Ktismatics

6 March 2010

Nomadic Rhizomatic War Machines

Filed under: Culture, First Lines, Ktismata — ktismatics @ 3:05 pm

In the years following the 1993 signing of the first Oslo Accord, which was intended to mark the beginning of the end of the conflict over Palestine, it became increasingly difficult for Israeli settlers to obtain official permits to establish official settlements in the West Bank. As a result, settlers resorted to increasingly sophisticated methods of piracy to help the government — which, unofficially, was keen to see settlements established but could not be seen to be helping in their foundation — bypass its own laws and international commitments.

– Eyal Weizman, The Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation (2007), page 1

At the level of theory, this book is about de/reterritorialization in a literal, material sense. Politically, it’s about specific strategies and tactics deployed by the Israelis in order to dominate the Palestinians. I read some blog posts about this book a couple of years ago, but only just got around to reading it myself. It’s appallingly superb.

There’s no way to do justice to Weizman’s detailed research and dense documentation in a blogpost. The text, like the Palestinian territory which is its subject, is complex and intricately layered, tracing the paths by which the occupiers and the occupied continually confront, undermine, and override each other. The consistent message is that the stronger faction prevails, even in the deployment of strategies and tactics that presumably give the underdogs a fighting chance against hegemonic power.  In the most compelling examples, Weizman shows the Israelis not just using the structural characteristics of the natural and built environment to assert their will, but actually inverting the affordances and meanings of those physical features.

Topographically, the Occupied Territories consist largely of fertile valleys and rocky barren hills. The Palestinians, farmers and herders, live mostly in the lowlands. The Israeli occupiers have penetrated this landscape not by pushing the farmers out of the valleys but by establishing suburb-like gated communities on the hilltops, taking advantage of loopholes in the tax laws in order to gain possession of the land. Occupying the higher ground at strategic loci throughout the territory gives the Israelis an interconnected network of defensible vantage points distributed across the landscape, from which they can keep the Palestinians under perpetual surveillance. The convolution of walls and fences delineating Palestinian space works its way around the hilltop settlements, ensuring that the Israelis continue to control the heights.

Purportedly to enhance the Palestinians’ sense of ownership over their territorial boundaries, the Israelis built a series of border checkpoints visibly manned by Palestinians. However, behind one-way mirrors were Israeli security forces. Those who wish to cross the border pass their papers to the Palestinian staffers at the counter, who then slide the papers through a slot to the Israelis hidden behind them. It’s the Israelis who make the actual approved/denied decisions.

Even in that patchwork geography which the Palestinians control, the Israelis control the subsurface and the airspace. The Israelis siphon off more than 80% of the water from the aquifer located under the West Bank. The skies are populated by a fleet of drone aircraft, which conduct surveillance as well as unmanned bombings and targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders.

Just as the interior boundaries between Israeli and Palestinian space are fluid and permeable, so is the external boundary between Israel and Egypt. Israel replaced its traditional Bar Lev line of border defense with a network of military emplacements positioned inside Israeli territory. When in the 1973 war the Egyptian army surged across the border, the Israeli Defense Force converged behind the advancing Egyptians, cutting off their supply lines and their retreat route.

The debate between the two different military doctrines of territorial organization — linear fortifications and a network of strongholds laid out throughout their depth — recalls comparisons made by Antonio Gramsci between the ‘war of position’ and ‘war of manoeuvre’, with similar political patterns. For Gramsci, the shift from the former to the latter implies an erosion in political hegemony… The political ‘war of manoeuvre’, by contrast, exists according to Gramsci as a multiplicity of non-centralized and loosely coordinated actions that aggressively compete with the power of the state. In local terms, the breaking of the Bar Lev Line seemed to have turned the former into the latter.” (Weizman, p. 77)

Maybe Weizman’s most compelling and terrifying illustration of Israeli deterritorialization of the Occupied Territory is the 2003 attack on the West Bank city of Nablus:

