Skip to Main Content (Press Enter) Toggle side nav

Semiotext(e) / Intervention Series

Found in Domestic Politics
The Colonial Counter-Revolution by Sadri Khiari
Coming soon (09-28-21)

The Colonial Counter-Revolution

Book 30
Paperback

Semiotext(e) / Intervention Series : Titles in Order

Book 32
Paul Preciado’s controversial 2019 lecture at the École de la Cause Freudienne annual conference, published in a definitive translation for the first time.

In November 2019, Paul Preciado was invited to speak in front of 3,500 psychoanalysts at the École de la Cause Freudienne’s annual conference in Paris. Standing in front of the profession for whom he is a “mentally ill person” suffering from “gender dysphoria,” Preciado draws inspiration in his lecture from Kafka’s “Report to an Academy,” in which a monkey tells an assembly of scientists that human subjectivity is a cage comparable to one made of metal bars.

Speaking from his own “mutant” cage, Preciado does not so much criticize the homophobia and transphobia of the founders of psychoanalysis as demonstrate the discipline’s complicity with the ideology of sexual difference dating back to the colonial era–an ideology which is today rendered obsolete by technological advances allowing us to alter our bodies and procreate differently. Preciado calls for a radical transformation of psychological and psychoanalytic discourse and practices, arguing for a new epistemology capable of allowing for a multiplicity of living bodies without reducing the body to its sole heterosexual reproductive capability, and without legitimizing hetero-patriarchal and colonial violence.

Causing a veritable outcry among the assembly, Preciado was heckled and booed and unable to finish. The lecture, filmed on smartphones, was published online, where fragments were transcribed, translated, and published with no regard for exactitude. With this volume, Can the Monster Speak? is published in a definitive translation for the first time.
Book 30
How and when American-style slavery created the racial system, not just in the United States but internationally.

“We see the hatred we elicit, Islamophobia, Negrophobia; we see police numbers increase, repression spread, mechanisms of control and surveillance strengthened, structures of corruption and cronyism flourish, and bodies of institutionalization, integration, and supervision develop, but we do not see the cause, or one of the causes, which is none other than the threat that we now pose to the white order.”
–from The Colonial Counter-Revolution

Just as Capital produced classes and patriarchy produced genders, colonialism produced race. In The Colonial Counter-Revolution, Sadri Khiari outlines how and when American-style slavery created the racial system, not just in the United States but internationally, and why the development of relationships of equality within the white community favored the crystallization of specifically racial social relations. More than just a response to the dialogue, debate, and trauma of immigration today, this book looks beyond the right/left dichotomy of the issue in politics to the more fundamental political existence of immigrants and Blacks, who must exist politically if they are to exist whatsoever. Race is not biological: race is political. And it is the manifestation of the colonial counter-revolution. In France, that counter-revolution started with General de Gaulle, and continues today, where the anti-colonialist fight of Palestinian Arabs and the anti-racist fight of Arabs and blacks in France have the same adversary: white Western domination.
Book 30
A stimulating and profound portrayal of the epochal event that has already left its mark on the twenty-first century.

