In this time of confusion, where the perpetual crisis is a widespread scam, in which the global financial economy imposes its dictatorship "in perpetuity", destroying the conditions for the survival of its inhabitants, we question the wisdom, denounce the current solutions change as ineffective, as unsuited to the new packaging of the society of the spectacle. Experiences of failure that have built our limiting beliefs are the source of our problems. It is the search of the solution, limited to the finite world, which creates a problem without a solution, ensuring the success of failure.
Our contributions can provide opportunities that allow out inefficient practices change. Systemic to radical constructivism, diversion situationist drift, anti-authoritarianism libertarian refusal constraints of May 68, the ecology unit to the invention of unbelief, relationships and links are built in the emergence of a change in perspective.
Elected to any media power holders supreme truths, taking their predictions for higher realities have only divided the world into war competitions have future bankruptcy strengthening the permanence of a society without becoming . However, the gathering of our differences that get involved and mingle at the heart of debates and antics, has far greater than the sum of its separate components from each other capabilities. When the richness of these interactions exceeds a certain threshold, the global movement produced discontinuously new overall behavior quite unpredictable.
From the desire to change all the fun, reframing our views, shifted in the invention of a future, a future now available, change our understanding of situations. By changing the rules, not complying with the codes or modes, we increase the number of choices, creating new spaces of freedom. This allows us to use the virtues of our faults, and thus unlock access to our resources sleep.
You will not find here the supreme truth in ready-to-wear, but only approximations patchy, at one point, according to some views "a priori", to use and re-build by itself . We will not implement disembodied eat-in truth, but we only offer some ideas to experiment in self-government, self-organizing spontaneously with others.
The collective operation DIY substitutes for reducing authoritarian beliefs. This world of separation and predation can then reconstruct into an ecology of relationships. It is now to get rid of all governance, no longer accept direction banish authority, always abusive, and generalized self-organization in a real and direct democracy where every agent is revocable.
Then, everything becomes possible for those that do not stop the incredible.
TRANSLATION ON LINE (we seek a good free translator)
MAY CAPITAL'S FAR LEFT DIE !
Class War, 2015
This joke could very well summarize the programmatic lessons to be drawn from the situation that proletarians in Greece, our brothers and sisters of misery and struggle, are subjected to. Indeed since always or at least since the great campaigns of Social Democracy in the early 20th century for the establishment of universal suffrage, which aimed at nothing else than the containment and the destruction of the proletariat’s energy developed to put an end to misery and exploitation, the communist critique (whether the latter expressed itself under the “anarchist” label, the “revolutionary socialist” or another one is not what we are interested in here) has always denounced the electoral circus, parliamentarianism, governmentalism, collaboration with bourgeois institutions, and the almost religious belief that reforms could improve the lot of our class…
In this short contribution we will not further talk about the “Greek sovereign debt” or the rescue of the “euro zone”, and even less about the “Grexit”, so fashionable these last weeks in bourgeois media. We are not going to develop the different strategies of Syriza government to “defy” the financial institutions of the European Commission and the Troika. We leave all these “details” to the fervent followers of political economy. For our part, we consider that the communists do not have to wallow in the biology of Capital, while our task is fundamentally to participate in its necrology! We will also not turn our attention to the Prime Minister Tsipras’ “psychology”, to what he hoped or intended to do, we will not take into account the media show and the incredible statements of his Finance Minister the foppish playboy Varoufakis (self-proclaimed “libertarian Marxist”!) and his gang of leftists, just able to snivel about the “denial of democracy” vis-à-vis the July 5th referendum results and about the “diktat of the euro zone”. What the communists are interested in is not what people say about themselves but what they do and assume in their social practices…
So what’s going on in Greece is just the antepenultimate episode of the always sad and lamentable story of the historical Social Democracy, that is to say the bourgeois party for workers and proletarians, this social force in charge of emptying our movements of struggle from their subversive substance, of diverting their perspectives of radical transformation of the world onto a simple reform, and finally of making us falling back into ranks of social peace. The camp of Social Democracy materializes at two levels: by setting up a militant structure external to our class, a structure directly stemming from leftist and progressive factions of the bourgeois class on the one hand, and by development of a reformist ideological corpus generated within our class and based on the weaknesses, limitations and illusions of the struggle on the other hand, all that in a dialectical back-and-forth movement between both.
So what’s going on in Greece is nothing very different from what the very “radical” Workers Party of Brazil (led by the reformist Lula da Silva and the former “guerrilla” Dilma Roussef) achieved in recent years in terms of attacks on proletarians’ living conditions; what by the way provoked the June 2013 revolt against austerity and misery.
Historically we got used to the “betrayals” of Capital’s left and far left (even if only gullible fools believing that any bourgeois alternative will solve the fundamental problems of our class, of humanity can consider themselves to be “betrayed”)… Already in 1871, during the significant proletarian movement known as the “Paris Commune”, the left and the far left took over its leadership and set up a government that had never taken any revolutionary measure to counter the bourgeois forces of Versailles or to internationally extend the militant efforts underway. All the measures of this “Paris Commune’s government” had resulted to only one thing: disarming (both military and programmatic) of our class confronted with our historical enemy that could after it had been defeated for a short time, reconstruct itself…
Going back to 1914, we can notice the same phenomenon when leftists, who had declared to be openly opposed to war, changed the side before you could say knife. For example, the French “revolutionary socialist” militant Gustave Hervé who had originally written in the newspaper “La Guerre Sociale” (“The Social War”) that we have to “plant the national flag on the dunghill” quickly joined the defense of “the country in danger”… Ditto for the French anarcho-syndicalist CGT which after years of antimilitarist propaganda joined in serried ranks of war supporters and sacred union, allowing thus the feasibility of general mobilization or at least contributing to its smooth course…
In 1917, while soldiers were getting increasingly angry on all fronts against the capitalist slaughter, the “Bolshevik Party” went at the head of the war refusal movement in order to better bring it in the dead end of a “radical” change of government, toppling the reign of the millennial Tsar, and it ultimately participated in the reconstruction of the capitalist State in Russia, roughly shaken by our class in struggle, what resulted in Stalinism and its “socialism in one country”…
In 1918 in Germany, after several years of open collaboration with the headquarters of the imperial army, which resulted in the mobilization on the front as well as in the participation of industrial workers in the war effort, a significant faction of Social Democracy (the SPD) was directly called to the political management (and thus set up a government), and it was militants of the left who directly participated in crushing of the proletarian struggle while forming of “Freikorps” under the aegis of the “worker” and “socialist deputy” Noske…
Finally, to conclude here this non-exhaustive list, in 1936 in Spain it was thanks to the “critical support” and the votes of the CNT militants that the Popular Front won the elections. It was thus able to develop an “antifascist” republican politics which practically opposed the proletariat’s boosts in its struggle for social revolution, all that with an active help of the CNT-FAI’s “comrades-ministers”. Once again, the revolution was sacrificed on the altar of the defense of one bourgeois camp considered as a “lesser evil”!
Anyway we could fill up in this way dozens of pages with the horrors that our class has experienced in diversion of its struggles and in deepening of its weaknesses. As we can see, the left and the far left (all factions taken into account) have always been and will continue to be predominant elements in structuring and maintaining the capitalist dictatorship. The proletariat is historically forced and determined to fight against them in the same way as it fights all the other factions of the bourgeoisie if it wants to put once and for all an end to misery, exploitation and wars…
But let’s come back to the present events and to how the current leftist managers of our misery claim to solve the problem… All those who criticized (rightly so moreover) the referendum organized by Tsipras’ government missed the whole point: their critics did not go beyond the endless sniveling according to which the “Yes” would mean a tough austerity and the “No” a less harsh austerity. In fact, and what followed proved it, (anyway could it be otherwise?), the “No” has never meant anything else (as in every election) than giving to the government a “free hand” and letting it to develop an austerity even stronger than the one originally imposed by the European authorities and their capitalist gangsters. You would really have to be a first-rate “useful idiot” to believe for a single second that the election or referendum show can be anything else than a farce which the proletarians fool themselves with… Capital’s far left historically accustomed us to its leftist policy, which is never anything else than a facelift more or less “radical” according to the circumstances and needs of the moment, the whole finally being only a red-painted version of the same capitalist dictatorship. In this case of Greece, there is an “originality” – a leftist party and government apply word for word the structural adjustment plan and the relentless austerity measures concocted in the headquarters of what people call decision-making centers of capitalism’s liberal policies. But finally beyond the differences of forms and speeches, all that directly and intrinsically partakes in the very logic of the capitalist system. Or, better said, it is not Syriza which is the actor of history but the history of capitalism that finds in Syriza an actor up to the task, an actor able to perform its dirty work, that is to say to frontally attack the proletariat in its means of existence and struggle.
