhaps closer to anarchism, he emphasizes the need for, or even the
inevitability of, the rising of the wretched in general - and there is no reason
why this could not later include the bourgeois themselves. It is not economic necessity alone
that will drive the revolution. It will come as the result of the 'anguish provoked among the working classes by the birth of the three all-powerful States*
('Le probleme de l'Etat', 336) (these being Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union). Fascism has come from the problems of liberal societies (it is not, for
Bataille, simply an outgrowth of the capitalist system), but needs to be fought by Organic movements*, and not via dated communist conceptions of the
Party leading the industrial working class, leading everyone else ('Vers la revolution reelle*, 420). 'Organic movements* come about at specific times, in
We might, however,
response to events (422), and are able to attack the multiple targets presented by 'democratic or Fascist society.
wonder whether this organic movement is not too close to Fascism. Fascism
Ther e might be mor e than a suggestion that Bataille ha s gone too far, and,
given the climate of the 1930s, is heading towards Fascism. Above all what
we see in the often implicit rejection of central elements of Marxism is an
attempt to deal with why Fascism was happening, and this attempt does lead
to moments of ambiguity. This does not prevent Bataille from continually
stating his opposition to Fascism and nationalism (Th e Psychological Structur e of Fascism'; the
articles defending Nietzsche; the 'Contre-attaque [Counter-attack] movement), 3 but the ambiguity is present especially when he writes on 'heterogeneity'.
According to Bataille, the heterogeneous realm is all that is outside norms, the controls of modern society. Fascism exceeds and challenges liberal society,
and is heterogeneous becaus e it Politics 151 aims above and beyond the utilitarian concerns of capitalism. It appeals to what is 'noble* (The
Psychological Structure of Fascism', 145; OC 1,350), and
its cruelty and purity elevate it above homogeneity (146;
351). Fascism
exceeds class boundaries, creating an organic social movement (154; 363). Thus
far, it might be construed that maybe Fascism does have something to offer,
and although he does not state it as such, for Bataille it does match some
aspiration neglected by utilitarian society. However, as well as the overt
renunciations of Fascism, he has specific theoretical points to make which
disqualify it. Firstly, Fascism's use of the nation as organizing concept
reintroduces homogeneity (154-5; 363-4), and this homogeneity is solidified in the
concentration of power that is the totalitarian State. In a later article, he writes that Nazism
is nowhere near as grand as it thinks it is. Whilst it could have been an 'epic force, it is nothing more than a simplistic,
militaristic form of nationalism ('Nietzsche est-il fasciste? ['Is Nietzsche a Fascist?'], OC XI, 9). This authoritarianism renders Fascism 'a servile
discipline ('Contre-attaque: Appel a faction' ['Counter-attack: Call to Action'], OC I, 396). Bataille's
attack on Fascism is
closely tied to his defence of Nietzsche's writings, which he argues are incompatible with
Nazism. He writes that Nietzsche's writing is way beyond Nazism, and that 'the distance
between Hitler and Nietzsche is that of a police room compared to the heights of the Alps
('Nietzsche est-il fasciste?', OC XI, 11). Furthermore, he is beyond all use - he is simply not reducible: 'NIETZSCHE'S DOCTRINE CANNOT BE
ENSLAVED ('Nietzsche and the Fascists', 184: OC I, 450). 4 All of these statements predate the end of the war, which would reveal the full horror of
Nazism. Bataille condemns the Holocaust as the death of reason ('Du rapport entre le divin et le mal [The Link Between Good and Evil'], OCXI, 206;
'Sartre', OCXI, 226-8), but has the more ambiguous response that we also find in Lyotard, whereby the Holocaust comes to stand as both the ultimate (as
in final) human experience and the experience which cannot be processed, understood ('Reflexion sur le bourreau et la victime ['Reflections on the
Torturer and the Victim']; OCXI, 262-7). 5 These are both ethically acceptable positions, but neither really matches the rest of his theory - why should the
gratuitous murder of millions fall outside 152 Georges Bataille t he general economy? The short answer seems to be there is good and bad expenditure.
How then can h e be sanguine about the 'becoming object that Stalinism was still inflicting on its population? He certainly musters what could be seen as
a chilling response to Hiroshima, arguing that we only want to believe it exceptional because then we can continue ignoring the fact that millions of
deaths will always occur anyway 'Concerning the Accounts Given by t he Residents of Hiroshima, 221-35; OCXI, 172-87). I am not at all rejecting his
position on the Holocaust, rather observing that it seems significant that he is unable to place it anywhere in his various systems (unlike Hiroshima). This
might be to do with the enormity of the event, the impossibility of incorporating it. But Bataille ha s a 'system that can account for this, so it is
particularly interesting that it is further removed from discourse by not being included. Another statement worth pausing on is about the 'sovereign
sacrifice that Hitler makes in pursuing the battle of Stalingrad long after it is lost (recalling that a sovereign sacrifice is not heroism, b ut pointless
destruction or loss). One
of the reasons Nazism haunts us, remaining our heterogeneous other, is
that it is both at t he height of reason, with its efficiency, and at the height of
monstrosity, again due to its efficiency. Bataille's way of raising this is in t he rejection of
utilitarianism that is the disaster of Stalingrad ('Caprice et machinerie d'Etat a Stalingrad [Whim and State Machine at
Stalingrad'], OCXI, 472-9). T h e period after the war sees Bataille treating ideologies from a theoretical perspective that differs from his earlier approach.
Fascism is now seen only in its results, its destruction and murder. Liberal
society is not let off the hook, and communism is rethought - or, more
accurately, its relevance is restated, with the peculiar valorization of the
Stalinist Soviet Union (see Chapter 4 above). The last decisive shift to note concerns the base of politics:
action. Revolution, Violence, Action Bataille's notion of political action alters significantly after the war. Before the war, he has a notion of the possibility
of positive political action. Conceivably, the simple reason for this is the context of the Politics 153 threat of various nationalist, Fascist and right-wing
organizations (France had monarchist as well as nationalist elements in its right wing). The deeper reason is perhaps to do with the stage Bataille
had reached in his philosophy: he had
gone far enough to wish to see the overthrow of the
capitalist system, but not as far as to disbelieve in the possibility of any
alternative. He did, for example, believe that surrealism opened up possibilities, but that it was doomed by the fact that logically it could not
succeed. Possibly the defining political paradox in Bataille is the necessity to do
something, and that this something will fail. Surrealism, however, rejects
sovereign failure in favour of aesthetic success and limits. Bataille's notion
of action alters, and before the war, moves gradually toward an anarchist
perspective. Whilst he accepts Marx's critique of capitalism, Bataille is suspicious of
the methods of communism and its results. This is not just to do with an awareness of the problems of Stalinism, but is
also an increasingly critical view of the Popular Front alliance of communists and socialists that effectively ended up defending the capitalist system CA
ceux qui n'ont pas oublie la guerre du droit et de la liberte [To those who have not forgotten the just war for freedom'], OC 1,399-401). AVhilst the
defence against Fascism is the essential point of the Popular Front, Bataille and Contre-attaque regarded it as equally important that it attack capitalism,
and attack Fascism ('Popular Front in the Street', 165; OC I, 401). The Popular Front is close to his conception of an Organic movement', representing an
outbreak of discontent, but it needs to keep the 'contagion of popular movement going. Here we begin to get the flavour of what we might categorize as
Bataille's ultra-leftism: beyond
the machinations of communist organizations lies the
mass, the masses - the truly revolutionary, heterogeneous force: What
drives the crowds to the street is the emotion directly aroused by striking
events in the atmosphere of a storm, it is the contagious emotion that from
house to house, from suburb to suburb, turns a hesitating man into a
frenzied being. It is evident that if, in general, insurrections had to wait for learned disputes
between committees and the political offices of parties, then there never would have
been an insurrection. (162; 403) He goes on to note that revolutionaries mistake their notions of
revolution for the actual revolution, which is far less susceptible to control. The revolution can only
be 'effervescence* ('En attendant la greve generale [Waiting for the General Strike'], OC II, 254), and this brings in a sacrificial notion of politics. The
question is, what exactly is being sacrificed? Capitalism is to be attacked, but t he problem is
that the revolution, in Bataille's terms, cannot really serve a purpose, as it would then
have a us e value. Like Bakunin, Bataille seems to suggest that violence itself can bring about a
change, without bringing a particular change: it is the violence that is
creative. 6 He writes that we attribute us e value to revolution, but destruction is the real core of such action (Th e U se Value of DA E de Sade',
100; OC II, 67). This mirrors the potlatch, where sacrifice does lead to acquisition of
rank, even if the activity is essentially against all ends other than sacrifice.
Also, 'it is obvious that all destruction that is neither useful nor inevitable can only be the
achievement of an exploiter (100; 67). Here, the reference is to the destruction of something in particular, as in 'imperial war (102n.;
67n.), becaus e the essay then goe s on to specify the 'purest form of destruction: Without a profound complicity with
natural forces such as violent death, gushing blood, sudden catastrophes
and the horrible cries of pain that accompany them, terrifying ruptures of
what had seemed to be immutable, the fall into stinking filth of what had
been elevated - without a sadistic understanding of an incontestably
thundering and torrential nature, there could be no revolutionaries, there
could only be a revolting Utopian sentimentality. (101; 67) To return to the question of the Holocaust -
because it served a purpose, however mindless and dreadful, it does not count as revolutionary action. A mor e troubling case (with regard to the above
logic) could perhaps be seen in the Serbia/Kosovo situation. NATO fought a war at a distance, unwilling to suffer any loss - is this 'revolting Utopian
sentimentality compared to Serbia's continual brutality? In practice, NATO's hands are far from clean, but their way of fighting war ('surgical strikes
against Iraq) could conceivably be seen as worse than the cruel abandon of genocide in t he course of war. I am
not suggesting Bataille
believes this to be t he case, but the implication of his mor e Sadean statements is that
excessive destruction will happen, come what may, and we have to understand this. The
worst, or the least aware, position is the one that replaces war with a process of 'hygiene* - the 'grounds for many genocides - and, of course, the 'reason*
for the gratuitous violence in the former Yugoslavia. Bataille*s position is troubling, and mor e so when we think of t he political implications of what h e
says when he is not discussing politics as such. Nonetheless, he does believe something new can emerge from violence and sacrifice, but that this cannot
be predicted, controlled in advance. For
this reason, he is mor e in the anarchist tradition than the
nihilistic one, and mor e aware of our existence as something communa l than Hobbes,
Sade or Nietzsche, even if these are his most obvious precursors. Nowhere is ther e a
recommendation that all life should be about destruction - it is to be violent at certain
instants, but these moments take their force from being exceptional, and he even writes
at one point that the revolution should aim to abolish both violence and property ('[Note sur le
Systeme actuel de repression]*, '[Note on the Existing System of Repression]* OC II, 134). Bataille's view on politics hardens after the war, in that
politics is no longer to be seen as a sphere worthy of intervention. Even in The Accursed Share, wher e h e advocates a widening of the Marshall Plan as a
form of gift economy, and maintains the need for t he existence of the Soviet Union as part of a dialectic of economies, politics is not the site of
importance. Th e general economy subsume s all 'spheres* of moder n society.
Society is still something that could do with changing, but it seems that it
can be left to its own devices, even if mor e expenditure, in whatever form,
would be a good thing. More specifically, he continually attacks the notion that a writer must be politically committed. An
authentic writer, if such a thing is possible, can only be free through not aspiring for an
end beyond the art ('La litterature est-elle utile?* [ 'Is Literature Useful?*], OC XI, 13). Art, or writing, cannot
serve another purpose, such as a specific political end, without losing any
chance of being sovereign. This is not to say that art and writing should
aspire to be autonomous, but they should not aim at anothe r end.
Paradoxically, this is the only way art can have a political impact, and
Bataille offers the example of Picasso ('Les peintures politiques de Picasso*, OCXI, 24). 156 Georges Bataille T h e
most obvious target of the critique of committed writing is existentialism, and Sartre in particular. Existentialism must be lived,
and not written, or else it is inauthentic, notes Bataille wryly ('De l'existentialisme au primat de l'economie ['From
Existentialism to the Height of Economy'], OC XI, 284). As Bataille's own logic implies he should not write, he seems to take great
pleasure in existentialism's constant assertion of authenticity just wher e it cannot take
place. Similarly, he writes, with reference to Sartre, that surely the worst of all is to speak of action, while not doing it ('Lettre a Merleau-Ponty',
OCXI, 252). 7 As it is not enough, as a response, or as an alternative, to say that true action is impossible to do or recommend ('Le mensonge
politique'[The Lie of Polities'], OCXI, 335), perhaps
it is the advocacy of action, it is the bringing
into discourse of commitment, that is the problem. Politics can still play a
role as a 'negative politics of refusal, of revolt (and Bataille is positive about Camus on this point). This
negative politics is still defined through 'the free spirit [. . .] who stays at a
distance from judges and torturers ('Nietzsche - William Blake', OC XI, 425), but negative it remains, as 'of all
absolute judgements, the most consequential - and the most debatable - is the political one. It can no longer be a case of positively taking sides (ibid.). So
where does this leave us? It is very difficult to see what Bataille offers in terms of politics, at least when he deals explicitly with it. Arguably, his
writings provide the basis for many political approaches or strategies, particularly those
of new forms of politics, away from the totalizations of traditional political movements. Equally, he might be suggesting 'do
nothing', or 'make Fascism better', or 'sacrifice mor e people'. As with Nietzsche, evidence
can be found for many positions and uses, but it is this multiplicity that we should perhaps take from Bataille's texts: there can be no
one politics. Furthermore , given his critiques of use value, how can we put his writing to use, and be faithful to it? How can we
be faithful to it without attributing truth, and therefore an internal utility.
Christian Ethics
“Complete self-consciousness” is a totalizing worldview that
presupposes religious intimacy and spiritual expression – the
Christian savior ethics within the 1AC [flesh out per round]
creates social divisions -- the forbidden Other, the impure
bodies, the taboo communities are all marked as a threat to
purity of the sacred
Winters 2017 (Joseph, Winters is an Assistant Professor of Religious
Studies at Duke University. “RAC(E)ING FROM DEATH: Baldwin,
Bataille, and the Anguish of the (Racialized) Human.” Journal of Religious
Ethics. Volume 2, issue 45, page 380-405, accessed 7/11/17, EHL)
In the same manner that Baldwin pulls ethical resources from black aesthetic and religious traditions, Bataille reinterprets the
writings and discourses of medieval Christian mystics. As Amy Hollywood has so powerfully
demonstrated, Bataille is one of many twentieth-century French thinkers attracted to mystical experience as a site where

certain kinds of constraints and divisions (self/other, human/god) are both


illuminated and transgressed (Hollywood 2002). Drawing from, and re-imagining the tradition of mysticism,
Bataille suggests that religion tells us something about the broader human condition; or to put it differently, that the gen- eral

human condition is itself a religious conundrum. For Bataille, reli- gion


indicates our “search for lost intimacy” (Bataille 2006, 57; Bataille 1991, 57), a quest to be at home in the
world, a persistent desire to “return” to some undifferentiated state. But for Bataille,

this quest is both emboldened and hindered by our investment in being


coherent selves, or what Bataille calls a “complete self-
consciousness,” that views itself and the world with clarity (Bataille
2006, 57). Our investment in this kind of self keeps us alienated from others without

extinguishing the desire for home and intimacy; therefore, this quest often
plays itself out by subordinating experiences, encounters, and others to the projects, aims, and
fantasies of the self or community. For Bataille, authentic reli- gious
intimacy—which can range from pre-modern sacrifice to mysticism and erotic experience—is ec-static,
briefly taking the individual outside of herself, and rendering
her vulnerable to the murky, opaque quality of life’s flows and
rhythms. Being at home is ironically a feeling of being uprooted and unsettled. As an interruption into the self’s projects and
schemes, religious intimacy is marked by a range of affects—anguish

and joy, pleasure and pain. This resembles Baldwin’s


understanding of the blues and spirituals as expressions of an
anguish-filled joy. Even though Bataille is influenced by certain elements of the Chris- tian tradition—negative
theology, mysticism, the wounded, torn nature of Christ’s flesh, the agony of God on the cross—he refuses the logic of

redemption. He affirms the Passion, the suffering and death of Christ,


without the promise of victory and restoration signified by Easter Sun- day.
For Bataille, the logic of redemption, which places God’s agony and suffering into a
compensatory telos, entices us to associate the sacred with wholeness , the divine
with purity, and transcendence with ultimate- ly rising above earthly
contingency. He writes, for instance, “For the Christian apparently, sacred things are necessarily pure and impurity is profane”
(Bataille 1986, 223). Here we can see another convergence with Baldwin as Bataille suggests that the imaginary

distinction between the pure and impure, and the taboos that
regulate the separation, can be disastrous for bodies and
communities that are marked as impure, as a threat to the
purity of the sacred. At the same time, Bataille claims that “the fear and trembling . . . [associated with] things
sacred . . . are always bound up with horror inspired by a forbidden object” (Bataille 1986, 223). There is always something

other and foreign about the sacred, even as we try to domesticate and tame the
discomfiting qualities of sacred objects and attribute these qualities to the
realm of the profane and obscene. Whereas the sacred is typically imagined as that
which needs to be protected from obscenity and degradation, Bataille suggests that religious
experience happens when taboos get transgressed, when the self crosses its
limit, or when the imagined border between protected self and forbidden
Other is shattered. The sacred is a site of impurity and ambivalence. Or as he puts it, religious experience
involves a com- munication with the Other marked by “laughter, dizziness,
nausea, loss of self to the point of death” (Bataille 2014, 42).
Communication
A collapse or failure in the structures of language is necessary
for communication to occur. We are a production of difference
within communication to be able to realize the very futility of
debates own mode of communication.
Lerman’15 – Lindsay Lerman – University of Guelph Philosophy Department, Graduate Student. Studies
Epistemology, Georges Bataille – “Georges Bataille’s “Nonknowledge” as Epistemic Expenditure: An Open Economy of
Knowledge” pg 40-43 KZaidi

“Socratic College” also contains multiple claims


that some kind of failure is necessarily part of
communication. In this sense, what is “fragile” is not just a potential connection because
full or “perfect” connection is simply not possible: what is “fragile” in this sense is the
content of communication. Without clearly marking the fact that he is doing so, Bataille is slipping
from making claims about modes of communication into making claims about the
content of communication. Bataille is claiming here that something will always go unsaid or be
unclear in communication. Similarly, that indeterminacy is a permanent feature of
attempts at conceptualization—that is, the move from our inner workings to our
reports on those inner workings. This particular kind of failure is necessary and unavoidable,
and Bataille advocates allowing and—stronger yet—protecting it29: “[...] it is not too much to ask anyone
who persists in wanting to live completely not to put on too many airs and, as there is always filth where there is life, to get
used to filth” (USN 5).

This failure is part and parcel of the impossibility of Bataille’s notion of


communication. Denis Hollier writes:
The matrix of communication is the principle of inadequacy that Bataille formulated in
this terms: ‘Man is what he lacks.’ Consequently, it is the production of this lack (not its suppression)
that is the issue. If a being exists only through communication, then communication itself is nothing if
not the sacrifice of a being: ‘I propose to acknowledge as law that human beings are never united
with each other except through tears or wounds’ [“The College of Sociology” Oeuvres Complétes
2:370].

claims that Bataille advocates embracing


In Politics, Writing, Mutilation, Allan Stoekl
“impossible difference” and “duplicity” in communication30 (99). I intend to push this claim a
bit, however, to say that what Bataille is encouraging us to embrace is the very
incommensurability of the co-occuring, simultaneous possibility and impossibility of
communication. Understanding the necessary failure of communication is essential
to understanding what communication is. This must be done, according to Bataille, not to shirk
the responsibilities communication saddles us with, but in order to get to the bottom of the difficulty—
the tension—that is a necessary part of all communication. In “Socratic College” Bataille insists
that he is not drawing attention to the insufficiency of human communication in order to
sidestep the challenge of explaining communication altogether but in order to “get to the
bottom of this difficulty” (USN 6) which is communicating and explaining communication.
What is the “impossible
difference” between the possibility and the impossibility of
communication? What is the “difficulty” Bataille needs to “get to the bottom of”? It is a
failure in communication that has to do with an inconsistency
communication necessarily requires: “Only propositions reduced to a clear form—stripped
of poetic artifice as much as possible—can truly engage consciousness and connect experiences” (USN 9). And yet (here is
the trouble): “A portion of the expression of inner experience is necessarily poetic and cannot be
translated into clear propositions, though I can clearly say that this is so” (ibid; emphasis mine). This
particular failure of communication is an elaboration on the impossibility that also constitutes
Bataille’s notion of communication. This failure— propositions must be clear in order that
experience be communicable, yet some experiences (inner experience) cannot be clearly or fully
communicated, especially in propositional form—is the “impossible difference” Stoekl
identifies as that which Bataille recommends. It is what Bataille strives to “protect.”

And so, Bataille’s notion of communication is tense. It is always animated by a tension between two conflicting facts:
communication fails; communication succeeds. Communication is impossible, communication is possible. Stoekl
interprets this tension thusly: “language is not unitary or simple,” but this is not the full
story (Politics, Writing, Mutilation 92). To communicate adequately, attentively, is an impossible
task, but nevertheless, we do it, Bataille does it, it happens. In “Socratic College,” this is an
ontological claim. According to Bataille, it is a necessary fact of our existence as
communicators.
What does it mean to say that communication can and does “fail”? For Bataille (in 1942), this
means three things: 1) Something that is meant to be communicated is not
communicated. When something meant to be communicated is not, Bataille says that
this can be chalked up to (2) a failure of “authenticity” (USN 5). Bataille states that the “question
of authenticity” (ibid.) is always present in communication. A failure of authenticity can be
the result of many things: distraction during communication, embarrassment or shyness to say
what is meant, lacking an ability to immediately arrive at the “right words,” having a weak or insufficient
grasp on what a conversational partner means with her words, not taking the time to
determine what the partner means to say. Bataille’s recommendation of not “putting on too many airs” in
communication locates the hub of his notion of authenticity, and the site of another significant kind of failure in
communication: paying greater attention to how one sounds, seems, or comes across than to
the communication with another being: listening, hearing, responding. The remaining eleven
pages of “Socratic College” suggest that Bataille wants to endorse a particular orientation toward
communication that is focused on the ability to listen, hear, and then respond. This new
orientation toward communication strives for not being too proud or embarrassed to say
what one intends to say. It strives also to pay attention to the fragility of communication and
the person with whom one communicates. Indeed, another “failure” of communication named in 1942
is (3) pushing that fragile something in communication too far, pushing it until it
dies.
Critical Praxis
Their critical praxis attempts to mobilize western hegemony in
the postcolonial space allowing violence to manifest itself
Thobani, 14, (Sunera, Associate Professor at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the
University of British Columbia, Queer Necropolitics, Pg. XVI, 2014)//Cummings

Western militarized states, their nationals and private mercenaries now form willing
coalitions as readily as they organize death squads; Western feminists recalibrate their
alignments with their states as they set out to rescue Muslim women or to protect
themselves from their narcissistically construed forms of precariousnesses; and Muslim
women and men supplicants to the West speak in the name of feminism and liberal
democracy to indict Islam, along with their families and communities, providing vital
alibis for torture and collective punishment. All the while, Muslim men around the world
are demonized as misogynist homophobes even as they are incarcerated, deported,
raped, tortured and targeted for assassination; Muslim women and queers are raped,
killed, bombed and compelled to surrender unconditionally to Western gender regimes if
they are to survive. As for the Muslims killed in the hundreds of thousands by bombs,
drones and militias, they do not even appear as human in the register of the war,
featuring only as collateral damage – if at all. Islamophobia has thus become the lingua
franca that enables trans/national allegiances to be remade, international accords to be
signed, aid negotiations to be consolidated, intelligence, security and border control
agreements to be implemented, and assassination squads to be deployed across the
planet. Such is the moment that marks the (re)birth of the West as the singular model for
futurity after the age of independence. What avenues, then, for contestation? How to
strengthen the forces committed to ending the violence that characterizes the
contemporary geopolitical moment? What possibilities for the politics of radical
transformation? For justice? Queer Necropolitics makes a particularly timely and
critically engaged intervention. Mapping out how deployments of sexuality, gender, race
and desire inform the self-constituting practices of unlikely imperialist subjects – queer,
feminist, left, and yes, even critical theorists and philosophers – as they simultaneously
advance the reach of the Western empire, the authors of this book highlight how these
practices also mark out entire ‘queerly racialized populations’ for occupation,
subjugation or elimination (Puar 2007). Examining the particularities of the instances
where ‘queer vitalities become cannibalistic on the disposing and abandonment of
others’, the authors help to disrupt a critical axis on which pivot the imperial hetero -
normative, homonormative and transnormative politics of violence and pleasure
Death
Humanity is scared of death, but we must embrace it to form
ideologies
Hegarty, 2k (Paul Hegarty, author and lecturer in aesthetics at University College
Cork, Georges Bataille: Core Cultural Theorist, pg )/RF

Death is a continual concern for Bataille, from the earliest writings, to the last fizzles in and around The Tears of Eros, and
arguably sits at the centre of the general economy, as death can be seen as 'the
ultimate term of possible expenditure ('Attraction and Repulsion IF, 123; OC II, 332 trans, mod.).
Bataille's notion of death is an empty version of Hegel's: it is negativity, but one that cannot be
recuperated, even if all our actions can be seen as attempts at such a recuperation. Death is the loss that defines
our existence as individuals, since sexual reproduction is absolutely caught up with the
death of the individual; unlike amoebae, there is no continuity of Being from one organism to the next (The Accursed
Share, 32; OC VII, 39. See also Eroticism, 12-15; OCX, 17-21). Death, then, is as much part of the inherent wastefulness in nature as
life. Death
seems to us like the most wasteful form, but for Bataille, such a
conception is to be left behind (not ignored or overcome): 'the luxury of death is regarded
by us in the same way as that of sexuality, first as a negation of ourselves, then - in a sudden reversal -
as the profound truth of that movement of which life is the manifestation (The
Accursed Share, 34-5; OC VII, 41). Is death then in some way the truth of Bataille's system? At points it recalls Heidegger's notion of
'Being toward death', but as with many of Bataille's notions, the whole issue of centrality is open to
question even as it is posed. Bataille argues that it will always be possible to show that
whichever primordial fact gets priority presuppose s the existence of anothe r one (The
Accursed Share, vol. II, 82; OC VIII, 71). 1 Death features in early writings - 'beings only die to be born', 'Solar Anus', 7; OC I, 84),
and become s something that does not transcend the individual so much as lose the individual in a generalized excess. Instead of
Hegel's mastery of death, we see that in the fact that life and death are passionately devoted to the
subsidence of the void, the relation of master/slave subordination is no longer revealed,
but life and void are confused and mingled like lovers, in the convulsive moments of the
end. ('Sacrifices', 133; OC I, 93 trans, mod.) Instead of giving in to death, accepting it at a
distance, as the distancing that structure s Being (Heidegger), death is to be
embraced, as 'it appears that no less a loss than death is needed for t he
brilliance of life to traverse and transfigure dull existence (Th e Practice of Joy Before
Death', 239; OC I, 557). This is not because death is so marvellous, but because it is everywhere, linking the individual to everything
else (what Bataille will go on to call the general economy): 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. (The Practice of Joy Before Death', 239; OCI, 557) Bataille is not arguing from the perspective whereby the
universe only exists in one's own mind, but that even we, pathetic individuals that we are, feature in the ceaseless process of death and
destruction. This linkage of the individual, throug h death, to others, to the general economy, is what is pursued in Bataille's
connecting of the erotic with death, which is a development of the linkage between sex and death. In
Eroticism he uses
the term 'continuity to designate both the state of shared existence of asexual
reproduction and what lies beyond individuality when individuals lose themselves in
sacrifice, erotic activity, laughter, drunkenness and so on (Eroticism, 11-25; OCX, 17-30).
These attempts interest him because 'eroticism opens the way to death. Death opens the
way to the denial of our individual selves (24; 29). Death 57 The second volume of The
Accursed Share, subtitled The History of Eroticism, is often seen as being little more
than a draft version of Eroticism, but there are crucial differences in emphasis. The
History of Eroticism really is a genuine part of the work on 'the accursed share', whereas
such an economy is only implicit in Eroticism. More importantly still, the former seeks to link sexuality to
death, and the latter attempts the opposite movement (both movements, for no clear theoretically necessary reason, lead Bataille to
associate Woman with death). The second volume of The Accursed Share even starts by stating that it is not really about eroticism, but
is instead 'a thinking that does not fall apart in the face of horror', emerging from 'a system of thought exhausting the totality of the
possible (The Accursed Share, vol. II, 14; OC VIII, 10). In writing about death as part of the general economy, it also emerges
that death is not necessarily literal death. But we should on no account take it as simply a metaphor, as metaphors imply a
reality to be represented, and Bataille offers no such real world, existing to be represented in mimesis, metaphor or
metonymy. Death and Fear Hegel sees death as the origin of humanity's self-
consciousness (this being, initially, consciousness of death), and the rest of time consists of the
struggle to master death. Communal existence is also centred around death, and the two combine in the form of
architecture. According to Hollier, for Hegel, 'architecture is something appearing in the place of death,
to point out its presence and to cover it up: the victory of death and the victory over
death' (Against Architecture, 6). For Bataille, however, this is precisely the problem: our society is this fearful covering up of death
(whereas the Aztecs, for example, exposed death in the sacrifice - at the top of, rather than inside, the pyramid). 2 In The Accursed
Share, vol. II, he argues that allsociety, all individual existence (as opposed to the restricted economy of
modern individualism) emerges from this fear of death - and this fear is at its most
creative when it approaches death. 58 Georges Bataille At the same time as humanity is drawn
toward death, it pushes it away - this repulsion is what defines humanity. Repulsion is the key word, as
death is not simply a negativity, something that happens to the subject, but
something that, even when it happens to someone else, provokes disgust.
Humanity is defined by its 'repugnance for death/ (The Accursed Share, vol. II, 61; OC VIII, 51).
This is hardly a novel or shocking statement, but death is specifically part of what repels us because we
repel it, and arguably the (primordial) object of disgust (and only in becoming human
does death constitute something disgusting). Humans have a horror of all that threatens their unitary existence:
excretions, filth, loss of control through drunkenness, eroticism (61-2; 51-2). More than this, we also have a horror of life, as at some
level we are aware of life as a by-product of death, so much so that 'we might think, if need be, that living matter on the
very level we separate ourselves from it is the privileged object of our disgust (63; 52). All such
disgusts are caught up within taboos, in a relation where it is impossible to ascertain whether the taboo created the disgust, or responds
to it. For Bataille, however, death really is at the heart of the existence of taboo, but is
not the exclusive centre: since it goes without saying, I will not linger over
the possible anteriority of the horror of death. This horror is perhaps at the root
of our repugnance (the loathing of nothingness would then be at the origin of the loathing of decay, which is not physical
since it is not shared by animals) . It is clear, in any event, that the nature of excrement is analogous
to that of corpses and that the places of its emission are close to the sexual parts; more
often than not, this complex of prohibitions appears inextricable. (79; 68) This complex marks the
line of demarcation between human and other and proximity to these phenomena constitutes the crossing of this line. This crossing
and the fear of crossing gives the 'universally human character of the problem of obscenity (54; 45), even if contra Freud and Levi-
Strauss, for example, there is no particular taboo that is universal.3 Death
is also 'at the beginning insofar
as its appearance coincides with labour and utility - this is what makes death
a problem for the individual, as the individual conceives of his or her self as
something to be maintained, preserved and developed (82; 70) .Death very
rapidly becomes the site of prohibition, and takes two principal forms: both
murder and 'contact with corpses are forbidden (79; 68). It is not the metaphysical difficulty of
impending death that creates this fear, since this arises from an awareness that life is an accident between waste and decay, with only
waste and decay in between. As Bataille notes, life is a luxury of which death is the highest degree (85-6; 74) and 'moreover, life is a
product of putrefaction (80; 69), so death
and decay are linked to conceptions of our birth and origin
(for him, this accounts for 'our fear of menstrual blood, for example). Here, as elsewhere, it
is striking how far Bataille
goes down a road attacking preconceptions only to launch into a restatement of tired
cliches about 'woman as other, as death. He simply does not question the taboos around
'woman', and this is why Kristeva's gloss on Bataille (Powers of Horror) and Mary Douglas's
Purity and Danger is so successful - it completes the logic already under way. The all-pervasive absence, or denial, of
death, through prohibition, is why death is to be approached, and also why we have an attraction to as well as repulsion from death
and all that threatens our identity, so that for example, 'eroticism, it may be said, is assenting to life up to the point of death (Eroticism,
11; OCX, 17). Death and eroticism remain charged with danger, and create anguish in individuals as their individuality falls away
(The Accursed Share, vol. II, 101; OC VIII, 88) . 5 But as with Hegel's 'facing up to death', Bataille does not limit the notion of death
to actual biological death - it comes to include all that undoes the individual, such that the introduction, or irruption, of death into life
makes life become exuberant (99; 86). Erotic
activity, for example, must be carried out
intensely (otherwise it is just sex), for 'if the sensations do not have their
greatest intensity, it is possible for us to isolate objects on the field of the
totality (118-19; 102). By totality, Bataille does not mean the kinds of ideology
that account for everything, but the amorphous sphere beyond subjects, and
beyond a simple subject/object divide. Even if death is not real, there is no
reduction of the experience of approaching death (we can never attain death - in this Bataille is
with Heidegger). If we are instructed that to 'live life to the full we must 'embrace death', what
do we gain? Nothing much, except the awareness of an impossibility (we do not even gain nothing, as asceticism would
aspire to), but what will have happened is the following: the embrace restores us, not to nature (which is itself, if it is not reintegrated,
only a detached part), but rather to the totality in which man has his share by losing himself. For an embrace is not just a fall into the
animal muck, but the anticipation of death, and the putrefaction that follows it. (119; 103) There is no why, however, and there can
only be Virtuar replies to 'why? - i.e. there can be the project of approaching death, as it enhances subjectivity,
but this project is lost at the moment it is attained, whether in actual death or in death-
like experience (nonexperience). Note also that the only 'return is to something that is necessarily lost, again and
again. Eroticism, then, is one direction waste or excess can take that involves death (itself waste, excess), but Bataille also
hints at another level at which death can be approached - a level that really
is metaphorical.
The 1AC’s fixation on death and destruction only reinvests
within the exorbitant heliocentric model of the sun which
depicts the normative way to live and die – this ensures that we
live and die within the very confines of the cosmic systems of
normative thought which establishes an energetic model of life
fixated on the solar economy
Negarestani’10 – .Reza Negarestani Iranian philosopher, artist, and writer; contributes to Collapse and
CTheory regularly (Solar Inferno and the Earthbound Abyss) KZaidi

According to the energetic models of psychology (Freud, Reich, Ferenczi, et al.) the organic
system – by virtue of its conservative and economical nature – seeks to fixate upon the first
exorbitant source of energy that it directly encounters. This source of energy must
surpass the lifespan of the organic system and issue forth a problematic amount of energy
that exceeds the capacity of the organic system. Consumption of this exorbi- tant energy,
therefore, becomes a problem for the organism. For the organism, consequently, modes or courses
of life are in fact solutions found and developed by the organism to confront the prob- lem of
consumption. In other words, ideas of how to live are reduced to solutions to afford the
exorbitant energy. The more diverse the solutions of the organism become, the easier the
organism can maneuver between different courses of life and the firmer the organism is
fettered to its exor- bitant source of energy. This growing dependency on the exorbitant source of
energy through the ever-increasing shackles of life singularizes the exorbitant source of
energy as the only model exorbitant energy instigates and imposes plural- ity of
dissipation for the organism i.e. the only model of death and the only way out.
Accordingly, the in modes of life but only in accordance with the conservative and economical nature of the
organism. The plurality of life is enforced at the expense of monism in death. And it
is the monism in death – as a mode of injection upon the outside (or what is exterior to the
organism) – that rigidly restricts the image of exteriority associated with the cosmic abyss
and in doing so forestalls a radi- cal change in life and its ventures.
The organism tends to die, or more accu- rately, tends to open to the exterior horizon by
means of the same energetic models and channels from which it conservatively secures its vital economy. To
put it simply, the organism tends to use the same energetic model for its death – or
openness to that which is exterior to it – as the model that it has previously used for
conserving energy and living. This recurring energetic model is fundamentally established
by the source of the exorbitant energy and thereby, implements both the traumatizing effects of
excessive energy and the inherent
limitations of the source of energy which itself is another
interiorized horizon envel- oped against its abyssal cosmic backdrop. There- fore, although
life can manifest itself plurally as opportunities for diversi cation and complexi- cation brought
about by different economical ways for conservation of the exorbitant energy, death or binding
exteriority is only possible in one and only one way. This way is both qualitatively and
quantitatively restricted in that it strictly cor- responds to the fundamental limitations of
the exterior source of energy and how these limita- tions are increased in the conservative economy of the
organism. Any image of exteriority that the exorbitant source of energy promises or creates for
the organism will remain within the confines and limits of that source of energy itself.
For us, this exorbitant source of energy is the Sun and its solar economy. The
solar excess has developed a conservative image of thought in which one can only
dissipate or die according to the model of energetic dissipation that the Sun has engrained within
the terrestrial organisms. One can afford numerous modes of conservation or live in different
ways but must die solely in the way that has been dictated by the energetic model of
dissipation inherent to the Sun. It is in this sense that Georges Bataille’s model of general or non-
restricted solar economy is itself a form of restricted economy whose restriction does not
end its expression in its relatively diverse modes of living but in the rejection of those
modes of death or binding exteriority which cannot be indexed by the economical
correlation between the solar excess and the conservative structures of the terrestrial biosphere.
For the terrestrial biosphere, the dominant model of dying, or more precisely, ‘openness to the
outside’ is limited to ‘being open to the Sun’, that is to say, finding a generally affordable
consumptive solution to the problem of solar expenditure. To put it differently, openness to the
Sun does not conjure a hyperbolic Icarian humanism as some might object but rather a
restricted Inhumanism for which exteriority is only perpetuated by the solar economy and
injection upon death and exteriority is limited to dying by the Sun and through the dissipative
model of energy that it dictates. For this reason, solar economy is a straitened model of
openness or injection upon death and exteriority insofar as it entails the possibility of
pluralism in life only at the cost of a strict monism in death. A vector of thought con gured by solar
economy knows nothing of the freedom of alternatives in regard to death as a vector of
exteriorization or loosening into the cosmic abyss. Hence, the Descartesian dilemma, ‘What course in
life shall I follow?’ should be bastardized as ‘Which way out shall I take?’ It is the latter question that radically breaks
away from life-oriented models of emancipation whose putative opportunities in life and
dismissal of death are none other but manifests of heliocen- tric slavery.
The ecological emancipation in the direction of the great outdoors, a ‘new Earth’ (Deleuze and Guattari) or the
earthbound abyss require not alternative ways of life – with which capitalism is grossly
overwhelmed – but alternative ways of binding the exteriority of the cosmic abyss or
injection upon death (of both mind and matter). Whether identi ed as modes of radical openness (paths
for loosening into the abyss) or injection upon non-dialectical negativity (dying in ways other
than those afforded by the organism), al- ternative ways of binding exteriority mobilize
the terrestrial sphere according to climates of the cosmic abyss. Yet, as argued earlier, in terms of the cosmic abyss,
climates are pure contingencies and therefore, draw the limitropically convoluted
trajectories along which various horizons of inte- riorities are undone and loosened into the yawn- ing chasm. If
solar economy and its associated capitalism are inexibly monistic in death, it is because
Sun itself is a contingency whose interior- ized conception is in the process
of loosening into the abyss – a contingency that tends to manifest as a necessity so as to
inhibit the irruption of other contingencies qua climates. For the irruption of contingencies
through another contingency – as in the case of a dying Sun – is a chemical journey in which the solar
horizon breaks into innumer- able other contingencies, each carrying thousands of turns and twists,
giving the depth of the abyss a nested twist that is asymptotic with it radical exteriority. Life on Earth, in this
sense, is a con- tingency begotten by the decaying Sun whose body, already a corpse,
has been overridden by cosmic climates qua irruptive contingencies.