“Soldiers avoided using the streets, roads, alleys, and courtyards that define the logic of movement through the city, as well as the external doors, internal stairwells and windows that constitute the order of buildings; rather, they were punching holes through party walls, ceilings and floors, and moving across them through 100-metre-long pathways of domestic interior hollowed out of the dense and contiguous city fabric… This form of movement is part of a tactic that the military refers to, borrowing from the world of aggregate animal formation, as ‘swarming’ and ‘infestation.’ Moving through domestic interiors, this manoeuvre turned inside into outside and private domains to thoroughfares. Fighting took place within half-demolished living rooms, bedrooms and corridors. It was not the given order of space that governed patterns of movement, but movement itself that produced space around it. This three-dimensional movement through walls, ceilings and floors through the bulk of the city reinterpreted, short-circuited and recomposed both architectural and urban syntax. The tactics of ‘walking through walls’ involved a conception of the city as not just the site, but as the very medium of warfare — a flexible, almost liquid matter that is forever contingent and in flux.” (p. 186)

Israeli (and US) military intelligence experts acknowledge that they adapted these tactics from guerrilla fighters, including the Palestinians themselves, as well as from radical and poststructural theorists like Marcuse, Gramsci, Debord, Deleuze & Guattari, and Agamben. Decision-making is decentralized; individual soldiers are regarded as intelligent agents in their own right. Networked together, the intelligence distributed across the “swarm” exceeds what could possibly be available to any centralized command and control function. In a sense this is free market theory tactically applied to the military, but with the “invisible hand” of an emergent and unplanned order replaced by the shared strategic mission of defeating the common enemy. Weizman quotes from an interview he conducted with Israeli Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi:

“This space that you look at, this room that you look at, is nothing but your interpretation of it. Now, you can stretch the boundaries of your interpretation, but not in an unlimited fashion — after all, it must be bounded by physics, as it contains buildings and alleys. The question is, how do you interpret the alley? Do you interpret it as a place, like every architect and every town planner does, to walk through, or do you interpret it as a place forbidden to walk through? That depends only on interpretation. We interpreted the alley as a place forbidden to walk through, and the door as a place forbidden to pass through, and the window as a place forbidden to look through, because a weapon awaits us in the alley, and a booby trap awaits us behind the doors. This is because the enemy interprets space in a traditional, classical manner, and I do not want to obey this interpretation and fall into his traps. Not only do I not want to fall into his traps, I want to surprise him. This is the essence of war. I need to win. I need to emerge from an unexpected place. And this is what we tried to do. This is why we opted for the method of walking through walls… Like a worm that eats its way forward, emerging at points and then disappearing.” (p. 199)

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18 Comments »

  1. This is terrifying, it would seem that some of the most insightful work done by the radical left has been malappropiated by the very forces that we should resist. The implication of their re-interpretation of space is surely that we should adopt new and ever-changing modes of resistance if we are ever going to ‘compete’- I’m not just talking about military operations but about emerging patterns of thought in the corporate world.

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    Comment by bebrowed — 6 March 2010 @ 3:15 pm

  2. “some of the most insightful work done by the radical left has been malappropiated by the very forces that we should resist.”

    Welcome, bebrowed. Weizman notes that postmodern war praxis in the Israeli Defence Force hasn’t made a radical break with old methods but is rather incorporated as an extension of traditional urban warfare. The swarming and networking, for example, are still embedded inside a traditional hierarchical chain of command. I suppose the same could be said for premodern praxis — I must be one of the few people who doesn’t own a copy of Sun Tzu’s Art of War. Weizman observes that the “moving through walls” tactic was first described with reference to the 1848 French Revolution, used by the counter-insurgency military forces. It could be argued, then, that the poststructural theorists have lagged considerably behind military practice.

