4.  FORM

On the reasons for the existence of the hated ones and how today’s brothers become tomorrow’s enemies.  

On the discreet charm of illegality and its hidden traps.


The terrible community is a post-authoritarian power apparatus.  It doesn’t have any bureaucracy or constraint about it in appearances, but the fact that it produces so much verticality within its informal nature it needs to take recourse to archaic configurations, the bygone roles that still survive in the congested crevices of the collective unconscious.  In this sense the family is not so much its organizational model as it is its direct antecedent in the production of informal constraint and of the indissoluble cohabitation of hatred and love.


As post-authoritarian formations, the corporations of the “new economy” constitute terrible communities in the fullest sense.  And no one should see any contradiction in the similarity between capitalism’s avant-gardes and the avant-gardes of its opposition: they are both prisoners of the same economic principle, the same need for efficiency and organization, even if they set themselves up on different terrain.  They in fact serve the same modalities of the circulation of power, and in that sense they are politically quite near one another.


The terrible community, in that sense similar to biopolitical democracy, is a device that governs the passage from potential to action among dividuals and groups.  Within this device, only the ends and the means to attain them appear, and the means to no end that surreptitiously preside over this process never appears because it is none other than ECONOMY.  The roles, rights, possibilities, and impossibilities are distributed within it on the basis of economic criteria.   


As long as the terrible community uses its enemy’s economic performance practices as an alibi to justify its own, it will never escape a single one of its impasses.

“Strategy,” that hobbyhorse of terrible communities, in reality only betrays the incestuous proximity between critique and its object, a proximity which most often ends up becoming a familiarity - a family relation even – one so tight that it’s difficult to untangle them.  

The aimed-for demands, insofar as they don’t involve destroying the context that gave birth to them, or in other words, the exposures of the gearworks of power that don’t seek to demolish them, end up sooner or later going down the poetry-less path of management, and thus bring us back to the roots of all terrible communities.


Informality, in the terrible community, is always ruled by a very rigid implicit distribution of responsibilities.  It is only on the basis of an explicit modification of responsibilities and their priorities that the circulation of power can be modified.


The terrible community is the continuation of classical politics by other means.  I call “classical politics” the politics that puts at its center a closed subject, one that in its right-wing variants is full and sufficient unto itself, and, in its left-wing variants, a subject that is in a state of contingent incompleteness due to circumstances to be transformed so as to regain a kind of monadic sufficiency.


The terrible community, in the end, can’t exclude anybody, because it doesn’t have any explicit laws or form.  It can only include.

In order to renew itself, it must thus gradually destroy those who are part of it, on pain of complete stagnation.  It lives off sacrifice, since sacrifice is the condition for belonging to it.  That alone, after all, is the basis for its members’ ephemeral and reciprocal trust in each other.  If it were otherwise, would it have such a great need for action?  Would it deserve such a dedication to its renewal through such frenetic agitation?

7 bis

The less a community feels the sensation of its own existence, the more it will feel the need to actualize its own simulacrum outside itself, in activism, in compulsive gathering, and finally in permanent, metastatic self-accusation.  The nearly insatiable collective self-critique that both the management of the avant-gardes and the groups of informal neo-militants more and more visibly give themselves over to, shows clearly enough how decisively weak their feeling that they exist is.


Certain terrible communities of struggle were founded by the survivors of a shipwreck, a war, or any kind of devastation at all, as long as it had a certain breadth of impact.  The survivors’ memory is thus not the memory of the vanquished, but the memory of those that were made to sit out the fight.

8 bis

For this reason, the terrible community is born as an exile within an exile, a memory at the heart of forgetting, an incommunicable tradition.  The survivor is never he who was at the center of the disaster, but he who managed to keep out of it, who lived on the margins of it.  In the time of the terrible community, the margin has become the center and the concept of a center has lost all its validity.


The terrible community has no foundation because it has no consciousness of its beginning and has no fate; it records itself as it goes along, like something that was always already past, and so it only sees itself through others’ eyes, through repetitions, anecdotes: “do you remember that time when…”


The terrible community is a present that passes by and does not transcend itself, and that’s why it has no tomorrow.  It has crossed the faint line that separates resistance from persistence, the deja-vu of amnesia.


