The resolution’s call to enact criminal justice reform in the area of policing betrays the debate community’s unconscious investment in a paranoiac affective constellation. Paranoiac affective constellations are symptomatic of a generalized fear of difference and an unreflective pursuit of social homogeneity and predictability. This affective constellation is especially pronounced in the case of police and ensures that police filter experience to confirm their own fears. The tide of the sea of suspicion will continue to rise until everything is seen as a threat – resulting in racialized, gendered, and heterosexist police violence.
Slavoj Žižek gets to the heart of what is at stake in the sociology of affect when he says that ‘beyond the field of meaning but at the same time internal to it – an ideology implies, manipulates, produces a pre-ideological enjoyment structured in fantasy’ (Žižek, 1989: 124). For the purposes of this essay ‘enjoyment’ in this strictly technical sense denotes the affective ‘loading’ of our attachment to certain beliefs, institutions, forms of life, rituals, traditions, music, art, food, dress, manners and so on. We find ourselves (some- times despite our ‘better judgement’, whatever that is) emotionally attached to certain forms of life, and repelled, disgusted, frightened or angered by others. Indeed we may find ourselves so deeply attached to nation, race, political prin- ciple or utopian ideal that we are willing to kill, be killed, or bring about destruction – apparently for their own sake. Conversely we sometimes find ourselves so deeply repelled or angered by the ‘other’ that we again find our- selves hating and destroying. Identification with, or hatred of, communities, beliefs or political abstrac- tions are not fully accounted for simply by describing the ideological and institutional structures within which the subject is interpellated. Something more is required. Some account of the investment of affective force within the ideological, cultural and institutional field is necessary. This is bound to be a complex matter. It cannot simply be that social forms reflect pre-given structures of feeling since it is clear that feelings can be, and often are, induced or reinforced by the articulation of particular discourses, rituals and cultural forms. It is often the case that we are brought near to tears, filled with joy, or enraged by rhetorical strategies of politicians, journalists, artists or those nearer to us. It is equally clearly not the case, however, that social and cul- tural forms determine affective forms in any straightforward way. It often seems that we search for an emotional outlet because we have a prior need for such an outlet. We seem to desire certain kinds of cultural phenomena (be it art, political speeches or tabloid newspapers) because they do things to us, affectively – things which we, somehow, ‘enjoy’. A particular strength of Žižek’s work, that sets him ahead of the rest of the field of post-Lacanian theorists, is the way in which he decentres the analy- sis of identification away from the individual and into the field of collective social life. For Žižek ‘enjoyment’ is not something which we experience indi- vidually, it is always something we share. Indeed it depends for its existence on this sharedness. When communities share affective attachment to ideo- logical, cultural and institutional phenomena Žižek writes about them sharing a ‘structure of enjoyment’ (Žižek, 1990). Very broadly speaking, we can think of this as a heterogeneous collection of shared social means for channelling and focusing affective bodily forces. In this article I will be drawing on some of my own research (conducted in the late 1980s) into the ‘structures of enjoyment’ which make up police occupational culture.1 I will be arguing that clear patterns, or ‘affective reper- toires’, can be identified, and I will suggest that these patterns could usefully be characterised as ‘paranoia’. I am not using the term here to refer to a kind of psychopathology – I am using it to refer to a particular cultural patterning of affect in a social context. The social characteristics I am referring to under the term ‘paranoid’ are the following:
A cultural milieu in which order, continuity, homogeneity and stasis are experienced as particularly pleasing and desirable. This is linked with a fundamental suspicion of difference, fluidity and change.
A cultural milieu which displays a tendency to split the world into good and bad parts with very rigid boundaries. Positive feelings of love and idealisation are directed towards the perceived good parts of the world whilst fear, hatred and loathing are directed towards the bad parts. So there is, for example, a tendency to see people as either good, decent and law abiding, or wicked and corrupt, with no grey area between. One might also refer to this as a suspicion of ambivalence and ambiguity wherever it occurs.
A cultural milieu which displays a tendency to project negative qualities onto those groups and individuals imagined to be ‘bad’. So a paranoid position might involve imagining and fearing that the ‘other’ has hostile intentions when in fact it is the paranoid individual or group who has hostile intentions towards the ‘other’.
A milieu which strongly displays a collective desire to order, control or, sometimes, attack outgroups into which bad qualities have been projected.
These characteristics are based on the concept of cultural paranoia as outlined by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer in their analysis of anti-Semitism, by Slavoj Žižek in his analysis of ethnic conflict, and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in their analysis of the libidinal dynamics of modern capitalism. The last contrast this paranoid cultural pole with an opposite ‘schizophrenic’ pole. A schizophrenic cultural milieu would tend to celebrate and cultivate cultural hybridity, fluidity, difference, creativity and ambivalence – every- thing which is suspect in a paranoid environment. Raves and music festivals represent good examples of milieu which tend towards this schizophrenic end of the spectrum. Note that I am not referring to paranoid and schizo- phrenic people but to paranoid and schizophrenic social milieus. Individual people move in and out of more or less paranoid and schizophrenic milieus. We might talk about affective subject positions which people can take up within particular milieus, positions which channel their feelings in particular ways. Some of these subject positions, because of their place within paranoid milieus, will have the effect of producing paranoid feelings and experiences of the world in the individual. One such milieu, I am suggesting, is that inhabited by police officers.
