lunes, 20 de diciembre de 2010

Wikileaks: Is there an -obscene- secret of power?

(Traducción del original en español: Wikileaks: ¿Existe un -obsceno- secreto del poder?)

Wikileaks: Is there an -obscene- secret of power?

Wikileaks' last major leak was presented to us by the mainstream media as an unprecedented event with serious implications for international politics namely for the diplomatic relations of the United States with its "allies." U.S. Secretary of State has not hesitated to call it an "attack against the international community", while in the United States Congress voices have come to be heard that called Julian Assange and the other members of Wikileaks' staff « terrorists ». Moreover, many progressive voices have been quick to congratulate Wikileaks for its contribution to "transparency" and its service to "democracy." However, just paying attention to what we are served on a tray in the newspapers that have had the privilege to get the leaked information, for example in the spanish newspaper El País of the two last days of November, we see that the alleged secrets that were going to shake the very foundations of the world order are not so damaging and most of them were well known for a long time.

The mountain, as in the fable, gave birth to a mouse. We « discover » now that Berlusconi organizes orgies or hires prostitutes or that Sarkozy is arrogant or Putin authoritarian, or even -who had guessed before?- that the Spanish authorities blocked the investigation of American war crimes involving spanish nationals. We shall soon discover thanks to Wikileaks that a water extension whose secret name is "Mediterranean" separates Africa from Europe. The content of the leaks recalls the joke by the French writer Régis Hauser who discovered with a great surprise that "under their clothes, all women are naked." Great scandal! Tremendous obscenity finally unveiled through the voyeur's gaze! To undress women with the word and the gaze is to assume that under the clothes one could find the pretious (and obscene) object of desire, the very cause of desire. Similarly, those who praise the exploits of Assange and Wikileaks, assume that there is a truth of power beneath the secrets they uncover. In this, they converge, perhaps without knowing, with an old European tradition of political thought which placed the mainspring of power in the "
arcana imperii," that is in some mysterious and secret principles of the « state's reason » with no regard either for moral principles or the lower understanding of the populace. The real principles of government of the modern state are presented to us as « arcana », as the hidden, and possibly immoral and violent principles of a power whose official justification pretends, however, to be legally, morally or theologically « good ».

The political theory of
arcana finds both its counterpart and its« dissident » complement in conspiracy theories, these theories can be forged from the right or from the left, but their basic scheme is one of utter monotony. Among these theories you can find i.a: the conspiracy of the Jesuits against European monarchies, the conspiracy of the Jews "discovered" by the publication -actually the faking- of the so-called « Protocols of the Elders of Zion » by the Tsarist secret police and "rediscovered" by the Nazis, who reissued the infamous pamphlet along with a plethora of anti-Semitic texts, the "synarchy" that both the Vichy regime and Peronist populism in Argentina considered their most dangerous enemy, General Franco's Jewish-Masonic conspiracy or, to quote some from the "Left", the "lie" about September 11, the Bilderberg conspiracy, the conspiracy of financial capital against the "good" productive capital. Umberto Eco wrote a funny book on conspiracies, "Foucault's Pendulum", which it would be worth rereading today. The structure of all these "theories" is always the same: there is a more or less numerous group of people (a religion, a sect, a race, a secret society) constantly plotting to seize global power and to this end, ignoring moral scruples, secretly manipulates the levers of legitimate and official power.  Proponents of these "theories" often claim that they know these "secrets" and that "they are not dupe". Such was the case of Hitler, who, claiming to "know" the Jewish plan to seize power, organized a real conspiracy to counter it, a conspiracy whose visible structure was the National Socialist Party, a party known for its masterful use of dual language and « veridic lying », but also for the strict secrecy in its decision-making. Hitler claimed to have unveiled what was hidden beneath power, to have discovered that the power is only a dirty plot to deceive and dominate people and acted accordingly.

Conspiracy theories, with their alleged « discoveries » or « revelations », conceal, however something essential. In the end, those who believe that power is based on secret conspiracies compete in ingenuity and optimism with those who believe that power is legitimate, moral or legal. Both sides ultimately share the same problematic: they think that power in a class society could be fair and lawful, were it not manipulated by evil conspirators, and that simply uncovering and defeating the conspiracy would restore an order based on legality and rights. The utopia of the rule of law is the ultimate horizon of both positions. Thanks to this utopia, the being of class society and antagonism is hidden under the guise of moral and legal "injustice" or "abuse."

This identity of seemingly opposed naïve and suspicious positions reflects a fundamental mechanism of modern power. The power of the modern state imposes to its subjects a contradictory requirement: on one hand it wants people to believe in its official legitimation in legal terms, or in moral or religious grounds, but on the other, it always retains for itself a hidden dimension, a dimension of secrecy that pretends to protect the sovereign's scope for decision. In a way, power does not hide properly what it hides, since it openly exhibits and proclaims the fact that it is hiding « something ». Sovereign is not just the one who makes the law and orderly submits to it, but also - and, according to Carl Schmitt, mainly, the one who in virtue of his sovereign right can legitimately and even legally suspend the laws, putting himself out of the law, according to the law itself. Such is the paradox of emergency powers. Secret as a requirement of the government practice acknowledged and even enshrined in the law, allows to articulate the requirement of legal legitimacy with government's need for action outside the law. It is as sucha a necessary device of the sovereign exception.