The terrible community only feels its own existence when it has crossed over into illegality.  And anyway, all sado-masochistic human exchanges outside of commodity relations are devoted in the end to illegality, as the violent metaphor for the surreptitious misery of this era.  It’s only in illegality that the terrible community perceives itself and ek-sists, negatively of course, as something outside the sphere of legality, as a creation freeing itself from itself.  While never recognizing legality as something legitimate, the terrible community has nevertheless still managed to make the negation of it the space of its existence.

11 bis

The terrible community forms fleeting alliances with the oppressed on a masochistic basis, even if it means finding itself quickly put back in the unassumable role of the sadist.  It thus accompanies the excluded down the road of integration, and watches them distance themselves, full of ingratitude, and become that which it had wanted to defeat.


(on being deprived of secrecy.  Remorse – Infamy).  

The strength and fragility of the terrible community is the way it inhabits risk.  In effect, it only lives intensely when it finds itself to be endangered.  This danger has to do with the remorse of its members.  This remorse – from the point of view of the hated – is far from being illegitimate since he who has regrets is he who has had an “illumination”: under the gaze of the inquisitor’s suspicious eye, it suddenly recognizes itself as a member of the suspected project.  It affirms a truth that it has never really lived out, one that it hadn’t even thought that any such inquisition would require of it.

12 bis

All repenters are essentially mythomaniacs (just like those who claim to have seen the virgin Mary); they act out their own schizophrenia for authority.  In so doing, they become individuals, but without having faced up to their dividuality; they think themselves – or rather they’d like to think themselves – to finally be in the right, to be coherent.  They exchange their real past complicity for a non-existent complicity with the same enemy as always; they take themselves for the enemy.  And this becomes effective as soon as they start to repent/regret things, it should be said in passing.  But the hated ones can only trade out their unconscious and moderately destructive sado-masochism for another sado-masochism, which this time is consciously and ethically disgraceful.  They sacrifice the duplicity of the schizophrenic only to fall into that of the traitor.


“Women were treated like sex objects, except when they were participating in actions; then they were treated like men.  Only then were there any kind of equal relations.  They often did more than the men, they really had more courage.  …And that’s how, for the first time, the traitor problem arose: because of the group’s insensibility. …Hella and Anne-Katrine said nothing about me; I was the only one in the group that didn’t get busted.  I had a different kind of relationship with them; it was the great love they both had for me…”

Bommi Baumann, How It All Began

13 bis

Once the repenter has revealed the truth about the terrible community, he is condemned because the community lives off the ignorance of its secret, and is protected by its shadow instead of protecting it.  The shameful secrets of the terrible communities end up in the indifferent mouths of the Lawmen, and the surrounding hypocrisy that had maintained them pretends not to have known those secrets.  The accomplices of yesterday are scandalized, and enter their future hatedness as an informer or deserter.

And so, pedophilia, spousal rape, corruption, mafia-style blackmail – which were all accepted as founding behaviors of the dominant ethos until just yesterday – are today denounced as criminal behaviors.


The need for justice is a need for punishment.  And here we can see the full flowering out of the common, sado-masochistic roots that rule over the ethical conformity of terrible communities and their unspoken bond with the Empire.


(On being deprived of danger: legalization – the betrayal of ideals)

The embrace that holds together the ruins of biopolitical democracies, the grip of biopower, resides in the possibility of depriving terrible communities of their freedom to live in risk at any given moment.  This is done with a double move: a simultaneous movement of subtraction and repression, either: violence, and addition-legitimation, or: condescension.  By these two movements biopower deprives the terrible community of its space of existence and condemns it to persistence because it is biopower that delimits the zone that will be reserved for the terrible communities.  By operating in this way it transforms utopia into atopia, and heteropia into dystopia.  Localized and clearly identified, the terrible community, which does all it can to escape any mapping, becomes a space like any other. 

15 bis

It is by synchronizing the muddy and informal time of the terrible community to the temporality outside it that biopower deprives the terrible community of the space of risk and danger.  It is enough for biopower to simply recognize the terrible community for it to lose the power to break the well-ordered course of the disaster with the eruption of its clandestinity.  From the moment that the terrible community falls under the same head as so many other cracks in publicity, it is immediately located and territorialized within a place outside-of-legality which is immediately encompassed as something outside.  


Once again it is the invisibility of the terrible community to itself that puts it at the mercy of a unilateral recognition with which it cannot interact in any way.

16 bis

Though the terrible community refuses the principle of representation, it does not for all that escape it.  The terrible community’s invisibility to itself makes it infinitely vulnerable to the gaze of others, since, and this is well-known, the terrible community only exists in the eyes of others.

changed May 23, 2010