THE POLICE SUBJECT IN TRADITIONAL POLICE STUDIES Very little empirical sociological research has concerned itself explicitly with the question of affect.2 This is not to say that affect does not appear in socio- logical research, however. It is simply that its presence tends not to be acknowledged as such. An examination of police occupational culture in traditional police studies produces a case in point. It is clear that what these studies actu- ally describe are constellations of affect, whilst calling them something more neutral like ‘attitudes’, ‘beliefs’ or even ‘discourses’. We might usefully distin- guish between the ‘symbolic content’ of such discourses (the specific objects of love, hatred, suspicion) and the ‘affective forms’. To take just one example the actual object of suspicion may vary from Irish immigrants in one context, to Polish immigrants in another, to Afro-Caribbean in another, but the general tendency to invest feelings of suspicion (among other feelings) in socially and economically marginalised ethnic minority communities remains fairly con- stant. So the ‘symbolic content’ may vary to some extent, while the ‘affective forms’ stay relatively constant. I am particularly interested in these ‘affective forms’ and why they seem to be so regular. It is important at the outset to fend off the potential charge that I am myself objectifying the police and their supposed affective forms in a paranoid manner. Do I view the police as a ‘bad them’ who have quite alien and objectionable ways of feeling about the world, compared to a ‘good us’? Malcolm Young makes the following comment about the very popular dramatisations of police work which populate TV and cinema screens: In nightly TV rituals of social order and chaos, a stream of hero policeman stand at the symbolic crossroads between peace and mayhem, and the detective and chief officer now operate at the point where once the church and its priests declaimed on apocalyptic threat, and categories of good and evil. (Young, 1991: 14) This fascination that the police hold for many existsnot because they are absolutely alien but precisely because they display affective forms with which we identify at an unconscious level – their story is an allegory of our own affective predicament in many ways. There is no ‘them’ and ‘us’ in this account. We could all be (and often are) police-like in our affective prefer- ences – and placed in the same position, most of us would feel and act just as other police men and women do. That is not of course to say that the police themselves do not construct the world in terms of a ‘them’ and ‘us’; they clearly do. We will see that many groups are defined as being outside the parameters of what can really count as ‘us’, by the police. This would include women, ethnic minorities, people with ‘dubious’ political opinions and so on. And many groups are simply defined outside of the boundary of what can be understood even as ‘respectable and law-abiding’. Indeed this propensity for rigidly splitting the world is highly characteristic of the police occupational milieu. They do split the world, they do construct an ‘other’ onto which their fears and loathings are projected to a great extent but this process is not unique to police officers, it is just particularly pronounced in their case. And my argument is that it is pronounced in their case not because they are somehow inherently different from the rest of us but because of the specific nature of policing as a form of social organisation.3 To what extent then do previous findings support the claims I am making regarding the existence of distinct affective patterns? It is arguable that the overwhelming majority of the evidence points towards an affective antagonism towards plurality, difference, complexity, ambiguity, change, hybridity, which are felt as a threat to the social world – what we might broadly refer to as forces of ‘flux’. This goes hand in hand with a positive affective ‘enjoy- ment’ of homogeneity, order, predictability, hierarchy, deference to authority, broadly speaking the forces of ‘stasis’.In other words, it describes the kind of paranoid cultural milieu which I set out above. Police studies research evidence over the past 35 years shows a remarkable degree of consistency through time, and across national boundaries, in these respects. Here are just a few examples.
RACE, SYMBOLIC ASSAILANTS AND POLICE RELEVANT CATEGORIES We can find this suspicion of difference in, for example, the overwhelming accumulation of evidence of racial prejudice. The picture has built up from Westley’s early evidence of racist language and beliefs among police officers in the United States, to the findings of Reiner, Fielding and Fielding, Graef, Cain and a whole host of others in this country (Cain, 1973; Fielding and Fielding, 1991; Graef, 1989; Reiner, 1978, 1992; Westley, 1970). In the 1980s, Smith and Gray famously produced highly disturbing evi- dence of prejudiced attitudes amongst the Metropolitan Police (Smith and Gray, 1985). They claimed, however, that these prejudices must be distin- guished from the actual relationships police officers had with black people in the context of policing their communities. Prejudice does not necessarily lead to discrimination, they suggested. Simon Holdaway, however, has rightly argued that such a separation is not really defensible. Instead these attitudes must be understood in the context of a process of ‘racialisation’ of the relationship between the police and certain minority communities (Hold- away, 1996: 72–105). The police/black-community relationship, instead of simply being a police/community relationship like any other, has historically been con- structed around an ideology which sees it as involving a ‘race problem’ or a ‘black problem’ or a ‘black youth problem’. This has been constructed over a number of decades. Paul Gilroy, for example, has shown the way in which, since the 1960s, an ideology has been developed, among politicians, the courts, the police and the media, which suggests that black people (particu- larly young black people) have more of a propensity to commit crime than the rest of the population;particularly certain types of street crime. This has been elaborated into a broader official ideology in which black people are perceived to be particularly susceptible to certain kinds of family pathology, an unwillingness to work, and a tendency to act as a mob (Gilroy, 1987: 72–113). John Solomos has argued that these themes were further intensified when the public confrontations and hostilities of the 1970s turned into the full-scale riots of the 1980s (Solomos, 1991: 88–118, 1989: 99–121). Both Gilroy and Solomos suggest that black youth came to stand as a symbol of more widespread fears about the breakdown of social cohesion and an increasingly violent society. Black youth were the collective image of violence on the streets, whether as the shadowy figure of the mugger or as the brick throwing, looting, rioter. The complete breakdown of police/black-community relations was entirely blamed on the black community: on their supposed problems with authority; their cultural difficulties with the ‘British way of life’; and their inability to identify with the police. This was perhaps most clearly reflected in the policy of appointing so-called ‘community liaison officers’ in an attempt to