on why we often desire what makes us miserable (to where we often come to regret the good old days of arranged marriages)

and on why women don’t say what they think.

We also talk about the insufficiency of good intentions.

Warning! This chapter is dangerous reading, since it attacks everybody.

Jocasta: What is exile?  What does the exiled person suffer from?

Polynices: From the worst of all evils: not having the right to parrhesia.

Jocasta: It is the condition of slaves, not being able to say what one thinks.

Polynices: And to have to bow to the idiocy of those in charge…

Jocasta: Yes, that’s it: act the fool among the fools.

Polynices: Out of interest, we force our temperament.

Euripides, The Phoenicians


Parrhesia is the dangerous, emotional (affective) use of discourse, the act of truth which questions power relations as they are hic et nunc in friendships, politics, and in love.  The parrhesiaste is not he who tells the most painful truth so as to break the bonds that unite the others, who anchor themselves in the refusal to accept that truth as unavoidable.  He who makes use of parrhesia, before all else, puts himself in danger through a gesture wherein he exposes himself within the chainlinks of relationships.  Parrhesia is the act of truth which escapes abstract/cursory perspectives.  

Where parrhesia is not possible, beings are in exiled, and they act like slaves.  Even if for its inhabitants the terrible community is like a cathedral in the desert, within it one endures the most bitter exile.  Because, as an omnilateral war machine which must keep a vital equilibrium of a homeostatic nature with what is external to it, the terrible community cannot tolerate the circulation of any discourse dangerous to it within its ranks.  In order to perpetuate itself, the terrible community needs to relegate danger to the exterior: it’s the Outsiders, the Competition, the Enemy, the cops.  And so the terrible community applies the strictest discourse-policing within itself, and becomes its own censorship. 


Where the mute speech of repression makes its voice heard, no other speech has the right to a place, to such an extent that it is cut off from immediate effectiveness.  The terrible community is a response to the aphasia that all biopolitical regimes impose, but it is an insufficient response, since it perpetuates itself by internal censorship, and is thus still symbolically salaried by/approving of the symbolic patriarchal order.  It is thus often just another kind of police, another place where one can remain emotionally illiterate or in a state of infantile minority, on the pretext of external threats.  Because children are not so much those that do not speak as those that are excluded from the games of truth.


The no-longer-a-world world, this squared off / gridded world, lives in a pathetic self-celebration that PEOPLE still call “Spectacle.”  The Spectacle chews away at all doubts, and reduces consciousness to an anesthetic passivity.  What biopolitical democracy demands of consciousness is that it assist in destruction, not as effective destruction, but as spectacle.  Whereas the terrible community demands to assist in destruction as destruction, and thus to make it alternate with short periods of collective reconstruction so as to make it last.

3 bis

There is no discourse of truth, there are only devices of truth.  The Spectacle is the device of truth that manages to make all other devices of truth operate to its benefit.  Spectacle and biopolitical democracy converge in the acceptance of any system of false discourse proffered by any type of subject at all, so long as it allows the continuation of the armed peace in force.  The proliferation of insignificance aims to totally blanket the whole of what exists.


The terrible community knows the world, but doesn’t know itself.  That’s because in its affirmative aspect it is, of a stagnant, and not a reflective, nature.   On the other hand, in its negative aspect, it exists, insofar as it denies the world and thus denies itself, since it’s made in the latter’s image.  There is no consciousness before existence, and no self-consciousness before activity, but there is above all no consciousness in the activity of unconscious self-destruction.  From the moment that the terrible community perpetuates itself by acting under the hostile gaze of others, by introjecting/unconsciously adopting that gaze and setting itself up as an object, and not the subject, of that hostility, it can only love and hate out of reaction.


The terrible community is a human agglomerate, not a group of comrades.  The members of the terrible community encounter each other and aggregate together by accident more than by choice.  They do not accompany one another, they do not know one another.


