dimanche, 22 septembre 2019|

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Adossé au bunker

En 1975, l’architecte Paul Virilio écrivait Bunker archéologie à l’occasion d’une exposition. On peut y lire :

Ce tour d’horizon sans accident me ramenait à mon propre poids, à la chaleur et à ce dossier solide contre lequel j’étais installé : ce massif de béton incliné, cette chose sans valeur qui n’avait su m’intéresser jusqu’alors autrement que comme un vestige de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, autrement que comme l’illustration d’une histoire, celle de la guerre totale.(1)

On voudrait interroger ici, en Albanie dont le sol en est constellé, ce qu’est ce corps pesant adossé au massif de béton du bunker, dans une histoire européenne adossée à celle de la guerre totale. Ce que représente, dans sa massivité réelle autant que dans l’espace abstractif qu’il produit, le bunker comme puissance de négation de la dynamique des corps et des fluidités de la circulation. Quel potentiel de destruction se nourrit de ce rapport à l’indestructible, et quelle violence s’édifie sensoriellement dans le rapport absolutiste à la protection.

1 Paul Virilio, Bunker archéologie, Galilée, 2008, p. 15.

In 1975, the architect Paul Virilio wrote Bunker Archéologie for an exhibition with the same name. Here we can read :

This overview safely brought me back to my own weight, its heat and to this solid backrest on which I was leaning : this massive concrete slope, this useless thing that only interested me as nothing more than a vestige of World War II, just an illustration in a story, one of all-out war. (Translated from the French edition.)

Ce tour d’horizon sans accident me ramenait à mon propre poids, à la chaleur et à ce dossier solide contre lequel j’étais installé : ce massif de béton incliné, cette chose sans valeur qui n’avait su m’intéresser jusqu’alors autrement que comme un vestige de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, autrement que comme l’illustration d’une histoire, celle de la guerre totale. (1)

We would like to ask here in Albania, where the ground is riddled with them, how the concrete bunker, with this weighty body resting against it, fits into a European history which leans on total war. What the bunker represents, in its genuine massiveness as well as in the abstract space it creates, as a negation of body dynamics and fluidity of movement. What potential for destruction feeds on this relationship to the indestructible, and what sensorial violence builds itself into the absolutist relationship to defense.

The bunker is a political use of habitat – its military side. But through this, it also creates a political usage of the body. Virilio’s text, introduces an analysis through autobiographical experience which is – not that of a soldier, but of a child, born in 1932, who was forbidden to access the seaside during the forties where the Nazi occupier was building the Atlantic Wall on French coasts :

During my childhood, public access to the European seashore was prohibited due to construction ; they had built a wall and it wasn’t until the summer of 1945 that I saw the Ocean, in the estuary of the Loire. (…) It was a frontier that an army had just abandoned, and the meaning of this vast sea was, for me, inseparable from the appearance of a deserted battlefield.

Pendant ma jeunesse, le littoral européen était interdit au public pour cause de travaux ; on y bâtissait un mur et je ne découvris l’Océan, dans l’estuaire de la Loire, qu’au cours de l’été 1945. (…) C’était une frontière qu’une armée venait à peine d’abandonner, et la signification de cette immensité marine était inséparable pour moi de cet aspect de champ de bataille déserté.(2)

Here the bunker has become a forbidden landscape – forbidden to access and look at – an uninhabitable space, turned into military terrain, in an occupied zone, on French territory, by the enemy. In Albania, the experience of the bunker would be quite different : it is much later (1967 to 1991) and part of a strategic plan of internalization by the inhabitants of the fight against the invader ; it appears as a civil defense plan and a “war of the people,” disassociated from the military profession and its specific responsibilities.

It is clear that the ideology of the bunker is linked to Albania’s isolationism during the sixties : having broken ties with a "de-Stalinizing” Soviet Union in order to make an alliance with Maoist China much further away ; in a rivalry with Titoist Yugoslavia trying to subsume it ; neighboring a NATO-aligned Greece, Albania appears as an island of opposition in all directions, whose isolation is further exacerbated in the late seventies, with its break with China. The bunker is therefore a representation of identity, like the eagle’s nest – symbol of a defensive and surrounded position – perfectly adequate to the diplomatic reality of the country and its model, which is still relevant today, apparent even in its touristic gadgets (such as ashtrays or souvenir gifts), as an emblem and an archetypal representation.

