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Much like Oakland, Tottenham has also Burned.

August 7, 2011

Today, in response to the killing of a young person by police, Tottenham in North London erupted in riots. Two buildings were burnt to the ground, various police cars destroyed and torched, along with one of the classic red double decker buses. The killing of a young man by police, much like that of Oscar Grant, obviously now faces the population in a new way. It seems unlikely that this is due to more killings than usual–such killings have frequently occurred for some time. Instead, perhaps we are witnessing the emergence of a new relation to state violence, a new reaction to the biopolitical field, one that has become increasingly odious due to the casualization and/or disappearance of work.

Tottenham Riot - burning the grocery store

It’s almost counterintuitive–that in a time like ours, an age of worldwide economic turbulence, there would exist a relation that politicizes the states functions, especially when it comes to police, as opposed to that of the workplace. Why is this? It is not, after all, the case that state violence now finds its place in history. No, for there is a long standing qualm between people and the state, and it goes back very, very far.

What we are now witnessing across large swaths of the planet is a new relation that is coming into bloom. Perhaps a healthy suggestion for why such relations between the various police mechanisms and populations are altering is a result of the total realignment of work. This realignment has taken place in such a way that there now exists a part of the population that must be managed outside of the workplace itself–surplus populations.  Foucault’s conception of Biopolitics, yes–something which many Marxists might fundamentally oppose–now come into full view.

Maybe this is a slight preview of what the “stationary state” really could look like–the politicization of not only those continually disappointing governmental expenditures, surplus values, state spending, etc–but also, and perhaps more importantly, the politicization of populations and groups. The gang injunction, once an action limited to those others in the hood, could now find itself cast in a much wider way.

But it obviously wont be that easy for the state. With this overt type of attempt at management also comes a new lucidity, as the relations that were once blurred and buried are now more legible, more spelled out, more infectious and certainly more unlivable.

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