Scenes of Flight

Capitalism lurches from crisis to crisis more and more frequently and is incapable of resolving them without ever increasing financial and military assistance from the state. The ongoing redistribution of resources from public entities to private ones in this context of enhanced militarism and securitization has led to more widespread social misery and more entrenched inequalities within and between countries. The major capitalist powers in the US and Europe seem either not to understand or to be in denial about the decline of western hegemony and the quiet but definitive shifting of the world system east, a shift with profound consequences for those living in the West. The capitalist democratic state is also weakened, in the case of the US and the UK internally conflicted to the point of incapacity, creating both resurgent authoritarianisms and a legitimation crisis serious enough to threaten this state form itself. There is widespread political opposition at various scales which, while disorganized, nonetheless encourages both the normalization of routine counterinsurgency policing and a growing sense that, shut out of participation in the existing economic and governing systems and facing ecological catastrophe, people must find another way to live. As in previous moments in the history of capitalism, the movement of people is key: captive, forced, free, fugitive, one by one, en masse. And as in previous moments, people organize politically and prepare for a new life in flight. It is difficult to take the measure of the changes we are living through, to determine what is dominant, residual and emergent in what is always a fragmented disoriented out-of-synch totality. We see and don’t see what is coming, always. In The Sociological Imagination, C. Wright Mills advised to search “among all the details” for the “main drift… of the underlying forms and tendencies of the … society.”

Scenes of flight searches in the details of subjugated knowledge for the drift of forms and tendencies. Scenes from the past, the present and the future that might evoke the main drift of our present moment with an eye to intervening in its trajectory.

Scenes anchored by visual images that set the scene and conjure a space for thinking about our world and its drift today. Scenes of counterinsurgency, criminalization and the confinement logics embedded since its origins in the modern capitalist world system and its nation-state political form; scenes of the solidarity and fellowship needed to make a more livable life on other terms than the one’s we’re living with; scenes in which there is a possibility that the armies of soldiers and police anywhere everywhere will refuse to uphold the systems that would completely collapse without them.

The scenes do not cohere well. The stories keep shifting and might best be kept secret. The work is slow. A work of creative non-fiction, maybe a work of fiction, a work-in-slow-progress.