An Unlikely Ascension: Ron Paul and the Media State


Ron Paul speaking to supporters at a “victory rally” following the 2012 Iowa Republican Caucuses in Ankeny, Iowa. Photograph by Gage Skidmore

by A. Staley Groves

What the republican candidatura conceals in its paradoxical movement is the questionable duration of the American State. This question is concealed by the incessant focus on the figure of the executive. Political cult is powered by the increasing exhibition of language. In language, the gestation of political figures takes form. We watch their stunning rise and fall in the polls during the caucus and primary season. This experience in language is something most punditry and the press at large misunderstand. What has emerged in the grass roots of the Iowa Caucuses portends a major sea change but finds little traction in the stories of rising and falling stars. A deeper paradox persists: it concerns a liberal state of justice in serious decline, yet at the same time a distraction. Marked by the ‘end’ of the Cold War, American politics no longer reflects a dialectic of liberal and conservative. Today political dialogue is a contest between Burkean conservatism and libertarian constitutionalism. The last vestiges of the liberal state confront a libertarian populism on the rise. I designate this as a difference between human and posthuman politics each with their unique allegiances to a type of state. The two primary figures of this conservative dynamic are President Barack Obama, a Burkean in governance, and Republican hopeful for the GOP nomination Ron Paul, the libertarian scourge and accused nativist by his party’s mainstream. One only need look to populist movements of the day and ask: in an age of questionable sovereignty and globalization with whom or what would the American polity sign their allegiance?

According to numerous polls a few days before Christmas 2011, Ron Paul broke into first place in the run-up to the Iowa Caucuses. The media having endured increasing revolt from Paul’s supporters who claim Paul is consistently ignored or smeared by the establishment, that they have tried their best to denounce Iowa politics should he win. [i] One may recall the 2008 Iowa Democratic Caucus when the current President Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in a months-long race starting with an Iowa victory. Obama’s campaign was indeed a grass roots effort, and Paul’s was no different. The problem is how dismissive the media became toward candidate Paul and its attitude toward candidate Obama. Obama is at best an establishment executive, betraying the radicalism headed now by Ron Paul. If one thinks this a bias, what portends beneath it is a real threat to media’s agency and its claim on the state. Paul represents the emergence of an ungovernable polis who has begun to confront a new ephemeral suspicion of governance. Paul and Obama share a new polity. To understand the unlikely ascension of Paul that was quashed in December, it is necessary to review the candidates and their link to identity politics after a bit of context from the Iowa contest.

The outcome of the 2012 Iowa Republican Caucus, held January 3, in neighborhood churches, schools and hotel ballrooms, ditched three carnival barking, cartoonish buffoons and placed three, markedly different conservatives into the New Hampshire primary. The “conservatives” that emerged represent three elements: the CEO, the theocrat and a libertarian revanchist. In what is otherwise a statistical tie Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul finished with the following percentages: 24.6, 24.5 and 21.4; yet what matters in the party centers on its platform to be eventually debated. Iowa’s ‘first in the nation’ status delivered what the establishment needed, almost. Mitt Romney was the true loser, not building upon the 25% support he had four years ago. Rick Santorum carried the banner of the social conservatives four years ago held by Mike Huckabee. Ron Paul is the true enigma, as he stands to effect a reconsideration for the Republican Party at large, toward not only a new party platform (evident in the Iowa result), but toward a new thinking of the American state, that is at once contradictory to the ideological musings of 1960s style libertarianism. This emergence is linked to media, grass roots politics and the role of authentic language. This emergence, what I link to the ungovernable shares in the biological absolutism of Santorum and more so reflects the individualism of libertarian ideology. Both ideas are linked to media and technological subjectification, an issue we will turn our focus to in a moment.

