Deleuze’s Pure Event, Real Democracy, and the Robin Hood of the Banks


For Brian Holmes, real democracy cannot be obtained without a specific type of societal concern with the production of the sensible that is based on Deleuze’s concept of the pure event. Paul Patton describes Deleuze’s pure event as “a virtual structure whose nature is never entirely captured in any given specification or determination of its conditions” (“The World Seen From Within”). Holmes argues for a production of the sensible that “is maintained at the level of a forever unresolved but constantly open and intensely debated question” (Unleashing 102). In other words, the sensible world should never be accepted as self-evident and closed. Cognitive capitalism’s distribution of the sensible, like any dominant semiotic system, attempts such a closure and self-evidence by limiting self-reflection and collective questioning.

Catalan activist Enric Duran constantly questions. Can we live without capitalism? Can we live without banks? What role do banks, credit, and indebtedness play in our lives? In 2008, Duran opened 68 lines of credit from 39 banks equaling 492,000 euros. He did so to demonstrate the ease with which one could become indebted. There is no crime in that. However, he also decided that he would never repay the loans. Instead, Duran used the money to fund social movements and to publish 200,000 copies of Crisis? Podemos! (PODEMOSCAST), a newspaper of articles in Spanish that explains how to create alternatives to capitalism. Duran was charged with swindling money from the banks and with falsifying documents. He spent two months in prison (March 20, 2009 – May 22, 2009) until he was released on a 50,000 euro bail.

Duran’s creative activism was not recognized as activism. His act of asking for loans looked like any other person’s act of asking for money. His performance was read as a normal action. What we can learn from Duran is not to mark activism as activism, but to hide activism within the everyday. In so doing, we can make holes in capitalist reality. Once those holes are made, we, like him, can then go public to expose them.

In the following video (with English subtitles), Duran explains his creative activism.

Duran’s exploits triggered a debate in 2008-2009 over his methods. Articles such as Robin Hood o farsante or Robin Hood heroe o villano questioned whether he was a hero or a villain.

He is in the news again because the criminal trial was set to begin on February 12, 2013. However, Duran asked for the trial to be suspended because he was notified by his lawyer of the date only three weeks ago despite having been set 4 months ago. Duran is calling this judicial farce. In an act of civil disobedience, he did not show up for the court date, and released this message (in English).

To find out more or to show support, check out his blog.

Works cited

Holmes, Brian. Unleashing the Collective Phantoms: Essays in Reverse Imagineering. Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 2008. Print.

Patton, Paul. “The World Seen From Within: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Events.” Theory &  Event 1.1 (1997)

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