The terrible community is traversed by all kinds of complicities – and how could it survive otherwise? – but, unlike the case of the ancestors it claims to descend from, in no case do these complicities determine its form.  Its form is, rather, one of SUSPICION.  The members of the terrible community are suspicious of one another because they don’t know anything about themselves or about each other, and because no one among them knows the community he’s part of; it’s a community with no possible narrative, and thus an impenetrable community, and one that can only be experienced in immediacy; but it is an inorganic immediacy that reveals nothing.  The displays that take place in it are mundane and not political: in everything, even the heroic solitude of the window-smashing rioter, what one experiences there is bodies in movement, rather than any kind of coherence between said bodies and their discourse.  That’s why clandestinity, balaclavas, the games of nit-picking, simultaneously fascinate and fool people: the provocateur cop is a window-smashing rioter too…

6 bis

“We’re dealing with an apparatus of total and circulating suspicion, because there are no absolute points in it, no threshold to it.  The perfection of surveillance is a sum of malice, of ill wills [malveillances].”  (Foucault on the Panopticon)


Nevertheless, since there are complicities in it, the members of the terrible community assume that there’s a plan/project to it as well, but that it’s being kept secret from them.  That’s where the suspicion comes from.  The mistrust, the suspicion that the members of the terrible community have towards one another is far bigger than that which they have towards the rest of the world’s citizens: the latter in effect never hide that they have a lot to hide; they know what image they’re supposed to have and give to the world that they’re part of.


If in spite of its internal panopticism the terrible community doesn’t know itself, that’s only because it is unknowable, and to that extent it is as dangerous for the world as it is for itself.  It is the community of anxiety, but it is also the first victim of that anxiety.  

8 bis.

The terrible community is a sum of solitudes that watch over each other without protecting each other.


Love between members of the terrible community is an inexhaustible tension, which feeds off what the other hides and does not reveal: its banality.  The very invisibility of the terrible community to itself has permitted it to love itself blindly.  


The public, external image of the terrible community is what least interests the community itself, since it knows that it’s deliberately faked.  Equally pathetic is its image of itself, the specific publicity that the community deploys within it, but that no one’s duped by.

Because what holds the terrible community together is precisely that which is found underneath its publicity, which it lets its members read between the lines and hardly lets anyone outside understand.  It is informed by the banality of its private existence, by the emptiness of its secret and the secret of its emptiness; also, in order to perpetuate itself, it produces and secretes the public community.

10 bis

The banality of the private life of the terrible communities hides itself away, because that banality is the banality of evil.


The terrible community doesn’t rest upon itself, but in the desire that what is external to it has towards it, and which inevitably takes the form of misunderstandings.


The terrible community, like all human formations in advanced capitalist society, operates on a sado-masochist economy of pleasure.  The terrible community, unlike everything that is not it, does not admit to its fundamental masochism, and the desires it participates in organize themselves on the basis of this misunderstanding.

What is “feral” in effect whips up a certain desire, but that desire is a desire for domestication, and thus for annihilation, in the same way as an ordinary creature, comfortably seated within its everyday life, is erotic only to the extent that one would like to make some atrocious stain or mark upon it.  The fact that this emotive metabolism remains hidden is an inexhaustible source of suffering for the members of the terrible community, who become incapable of evaluating the consequences of their emotional gestures (consequences that systematically contradict their expectations).  The members of the terrible communities thus progressively unlearn how to love.


Within the terrible community, emotional education is based on systematic humiliation, and the pulverization of its members’ self-esteem.  No one must be able to believe themselves to be a carrier of that kind of affectivity which would have the right to a place inside the community.  The hegemonic type of affectivity inside the terrible community corresponds, paradoxically, to what is seen outside of it as the most backwards form.  The tribe, the village, the clan, the gang, the army, the family; these are the human formations universally acknowledged as being the most cruel and the least gratifying, and yet in spite of all they persist within the terrible communities.  And in them, women must take on a kind of virility that even males disclaim now in biopolitical democracies, all the while seeing themselves as women whose femininity has lost out to the masculine fantasy dominant at the very heart of the terrible community: the fantasy of plastic “sexy” woman (in the image of the Young-Girl, that carnal envelope) ready for use and consumption by genital sexuality.


