Sunday, 21 August 2011

The English Summer Riots: Signification and Group Behaviour

Paris May 1968 Riots

The following text is from Fèlix Guattari's Molecular Revolution: Psychiatry and Politics (1972) and I think it serves well as an analysis of the August riots in England:

The gang of young men that forms spontaneously in a section of town does not recruit members or charge a subscription; it is a matter of recognition and internal organization. Organizing such a collective depends not only on the words that are said, but on the formation of images underlying the constitution of any group, and these seem to me something fundamental - the support upon which all their other aims and objects rest. I do not think one can fully grasp the acts, attitudes or inner life of any group without grasping the thematics and functions of its 'acting out' of phantasies.

You cannot relate the sum of a group's phantasy phenomena to any system of deductions working only with motivations made fully explicit at the rational level. . . . There is, to start with, a kind of solidification, a setting into a mass; this is us, and other people are different, and usually not worth bothering with - there is no communication possible. There is a territorialization of phantasy, an imagining of the groups as a body, that absorbs subjectivity into itself. From this there flow all the phenomena of misunderstanding, racism, regionalism, nationalism and other archaisms that have utterly defeated the understanding of social theorists. (pages 35-36)

Please click below to see related link:
Paul Gilroy speaking on the August 2011 riots


  1. Unrelated to your post above, but you might find it interesting:

    The Suffolk Psychogeophysics Summit presents an intense week-long series of interventions, field trips, open workshops and evening discussions led by international artists and researchers exploring the Suffolk countryside through the interdisciplinary lens of psychogeophysics, defined as the combining of psychogeographic techniques (methods of wandering) with the study of geophysical traces (geophysical archaeology, the revealing of place).

    Open events within the week include practical workshops in building simple geophysical measurement devices from recycled materials, the construction of “ghost” detectors to be tested on the streets of Ipswich and experiments within high voltage photography of rocks and minerals. Fieldtrips will build on discussions and techniques established during these workshops, undertaking studies at specific Suffolk locations of interest (such as Rendlesham forest, Bawdsey Manor, Orford Ness); the measurement and mapping of qualitative psychic, physical and geophysical data.


  3. Thanks for the info, and the link. I'll send it around to Leeds Psychogeography Group.