Because what is the principal point in the “Greek crisis” is not the “debt”, which anyway amounts “only” to € 324 billion (more than three-quarters being repayable in only several years); for comparison the debt of France is € 2,089 billion, that of Italy 2,194 billion and 9,293 billion for the “euro zone”, not to mention that of the largest debtor nation-state in the world and in history: the USA with a colossal and abyssal debt of $ 18,152 billion! Capitalism clearly needs to produce the debt, anyway it cannot do anything else than to race out of control and to always more rest its expanded reproduction on fictitious capital, on a not yet produced value which will probably never be realized… No, what’s really the point is the practical implementation of a program to contain the proletariat, not only in Greece but also in other parts of Europe where Capital needs to hit even harder and to discipline a surplus labor power, to always more divide proletarians into different categories, whites and “darkies”, nationals and migrants, the good hard-working citizens who accept the austerity without too much fuss and those who raise their heads, those who show their teeth and organize, struggle, revolt… And in this sense, Greece is a social laboratory for the bourgeoisie and its far left servants!
The proletariat all over the world is condemned to always get its face smashed…
If the law-abiding and pacified proletariat in Europe and North America, addicted to always more terrorist State campaigns of citizenship attitude development, believe to escape its fate without struggling, it is kidding itself as never before…
We will have to put an end to all these illusions about the parliamentary circus, about the game of political parties, but also that of trade unions which do nothing but saving social peace and negotiate the sale of our labor power to the highest bidder.
We have nothing to gain either in new beliefs that would guarantee the “purity” of our struggles against the scoria of bourgeois politics: self-management (that is to say the management of our own misery), “popular assemblies” open to all and where everyone can speak freely (including “scabs”, strikebreakers, “moderates”, good citizens…), production cooperatives where the essence of Capital (money, exchange and therefore the value!) is never eliminated…
In a declaration issued on July 1st an “Antiauthoritarian Movement” from Thessaloniki says seriously: “We do not care about the currency that will be part of a national reawakening and we cannot support of course a currency that is part of the financial intrusion into every aspect of our lives. We prefer to think of the currency in its normal dimension as an instrument for exchange with its main function being social needs and facilities.” Pitiful leftism and its lack of understanding of what capitalism is!
In short all this fashionable democratic jumble that has never ever been any guarantee for the development of our struggles and the deepening of our ruptures with the society of Capital and its staunch defenders.
Comrades, against the capitalist catastrophe made of more misery, austerity, repression and wars, against the environmental destruction of the planet generated by a social relation that does not care about humans, there is no other alternative but the revolutionary struggle to the death for the destruction of what destroys us…
The only alternative is as follows: either communism or the end of humanity! In between, there is nothing!
LET’S NOT LIVE LIKE SLAVES
A free film by Yannis Youlountas,
Springing from the Greek catacombs of Europe, a murmur through the devastated continent, “We won’t live like slaves no more” (pronounced “Na min zisoumé Douli san” in Greek).
On city walls and countryside rocks, on the empty or destroyed billboards, on alternative newspapers and rebel radios, in squats and self-organised centres that multiply… this is the slogan that the Greek resistance is diffusing, day after day, and is inviting us to join them in choir the melodies of the film.
A breath of fresh air, excitement and utopias in action springing from the Aegean Sea.
YA QUE NO VIVIMOS COMO ESCLAVOS
MAI PIÚ VIVERE COME SCHIAVI
NE VIVONS PLUS COMME DES ESCLAVES
NO VISQUEM MÉS COM ESCLAUS
LASS UNS NICHT LÄNGER WIE SKLAVEN LEBEN
KÖLELER GIBI YASAMAYALIM
Enslaved, exploited and die in misery ...
ABOLISH SLAVERY SALARY
To participate in the round of frenetic consumption, one must have means and one must, therefore, work, in other words, one must sell oneself. The dominant system champions work as its most esteemed value; slaves have to work more to buy on credit their miserable lives. Slaves wear out in the work place; they waste their vital strength and have to suffer the worst humiliations. They spend their lives performing grueling tasks for the benefit of a few. Modern unemployment is invented as a scare tactic to force slaves into endless gratitude the generosity of the power elite.
What would they do if they didn’t have to suffer this torture called work? These Alienating activities are touted as freeing. What degradation and what misfortune!
Always pressured on by the time clock or the whip; every movement of the slave is designed to increase productivity. The scientific organization of labor is at the heart of the workers divestment from himself, the fruit of his labor and his time - which is misspent in the automated production of commodities or services. The workers labor is mistaken for that of the machine in the factories, or the computer in the office. Paid time will never be recovered.
Every worker is assigned a repetitive duty, be it physical or intellectual. The worker is a specialist in his own field. This specialization can be seen on a worldwide scale within the framework of the international division of labor. Conceived in the West, produced in Asia and lethal in Africa.
Lukas Stella, 2012
The crisis is not inevitable, nor a hiccup, it is an invention built from scratch, which allows capitalism to improve his financial domination by usurping all powers. We have entered a state of emergency of an open war against the people. This is not the fault of the system that is at issue here, but the economy itself in its functioning, its inevitable completion.
It is now to understand the system in all its aspects and in all its complex interactions, to better understand how wealth creation has been monopolized by the gentry in the process of globalization, accelerated by computerization widespread proliferation of debts, and the looting of a future already ruined. The scam of the total time rushes, space is limited to bargaining and speculation devastating, that's when our survival is decreasing in the restrictions, misery and barbarism.
The reign of exploitation and servitude, separations and scams mafia war, seems now to be reduced from a disaster scenario programmed. When there is no future, then we can abandon the prejudices of the past reducers. It's time to take power on its own conditions of existence in uncertain situations, by libertarian practices by cooperating together to self-organization of general democracy.
TRANSLATION ON LINE (we seek a good free translator)
THE STATE IS NOTHING ANYMORE – LET’S BE EVERYTHING
Raoul Vaneigem, 2010
It’s not by chance that Greece, where the idea of democracy was born, has become the first to blaze a trail in the battle that must be waged against the democratic corruption that everywhere is heightening the pressure applied by the multinationals and financial mafias. In Greece, we have seen the demonstration of a resistance that contrasts sharply with the lethargy of the European proletariat, which for decades now has lain dormant, anesthetized in the grip of consumerism and by impostures of emancipation.
Allow me to recall a few banalities.
Consumerism has generalized a supermarket democracy where citizens have the greatest possible freedom of choice on the express condition that they pay the price for it on their way out.
The old political ideologies have lost their substance, and have become little more than the advertising brochures that the elected officials use to increase their audience and their power. Politics, whether it calls itself left or right, is no longer any more than a pandering patronage relationship where the elected officials look out for their own interests instead of those of the citizens they’re supposed to represent. And once again Greece has found itself in a good position to restore the original meaning to the word “politics”: the art of governing the city.
The second banality is that the world’s States have lost the privilege they arrogated to themselves of managing the public good. Of course, the traditional state has always taken tribute from citizens by force with taxes and duties; but in compensation, then, they ensured the proper operation of public services, teaching, healthcare, mail, transportation, unemployment benefits, and pensions… Now the world’s States are no more than the servants of the bankers and the multinational corporations. Now the latter have had to face that the bubble formed by the insane amounts of money invested in financial speculation instead of in the development of priority industries and socially useful sectors is doomed to pop, with a financial crash. We have fallen prey to the managers of this bankruptcy, who are greedily scraping out the last short-term profits by super-exploiting the citizens, who are invited to fill the bottomless gap of a deficit created by bank embezzlement, at the price of an ever more precarious life.
Not only is the State no longer able to fulfill its obligations under the social contract, it is eating away at the budgets for public services, scrapping everything that guaranteed even its own survival, rather than simply letting everyone live a real life. And they’re doing it in the name of that gigantic swindle baptized as “the public debt.”
The State has only one function left: police repression. Its only safeguard is the spread of fear and despair. And it ensures that spread rather effectively by lending weight to an apocalyptic way of seeing the world. It spreads the rumor that tomorrow will be worse than today. According to the state, good behavior means consumerism – hurry and spend, before you go bankrupt; try to profit off everything that can be made profitable; even if it means sacrificing your very existence and the whole planet itself to keep the generalized rip-off going.
Nihilism is the true philosophy of business. When money is all that matters, all values disappear except commodity value. We have watched as consumerism has undermined all the supposedly eternal “truths” of the past: paternal authority, patriarchal power, religions, ideologies, the prestige of the army and police, respect for bosses, the sanctity of sacrifice, the virtue of hard work, scorn for women, children, and nature… But at the same time it has killed consciousness, which today we must lead back from the dead, using as our guide the truly human values that have so many times been at the heart of riots, revolts and revolutions.
