3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
, February 23, 2005
McKensie Wark calls the state "an envelope" whose primary function is to "police representations." I think this way of construing nations has a such a forceful brevity that it disallows simple rebuttal. An envelope loosely unifies, contains, closes, enfolds multiplicities into a unit, a projectile. And what does "policing representaitons" mean? Determing the extent to which an identity (political, social, religious, etc) can be commodified and incorporated into the state in order to perpetuate itself and yet give the specific identity the illusion of freedom and self-determination. This can be seen in the way cops determine routes and surrond the perimeter at protests (J20 for instance) and give us some limited form of freedom, 'allowing us free speech' while at the same time, if we concede to this limited freedom, we give up the possibility of confronting the form of freedom they allow, i.e., freedom surrounded by police with weapons telling you when you can move, and hence, we are neutralized without even knowing it. This is how incredibly dispossessed peoples can identify with the state, since the state gives them a possibility, a "dream" of a moment of limited freedom. The minute a real threat is formulated, ie, a threat to the economy or to the collective hallucination of the state itself, you better bet that you don't pass go or collect $200 but go straight to jail. This is why, perhaps, the state makes it incredibly clear that hackers are NOT political prisoners. Those
who hijack the information vectors that regulate finance, statistics, communicatiom, and images must be stopped before they can form a political class. They are criminals. copyright infringement, filesharing, (and soon, indymedia) are crimes, not acts of culture. Not until the state can find a way to represent those acts, commodify them, and sell them back to us for
a price will they be seen as cultural/political acts. That is already happening, I believe.
This book challenges our previously held critiques of the state, identity, production, and class in a synthetic crptomarxist style that is both difficult and attractive. It incorporates the rise of the information class into its analysis, as well as the relations between the overdeveloped and underdeveloped world.
My only critique is that it's radical potential was limited by its allegiance to a (form of) Marxist critique. I think that a conversation with anarchism and anarchist organizing could have produced/unified some different trajectories of thought about representation and the state.
Either way, its a great read. If the language and poetry turns you off, then just skip around until you find the parts you like. Its a playground of meaning.
Hear my interview with Mckensie here: [...]