    I imagine that all sorts of useful insurgency tactics could be gleaned from studying successful techniques deployed by dominant military and economic powers as well as successful guerrilla movements. You mention “emerging patterns of thought in the corporate world” — Hardt & Negri seem just as inspired by entrepreneurial capitalism as by socialism. That’s no reason to infer that they’re closet capitalists just because they’ve attempted to coopt the master’s tools. Weizman demonstrates that it goes the other way too, that the master can use the servant’s tools against him.

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    Comment by john doyle — 6 March 2010 @ 5:02 pm

    • Well, this book sounds extremely…how shall we say? *useful* We are all in a state of permanent war, some just seem more laid-back temporarily than others. Some of the quotes sounded like art-journalspeak about performance-art events, environmental artpieces. Yes, I have finally begun to read books again, having taken baby steps with a $1 fat bio of Ava Gardner, discovering immediately that it is hideously written so I ‘must still have it’. I think I want to read this too. These strategies wouldn’t have to be applied malevolently either, they sound applicable to a whole host of projects, although not excluding protection and security from malicious worms.

      What’s interesting is less the deterritorialization from the underdogs, the Palestinians themselves in this case, I imagine that’s been done from time immemorial, but there are ‘acknowledgments’ to theorists themselves, D & G, Gramsci, Agamben, et alia. Have ‘Israeli (and U.S.) military intelligence experts’ (or anybody else experts for that matter, including corporate strategists) often or ever acknowledged such theorists like this?

      I don’t find it terrifying at all, that part. Maybe the abuse in general, but not that intelligence would have sense enough to use what it needed for theory, even if for the most malicious reasons. Everybody else does it who is smart enough to. What it forces theorists to start thinking about (if this is so terrifying) is that maybe they’re not as impotent as they delightedly imagine (while being pampered as well). Although I await the developments of the Zizekian formalae by ‘Israeli and U.S. military intelligence experts’, which may be found more wanting, I wouldn’t know. What do the theorists want, endless accusations of ‘ivory towerism’ and ‘not being listened to by the material itself’. It looks they’ve been listened to, and that a lot of the followers of these theorists are hardly in the vanguard of using these things for practical purposes–much like the way nuclear physics has been used in the various peaceful and bomb ways. Ho ho, yes, let the theorists quit complaining about their impotence: If they don’t know how ‘to use it’, somebody else may well know. I, for one, am going to even purchase this book for my own ulterior motives, and that’s a compliment, since it’s for ‘in library use only’ at NYPL, and it sounds quite as though one could use much knowledge herein for the marketing of one’s own artistic product–since, despite my self-involvement, I have no interest in over exploitation, only sins of commission of the non-violent kind. All this ‘architecture warfare strategy’ is phenomenal, but it’s not really that different from internet strategy, just more aesthetic, and you can use these different rhythms and tactics for all kinds of projects. I don’t think anything but the explicit acknowledgement of ‘thanks’ to the theorists sounds all that new (is that new? it sounds it, not like Nazism as learned from German thinkers), so that the book sounds valuable for the specifics it might offer to the artistic imagination. I think portalic-fetish-fiction, too, wouldn’t it? It just sounds full of malignant portals, all of which could render many more benign and beneficial forms, like nuclear power plants have done.

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      Comment by quantity of butchness — 6 March 2010 @ 6:03 pm

  3. Portalic-fetish-fiction yes: I finally decided to get the book because I’d read about this business of walking through walls, which sounds beautiful as well as horrible, and applicable to certain literary themes that obsess me. The last Bourne movie captures this style of moving through buildings quite well, but only on a one-on-one scale. Imagine the idea of whole companies of soldiers tunneling through a casbah while the insurgents are doing the same. Apparently half the buildings in old-town Nablus have at least two holes blasted through, with some as many as eight. There’s also the vertical axis: ceilings and floors too. There is now a technology that combines ultrasound and x-ray which enables the user to see people behind solid walls. Wall-penetrating ammunition lets soldiers actually shoot to kill these imaged spectres without even knocking the wall down.

