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This chapter explores affective politics and how the operative logic of preemption becomes self-causing. The process of preemption operationalizes a logic hinging on the conditional. That logic can be summed up in the formula: “could have, would have, just as good as was.” In other words, even if a threat did not eventuate into an actual danger, it always could have, so preemptive action will always have been right. This is a tautology, but one that does not self-destruct. Instead, in produces self-legitimating affective facts. The production of affective facts rests on the ambiguous empirical status of threat: threats may be “real” (i.e., correspond to an actual danger) or they may be felt into existence. If I am afraid, I felt a threat. It is immaterial whether it was present or not. An immaterial cause that is not actually present is a virtual cause (a “quasi-cause”). Ontopower involves a politics of the virtual.

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