It is striking to see how this isolationist and defensive configuration, which seems to characterize the use of the bunker in Albania during the 1960s, comes into apparent conflict with the expansionist ideology of the Nazi offensive system of the thirties and forties, which used the bunker as a major part of the construction of the Atlantic Wall. Virilio highlights this paradoxical usage of the bunker by Nazi Germany in the Fuhrer’s resistance to doing military inspection :

The dictator’s constantly repeated refusal to visit the Atlantic Wall is significant : the bunkers of the European coastline are, from the beginning, funeral monuments of the German dream.

Les refus constamment répétés du dictateur de visiter le Mur de l’Atlantique sont significatifs ; les bunkers du littoral européen sont dès l’origine des monuments funéraires du rêve allemand.(3)

Virilio interprets this refusal using Mao Zedong’s analysis, given by in 1942, of the Nazi strategy :

If Hitler is forced to move to strategic defense, the fate of fascism is set. Indeed, a State such as that of the Third Reich has, from its birth, based all of its political and military life on the offensive.

Si Hitler est contraint de passer à la défense stratégique, le sort du fascisme est réglé ; en effet, un Etat comme celui du IIIème Reich a, dès sa naissance, fondé toute sa vie politique et militaire sur l’offensive. (4)

“Funeral monument of the German dream,” the bunker was, in fact the final resting place in which the core of German Nazism, as well as its leader, would be put to death in the heart of Berlin in April 1945.

Virilio continues to show how this military architecture is indeed a funerary architecture, evoking the mausoleum, crypt, and catacombs. And Ismail Kadare connects it to the characteristics of the pyramid. By passing from the offensive to the defensive, any system, political or military, fossilizes and degrades the affirmative and energizing intention of the active into the reluctance of the reactive. Here Virilio cites Mein Kampf :

The idea of protection haunts and fills life.

L’idée de protection hante et remplit la vie.(5)

But the system of protection is precisely the contrary of expansion. It implies withdrawal, constraint, refusal of deployment, and the permanent presence of impediment. This is how Virilio describes the bunker from the inside :

The different volumes are too narrow for normal activity, for any real freedom of movement ; the entire edifice weighs on the shoulders of the occupant. Like a piece of clothing that is a little bit too big irritates you as much as it covers you, the casing of concrete and steel hinders you at the “armholes” and tends to fix you in a kind of semi-paralysis rather close to illness.

Les différents volumes sont trop étroits pour une activité normale, pour une réelle mobilité du corps ; tout l’édifice pèse sur les épaules de l’occupant. Comme un habit à peine trop grand vous embarrasse autant qu’il vous couvre, l’enveloppe de béton et d’acier vous gêne aux entournures et tend à vous figer dans une semi-paralysie assez proche de celle de la maladie. (6)

Weighing, irritating, bothering, hindering, these are indeed the dynamics of a body, ill at ease in a habitat which has become a “habit,” and thereby producing new habits of the body, or, to use Bourdieusian terminology, a new habitus.

The bunker, because it a political space, is also an aesthetic place in the broad sense : a mode of self-representation resulting from the architecture. A “self” constrained, awkward, and obstructed by its habitat. Claiming protection, the architectural space aims to obstruct a way of life, subjecting the occupant to new modes of subjectification : those of immobilization. Virilio further shows the parallel of habitat / “habit,” drawing from medieval armaments and body armor (cuirass).

The relationship between habit/habitat is, during times of war, extremely narrow and the identification of the armor (the cuirass) of the body to the armoring (“cuirassement”) of stone leads us to assess other analogies between territorial forms and those of the animal body : the throat, the shoulder, the nipple, etc., last examples of a land identified with Mother Earth, to Chthonic deities.