    I believe it would be terrifying really to live through this, not just as a combatant but as a civilian who lives in such an urban warzone. Here’s an eyewitness report:

    “Imagine it — you’re sitting in your living room, which you know so well; this is the room where the family watches television together after the evening meal… And, suddenly, that wall disappears with a deafening roar, the room fills with dust and debris, and through the wall pours one soldier after another, screaming orders. You have no idea if they’re after you, if they’ve come to take over your home, or if your home just lies on their route to somewhere else. The children are screaming, panicking…”

    It is fascinating to read about the philosophers’ ideas actualized, their effectiveness validated in real-world application. Apparently the military intelligence schools and think tanks actually do discuss Deleuze etc., using them not just to describe existing tactics but to develop new ones. Weizman is at pains to exonerate the theorists: it’s not their fault that the hegemonists have adopted their radical ideas, etc. Reading the book one confronts the ruthlessness of the Israelis in crushing the Palestinians through all possible means. Weizman being an architect and an academic, he finds ways of merging theory and practice. Architecture has been one applied field in which philosophy shapes the aesthetic; odd to see that “military science” is another.

    If you believed in the cause or if you just didn’t give a fuck about causes, and if you could keep yourself out of the line of fire, working in military intelligence could be a kick. Lots of academics get Defense Dept. grants to develop technology that’s cool in its own right — 6 inch long drone aircraft that flap their wings, under development at MIT — while holding their noses and averting their eyes about how this technology is going to be used in military applications.

    The book is excellent, and inspiring in the sense of making abstractions tangible. I agree with you: if these ideas can take concrete shape in warfare, they can do so in other fields as well.

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    Comment by john doyle — 6 March 2010 @ 9:27 pm

    • There is now a technology that combines ultrasound and x-ray which enables the user to see people behind solid walls. Wall-penetrating ammunition lets soldiers actually shoot to kill these imaged spectres without even knocking the wall down.

      Yeah, and this was talked about as far back (at least) as an old (1983) TV movie with Roy Scheider, ‘Blue Thunder’. There was written stuff at the end about how the govt. already possessed such technology. It seemed authentic, but then again it was just a TV wheels-within-wheels, I believe, movie. And I saw it some years after it was made.

      But during the Waco Siege, somebody courageously, but cautiously, mentioned that he ‘thought that govt. had the technology to see through the walls of the Branch Davidion Complex. That really rang a bell with me; it seemed pretty clear that he KNEW they did and that it wasn’t something you said much about. This is one of the few kinds of things I’ve noticed first hand that does feed into the habit of seeing govt. conspiracy in everything. Unfortunately, for those who prefer their sensation in the form of conspiracy, it just doesn’t follow nearly all the time. When it does, it’s called VULGAR MARXISM PARANOIA, as with all the fool shit about 9/11 inside jobs. Everybody knows that’s crap except one or two glaswegians. BUT–there have been been other things that are very interesting about technologies that govt. has but doesn’t talk about. Whether they do use them probably goes without saying: If they have them, they must use them, but probably in Afghanistan or elsewhere, where nobody but the insiders will know about it, and it’s normal for them. So that, in one of Mike Davis’s books, he does a paragraph or two, almost completely out of context, about ‘weather management’, and making storms, etc., but doesn’t say much, nor give examples, but does, if I recall properly, say something about how this has been in use for decades. This sort of thing is confusing, and also not even convincing without examples, esp. since Davis is very sensational to read, you are excited about the earthquakes that will finally treat rich and poor alike in Los Angeles, oh yes, even the Playboy Mansion will take it up the arse. But those earthquakes were supposed to take place years ago by now, and his other crap about ‘conspiracies not to report second-level (or whatever the term for tornadoes of second-degree magnitude) tornadoes in Downtown L.A. defies creudulity: That one is as dumb as getting everybody downtown to lie about the planes and remains and effects in the WTC and Pentagon attacks–it’s just shit, like even a cleaning lady or a CEO would hesitate to report a tornado outside one of the big bank buildings. So you just have to guess sometimes. I do remember I believed what was written about this technology at the end of ‘Blue Thunder’, but knew I had no real reason to be sure; but when I heard the guy on a MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour say that ‘…and I do think they have this technology’, that was a sound I hadn’t heard before. He was probably taking a big risk in even saying that, as the FBI had at that point not gone ahead and made their mess of an invasion–which points to the very real possibility they even did see into those buildings, which were pretty ramshackle and rickety if you want to know the truth. Janet Reno ‘pro’ enough to be able to say in subsequent years she never ‘quits thinking about Waco’. Of course, if that NewsHour guest was really saying he did know they already had the technology to see through the buildings’ walls, then of course Reno and Clinton knew about it too. Yes, it must be terrible for her.

