Their mobilization of fear about drugs is symptomatic of capital’s capturing zones of becoming – reproduces their impacts
[John L Fitzgerald is an associate professor of criminology at Melbourne University, “Drugs and Transitional Economies,” ch 10 in Framing Drug Use Bodies, Space, Economy and Crime, 2015, Palgrave Macmillan, https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9781137482242_10]
Massumi notes the problems with locating the production of the subject form in a discourse of psychoanalytic abjection (1993, pp. 30–34). Traditional abjection rests on the notion of the projection of individual fantasies and desires onto collective processes, where the boundaries between self and other, although porous, are structurally intact. The self is substantively a bounded space and boundaries, conceived of as founding, make the limitative constitutive. For Massumi, the constitutive function of the boundary is at odds with contemporary renderings of late capitalism. The promise of a cultural boundary transcendent through time is incommensurate with a late capitalism that incorporates boundary in its process.
Negri proposes that global capitalism underwent substantial changes in the 1970s and 1980s (1988). These changes centred on, first, the fluidification of labour force and capital; second, the rapid displacement of capital and third, an intensification of life through the subsumption of many social functions to productive capital.Following from Negri, Massumi posits how these changes link to the function of becoming-other in modern global capitalism.
Massumi (1993) suggests that implicit in the changes to modern global capitalism is an indeterminacy in relations between identity and the production of the subject-form in capitalist production to the extent that identities themselves become isomorphic with capital. As capital transforms so too does subjectivity. The modern subject form must possess the capacity to become-generic. As Massumi suggests,
‘the generic itself mutates, from an empty container of being to a teeming site of transformation’. The subject-form that fails to transform, or fails to be amenable to capitalization through transformation, becomes unproductive and fails. Massumi denotes becoming-generic as fabulation and becoming-specific as simulation. Both are mutually supplementing aspects of becoming. One establishes form and boundary while the other consumes boundary. For Massumi, fabulation is abjection:
To fabulate is throw off the very form of identity in the process of singularizing one’s specificity. It is to gather up one’s ground. It is to become the free-fall one formerly bought into being. It is pure fear, fear as such, uncontained by identity, unintersected by the axes of the capitalist equation. (Massumi, 1993, p. 34)
Connecting to the matter of the world by becoming a model of the world is abjection. There is no anxiety in this movement, only total fear as the individual becomes of the world. Fear itself is the engine room for the productive and incorporative force of capitalism as it produces new subject forms.
The derelict zones of drug use are the engines of late capitalism, not because they are abject, but because they are moments of difference where desire seeks to escape bodily limitation. Fear is the affect that announces the becoming-body. The movement of matter-energy into affect fuels the excitement of city space. No wonder stories about city no-go zones are newsworthy. The force of capital is such that derelict spaces are both incorporated, annihilated and proliferated. Derelict zones are not fixed to spatio-temporal coordinates because they will appear somewhere else in the city grid by virtue of the activities of the apparatuses of capture. So long as late capitalism produces boundaries and captures space there will always by derelict zones and a city-becoming-other.
Massumi suggests that we should cherish these derelict spaces as part of a resistance to the molar machines that capture life (1993, p. 104). The strategy is to neither attempt to stop people from injecting drugs nor encourage injecting drug use. Drug use is perhaps not the basis of fear. The task is not to try and stop the immune responses of the city, as they are a central feature of modern capitalism. Rather, the key objective is to minimize the force of violence applied to bodies involved in the encounter.
What an encounter can do
How easily people engage with the pleasures of the city, knowing they too are plugging into the city’s lifeblood in an effort to draw out some energy, to become-other. This highlights the arbitrariness of the assemblage in which people participate. How clearly the chaos of the city, of capitalism, of the mix of productive and non-productive bodies can overcome the city walker. The chaos gets captured by machines and formed into bodies and affects. Media machines don’t just mediate this capture. The capture brings together any number of self-reproducing systems of business, governmental and para-governmental bodies that thrive on the threat of death (Massumi, 1998).