We know that a new alliance is now being formed with what nature offers us free of charge, an alliance that will put an end to the covetous exploitation of the earth and of human beings. It will be up to us to rescue from the aggressive grip of capitalism seeking new profits, these free energies that it’s trying to make us pay such high prices for. In this sense, our era, which is currently being disrupted not by an economic crisis but by a crisis of the economy of exploitation, is also the right moment for people to become truly human beings. And becoming human means refusing to be a slave to work and power, and affirming our right to create our own destiny and situations that favor the wellbeing of all.
The course of events currently unfolding may risk accentuating the urgency with which several questions are now being posed. I will refrain from supplying any answers, since to do so outside of the practical conditions and communities where those questions will be raised would be all too abstract – and abstraction, as a kind of thinking cut off from real life, always only gives rise to the old monsters of power. I am content to merely cast some light on those questions.
1. What are we willing to do to compensate for the failure of a State that not only no longer serves the citizens, but sucks their blood to feed the octopus of international banking?
We are up against forces of inertia. Family, social, political, economic, religious, and ideological traditions have from one generation to the next constantly perpetuated the voluntary servitude that La Boétie denounced long ago. On the other hand, we can try to make the most of the shock caused by the collapse of the system and the disintegration of the State, and make good use of the temptation to look beyond the small-minded limitations of the commodity. A reversal of perspective is to be expected. Beyond the eventual pillage of supermarkets that the accelerated pauperization now underway will probably give rise to, lots of consumers threatened by exclusion won’t fail to notice that survival is not life, that it’s not worth it to trade off an existence where the discovery of the energies and goods lavished upon us by nature harmonizes with the attractions of desire for an accumulation of adulterated, useless products. That life is here, now, and that it only asks to be built and propagated, in the hands of the vast majority of people.
Let us cease feeling sorry for ourselves about the failed attempts at emancipation which punctuate our history, not so as to instead celebrate our occasional successes – since after all, the very notion of “success and defeat” has a bad stench of commodity limitations, tactics and strategy, and predatory competition about it – but rather so as to give thrust to experiences which, emerging in joy and audacity, are waiting for us to pursue them by implementing a project of self-organization, and assemblies operating in direct democracy.
The Zapatista collectives in Chiapas are perhaps the only groups today that are truly applying direct democracy. Communizing the land gets rid of the conflicts associated with its private appropriation right away. Everyone has the right to participate in the assemblies, to speak up, and to tell what their choice is, even children. There are no majority-elected representatives in the proper sense. Individuals showing an interest in certain areas (teaching, healthcare, mechanical work, coffee, organizing festivals, organic agriculture styles, external relations, etc.) are simply offered the opportunity to become officials for the collective for a limited period of time. They then enter a “good governance council” and regularly report on their task, for the duration of their mandate. The women, who at first were skeptical, because of the patriarchal customs of the Mayan people, now have a paramount role in the “good governance councils.” The Zapatistas have a slogan that defines their intent to establish a more human society, which emphasizes the need for constant vigilance: “we are not an example, but an experiment.”
2. Money is not only becoming more and more devalued, it is on its way toward disappearing. During the Spanish revolution, the communities of Andalusia, Aragon, and Catalonia established a distribution system that made no use of any currency (though some others did continue to use the peseta, and others invented new currencies of their own, all of them worked quite well together). Today, it is up to us to study ways of replacing relationships of exploitation, where the commercial trade in things determines the commercial trading of people, with human relationships based on gift rather than exchange.
We have become slaves to economic operations, the establishment of which signed the birth certificate of commodity civilization, altering individual and social behaviors, and setting up a permanent merging of comfort and denaturing, progress and regression, human aspirations and barbarism.
Certainly, the concrete and virtual mode of finance today still constitutes a coherent system – an absurd coherence, of course, but one which is able to go on governing people’s behaviors. On the other hand, think what might happen because of this when the financial crash strips money of its value and utility!
Those who refuse to allow it to tyrannize their everyday lives will doubtless welcome its disappearance as a kind of liberation. The fetishism of money, however, is so deeply anchored in our morals that many people, still subjugated under its thousand year old yoke, will come up against an erratic emotional confusion, where the law of the social jungle reigns, where blind violence in search of scapegoats and the struggle of all against all rage on.
We mustn’t neglect the tentacles of the octopus, cornered in its last entrenchments, because the collapse of money doesn’t imply the end of predation, power, and the appropriation of things and beings. When chaos, so profitable to the state and mafia organizations, is exacerbated, it propagates a virus of self-destruction, with which resurgent nationalisms, genocidal eruptions, religious confrontations, and resurgences of the fascist, Bolshevik, or fundamentalist plague can poison minds if the sensitive intelligence of living beings doesn’t put the question of happiness and the joy of life back at the focus of our concerns.
There has always existed a kind of fascination with abjectness that after some preliminary hesitation begins to cut its secret path, and expects that by winning over all the layers of the population it will guarantee impunity and legitimacy for a banalized barbarism (the rise of Nazism in Germany showed quite well how an abstract humanism can eventually transform into an explosion of total savagery).
On the other hand, the inhumanity of the past doesn’t have to obscure the memory of what was most radical about the great movements of emancipation: the desire to liberate alienated man and give rise in him to the true humanity that reemerges in every generation.
The society to come has no choice but to recover and develop history’s projects of self-organization, which, from the Paris Commune to the anarchist collectives of revolutionary Spain, rooted their quest for harmony in the autonomy of individuals, with the happiness of all standing in solidarity with the happiness of each.
3. The bankruptcy of the State will force local communities to organize for the public good in a manner better adapted to the vital interests of individuals. It would be an illusion to think that it will be possible without conflict to liberate territories from the grip of the commodity and set up zones where human rights will eradicate the rights of commerce and profit. How can we protect the enclaves of free sharing we will attempt to establish within a sectioned off, policed world, controlled by a universal system of predation and greed?
From this perspective, a question that was raised by a Persian friend of mine seems particularly significant. In light of the repressive violence of the Islamist dictatorship in Iran, he brought up the problems encountered by an opposition that simultaneously came to be aware of its strength in numbers and its tragic powerlessness in the face of the brutal attacks carried out by the army, the police, and the “revolutionary guards,” those gangs of paramilitary thugs whose religious power legitimates their violent acts. The thoughts that follow were written on his request.
NEITHER WARRIORS NOR MARTYRS
“If you can run a marathon, you can surely walk a block” [qui peut le plus peut le moins] is a pertinent principle for the kind of thinking that demands that action be taken, whether violent or non-violent, to resist repression by a State, party, class, mafia organization, religion, or ideology wherever it impedes the freedom of existence and expression of individuals. By examining the problem where that repression is at its most ferocious, at its most pitiless, we can draw the consequences for countries whose democratic formalism limits the excesses of their barbarism. Oppressive conditions obviously differ greatly among countries, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, France, Italy, Russia, China, the USA, or Colombia…
To look at this issue while keeping in mind the examples of Iran, North Korea, or Burma seems to me conducive to responses that would be appropriate for other countries less accustomed to the use of savagery.
Up to today, we have been faced with two alternatives: either those who made a decision to put an end to repressive violence ended up on the enemy turf and set themselves up in its place, by using against their enemies a violence that is of the same nature but in the opposite direction - or the opposition to tyranny has taken recourse to passive resistance, based on the pacifism preached by Gandhi with such unquestionable success.
Nevertheless, though Gandhism did triumph over English occupation, it was dealing with an adversary which, pitiless as it may have been, was caught off guard and saw its ability to react paralyzed by its own philanthropic formalism, residual ethics, and its deontology of war, all of which tended to condemn the massacre of a hostile but unarmed population.
In spite of its hypocrisy, a kind of military fair-play felt the pinch of the tactical decision that had been made to nip the rebel movement in the bud with no delay. It is well known that lord Mountbatten’s diplomatic wisdom did not entirely fail to lend support to the victory of popular demands. But when Gandhism was used to attack power structures with less ethical concerns, such as the apartheid regime in South Africa, it proved inoperative. The Burmese junta, likewise, didn’t hesitate to machine-gun down peacefully demonstrating opposition crowds. Iran follows a similar logic of repression.
What response is proposed by guerrilla war? Every time it has won, it’s been for the worse. An armed triumph always leads to a bitter human defeat.
The fundamental error of armed struggle is to give priority to military objectives rather than to the creation of a better life for all. To advance into the enemy’s terrain to destroy it is to betray the will to live for the will to power. The communards got hold of some cannons, but they neglected the money in the Bank of France and the use that they could have made of it, so they ended up trumped by the troops from Versailles. It’s well known how militarized bolshevism crushed the first soviets, the Kronstadt sailors, the makhnovists, and, later, the Spanish anarchist collectives, all in the name of revolution. Relatively speaking, it was the same so-called communist party and the Stalinist spirit that ended up hollowing out the substance from the May 1968 movement (and this isn’t about guerrilla fighting, but about the depressing persistence of the idea of power, which ended up perverting the insurrectional upsurge).
