Aspects of Visuality and Power

meditations on Saab Microwave Becomming2 Ploughshares
by Adam Brentel

The Deleuze & Guattari Thousands Plateaus seminar was plugged-into a Ploughshares action in Mölndal near Gothenburg the 26th of June 2008. It was a post-protest[1] action to disarm radar systems used in warfare in for example Iraq and Afghanistan; the goal for the Ploughshares action was to get into the test range area at the site and transform arms to non-arms, in the vocabulary of the group with reference to the bible – turn weapons into ploughshares.

Micah 4:3-4

(New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society)

3 He will judge between many peoples

and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.

They will beat their swords into plowshares

and their spears into pruning hooks.

Nation will not take up sword against nation,

nor will they train for war anymore.

4 Every man will sit under his own vine

and under his own fig tree,

and no one will make them afraid,

for the LORD Almighty has spoken.

The two groups met up and connected in a café in central Gothenburg to have a breakfast coffee and discuss the action of the day; we were five persons present, the two activists and three from the seminar out of which two would leave and then join later in the day. The writer of this text functioned as a connector between the groups, functioning somewhere on the line between two points as we strived towards the smooth. Together we became a war machine for a couple of hours, mowing out from our seminar room to the test range of SAAB Microwave to disarm weapons – the question was and still is whether it was on the symbolic or on a material plane – on the plane of expression or consistency.

The three of us took tram no.4 to Mölndal around 11 o’clock, on the walk from the tram stop to the site the two activists picked up wooden sticks from a pile of construction junk, it was to become a ladder for climbing the fence. They had been there two days earlier to prepare and practice, they had even entered the area to do some damage to the Test Range building in order to secure success. Cardboard had been piled up in the bushes surrounding the area to be used protect their bodies from the barbed wire that tops the fence they where about to climb. The two groups, the two activists, and me disconnected a hundred meter from the place where they were to climb the fence at 11.50, I followed the action from a distance, trying to blend into the milieu socially, but as I had a wooden footstool and thermos with coffee with me it was hard, business people and engineers do not stroll around the area, it is not a leisure area but a military protection compound. I decided to have a sit at the loading platform of SAMHALL, I looked less suspicious there with my footstool and thermos with coffee.

People showed up as they started to build the latter from the sticks by sticking them into a corner of the fence, as it was lunchtime, first the two seemed anxious about it but when the first couple of white-collar workers had passed without taking notice they carried on in the most of natural ways. Many workers going to lunch passed by, some of them seemed curious, maybe even enjoyed by the strange event taking place; was it a performance by artists, ploughshare activists or where they workers from SAMHALL arranging a pick nick, who could tell?

Five minutes later, when finally going over the fence, a man called the guard on his mobile phone, he hesitated for a while and then made the call – “someone is going of the fence in west” he said, actually it was in east of the building, I was walking by the group as he made the call, then they walked on. It took another 13 minutes before the guard arrived, not in a hurry but calmly passing me by.

It is prohibited to take photos of the test range making it problematic to follow with camera without committing an offence. I was disconnected from the activist group, still I took some photos of what happened, even though it is illegal, it seemed safe and now I have confessed it too, and no one was really there to bother either. Eniro.se has also taken photo of the building and published it on their internet site, the same building that is illegal to photo from the ground is legal to photo from above? They have even pixelated the most sensitive part of the area in order to focus the attention to it. I can only conclude that the photos I took are already visible on www.eniro.se, but from a more interesting perspective.

SAABmap

Figure 1 shows a screen saving from eniro.se outlook mode. The test range area is pixelated but it was the building above it was the target of the post-protest action. They climbed the fence east of the building. The interrogation took place at the main entrance of Saab Microwave.

The tension between symbolic and practical and the lack of interest both from the workers, the guard and later on the police is interesting and must be analysed from a power perspective, what does it mean and what really happened that day, what effects and affects will there be?

Inside the fence but outside the test range building the activists found a radar parabola on the ground at the same time as the guard found them, they had already planted figs now the embarked on turning the parabola into something else, at least making it less useful in warfare. They did their work then they shook his hand and introduced themselves. They where allowed to make phone calls to inform the outside that they where caught on the inside. One single police arrived about 15 minutes later.

Adam Brentel
October 21, 2008

Adam Brentel is a Deleuze philosopher in Gothenburg

Endnotes

[1] http://ickevald.net/perherngren/postprotest_per_herngren.htm

Deleuze’s dictionary

  1. Becoming
  2. Innovations
  3. Assemblage
  4. Multiplicity
  5. Rhizome
  6. Affect
  7. Society
  8. Abstract machine
  9. Social machine
  10. Self
  11. Body
  12. Exteriority
  13. Language
  14. Consistency
  15. Order
  16. Plateau
  17. Strata

Links to plowshares

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Ploughshares trial 2009

Hammering on military radar
Plowshares movement
Aspects of Visuality and Power
Nuclear Resister’s Becoming Ploughshares
Deleuze and becoming resistance
Pictures of the plowshares action
Classical theory of resistance
Postprotest by Per Herngren
Manual for civil disobedience

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