In the terrible communities, women, because they cannot actually become men, must become like men, while remaining furiously heterosexual and prisoners of the most worn-out stereotypes.  If nobody has the right, in the terrible community, to say the truth about human relations, that’s doubly true for women: any woman that undertakes parrhesia within the terrible community will be immediately classed as just some hysteric.


14 bis

Within all terrible communities, we experience a surprising silence on the part of women.  The terrible community’s pathophobia in effect often manifests itself as the indirect repression of any female speech, which is foreign and disturbing because it is the speech of flesh.  It’s not that women are made to shut up; it’s simply that the limit-space bordering madness where their words of truth could come out gets discretely erased a little more every day.


“It’s not that women have a hard time carrying out actions; they were indeed more courageous, more capable, more prepared and had more conviction than the men did.  They were just given less autonomy on the level of initiatives: it was as if there was an instinctive difference that came out in the preparation and collective discussion of the work to be done, and their voices counted less.

“The problem was in the group: it was the anodyne behavior, the unsaid, or even just someone blurting out ‘shut up!’ in the middle of a discussion… This shitty kind of discrimination wasn’t the result of any a priori decision, it was rather something that had been brought in from outside, something partly unconscious, something that came about without anyone really wanting it.  Something that couldn’t be resolved by any ideological declaration or rational choice.”

I. Faré, F. Spirito, Mara and the Others.

15 bis

Because the terrible community is based on surreptitious relationships, it ends up inevitably sinking into the most residual and “primitive” kinds of relations.  Women in the terrible community get assigned to the management of concrete things, to everyday matters, and men to violence and leadership.  In this oppressive, devastating reproduction of obsolete sexual clichés, the only possible relations between men and women are relations of seduction.  But since generalized seduction would make the terrible community explode, it is strictly confined to the heterosexual and monogamous couple-form, which dominates in it.  


“It’s true that gangs are undermined by highly differentiated forces which set up internal centers of the conjugal and familial type within them, or of the governmental type, which allow them to enter into a completely different kind of sociability, replacing the herd affect by family emotions or State intelligibility.  The center, or internal black hole, takes on the primary role.  It is there that evolutionism can progress, in this adventure that thus comes about in human groupings when they reconstitute a group familism, or even authoritarianism, a kind of herd fascism.”

Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

16 bis

Friendships as well, within the terrible community, re-enter the stylized, underdeveloped imaginary world proper to all monogamous heterosexual society.  Because interpersonal relations must never be discussed and are supposed to “go without saying,” the question of man-woman relationships doesn’t get approached, and is systematically resolved “like in the olden days,” that is, in a proto-bourgeois and proletarian-barbarian manner.  Friendships thus remain rigorously monosexual, with the men and women mingling in an irreducible foreignness that allows them, once the right moment comes, to eventually comprise… a couple.


Familism does not in any way imply the existence of real families; on the contrary, its mass diffusion arises at the very moment that the family as closed entity bursts, contaminating with its fallout the whole sphere of relations which up to then escaped it.  “Familism,” says Guattari, “consists in magically denying the social reality, avoiding all connection with real flows.” (The Molecular Revolution).  When the terrible community, to reassure us, tells us that it’s basically just “one big family,” all the arbitrariness, the confinement, morbidity and moralism that have always gone hand in hand with the family institution over the course of its historical existence are brought back into play; except that now, on the pretext of saving us, all of that is imposed on us less the institution; that is, without our being able to denounce it.