deal with the problem.Such an approach reflected an inability to see that the problem may involve police racism, and therefore an inability on the part of the police to identify with the black community, rather than the other way around. It also absolved all police officers(other than community liaison officers) from having to reflect on the relationship problem (Institute of Race Relations, 1978: 65–8). By the time I found myself interviewing police in the late 1980s all of this was in place – the relationship between the officers I spoke to and the ethnic minority communities they policed was thoroughly racialised. They under- stood their task as dealing with a special black crime problem, they experi- enced the relationship on the streets with black youngsters as a battleground, they saw the community as hostile, and at all times as a potential mob. Con- tainment and the control of territory was seen as the priority for a community that was so inherently different and problematic. In simply cataloguing the history of an ideological construction, however, we are in danger of making the mistake that Žižek warns against. We need to ask what is the nature of the police officer’s emotional attachment to these ideas? In other words we can see very well the discursive and institutional elements of such a ‘racialised’ relationship, but what does such ‘racialisation’ mean in affective terms? As Solomos and Gilroy suggest, black youth came to symbolise certain fears collectively held, and played upon by politicians, the media and others. One might go as far as to say that these collective fears (about a changing, strange, fragmenting and increasingly violent society) were (and still are) projected onto black youth. Police officers seem to be particularly susceptible to such fears. My experience is that police officers do not just make up ideas about impending disorder and crisis for fun or to get a wage rise, they really feel those fears and anxieties intensely. So is there any reason why police officers should experience such fears of change and social fluidity even more intensely than the rest of us? It is noteworthy that all the studies so far mentioned suggest that this ‘racialised’ ideology invariably focuses on certain themes – willingness to work, family pathology, behaviour on the streets, sexuality, recreational activities (party-going, drugs use, music etc.), and, of course, crime. These all link to ways in which the supposedly ‘problem’ community is perceived to differ from the ‘respectable’ com- munity. They are, ultimately, ways in which the population becomes fluid and threatens to evade the control of the police. Such concerns always arise among police officers, regardless of who the ‘problem’ ethnic minority com- munity are. There is a pattern here. This hostility to racial minorities can be seen within a broader picture of suspicion and hostility towards difference. This is an integral part of the police officer’s cognitive mapping of his/her locality. The strange, unexpected, differ- ent, stands out against a background of everyday normality. Jerome Skolnick writes of the ‘symbolic assailant’, the individual who gives clues in his unusual dress, attitude, behaviour or mannerisms to his (for the police) deviant and dangerous identity (Skolnick, 1966: Ch. 3). Such difference, and change in the social environment arouses feelings of threat. In Egon Bittner’s and Allan Silver’s work we see the further development of the notion that the police are in fact committed to an all-embracing social pacification function – to order and stasis on a grand scale. They are there to deal, quite simply, with ‘something-that-ought-not-to-be-happening-and-about-which-someone- had-better-do-something-now’ (Bittner, 1974, 1975). When everything is ‘as it should be’ – stable, predictable, orderly, familiar – the police officer feels at ease; he is happy and comfortable. The appearance of the ‘symbolic assailant’ against this background of the familiar and normal arouses feelings of sus- picion, threat, anxiety and so on. The police officer’s ‘cognitive maps’ are in fact affective maps.In Robert Reiner’s summary of ‘police relevant categories’ we can see further evidence of how police officers’ feelings traverse the social body in complex ways. Some criminals are associated with positive feelings. These are the ‘good class villains’ who themselves identify with the same ‘cult of mascu- linity’ (Smith and Gray use this latter phrase) as the police (Reiner, 1992: 118–21; Smith and Gray, 1985). They play the same cultural ‘game’ as the police; they provide the source of what the police themselves regard as ‘real police work’, they are therefore the key source of self-esteem and confir- mation of identity for the police. They may break the law but that does not make them a threat – quite the contrary. Dick Hobbs’ work has demonstrated the deeply symbiotic relationship between CID officers and such ‘entrepre- neurial’ criminals while Smith and Gray point to similar feelings and percep- tions amongst uniformed officers (Hobbs, 1989: 213; Smith and Gray, 1985: 213). As Foucault rightly points out, such ‘delinquency’ is a part of the system itself, it is a managed deviance which remains on the ‘inside’ (Foucault, 1987: 257–92). In contrast to ‘good class villains’, there is so-called ‘police property’ (Reiner, 1992: 118–21; Smith and Gray, 1985: 347–8). These are Skolnick’s ‘symbolic assailants’ – the marginalised social groups who create a real sense of threat, impending chaos, feelings of loathing and anger among police officers. They are the real threat to order in that they are not disciplined, they behave in unpredictable ways, their language cannot be understood, they will not be deferential to the authority of the police officer and they will not live and work in the ‘customary’ way. Policemen feel bad about these people and want to control them – despite the fact that they do not consider dealing with them to be proper police work (the most common term for such work, among police officers, is ‘rubbish’). The ‘hypocritical’ professional middle classes, in some circumstances, actu- ally try to undermine the police officer’s control over ‘police property’. ‘Chal- lengers’ and ‘do-gooders’ in the form of the doctor, the social worker, the lawyer, or the civil rights organisation, challenge (already inadequate) police powers and invade the sacred space of the police station. Reiner concludes that: Running through the perception of the social structure is a distinction between the powerless groups at the bottom of the social hierarchy who provide the ‘rubbish’ and the ‘police property’, and the respectable strata, with distinct seg- ments which in different ways threaten police interests. (Reiner, 1992: 121) This last phrase gets to the heart of the matter. While initially splitting the world into good and bad parts – the ‘respectable’ versus the rest – the good begins to vanish as one examines police categories. Ultimately one suspects that only the police themselves are really ‘good’, but thenpolice officers are actually suspicious of other police officers.4 Eventually we begin to see that in fact perceived threat emanates from almost everywhere in the police officer’s experience of the world. The ‘other’ onto which bad qualities are projected expands, and the little island of safety and order diminishes.
