To call to account, account for something, be of account. ‘To count’ can mean to tally or calculate but also to matter, esteem or to have importance. It is in the interstices of these literal and idiomatic meanings of measure that this issue of The Paper precariously sits.
Measure is all around us. Our phone conversations are billed by the second, while the number of dead of Libya escalates. Our capacity to think is measured in grades, degrees or the metrics of ‘research output’, at least for those who pass the ‘merit-point’ based migration schemes. The health, wealth and strength of States and populations are measured by all manner of statistical indicators. But there are also those of us who don’t count, or at least don’t count in the right way: the unemployed, the undocumented, the lumpen and so on. How and when might we, who are many, count otherwise?
This issue of The Paper carries multiple examples of the brutality of measure – from the racialised policing of State territory, to the discipline and organization of the classroom, to the official discourse about the magnitude of public protest. Measure is a form and a means of governance. It makes the heterogeneous homogeneous, it turns the richness of our lives, and our singular measures, into the dead abstraction of number. The conservative and dull fiction that our future can be calculated, with measured effects and risks that are known is backwards and destructive. Their numbers will not tell us what needs to be done.
The forces that want to reduce and divide us follow the monetary calculus of costs and benefits. Profits, interest, and capitalization lived as exploitation, debt and appropriation. Capping migration and welfare, uncapping our costs.
We want to break these regimes of instrumentalisation. Paradox: how to take a measured response to the excess of measure? How can we, as immeasurably broad collective, intervene, reflect and interact alongside emergent and uncharted attempts to resist and overturn the logics of measure? How are we, and how do we want to be, situated in the numerous struggles?