In Iowa, delegates from the 1,774 precincts will consolidate in county conventions later in the month, and from there delegates are selected. Delegates are once again chosen and move on to the state convention and finally, the national convention later this year. The Iowa Caucuses are unique in that in each precinct caucus supporters stand-up and speak for their candidate, there are debates, there are solicitations; people eventually coalesce around alternatives if support is too weak for their first choice. This was the case for Rick Santorum who finished a mere eight votes behind Mitt Romney statewide. Leading up to caucus night the Christian conservative vote was split between three social conservatives: Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann (who consequently dropped out of the national contest), and finally Santorum. As a neoconservative, Santorum also embodies the manifest destiny concept of American empire, something resolutely contradicted in Paul’s supporters. Until Santorum won the endorsement of a prominent, anti-gay Christian conservative leader late in the contest, there was a strong concern the state would not yield a strong pro-life, American exceptionalist candidate to the rest of the nation. In contrast the Christian conservative vote in Iowa behind Santorum, a Catholic from Pennsylvania with blue collar appeal, is a vocal minority comprising anywhere from 25,000 to perhaps 30,000 voters in a caucus that yielded 122,000 votes in a state of 3,000,000 people. Santorum did not secure all of the social conservative vote, but he did grasp over half of the prolife support. Iowa’s Catholic population is strongest in the east of the state, overall about 23% of Christians identify as Catholic, yet it seems quite clear that a Mormon, a Catholic, and a Southern Baptist all headed the top of the ticket, that is, in the sense of ecumenicism, perhaps, the choice is based more on biological absolutism rather than theological nuances of temporal kingdoms. Finally, Iowa to this day remains split into three and is somewhat regionally consistent: independents in the center toward the eastern portion of the state, democrats in the eastern portion up to the Mississippi River, and social conservatives in the western region. The thin membrane of southern counties touch the essence of the bible belt on the border or Missouri, but for the most part comply with the regions I have described.

If one looks at the various outcomes of the Republican Caucus, something portends for the general election and it is not a Christian conservative candidate—in fact it’s the big tent power of libertarianism that emerged with Ron Paul and precisely where Romney scored his victories as well. As for Paul, many reports suggest his supporters are all or nothing. Many non-traditional republicans and independents are in fact more likely Obama supporters. This group that supports Paul would also support Obama in the general election over another republican. For Romney, he won in predominantly democratic counties, in the general election, this suggests if Romney is the nominee the state will go blue. Paul’s showing lends to a mood in the polity that has changed. That is why Paul’s delegates in the national convention have enormous power, they cannot be easily swayed. The key then is the question of natural rights for individuals, not state mandated rights for groups, where the state assigns privileges to a taxonomy of cultures, but to individuals to determine their own trajectory and the spontaneity of cultures emerging versus their instrumental construction of media as agency. That is, the anti-state mood of new libertarianism is supposed by the increasing power of the media’s claim on the state. The distinction links to biological absolutism, the question of a civil state and a technological one, though economic issues are certain, my focus here turns to language and to technological effects on political culture—in short a question of technological determinism rather than economic determinism. This centers on the authenticity of existence in an age when individualism struggles between uniqueness and singularity.

Media and the Republican Candidatura: On Gestating the Saint of the Ungovernable

This ungovernable shift has had a long journey in search of a saint-savior. It first expressed exuberance for the man who billionaire Koch Brothers supported for president yet proved an inept adulterer. Herman Cain who tried to traverse the gap to from mortal to saint failed. The narratives applied to Cain fit nearly every political career. Beneath the narrative a different take on the Cain myth was expressed by Mike Tyson’s parody of the man: “the tea party loves crazy more than they hate black.” [ii] Tyson’s strange pain was an uncomfortable humor Cain could not divulge. The final review before beatification of the presidential contender, who upon ascension will attain a type of incorruptible humanization, was not in the future for the man. A paradox the would-be sophist could not maintain.

Candidate Michelle Bachmann is no friend of facts, often too imaginative with her own. She suggested Cain was unfit as the messiah, that his 9-9-9 tax plan was in fact the mark of the beast 6-6-6, such reversals example a mild cleverness. Bachmann, regardless, carries an incredible amount of charisma and speaks to the Palinite polity of orthodox obedience. In some sense the best echo of Hillary Clinton, the right’s impenetrable hatred for Clinton thus requited by the left.

Ordained by Toni Morrison, Bill Clinton was considered the first black president. Yet if diet was a measure of blackness Morrison’s stereotyping has given way. [iii] It was recently revealed that Bill Clinton went vegan giving-up his love of fried food and McDonalds; so too has Tyson. The fragile rise of Newt Gingrich in the GOP primary has nothing to do with Bill Clinton whose craft was poignantly displayed by his endorsement of Newt. This lends to a deeper vector. Newt holds a Ph.D. in history; also scandal ladened. The sacrifice of Cain in light of infidelity and criminal-esque sexual harassment opens an interior vector between them. Cain took the pain for Newt. Newt thus retained the great white hope Cain could not reconcile. Yet Newt seemingly evades the populist condemnation of the half-life ‘governor’ who condemned President Obama for “lecturing us from a podium,” guilty of being a “constitutional law professor.” Palin of course lectures against intellectualism from her own podium and the common curiosity about the holder of contradiction is that the obvious sophist does not hide it. They hold in their open mouths an alluring paradox, a type of charm.

