Slow optimism

by Arran James

Free from the neurogenic cage of the disciplinary society, the unconscious exploded and is
proliferating in full daylight, naked and provocative in the dimensions of advertising,
pornography and popular diffusion of psychopharmacology and cocaine, and the media
hyper-stimulation of attention. Should we reclaim the restoration of the old moral order, of
the slow family life, of the hierarchical territorialized system of the Protestant bourgeoisie in
the old industrial cities? Obviously not, because this claim would be reactionary and
ineffective. But we should not insist on the mere exhibition of the plague, on the mere
emphasizing the infinite potencies of desire. Constantly mobilized by the economic
machine, shifting from a simulation to the next under-promise of immediate pleasure,
desire is turning to panic. The precarious generation is haunted by countless contradictory
injunctions: enjoyment and acceleration, expression and competition, freedom and anxiety,
creativity and exploitation. What is the way towards subjectivation in these new

So why are people taking to the streets, and fighting against the police, and destroying the
shops and the banks? Old rituals coming from the proletarian revolutions of the nineteenth
and twentieth century? Perhaps, in a certain way, yes: old rituals have become ineffective
as the city is no more a place of social life, but a simulacrum, and the enemy is no more
identifiable and targetable. But we should see another face in this kind of mobilization, one
that is not aimed towards aggression and destruction, but towards self-recognition and
The cognitarians of this generation are going to the streets to recompose their social and
affective bodies. They are reactivating their bodily relations with the metropolitan territory.
Riots are reshaping the perception of urban territory, and the perception of the complicity
between bodies. From this point of view the studentsʼ struggles that exploded in fall 2010
are not to be seen as a sudden outburst of rage, but as the beginning of a long-lasting
process that will encompass the next decade, a cognitarian insurrection of sort.
Insurrection means rising up, and also full deployment of the potencies of the actor. The
actor who is coming out on the historical scene of our time is the general intellect in its
process of subjectivation. The potencies of this actor are the potencies of the collective
intelligence in the network, the potencies of knowledge, reduced to the narrow dogmatic
utilization that capitalist economy is forcing on them.


Taken from Through Europe #4.