Immunodemocracy offers a stimulating and profound portrayal of the epochal event that has already left its mark on the twenty-first century. Moving from the ecological question to the rule of experts, from the state of exception to immunitarian democracy, from rule by fear to the contagion of conspiracy theory, from forced distancing to digital control, Donatella Di Cesare examines how existence is already changing–and what its future political effects may be. In her own personal style, the author reconstructs the dramatic phases of what she calls “the breathing catastrophe.” Coronavirus is a sovereign virus that skirts its way around the walls of patriotism and the sovereignists’ imperious frontiers. And it reveals in all its terrible crudeness the immunitarian logic that excludes the weakest and hits the poorest. The Cordon sanitaire of disengagement risks expanding beyond all proportion. The disparity between the protected and the helpless–a challenge to any idea of justice–has never been so blatant. The virus has not introduced, but merely brought out into the open the ruthlessness of the capitalism that is now wrapping us in its devastating spiral, in its compulsive, asphyxial vortex. Is it our final warning? The violent global pandemic shows that it is impossible for us to survive if we don’t help each other. We will need to protect ourselves from protection and the specter of absolute immunization. When breathing can no longer be taken for granted, we need to rethink a new way of living together.
Book 28
An early text from Tiqqun that views cybernetics as a fable of late capitalism, and offers tools for the resistance.The cybernetician’s mission is to combat the general entropy that threatens living beings, machines, societies—that is, to create the experimental conditions for a continuous revitalization, to constantly restore the integrity of the whole.
—from The Cybernetic HypothesisThis early Tiqqun text has lost none of its pertinence. The Cybernetic Hypothesis presents a genealogy of our “technical” present that doesn’t point out the political and ethical dilemmas embedded in it as if they were puzzles to be solved, but rather unmasks an enemy force to be engaged and defeated. Cybernetics in this context is the teknê of threat reduction, which unfortunately has required the reduction of a disturbing humanity to packets of manageable information. Not so easily done. Not smooth. A matter of civil war, in fact. According to the authors, cybernetics is the latest master fable, welcomed at a certain crisis juncture in late capitalism. And now the interesting question is: Has the guest in the house become the master of the house?The “cybernetic hypothesis” is strategic. Readers of this little book are not likely to be naive. They may be already looking, at least in their heads, for a weapon, for a counter-strategy. Tiqqun here imagines an unbearable disturbance to a System that can take only so much: only so much desertion, only so much destituent gesture, only so much guerilla attack, only so much wickedness and joy.
Book 27
The emergence of a geopolitical war scenario, establishing a form of global governance that utilizes methods of surveillance and control.In times of war the law is silent.
—from Field of BattleField of Battle presents the world today as nothing less than a war in progress, with Mexico an illustrative microcosm of the developing geopolitical scenario: a battlefield in which violence, drug trafficking, and organized crime—as well as the alegal state that works alongside all of this in the guise of fighting against it—hold sway. The rule of law has been replaced by the dominance of alegality and the rise of the “a-state.”This war scenario is establishing a form of global governance that utilizes methods of surveillance and control developed by the United States government and enforced through its global network of military bases and the multinational corporations that work in synergy with its espionage agencies. Geopolitics take advantage of social instability, drug cartels, state repression, and paramilitarism to establish the foundations of a world order.Sergio González Rodríguez argues that this surveillance and control model has been imposed on the international community through extreme neoliberal ideology, free markets, the globalized economy, and the rise of the information society. The threats are clear. Nation-states are increasingly unable to respond to societal needs, and the individual has been displaced by money and technique—the axis of the transhumanist future foretold by today’s electronic devices. The human being as the prosthesis of an artificial world and as an object of networks and systems: citizens are the victims of a perverse vision of reality, caught between the defense of their rights and their will to insurrection.
Book 26
The increasingly chaotic rhythm of our respiration, and the sense of suffocation that grows everywhere: an essay on poetical therapy.Since the hopeful days of the Occupy movement, many things have changed in the respiration of the world, and we have entered a cycle of spasm, despair, and chaos. Breathing is a book about the increasingly chaotic rhythm of our respiration, about the sense of suffocation that grows everywhere.
“I can’t breathe.” These words panted by Eric Garner before dying, strangled by a police officer on the streets of  Staten Island, capture perfectly catching the overall sentiment of our time. In Breathing, Franco “Bifo” Berardi comes back to the subject that was the core of his 2011 book, The Uprising: the place of poetry in the relations between language, capital, and possibility. In The Uprising, he focuses on poetry as an anticipation of the trend toward abstraction that led to the present form of financial capitalism. In Breathing, he tries to envision poetry as the excess of the field of signification, as the premonition of a possible harmony inscribed in the present chaos.
           