Through maps of no-go zones mediamachines mobilize fear as affect, and thus value, from the mix. It should be noted that fear is not synonymous with emotion, and is not simply an interpretant. As an affect, fear inheres in bodies to establish a potential for acting in the world (Thrift, 2004). Fear is a potential, a vitality, it tells us our bodies are in the world and in particular relations to other bodies in the world. The actualization of affect involves machines that, through locating fear in media narratives (either pictorial or textual), can derive surplus value from the transformation of affect into a commodity form. Once in a commodity form a surplus value of flow or ghost surplus value can be extracted from the commodity exchange (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, p. 451)
Mass media circulation of violence-legitimating affect heightens drugwar paranoia. Death, AIDS and military-like interventions by police become necessary to ward off the threat of death (Massumi, 1993, p. 45). This capture and transformation is tantamount to the subsumption of society to capital, when circulation and production become blurred, and when becomings and deterritorializations create surplus value (Massumi, 1993, p. 57). Crime, especially crime against the community such as street drug crime, stands as a limit case for the threshold between command and normative control systems.Encounters are recaptured and capitalism sucks value from these encounters through the production of fear as affect. State function through command and control relies on the encounter for its legitimation and for the alignment of boundaries between these two deployments of power. An encounter can do many things, and all encounters involve and produce bodies in assemblages. While capitalism thrives on derelict zones and those moments of becoming in assemblages, there is no guarantee of what will emerge from an assemblage.
Drug markets are the incorporation of desire that spills beyond bodily limitation into capital
[John L Fitzgerald is an associate professor of criminology at Melbourne University, “Drugs and Transitional Economies,” ch 10 in Framing Drug Use Bodies, Space, Economy and Crime, Palgrave Macmillan, https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9781137482242_10]
New drug market theories are concerned with how subjectivity is linked to the processes of modern capitalism. This concern involves two important deviations from orthodox social science theories. The first is that subjectivity can change in relation to market activity, the second is that modern capitalism is defined by capital having an internal logic of adaptation, mutation and self-organization. Capital is commonly referred to as immanent.
Following from Deleuze and Guattari, Olkowski sees capital as a field of immanence, a process that captures flows of desire and the production of changes in the form and shape of bodies (1999, p. 112). Capital relies on the transformation of the world through different states and forms, and generates itself through these transformations and modulations (referred to as ‘becoming-other’). Drug use facilitates becoming-other, and as such is a risky, but highly sought after enterprise (Fitzgerald, 1998; Fitzgerald and Threadgold, 2004). The becoming-body is the force of social change and a force for capital. The body-becomingother is both the site for ruptures in the apparatus of capture and the site of re-capitalization. The body-becoming is a most valuable site as it is at once both marginal and central to the production of capital (Massumi, 1992).
Rose and others following from Deleuze (1995) note that immanent systems have arisen in late capitalism to attempt to actualize identity and to control the marginal (Massumi, 1992; Haggerty and Ericson, 2000; Rose, 2000). These apparatuses of capture attempt to control crime, drug use, sexuality and other aspects of life through self-organizing systems. A feature of these apparatuses is the lack of an over-arching logic to their concerns, epistemology or form of capture. Crime prevention, pharmaceutical control and health promotion are in their attempts to control the becoming-body, also fuelled by it. The becoming-body is at once both the site of irruption and the site of great productivity in late capitalism.
Massumi makes the distinction between two forms of expansion under global capitalism, extensive and intensive. Extensive expansion reflects other commentator’s observations that capitalism pushes its geographical boundaries across previously undercapitalized domains. The expansion of European and North American financial interests into Central Asia and following the fall of communism in Eastern Europe is a classic example of extensive expansion. The creation of foreign debt through international loans and structural adjustment processes are primary points for managing national economies (Massumi, 1992). Intensive expansion reflects the capacity of capitalism to dominate the ‘last oases of domestic space’, or, as Negri would describe, the subsumption of undercapitalized aspects of everyday life to capital. It is to the relationship between subjectivity and capitalism that I now turn to examine how subjectivity itself has become a ‘ghost surplus value’ in global capitalism (Deleuze and Guattari, 1984, p. 451).