Such a paradox may be found in Rick Perry who in a debate could not recall the major departments of the government he wished to dismantle. Perry also forgot the voting age and the date of the presidential election when making his pitch to college students. His role in this vector was no doubt part of gestating the saint to come. Perry’s incompetence conversely cleansed former president George W. Bush from charges of ineptitude, scandal, war crimes, and lies. Perry’s appearance seems a reconciliation; the profanation of Bush in full swing washed-off like last night’s lover.

Obama maintains the policies of Bush as if a fart were fresh air. The deeper tactic of Obama seems to absorb his competitions ground, one hopes in the next term he will redeem what he is often accused of. This anti-Romney tactic of the Democrats is one the Republican party would rather keep quiet. Thus Gingrich, with his putative failures of fidelity to the contract of marriage is often overshadowed by his contract with America, a certain version of freedom through impeaching the infidelity of President Clinton.

Now from Toni to Tommy: if cleanliness, personal baggage, and great white hopes are of interest, fallen boxer Tommy Morrison should intrigue us. Tommy contracted HIV at the height of his career. In lieu of a fight Tommy tested positive in 1996. Fame and promiscuity, all marks of a beast conqueror, as for Newt, as for Bill, as for Cain, as for most seem linked to a long, linear trajectory where the mind defies inert facts through the corruptive force of language. This language seeks a truer signifier. The evidence of creative thought is found in our hope that political figures are real. The source of this imaginative capacity found in the egoism of the political hero is one we seemingly mourn for. Tommy Gunn went through all the terrible downfalls that await the next white hope.  As the hero of democracy to be, Cain inhabited that vector, he became Newt’s sacrifice. The staged fights Morrison took up in light of his disease meant the great white hope was reduced to favoring the theatrics of a blood sport over the reality of its risks, a roman pur in political aesthetics, say athletics.

Human and Posthuman Politics: Paradox and the Ungovernable

The answer to the paradoxical voyages of a candidature may be found in a long term project of philosopher Giorgio Agamben, toward what I have already eluded to as the question of the “ungovernable” and the human/posthuman politics at hand. The ungovernable emerges as an answer to the malaise of would be activists. Agamben writes that the ungovernable takes place at “the source and vanishing point of any and all politics,” pitched between two general rationalities it is simultaneously “a coupling of two heterogeneous elements, a politico-juridical rationality and an economic-governmental rationality.” This fact, that is also reflected in his other work, lends to technological determinism and the future of subjectification. Agamben prefaces this by a thinking of “popular sovereignty” an expression “drained of all meaning.” At issue is an anemic philosophical tradition: “Western democracies are now paying the price for a philosophical heritage they haven’t bothered to take a close look at in a long time.” The meaning of sovereignty has been ignored or denatured in the polity, the political, as a material capturing thought, is an essence of crisis. Thus the illusory choice in presidential politics: “To think of government as simple executive power is a mistake and one of the most consequential errors ever made in the history of Western politics.” [iv] The addition I make here are two types of ungovernable subjects, again, human and posthuman political actors moving toward different yet ephemeral states.

Within the Burkean and libertarian dialectic the former reflects the continuity of the state as an adherence to tradition. This tradition has a liberal component that for many years instrumentally enforced justice so to include what is excluded, in other words, to conserve the state. For example, the U.S. Government’s evolving Civil Rights Legislation. Instrumental justice for state continuity was meant to conserve order by absorbing potential revolutions. Thus far, the Tea Party component of the U.S. House of Representatives has adopted a mode of the absolute revanchist, one the current president cannot contain in overtures of consensus. As the insurgents are brought into the calculative mode of governance they forward the dissolution of inclusion. Here we see a type of ungovernable representation, part of the paradox, a ‘form of constitution’ and a ‘form of government’ as precisely the problem of the ungovernable attempting to be represented. [v] Such was calcified by the misnomer of Rand Paul, recently elected senator, who conflated civil rights legislation as a tyranny of government. The question is what experience supplants the idea of equality of individuals? What is the integrity of such an experience?