      But ‘conspiracy nut’ is a juvenile thing. If that was a show of govt. power (and so seemingly small-time way to do it, unless it wanted to seem as if a constant threat anywhere and everywhere, and it doesn’t really succeed in this–e.g., they took years to catch that murderer in the North Carolina hills back in the 90s, because of incestuous contacts and networks that existed even within this country; so that talk of ‘not wanting to catch Bin Laden’ is stupid, since that’s even more complicated, BUT…I hadn’t thought so before those two failures to capture: I thought the CIA and the govt. were nearly omniscient, and that ‘you couldn’t hide’. But you could, that N. Carolina guy was on the lam for maybe 3 years, I think.

      It also doesn’t really follow that Reno would herself score any points for appointing Ken Starr to investigate her boss, if everything followed from purely political considerations. I don’t know exactly how the mechanics of that works, but if it had been the Bush Administration, their personnel would have found a way around it, as the Harriet Meyers/Karl Rove simply refusing to honour subpoenas (and still getting away with all of it) proves, as one example.

      But my sense is that that technology has probably been around for a long time, and has been used. Whether it’s used only clandestinely I don’t know, of course, but people don’t normally talk about it. As for the weather management business, I don’t believe it. Mike Davis makes up a lot of things based on a few statistics he then enjoys exaggerating; and his remarks in ‘Dead Cities’ about 9/11, even though the book is jmostly about Los angeles, are crude and stupid. As if there really were an ‘arrogance’ in the Towers. The theorists do a lot of bad jerking off. you know, when they don’t have anything else to fall back on, as it were, but not even really as it were–just facts. Lots of leftists love to believe what Mike Davis said, but I’ve not noticed any of the bloggers who bring him up very frequently even once pointing out that his ‘ecotones of LA’ caused by coyote over-population have NOT come to be. In fact, none of the disasters about Los Angeles he keeps predicting with a certainty has occurred, to my knowledge, in the time-frame he gives (most of his major works on cities have focussed on LA, and he has some wonderful arcane things you won’t find elsewhere, such as in Vernon, a weird Company town of LA, which has two industries and peremanent population of about 100, all of them city employees who go way back, I believe, I forget what the old basic industry is, but now there is Chinese trinket manufacture as well…but he also found an unusual business in a rubble yard: Young men had jobs destroying hard drives of computers, smashing them to bits, to prevent blackmail of fucksites and bank passwords, I guess. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernon,_California

      This is not ‘de rigueur’, but shows hoe ingrown a place Vernon is, I go through it many times in my trips there, and you can’t tell a thing about, it’s all hidden from view. 91 population, corruption charges for the mayor and his wife from this past december, the son for child molestation, evicting outsiders who try to run for office. Some weirdoh place it is. Vernon is one of a number of ‘inner suburbs’ of Los Angeles, which exist next to districts under direct LA jurisdiction. This is rather strange, all these independent cities, like Compton, which is also called a ‘city’, and Watts, right next to it, which is called a ‘residential district’ and has no separate municipal govt. Hollywood is also a ‘district’, whereas West Hollywood is a ‘city’. All very arcane stuff to most, I’m fascinated by such shit. Anyway, got way off-topic here, because of Mike Davis, just to say that his account of Vernon is one of his few truly good ‘stories’, as it is factual and remote, but not just ‘dark-coloured’ to fit his foreboding Marxism.

