Tuesday, 24 May 2011

A hastily written note is pressed into Trotsky’s hand as the Mensheviks depart from the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies at approximately 4am on the 27th October 1917:

The avenging angel arrives in the field of forces when the field is most internally consistent, where the retaliatory conflict that defines its space has eternalised. The moment is defined subjectively by a constrained hope for transcendence, the partial call for deliverence, which is wholly contained by the desire for the capabilities of a high order intransigence which would realise the victory of this side over the other. But the avenging angel never appears as an instrument of the forces of the field. It is immune to their particular claims. If it is transcendent then it is also alien. If it is emergent, it is also self-separating, not reducible to the place of its appearance. Its character is bound to the entirety of the relation and is therefore an expression of the field struggling against itself. If it is not just of the field then it also belongs to what the field has denied. The angel arrives from outside and is not produced by the forces contained by the field (forces which have ended in stalemate). It has no comprehension of the dispute that rages before its senses. It is invulnerable to the political causes that have reached their end point with its appearance. It refuses the movement of history. And for this reason it strikes out blindly, like an automaton; its ministry has no intrinsic meaning. It wields an objectless vengence that is also an act of forgetting, with immediate effect - an unsentimental sweeping away with its heavy sleeves. The angel causes the entirety of the relation that is constituted by offenders and offended to pass into consciousness as a moment and recognise in itself the beginning of its end, which is also a disenchanted giving way on all sides. The angel releases the insularities and certainties that belong to conflict. The columns of the world, its beams, props, girders and buttresses erode and weaken. There is no resolution. There is no moment of redemption, of discovery of a meaning in all the bloodshed. There is no peace deal. There is only release. The angel’s intervention causes the forces of the field to fall backwards into a different array. It lays out the intestinal convolutions of the feud. It snips the binds of the predicament. It releases the fixed terms of  those relations which were held in place only by the conflictual tension in that relation. It defamiliarises the habituations of the conflict; from one moment to the next the history of the relation goes off-line. The angel universally distributes its perspective on the field, which is uncomprehending and indifferent. Nothing is the same in this place for these people, they have been evicted from the war which was their home. They are moved sideways. This implies neither improvement nor progress.