La relation habit / habitat est, en période de guerre, extrêmement étroite, et l’identification de la cuirasse du corps au cuirassement de pierre nous conduit à l’estimation d’autres analogies entre les formes du corps territorial et celles du corps animal : la gorge, l’épaulement, le mamelon, etc., derniers exemples d’un terroir identifié à la Terre Mère, aux divinités chtoniennes. (7)

If the forms of territorial bodies become analogous to those of the animal body, they are nevertheless deprived of the biological plasticity which characterizes its potential for adaptation, mutation, and transformation. In short, what a living being does in interaction with its environment. The “territorial” body is thus, in reality, a de-territorialized body in the most “devitalizing” sense of the term (removing a nerve or vitality) – deprived of exchange with its environment. The body armor “habit,” like a hard shell, petrifies movement and blocks the circulation. But it also gets rid of any porosity, everything that, producing an interaction, allows it to breathe. And the cryptic habitat becomes a sort of tomb, excluding its inhabitant from the world of the living.

Slowed in his physical activity but attentive, anxious of the catastrophic probabilities of his environment, the inhabitant of these places of peril is oppressed by a singular weight : he actually already possesses this rigor mortis that the protection of the shelter was supposed to help him avoid.

Ralenti dans son activité physique mai attentif, anxieux des probabilités catastrophiques de son environnement, l’habitant de ces lieux du péril est oppressé par une singulière pesanteur : en fait, il possède déjà cette rigidité cadavérique que la protection de l’abri était censée lui éviter.(8)

The constant lived experience of the environment as hazard produces the mortifying effect of the anticipation of disappearance, which the bunker experience crystalizes in a performative way. Through the bunker, social ties are thus unraveled for the benefit of the thanato-politics of the cemetery and burial, carriers of an oppressive feeling.

And this mental test of oppression has its physical side, since it’s in terms of this pressure that Virilio describes the space of the bunker, like that of a submarine in a terrestrial milieu : resistant because it is intentionally unsuitable to the hostile characteristics of an environment destined to evacuate it.

It might just as well be in the space of a flying saucer – in any case, something soilless. And Virilio frames this soilless-ness in technological terms of material strength : reinforced concrete or cast, concrete has the peculiarity of originally being a liquid element, solidified in the molding process, in order to create a faultless support. As such, it not only presents no porosity but, paradoxically rests on no foundation. Virilio writes :

The bunker has no true foundation ; it floats on the ground which is not just a base for balance, but a random and moving area which connects, by extending it, to the marine area.

Le bunker n’est plus réellement fondé ; il flotte sur un sol qui n’est plus un socle à son équilibre, mais une étendue mouvante et aléatoire qui s’apparente, en la prolongeant, à l’étendue marine.(9)

This lack of distinction between the liquid and ultra-solid, which characterizes the bunker, radically disassociates it from the territory it occupies. Stranger to its environment, without anchoring, it bursts onto its terrain in a floating state. A number of bunkers in the Atlantic Wall are constructed on the sand, placed on a non-fixed area, accessible to the vagaries of the tide, to the movements of the nearby liquid ecosystem. And, for this reason as well, concrete will not be subjected to the fate of more or less organic materials : it can sink into the ground or it can tip if the soil changes, but will not fall in ruins, it will not come undone like a structure made of wood or stone. It will continue to hover like a UFO in the landscape, possibly uprooted but not crumbling. Thus, it has continued to fulfill its function of resistance to its milieu at the same time that its usage has become obsolete. The bunkers of the Atlantic coast, when Virilio came to photograph them from 1958 to 1965, were in this situation of obsolescence. As well as for the 700,000 bunkers (one for every four inhabitants) all over Albania left in rural zones as well as urban, since the 90s and the fall of the Blocs, according to the decision of Enver Hodja, which have been deprived of the defensive meaning they were originally given.

