the undercommons

the undercommons.png

by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney


intro’d to Fred and Stefano and the undercommons via Michael Hardt here:

2015 – 4 min clip on curriculum and study w egs (european grad students)


on the hierarchy of ed.. and egs as the pinnacle of the hierarchy

on the other hand.. egs demands an incredible independence of the people that come here.. all are responsible for their own learning

if egs went on longer.. i think it could end up being a collective project.. it ends up being very individual

and the students who come to egs are ones who are already mature intellectually.. maybe just in life.. that allows for this kind of independence..

i view egs as this tension between something higher than the academic star system plus a kind of mature/independent student activity

2 min – i’m attracted by the idea of study.. via Fred Moten and Stefano Harney .. as some self org’d activity

Fred Moten and Stefano Harney (from minor compositions)

Working from and within the social poesis of life in the undercommons Moten and Harney develop and expand an array of concepts: study, debt, surround, planning, and the shipped. On the fugitive path of an historical and global blackness, the essays in this volume unsettle and invite the reader to the self-organised ensembles of social life that are launched every day and every night amid the general antagonism of the undercommons.

book on hold at library.. thank you

poesis – In philosophy, poiesis (from Ancient Greek: ποίησις) is “the activity in which a person brings something into being that did not exist before.” Poiesis is etymologically derived from the ancient Greek term ποιεῖν, which means “to make”

there’s a way in which curriculum is already/always hierarchical.. proposed by admin/profs.. and i really think to overcome that is something that the profs/admin can’t do.. i think it has to be.. transformed in a way that’s org’d by the students .. so this is what they (Fred Moten and Steve Harney) mean by study.. i mean it’s a strange term.. so banal/normal term.. but what they mean by it is students take control of the learning environ

3 min – so if one were then to try to transform curriculum.. as a plan of study..  that’s self org’d from below.. that’s the way i would be interested in curriculum.. t

cc dave cormier



0 – the wild beyond: w and for the undercommons – jack halberstam


fred: ‘i also know that what it is that is supposed to be repaired is irreparable. it can’t be repaired. the only thing we can do is tear this shit down completely and build something new’.. the undercommons do not come to pay their debts, to repair what has been broken to fix what has come undone..

j’s abolition ness

if you want to know what the undercommons wants, what moten and harney want, what black people, indigenous peoples, queers and poor people want, what we (the ‘we’ who cohabit in the space of the undercommons) want, it is this – we cannot be satisfied w the recognition and acknowledgement generated by the very system that denies a\ that anything was ever broken and b\ that we deserved to be the broken parts… so we refuse to ask for recognition and instead we want to take apart, dismantle, tear down the structure that, right now, limits our ability to find each other, to see beyond it and to access the places that we know lie outside its walls..  we cannot say what new structure will replace the ones we live w yet.. because once we have torn shit down, we will inevitably see more and see differently and feel a new sense of wanting and being and becoming.. what we want after ‘the break’ will be diff from what we think we want before the break and both are necessarily diff from the desire that issues from being in the break..

indeed.. so design for that.

a mech to help us find each other.. everyday..


that max (where the wild things are) fails to make the wild things happy or to save them or to make a world w them is less important than the fact that he found them and he recognized in them the end of something and potentially the path to an alt to his world..

moten and harney want to gesture to another place, a wild place that is not simply the left over spaces that limns (depicts/describes in painting or words) real and regulated zones of polite society; rather, it is a wild place that continuously produces its own unregulated wildness..t

a nother way

for moten too, you are always already in the thing that you call for and that calls you. what’s more, the call is always a call to dis order and this disorder or wildness shows up in many places: in jazz, in improv.. in noise..  the disordered sounds that we refer to as cacophony will always be cast as ‘extra musical’ as moten puts it..  precisely because we hear something in them that reminds us that our desire for harmony is arbitrary and in another world, harmony would sound incomprehensible.. listening to cacophony and noise tells us that there is a wild beyond to the structure we inhabit and that inhabits us

dis\order et al


black wild law.. and all the wild/er\ness


and when we are called to this other place, the wild beyond, ‘beyond the beyond’ in moten and harney’s apt terminology, we have to give ourselves over to a certain kind of *craziness.. moten reminds us that even as fanon took an anti colonial stance, he knew that it ‘looks crazy’ but, fanon, as a psychiatrist, also **knew not to accept this organic division between the rational and the crazy and he knew that it would be crazy for him not to take that stance in a world that had assigned to him the role of the unreal, the primitive and the wild.. fanon, according to moten, wants not the end of colonialism, but ***the end of the standpoint from which colonialism makes sense.. in order to bring colonialism to an end then, ****one does not speak truth to power, one has to inhabit the crazy, nonsensical, *****ranting language of the other, ******the other who has been rendered a nonentity by colonialism.. indeed, blackness, for moten and harney by way of fanon, is the willingness to be in the space that has been abandoned by colonialism, by rule, by order..

*crazywise et al..

**this is not ridiculous ness

***systemic ness

****graeber model law


******harney domination law.. legible ness et al

the path to the world beyond is paved w refusal..  in the undercommons if we begin anywhere, we begin w the right to refuse what has been refused to you.. signals the refusal of the *choices offered..

*spinach or rock ness

moten and harney also study what it would mean to refuse what they term’ the call to order’


when we refuse, moten and harney suggest, we create dissonance and more importantly, we allow dissonance to continue.. *when we enter a classroom and we refuse to call it to order, we are allowing study to continue.. dissonant study perhaps, disorganized study, but study that precedes our call and will continue after we have left the room..  or when we listen to music, we must refuse the idea that music happens only when the musician enters and picks up an instrument; music is also the anticipation of the performance and the noises of appreciation it generates and the speaking that happens thru and around it.. making it and loving it, being in it while listening..  and so when we refuse the call to order – the teacher picking up the book, the conductor raising his baton, the speaker asking for silence, the torturer tightening the noose – we refuse order as the distinction between noise and music, chatter and knowledge, pain and truth..


the undercommons is not a realm where we rebel and create critique; it is not a place where we ‘take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them.. the undercommons is a space and time which is always here..  our goal.. is *not to end the trouble but to end the world that created those particular troubles as the ones that must be opposed.. moten and harney tell us to listen to the noise we make and to **refuse the offers we receive to shape that noise into ‘music’

*roots of healing


in the essay tha many people already know best from this volume, ‘the uni and the undercommons’ moten and harney come closest to explaining their mission. *refusing to be for or against the uni and in fact marking the critical academic as the player who holds the ‘for and against’ logic in place.. moten and hareny lead us to the ‘undercommons of the enlightenment’ where subversive intellectuals engage both the uni and fugitivity: ‘where the work gets done, where the work gets subverted, where the revolution is still black, still strong’

*binary ness


the subversive intellectual, we learn, is unprofessional, uncollegial, passionate and disloyal.. the subversive intellectual is *neither trying to extend the uni nor change the uni.. the subversive intellectual is not toiling in misery and from this place of misery articulating a ‘general antagonism’..

*a nother way

if equity is everyone getting a go every day.. redefining public education becomes revolution of everyday life.. aka: global equity

moten insists: ‘like deleuze, i believe in the world and want to be in it.. i want to be in it all the way to the end of it because i believe in another world in the world and i want to be in that.. and i plan to stay a believer like curtis mayfield. but that’s beyond me, and even beyond me and stefano, and out into the world, the other thing, the other world, the joyful noise of the scattered, scatted eschaton, the undercommon refusal of the academy of misery’


no one will really be able to embrace the mission of tearing ‘this shit down’ until they realize that the structures they oppose are not only bad for some of us.. *they are bad for all of us…. gender hierarchies are bad for men as well as women and they are really bad for the rest of us..  racial hierarchies are not rational and ordered.. they are chaotic and nonsensical and must be opposed by precisely all those who benefit in any way from them..  as moten puts it: ‘the coalition emerges out of your recognition that it’s fucked up for you, in the same way that we’ve already recognized that it’s fucked up for us.. i don’t need your help.. i just need you to recognize that this shit is killing you too..’

*none of us if one of us

the coalition unites us in the recognition what we must change things or die. all of us..

thurman interconnectedness law


revolution will come in a form we cannot yet imagine.. moten and harney propose that we prep now for what will come by entering into study.. study,.. a mode of thinking w others separate from the thinking that the institution requires of you, prepares us to be embedded in what harney calls ‘the with and for’ and allows you to spend less time antagonized and antagonizing..

