When we’re done stealing. When we are done shoplifting, still refusing organization – thug life is a solo piece – when we are up for vanity and posing, we still have enemies. We have two enemies: imagination and creativity. But there is a way out of piracy. Let’s go Caribbean, it’s hot an sexy, let’s board the enemy’s territory and swing our stolen swords. It is not a matter of gold and other riches but about the act, of boarding, of creating a general havoc.
One can think of two kinds of breaks with the confinements proposed by the law. Prison break – a breach with a conventional and continuous imprisonment which without exception results in the subject always looking over his shoulder waiting for the law to catch up. The subject will inevitably return to his original imprisonment where he will finally feel relief. The prison break operates on the basis of breaking through and leaving a trace, whereas a clean break implies a shift of discourse, i.e. the prison guard will not even know that the subject has disappeared out of the field of vision. The result is identical, but after a clean break the subject will continuously look over his shoulder hoping that at least somebody will appear. A clean break implies sovereignty, a lonely place, and nobody to gossip with.
Piracy can be considered as simple prison break, a crossing of a conventional restriction in order to get away with some or other thing, or simply to obtain value. It can also be understood as a clean break, especially considering digital media where a copy is not destabilizing value. Is it however possible to consider piracy not only as a strategic endeavor, but rather as operations either on structural or tactical levels? We would like to understand piracy as a concept, as a heterogeneous huddle of incompatible connections raising questions that cannot be answered within our present predicament or as a cluster of mutating lines carrying the potentiality of ungrounding established capacities of dualist discourse.
The language apparatuses that define present political contexts have over the past twenty-five years lost their deterritorializing agency, i.e. any political emergence or social movement can but be canonized due the dominant discourse of Western representational democracy, hence the multiplicity has made itself invincible. As long as tomorrow is designated by yesterday’s idioms, difference can only operate on levels of degree, in particular in a reality where capitalism has become omnipresent.
There is nothing to fight against any more, no battles to choose or struggles that would makes sense, precisely because the enemy is within. Activism and public manifestation have become an empty spectacle and an identity booster for souls that enjoy the comfortable position of being a little bit lost. The crisis must not be solved, nothing must be repaired since that necessarily means further consolidation of impotent language apparatuses. The complete compatibility between capital, cognitary labor and control implies the rise of arbitrary power; a power that is its own body without organs, that is difference without reference to a prior unity and hence is resistant, or better unimaginable to prevailing political discourses. But as there is nothing to rely on, potentiality becomes an open question; arbitrary power releases the possibility for a radical breach of subjectivity.
The primary function of western models of governance, democratic or not, is to produce stability. In short, good governance is “supposed” to establish long-term conditions to ensure economic expansion, prosperity etc. Politics, also today – especially its representations, operate on the basis of discipline and its striated production, distribution and accountability, i.e. stability is always prior to transformation; change is reactive to a common continuous and divisible organization.
In “Cyclonopedia” Reza Negarestani turns this model around taking as a starting point an ongoing production of instability, proposing a political context that operates through ungrounding and corruption of systems and grammar. Populations and subjects appear to strive for stability, survival and probability; capacities that implicitly strengthen identity and the understanding of belonging, to a family, tribe or commune. A politics of ungrounding that multiplies surfaces and increases incompatibility must, if maintained properly, constantly threaten belonging, identity, the need for cartographies and consistent modes of navigation in favor of affective production. A production that is not creative but possibly creational, and calls for an idea that stability is formed as a response to activity, or that change is active, discontinuous and indivisible. Change in this sense is unorganized and expansive, improbable and potentially disruptive in respect of power, knowledge and subjectivity.
Certain authorities were quick in localizing piracy in relation to modes of maintenance of established social apparatuses. Piracy is theft, end of discussion, which further implies that it operates on the basis of strategy. We would like to propose piracy as an ungrounding, activational capacity, an affective mode of production, that challenges established political discourses. It’s about theft, but not of “some thing”, but of something irreplaceable, i.e. the ability to authorize voice. Thus we should understand piracy as a concept contesting political discourse on a structural level.
Similar authorities have scripted piracy as a grass root movement whose motif was to crush Hollywood or kill the music business. Piracy is destructive, end of discussion, which again situates it in respect of strategy. We would like to propose piracy as pure tacticity, even as an open set of pure tacticities, which must be understood as mechano-in-organic insinuations of fear, surprise and havoc which, while seemingly event-specific remain indifferent to, but complicit with, the very medium/organization in which it/they are actuated. Pure tacticities consist of a series of betrayals, an ungrounding mechanics that can only take place through a tactical betrayal of all sides. Thus we should understand piracy as a concept that, metaphorically speaking, betrays the grammatical, or compositional reference to, of a digital order, in favor of an empirical, non-compositional experience in, of an analogue unfolding.
Prison breaks as well as clean breaks configure desire on the basis of lack. Piracy is never about lack, it is a desiring machine that instead of breaking out, is breaking apart, opening for the emergence of an alternative politics: the capacity of a struggle that matters.