As a type of libertarianism at large the movement’s insistence on Washington gridlock is based on the supposed originary intent of the state where local, spontaneously emerging cultures respect absolute individuality with minimum Federal intervention. Conversely this theory of the state is characteristic of technological anonymity strangely compatible with conservative intellectual theories of the postwar era. [vi] The conflict emerges as individual rights versus group rights. These communities, falsely contrived or not, believe no instrumentalization of justice is just, rather, they abide according to a general libertarian ideology of wintry individualism and gravitate toward a novel version of anarcho-capitalism. This engages strangely with a Puritan mentality, deferring salvation despite every effort, affirming the wealth of the opulent who have the largest and most effective voice in changing regulations and legislation. To achieve their revolutionary aims they must overthrow the old, tyrannical order it denounces as un-American. The new order would unbind the already degraded social contract but at the same time have a new agency to sustain its radical, more spontaneous self-evidence. In this new order natural rights are driven by the paradox of technological freedom, and herein persists a possible answer, if not an answer then a strong suggestion. Natural rights would achieve what they have never attained in American history.

If the American state was born out of a revolution it adopted the Burkean mode of consensus and moderation to mimic and indeed improve the state it wanted to be part of. It is conservative in this regard and liberal in the fact of its capacity of calculation and absorption, even exquisitely toward a universalism now challenged by globalization. [vii] This tentative consensus may be brought back to the American Revolution itself, when the English King, George III, failed to heed the advice of Edmund Burke and allow the American Colonies parliamentary representation. Natural rights of the libertarian sort in American history most likely resemble those of the French Revolution. Libertarians today are responding to a latent ‘year zero’ mentality (one that technological determinism seems to agitate), a path the revolutionary leadership in America did not follow. The difference here is a sublated order already in place. Returning to the original document is thus part of the paradox of modern libertarianism fostered by the prolific and incessant exchange of information and crises of authentic community. The ungovernable cannot be, supposedly, represented. Yet content does not decide this altogether, the experience of media underwrites it by promoting an effect of conquering time and distance. And what media has untapped in the candidatura is, among other things, the foundation of identity politics. And that foundation is language, the key to all static presentation of culture in any pluralistic society and the unmeasured amplitudes of any ungoverned force. [viii] The question of racism in the libertarian movement in the late 20th century emerges as media solicits more and more or means of expression and the binding, less attractive fabric of not only conservative culture but the deeper narratives between cultures. Even as the media continues to tack racism to Ron Paul’s candidacy, in particular through the valence of Murray Rothbard among others, the libertarian moment is quickly upon us. This version is more so convinced of its raceless revelation. One need only recall the problems of both parties, Southern Democrats and modern Republicans all the same.

Novelistic Media and the Ungovernable Antichrist

The American civil state cannot compete with media technology as a superior form of inclusion, calculation, and subjectification. Media increasingly owns the concept of justice and further obtains a force of sublated reconciliation. The problem today is a question of agency, in fact the questionable status of the media as a technological state. One would only need note the prevalence of politicians participating in cable news. These spots serve as proxies for launching increasingly privatized political campaigns, these campaigns are funded outside of the state as much as reality television offering an ‘inside’ view of private life, say private power.

In the 20th century an “informed citizenry” was considered by many a benevolent ideal. An informed citizenry meant more participation in democracy as in the case of the “fourth estate.” By informing citizenry contemporary media is better at capturing human expression rather than opening a space for the free exercise of it. One must pause at the accumulation of such data. Such conditioned expression no longer results in a reasoned decision in support of a potential regime (and it is questioned by more than a few if it ever could). Rather than a ‘watchdog’ of the state, media holds a larger stake in the destiny of the state at large, it employs force or appeal of language. Yet media shares a role in an evolving type of anarcho-capitalism with the balance of thinking force on its side. By calling out the saintly failings of candidates it has reached an essentialistic preeminence. The watchdogs of media become those who consume its content, foolishly believing they are exercising free language and in turn produce more and more content. In this function, the media preserves its primacy as kingmaker; it owns the margins of discourse by obtaining exhibited language in the form of a user’s expression. In doing so it has reached a feature role in the ‘essence of the political’. [ix] Between what I call human and posthuman political spheres are the underlying polarities of Burkean conservation, the idea of order, and libertarian constitutionalism, or the paradoxical order(ing) of freedom.