Does anyone still need to be reminded that wherever guerrilla war has triumphed – whether in Mao’s China, Vietnam, Cambodia, or in Cuba – armed ideology has ended up constituting the ideological armies that have crushed freedom while claiming to be fighting for it? The repugnant slogan “power grows from the barrel of a gun” targets first of all those who resist all forms of authority. It has had fewer victims among counter-revolutionaries than among actual revolutionaries, enemies of tyranny.
Neither do we want, on the other hand, any more of what happened in Frankenhausen, where in 1535 the German peasants in revolt abstained from any resistance and let themselves be massacred by the princes’ army, counting on God’s help; they had forgotten the words of Bussy-Rabutin, who said that “God always marches on the side of the biggest batallions.” And for a more recent example: On December 22, 1997, forty-five people, mostly women and children, were massacred in Acteal, a small town in Mexico, by Indian paramilitaries, in a church where they were praying. They were part of the Abejas (Bees) movement, a group of pacifist Christians who, while closely associated with the Zapatistas, demanded absolute non-violence. The reason behind this cruelty was that the Abejas had set up in land coveted by other Indians, members of that party of corruption called the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
Aside from the disgust that such atrocities cause, can we really protest against the torturers without also incriminating the Christian inclination towards martyrdom and renunciation, which gives the cowardly such a thrill and gives the weakest such arrogant cruelty? The worst coward knows that there’s no risk at all when his victims refuse to defend themselves, and even stretch their necks out toward the knife.
We will need to be more attentive to those aspects of our behavior that serve as an invitation and incite them to attack, because – even without being aware of it – we have all too often opened the door for the enemy.
How do our adversaries achieve their goals? Most often by instilling in us the absurd belief that they are all-powerful. They stimulate the fear reflex that builds up belief in the invincibility of the old world, while in fact it is crumbling everywhere. The disastrous effects of such dogma give rise not only to resignation and fatalism among the masses, but also cause the desperate courage that drives people to mount attacks with the feeling that they’re going to their death in a battle as glorious as it is vain.
But what can those attacks do against the whole repressive arsenal, whose sophistication seems to suggest its ability to mount lightning-fast and unstoppable counterattacks? Omnipresent technological surveillance couldn’t prevent the destruction of those towers in New York by rough and ready homemade means. Likewise, long ago, the “invincible” Maginot Line was made to look ridiculous by a German offensive that quite simply ignored it.
If the surveillance networks have such yawning gaps in the struggle against permanently threatening destructive forces, how will they be effective against actions that do not aim to annihilate them but instead intend only to create a radically different society that would render obsolete and pathetic the gussied-up specter of Kalashnikovs and nuclear missles?
The question remains: what do we do if we want to refuse to be defenseless against the guns of oppression, and at the same time refuse to use against the dominant powers the same weapons it uses against us?
The discussion is open. I have no peremptory response to propose. I only wish to clarify the debate by making a few remarks.
The best safeguard is to not enter into the terrain where the enemy expects and awaits us. It knows all the most miniscule nooks and crannies of the territory delimited by the commodity and by the behavioral habits that it imposes (predation, competition, authoritarianism, fear, guilt, money-fetishism, greed, pandering). On the other hand, however, it knows nothing about life and its innumerable creative resources.
A preliminary precaution, then, would be to eradicate from our groups and assemblies all forms and traces of power and authoritarian organization. The practice of individual autonomy is a prerequisite for cooperative self-organization. This is what the VOCAL[*] movement in Oaxaca is working on setting up, with its rank and file assemblies at the base transmitting its decisions to its delegates, rejecting all intrusion by parties, unions, political factions, and pandering demagogues.
True coherence can only emerge based on a project of individual and social life. The future will belong to local communities capable of thinking globally, i.e., to those that rely on their radical approach and their broad distribution to lay the foundations for an International Union of the Human Race. This is the only way to avoid the traps of communitarianism, that product of State Jacobinism.
The neighborhood committees idea that took hold in Oaxaca, deserves an examination as a possible path. Mexico is not Iran; far from it, but it lacks the conditions we have in Europe. In Oaxaca, the paramilitaries kill people with the blessing of a despotic governor. He needs spokespeople, in whom he can find the germs of corruption inherent in power, whatever they may be. He needs parties, unions, factions. He finds them easily. And with them he feels like he’s on familiar terrain again, and can crush them or negotiate with them, as the case may be.
On the other hand, neighborhood committees, in grasping things and beings by the roots, have no agenda other than to defend the interests of the local population; thus what is undertaken in the interest of a few is also beneficial to the many (such is, again, the principle that the local is inseparable from the global). The neighborhood committees are not an armed threat; so they’re not a danger that power can identify. They constitute a poorly identified terrain, dealing with things like food, water and energy supplies. A kind of solidarity develops from that which, operating around apparently anodyne themes, makes mentalities change and opens them up to consciousness and inventiveness. And so the practice of equality between men and women, of the right to happiness, of improving everyday life and the environment, start to lose their abstract character and modify behavior. Treating the questions raised by everyday life as the first priority gradually renders obsolete the problems traditionally harped on by ideologues, religions, and the old politics - the politics of the old world. And so we come back to the traditional meaning of the word “politics”: the art of managing the city, improving the social and psychological space where a population aspires to live according to its desires.
We have everything to gain by attacking the system and not the men that have become simultaneously its managers and its slaves. Giving in to the emotional plague, to revenge, to pressure-releasing explosions, means participating in the blind violence and chaos that the State and its repressive bodies need to go on existing. I don’t underestimate the furious relief that a mob gets out of burning down a bank or pillaging a supermarket. But we know that transgression is actually just a kind of homage to interdiction; it supplies safety valves for oppression – it does not really destroy it, it just restores it. Oppression needs blind revolts.
On the other hand, I can’t see any more effective ways of promoting the destruction of the commodity system than propagating the notion and practice of freeness (this is timidly sketched out here and there already with the sabotage of parking meters, to the great displeasure of the corporations trying to rob us of our space and our time).
Are we so unimaginative, so uncreative, that we can’t eradicate the constraints on us by the state and private lobbying racket? What recourse would they really have against a great collective movement that could simply declare free public transit, refuse to pay taxes and fines to the Robber Baron State, and could instead invest them for the benefit of all by providing regional areas with renewable energy equipment, and restoring the quality of healthcare, teaching, food, and environmental stewardship? Wouldn’t a self-organized society need to be based on a restoration of a true politics of proximity? Instead of all these train, bus, and metro worker strikes, which block citizens from circulating, why not run them for free? That would kill four birds with one stone: it would damage the transport companies’ profitability, reduce the profits of the oil lobbies, break the bureaucratic control over the unions, and above all it would bring about massive support and solidarity from users.
We are submerged in false problems that hide the real ones. Political views – which can always be manipulated – in fact themselves manipulate what should be the basis for individual activity: the random whim of everyday desires, what experiences they urge us into, and their means of smashing whatever shackles them. What good are all the political speeches that avoid discussing the crisis that we must get out of by not turning away from it, compared to the despair of having to go to work all the time, having to become bored of consuming products, to give up our passions, to simply possess more and more, losing all the joys of simple Being to the benefit of Having, which is slated to collapse anyway?
Together with its variants of imposed emancipation (liberalism, socialism, communism), the consumerism and clientelism of the so-called democratic regimes have shrink-wrapped the class consciousness that once won social gains from capitalism. We’ve been dragged through blood and mud by abstract ideas. The people’s Cause has fallen atop them and broken their back.
Returning to the base, the rank and file – that’s the only radical approach. It eliminates the false issue mongering that feeds emotional chaos to the detriment of consciousness-raising. In this regard, the “Islamic veil debate” shows the workings of the spectacular function that recuperates and falsifies our right to an authentic life. The polemic, where justifications and curses, puritanism and laxity, oppression and freedom, interdiction and transgression are bandied back and forth, conceals a lived reality: the conditions imposed on women. The spectacle gives us a whole slew of bread and circuses with endless debates about a little trinket: symbol of voluntary servitude; deliberate provocation; folkloric manifestation; community membership; religious choice; reaction against the scorn of women shown in advertising; the erotic innuendo of hidden charms; alliance between flirting and propriety; expression of a certain sacredness; a convenient way of preventing sexual harassment by males authorized by the patriarchal tradition to get their rocks off with the drooling stares of frustration.
But the real battle is not there – it is at the base, in the joint emancipation of men and women together; it is in the refusal of apartheid, of exclusion, of misogynistic and homophobic behavior. Enough false debates, enough ideologies! In my book “Nothing is sacred, everything can be said,” I defended the principle: tolerance for all ideas, intolerance for all barbaric acts. Our only criteria must be human progress, generous behavior, the enrichment of everyday existence. The right to Life guarantees our legitimacy.
Power plays on people’s emotions. The irrational fear it spreads everywhere is a source of blind violence that it excels in profiting from. The advantage that local communities who want to decide their own fate have is that by giving priority to the construction of an authentically human life, their practice implies the transcendence of raw emotion and awakens poetic consciousness.
