We find ourselves styled and shaped by something not of us. The words we speak are not our own, nor are the ways we dress or engage with one another. We have been domesticated, our very manner of being molded and made possible, by a system that is outside of our control. There are many names for what we could call this: capitalism, white supremacy, civilization, Power, babylon, patriarchy, imperialism, gender, Law, the ecocidal death machine and so forth. They all are equally good names, referring to products and behaviors of humans that have ossified and reproduced themselves, so now they seem to be something outside of our control.
This of course is not to ignore the agency of individuals within larger systems: culpability still lies on men who rape, CEOs who kick families out of their homes or stipmine ecosystems, bosses who pay poverty wages or settlers who continue to benefit from the destruction and occupation of other's land. Yet, it is impossible to deny that there is a certain manner in which the agency of individuals is effaced by the logic of the larger system. Everyone is just following orders, trying to make a buck, doing what they saw someone else do. In other words, people are but a replaceable part of the Apparatus.
Facing the innumerable crises wrought by these interlocking systems, the Apparatus, one wants to immediately set about dismantling the apparatus itself. Yet, the moment one begins this task, one immediately turns to language and to the ways of being with others proffered by the apparatus. The dream of finding an unsullied place of resistance outside the Apparatus is impossible: The land you are on is stolen, the language you are using is made by others, the ways you perceive others is indelibly marked by thousands of years of patriarchy (and hundreds of racism). Whats more, at a material level the tools you use are inevitably the infrastructure of the apparatus: communications technologies, metals, roads, grocery stores and so on.
In place of this romance of desertion, this fantasy that blinds oneself to one's on-going complicity with the apparatus and, therefore, the manner in which the apparatus reproduces itself, I seek to fully acknowledge, contra-Audre Lourde, that all we ever can do is appropriate the master's tools and use them for a contrary purpose. This is the counter-appartus, a revolutionary and subversive appropriation that seeks to dismantle the apparatus while ever-acknowledging that there cannot be a clean break with the system that created us.
The endeavor is at once thus both critical and born of an explicit political program: one one hand, it means taking seriously a protracted struggle against Empire, against Patriarchy, against racism, against imperialism. On the other, it means that we turn the gaze back upon ourselves and question how we come to reproduce the same logics we fight against, be interpersonal behaviors or abstract concepts like the nation, the state or law. In the words of Donna Haraway, it means remaining faithful to the apparatus in the way that blasphemy is faithful. It is to seize the tools that have seized us.