First of all the ‘political’ suggests there is no outside of the state unless by “exception” reserved for the “sovereign” to decide over. [x] So when I am thinking of the technological ground of media and its claim on human language and subsequent politics (the ‘political sphere’) I am attempting to conceive of a novel agency “between the law and the living being” that relates to posthuman politics. Second, one need consider that every living being has some relationship to sovereignty, hence essence and decision, and that this relation is complicated by the fact of human language and rational systems that develop it much the way our relationship to language is conditioned by figurations of images and text. Language as a substance is a force, a type of labor, and its expressive force is primary to the state at large. Today our choice for effective politics is supposed by an obfuscation of human access and care for such language that the state captures and puts to work. [xi] In lieu of a nascent posthuman affect this space between the law and the living being is the individual thinking in language, a language in separate yet interrelated spheres. Thus the emphasis on the candidatura is toward an executive emphasis already outlined in the critique of Agamben.

How do we begin to reclaim what is a missed opportunity of our ungovernable capability? An analogy may be drawn to media as I have depicted it. To stand outside of the human only forwards the imperative of ordo as to confusio, the posthuman stands for order and the human retains or is conditioned by confusion, that is, the uncertainty of language becomes the allure of content already in thought. The decider, the sovereign, is an allegorical relationship to the historical as it relates to human thought. The posthuman abides by order; the human retains its ungovernable capacity. I requote Gerhoh of Reichersberg from then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s Eschatologyto open this point:

“In radical fashion, he sweeps away the traditional image: this image, he insists, must be understood allegorically, not in some literal historical way. What the ‘antichrist’ means is grasped philologically: everyone who is Christo Filio Dei contrarius deserves this name…In other words, anyone who destroys ordo and furthers confusio is an antichrist.”

Everyone who wields language without mediation is against the order of the state. In this conception, every political candidate is a potential antichrist if they are on the wrong side of language. The media and its followers are called to denounce the appearance of confusion until they beatify the saint who will preserve order. Yet in conquering this problem, order is initiated and the end deferred. (One need only recall the messianic accusations of Bush and Obama to get a hint at what I mean.) By obtaining more language, the ground of thought abides by the margins of media sanction. Here I feature Cardinal Ratzinger’s comments to further the point:

“The antichrist is one only in the multiplicity of his historical appearances, each of which threatens in its own way the period in which it occurs.” This suspends “the calculation of the date of the End.”  The end in this regard is nothing less than the ‘permanent campaign’ but it also suggests the timing of time is on the side of a superior type of order. (This may be understood in the rapid denouncement of Ron Paul’s strong polling in the early stages of the nomination contest.) “This inevitably rules out any attempt at an empirical explanation which would denature prophecy by turning it into empty speculation. Here we see, finally, that the two distinct lines of expectation that belong to the Jewish hope have merged together though Christology.” Media’s primary, empirical speculation, is the use of polling data and user comments to drive their ‘original’ content. Empty speculation is thus part of the essence by which outcomes may always be deferred. Here then do we see media and eschatology interchange: “In the man Jesus, God comes at one and at the same time in a human and in a divine way. His coming transcends the logic of history, yet concerns all history. Human activity carries on with its own kind of objectivity, but a new dimension  is opened up pertinent to human existence and thus to all the world.” This new objectivity is the potential collision between human and media bodies, the media body in some sense anticipates the terrain of confusio, of language, the opening of raw language to the image of mediation. “The divine coming compels man to adopt an attitude of watchful readiness which looks out for the Parousia of Jesus and thus prevents history from falling into a self-enclosure which would condemn human existence to meaninglessness and purposelessness.” [xii]

Gestation is taken up as the task of the media, this gestative review tears up and recombines language into a whole new body toward order, toward the new state. It appears to us as a type of essence albeit a false one in terms of human finitude in the confrontation with being in the world—it extends it as a possibility beyond temporality. One must be watchful and at the same time vigilant and true to the Puritan experience to never achieve a knowable satisfaction they felt was possible. One could say journalism is true to its function as an instrument—it need no poetics, it usurps into a wrong ontological expression. This gap we have yet to traverse dominates the truth of politics and begins toward the truth of the politicized media body—the advanced technologicalization of language as a type of scaffold of being. The meeting of the mediated body from the solicitation of language (order) confronts the remaining language of the individual (confusion). In this collision one may claim a type of affect lends to the enigmatic condition concerning the aesthetics of politics. The overcoming of time registers as an affect and this rejoining of raw language saturates otherwise inert facts with a vigilance of superior outcomes.