2 convo to antifragility

[no prep.. no training]

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way

fugitivity is not only *escape, ‘exit’ as paolo virno might put it, or ‘exodus’ in the terms offered by **hardt and negri, fugitivity is being separate from the settling.. it is a being in motion that has learned that ***‘organizations are obstacles to organising ourself’ (the invisible committee in the coming insurrection) and that there are spaces and modalities that exist separate from the logical, logistical, the housed and the positioned..  moten and harney call this mode a ****’being together in homelessness‘ which does not idealize homelessness nor merely metaphorize it. homeless ness is the state of dispossession that we seek and that we embrace: ‘can this being together in homless ness, this interplay of the refusal of what has been refused, this undercommon appositionality, be a place from which emerges neither self consciousness nor knowledge of the other but an improvisation that proceeds from somewhere on the other side of an unasked question?’  i think this is what jay z and kanye west .. call ‘no church in the wild’


**hardt and negri

***self org

****home less ness


for fred and stefan *we must make common cause w those desires and non positions what seem crazy and unimaginable..t: we must, on behalf of this alignment, refuse that which was first refused to us and in this refusal reshape desire, reorient hope, **reimagine possibility and do so separate from the fantasies nestled into rights and respectability. instead, our fantasies must come from what moten and harney citing frank b wilderson lll call ***‘the hold’ : ‘and so it is we remain in the hold, in the break, as if entering again and again the broken world, to trace the visionary company and join it’.. the hold here is the hold in the slave ship but it is also the hold that we have on reality and fantasy, the hold they have on us and the hold we decide to forego on the other, preferring instead to touch, to be with, to love. if there is no church in the wild, if there is study rather than knowledge production, if there is a way of being together in brokenness, if there is an undercommons, then ****we must all find our way to it.. and it will not be there where the wild things are, it will be *****a place where refuge is not necessary and you will find that you were already in it all along..t


**impossible is irrelevant..

***on hold ness

****begs we leap.. sync matters

*****already in us

1 – politics surrounded


the panthers theorized revolution w/o politics, which is to say revolution w neither subject nor a principle of decision. against the law because they were generating law, they practiced an ongoing planning to be possessed, hopelessly and optimistically and incessantly indebted given to unfinished, contrapuntal study of, and in, the common wealth, poverty and the blackness of the surround..

the self defense of revolution is confronted not only by the brutalities but also by the false image of enclosure. the hard materiality of the unreal convinces us that we are surrounded, that we must take possession of ourselves, correct ourselves, remain in the emergency, on a permanent footing, settled, determined, protecting nothing but an illusory right to what we do not have, which the settler takes for and as the commons.. t

commons ness..

common ing

the settler, having settled for politics, arms himself in the name of civilisation while critique initiates the self defense of those of us who see hostility in the civil union of settlement and enclosure..



in the clear, critical light of day, illusory administrators whisper of our need for institutions, and all institutions are political, and all politics is correctional, so it seems we need correctional institutions in the common, settling it, correcting us.. but we won’t stand corrected.. moreover, incorrect as we are there’s nothing wrong w us.. t.. we don’t want to be correct and we won’t be corrected.. politics proposed to make us better, but we were good already in the mutual debt that can never be made good. we owe it to each other to falsify the institution, to make politics incorrect, to give the lie to our own determination. we owe each other the indeterminate. we owe each other everything.

sent to fulfill by abolishing, to renew by unsettling, to pen the enclosure whose immeasurable venality (open to bribery) is inversely proportionate to its actual area, we got politics surrounded. we cannot represent ourselves. we can’t be represented..

2 – the uni and the undercommons


the only possible relationship to the uni today is a criminal one

but certainly, this much is true in the us: it cannot be denied that the uni is a place of refuge, and it cannot be accepted that the uni is a place of enlightenment. in the face of these conditions one can only sneak into the uni and steal what one can.. to abuse its hospitality, to spite its mission, to join its refugee colony, its gypsy encampment, to be in but not of – this is the path of the subversive intellectual in the modern uni

worry about the uni.. for the subversive intellectual, all of this goes on upstairs, in polite company, among the rational men..  .. the uni needs what she bears but cannot bear what she brings.. and on top of all that, she disappears.. into the underground.. in to the undercommons of enlightenment.. where the work gets done, where the work gets subverted, where the revolution is still black, still strong..

what is that work and what is its social capacity for both reproducing the uni and producing fugitivity? if one were to say teaching, one would be performing the work of the uni.. .. the uni needs teaching labor, despite itself, or as itself, self identical w and thereby erased by it..


it is not teaching that holds this social capacity, but something that produces the not visible other side of teaching, a thinking thru the skin of teaching toward a collective orientation to the knowledge object as future project, and a commitment to what we want to call the prophetic organization. but it is teaching that brings us in. before there are grants, research, conferences, books, and journals, there is the experience of being taught and of teaching..

? really..?

the moment of teaching for food is therefore often mistakenly taken to be a stage, as if eventually one should not teach for food..

certainly the perfect subjects of communication, those successfully beyond teaching, will see them as waste.. .. the waste lives for those moments beyond teaching when you give away the unexpected beautiful phrase – unexpected, no one has asked, beautiful, it will never come back.


it is not so much the teaching as it is the prophecy in the organization of the act of teaching..the prophecy that predicts its own organization and has therefore passed, as commons, and the prophecy that exceeds its own organization and therefore as yet can only be organized.. against the prophetic org of the undercommons is arrayed its own deadening labor for the uni.. and beyond that , the negligence of professionalization, and the professionalization of the critical academic.. the undercommons is therefore, always an unsafe neighborhood..


the uni still needs this clandestine labor to prep this undifferentiated labor force, whose increasing specialisation and managerialist tendencies, again contra the restorationists, rep precisely the succesful integration of the division of labor w the uni of exchange that commands restorationist loyalty.

like the colonial police force recruited unwittingly from guerrilla neighborhoods, uni labor may harbor refugees, fugitives, renegades, and castaways. but there are good reasons for the uni to be confident that such elements will be exposed or forced underground. precautions have been taken, book lists have been drawn up, teaching observations conducted, invitations to contribute made..


yet against these precautions stands the immanence of transcendence, the necessary deregulation and the possibilities of criminality and fugitivity that labor upon labor requires.. maroon communities of composition teachers, mentorless grad students, adjunct marxist historians, out or queer management profs, state college ethnic studies depts, closed down film programs, visa expired yemenis student newspaper editors, historically black college sociologists, and feminist engineers.. and what will the uni say of them? it will say they are unprofessional.. this is not an arbitrary charg.e  it is the charge against the more than professional.. how do those who exceed the profession, who exceed and by exceeding escape, how do those maroons problematize themselves, problematize the uni, force the uni to consider them a problem, a danger? .. the undercommons is not, in short, the kind of fanciful communities of whimsy invoked by bill readings at the end of his book. the undercommons, its maroons, are always at war, always in hiding..

there is no distinction between the american uni and professionalization


it is rather that to be a critical academic in the uni is to be against the uni, and to be against the uni is always to recognize it and be recognized by it, and th institute the negligence of that internal outside, that unassimilated underground, a negligence of it that is precisely, we must insist, the basis of the professions..  it is not just the labor of the maroons but their prophetic organization that is negated by the idea of intellectual space in an organization called the uni..  this is why the negligence of the critical academic is always at the same time an assertion of bourgeois individualism..

such negligence is the essence of professionalization where it turns out professionalization is not the opposite of negligence but its mode of politics in the us..

this always negligent act is what leads us to say there is no distinction between the uni in the us and professionalization..  yet the maroons refuse to refuse professionalization, that is, to be against the uni..  the uni will not recognize this indecision and thus professionalization is shaped precisely by what it cannot acknowledge, its internal antagonism, its wayward labor, its surplus.. against this wayward labor it sends the critical, sends its claim that what is left beyond the critical is waste..

wondering what maroon means.. so googled m&h use of maroon.. some resolve here:

But the problem is, there’s no such thing as a white community. A white community is a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron. You can’t organize an oxymoron. The only thing you can do with a white community is work to abolish it. Moreover at that point of abolition we may be able to say there is no such thing as a community, that a community is an oxymoronYou can’t commune and have a community. Communing is anti-community. It’s undercommon. Maybe the only kind of community that is possible is the maroon community, because it is by definition not a community, and when in some historical instances (of necessity even) it became one, it took on the same murderous qualities of any community.


but in fact, critical ed only attempts to perfect professional ed..  the professions constitute themselves in an opposition to the unregulated and the ignorant w/o acknowledging the unregulated, ignorant, unprofessional labor that goes on not opposite them but w/in them.. critical ed is more than an ally of professional ed, it is its attempted completion..


the mode of professionalization that is the american uni is precisely dedicated to promoting this consensual choice: an antifoundational critique of the Uni or a foundational critique of the uni. taken as choices, or hedged as bets, one tempered w the other, they are nonetheless always negligent. professionalization is built on this choice. it rolls out into ethics and efficiency, responsibility and science, and numerous other choices, all built upon the theft, the conquest, the negligence of the outcast mass intellectuality of the undercommons..


it is therefore unwise to think of professionalization as a narrowing and better to think of it as a circling, an encircling of war wagons around the last camp of indigenous women and children..  think about the way the american dr or lawyer regard themselves as educated, *enclosed in the circle of the state’s encyclopedia, t.. though they man know nothing of philosophy or history..