The chapter “Esthétique de la disparition” (Aesthetics of Disappearance), in the 1991 edition of Demi-cercle which reproduced these images, is completely dedicated to the visibility of this obsolescence : that of the shifting object in the sand, its upheaval, its slides, its unintentional burying linked to the vagaries of the tides or exterior conditions. The visual impression is always the same : that of an architectural object as equally well preserved and wholly unfounded, where the ravages of time affect neither its volume, nor its structure, only the environment. From a semiological point of view, objects, through their massive presence, continue to give meaning to a landscape, by imposing their symbolic forms on it : that of an existential experience of hostility, the constancy of the unattainable, of withdrawal and negativity, the inaccessibility of intentional aggression as well as time. Something which seems less destined to protect life than to deny the course. Ramparts, walls, castle forts or medieval towns, classic fortifications, Vauban star systems, and general standards of military engineering, appear, regardless of their offensive potential (one that connotes same term, "deadly," to describe their openings), as spaces, despite everything and ultimately, for the protection of life, enclosures where exchanges can take place, a social life holds, even in the state of siege. Bunkers are spaces for the burial of life, and because of this they are even non-spaces, places of absolute non-communication, where their manufacturing secrets constitute a danger, even in the eyes of those who ordered them. Such was the fate of the military engineers who created them : Fritz Todt for Nazi Germany, whose name is close to the word "Tod" which means death in German, after having given his name to the body which organizes all German military defense machines, died in 1942 when his plane exploded upon return from a meeting with Hitler ; and Josif Zegali, after having constructed, starting in 1961, the bunker complex and thousands of kilometers of tunnels which contributed to depletion of the Albanian economy, and in which one hundred workers died each year, was shut out and imprisoned for eight years by his own commanders during the purges of 1974.

It seems that in all cases the idea man must be, in one way or another, removed by his backer, just like a code depository which must remain hidden, a defense secret which, when shared, reinforces feelings of insecurity. As if the paranoid design of the bunker could only evoke its own “mise en abyme,” the mirrored effect of one’s intentions reflected back on its producer. But insecurity reinforces historical changes of military genius itself. Concrete as a construction material was invented in the 1850s, and came into popular use during the 1930s, with the use of pre-cast concrete, which increased the strength of the material. The military concept of the concrete bunker was born at the same time as the invention of nuclear weapons : this is when the possibility of a disintegrated environment emerges, beginning with the heart of matter itself, where the question of an absolute protectionism arises. Environmental hostility is made complete by nuclear potential ; the foil is that of complete impenetrability of the environment. The fantasy would flourish in science-fiction novels, but the reality lives on, on the Western European coasts as well as on the whole of Albanian territory threatened by the Cold War.

Initiated by the rupture of the Nazi-Soviet pact, reconfigured by the Sino-Soviet split, and endangered by the Sino-American alliance, the Albanian system, stake in the confrontations between the Adriatic Sea blocs, has produced the paradigm of the bunker not as a stopgap for an expansionist ideology cornered into a defensive position like the Atlantic Wall, but rather a bio-political destiny, the unassailable eagle’s nest, and a figure of isolationism. A specific representation of spatiality, whose ideology of the ghetto could be one of its modes of continuation, is reconfigured in a multiplicity of contemporary relationships to the question of immunity. The bunker is a paradigm of the immune system.

But Virilio also examines the bunker as a figure of warring temporal regimes, around the confrontation, in what he calls an “archeology of the brutal encounter.”

The construction of strategic and tactical infrastructures through the ages is only a kind of “archeology of brutal encounters,” of the impact of collision and a highway smash-up.

La construction des infrastructures stratégiques et tactiques au cours des âges n’est en fait qu’une « archéologie de la rencontre brutale » ; de l’impact à la collision et au télescopage autoroutier. (10)

The impact is military, but the corresponding collision is more generally technological : the highway accident, in its statistical reiterations, thus becomes a mode of “brutal encounter” : not intentional in the way of the warrior, yet fully programmable. And the vehicle is clearly this reinforced enclosure where we can experience shock resistance, and the armored car could be the model for a mobile bunker.

Thus, the violence of the shocks become proportional to the speed of the impact, against which resistance must be complete and immediate, producing an acceleration of wartime, from the Nazi Blitzkrieg objective to America’s atomic bombings, complete destruction in a fraction of a second. Virilio notes as well that the territorial extension of a potential combatant in colonial wars, then World Wars, corresponds with the reduction of military time in industrial societies :

On the one hand, we see more and more extensive wars (…) and on the other, more and more intensive assaults with the development of destructive energy (from the first “steel storm” during the Crimean War in 1854 until the atomic blast of 1945).