One could say media produces alluring content toward the absorption, production, and distribution of language expressly in the name of the informed citizen; it comprises a large factor of one’s personal agency in representative democracy. Examples I already mentioned are significant: polling data and user-comments. These interactive features solicit a type of human vanity of the careful watcher or citizen journalist. Such vanity, if I may invoke Hegel, blinds us to the dignity and nature of language. Blinded by media vanity, aspects of our expressed language bulwark media narratives, say narration of our own language to thought. By tapping language at a fundamental level, media increases its capacity of capture unprecedented in human history. To inform a citizen is today to not only obtain their attention, but to employ it. The shock jock press, trash television and other phenomenon show us a maximal attempt to not only reach new levels of excitement, but to exhibit every aspect of human emotion as an inevitable outcome of media.

Such narratives, incidentally or not, move toward securing and improving media’s place in everyday life. In that sense every thinking mind endures politicization by the technical solicitation of language. This is why the term ‘the political’ is at once an essence and a material. Considering the role of media today ‘the novelistic’ is apropos. We follow stories built from our own writing and thinking, that is, we abandon the privacy of our own language meandering in our devices. We enter created events turning inert content into instruments of event expansion. An event we never confront but one we feel the pressure of. This may be provisionally linked to the seldom read “user agreement,” in other words dereliction of a contract is common practice. Nonetheless a type of consignation of the sensus communis is a type of ‘hieratic absolute’ of the contract with media devices and technologies.

Our storyteller media is toward ordering what we think of as free expression. Because I view media as part of the essence of the political, the ephemeral figure of politics is a no-choice solicitation of our own language. That is why I situated an incubation of the paradoxical candidatura near the beginning of this article, to example the kaleidoscopic churning of identity politics powered by language, memory, and culture. If media is a type of state of order, that is, the order of freedom, it is emerging in the confrontation of Ron Paul’s bid for the Republican nomination.

Beatific Certitude

This distinction I have made elsewhere is informed by my studies of Walter Benjamin, in particular The Storyteller, where the reader of novels may slip away into a world forgetting for a time the one they inhabit. [xiii] In Benjamin’s view the primary human apparatus was oratorial broadcast, the capacity for developing experience and memory with deference to the subtleties of our fleshy existence. This existence was something to conserve as it began gravitation into written forms. As Benjamin understood it the human body suffered a type of desubjectification when communicative systems obtained a capacity of broadcast that outpaced the aptitude of flesh and the capacity of reflection.

Desubjectification meant the disappearance of wise counsel we had once obtained from a good tale. The body was thus already under denaturation, it lost its ability to produce language in the way it had for millennia. As our imagination circulated in the written form it strayed from our grasp removing humans from one another, yet wise counsel still remained in traces, the body developed an image of its own ability for language. Conversely the extension of imagination could provide us pleasure, or an intensity we may find hard to resist, but one we would be able to recover from. In this recovery our sensitivities toward the natural world were altered or diminished. In recovering our imaginative voyage would we enhance, or augment the human condition. Otherwise called ‘historicity’ when we disengage from the story, or test the tale in in the ‘real’ world the ‘I’ must confront an alien self. With the paper text the movement of imagination in the printed world was a private, say intimate affair. Indeed one is inclined to share the experience of the novel, as a good novel may give counsel, or moral advice lost from oral tradition.  One may or may not relieve themselves of alienation by disclosing the private voyage, or accumulate a melancholia traversing natural and more symbolic habitats. As an impetus for self-reflective thought alienation is now a common expression, yet vastly underrated.  The exhilaration once held in relation to the tale relegated to private imagination what was once a more manageable degree of choice, now an incessant exhibition of thought we may or may not mediate ourselves.

One may already conclude what I mean by ‘novelistic media’, and further, for the characters of electoral politics. Political characters command the attention of would-be readers who are more or less voting consumers devouring incessant reports of candidates and their trials. The term ‘following’ applies, but precisely what does one follow and whom do they encounter? That is, in media, political figures or celebrities are certainly ones we will never know. Our experience and struggles with isolation lend to the allure of politics today. In our novelistic, storyteller media, exhilaration is part player of a ruse. A ruse symbolized by political characters whose triumphs, failures, gaffes, and humiliations represent all the dramas we once read about. Since we inhabit their narratives the allure is powered by the increasing exhibition of our private thoughts. Through our comments as users and followers such a ruse is our forgotten imagination if only by the acceleration of “real time” media. We place our hopes and fears in these characters.