*words as the rules/prisons/gatekeepers.. begs we set ourselves free w/idio-jargon..

professionalization is the privatization of the social individual thru negligence

surely professionalization brings w it the benefits of competence.. .. is it not possible to embark on critical project w/in its terrain, projects that would turn its competencies to more radical ends? no, we would say, it is not. and saying so we prepare to part company w american critical academics, to become unreliable, to be disloyal to the public sphere, to be obstructive and shiftless, dumb w insolence in the face of the call to critical thinking..


let us, as an ie, act disloyally to the field of public admin.. and esp in masters of public admin programs, including related programs in public health, environ management, nonprofit and arts management, and the large menu of human services course, certificated, diplomas, and degrees that underpin this disciplinary cluster. it is difficult not to sense that these programs exist against themselves, that they despise themselves..  the avg lecture .. in school of public service at nyu.. may be more antistatis, more skeptical of govt , more modest in its social policy goals than the avg lecture in the avowedly neoclassical economics or new right political sci depts at that same uni.. therefore.. not so much these programs are set against themselves.. it is rather that they are set against some students, and particularly those who come to public admin w a sense of what derrida has called a duty beyond duty, or a passion

to be skeptical of what one already knows is of course an absurd position. if one is skeptical of an object then one is already in the position of not knowing that object..  and if one claims to know the object, one cannot also claim to be skeptical of that object, which amounts to being skeptical of one’s own claim.. but this is the position of professionalization, and it is the position that confronts that student, however rare, who comes to public admin w a passion  an attempt at passion, at stepping out of this skepticism of the known into an inadequate confrontation w what exceeds it and oneself..must be suppressed by this professionalization..


this is not merely a matter of administering the world.. but of administering away the world.. any other disposition is not only unprofessional but incompetent, unethical, and irresponsible, bordering on the criminal.. again the discipline of public admin is particularly , though not uniquely, instructive, both in it pedagogy and in its scholarship, and offers the chance to be disloyal, to smash and grab what it locks up

public admin holds to the idea both in the lecture hall and the professional journal that its categories are knowable..  professionalization begins by accepting these categories precisely so competence can be invoked .. to question them thus becomes not only incompetent and unethical but the enactment of a security breach..t

googling how m&h define undercommons.. found this:

The tension between the ideals and practices of autonomous education projects is theorized most explicitly in Stefano Harney and Fred Moten’s eloquent essay. This tension is built into the concept of “undercommons”, which raises the question of how the subversive intellectual can be *in* but not *of* the university, i.e., treating it as a “place of refuge” and a source of resources for subversive projects without losing one’s ideals in the process of professionalization. They consider how, under conditions of increasing precarization, teachers can organize themselves from within those conditions, living for “the beyond of teaching … allowing subjectivity to be unlawfully overcome by others” (147). To escape the professionalizing disqualification of the joys of their teaching labour, they can go “with hands full into the underground of the university, into the Undercommons”. Along the lines of the recent motto of the Anomalous Wave student movement in Italy, “we won’t pay for your crisis”, Harney and Moten describe how the university tries to offload its crises onto students, making them “come to see themselves as the problem” (148). The university needs teachers to impose on students this “self-diagnosing” lesson. Yet, this increasingly precaritized “labour upon labour” creates risks for the university, because, “like the colonial police force recruited unwittingly from guerrilla neighbourhoods, university labor may harbor refugees, fugitives, renegades, and castaways”, who can organize themselves into “maroon communities” (149). Against attempts to disqualify them as “unprofessional”, Harney and Moten call on these maroons to see the Undercommons as a perpetual war in which they must collectively “problematize themselves, problematize the university, force the university to consider them a problem, a danger”.” (link to this doesn’t work)


the critical academic questions the uni/state/art/culture.. but in the undercommons it is ‘no questions asked’..  it is unconditional – the door swings open for refuge even though it may let in police agents and destruction.. the questions are superfluous in the undercommons.. if you don’t know, why ask? the only question left on the surface is what can it mean to be critical when the professional defines himself or herself as one who is critical of negligence.. while negligence defined professionalization.. would it not mean that to be critical of the uni would make one the professional par excellence, more negligent than any other..

the sovereign’s army of academic antihumanism will pursue this negative (maroon) community into the undercommons, seeking to conscript (enlist (someone) compulsorily) it, needing to conscript it.. but as seductive/provoked as this critique may be.. in the undercommons they know it is not love…


when the critical academic who lives by fiat (of others) gets no answer, , no commitment, from the undercommons, well then certainly the conclusion will come: they are not practical, not serious about change, not rigorous, not productive..

does the questioning of the critical academic not become a pacification..  or.. to put it plainly, does the critical academic not teach how to deny precisely what one produces w others, and is this not the lesson the profession return to the uni to learn again and again..

if the critical academic is merely a professional, why spend so much time on him… why not just steal his books one morning and give them to deregistered students in a closed down and beery student bar, where the seminar on burrowing and borrowing takes place. yet we must speak of these critical academics because negligence it turns out is a major crime of state


incarceration is the privatization of the social individual thru war

it is professionalization itself that is devoted to the asocial (avoiding social interaction; inconsiderate of or hostile to others), the uni itself that reproduces the knowledge of how to neglect sociality in its very concern for what it calls asociality. no, the war against the commitment to war responds to this commitment to war as the threat that it is – not mere negligence or careless destruction but a commitment against the idea of society itself...

is this not the way to understand incarceration in the us today? and understanding it, can we not say that it is precisely the fear that the criminal will rise to challenge the negligence that leads to the need, in the context of the american state and its particularly violent universitas circle, to concentrate always on conquest denial..?


the uni is the site of the social reproduction of conquest denial

whatever else they do, critical intellectuals who have found space in the uni are always already performing the denial of the new society when they deny the undercommons, when they find that space on the surface of the uni, and when they join the conquest denial by improving that space..  before they criticise the aesthetic and the Aesthetic, the state and the State, history and History, they have already practiced the operation of denying what makes these categories possible in the underlabor of their social being as critical academics..

the slogan on the left then ‘unis not jail’ marks a choice that may not be possible. in other words, perhaps more unis promote more jails.. perhaps it is necessary finally to see that the uni produces incarceration as the product of its negligence.. perhaps there is another relation between the uni and the prison – beyond simple opposition or family resemblance – that the undercommons reserves as the object and inhabitation of another abolitionism. what might appear as the professionalization of the american uni, our starting point, now might better be understood as a certain intensification of method in the universitas, a tightening of the circle..professionalization cannot take over the american uni – it is the critical approach of the uni, its uiversitas.. and indeed, it appears now that this state w its peculiar violent hegemony must deny what foucault called in his 1975-76 lectures the race war..


the uni then is not the opposite of the prison, since they are both involved in their way w the reduction and command of the social individual.. and indeed, under the circumstances, more unis and fewer prisons would, it has to be concluded, mean the memory of the war was being further lost, and living unconquered, conquered labor abandoned to its lowdown fate..  instead the undercommons takes the prison as a secret about the conquest, but a secret as sara ahmed says, whose growing secrecy is its power, its ability to keep a distance between it and its revelation, a secret that calls into being the prophetic, a secret held in common, organized as secret, calling into being the prophetic organization..

the undercommons of the uni is a nonplace of abolition

ruth wilson gilmore: ‘racism is the state sanctioned and/or extra legal production and exploitation of group differentiated vulnerabilities to premature (social civil and/or corporeal) death’ what is the diff between this and slavery? what is, so to speak, the object of abolition? not so much the abolition of prisons but the abolition of a society that could have prisons, that could have slavery, that could have the wage, and *therefore not abolition as the elimination of anything but abolition as the founding of a new society..  the object of abolition then would have a resemblance to communism that would be, to return to spivak, uncanny.. the uncanny that disturbs the critical going on above it, the professional going on w/o it, the uncanny that one can sense in prophecy, the strangely known moment, the gathering content, of a cadence, and the uncanny that one can sense in cooperation, the secret once called solidarity. the uncanny feeling we are left w is that something else is there in the undercommons..

*a nother way

3 – blackness and governance


9. if they ask you, tell them we were flying, knowledge of freedom is (in) the invention of escape, stealing away in the confines in the form, of a break. this is held close in the open song of the ones who are supposed to be silent..


10. whom do we mean when we say ‘there’s nothing wrong with us’?

11. the new general intellect is rich. and the new regulation wants to give you back what you got, publicly, which is to say partly, what can only be owed. this regulation is called governance. it is not governmentality nor is it a governance of the soul. it must be described in its inscription in that criminality that doubles as debt, that doubles the debt, that twists in inscription, that torques..  she (gayatri spivak) holds out for reduction against the insider trading of domination, she holds out for a reduction against the coercion that exploits what it cannot reduce to an invitation to governance..


16. governance is the extension of whiteness on a global scale

17. ngos are the laboratories of governance.. the premise of the ngo is that all populations must become gregarious (sociable)..  and the ethics of the ngos, the dream of governance in general, is to go beyond representation as a form of sovereignty, to auto generating representation, in the double sense.. those who can rep themselves will also be those who re-present themselves as interests in one and the same move.. the ngo is the research and development arm of governance finding new ways to bring to blackness what it is said to lack, the thing that cannot be brought, interest..  i don’t want to speak for those people is the mantra of governance..

18. governance is the putting to work of democracy. when representation becomes the obligation of all, when politics becomes the work of all, democracy is labored.  no longer can democracy promise the return of something lost in the workplace, but rather becomes itself an extension of the workplace. and even democracy cannot contain governance, but is only a tool in its box. governance is always generated, always organic to any situation. democracy sits badly in many situations, and must be worked at, made to appear as natural as governance, made to serve governance..


