Meditating on the Flows of Power, Jamming, 01/05/2018

Today has been a good day. At the college, I got to give a really intriguing presentation to a group of international student recruiters from different places around the world. A crew from Korea, a couple of folks from Mexico, one from Colombia, one from Brazil, and even one from Kazakhstan, which was a pleasant surprise to me.

If we get some Kazakh students coming to join my business program, it’ll be a real education for me as well. I know a few things in general about the history and culture of Kazakhstan, but I’d be fascinated to learn more about everyday life in cities like Astana and Almaty, life in a social and political culture so different from where I grew up. Where there is no popular public conception of democracy as such.

Turkmenbashi, a man who made himself the state.
How does someone who’s lived all their life in a country like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, or North Korea think about freedom? Or duty? Or love of country?

The state is a powerful presence in the lives of so many. But we should keep in mind the central lesson of the ontology of the social for politics – all relationships in society generate power. They’re dynamic exchanges of energy among people as individuals, groups, organizations, institutions.

The state is one institution among many that people have developed to shape their lives and govern their communities. The major failure of left-wing political movements over the last century and change has been their frequent focus on using the power of the state to affect and ensure change.

There are alternatives. The state, when all of its institutional powers are marshalled over a population, constitutes this brute force of pressure on all these people. A society is crushed by its police, bureaucracy, and agencies. People are stamped flat with the imprint of a statue made of gold.

Symbiosis. That's one alternative way of organizing a society's power, and institutions that shape those relationships. Gilles Deleuze – and Paul Patton following him – call symbiosis a double-capture. Two processes link with each other, and develop together. It’s an alliance that builds a mutual dependence, an interdependence. Each of them become more together than what they could have been alone.

It’s a model that offers an alternative to the heavy hand and coercive machinery – and the guns, always all the guns in the hands of people with the sole right to use them – of the state.

What are some models of politics, society, and friendship that work according to a logic of symbiosis? Something to think about, as this is just a short post of reflections that I’m writing almost as a diary tonight. It's been a long and tiring day, and I’m scheduling this to post early tomorrow morning.

I hope everyone’s had a good sleep. The world remains dangerous. But there’s power in all our hands.

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