What we may conclude here has been underway in continental thought for several decades, presence is always deferred when we make decisions, our language is already influenced by the graphic and phonic conditioning of content throughout our historical development of writing and images. Our mimetic genius is as well a fact of the idea of language—we cannot get out of that condition because language is the basis of thought itself. The allure of media today is the capture of deep language as it develops bildung, that is, life is more a coming of age, say bildungsroman, of a new type of human thinking, but not in favor of its corruptive and creative force, media seeks to obtain it, and own it. Media must first attach itself to the dead and symbolic residue already in thought and then does it obtain something it may or may not utilize. Media brings about the ungovernable in ways that threaten what we have called order, and at the same time persists as an order we have a questionable agency with. I mean to suggest what has been said in many other places but not in this context, this aggravates a yearning for freedom, this initiates a feeling of totality, we look to an executive figure to save us but tragically align our hopes to a content-figure with the capture of raw language in our devices. None of these statues could save us, we must step outside the circumspection of the figure and begin to care for all the displacement of language as it relates to the creation of knowledge, a task more formally articulated by Jean-François Lyotard and developed by many others. Human thinking must retain its humor, its light-heartedness in order to challenge whatever it encounters as an orthodox zealotry, but at the same time must nourish its fidelity to the truth of the ungoverned. Such a truth that may only be found face to face, person to person, in silence, or beneath everyday meaning.


[i] Ron Paul—right after getting 1st in polls, witnessed an onslaught of biased coverage: The use of statistics to prove whether or not Paul wrote the letters:

Mentions Burkean conservative vs. libertarian constitutionalist:

On racists letters CNN

Morton Downey Jr., in an attempt to show unhinged and energetic Paul:

Interesting take on Hume:

Fair rendition of Paul one day before Iowa Caucus:

[ii] Found in the “Live Funny or Die” series “Herman Cain’s Campaign Promises with Mike Tyson.”

[iii] “Years ago, in the middle of the Whitewater investigation, one heard the first murmurs: white skin notwithstanding, this is our first black President. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime. After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.”

[iv] See “Introductory Note on the Concept of Democracy” from: Democracy in What State, Agamben et. al. [v] ibid. [vi] In particular the work edited by William F. Buckley Jr.

[vii] Jean-Luc Nancy articulated this palliation of absorption by Western powers.  In a nut shell, the center is emptied as it opens up to the world. The result is an evident paradox and crisis of direction. See The Creation of the World or Globalization.

[viii] I am connecting the project of Agamben from his earlier work on language ontology to his concept of the Ungovernable as less formally announced in a recent text What is an Apparatus? For language ontology, see Language and Death, and Potentialities.

[ix] The essence of the political may be read in the Concept of the Political, where Carl Schmidt proposed that “the political” was a schematic of interrelating institutions: churches, financial and commercial banks, non-profits, public spaces, private firms, et cetera. Various institutions culminate in an essence of the state: the political at large. The essence of the political is to be thought today, in particular, as that which captures and shapes this essence with increasing effect.  In our globalized life, the universal reaches of liberalism was also presaged by Schmidt, in many instances he is viewed by some as conservative on that particular matter.

[x] See: State of Exception, Giorgio Agamben [xi] Here I am directing a connection between immaterial or affect labor with Agamben’s earlier comments on the executive focus and political apathy. For more reading on this subject see: After the Future, by Franco “Bifo” Berardi.

[xii] See “The Future Life: The Resurrection of the Dead,” from: Eschatology, Death and Eternal Life, Joseph Ratzinger.

[xiii] See “The Return of Walter Benjamin’s Storyteller: Ronald Reagan as the Incorruptible Saint of Political Media,” by A. Staley Groves, originally published in Continent. 1.3 (2011): 187-194, republished by Berfrois.

About the Author:

Adam Staley Groves received PhD and MA degrees from the European Graduate School, Wallis, Switzerland. Adam’s current postdoctoral research engages posthumanities, politics, and future ontology under the supervision of philosopher Christopher Fynsk at the University of Aberdeen, School of Language and Literature, Centre For Modern Thought. The author of Poetry Vocare, a full length volume of poetry with a forward by poetry scholar, Judith Balso, Adam is also contributing editor with the academic journal Continent. Adam has taught humanities and communication studies in the United States and Thailand.