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      Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 7 March 2010 @ 12:41 am

      • This shows how out of it I was during 2009, I didn’t even know this:

        “On July 7, 2009, and July 30, 2009, Karl Rove testified before the House Judiciary Committee regarding questions about the dismissal of seven U.S. Attorneys under the Bush Administration. Rove was also questioned regarding the federal prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegleman who was convicted of fraud. The Committee concluded that Rove had played a significant role in the attorney firings. No conclusions were made public regarding Siegleman’s prosecution.[48][49] Siegleman’s supporters have claimed that Rove was behind Siegleman’s prosecution,[50] although Siegleman’s defense made no such claim either at his original trial, nor at his appeal before the 11th Circuit Court which upheld his conviction on the bribery and fraud counts, but dismissed two counts of mail fraud.[51] The 11th Circuit handed down its decision March 6, 2009.[49]”

        So, although this is off-topic, do you know whether Rove’s ‘significant involvement’ in the attorney firings went any further than that? I certainly hope so, but we won’t see him in jail. (If you want, email me, once again sorry for being so off-topio, one thing led to another. Good night.)

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        Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 7 March 2010 @ 12:57 am

  4. The questions about Rove are stimulated by his new book I guess. What’s happened with Obama’s investigation of Rove? Has he decided to let it drop? He seems to have let Rumsfeld off the hook for authorizing torture. Recently the Justice Dept. decided that private-sector lawyers advising were acting “professionally” in advising Bush’s people on how to justify torture — nothing about whether those lawyers were acting illegally.

    The question was whether Rove could invoke executive privilege, even though the executive in question is no longer in office. Certainly the circumstantial evidence is publicly available, and maybe some concrete evidence as well that could nail Rove. By allowing grandfathered-in executive privilege to shut down the case, Obama is in effect saying that working for a POTUS affords permanent safe harbor for any illegalities performed on the job. I could imagine this move would reassure Obama’s own staffers that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” so to speak.

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    Comment by john doyle — 7 March 2010 @ 7:18 am

  5. Weizman documents in detail the many ways in which the Israeli government has acted overtly and continually to disregard international law regarding their involvement in Palestine. I don’t think there’s much need to invoke conspiracy theory, although certainly there’s plenty of unacknowledged covert shit going on there as well. Weizman argues that Israel avoids and undermines any diplomatic efforts to arrive at a conclusive settlement, since the longer things remain ambiguous the more control Israel exerts over the region. It’s pretty clear that the US is complicit, inasmuch as Israel is the biggest recipient of US foreign aid and the biggest purchaser of US weapons. If the US government wanted Israel to act in conformity with the Oslo Accord and so on, they’ve clearly got the leverage to force Israel’s hand.

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    Comment by john doyle — 7 March 2010 @ 7:39 am

    • Yes, it’s just that the ‘unacknowledged covert shit’ is probably one of the things that fuels conspiracy theories, that would be natural. My guess is that some of the conspiracies are largely true, some totally fictitious. But if the x-ray/ultrasound has been used since 1983 and even before perhaps, and I here somebody on the NewsHour cautiously but knowingly slip something in about this, you can easily see why these theories would not always be mountains out of molehills, but some would. there’s not really a thing to support the 9/11 insider job conspiracy, but that shows the mindset: It will make them up if they’re not there. but if they ARE there, then it really does get interesting, and you realize that there is a set of people who know all sorts of things–although this is offset by their own ineptitude and the decades-long territorial fights between CIA and FBI. That book about all these goings-on during Aug. 2001 has the best accounts of CIA/FBI failures to communicate–‘The Looming Tower’ by Lawrence Wright. just quoting a bit of these to one of the ‘truthies’ made him tell me I was just reciting ‘govt. propaganda’, but it was no such thing, of course (it’s the truthies who do no research at all, and the stupidest ones even say the burden of proof about something so obvious is not on them, but this is going too far afield again).