19. because governance is the annunciation (announcement) of universal exchange. the exchange thru communication of all institutional forms, all forms of exchange value w each other is the enunciation (clear utterance of speech sounds) of governance..  the hospital talks to the prison which talks to the uni which talks to the ngo which talks to the corporation thru governance, and not just to each other but about each other. everybody knows everything about our biopolitics.. this is the perfection of democracy under the general equivalent. it is also the annunciation of governance as the realisation of universal exchange on the grounds of capitalism

marsh exchange law

20. governance and *criminalitythe condition of being w/o interest – come to make each other possible..  what would it mean to struggle against governance, against that which can produce struggle by germinating interest? when governance is understood as the criminalisation of being w/o interests,..t.. as a regulation brought into being by criminality, where criminality is that excess left from criminalisation, a certain fragility emerges, a certain limit, an uncertain imposition be a greater drive, the mere utterance of whose name has again become too black, too strong altogether

wow .. *criminality: the condition of being w/o interest..

and later.. 67

the student has no interests. the student’s interests must be identified, declared, pursued, assessed, counseled, and credited. debt produces interests. the student will be indebted. the student will be interested. interest the students!..t

begs gershenfeld sel..  via cure ios city

4 – debt and study


debt and credit

they say we have too much debt. we need better credit, more credit, less spending. they offer us credit repair, credit counseling, microcredit, personal financial planning. they promise to match credit and debt again, debt and credit. but our debts stay bad. we keep buying another song, another round. it is not credit we seek nor even debt but bad debt which is to say real debt, the debt that cannot be repaid, the debt at a distance, the debt w/o creditor, the black debt, the queer debt, the criminal debt. excessive debt, incalculable debt, debt for no reason, debt broken from credit, debt as its own principle..


credit is a means of privatization and debt a means of socialisation.. so long as they pair in the monogamous violence of the home, the pension, the govt, or the uni, debt can only feed credit, debt can only desire credit. and credit can only expand by means of debt. but debt is social and credit is asocial. debt is mutual,. credit runs only one way. but debt runs in every direction, scatters, escapes, seeks refuge. the debtor seeks refuge among other debtors, acquires debt from them, offers debt to them. the place of refuge is the place to which you can only own more and more because there is no creditor, no payment possible. this refuge, this place of bad debt, is what we call the fugitive public. running thru the public and the private, the state and the economy, the fugitive public cannot be known by its bad debt but only by bad debtors. to creditors it is just a place where something is wrong, though that something wrong – the invaluable thing, the thing that has not value – is desired. creditors seek to demolish that place, that project, in order to save the ones who live there from themselves and their lives..


they research it, gather info on it, try to calculate it. they want to save it. they want to break its concentration and put the fragments in the bank. but all of a sudden, the thing credit cannot know, the fugitive thing for which it gets no credit, is inescapable.

once you start to see bad debt, you start to see/hear/feel it everywhere.. this is the real crisis for credit, its real crisis of accumulation. now debt begins to accumulate w/o it. that’s what makes it so bad. we saw it in a step yesterday, some hips, a smile, the way a hand moved. we heard it in a break, a cut, a lilt, the way the words leapt. we felt it in the way someone saves the best stuff just to give it to you and then its gone, given, a debt. they don’t want nothing, you have got to accept it , you have got to accept that. you’re in debt but you can’t give credit because they won’t hold it. then the phone rings. it’s the creditors. credit keeps track. debt forgets. you’re not home, you’re not you, you moved w/o a forwarding address called refuge..

the student is not home, out of time, out of place, w/o credit, in bad debt. the student is a bad debtor threatened w credit. the student runs from credit. credit pursues the student, offering to match credit for debt, until enough debts and enough credits have piled up . . but the student has a habit, a bad habit. she studies. she studies but she does not learn. if she learned they could measure her progress, establish her attributes, giver her credit. but the student keeps studying, keeps planning to study, keeps running to study, keeps studying a plan, keeps elaborating a debt. the student does not intend to pay.


student debt

strike debt


debt and forgetting

debt cannot be forgiven, it can only be forgotten to be remembered again. to forgive debt is to restore credit. it is restorative justice. debt can be abandoned for bad debt. it can be forgotten for bad debt, but it cannot be forgiven. only creditors can forgive, and only debtors, bad debtors, can offer justice. creditors forgive debt to offer credit, to offer the very source of the pain of debt, a pain for which there is only one justice, bad debt, forgetting, remembering again, remembering it cannot be paid, cannot be credited, stamped received. there will be a jubilee when the north spends its own money, is left w nothing, and spends again, on credit, on stolen cards, on a friend who knows he will never see that again. there will be a jubilee when the global south does not get credit for discounted contributions to world civilisation and commerce but keeps its debts, changes them only for the debts of others, a swap among those who never intend to pay, who will never be allowed to pay, in a bar in penang, in port of spain, in bandung, where your credit is no good.

money less

credit can be restored, restructure, rehabilitated, but debt forgiven is always unjust, always unforgiven. restored credit is restored justice and restorative justice is always the renewed reign of credit, a reign of terror, a hail of obligations to be met, measured, meted, endured..

obligations.. measuring things..

justice is only possible where debt never obliges, never demands, never equals credit, payment, payback. justice is possible only where it is never asked, in the refuge of bad debt, in the fugitive public of strangers not communities, of undercommons not neighbourhood, among those who have been there all along from somewhere. to seek justice thru restoration is to return debt to the balance sheet and the balance sheet never balances.. it plunges toward risk, volatility, uncertainty, more credit chasing more debt, more debt shackled to credit. to restore is not to conserve again. there is no refuge in restoration. conservation is always new. it comes from the place we stopped while we were on the run. it’s made from the people who took us in. it’s the space they say is wrong, the practice they say needs fixing, the homeless aneconomics of visiting..


fugitive publics do not need to be restored. they need to be conserved, which is to say moved, hidden, restarted w the same joke, the same story, always elsewhere than where the long arm of the creditor seeks them, conserved from restoration, beyond justice, beyond law, in bad country, in bad debt. they are planed when they are least expected, planned when they don’t follow the process, planned when they escape policy, evade governance, forget themselves, remember themselves, have no need of being forgiven. they are not wrong though they are not, finally communities; they are debtors at distance, bad debtors, forgotten but never forgiven. give credit where credit is due, and render unto bad debtors only debt, only that mutuality that tells you what you can’t do. you can’t pay me back, give me credit, get free of me, and i can’t let you go when you’re gone. if you want to do something, forget this debt, and remember it later.

debt at a distance is forgotten, and remembered again. think of autonomism (anti govt), its debt at a distance to the black radical traditions.. in autonomia, in the militancy of post workerism, there is no outside, refusal takes place inside and makes its break, its flight, its exodus from the inside. there is biopolitical production and there is empire.. there is even what franco ‘fifo’berardi calls soul trouble.. in other words there is this debt at a distance to a global politics of blackness emerging out of slavery and colonialism, a black radical politics, a politics of debt w/o payment/credit/limit.. this debt was built in a struggle w empire before empire, where power was not w institutions or govts alone, where any owner or colonizer had the violent power of a ubiquitous state. this debt attached to those who thru dumb insolence or nocturnal plans ran away w/o leaving, left w/o getting out.. this debt got shared w anyone whose soul was sought for labor power, whose spirit was borne w a price marking it. and it is still shared, never credited and ever abiding credit, a debt you play/walk/love..  and w/o credit this debt is infinitely complex. it does not resolve in profit, seize assets, or balance in payment. the black radical tradition is the movement that works thru this debt. the black radical tradition is debt work. it works in the bad debt of those in bad debt. it works intimately and at a distance until autonomia, for instance, remember, and forgets. the black radical tradition is unconsolidated debt


debt and refuge

we went to the public hospital but it was private, but we went thru the door marked ‘private’ to the nurses’ coffee room, and it was public. .  we went into the hospital/uni/library/park.. we were offered credit for our debt. we were granted citizenship. we were given the credit of the state, the right to make private any public gone bad. good citizens can match credit and debt. they get credit for knowing the difference, for knowing their place. bad debt leads to bad publics, publics unmatched, unconsolidated, unprofitable. we were made honorary citizens we honored our debt to the nation. we rated the service, scored the cleanliness, paid our fees.

we were going to run but we didn’t have to. they ran. they ran across the state and across the economy, like a secret cut, a public outbreak, a fugitive fold. they ran but they didn’t go anywhere. they stayed so we could stay. they saw our bad debt coming a mile off. they showed us this was the public, the real public, the fugitive public, and where to look for it. look for it here where they say the state doesn’t work.. where there is something wrong w that street.. where new policies are to be intro’d.. where tough measures are to be taken.. bells tightened.. papers served.. neighborhoods swept.. anywhere bad debt elaborates itself. anywhere you can stay, conserve yourself, plan. a few minutes, a few days when you cannot hear them say there is something wrong with you


debt and governance

we hear them say, what’s wrong w you is your bad debt. you’re not working. you fail to pay your debt to society. you have no credit, but that is to be expected. you have bad credit, and that is fine. but bad debt is a problem. debt seeking only other debt, detached form creditors, fugitive from restructuring. destructuring debt, now that’s wrong.. but even still, what’s wrong w you can be fixed. first we give you a chance. that’s called governance, a chance to be interested,..t.. and a shot even as being disinterested. that’s policy. or we give you policy, if you are still wrong, still bad. bad debt is senseless, which is to say it cannot be perceived by the sense of capital. but there is therapy available..t.. governance wants to connect your debt again to the outside world. you are on the spectrum, the capitalist spectrum of interests. you are the wrong end. your bad debt looks unconnected, *autistic, in its own world. but you can be developed..t