17 bis

Humanity’s share of humiliation and degradation consists in the obligation they are made to assume to constantly exhibit their capacities by some form or other of mannish/viriloid performance.  The countertype has no place in the emotional economy of the terrible community, where in the final analysis only stereotypes prevail; only the Leader, in fact, is objectively desirable.  All other positions are untenable without the implicit avowal of a fundamental incapacity to exist in a singular sense; but the deviations from the stereotype are ceaselessly fed by the pitiless emotional metabolism of the terrible community.  When the countertype, for instance, seeks to be freed from itself, it will be violently pushed back in the solitary confinement chamber of its “insufficiency.”  The scapegoat-countertype operates as a kind of circus mirror deforming everyone, which reassures them while disturbing them.

Implicitly, one remains in the terrible community because of one’s not being either the Leader or the countertype, whereas these latter two remain in it because they don’t have any choice.


Each terrible community has its Leader, and vice-versa.  


The Leader doesn’t need to affirm himself; he can even play the role of the countertype or joke ironically about virility.  His charisma doesn’t need to be of the competitive/high-performance type, because it’s objectively attested to by the terrible community’s biometric desire parameters, and by the effective submission of other men and women.  The terrible community is a community of cuckolds.  


The fundamental sentiment that bonds the terrible community to its Leader isn’t one of submission, but of availability, that is, a sophisticated variant of obedience.  The time of the terrible community’s members must permanently be filtered through the screen of availability: sexual availability towards the Leader, physical availability for the greatest variety of tasks, emotional availability to undergo whatever kind of injury from the inevitable distraction of others.  In the terrible community, availability is the artistic introjection of discipline.   


Both the desire of the Leader and the desire to be a Leader know themselves to be damned to inevitable defeat.  Because the Leader’s woman (no one fails to figure out) is the only one that isn’t fooled by his seductive masquerading, to the extent that she sees the nothingness behind it every day: the private life of the rulers is always the most miserable of anyone’s.  In fact, within the terrible community the Leader is desirable like a sophisticated and haughty woman is in biopolitical democracy.  The sexual desire that men and women feel towards the Leader, which wraps him in so intense an aura that it brings all gazes to spontaneously turn towards him, is none other than a desire for humiliation.  One wants to strip the Leader naked, to see the Leader, without his dignity, really satisfy the solemn procession of the desires he excites -- and prevail.  Everyone hates the Leader, like men have hated women for millennia.  At root, everyone wants to tame the Leader, because everyone hates the loyalty given him.



The personal, in the terrible community, isn’t political.


The Leader is most often a man, since he acts in the name of the Father.


He who sacrifices himself acts in the name of the father.  The Leader is, in effect, he who perpetuates the sacrificial form of the terrible community with his own sacrifice, and weighs upon others with his demands that they too make sacrifices.  But since the Leader is not a Tyrant – while all the same being in every respect highly tyrannical – he does not openly tell others what to do; the Leader does not impose his will, he lets it impose itself by secretly guiding the desire of others, which in the final analysis is always simply the desire to please him.  To the question, “what should I do?” the Leader will respond “Whatever you want,” since he knows that his existence within the terrible community in fact prevents others from wanting anything but what he wants.


He who acts in the name of the Father cannot be questioned.  Where force sets itself up as an argument, discourse withdraws into small talk and idle chatter, or into making excuses.  As long as there is a Leader – and his terrible community – there will be no parrhesia, and men, women, and the Leader himself will remain in exile.  The Leader’s authority cannot enter into the discussion as long as the facts prove that people love him while at the same time detesting their own love for him.  It may happen that the Leader will put himself in question, and that’s when another will take his place, or when the terrible community, now left headless, dies of a heart-rending hemorrhage.


The Leader really is the best of his group.  He doesn’t usurp anyone’s place, and everyone knows it.  He doesn’t have to fight to win consensus, since it’s him who sacrifices the most, or is the most sacrificed. 



The Leader is never alone, since everyone’s behind him, but at the same time he is the pure picture of solitude itself, the most tragic and duped figure in the terrible community.  It is only by virtue of the fact that he is already at the mercy of the cynicism and cruelty of others (those who are not in his shoes) that the Leader is at times truly loved and cherished.

changed May 23, 2010