The denial of death results in a thanatophobic obsession within


the spectacle of destruction. This destroys the ability to create
new narratives and create new pedagogies
Lewis’12 – Tyson Lewis -- Tyson E. Lewis is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History and Art
Education at the College of Visual Arts and Design, University of North Texas. – “The Aesthetics of Education” pg 178-181
KZaidi

It is this accounting for death through new narratives that in turn must be accounted for.
While death might introduce an excess between word and flesh, Rancière points out that death
is also what sets in motion explication. In relation to Rossellini’s film Europa 51, Rancière argues, “There is
never a lack of deaths or explanations” (2003c, 111). In the film, the suicide of a young boy sends the
mother, Irene, searching for answers. Her question was not “Why did he kill himself” (which conjures up
psychological or socio-economic explanations) but rather “What did he say” right before he died. Although psychiatrists
and socialists attempt to carve up her question, there is something in her original phrasing that remains impossible to
answer completely. Drawing on Rancière’s reading of this lm, Mark Robson makes the following observation:

Death is enough to set explanation going, but the explanation that answers one question
may itself be a way of avoiding the posing of another, more disturbing question. The obscene
question disappears from the scene. Or rather, it disappeared in the act of explanation, and this is attributable to ‘the
politicians.’ So, then, there
is a politics of the question, a politics of explanation, and, of course,
a politics of death.... In particular, the explanations that are all too readily at hand—the
usual thanatological suspects—are rounded up with such ease that they fail to explain
anything. (2011, 185)
In this sense, deathopens up to a flurry of explanations that erase the event of death —the
introduction of a void into the order of things that cannot be explained away using the
formulas and predictive theories of politicians, philosophers, or sociologists. As such, two alternatives
must be avoided. First, denial of death leaves no room for historical difference to appear.
Memory and recollection of “how Freire was” replace the void that attracts and
stimulates curiosity. Here memory becomes a kind of self-reassurance that nothing has
been lost, that the spirit of Freire remains as it always was, that he is “right here with us”
and thus we do not have to act on our own within our speci c context without his
guarantee. Second, the quick procla- mation of death in order to pass judgment on history
equally dispenses with the pensiveness of death and thus the space of curiosity. The death of
man, the death of history, the death of modernism, the death of politics, the death of Freire all become foundations for the
emergence of a new explanatory paradigm, a new cultural
logic that appears on the horizon through a
series of “posts” (posthumanism, postmodernism, postcritical discourse, etc.) that claim the right to pass
judgment over the dead and thus subsume the past within a totalized horizon of
understanding. What is therefore missed in both cases is a sustained relation to death as
a void in the partitioning of the sensible, a certain pensive detail that resists death in its
dying and in turn resists giving life to yet another master discourse or explicating order.
Thus death is a dangerous figure that dialectically seems to oscillate in Rancière’s work. As
Michael Dillon argues (2005), death is essential for understanding Rancière’s kairological
understanding of emancipation. In this argument, death is neither a comforting memory nor
simply a past needing to be explained away (thus denying the events of historical change). Instead,
death becomes a type of messianic mise-en-scene, a staging for the event of translation that
simultaneously destroys and creates. In Dillon’s messianic reading, the messianic in Rancière’s work has its own “sacri
cial violence” where “any actualized possibility of egalitarian contin- gency is always the death of some other equality”
(2005, 447). In other words, for equality to be veri ed, there must be a “making room” (2005, 447)
through a sacrifice. Joseph Jacotot’s teaching as not teaching is one prime example of this sacrificial logic at work
in Rancière’s writings. This is a pedagogy that exists in the kairos of emancipation where dis-
identi cation with both the master and the slave is a certain form of existential death.
Thus death is an essential component of both the arrival of history and the arrival of
emancipation.

The 1AC’s desire to flee death necessitates the subordination of


others – the continuation of life, i.e. the avoidance of [aff
impact, e.g. nuk war], guards against death, its implications, and
the communities that are marked as a threat to reproductive life
– duration also implies racism
Winters 2017 (Joseph, Winters is an Assistant Professor of Religious
Studies at Duke University. “RAC(E)ING FROM DEATH: Baldwin,
Bataille, and the Anguish of the (Racialized) Human.” Journal of Religious
Ethics. Volume 2, issue 45, page 380-405, accessed 7/11/17, EHL)
For Baldwin, anti-black racism, while containing its own particular logics and dynamics, remains emblematic of a collective will
to innocence, which in turn reveals something fundamental about the self/other relationship. Our attachment to being coherent,
durable selves places severe constraints on our capacity to give, receive, and be open to
qualities and circumstances that threaten to unravel (or dirty) the self and the imagined order
that it clings to. These ethical themes in Baldwin resonate with the arguments advanced by literary critic and philosopher, George Bataille. According to Bataille, the very
qualities that make us human—our investment in duration, in meaning, and in being distinguishable from

other beings—necessarily requires us to subordinate others to our desires and


projects (Bataille 2006, 29). To live in the “order of things,” according to Bataille, is to inhabit a world in which beings are primarily the occasion to
accumulate value, power, and meaning; beings are subordinated to the logic of instrumentality and accumu- lation. Consequently, the
continuation of any individual or collective life requires mechanisms that discipline, contain, or exclude that
which might impede the preservation of that life. As Bataille writes: The objective and in a sense
transcendent (relative to the subject) positing of the world of things has duration as its foundation: no thing in fact has a
separate existence, has a meaning, unless a subsequent time is posited, in view of which it is constituted as an object. The object is defined as an operative

power only if its duration is implicitly understood. . . . Future time constitutes this real world to such a degree that
death no longer has a place in it. But it is for this very reason that death means everything to it. (Bataille 2006, 46). To some extent, death and its intimations—loss,
suffering, shame, ecsta- sy, vulnerability—cannot have a place in a world defined by duration and preservation. In other words, even though death is a

permanent feature of human life, the order of things must cultivate and imagine ways to
diminish, mitigate, and deflect its effects and implications. We feel this pressure in moments when instances of
suffering and loss are expected to produce or express some reassuring meaning (everything happens
for a reason; that person got what he deserved). This mitigating process typically happens when individuals and communities locate

death, suffering, and excessive violence elsewhere, in another place and community—a strategy that often
justifies and makes acceptable violent projects to fix or restore that other community. Therefore, when Bataille
says that “death means everything” to the world of accumulation and duration , he is

thinking about how the anxiety and horror around death is related to our commitment to preserving ourselves in the

future, a commitment that involves various forms of displacement and deferral. In other words,
the will to futurity intensifies the anxiety and anguish that accompany thoughts and
images of death, mortality, and vulnerability. Of course, humans are also fascinated with images,
and practices, of violence and death, but only if they can experience and view these images from a
comfortable distance or participate in these practices in a manner that reduces the risks to the self’s coherence and
duration.9 On the duplicity of the self’s relationship to violence, Bataille writes, “Violence, and death signifying violence, have a
double meaning. On the one hand the horror of death drives us off, for we prefer life; on the other an ele- ment at once solemn and terrifying fascinates us and disturbs us
profoundly” (Bataille 1986, 45). What is crucial here is that the order of things, the order of life preservation, is defined over and against death and loss—death means everything to this order. Yet I

everyday projects and strategies of self- preservation are implicated


also take Bataille to be suggesting that

in the mundane, often undetected, exploitation and suffering of others; again, death means everything to the real world.
Therefore, the human self is a site of a paradox: the world of proj- ects, goals, and accumulation “imparts an unreal character to death even though man’s membership in this world is tied to the

our general commitment to duration, to repro- ducing


positing of the body as a thing insofar as it is mortal” (Bataille 2006, 46). According to Bataille,

life, will always mean that some being, force, or desire will be marked as a threat or danger to that

reproduction. And those threats will have to be managed, assimilated, disciplined, or


subordinated in some manner. One’s ability to endure in this world, to accumulate recog- nition, prestige, and
various kinds of capital means that one must separate oneself, to some extent, from those qualities and

characteristics that endanger self or communal projects and aspirations. To put it differently, life needs to be
cordoned off from death and those beings associated with death (even as we know that life and death are always intertwined and that certain kinds of subjects and communities are made more

social life providing a kind of barrier to


vulnera- ble to death and its intimations). Here Bataille’s line of thought con- verges with Baldwin’s point about

“menacing” forces, to beings and desires that signify chaos and disorder. If Baldwin and Bataille are right, then racism, which
is always about marking, disciplining, and managing “dangerous” bodies
and com- munities, must be confronted alongside fundamental social and human limitations.

Death structures the ideas of sovereignty, the subject, and the


political, death and sovereignty serve as paroxysm of excess all
are linked with a correlation to sexuality and violence
Mbembe, 03, (Achill senior researcher at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of
the Witwatersrand, Necropolitics, Pgs. 15-16, 2003)//Cummings

Georges Bataille also offers critical insights into how death structures the idea of
sovereignty, the political, and the subject. Bataille displaces Hegel’s conception of the linkages between death, sovereignty, and the subject in at least three ways. First,

he interprets death and sovereignty as the paroxysm of exchange and superabundance—


or, to use his own terminology: excess. For Bataille, life is defective only when death has
taken it hostage. Life itself exists only in bursts and in exchange with death. He argues that death is the

Therefore, although it destroys what was to be,


putrefaction of life, the stench that is at once the source and the repulsive condition of life.

obliterates what was supposed to continue being, and reduces to nothing the individual
who takes it, death does not come down to the pure annihilation of being. Rather, it is
essentially self-consciousness; moreover, it is the most luxurious form of life, that is, of
effusion and exuberance: a power of proliferation . Even more radically, Bataille withdraws death from the horizon of meaning. This is in contrast to Hegel, for

Bataille firmly anchors death in the realm of


whom nothing is definitively lost in death; indeed, death is seen as holding great signification as a means to truth. Second,

absolute expenditure Life beyond utility,


(the other characteristic of sovereignty), whereas Hegel tries to keep death within the economy of absolute knowledge and meaning.

says Bataille, is the domain of sovereignty. This being the case, death is therefore the
point at which destruction, suppression, and sacrifice constitute so irreversible and
radical an expenditure—an expenditure without reserve—that they can no longer be
determined as negativity. Death is therefore the very principle of excess—an anti-
economy Bataille establishes a correlation among death,
. Hence the metaphor of luxury and of the luxurious character of death. Third,

sovereignty, and sexuality. Sexuality is inextricably linked to violence and to the


dissolution of the boundaries of the body and self by way of orgiastic and excremental
impulses. As such, sexuality concerns two major forms of polarized human impulses—
excretion and appropriation—as well as the regime of the taboos surrounding them . The truth of sex

For Bataille, sovereignty therefore has


and its deadly attributes reside in the experience of loss of the boundaries separating reality, events, and fantasized objects.

many forms. But ultimately it is the refusal to accept the limits that the fear of death
would have the subject respect. The sovereign world, Bataille argues, “is the world in
which the limit of death is done away with. Death is present in it, its presence defines
that world of violence, but while death is present it is always there only to be negated,
never for anything but that. The sovereign,” he concludes, “is he who is, as if death were not. . . . He has no more regard for the limits of identity than he does for limits of death, or rather these
limits are the same; he is the transgression of all such limits.” Since the natural domain of prohibitions includes death, among others (e.g., sexuality, fi lth, excrement), sovereignty requires “the strength to violate the prohibition against killing,
although it’s true this will be under the conditions that customs de fi ne.” And contrary to subordination that is always rooted in necessity and the alleged need to avoid death, sovereignty definitely calls for the risk of death. By treating sovereignty

. Politics can only be traced as


as the violation of prohibitions, Bataille reopens the question of the limits of the political. Politics, in this case, is not the forward dialectical movement of reason

a spiral transgression, as that difference that disorients the very idea of the limit. More
specifically, politics is the difference put into play by the violation of a taboo.

All organisms and system are left with a surplus of energy,


which we should squander endlessly. Death is the ultimate form
of this unproductive expenditure – an ecological gift to new life.
Rowe 17. James, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. “Georges Bataille,
Chögyam Trungpa, and Radical Transformation: Theorizing the Political Value of Mindfulness”, The Arrow: A Journal of
Wakeful Society, Culture, and Politics, 4(2) | rpadhi

The sun is a central force in the philosophies of both Trungpa and Bataille. For Trungpa, the sun is a symbol of basic
goodness, and the human capacity to awaken to it, to become enlightened. For Bataille, the sun is the material starting
point for earthly life, and thus his phi- losophy. “Solar energy,” writes Bataille, “is the source of life’s
exuber- ant development. e origin and essence of our wealth are given in the radiation of
the sun, which dispenses energy—wealth—without any return.”65 The sun offers our
planet enough energy in one hour to meet contemporary civilizational needs for an entire
year.66 Harnessing this energy, to be sure, is a massive technological challenge. Moreover, biological life only has
limited access to the superabundance of solar energy that hits the planet every day. But the amount of energy we can
access enables an energetically rich life. Bataille’s materialist anal- ysis of solar lavishness helpfully
concretizes Trungpa’s account of basic goodness, what he also referred to as “basic
richness.”67 While Trungpa o ers practices for people to feel their inherent goodness and richness, actually
experiencing this goodness takes time.68 Without spending hours meditating, and slowly uncovering a tender and
radiating heart, Trungpa’s teachings on basic goodness and richness can appear ideal- istic. Bataille’s materialist
account of solar generosity further evidences Trungpa’s philosophy; it offers strong
conceptual proof that can height- en commitment to the experiential practice of
meditation. “ The sun gives without ever receiving,” argues Bataille. “[Humans] were conscious
of this long before astrophysics measured that ceaseless prodigality; they saw it ripen the harvests and they associated its
splen- dor with the act of someone who gives without receiving.”69At a basic biological level, the sun’s exuberance means
that “on the surface of the globe, for living matter in general, energy is always in excess, the ques- tion is always posed in
terms of extravagance.”70 Put more succinctly: “We receive more energy than we can use.”71 e basic
planetary con- dition is wealth more than poverty. The
essential meaning of Bataille’s claim that
luxury—not necessity—organizes life on earth is that all organisms have access to more
energy than required for subsistence, thanks to the sun’s exuberance. is excess is often
invested in biolog- ical growth (at the level of an organism, species, or ecosystem). But
growth can never fully exhaust the energy available to an individual organism or
biological system. All organisms and systems are left with a surplus to spend “willingly or
not, gloriously or catastrophically.”72 Evidence of earthly richness includes the ornate colors and plumage of
the animal kingdom that seemingly exceed evolutionary use-value. Similarly, consider the capacity for pleasure su using
animal life, espe- cially all the sexualized pleasures apparently unrelated to procreation. Even when a sensory pleasure is
associated with basic functioning like a good sneeze, excretion, or stretch, there can still be sumptuousness to the
sensation (need it feel so good?). A sneeze is arguably basic good- ness at work, a ash of solar exuberance amidst our
everyday lives. Consider, also, the ubiquity of queerness across the animal king- dom. According to Bruce Bagemihl,
author of Biological Exuberance (a book that draws heavily from Bataille), “homosexuality is found in virtually all animal
groups, in virtually all geographic areas and time periods, and in a wide variety of forms.”73 But why, asks Bagemihl,
“does same-sex activity persist—reappearing in species after species, generation after generation, individual after
individual—when it is not useful” from a strictly evolutionary perspective?74 Bagemihl’s answer is that use and necessity
are not life’s sole organizing principles: “Natural systems are driven as much by abundance and excess as they are by
limitation and practicality. Seen in this light, homosexuality and non- reproductive heterosexuality are ‘expected’
occurrences—they are one manifestation of an overall ‘extravagance’ of biological systems that has many expressions.”75
For Bataille, our primordial condition is marked by richness thanks to the lavishness of
the sun. And then, of course, we die. Death can easily appear as proof of our ultimate
poverty; it seemingly mocks attempts to assert the basic richness or goodness of life. But
Bataille reads mortality as another marker of life’s luxuriousness. Large mam- mals like us are
impressive condensations of energy (we are ourselves only possible given energetic wealth). is energy is then
extravagantly squandered upon our necessary deaths. “When we curse death,” argues
Bataille, “we only fear ourselves... We lie to ourselves when we dream of escaping the
movement of luxurious exuberance of which we are only the most intense form.”76
Death’s energetic squandering is also an ecological gift for the new life arising from
decay: “[Humankind] conspires to ignore the fact that death is also the youth of
things.”77 Bataille’s reading of death as exemplary of basic goodness supports Trungpa’s encouragement to “make
friends with our death,” and to not resentfully cast it as “a defeat and as an insult.”78
Tibetan culture, according to Bataille, is more successful than Eu- ro-American ones at
affirming the totality of life. For Bataille, cultur- al forms that communicate this a rmation are glorious
expenditures of basic energetic wealth. e resentment that animates so many Eu- ro-American cultural forms is itself
enabled by energetic exuberance, a “catastrophic” use of our basic richness.79 And the Euro-American desire to escape our
corporeality only intensi es feelings of lack and malaise by disconnecting us from the earthly exuberance alive in our
changeful bodies. For Bataille: Anguish arises when the anxious individual is not himself
stretched tight by the feeling of superabundance. is is precisely what evinces the isolated, individual
character of anguish. ere can be anguish only from a personal, par- ticular point of view that is radically opposed to the
general point of view based on the exuberance of living matter as a whole. Anguish is meaningless for someone who over
ows with life, and for life as a whole, which is an over owing by its very nature.80 Energetic poverty and lack are realities
for life on earth. But they are always felt by particular beings at particular times; energetic lack is not our general or basic
condition. And yet the more we separate ourselves from exuberant life energies in attempts to gain dominion over them,
the more liable we are to experience lack; we progressively remove our- selves from nature’s over ow. Bataille was
interested in nurturing a sovereign—rather than ser- vile—human encounter with existence: “ e sovereignty I speak of has
little to do with the sovereignty of states... I speak in general of an aspect that is opposed to the servile and the
subordinate.”81 Viewing humans as agents of life’s exuberance, Bataille saw sovereignty as hu- manity’s “primordial
condition.”82 We are regal and rich from birth. But this sovereignty is tarnished when we
cower before ourselves and the teeming life energies we issue from, return to, and are
animated by.
Education
The university’s barbaric practices perpetuate societal
inequality through the adoption of empiricism and double
objectification of the self.
O’Sullivan 16. Michael, Convenor of Research Committee at the Chinese University of
Hong Kong. “Academic Barbarism, Universities and Inequalities” | rpadhi

Henry refers to the methodologies of the disciplines that follow this version of scientism as “ideologies of barbarism." He
argues that many university disciplines today “thematise nature" or “pretend to speak of
man" (la barbaric, 2004, 131). The “objective body," or the “empirical individual posited" is, for
Henry, the product of “a double objectification" (Ia barbaric, 2004, 143). This “double objectification”
takes on a whole new meaning in the age of the social network and the online avatar. The
objectivity that is suggested here is double in the sense that what is objectified is not life itself according
to the "phenomenological actuality of its auto-affection,” but the “self- objectification of
life under the form of an unreal signification” (la barbaric, 2004, 139). In other words, university
disciplines posit “empirical individuals" or flawed descriptions of subjects as objects for
investigation. Henry argues that the “self-objectification of life" that “is posited and presented
before us is never life itself, [...] but its empty representation" (la barbaric, 2004, 138)! The “human
being” of the “human sciences” is itself an objectification, categorization, or representation. Henry argues that the
“objectivism of the Galilean project,” (la barbaric, 2004, 143) that has inaugurated for him an ideo- logy of science or
barbarism, "inevitably presupposes in the human sciences both this given precondition of the empirical individual and
therefore the double objectification that has come into question" (Ia barbaric, 2004, 143). This
double
objectification affects all aspects of life, including sexuality, which is "examined" solely in
terms of “a certain number of behaviours" (la barbaric, 2004, 144) and a rep- ertoire of functions such as
“age, sex, class, type of society, and the enumeration of the circumstances in which it is accomplished” (la barbaric, 2004,
144). Henry's work here echoes many of the themes elaborated in Michel Foucault's work on sexuality.’ The second
essential component of every discipline of this genre is the development of “the proiect of knowledge” (la barbaric, 2004,
148). Academic industries and research bodies must decide what criteria must be retained
as “essential defining characteristics of the object of research" (la barbaric, 2004, 148) for it is only
when "these characteristics have been circumscribed and situated in a relation of unity that one is able to undertake the
construction of laws” (la barbaric, 2004, 148) for the promotion of a particular science. This recalls Jacques Derrida's
description of the “new censorship"8 in the university. Henry argues that both of these processes have important
repercussions when they become implicated in our understanding of ethics. He argues that sciences
of “this
genre" invest in a “pure objec- tivism" that is irrelevant to every instance of moral choice.
Society, in its rush to embrace new technologies or new forms of research, rarely
considers how they bring new ethics with them; Nicholas Carr argues that “the intellectual ethic of a
technology is rarely recognized by its inventors" (45). As Walter J. Ong reminds us, “technologies are not mere exterior
aids but also interior transformations of consciousness" (in Carr 2010, 51). For Henry, it is only a phenomenological
descrip- tion of "real life" that is capable of providing the “moral” ground for any new “intellectual ethic" and it can never
be a consideration for a science that regards the “empirical individual" as its precondition.9 Henry also defines barbarism
as “an unemployed energy [Henry’s emphasis]" (la barbaric, 2004, 177) and “energy,” for him, is “the irrepressible test of
that which fulfills itself and fills itself with itself to the point of excess [...] every culture is the liberation of an energy, the
forms of this culture are the concrete modes of this liberation" (la barbaric, 2004, 174). This
recalls Georges
Bataille's sense of “unemployed negativity," a notion that takes on new meaning for
today’s “Europe of Knowledge" where in some southern European countries there is 50 percent youth
unemployment.lo Bataille devises the notion of “unemployed negativity" for his end-of-history
perspective in his famous letter to Alexandre Koieve from December 1937. He surmises: "I can assume (as a likely
hypothesis) that from that this point on history has been completed (with the exception of its outcome). [...] lf action
(‘doing’) is—as Hegel says—negativity, the question then arises as to knowing if the negativity of one who ‘no longer has
any- thing to do' disappears or remains in the state of 'unemployed nega- tivity' [...].” (in Corn, 84—5) Bataille argues, for
his own time, that: In
effect, since the man of “unemployed negativity" does not find in art an
answer to the question that he himself is, he can only become the man of “recognized
negativity." He has understood that his need to act no longer had a use. But since this need could no longer be duped
by the enticements of art, one day or another it is recognized for what it is: as negativity empty of content He stands before
his own negativity as before a wall. (in Corn, 86) In an era when “unemployed negativity” has taken on a whole new
meaning for the continent that gave us our traditional notion of the university, it
is timely to consider how the
university with its “practices of barbarism” has contributed to heightened levels of
unemployment and inequality in our societies. As educators do we want to see students on our four-year
BA courses or on our lengthy PhD courses witness this "contravention" of their potential and energy where “a stagnation,
[a] regression" leads to the “self-negation of life” (Ia barbaric, 2004, 178)? For, in regression, as Henry explains, “neither
the energy nor the affect disappear, on the contrary they serve to bring being through itself to a heightened degree of
tension” (la barbaric, 2004, 185). Paul Verhaeghe has observed how society’s promotion of our academic industry’s notion
of meritocracy has exac- erbated this heightened state of unemployed energy, tension, and risk in young people. I examine
this in more detail in the next chapter. For Henry, it produces ennui and ennui is “precisely the affective dis- position in
which unemployed energy reveals itself to itself” (Ia bar- baric, 2004, 191). We are witnessing the trickle-down effects of
these educational philosophies. These states of tension, anxiety, and ennui are integral to what
Zygmunt Bauman calls our society’s transforma- tion of identity into a “task” and to the risk
that is ever-present in our promotion of individualization. However, the academic industry may indeed be
so caught up in the financing of its corporate model of education! management that it
has lost sight of how it is enforcing and developing these “practices of barbarism".

Education is rooted in the necropolitical state and is responsible


for the instruction of the sovereign
Gržinić, 10, (Marina, Philosopher employed at the Institute for philosophy at the Slovenian institute for science
and arts, Necrocapitalist education, market freedom, de-sustainability, pg. 1, published in the fall of 2010)//Cummings

One is necropolitics as a process of a simple, clear,


Further, two processes of necropolitics are put forward today in the global capitalist world.

direct destruction of life that, as stated by Achille Mbembe presents the exposure of life
only to the power of death, mostly seen in all the so called third worlds , Haiti is one of the last examples. The second is a

it is possible to state that not


process in the First Capitalist world where life is a life of subjugation and re-contextualisation only and solely to the needs of the capitalist market. In both cases

one aspect of life, work, education, communication, culture, politics, economy can be
seen as being outside the forms of capital exploitation, though the capitalist system
claims completely the opposite. Education in such capitalist mode of production that is 3.

in the present case necrocapitalism, necropolitics and necropower (therefore we claim that capitalism has history and biopolitics

can be termed accordingly as necrocapitalist global education. It presents


should be historized)

education only fberal human capital. Circulation of capital is the condition of


constructing the social onto and as the logic of the market . Circulation of capital is the only terrain for any institutional, cultural, ideological,
epistemological connection and development of these spheres. Therefore we have as well a persistent colonization inside and outside as a measure for over passing (natural) borders when capital spreads. Global knowledge is nothing more than
the minimum of knowledge for maximum of skills in order to prove a proper humanity. To say this differently, the global knowledge and knowledge circulation seen from the present educational view is in the last instance the repressive and
formative force in the context of necropolitics.
Environment
Heliocentrism sustains itself through the obsession with organic
systems of thought and consumption – this is enhanced by the
technocratic managing of society – this form of new capitalism
masqurades itself as “saving the planet” yet is invested in the
sustainment of itself rather than staring into the abyss that is
death. Affirm the cosmic abyss
Negarestani’10 – Reza Negarestani Iranian philosopher, artist, and writer; contributes to Collapse and
CTheory regularly (Solar Inferno and the Earthbound Abyss) KZaidi

Like all modes of slavery, heliocentrism has its own market strategy; it is called base-capitalism.
For schizophrenic capitalism, whilst everything should be accelerated towards a techno-
economic meltdown along paths of expenditure entrenched in solar economy, modes of
life as ever more con- voluting circuitous paths towards death must not only be
embraced but also emphatically affirmed. The seemingly paradoxical proclivity of capital-
ism – that is to say, its concomitant dynamism towards thanatropic meltdown and its advocation of
lifestyles – amounts to the very simple fact that for the Sun the phenomenon of life on the planet is
but a modal range of energy dissipation prescribed by the solar economy and afforded by
organic systems. This does not merely suggest that death – especially for planetary entities – is inevitable
but that such death or vector of exteriorization is exclusively restricted to modes of
energetic dis- sipation (modes of life) that the Sun imposes on the planet. Yet these modes of
energetic dissipa- tion which exteriorize Earth are themselves part of the economy of the
Sun which also mark its economic restrictions and limits of affordability against its
abyssal and exterior cosmic backdrop. Capitalism, in this sense, conceals its restricted
economy in regard to the cosmic exteriority (or death) by overproducing modes or styles of
life which are in fact different rates of energetic dis- sipation or circuitous paths of expenditure. To put it differently,
capitalism which terrestrially envelops the restricted economy of the Sun in re- gard to death
and exteriority masquerades as the so-called general and free economy in regard to life and the
problem of consumption.

The interiority of life on Earth rests on the thermo-nuclear interiority of the Sun which
itself is contingent upon its exterior cosmic backdrop. Solar capitalism is only a market for
representing the Sun as both an inevitable and unfathomably rich exteriority for the
planet and terrestrial life, marketing the energetic model of the Sun as the only way to the great
outdoors of the abyss. Yet it is precisely the Sun that circumscribes the image of such outdoors and narrows the
speculative op- portunities ensued by thought’s binding of radical exteriority. In line with the vitalistically
pluralist and thanatropically monist regime of solar econo- my, Earth can be reinvented
and recomposed only as a new planet or slave of the Sun whose life and death are emphatically
determined by its star or exorbitant source of energy. On such a planet, the ventures of thought and art
are burdened by a nar- row scope in regard to cosmic exteriority imposed by the Sun as
well as the axiomatic submission of terrestrial life to the empire of the Sun.

Just as the pluralist regime of life inherent to solar economy is parasitically hydrophilic, the in-
dulgence of
capitalism in lifestyles and vitalistic detours also has an intimate af nity with terres- trial
juices. The solar model of consumption can duplicate itself as the dominant energetic model
wherever life emerges, that is to say, wherever water exists. Water can implement the
energetic peculiarities of the solar climate in quite a vitalis- tic fashion and thus, re-enact the Sun’s
model of energy expenditure within manifestations of life. Capitalism, in a similar manner,
sniffs out plan- etary waters so as to employ its models of accu- mulation and
consumption through their chemical potencies. This is not only to use the hydraulic ef- ciency of
terrestrial waters in order to propagate its markets and carry out its trades, but more im-
portantly to overlap and associate its indulgences with the very de nitions and foundations of life. Since
terrestrial waters (or liquid forms in gen- eral) are closely associated with the formula of life, by
investing in them and operating through them capitalism can also give a biopolitical
sense of inevitability (in terms of growth and vitality) to its rules and activities. In dissolving into ter- restrial
waters, capitalism like solar energy can create climates or contingencies of its own on the
planet, triggering the rise of new territories, lines of migrations and reformations. Yet water is an open
receiver of chemistry as the applied dynam- ics of contingencies. As previously mentioned, if
terrestrial waters are attractors of contingencies or chemistry, then they do not merely
imple- ment solar climates but also energetic models of dynamism associated with other
contingencies or cosmic climates. Accordingly, terrestrial waters develop into sites for the irruption of
contingen- cies into the already established and interiorized contingency which in the case of the
planet Earth is solar economy of the Sun and its restricted climates. Therefore, terrestrial waters are
agents of complicity whereby cosmic climates irrupt into the interiority of terrestrial life
itself. It is this irruption of cosmic climates that draws a line of exteriorization or loosening
into the abyss forboth the terrestrial life and the climates generated by the Sun. However, the complicity
between the water of life and cosmic climates or what we call chemistry is endowed with
a chemical slant; it gives the death of life and water weirdly produc- tive aspects. The
irruption of cosmic climates into the terrestrial biosphere generates a dynamics of death or line of
exteriorization whose expression and dynamism are chemical rather than spectral, ghostly or
hauntological. The dying water is blackened into heaps of slime and the biosphere feeding on such water respectively
dies or chemi- cally loosens into the cosmic exteriority. As these deaths have chemical slants, they spawn more
contingencies or lines of chemical dynamisms which render the universe climatically
weird. This climatic relationship between a dying Sun and a dying Earth as chemically projected in
water has been intriguingly portrayed by the artist Pamela Rosenkranz. What Rosenkranz artistically pro-
poses is that water – despite its apparent loyalty to terrestrial life – chemically unbinds the potencies of cosmic
contingencies whose inevitable irrup- tion into our super cially solar world necessitates a chasmic terrestrial ecology.

Cosmic Ecology or the Order of the Weird

Life ecologically extinguishes as its waters die, or more accurately, as they chemically react with other cosmic
contingencies whose climates are exterior to that of terrestrial life and its solar bonds. Since the expression of
dying water signifies nothing but a chemical marriage between water and cosmic
contingencies, ecological death means nothing but to perish via a blackening water which is
too chemically potent to support the vitality of life or endurance of survival. Eco- logical death becomes a form of
descent into the cosmic abyss which is chemically too productive to be considered either misanthropically
gloomy or post-humanistically promising. This ecological death of Earth is strongly reminiscent of
Victor Hugo’s description of the appalling slime pools of Paris: “[I]n a pit of slime [...] the dying man
does not know whether he has become a ghost or a toad. Everywhere else the grave is sinister, here it is
shapeless.” (Victor Hugo, Les Misérables)
In the slimy grips of a universal nature whose contingencies have chemically irrupted into the water of life, the
ecological death of Earth is a weird chemical reaction from which no ghost emerges to
either haunt the universe or demand an appropriate mourn.
Being truly terrestrial is not the same as be- ing superficial, that is to say, it is not the same as
considering Earth as a planetary surface-bio- sphere (slave of the Sun) or exalting the planet
to the position of the Sun (solar hegemony). Being genuinely terrestrial demands
presupposing the death and pure contingency of the Earth in each and every equation, thought,
feat of creativity and political intervention. Earthly thought em- braces perishability (i.e. cosmic
contingency) as its immanent core. If the embracing of Earth’s perishability should be posited as
the hallmark of earthly thought, it is because such perishabil- ity – as argued earlier – grasps
the openness of Earth towards the cosmic exteriority not in terms of concomitantly vitalistic /
necrocratic correla- tions (as the Earth’s relationship with the Sun) but alternative ways of dying and
loosening into the cosmic abyss. By the word ‘alternative’, we mean those ways of exteriorization and
loosening which are not dictated by the economical correlation between Earth and Sun.
These alternative ways of binding cosmic exteriority or loosening into the abyss entail,
firstly, a terrestrial ecology for which both Earth and Sun are bound or grasped as merely contingent and
hence, necessarily per- ishable entities. The only true terrestrial ecology, for this reason, is
the one founded on the unilat- eral nature of cosmic contingency against which there is
no chance of resistance – there are only opportunities for drawing schemes of complicity. To
this extent, terrestrial thought and creativ- ity must essentially be associated with ecology,
but an ecology which is based on the unilateral powers of cosmic contingencies such as climate
changes, singularity drives, chemical eruptions and material disintegration. Any other mode of thought
basking in the visual effects of Earth as a blue marble or the Sun as the exorbitant flame
is but submission to heliocentric slavery.
Econ
The affirmative’s economic foundations are mistaken – they rely
on the concept of the restricted economy and efficiency, when
instead we should prefer the general economy and waste.
Rehn and Lindahl 14. Alf Rehn is a Finnish professor, author and speaker based
in Finland. He currently holds the Chair of Management and Organization at Åbo
Akademi University in Finland. Marcus Lindahl is a Professor of Industrial Engineering
& Management, Uppsala University. “Georges Bataille: On His Shoulders (And Other
Parts of the Body of Knowledge”, “On the Shoulders of Giants” | rpadhi

The key argument of this first volume is that all dynamic, developing systems have two aspects to them, one limited and
one general. Even though Bataille was primarily interested in systems of human action, here he ventures much further and
includes both cosmological and biological systems in his sweeping analysis of the logic of systems. Discussing
economy (broadly understood), he begins by pointing out that most studies have
completely misunderstood the foundational aspect of this system. Most theorists of
economy start from the assumption that its key logic is one of efficiency. One thus
assumes that things such as the conservation of energy, the parsimonious use of
resources and savings – things we often state as positive and “economic” things to do –
are natural and basic for economic functioning. Bataille disagrees in the most violent
manner possible. Presaging modern economic anthropology, he instead turns the entire question on its head. If
we look back to the very birth of the economy, the moment in which society started
forming around productive functions, what actually occurred? As Marshall Sahlins later showed to
great e ect in his Stone Age Economics (1972), the state of primitive man was not one of dearth. Instead it seems
that our ancestors lived fairly pleasant lives, with limited time spent on anything like
work due to their very limited needs. With few people in the world, and food thus being
plentiful and relatively easy to gather or hunt, work and means were minimized as there
were no real ends to pursue. It is here that Bataille enters the picture. How did we develop culture and
economy? Not because we had to, as we might well have opted to live in a pre-historical bliss. No, we developed
because we desired something more – something that Bataille calls the accursed share.
We desired feasts, fetish-objects, larger huts, bigger prey, rituals and merrymaking. For
some this seems normal, as we’re programmed to understand progress and development
as something natural and necessary. But Bataille points out that this is a very peculiar
assumption, and that all these things can in fact be understood more analytically as
“waste”. Looking to a wide range of anthropological evidence, Bataille argues that
progress isn’t driven by some natural necessity, but rather by the tendency of all systems
to create great eruptions of energy, magnificent waste and sacred excess. I will simply state,
without waiting further, that the extension of economic growth itself requires the
overturning of economic principles–the overturning of the ethics that
ground them. Changing from the perspectives of restrictive economy to those of
general economy actually accomplishes a Copernican transformation: a reversal of
thinking – and of ethics. From e Accursed Share, Vol. 1 (1949/1988: 25) We didn’t need to start
storing grain, but did so because we wanted to organize huge drunken feasts in which
our saved surplus could be gloriously wasted (and during which we ourselves could get
wasted – as archaeological research has convincingly shown that the first instances of farming were not
for the production of necessities but for producing beer and thus drunkenness). We
developed complex logistics in order to lay our hands on trinkets and frivolities such as gold and spices. We built
societies in order to arrange huge events – such as wars, huge art galleries or the
Olympics – without apparent purpose. Waste, nothing but glorious waste! e problem,
maintains Bataille, is that we’ve assumed that the limited system of economy, the part of it
that strives for effciency and order, is the whole story. No, he continues, the general economy is the correct
unit of analysis, and here effciency and parsimony only exist in order to enable
waste and expenditure.