*higashida autistism law

you can get credit after all. the key is interests. tell us what you want. tell us what you want and we can help you get it, on credit. we can lower the rate so you can have interest. we can raise the rate so you will pay attention..t but we can’t do it alone. governance only works when you work, when you tellus your interest, when you invest your interest again in debt and credit. governance is the therapy of your interests,.t.. and your interests will bring your credit back. you will have an investment, even in debt. and governance will gain new senses, new perceptions, new advances into the world of bad debt new victories in the war on those w/o interests, those who will not speak for themselves, participate, identify their interests, invest, inform, demand credit

governance does not seek credit. it doesn not seek citizenship, although it is often understood to do so.. governance seeks debt, debt that will seek credit. governance cannot not know what might be shared, what might be mutual, what might be common. why award credit, why award citizenship.. only debt is productive, ..t..only debt makes credit possible, only debt lets credit rule. productivity always comes before rule even if the students of governance do not understand this, and even if governance itself barely understands this. but rule does come, and today it is called policy, the reign of precarity (lacking in predictability)


and who know where it will hit you, some creditor walking by you.. you keep your eyes down but he makes policy anyway, smashes any conservation you have built up, any bad debt you are smuggling your life goes back to vicious chance, to arbitrary violence, a new credit card, new car loan, torn from those who hid you, ripped from those who shared bad debt w you. they don’t hear from you again..

study and planning

the student has no interests. the student’s interests must be identified, declared, pursued, assessed, counseled, and credited. debt produces interests. the student will be indebted. the student will be interested. interest the students!..t


the student can be calculated by her debts, can calculate her debts w her interests.. she is in sight of credit, in sight of graduation, in sight of being a creditor, of being invested in education, a citizen. the student w interests can demand policies, can formulate policy, giver herself credit, pursue bad debtors w good policy, sound policy, evidence based policy. the student w credit can privatize her own uni. the student can start her own ngo, invite others to id their interests, put them on the table, join the global convo, speak for themselves, get credit, manage debt. governance is interest bearing. credit and debt. there is no other defn of good governance, no other interest. the public and private in harmony, in policy, in pursuit of bad debt, on the trail of fugitive publics, chasing evidence of refuge. .t.. the student graduates.

but not all of them. some still stay, committed to black study in the uni’s undercommon rooms. they study w/o an end, plan w/o a pause, rebel w/o a policy, conserve w/o a patrimony. they study in the uni and the uni forces them under, relegates them to the state of those w/o interests, w/o credit, w/o debt that bears interest, that earns credits. they never graduate. they just ain’t ready. they’re building something in there, something down there. mutual debt, debt unpayable, debt unbounded, debt unconsolidated, debt to each other in a study group, to others in a nurses’ room, to others in a barber shop, to others in a squat, a dump, a woods, a bed, an embrace.


and in the undercommons of the uni they meet to elaborate their debt w/o credit/count/interest/repayment. here they meet those others who dwell in a diff compulsion, in the same debt, a distance, forgetting, remembered again but only after. these other ones carry bags of newspaper clippings, or sit at the end of the bar, or stand at the stove cooking, or sit on a box at the newsstand, or speak thru bars, or speak in tongues. these other ones have a passion to tell you what they have found, and they are surprised you want to listen, even thought they’ve been expecting you . sometimes the story is not clear, or it starts in a whisper. it goes around again but listen, it is funny again, every time. this knowledge has been degraded, and the research rejected. they can’t get access to books, and no one will publish them. policy has concluded they are conspiratorial, heretical, criminal, amateur. policy says they can’t handle debt and will never get credit. but if you listen to them they will tell you: we will not handle credit, and we cannot handle debt, debt flows thru us, and there’s no time to tell you everything. so much bad debt, so much to forget and remember again. but if we listen to them they will say: come let’s plan something together. and that’s what we’re going to do. we’re telling all of you but we’re not telling anyone else..

5 – planning and policy


what we are calling policy is the new form command takes as command takes hold. . in the undercommons of the social reproductive realm the means, which is to say the planners, are still part of the plan. and the plan is to invent the means in a common experiment launched from any kitchen, any back porch, any basement, any hall, any park bench, any improvised party, every night.  this ongoing experiment w the informal.. is what we mean by planning.. planning in the undercommons is not an activity.. not fishing/dancing/teaching/loving, but the ceaseless experiment w the futurial presence of the forms of life that make such activities possible.. it is these means that were eventually stolen by, in having been willingly given up to, state socialism whose perversion of planning was a crime second only to the deployment of policy in today’s command econ..


what policy represents is a new weapon in the hands of these citizen deputies..t

policy ness as too much

So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. – Bucky


planning is self sufficiency at the social level, and it reproduces in its experiment not just what it needs, life, but what it wants, life in difference, in the play of the general antagonism..

policy deputises those willing to, those who come to want to, break up these means as a way of controlling them, as once it was necessary to de skill a worker in a factory by breaking up his means of production.. and it does this by diagnosing the planners..  policy says that those who plan have something wrong w them, something deeply – ontologically – wrong w them.. this is the first thrust of policy as dispersed, deputised command. what’s wrong w them?..t.. they won’t change.. they won’t embrace change. they’ve lost hope.. so say the policy deputies.. they need to be given hope.. they need to see that change is the only option. by change what the policy deputies mean is contingency, risk, flexibility and adaptability to the groundless ground of the hollow capitalist subject, in the realm of automatic subjection that is capital.. policy is thus arrayed in the exclusive and exclusionary uniform/ity of contingency as imposed consensus,..t which both denies and at the very same time seeks to destroy the ongoing plans, the fugitive initiations, the black operations, of the multitude..

voluntary compliance

as resistance from above, policy is a new class phenom.. because the act of making policy for others, of pronouncing others as incorrect..t.. is at the same time and audition for a post-fordist econ that deputies believe rewards those who embrace change, but which, in reality, arrests them in contingency, flexibility, and that administered precarity that imagines itself to be immune from the judith butler might call our undercommon precariousness.. this econ is powered by constant and automatic insistence upon the externalization of risk, the placement at an externally imposed risk of all life, so that work against risk can be harvested w/o end..


every utterance of policy, no matter its intent or content, is first and foremost a demonstration of one’s ability to be close to the top in the hierarchy of the post-fordists economy

as an operation from above designed to break up the means of social reproduction and make them directly productive for capital, policy must first deal w the fact that the multitude is already productive for itself. this productive imagination is its genius, its impossible, and nevertheless material, collective head. and this is a problem because plans are afoot, black operations are in effect, and in the undercommons all the organizing is done. the multitude uses every quiet moment, ever sundown, every moment of militant preservation, to plan together, to launch, to compose (in ) its surreal time. it is difficult for policy to deny these plans directly, to ignore these operations, to pretend that those who stay in motion need to stop and get a vision, to contend that base communities for escape need to believe in escape.. .. of course, some plans can be dismissed by policy – plans hatched darker than blue, on the criminal side, out of love..


so how does policy attempt to break this means, this militant preservation, all this planning?  after the diagnosis that something is deeply wrong w the planners comes the prescription: help and correction. policy will help…  policy will help w the plan and , even more, policy will correct the planners..  policy will discover what is not yet theorized, what is not yet fully contingent, and most importantly what is not yet legible..

legible ness

policy is correction, forcing itself w mechanical violence upon the incorrect, the uncorrected, the ones who do not know to seek their own correction..  policy distinguishes itself from planning by distinguishing those who dwell in policy and fix things from those who dwell in planning and must be fixed..

this is the first rule of policy. it fixes others..t

sounds like our delirious ness about work

and because such policy emerges materially from the post fordist opportunism, policy must optimally allow for each policy deputy to take advantage of his opportunity and fix others as others, as whose who have not just made an error in planning (or indeed an error by planning) but who are themselves in error..  and from the perspective of policy,… there is indeed something wrong w those who plan together..


they need vision.. because from the perspective of policy it is too dark in there, in the black heart of the undercommons, to see.. the deputies can bring hope, and hope can lift planners and their plans, . above ground into the light..

it is crucial that planner choose to participate.. policy is a mass effort

spinach or rock ness and public consensus as oppression..


intellectual will write article in the newspapers, philosophers will hold conferences on new utopias, bloggers will debate, and politicians will compromise here, where change is policy’s only constant.

participating in change is the second rule of policy

policy change

now hope is an orientation toward this participation in change, this participation as change. this is the hope policy rolls like tear gas into the undercommons..