D’une part on assiste à des guerres de plus en plus extensives (…) et d’autre part à des assauts de plus en plus intensifs quant au développement de l’énergie destructrice (depuis le premier « ouragan d’acier » lors de la guerre de Crimée en 1854 jusqu’à la déflagration atomique de 1945).(11)

Yet it is precisely this extreme reduction of wartime for military-industrial powers, which requires a tighter defensive unit, the most impact resistant, the most proactive…and thus the most constraining during times of peace. A relatively long peace, but fully occupied by preparation for an extremely short wartime : it’s this temporality which the building of bunkers deals with. And as such it foreshadows the worrying precariousness and the security of contemporary peace time. Virilio shows how the architect of the Third Reich, Albert Speer, devised the work organization and was the only major Nazi manager who went unpunished though his projects went further than the Fuhrer’s own aims :

He disagreed with the Fuhrer, who wanted to avoid taking prisoners on the Russian Front : exterminating men, it’s a waste of workforce, it deprives us of workers ; it is more profitable to work them to death in camps or in the tunnels of Mittelwerke. (…) Speer proposed to Hitler an extreme lowering of the German way of life, a draconian hardening of working conditions, which the Fuhrer refused.

Il désapprouve le Führer, qui voudrait éviter de faire des prisonniers sur le front russe : exterminer des hommes, c’est gaspiller de la force de travail, c’est se priver de main d’œuvre ; il est plus rentable de la faire mourir à la tâche dans les camps ou les tunnels des Mittelwerke. (…) Speer propose à Hitler un abaissement extrême du niveau de vie allemand, un durcissement draconien des conditions de travail, que le Führer refuse.(12)

The question that the prospect of war resolves is that of labor law. Just as Julius Caesar only took prisoners for the purpose of building the bridges he needed, and that slavery was therefore more than just territorial conquest, in the eyes of Speer, the true purpose of the war, even the extension of armies on the Eastern Front should have for its aim, the enlistment of prisoners into forced labor. When the bombing of Germany showed that a fearful population cannot rebel against the leaders in charge of the massacre, Speer proposed to enroll the Germans themselves into forced labor, for a completely mobilized force incessantly preparing for the ongoing conflict, leaving suicide as the only alternative to full-scale war :

Destruction becomes a mode of production, war extends not only in dimensions, in space, but to the whole of reality. The conflict has become limitless and therefore without goals. It will never come to an end and, in 1945, the atomic situation will only perpetuate it : the State has become suicidal. (…) The collision between the army and the building has taken place, the “law of the ruins” has taken a new meaning, the builder has become destroyer, the architect in power has become the architect of power.

La destruction devenant une forme de la production, la guerre s’étend désormais non plus aux seules dimensions, de l’espace, mais à l’ensemble de la réalité. Le conflit est devenu sans limites et donc sans but. Il ne s’achèvera plus et, en 1945, la situation atomique le perpétuera : l’Etat est devenu suicidaire. (…) La collision entre l’arme et le bâtiment a eu lieu, la « loi des ruines » a pris un nouveau sens, le constructeur est devenu destructeur, l’architecte au pouvoir est devenu l’architecte du pouvoir.(13)

Speer, succeeding Todt after his plane crash, moved from the status of architect to military engineer, and finally, strategist. The “law of the ruins” which he put in place aimed to turn the whole country into a vast bunker, where the inhabitants are no longer the builders, and the process of construction has become one of self-destruction. Virilo considers the architect of the Third Reich the most diehard of its strategists. At the same time, we can see a foreshadowing of the world’s relationship to work which begins at the end of the Cold War.

