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Articulating the Cracks
in the Worlds of Power

Preparatory Readings

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:

Introductory Reading:

16 Beaver Group talking with Brian Holmes
Articulating the Cracks in the Worlds of Power

Primary Readings:

Brian Holmes
The Artistic Device: Or the Articulation of Collective Speech

Malcolm Bull
States of Failure

Afflicted Power: The State, The Spectacle, and September 11

Melinda Cooper
Pre-empting Emergence: The Biological Turn in the War on Terror

Secondary Readings:

Malcolm Bull
The Limits of Multitude

Brian Holmes
The Oppositional Device; Or, taking matters into whose hands?

Brian Holmes
Neoliberal Appetites; governance recipe in five easy pieces

Shimshon Bichler & Jonathan Nitzan
Dominant Capital and the New Wars

Additional Readings Suggested by Participants:

Julian Stallabrass
Spectacle and Terror

David Graeber
Fragments 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 the
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 that
Brian Holmes has work in and many other awesome thinkers but that's
not out until July.