MASCULINITY, APOCALYPSE AND VIOLENCE The police studies literature is replete with apocalyptic scenarios, the ‘myth of police indispensability’, the ‘thin blue line’ between chaos and order. This firm belief in impending chaos, constant decline, loss of standards, disrespect for authority, the catastrophic threat to the ‘British way of life’, and so on, is reflected in popular images of policing as well (as Malcolm Young points out in the earlier quotation). But for police officers themselves the emotional charge of this apocalyptic splitting of the world is doubly powerful, leading sometimes to violent fantasies: I had a dream about all of us, about the Section going round in a car. We were in plain clothes and we were indiscriminately murdering everybody in the daytime that was causing trouble in the night time. I’ve never enjoyed a dream so much in my life. (Graef, 1989: 58) Smith and Gray describe similar expressions of violent emotion in their account of what they call the ‘cult of masculinity’ (Smith and Gray, 1985). They describe constant talk and boasting about violence, constant sexual boasting and horseplay, and exaggerated tales of bravado. They claim that expressions of violent hostility are often associated with police officers’ anxi- eties about the possibility of ‘losing face’. Here violence is a ‘symbol of auth- ority and power’. Now, Smith and Gray may be right or wrong in their explanation of their data, what cannot be doubted, however, is that they are struggling to come to terms with a complex affective phenomenon. They seem to suggest that at least some level of emotional projection is at work. This projection is apparently associated with unbearable complexities internal to police culture – on the one hand it sharply splits the world between the ‘respectable’ and the ‘degenerate’, but on the other hand police officers enjoy a symbiotic relationship with self-proclaimed criminals and also find themselves engaging in violent sexual fantasies.5 This notion that police culture, and therefore the police subject, is riven with complexity, ambivalence and potential chaos while at the same time affectively valuing simplicity, transparency and order, is a hypothesis worth pursuing. What would be the consequences of such internal tensions? The suggestion that at least a certain kind of masculinity is driven by anxiety about complexity and fluidity can also be found in some recent feminist writing in this area. Tony Jefferson makes the suggestion that ‘the defense mechanisms of splitting and projection are constantly implicated in the intersubjective management of anxiety’ (Jefferson, 1994: 26). He further claims (drawing on Wendy Hollway) that it is this anxiety that provides the spur to negotiation of power relations: people want power to reduce their anxiety. From where does this anxiety arise though? Anxiety is socially pro- duced within what Jefferson calls ‘discursive relations’ – the everyday sym- bolic relations of language and social practice, upon which we draw for our identities, meaning and rationales for action. Jefferson gives no concrete examples of how this might be so; he says only that ‘heterosexual men often disown their feelings of vulnerability and dependancy by saddling their partners with them’. The hypothesis is then that a certain kind of mascu- linity sustains itself by projecting unwanted aspects of itself onto female partners. There is an obvious linked hypothesis which would have been worth pursuing (particularly in the context of the book in which Jefferson’s paper was published) that such dominant masculine discourses and subjec- tivities may project unwanted elements onto a whole host of ‘other’ socially marginalised groups. The point, however, is to show the fractures, antagon- isms and dislocations within masculine (and in this case masculine-police) discourse in order that the origins of this motivational anxiety (if it truly exists) can be understood. I shall be returning to the question of masculinity and the problem of fluidity when I look at the analysis provided by Eliza- beth Grosz. From work as disparate as Carolyn Steedman’s history of the forging of the Victorian police identity, to Van Maanan’s classic work on the occu- pational socialisation of American police recruits, we see again and again the internal antagonisms of the police cultural milieu laid bare, and the powerful affective currents which swirl around those antagonisms (Steedman, 1984; Van Maanan, 1974). Conformity, fierce loyalty, and a willingness to employ violence in defence of physical or symbolic threats to the integrity and auth- ority of the uniform are absolute demands. It is within the ‘relief’, the basic unit of professional uniformed policing, that the suffocating demands of this drive to conformity and group thinking are most apparent. It is not uncom- mon within the relief to find marginalised scapegoat figures.6 We begin to see, in the police studies literature, a picture of affective attachment to certain cul- tural dispositions, but also a climate of low-level terror in which the new recruit (and the old hand for that matter) can see for himself the potential consequences of marginalisation. Persistent verbal abuse, psychological attacks (such as ignoring people for long periods), spiteful and humiliating humour are all commonplace and more serious physical dangers are a real possibility. The milieu of the relief contains a positive attachment to order and certain idealised notions of respectability,but also anxiety, fear, sadistic and paranoid affective currents. Most of all, one senses an absolute determi- nation to drive out complexity, difference and ambiguity of any kind. One finds this perhaps most obviously in the insistence on heterosexual identity (persistent jokes, miming of sexual acts, boasting, harassment of women col- leagues etc.). This is combined with a virulent homophobia.But of course no human community can be so homogeneous, simple, ordered or unambigu- ous. Perhaps, in this sense, the most significant threat to the police officer’s sense of his authority, rightness and dominance is the police officer himself.