      Conspiracy is always interesting, almost like a sophisticated form of sci-fi. There’s always been lots of conspiracy in the banana republics, and these are well demonstrated in Robert Stone’s novel ‘A Flag Before Sunrise’ and Didion’s ‘The Last Tning He Wanted’. Not that they’re not everywhere else too. They’re on the blogs right now, and if you’re lucky, you stop being victim to them. Fake characters are written by one and addressed by another fake character who wrote both of them. A third character is real but responds to the first two as if they were different, meaning that if the two hold different positions, they are ‘two different persons’, although they are not two different person, the person is thought not to matter, and in fact, doesn’t, in this degraded and stupid form. The ‘comments moderation’ that is sometimes placed on some of these blogs is not for the one it was originally said to be for, of course, it was to tweak yet a fourth character’s interest. But it’s pretty clumsy. So that’s ‘real conspiracy’ of such a low kind it is not even worth paying attention to except to marvel at why somebody would pride themselves at buying up cheap real estate that can’t be sold as residential plots.

      Then there’s further discsssion of misspellings, as of ‘Markist’ for ‘Marxist’ as part of means by the ruling elite to scare non-altermondialists of commies, etc., I don’t buy Arpege on this, though. While it is a kind of ‘white trash thing’ to mispronounce words on purpose and in common form so as to strengthen bonds with others who use poor English, I don’t think ‘Markist’ means a fucking thing: The likelihood that anybody who was being marked to see this would know what even ‘Marxism’ was, if they were hicks, is not great. They’d know what ‘communism’ meant in some crude form, or maybe even ‘socialism’, but only the smarties would know that ‘Markism’ meant ‘Marxism’. The thesis is that they misspell for ‘virality’, but I don’t buy that either, otherwise they should quit suppoerting the virality and delete the post.

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      Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 7 March 2010 @ 12:10 pm

      • I’m going to have to wait on this book, though, $25 is too much even to see these theorists’ product put into vicious use. Of course he ‘exonerates the theorists’, I just mean the theorists themselves ought to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there ‘pure havens’ are not very important, because the meat of what they’ve produced is quite serviceable and is processed by ambitious governments and their intelligence organizations routinely and very effectively. I guess that I just think some of the theorists do sound pretty whiny on their ‘effectiveness’ in the world. It is true they don’t always, and it’s little wonder that U.S. and Israelis looking to subordinate and a ACQUIRE would look to Deleuze. You don’t really think a single one of them has fouhd a military use for Derrida, now do you? Well, I don’t.

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        Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 7 March 2010 @ 12:19 pm

  6. Regarding overt/covert, the Israelis became so confident of their ability to assassinate any Palestinian leader pretty much at any time that they began announcing their next targets. The opacity of the US government and the long trail of corrupt covert dealings certainly contributes to conspiracy-theory paranoia. I have to believe that at least some of the 9/11 Truth supporters are making a more general push for greater government transparency and accountability to the citizenry. To substantiate with evidence the US government’s assurances that it played no role in 9/11, there would have to be greater public access to secret documentation.

    Military uses for Derrida? The Israeli general seems to be thinking in deconstructionist terms when he regards alleys as spaces NOT to walk through and so on. For Derrida and for Deleuze/Guattari’s deterritorialization these poststructuralist moves refer exclusively to meaning and language. It’s clear that, while the general talks about meaning, he’s able to invert usual meanings because the Master Signifier controls the weapons and the surveilllance. You can’t walk through walls like Neo, just by thinking your way through: you need explosives.