We must rethink social wealth in terms of intentionally


unproductive use – productive expenditure dominates
social life by desacralizing human labor in terms of
utility – an unprecedented break frees us from the
oppressive principles of economy
Goux, 90 (Goux, Jean-Joseph, et al, Doctorate of the 3rd cycle of Philosophy, Paris-Sorbonne,
Doctor of State in Humanities and Letters, “General Economics and Postmodern
Capitalism.” Yale French Studies, no. 78, 1990, pp. 206–224. JSTOR,
www.jstor.org/stable/2930123.)/RF

La Part maudite, Bataille's


most systematic and long-considered work, provokes in the reader
an inescapable feeling of mingled enthusiasm and disappointment. There is something striking and
gran- diose about Bataille's attempt to subvert existing political economy, caught within the limits of a utilitarian or calculating
rationality, in order to replace it with a "general economics" that would make of unproductive expenditure (sacrifice, luxury, war,
games, sumptuary monuments) the most determinant phenomenon of social life. At last a critique of political
economy which, while remaining on the decisive terrain of the social circulation of
wealth, escapes the confined atmosphere of the bourgeois ethic-so often caricatured-, the
cramped and grayish world of petty calculation, quantifiable profit and industrious
activity! It is the most extravagant waste-gratuitous, careening consumption, where
accumulated wealth is set ablaze and disappears in an instant, wreathing in ephemeral
glory him who makes the offering of this blaze which becomes the central phenomenon,
the one through which a society discovers itself and celebrates the deepest values that
animate it: its religion, its meta- physics, its sense of the sacred. Bataille's "Copernican reversal" of political economy
is a remark- able and dazzling operation of ethnological decentering. It is not the store and the workshop,
the bank and the factory, that hold the key from which the principles of the economy can
be deduced. In the blood that spurts from the open chest of victims sacrificed to the sun in an Aztec ritual, in the
sumptuous and ruinous feasts offered to the courtiers of Versailles by the monarch of divine right, in all these mad from
dissipations is found a secret that our restricted economics has covered up and caused to be forgotten. We must
rethink social wealth not from the parsimonious perspective of an ascetic bourgeoisie
that only consents to spend when it expects a return, but from the point of view (nearly
delirious to our mind) of the erection of the pyramids or the cathedrals, or of the sacrifice of thousands of
herd animals in archaic holocausts. It is in this intentionally unproductive use, in this
un- limited expenditure, and not in utilitarian consumption that a secret lies hidden, the
"general law of the economy": "a society always produces on the whole more than is
necessary to its subsistance, it disposes of a surplus. It is precisely the use made of this excess
that determines it: the surplus is the cause of disturbances, changes of structure, and of
its entire history."' A thesis that is radically opposed to the rationalist, productivist and
utilitarian vision. It is the mode of expenditure of the excess, the consumption of the
superfluous, this accursed share, that determines a society's form. The dominant prosaic vision may
be only a recently formed prejudice contemporaneous with the reign of the bourgeoisie, ushered in by the Reformation, and unable to
account for the real and ineluctable movement of wealth in a society, a movement that sovereignly engages human beings: their
relationship to the sacred through religion, mysticism, art, eroticism. One cannot deny that this "general economics" has a great force
of conviction, the strength of a new critique of political economy which instead of accepting the notions of this discipline (market
exchange, need, scarcity, work-value) as Marx did, contests the very meta- physical ground of a utilitarian and productivist rationality
whose limitation becomes evident in the anthropology of archaic societies. Better still, far from retreating beyond an economic
explanation, as do the spiritualist critiques, this vision generalizes the economic approach, directly placing in its conceptual field
notions that do not seem to belong there: religion, art, eroticism. At
the heart of Bataille's thought lies the
troubling postulate that the distinction between the profane and the sacred-a
fundamental distinction of all human society-merges in a broad sense from the economic.
Whereas the pro- fane is the domain of utilitarian consumption, the sacred is the do-
main of experience opened by the unproductive consumption of what is sacrificed.
Henceforth the position of religion or art with respect to the "economic base" as
formulated by Marx is completely transformed. The religious or artistic domain is not a
simple superstructure of vague whims built on the economic infrastructure: it is itself
economic, in the sense of a general economics founded on the expenditure of the excess, on the unproductive and ecstatic
consumption of the surplus, through which the human being experiences the ultimate meaning of existence. General
economics, unlike restricted economics, encompasses obliquely the entire domain of
human activities, extending the "economic" intelligence to highly symbolic practices
where formidable energies are consumed for the celebration of the gods, the glory of the
great or the dionysiac pleasure of the humble. What becomes apparent then is the
genealogy of our economic thought. A complete desacralization of life (inaugurated by Calvinism and carried to its
limit by Marxism) was necessary for the world of production and exchange to become autonomous according to the principle of
restricted utility. The profane and prosaic reality thought by contemporary economics can be constituted only by excluding outside the
field of human activity-through the total secu- larization of ethical values-any impulse toward sacrifice, toward consumption as pure
loss. Bataille
is thus proposing a veritable anthropology of history whose guiding thread
would be the accursed share and which would achieve a unification of the two forces that
have been considered individually the motors of human societies (religion and
economics). But this history is marked by a break. Until the birth of capitalism every
society is one of sacrificial expenditure. Whether in the potlatch of primitive tribes described by Mauss in
The Gift, the bloody sacrifices of the Aztecs, the building of the Egyptian pyramids, or even the opposing paths of peaceful
Tibetan lamaism and warlike Islamic conquest, the expenditure of excess is always inscribed within a principle of the
sacred. With the birth of the bourgeois world a radical change takes place. Productive
expenditure now entirely dominates social life. In a desacralized world, where human
labor is guided in the short or long term by the imperative of utility, the surplus has lost
its meaning of glorious consumption and becomes capital to be reinvested productively,
a constantly multiplying surplus-value. In my view it is in this historical outcome that the most serious difficulty
lies. This is also undoubtedly Bataille's view: he always wanted to continue his first sketch but this continuation exists only in
fragments. On the one hand, there is hardly any doubt that Bataille always harbored a will to subvert contemporary society, a will that
was heightened by his searing contact with surrealism and politically engaged groups. On the other hand, it is clear that the
discussions in La Part maudite concerning "the present facts" of the world situation in terms of general economics are more than
disappointing. Every- thing suggests that Bataille was unable to articulate his mysticism of expenditure, of sovereignty, of major
communication-expressed so flamboyantly in La Somme Atheologique, L'Erotisme or La Litterature et le mal-in terms of
contemporary general economics. Where do we situate Bataille's claim? What happens to the demand of the sacred in capitalist society?
How do we reconcile the affirmation that capitalism represents an unprecedented break
with all archaic (precapitalist) forms of expenditure and the postulate of the necessary
universality of spending as pure loss? This is the difficulty. Bataille wants to maintain as a general
anthropological principle the necessity of unproductive expenditure while simultaneously upholding the historic singularity of
capitalism with regard to this expenditure. Bourgeois society corresponds to a "general atrophy of former sumptuary processes" (41).
An anomaly whereby loss is not absent (which would contradict the general principle) but virtually unreadable: "Today,
the
great and free social forms of unproductive expenditure have disappeared. Nevertheless,
we should not conclude from this that the very principle of expenditure is no longer
situated at the end of economic activity" (37). So what happens to ostentatious
expenditure in capitalism? And can we really believe, furthermore, that the even more radical desacralization effected by
communism could become a libertarian affirmation of sovereignty-the feast of self-consciousness, without divinities and myths?
General economies suppress energy by expending and
erupting it into uncontrolled explosions, e.g. war –
instead, social consumption resuscitates nonproductive
expenditures, creating a modern ritual potlatch
Yang, 2k (Yang, Mayfair Mei‐ hui, Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Languages
and Cultures at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Professor and Director of Asian
Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia, “Putting Global Capitalism in Its Place: Economic
Hybridity, Bataille, and Ritual Expenditure.” Current Anthropology, vol. 41, no. 4, 2000, pp. 477–
509. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/317380.)
Bataille’s project called for widening the frame of our economic inquiry to what he called
a general economy, which accounted not only for such things as production, trade, and finance but also for
social consumption, of which ritual and religious sacrifice, feasting, and festival were important components in
precapitalist economies. In Bataille’s approach, religion was not an epiphenomenal derivative of
the infrastructures of production but an economic activity in itself. A general economy
treats economic wealth and growth as part of the operations of the law of physics
governing the global field of energy for all organic phenomena, so that, when any
organism accumulates energy in excess of that needed for its subsistence, this energy
must be expended and dissipated in some way. What he proposed in his enigmatic and mesmerizing book The
Accursed Share was that, in our modern capitalist productivism, we have lost sight of this fundamental law of physics and material
existence: that the surplus energy and wealth left over after the basic conditions for subsistence, reproduction, and growth have been
satisfied must be expended. If this energy is not destroyed, it will erupt of its own in an
uncontrolled explosion such as war. Given the tremendous productive power of
modern industrial society and the fact that its productivist ethos has cut off virtually all
traditional avenues of ritual and festive expenditures, energy surpluses have been
redirected to military expenditures for modern warfare on a scale unknown in traditional
societies. Bataille thought that the incessant growth machine that is the post-World War
II U.S. economy could be deflected from a catastrophic expenditure on violent warfare
only by potlatching the entire national economy. In giving away its excess wealth to poorer nations,
as in the Marshall Plan to rebuild war-torn Europe, the United States could engage in a nonmilitary rivalry for prestige and influence
with the Soviet Union, that other center of industrial modernity’s radical reduction of nonproductive expenditure.14 Thus,
Bataille wished to resuscitate an important dimension of the economy,
nonproductive expenditure, that has all but disappeared in both capitalist
and state socialist modernity. Scholars such as Jean-Joseph Goux (1998) have pointed to a troubling overlap
between Bataille’s views on luxury and sacrificial expenditure and postmodern consumer capitalism. Consumer capitalism
is also predicated on massive consumption and waste rather than on the thrift,
asceticism, and accumulation against which Ba- 14. It is estimated that the Marshall Plan
cost 2% of the U.S. gross national product annually from 1947 to 1951 ($160 billion a
year in today’s terms), in comparison with which the tiny amounts proposed today to
forgive Third World debt ($600 million) and rebuild Kosovo and Albania ($5 billion)
seem laughable (Sanger 1999). It exhibits potlatch features in the tendency for
businesses to give goods away in the hope that “supply creates its own demand”; it
collapses the distinction between luxury and useful goods and between need and desire
(Goux 1998). Unlike modernist capitalism, postmodern consumer capitalism is driven by consumption rather than production.
Thus, Bataille’s vision of the ritual destruction of wealth as defying the principles of accumulative and productive capitalism does not
address this different phase of consumer capitalism, whose contours have only become clear since his death in 1962. It seems to me
that despite their overt similarities, the principles of ritual consumption and those of consumer capitalism are basically incompatible.
If Bataille had addressed our consumer society today, he would have said that this sort of
consumption is still in the service of production and productive accumulation, since
every act of consumption in the world of leisure, entertainment, media, fashion, and home de´cor merely
feeds back into the growth of the economy rather than leading to the finality and loss of
truly nonproductive expenditure. Even much of modern warfare is no longer truly destructive but tied into the
furthering of military-industrial production. Nor, despite its economic excesses, does our consumer culture today challenge the basic
economic logic of rational private accumulation as a self-depleting archaic sacrificial economy does.15 Furthermore,
capitalist
consumption is very much an individual consumption rather than one involving the
whole community or social order.
We must confront the fissures of capitalist
consumption – by doing so we will reevaluate our
orientation towards expenditure
Yang, 2k (Yang, Mayfair Mei‐ hui, Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Languages
and Cultures at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Professor and Director of Asian
Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia, “Putting Global Capitalism in Its Place: Economic
Hybridity, Bataille, and Ritual Expenditure.” Current Anthropology, vol. 41, no. 4, 2000, pp. 477–
509. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/317380.)/RF

a consumer economy has been incorporated into ritual exuberance and generosity but
Here

in a way which undercuts the private accumulation of capitalist consumerism with the
ethics of a relational kinship order of reciprocity and obligation linking different
communities together across space. In this meshing of ritual and consumer economies, the question arises whether this is an example of the latter’s colonizing and
penetrating the former. Since this is still a Third World society not fully extricated from the economic privations and emphasis on asceticism, discipline, and production that were the hallmarks of a modernist state

socialism,more features of modernist capitalist culture are found alongside consumer culture
in Wenzhou than in the modern West today. In other words, modernist features of the Maoist era have combined with the structural emphasis on capital
accumulation and investment as rural Wenzhou enters a new phase of constructing factories and infrastructure. In this situation, a more likely scenario than

consumer capitalism’s hijacking ritual consumption is the revived ritual


economy’s taking advantage of the opening introduced by postmodernist
consumer capitalism to make inroads against the combined modernist
forces of state socialist and early capitalist productivism and desacralization. Here the postmodern
consumer economy, which requires the free flow of commerce, is enlisted as an ally by the ritual
economy in its eluding of state control. This is a parallel movement to Arturo Escobar’s (1999:14) suggestion that the “organic
regime of nature” (small-scale preindustrial cultivation which avoids a nature/culture opposition) can join forces with the postmodern
capitalist “technonature regime” (whose stance toward nature is one of conservation and promotion of biodiversity) in an alliance to
counter the ravages of a modernist capitalism which treats nature as a commodified
object and resource. In this consumer-ritual economy hybrid, the ritual economy
continues to present the danger of breaking out fully and realizing its deep destructive
force, of which the burning of real money and paper replicas of goods at funerals
provides just a hint. Should the state further relax its vigilance over ritual and productive accumulation reach a certain point of saturation, an outbreak of ritual expenditure and material
waste and destruction such as a bonfire of real consumer appliances at an extravagant funeral is not inconceivable. Once unleashed, the internal principles of rural

Wenzhou’s economy of kinship and expenditure could challenge and subvert the
principles of rational productivism and private accumulation of global capitalism. As
capital and capitalist practices expand across the globe, our theoretical tools seem
inadequate to capture the full complexity of these processes, especially for rural areas. Rather
than assuming that capitalism immediately transforms and converts everything it encounters, it is necessary to consider the different

modes and logics that it must incorporate and the fissures and tensions
between them. A notion of economic hybridity is conducive to the genealogical task of
tracing the historical process of cross-fertilization and fusion that has brought different
economic practices and logics together into a multiplex form. We must not presume that capitalism is everywhere so
impregnable that it is not altered in its forays around the world.28 By taking into account the continued operation of precapitalist logics of expenditure within modern hybrid economies, rather than reducing the

: the
contradictions of capitalism to a mechanism internal to the structures of capitalist production, we open the way to addressing an issue that Marx’s concern with reorganizing production neglected

horror of endless material accumulation and productivism. It is true that capitalism


has its own mechanisms of periodic self-destruction of its accumulation, a sort of “clearing of inventory”
such as the military’s expenditure of its stockpiles of weapons in warfare and the stock
market crashes which wipe out accumulated wealth in a matter of seconds. Bataille’s
point is that there are better ways of consuming wealth so as to restrain the
insane expansion of the system and live more lightly on the earth—giving
out rather than raking in. What principles of ritual expenditure can do at
the local level is to redistribute wealth between families through an ethic of
competition in generosity, build up the cohesiveness of local communities
and give them more autonomy against the centralized state and
transnational capitalism, and prevent the reduction of existence to a
utilitarian definition. At the global level, a ritual economic logic may help deflect capitalist accumulation into a rivalry between transnational corporations and
states over which of them dares to sacrifice a greater proportion of its annual profits or GNP by giving it away to causes that do not feed back into production.
Educational Competitiveness
Their investment in meritocracy instills a binary between what
is useful and useless. This lens of productivity necessitates the
devaluation of individuals
Sennett 06 (Richard, Centennial Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and
University Professor of the Humanities at New York University. “The Culture of New Capitalism”,
Chapter 2: Talent and the Specter of Uselessness, p 122-125, 2006) // IES

The formulation of potential ability leads back to the relation between talent and the
specter of uselessness, a relationship which looks different once we have described the kind of
knowledge which is now useful, particularly at the cutting edge of the economy. The French
philosopher Michel Foucault was the modern era’s great analyst of the ways knowledge enables certain forms of
power. He had in view the development of increasingly elaborated, dense knowledge which would
serve the purpose of ever more complete control over individuals and groups; for
instance, the development of psychiatry was in his view intimately linked to the spread of
institutions of incarceration.13 The Foucaultian scheme does not envisage superficial
knowledge as a tool of power, and in this way does not quite describe the way potential
ability is sought and practiced in modern meritocracy. But he illuminated an all-important fact about
meritocracy: it disempowers the larger majority of those who fall under its rule. When Michel
Young coined the term meritocracy he meant to dramatize, painting crudely, a society in which a small
number of skilled people can control an entire society. Foucault made a more detailed picture of this
domination; the elite would get under the skin of the masses by making them feel that they
did not understand themselves, that they were inadequate interpreters of their own
experience of life. Tests of potential ability show just how deeply under the skin a
knowledge system can cut. Judgments about potential ability are much more personal in
character than judgments of achievement. An achievement compounds social and economic circumstances, fortune
and chance, with self. Potential ability focuses only on the self. The statement “you lack potential” is much more
devastating than “you messed up.” It makes a more fundamental claim about who you are. It conveys
uselessness in a more profound sense. Just because the statement is devastating, organizations engaged in continual
internal talent searches tend to avoid saying it outright. Personnel managers often soften the blow by talking about the varied abilities in
every human being which may pass through the net of examinations, etc. etc. More finely, as in some finance firms in London, judgments of
potential ability tend to be informal, senior management acting on gut feeling about their juniors’ potential as much as on the objective
trading record; year-end bonuses may be awarded in ways which resemble the ancient Roman practice of divining the future from the
entrails of dead animals. The sting of being left behind, of being unrewarded, is stronger in these firms than in investment banks, where
either the bonus or future prospects are simply calculated by the trading record. The untalented
become invisible, they simply drop from view in institutions covertly judging ability
rather than achievement. Here again organizations mirror what people may have
experienced earlier in life at school. Youngsters judged to be without talent do not stand
out as distinctive individuals, they become a collective body, a mass. Meritocracy, as
Young understood, is a system as well as an idea, a system based on institutional
indifference once a person is judged.14 The problem is compounded, as Gardner has shown, just because the talent
searches do not try to cast a wide net, paralleling the diverse kinds of abilities diverse individuals may possess; the search for
potential ability is narrow-focus. School and work differ in one crucial way about the process. Though in principle there
should be nothing a student could do about his or her innate ability, in well-known fact it is possible with sufficient tutoring to raise scores
significantly in retaking the tests. In the work world, on the contrary, there are seldom second chances. In flexible organizations, employee
records constitute the one hard possession of the firm. In studying one set of such records, I was struck by how little revision the personnel
manager had made over time to individual case files; the first judgments instead set the standard, later entries sought for consistency;
translation of the records into numeric form usable by core managers only made the documents more rigid in content. The belief of many
workers let go or held back in work that they have been judged unfairly illustrates another dimension of judgmental power, one which again
does not fit into Foucault’s scheme. Those who are discarded are often correct interpreters of their experience: they have not indeed been
judged fairly, on the basis of their achievements. The sense of being unfairly judged comes from the ways in which firms themselves are run.
To understand why, we might recall some of the idealized traits of a worker in the cuttingedge institution. An organization in which the
contents are constantly shifting requires the mobile capacity to solve problems; getting deeply involved in any one problem would be
dysfunctional, since projects end as abruptly as they begin. The
problem analyzer who can move on, whose
product is possibility, seems more attuned to the instabilities which rule the global
marketplace. The social skill required by a flexible organization is the ability to work well with others in short-lived teams, others
you won’t have the time to know well. Whenever the team dissolves and you enter a new group, the problem you have to solve is getting
down to business as quickly as possible with these new teammates. “I can work with anyone” is the social formula for potential ability. It
won’t matter who the other person is; in fast-changing firms it can’t matter. Your skill lies in cooperating, whatever the circumstances.
These qualities of the ideal self are a source of anxiety because disempowering to the
mass of workers. As we have seen, in the workplace they produce social deficits of loyalty and informal trust, they erode the value
of accumulated experience. To which we should now add the hollowing out of ability. A key aspect of craftsmanship is learning how to get
something right. Trial and error occurs in improving even seemingly routine tasks; the worker has to be free to make mistakes, then go over
the work again and again. Whatever a person’s innate abilities, that is, skill develops only in stages, in fits and starts—in music, for instance,
even the child prodigy will become a mature artist only by occasionally getting things wrong and learning from mistakes. In a speeded-up
institution, however, time-intensive learning becomes difficult. The pressures to produce results quickly are too intense; as in educational
testing, so in the workplace time-anxiety causes people to skim rather than to dwell. Such hollowing out of ability compounds the
organizations’ tendency to discount past achievement in looking toward the future. When people have spoken to me about not being able to
show what they can do, I’ve sensed they are referring to just this sense of being prevented from developing their skills. When I interviewed
back-office workers in a health maintenance organization, for instance, they complained that the time pressures meant they did a
“middling” job of making sense of the accounts; people who worked quickly were rewarded with promotion, but the bills they processed
proved frequently a muddle on closer inspection. In call centers, management similarly frowns on employees who spend too much time on
the telephone—too responsive, for instance, to fuddled customers who can’t express themselves clearly. Anyone who has spent time at a
budgetairline ticket counter knows the problem: impatience is institutionalized. In principle, any well-run firm should want its employees
to learn from their mistakes and admit a certain degree of trial-and-error learning. In practice, such big firms do not. The size of the firm
indeed makes the greatest difference in this regard: in small service firms (under a hundred or so employees) care of customers is more
directly connected to the firms’ survival. But in the large medical insurance company superficiality proved functional; taking too much time
to straighten things out earned no rewards. The result, within the firms I and my colleagues studied—perhaps invisible to a frustrated
customer—was a fair number of employees who also feel frustrated. In sum, the
material specter of uselessness
lifts the curtain on a fraught cultural drama. How can one become valuable and
useful in the eyes of others? The classic way in which people do so is the craftsman’s way,
by developing some special talent, some particular skill. The claims of craftsmanship are
challenged in modern culture by an alternative formula of value. In its origin,
meritocracy sought to offer opportunity to individuals with exceptional ability—Jefferson’s
“natural aristocracy.” It took on an ethical cast in arguing that such people deserved opportunity; it was a matter of justice that
society provide for them. In the beginning, this search pitted one elite against another, the natural aristocracy against inherited privilege. In
the course of time society has refined the technology of searching for unusual talent. In prospecting for the potential to grow rather than for
past achievement, the search for talent well suits the peculiar conditions of flexible
organizations. These organizations use the same instruments for a larger purpose: to
eliminate as well as promote individuals. The invidious comparisons between people become deeply
personal. In this talent cull, those judged without inner resources are left in limbo. They can be
judged no longer useful or valuable, despite what they have accomplished.
Health
The world, people, information, and our biological makeup are
all inextricably intertwined with the production of excess value.
Rather than unproductively expend that excess, moves towards
cartographic sanitization such as the AFF are only a futile
attempt to manage it, reign it in, and deny the chaotic forces of
life itself
Thacker 05 (Eugene, Professor of Media Studies at the New School in New York City, with
research interests in pessimism, nihilism, continental philosophy, and antihumanism. “The Global
Genome: Biotechnology, Politics, and Culture”, Chapter 3: A Political Economy of the Genomic Body, p
122-130, 2005) // IES

Thus far, I have noted how contemporary genomics undertakes a particular organization of the
bioinformatics body, through the incorporation of informatic tropes and in the design of “wet” and
“dry” databases.54 If such practices dictate what will be designed into a genome database, then we
can ask how the political economy of genetic bodies in genomic mapping is
also a set of organizational technologies based on the management of
elements of excess. Georges Bataille’s concept of general economy provides a helpful way
of considering genomics not just as a political economy, but as a general economy in
which excess, not scarcity, is the rule. For Bataille, writing during the same period in which the structure of DNA was
elucidated, traditional political economy represented a narrow mode of social analysis that
often reduced the range of activity within the social field to utility, production,
accumulation, and conservation.55 Stemming from a long history of dissatisfaction with Marxism and Hegelianism,
Bataille’s thought outlines a trajectory that explores—in philosophy, in poetry, in political activism, in
occultism, in pornography, in anthropology—the “negative” ways in which given social formations
articulate themselves as productive, homogeneous structures. Bataille’s almost obsessive interest in the
visceral, abject body, what he often termed “base materialism,” has to do with the various means by which a tension-filled relationship was
established between a potentially threatening, transgressive body (obscene, grotesque, unstable, dysfunctional) and the particular mode of
social organization within which such bodies were found.56 In other words, Bataille’s base materialism is not about
positing the transgressive body at a position of absolute exteriority to the social, but
neither does its complex contingency simply predetermine it to a recuperation by
discourse. The social formation does not simply repress or forbid the transgressive body;
but neither does this body form the core of social hegemony. The social must—
reluctantly, frustratedly, and even hesitantly—engage with this difficult, “dirty” body
through a variety of means. It was central to Bataille’s project, then, to consider the types of
relationships between the productive dynamics of “homogeneous” society and the
troubling excesses of “heterogeneous” bodies: “The very term heterogeneous indicates
that it concerns elements that are impossible to assimilate; this
impossibility, which has a fundamental impact on social assimilation, likewise has an
impact on scientific assimilation . . . as a rule, science cannot know heterogeneous
elements as such . . . the heterogeneous world includes everything resulting from
unproductive expenditure.”57 A key methodological move in this consideration was a reconfiguration of the field of political
economy. Rather than considering the social from perspectives privileging utility, production, and conservation, Bataille attempts
to analyze the social body as a kind of sociological metabolism, or as a wastemanagement
system. That is, rather than consider political economy from the vantage point of utility,
Bataille instead begins from the vantage point of uselessness and excess. For this reason,
commodities do not form the center of modes of exchange for Bataille; instead, objects and instances form a unique
mode of exchange based not on conservation or agglomeration, but on expenditure:
jewels, poetry, festivals, war, eroticism, sacrifice, flowers. Abundance comes first, not
scarcity. Only in the specific historical instance of capitalism are abundance and exuberance turned back on themselves. Noting this
shift in perspective in Bataille’s thought, Steven Shaviro suggests that “what needs to be explained is no longer the fact that spontaneous
acts of expenditure, like sacrifices or gifts, also turn out to serve useful purposes for the people who perform them, but rather the fact that
an economy entirely given over to utilitarian calculation, or to ‘rational choice,’ still continues to express . . . the delirious logic of
unproductive expenditure.”58 Such
a theory must take into account the languages, structures, and
sociohistorical contingencies of the organizational tactics of modes of social organization
themselves. This perspective—that of a “general economy”—would work within but pass
between the interstices of a “restricted economy,” disallowing internal critical
perspective.59 Bataille’s premise is at once biological, ontological, and economic: “The
living organism, in a situation determined by the play of energy on the surface of the
globe, ordinarily receives more energy than is necessary for maintaining life; the excess
energy (wealth) can be used for the growth of the system (e.g., an organism); if the
system can no longer grow, or if the excess cannot be completely absorbed
in its growth, it must necessarily be lost without profit; it must be spent,
willingly or not, gloriously or catastrophically.” 60 If a restricted economy—the political economy of
Mill, Ricardo, and Smith—is primarily concerned with the state’s use of its resources, then a general economy would begin from the
opposite position and consider social activity that implicitly challenges and goes outside of the state. This
general economy
thus asks two primary questions: How does a particular social formation interact with its
“accursed share” (those elements that do not stand in a direct, productive relation to the
social formation), and, To what degree are those elements of excess contingent upon
their being situated within the social formation in which they are found (is there an element or
dynamic to them that is not simply recuperated into production or affirmation)? The general trajectory of such an approach would be to
question the ways in which both the inclusive and the exclusive are constitutive of the social formation. What does Bataille’s general
economy mean for contemporary biotech fields such as genomics? If
we approach genomics as an activity that
rearticulates the body at the genetic and informatic levels, then it would seem that
genomics is as much about the management of excess (“junk” or noncoding
DNA) as it is about the organization of scarcity (coding DNA). In one sense, it goes without saying that
the centrality of the mapping of the human genome constitutes one of the foundational
fields within genetics and biotech research. Gene therapy, new reproductive technologies (NRTs),
pharmacogenomics, medical technology, pathology, immunology, and a host
of related fields are to varying degrees dependent on the promises, claims,
and current implementations of the research performed in genomics. Part of
this dependency requires that basic research produce as much data as possible to ensure
accurate results (in the case of genome mapping) and to ensure application (in the case of drug
development or preclinical trials). In a sense, the excess of genomic data—SNPs, introns, simple
sequence repeats (SSRs), and so on— does not simply exist, but is actually produced by genomics
technologies. If we look at current genomics, not in terms of official science (e.g., the progressive march toward the
complete cataloging of the human genome), but rather in terms of Bataille’s excess, then our examples demonstrate the
degree to which the political economy of genomics is primarily concerned with the
production and subsequent technical management of excess. But an excess of what
exactly? If both the technology of genomics and its preliminary findings are considered, it is
clear that the excess that is managed is an excess of biological information—though, note, not
necessarily an excess of biological “life itself.” As we have seen, examples of genomics technologies of excess include the statistical
management of polymorphisms, or SNPs; the overproduction of DNA in tools such as oligonucleotide synthesizers; the study of junk DNA,
As a
or intron regions in the genome; and, finally, the challenges of establishing computer database ontology standards in XML.
general economy—that is, as a political economy based on excess—genomics becomes
defined according to a range of practices that involve the ongoing production and
management of the inclusive and exclusive elements in the genomic body.The Insubordination of
Matter This chapter has considered the ways in which genomics forms a flexible management of excess DNA
(or information) from the perspective of Marx’s critiques of political economy and from the perspective of
Bataille’s notion of a general economy. Genomics and its related fields perform this
management not only through positive means (textualizing, universalizing, creating causality, constructing), but also
through negative means (individualizing and grouping; managing excess)
that define further data for genomic analysis. Both Marx and Bataille pose a set of challenges to the
conceptual underpinning of political economy. If we consider political economy in this way (that is, philosophically), then it is not difficult
to understand how the
particular modes of production, distribution, and
consumption help to define what is or is not valuable or useful in
biotechnology fields such as genomics. As Lev Manovich states with regard to the role of the database in new media,
What we encounter here is an example of the general principle of new media: the projection of the ontology of a computer onto culture
itself. If in physics the world is made of atoms and in genetics it is made of genes, computer programming encapsulates the world according
to its own logic. The world is reduced to two kinds of software objects which are complementary to each other: data structures and
algorithms. . . . [A]ny object in the world—be it the population of a city, or the weather over the course of a century, a chair, a human brain—
is modeled as a data structure, i.e. data organized in a particular way for efficient search and retrieval. Fields such as genomics are unique,
however, because they do not simply reiterate the abstraction of the material world into an immaterial data structure. In genomics, as
noted, a database logic pervades both the wet-lab maintenance of BAC libraries and the more familiar construction of computer databases
such as GenBank. In other words, an informatic mode of organization—an informatic mode of “banking”—spans both the material and
immaterial aspects of biology. This dual aspect of genomics, of being at once material and informatic, is key for an understanding of how
the characteristics of a genetic reductionism defines the molecular-genetic
understanding of “life itself.” The artifacts of the database, the BAC library, the intron, and GEML
contribute to this general notion that biological “life itself” is in some way identical to
“information.” And yet, as a number of authors have pointed out, this equivalence is always inexact, for the genetic “code” is not a
language—it has no grammar, it contains no information, and it transfers no message separate from a medium. Something always seems to
escape: on the one hand, there is the precision of sequences and structures, where a single base-pair polymorphism can result in a disease,
yet, on the other hand, there is a high degree of “redundancy” in the sequence and a panoply of “error-correcting” mechanisms in the
genetic code. Whereas
Marx, in the Grundrisse, points to the central tension between labor and
capital as the motor of industrial capitalism, Bataille translates this tension into
one between expenditure and accumulation. For Marx, it is “living labor” that always provides the
challenge to capital and to which capital responds either through technological advances in production (e.g., the fixed capital of machinery)
or through redefining the relationship between labor and machinery. Regarding this “appropriation of living labor by objectified labor,”62
Marx points to the transformation of living labor into a technology of living labor, a transformation of nature into a technology of nature:
“Nature builds no machines, no locomotives, railways, electric telegraphs, self-acting mules etc. These are products of human industry.”63
Yet—and this point is the key to understanding the uniqueness of biotechnology today— capitalism’s
revolutions of
production are able to reconceive of biology and of nature itself as a technology: “In
machinery, the appropriation of living labor by capital achieves a direct reality in this respect as well: It is, firstly, the analysis and
application of mechanical and chemical laws, arising directly out of science, which enables the machine to perform the same labor as that
previously performed by the worker.”64 Although Marx is speaking here of industrial manufacturing, it
is not difficult to
expand his comments to the biotech industry, in which we see the routine manufacture
of molecules, enzymes, and cells. What has changed in the jump from industrial capitalism to the biotech industry is the
role that modern notions of “information” play in relation to the biological domain. “ Living labor” is no longer just the
labor appropriated by workers, but the uncanny biomaterial labor of immortalized cell
lines, cultured stem cells, DNA synthesizers, and even transgenic organisms. Marx had already
begun to see this integration of living labor and the “dead labor” of machinery in biological terms (“the metabolism of capital”), and in the
biotech industry this integration is pushed further still. However, for Bataille, even Marx’s critique of political economy had not gone far
enough. Marx was able to critique the universalist presuppositions of political economy, but, for
Bataille, political economy
had erred in its understanding of the true nature of the processes of production,
distribution, and consumption. Bataille’s emphasis on a “general economy” based on
excess, expenditure, and luxury is an attempt to invert further the categories of
traditional political economic thought. From this perspective, Marx’s tension between labor and
capital is converted into a tension between expenditure and accumulation in capitalist
societies. Instead of Marx’s living labor in production, Bataille gives us the intensive
production of a loss in expenditure; instead of Marx’s general formula for capital, in
which commodities are always transformed into money, Bataille gives us a general
economy in which the drive for accumulation takes the form of a reinvestment in
production with profit. The challenge for an economic system is thus not how to produce
efficiently in order to accrue a surplus value, but rather how to spend or expend
effectively in order to maintain the dynamic stability of a system. For Bataille, excess is
the problem, not scarcity (and in this he gives us a position diametrically opposed to Malthus and classical political
economy). Put another way, we might say that for capital the problem is the ongoing management of
excess (pushes toward consumption of immaterial goods and services; conspicuous
consumption; consumption of affects). It is tempting to push this idea even further and to suggest that from
Bataille’s perspective of expenditure, the problem for capital is not only managing
excess, but taking over the production of excess in itself. In the biotech industry, genomics
and bioinformatics illustrate this tendency, for in them we see a twofold tendency. On the one hand, there is a push toward
generating an incredible amount of information, a “tsunami of data” related to genomes,
proteomes, SNPs, spliceosomes, transcriptomes, biopathways, and so forth. The first
phase of the effort to map the human genome (by both Celera and the IHGSC) is the most well
known of such productions of excess. On the other hand, the production of such excess has as
its primary aim the subsequent development of mostly computational tools for analyzing
and “making sense” of all this information. The proliferation of bioinformatics software,
DBMSs, genome sequencing computers, and other technologies has largely followed upon “Big Science”
efforts such as the HGP. We have a kind of pushpull relationship between these tendencies: the
tendency toward an excess of data and a tendency toward the management of that excess
(at which time it no longer becomes excess as such). Using Marx’s terms, we can say that in fields such
as genomics and bioinformatics, information technology subsumes the excess
information (which it has produced). There is no such thing as “too much information” for genomics, bioinformatics,
or related fields such as pharmacogenomics. There is never too much data, only the production
of an excess that serves to trigger further development of tools for the
management of this excess. The productive capacity of this excess can be seen in recent patenting activity
surrounding genetic material: up until 2001, patent applications for genetic material were being granted without a full knowledge of the
function or specific application of the molecule in question. Genes (or rather gene derivatives) could theoretically be patented without an
understanding of what the genes did. Only in the U.S. PTO’s 2001 Federal Register Report was it finally specified that patent applicants
must demonstrate “both utility and application” in their files. Yet an ambiguity still remains concerning knowledge of the function of any
patented compound: “The utility of a claimed DNA sequence does not necessarily depend on the function of the encoded gene product.” In
the network between a laboratory BAC culture, a file in a genome database, and, perhaps, an application to the U.S. PTO, there is both an
effort to regulate the relationship between labor (or biomaterial labor) and capital, as well as an effort to manage excess information. We
can ask Bataille’s question of the biotech industry: Is there unproductive expenditure in
biotechnology? In one way, the answer is yes, for the production or even overproduction
of information is increasingly being seen as one of the major obstacles for bioscience
research. In a different light, the answer is no, for any excess in biotechnology is not only
a production of excess (as in genomics), but an eventually useful or valuable excess. If this is
the case, then the general economy of genomics is one in which excess biological “noise” is
constantly managed and transformed into useful or valuable biological information. The
tension between labor and capital in the biotech industry is therefore a tension between the biomaterial labor of genes, enzymes, and cells,
on the one hand, and the economic imperatives behind those instances of biotechnology research, on the other hand, where profit is the
primary motivating force. Clearly, this is not the case with each and every instance of research in fields such as genomics, proteomics, or
bioinformatics. And just as the mere existence of private-sector funding for research does not immediately imply a problematic relation
between labor and capital, the mere existence of public or federal funding also does not immediately absolve those funding bodies of
economic imperatives. The difficulty is initially in understanding how the tension between labor and capital (or between biomaterial labor
and the biotech industry) takes formation in the so-called biotech century. From this understanding, the next step is to identify those
elements that tip the delicate, fragile balance between medical and economic interests to one side or the other. These tensions are often
played out at the technical level of BAC libraries, gene-finding algorithms, and XML standards. Sometimes the prioritization of economic
interests create blockages in bioscience research, as in the case of proprietary data formats, databases, and software tools in bioinformatics.
At other times, efforts toward the creation of flexible standards and open source environments can effectively aid in the research process.
We might wonder whether in this biomaterial labor that is transformed into capital there is still something that escapes, evades, or bypasses
altogether the political economy of genomics. If
fields such as genomics and bioinformatics are involved
in the production of an excess, that excess is in turn transformed into useful information,
and that information is also valuable information that can be exchanged. Use and
exchange values are coordinated at this level, but use values also diverge into the
potential medical benefits of drugs or therapies. Yet even drugs and therapies
require further information and the development of technologies for diagnostics. As
discussed in chapter 2, this vision of a future, genomics-based medicine means that the body of the patient is touched only minimally,
configured in a way commensurate with the informatic systems that sample, scan, and profile. To be fair, however, this overview is far from
being the whole of genomics and bioinformatics research. A number of so-called alternative approaches have been pursuing the distributed,
networked properties of gene expression, protein-protein interactions, cellular signaling, and metabolic pathways. This “systems biology”
also shows some overlap in spirit with research in biocomplexity at the Santa Fe Institute, for instance.65 Although the technologies and
methodologies are new, the basic idea is not: as Evelyn Fox Keller reminds us, the history of molecular biology and biochemistry already
pointed to the inherently “complex” and networked property of “life itself” at the molecular and genetic levels.66 Alternative approaches
merely remind us of what is implicit in the history of biological thought itself: relationality, flexibility, robustness, adaptation. Even the
“official” HGP cannot help but to acknowledge certain excessive elements in the genome: a relatively modest number of genes (some 3
percent of the genome), an extremely small difference between the genomes of one individual and another (approximately 0.1 percent), an
incredibly large number of “short tandem repeat” sequences, and entire “continents” that seem to have no known function at all (more than
50 percent of the total genome). In a sense, despite
the biotech industry’s efforts to manage the genome,
the genome itself (like “life itself”) appears to be nothing but excess
information, with all the contradictions that the phrase implies. Bataille proposes that
an organism always produces more than it needs and that, from a systemswide ecological
perspective, abundance, not scarcity, is the rule of life. With regard to fields such as
genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics, it is not difficult to begin to wonder whether
the human genome is a noneconomic relation between labor and capital,
between expenditure and accumulation.