The construction of subjects, communities, and humanity as closed and coherent unities that must stave off all differential flux licenses claims of racial superiority and human exceptionalism. If humanity is defined by the expulsion of difference, human extinction is inevitable.
Colebrook 12. Claire Colebrook, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, “Face Race,” Deleuze and Racism, online/google books green=short
The human race is facing extinction. One might even say that there is a race towards extinction, precisely because humanity has constituted itself as a race. The idea of a single species, seemingly different but ultimately grounded on a humanity of right and reason, has enabled human exceptionalism, and this (in turn) has precluded any questioning of humanity's right to life. In actuality, humanity is not a race; it becomes a racial unity only via the virtual, or what Deleuze and Guattari describe as a process of territorialisation, deferritorialisarion and reterritori- alisation. In the beginning is what Deleuze and Guattari refer to as the 'intense germinal influx', through which individuated bodies (both organic and social) emerge. Race or racism is not the result of discrimination; on the contrary, it is only by repressing the highly complex differentials that compose any being that something like the notion of 'a' race can occur. This is why Deleuze and Guattari argue for a highly intimate relation between sex and race: all life is sexual, for living bodies are composed of relations among differential powers that produce new events: encounters of potentialities that intertwine to form stabilities. Race and racism occur through such intersections of desire, whereby bodies assemble to form territories. All bodies and identities are the result of territorialisa- rion, so that race (or kinds) unfolds from sex, at the same rime that sexes (male or female) unfold from encounters of generic differences. All couplings are of mixed race.It is through the formation of a relatively stable set of relations that bodies are affected in common. A body becomes an individual through gathering or assembling (enabling the formation of a territory). A social body, tribe or collective begins with the formation of a common space or territory but is deterrirorialised when the group is individuated by an external body - when a chieftain appears as the law or eminent individual whose divine power comes from Lon high'. This marks the socius as this or that specified group. Race occurs through reterritorialisation, when the social body is not organised from without (or via some transcendent, external term) but appears to be the expression of the ground; the people are an expression of a common ground or Volk. The most racially determined group of all is that of 'man', for no other body affirms its unity with such shrill insistence. 'Humanity' presents itself as a natural unified species, with man as biological ground from which racism might then be seen as a differentiation. The problem with racism is not that it discriminates, nor that it takes one natural humanity and then perverts it into separate groups. On the contrary, racism does not discriminate enough; it does not recognise that 'humanity,' 'Caucasian' and 'Asian’ are insufficiently distinguished.Humanity is a virtuality or majority of a monstrous and racial sort. One body - the white man of reason - is taken as the figure for life in general. A production of desire - the image of 'man' that was the effect of history and social groupings - is now seen as the ground of desire. Ultimately, a metalepsis takes place: despite seeming differences, it is imagined that, deep down, we are all the same. And because of this monstrous production of 'man in general', who is then placed before difference as the unified human ground from which different races appear, a trajectory of extinction appears to be relentless.Man's self-evident unity, along with the belief in a historical unfolding that occurs as a greater and greater recognition of identity (the supposed overcoming of tribalism towards the recognition of one giant body of human reason), precludes any question of humanity's composition, its emergence from difference and distinction and the further possibility of its un-becoming. Humanity has been fabricated as the proper ground of all life - so much so that threats to all life on earth are being dealt with today by focusing on how man may adapt, mitigate and survive.Humanity has become so enamoured of the image it has painted of its illusory beautiful life that it has not only come close to vanquishing all other life forms, and has not only imagined itself as a single and self-evidenrlv valuable being with a right to life, it can also only a imagine a future of living on rather than face the threat of living otherwise. Part of the problem of humanity as a race lies in the ambivalent status of art, for art is the figure that separates white man par excellence; humanity has no essence other than that of free self-creation, and so all seemingly different peoples or others must come to recognise their differences as merely cultural, as the effect of one great history of self-distinction. On the other hand, if art were to be placed outside the human, as the persistence of sensations and matters that cannot be reduced to human intentionality, then 'we' might begin to discern the pulsation of differences in a time other than that of self-defining humanity.Far from extinction or human annihilation being solely a twenty-first- century event (although it is that too), art is tied essentially to the nonexistence of man. Art has often quite explicitly considered the relation between humanity and extinction. For it is the nature of the art object to exist beyond its animating intention, both intimating a people not yet present (Deleuze and Guattari 1994: 180), and yet also often presupposing a unified humanity or common 'lived'. Wordsworth - yes, Wordsworth! - was at once aware that the sense of a poem or work could not be reduced to its material support, for humanity is always more than any of the signs it uses to preserve its existence: Oh! why hath not the Mind Some element to stamp her image oil In nature somewhat nearer to her own? Why, gifted with such powers to send abroad Her spirit, must it lodge in shrines so frail? (1850, The Prelude V 45-9: 109)If the archive were to be destroyed, would anything of 'man' remain? Art gives man the ability to imagine himself as eternally present, beyond any particular epoch or text, and yet also places this eternity in the fragile tomb of a material object: 'Even if the material lasts only for a few seconds it will give sensation the power to exist and be preserved in itself in the eternity that coexists with this short duration' (Deleuze and Guattari 1994: 166). 