The Uprising was a genealogical diagnosis. Breathing is an essay on poetical therapy. How we deal with chaos, as we know that those who fight against chaos will be defeated, because chaos feeds upon war? How do we deal with suffocation? Is there a way out from the corpse of financial capitalism?
Book 25
An examination of the reactionary, individualist, cynical, and belligerent shift in global politics to the right, implemented both by the right and the establishment left.Systemic, euphemized, insidious and structural violence has increased. It is now objectively measurable by the gulf in revenues, by subjective malaise, or by the menace of ecological apocalypse, and also by their constant exacerbation.
—from How the World Swung to the RightDespite a few zones of active resistance—the alter-globalization movement, the Chiapas uprisings, the Arab springs, and the recent resistance to racialized police brutality and environmental and genocidal warfare in the United States—the last half-century has been witness to an undeniable global shift to the right. How the World Swung to the Right provides a comprehensive overview of this reactionary, individualist, cynical, and belligerent shift, which often has been cloaked in the guise of entertainment and good intentions. The counterrevolutions began with a first phase of deregulation and ideological counter-attacks, and the fall of the so-called “real” communisms. The 1990s inaugurated a global biopolitical turn and the financialization of the economy; the 2000s hammered in neoliberal gains through the alliance of ultraliberalism with neoconservatism. These policies were implemented, surprisingly, not only by the right but often by the establishment left. Cusset argues that in the face of this betrayal, conflict is the one thing we can still salvage from the notion of the “left.” What we need today, he contends, are new sites of conflict that multiply the causes of struggle and the sites of mobilization, linking socioeconomic struggle with questions of identity and the urgency of ecology.
Book 24
An analysis of contemporary violence as the new commodity of today’s hyper-consumerist stage of capitalism.“Death has become the most profitable business in existence.”
—from Gore CapitalismWritten by the Tijuana activist intellectual Sayak Valencia, Gore Capitalism is a crucial essay that posits a decolonial, feminist philosophical approach to the outbreak of violence in Mexico and, more broadly, across the global regions of the Third World. Valencia argues that violence itself has become a product within hyper-consumerist neoliberal capitalism, and that tortured and mutilated bodies have become commodities to be traded and utilized for profit in an age of impunity and governmental austerity.In a lucid and transgressive voice, Valencia unravels the workings of the politics of death in the context of contemporary networks of hyper-consumption, the ups and downs of capital markets, drug trafficking, narcopower, and the impunity of the neoliberal state. She looks at the global rise of authoritarian governments, the erosion of civil society, the increasing violence against women, the deterioration of human rights, and the transformation of certain cities and regions into depopulated, ghostly settings for war. She offers a trenchant critique of masculinity and gender constructions in Mexico, linking their misogynist force to the booming trade in violence.This book is essential reading for anyone seeking to analyze the new landscapes of war. It provides novel categories that allow us to deconstruct what is happening, while proposing vital epistemological tools developed in the convulsive Third World border space of Tijuana.
Now
Book 23
A new political critique from the authors of The Coming Insurrection, calling for a “destituent process” of outright refusal and utter indifference to government.Now is the phantom chapter to the Invisible Committee’s previous book, To Our Friends: a new critique from the anonymous collective that establishes their opposition to the world of capital and its law of labor, addresses current anti-terrorist rhetoric and the ferocious repression that comes with it, and clarifies the end of social democracy and the growing rumors of the need for a coming “civil war.” Now emerges at a time when the Invisible Committee’s contestation has found echoes throughout the West, with a collapse of trust in the police, an inept weariness on the part of the political system, a growing urgency for opposition, a return of the theme of the Commune, a vanishing distinction between radicals and citizens, and a widespread refusal on the part of the citizen to be governed. As farcical political elections continue to unfold worldwide like a line of tumbling dominoes, and governments increasingly struggle to reclaim a legitimacy that has already slipped out of their grasp, Now clarifies the Invisible Committee’s attitude toward all such elections and their outcome: one of utter indifference. Now proposes a “destituent process” that charts out a different path to be taken, a path of outright refusal that simply ignores elections altogether. It is a path that calls for taking over the world and not taking power, for exploring new forms of life and not a new constitution, and for desertion and silence as alternatives to proclamations and crashes. It is also a call for an unprecedented communism—a communism stronger than nation and country.
Book 22