policy is not so much a position as a disposition, a disposition toward display. this is why policy’s chief manifestation is governance..

governance would not be confused w govt or govermentality. governance is more importantly a new form of expropriation (the action by the state or an authority of taking property from its owner for public use or benefit.. dispossessing)… it is the provocation of a certain kind of display, a display of interests as disinterestedness, a display of convertibility, a display of legibility.. governance is an instrumentalisation of policy, a set of protocols of deputisation, where on simultaneously auctions and bids on oneself, where the public and the private submit themselves to post-fordist production..

governance is the harvesting of the means of social reproduction but it appears as the acts of will, and therefore as the death drive, of the harvested..

krishnamurti free will law

the ones who would correct and the ones who would be corrected converge around this imperative of submission that is played out constantly not only in the range of correctional facilities that foucault analysed – the prisons, the hospitals, the asylums – but also in corporations, unis and ngos..t


governance, despite its own hopes for a universality of exclusion, if for the inducted, for those who know how to articulate interest disinterestedly, those who vote and know why they vote (not because someone is black or female but because he or she is smart), who have opinions and want to be taken seriously by serious people. in the mean time, policy must still pursue the quotidian sphere of open secret plans. policy posits curriculum against study, child development against play, human capital against work. it posits having a voice against hearing voices… policy posits the public sphere, or the counter public sphere, or the black public sphere, against the illegal occupation of the illegitimately privatized.

policy is not the one against the many, the cynical against the romantic, or the pragmatic against the principled it is simply baseless vision, woven into settler’s fabric. it is against all conservation, all rest, all gathering, cooking, drinking  and smoking if they lead to marronage (the process of extricating oneself from slavery).. policy’s vision is to break it up then fix it.. move it along by fixing it, manufacture ambitions and give it to your children.  policy’s hope is that there will be more policy, more participation, more change. but there is also a danger in all their participation, a danger of crisis..

when those who plan together start to participate w/o first being fixed. this leads to crisis.. participation w/o fully entering the blinding light of this dim enlightenment, w/o fully functioning families and financial responsibility, w/o respect for the rule of law, w/o distance and irony, w/o submission to the rule of expertise; participation that is too loud, too fat, too loving, too full, too flowing, to dread; this leads to crisis.. people are in crisis. economies are in crisis. we are facing an unprecedented crisis, a crisis of participation and crisis of faith.. is there any hope..? yes, there is, say the deputies, if we can pull together, if we can share a vision of change.. for policy, any crisis in the productivity of radical contingency is a crisis in participation, which is to say, a crisis provoked by the wrong participation of the wrong(ed). this is the third rule of policy..


we plan to stay, to stick and move.. we plan to e communist about communism, to be unreconstructed about reconstruction, to be absolute about abolition, here , in that other, undercommons place, as that other, undercommon thing, that we preserve by inhabiting. policy can’t see it, policy can’t read it, but it’s intelligible if you got a plan..

6 – fantasy in the hold


in war w/o end, war w/o battles, only the ability to keep fighting, only logistics, matters..


logistics was always the transport of slavery not ‘free’ labor..


no way where we are is here. where we were, where we are, is what we meant by  ‘mu’ which wilderson would rightly call ‘the void of our subjectivity’ and so it is we remain in the hold, in the break, as if entering again and again the broken world, to trace the visionary company and join it.. this contrapuntal island, where we are marooned in search of marrongage, where we linger in stateless emergency, in our lysed cell and held dislocation, our blown standpoint and lyred chapel, in (the ) study of our sea born variance, sent by its pre history into arrivance w/o arrival, as a poetics of lore, of abnormal articulation, where the relation between joint and flesh is the folded distance of a musical moment that is emphatically, palpably imperceptible and, therefore, difficult to describe.


can this being together in homelessness, this interplay of the refusal of what has been refused, this undercommmon appositionality, be a place from which emerges neither self-consciousness nor knowledge of the other but an improvisation that proceeds from somewhere on the other side of an unasked question.. not simply to be among his own; but to be among his own in dispossession, to be among the ones who cannot own, the ones who have nothing and who, in having nothing, have everything..

home less ness

alive in the improv\e ness of convo..


what remains of eccentricity after the relay between loss and restoration has its say or song? in the absence of amenity, in exhaustion, there’s a society of friends where everything can fold in dance to black, in being held and flown, in what was never silence. can’t you hear them whisper one another’s touch?


but in the hold, in the undercommons of a new feel, another kind of feeling became common. this form of feeling was not collective.. not give to decision, not adhering or reattaching to settlement, nation, state, territory or historical story; nor was it repossessed by the group, which could not now feel as one, reunified in time and space. no, when black shadow sings ‘are you feelin’ the feelin?’ he is asking about something else. his asking about a way of feeling thru others, a feel for feeling others feeling you. this is modernity’s insurgent feel, its inherited caress, its skin talk, tongue touch, breath speech, hand laugh. this is the feel that no individual can stand, and no state abide. this is the feel we might call hapticality..


hapticality, the touch of the undercommons, the interiority of sentiment, the feel that what is to come is here.. hapticality, the capacity to feel through others, for others to feel thru you, for you to feel them feeling you, this feel of the shipped is not regulated,

a feel, a sentiment w its own interiority, there on skin, soul no longer inside but there for all to hear, for all to move. soul music is a medium of this interiority on the skin, its regret the lament for broken hapticality, its self regulatory powers the invitation to build sentimentality together again, feeling each other again how we party. this is our hapticality, our love.. this is love for the shipped, love as the shipped..


there’s a touch, a feel you want more of, which releases you.. the closest marx ever got to the general antagonism was when he said ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need‘ but we have read this as the possession of ability and the possession of need. what if we thought of the experiment of the hold as the absolute fluidity, the informality, of this condition of need and ability? what if ability and need were in constant play ..t.. and we found someone who dispossessed us so that this movement was our inheritance.. your love makes me strong, your love makes me weak. what if ‘the between the two’ the lost desire, the articulation, was this rhythm, ..t.. this inherited experiment of the shipped in the churning waters of flesh and expression that could grasp by letting go ability and need in constant recombination. if he moves me, sends me, sets me adrift in this way, amongst us in the undercommons. so long as she does this, she does not have to be..

have/need ness.. the dance of one ness

a nother way.. simple message

this feel is the hold that lets go (let’s go) again and again to dispossess us of ability, fill us w need, give us ability to fill need, this feel.

let go..  perhaps this is why we haven’t yet gotten to global equity

7 – the general antagonism: an interview w stevphen shukaitis


fred: the toys they have are props for pretending. they don’t play w them the right way.. a sword is what you hit a ball w and a bat is what you make music w.. i feel that way about these terms.. in the end what’s most important is that the thing is put in play.. what’s most important about play is the interaction… in the end it’s the new way of being together and thinking together that’s important, and not the tool, not the prop..  or, the prop is important only insofar as it allows you to enter..  so.. if somebody’s reading our stuff, and they think they can get something out of the term ‘planning’ or ‘undercommons’ or ‘logisticality’ that’s great, but what matters is what they do w it; it’s where they take it in their own relations..

idio-jargon ness


stefano: by revising how i say things. so, some people might call my style repetitive, partly because i’m rephrasing things all the time, but also because i’m trying to show that i’m playing w something rather than that it’s finished..t


if i’m going along in a kind of .. rhyming way in the writing, it’s partly to say that we’re rehearsing here.. and since we’re rehearsing , you might as well pick up an instrument too..  it’s not enough to signal it outside the writing.. to send the piece out and to say ‘oh, really this is still open for this or that’.. it has to be somehow in the writing itself that the thing hasn’t closed offt.. part of that is that to write w another person is always to keep something open.. to more than one..

fred: it’s (text) not a dead thing. what you listen to or what you’re reading is still moving and still living. it’s still forming


stefano: so we enter into the social world of study, which is one in which you start to lose track of your debts and begin to see that the whole point is to lose track of them and just build them in a way that  allows for everyone to feel that she/he can contribute or not contribute to being in a space.. t..that seems to me to be not about saying there’s no longer somebody who might have insisted or persisted in getting us into that time-space of study, but  rather that the text is one way or that kind of insistence on study to be an open insistence. to be one that doesn’t have to be about authority or ongoing leadership or anything like that, but a kind of invitation for other people to pick stuff up.. i’ve been thinking more and more of study as something not where everybody dissolves into the student, but where people sort to of take turns doing things for each other or for the others, and where you allow yourself to be possessed by others as they do something..

in a space.. ness


fred: i think we are committed to the idea that study is what you do w other people.. it’s talking/walking/working/dancing/suffering.. the notion of a rehearsal – being in a kind of workshop, playing in a band, in a jam session, or old men sitting on a porch.. there are these various modes of activity.. the point of calling it ‘study’ is to mark that the incessant and irreversible intellectually of these activities is already present.. t.. these activities aren’t ennobled by the fact that we now say ‘oh, if you did these things in a certain way, you could be said to be have been studying’ .. a kind of common intellectual practice.. allows you to access a whole, varied, alternative history of thought..