'Man' as a race (as a unified body imagining himself as a natural kind) is essentially tied to extinction: for man is at once an ex post facto or metaleptic positing of that which must have been there all along, awaiting eternal expression, at the same time that 'man' is also that being who hastens extinction in general by imagining himself as a single tradition solely worthy of eternal life. This unified humanity that has become intoxicated with its sense of self-positing privilege can only exist through the delirium of Race, through the imagination of itself as a unified and eternal natural body: All delirium is racial, which does not necessarily mean racist. It is not a matter of the regions of the body without organs 'representing' races and cultures. The full body does not represent anything at all. On rhe contrary, the races and cultures designate regions on this body - that is, zones of intensities, fields of potentials. Phenomena of individualization and sexualization are produced within these fields. We pass from one field to another by crossing thresholds: we never stop migrating, we become other individuals as well as other sexes, and departing becomes as easy as being born or dying. Along the way we struggle against other races, we destroy civilizations, in the manner of the great migrants in whose wake nothing is left standing once they have passed through. (Deleuze and Guattari 2004a: 94) Racial delirium is not only a passage through differential flux from which identity emerges; it also entails that 'we destroy civilizations - affirming the potentiality of leaving any produced culture or tradition in ruins. If racial delirium occurs as an affirmation of the possibility of anything becoming extinct, racism is a neurotic grip on survival.Racism - including, and especially, the affirmation of 'man' - is a repression of racial delirium; humanity is always a virtual production or fabrication that posits itself as ultimate actuality, occluding the differentials from which it emerges.
We must replace the understanding of the subject and of the human as stable and enclosed space with an understanding of the subject as a conjugation of forces in constant becoming. This opens radical political potentialities by uncovering a field of pre-individual intensities and avoids racialized understandings of humanity and the war on difference. Such a critique of the Self-Same-Subject is a prerequisite to police reform, learning about the topic, and political activism.
Difference and Repetition does not conclude with any clear normative propositions for engaging in the world it describes. As mentioned in the introduction, I read it as both a transgressive critique of the Western philosophical canon and a set of resources drawn from that critique that can be mobilised to engage in radical politics. In the spirit of that project, this section brings Deleuze’s theoretical resources to bear on the study and navigation of oppressive spaces that are subject to invasive policing policy.Although social scientists might take the empirical world to be reducible to positivist, scientific determination and subjectivity distilled into identity-based agents, Difference and Repetition uncovers a world marked by creative emergence and open to radical political potentiality. First, a return to Leibniz’s idea of the sea as Deleuze reads it:13 The idea of the sea . . . is a system of liaisons or differential relations between particulars and singularities corresponding to the degrees of variation among these relations–the totality of the system being incarnated in the real movement of the waves. (Deleuze 1994: 165) The sea is comprised of a near infinite number of indiscernible elements interacting with one another, the aggregate of which constitutes the dynamic ‘body’ of water we encounter. An observer does not have access to the precise way each element contributes to the overall constitution of the sea, or even how each element is distinct from other elements; and the complexity of the system of different elements makes predicting the behaviour of its entirety difficult or impossible. But, one can see the real movements of the waves, and experience the manifested actuality of the system as one observes or interacts with it. A swim in the ocean introduces the body to the complexity of the system in physical terms: one is pushed and pulled by the combined power of the differential elements constituting the ocean, even as the body attempts to navigate its force. Even if there are discernible patterns and rhythms, the system is always in a state of creative becoming. In rough waters, the body may be overwhelmed and overcome by the power of the waves, the intensity of the current and the vastness of its volume. The milieu of the ocean, which includes the swimming body, emerges as its own problematic field of relations; one must attend, respond and adapt to its developing conditions in order to persist as a body. The spaces that Sewell and colleagues study are akin to these complex systems of interacting elements, experienced and observed as discernible space to navigate. Like the sea, neighbourhoods and cities are constituted by (non-)events, (non-)encounters, relations among differential elements, rapidly changing conditions as they interact with overlapping milieu, persistent features that appear permanent, subsystems and super-systems that reorganise local features, internal logics or rhythms below the level of intelligibility, untimely actualisations of intensive structures, and problems without solutions. One can observe and describe the actualised contours of a neighbourhood and empirically analyse behaviour and health in a particular space without ever engaging with the genetic principles that precede these actualities. The social scientific model for understanding the impacts of aggressive policing is a valuable interpretation of this actualised world, but, like any approach, it is limited by its methodological restrictions. A critical and diagnostic interpretation that attends to the virtual–and thus offers a richer account of the process of actualisation – may also reveal a more effective mode of orienting oneself or one’s community to it. Bracketing the realm of potentiality yields (and must yield) a more limited range of strategies for moving in an oppressive space.