A scathing critique of the Left from an indigenous anti-colonial perspective.Why am I writing this book? Because I share Gramsci’s anxiety: “The old are dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” The fascist monster, born in the entrails of Western modernity. Of course, the West is not what it used to be. Hence my question: what can we offer white people in exchange for their decline and for the wars that will ensue? There is only one answer: peace. There is only one way: revolutionary love.
—from Whites, Jews, and UsWith Whites, Jews, and Us, Houria Bouteldja launches a scathing critique of the European Left from an indigenous anti-colonial perspective, reflecting on Frantz Fanon’s political legacy, the republican pact, the Shoah, the creation of Israel, feminism, and the fate of postcolonial immigration in the West in the age of rising anti-immigrant populism. Drawing upon such prominent voices as James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Jean Genet, she issues a polemical call for a militant anti-racism grounded in the concept of revolutionary love.Such love will not come without significant discomfort for whites, and without necessary provocation. Bouteldja challenges widespread assumptions among the Left in the United States and Europe—that anti-Semitism plays any role in Arab–Israeli conflicts, for example, or that philo-Semitism doesn’t in itself embody an oppressive position; that feminism or postcolonialist theory is free of colonialism; that integrationalism is a solution rather than a problem; that humanism can be against racism when its very function is to support the political-ideological apparatus that Bouteldja names the “white immune system.”At this transitional moment in the history of the West—which is to say, at the moment of its decline—Bouteldja offers a call for political unity that demands the recognition that whiteness is not a genetic question: it is a matter of power, and it is high time to dismantle it.This Semiotext(e)/Intervention series English-language edition includes a foreword by Cornel West.
Book 21
Essays on the contemporary continuum of incarceration: the biopolitics of juvenile delinquency, predatory policing, the political economy of fees and fines, and algorithmic policing.What we see happening in Ferguson and other cities around the country is not the creation of livable spaces, but the creation of living hells. When people are trapped in a cycle of debt it also can affect their subjectivity and how they temporally inhabit the world by making it difficult for them to imagine and plan for the future. What psychic toll does this have on residents? How does it feel to be routinely dehumanized and exploited by the police?
—from Carceral CapitalismIn this collection of essays in Semiotext(e)’s Intervention series, Jackie Wang examines the contemporary incarceration techniques that have emerged since the 1990s. The essays illustrate various aspects of the carceral continuum, including the biopolitics of juvenile delinquency, predatory policing, the political economy of fees and fines, cybernetic governance, and algorithmic policing. Included in this volume is Wang’s influential critique of liberal anti-racist politics, “Against Innocence,” as well as essays on RoboCop, techno-policing, and the aesthetic problem of making invisible forms of power legible.Wang shows that the new racial capitalism begins with parasitic governance and predatory lending that extends credit only to dispossess later. Predatory lending has a decidedly spatial character and exists in many forms, including subprime mortgage loans, student loans for sham for-profit colleges, car loans, rent-to-own scams, payday loans, and bail bond loans. Parasitic governance, Wang argues, operates through five primary techniques: financial states of exception, automation, extraction and looting, confinement, and gratuitous violence. While these techniques of governance often involve physical confinement and the state-sanctioned execution of black Americans, new carceral modes have blurred the distinction between the inside and outside of prison. As technologies of control are perfected, carcerality tends to bleed into society.
Book 20
A well-researched and powerfully argued account of the disappearance of forty-three students and an analysis of the cruelty that normalizes atrocity.The word “corruption” is insufficient for the magnitude of this evil.
—from The Iguala 43On the night of September 26th, 2014, policemen attacked a group of student protestors in the Mexican town of Iguala. Forty-three of these students were then kidnapped and turned over to criminals who allegedly tortured and murdered them, and then burned their corpses. The families of the victims refused to accept the official story, which placed all blame on local actors and absolved the federal government of any culpability. The anger provoked by this atrocity, one of the most barbaric acts in recent times, divided Mexican society in two: on one side were those who unwaveringly supported the cause of the students and on the other those who accepted the government’s “historic truth.”Written in memory of the forty-three students, this well-researched and powerfully argued book uncovers the agents, causes, and factors responsible for this unspeakable crime. It offers an interpretation of these events that goes beyond the artificial opposition between good and evil, between rulers and insurgents, and tries instead to understand the cruelty that normalizes atrocity.
González Rodríguez warns us that “this story has been repeated around the world, but we refuse to see it. If anyone doubts or denies this, then I challenge them to finish this book. When faced with the acceptance of horror, we must recover our lucidity and exercise our freedom to transform this tragic reality.”