In the same way as boycotts of adulterated products from the petrochemical and agricultural mafias become inoperative without access to quality food, the will to do away with consumerism, where Having supplants Being, will not follow ethical injunction so much as it will the attraction of a free life.
Taking up the enemy’s arms means foreseeable defeat; but the opposite approach just as surely leads to another kind of obvious fact: the more the feeling that life and human solidarity are the only possible leavening for an existence worthy of the name, the more malaise and uncertainty will undermine the determination and fanaticism that drive the mercenaries of the party of corruption and death.
There are many people who have talked about the uncertainty gnawing at a growing number of authorized killers, whether it’s the Iranian “revolutionary guard,” the thugs recruited by Hamas, the Israeli soldiers whose barbarism has been denounced in the Gaza Strip, the assassins in north and south Sudan, Somali looters, etc. This observation is not a tactical argument, and doesn’t fall within any kind of military perspective from which to insinuate, a bit facilely, perhaps, that the enemy is digging its own grave. It’s just about a probability: that we’re seeing an approaching financial crash that will destroy all currency, and in the same way there is a devaluation threatening the suicidal determination that the bureaucrats of crime, the mafias of profitable barbarism, are counting on to sign up more troops (i.e., as the old religious or ideological pretexts lose credibility and the fanatics start to doubt that they’re backed by some murderous God).
It is in this sense that I throw in my lot with the proliferation of a life reaction capable of fertilizing the territories desertified and sterilized by the economy of exploitation and its Mafioso bureaucracy. Our rich creativity has it in itself to discover the secret of organizing spaces and times in social and individual life at last liberated from commodity oppression. Only poetry can escape the steely gaze of power. Only the passion for life can drive back death.
TWO FOOTNOTES ABOUT SELF-DEFENSE
1. The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) is comprised of some thousands of fighters in the Mexican jungle. The women proposed and obtained, in direct democracy assemblies, that it not intervene offensively and instead limit itself to playing a defensive role. However, when paramilitary groups threatened the Zapatista villages, the EZLN kept out of it; instead, the “councils of good government” set up a human ring around the village, formed of hundreds of partisans and sympathizers, who flooded in from everywhere. The journalists and television cameramen covered the event, making use of the spectacle to get the whole world informed about what was happening. That was enough to repel the aggressors.
2. In a story from India, the villagers went to complain to a wise man about the cruelty of a giant snake that was biting and killing them. The whistling sound it made as it approached was enough to spread terror throughout the village. The wise man went and found the snake and managed to convince it to leave the villagers in peace. But then, the villagers immediately set about mocking the snake, who had become peaceful, making fun of his weakness, and gaily provoking him; weary of their scorn, the snake slithered over to see the wise man and confessed his confusion: how am I supposed to react to this? The wise man thought about it, and said “I told you not to bite them, but no one said you couldn’t whistle at them anymore.”
ADDRESS TO GREEK REVOLUTIONARIES
Comrades – I have never despaired of seeing the self-organization revolution as a revolution of everyday life. Now less than ever.
I am fully convinced that by taking to the barricades of resistance and self-defense, the living forces of the whole world are awakening from a long sleep. Their irresistible, peaceful offensive will knock down any obstacle set up against the immense desire to live that nourishes the innumerable beings born and reborn every day. The creative violence of a new world’s growing pains will supplant the destructive violence of the suicidal old world.
Until today, we have been little more than hybrid beings, half-human, half-wild beasts. Our societies have been vast warehouses, where people, reduced to commodity status and considered equally precious and vile, are treated as universally interchangeable and beaten into submission. We are now inaugurating the new era, where Mankind will face up to its destiny as a creator and a thinker, becoming something it has never been before: fully human beings.
I am not asking for anything impossible. I’m not asking for anything, in fact. I have no need for hope or despair. I only wish to see the concrete realization, in your hands and in the hands of the people of the whole world, of an International Union of the Human Race, which will bury in the past today’s moribund commodity civilization and the Party of Death frantically trying to keep it up on its last legs.
THE AWAKENING IN AMERICA
Bureau of public secrets, October 2011
A radical situation is a collective awakening... In such situations people become much more open to new perspectives, readier to question previous assumptions, quicker to see through the usual cons... People learn more about society in a week than in years of academic “social studies” or leftist “consciousness raising.”... Everything seems possible — and much more is possible. People can hardly believe what they used to put up with in “the old days.”... Passive consumption is replaced by active communication. Strangers strike up lively discussions on street corners. Debates continue round the clock, new arrivals constantly replacing those who depart for other activities or to try to catch a few hours of sleep, though they are usually too excited to sleep very long. While some people succumb to demagogues, others start making their own proposals and taking their own initiatives. Bystanders get drawn into the vortex, and go through astonishingly rapid changes... Radical situations are the rare moments when qualitative change really becomes possible. Far from being abnormal, they reveal how abnormally repressed we usually are ; they make our “normal” life seem like sleepwalking.
—Ken Knabb, The Joy of Revolution
The “Occupy” movement that has swept across the country over the last four weeks is already the most significant radical breakthrough in America since the 1960s. And it is just beginning.
It started on September 17, when some 2000 people came together in New York City to “Occupy Wall Street” in protest against the increasingly glaring domination of a tiny economic elite over the “other 99%.” The participants began an ongoing tent-city type occupation of a park near Wall Street (redubbed Liberty Plaza in a salute to the Tahrir Square occupation in Egypt) and formed a general assembly that has continued to meet every day. Though at first almost totally ignored by the mainstream media, this action rapidly began to inspire similar occupations in hundreds of cities across the country and many others around the world.
The ruling elite don’t know what’s hit them and have suddenly been thrown on the defensive, while the clueless media pundits try to dismiss the movement for failing to articulate a coherent program or list of demands. The participants have of course expressed numerous grievances, grievances that are obvious enough to anyone who has been paying attention to what’s been going on in the world. But they have wisely avoided limiting themselves to a single demand, or even just a few demands, because it has become increasingly clear that every aspect of the system is problematic and that all the problems are interrelated. Instead, recognizing that popular participation is itself an essential part of any real solution, they have come up with a disarmingly simple yet eminently subversive proposal, urging the people of the world to “Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone. . . . Join us and make your voices heard!” (Declaration of the Occupation of New York City).
Almost as clueless are those doctrinaire radicals who remain on the sidelines glumly predicting that the movement will be coopted or complaining that it hasn’t instantly adopted the most radical positions. They of all people should know that the dynamic of social movements is far more important than their ostensible ideological positions. Revolutions arise out of complex processes of social debate and interaction that happen to reach a critical mass and trigger a chain reaction — processes very much like what we are seeing at this moment. The “99%” slogan may not be a very precise “class analysis,” but it’s a close enough approximation for starters, an excellent meme to cut through a lot of traditional sociological jargon and make the point that the vast majority of people are subordinate to a system run by and for a tiny ruling elite. And it rightly puts the focus on the economic institutions rather than on the politicians who are merely their lackeys. The countless grievances may not constitute a coherent program, but taken as a whole they already imply a fundamental transformation of the system. The nature of that transformation will become clearer as the struggle develops. If the movement ends up forcing the system to come up with some sort of significant, New Deal-type reforms, so much the better — that will temporarily ease conditions so we can more easily push further. If the system proves incapable of implementing any significant reforms, that will force people to look into more radical alternatives.
As for cooption, there will indeed be many attempts to take over or manipulate the movement. But I don’t think they’ll have a very easy time of it. From the beginning the occupation movement has been resolutely antihierarchical and participatory. General assembly decisions are scrupulously democratic and most decisions are taken by consensus — a process which can sometimes be unwieldy, but which has the merit of making any manipulation practically impossible. In fact, the real threat is the other way around: The example of participatory democracy ultimately threatens all hierarchies and social divisions, including those between rank-and-file workers and their union bureaucracies, and between political parties and their constituents. Which is why so many politicians and union bureaucrats are trying to jump on the bandwagon. That is a reflection of our strength, not of our weakness. (Cooption happens when we are tricked into riding in their wagons.) The assemblies may of course agree to collaborate with some political group for a demonstration or with some labor union for a strike, but most of them are taking care that the distinctions remain clear, and practically all of them have sharply distanced themselves from both of the major political parties.
While the movement is eclectic and open to everyone, it is safe to say that its underlying spirit is strongly antiauthoritarian, drawing inspiration not only from recent popular movements in Argentina, Tunisia, Egypt, Greece, Spain and other countries, but from anarchist and situationist theories and tactics. As the editor of Adbusters (one of the groups that helped initiate the movement) noted:
We are not just inspired by what happened in the Arab Spring recently, we are students of the Situationist movement. Those are the people who gave birth to what many people think was the first global revolution back in 1968 when some uprisings in Paris suddenly inspired uprisings all over the world. All of a sudden universities and cities were exploding. This was done by a small group of people, the Situationists, who were like the philosophical backbone of the movement. One of the key guys was Guy Debord, who wrote The Society of the Spectacle. The idea is that if you have a very powerful meme — a very powerful idea — and the moment is ripe, then that is enough to ignite a revolution. This is the background that we come out of.