‘To learn to swim’, Deleuze writes, ‘is to conjugate the distinctive points of our bodies with the singular points of the objective Idea in order to form a problematic field’ (Deleuze 1994: 165). Again, like Leibniz’s sea, an individual body is constituted by a unique constellation of elements and expresses ‘an Idea the actualisation of which it determines’ (Deleuze 1994: 254). Although these individual elements are common or indiscernible, they express a unique idea of that individual. Perhaps Deleuze is inviting us to ‘conjugate’ these ‘distinctive points’ in the particular context in which we find ourselves, and attempting to use this conjugation to problematise the structure and constitution of our milieu. Perhaps Deleuze provides a strategy for navigating spaces of inequality–the terrain of the problem–in a way that fosters newness. Conjugating oneself differently (anew) in order to adapt to local (and non-local) conditions constitutes what Deleuze calls learning.The body, the neighbourhood, the policy and the structure must all be understood as systems in a state of becoming. The oppressive conditions endured by many populations are exacerbated by the Image of Thought/Human because it constrains possibilities for change to the recognisable realm of the already-actualised rather than the rich and creative realm of potentiality. And, because the Image of the Human reflects and reaffirms a racialised world in which oppression is not distributed equally, it seems likely that one’s relation to these intersecting modes of oppression will modify the ways in which a body is (and can be) conjugated among these elements. The Deleuzian call to problematise a field through one’s help to inform such efforts. Each of us must learn to critically ‘swim’ in ways that will open new terrain for thought and politics, and this creative potentiality is found by attending to the intensive space of the virtual. Perhaps a degree of relief may be found through the emergence of the new or the different that is expressed by the pre-individual subject; perhaps the creative potentiality of the virtual provides a valuable normative addendum to the realm of the actual. In the closing pages of chapter 5, Deleuze reiterates his understanding of the individual as distinct from competing models. Descartes’s epiphany about the subject–that the I sees the Self–fails to see the virtual derivation of the subject that precedes this encounter. Deleuze explains that both the I and the Self exist only in extensity (as a form or the matter of a form, respectively); the differences from which they develop in the realm of the virtual are cancelled as they become actualised. Again, Descartes’s point of departure for deriving the subject, it seems, is the already-actualised entity found in extensity. In contrast, Deleuze is intent on theorising the pre-individual aspects of the individual. A primary problem is that Descartes’s version of the subject is inseparable from identity (the actualised I who ‘thinks’) and the Self who sees itself through a ‘continuity of resemblances’ (Deleuze 1994: 257). Thus, identity emerges at the intersection of the thinking I who sees itself resembling a previous Self.The Deleuzian subject is far more complicated and far less stable than the liberal subject. For Deleuze, the resemblances that the I sees in relation to the self are the after-effects of a process of actualisation that started in the realm of pure difference; those apparent ‘differences’ are merely the cancelled forms of difference that were lost in extensity.Contra this version of the subject, every individuating factor is already difference and difference of difference. It is constructed upon a fundamental disparity, and functions on the edges of that disparity as such. That is why these factors endlessly communicate with one another across fields of individuation, becoming enveloped in one another in a demesne which disrupts the matter of the Self as well as the form of the I. Individuation is mobile, strangely supple, fortuitous and endowed with fringes and margins; all because the intensities which contribute to it communicate with each other, envelop other intensities and are in turn enveloped. The individual is far from indivisible, never ceasing to divide and change its nature. (Deleuze 1994: 257) The ‘condensation of distinctive points’ or ‘open collection of intensities’ constituting the subject are mistaken for evidence of the incompletion or interruption of the individual. The error is to attempt to ‘complete’ the subject, or to pin it down into its finished, univocal stasis, rather than an ‘indeterminate, floating, fluid, communicative and enveloping- enveloped’ individual (Deleuze 1994: 258). As Claire Colebrook writes, ‘it is only by repressing the highly complex differentials that compose any being that something like the notion of “a” race can occur’ (Colebrook 2013: 35). For Descartes (and Kant), the I is both a finished product and a starting point for doing philosophy. But coercing the individual into a completed form of identity stultifies its potential by denying the ongoing role virtuality plays. Thus, Deleuze leaves behind identity as the foundational form of philosophy, and embraces the ‘full, positive power of individual’ as completely incomplete (Deleuze 1994: 258). It is from this Deleuzian subject that we find an accompanying normative warning. If the subject is constituted through intensive differences of elements that precede the actualisation of the Self and I, then the individual is always emerging from an ‘undifferenciated abyss’ of elements that remain in the realm of the virtual. Thus, the condition of being is characterised not by a static and purportedly ‘whole’ subject encountered in extensity, but by the ever-present potentiality of being reconstituted by intensive differential elements. A form of the individual driven by becoming, rather than identity, accounts for the rich terrain of the virtual that is always refashioning the individual in creative ways. Thus, Deleuze urges us not to be explicated too much ... not to explicate oneself too much with the other, not to explicate the other too much, but to maintain one’s implicit values and multiply one’s own world by populating it with all those expressed that do not exist apart from their expressions. For it is not the other which is another I, but the I which is an other, a fractured I. There is no love which does not begin with the revelation of a possible world as such, enwound in the other which expresses it. (Deleuze 1994: 261) To fully explicate oneself or the other would be to (attempt to) eliminate this virtual remainder, and to cancel the very generative force of becoming that drives newness. To avoid this catastrophic languishing, Deleuze encourages us to foster the persistent alterity of the other in order to preserve its intensity, just as we must allow the alterity of the self to persist as an intensive remainder to our own individuality. The I that one encounters in extensity is a temporary and differenciated being – a snapshot – on its way to becoming