February 15, 2006

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Kill! Kill! Two excerpts from Zizek that bear upon my thinking about solidarity. The Puppet and the Dwarf: ..the superego splits every determinate commandment into two complementary, albeit asymmetrical, parts--"You shall not kill!," for instance, is split into the formal-indeterminate "You shall not!" and the obscene direct injunction "Kill!" The silent dialogue which sustains this operation is thus: "You shall not!" "I shall not--what? I have no idea what is being demanded of me! Che vuoi?" "You shall not!" "This is driving me crazy, being under pressure to do something without knowing what, feeling guilty without knowing of what, so I'll just explode and start killing!" Thus, killing is the desperate response to the impenetrable abstract superego prohibition. Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle: The paradox to be fully endorsed here is that the only way to abolish power relations effectively leads through accepted relations of authority: the model of a free collective is not a group of libertines indulging their own pleasures, but an extremely disciplined revolutionary body. The injunction which holds such a collective is best encapsulated by the logical form of the double negation (prohibition) which, precisely, is not the same as the direct positive assertion. Zizek includes at this point text from Brecht's Die Massnahme, which ends "it is still, we said, not given to us not to kill." I introduce these passages as way of responding to Adam's recent contribution to the solidarity discussion, a contribution that is primarily a response to Nate. Adam's comments at this point suggest...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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