The May 1968 revolt in France was in fact also an “occupation movement” — one of its most notable features was the occupation of the Sorbonne and other public buildings, which then inspired the occupation of factories all over the country by more than 10 million workers. (Needless to say, we are still very far from something like that, which can hardly happen until American workers bypass their union bureaucracies and take collective action on their own, as they did in France.)
As the movement spreads to hundreds of cities, it is important to note that each of the new occupations and assemblies remains totally autonomous. Though inspired by the original Wall Street occupation, they have all been created by the people in their own communities. No outside person or group has the slightest control over any of these assemblies. Which is just as it should be. When the local assemblies see a practical need for coordination, they will coordinate; in the mean time, the proliferation of autonomous groups and actions is safer and more fruitful than the top-down “unity” for which bureaucrats are always appealing. Safer, because it counteracts repression: if the occupation in one city is crushed (or coopted), the movement will still be alive and well in a hundred others. More fruitful, because this diversity enables people to share and compare among a wider range of tactics and ideas.
Each assembly is working out its own procedures. Some are operating by strict consensus, others by majority vote, others with various combinations of the two (e.g. a “modified consensus” policy of requiring only 90% agreement). Some are remaining strictly within the law, others are engaging in various kinds of civil disobedience. They are establishing diverse types of committees or “working groups” to deal with particular issues, and diverse methods of ensuring the accountability of delegates or spokespeople. They are making diverse decisions as to how to deal with media, with police and with provocateurs, and adopting diverse ways of collaborating with other groups or causes. Many types of organization are possible; what is essential is that things remain transparent, democratic and participatory, that any tendency toward hierarchy or manipulation is immediately exposed and rejected.
Another new feature of this movement is that, in contrast to previous radical movements that tended to come together around a particular issue on a particular day and then disperse, the current occupations are settling in their locations with no end date. They’re there for the long haul, with time to grow roots and experiment with all sorts of new possibilities.
You have to participate to understand what is really going on. Not everyone may be up for joining in the overnight occupations, but practically anyone can take part in the general assemblies. At the Occupy Together website you can find out about occupations (or planned occupations) in more than a thousand cities in the United States as well as several hundred others around the world.
The occupations are bringing together all sorts of people coming from all sorts of different backgrounds. This can be a new and perhaps unsettling experience for some people, but it’s amazing how quickly the barriers break down when you’re working together on an exciting collective project. The consensus method may at first seem tedious, especially if an assembly is using the “people’s mic” system (in which the assembly echoes each phrase of the speaker so that everybody can hear). But it has the advantage of encouraging people to speak to the point, and after a little while you get into the rhythm and begin to appreciate the effect of everyone focusing on each phrase together, and of everyone getting a chance to have their say and see their concerns get a respectful hearing from everyone else.
In this process we are already getting a taste of a new kind of life, life as it could be if we weren’t stuck in such an absurd and anachronistic social system. So much is happening so quickly that we hardly know how to express it. Feelings like: “I can’t believe it! Finally! This is it! Or at least it could be it — what we’ve been waiting for for so long, the sort of human awakening that we’ve dreamed of but didn’t know if it would ever actually happen in our lifetime.” Now it’s here and I know I’m not the only one with tears of joy. A woman speaking at the first Occupy Oakland general assembly said, “I came here today not just to change the world, but to change myself.” I think everyone there knew what she meant. In this brave new world we’re all beginners. We’re all going to be making lots of mistakes. That is only to be expected, and it’s okay. We’re new at this. But under these new conditions we’ll learn fast.
At that same assembly someone else had a sign that said: “There are more reasons to be excited than to be scared.”
THE PRICE OF HOT AIR
"I'm going off do tend to important matters, so enough parading: you'll need the people, so fleece them well once I'm gone, since we spend a lot of money, and we don't know what's coming to us." (Samuel Beckford, "Vathek")
"It's nice smelling, but it's just hot air, after all."
(Robert Bruses, FAO Economics, in response to the G7's October 10th communique)
We've heard some good ones from the soap opera they call a 'financial crisis:' for instance: "the volume of transactions involving to the real economy represent no more than 2% of the whole of monetary exchanges conducted" (Le Monde, October 12th, 2008). Oh, so then we can deduce, I suppose, that 98% of the dough out there is part of some other kind of economy? What, a virtual economy? An unreal economy? A surreal economy? A mafioso economy? The journalists who say these things have probably been playing video games too much: they think that fiction is a realm of 'virtual reality' as opposed to real everyday life. What does that mean, that 98% of the cash on the planet is just fictional money, in other words 'play money' like in Monopoly®? But then what is the 'real economy'?
The word 'economy' comes from the greek OIKOVOYIA, meaning 'household management.' That's more easily understood: the real economy is home economics. Managing your wallet. What one has to buy to eat, to dress, to have a place to sleep, as opposed to what you earn. A long time ago in the province of Aquitaine, people put their money in a little bag called a "bogette." The English, who were occupying the area at the time, pronounced it their own way and it became 'budget.' That was where we put our 'real economy,' and it became a word meaning what we do with it. Everyone knows the difficulties of balancing their 'budget,' especially when faced with having to cut down on expenses at the end of the month. We know the prices of things and the revenues we're getting. The balance between those two things gives us our 'buying power.' Nothing too complicated in all that.
Money comes from labor; that's an open secret. No the production of wealth, no wealth; no wealth, no money. You don't have to be Karl Marx to understand that. But money is also the Treasury of the property-owning rich, who get back part of other people's labor by not paying for it (by paying less for it than it brings in). When one has a great deal of money, it doesn't serve the real economy anymore, since there's too much for it to be getting spent every day. So it's used for something else. How do you make money off of money without working? By speculating. For instance, you buy commodities low and sell them high. In order for that to be possible, you stockpiles, and the prices climb. You can also lend money on interest and do a lot of other things. That's how banks do business.
The source of wealth is obviously work, that is the production of goods and services. The source of finance is that which some skim off the top of the labor of others. To increase profits, you have to increase the wealth produced or decrease the cost of production. To pay producers less while increasing their productivity is the best way to increase the surplus value you draw from their labor. It's become even easier to do this now that the economy's been 'globalized;' by selling commodities on the euro market that were made by workers paid at the labor market employment rates of the poorest countries. The enormity of the surplus value gotten out of that plus the fabulous sums made off speculation on energy resources like oil has bloated the global mass of money way beyond all possibility of equal levels of purchasing, even of pieces of corporations or of raw material stocks. In other words, the profits accumulated by the owning class has, in staggering proportions, gone beyond the real limits of the economy. Even by buying everything in reach, there'd still be too much. At the same time, obviously, the majority of people find themselves totally impoverished. More and more poor, even. Including those who in earlier times thought that they could profit off the financial trickle-down from that gigantic spike in profits. Since that's the law of capitalism: the weak are devoured by the strong. And bit by bit, the 'little guy' profiteers are becoming proletarians too, like the rest. The 'middle classes' rejoin the mass of those who have nothing but the crumbs of the 'real economy' to chew on. In every crisis, the banks and the investment funds get together to leave no room for anyone but the strongest (a logic celebrated by the 'competitive spirit'). Some half-wits, who've listened to too much media noise, think that that's good for them since it'll increase the 'national wealth,' without noticing that they'll never get a taste of it, and that they're being ground into turkey-stuffing to garnish the fine dishes for a gala dinner they aren't invited to.
Globalization was celebrated in its time as the 'end of history,' (Fukuyama) a kind of happy culmination of triumphant capitalism. The 'economists,' those agents of propaganda making people believe that there are such things as 'laws of the market' which no one can escape from any more than they can escape the 'laws of nature,' were all real happy about it, since now they could proclaim that we'd finally arrived in 'the best of all possible worlds.' The crises and vagaries of the run of the market were supposed to have been over: from then on out, thanks to economic globalization, an optimal management of business was going to make the whole world, each according to his pay scale, into co-owners of world's wealth. Worthless crap obviously, with no more foundation than the religious nonsense thanks to which we're promised in 'the beyond' some great happiness nowhere to be found down here on earth.