a new individual that draws from the intensive components of its past.The I is thus an other – in a state of alterity both to other individuals, but also to its own form of becoming. If there is an objective here, it is to dedicate myself to ‘sensing’ intensities without cancelling them; to invite another world that is the actualisation of intensity in this world.14 Using Deleuze’s work to interrogate the limits of a positivist, data- derived model points towards opportunities to critique the limits of the social scientific method, as well as provide a supplementary set of considerations with which to engage.Much of the social scientific research surrounding policing aspires to code behaviour in positivist terms, statistically derive each predictive claim using data-driven probabilities and develop policing models that reflect this explication.My argument is that both the study and any normative claims that emerge from it are mired in the practice of explicating the other as fully as possible–eliminating vital space for virtuality along with those variables that inhibit meaningful scientific results. The process of extrapolating scientific conclusions based on observational health outcomes, for instance, attempts to translate the complexity of humans into observable, static, extensity-based organisms. By design, it also simplifies the complexity of the milieu in question by ‘controlling’ for intervening variables. The realm of the intensive is off-limits for this type of study if it involves the non-observable. The resulting strategy of analysis inadvertently imposes being on intensive becoming. If the assumptive framework undergirding all studies of human behaviour informs what range of normative strategies are available in response, then a complementary diagnostic approach that includes space for intensive potentiality can also clear terrain for new prognostic strategies that are more compatible with a Deleuzian approach. Its inclusion may also explain why existing policing strategies that rely on a purely observable and data-driven model may not be as effective as a more inclusive enquiry. The process and result of learning in a complex multiplicity is a violent and unpredictable set of potentialities. Learning takes the form of undetermined experimentation without specific expectations. I take the uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 and in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2015 to be [are] examples of experimental learning. In both cases, the police killings of black males were not unprecedented or even atypical. However, the reaction to them was unique and reflected something natal: repetition, with a difference. A certain set of conditions coalesced to cross a tipping point; populations responded to actualised experiences of a virtual Idea of racial injustice and police violence. Although they could not have been predicted, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray became the encounters that force us to think. Suddenly, a violent process of learning is underway. Activists, local citizens, politicians and police departments began to react to the multiplicity of circumstances that were suddenly in flux. The uprisings in both cities represent a collective conjugation of bodies, in which populations who experience long-term effects of racism react to the relations that make up those conditions. Like the circumstances that constituted the genetic conditions for the uprising, the ongoing results of this collective conjugation cannot be described in advance and are yet to be realised. However, they reflect the intensive processes that mark the realm of the virtual, and cannot be understood apart from them.
Solution-oriented approaches replicate the status quo. Instead of ‘solving,’ our affirmative allows problems with affective policing to disrupt thought. This is a pre-requisite to topic education and is necessary to avoid replicating status quo modes of subject formation.
According to Deleuze, Kant evaluates problems first on the pre- existent propositions from which they are formed, and second, on their solvability10 (Deleuze 1994: 161). As described above, Ideas are sets of differential relations from which material objects and bodies actualise, and problematic fields are sets of differential elements that are not resolvable through the actualisation of objects deriving from that field (Deleuze 1994: 168, 178–9). Kant’s approach to problems misunderstands and then end-routes what Deleuze finds valuable about problems: What is missed [by Kant and others] is the internal character of the problem as such, the imperative internal element which decides in the first place its truth or falsity and measures its intrinsic genetic power: that is, the very object of the dialectic or combinatory, the ‘differential’. Problems are tests and selections. What is essential is that there occurs at the heart of problems a genesis of truth, a production of the true in thought. Problems are the differential elements in thought, the genetic elements in the true . . . The only way to talk of ‘true and false problems’ seriously is in terms of a production of the true and the false by means of problems, and in proportion to their sense. (Deleuze 1994: 161–2) When problems are defined and pursued based on their solvability, they cannot be considered true problems. Their solvability is ‘determined by the conditions of the problem engendered in and by the problem along with the real solution’ (Deleuze 1994: 162). A problem with a solution is directly tied to and defined by its solution, and is not a problem, in the Deleuzian sense. It fails to compel the disruptive experience of thinking, in which the subject and the surrounding system that constitutes a multiplicity is transformed.The shift in the multiplicity produces more conditions from which other alterations occur, each reflecting a version of the idea that was its genesis.Learning is the process of confronting these conditions of the problem and being forced to develop something new; one’s adaptation and reorientation to a new set of conditions cannot occur if the problem can simply be resolved through a solution. Instead, ‘learning evolves entirely in the comprehension of problems as such, in the apprehension and condensation of singularities and in the composition of ideal events and bodies’. The process of the problem does not conclude with the transformation, ‘which tears us apart but also propels us into a hitherto unknown and unheard-of world of problems’ (Deleuze 1994: 192). The process occurs again and again. To decisively ‘answer’ the question or resolve the problem with a solution is to avoid the problem in the first place and prevent the process of learningin the second.