Preemption

In the wake of contemporary concerns about environmental, economic, and security threat, it often feels as though we live in a state of excessive nervous stimulation and anxiety produced through the imaginary of a never defined but potentially apocalyptic future. While it is never clear which event will end the world, we seem to assume the world “will end”. This end however, we great with pleasure, sometimes even optimism and hope, for it is a world we can speculate upon. Thus our subways and cities are littered with signage offering vague suggestions to “be prepared” and have “disaster plans”. We are regularly invoked to be alert, to watch for strange activities, to report the non-regular event or suspicious activity. The result is an infrastructure of anxiety and nervous sentiment that operates at the unconscious level always informing our responses to events and each other.

But preemption also can mean other things. It can mean a change of legal control, the displacement of local by national law, for example. It can also be a speculative term, the opportunity to buy or sell securities before others may do so. Preemption is thus affective, monetary, and governmental. It is a new infrastructure that ties speculation to futurity and emotion through the practices of everyday life.