The following quotations are taken from:
The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection, pp. 52-65. Semiotext(e) 2009.
“All territory is subsumed by the metropolis. Everything occupies the same space, if not geographically then through the intermeshing of its networks.” 52
“This taste for the ‘authentic,’ and of the control that goes with it, accompanies the petty bourgeoisie in its colonization of working class neighborhoods. Pushed out of the city centers, they find on the frontiers the kind of ‘neighborhood feeling’ they missed in the prefab houses of suburbia. By chasing out the poor people, the cars, and the immigrants, by making it tidy, by getting rid of all the germs, the petty bourgeoisie wipes out the very thing it came looking for. A police officer and a garbage man shake hands in a picture on a town billboard, and the slogan reads: ‘Montauban—Clean City.’” 53-54
“Everywhere it’s the same chilling void, reaching into even the most remote and rustic corners.” 54
“But vitality has taken up quarters in the so-called ‘problem’ neighborhoods. It’s a paradox that the places thought to be the most uninhabitable turn out to be the only ones still in some way inhabited.” 55
“The conflagration of November 2005 was not a result of extreme dispossession, as it is often portrayed. It was, on the contrary, a complete possession of a territory. People can burn cars because they are pissed off, but to keep the riots going for a month, while keeping the police in check—to do that you have to know how to organize, you have to establish complicities, you have to know the terrain perfectly, and share a common language and a common enemy. Mile after mile and week after week, the fire spread.” 56
“The metropolis is a terrain of constant low-intensity conflict, in which the taking of Basra, Mogadishu, or Nablus mark points of culmination. For a long time, the city was a place for the military to avoid, or if anything, to besiege; but the metropolis is perfectly compatible with war. Armed conflict is only a moment in its constant reconfiguration. The battles conducted by the great powers resemble a kind of never-ending police campaign in the black holes of the metropolis, ‘whether in Burkina Faso, in the South Bronx, in Kamagasaki, in Chiapas, or in La Courneuve.’ No longer undertaken in view of victory or peace, or even the re-establishment of order, such ‘interventions’ continue a security operation that is always already in progress. War is no longer a distinct event in time, but instead diffracts into a series of micro-operations, by both military and police, to ensure security.
The police and the army are evolving in parallel and in lock-step. A criminologist requests that the national riot police reorganize itself into small, professionalized, mobile units.” 56-57
“Urban space is more than just the theater of confrontation, it is also the means.” 58
“The metropolis is not just this urban pile-up, this final collision between city and country. It is also a flow of beings and things, a current that runs through fiber-optic networks, through high-speed train lines, satellites, and video surveillance cameras, making sure that this world keeps running straight to its ruin. It is a current that would like to drag everything along in its hopeless mobility, to mobilize each and every one of us. Where information pummels us like some kind of hostile force. Where the only thing left to do is run. Where it becomes hard to wait, even for the umpteenth subway train.
With the proliferation of means of movement and communication, and with the lure of always being elsewhere, we are continuously torn from the here and now. Hop on an intercity or commuter train, pick up a telephone—in order to be already gone. Such mobility only ever means uprootedness, isolation, exile. It would be insufferable if it weren’t always the mobility of a private space, of a portable interior. The private bubble doesn’t burst, it floats around. The process of cocooning is not going away, it is merely being put into motion. From a train station, to an office park, to a commercial bank, from one hotel to another, there is everywhere a foreignness, a feeling so banal and so habitual it becomes the last form of familiarity.” 58-59
“It is precisely due to this architecture of flows that the metropolis is one of the most vulnerable human arrangements that has ever existed. Supple, subtle, but vulnerable. A brutal shutting down of borders to fend off a raging epidemic, a sudden interruption of supply lines, organized blockades of the axes of communication, and the whole façade crumbles, a façade that that can no longer mask the scenes of carnage haunting it from morning to night. The world would not be moving so fast if it didn’t have to constantly outrun its own collapse.” 60
“Every network has its weak points, the nodes that must be undone in order to interrupt circulation, to unwind the web. The last great European electrical blackout proved it: a single incident with a high-voltage wire and a good part of the continent was plunged into darkness. In order for something to rise up in the midst of the metropolis and open up other possibilities, the first act must be to interrupt its perpetuum mobile.” 61
“We have to see that the economy is not ‘in’ crisis, the economy itself is the crisis. It’s not that there’s not enough work, it’s that there is too much of it. All things considered, it’s not the crisis that depresses us, it’s growth.” 63
“The collapse of the socialist bloc was in no way a victory of capitalism; it was merely the breakdown of one of the forms capitalism takes.” 66
“And suddenly everything that we were determined to forget is revealed: the economy itself is political. And that this politics is, today, a politics of selection within a humanity that has largely become superfluous. From Colbert to de Gaulle, by way of Napoleon III, the state has always treated the economic as political, as have the bourgeoisie (who profit from it) and the proletariat (who confront it). All that’s left is this strange, middling part of the population, the curious and powerless aggregate of those who take no sides: the petty bourgeoisie. They have always pretended to believe in the economy as a reality—because their neutrality is safe there. Small business owners, small bosses, minor bureaucrats, managers, professors, journalists, middlemen of every sort make up this non-class in France, this social gelatin composed of the mass of all those who just want to live their little private lives at a distance from history and its tumults. This swamp is predisposed to be the champion of false consciousness, half-asleep and always ready to close its eyes on the war that rages all around it.” 68