Book 19
A clear-eyed critique of collegiate jurisprudence, as the process of administering student protests and sexual-assault complaints rolls along a Möbius strip of shifting legality.The management of sexuality has been sewn into the campus. Sex has its own administrative unit. It is a bureaucratic progression.
—from Campus Sex, Campus SecurityThe psychic life of the university campus is ugly. The idyllic green quad is framed by paranoid cops and an anxious risk-management team. A student is beaten, another is soaked with pepper spray. A professor is thrown to the ground and arrested, charged with felony assault. As the campus is fiscally strip-mined, the country is seized by a crisis of conscience: the student makes headlines now as rape victim and rapist. An administrator writes a report. The crisis is managed.Campus Sex, Campus Security is Jennifer Doyle’s clear-eyed critique of collegiate jurisprudence, in the era of campus corporatization, “less-lethal” weaponry, ubiquitous rape discourse, and litigious anxiety. Today’s university administrator rides a wave of institutional insecurity, as the process of administering student protests and sexual-assault complaints rolls along a Möbius strip of shifting legality. One thing (a crime) flips into another (a violation) and back again. On campus, the criminal and civil converge, usually in the form of a hearing that mimics the rituals of a military court, with its secret committees and secret reports, and its sanctions and appeals.What is the university campus in this world? Who is it for? What sort of psychic space does it simultaneously produce and police? What is it that we want, really, when we call campus security?
Book 18
A reflection on, and an extension of, the ideas laid out seven years ago in The Coming Insurrection.The Invisible Committee’s The Coming Insurrection was a phenomenon, celebrated in some quarters and inveighed against in others, publicized in media that ranged from campus bulletin boards to Fox News. Seven years later, The Invisible Committee follows up their premonitory manifesto with a new book, To Our Friends.From The Invisible Committee:In 2007 we published The Coming Insurrection in France. It must be acknowledged that a number of assertions by the Invisible Committee have since been confirmed, starting with the first and most essential: the sensational return of the insurrectionary phenomenon. Who would have bet a kopeck, seven years ago, on the overthrow of Ben Ali or Mubarak through street action, on the revolt of young people in Quebec, on the political awakening of Brazil, on the fires set French-style in the English or Swedish banlieues, on the creation of an insurrectionary commune in the very heart of Istanbul, on a movement of plaza occupations in the United States, or on the rebellion that spread throughout Greece in December of 2008?During the seven years that separate The Coming Insurrection from To Our Friends, the agents of the Invisible Committee have continued to fight, to organize, to transport themselves to the four corners of the world, to wherever the fires were lit, and to debate with comrades of every tendency and every country. Thus To Our Friends is written at the experiential level, in connection with that general movement. Its words issue from the turmoil and are addressed to those who still believe sufficiently in life to fight as a consequence.To Our Friends is a report on the state of the world and of the movement, a piece of writing that’s essentially strategic and openly partisan. Its political ambition is immodest: to produce a shared understanding of the epoch, in spite of the extreme confusion of the present.
Book 17
An argument that under capitalism, debt has become infinite and unpayable, expressing a political relation of subjection and enslavement.Experts, pundits, and politicians agree: public debt is hindering growth and increasing unemployment. Governments must reduce debt at all cost if they want to restore confidence and get back on a path to prosperity. Maurizio Lazzarato’s diagnosis, however, is completely different: under capitalism, debt is not primarily a question of budget and economic concerns but a political relation of subjection and enslavement. Debt has become infinite and unpayable. It disciplines populations, calls for structural reforms, justifies authoritarian crackdowns, and even legitimizes the suspension of democracy in favor of “technocratic governments” beholden to the interests of capital. The 2008 economic crisis only accelerated the establishment of a “new State capitalism,” which has carried out a massive confiscation of societies’ wealth through taxes. And who benefits? Finance capital. In a calamitous return to the situation before the two world wars, the entire process of accumulation is now governed by finance, which has absorbed sectors it once ignored, like higher education, and today is often identified with life itself. Faced with the current catastrophe and the disaster to come, Lazzarato contends, we must overcome capitalist valorization and reappropriate our existence, knowledge, and technology.In Governing by Debt, Lazzarato confronts a wide range of thinkers—from Félix Guattari and Michel Foucault to David Graeber and Carl Schmitt—and draws on examples from the United States and Europe to argue that it is time that we unite in a collective refusal of this most dire status quo.
Back to Top