Is there such a thing as a national Skid Row? What happens when
the hegemonic country goes on a multibillion-dollar binge, drinks
itself blind on the fictions of power, loses control, collapses
in public, hits bottom with a groan?After its first anniversary,
the slow-motion blowback of Hurricane Katrina seems finally to
have carried the war all the way home to the USA, water-slogged
and banal, drenched in the flow of time, choking on the stupid
truths that the blazing spectacle of the Twin Towers pushed outward
for years, beyond unreal borders. Yes, the levees broke. Yes,
the New Economy was a fitful dream. Yes, there were no WMD. Yes,
the invasion of Iraq was a terrible mistake. Yes, it's not over.
Yes, it takes some kind of care for others to make a world livable.
In September and October of 2005, at 16 Beaver Street in New York's
financial district, the first sessions of Continental Drift tried
to put together a set of lenses to examine the present condition
of Empire, with its Anglo-American foundations stretching back
to WWII and its normative models projected across the planet,
beneath the guise of neoliberalism. We wanted to have a collective
try at mapping out the world that our divided labor helps to build.
But at the same time as we carried out this cartographic project,
all of us struggled to see how the imperial condition inexorably
cracks, along the great continental fault lines that increasingly
separate the earth's major regions, but also at the heart of the
very ties of belief, habit, complicity and sheer affective numbness
that keep the silent majorities convinced that somewhere there
is still something "normal."That was before the last
war in Lebanon.
If cynicism has no bounds, if it is well known that the imperial
partners will do everything they can to prove that
the present mode of development is sustainable - even by destroying
it - should we not have infinitely more audacity to imagine another
life, and to give it expression? New York, like any huge city
on planet earth in 2006, is a crossroads of worlds, an antheap
of civilizations, a labyrinth of intersecting and diverging micro-experiences
that resonate with the entire planetary space, no matter how far
removed its deep wells and endlessly receding horizons may be.
The project for this Drift is to continue mapping the operating
systems of Empire, but above all, to open up the few square meters
of 16 Beaver to individual or group testimonies, artistic visions
and intellectual debates that can articulate - put into words,
but also knit together, weave into unforeseen combinations - a
number of the singular cracks that are appearing in the worlds
of power: not only in the obsessively American world, but also
in other worlds, in Asia, Latin America, Europe, Africa, the
Middle East, the former Soviet space and in your head, where the
worlds collide every day. Yes, it's another modest ambition for
the calm, serene, imperturbable times in which we live.
We have prepared a set of readings for the upcoming drift
sessions and we invite you to have a look:
Beaver Group talking with Brian Holmes
the Cracks in the Worlds of Power
Artistic Device: Or the Articulation of Collective Speech
The State, The Spectacle, and September 11
Emergence: The Biological Turn in the War on Terror
Limits of Multitude
Oppositional Device; Or, taking matters into whose hands?
Appetites; governance recipe in five easy pieces
Bichler & Jonathan Nitzan
Capital and the New Wars
Additional Readings Suggested by Participants:
of an Anarchist Anthropology
Basically the book poses questions about why there
is not an
anarchist anthropology and how if there was it might transform
way we look at domination in human societies. It also poses questions
about social theory, social movements, and the role of academics.
It's a quick read that raises questions valuable to the Drift
discussion. Graeber has co-edited with Stevphen Shukaitis a forth
coming book called Constituent Imagination:Militant Investigations//
Collective Theorization http://www.constituentimagination.net/
Brian Holmes has work in and many other awesome thinkers but that's
not out until July.