This work reimagines autonomy in the age of spatial enclosure. Rather than proposing a new version of the escapist running to the hills, "Escape" aligns the desire for disappearance, invisibility, and evasion with the contemporary politics of refusal, which poses no demands, resists representation, and refuses participation in already-existing politics. Such escape promises to break life out of a stifling perpetual present.
The argument brings together culture, crisis, and conflict to outline the political potential of escape. It begins by reintroducing culture to theories of state power by highlighting complementary mixtures of authoritarian and liberal rule. The result is a typology of states that embody various aspects of conquest and contract: the Archaic State, the Priestly State, the Modern State, and the Social State. The argument then looks to the present, a time when the state exists in a permanent crisis provoked by global capitalist forces. Politics today is controlled by the incorporeal power of Empire and its lived reality, the Metropolis, which emerged as embodiments of this crisis and continue to further deepen exploitation and alienation through the dual power of Biopower and the Spectacle. Completing the argument, two examples are presented as crucial sites of political conflict. Negative affects and the urban guerrilla dramatize the conflicts over life and strategy that characterize daily existence in the Metropolis.
Following a transdisciplinary concern for intensity, the work draws from a variety of historical, literary, cinematic, and philosophical examples that emphasize the cultural dimension of politics. The wide breadth of sources, which range from historical documents on the origins of the police, feminist literature on the politics of emotion, experimental punk film, and Deleuze and Guattari's nomadology, thus emulates the importance of force over appearance found in contemporary radical politics. Departing from many of the accounts of political change given by political theory or sociology, "Escape" shows how the recent politics of autonomy is essential to understanding the struggle against Empire.