The owners' ideal is to have the poor think they're rich while staying as poor as ever. Already, thanks to religion, we'd made father a copy of God's curates, and his family into a little world styled after whatever reigning dynasties happened to be in power. Every daddy was invited to subjugate his women and children to make good obedient citizens out of them. But he still had to be made into a virtual property-owner so he'd feel invested in the great crusade to uphold the social system that profits off him. Since he had no real capital -- and for a reason! -- he was going to be given some 'virtual' capital, by giving him a guaranteed loan on the value of the house he was going to buy. Off he went with his imaginary money to go buy an imaginary title to property. Whoever has taken out a real estate loan knows how it works: first you pay off the interest, and only if you make it all the way will you ever really own the thing. 'The poor,' says Coluche, 'can't pay very much, but they can certainly be made to pay over a long while.' And if they don't make it, speculation lets the house be sold for more money than ever. And all the profits go straight to the bank. Even better: a negotiable deed is made from the poor guy's debt, guaranteed by the mortgage on the property, whose value never stops growing. And that deed, which has become a commodity like any other, even though it's completely 'virtual,' is resold at many times its value within complicated financial circuits elaborated by the new engineers of a baseless economic 'science'
$10,299,050,083 was the USA's foreign debt as of October 11th. But there aren't any creditor nations for the rich nations' debt. Global accounting is done on a rigged balance sheet. In fact, the fabulous sums accounted as assets for the various financial institutions of the world are basically play-money. In the example of mortgage loans (the famous sub-prime loans), lines of credit in the listings that left out the fact that they were really nothing but bets on the future, debts whose payment was spread out over the future. It's like fueling your train engine by burning the rail ties from under the track up ahead, thinking you'll be able to replace them by the time you get to the stretch you stripped them from. But the heavier that train gets, the more fuel it needs, and the more the rail disappears before it. Capitalism has to make a commodity out of everything to progress: first the commodities extracted from the earth, then human labor, manufactured products, services rendered, now pure air, drinkable water -- and now here it goes again, making the future itself a commodity salable on the market. They don't just count the money that comes from actual wealth, but tomorrow's wealth too, in the form of gambles on anticipated surplus value. However, 'foolish he who trusts in the future': by accumulating deeds to property that didn't even exist yet, the profit-chasers sold the bear before they'd killed it. And the bear took off back into the forest.
The democratic state is capitalism's political form. According to the times, it plays a more or less important role in the management of finance. For some, so called ultraliberals, it should be content to ensure the owners that the mass of the poor are taken care of. For others, called the keynesians, (the name of a political economist), it has to perform a regulatory function in the circulation of money. In any case, it's just one of the cogs in a global system that ensures capital's stranglehold over all human activity. That is, it can't remedy the system's malfunctions. By accumulating play-money, capital has scattered black holes throughout its future history, into which it must inevitably fall, whatever short-term measures it may take to compensate for its deficiencies. We aren't witnessing the 'end of History,' but we're certainly seeing something that looks a lot like the end of capitalism's history, at the very moment when the prophets it'd paid to dupe the people were announcing its definitive victory. This is also, doubtless, the end of all the ideologies that had decorated its different avatars, like the State capitalism that deceptively called itself 'communism.' If there's an alternative proposal to be made regarding the possibilities that humanity might have to draw a benefit from this crisis for itself, it is certainly not to be found in the worn out bolshevik armory. The reinforcement of the State, mostly by the nationalizations, will obviously do no more than bring on the implosion of the financial system more quickly.
From this 'crisis' the sick world of capitalism might either come out vaccinated; stronger, more alive, or it might succumb, dying out bit by bit in a long agony, kept alive by remedies injected by doctor Diafoirus, who comes to his bedside. It seems to me that the most urgent thing to do would be to totally cut the string that ties labor to capital, by taking away from stockholders all their rights over the management of companies, that is, by globalizing democracy in all social activities: the administration council of all human communities, mainly the productive ones, must be comprised of the people that constitute them. In other words, the investors must not be given the right to make decisions about labor, but the workers themselves must have that right, at the point of production, and not from some far off place, or from offshore. That project was once upon a time called 'self-management,' and I see no other that might serve as an alternative to the generalized crushing defeat of capitalism. The funniest thing about it is that it's totally compatible to say the least, with the desire for freedom, equality, and fraternity that are the foundation of the pleasure that people take, in spite of everything, in living together.
COMPLETION OF CAPITALISM
Lukas Stella, August 2011
Excerpt (Chapter II) of the book
"The invention of the crisis, fraud on a future in distress."
Capitalism has imposed on society by the takeover of the bourgeoisie, is a system built on the pro-private ownership of means of production, wage slavery and the profit from the surplus value of labor, competition, the accumulation of money and capital, stock markets and financial speculation ...
Cash is king now everywhere, and universal measure evaluates all, any activity and any relationship. Money has become the only unit of measurement that assesses abstract any value by the number, turning while goods-say. Any quality is reduced to a quantitative assessment, differentiation abstract separated from its use and utility man. Every human relationship is only commodity relation, and thus the desire to change and the pleasure of living have been reduced to the status of goods which benefit. Money is the tool that creates and controls the inequality. It expresses the will to power, the drive to canibaliser life force and intelligence of others.
The theft of wealth by a small group of dominant society comes at the start, the appropriation of the labor force against money, and theft of part time work, the added value that n is not paid by the owners of production. "While the alienated work hard to man the object of his production, he snatches his life." Karl Marx, 1844 Manuscripts.
The wage slavery transformed the productive and creative freedom of man alienated labor forced on the producers so they can survive on the minimum livelihood, still inadequate. "Work is outer to the worker, ie it does not belong to its essence, so that, in his work, it does not assert but denies feels not comfortable, but unhappy, does not deploy a free physical and mental activity, but mortify his body and ruins his mind." Karl Marx, 1844 Manuscripts.
It was then that is established throughout the wage in the third-rite, a reward for good subjection to slavery work. Should gain even more by walking on the heads of others. But there can be no merit in barbarism. Under pressure authoritarian usurpers of appreciation, the wages due to human activity profitable a commodity, the work became money, money and the only exchange value, the only link between social individuals, the only logic of society. "An immediate consequence of the fact that man is estranged to the product of his work: man is made alien to man." Karl Marx, Capital
When man is separated from its own production, it is withdrawn, its activity is no longer his. Its relation to other escapes and he finds himself abroad with his family. Outside his own world, it can then be repre-sented as an immense accumulation of goods put on show. This operating system of populations is legitimized as inevitable and justified by abstract economic theory, mathematically accounted for and shown under a seal of truth to pre-scientific attention, which is nothing but the ideology of the class dominant, the technique of conditioning, propaganda of slavery.
Modern capitalism operates on the same basis at the time of Marx, but it has changed considerably in 40 years. From this period to divide the labor movement and rule, the traditional business, unitary and hierarchical, broke up in decentralized profit centers or independent. In the 70s, the rate of profit falls, but was soon offset by an increase in the exploitation of the workforce through flexibility, unemployment and insecurity. The indexation of wage income, the sliding scale of wages and purchasing power, which protected the population geaient the effects of rising prices, were phased out and is the last obstacle to capture profits growth in finance. "The dictatorship of profit has not automated the work to free his slaves but to increase the capital allocated to market speculation." Raoul Vaneigem, Modest proposals to strikers, 2004.
In challenging the post-war social compromise, financiers are drifting towards them productivity gains, more than 75% in 30 years, and the benefits of growth and technological progress. Producers pay less by improving productivity is the best way to increase the added value that can be drawn from the work. Firms are then produce aisles where labor is cheapest. They have relocated to all is to increase profits to meet the demands of shareholders who were always asking for more. Return on equity (ROE), imposed on businesses as a standard by the credentials financial, around 15 to 25%, it has tripled in 30 years and is increasing year by year.
"Capital is dead labor, which only comes in like a vampire sucking living labor, which is all the more alive it sucks more." Karl Marx, Capital.
The enormity of capital gains realized and, in addition to the fabulous sums made through speculation on energy and raw materials, boosted the overall mass money far beyond the possibilities of purchase. Profits earned by the upper middle class exceeded in excessive proportions the actual limits of the economy. Even by buying everything that was on the global market, there was too much. We had to use these huge wealth usurped the people, apart from the real economy. Then the financial traffic is actually excited.
"All capital seems to double and sometimes triple simply because he or claims pass from hand to hand by assuming different forms. The bulk of that capital is purely fictitious." Karl Marx, Capital
Any economy needs to grow to keep, and for that it needs ever more money in circulation. Make a profit by selling goods can not be done if more money on arrival and departure. This is how the economy develops into debt because it is through the creation of debt that can create change. A complex system of credit using these overabundant liquidity in a cataclysm speculation tif unlimited, hidden in out of control procedures (derivatives, securitization market for OTC sale to cover, leverage hidden ...), behind English abstract symbols (LBO, MBS, CDO, CDS, ABS, ROE ...), then stored away in tax havens and regulatory requirements.
Financial trafficking have developed very quickly at the end of the century through computerization of transactions and the multiplication of legal and tax havens, grabbing the passage gains in production through the financing of combinations businesses and investments
to fierce competition in a global galo-pants. "Private capital tends to be concentrated in few hands (...) The result of these developments is an oligarchy of capital-talistes whose formidable power can be effectively restrained." Albert Einstein, Why Socialism? 1949.
