Ontopower: War, Powers, and the State of Perception
Brian Massumi is Professor of Communication at the University of Montreal. He is the author of
The Primacy of Preemption: The Operative Logic of Threat
There is a difference between prevention, deterrence, and preemption. Prevention assumes that causes are knowable. Dissuasion depends on a symmetry of state power (a “balance of terror”) that makes war unthinkable. Preemption, however, assumes an asymmetry between state powers and their opponents, as well as a “threat environment” so complex as to render causes essentially unknowable. Threats, unlike dangers, are objectively indeterminate, and this is precisely what drives the operative logic of preemption. An operative logic is in fact “self-driving”: it becomes self-causing by producing what it fights, and feeding off the conflict. This leads to a situation of permanent,...