    This gets us to the object-oriented crowd and the actor-network theorists. The material world isn’t nothing; walls really do block your path. But we also see in the Israeli example that determined, intentional, powerful human agency actively manipulates the material world in order to achieve its ends. Some on the left have accused the OOO and ANT advocates of obfuscating or minimizing human intentional agency, as if the walls just happen to get holes blasted through them or the drones just happen to drop bombs on insurgents.

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    Comment by john doyle — 8 March 2010 @ 1:18 pm

  7. Hurt Locker explores the combination of human and material agency in a very localized way. The guy’s job is to defuse bombs. At first the bombs just seem to be there, as if they’d planted themselves of their own accord. Gradually we move toward suspicions of bomb planters, then to witnessing actual humans planting them. To emphasize the point of joint human-material agency we get to see to cases of bombs actually planted on humans (one already dead, the other alive but not for long), such that the humans themselves are explosive devices. And we also watch the bomb defuser guy becoming more and more attached to and identified with his protective gear. He also keeps a collection of fuses and wires from stuff that nearly killed him — this hardware has become his emotional attachment to the world. Then we see him starting to wear his protective headgear when he’s not on the job, like it’s becoming part of him. But this movie isn’t man-machine posthuman scifi singularity crap, as if it’s a great thing to become machinic, to become a weapon. It’s much more ambiguous about the sort of dehumanization that’s both inevitable and necessary to be good at a job like dismantling bombs in a warzone.

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    Comment by john doyle — 8 March 2010 @ 2:25 pm

  8. I have to believe that at least some of the 9/11 Truth supporters are making a more general push for greater government transparency and accountability to the citizenry. \

    Then believe it, but that’s a stupid way to win their case. I can’t think of anybody but Arpege who thinks of it what way. Because you have to use examples/cases that hold water. If you think 9/11 truthies are ‘making a a more general push for greater govt. transparency…’etc,. then you’re like Arpege. She knows that the ‘insider job theory’ is total bullshit, but hasn’t het realized that that is not the one to work on, it just makes you look stupid. Even leninino of ‘lenin’s tomb’ could never concede this to me, and in fairly extensive 2006 correspondence, because he knew it didn’t hold water. The 9/11 truthies may think they’re doing it for that reason, but they’re not. They just like the sensation of it. Anybody who isn’t stoned 24/7 knows what happened, it’s fucking idiocy to pretend otherwise. And such a tactic would only play into the hands of the ‘opacity-creatores’, who know that they really do other rapacious acts. But choosing that one is just ignorant. I can’t believe that some smart people would pay it any attention at all, because if anything, it will make the govt. know they have things only in more control, not less.

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    Comment by quantity of butchness — 8 March 2010 @ 5:00 pm

  9. I regard the idea of US intelligence/administration conspiring to bring down the Towers as implausible on the face of it, and I rarely give it much thought.

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    Comment by john doyle — 8 March 2010 @ 5:41 pm

  10. It says here that Joe Biden disapproves of Netanyahu’s approval of new apartment buildings planned for East Jerusalem. Good for Joe.

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    Comment by john doyle — 9 March 2010 @ 5:27 pm

  11. That East Jerusalem business has been scandalous for at least 15 years, maybe 20.

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    Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 9 March 2010 @ 5:52 pm

  12. Based on the Weizman book, one might suspect that Netanyahu announced the housing development purposely in order to inject mistrust into the latest round of talks, which are probably doomed anyway because they involve only Fatah and not Hamas.

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    Comment by john doyle — 9 March 2010 @ 6:29 pm

  13. “Perhaps Obama, in taking his tough initial tack, had not foreseen the deep political divisions he would face a little more than a year into his presidency. “He can’t win on Jerusalem right now. No matter how humiliating, he has to swallow it,” said Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He served for two decades as a State Department senior Mideast policy adviser. Working with Israel, said Miller, “is like dancing with a bear. Once you start, you can’t let go.””

    A couple of ways of letting go come to mind: cut off their aid, cut off their ability to buy weapons.

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    Comment by john doyle — 11 March 2010 @ 5:47 am


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