This forced recruitment appears, retrospectively, in what has become the model of contemporary globalization, to be the process of the “invisibilization” of work and the “clandestinization” of workers and delocalization, which has transformed Schengen Europe, into simultaneously a space for the fluid circulation of capital and an insurmountable fortress for migrants : the “law of the ruins” produces bunkerized spaces, ghettoized by discrimination. Foucault said, in his class at Collège de France, “We must defend society” :

Plutôt que le triple préalable de la loi, de l’unité du sujet – qui fait de la souveraineté la source du pouvoir et le fondement des institutions -, je crois qu’il faut prendre le triple point de vue des techniques, de l’hétérogénéité des techniques et de leur effet d’assujettissement, qui font des procédés de domination la trame effective des relations de pouvoir et des grands appareils de pouvoir. La fabrication des sujets plutôt que la genèse du souverain : voilà le thème général.(14)

It seems obvious that the analysis of the bunker’s technology fully verifies such an assertion : it’s a technocratic idea of the bunker, of its usage and functions, which allow us to understand how its apparatus, subjugated by its own functions of subjectification, can turn an individualized populous into an innumerable troop/herd of people enslaved to a mechanism of confinement. It is also this legacy which allows us to understand the contemporary world as a consequence of what we were supposed to avoid, of powers which claimed to conquer, but has actually promoted a spectral return.

As such, Foucault shows the shift of responsibility from the architect to the engineer in what he calls the “police State,” which is in no way a totalitarian State, but the State as it has been since the 17th century, at the time of the “Great withdrawal.” A periodization was established, allowing us to understand political choices caused by successive technical changes. Referring to 19th century France, he wrote :

With the birth of these new techniques and these new economic processes, we see the appearance of a concept of space which is no longer modeled on the urbanization of territory such that it envisions the police State, but which goes well beyond the limits of urbanism and architecture. (…) L’Ecole des Ponts et chausses and the primary role which it has played in the political rationale of France is part of that. Those who thought about space were not the architects, but engineers, builders of bridges, routes, viaducts, railroads, as well as the graduates of Ecole Polytechnique who practically control the French railway system. (…) Architects are neither engineers nor technicians of three major variables : territory, communication, and speed. These are three things which fall outside of their domain.

Avec la naissance de ces nouvelles techniques et de ces nouveaux processus économiques, on voit apparaître une conception de l’espace qui ne se modèle plus sur l’urbanisation du territoire telle que l’envisage l’Etat de police, mais qui va bien au-delà des limites de l’urbanisme et de l’architecture. (…) L’Ecole des Ponts et chaussées et le rôle capital qu’elle a joué dans la rationalité politique de la France font partie de cela. Ceux qui pensaient l’espace n’étaient pas les architectes, mais les ingénieurs, les constructeurs de ponts, de routes, de viaducs, de chemins de fer, ainsi que les polytechniciens qui contrôlaient pratiquement les chemins de fer français. (…) (Les architectes) ne sont ni les ingénieurs ni les techniciens des trois grandes variables : territoire, communication et vitesse. Ce sont là des choses qui échappent à leur domaine.(14)

This dispossession of architects by engineers is, needless to say, taken into consideration by Virilio, architect and urbanist writing about Albert Speer, the architect who took on the responsibility of military engineering for the Third Reich at the beginning of 1942. Firstly, we are no longer considering spaces in terms of appropriation, balance, or conviviality, but in terms of power, strategy, and domination. Now Virilio show how such a concept, purely military, has truly contaminated civilian life in a recruitment process. The police State has become virtually indistinguishable from the war State. In any case a State at the ready to go to war, less for fighting an outside enemy than to secure interior dominance, and to reconfigure the process of subjectification into a process of domination.

It is no longer with distancing but by burying that the warrior seeks to parry the blows of his adversary. (…) Another planet fundamentally uninhabitable by man and not only for the soldier, this is what modern war creates. (…) All of this is present in the signification of solid concrete, built to withstand shells as well as bombs, poison gas, and flamethrowers. (…) Space is finally homogenized, absolute war has become a reality, the monolith is its monument.