This was at least the official doctrine justifying state secrets. Politics thus acquired in the modern state, a mysterious and almost magical dimension. 
Coups d'Etat (cf. Gabriel Naudé, 1600-1653) appear as illegal and unforeseen actions made by the sovereign himself to restore political order or to establish a new order. These exceptional political acts compare to the miraculous acts God used to operate in nature. In a physical world where miracles and wonders were banned from nature by the hegemony of Galilean physics and its Cartesian developments, there remained some scope for miracles, not in nature but in politics. The belief in miracles changed ground, but did not become any less imaginary. What is at issue in the doctrine of the "arcana imperii" or in general in the theories of sovereignty is the very possibility to subtract the Sovereign from the common order of nature and, almost, from human nature itself. It is no coincidence that the first modern formulations of political economy by Montchrestien and, subsequently, by the Physiocrats, belong to the same period when european absolutist state was created and consolidated, since the ultimate issue in political economy is clearly to separate an "economic" space where social regulation is presented as natural and just requires from the sovereign that he let it operate freely under its own "natural" laws, and another space, the space of politics proper, which no longer depends of natural necessity , being ruled by the absolute sovereign decision. Secret is in this context, a theatrical device staging the supposedly "supernatural" essence of sovereign power supposedly capable of an absolute decision. In a sense, it is a theologico-political device that generates, beyond actual social relations, the necessary illusion of a sovereign state. Believing in state's secret, accepting its necessity, is to close our eyes to the violence of power, because only in this way is it possible to believe in a power with a legitimate basis and in a self-founding rule of law. Not otherwise did theodicies, alluding to the unsearchable judgments of God and his inscrutable purposes, reconcile the Creator's goodness and allmight with the existence of evil.

State secrecy seems to be a necessity for the functioning of power. However, Wikileaks's leaks reveal something much more important than their manifest content: the crucial role played by belief in the state secret in the very devices and ideological assumptions underlying the idea of sovereignty. The secret, if we use the terms coined by Louis Althusser, would be a fundamental component of the "state ideology." (
l'idéologie d'Etat). Today, it is of no concern that the contents of a secret be a secret. Once the invasion of Afghanistan was decided at the UN in flagrant violation of the Charter of this organization, or the invasion of Iraq was openly agreed in US Congress and in the United States government, or, not to forget him, in José María Aznar's cabinet ; once the United States government has legalized torture and blatantly authorized Zionist settlement in Palestine, is there anything « worse » to hide? All these acts are serious crimes: both invasions alluded to are acts of « war of aggression », acts identical to those that led the Nazi leaders to the gallows in Nuremberg. As for torture, it is an internationally prosecutable crime and a severely punished one. The aforementioned acts were performed with full publicity and, thanks to the efficient working of the current main capitalist state ideological apparatus, the media, have remained so far unpunished. In the same vein, Berlusconi openly changed the laws of his country through his feal parliamentary majority in order to avoid imprisonment; and so on....

Nobody hides, nothing is hidden. Berlusconi boasts of his sexual mercenary « conquests », Bush of his war crimes, Aznar of his complicity in what the Nuremberg Court described as the "greatest of all crimes" ... What is actually surprising is that, once the veil of secrecy was dropped and the nakedness of an openly nudist or exhibitionist power was exposed through Wikileaks' leaks, there followed any scandal as it actually did. In fact, the real object of the scandal are not any criminal acts perpetrated by the rulers, but the profoundly subversive discovery that the rulers have nothing to hide any more. Together with the fig leaf of secrecy falls an important aspect of modern power's legitimacy, the idea that there is a hidden and arcane dimension proper to the rulers and unrelated to the mere mortals' lives. Power is no longer a hidden art based on "arcana." That is why it is essential to impose, by all means not only the illusion of secrecy, but the outward form of that illusion. It's something power already does by other means through the visible and invisible walls of the globalized nation states, both at their borders and within their territory. These walls do not stop much, but rather, they hide the huge decline of sovereignty that States have experienced. According to Wendy Brown, they are more than a repressive instrument, an element of utter mystification. Just as the women's veil for Muslim fundamentalists only hides the most terrible of all truths: that there is not much to hide or, rather, that the cause of desire, can only exist as such when concealed, the rulers of late capitalism join to the public and notorious obscenity of their acts the imposition of a veil of secrecy on them that shows such acts as governed by hidden reasons. In this way, daily crime and corruption can be legitimized as something deep, sublime, worthy of being respected and even desired by the subjects.

Against the mystification reprsented by this rebirth of state secret, a strict materialist rigor should deny power any theological or sublime character, and recognize in secret or in the walls, not only means of law enforcement, but actual ideological devices. It is essential for anyone who wants to act against capitalism and its national or imperial state apparatuses to undo the imaginary consistency of state and sovereignty propped by secrecy and its alleged mystery, and to effectively recognize the reality of power as a mobile network of correlations 
of powers in which there is no omnipotent sovereign ruling impotent subjects, but a power (potentia) of the multitude always already resisting a power (potestas) struggling to prevail. To understand the power relations constituting social and political hegemonic power and to determine the degree of effective power of possible resistances, it is not enough to reveal plenty of details which seem outrageous: the reality of power is not located in any data, but in the singular power correlations defining a given conjuncture. To determine this and take advantage of data such as Wikileak's and countless others who were never hidden, we cannot and should not rely on revelations, but only in the slower work of the theoretical and political production of appropriate concepts.

No hay comentarios: