In the Streets We Become Cattle — Towards a theory of demonstrations


(Translation by Max Black)

This is not a mobile freak show. Those cameras and cell phones you’re showing off: what are their cold eyes pointing at? What are they asking?

Cross-transmission is what will perceive us. A chindon band begins to call out. The voiceless transmitters, who parade disguising themselves with sexuality and buffoonery, describe a fold in public space with their supple and elegant gestures. Sound breaches that fold, and passes through a crowd pushing against itself, dislocating a crowd excited in its revolt against the media and public communications’ consolidation of one-dimensional information. There were those who heard a sorrowful requiem in their gay dancing to the instruments. But we stop bowing our shoulders and in setting out to walk, make the madness of street art immanent to our bodies.

You cannot find us. We have given up our names. Which we had borne from start to finish. We are in exodus from our resumes and CV’s, workplace ethics and being a good citizen. But, from the start we didn’t have names. The plebs don’t leave any remains anyway. People may call us minor. We never could understand what statements like ‘it’s safe’ or ‘it won’t influence health’ meant. The words that come out of the infants that we’d see from time to time on the bus or on the train are more articulate than that stuff. On that day in Tokyo where a fascist mayor had gained his reelection, we who gathered in the streets of Koenji, in spite of the fear of being injured by radiation, walked between the threshold of the everyday, and a new ethics which unfolds outside of it. You define this world of ours in terms of opinion. We don’t understand what an opinion is and we don’t want to know. We get this the whole time we’re walking, from start to finish, and we don’t want to hear it, since it is not even of everyday life. If that’s proper Japanese or if it’s ethics we will be in exodus from it. We make our appeal to micropolitics. At this moment we are walking in this street.

But to do that was also to talk about our dreams. What we, who differed in our backgrounds and cultures in many ways, had been doing every day up to that point. That was all. Our ethically vacuous and pointless everyday. This was the place where we encountered each other. Together we walk just to cast all of that aside. To drink, to exchange views, like the singing of songs, and to dance, giving our bodies to the music — this is what we chose.

We greet the children who wear their sanitary masks, flee from the rain, and avoid drinking their water, and who play in the courtyards where the dust dances, and say to them,‘welcome home.’ They will be able to choose to continue living life through the image of our lives. With the lady rapper’s flow –‘turn vested interests (riken) around and you get rights (kenri)’– we appropriate territory.

What the media can home in on is no more than footprints. No more than echoes. Maybe not even that. A camera can only detect the image of an empty beer can that is rolling on the ground, can only detect the image of vehicles that know nothing but traffic rules going in every direction in confusion, can only count the number of shoes, but without hearing the footsteps. Even the words written on the placards and t-shirts are semiotic character strings to them and are consolidated into information.

Maybe we should be clear. It’s not that the media doesn’t report our images. Since we live in a different world, there is no helping, with their unbearable feelings of envy, the best possible reaction we can expect from them is indifference, and apart from their indifference, they have nothing but their stiffness. Basically we don’t show up on their monitor.

A crowd of 15,000 was in insurrection. Let us reconfirm this. We have abandoned our names. But we didn’t have names from the beginning. We don’t know if they are aware of this. But a crowd is not the same thing as a mass of stuff.

We rise up, mill around, and withdraw. We stop the cars on the street, we cover the pedestrian bridges, we force the buses into retreat. We get responses from the residents in their houses on the side of the road. Right now we are the ones occupying this street. We want to abandon the names of ‘the people,’ ‘the workers,’ ‘the citizens,’ for us this is a space of encounter. This appearance, which seeks difference in face to face encounters and expression, and hybridizes haphazardly, may seem strange in their eyes.

Our interest is not in saying that this is a ‘festive resistance action’ or whatever. We should take what Felix Guattari said –‘politics precedes being’– more seriously. The moment when we overflow in the streets and hybridize, there is doubtless politics and that is where we live. This moment — long have we awaited it.

We endure. It’s not enough for us to settle for one situation. Still dancing irregularly, we slip between the people uneasily walking by and hide ourselves on the sidewalk. We even mingle with the policemen. We seduce them. We beckon with our hands and invite them in. There were policemen who gave money, inspired by the benefit song, made up on the spot. In the face of us, exceptional groups do not exist. But you are a perfect example. And we are innumerable.

An affinity. We live in the city. But there was nothing to delimit this street as a city. Cars and buses, apartments and building complexes, even Ring Road #7 and the Ome Kaido were just shapes coming towards us. Because the situations and problems coming towards us, like our backgrounds and circumstances, were different for each of us. One could raise a placard and say, ‘I want to get laid,’ but no one would turn their back at it. A world of sullen exchanges on the train we ride, tired from our jobs or the flow of each day, where the dispute is settled with the thrust of a knife. There is no change from adult to child. Only the categories change. Adult children who murder their parents and infantilized adults who murder their children. A cold formality haunts the safety and security they speak of. Solitary offices, built by catching on to the new fashion before anyone else. In the room next door an old man might be dying of solitude. Lying to live, living to lie. As we face each other and hybridize, that will produce lies also. But having abandoned our names and faced each other, our lies and even betrayals will have affect. We are in exodus from an unbearable world that has hidden its lies behind its back.

We become a pack. We do not rely on any regulation or system which disconnects us from the pack. Imagine it. An invisible system that cannot be put into language. A disconnection that is latent in it, that men and women hang around. There are people there who learn intimacy with their man or their woman in it. Their encounters with them are disseminated. But when they separate they give up their intimacy, don’t they? We are alone and we are innumerable. We do not adjust our immanent gregariousness to the default system.