The disease crisis rhetoric of the AFF is the perfection of the


project of securitization, a preservation of the body politic
against the threatening biological death they claim looms on the
horizon. Vaccines are the new weapons of the state of
emergency - entire populations are subjected to control and
surveillance in the name of the Good.
Thacker 05 (Eugene, Professor of Media Studies at the New School in New York City, with
research interests in pessimism, nihilism, continental philosophy, and antihumanism. “The Global
Genome: Biotechnology, Politics, and Culture”, Chapter 6: Bioinfowar: Biologically Enhancing National
Security, p 243-247, 2005) // IES

Within such a context, in what ways are the biopolitical concerns expressed by government
agencies (such as the BWC) over a “genetic bomb” themselves weapons, under the guise of “national
security”? A more cynical rephrasing of this question might suggest that we will never, in fact, see the kind of biological
weapons of which the BWC speaks. Instead, what we will see is the use of this rhetoric of crisis,
the political structure of the exception, and a biopolitical targeting of the
body to gain an unprecedented control over the nation’s population on the
medical and genetic levels. What might such a near future look like? I conclude this chapter
with three theses, followed by three scenarios. Three Theses Thesis One The discourse of biowar is one in
which war is biology, and biology is war. War is biology in the sense that the constitution
of the body politic is as much a concern of national security as the attack on the body
politic from outside forces. The militaristic function of eugenics is to be found here, but,
arguably, it is present in Plato’s Republic, which authorizes selective breeding for the ruling classes.93 But biology is
also war, and there is an equally long tradition of regarding the medical fight against
disease as a war carried out on the level of cells, germs, and microbes. In modern times,
anthropologists such as Emily Martin have analyzed modern immunology’s predilection for war
metaphors in describing the antibody-antigen response, a metaphor that, interestingly enough,
breaks down in the face of autoimmune diseases such as those caused by HIV.94 The questions that remain open is how to
do away with the hegemony of war metaphors in relation to biology and medicine, and whether alternative models—
symbiosis, autopoiesis, network science—can offer a way of doing this. Thesis Two In the twenty-first century, national
security is increasingly expressed as the implosion of emerging infectious disease and
bioterrorism. As noted several times in this chapter, a defining characteristic of the twenty- first-century response to
biowar has been the nondistinction in policy and legislation between naturally occurring and artificially occurring
instances of biowar. The
operative term in the plans for Project BioShield in the United States is or:
emerging infectious diseases or bioterrorism. It matters not which, for the
end results are seen to be the same: the infection and degeneration of the
body politic. Of course, from the perspective of their causes, they are very different: whereas emerging infectious
diseases ask us to consider our actions within a network of relations with the environment globally, bioterrorism
challenges us with a fundamentalist view of biology. Thesis Three The
integration of biotechnology and
informatics in national security concerns culminates in a more general, pervasive
biological security. The 2003 RAND report The Global Threat of New and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases
specifically notes how globalization has transformed both biological boundaries and national
boundaries, rendering them vulnerable in terms of infectious disease.95 This
transformation has prompted the authors to suggest a shift in policy outlook, from
national security to what they call “human security.” Whereas national security places its
emphasis on the national population, human security would place its emphasis on the
individual (but the individual as a participant in an ideal global citizenship). What
seems to be replacing national security in such examples is a form of
biological security, or a security so pervasive that there is no outside; it is
simply a
security against biology, against biological
“death itself” (the conceptual inverse of biological “life itself”). This biological
security is the use of biotechnology to defend against biology itself, in a kind of
surreal war against biology. Genetic screening, preemptive vaccination, new medical
countermeasures, Web sites posting disease alerts: the body is under attack on all fronts,
and in the confrontation of biology against biology we see the spectrum of responses, from antibiotics to
cosmetic surgery. These three points—the discourse of war and biology, the implosion of epidemic
and war, and the notion of biological security—can serve as conceptual tools for the
further analysis of biowar as it exists alongside governmental national security, the biotech and
pharmaceutical industries, and the presence of nonstate terrorist actors. It is thus not difficult to
imagine several possible scenarios—not doomsday scenarios, but rather scenarios involving an
increasing naturalization of the state of emergency that biowar elicits. Three
Scenarios SimSARS The popular SimCity games allow players to oversee, manage, and regulate a virtual city. Using
unique algorithms, the player sets certain parameters and then watches as the complex of events—urban development,
financial transactions, health, crime, education, and so forth—unfold before the player’s eyes. SimCity is predicated on the
idea of a complex system: multiple agencies, multiple factors, and multiple demands, all acting simultaneously over time
(a user can “speed up” time, in which a SimCity day equals a realtime second). The aim of SimCity is to know how to set
the best starting conditions for the growth of a city, and how and when to intervene in times of crisis (financial crisis,
natural disasters, rising crime rates, poverty in neighborhoods). Although the player is in the position of sovereign with
respect to the city (a
“God mode” allows a player to inflict natural disaster, thereby destroying the city), what SimCity
teaches, above all, is a mode of regulation, monitoring, and surveillance. In fact, formally, SimCity is
very much like the field of epidemiology, which involves the tracking of, monitoring of,
and intervening in the spread of a particular infectious disease. It is not difficult to
imagine a version of SimCity based on the control of an outbreak: SimSARS (SimAIDS would,
presumably, be too complex for most computers). The player acts as a “virus hunter,” or, better, as the
head of a team at the CDC attempting to handle a potential outbreak of anthrax or Ebola. In
the tradition of military-training simulations, such a game might be useful for training personnel at
agencies such as the CDC or WHO. But in its civilian use it would serve to normalize further the
heightened level of monitoring and regulation that the current “disease
surveillance networks” operated by U.S. government agencies already demonstrate. PGP-
DNA If DNA is a code, and if the encryption and decryption of codes are a key aspect of any military conflict, then it
follows that the most perfect combination of soldier, weapon, and secret message would be encryption using DNA—in the
living body. Most modern encryption systems involve three basic elements: a message text (or plaintext), a method of
encrypting the plaintext (cipher), and a means of decrypting the ciphertext (the key). Might it be possible to encrypt a
message into an actual DNA sequence? DNA, being both remarkably simple (a mere four base pairs) and admirably
complex (endless combinatorics), would serve as an ideal medium for encryption. With the basic tools of restriction
enzymes, plasmids, and gene therapy, this is not outside the realm of possibility. When the message exists in the living
body, an in vivo ciphertext, it will be indistinguishable from any other sequence of DNA in the body. A horrific scenario
comes to mind: the ideal suicide bomber is one who is not recognized as such, but who is carrying a lethal, highly
infectious virus during its incubation period. In the 2001 anthrax attacks, the message and weapon were delivered
together; here, the weapon and the message collapse into one. “Good” Virus In 2003, the infamous “Blaster” virus worked
its way through the Internet, infecting an estimated 400,000 operating systems running Microsoft Windows.96 During
the attack, an
attempt was made to construct a countermeasure, a “good” virus, which
would, like a computer virus, propagate itself through the Internet, but instead of bringing down
the computer, it would automatically download a “Blaster fix” from Microsoft’s Web site. Dubbed “Naachi” or “Welchia,”
this good virus itself ended up causing a fair amount of damage, affecting the systems of the Air
Canada offices and the U.S. Navy’s computer cluster. But the logic of Naachi is interesting: fight networks with
networks, viruses with viruses. In a sense, this may be the analogue to the development
of inoculation and vaccination in the nineteenth century. Or, perhaps, we have not yet seen the
biomedical equivalent of Naachi. But it is not difficult to imagine. During an outbreak of an infectious
disease, what would be the quickest, most efficient way to administer a vaccine or a
treatment? Hospitals are jammed, doctor’s offices overbooked with appointments, the
local drug store out of their supplies. A vaccine can be inserted into a “disabled” airborne
pathogen, thereby spreading its anecdote against the epidemic. This is, basically, the
logic behind gene therapy. Perhaps a “good” virus is in the making here, using the
networks of infection to spread a vaccine rather than a virus. A kind of invisible,
molecular war would take place in the very air we breathe. A decidedly yet
ambiguously nonhuman form of medicine under the aegis of national
security.
Humanism
The aff’s project to return to an ethical axiom of humanity will
always fail – humanity is based on the suppression of nature,
and it is a justification for domination against communities
deemed “animal”
Rowe 2017 (James, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and
Cultural, Social, and Political Thought at the University of Victoria.
“Georges Bataille, Chögyam Trungpa, and Radical Transformation:
Theorizing the Political Value of Mindfulness.” The Arrow. Volume 4, Issue
2, published April. Accessed 7/13/17, EHL)

Bataille’s analysis of domination is rooted in his study of the body, and the terror and shame human animals can feel before it. e body is

Our bodies are our opening to life, but


unpredictable: It leaks, expels, hungers, fails, and ultimately dies.

also to death. And this inevitable death seems to suggest insignificance before the
putrefaction from which we come and will one day return. Humans, Bataille
writes in his masterwork the Accursed Share, “[appear] to be the only animal to be

ashamed of that nature whence he comes, and from which he


does not cease to have departed.”24 We feel primal shame, according to Bataille,
because the decay we are conscious of suggests servility and baseness.25 is
primary disdain for animal nature, and our dependence upon it, spurs fantastical
efforts to dominate our bodies, each other, and the more-than-
human-world in attempts to o set felt servility with felt dominance. For Bataille,
much of human history can be read as a permanent struggle against

animality.26 In e Accursed Share he observes that humanity “resembles those parvenus who are ashamed of their humble
origin. Thy rid themselves of anything suggesting it. What are the ‘noble’ and ‘good’ families,” he writes of upper class morality, “if not those

in which their wealthy birth is the most carefully concealed?”27 One of the crucial rationales for accumulating wealth, according to Bataille,

is that material riches help us distinguish ourselves not only from


animality, but also from those we take to be nature’s proxies in
our fantastical e orts to dominate the nature we fear. Proxies, in the
Euro-American context, have included Indigenous peoples, women, people of color,

and workers. ese proxies have been discursively linked to animal nature
and then materially controlled in efforts to provide compensatory hits of
dominion. For Bataille, “[i]t is not so much wealth... that distinguishes, that qualities socially, as it is the greatest distance from
animality.”28 We dominate our bodies and each other in efforts to surpass and

ultimately control our animality, our impermanence. is desire to “destroy


the animal nature within us,” he suggests, lurks behind many of our most vexing political and ecological
problems.29 In Bataille’s view, the pull of existential resentment is universal; it is a
human struggle.30 He is attuned, however, to the important mediating role played by culture. Individuals and cultures
relate to existential realities like impermanence in multiple ways. Tibetan Buddhism, for example, offers meditative practices for

befriending the reality of death. We are not destined to resentfully interpret death as domineering, or to flee from felt servility with fantasies

of mastery.
Knowledge
The status quo educational apparatus functions according to the
desire for utility and knowledge, or virtue economy. This
process creates a complete universalization of all bodies
according to a system of calculability. This process assumes that
knowledge itself must exist within the realm of the encodable,
the possible. Our argument is that this very desire for “utility” in
education destroys the possibility for knowledge to exist beyond
spatiality – into the realm of the unknown. We say that this form
of politics is cowardice in that it observes the shore of the ocean
but doesn’t dare to take the dive, thereby destroying the ability
to achieve the “extreme limit” of life itself. The impact to this is
the reduction of life to nothing but a cog in the western machine
of values and productivity.
Lerman’15 – Lindsay Lerman – University of Guelph Philosophy Department, Graduate Student. Studies
Epistemology, Georges Bataille – “Georges Bataille’s “Nonknowledge” as Epistemic Expenditure: An Open Economy of
Knowledge” pg 5-16 KZaidi

We will focus on a conversation in virtue epistemology because virtue


epistemology is not only concerned
with the norms that govern truth- and knowledge-production; but it is also, and primarily,
concerned with the intellectual character of knowers. Virtue epistemology is thus
uniquely suited to highlight the demands epistemology places on producers of truth and
knowledge in two registers: the quality of belief and truth and the cognitive character of the
believer or knower as well. Virtue epistemology’s focus on intellectual character is an
amplification of philosophy and epistemology’s emphasis on utility. The focus on
intellectual virtue is ultimately a focus on utility, but in virtue epistemology it is not enough
that one’s knowledge may be useful; the way in which one’s knowledge is sought, produced,
communicated, and acquired must also serve utility, and it must be done by making use of one’s intellectual
virtues. Virtue epistemology has thus strayed a bit from its Aristotelian roots, where
knowledge was conceived of as valuable for its own sake, and virtue(s) associated
with living a life that allowed one to acquire knowledge were conceived of as ends in
themselves, insofar as they were constitutive of the good life. In this sense, this thesis offers a
corrective. If virtue epistemology (Greco and Sosa in particular) employ an Aristotelian notion of
virtue, they ought to acknowledge that their notions of intellectual virtue are in fact only
partially Aristotelian, as they argue for the necessity of knowledge that is not merely
valuable in and of itself. The acquisitive possibilities of knowledge have been
overstressed by the virtue epistemology conversation, and the non-acquisitive
possibilities have been ignored.
But virtue
epistemology is a sub-disciplinary expression of the principles and
presumptions of epistemology in general, and thus of philosophy in general. In order to
highlight this, we will move back-and-forth between a wider focus on epistemology and philosophy in general, and our
particular conversation in virtue epistemology.

I will begin by offering a sketch of the argument to be made in the document. The work of Linda Zagzebski, John Greco,
and Ernest Sosa forms a cluster of ideas in virtue epistemology—the cluster on which we will focus3. I will claim that the
conversation we see them having—about the value of knowledge (and consequently, the nature of
knowledge)—exhibits and relies upon certain characteristic
features of what I will call “classical
epistemology” or “classical knowing.” It will come as no surprise that a particular conversation in
mainstream virtue epistemology exhibits and relies on features of classical epistemology.
I draw our attention to these features so that we remember them as we begin the discussion of nonknowledge.

The concept of nonknowledge contains elements and approaches to the acts of thinking and
communicating that I will call an “alternate epistemology.” These elements are neither a-
philosophical nor a- or anti-epistemological, but they do not fit easily into the virtue
epistemology we will examine. And yet, if we find them philosophically compelling and sound,
we are required to re-evaluate the virtue epistemology explanations for the value— and
nature—of knowledge. Doing this re-evaluation will require, as I have suggested, looking at more
than just the virtue epistemology conversation. And it will require looking at the virtue
epistemology conversation as a sub-disciplinary expression of epistemology generally,
and even more generally, of philosophy itself.
The argument will have four parts. In the first part (this chapter) I will introduce the virtue epistemology conversation and
the features of classical epistemology we see at work in it. In the second chapter I will introduce and explain two important
elements of nonknowledge, returning to the virtue epistemology conversation from time to time. The third chapter has
two goals: (1) to introduce and explain the most significant element of nonknowledge alongside (2) my claim that
nonknowledge is “epistemic expenditure.” In the fourth chapter I will return to our virtue epistemology cluster in order to
claim that if we think nonknowledge has got something right, we have committed ourselves to a position that is at odds
with what some in virtue epistemology—under the umbrella of classical epistemology and classical knowing—have said
about the nature of knowledge and its relationship to utility, acquisition, teleology, communicability, and productivity.
The fourth chapter is where I hone in on the central positive argument that nonknowledge can in fact be a feature of
knowledge-creation. This is in line with a pre-existing claim (from Bataille and Bataille scholars like Ladelle McWhorter4)
that nonknowledge is already occurring within knowledge.

Part 1: Virtue Epistemology, Subset of Epistemology


In this introductory chapter, I identify eight
presumptions in the sampling of one particular
conversation in virtue epistemology. We will discuss these presumptions briefly but in some detail (before
returning to the cluster after the explanation of nonknowledge), in order to do justice to the conversation taking place in
our cluster. Rather than artificially separate the virtue epistemology conversation into eight sections that match the
following eight points, we will follow the conversation as it unfolds, pausing at times to reflect on how we see the
presumptions at work in the conversation. Because the
presumptions are persistent qualities, we
cannot simply point to each moment they arise and leave it at that. We have to follow the
conversation to see their persistence.
Here are the presumptions of classical epistemology we can see at work in the virtue epistemology cluster:

1. That knowledge is communicable, especially in the form of clear


propositions.
2. That knowledge can be continuously acquired, as though it were a good.
3. That the acquisition of knowledge has an aim—that it is a teleological
pursuit.
4. That knowledge is valuable.
5. That knowledge is useful.
6. That what counts as knowledge can be objectively determined (and
relatedly, that it is measurable as a system of debit and credit.)
7. That virtue epistemology is a distinct community which forms the
authority on matters of knowledge (why knowledge is valuable, who gets to
be a knower, etc.)
8. That the intellectual character of the knower plays an important role in
how and why knowledge is acquired5.
These presumptions demonstrate what I will identify as the “closed” or “restricted” nature
of this particular economy of knowledge. What this means is that as an expression of
philosophy (more generally), epistemology (more specifically), and the virtue epistemology
conversation (even more specifically), that they are limiting. The presumptions patrol the borders
of knowledge in a way that is detrimental to the discovery of new knowledge; namely, they
cannot see the “waste” that ought to play an integral part in the creation of knowledge. In
this particular virtue epistemology conversation, we see this limiting and patrolling happen via a focus
on teleology, acquisition, and utility/production. In order to demonstrate that this focus on utility/production,
acquisition, and teleology is not unique to our virtue epistemology conversation, we have to
move outward, and backward. We can begin by looking to Aristotle, as Zagzebski, Greco, and Sosa all happen to
employ some version of an Aristotelian notion of virtue in their respective versions of a proper virtue epistemology.

In Book VI of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle determines that knowledge must be demonstrable,
first and foremost: “Knowledge, then, is the state of capacity to demonstrate [...] for it is when a man believes in a certain
way and the principles are known to him that he has knowledge, since if they are not better known to him than the
conclusion, he will have his knowledge only incidentally” (1139b 31-5). Aristotelian
knowledge (not to be confused
with phronesis, or practical wisdom6) thus requires accountability and reliability of the knower, and
communicability of the knowledge itself. In the Aristotelian tradition of defining, separating, and
categorizing, we can see the history of knowledge in philosophy as a kind of entomology of
thought and language (from the Greek entomos, “that which is cut in pieces or segmented7”): a dissecting,
labeling, storing, displaying, and careful considering of both the workings of the intellect
and our ways of communicating the workings of the intellect8. And as the descendant of Aristotle,
philosophy has held tight to the Aristotelian notion that knowledge requires demonstrability .
Demonstrability includes communicability; we see this reflected, for example, in the large body of
epistemological literature devoted to testimony9. Demonstrability includes utility, as it is
through demonstrability that utility can be determined. We will see this reflected in the
virtue epistemology conversation, but we see it reflected more generally in the history of philosophy. Shannon
Winnubst expresses concern that in epistemology and philosophy we see knowledge
being “ordered sequentially as the progressive development of clearer and more useful endpoints,” such that
utility becomes the primary interest. Philosophy’s accounts of knowledge have thus
required an increased focus on utility, such that utility may be “our highest value”:
This teleological order narrows in scope in later modern thought, exemplified perhaps in the texts
of John Locke, where utility becomes the singular criterion to determine the
satisfaction of desire’s demands: we know who/what we are through the usefulness that our lives/actions
achieve. Across both of these schemas of broad teleology and more narrow utility,
knowledge is ordered sequentially as the progressive development of clearer and more
useful endpoints. The demarcation of each segment of thinking—of each concept—thereby becomes
critical to the forward march of knowledge’s ordering of experience and the world. [...] If this
construction of meaning through the delimitation of concepts is the necessary structure
of knowledge, then we find ourselves embedded not only in a limited economy
of the psychosocial world through desire-prohibition-identity, but also in a limited
economy of epistemology: our very impulses to find meaning (through teleology broadly, and
utility specifically) and
the way that we undertake this process (through the delimitation of concepts)
may already enact a normative order of knowledge that sufficiently conditions the emergence of utility
as our highest value (“Bataille’s Queer Pleasures,” RBN 85-6).

Winnubst’s concern is pertinent. In the introduction to The Web of Belief, for example, Quine and Ullian dismiss any line
of thought that does not clearly contribute to “acquiring and sustaining right beliefs,” because acquiring right beliefs is
useful:

A current Continuing Education catalogue offers a course description, under the heading “Philosophy”, that typifies the
dark view at its darkest: “Children of science that we are, we have based our cultural patterns on
logic, on the cognitive, on the verifiable. But more and more there has crept into current
research and study the haunting suggestion that there are other kinds of knowledge
unfathomable by our cognition, other ways of knowing beyond the limits of our logic, which are
deserving of our serious attention.” Now “knowledge unfathomable by our cognition” is
simply incoherent, as attention to the words makes clear. Moreover, all that creeps is not gold. One
wonders how many students enrolled. Not that soberly seeking to learn is all there
should be; let there be fun and games as well. But let it also be clear where the boundaries are. A
person might have a moderately amusing time playing with a Ouija board, but if he drifts
into the belief that it is a bona fide avenue to discovery then something has gone amiss.
We will not pursue the possible socio-benefits of anti-rational doctrines; in our eyes, much better escapes
from reality are available, if that’s what’s wanted. In the chapters ahead we will be interested in the ways
of acquiring and sustaining right beliefs, be they pleasant or painful (The Web of Belief 5).

This example is a bit comical, but noticethe dismissal of anything that might be conceived
of as “anti-rational”—a dismissal so complete it reduces any “anti-rational” thought to
playing with a Ouija board. Quine and Ullian imply that “anti-rationality” ought to be dismissed
precisely because it cannot assist with acquisition—“acquiring and sustaining right beliefs” (ibid). In
more contemporary mainstream epistemology, Timothy Williamson expresses the same
necessity for utility and teleology: “Desire aspires to action; belief aspires to knowledge.
The point of desire is action; the point of belief is knowledge” (Knowledge and its Limits 1). Or
within mainstream feminist epistemology, Linda Alcoff and Elizabeth Potter stress the importance of
granting epistemic authority to women and other historically excluded
groups in order to expand and increase the production of knowledge. This is
ultimately a concern with utility: “For feminists, the purpose of epistemology is not only
to satisfy intellectual curiosity, but also to contribute to an emancipatory goal: the
expansion of democracy in the production of knowledge” (Feminist Epistemologies 13).
More generally, Michel Foucault
identifies this utility-orienting movement as an
“epistemologization” of all branches of thought and knowledge, beginning with John Locke10 and
(the economist) Richard Cantillon11, and eventually becoming “the analysis of the episteme” (The Archaeology of
Knowledge 187-191). Foucault’s
immediate concern is not the ways in which episteme requires
utility, but the ways in which it requires formalization and legislation (and then, secondarily or
tertiarily, utility):

This episteme may be suspected of being something like a world-view, a slice of history
common to all branches of knowledge, which imposes on each one the same norms and
postulates, a general stage of reason, a certain structure of thought that the men of a particular
period cannot escape—a great body of legislation written once and for all by some anonymous hand. By episteme, we
mean, in fact, the total set of relations that unite, at a given period, the
discursive practices that give
rise to epistemological figures, sciences, and possibly formalized systems; [...]
The episteme is not a form of knowledge (connaissance) or type of rationality which, crossing the boundaries of the most
varied sciences, manifests the sovereign unity of a subject, a spirit, or a period; it is the totality of relations that
can be discovered, for a given period, between the sciences when one analyses them at
the level of discursive regularities (ibid 191).
Thus the examplesof philosophy’s utility-focus in this document cannot possibly be a
comprehensive list of all the utility-focused moments in philosophy. But they can illustrate
the discursive regularities of justifying the pursuit of knowledge via utility, and they can
illustrate that this utility-orientation is not limited to the virtue epistemology conversation. We cannot present here “the
total set of relations” that unite the discursive practice of epistemology, or virtue epistemology, but we can examine the
discursive practices in one particular conversation, understanding that the smaller
conversation is a representative of the dominant, formalized discourse. What we find is a
distinct emphasis on utility and teleology. I will claim that this focus on utility and teleology is part of
what makes for a “closed” economy of knowledge. And we will see, especially, that virtue
epistemology’s focus on intellectual character is a doubling-down on the importance of
utility: the concern with intellectual virtue is ultimately a concern with utility, but it is not
enough that one’s knowledge may be useful; the way in which one’s knowledge is sought,
produced, communicated, and acquired must also serve utility, and it must be done by making use
of one’s suite of intellectual virtues.

We can move further outward in scope to see Bataille’s


ultimate example of the closed system of
knowledge: the Hegelian dialectic. The Hegelian dialectic is “closed” because it offers the
promise of completion, finality, “salvation”—that is, the objectivity of absolute
knowledge:
A comic little summary. Hegel, I imagine, touched upon the extreme limit. He was still young and believed himself to be
going mad. I even imagine that he worked out the system in order to escape (each type of conquest is, no
doubt, the deed of a man fleeing a threat). To conclude, Hegel attains satisfaction, turns his back
on the extreme limit. Supplication is dead within him. Whether or not one seeks salvation, in any
case, one continues to live, one can’t be sure, one must continue to supplicate. While yet alive, Hegel won
salvation, killed supplication, mutilated himself. Of him, only the handle of a shovel
remained, a modern man. But before mutilating himself, no doubt he touched upon the
extreme limit, knew supplication: his memory brought him back to the perceived abyss,
in order to annul it! The system is the annulment (IE 43; emphases Bataille’s).
For Bataille, the
problem with Hegel’s system is that it is “unable to sustain the
unknowability of the unknown and the unknowable” (Boldt-Irons, On Bataille 5). When Hegel
encountered the unknowable—the “extreme limit”—he receded and found
the solid ground of a system, of the known and the knowable. Bataille accuses
Hegel of using “system” to annul the “extreme limit” of unknowability. Hegel’s system is thus
“closed”; there is no opening into the unknowable. But Bataille believed and found
multiple ways to claim that a “closed” system need not be closed: “I think of my life—or better yet,
its abortive condition, the open wound that my life is—as itself constituting a refutation of Hegel’s closed system” (Guilty
12412). In relation to knowledge and nonknowledge specifically, Bataille
claims that outside the
closed system of Hegelian knowledge is nonknowledge: “Beyond all knowledge there is
non-knowledge and he who would become absorbed in the thought that beyond his knowledge he knows nothing—even
were he to have within him Hegel’s inexorable lucidity—would no longer be Hegel, but a painful tooth in Hegel’s mouth”
(IE 169).

Bataille seeks to find a way of knowing and a way of expressing such knowing that is free
from “method,” “discourse,” “project,” “system,” or any other stricture philosophy has placed on
thinking, reasoning, wondering, and all other mental activity, and the ways we report on such
mental activity. For Bataille the problem with “method” or “project” or whatever else we
might call it, as we will see, is that it is yoked to utility, teleology, production, acquisition, and thus
to a system of limiting what we think and what we imagine it is possible to think.
Jacques Derrida writes, “philosophy is work itself according to Bataille” (Writing and Difference 252; emphasis Derrida’s).
Jeffrey Kosky echoes this:

Project makes every moment of life servile by valuing it solely in relation to its usefulness
in producing a desired end. It finds an ally or mirror, according to Bataille, in the forms of knowledge and
rationality promoted by Hegelian systematic philosophy. For Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, according to
Bataille, reasonable thought is systematic thought that sees each individual and each
moment in relation to the whole that transcends it. Bataille was sensitive to the fact that
the Hegelian dialectic of consciousness is driven by unhappy consciousness and that it
represents the historical progress of the slave who survives the struggle with the master.
The Hegelian spirit, which for Bataille expressed the spirit of modernity, belongs therefore to a
sad, servile, and serious culture, a culture that is always on the job, one that has no time for errant
moments of laughter, tears, drunkenness, or ecstasy (“Georges Bataille’s Religion without Religion” 80).

According to Bataille, utility is the “spirit of modernity.” That is, the obsession with
demonstrating one’s value in reference to one’s work (“always on the job”), in reference to
one’s seriousness and work ethic (“no time for errant moments”), and in reference to one’s
productivity (a representation of the “historical progress of the slave who survives the struggle with the master”—
what we might call “upward mobility”). The question for this project—this document—then, is how
to explain somewhat systematically a way of knowing that is free from “system” and the
other requirements of philosophy-as-work.
Literacy
We the students are seen as pieces to be moved around the chess
board, the player the academy, our bodies pieces sacrificed
endless times for the sadistic joy of the system, locked into the
idea of a perfect game, we become reduced to a number to fill an
empty chair.
Scribner 84 SYLVIA SCRIBNERis professor of psychology at the Graduate School
and University Center of the City University of New York and was formerly associate
director of the National Institute of Education. She has studied the social organization
and cognitive implications of literacy in traditional societies and in work settings in the
United States and has a long-term interest in the continuities and discontinuities
between learning in school and in nonacademic environments. Her recent pub- lications
include ThePsychologyofLiteracy(with Michael Cole), a special issue of the journal
CognitiveStudiesof Work,and chapters on practical thinking and working intelligence.
She is a member of the steering committee of Psychologists for Social Responsibility
(New York) and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
http://courseweb.ischool.illinois.edu/~katewill/fall2014-
502/scribner%201984%20literacy%20in%20three%20metaphors.pdf 11-13
While functional literacy stresses the importance of literacy to the adaptation of the
individual, the literacy-as-power metaphor emphasizes a relationship
between literacy and group or community advancement. Historically, literacy
has been a potent tool in maintaining the hegemony of elites and dominant
classes in certain societies, while laying the basis for increased social and political participation in others (Resnick
1983; Goody 1968). In a contemporary framework, expansion of literary skills is
often viewed as a means for poor and politically powerless groups to claim
their place in the world. The International Symposium for Literacy, meeting in Persepolis, Iran (Bataille
1976), appealed to national governments to consider literacy as an instrument for human liberation and social change.
Paulo Freire (1970) bases his influential theory of literacy education on the
need to make literacy a resource for fundamental social transformation.
Effective literacy education, in his view, crates a critical consciousness through which a community can
analyze its conditions of social existence and engage in effective action for a just society. Not to be literate is a
state of victimization. Yet the capacity of literacy to confer power or to be
the primary impetus for significant and lasting economic or social change
has proved problematic in developing countries. Studies (Gayter, Hall, Kidd, and Shivasrava
1979; United Nations Development Program 1976) of UNESCOe's experimental world literacy program have raised doubts
about earlier notions that higher literacy rates automatically promote national development and improve the social and
material conditions of the very poor. The relationship between social change and literacy education, it is now suggested
(Harman 1977), may be stronger in the other direction. When masses of people have been mobilized for fundamental
changes in social conditions-as in the USSR, China, Cuba, and Tanzania-rapid extensions of literacy have been
accomplished (Gayter et al. 1979; Hammiche 1976; Scribner 1982b). Movements to transform social reality appear to have
been effective in some parts of the world in bringing whole populations into participation in modern literacy activities.
The validity of the converse proposition-that literacy per se mobilizes people for action to change their social reality-
remains to be established. What does this mean for us?
The one undisputed fact about illiteracy
in America is its concentration among poor, black, elderly, and minority-
language groups -groups without effective participation in our coun-
try'seconomic and educational institutions (Hunter and Harman 19.79). Problems of poverty
and political powerlessness are, as among some populations in developing nations, inseparably intertwined with prob-
lems of access to knowledge and levels of literacy skills. Some (e.g., Kozol 1980) suggest that a mass and politicized
approach to literacy education such as that adopted by Cuba is demanded in these conditions. Others (e.g., Hunter and
Harman 1979) advocate a more action-oriented approach that views community mobilization around practical, social,
and political goals as a first step in creating the conditions for effective literacy instruction and for educational equity. The
possibilities and limits of the literacy-as-power metaphor within our present-day social and political structure are not at
all clear. To what extent can instructional experiences and programs be lifted out f their social contexts in other countries
and applied here? Do assumptions about the functionality and significance of literacy in poor communities in the United
States warrant further consideration? Reder and Green's (1984) research and educational work among West Coast
immigrant communities reveals that literacy has different meanings for members of different groups. How can these
cultural variations be taken into account? How are communities best mobilized for literacy- around local needs and small-
scale activism? or as part of broader political and social movements? If literacy has not emerged as a priority demand,
should government and private agencies undertake to mobilize communities around this goal? And can such efforts be
productive without the deep involvement of community leaders?
Natives
The zero-sum schooling paradigm creates the precondition for
describing the Other as fit only to be colonized and less human,
meaning that the affirmative’s model of education for natives
can never actually solve for this banking model of education.
Only the alternative can create new possibilities – our surplus
energy has the power to deterritorialize consumer-based
educational paradigms.
Rolling 14. James, Dual Professor of Art Education and Teaching and Leadership in
the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the School of Education at Syracuse
University. “Pedagogy of the Bereft: Theorizing an Economy of Profitless Exchange and
Social Development” | rpadhi
To be bereft is the condition of being deprived of an asset—either through underdevelopment, systemic neglect or depraved indifference. Society’s great
Schools do what they are intended to do—
educational crisis at the start of the 21st century is not about “failing schools.”

schools underdevelop moral courage, altruism, and creative social imagination in favor
of the development of exploitable citizens who are easy to categorize, easy to warehouse
or sort into cubicles, and easy to manage. This paper offers a brief philosophical examination into a vestigial model of schooling
that continues to prevail today, a “banking” model contested by Paulo Friere (1998) in his classic critique Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and which has long been a

In this educational model, knowledge is


scientifically managed enterprise, deeply rooted in the concept of zero-sum capitalism.

equated to wealth and power, the winners are viewed as having been naturally rewarded
for their superior work ethic and acquired skills or knowledge, and the rest of us are seen
either as losers, perpetually in need or decline, or as threats to the socioeconomic order
that must be controlled and contained; assets are not educed from learners at all but are
rather prepossessed and deposited in those who are willing to acquiesce. After even a cursory reading of
Adam Smith’s (1937) The Wealth of Nations, one realizes that any discussion of the trade of goods and services for profit and the accumulation of assets and

It is not difficult to
material surplus implies a wealth far more than monetary, and is intended to be indicative of social capital as well.

ascertain that the specialised roles which have evolved in the division of production and
labor in the marketplace are replicated in the roles of teachers and students, and yet
again in those roles taken on by those arbiters of the Western historical narrative who
defined themselves as civilized and ascribed Others as either unfit for survival or fit only
to be colonized. A banking concept of education that makes regular deposits into the
thinking of students is also expected to yield behaviors in those students, dividends that
ultimately profit the banker, expanding the wealth of those who have acquired the means
to produce it. This is a strictly zero-sum arrangement, wherein those that have fill the heads of those who have not. Drawing upon the postcolonial work
of Ashis Nandy (1983), the role of the banker is yet another manifestation of “a world view which

believes in the absolute superiority of the human over the nonhuman, the masculine over
the feminine, the adult over the child, the historical over the ahistorical, and the modern
or progressive over the traditional or the savage” (p. x). Historically, the territorialization of
Western acquisitions—in the form of colonial outposts, encyclopedias, museum collections and curiosity cabinets packed full of rare and
fantastical stuff—also took the form of schools, social spaces less for public education they were

purported to administer than for public indoctrination and annexation into a worldview
predicated upon the scarcity of precious resources and Western Europe’s prowess at
manufacturing and/or conquering and coopting those very same resources. A zero-sum model of
schooling will invariably ration out its deposits into the minds of students as stakeholders in the final products of the banking enterprise; even more subversively,

a zero-sum model of schooling will also actively take from its students, leaving them
seemingly bereft of the native assets that were once owned in surplus—whether their
language, or culture, or creative environs—and preparing those students to become
assets, exploitable within the prevailing power structures. For example: Believing that Anglo-
American culture [was superior]...and the only culture that would support republican
and democratic institutions, educators forbade the speaking of non-English languages,
particularly Spanish and Native American tongues, and forced students to learn an
Anglo-American-centered curriculum...Conquered Indians were exposed to educational
programs that emphasized patriotism and loyalty to the U.S. government. As tribal
governments fell, Indian schools raised the U.S. flag and forced students to pledge their
loyalty to the conquering nation...federal and state officials attempted to gain emulation
by using textbooks that reflected the dominant white culture of the United States and
that contained no reference to Hispanic or Indian cultures. (Spring, 2001, p. 169) But what if we are missing the
bigger picture entirely? What if, in spite of dire appearances, we are surrounded by a free flow of surplus assets that do not need to be deposited by those who view
themselves as laden with monetary, intellectual or social capital? And what if we are each so latent with convertible assets that it possible to cast off any oppressive
condition through self-actualizing means beyond those outlined by Freire—means emphasizing complex conversation and altruistic transmissions over dialogical
exchanges, common purpose over informed praxis, and the deterritorialization Pedagogy of the Bereft – J. H. Rolling, Jr. 5 of prior boundaries and limitations over
the mere awakening of local consciousness? What if we are blessed and our blessings are overflowing? The Gift Differed Inspired by the anthropological writings of
sociologist Marcel Mauss (1925/1954) presenting the concept of gift transmissions in archaic social interaction as an alternative to the primacy of commodity or
capitalist exchanges, French intellectual Georges Bataille first authored The Accursed Share in 1949, proposing a new meta-economic theory of consumption.