Ce n’est plus dans le distancement mais dans l’enfouissement que l’homme de guerre cherche la parade aux coups de son adversaire. (…) Une autre planète foncièrement inhabitable pour l’homme, et pas uniquement pour le soldat, voilà ce que réalise l’art de la guerre moderne. (…) Tout ceci est présent dans la signification du massif de béton, construit pour résister aussi bien aux obus qu’aux bombes, aux gaz asphyxiants qu’aux lance-flammes. (…) L’espace est enfin homogénéisé, la guerre absolue est devenue réalité, le monolithe est son monument.(16)

The flawless monolith of the bunker, turned monument to uninhabitable space, is a civil space built on the model of hostility. In a small book published in 2010 following the subprime mortgage crisis in the USA, during which a predatory financial system caused, between 2007 and 2011, thousands of small borrowers to lose ownership of their homes, the architect Jean-Paul Dollé wrote :

When the financial bubble bursts, when the reality comes back to the repressed, there is nothing left in the world, but a nothing which propagates like a virus and destroys everything like the passing of Attila the Hun. (…) Capitalism (…) now appears to be, not so much a desire to acquire, to possess, as, more fundamentally to extort, to expropriate, of winning, of mastering, which means in any case to make the competitor disappear, to destroy the adversary. To annihilate is the goal.

Lorsque la bulle financière éclate, quand le réel revient comme retour du refoulé, il ne reste rien du monde, mais un rien qui se propage comme un virus, et détruit tout comme Attila sur sentiment passage. (…) Le capitalisme (…) se présente maintenant, non pas tant comme désir d’acquérir, de posséder, que, plus fondamentalement, d’extorquer, d’exproprier, de gagner, de maîtriser, ce qui revient dans tous les cas à faire disparaître le concurrent, détruire l’adversaire. Annihiler, tel est le but.(17)

The paradigm of war thus becomes the model of capitalist civil life as it unfolds in the dimension of the “uninhabitable” : a fundamental hostility which has come to occupy the forms of subjectification and replace the potential of intersubjectivity. Dollé shows that it is precisely in the relationship to the habitat that it will occur :

The habitat, the house, as everyone experiences it in their lives, constitutes the most elementary form of existence and being in the world. The crisis triggered by subprime loans reveals what in the mode of habitation which procedes and generates the capitalist system, puts in crisis not only the capitalist mode of production but the way in which men live in the world, which is to say even their own existence. (…) The appropriation of one’s own body passes through appropriation of the space where it unfolds. The house is an extension of the self.

L’habitat, la maison, comme chacun l’expérimente dans sa vie, constitue la forme la plus élémentaire d’exister en propre et de se situer dans le monde. La crise déclenchée à l’occasion des subprimes révèlerait en ce sens ce qui, dans le mode d’habitation d’où procède et que génère le système capitaliste, met en crise non seulement le mode de production capitaliste mais la manière dont les hommes habitent le monde, c’est-à-dire leur existence même. (…)(18) L’appropriation de son corps propre passe par l’appropriation de l’espace où il se déploie. La maison est l’extension de soi.

Virilo’s Bunker archéologie does not speak about a past world whose rubble we have just explored. It is instead the link, in the second half of the 20th century, between the systems which we have qualified as “totalitarian” and the reality of the contemporary “free” world which claims to have vanquished and gotten rid of them. He has shown us how the double speak of the secured bunker’s “protection” is the pattern for the most insidious contemporary forms of economic domination : those that are based on the body’s confinement even that of its politics.

1 Paul Virilio, Bunker archéologie, Galilée, 2008, p. 15. Published in English as : Bunker Archaeology. New York : Princeton University Press, 1994. All quotes translated from the French edition.

2 Ibid., p. 13.

3 Ibid., p. 40.

4 Cité in Virilio, op. cit., p. 39.

5 Cité in Virilio, op. cit., p. 44.

6 Paul Virilio, op. cit., p. 22-23.

7 Ibid., p. 56.

8 Ibid., p. 23.

9 Ibid., p. 61.

10 Ibid., p. 27.

11 Ibid., p. 31.

12 Ibid., p. 77.

13 Ibid., p. 78.

15 Michel Foucault, Dits et écrits, t. II, Gallimard Quarto, 2001, p. 1093-94.

16 Paul Virilio, op. cit., p. 51, 52, 54.

17 Jean-Paul Dollé, L’Inhabitable Capital, Lignes, 2010, p. 108.

18 Ibid., p. 12 et 14.

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