Subjectivity in global capitalism becomes isomorphic with capital. Subjectivity is disengaged with the ‘human’ and becomes mobilized as a commodity, as a site for investment in and of itself. Massumi links the disengagement of subjectivity from the subject to the disengagement of the commodity from its Marxian labour relation:
The commodity has become a form of capital with its own motor of exchange (fashion, style, ‘self-improvement’) and cycle of realization (image accumulation/image shedding; Kruger’s ‘buying in order to be’). Its value is now defined more by the desire it arouses than by the amount of labour that goes into it. (Massumi, 1992, p. 200)
Surplus value is created in the process of circulation itself. The value of commodity-images is attached more to their exchange than to their material production. This Deleuze and Guattari call the ‘surplus value of flow’. Whenever surplus value is extracted in an act of purchase an ‘evanescent double of what accrues to the capitalist is deposited in the hands of the consumer’. This ghost surplus value is an ‘aura, style, cool, the glow of self-worth, personality’; it is an affect trafficked in order to become-other (Massumi, 1992, p. 135).
According to Massumi, modern subjectivity has not simply been subordinated to the commodity relation, it has become the product of consumer exchange (1992, p. 201). This does not mean that everybody can – through the consumption of affects to become-other – transform their living conditions. Although a body’s transformational potential is indexed to its buying power (p. 137), not all bodies are able to buy the affects necessary to become-other. A body’s relative social position is defined more by how money flows through it, not how much money flows through it.
More importantly, the poor are those who are in a position to only receive surplus value predominately in the form of prestige value. Massumi notes the importance of style in the ghetto to illustrate the cultural significance of how the surplus value of flow gets accumulated in bodies.
People no longer define themselves primarily by what they do for a living, but by what they love, what they eat or wear and where they go. Even though not every body is a capitalist every body consumes and therefore every body accumulates surplus value, at least in its ghost form of subjective ‘prestige’. The poor are neither those who do not receive surplus value, nor necessarily those who have less money to spend – in one month more money passes through the hands of a small-time drug dealer of the inner city underclass than many a bourgeois makes in a year. (Massumi, 1992, p. 203)
Having more money is no guarantee of social capacity. Consumption of the affects to become-other is a key mechanism for the production of subjectivity, through the accumulation of prestige. This is most significant for those in transitional economies where the consumption of Western commodities carries additional value as a sign of engaging with the trappings of modernity. Comaroff and Comaroff (1999) note the cultural significance of making sense of the magic of modernity in African transitional settings. The rise of occult economies or the deployment of magical means for material ends is pronounced in ‘postrevolutionary’ societies. Similarly, the internalization of Western consumerist imagery by dispossessed young people in Almaty, Kazakhastan is central to the involvement of young people in drug dealing (Rigi, 2003). Taussig’s complex account of the magic of cocaine and its impact on a coastal Columbian town should also be noted as an illustration that postcolonial subjectivity is intimately linked to the magic of consumption of illicit commodities (2004). When drug users inject in these environments, they are not just injecting the drug, they are also accumulating surplus value from the prestige of injecting drug use as a Western technology to become-other
This is a crucial link in understanding the cultural significance of the expansion of injecting drug use in transitional economies and is an alternative to the social pathology posited in the orthodox account of escalating injecting drug use. It should also come as no surprise that this account may have some significance in understanding cultural trends in injecting drug use in post-industrial environments. If consuming a drug is a site for the production of subjectivity through an accumulation of prestige, drug consumers are implicated regardless of the macroeconomic environment. Not all drug users are capitalists, but they are all consumers.
With subjectivity intimately linked to dangerous consumption, illegal drug markets do more than provide flows of capital. Illegal drug markets are formative in developing new consumers. Illegal drug markets mobilize a range of affects as they enable the formation of identity through the prestige, vertigo and frisson of modern consumption. Modern consumption mobilizes many affects, the most important of which is the promise of hope. The power of hope – for change, for a better life and to be a Western consumer – should not be underestimated as an end in itself. Making new consumers is not simply a behavioural achievement (that is, instilling new forms of shopping) it involves the propagation of dreams for a good life through goods, tastes and novel corporeal experiences. Illegal drugs can be thought of in the same terms as simple commodities such as sugar, tea and coffee (UNODC, 2004, p. 61), but they do so much more in providing pleasure and hope for change on so many levels. Drug markets are central to intensive expansion as they effectively mobilize affects to become-other in many ways.