Bataille’s basic premise was that the natural social interaction between human beings
generates an excess of energy that must be expended and consumed one way or the
other—energy that is either converted into sumptuous interpersonal creative or sacred
transmissions that branch upward and serve no other purpose but to develop our
humanity like flowering plants, or otherwise wasted in the form of aggressive and
imperialistic plundering campaigns, pulverizing humanity to serve as topsoil. This surplus energy
is the accursed share, manifested in the human conundrum of whether to apply one’s excess energy toward the profitless exercise of helping one another be more

At our most altruistic, we give little bits


human, or to use one another for personal or private gain. What is it to be more human?

of ourselves away because such are the actions that hold us together; we form beautifully
crafted reflections of the world we’ve experienced; we inform new ideas emerging from
ongoing and complicated conversations; and we transform present conditions into future
questions and possibilities because such are the objects, expressions, and sacred
interventions that we grasp as handholds along the way. There is no personal profit to be
gained from such activity. This is the positive-sum solution to education, enlarging our
collective social wealth so that there is more to distribute at the end of interpersonal
exchanges than originally invested by all parties involved. The opposite to being more
human is to render others less than human. To do so is to willfully diminish others simply to satisfy one’s own needs and
commodity fetishes, or just to assuage one’s fears—either with deliberate intent to injure or injuring by dint of a pernicious insistence upon categorizing learners as

this is the zero-sum game that was introduced into modern educational
lesser constituted than oneself;

exercises under the guise of the scientific management of schooling. Zero-Sum Schooling Frederick
Winslow Taylor was known as the father of “scientific management,” a pioneer in introducing and melding modern concepts of industrial efficiency into the
enterprise of public education. Taylor was one of the first paid management consultants to big business in the United States, translating his careful scrutiny of
occupational practices in paper mills and the factory production of steel into a formula for zero-sum education at a time—between 1900 and 1910—when the

The improvement of U.S. child labor laws and


American public school system was in a state of a crisis (Rolling, 2013a).

compulsory education policies had combined with huge increases in the enrollment of
“non-English-speaking children from semiliterate families,” new immigrants to our
shores “predominantly from the poorest socioeconomic groups in southern and eastern
Europe” (Callahan, 1962, p. 14), such that “elementary classes of over one hundred children were
common” (Callahan, 1962, p. 17). Pedagogy of the Bereft – J. H. Rolling, Jr. 7 This was also an inflationary period in the nation’s economy with sharply
rising costs of living, a shortage of tax revenue to support public institutions, and U.S. citizens increasingly wary of inefficiency and waste. In a zero-sum approach
to education, either these students would need to be converted into assets, or it was feared they would ultimately disrupt and detract from the growing American
economic empire. Moreover, in 1909 the public had been introduced to a book by Leonard P. Ayres titled Laggards in Our Schools—a survey of deplorably
overcrowded, poorly managed school systems in 58 cities that failed to meet the standards of Ayres’s statistically concocted “Index of Efficiency.” Ayres had written
a scathing indictment of the production of what he defined as “retarded” children—over-aged learners repeating the same material in their grades over and over
again—and in doing so, he was “one of the first educators to picture the school as a factory” that required the application of the best business and industrial
practices (Callahan, 1962, p. 15). Hence, education reform crusaders were more than ready to embrace Taylor’s new system of scientific management almost as
soon as it was introduced to them. Taylor’s ideas about efficiency were first catapulted into the American consciousness after they were featured during a 1910
Capitol Hill hearing before the Interstate Commerce Commission attempting to resolve a legal wrangle between a railroad trade association, industry management,
and merchants. Proposed increases in freight rates threatened to damage bottom-line profits across the board. For some of the stakeholders, the priority was to
find a means of lowering costs; for others the priority was increasing wages for workers. At just the right moment, Taylor’s system was suddenly thrust into the
spotlight as a “magic” panacea with the potential to make Pedagogy of the Bereft – J. H. Rolling, Jr. 8 management in all sectors of industry—including the
management of schools—as efficient as possible, supposedly to the benefit of all stakeholders involved. First, Taylor mandated the replacement of diverse and rule-
of-thumb workplace methods with the single best, scientifically determined method for doing a task. Anything less than that system, as determined by
management, was considered a waste of time and money. Laborers who collaborated to create their own ad hoc methods in the field or on the work floor were

When this mandate was replicated in an educational context,


contributing to lessened productivity.

opportunities for learners to figure out problems without directives from their teachers
were severely curtailed, underdeveloping their surplus creative capacities. Second, Taylor’s system
also required the scientific selection, training, and development of each employee, rather than leaving employees to train themselves. Or, as Taylor once put it to a
mechanic who worked under him, common laborers were “not supposed to think” because “there are other people paid for thinking around here” (Callahan, 1962,

When
p. 28). Taylor argued that “one type of man is needed to plan ahead and an entirely different type to execute the work” (Callahan, 1962, p. 28).

adopted by schools, this approach led to what John D. Philbrick (1885) long ago
observed as the educational “imposition of tasks; if the pupil likes it, well; if not, the
obligation is the same” (p. 47). The assumption that the teacher, or manager, is solely
responsible for devising and planning activities and projects serves to underdevelop
creative capacity in students, the professional workforce, and throughout society. Those who
have been pillaged of the agency to give themselves away, will find themselves being taken from. Pedagogy of the Bereft – J. H. Rolling, Jr. 9 Third, Taylor’s
scientific management system required the provision of detailed instruction and supervision, ensuring that workers were applying all principles precisely as
instructed in their performance and completion of each assigned task—so much so that the stopwatch became emblematic of Taylor’s system, often likened to

As Taylor’s approach was applied in schools, the completion of


“management by measurement.”

homework assignments, sequenced workbooks, and timed tests became the order of the
school day. Think about it. Workbooks are essentially books of assignments and their
rules—conditioning tools in which the teacher introduces changes, notes effects, and
maintains full control over the design of the student. Workbooks are analogous to any
and all means of social regimentation. These “conditioning books” are used in order to
measure an individual’s gradual acquisition and application of instructional or
institutional content, but they also serve to underdevelop the possibility of human
sovereignty in the giving of unscripted resources. Fourth, Taylor insisted upon a strict division of labor between
management and workers so that managers carry the burden of “analyzing, planning, and controlling the whole manufacturing process,” and each worker carries

Management-focused schooling models— their


the burden of doing only what he or she is told to do (Callahan, 1962, p. 27).

primary mandate being the efficient conveyance of learners from one grade to the next—
also view the highest student achievers as those best conditioned to perform in accord
with standardized rules, regulations, and testing metrics. Meanwhile, in the cultivation of cadres of individual
achievers content to meet the prevailing standard and nothing more, “surplus mentalities” go underdeveloped. Pedagogy of the Bereft – J. H. Rolling, Jr. 10
Perhaps the greatest detriment regarding Taylor’s system was that while it made great sense toward increasing the production of manufactured goods in factory

when applied to schools it resulted in a focus upon increasing the production of


assembly lines,

graduating students ready to enter a managed workforce—while decreasing any


investment in the development of surplus creative energy amongst those students, and in
their opportunities for doing so. The fact that public schools by and large still operate
this way continues to waste the accursed share, casting it underfoot. A Pedagogy of Renewal When I was a
young student attending the High School of Art & Design in New York City, I sometimes chose to give my art away. It is important to note how out of character this
was for me. I am a methodical art maker; it takes a lot of time and to this day I am quite content if my work stays in my studio and surrounds me. I have rarely even
sold my art. For me to choose to give away something that I had toiled to craft or shape, it had to strike me that someone else needed it more than I did. I also
started writing poetry in high school for the sole reason of addressing it to friends of mine who were downcast. I knew what it felt like to suffer in silence as an
introverted and isolated teen, and when I saw someone else at risk of being swallowed in the same kind of emotional abyss I had barely escaped myself, I doubled
back through artistic portals with the hope that I could help reveal an escape route (Rolling, 2013b). As I reflect back, I realize that I was intentionally practicing art
as an altruistic exercise. Why? What response was I attempting to trigger in the receiver of my gifts? It is clear that at the time I sought little more than to state: “I
was once in your shoes; I Pedagogy of the Bereft – J. H. Rolling, Jr. 11 know a way to a better position; follow me.” I sought no personal profit from these
exchanges. Altruism is recognized as “a cultural behavior, well beyond instinctive behavior, and even beyond adaptive social behaviors with respect to evolutionary

But
processes” (Wilson, 1998, p. 29). It is a cultural behavior that does not appear at first “to contribute to the survival of the species” (Wilson, 1998, p. 29).

taking a second look, the smallest acts of altruism have a way of spreading, blooming like
creative contagions into huge social advantages—the stuff that cultures and economies
are made of. What kind of economy holds the power to offset a zero-sum system of economics and education that leaves so many so seemingly bereft
and others settled so deeply within the waste material of their own accumulations? When we take a second look at what we as individuals have to exchange, we also
see the contours of this other economy at work, an economy that is intuitive, primeval, and largely overlooked in the midst of contemporary free market

What if we have been overlooking an economy of non-commodity


machinations and rhetoric.

exchanges that are entirely creative and profitless in character, bestowed upon others as
gifts of invention, imagination, benevolence, or grace? And what if there was a kind of
social intelligence and mutual advantage that cannot be accumulated or commodified,
but can only be expended or re-distributed as a common energy source? What if we are all living
beneath our means, presuming for one another the prevailing paradigm of scarcity, underdevelopment and hostile takeovers only because we have lost our
overview of an equivalent yet contradictory paradigm—one of overwhelming surplus that lies beneath the surface of an ocean of humanity. Dry-docked and
barricaded within the territory of a zero-sum paradigm, the reason human beings hunt Pedagogy of the Bereft – J. H. Rolling, Jr. 12 other species to extinction is
because we no longer realize we have more than we need. Dry-docked and barricaded within the territory of a zero-sum paradigm, when industrial societies first
transitioned from cultivating for subsistence to cultivating for profit, we also abandoned our understanding of the importance of sacrifice and shared energy with

all organisms that live and renew the life of our planet’s ancient ecosystem. According to Deleuze and Gautarri (1987) the process of
deterritorialization offers a means of intervention toward addressing the limitations of a
zero-sum education paradigm. Deterritorialization is defined as the “movement by which something escapes or departs from a given
territory” (Patton, 2005, p. 70). This means that the deterritorializing force of our empathetic,

aesthetic, incarnated, and mediated transmissions of both the sublime and the sacred—
our surplus energies surrendered toward the growth and reproduction of our most
advantageous human achievements—are perhaps above all else, a means for generating
movement within and beyond the sinkhole of a market-driven economic and educational
worldview. The deterritorialization of the zero-sum model provides “another center
around which an alternative territory or contingent community can accumulate” (Richardson,
2010, p. 25). Namely, an alternative economy for education, one that produces more creative

energy than originally invested, enticing the development of the unexpected social
advantages rather than indoctrinating learners merely to increase the wealth of nations.
In conclusion, no one thinks to contain the ocean. It is illusory to think it possible. We can navigate it or

surf it; we escape it or escape to it; at the ocean’s edges, we can even divert some of it and channel it toward a common purpose. Our pollution of

the ocean is a result of our excesses converted to waste materials, in stark contrast to the
Pedagogy of the Bereft – J. H. Rolling, Jr. 13 surplus energy of the ocean, which could power our cities for thousands of years if we had a
real clue about how to interface with the power of its waves. The illusion of a zero- sum social and economic condition has masked a pedagogy of renewal roiling
just beneath the surface, a continuum of creativity and exaltation that is the natural result of all our social interactions. Logistically, it is not possible to throw over

a tarp that covers up all of this incredible ocean and its movements; the only veil is the one over our own eyes. Yet we see glimpses of its activity everyday. The
natural behavior of this ocean of surplus human social energy has the power to
deterritorialize the zero-sum schooling paradigm on its own if only enough of us were to
dive in and be renewed. There is no actual scarcity of this particular resource, only abundance. A pedagogy of the bereft—
that is, a pedagogy of renewal and adaptive creative transmissions—suggests a new
blueprint for public education, wherein instructional goals and policies are rewritten to
facilitate “learning by behaving together,” each one contributing his or her surplus
energies in order to benefit and build up the world we share. The great puzzle to closing
the achievement gap between the educational outcomes of those privileged to have and
those presumed to have not is solved by increasing the regular access of all students to
provocative positive-sum exchanges—transmissions of the best of ourselves in search of
no personal or corporate profit, but rather intended to entice similarly advantageous
behaviors in the lives of those with whom we have shared. What have we to exchange?
All that we are, and more. That has always been more than enough.
Nietzsche
Their conception of the Ubermensch terminally fails as a
revolutionary strategy and falls prey to reactionary attitudes.
Only a Bataillean conception of the death of God can account for
the crisis of late capitalism.
Pawlett 15 (William, Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, Social Sciences and Communication at
the University of Wolverhampton, “Georges Bataille: Sacred and Society”, Politics and Community, p 44-
45, January 30, 2015) // IES

The refusal to confront the lowly and ‘dirty’, to look away in disgust, is something that
most of us experience in our vigilant avoidance of the excrement and blood of other
beings. This is, also, Bataille notes, the attitude of the wealthy towards the poor: like dirt, the
poor are kept from view, all contact strictly controlled and limited to that which is
necessary for the poor to carry out tasks on behalf of the rich. The poor are tasked with managing
the excrement of the rich, sometimes literally. Bataille wrote in ‘The Solar Anus’: ‘Communist workers appear to the
bourgeois to be as ugly and dirty as hairy sexual organs, or lower parts; sooner or later there will be a scandalous eruption
in the course of which the asexual noble heads of the bourgeois will be chopped off’ (Bataille, 1985, p. 8, originally written
in 1927). A revolution, for Bataille, would involve the rich being sacrificed or excreted by
the poor – though once this ‘founding sacrifice’ had taken place, Bataille envisaged a
fully open community united in festivity. Gnosticism was an inspiration for Bataille’s rethinking of the
relationship between religion and society. It is also an important theme in Bataille engagement with politics
in that Gnosticism implies an active subversion of order, idealism and homogeneity.
Gnosticism affirms the power of the low, the monstrous or base. In pursuing the ‘base’
materialism he finds in Gnosticism, Bataille rejects the surrealism of many of his colleagues
and peers because its seeks a revolution above, beyond or over the real world. 1 For Bataille,
most revolutionary ideas: surrealism, Nietzscheanism, De Sade and his admirers, fail because
they denigrate the ‘real world’, the everyday, specifically the ways in which
the ‘real’ is a collision of the elevated and the low. Bataille devotes several papers to attacking
André Breton and the surrealist movement (see in particular Bataille, 1994, pp. 28–29), and he reserves particular scorn
for those who celebrate De Sade’s pornographic writings. Just as surrealists are accommodated within capitalist society by
being given a place as ‘carnival puppets’, so De Sade is accommodated by avant-garde literary circles – on the condition
that his ideas are reduced to literature (Bataille, 1985, pp. 92–93). The
surrealists and the Sadeans are
relatively easily assimilated within capitalist society; they provide thrills and spectacles
but do not, or are not allowed to, challenge the foundations of society. Bataille
also directs some harsh words at Nietzsche as another failed revolutionary. He criticises
Nietzsche’s notion of the surhomme ( superman or Overman ) for the same
glorification of values above, beyond and over; and the supposed surpassing of good
and evil, the going above good and evil, is lambasted as ‘reactionary and romantic’.
Nietzsche had made the error of wanting to ‘assert the human splendour of people who
really had exercised domination’, a mistake which borders on the ‘imbecilic’ (Bataille, 1985, p. 38). Bataille’s
understanding of Nietzsche’s notion of the death of God draws out something of the singular relationship between the two
thinkers: ‘Nietzscherevealed this primordial fact: once God had been killed by the
bourgeoisie, the immediate result would be catastrophic confusion, emptiness, and even
a sinister impoverishment’ (Bataille, 1985, p. 38). For Bataille, the death of God, in this sense,
is a political event, a dimension of the profane world rather than of the sacred world. The
bourgeoisie have killed the God of theology by creating a new God – Money or Capital,
channelling spiritual yearning into desires for consumer goods and lifestyles. God is
dead in that he is replaced, rather than being periodically brought to life in
the sacred world through sacrifice. Bataille’s version of the ‘death of god’ differs
substantially from Nietzsche’s (this is discussed in Chapter 6) .

Where Nietzsche hopes for a superman that might create the


possibility of willful laughter, Bataille relies on laughter as an
unintentional reflect that bursts forth innocently to illuminate
the divine summit of finite existence.
Wright 17. Drew, English Professor at Georgia State University. “The Impossible
Thought off Georges Bataille: A Consciousness that Laughs and Cries” | rpadhi
Here Bataille diverges from Nietzsche, the latter having nourished a hope for a
(superhuman) future that would hold the possibility of a willed laughter. Bataille realizes
that laughter is nothing if not a kind of inexplicable, indomitable reflex, and, in contrast
to Nietzsche, that it can never be anything other than something entirely insubordinate
to the reflective deliberations of self-conscious intention. The event-repetition of coming loss,
laughter can only ever be a liquidation of the practical will and its products. The paradox of laughter is that it
is this involuntary loss—this effusive emission of loss discharged without our self-
conscious consent or deliberation—that, at least in Bataille’s strange universe, is our
freedom. Only in blithely shattering self-conscious will, diffusing its ethico-intellectual scruples along with the
heaviness of the world, do we experience (or approach) autonomy: “Only an insistence on the leap, and a nimble lightness
(the essence of autonomy and freedom), give laughter its limitless dominion” (ON 66).
Only in bursting forth
“innocently,” without pretext or motivation, indifferent to the future and to the fantasy of
coherence and stability it hawks, does laughter illuminate, in an incandescent instant,
the “divine” summit of finite existence, a momentary breach into “the beyond of the specific existence that
we are,” a beyond which is, however, wholly incompatible with the axis of transcendence: “Autonomy . . . , inaccessible in a
finished state, completes itself as we renounce ourselves to that state . . . which is to say in the abolition of someone who
wills it for himself. It cannot therefore be a state, but a moment (a moment of infinite laughter, or of ecstasy . . .)” (ON 55;
G 127, original emphases).
Politics
The affirmative’s investment in the political as a site of change is
a fleeing from the flux of life towards the safety and security of
ordered governmentality. The very idea of laws is self-defeating,
as taboos only exist to become transgressed. They have
attempted to resurrect the dead figure of God within the
structure of the State, which only leads to more effective forms
of ossification and destruction of value to life. Instead, every
manifestation of God must be sacrificed again and again. We
shall erect no new idols!
Pawlett 15 (William, Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, Social Sciences and Communication at
the University of Wolverhampton, “Georges Bataille: Sacred and Society”, Politics and Community, p 56-
58, January 30, 2015) // IES

Many of the Acéphale articles were devoted to exploring Nietzsche’s philosophy. Bataille insists
that Nietzsche’s thought is sovereign, in the sense of heterogeneous sovereignty: it cannot be ‘enslaved’
or assimilated without violent reductiveness. Nietzsche’s concern was the totality of human existence. He
explicitly rejected all notions of following a leader or sage, a nation or fatherland. Nietzsche
himself stated that he wanted no disciples, and: ‘I erect no new idols’ (Nietzsche, 1992, p. 3). Bataille
was inspired by Nietzsche to look to the future, not to some pagan or pre-Christian past. Bataille vilifies
socialists for their naïve faith in rational management of society and fascists for their
fantasies of a pure, pagan prehistory: ‘those freed from the past are chained to reason;
those who do not enslave reason are the slaves of the past’ (Bataille, 1985, p. 193). In this new engagement
with Nietzsche, Bataille seems to equate all political positions with servility and domesticity.
Politics itself is restrictive: ‘Life’s movement can only be merged with the limited
movements of political formations in clearly defined conditions; in other conditions, it
goes far beyond them, precisely into the region to which Nietzsche’s attention was drawn’ (‘Nietzsche and the Fascists’, in
Bataille, 1985, p. 193). To a world understood in narrowly political terms, Bataille opposes the figure of the labyrinth – a place of many
possibilities, of destiny and tragedy, a horizontal and immanent space drawn on the surface of the globe. Bataille
makes clear
his hostility to all vertical erections, monuments and ‘great unitary constructions’ such as
the nation, the state and the church. These institutions enforce servility. It is
no longer ‘political’ revolution but ‘religious upheaval that will push life’s movement beyond
servility’ (p. 198). A position on the nature of society and civilisation becomes apparent: ‘The only society full of life
and force, the only free society, is the bi or polycephalic society that gives the
fundamental antagonisms of life a constant explosive outlet, but one limited to the
richest forms’ (p. 199). Such a society would allow humans to be acephalic, to exist beyond
reason, knowledge and duration – at least on specifi ed ritual occasions where taboos would be
violated, hence such a society would enforce limits. Bataille also develops a new, more nuanced, position on war in these writings.
After declaring: ‘What we are starting is a War’ and ‘I myself am War’ – highly ambiguous statements – Bataille moved to a position that
clearly condemned war. In its modern form, war is a strategy for maintaining the illusory
permanence of nation states, a method of violently resisting time in which states ‘try to
deny death by reducing it to a component of a glory without dread’ (p. 200). War attempts to conquer
the dread of death and the inevitability of loss by claiming a greater purpose for the violence inherent in life. Yet, for Bataille, death
(personal mortality) should be confronted, embraced, meditated upon in what he called the
practice of joy before death – not directed against external enemies. Maurice Blanchot, writing on
Bataille’s notion of community, quotes Bataille: ‘It is necessary for communal life to maintain itself at the height of death ’ (Bataille, cited in
Blanchot, 1988, p. 11). The influence of Hegel on Bataille is unmistakable in this statement, a
community must embrace
the negative, its own suffering, its death and its rebirth. Another major theme of Acéphale is Bataille’s
rethinking of Nietzsche’s notion of the death of God: ‘The
acephalic man mythologically expresses
sovereignty committed to destruction and the death of God’. What precisely does Bataille mean by the
death of God? He elaborates as follows: The search for god, for the absence of movement, for
tranquillity, is the fear that has scuttled all attempts at a universal community . . . peace
is produced only if God allows himself to be locked up in the isolation and profoundly
immobile permanence of a group’s military existence . . . Universal existence, eternally unfinished and
acephalic, a world like a bleeding wound, endlessly creating and destroying particular finite beings: it is in this sense that true universality is
the death of God. (Bataille, 1985, p. 201) So it is not simply that notions of God or the divine get in the way of or prevent a universal
community (John Lennon’s position in ‘Imagine’), but that the divine or ‘God’ has become servile and
enchained by reason or homogeneity. Gods should expend; they should bleed;
they should give of themselves and, in return, receive sacrifices.
Monumentalised forms of ‘God’ should be toppled; they should be killed or,
perhaps, joined with death in sacrifice and in sacrifice the sacred comes to
life. This is ‘the sacrifice that founds the community by undoing it’ (Blanchot, 1988, p. 15). Here
myth, the sacred and sacrifice are not forms of violence directed against the ‘other’; they
are forms of violence which the community directs at itself, not bolstering itself against
others but acknowledging its own nothingness. This is a quite specifi c sense of the death of God, then, not one
which replicates Nietzsche but which shifts the ground. In a sense Bataille offers a far more ‘social’ and collective
sense to this notion. God become monument, become authority, become
barrier, become ‘head’ must be killed – God that has been confined,
rationalised and made to serve the state. Indeed, for Bataille, civilisation itself – stabilised
society – is life in stagnation, decomposition and crisis. The ‘living community little by
little loses its tragic appearance – both puerile and terrible – which reached each being
in his most secretly lacerated wound; it loses the power of provoking the total religious emotion that grows to the point
of ecstatic drunkenness, when existence is avidly opened before it’ (Bataille, 1985, pp. 202–203). There is, for Bataille, another sense of the
divine: not the God of the Greek philosophers but the ‘christ of the erotic saints’, not the God of a state or territory but a divine that emerges
in the shared loss of both the human and of God. In mutual loss or sacrificial expenditure is the deepest or
most intimate communication and the possibility for an ‘impossible’ community; this theme is
explored further in Chapter 6 . Civilisation is a weakening of communal passions – passionate bonds
as well as passionate antagonisms – and as these passions weaken ‘it becomes necessary
to use constraint and to develop the alliances, contracts, and falsifications that are called
politics’ (Bataille, 1985, p. 203). Bataille’s concern is what might be called the pre-political, pre-foundational conditions of human life,
which can also become a new post-historical community. We have seen already that this pre-foundational condition is, for Bataille, quite
real, or rather material – it is not imaginary, not a structure of the unconscious. Indeed, Bataille devotes several works to trying to
understanding the pre-foundational, prehistoric life of humans, as Chapter 1 on animality indicated.
Policy simulation
The affirmatives act of reading a plan is one that attempts to
define and develop an identity centered around the law through
an act of civic engagement defined by liberalism. This
engagement is one that furthers necro politics and exonerates it
by making the law “better” while masking violence
The aff’s investment in legal reform is an venture into the
economy of the post colony in this economy lawfare is
responsible for reducing people to nothing but bare life and has
mutated into a vacuum of life establishing a large body count in
the postcolonial society
Comaroff and Comaroff, 07, (John Comaroff, Professor of African and African American Studies
and of Anthropology; Jean Comaroff, Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology, “Law and
disorder in the postcolony,” pg. 31, 2007)//Cummings

Lawfare can be limited or it can reduce people to “bare life”; in some postcolonies it has ,

mutated into a deadly necropolitics with a rising body count see chapter 9). But it always (

seeks to launder brute power in a wash of legitimacy Sometimes it is put to work as


, ethics, propriety. ,

it was in many colonial contexts to make new sorts of human subjects sometimes it is the
, ;

vehicle by which oligarchs seize the sinews of state to further their economic ends ;

sometimes it is a weapon of the weak turning authority back on itself by commissioning


,

the sanction of the court to make claims for resources 89 But ultimately it
, recognition, voice, integrity, sovereignty. ,

is neither the weak nor the meek nor the marginal who predominate in such things It is .

those equipped to play most potently inside the dialectic of law and disorder This to close . ,

a circle opened in the preface returns us to Derrida and Benjamin to the notion that
, , Agamben, :

the law originates in violence and lives by violent means the notion in other words that , , ,

the legal and the lethal animate and inhabit one another Whatever the truth of the .

matter politics at large and the politics of coercion in particular appear ever more to be
, , ,

turning into lawfare But this still does not lay to rest the questions that lurk beneath our
.

narrative why the fetishism of legalities? What are its implications


, although it does gesture toward some answers: Again,

for the play of law and dis/order in the postcolony? And what , if anything, makes postcolonies different in this respect from other nation-
states?

Politics is inherently restrictive. Their desire to form a political


community is one that denies the inherent flux of life and
remains indebted to a regime of violence that is the root cause of
all forms of violence in the world.
Pawlett 16 (William, senior lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of
Wolverhampton. “Georges Bataille: The Sacred and Society.”)
In this new engagement with Nietzsche, Bataille seems to equate all political positions with servility and domesticity.
Politics itself is restrictive: ‘Life’s movement can only be merged with the limited movements of
political formations in clearly defined conditions; in other conditions, it goes far beyond them, precisely into
the region to which Nietzsche’s attention was drawn’ (‘Nietzsche and the Fascists’, in Bataille, 1985, p. 193). To a
world understood in narrowly political terms, Bataille opposes the figure of
the labyrinth – a place of many possibilities, of destiny and tragedy, a
horizontal and immanent space drawn on the surface of the globe. Bataille makes
clear his hostility to all
vertical erections, monuments and ‘great unitary constructions’ such as the nation,
the state and the church. These institutions enforce servility. It is no longer ‘political’
revolution but ‘religious upheaval that will push life’s movement beyond servility’ (p. 198).
A position on the nature of society and civilisation becomes apparent: ‘The only society full of life and
force, the only free society, is the bi or polycephalic society that gives the fundamental
antagonisms of life a constant explosive outlet, but one limited to the richest
forms’ (p. 199). Such a society would allow humans to be acephalic, to exist
beyond reason, knowledge and duration – at least on specified ritual
occasions where taboos would be violated, hence such a society would enforce limits. Bataille also
develops a new, more nuanced, position on war in these writings. After declaring: ‘What we are starting is a War’ and ‘I
myself am War’ – highly ambiguous statements – Bataille moved to a position that clearly condemned
war. In its modern form, war is a strategy for maintaining the illusory
permanence of nation states, a method of violently resisting time in which
states ‘try to deny death by reducing it to a component of a glory without
dread’ (p. 200). War attempts to conquer the dread of death and the
inevitability of loss by claiming a greater purpose for the violence inherent
in life. Yet, for Bataille, death (personal mortality) should be confronted, embraced,
meditated upon in what he called the practice of joy before death – not
directed against external enemies. Maurice Blanchot, writing on Bataille’s notion of community,
quotes Bataille: ‘It is necessary for communal life to maintain itself at the height of death’
(Bataille, cited in Blanchot, 1988, p. 11). The influence of Hegel on Bataille is unmistakable in this statement, a
community must embrace the negative, its own suffering, its death and its
rebirth. Another major theme of Acéphale is Bataille’s rethinking of Nietzsche’s notion of the death of God: ‘The
acephalic man mythologically expresses sovereignty committed to destruction and the
death of God’. What pre- cisely does Bataille mean by the death of God? He elaborates as follows: The search
for god, for the absence of movement, for tranquillity, is the fear that has
scuttled all attempts at a universal community . . . peace is produced only if God
allows himself to be locked up in the isolation and profoundly immobile
permanence of a group’s military existence . . . Universal existence, eternally
unfinished and acephalic, a world like a bleeding wound, endlessly creating
and destroying particular finite beings: it is in this sense that true uni- versality is the death of
God. (Bataille, 1985, p. 201) So it is not simply that notions of God or the divine get in the way of or prevent a universal
community (John Lennon’s position in ‘Imag- ine’), but that the divine or ‘God’
has become servile and
enchained by reason or homogeneity. Gods should expend; they should bleed; they should
give of themselves and, in return, receive sacrifices. Monumental- ised forms of ‘God’ should be
toppled; they should be killed or, perhaps, joined with death in sacrifice and in sacrifice the sacred comes to life. This is
‘the sacrifice that founds the community by undoing it’ (Blan- chot, 1988, p. 15). Here myth, the
sacred and
sacrifice are not forms of violence directed against the ‘other’; they are forms of violence
which the community directs at itself, not bolstering itself against others but
acknowledging its own nothingness. This is a quite specific sense of the death of God, then, not one which
replicates Nietzsche but which shifts the ground. In a sense Bataille offers a far more ‘social’ and collective sense to this
notion. God become monument, become authority, become barrier, become ‘head’ must be
killed – God that has been confined, rationalised and made to serve the state. Indeed, for
Bataille, civilisation itself – stabilised society – is life in stagnation,
decomposition and crisis. The ‘living community little by lit- tle loses its tragic appearance – both puerile
and terrible – which reached each being in his most secretly lacerated wound; it loses the power of provoking the total
religious emotion that grows to the point of ecstatic drunkenness, when existence is avidly opened before it’ (Bataille,
1985, pp. 202–203). There is, for Bataille, another sense of the divine: not the God of the Greek philosophers but the
‘christ of the erotic saints’, not the God of a state or territory but a divine that emerges in the shared loss of both the
human and of God. In mutual loss or sacrificial expenditure is the deepest or most intimate communication and the
possibility for an ‘impossible’ community; this theme is explored further in Chapter 6. Civilisation is a
weakening of communal passions – passionate bonds as well as passionate
antagonisms – and as these passions weaken ‘it becomes necessary to use
constraint and to develop the alliances, contracts, and falsifications that are
called politics’ (Bataille, 1985, p. 203). Bataille’s concern is what might be called the pre-political, pre-
foundational con- ditions of human life, which can also become a new post-historical community. We have seen already
that this pre-foundational condition is, for Bataille, quite real, or rather material – it is not imaginary, not a structure of
the unconscious. Indeed, Bataille devotes several works to trying to understanding the pre-foundational, prehistoric life of
humans, as Chapter 1 on animality indicated. COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL POWER Bataille
contrasts
community as a structure which aims at securing its permanence, denying or disavowing
death, with community in a more vital sense meaning a coming together of human
beings in an immediate awareness of mortality and of their radical ‘insufficiency’. It seems
that any established community – before it grows into an entity that could be
called a culture, society or nation – is founded in death, in a painful
awareness of mortality. Yet, gradually, through the erection of monuments
and other barricades against time, as well as against the surrounding
spaces, a ‘community’ comes to imagine itself as necessary and permanent.
Such a community becomes hierarchical; it is ruled by a head. Just as all of its
members are ruled, they must also rule themselves, must learn to negate their passions
and use their head. All community is rooted in death – always touches death –
but as communities become monocephalic, their relationship to death
becomes one of negation rather than affirmation. Egyptian society under the pharaohs or
god-kings is the archetype of this process. Of the great pyra- mids dotted along the Nile, Bataille writes, ‘no enterprise cost
a greater amount of labour than this one, which wanted to halt the flow of time . . . they transcend the intolerable void that
time opens under men’s feet, for all possible movement is halted in their geometric surfaces. IT SEEMS THAT THEY
MAINTAIN WHAT ESCAPES FROM THE DYING MAN’ (Bataille, 1985, p. 216, emphasis in original). Only
as
community organises itself through a head, through authority and through
military sovereignty and repression, does it become de-vitalised and
stagnant: its repressive measures extend, becoming increasingly insidious
and sophisticated as it can no longer immedi- ately inspire, impassion or enchant its members. We might accept that this
is loosely the case, or is at least a plausible general narrative, but it raises important questions. First, was there ever a
community that did not depend upon a repressive authority structure? Relatedly, was there ever, and could there
ever be, a community that genuinely impassions its members? Bataille’s answer – at least at
the time of Acéphale – is an unequivocal yes to both of these questions. The ‘pre-foundations’ of
Christianity, powerfully visualised in Van der Weyden’s Deposition of Christ (1435) as consisting of a distraught Mary
Magdalene, with Peter, Joseph of Arimathea and a few others removing a corpse from a cross; the ‘pre-
foundations’ of Buddhism (Siddhartha’s abandonment of a life of comfort and pleasure
to confront suffering); the springing of Dionysus from the dying womb of Semele, murdered by Zeus:
all of these seem to fulfill Bataille’s notion of the vital community of death, a
sense of community so forceful that it provokes the ecstatic frenzy of its
followers yet still cannot endure, lapsing into memorialised ‘culture’ with
the passage of time (Bataille, 1985, pp. 205–206). In making the distinction between a vital,
‘impossible’ community and the devitalised vestiges of such a community
securing itself through ideological and military structures, Bataille develops
important sets of relations: between the fullness or totality of being, and the
fragmented or mutilated state of individual existence; between the active
accumulation of knowledge and its suspension in ecstatic ‘non-knowledge’;
between an ‘external’ perspective examining life in terms of substance and
objects, and an internal or ‘inner experience’ in which substances and
objects are felt to ‘dissolve’, where the energies, forces and flows that are
obscured by objects are felt with irresistible intensity. These sets of relations are vital for
an understanding of Bataille’s notion of community, and also for his writings on mysticism and inner experience; they also
form the basis from which Bataille develops his more systematic notions of general and restricted economy in The
Accursed Share. Bataille’s position on the possibility of community springs from his passionate anti-individualism, clearly
marked in his earliest writings and developed throughout his career. Modern life, with its specialised
functions and instrumentalism, robs humans of much of their fullness of
being; the modern notion of the individual is a ‘degraded particle lacking
reality’. Life is reduced to a function: the doctor, priest, teacher, cleaner, or most
mutilated of all, the business leader. The incumbent of each of these roles must
absorb the specialised knowledge of their function. Knowledge itself is
mutilated in this process, the general or overarching perspective is lost and
our relations to other people shrink to the functional level . We become
increasingly contemptuous of those who occupy roles other than our own, in
fact, Bataille suggests, it seems as if others, especially those ‘lower’ on the scale of functions,
lack being and seem to be mere phantoms. Yet, it is not simply that modernity values instrumental or
restricted knowledge over some sense of ‘true’ or authentic knowledge. Knowledge itself is a restriction
of experience: it alienates the subject from action and experience, whether this
experience is political, erotic, religious or creative, or all of these simultaneously. The
modern restriction of being to sets of functions and uses is not at all accidental, nor is
it only a by-product of capitalist accumulation: it is part of a fundamental ‘flight’ from being,
from the terror of finitude and insufficiency. Indeed, for Bataille, ‘At the basis of
human life there exists a principle of insufficiency . . . a limitless insufficiency’ (Bataille, 1985,
p. 172). Everything human reveals this insufficiency: the genitals declare mortality and the
need to reproduce; the mouth and the anus are evidence of the circulation of energy and
the inevitability of waste and discharge; the skin craves the touch of other bodies.
Language too testifies that being can never be autonomous, that there is only
‘being-in-relation’ (p. 174). Being is not merely complex, it is labyrinthine – it
must wander, and it will lose its way. Bataille’s passionate anti-individualism has led a number of
commentators to term Bataille an anti-humanist (Land, 1992; Noys, 2000). This is the case if we take a restricted view of
the human, or if we consider the ‘human’ to be a product of restriction and degradation. However, Bataille – particularly
in later works, but also in the 1930s – seems to regard the human, at its limits, to be a magnificent, beautiful, even ‘divine’
creature. This was Bataille’s attitude to the Chinese torture vic- tim, to Christ on the cross abandoned both by his followers
and by God, and to the emergence of Homo sapiens from animality. Human
beings are capable of
moving through or beyond the limits imposed by civili-sation. This happens
through the sacred, through art and literature, and through crime and
transgression. Human communities and relations can transcend the level of ‘degraded particles’, and this
transcendence can endure, at least for a short time: ‘The exchange between two human par-ticles in fact possesses the
faculty of surviving momentary separation’ (Bataille, 1985, p. 174). This assertion prefigures Bataille’s development of a
general economic thinking on eroticism in the 1940s and 1950s: ‘Men committed to political struggles will never be able to
yield to the truth of eroticism’ (1991, p. 191). CONCLUSION What
looks like politics, and imagines
itself to be political, will one day unmask itself as a religious movement.
(Kierkegaard, quoted by Bataille, 1985, p. 178) Bataille gave no allegiance to any political party or ideology. Instead he
formed many short-lived groups for the discussion of ideas; none of these hardened into an organisation. Bataille’s
commitment to the revolutionary idea of the sacred as revolt and overthrowing of both existing society and existing
religion made it impossible for him to be integrated within any Marxist or communist organisation, yet he remained close,
indeed ‘intimate’ with one of the fundamental aspi- rations of communism: the breaking down of individualism and the
acknowledgement of the deep and ‘universal’ commonality of all humanity. Bataille’s publications on politics ridicule
ethical and moral thinking as the props and alibis of liberal capitalist exploitation, stating that all thought that does not
immediately challenge capitalism has a ‘demeanour of senile trickery and comical smugness’ (Bataille, 1985, p. 32).
Mainstream political debate and ethical discussion is ruled by such trickery and
smugness to this day. There has been absolutely no rejuvenation of political
thought since Bataille’s day, indeed if the dominant liberal traditions were
senile in Bataille’s age, they are zombiefied today, preserved in a media
void, neither dead nor alive and leaving the majority utterly indifferent. Yet,
Bataille’s position was an optimistic one: the ‘uprising of the lower classes’ promised a new society beyond bourgeois
liberal capitalism. The agitation of the lower classes is analogous to the left pole of the sacred: they must bring down the
elevated and powerful in order to rejuvenate the whole. Bataille finds in Nietzsche powerful support for his growing dis-
trust of political organisation and action. For Bataille, politics (in the accepted or restricted sense) is
always
tied to temporality, to objects and goals: it reflects on the past, finds it
deficient and seeks improvements for the future. This is what enslaves
politics to time or duration, just as it enslaves human beings to a condition
of working for and anticipating ends and goals, and the elusive search for
happiness. The present moment is denied or suppressed. Being is thus
fragmented by role, career, position, place, time. For Bataille, the present – an
eternal moment of infinite freedom, must not be denied. Given this constitu-
tive fragmentation, politics, in the conventional sense, can only fail. It must
fail because, in a sense, it is designed to fail, just as ethics always fails – neither really help the
lowly or excluded. They fail because their purpose is to defuse the incendiary
nature of being, to deny the scream of life, to prescribe a slow, torturous
neutralisation of life mortgaged against the future. The future always
belongs to those with power; it is the now which must be seized. Bataille’s
‘politics’ is a politics of community, of an ‘impossible’ community. Though
Bataille rejects parliamentary democracy and its political systems, parties
and organisations as barriers to freedom, along with all utopian attempts to
reform or ameliorate the existing system, it does not follow that his thought
is apolitical as some have charged. Bataille’s revolutionary thinking on the
political envisages a different world, a fundamentally altered society, and an
altered or ‘other’ commu- nism (Bataille, in Mitchell & Winfree, 2009, p. 205). Far from giving up on these hopes, Bataille
turned to mysticism and to eroticism to
deepen this search for revolutionary
transformation. Mysticism and eroticism do indeed open new worlds, worlds radically
other than that of productive, servile labour and the demands of capitalist accumulation.
Positivism
To take an empirical or positivistic view of the radical
singularities we encounter is an attempt to bring stability to
becoming that robs them of their value
Massumi 17 (Brian, social theorist, writer, philosopher, and professor in the Communications
Department at the University of Montreal, chapter 14 of “General Ecology: The New Ecological
Paradigm”, by Eric Hörl, titled “Virtual Ecology and the Question of Value”. P 349-350. May 4, 2017) //
IES

