Transmission #05

In all things, power seeks to assert itself as single and complete, free of contradiction, immune to critique and blind to alternatives. However, power cannot maintain itself in its abstract form; it must manifest itself concretely, in history. It does this through ideology and terror, two halves of one process, each the inverse of the other, and both necessary to the maintenance of its identity.

Ideology is the practice of abstraction in the material world, the pretension that this power, in its actual distribution, is identical to its imaginary form, that there exists a correspondence between what is and what ought to be, such that reality, through ideology, can be made to conform to its proper pattern. But reality, as the real movement of things, is never entirely captive to ideology, and therefore never wholly consistent or rational. Power must compel belief in its rationality by the exercise of naked violence.

Terror, then, is the act by which power ensures that its ideological abstractions will prevail in practice, that things will remain as they are, or change in ways dictated by its necessities. Terror, the attack on the material, is the ideology of power, the confirmation that all things exist to serve the order decreed by the idea. It is also the principal tactic by which that idea ensures its reign by maintaining an ever present threat of annihilation, a threat whose specific targets will always be those who fail to accept or cannot subordinate their own individual power to the abstract structure of authority, those whose energy must either be eliminated or transformed into obedience.

Ideology is the idealist trick by which power binds itself to its reality, the trap of rationalizing its legitimacy, whereas terror is the materialist move, the suppression of the irrational—dissimulation and force, the twin halves of the same politics. Through them the autonomous reality of things, the violence of being, is hijacked for the benefit of the order of the system. In their intersection, terror and ideology guarantee that power can never lose. They guarantee, in short, its schizophrenia—its perpetual blindness to the radical separation of the idea and its concrete conditions.

It is the tragedy of power that it must compel obedience through anguish, that its glory will always be paid for in terror. But it is also the danger of power that it does not see this, that its blindness to its own violence renders it incapable of transcending terror—thereby revealing itself as no better than its enemies, who cannot believe in anything but would gladly trade an ideology of terror for terror itself. In reality, terror has never won out over belief, which is simply the ideology of an earlier period. But terror still prevails in practice, not only because it has yet to discover the incommensurability of being and the system, but because its beneficiaries have even less reason to surrender terror than the violent masses from whom they seize it. Terror still reigns because no power has yet learned to attain fullness through compromise. It is this, then, which must be brought to an end, but in another way, through another means—the absolute independence of being. This is the full sense of schizophrenia, to live as a body separate from the system, without order and without terror, at the intersection of anguish and the bliss of pure reality. It is a problem not of reconciling violence and reason, but of rendering them irrelevant. Only then will there be an end to ideology, a resolution to the insanity of power. Only then will there be an end to the politics of terror and control.

–R. Artaud (Telos)

᯾᯾ ᴛᴇʀᴍɪɴᴀᴛᴇᴅ ᯾᯾