fred: strikes me as being overly concerned w the rightness and legitimacy of the term..  it’s not so much that i want to say ‘oh, he/she didn’t understand what we meant by study’ it’s more like ‘ok, well, if that terms bothers you, you can use another term..’.. the thing that i think you want from what we’re saying is precisely what it is that we mean by study.. what i’m saying is that it’s precisely his misunderstaning of, his active refusal to understand, the term that is an extension of study..  i will always think of his/her tendency to want to avoid or to disavow study as an act of study.. but if he/she doesn’t think about it that way.. that’s ok..


stefano: study is already going on.. equally the case with planning.. think of the way we use ‘policy’ as something like thinking for others.. both because you think others can’t think and also because you somehow think that you can think. which is the other part of thinking that there’s something wrong w someone else..t.. thinking that you’ve fixed yourself somehow and therefore that gives you the right to say someone else needs fixing.. the very deployment of policy is the biggest symptom that there’s something you’re not getting in thinking that you need to do that – and it seems to me, really, the same w study..  the point about study is that intellectual life is already at work around it. when i think of study, i’m as likely to think about nurses in the smoking room as i am about the uni… i mean it really doesn’t have anything to do w the uni to me,..t.. other than that.. as laura harris says.. the uni is the incredible gathering of resources.. so when you’re thinking it’s nice to have books

an/or internet.. an/or your tribe..

stefano: i don’t see the undercommons as having any necessary relationship to the uni.. and, given the fact that, to me, the undercommons is a kind of comportment (behavior; bearing) or ongoing experiment w and as the general antagonism, a kind of way w being w others, it’s almost impossible that it could be matched up w particular forms of institutional life..


fred: studying is not limited to the uni. it’s not held or contained w/in the uni..

fred: (on problem of academic labor) the part of what i’m interested in is how the conditions of academic labor have become unconducive to study..  how the conditions under which academic laborers labor actually preclude or prevent study, make study difficult if not impossible.. t.. on the notion that workers don’t study.. this was more than just a romanticisation of authentic work and a disavowal of our own ‘inauthenticity’ as workers.. it was that our image of ourselves as academic laborers actually acceded (agree to a demand) to the ways in which the conditions of academic labor prevented study.. we actually signed on to the prevention of study as a social activity even while we were engaging in and enjoying, organising a social activity..  i think we never recognized that the most insidious, vicious, brutal aspect of the conditions of our labor was that it regulated and suppressed study..t


stefano: i might say, there’s a kind of fear in the uni around something like amateurism – immaturity, pre maturity, not graduating, not being ready somehow – and the student reps that at certain moments.. and supposedly our job w the student is to help them overcome this so they can get credits and graduate..


fred: how come we can’t be together and think together in a way that feels good, the way it should feel good?  for most of our colleagues and students, however much you want to blur that distinction, that question is the hardest question to get people to consider. everybody is pissed off all the time and feels bad, but very seldom do you enter into a convo were people are going.. ‘why is it that this doesn’t feel good to us?’  .. to my mind.. that’s the question we started trying to ask..

fred: that the insidious thinking, this naturalisation of misery, the belief that intellectual work requires alienation and immobility and that the ensuing pain and nausea is a kind of badge of honor, a kind of stripe you can apply to your academic robe or something.. enjoyment is suspect, untrustworthy, a mark of illegitimate privilege or of some kind of sissified refusal to look squarely in the fucked up face of things which is, evidently, only something you can do in isolation..


stefano: i think the impulse for me and fred is always to try and move towards the stuff that we like, and to move towards the mode of living that we like..  we know that sometimes that involves moving thru certain kinds of critique of what’s holding us back. but for me each time what’s going on is that i’m trying to elaborate a different mode of living together w others, of being w others..

a nother way


fred: to reduce study into critique.. and then critique to debunking.. some kind of warped communal alienation .. people tied together not by blood or a common language but by the bad feeling they compete over .. so get a whole lot of people who spend a whole lot of time thinking about stuff that they don’t want to do/be..rather than beginning with and acting out, what they want..t

premise of the 3 min convo (of 2 convos)..everyday.. what matters..

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way

fred: mississippi freedom schools curriculum asked a couple questions .. 1\ what do we not have that we need.. what do we want.. 2\ what do we have that we want to keep..  ie: we don’t want everything that they (those people f ing us over) have.. there is a kind of really sclerotic (becoming rigid and unresponsive; losing the ability to adapt)understanding of these problematics of having and not having, of privilege and under privilege, that structure the uni as a place where policy proliferates.. t


fred: .. that the uni was an avant-garde of policy making and a place where the ubiquity of policy was being modeled for other realms w/in the social world.. .. what in fact people were doing was taking the kind of empty shell of what used to be called education and saying, ‘we can use this shell as a way of exporting the apparatus of policy all thruout the social world.’ we realized that not only are we trying to understand what’s fucked up about our own situation, but we’re trying to understand how it is that the essential conditions of our own situation are being exported everywhere..

schooling the world ness..

stefano: policy is esp directed towards the poor.. the social principle of having w/o ownership is ambivalent..  .. keeping stuff loose so people will be productive about it..


stefano: it strikes me that w policy what you’re often dealing w is somebody whose presumption is that they know the problem.. w governance you’re dealing more w a situation in which they imagine in the first instance that .. rather than having to fix someone in order to extract from them, there’s the possibility of a kind of direct extraction.. governance is merely the labor process.  it’s the least of everything.. but it’s the organization moment.. the organizational resistance to what we are doing..  and it’s because it’s the organizational moment that we’re in.. a situation where, for people who are involved in forms of organization, like a teacher, for instance, that you are much more immediately confronted, because of policy and governance and their ubiquity , with either being almost immediately the police or of finding some other way to be w others.. you are much more immediately forced to choose..  that seems to me, also, to give a sense of why there’s so much anxiety in the uni, there’s no hiding in an imagined liberal institution anymore..  in these kinds of algorithmic institutions where nothing but a logistics of efficiency operates, you’re very quickly either the policy when you work in the uni or you have to find some other way of being in the uni..


stefano: you don’t have to start by saying, ‘i’m so and so, this is what i like to do’ .. you don’t have to elaborate yourself as an individual to be w other people – and i fact it’s a barrier to being w other people, as far as i can see…

fred: in order to be recognizable, you have to answer the call to order ..  and that the only genuine and authentic mode of living in the world is to be recognizable w/in the terms of order.. what i’m supposed to do is call that class to order, which presupposed that there is no actual, already existing organization happening.. that there’s no study happening before i got there.. i’m calling it to order, and then something can happen – then knowledge can be produced.. that’s the presumption..


fred: what’s totally interesting me is to just not call the class to order. .. what new kinds of things might emerge out of the capacity to refuse to issue the call to order..  see what happens when you refuse at that moment to become an instrument of governance.. seeing how a certain kind fo discomfort will occur..  i’ve had students who will issue the call, as if there’s a power vacuum and somebody has to step in

pilot class et al



fred: you are starting something new, but you are also  trying, in a radical, kind of brutal way to put an end to something – and the horrible part is it’s a moment of colonisation: you’re putting something to an end and you’re also trying at the very same moment to declare that it was never there. ‘not only am i going to stop you from doing this shit, but i’m going to convince you that you were never doing it.’


fred: one of the ways in which academic labor has become sclerotic, let’s say, is precisely because it imagines that the primary mode, specifically of a certain kind of left academic labor, is a kind of clear eyed seeing of what’s actually going on right now – and that the work is reducible to that..  or another way to put it.. insofar as that’s what one conceives the work to be, one is only really doing the work when the work is absolutely the absence of play, where play would be conceived of as pretending, as seeing what could be, as fantasy..

beyond and below the call to order


fred: folks were basically saying ‘we don’t want to make any demands’.. (occupy).. 1\ we did not want to make a demand, because to make a demand is essentially to make a request, which is essentially then already to accede to the authority of the state to either grant or refuse your request, .. 2\ the demand emerges from a certain kind of authority.. the properly authorised and authoritative speech.. single speech.. a kind of sovereign speaker is now drowning out, or trying to collect w/in his own anthemic speech, all these other kinds of speech.. ..when in fact what you’ve got is a whole bunch of people making a whole bunch of demands.. some of which are contradictory..  and we wanted to maintain that sort of ana(n)themic multiplicity, because that was the whole point

what if authoritative speech is detached form the notion of an univocal speaker.. what if authoritative speech is actually given in the multiplicity and the multivocality of the demands? this was something that was also happening at the same moment in the music.. so that the figure of the soloist was being displaced…..we are making music which is complex/rich enough so that when you listen to it you are hearing multiple voices… so what i’m trying to do is to consider this notion of the demand as an appeal/claim.. where you’re not appealing to the state but to one another..


fred: the non normative is precisely the absence of pov, which is therefore why it can never be about preservation..

not normal


fred: homelessness is hard, no doubt about it. but, home is harder.. civilisation, or more precisely civil society, w all its transformative hostility, was mobilized in the service of extinction, of disappearance. the shit is genocidal. fuck a home in this world, if you think you have one

civilization ness

fred: the ones who happily claim and embrace their own sense of themselves as privileged ain’t my primary concern. .. but i would love it if they got to the point where they had the capacity to worry about themselves.. because then maybe we could talk..  fred hampton: i think he meant is ‘look: the problematic coalition is that coalition isn’t something that emerges so that you can come help me, a maneuver that always gets traced back to your own interests…. the coalition emerges out of your recognition that it’s fucked up for you.. in the same way that we’ve already recognized that it’s fucked up for us.. i don’t need your help.. i just need you to recognize that this shit is killing you too..