Ruyer’s second point about color and value concerns a notion that has quietly slipped into this discussion along the way:
the circumstances. According to Ruyer, the
circumstances of an actualization, the conditions calling
for a potential’s appearing, are not sufficient to explain the quality that appears.18
You can describe what conditions are necessary for the appearance of red until you’re blue in the face, and you will still not
be able to convey to a color-blind person what red is, such as it is, in contradistinction to orange, yellow, and green. The
bodily conditions of a color-blind person’s vision do not “want” any red. They “some” the color spectrum otherwise. Red’s
power of appearing abides them. Colors are akin to pornography: you only know one when you see it. Qualities
of
experience are subjective, but not in the sense of belonging only to a subject or occurring
in a mind. They are subjective in the sense that they have a character. They are their
character. There is nothing to explain about “what” they are other than that character,
such as it is. Their appearance tells all. There is nothing “behind” the qualitative
character exhibited in their appearance that would explain what they are any better than
the appearing of the character explains itself. In fact, explanations of what lies
behind the appearance are more apt to lose the quality than present it
better. A complete account of the physical and physiological conditions behind the
appearance of red includes many things—red excluded. This is for the simple reason, as Whitehead observes,
stating the obvious, that the wavelengths of light around which the physical side of the explanation centers have no color
in and of themselves.19 The same could be said of the physiological side of the equation: electrical nerve impulses are no
more colorful than photon streams. This last point is crucial, because it extends the argument to all qualities of experience.
Every quality of experience self-explanatorily exceeds its empirical conditions. This
means that a scientific explanation, although true as far as it goes, does not fully account
for the occasion. An empirical explanation is a reductive abstraction that focuses on only
certain of the elements involved (those capable of being quantified with the regularity of
a law). Empirical explanation selects for how the occasion is quantitatively. The “how” of
empirical explanation is a selective focus on a lawfully select “some” of the factors
involved, arrived at precisely by subtracting the defining character of the occasion from
it: the scientific explanation of the red of the sunset begins by bracketing redness, the qualitativeness of red. It takes red’s
qualitative nature for selfexplanatory—which it is. But what it forgets is Whitehead’s fundamental point that the
occasion as explained by that defining character is more concrete than the scientific fact
extracted (abstracted) from it.20 Who would even think of explaining red scientifically if they had never seen
it? The empirical explanation “hows” itself into an acquired color-blindness. When it sees red, it just sees red, such as
it is—and proceeds to explain away that experiential fact with an abstractive explanation
of how it came to be. The implications of this for neuropsychology, and its humanities cousins like neuroaesthetics,
are grave. Also grave are the consequences for historical analysis, to the extent that it
fashions itself an empirical enterprise, for example employing a linear cause-effect
framework for “how” things came about modeled directly or indirectly on scientific
notions of causality. History has to acknowledge that subjective and the qualitative are
always wanting, and that the concrete facts of history exhibit a qualitative form of self-
explanation. Any explanation bracketing this qualitative reality is deadeningly
incomplete, because to explain away the qualitative factors of experience is to explain
away potential. The fact that a quality of experience appears under certain requisite
conditions in no way detracts from its being such as it, positively all of its subjective
itself. The myriad circumstantial factors of an occasion come together in such as way as
to call to, and call forth, a defining qualitative character. But they do not make the
quality. When red appears here, it will always already have appeared elsewhere, at another
moment of time, and will no doubt appear elsewhen in another place. In its abiding
power of appearing, red is ubiquitously unmade. It is always-already (in potential). It does
not emerge from its conditions. It appears for them, when called. It fills their want with
its self-explaining. In fact, its self-explaining is in a sense more concretely explanatory of
the circumstances than they are of it: the red of the sunset makes apparent what this occasion is all about.
The character red characterizes the complete occasion.
Productivity
Education and white capitalism isolates unproductive subjects
and inoculates them with “useful” knowledge that only serves to
strip students of their autonomy – the logic of waste, of
expenditure, is a dialectic indictment of whiteness and pre-
determination
McLaren, Leonardo, and Allen 2000 (Peter, Zeus, Ricky Lee, McLaren is a
Distinguished Professor in Critical Studies in the College of Educational Studies at
Chapman University. Leonardo is a professor with a Ph.D. in Education and B.A. in
English from UCLA.Allen is a professor in the Education Department at the University of
New Mexico. “Multicultural Curriculum: New Directions for Social Theory,” Practice and
Policy, pg 120-121, accessed 7/10/17, EHL)
THEORY of EXPENDITURE: Transforming labor, and consequently studentwork, requires a revolutionary
disposition toward relations of production. In particular. it is imperative that educators link the
transformation of the economy with a critique of whiteness. However. theories of
whiteness must be linked to the idea that capitalism is not only the exploitation of
knowledge for profits, but the simultaneous repression of expenditure, or what Georges Bataille
(1997, 1991. 1988, 1985) describes as the human proclivity to expend energy and not to accumulate it.
Transformation of labor produces social relations that flourish in conditions free of
alienation and exploitation. A discourse on production must also consider alternative theoretical frameworks to
explain students’ inner experiences and the knowledge they gain from them. Transforming relations of
production allows students, as concrete subjects, to experience schooling in new ways, but
Bataille’s theory of expenditure provides a general framework that explains how we come to know these inner experiences
themselves, a theory that functions not within the logic of production, but within that of waste.
As Bataille (1988) explains. "On the surface of the globe, for living matter in general, energy
is always in
excess; the question is always posed in terms of extravagance. The choice is limited to how the wealth is to be
squandered...The general movement of exudation (of waste) of living matter implies him [sic], and he cannot stop it;...it
destines him, in a privileged way. to that glorious operation. to useless consumption. The latter cannot accumulate
limitlessly in the productive forces; eventually, like a river into the sea, it is bound to escape us and be lost to us.” (23;
emphasis in the original). Schools accumulate useful knowledge to the point where
they cannot hold it. Students memorize, tabulate, and synthesize knowledge for
future-oriented purposes. Eventually, unproductive student behavior erupts and then
spreads as students resist and rebel against work as a guiding prnciple. The conventional
explanation for disruptive student behavior is “unproductivity.” Resistant students are either alienated or
lazy, and they willfully opt out of work. Bataillean pedagogy understands this to be a state of wasteful
activity that cannot be fully explained by a productivist logic. It represents the “blind spot” of the
discourse on work. Bataille‘s pedagogy attempts to transgress the utility of current school knowledge. Educators
isolate unproductive students from their peers to ensure that they “do their work" or
detain them after school to give them extra work. Meanwhile, what escapes our
understanding is the principle of expenditure, or how students squander schoolwork for
no apparently useful or productive reason. The theory of expenditure does not deny the presence
of work. let alone the importance of liberated labor. It acknowledges the production of life for
purposes of subsistence, survival. and improvement of the species. Furthermore,
the modified theory of expenditure we are presenting recognizes the importance of revolutionizing student work as part of
an overall transformation of social life. In fact, Bataille (1997) clarifies, “Class struggle becomes the grandest form of social
expenditure when it is taken up again and developed, this time on the part of the workers, and on such a scale that it
threatens the very existence of the masters” (178). It
is at this intersection between work and non-work
that we locate a revolution both of student work and waste. injected in this dialectic is
the indictment of whiteness as an ideology that alienates students from real
knowledge as well as preventing them from rejoicing in the event of knowing, unfettered from utilitarian concerns.
School knowledge has become not only a commodity in the Marxian sense, but has taken on the quality of a thing that
exists for other things. And as things go, school
knowledge is deemed useful for something
outside of itself. to fulfill a destiny that has been predetermined, such as
grades or higher education. Bataille’s perspective decries this utilitarian condition wherein students are
subjected to schoolwork that apparently has no intrinsic worth but an exchange value in the markets of white capitalism.
Race
White fascism works as a territorial control of expenditure –
whiteness maps excess onto colored bodies as genocide, as a
deferral of fears about itself through excessive drives, as a
divestment of self-expression – war becomes whiteness’ potlatch
gift
McLaren, Leonardo, and Allen 2000 (Peter, Zeus, Ricky Lee, McLaren is a
Distinguished Professor in Critical Studies in the College of Educational Studies at
Chapman University. Leonardo is a professor with a Ph.D. in Education and B.A. in
English from UCLA.Allen is a professor in the Education Department at the University of
New Mexico. “Multicultural Curriculum: New Directions for Social Theory,” Practice and
Policy, pg 120-121, accessed 7/10/17, EHL)
White fascism is not only the enforcement of white territorial control of the
means of production. It is also the simultaneous policing of excess, of curbing
expenditure and revelry (not to motion ribaldry) where these may threaten the puritanical
code of white governmentality. How many examples do we have of the carnivalesque activity, outlawry, and
social brigandage of student behavior quelled by the repressive power of state or local police? Celebration is confused for
lawlessness as the antiriot unit marches into the potlatch to subdue its energy. School classrooms function
under this sign of general repression where quietude is valued over movement and
vitality. Yet shit the scene to a crowded hallway or students on their way to their lockers and the noise deafens even the
hard of hearing. White fascism is as much about the control of expenditure as it is
the control of the means of production. As an apparatus of whiteness, schools
become places of the saving of energy rather than the spending of it. It should be plain to see that
white capitalism has encoded the colored body as a site of excess. To the white fascist. black
students (especially males) have become the site of super-sexuality and the Latina body a
site of super reproduction. On the other hand. the white body has been constructed as the site
of rationality and savings. The white body is almost non-sexualized. This erotic economy of
“excess” is linked to a genocidal tendency in the history and geography of
whiteness to the extent that white ideology has been involved in consistent crimes
against the eroticized other. The oppression of the sexual other is evidence of a certain
repression of the expenditure that whiteness represses in itself. That is, whiteness
recognizes an excess beyond productivity but fails to squander it, fearing the ecstatic
consequences of such a waste. It is a vicarious living of sorts that robs whiteness of any life of its
own. It is a mitigated. surreptitious experience that partitions the erotic—that is. the irreducible experience—
into fantasies rather than participating in its flows. It is a projection of what
whiteness fears about itself and fills to understand: a certain excessive
drive. This may sound like the eroticization of the racialized subject represented in the white imaginary. For it seems a
standard white discourse to portray the other as a site of excess. However, remaining consistent
with Bataille’s theory, expenditure is a general economy that inheres in all humans. It is not an
economic drive particular to non-Western societies, but one that finds its expression in them, and its
repression in whiteness. Simple life forms excrete waste, factories spew smoke, and stars explode as supernova
only to give birth to new star formations from leftover stellar material. In as much as capitalism commodities any and all
social spaces for profit, whiteness
refuses to divest itself of excess but saves it for further
growth, forestalling its inevitable and disastrous expression. Wars, riots, and civil unrest
are today’s social potlatch.
Sexuality
Sexuality inextricable correlates with violence and the right to
kill exercised by the government. The sovereign world produces
a luxurious death and constitutes the structure of death as it
inhabits the world.
Baudrillard, 76 (Jean, Sociologist, philosopher, bataillian scholor. Symbolic exchange and death, pgs. 154-
156)//Cummings
Despite its radicality, the psychoanalytic vision of death remains an insufficient vision: the pulsions are constrained by repetition, its perspective bears on a final equilibrium within the inorganic continuum, eliminating differences and intensities

This theory manifests certain affinities


following an involution towards the lowest point; an entropy of death, pulsional conservatism, equilibrium in the absence of Nirvana.

with Malthusian political economy, the objective of which is to protect oneself against
death. For political economy only exists by default: death is its blind spot, the absence
haunting all its calculations. And the absence of death alone permits the exchange of
values and the play of equivalences. An infinitesimal injection of death would
immediately create such excess and ambivalence that the play of value would completely
collapse. Political economy is an economy of death, because it economises on death and buries it under its discourse. The death drive falls into the opposite category: it is the discourse of death as the insurmountable finality. This
discourse is oppositional but complementary, for if political economy is indeed Nirvana (the infinite accumulation and reproduction of dead value), then the dea th drive denounces its truth, at the same time as subjecting it to absolute derision. It
does this, however, in the terms of the system itself, by idealising death as a drive (as an objective finality). As such, the death drive is the current system's most radical negative, but even it simply holds up a mirror to the funereal imaginary of

Instead of establishing death as the regulator of tensions and an equilibrium


political economy.

function, as the economy of the pulsion, Bataille introduces it in the opposite sense, as
the paroxysm of exchanges, superabundance and excess. Death as excess, always already
there, proves that life is only defective when death has taken it hostage, that life only
exists in bursts and in exchanges with death, if it is not condemned to the discontinuity
of value and therefore to absolute deficit. 'To will that there be life only is to make sure that there is only death.' The idea that death is not at all a breakdown of life, that it is

'[t]he idea of a
willed by life itself, and that the delirial (economic) phantasm of eliminating it is equivalent to implanting it in the heart of life itself this time as an endless mournful nothingness. Biologically,

world where human life might be artificially prolonged has a nightmare quality about it'
), but symbolically above all; and here the nightmare is
(G. Bataille, Eroticism [2nd edn, tr. M. Dalwood, London: Marion Boyars, 1987], p. 101

no longer a simple possibility, but the reality we live at every instant: death (excess, ambivalence, gift, sacrifice,

We renounce dying and accumulate instead of losing ourselves:


expenditure and the paroxysm), and so real life is absent from it.

Not only do we renounce death, but also we let our desire, which is really the desire to
die, lay hold of its object and we keep it while we live on. We enrich our life instead of
losing it. (Eroticism, p. 142) Here, luxury and prodigality predominate over functional calculation, just as death predominates over life as the unilateral finality of production and accumulation: On a comprehensive view, human life

Death
strives towards prodigality to the point of anguish, to the point where the anguish becomes unbearable. The rest is mere moralising chatter. . . . A febrile unrest within us asks death to wreak its havoc at our expense. (ibid., p. 60)

and sexuality, instead of confronting each other as antagonistic principles are (Freud),

exchanged in the same cycle, in the same cyclical revolution of continuity. Death is not
the 'price' of sexuality the sort of equivalence one finds in every theory of complex living
beings nor is sexuality a simple detour on the way to death, as in
(the infusorium is itself immortal and asexual)

Civilisation and its Discontents: they exchange their energies and excite each other.
Neither has its own specific economy: life and death only fall under the sway of a single
economy if they are separated; once they are mixed, they pass beyond economics
altogether, into festivity and loss [W]e can no longer differentiate between (eroticism according to Bataille):

sexuality and death [, which] are simply the culminating points of the festival nature celebrates, with the inexhaustible multitude of living beings, both of them signifying the boundless wastage of nature's
resources as opposed to the urge to live on characteristic of every living creature. (Eroticism, p. 61) This festivity takes place because it reinstates the cycle where penury imposes the linear economy of duration, because it reinstates a cyclical

Hence the
revolution of life and death where Freud augurs no other issue than the repetitive involution of death. In Bataille, then, th ere is a vision of death as a principle of excess and an anti-economy.

metaphor of luxury and the luxurious character of death. Only sumptuous and useless
expenditure has meaning; the economy has no meaning, it is only a residue that has been
made into the law of life, whereas wealth lies in the luxurious exchange of death:
sacrifice, the 'accursed share', escaping investment and equivalence, can only be
annihilated. If life is only a need to survive at any cost, then annihilation is a priceless
luxury. In a system where life is ruled by value and utility, death becomes a useless
luxury, and the only alternative. In Bataille, this luxurious conjunction of sex and death
figures under the sign of continuity, in opposition to the discontinuous economy of
individual existences. Finality belongs in the discontinuous order, where discontinuous beings secrete finality, all sorts of finalities, which amount to only one: their own death. We are discontinuous beings,
individuals who perish in isolation in the midst of an incomprehensible adventure, but we yearn for our lost continuity. (Eroticism, p. 15) Death itself is without finalities; in eroticism, the finality of the individual being is put back into question:
What does physical eroticism signify if not a violation of the very being of its practitioners . . . ? The whole business of eroticism is to destroy the self-contained character of the participants as they are in their normal lives. (ibid., p. 17)

Erotic nakedness is equal to death insofar as it inaugurates a state of communication,


loss of identity and fusion. The fascination of the dissolution of constituted forms : such is Eros (pace
Freud, for whom Eros binds energies, federates them into ever larger unities). In death, as in Eros, it is a matter of introducing all possible continuity into discontinuity, a game of complete continuity. It is in this sense that 'death, the rupture of
the discontinuous individualities to which we cleave in terror, stands there before us more real than life itself' (ibid., p. 19). Freud says exactly the same thing, but by default. It is no longer a question of the same death.
Schooling
The schooling institution as a whole is an attempt to quell excess
in favor of discipline and regulation in a collusion with
authoritarian capitalism
Preparata 07 (Guido Giacomo, “The Ideology of Tyranny: The Use of Neo-Gnostic Myth in
American Politics”, Chapter 7 - The “Mocking Varlets” of the Postmodern Left: Political Correctness,
Education, and Empire, p 116-118, September 14, 2007) // IES

Thereafter, postmodern education in America could take the following propedeutic turn: in the
early years of formation, the devotees of Lyotard proposed to communicate “enough of what is held to be true
by the society to which the children belong so that they can function as citizens of that
society.” At the higher level, they suggested that “the role of education is not to pass on the
truth, but to edify.”31 “To edify”? The suggested pedagogy thus appeared to resolve itself into
a preliminary rehashing of Liberal indoctrination, followed by “edification”—by which means,
was not clearly explained. After storming the palace of higher learning, Lyotard was presumably envisaging
an arrangement whereby the interdisciplinary clans and their chieftains would collude with
the grant-generous IT industry (a partner for hardware, media, and distance learning) and the business
schools (“is it saleable?”), which, most of all, live by the ethos of performativity, to divide the
“endowments for education” among themselves. It is fascinating how this practical understanding of
contemporary education could have since been classed among the representative analyses of the “Left.” Nothing
could be more fully aligned with the Interests of our contemporary regimes than the
indifferent strokes of this postmodern sketch, which portrays, in essence, a pedagogical disaster.
Established knowledge. So this meant that the bulk of what we “know,” which, however
we look at it, is an unpalatable hodgepodge of “grand narratives,” would by no means disappear,
and that it could be laid out in clean synopses and copied onto computer memory. This was no resolution. Postmodernism
merely recommended that the debate be truncated at a point where most fundamental questions about the nature of our
social realities still remained unanswered. We should thus be satisfied with piling trivia in our heads,
and call it quits. This was the “end of education”: compact and standardized accounts
(who writes?) of, say, Shiism, Marxism, and the Spanish Civil War would be a click away
from the pupils (“downloadable from the net,” as we say today), and the remainder of
one’s training would be taken care of in the campuses of trade, technical, and vocational
schools—the infamous “colleges.” Education—like art, science, and perhaps political
history as well—may have reached its historical fulfillment. [ . . . ] We have reached the
end. [ . . . ] It is the beginning of the post-millennium blues.32 Masters of the house, what would these
postmodern practitioners of interdisciplinarity presently busy themselves with? They
would focus on the “undecidables,” chaos, catastrophe, paradox, and the like.
“Postmodern science,” said Lyotard, would not “produce the known, but the
unknown.” Bataillean blather, once again. To wit: The postmodern would be that which, in the modern, puts forward
the unpresentable in presentation itself; that which denies itself the solace of good forms, the consensus of a good taste
which would make it possible to share collectively the nostalgia for the unattainable; that
which searches for
new presentations, not in order to enjoy them but in order to impart a stronger sense of
the unpresentable.33 While their business partners would obsess with performativity, the
Foucauldians would look for “difference.” Not the “grand narrative,” but the short one (le petit récit) should
occupy the daily research activities of the new academy. Of course, one should not have apprehended this
division of labor as taking place in a setting that would be stable and pacific. No. Remember,
the “postmodern condition” was a variation on the Foucauldian theme. Power is a given, and we are nested into it; we
cannot wish for more than opposing resistance to it. Lyotard stated it explicitly: no “pure” alternative to the system is
conceivable. It was understood—though the tenor of Lyotard’s prognosis on this count was rather tame—that the
“informatization of societies” would inevitably lead to “terror,” that is, to an environment
in which alternative views would be systematically eliminated. A giant filing bank of its
constituents’ personal data is indeed “the dream instrument” of the disciplinarian society. How is one, then, to
fend off the system’s inherent propensity ever to extend its monitoring, controlling
reach? Precisely by cultivating difference. For Lyotard, the last thing the arts and
sciences should be striving for is “consensus”;34 the rule of consensus is that proper of an
authoritarian regime. But if one were to reduce all explorations to individual cases requiring but a “local”
consensus, then the obscurantist conceit of wanting one truth for all instances would be seriously antagonized.35 All
narratives would become prime narratives, each being putatively irreducible to a number of universal truths. To compile a
digital anthology of incommensurable fables: this was Lyotard’s quest for so-called paralogy. In the end, he hoped that
computers, although they were potentially dangerous devices, could be tapped by “discussion groups” with a view to
organizing knowledge and their culture of resistance. He concluded with a typical flourish of postmodern balderdash:
“We see in the offing a politics that will grant equal respect to the desire of justice and to
that of the unknown.”36 Granted, the advent of the Internet confirmed Lyotard’s observations and refreshed his
text. But what of these observations? Were they really novel, and most importantly, were they in any sense dissenting?
Neither. On one side, they were old truisms masquerading as iconoclast pronouncements, and, on the other, meretricious
rhetoric, straining to mesh into the conservative mainstream. One need only leaf the pages of Thorstein Veblen’s superb
The Higher Learning in America, which was written at the end of World War I, to see through this particular postmodern
deceit. Veblen had already intuited how a
persistent habituation to the “pecuniary conduct of
affairs,” coupled with the “mechanical stress” of the “industrial arts,” had constrained, if
not entirely disfigured, the traditional countenance of the pursuit of knowledge, which is
in the nature of an “idle curiosity.” “Business shrewdness,” Veblen wrote, is
“incompatible with the spirit of higher learning.”37 Even all that postmodern clamor about
the end of metadiscourses, is a development that, following Veblen, could have been construed intelligently as an instance
of spiritual shift: These canons of reality, or of verity, have varied from time to time, have in fact varied incontinently with
the passage of time and the mutations of experience.38 The
drive to make money, as Veblen witnessed a century
ago, has“submerged” the institution of the university in a variety of enterprises connected
with the realm of business, which have destroyed the free environment of research. In its
stead have emerged “quasi-universities installed by men of affairs, of a crass
‘practicality.’” These are the contemporary academic conglomerates that sell collegiate
catechism dispensed through mass-assembled electives, “training of secondary school
teachers,” “edification of the unlearned by ‘university extension,’” and “erudition by
mail-order”—structures capped by the cupola of the “academic executive” and the
shareholders of the “governing boards” (the wealthy Regents).39 The university is
conceived as a business house dealing in merchantable knowledge, placed
under the governing hand of a captain of erudition, whose office is to turn the means in
hand to account in the largest feasible output.40 The struggle among schools for
enrollment, publicity, and profit is conducted by each academic conglomerate’s
“centralized administrative machinery,” which “is on the whole detrimental to
scholarship, even in the undergraduate work.” Such a system of authoritative control,
standardization, gradation, accountancy, classification, credits and
penalties, will necessarily be drawn on stricter lines the more the school
takes on the character of a house of correction or penal settlement ; in which the
irresponsible inmates are to be held to a round of distasteful tasks and restrained
from (conventionally) excessive irregularities of conduct.41 This concerted and
competitive effort at disciplining the masses is the ferocious routine of the
academic personnel leading “bureaus of erudition—commonly called departments,”
whose politics is shaded by “a clamorous conformity” and a “truculent quietism,” both
stances passing as a “mark of scientific maturity.” These specialists exhibit an “histrionic sensibility,” a
jesting touch that blends nicely with the “jealous” attention that they otherwise reserve to the “views and prepossessions
prevalent among the respectable, conservative middle-class.”42 The
inquiries of such “experts” are not
“likely to traverse old-settled convictions in the social, economic, political or religious
domain, for “it is bad business policy to create unnecessary annoyance.”43 All of which
institutional disasters conspire, under a “regime of graduated sterility,” to
consummate the “skillfully devised death of the spirit.”4
Sovereignty
To exercise sovereignty is to exercise the right to kill, death is
displaced on others in order for the western world to survive,
allowing violence against the other to increase
Mbembe, 03, (Achill senior researcher at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of
the Witwatersrand, Necropolitics, Pgs. 15-16, 2003)//Cummings

To exercise sovereignty is to exercise control over mortality and to define life as the
deployment and manifestation of power. One could summarize in the above terms what
Michel Foucault meant by biopower: that domain of life over which power has taken
control. ? What does the implementation
But under what practical conditions is the right to kill, to allow to live, or to expose to death exercised? Who is the subject of this right

of such a right tell us about the person who is thus put to death and about the relation of
enmity that sets that person against his or her murderer? Is the notion of biopower
sufficient to account for the contemporary ways in which the political, under the guise of
war, of resistance, or of the fight against terror, makes the murder of the enemy its
primary and absolute objective? War, after all, is as much a means of achieving
sovereignty as a way of exercising the right to kill. Imagining politics as a form of war, we
must ask: What place is given to life, death, and the human body (in particular the wounded or slain body)? In order to answer these
questions, this essay draws on the concept of biopower and explores its relation to notions of sovereignty (imperium) and the state of exception. Such an analysis raises a number of empirical and philosophical questions I would like to examine
briefly. As is well known, the concept of the state of exception has been often discussed in relation to Nazism, totalitarianism, and the concentration/extermination camps. The death camps in particular have been interpreted variously a s the
central metaphor for sovereign and destructive violence and as the ultimate sign of the absolute power of the negative. Says Hannah Arendt: “There are no parallels to the life in the concentration camps. Its horror can never be fully embraced by
the imagination for the very reason that it stands outside of life and death.” Because its inhabitants are divested of political status and reduced to bare life, the camp is, for Giorgio Agamben, “the place in which the most absolute conditio
inhumana ever to appear on Earth was realized.”
Standards
Those in charge of the government have unlimited control of the
manner in which the state operates, this power originates from
the manner in which they adhere to national standards and
proliferate the discourses associated to national identity and
dominant discussions
Sharma and Gupta, 06, (Aradhana, A political anthropologist interested in the
state, democratic governance, citizenship, social movements, NGOs, gender, and
activism, Akhil, sociocultural anthropologist currently working on questions of
transnational capitalism, infrastructure, and corruption, The Anthropology of the State,
Pg. 357-358, 2006)//Cummings
The central question in the two influential articles in this section has to do with the
relation between the state and popular culture. The ability of dominant groups that
control a state to gain legitimacy depends crucially on their success in molding national
culture and shaping representations of the state. At a deeper level, ‘‘the state’’ itself
cannot be conceived outside of representation or prior to it; ‘‘the state’’ is a phantasm
that is made into a real, tangible object in people’s lives through representation. In order
to be effective, such representations of the state have to be popular. Thus, we can find in
popular culture one of the most important sites for the mediation of class conflicts (and
other conflicts as well). Such mediation is critical in enabling dominant groups
who wish to establish their hegemony to incorporate the subaltern classes.
These two articles give an inkling of a vast conceptual arena that needs much further
development with a wide range of critical tools. They exemplify contrasting, but not
mutually exclusive, theoretical approaches: Hall’s essay derives from a Gramscian
perspective (see Section I), while the critical issues in Mbembe’s essay are derived from
Bakhtin and Bataille. Whereas Hall focuses on epochal transitions in the relations
between the state and popular culture, Mbembe studies the role of the spectacular
in the routine operation of power. Hall’s essay concentrates on Britain from the
eighteenth to twentieth centuries; Mbembe is mainly concerned with the postcolonial
situation, largely drawing his examples from Cameroon. There are thus many differences
in terms of subject and location between the two articles. Hall’s article takes up
Gramsci’s emphasis on the productive aspects of the state and on popular culture in
order to explain how hegemony is established. Hall argues that neither ‘‘the state’’ nor
‘‘popular culture’’ have remained the same over time. He finds traditional approaches
that emphasize their slow historical evolution to be unsatisfactory. Hall proposes instead
an approach that pays attention to the drastic shifts in each of these spheres. In such a
history, long periods of settlement in the relations between these spheres are interrupted
by moments of radical transformation. The key question then becomes the Gramscian
one of figuring out how the new configuration between the state and popular culture
brought about a new hegemonic order. Hall considers three moments in the
transformation of state–culture relations since the eighteenth century. The first example
is that of the role of law in the eighteenth-century British state. The British state in this
period had a small and restricted domain of activity: it had no regular police or standing
army and it was based on a very restrictive male franchise. In such a state, the law
functioned ‘‘to hold an unequal and tumultuous society together’’ (p. 365). The
nineteenth century saw the rise of an urban bourgeoisie, new reading publics through the
rapid growth of literacy, and the rise of a ‘‘free’’ press. Such a press articulated the
concerns of a civil society defined against the state. In this ‘‘civil society,’’ the urban
bourgeoisie, who had the vast amounts of capital necessary to own commercial presses,
and the emerging middle class incorporated the popular classes into the new medium
mainly as a reading and buying public. Such a definition of freedom, Hall importantly
reminds us, ‘‘is not democratic but commercial’’ (p. 370). Finally, with the twentieth
century, the decline of British industrial dominance accompanied by the rise of trade
union organizing, and new technologies such as photography, cinema, cable and wireless
telegraphy, the telephone, radio, and television profoundly disturbed existing
configurations of power. In such a context, Hall demonstrates that the state assumed a
greater role in broadcasting through the BBC, all the while ensuring that it stayed
‘‘independent’’ of direct control. The BBC exemplified the pedagogical function played by
the state in that its programming aimed to ‘‘educate’’ the popular classes and shape their
tastes and desires to consolidate the hegemonic bloc. Hall focuses mainly on those
‘‘unsettled’’ periods when the relation between the state and popular culture registered
momentous shifts, either because of changed class relations or technological revolutions.
What Hall’s article leaves out is a consideration of those ‘‘periods of settlement’’ in which
hegemony works routinely, that is, when the control of state power by a dominant bloc is
not thrown into crisis. These periods are precisely the object of Mbembe’s analysis about
the ‘‘banality’’ of power. He asks how the reproduction of the state is effected as a routine
matter. Rather than emphasize the Weberian aspects of the routinization of power
through institutional processes, Mbembe focuses on excess and spectacle as the armory
of the creation and institutionalization of dominant meanings. In his view, the ‘‘obscene,
vulgar, and the grotesque’’ become an essential means by which domination is secured
and resisted. He rejects the position that the use of the grotesque and obscene to
caricature the state by the popular classes demonstrates their resistance to power. He
argues rather that the state itself deploys the obscene and vulgar as a critical means of
legitimation.
STEM (Science)
The perpetuation of scientific knowledge invests in the general
economy and relies on the premises of utility and denies the
inner experience of the subject
Pawlett 15 (William, Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, Social Sciences and Communication at
the University of Wolverhampton, “Georges Bataille: Sacred and Society”, General Economy and
Sovereignty, p 89-90, January 30, 2015) // IES

Restricted economies and the knowledge they generate are absolutely vital and indispensable for society and for thought.
Yet, restricted economies cannot function without erecting limits and boundaries, and
there will always be excesses and indeterminacies permeating these boundaries in any
particular system. Indeed, the erection of a boundary or limit itself generates an ‘excess’
beyond that limit. Restricted economies ‘work’ only by drawing, selectively and discretely upon
their ‘outside’ – the realm of general economy – and by simultaneously denying that they border an irreducible
‘outside’. The restricted economies of academic disciplines are generally happy to admit that they have limits, of a fuzzy
sort, but assume that beyond ‘their’ limit another academic discipline picks up the baton. For example, sociology may
defer to psychology and to biology where the functioning of the individual psyche or of the body are concerned. In concert,
academic disciplines purport to offer a seamless and limitless coverage of human
experience. Bataille’s contention is that there are inherent and irreducible excesses,
excesses which must be expelled as a precondition for the scientific enterprise to begin.
Science is, for Bataille, restricted by its underlying foundation in utility –
ultimately in the profane realm – so that all sciences must accumulate
knowledge that is of use to society. The accursed share, that which cannot be
reduced to the utilitarian project of scientific thought, is manifest in paradox, anomaly
and in the failure to erect meaningful rather than simply useful foundations for
knowledge. Further, for Bataille, the subjective or inner experiences of the thinker – his or
her experiences of wonder, inspiration, mystery, despair and ecstasy – are experiences
that can never be formalized as scientific knowledge, yet they are the source
from which all scientific knowledge is generated: the pre- or non-foundations of
the scientific enterprise. At the level of thought or enquiry, general economic thinking affirms and
confronts the accursed share, where restricted economies deny it or avoid confronting its
manifestations. The implications of the accursed share become increasingly complex and
problematic when we consider human groups and societies. In support of his law of general
economy, Bataille outlines a social anthropology of archaic societies which, he argues, made
the expenditure of excess energy and wealth their fundamental dynamic through
festivals, feasts and sacrificial rites (Bataille, 1988a, pp. 45–77). Bataille’s argument is that by expending
excess in collective, ritual practices which suspend everyday, productive existence, excess
energy can bind beings and communities: the accursed share is devoted to glory and
sumptuary activities and so social life is enriched. In contrast, modern societies have, by
and large, lost the capacity for glorious, communal expenditures because wealth is expropriated
and ‘owned’ by elites for their individual and private pleasure.
Tests
Bubble tests fall in line with a captitalist totalistic agenda,
teachers are motivated to make tests easier with merit systems,
test tactics like process of elimination guarantee the worst forms
of argumentation while creating a realm of ignorance of what we
know and what we don’t know.
Hedges 11, Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com.
Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two
decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author
of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What
Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The
Christian Right and the War on America. His most recent book is Empire
of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.
https://www.commondreams.org/views/2011/04/11/why-united-states-
destroying-its-education-system
A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public
libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes
test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational
training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human
products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It
funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of
corporate masters and serfs. Teachers, their unions under attack, are becoming as replaceable as minimum-wage
employees at Burger King. We spurn real teachers—those with the capacity to inspire children to think, those who help the
young discover their gifts and potential—and replace them with instructors who teach to narrow, standardized tests. These
instructors obey. They teach children to obey. And that is the point. TheNo Child Left Behind
program, modeled on the “Texas Miracle,” is a fraud. It worked no better
than our deregulated financial system. But when you shut out debate these dead ideas are self-
perpetuating. Passing bubble tests celebrates and rewards a peculiar form of
analytical intelligence. This kind of intelligence is prized by money
managers and corporations. They don’t want employees to ask uncomfortable questions or examine
existing structures and assumptions. They want them to serve the system. These tests produce men and
women who are just literate and numerate enough to perform basic
functions and service jobs. The tests elevate those with the financial means to prepare for them. They
reward those who obey the rules, memorize the formulas and pay deference to authority. Rebels, artists, independent
thinkers, eccentrics and iconoclasts—those
who march to the beat of their own drum—are
weeded out. “Imagine,” said a public school teacher in New York City, who asked that I not use his name, “going to
work each day knowing a great deal of what you are doing is fraudulent, knowing in no way are you preparing your
students for life in an ever more brutal world, knowing that if you don’t continue along your scripted test prep course and
indeed get better at it you will be out of a job. Up until very recently, the principal of a school was something like the
conductor of an orchestra: a person who had deep experience and knowledge of the part and place of every member and
every instrument. In the past 10 years we’ve had the emergence of both [Mayor] Mike Bloomberg’s Leadership
Academy and Eli Broad’s Superintendents Academy, both created exclusively to produce instant principals and
superintendents who model themselves after CEOs. How is this kind of thing even legal? How are such ‘academies’
accredited? What quality of leader needs a ‘leadership academy’? What kind of society would allow such people to run
their children’s schools? The high-stakes tests may be worthless as pedagogy but they are a brilliant mechanism for
undermining the school systems, instilling fear and creating a rationale for corporate takeover. There is something
grotesque about the fact the education reform is being led not by educators but by financers and speculators and
billionaires.” Teachers, under assault from every direction, are fleeing the profession. Even before the “reform” blitzkrieg
we were losing half of all teachers within five years after they started work—and these were people who spent years in
school and many thousands of dollars to become teachers. How does the country expect to retain dignified, trained
professionals under the hostility of current conditions? I suspect that the hedge fund managers behind our charter schools
system—whose primary concern is certainly not with education—are delighted to replace real teachers with nonunionized,
poorly trained instructors. To truly teach is to instill the values and knowledge which promote the common good and
protect a society from the folly of historical amnesia.
The utilitarian, corporate ideology
embraced by the system of standardized tests and leadership academies has
no time for the nuances and moral ambiguities inherent in a liberal arts
education. Corporatism is about the cult of the self. It is about personal enrichment and profit as the
sole aim of human existence. And those who do not conform are pushed aside. “It is extremely
dispiriting to realize that you are in effect lying to these kids by insinuating that this diet of corporate reading programs
and standardized tests are preparing them for anything,” said this teacher, who feared he would suffer reprisals from
school administrators if they knew he was speaking out. “It is even more dispiriting to know that your livelihood depends
increasingly on maintaining this lie. You have to ask yourself why are hedge fund managers suddenly so interested in the
education of the urban poor? The main purpose of the testing craze is not to grade the students but to grade the teacher.”
“I cannot say for certain—not with the certainty of a Bill Gates or a Mike Bloomberg who pontificate with utter certainty
over a field in which they know absolutely nothing—but more and more I suspect that a major goal of the reform campaign
is to make the work of a teacher so degrading and insulting that the dignified and the truly educated teachers will simply
leave while they still retain a modicum of self-respect,” he added. “In less than a decade we been stripped of autonomy and
are increasingly micromanaged. Students
have been given the power to fire us by failing
their tests. Teachers have been likened to pigs at a trough and blamed for
the economic collapse of the United States. In New York, principals have
been given every incentive, both financial and in terms of control, to replace
experienced teachers with 22-year-old untenured rookies. They cost less. They know
nothing. They are malleable and they are vulnerable to termination.” The demonizing of teachers is another public
relations feint, a way for corporations to deflect attention from the theft of some $17 billion in wages, savings and earnings
among American workers and a landscape where one in six workers is without employment. The speculators on Wall
Street looted the U.S. Treasury. They stymied any kind of regulation. They have avoided criminal charges. They are
stripping basic social services. And now they are demanding to run our schools and universities. “Not only have the
reformers removed poverty as a factor, they’ve removed students’ aptitude and motivation as factors,” said this teacher,
who is in a teachers union. “They seem to believe that students are something like plants where you just add water and
place them in the sun of your teaching and everything blooms. This is a fantasy that insults both student and teacher. The
reformers have come up with a variety of insidious schemes pushed as steps to professionalize the profession of teaching.
As they are all businessmen who know nothing of the field, it goes without saying that you do not do this by giving
teachers autonomy and respect.
They use merit pay in which teachers whose students
do well on bubble tests will receive more money and teachers whose
students do not do so well on bubble tests will receive less money. Of course, the
only way this could conceivably be fair is to have an identical group of students in each class—an impossibility. The real
purposes of merit pay are to divide teachers against themselves as they scramble for the brighter and more motivated
students and to further institutionalize the idiot notion of standardized tests. There is a certain diabolical intelligence at
work in both of these.” “If the Bloomberg administration can be said to have succeeded in anything,” he said, “they have
succeeded in turning schools into stress factories where teachers are running around wondering if it’s possible to please
their principals and if their school will be open a year from now, if their union will still be there to offer some kind of
protection, if they will still have jobs next year. This
is not how you run a school system. It’s
how you destroy one. The reformers and their friends in the media have created a Manichean world of bad
teachers and effective teachers. In this alternative universe there are no other factors. Or, all other factors—poverty,
depraved parents, mental illness and malnutrition—are all excuses of the Bad Teacher that can be overcome by hard work
and the Effective Teacher.” The truly educated become conscious. They become self-aware. They do not lie to themselves.
They do not pretend that fraud is moral or that corporate greed is good. They do not claim that the demands of the
marketplace can morally justify the hunger of children or denial of medical care to the sick. They do not throw 6 million
families from their homes as the cost of doing business. Thought
is a dialogue with one’s inner
self. Those who think ask questions, questions those in authority do not
want asked. They remember who we are, where we come from and where we
should go. They remain eternally skeptical and distrustful of power. And they
know that this moral independence is the only protection from the radical evil that results from collective
unconsciousness. The
capacity to think is the only bulwark against any centralized
authority that seeks to impose mindless obedience. There is a huge difference, as Socrates
understood, between teaching people what to think and teaching them how to think. Those who are endowed with a moral
conscience refuse to commit crimes, even those sanctioned by the corporate state, because they do not in the end want to
live with criminals—themselves. “It is better to be at odds with the whole world than, being one, to be at odds with myself,”
Socrates said. Those who can ask the right questions are armed with the capacity to make a moral choice, to defend the
good in the face of outside pressure. And this is why the philosopher Immanuel Kant puts the duties we have to ourselves
before the duties we have to others. The standard for Kant is not the biblical idea of self-love—love thy neighbor as thyself,
do unto others as you would have them do unto you—but self-respect. What brings us meaning and worth as human
beings is our ability to stand up and pit ourselves against injustice and the vast, moral indifference of the universe. Once
justice perishes, as Kant knew, life loses all meaning. Those who meekly obey laws and rules imposed from the outside—
including religious laws—are not moral human beings. The fulfillment of an imposed law is morally neutral. The truly
educated make their own wills serve the higher call of justice, empathy and reason. Socrates made the same argument
when he said it is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong. “The greatest evil perpetrated,” Hannah Arendt wrote, “is the
evil committed by nobodies, that is, by human beings who refuse to be persons.” As Arendt pointed out, we must trust only
those who have this self-awareness. This self-awareness comes only through consciousness. It comes with the ability to
look at a crime being committed and say “I can’t.” We must fear, Arendt warned, those whose moral system is built around
the flimsy structure of blind obedience. We must fear those who cannot think. Unconscious civilizations become
totalitarian wastelands. “The greatest evildoers are those who don’t remember because they have never given thought to
the matter, and, without remembrance, nothing can hold them back,” Arendt writes. “For human beings, thinking of past
matters means moving in the dimension of depth, striking roots and thus stabilizing themselves, so as not to be swept
away by whatever may occur—the Zeitgeist or History or simple temptation. The greatest evil is not radical, it has no roots,
and because it has no roots it has no limitations, it can go to unthinkable extremes and sweep over the whole world.”
Violence/Hierarchies
Our innate desire to destroy the animal within us is what causes
us to want to dominate others, therefore creating racial and
class hierarchies that cause violence.
Rowe 17. James, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. “Georges Bataille,
Chögyam Trungpa, and Radical Transformation: Theorizing the Political Value of Mindfulness”, The Arrow: A Journal of
Wakeful Society, Culture, and Politics, 4(2) | rpadhi