It ‘s the same with the difference between men and women, in men and women. In the invisible system we can see roles for men and the roles for women distributed here and there. But he who hangs on, and she who hangs on here is pierced through by the single pack. They become woman. It is in anticipation in their wombs. They occupy a single position. We are alone and we are innumerable. I wonder to myself if I can become woman. Sexuality is not something we possess but which supports us through difference. It makes us and it takes us apart. In assembling us, it strips us bare of our positionality as individuals. We who have been made solitary by the ethics of the pack continue our encounters on the street, again, and again.

And we continue to encounter those who we have an ethics in common with.

The street was a space of encounter. But there is something we must notice: That this moment must be sustained, for as long as we have anticipated it, for longer than we have anticipated it. Even if this body disappears, politics will continue. We have noticed this. We have come from Minami-Soma, we have come from Namie. We exchanged greetings, we passed the time, we watched over each other. No, we saw each other off. How shall we become without seeing off this moment? We shall become anyhow. We are not one being that is alone. Encounter is not a becoming-one. We encounter each other again, for the third time. For a long time having danced, drank, and anticipated in this close intimacy, we encounter each other in this street again. After this street, we may not go along blindly with the 4/4 beat and the speakers, the rhythm and the bass. We may not just throw our hands up when the break comes in. We will hybridize the speakers with the rhythms that we play, and make up our own beats. When we take in the sound, the agitation on our skins repeatedly forms connections and catastrophes, it disseminates in secrecy on the border. We call forth the street. If there is exchange in the streets, it is always hybridizing, it creates new moments. Each one of us knows how this works.

The words of the approved textbooks, which teach us that friendship is a human relation where we affirm our togetherness through mutual sharing of feelings of trust and sympathy for our partners, has nothing of substance to it. Among us, seeking agreement from those who have come from Minami-Sanriku or Namie by calling for them to shout slogans beginning with ‘anti…’ or ‘no more…’ may not be solidarity in the real meaning of the word. For them the long fight has already begun. We were the ones who blinded ourselves to this. This will not be created through collusion in the mutual sharing of lies. The point of our mutual connection is not to get us money. It is not born through social mixers that we participate in for exorbitant fees. We have been forced into a situation where there is nothing but a ‘lifestyle’ where we can only make our withdrawals from these connections. A human being that places its hopes and expectations for new values and change in that existence has nothing available to it besides paranoia.

At Fukushima, cattle and dogs escaped. Later, innumerable cattle appeared in front of TEPCO’s offices. They were brought there in the shaking trailer against their will, for had they only known where TEPCO’s offices were they surely would have come there walking. Can we discern the plaintiveness that crosses over into urgency in their voice as we walk? We become cattle and dogs. Perhaps this is solidarity.

We already knew. We are able to be in that close, intimate time. That time which was lived by cattle, dogs, and cats. A voice may say, that close intimacy was the time when we were domesticated by the family, the state, the system. A loud voice may say, ‘be human!’ ‘the encounter is what happened after all of that!’ But this should not be overlooked: We are not in the business of verifying the connections between us and them. Our affect shaken by cattle, feeling shame, we become cattle. The Self Defense Force (SDF) member who fled from Fukushima became cattle before this shame, and exposed his shame. He is us. Being-man right now — wasn’t this what he was ashamed of? We become cats whose tongues are dry from the dust when we walk through the shattered rubble, we become dogs when we drink seawater on the shore where there is nothing but the sound of waves. We become cattle when we chew the cud while keenly sensing the disquiet in its unchanging taste. With our affect shaken by one shame after another we become cattle and dogs and cats, and we become a pack. A pack of innumerable affects that cannot be disconnected. The groups called Bosozoku (motorcycle gangs) in Yokohama and Ibaraki, ashamed with confused adults, raised voice through the roaring produced by their high-speed intimacies with their motorcycles. They showed their affect and abandoned their given names all by themselves. When a high school student in Minami Soma said, ‘I feel death coming on bit by bit,’ she became woman. Even a woman becomes woman. When you get down to it, what is ‘realistic,’ what is ‘possible,’ what is an ‘alternative energy plan?’ We should not get too familiar with these things. Because we have abandoned our names.

3/11. On the way home from hours long walk, we noticed it. Through the explosion at Fukushima, we came to believe, in the darkness of the rolling blackout. We carried the great and vague fear and anxiety, of wondering what could happen next. But we became aware of something that could only be expressed as a strange sense of release after the fear. What had bound us was the radioactive, the nuclear. Being ordered to ‘be human’ from the moment we were born. This was also the same. Even the left-wing groups are saying, ‘make connections!’ This was also the same. The SDF in exodus from Fukushima had felt it. The young couples who had fled Fukushima with their children had felt it. We were in exodus because of the absence of a common ethics. The future that nuclear power had prepared had collapsed. Constituting innumerable affinities, all the while fearing radiation, we are together in something mysterious which can only be expressed as liberation.

In the streets we saw nothing but insurrection.

It’s stupid to ask what counterproposals or alternative lifestyles or posses were born there.

In the street, among those who go by the way of the street, there are innumerable conspiracies.

Multiple conspiracies, which nobody can grasp completely.

We will make an insurrection in the streets again.

But it will be completely different from the one before.

With our affect shaken in shame, constantly re-encountering,

As innumerable lines change their form we become a pack and make an insurrection,

Before every nuclear plant collapses in on itself in shame.

PDF (English)


私たちは路上で牛になる デモ論のために

動物蜂起委員会 a.k.a. AIC




しかしそれは一方で夢を語ることでもあった。出身も文化も様々に異なる私たちが日々してきたこと。ただそれだけであった。 私たちの非倫理的なあってなき「日常」。私たちはそこで出会った。ともにそれをただ捨て去ることを歩む。私たちが選んだのは、酒を飲み、歌を歌うように意見を交わし会い、音楽に身を委ねて踊ることだった。











PDF (日本語)

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