and agendas


fred: but that position w/in which you have no place/home.. that you’re literally off-center, off the track, unlocatable.. i think it’s important..

stefano: i felt it again in these london riots..  it’s always that stuff about ‘why are they fucking up their own neighborhood?’  of course part of it is they don’t own those neighborhoods.. but part of it is also, like’ cuz there’s gotta be something better than home’

fred: i think you can make a good case that human being in the world is, and should be, sheer criminality.. which also, first and foremost, implies that making laws is a criminal activity..

fred: those kids were , basically, like ‘fuck this’.. and you’re right, if you’re implying that occupy never got to that


stefano: i don’t think that it’s bad that people should get together and imagine that they’re producing something hard to see. it’s just bad that they happen to imagine nation states..


fred: we can’t cede scale to the people who assume that scale is inseparable from the state..t.. or what they mean by the state, which is a set of apparatuses and institutions which wield coercive power

scale.. jo freeman et al.. ginorm small


stefano: the first three times i did it, i was putting all kinds of shit that didn’t really need to be there – that was a kind fo recapitulation of the uni in ways that didn’t have to happen. it was only in the last version..  said..’why is all this other stuff in here? what you’re really interested in is study, so why not just have it be a forum for study?..  when you think you’re exiting the uni, you’re not. you’re taking all this shit w you..

[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way

if equity is everyone getting a go every day.. redefining public education becomes revolution of everyday life.. aka: global equity


stefano: i had to go thru that academic labor shit, esp w fred, in order to free myself in a million diff ways, ..t he first thing i made everyday when i went to uni was myself. and the ui these days is not necessarily the best place to make yourself

detox for the observers/researchers/scientists/experimenters and too.. the whales at sea world..


stefan: yeah, in a way the undercommons is a kind of break piece, between locating ourselves and dislocating ourselves.. people always say ‘well where the fuck is that’ even if you do that clever marxist thing like, ‘oh it’s not a place, it’s a relation’.. people are like, ‘yeah, but where’s the relation’ ..  ‘it has a continuing effect as a dislocation and it always makes people feel a little uncomfortable about the commons.. for me it was like the first freight that we hopped..

debt, credit, autonomy


stefano: ..the word ‘owe’ would disappear and it would become some other word, it would be a more generative word


fred: when we talk about debt, to talk about the unpayability of debt is not to fail to acknowledge the debt. but certain mugs just refuse even to acknowledge the debt.. and i think a whole lot of what people want when they want reparation is in fact an acknowledgment, and they want an acknowledgment of the debt because it constitutes something like a form of recognition, and that becomes very problematic because the form of recognition that they want is w/in an already existing system..



fred: so basically, i’m w stefano on this, which is that i feel like i want to be part of another project... which is to say  i’m not acceding to the fact; it’s not like i’m just trying to turn my eye from it.. i don’t want to accept in silence w/o protest all the diff forms of ineq and exploitation that emerge as a function of the theft and of the failure to acknowledge the debt..  i don’t believe that what has happened in general is reparable..  i would accept the check.. and be pissed off it ain’t as much as it should be.. but..

i also know that what it is that is supposed to be repaired is irreparable.. it can’t be repaired. the only thing we can do is tear this shit down completely and build something new

moten abolition law

short bp to disengage from measuring/accounting/crediting.. et al


stefano: what abolition means in that case is the abolition of something like credit or measurability or attribution, in a certain way..t

yes.. in all the ways.

attribution.. credit.. et al

fred: an abolition of credit.. of the system of credit, which is to say, maybe it’s an abolition of accounting..t.. it says that when we start to talk about our common resources.. when we talk about what marx means by wealth – the division of it, the accumulation of it, the privatization of it, and the accounting of it.. all of that shit should be abolished.. i mean, you can’t count how much we owe one another.. it’s not countable. it doesn’t even work that way..  matter of fact, it’s so radical that it probably destabilizes the very social form or idea of ‘one another’

exactly… 10 day cares ness..


fred: but that’s what edouard glissant is leading us towards when he talks about what it is ‘to consent not to be a single being’.. and if you think about it, it is a sort of filial and essentially a maternal relation.. when i say ‘maternal’ what i’m implying there is the possibility of a general socialisation of the maternal..   ie: people were telling us ‘she owes her son a hundred thousand dollars’ and me and laura, driving back, we were like, ‘how you gonna owe your son a hundred thousand dollars? how do you owe a parent a hundred thousand dollars?’ that’s some crazy barbaric shit. you have to be a barbaric monster to even be able to think of some shit like that. you know what? it’s no more barbaric than owing wells fargo bank a hundred thousand dollars.. you think at first glance that it’s barbaric because it appears to violate some sort of notion of filial, maternal relation between a mother and son.. relation. but, it’s barbaric because it’s a barbaric way of understanding our undercommon ness.. it’s just particularly blatant because it’s a relation between a mother and son..

fred: so the abolition of credit, the abolition of the entire way of looking at the world, which let’s say we can place under the rubric of accounting or accountability or accountableness, or something, of calculation in that sense – the abolition of that, in a way that david graeber thinks about it, but w/o any kind of sense of a return to some orginary state of grace, but instead carrying all of what that history has imposed upon us..

accountable.. of math and men.. et all

david graeber.. et al

fred: hence this argument about where the autonomist got what they got.. you know.. i love clr james.. but the shit that we now have under his name, was never his private property. jazz aint’ black people’s private property. and that doesn’t mean that musicians shouldn’t get paid for what they do, w/in the context of this shit.. what i’m really saying when i say that is: anybody who’s breathing should have everything that they need and 93% of what they want – not by virtue of the fact that you work today, but by virtue of the fact that you are here..

huge.. indeed… let’s try this (short bp) to get there.. nationality: human


stefano: so you want to figure out some way that that wealth can be enjoyed. and that’s not by managing it, because managin it is the first step to accounting for it, attributing it or distributing it.. it’s about developing some way of being w each other and of not thinking that that requires the mediation of politics.. but it requires elaboration/improvisation.. a kind of rehearsal.. it requires things.. it’s just that it doesn’t require accounting or management..t..  it requires study..

rev of everyday life.. sans money/measuring.. via 2 convos.. as the day


stefano: this is the only way it could be when we think of ability and need freed of the standpoint and then this is not a distributional politics anymore but an experiment in letting yourself discover new needs in your abilities and new abilities in your needs in the rhythm of, not against, the general antagonism, performed between the two and amongst the many

have/need ness of our one ness.. (tribes that don’t say thank you).. a simple message


stefano: where you find the abolition of credit you find study..







on fred and the undercommons (2018)

iN 2013, a manifesto entitled The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study began making the rounds among the growing pool of nervous graduate students, harried adjuncts, un-tenured professors, and postdocs whirling through the nation’s faculty lounges. The Undercommons was published by the small anarchist press Autonomedia and made freely available for download; in practice, however, it circulated by word of mouth, copies of the PDF forwarded like samizdat literature for those in the know. On the surface, the text is an analysis of alienated academic labor at the contemporary American university. But it’s also more radical than that: it is a manual for free thinking, a defiant call to dissent within educational institutions that betray their liberal credos, filling their coffers even as they prepare students, armed with liberal arts degrees and “critical thinking” skills, to helm a social and economic order in which, “to work…is to be asked, more and more, to do without thinking, to feel without emotion, to move without friction, to adapt without question, to translate without pause, to desire without purpose, to connect without interruption.”


My growing up was a lot more like Good Times than it was like the Huxtables, and now I was in a school with a lot of Huxtables.” The even bigger shock was campus politics. “When I went to Harvard in 1980 I thought I was being trained for the Revolution. The Black Panther party in Vegas—they met in my mom’s basement. So I was ready to go, and I had foolishly assumed everyone there would be thinking like me


Moten is impatient with detractors who accuse him of difficulty and lack of clarity. Many writers once thought to be impenetrable are now considered canonical, he points out. “The critics I loved and who were influential to me were all weird: Empson, Burke, Benjamin, Adorno—they all had a sound, and it wasn’t like a PMLA, academic-journal sound.”


These dudes were strange, and I always felt that’s just essential to black culture.


Weirdness for Moten can refer to cultural practices, but it also describes the willful idiosyncracy of his own work, which draws freely from tributaries of all kind


What does history look like, or the present, or the future, from the point of view of those who refuse the norms produced by systems of violence: who consent not to be a single being?


Moten is not in the business of promoting optimism for the future, but he does not feel imprisoned by the past or bogged down in the present. Instead he is busy prodding about the little edges of everyday life as it is expressed by everyday people, the folkways of the undercommons. As his writings circulate within and beyond the classroom, so too does his version of theorizing from below, always seeking out sites where a greater humanity might unexpectedly break through.


both fred moten and stefano harney quoted in understand ability