What possibly could Bataille, the controversial author of pornographic novels, have in
common with Trungpa, a meditation master trained in monastic Tibet? e resonances are
surprisingly plentiful. Indeed, cul- tural theorist Marcus Boon recently called Trungpa the “most Batail- lean of
contemporary Tibetan teachers.”11 To reverse the comparison, we could also say that Bataille was a particularly
“Trungpian” European philosopher. Bataille’s interest in Tibetan culture was longstanding. He trained in the language,
expressed interest in travelling to the country, and planned to write a book on tantra.12 Besides their shared appreci- ation
for tantric practice and the sacred potential of carnal pleasures like love-making and liquor, these apparently disparate
thinkers are primarily linked by their shared emphasis on what I will call existential resentment, when explaining worldly
challenges like economic inequal- ity and nuclear build-up. By existential resentment, I mean the felt smallness that
humans can feel in the face of our nite and eshy existence.13 Both Bataille and Trungpa, in their
respective works, articulate how easy it is for humans to feel small and servile in the face
of a contingent existence, and how this felt servility often fuels compensatory desires for
aggrandizement and domination, desires with profound material e ects. For Trungpa, we
struggle with a “fear of death, fear of oneself, and fear of others” that fuels aggressive behavior.14 Similarly,
Bataille sees humanity as “re- volting intimately against the fact of dying, generally
mistrusting the body, that is, having a deep mistrust of what is accidental, natural,
perishable.”15 This mistrust fuels efforts to best others as a way of com- pensating for the
lack of power and control we can feel in the face of decay. Both Trungpa and Bataille draw a strong
causal link between existential resentment and dominative social relations. Bataille and Trungpa’s resonant approaches to
the origins and ces- sation of domination complement each other in vital ways. Bataille is clearer than Trungpa, for
example, in linking existential rancor to spe- ci c forms of systemic domination. For
Bataille, “an active
intention to surpass and destroy animal nature within us” is responsible for the creation
of racial and class hierarchies; social distinctions that are estab- lished to help the elect
feel in control, at the top of the heap, removed from the domineering muck of nature.
Trungpa, on the other hand, tends to use more general terms like “chaos” and “aggression” when describing systemic
challenges.16 A
strength of Bataille’s analysis is the direct link he makes between existential
resentment and particular sys- temic challenges such as class exploitation and racism. A
key strength of Trungpa’s corpus, however, is the re ned path of contemplative practice he o ers for transforming
existential resentment into gratitude and appreciation for earthly life. For Trungpa “medita- tion practice is regarded as a
good and in fact excellent way to overcome warfare in the world: our own warfare as well as greater warfare.”17 Bataille
meditated himself, and was one of the first Euro-American philosophers to take mind-body practices seriously as tools for
individ- ual and cultural transformation. The actual meditations he developed, unfortunately, have limited transformative
value.18 While Bataille offers a clearer existential diagnosis of systemic challenges, Trungpa’s body of teachings and
methodology for treatment are more robust.
Bataille’s rich theoretical work, however, can help
inform the teach- ing of meditation in social movements and in the broader culture. To
concretize this point, I put Bataille’s materialist account of earthly rich- ness into conversation with Trungpa’s meditations
on “basic goodness.” Before turning to this comparative work, I focus the beginning and middle sections of this essay on
Bataille and Trungpa’s respective ex- planations for domination, and why they both see existential change strategies like
meditation—and other methods for transforming the self and our experience of the world—as integral to radical social
trans- formation. While a key in uence for better-known theorists like Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Judith
Butler, Bataille remains a marginal gure in most political theory. As Robyn Marasco recently noted, “precious little has
been said about Bataille as a resource for philosophical cri- tique and political theory.”19 Bataille’s work, meanwhile, is
teeming with insights, especially ones that bear directly on the relationship be- tween contemplative practice and social
change. Deeply in influenced by Eastern philosophy, Bataille is representative of a centuries-old tradition in Euro-
American philosophy of drawing on Buddhist ideas.20 Like Buddhist philosophers, Bataille offers an ex- planation of
strife that is rooted in human resistance to the contin- gency and finitude of existence. But his account, while influenced
by Buddhism, more directly links human dissatisfaction with mortality to systemic domination, particularly along the axes
of race and class. Because of Bataille’s analysis of domination, he is one of the first Eu- ropean philosophers to take mind-
body practices seriously as tools for cultural and political change. Bataille
is a vital—if sometimes unset-
tling—ally in ongoing e orts to better understand how contemplative praxis relates to
social change. Putting Bataille’s thought to use for Left political theory and prac- tice is
not a straightforward process.21 A number of his interests were outrageous (human sacrifice, necrophilia, and
orgiastic debauchery) and are not easily reconciled with Leftist morality, or most moral con- ventions for that matter.22
Bataille’s transgressive pursuits help explain why such a generative philosopher remains relatively marginal.23 But while
outrageous, Bataille’s intellectual and lived transgressions were intelligible. One need not endorse Bataille’s darker
proclivities to ap- preciate his general encouragement of practices that might better align cultures with the always- fleeting
present and transform existential re- sentment into earthly affirmation. Bataille’ssometimes-fumbling
search for micropolitical strategies that work on the existential plane (fears, af- fects,
habits) is sensible when we consider his diagnosis of domination. Bataille’s analysis of
domination is rooted in his study of the body, and the terror and shame human animals
can feel before it. The body is unpredictable: It leaks, expels, hungers, fails, and
ultimately dies. Our bodies are our opening to life, but also to death. And this inevita- ble death seems to suggest
insigni cance before the putrefaction from which we come and will one day return. Humans, Bataille writes in his
masterwork The Accursed Share, “[appear] to be the only animal to be ashamed of that nature whence he comes, and from
which he does not cease to have departed.”24 We
feel primal shame, according to Bataille, because
the decay we are conscious of suggests servility and baseness.25 is primary disdain for
animal nature, and our dependence upon it, spurs fantastical e orts to dominate our
bodies, each other, and the more-than-human-world in attempts to o set felt servility
with felt dominance. For Bataille, much of human history can be read as a per- manent
struggle against animality.26 In e Accursed Share he observes that humanity “resembles those parvenus who are
ashamed of their humble origin. ey rid themselves of anything suggesting it. What are the ‘noble’ and ‘good’ families,” he
writes of upper class morality, “if not those in which their lthy birth is the most carefully concealed?”27 One of the crucial
rationales for accumulating wealth, according to Bataille, is that material riches help us distinguish ourselves not only
from animality, but also from those we take to be nature’s proxies in our fantastical e orts to dominate the nature we fear.
Proxies, in the Euro-American context, have included Indigenous peoples, women,
people of color, and workers. These proxies have been discursive- ly linked to animal nature and then
materially controlled in e orts to provide compensatory hits of dominion. For Bataille, “[i]t is not so much wealth... that
distinguishes, that quali es socially, as it is the greatest distance from animality.”28 We
dominate our bodies
and each other in e orts to surpass and ultimately control our animality, our
impermanence. is desire to “destroy the animal nature within us,” he suggests, lurks
behind many of our most vexing political and ecological problems.29 In Bataille’s view, the pull of
existential resentment is universal; it is a human strug- gle.30 He is attuned, however, to the important mediating role
played by culture. Individuals and cultures relate to existential realities like impermanence in multiple ways. Tibetan
Buddhism, for example, of- fers meditative practices for befriending the reality of death. We
are not destined to
resentfully interpret death as domineering, or to ee from felt servility with fantasies of
mastery. Bataille surveys multiple cultures in e Accursed Share, but his en- gagement with Tibetan Buddhism is most
germane to this analysis. His musings on Tibetan Buddhism are often selective and incomplete characterizations of the
tradition, but they nevertheless o er useful frames for transforming existential resentment. Bataille saw the culture and
economy of Tibet before the Chinese invasion in 1959 as a glori- ous e ort to a rm the totality of life, including death. He
admired, for example, the Tibetan tantric practice of meditating in graveyards.31 e bene t of these practices, according to
Bataille, is that if existential resentment leads to compensatory self-seeking, then a rming the to- tality of life, including
death, can produce an ethos of generosity. Prior to China’s occupation, Tibetan wealth was poured into devel- oping an
extensive network of monasteries devoted to a religion that encourages openness to the reality of death and the changeful
present. In 1917, according to rough estimates provided by British diplomat Charles Bell, monastic budgets were double
that of the government and eight times that of the army.32 In
Bataille’s view, Tibetan energetic and
material investments were successful in creating a culture that be- stows prestige upon
self-overcoming and compassion instead of upon avarice and accumulation.33 Bataille’s
enthusiasm for Tibetan culture was not ungrounded. ere were important material manifestations of Buddhism’s empha-
sis on primordial richness and universal well-being before the Chinese invasion. Because a majority of productive land was
under the Dalai Lama’s sway, for example, the private enclosure of common land that kick-started capitalism in Great
Britain was less imaginable and action- able in Tibet.34 And while land belonged to the Dalai Lama, tax-paying peasants
held relatively inalienable usufruct rights, granting them open access to the means of subsistence. e cultural priority that
Tibetan Buddhism places on transforming existential resentment into earthly a rmation does appear to have helped
nurture relatively equal access to land. Moreover, after the Chinese Revolution in 1949, Tibetan intellec- tuals—including
the current Dalai Lama—hoped that modern social- ism could disrupt stubborn feudal hierarchies that predated
Buddhism’s hold on political power, and could better materialize the Buddhist em- phasis on universal well-being.35 Even
after Communist China’s colo- nization of Tibet, the Dalai Lama still refers to himself as “half-Marx- ist, half-Buddhist.”36
e Dalai Lama’s double allegiance is deserving of more analytical attention. Part
of my argument in this essay
is that the work of Georges Bataille, the tantric communist, can support the de-
velopment of Buddhist socialism and the ongoing integration of medi- tative praxis into
secular and multi-faith social movements.37 Part of the story that Bataille does not cover, however, is that
Ti- bet still experienced economic hierarchy, gender-based oppression, and corruption. There was a class system, for
example, that di erentiated monks, aristocrats, peasants, nomads, and servants, as well as outcasts akin to Indian
“untouchables” who performed undesirable tasks such as blacksmithing, butchering, and corpse disposal.38 Bataille was
not typically prone to idealism, but Tibet took his breath away; his account of the country is marked by Orientalist
idealization.39 According to Donald Lopez Jr., Bataille’s analysis ts within an overly simplistic Eu- ro-American pattern of
presenting Tibetan culture as a balm that can “regenerate the West by showing us, prophetically, what we can be by
showing us what it had been.”40
Despite Bataille’s romantic view of Tibet, he was ultimately a
tragic thinker. He did not hold to the prospect of a utopian future where the “the pursuit
of rank and war” is perfectly transformed.41 Bataille evinc- es a tragic radicalism; he locates drivers of
domination in our existential condition as animals that die, know we die, and easily feel fear and ser- vility in light of
inevitable decay. Since our mortality is hard fact, com- pletely undoing compensatory desires for dominion is unlikely in
his estimation. And
yet by locating a root driver for dominance-seeking, Bataille’s work
breaks ground for radical politics; it offers a pathway towards increasing, if not perfect
and nal, liberation. One of the implications of Bataille’s analysis is that mind-body
practices should become central, instead of merely supplementary, to processes of
transformative political change. Bataille understood that moving from a culture that
interprets death as a domineering master to one a affirming mortality as a necessary
movement in the general gen- erosity of life requires practices that enable the felt
experience of basic richness.42
Value
Your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint, condemning
the world to the simulacral existence of peace and security, your
acts of piety and pity are absurd, committed as if they were
irresistible. Your promises are a life spent wandering the
surface of the world with minimal intensity—life spent playing
penny slots and drinking bud light instead of ever risking
anything or buying the good shit. Finally, you fear blood more
and more. Blood and time.
Bishop 9 (Ryan, teaches at the National University of Singapore and has published on
critical theory, military technology, avantgarde aesthetics, urbanism, architecture,
literature, and international sex tourism. He edits or serves on the editorial boards of
several journals "Baudrillard, Death, and Cold War Theory" in Baudrillard Now: Current
Perspectives in Baudrillard Studies, polity, ed. R. Bishop pg. 60-70)
Extending a conceit borrowed from Francois de Bernard, itself a continuation of his own
conceit, Baudrillard writes that the Iraq War is a film: not like a film – not a simile – but
film itself (rather like the Gulf War is TV). The Iraq War has a “screenplay” which “has to
be fulfilled unerringly” (Intelligence of Evil, 124). Everything from technical to financial
materiel, including control of distribution (similar to Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford,
and Douglas Fairbanks with their United Artists studio), has been mobilized for “The
Iraq War: The film.” “In the end,” Baudrillard argues, “operational war becomes an
enormous special effect; cinema becomes the paradigm of warfare, and we can imagine it
as ‘real,’ whereas it is merely the mirror of its cinematic being” (ibid.). The audience of
the Iraq War, in all of its modes of delivery and distribution, then replicate the audience
of The Island. The implications of this replication at the level of the political become
rather obvious, but not necessarily so at first glance. If the audience of The Island
witnesses a self on screen no longer accessible to them other than on screen, then the
audience of the Iraq War witnesses political action (technological, military, and
economic) no longer accessible to constituents of representational government other
than onscreen. As noted earlier, even those arenas usually allotted to the general
populace in representational governments have been subsumed by the drive to Integral
Reality as exemplified by the global demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq that did
nothing to slow the attack and only filled up TV news shows with the performance of
dissent. The result is, according to Baudrillard, that “we are henceforth dealing with the
exercise of power in the pure state with no concern for sovereignty or representation;
with the Integral Reality of negative power” (Intelligence of Evil, 120). More worrying,
however, might be the relationship between the simulation of cinematic experience of
the Iraq War and its relationship to the drive toward Integral Reality, as delineated in
The Intelligence of Evil, but foreshadowed briefly in the Gulf War essays. The key
connections here are those that link simulation (or modeling) to pre-empting any
phenomena, set of values, or actions that might lead to an event, a disruption of the drive
to completion of the Real: here understood as the platitudes operating under terms such
as universal values, democracy, neoliberal economic markets, etc. The entire apparatus
of globalization processes intends to perfect and complete the Real and the Good on its
own terms and with Universal Values as its justification. The relationship between the
global and the universal replicates that between technics and truth. The Gulf War essays
show how the fully mediated simulacral conflict of the early 1990s fit the larger pattern
of Cold War deterrence as another means of waging conflict and thus realizing as
completely as possible the control of images and information (disinformation). On the
geopolitical scale, then, the purpose of wars is to rein in recalcitrant regimes while
sending messages to other potential foes about the technological, military, and
simulational power of the US: “the large footprint” in the sand that the Pentagon invoked
during the early period of the Iraq War. Sending a message, of course, has long been a
strategy for exercising sovereignty. About the Gulf War, Baudrillard writes, “Our wars
have less to do with the confrontation of warriors than with the domestication of the
refractory forces on the planet, those uncontrollable elements as the police would say, to
which belong not only Islam in its entirety but wild ethnic groups, minority languages,
etc. All that is singular and irreducible must be reduced and absorbed. This is the law of
democracy and the New World Order” (Gulf War, 86). This is, of course, the project of
simulation, the wresting of the event in potentia from its potential and potential
realization. The model and the object merge to create one whole entity, as in the third
order of simulacra. Containment leads not just to control but also to osmosis, to
preventive measures rendering any further or similar outbreaks possible. And all of it
scripted ahead of time. The script demands that nothing deviate from the script, a
screenplay writer with some real clout at last. The raw power of the integral drive is
based, in Baudrillard’s argument, entirely on “the prevention and policing of events”
(Intelligence of Evil, 121), to fulfill the script’s demands. This, after all, was the
justification for the pre-emptive nature of the Iraq War, whose aim was nominally the
prevention in advance of Saddam’s use of weapons of mass destruction. The models
provided by intelligence and tele-technological surveillance indicated variance from the
global order of Integral Reality and thus necessitated, in simplistic cause-effect
rationalization, the preventive measure known as war – but only war that is cinema:
scripted, special effects, everything all in place and safe when the lights go up. But the
prevention now is universal, absolute, no longer contained to war or security. “Anything
that could happen,” Baudrillard argues, “anything that might take place is regarded as
terrorism. The rule, or the order, is that nothing can take place, nothing is to occur any
more. So anything that can occur must be predicted in advance, exterminated in
advance” (Hegarty, 2004: 147). And this is what war has become: pre-emption, carrying
Cold War logic to its complete and completely (il)logical ends of absolute completion.
Everything is a threat that does not emerge from the order that controls the spread of
Integral Reality. Terrorism is “no longer at all religious or ideological . . . it’s all forms.
So, in practice, it’s total war, maybe the fourth world war, or like Virilio said, a sort of
planetary civil war, as it’s a coalition of all powers on the side of order against all those
who are potential terrorists. All populations are virtually terrorist insofar as they have
not been exterminated” (ibid.). Baudrillard’s analyses, rather like the Cold War doctrine
that maintained an enforced state of terror called mutually assured destruction (MAD),
might seem to leave us no room for maneuvering or action of any kind. Yet, Death lurks
in the systems he discusses, the ones driving incessantly to completion and perfection,
and Death provides us hope, though, admittedly, a slim one. The systems generate their
own modes of destruction, an auto-destructivity that emerges from the very processes
that wish to exclude any resistance to them. In an exceptionally prescient passage that
can be linked directly to the Iraq War, Baudrillard asserts: But this Integral Reality of
power is also its end. A power that is no longer based on anything other than the
prevention and policing of events, which no longer has political will but the will to dispel
ghosts, itself becomes ghostly and vulnerable. Its virtual power – its programming power
in terms of software and the like – is total, but as a result it can no longer bring itself into
play, except against itself, by all kinds of internal failures. At the height of its mastery, it
can only lose face. (Intelligence of Evil, 121) The loss of face Baudrillard evokes here is
not the result of hubris, per se, but rather the effect of realizing exactly what one has set
out to achieve. The hermitic world of complete containment, surveillance, and control,
no matter how illusory, if successful, can only ever result in yielding for itself no outside.
Anything that impedes the spread of this Integral Reality is co-opted or obliterated,
which is the position of “Islam” for the West. In its abstracted, political sense, “Islam,”
which must be put in qualifying quotation marks, materializes that which would and
does oppose Integral Reality. But this materialization will not be the force that undoes
the drive to completion; rather the seeds of its own demise are sown from within. A drive
for utter completion – logically and redundantly – can only end when it is complete: a
kind of systematized selfdestruction through realization. The conditions that make
Integral Reality possible, as well as the goals it desires, therefore render it impossible to
achieve and undesirable to do so. Yet it persists, and more perniciously than ever, despite
the humiliating, bloody and intractable conflict in Iraq. The salvation of theory in death,
or the salvation that is death Although death is pivotal to many whose work falls within
the domain of critical theory, Baudrillard’s work, perhaps more so than others’,
articulates, embodies, and enacts the role of Death within theoretical writing and its
relation to the political. Death, and especially the death drive in Freud according to
Baudrillard, does not provide any space for the operation of dialectical co-option or
reclamation. And it is this trait, Death’s absolute imperviousness to the dialectic, that
makes it radical, intractable, usable (Symbolic Exchange and Death, 151). Such is the
position that Baudrillard himself assumes within analyses of media, simulation, the
subject, the object, politics, war, economics, culture, the event, theory itself, and thought.
In relation to systems, the Death that Baudrillard wishes to address functions in a two-
fold manner: it is what waits at “the term of the system” – at its end – and it is “the
symbolic extermination that stalks the system itself” (Symbolic Exchange of Death, 5).
Therefore Death is both internal to the system and its “operational logic” and “a radical-
finality” outside it. Only Death operates both within and without the system (5). As such
it carries the mark of perfection (completion of the system’s operation and project) and
the defectiveness inherently lurking within it. Death is ambiguity and paradox made
manifest, and is both the system’s realization and its impediment. Death resists
modeling, the simulation. Its lack of predictability and the difficulty in controlling it, in
fact, resides at the center of the various systems, policies, and logics that drive the Cold
War. Death is the event without compare and which must be elided at all costs. Under
the patriotic yet threatening rubrics of security, safety, “our way of life,” etc., the entire
elaborate apparatus of the Cold War was erected and launched, while also continuing
with intensified reverberations into the present – all to ward off Death on a scale hitherto
the domain of Nature or the gods. Following a lead from the poet Octavio Paz and
sounding like an interlocutor of Paul Virilio’s, Baudrillard discusses Death, therefore, in
terms of the accident (Symbolic Exchange and Death, 160–6). For as Paz contends,
modern science and technology, including medicine, have converted epidemics and
natural catastrophes into explainable and controllable phenomena. The rational order
can explain and contain anything that threatens it, as can Integral Reality (for which the
rational order is another metonym, as is the global). As such, Death becomes an accident
to be contained and controlled, explained and predicted. If Death equals an accident, and
accidents threaten the rational order, Baudrillard argues, then Death-asaccident also
threatens political sovereignty and power, “hence the police presence at the scenes of
catastrophe” (161). Death is the disruption that destabilizes all that has been ordered and
made stable. At the height of the Cold War as an historical phenomenon, the major
powers relied heavily on a rational order that both players acknowledged (at least
between themselves) to be operational. This led to the enforced and heavily armed
stalemate of MAD, and with it arrived the horrific spectacle of the nuclear accident, or
the computer accident. The accidental launch of the impossible exchange of missiles
would be, in rote pronouncements of certitude, “the only way” these rational and sane
nations would fire nuclear weapons: hence the many examples of cultural
representations of accidental nuclear war that filled popular media (invoking worlds
synonymous to the one portrayed as the simulated wasteland in The Island). The import
of simulation in containing Death on a global scale can be seen in the supposed rational
containment of both the opposition and oneself. The simulated scenarios of both war
games and accidental launches, the modeling of events, become a kind of necromantic or
occult means of controlling unleashed forces and foretelling possible futures in order to
prevent the accident (or the event) – to prevent Death itself. The thought processes, or
mental make-up, required to plan and design large-scale modeling meant to pre-empt
accidents are themselves a kind of technology of thinking, and this mental technicity
comprises an important element in the construction of Integral Reality. Simulation
requires faith not in its own verisimilitude but in its capacity to change events, even
Death. The US embodies this kind of faith and has from the Cold War to the present,
which, as such, becomes a target for many satiric novelists. One particularly influenced
by Baudrillard’s ideas about simulation is Don DeLillo, whose novel White Noise reads
like a primer on the French theorist’s writings. One motif in the novel is a company
called SIMUVAC, which stands for “simulated evacuation.” The company stages fake
evacuations for a variety of emergencies, including nuclear events, complete with a
theatrical or cinematic set of special effects: uniforms, sound effects, smells, and blood
(if required). The firm turns up several times in the novel but makes its first, and most
satirically poignant, appearance during an actual emergency. In perfect Baudrillardian
fashion, the company, which operates solely with and for simulation, uses a live
emergency to practice (or simulate) its own simulated emergencies, which is the
commodity it packages and sells to various government agencies. The protagonist of the
novel asks a SIMUVAC employee, in the midst of the actual crisis, to evaluate their
rehearsal. The SIMUVAC operative replies in darkly comedic fashion: The insertion
curve isn’t as smooth as we would like. There’s a probability excess. Plus which we don’t
have our victims laid out where we we’d want them if this was an actual simulation. In
other words we’re forced to take our victims where we find them. We didn’t get a jump
on computer traffic. Suddenly it just spilled out, three-dimensionally, all over the
landscape. You have to make allowances for the fact that Baudrillard, Death, and Cold
War Theory everything we see tonight is real. There’s a lot of polishing to do. But that’s
what this exercise is all about. (DeLillo, 1985: 139) The passage contains beautiful
parodic examples of the vagaries that language suffers at the hands of bureaucrats, with
nonsense phrases passing as technical jargon, including “insertion curve” and
“probability excess,” as well as the delightfully oxymoronic “actual simulation.” But
beyond this parody, DeLillo evokes the technicity of thought deeply embedded in Cold
War America, the same technicity that Baudrillard works through at multiple levels, to
reveal the deep investment in the power and control afforded by simulation. The
desirable element of simulation is, in fact, control, such as with body placement, which is
something actual disasters arrange without care or consultation with the modelers.
When the SIMUVAC employee claims that things are in need of “polishing” because
“everything we see tonight is real,” we witness the retreat into the comfortable delusion
afforded by simulation despite its no-nonsense claims to hard-nosed pragmatism –
“that’s what this exercise is all about,” he asserts. SIMUVAC, as a company, markets
readiness, the capacity to make a community alert and prepared, but can only deliver on
this promise as long as everything remains contained in the model. (And if events do not
remain neatly in the model, then the company can use the “accident” to better refine
their simulation and techniques.) The same is true of governments, and this is the fear of
the accident – and the fear the accident manifests – that Baudrillard (pace Paz) analyzes.
Every sector of Integral Reality lives in fear of events because they can “spill out, three-
dimensionally, all over the landscape,” no longer in control of the system. All that various
institutions, systems, and technologies promise to contain refuses to be contained. Such
is the revenge of the object, about which Baudrillard writes, and the intractability of that
which lies outside the systems of transparency and integration. Death stalks the
protective simulating enterprises from inside and out. Baudrillard as a stylist of
considerable skill and a rhetorician well-steeped in the rhetorical tradition similarly
mobilizes his writing itself as Death in relation to the systems operative within academic
discourse. From the late 1960s on, his writings and books have deviated rather widely
from the conventions of sociological or philosophical genres and academic writing by
reaching into the humanistic essay tradition (long since abandoned) and combining it
with the most current of pressing issues. What constitutes a standard argument within
the humanities and qualitative social sciences, what passes for knowledge and knowledge
formation and construction, depends heavily on the adherence of a given work to these
conventions. Baudrillard’s textual Deaths provide “fatal strategies” intended to stave off
the actual death of thought that can result from routinized, by-the-number, knowledge
formation. The aphoristic style, borrowed most directly from Nietzsche, works in a
nonlinear fashion that nonetheless makes consistent and sustained arguments across his
books as well as within them. Baudrillard teases an idea, settles on a problematic, and
pulls at its various permutations, checking how it might work from one context to
another. As a result, his writing can be simultaneously readable and enjoyable while also
being difficult and frustrating. Like his friend Virilio, he does not develop his argument
in a full or linear fashion, instead allowing for fragments, tangents, and hyperbole to
carry thought off course and place readers in a textual space that is comfortable
(especially if they have read nineteenthcentury philosophers) and discomfiting at the
same time. To this end, he resurrects outmoded philosophical discourse while at the
same time adding to it a late modernist poetic sensibility. The latter quality emerges
most obviously in his deployment of terms as talismans of the moment of writing as well
as terrain themselves for inquiry: the strategic deployment of labels and phrases
intended to make us pay attention to their elasticity and formidable ability to fascinate,
illuminate, and instantiate a stability of unstable phenomena. Baudrillard is always
contemporary, his thoughts being solidly grounded in the present, and his terminology is
always embedded in the current moment. He relies on older essayistic forms to structure
his thoughts and musings, which often appear as thoughts and musings, i.e. slightly
inchoate and coming into focus through the act of writing. The processual quality of his
style injects Death as that which cannot be represented adequately into the deathly
regimes of academic language meted out by rote adherence to genre-driven formulae
within academic discursive practices. In an important sense, Baudrillard posits that
Death is the salvation of theory while also arguing for the salvation that is Death. With
the nuclear sword of Damocles dangling over our heads ever since the explosions at
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we have slipped into a constant state of imminent global death
that no longer seems like death, so swift and horrible will it be that it outstrips our
imagination. “If the bomb drops,” he writes in America, “we shall neither have the time
to die nor any awareness of dying” (42). Echoing the neo-Freudian psychoanalyst Ernst
Becker, Baudrillard argues that Death ostensibly has been removed from our horizon in
the American Era, and we, those who follow in America’s global footsteps, have moved
easily and subtly into a state of daily ease and material comfort, buffeted and protected
by a staggering array of tele-technologies, opto-electronics, and international ballistic
missiles all meant to keep Death at bay and survival at the forefront. Lost in this heady
combination of technological, intellectual, and economic materiel mounted for sheer
survival, of course, is life (43). Only that which is alive can die, and our cocooned
embrace of globalization, which in turn cocoons and embraces us, leaves us with an
existence that recalls the prescient horror films of George Romero begun early in the
Cold War: an existence like that of zombies, neither alive nor dead, but frantically and
brainlessly consuming all in sight. Baudrillard rescues Death from its purgatorial
condition of “the not alive” or mere survival. And in order to do so, he takes his cue from
the masses who are the targets of this weaponry and way of life, the enactors of this ethos
of bland avoidance and unthinking consumption. Their wholesale passivity to the
apparatus of survival – from nuclear bunkers to Star Wars – emerges from a weariness
of having been ceaselessly confronted with apocalyptic visions since the first nuclear
explosions in New Mexico and Japan, and they “defend themselves with a lack of
imagination” (America, 44). “The masses’ silent indifference to nuclear pathos (whether
it comes from the nuclear powers or from antinuclear campaigners) is therefore a great
sign of hope,” he asserts, “and a political fact of great import” (44). To understand Death
as immanent within the system and without it, as immanent within bios and zoe and
without it, is to resist the simulation of Death that hovers over our heads in the Cold War
and the War on Terror. The salvation of Death, which is also the salvation of
Baudrillard’s writing, thought, and analyses, provides us with the means of getting this
specific brutal excess back into our collective frame of reference, not for the sake of
nihilism, but to resist the nihilism built into all the projects of utter completion and
realization that have rendered politics, the subject, the object, thought, and theory as
simulation.
Vocational Schools (CTE)
The logic of vocational education is nothing more than an
attempt to order the inherently chaotic nature of our future
existence. Career planning entails the commodification of time
itself that structures the flux of life into a rigid militarism.
- makes a uniqueness claim about how that trend is being reversed in the squo, and so
the aff goes against that. K now has uniqueness, gg.
Sennett 06 (Richard, Centennial Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and
University Professor of the Humanities at New York University. “The Culture of New Capitalism”,
Chapter 1: Bureaucracy, p 22-25, 2006) // IES

Ironically, Schumpeter’s own early analyses of the economy showed that as this militarized, social capitalism
spread, business turned a profit. This was so because while the thirst for a quick dollar, pound,
or franc remained, investors also hungered for more predictable, long-term yields. At the
end of the nineteenth century, the language of investment decisions first took on a
military cast—one which invoked investment campaigns and strategic thinking and, the
pet idea of General Carl von Clausewitz, outcome analysis—for good reason. Sudden profits had
proved illusive, particularly in infrastructure projects like railroad and urban transport construction. In the twentieth
century, workers joined the process of strategic planning; their building societies and
unions aimed equally at stabilizing and guaranteeing the position of workers. The profits
that markets put in jeopardy, bureaucracy sought to repair. Bureaucracy seemed more
efficient than markets. This “search for order,” as the historian Robert Wiebe called it, spread
from business into government and then into civil society. When the lesson of strategic
profit passed into the ideals about effective government, the status of civil servants rose; their
bureaucratic practices were ever more insulated from swings in politics.6 In civil society proper, schools became
increasingly standardized in operation and in content; professions brought
order to the practices of medicine, law, and science. For Weber, all these forms of
rationalizing institutional life, coming originally from a military source, would lead to a
society whose norms of fraternity, authority, and aggression were equally military in
character, though civilian people might not be aware they thought like soldiers . As a general
observer of modern times, Weber feared a twentieth century dominated by the ethos of armed struggle. As a political
economist, Weber argued specifically that the army is a more consequent model for modernity than
the market. Time lay at the center of this military, social capitalism: long-term
and incremental and above all predictable time. This bureaucratic imposition
affected individuals as much as institutional regulations. Rationalized time enabled
people to think about their lives as narratives—narratives not so much of what
necessarily will happen as of how things should happen. It became possible, for instance, to
define what the stages of a career ought to be like, to correlate longterm service in a firm to
specific steps of increased wealth. Many manual workers could for the first time plan how to buy a house. The reality of
business upheavals and opportunities prevented such strategic thinking. In the flux of the real
world, particularly in the flux of the business cycle, reality did not of course proceed according to
plan, but now the idea of being able to plan defined the realm of individual agency and
power. Rationalized time cut deep into subjective life. The German word Bildung names a
process of personal formation which fits a young person for the lifelong
conduct of life. If in the nineteenth century Bildung acquired an institutional frame, in the
twentieth century, the results became concrete, displayed at midcentury in works like William Whyte’s The
Organization Man, C. Wright Mills’s White Collar, and Michel Crozier’s Bureaucracy. Whyte’s view of bureaucratic
Bildung is that steadiness of purpose becomes more important than sudden bursts of ambition within the organization,
which bring only short-term rewards. Crozier’s analysis of Bildung in French corporations dwelt on the ladder as an
imaginative object, organizing the individual’s understanding of himself; one climbs up or
down or remains stationary, but there is always a rung on which to step. The fresh-page thesis
asserts that the institutions which enabled this life-narrative thinking have now “melted into
air.” The militarization of social time is coming apart. There are some obvious
institutional facts on which this thesis is founded. The end of lifetime employment is one
such, as is the waning of careers spent within a single institution; so is the fact, in the
public realm, that government welfare and safety nets have become more short-term and
more erratic. The financial guru George Soros encapsulates such changes by saying that “transactions” have
replaced “relationships” in people’s dealings with one another.7 The immense growth of the world
economy is cited by others as possible only because institutional controls on the flow of goods,
services, and labor have become less coherent; these have enabled an unprecedented number
of migrants to inhabit the so-called gray economies of large cities. The collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1989 is cited by
others as putting paid to an institutional order in which military regulation and civil society were indistinguishable. This
debate about institutionalized time is as much about culture as about economics and
politics. It turns on Bildung. Perhaps I can suggest how by recourse to my own research experience.
Impacts
Necropolitics
Now the impact is a necropolitical obsession with the avoidance of death
through the transference of death onto others – this creation of the spectacle is
one that safeguards “us” from “them”. Specifically, Mbembe says that that the
banking model of education itself creates a war for “purity” for the biophilic
obsession within the vital forces which ignores the ways in which the drive for
life affirmation destroys the very possibility for life itself.
Lewis’12 – Tyson Lewis -- Tyson E. Lewis is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History and Art Education at the
College of Visual Arts and Design, University of North Texas. – “The Aesthetics of Education” pg 174-178 KZaidi

There is an anxiety
in Freirian scholarship that we will lose our immanent and personable
connections with “the master,” Paulo Freire himself. Thus collections like Memories of Paulo (2010) edited by Tom Wilson,
Peter Park, and Anaida Colón-Muniz emphasize personal stories/encounters with Freire. In his open letter to Freire at the beginning
of the book Pedagogy of Indignation, Balduino A. Andreola states, “On September 19, 1998, during the popular closing celebration
for the First International Paulo Freire Colloquium, in Recife, Nita mentioned that she just couldn’t think of you as being absent ...
you remain our partner in the journey” (Freire 2004b, xxxv). Andreola continues, granting Freire a type of “permanent- presence”
(Freire 2004b, xxxv) inthe world that defies death—a message that his own posthumous letter to
Freire seems to embody. Such work attempts to close the gap between Freire as a historical
person and Freire as a discourse—his discourse must be supplemented by his permanent-
presence as a historical person and likewise his historical person must be continually invoked through his discourse. As such,
there is a movement within Freirian scholarship that fills space opened up by his death with a
proliferation of memories, whose accuracy is “guaranteed” because of proximity to Freire “as he really was.” Inspiration here
is dependent on a certain avoidance of death in the form of memoirs as well as continual
invocations of his bodily presence in the form of photographs on and within books by or about
Freire. In other words, memory returns Freire to life, creating a continuity between his flesh and his words, and
in the process denying any absence instituted by and through the event of death.

