Articles

Datacide Seventeen Editorial

In September 1867, 150 years ago, a book appeared in Hamburg with a first edition print run of 1,000 copies. This book was called Das Kapital, by Karl Marx. In the book, Marx sets out to analyse the capitalist reality in the form of a ‘critique of political economy’. He begins with an analysis of the commodity, describing its use and exchange value, and laying out, both economically and historically, how capital is produced, extracted and accumulated. [Read more →]

Datacide Seventeen Available Now

Datacide Seventeen is finally available and ready to ship.

The printer we used for issues 15 and 16 had some technical problems, so we switched to a different printer in late October to get 100 copies for the Anarchist Bookfair, which were quickly spread. After this we went back to the usual printer, but still problems seem to persist and it took several weeks to get the current run.

All subscriptions and pre-orders are on their way now. We apologise for the delays.

To order your copy now, please send 5 euro via paypal to info@datacide-magazine.com, or order it through the Praxis online store HERE.

For the table of contents click HERE.

A Breakcore Saga

[click on the panels to open them in a new window, then click again to enlarge]

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‘Comrade Doctor’ – On David Cooper and ‘Anti-Psychiatry’

“Madness haunts the working and sleeping hours of even the most ‘healthy’ and ‘normal’ as society loses even the appearance of rationality.”

– Russell Jacoby 1

Picking up on Christoph Fringeli’s review of a reissue of Peter Sedgwick’s Psycho-Politics in Datacide 15, it struck me as to why my experience of reading Sedgwick’s book had been both curiously deflating and – in the chapters covering R.D. Laing – unsettling in the way it often has the tone of a personalised vendetta. Only on reading the review did this become a little clearer. Perhaps it was Sedgwick’s position as a lecturer in politics proper, as an upholder, when pushed by some of Laing’s poetic and mystical flights, of the “scientific-rationalist tradition of the Enlightenment”. Piqued by the memory of these little digs, I consulted a long essay by Sedgwick entitled ‘R.D. Laing: Self, Symptom and Society’ which was published ten years before Psycho-Politics 2. Here, from the opening line, it is announced that Sedgwick is going to survey Laing’s ‘intellectual history’ and whilst pointing to the difficulty in this (e.g. Laing collaborated with others so, it is maybe implied, a ‘pure’ Laing may be hard to isolate), he still maintains, with a kind of individuating moralism, that Laing must “bear responsibility” for his writings. Throughout this essay, which seems like a pre-run for Psycho-Politics, this kind of judgment, a judgment based on a readerly reading of written texts and in only very minimally exploring the responsibilities of Laing’s therapeutic praxis, seems above all to be about bringing a counter-cultural ‘guru’ down a peg or too, writing-off existential psychotherapy and uncritically defending the NHS. So, in his review of Ken Loach’s film Family Life which is loosely based on ‘anti-psychiatric’ themes as these effect a distressed young woman, we are subject to a kind of pawky sarcasm from Sedgwick: “At first the poor girl gets some sympathetic psychiatric help in a ward run by a Laingian doctor, who is called Mike by his subordinates and conducts therapy-sessions through earnest discussion about relationships.”3 [Read more →]

David Cooper: Note on Mystification (1978)

[Please read as an insert to Howard Slater’s “‘Comrade Doctor’ – On David Cooper and ‘Anti-Psychiatry'”]

This term, mystification, itself mystified, entered the field of psychotechnology to specifically account for indirect communicative manoevres in families and other micro-groups.

Against the recuperating psychologism of such a reduction, the product of a boring familialisation of psychoanalytic discourse, we must define ‘mystification’ in a broader political sense – to sketch it out as a phenomenological politics.
We must re-read the five pages of Marx on ‘The Power of Money in Bourgeois Society’ (in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844) where he analyses texts by Goethe and Shakespeare on the subject.

This work done by Marx, expressing his hatred of money, is at the emotional heart of Marxism.

It does not reduce such hatred to the understanding of money’s ‘origins’ – hate, on the contrary, should be used to understand and change the world. Therein lies one of the essential meanings of a possible anti-psychoanalysis.

Money, says Marx, is “the alienated capacity of mankind.” So the divine power of money is that it brings together impossibilities.

What my human powers are incapable of achieving I can realize by means of money.

Money converts my powers into something they are not; it converts them into their opposites. For Marx this is all an illusion, an experiential distortion that occludes the condition of our being socially alienated.

Utilising terms such as ‘displacement’, ‘exteriorisation’, ‘interiorisation’, in a totally depsychologised sense, I suggest that we examine the most basic structure of mystification: the power structure / power as an illusion (Later we will understand it according to the analysis of the concept of alienation.) We live in anonymous relation with others; these others who are ultimately ‘the state’. Certainly, leaders exist as concrete individuals; they give us the spectacle of obscene morsels [… ] But “they” are not “them”. We live power (puissance), but it is experienced as something mysterious: our power is exteriorised in “them”, where our non-power (not powerlessness but nothing) is converted into power (pouvoir) by externalising itself.

But in this magical system, externalisation is at the same time internalisation (although for topographical reasons I drew two separate lines), which turns power (pouvoir) back against us, to leave an “impotence” in us – or at least, what we feel, as impotence vis-à-vis the “power” “of the system”; a power “elsewhere” in “them.”

Displacement is one single act. Something doesn’t come, doesn’t pass.

Nothing is passive: it is a praxis conditioned by a social alienation1 that is our historical condition. This alienation is susceptible to being transformed by another praxis , or an ensembles of praxes – other ways to insert ourselves into the world with the intention to destroy alienated social conditions.

Demystification means nothing other than the choice that is this praxis. As to those in power, we can now see their desperate powerlessness: they do not have the power, they are bound by power. The mystificators are also mystified by mystifications that they wield upon the mystified masses that they mystify!

At a quite different level of mystification there are those who accuse writers such as Ionesco and Pirandello of being reactionary. Such writers who deeply understand the madness of the bourgeois family are, like it or not, on the side of the revolution. Let us remember the disquieting harangue in Ionesco’s ‘The Killer’:

“X: People, you are mystified. You will be mystified …
Voice from the Crowd: Down with mystification! … I brought you a whole troupe of demystifiers. They will demystify you. But to demystify you they must begin by mystifying. They need a new mystification …
Voice from the Crowd: Long live the mystification of the demystifiers! … Long live the new mystification! …
X: I promise to change everything … The old mystification could not resist psychological and sociological analysis. The new mystifications will be invulnerable!”

No, there are no techniques of demystification. There is no human technology.

Illusion (latin, in-ludere) means playing in a joyless game, playing the game of the system – the system, to the extent that we have created it, that cannot stand without us.

Demystification means nothing – nothing but regaining our senses, senses it’s true to say, we have never lost.

Translated and embellished by HS/Google from: Qui Sont Les Dissidents, Editions Galilee, 1978.
Footnote
[1] Social alienation is only one chapter in the long history of alienation. I try to say more in The Language of Madness.

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