This radical critique of death is not simply the result of the longing induced by his passing. The
pedagogy of the oppressed is itself an attempt to challenge death both physically (overcoming the
pain and su ering of oppression) and also ideologically in the form of consciousness-raising. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed,
Freire observes that the pedagogy of oppression is necrophylic. Rather than biophylic or in love with life,
banking education promotes a fetishization of death in the form of a nihilistic fatalism
concerning social and individual transformation (2001b, 77). Banking education separates bios from
politics, from language and action in the public sphere. For Freire the result is an untimely death, a
passive existence in the order of things and a fatalistic outlook on social transformation. In order to
define the parameters of necrophylic pedagogy Freire contrasts his utopian vision with banking education:
“Revolutionary utopia tends to be dynamic rather than static; tends to life rather than death; to the
future as a challenge to man’s creativity rather than as a repetition of the present . . . to dialogue rather than mutism . . .” (1985a,
82). Death is here conceptualized as the negation of life in the form of mutism, repetition, passivity.
Death is, in other words, a silenced existence lacking in words and deeds wherein students see
themselves as passive rather than active agents in their lives. Furthermore, death is an
“anesthesized curiosity” (as discussed in Chapter Four) stunting the student’s inquiry into the way the
world works. In sum, necrophylia is the educational logic of the morbidity of life, draining life of its
creative potential. Freire argues that “In addition to the life-death cycle basic to nature, there is almost an unnatural living
death: life that is denied its fullness” (2001b, 171). The living death of banking education is an existential death that
separates life from itself from within life—a passive life devoid of the meaning and personal
biography that defines bios as an active life in the polis. In short, for Freire, banking education is a form
of pedagogy that ends up “terminating life”(1996, 165) while problem-posing education is fueled by a “love for life”
(1996, 164). In fact, the radical fight today concerns the “biophilic” fight for “purity” (Freire 1997, 83). In this
sense, biophilia is the purification of life from the contaminant of death that, for Freire, is always
characterized as mutism and the end of history/ historical becoming. The new love for life is expressed in Freire’s
theory by a revivification of epistemological curiosity into the nature of reality (see Chapter Three). If banking
education creates the fatalistic condition in which life becomes a form of symbolic death (wherein
world and word are separated), then problem-posing revivifies life by reconnecting it with political activity
and the active construction of knowledge through the proper naming of the world.

Existential death is a form of dehumanization for Freire. Even if the question of life is distinct from
the question of becoming fully human, nevertheless Freire’s characterization of death as a mute,
passive existence recalls his discussion of the state of animal captivation. For Freire, animal life
dialectically reveals its opposite: a living death. Animal existence is “plane, horizontal, and timeless” (Freire
1997, 32) not unlike the state of death itself. If, for Freire “the death of history [and thus of our historicity] ...
negates human beings” (2007, viii) then in a sense, existential death deprives us of life by collapsing the
human into the mute existence of the animal. To live in a world, that world must be perceived as
a process of being and becoming, which is only accessible by humans whose epistemological curiosity is capable of self-
re ection. Lacking the ability to transform ingenious curiosity into epistemological curiosity, the
realm of animal life is not a life at all, and human life is in the last instance the only life that
qualifies as such. This isomorphism between the animal and death enables readers to con ate Freire’s question of life with that
of human striving to overcome the limit of animality. Human death as a nai ̈ve consciousness and animal life as
horizontal, static, and unchanging merge in a zone of indistinction that allows the human to pass
into the animal and the animal into the human, thus creating a zone of indiference upon which
divisions must be drawn all the while troubling this very division from the inside.
In a rather telling anecdote, Alma Flor Ada recalls a conversation with Freire where he once said he enjoyed watching football
because it was “the only moment he could really just watch and not reflect about what was going on” (Wilson, Park, Colón-Muñiz,
8). Freire then laughed and stated “But, who wants to be dead, anyway?” Such an anecdote replays the basic argument outlined
above: a pure passive
existence devoid of speech and thought is a form of living-death that must be
avoided, even if it offers a glimpse of a certain affective pleasure with the game being watched.
This affective attention to the game is not in itself a form of life or a bios but rather a deadening
or loss of self in the moment of animal captivation. To view is to become-animal and thus
undergo a type of de-personalization and de-humanization akin to living death. In this sense,
living death is a jouissance or dirty pleasure that exceeds the ontological vocation of
humanization.

The pedagogy of the oppressed is an attempt to reconnect words to flesh, names to social relationships,
humanity to its historicity—connec- tions that have been severed by the imposition of false images
internalized as objective truths and by ideologies of death. The history that Freire wants to return the
oppressed to is their history of struggle against these images and thus reconnect them to their
ontological vocation as the motors of historical transformation. In other words, life is the romantic
celebration of immanence between word and flesh, where we are at last able to name the word and the world
in one complete moment of liberation. In sum, death must be conquered through an epistemological
curiosity and its attending utopian imagination.
Super cially, it would seem that Freire’s theory corresponds with that of Achille Mbembe (2003) who argues
that the current regime is not biopolitical—as Hardt and Negri claim (2000)— but rather necropo- litical.
Obsessed with death, politics now embodies a sovereign decision directly over and against life
itself. Freire’s banking education would thus be the pedagogical logic of necropolitics, creating
conditions where the only outlet for resistance to educational interpellation is to “drop-out” of
school, resulting in a form of educational suicide. Rather than biopolitical investment, death has broken
free from its dialectical entanglements with life to become the overwhelming force of capitalist
appropriation itself. Yet in his attempt to separate life from death and thus necropolitics, Freire’s
logic cannot escape the dialectic that reinscribes death into the heart of his life-affirming
pedagogy. The ban on death is equivalent to the death of death, revealing how biophilic
pedagogy is itself obsessed with death. Thus in his refusal to understand the productive role of death within life, Freire’s
immunizing logic creates an autoimmune disease within the heart of the biophilic attempt to
transcend death (Esposito 2008). The paradox also re-enacts in a different valence the problems with Freire’s
earlier separation of sensation (here characterized as a mute, passive, animal existence) from intelligence (as a
dialogical, active, and human capacity for life). We see Freire cleaving sensation and intelligence, denying that
sensation itself is a kind of somacognition or that seeing is a kind of embodied thinking in its own
right. Once arti cially separated and divided, the pedagogy of the oppressed must help the student awake
from the slumbering stupidity of the senses in order to conquer death and live an active,
intellectual life. Thus the hierarchical division outlined in Chapter Four is replayed here on the existential level of the
question of life against the domination of death. As before, the results of this distinction are contradictory.

The full rami cations of the paradox of immunization become clear once we recognize the active role that death plays in the poetics
of historical knowledge. When Freire
denies the role of death any emanci- patory function in education,
he disconnects the historical knowledge of oppression and struggle from what Ranciè re refers to
as the “poetics of knowledge” that exists in the tenuous relation between literature-history- science in the modern era. In
The Names of History (1994), Rancière ghts against two tendencies that have attempted to make history into a pure science.
Chronicles of history foreclose on death through an emphasis on verifiable documents as
“tangible evidence” (as opposed to the spurious words of the poor). Rancière summarizes: “Positivist history [of the chroni-
clers] refuses to confront the absence of its object, that ‘hidden’ without which there is no science and that can’t be reduced to the
archive buried in its files” (1994, 64). Reformers on the other hand embrace
death but only in the figure of
ideological critique and denunciation of mystification (for Freire this would amount to critical consciousness
raising). They fail to see how in their attempt to retrieve the silent witnesses of history, they demand a
certain infallible correlation between speech and place, cognition and recognition that, like the
chroniclers before them, ends up effacing the possibility of historical events. In both cases, death
becomes the heresy that these discourses do not permit. Heresy is “life turned away from the word, turned
away by the word” (Rancière 1994, 73) and thus a narrative predi- cated on the non-correspondence of flesh and word, on the
glance of the actor on stage rather than the retrospective and belated gaze of the expert. Yet, as Rancière argues, “The
difference proper to history is death; it is the power of death that attaches itself solely to the
properties of the speaker, it is the disturbance that this power introduces into all positive
knowledge. The historian can’t stop effacing the line of death, but also can’t stop tracing it anew.
History has its own life in this alternative throbbing of death and knowledge. It is the science that becomes singular
only by playing on its own condition of impossibility, but ceaselessly transforming it into a
condition of possibility, but also by marking anew, as furtively, as discreetly as can be, the line of
the impossible” (1994, 74–5). The line “of meaning and death” is precisely the line of “historiality and literariness,
without which there would be no place to write history” (Rancière 1994, 76). In other words, death is the sublime beauty
at the heart of historical science that is both the motor for knowledge and its stumbling block,
the pensive detail that shapes the literary dimension of the aesthetics of knowledge. It is the detail
that escapes memory and thus all sense of self- possession and self-recognition. If Freire’s pedagogy of the oppressed is
an attempt to create a beautiful, “pure” community of solidarity built out of shared class
interests (a reformist approach to history wherein word and flesh, consciousness and class position are
once again reunited so as to speak the truth of oppression sanctioned by the critical sociologist, philos- opher, or critical
pedagogue), then death is the ghost in the machine that prevents full presence while also generating
the need for new translations and performances.
Mastery
The specter haunting education is the desire for complete and utter control.
Modern day education focues on the desire to control and the will to mastery –
this manifests itself in education through processes of disciplinary control over
bodies to foster obedianece – a process which leads to the destruction of all
being when we are placed as parts in the western machine of domination
Allen’16 – Ansgar Allen is lecturer in education at the University of Sheffield, “Education, Mastery and the Marquis de Sade” --
KZaidi

Mastery has us by the throat. Unable to bring things up, prevented from taking things down—if we
swallow, we do so without conviction. Mastery catches and keeps us mid-gasp.

In pursuit of mastery, education fell before its promised transcendence. Mastery claimed to
elevate the educated philosopher above the quotidian, even make the philosopher immune to the world below
and its persecutions. Yet mastery was yoked to its opposite: the enslavement of the philosopher to a philosophical
doctrine. Mastery required discipline and self-control. It subordinated the self to a philosophical
doctrine, wagering the self to an ordinance that promised future sovereignty but demanded
present obedience.

Seeking spiritual direction, early philosophers enslaved themselves to their chosen philosophical school.
Consultations were offered to non-philosophers too, for a fee. Whether a school was joined or merely visited,
the spiritual direction on offer was intended, in its final effects, to allow each candidate to “take
control and become master of [her]himself.”i With Christianity and its selective adoption of ancient philosophy,
self-mastery became “an instrument of subordination” of more complete effect.ii Its voluntary
dimension was reduced as spiritual training came to occupy the whole life of the Christian
subject. The purpose of Christian guidance was to develop a form of introspection that would “fix
more firmly the relationship of subordination”; it would attach its recipients to a regime of power that would take care of
their entire life in all its detail and for the rest of its duration.iii At the same time, the promise of transcendence became
ever more spectral, dependent ultimately on God’s will, against which the strength of will
exhibited by the self- denying Christian was of secondary importance. For at the gates of heaven, God
decides. On earth, the early Christian monk is warned against practising any self- denying ordinance to
excess. We find Cassian recalling tales of monks casting themselves down wells, fasting excessively, or crossing deserts without
food in an effort to demonstrate just how catastrophically they had achieved self-mastery, purging themselves of natural inclinations
and desires.iv These were not acts of extreme piety; they were symptomatic of pride. And pride is of the devil.

With extreme asceticism the old but sinuous link


connecting the promise of mastery to the necessity of
enslavement calcified, and then broke. Early Christian ascetic practitioners, those Cassian warned against, so
perfected their self-denials that they became increasingly indifferent to pain and discomfort, removing themselves beyond the grasp
of power. Through enslavement they reached its opposite denying themselves so completely that
little remained for power to attack. In this advanced form asceticism posed a challenge to
Christianity, delivering its practitioners beyond the influence of its institutions and teachings. The most potent ascetics
effectively reversed the self-denials of monastic obedience, transforming these denials into a form of “egoistic self-mastery” that
denied access to external power.v

To secure their foothold monastic and ecclesiastical institutions had to bring self-mastery back
within their control. They would purge themselves of all vagrant, self-sufficient, ascetic heresies,
and bring all miracles, marvels, punishments and self-flagellations back into the orbit of their
influence. Eventually self-mastery would slip its “doctrinal moorings” and migrate to a secular context.vi Education
remains in awe of mastery. It preaches denial, yokes its members to the pursuit of mastery, but
will not allow that mastery to become realised as such. Mastery haunts education as its most
enduring spectral promise.

Just what exactly education promises mastery of, changes: from ancient self in pursuit of
wisdom, to medieval body desiring knowledge of God, to modern subject of autonomous
reason, and finally, to the promise that we might one day master our own performativities. By
definition such mastery is rarely, if ever achieved. Our nihilism is the product of this framework, this
belief that education requires higher objectives, a belief so well entrenched that as each objective comes
under attack another is substituted in its place. When substitutes are left wanting, we are launched into
overproduction. For we scarcely know how to operate let alone educate without the promise of
mastery. Once described as the “destiny of two millennia of Western history,” nihilism is our unavoidable
affliction.vii Those educators claiming to exist beyond its reach are in denial. There is no quick and easy escape. We
are trapped in the digestive tract of Western history. Attached to a promise that is never
delivered, we are its disappointments, you and I. We are debased and we debase ourselves, desiring
mastery through our enslavement.
Racism
Racism is rooted in necropolitics - The government identifies the “others” and
displaces violence upon them through the mobilization of the war machine
Mbembe, 03, (Achill senior researcher at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of the
Witwatersrand, Necropolitics, Pgs. 16-17, 2003)//Cummings

Having presented a reading of politics as the work of death I turn now to sovereignty expressed , ,

predominantly as the right to kill For the purpose of my argument I relate Foucault’s notion of
. ,

biopower to two other concepts the state of exception and the state of siege 16 I examine those
: .

trajectories by which the state of exception and the relation of enmity have become the
normative basis of the right to kill In such instances power and not necessarily state power
. , ( )

continuously refers and appeals to exception and a fictionalized notion of the enemy , emergency, . It also labors to

and fictionalized enemy In other words the question is What is the relationship
produce that same exception, emergency, . , :

between politics and death in those systems that can function only in a state of emergency? In
Foucault’s formulation of it biopower appears to function through dividing people into those
,

who must live and those who must die Operating on the basis of a split between the living and .

the dead such a power defines itself in relation to a biological field which it takes control of and
, —

vests itself in This control presupposes the distribution of human species into groups the
. ,

subdivision of the population into subgroups and the establishment of a biological caesura ,

between the ones and the others This is what Foucault labels with the at first sight familiar term
. ( )

racism or for that matter racism gures so prominently in the calculus of biopower is entirely
.17 That race ( ) fi

justifiable more so than class-thinking the ideology that defines history as an economic
. After all, (

struggle of classes race has been the ever present shadow in Western political thought and
),

practice especially when it comes to imagining the inhumanity of or rule over


, Referring to , , foreign peoples.

both this ever-presence and the phantomlike world of race in general Arendt locates their roots ,

in the shattering experience of otherness and suggests that the politics of race is ultimately
linked to the politics of death in Foucault’s terms racism is above all a technology aimed at
.18 Indeed, ,

permitting the exercise of biopower “that old sovereign right of death.” 19 In the economy of
,

biopower the function of racism is to regulate the distribution of death and to make possible the
,

murderous functions of the state It is “the condition for the acceptability of putting to
. , he says,

death.”20 Foucault states clearly that the sovereign right to kill and the mechanisms of (droit de glaive)

biopower are inscribed in the way all modern states function they can be seen as ;21 indeed,

constitutive elements of state power in modernity the Nazi state was the most . According to Foucault,

complete example of a state exercising the right to kill made the management . This state, he claims, ,

protection and cultivation of life coextensive with the sovereign right to kill By bio- logical
, .

extrapolation on the theme of the political enemy in organizing the war against its adversaries ,

and at the same time exposing its own citizens to war the Nazi state is seen as having opened
, , ,

the way for a formidable consolidation of the right to kill which culminated in the project of the ,

“final solution.” In doing so it became the archetype of a power formation that combined the
,

characteristics of the racist state the murderous state and the suicidal state
, , .
Subject Formation
The investement within the soverign power of the state to solve for educational
problems colludes in the process of liberal subject formation by which the US
necropolitical system of domination sustains itself through a creation of a
vicious power structure based on the colonizer dominating the colonized
Mbembe’01 – Achille Mbembe – Professor Achille Mbembe, born in Cameroon, obtained his Ph.D in History at the
Sorbonne in Paris in 1989 and a D.E.A. in Political Science at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Paris). He was Assistant Professor of
History at Columbia University, New York, from 1988-1991, a Senior Research Fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C.,
from 1991 to 1992, Associate Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania from 1992 to 1996, Executive Director of the
Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (Codesria) in Dakar, Senegal, from 1996 to 2000. Achille was also a
visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2001, and a visiting Professor at Yale University in 2003. He has written
extensively in African history and politics, including La naissance du maquis dans le Sud-Cameroun (Paris, Karthala, 1996). On the
Postcolony was published in Paris in 2000 in French and the English translation was published by the University of California Press,
Berkeley, in 2001. In 2015, Wits University Press published a new, African edition. He has an A1 rating from the National Research
Foundation. – “On the Postcolony” -- KZaidi

The third characteristic of commandement was the lack


of distinction between ruling and civilizing. In sub-Saharan
Africa colonization met the problems of order and of increasing the supply of goods in its own
way. Here, the form of sovereignty that applied both to people and things and to the actual
public domain constantly muddled the imperatives of moral- ity, economics, and politics. Colonial
arbitrariness notoriously sought to integrate the political with the social and the ethical, while
closely sub- ordinating all three to the requirements of production and output. Im- proving the
lot of the colonized, and making equipment and goods (trade or non-trade) available to them, was justified
by the fact that they were to be enrolled into the structures of production. For a long time, the pre-
ferred means of achieving that integration were, not freedom of contract, but coercion and corruption;
social policies tried by successive adminis- trations were heavily determined by normative and disciplinary concerns, and were, in
fact, designed
to alter the moral behavior of the colonized. This is what the language of the time
gave the apparently distinct but ac- tually interchangeable labels of “taming” and “grooming.” To carry
through the two tasks together (control of the indigenes along with their— potentially disruptive—enrollment in the market
mechanism), comman- dement introduced extensive surveillance machinery and an impressive
array of punishments and fines for a host of offenses. This is the purpose behind the regulations
governing forced labor, compulsory crop produc- tion, education, women, the family, marriage and sexuality, vagrancy,
health and disease prevention, even prison policy.12 Within this design for subjection, the colonized had no
rights against the state. He or she was bound to the power structure like a slave to a master, and
paternalism had no compunction about expressing itself behind the ideological mask of benevolence and the
tawdry cloak of humanism.

The social policies of postcolonial African regimes have also been


con- ceived on the basis of an imaginary of
the state making it the organizer of public happiness. As such, the state arrogated the possibility
of exer- cising an unlimited hold over every individual—although in practice, whether in colonial times or since,
the outsize place of the state was never total. Neither colonial commandement nor the
postcolonial state was able to bring about the total dismantling, still less the disappearance, of
every corporation and all lower-order legitimacies bringing people and communities together at the
local level. To facilitate trade and ensure the se- curity of their property, social actors continued to
have recourse to those legitimacies and lower-order institutions that they kept reinventing, thus
providing these with new significations and new functions.13 Unlike cer- tain Western experiences, the
extension of the role of the state and the market was thus not automatically achieved through
the disruption of old social ties. In a number of cases, state domination—or the étatisa- tion of society—was
achieved through the old hierarchies and old pa- tronage networks. Two consequences of this process
merit mention. On the one hand, it paved the way, more than occurred in other parts of the world, to an unprecedented
privatization of public prerogatives. On the other, it not only allowed a degree of socialization of state
power gen- erally poorly understood by analysts,14 but also the correlative social- ization of
arbitrariness—the two movements (privatization of public pre- rogatives and socialization of arbitrariness) becoming, in
this process, the cement of postcolonial African authoritarian regimes.

Moreover, throughout the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries, governing
in a colony meant first and
foremost having com- mandement over the native. “Civilization” initially made its presence felt
in its brutal form, war, through the act of conquest—that is, the right to kill and make force prevail.
Exercising command thus meant to compel people to perform “obligations.” It also meant, as in an army, to proceed by
orders and demands. Commandement itself was simul- taneously a tone, an accoutrement, and an
attitude. Power was reduced to the right to demand, to force, to ban, to compel, to authorize,
to pun- ish, to reward, to be obeyed—in short, to enjoin and to direct. The key characteristic of colonial
rule was thus to issue orders and have them carried out.

The fourth
property of this sort of sovereignty is its circularity. The institutions with which it
equipped itself, the procedures that it invented, the techniques that it employed, and the
knowledge on which it rested were not deployed to attain any particular public good. Their
primary purpose was absolute submission. The objective of this sort of sovereignty was that
people obey. In this sense, and beyond ideological justifications, colonial sovereignty was circular.15
VTL
The AFF’s obsession with survival ensured through our
productive work in debate negates the essence and possibility of
life.
Vaneigem ‘94 /Raoul, Leader of the Situationist International, The Movement of
the Free Spirit, Trans. R. Cherry and I. Patterson, Zone Books: New York, pg. 16-17/
Many observations that were considered ludicrous in 1967 have now become
commonplace. For it is obvious today that "surviving" has so far prevented us from
"living"; that man's insistence on making himself useful in his work is actually of little
use to him in his own life, and even kills him. It is clear, too, that life usually ends
precisely because it has never begun (which most people realize only in their last
moments); and that the price of representation is paid for in terms of world-weariness
and self-contempt. These ideas are already so deeply entrenched that, in the absence of
any real lived experience to dispel them, they still nourish not only nostalgic theorizing
but even the most fashionably glib talk. This vicious cycle continues out of an old inertia:
the need to work in order to survive compensates for the life lost in wage labor (an even
costlier form of survival). The effect on consciousness is fatal, with two sets of prejudices
contributing to the mortification: in the first, survival takes precedence over living; and
in the second, the exercise of the intellect – through critical analysis of society, of
political issues, of cultural decay, of the future of humanity – takes the place of existence,
while the body is left to express its discontent through sickness and malaise. And one
need not get very close to these ideas to detect a whiff of the cassock. 3 The economy is
everywhere that life is not: but however intertwined the two may become, they simply do
not meld, and one can never be confused with the other. Most people do not really live:
their overly precise calculations about money, work, exchange, guilt and power govern
their lives so thoroughly and irremediably that the only thing to escape this bloodlessly
cold calculus is the warm pathos of sweat and tears – which is all that is left to take on
the aspects of human reality.

Survival has become the hymn of capitalist enslavement after


the death of god. The drive to survive, guided by our belief in the
capitalist god rationality, is emptying humanity of its life force
through libidinal alienation.
Vaneigem 1994
/Raoul, Leader of the Situationist International, The Movement of the Free Spirit, Trans.
R. Cherry and I. Patterson, Zone Books: New York, pg. 23-25/
But this version of nature separated the world from life and reduced the world to the
market system . With God thus brought into conformity with nature, he was sold off at a
discount to a religion that was now just one ideology among others; and so he became
the last shoddy remnant of the heavenly order under which had first emerged the
system of survival that humanity imposed on itself at some specific point in its
development. God is dead as a sovereign entity, as master of the world, but he lives on
in the religious form that gave birth to him by submitting mankind to economic
alienation: thought separated from life; or the body weakened or broken in the name of
labor. As he analyzed the reproduction and self-destruction of commodities Marx never
asked himself how far his personal behavior obeyed economic reflexes. His critique is
the product of an intellectualism that reproduces the power of the mind over the body; it
is the work of a lasting influence of God on the material world. However liberating its
intentions it can only effect changes in a world where commodities are everywhere and
humanity is nowhere; it is a world where abstraction, being the ultimate and initial form
of the divine, empties individuals of their vital substance, before crushing them under
the weight of forces they are too weak to withstand. The hordes of bureaucrats, now in
their twilight, wrestle to save an economy that can do no more than reinvest its
successive failures into even greater losses, proving that the age of sacrifice is at an end.
But the form that binds individuals to a society hostile to life can be broken only by the
emancipation of life . 9 While constantly changing, man's exploitation of man has
remained essentially the same. Economic necessity, which directly exiles us from life,
perpetuates the decree of the gods who expelled our ancestors from the domain of
pleasure. Immutable frontiers delimit the closed universe of exchange in which the
commodity evolves. Form, whose contours always shape a supposedly unique reality,
was depicted as a divine sphere even before it took on the simultaneously concrete and
abstract character of a bureaucratic organization, turning on its own axis, and drawing
everyone into its gravitational field. The heavenly economy has given way to the earthly
one, economic thought to economic materiality, spiritual alienation to bodily alienation,
collective sacrifice to individual sacrifice. The separations remain as sharp as they have
always been, but today the wound is plain to see. Just as bath water spirals faster and
faster as the last of it is drawn down the drain, the whirlpool of life empties at its fastest
as the economy uses up the final resources of libidinal energy. The only ones not to hear
its final gurglings are the statisticians and computer scientists who hear only the din of
their own calculating. Although all commodity-based civilizations, without exception,
have placed a prohibition on pleasure and sexual enjoyment, the most urgent appeals of
profitability now invite us to plunge into hedonism, to consume pleasure piecemeal and
pay for it in installments. The last unopened market verges on the free play of desire.
So the last die is about to be cast on the same table where the first was thrown, so long
ago, under the eye of the gods.

We must give up on our obsession with survival to release life


from the suffocating security paradigm that consigns existence
to the prison of work and paranoia. In order to reclaim the value
to our lives, we must meet the political demands and blackmail
of war presented by the AFF with the ecstatic joyful laughter of
inner experience.
Vaneigem ‘94 /Raoul, Leader of the Situationist International, The Movement of
the Free Spirit, Trans. R. Cherry and I. Patterson, Zone Books: New York, pg. 246-249/
Right now, I can think of nothing as important, yet, at the same time, more
unimportant, than survival. I hope it ceases to be a priority, as if surviving were
necessary first in order to live later. (Experience has shown, however, that allegiance to
survival kills life as surely as work destroys creativity.) The point is not to neglect
survival entirely – how could we - but to reverse the perspective so that survival becomes
a consequence of the will to live rather than the condition for it. The way in which health
issues are being approached now suggests a certain awareness of the claims of living.
For a long time illness and the fear it inspired governed health. In the struggle against
the torments that endlessly assailed it health was a matter for witch doctors, healers
and physicians. Every illness set off a system of panic and alarm that men of science
encouraged whenever they intervened to allay its effects. But now it is obvious to most
people that the doctor's curative power and his arsenal of chemicals are often ineffective,
even harmful, if patients are not energetically committed to wanting to live, motivated
not by a refusal to suffer but by a will to enjoy themselves to the fullest. The idea of
vitality also makes no sense if the fears accompanying the preoccupations of survival -
finding enough money or credit to get food, clothing and a place to live - do not give way
to a dialectic of life, to the demands of desires rooted in the heart, to an existence that
reveals its uniqueness. This uniqueness lies in the exuberance in which positive and
negative, pleasure and displeasure, harmony and discord throb with the rhythm of life
until, out of breath, they run their course. But it is an end that has nothing in common
with the death that governs the society of survival, whose withered state is the distinct
sign of both beings and things. Everyone, without exception, is an alchemist, distilling
his own substance at every moment. But the magnum opus is inverted and corrupted:
the best becomes the worst, creativity becomes work, the richness of being dwindles into
possession, authenticity turns into appearance, agony begins at birth. The millenarian
incitement to produce one's own unhappiness has so thoroughly impregnated the world
of the imagination that everything from art to daydreaming consists of negative
scenarios, doomed love affairs, inevitable failures, inevitable obsolescence, bitter
victories or bliss in ignorance. The only way to remedy the lassitude brought on by
survival is through a treatment, focusing on negativity, that uses alchemy to rid life of the
effects of survival, radically remaking the human from what is most human: namely the
search for pleasure. The construction of a nature emancipated from the mechanisms by
which it is denatured can be seen in the laughter and amused incomprehension with
which the younger generations greet the political masquerade, the blackmail of war and
insecurity, the manifestations of authority, racist and sexist attitudes, expressions of
contempt, and the inflexibility imposed by the worship of the militarized commodity
market, the foundation of our wonderful civilization. As for squandering one's last
energies in an attempt to reintegrate oneself into the misery of work, or walking
willingly into the trap of a computerized social world, these choices must be left to those
irretrievably conditioned to poverty. For the rest of us, a good watchword would be:
"The minimum of survival in the service of a maximum of life.” The unavoidability of
negotiating the meshes of the commodity system - the necessity of obtaining a modicum
of money - should only encourage us to exploit to the hilt whatever facilities offer
themselves that can help us get the time to pursue the pleasure of belonging to ourselves
and the pleasure of creating. While it may be temporary, a solution that allows salaried
workers to take more leaves of absence, or that lets unemployment money go toward
keeping a garden, seems a better use of the national debt than investing in a sluggish
economy or subsidizing a school for criminals by allocating funds to an army that seems
more useless and absurd than ever. If life was able to resist the oppression of a
sovereign economy, it can surely triumph, today, over an economy that is falling into
ruin. And if the need to survive threatens modern cities with something as ancient as
famine, why shouldn't the revulsion provoked by a system of profitoriented inhumanity
encourage the foundation of its absolute opposite: immediate enjoyment with nothing
expected in return? Abandoned factories will one day be transformed into creative
workshops capable of supplying life's desires with whatever material support - no matter
how luxurious - they might require.
War
War is an essential feature of the postcolonial state
Mbembe, 03, (Achill senior researcher at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of the
Witwatersrand, Necropolitics, Pgs. 22-24, 2003)//Cummings

If the relations between life and death the politics of cruelty and the symbolics of profanity are , ,

blurred in the plantation system it is notably in the colony and under the apartheid regime that
,

there comes into being a peculiar terror formation I will now turn to 37 The most original feature .

of this terror formation is its concatenation of biopower the state of exception and the state of , ,

siege Crucial to this concatenation is


. the selection of races the prohibition of , once again, race.38 In fact, in most instances, ,

mixed marriages even the extermination of vanquished peoples are to and their first
, forced sterilization,

testing ground in the colonial world Here we see the first syntheses between massacre and .

bureaucracy that incarnation of Western rationality 39 Arendt develops the thesis that there is a
, .

link between national-socialism and traditional imperialism the colonial conquest . According to her,

revealed a potential for violence previously unknown What one witnesses in World War II is the .

extension to the “civilized” peoples of Europe of the methods previously reserved for the
“savages.” That the technologies which ended up producing Nazism should have originated in
the plantation or in the colony or that on the contrary Foucault’s the- sis , — —Nazism and Stalinism did no more than amplify a series of

subjugation of the body


mechanisms that already existed in Western European social and political formations ( is , health regulations, social Darwinism, eugenics, medico-legal theories on heredity, degeneration, and race) ,

in the end A fact remains


, irrelevant. the colony represents the site
, though: in modern philosophical thought and European political practice and imaginary,

where sovereignty consists fundamentally in the exercise of a power outside the law and (ab legibus solutus)

where “peace” is more likely to take on the face of a “war without end.” Indeed such a view ,

corresponds to Carl Schmitt’s definition of sovereignty at the beginning of the twentieth century ,

the power to decide on the state of exception To properly assess the efficacy of the colony as
namely, .

a formation of terror we need to take a detour into the European imaginary itself as it relates to
,

the critical issue of the domestication of war and the creation of a European juridical order Jus (

publicum Europaeum). At the basis of this order were two key principles The first postulated the .

juridical equality of all states This equality was notably applied to the right to wage war the
. (

taking of life). The right to war meant two things On the one hand to kill or to conclude peace . ,

was recognized as one of the preeminent functions of any state It went hand in hand with the .

recognition of the fact that no state could make claims to rule outside of its borders the . But conversely,

state could recognize no authority above it within its own borders On the other hand the state . , , for its

undertook to “civilize” the ways of killing and to attribute rational objectives to the very act of
part,

killing The second principle related to the territorialization of the sovereign state that is to the
. , ,

determination of its frontiers within the context of a newly imposed global order the Jus . In this context,

publicum rapidly assumed the form of a distinction between on the one hand those parts of the , ,

globe available for colonial on the other is crucial in


appropriation and, , Europe itself (where the Jus publicum was to hold sway).40 This distinction, as we will see,

terms of assessing the efficacy of the colony as a terror formation a legitimate war is . Under Jus publicum, , to a large

a war conducted by one state against another or


extent, a war between “civilized” states The , more precisely, .

centrality of the state in the calculus of war derives from the fact that the state is the model of
political unity a principle of rational organization the embodiment of the idea of the universal
, , , and a

In the same context colonies are similar to the frontiers


moral sign. , . They are inhabited by “savages.” The colonies are not organized in a state form and have not

They do not imply the mobilization of sovereign


created a human world. Their armies do not form a distinct entity, and their wars are not wars between regular armies.

subjects (citizens) who respect each other as enemies. They do not establish a distinction between combatants and noncombatants, or again between an “enemy” and a “criminal.” 41 It is thus impossible to conclude peace with them. In sum,
colonies are zones in which war and disorder internal and external figures of the political , , stand side by side or

the colonies are the location par excellence where the controls and guarantees of
alternate with each other. As such,

judicial order can be suspended the zone where the violence of the state of exception is

deemed to operate in the service of “civilization.” That colonies might be ruled over in absolute
lawlessness stems from the racial denial of any common bond between the conqueror and the
native In the eyes of the conqueror savage life is just another form of animal life
. , , a horrifying experience, something alien

what makes the savages different from other human beings is less the
beyond imagination or comprehension. In fact, according to Arendt,

color of their skin than the fear that they behave like a part of nature Nature , that they treat nature as their undisputed master.

thus remains in all its majesty an overwhelming reality compared to which they appear to be
, ,

phantoms The savages are


, unreal and ghostlike. the specifically human reality
, as it were, “natural” human beings who lack the specifically human character, , “so that

when European men massacred them they somehow were not aware that they had commit- ted murder.”
Alts
Art
Our affirmation of generative politics of nonknowledge stems
from Van Gogh’s work which helps to traverse the walls between
knowledge and nonknowledge, between real and the fake. This
corporeal rip and blurring of lines within the educational
systems dichotomies creates affective resistance and changes
the very modes of rationality and what it means to be “sane”.
Artaud says that this process is one that creates material shifts
in the bodily manifestations of violence.
Murray’14 Ros Murray – Leverhulm Research Fellow @ Queen Mary – PhD on Artaud “Antonin Artaud – The
Scum of the Soul” pg 125-127 2014 -- KZaidi

To return to Artaud’s frequent references to agricultural activities such as ploughing,


hoeing, reaping or sowing to describe how he engages with the surface of the page, these
find their inspiration in the work of Van Gogh. Artaud’s 1947 publication Van Gogh le suicidé de la
société (Van Gogh, the Man Suicided by Society) was an enraged response to an article written by
a psychiatrist, Dr Beer, published in the weekly journal Arts, in which Beer describes Van Gogh’s work as the work of
someone who is mentally ill. Artaud
produced this furious, beautifully written homage to Van
Gogh’s work, which reads as much a response to his own pathologisation as to that of
Van Gogh. This text represents one of Artaud’s most vehement and successful protests
against not only psy- chiatry itself, but also any potential psychoanalytic readings of his
own texts, seeming once again to anticipate and undermine such an obvious critical
response.
Artaud identifies a sense of brooding apocalypse in Van Gogh’s paintings, writing of the way
they portray a ‘sensation d’occulte étranglée’ (‘sensation of strangled occult’).19 He transforms Van
Gogh’s paintings into bodies, emphasising their synesthetic properties and the visceral
corporeal forces they mobilise, they are ‘remise à même la vue, la ouïe, le tact, l’arôme’ (‘restored
directly to sight, hearing, touch, smell’).20 Whilst Artaud here seems, as with his adaptations of
Lewis Carroll, to ingest and regurgitate Van Gogh’s work to produce it anew, he argues that Van
Gogh carries out similarly embodied transforma- tions of his raw material, nature: ‘Van
Gogh est peintre parce qu’il a recolleté la nature, qu’il l’a comme retranspirée et fait suer’ (‘Van Gogh is a painter
because he recollected nature, because he re-perspired it and made it sweat’).21 In what has
since become Van Gogh’s most famous painting, Artaud describes how he sees ‘le visage rouge sanglant du
peintre venir à moi, dans une muraille de tournesols éventrés’ (‘the blood-red face of the painter coming
toward me, in a wall of eviscerated sunflowers’).22 Van Gogh’s work is rendered violent,
interspersed with Artaudian blows, hammering, shredding, collisions, jostling, tearing,
welding, nerves and the ‘météorique d’atomes’ (‘meteoric bombardment of atoms’).23
Van Gogh is, according to Artaud, picking and chiselling away at his own subjectile, that of the
canvas but also nature itself rendered a surface to be torn through in order to reveal the
forces at work behind it. Artaud quotes a letter Van Gogh wrote to his brother in which he describes how he
envisages the act of drawing:

Qu’est-ce que dessiner? Comment y arrive-t-on? C’est l’action de se frayer un passage à travers un mur de fer invisible,
qui semble se trou- ver entre ce qu’on sent et ce que l’on peut. Comment doit-on traverser ce mur, car il ne sert de rien d’y
frapper fort? On doit miner ce mur et le traverser à la lime, lentement et avec patience à mon sens.
(What is drawing? How does one do it? It is the act of working one’s way through an
invisible wall of iron which seems to lie between what one feels and what one can do. How
is one to get through this wall, for it does no good to use force? In my opinion, one must
undermine the wall and file one’s way through, slowly and with patience.)24
Yet in Artaud’svision of Van Gogh’s work, it seems that this invisible wall is not
undermined or slowly and patiently filed, but exploded, bombarded onto the surface of
the canvas, in an act designed to ‘faire jaillir une force tournante, un élément arraché en plein coeur’
(‘make a whirling force, an element torn right out of the heart, gush forth ’).25 Artaud’s
subjectile is inspired by Van Gogh’s description of the invis- ible wall, which recalls the
immense boundaries Artaud identified in his early texts between the body, or what one
really feels, and its expression in words, through poetry. In fact, Artaud seems at times to
read Van Gogh’s work as if it were a linguistic text, the brush strokes or dashes and
marks on the canvas becoming forms of punctuation, as h