In the late 80's, financiers have already won. They became the masters of the economy. Financial markets were then imposed their central position and a dominant capitalism rapidly changing. Capital has focused its growth can face at work, which enabled the upper middle class to get rich faster. At the same time, the class of producers has actually impoverished and continues.
Requirements exuberant short-term profit looting the economy, block wages, consumption, investments and growth, rising unemployment endless ... "The difference between the haves and the most disadvantaged will become greater." "The work of 20% of the world's population will be sufficient to support the entire apparatus of the global economy. The remaining population will prove unnecessary." Report of the Rockefeller Foundation, in May 2010.
With increasing globalization, money must flow between financial centers in various jurisdictions, countries customs unknown, unforeseen situations, the uncertainties and insecurity. In business, trust-ing is so indispensable in a crisis. As the computerized exchange s'ef-fectuent at the speed of light, panicked investors are forced to make. More exchanges are growing, more funding needs to cover their risks are growing and becoming more complex, more must be found speculators who sell the security by purchasing these risks. Become indispensable, speculators can raise the stakes and are doing so. Risk management, more lucrative than industrial capital, has become in recent years one of the first source of profit in the world.
The regulatory plans, launched as advertising campaigns, are merely sales pitches for ama-balanced endow the viewer. The control remains absent and the wheels of fortune at full capacity while remaining invisible-able.
Speculation is a bet on future invented. We buy what is not being sold and what we might hold, reality merges with a virtual future. Transactions occur directly between participants, without knowledge by anybody position and solvency of each. Traceability is impossible and no one knows exactly what is meant. The overall risk is not measurable or controlled-lable. Assets are infected every day by the dice non-payment that spread. The securitized loans, secured on future uncertain values are all time bombs on an opaque and confusing market when the debts are linked and the risks are increasing.
In a period where there is lying, confidence would disappear-and nothing is predictable. This abundance of bad debts poses systemic risk they say, In other words an endangered the entire financial system, economic and social development.
TRANSLATION ON LINE (we seek a good free translator)
STRATEGIES FOR USE BY INVENTORS OF UNBELIEF
Lukas Stella, 2008
The change can not think in terms of recipes, directions and restrictions, mandatory returns, holdings and profits, political campaigns, advertising, fictitious majority, manipulation and packaging, competitions Business Mafia , scams and speculation, wars and victories overwhelming ... This is just to remember those we love or we would meet, what we want the best for them and for us. It's in the will to live together without interference, begins the change in the free world, where their domestic financial powers and ignorant.
The idea that we could do otherwise, even learn to do otherwise, is foreign to us because the construction of our reality limits our possibilities. Our ability to change due in large part on our ability to update the resources hidden behind disability or resistors that are only visible. He wants to get our inhibitions and our shortcomings in our reserves sleep recognizing and using their useful functions. To have the desire to change and take pleasure in them feeling capable, it is necessary to understand that one has potential. If one looks for the boundaries of others we limit ourselves, but in seeking the resources they're giving back. Employing the useful function of our faults, and the resources of our inhibitions, is an effective and inventive we self-manage.
Our sensory capacities that enrich our resources, are inversely proportional to the accumulation of our prejudices and certainties prefabricated explanations. The development of our sensory acuity depends on our ability to discern and understand the differences. By not using all our sensory capabilities, we narrow our field of the knowable, and limit our options.
Everything happens as if we forgot the amazing extent of our human resources, losing confidence in the strength of our nature, whose essence is a permanent change.
The exploitation of man by man is a devastating war. It can not be abolished without exceeding the struggle of man with himself, between the forces of the unconscious and the conscious ones. By changing perspective, the unconscious is no longer our enemy but our treasure inexhaustible reservoir with which it cooperates in the course of the poetics of life and recomposed. Our unconscious mind reverted accessible, our intuitions are uncertain invent incredibly necessary change became inevitable.
Each time has been built to achieve a change of perspective, upsetting the social and human relations, has suddenly emerged that passion to live fully capable of dissolving the economic oppression and awaken the desires of love, of mutual aid and solidarity in the free pleasures without limit, the art of enjoyment and happiness of the invention.
The desire for change is not enough. The ideal recipe is based on the belief of having found the truth, the only, without any context. This myth comes from the mission to preach the truth to change the world, with the hope that it is recognized by the largest number of followers. Those who do not want to convert to this view become mandatory in bad faith, ie belief in evil and it is eliminated for the good of humanity.
"A universally dominant social model, which tends to self totalitarian, is apparently fought challenges posed by false permanently on its own ground, illusions, however, strengthen this model. The pseudo-bureaucratic socialism is the grandest of these disguises of the old hierarchical world of alienated labor.
Within this world, supposedly revolutionary organizations that do the fighting apparently on his own ground, through the greatest hoaxes. All allegiance to ideologies more or less petrified, and ultimately that do participate in the consolidation of the dominant order. Trade unions and political parties forged by the working class for its own emancipation became simple system controllers, private property of officers working on their empowerment and find a special status within the ruling class of a company they think never to question.
In a world fundamentally untrue, they are the bearers of the lie the more radical, and work in the sustainability of the universal dictatorship of the economy and the state."
Members of the Situationist International and students of Strasbourg, the Poverty of Student Life, 1966.
All attempts ideal of social change have largely proved ineffective. The search for the perfect solution creates a paradox. The problem that blocks the situation is looking for a solution impossible. The release requires the rejection of the choice of a solution, which creates a new paradox takes the place of the former by canceling it. The solution emerges in the absence of a solution. Instead of seeking a solution, it is looking for a problem that reflects the possible actions. Thus the situation is shifting from a perspective of change, in a game situational subversive twists.
"The workers are now discovering that there is no programming of the future. They are afraid, having nothing else to offer the absolute destruction of all these social forms.
This is by no means a defect, but the essential quality of the modern proletariat, its conscious nihilism, the project to inaugurate an adventure unknown to the scale of humanity, and to have full responsibility.
For it is predictable that everything is visible and necessary."
Jules Henry and Leo Leger, Men take drugs, The State strengthens, 1974.
If you want to know how it works, looking to change some functions. Operating practices then replace simplistic beliefs.
Knowledge of thinking embodied in his situation affecting all of us lived in its structural drift with others, building up new perspectives, free from the reductionist certainties.
The incident creative or unexpected change emerges always outside the control of the system because it can not consider the existence of an outside its own operation. Limited to its internal environment, a system can not understand himself, because why should he be looking from the outside, which would split. He is blind to itself, and therefore it is foreign.
To understand the change it is necessary to reframe the situation in a broader context, including the invention of a change in perspective, thus escaping the restrictive and destructive part of the show. Shift perspective in a corner far remained dead, brought a mixture of different contexts, remained aliens. It then emerges is some confusion in perception and in the rules previously played in such circumstances. To compensate for this confusion and to rebuild a balanced, new importance is given to relations with others. This situation is experienced as a new experience, a great chance of leading to the spontaneous invention of unbelief, and this necessity, which was not conceivable in the context of the beliefs used in the earlier context.
Coming out of the blue of the usual frame of reference, a change is emerging where we do not expect it, which leads to a new perception of the situation. It is an invention that escapes our prior beliefs. By introducing a fictitious outside a new point of view, experiments in this way a different game, played the old rules of the game, making it obsolete.
This is to adapt this tactic, invention of a reality as possible to our desires. This helps invent the change using the contributions of experience as the foundation of a predictive strategy of intervention that is maintained in a constantly changing self correcting. We can build an alternative perspective that makes it possible to experience the situation differently, contributing to a new use of the knowledge we already have. We just do not know what we know. Indeed, we can choose to either be a discoverer of a separate world whose reality remains unchangeable, an inventor of our own world, free to build choices become possible.
The change in perspective is to give up our certainties and lonely and realize that the directionality of our excesses during natural result of the conservation of our desires to live together. It is thus possible to move from finding a solution to change the sake of change, immediate and free, made during our experiments uncertain.
Desire drives us in our evolution, giving meaning to our actions. Take time to imagine the realization of our desires is sowing the seeds of change as a force of attraction. Our behavior then have a high propensity to move spontaneously in the desired direction, inventing a dream space and freedom. The urge to achieve our desires greatly increases the desire to change, making the attractive target, it mobilizes and attracts the energies that are released.
The operational strategy is constantly adapting to the problems and objectives, without being influenced by theories of deterministic and authoritarian. It makes shot after shot, allowing the emergence of different forms of perception. This is to facilitate behavior changes to alter the difficulty or ineffective way to overcome it in an appealing alternative perspective that makes it possible to experience the situation differently disorder.
Our goal is to initiate the solution process rather than compete with no hope for law enforcement, to face head-controlled system constraints. Attack where one does not expect us stand firm, where it will not appear as aggression shown by the performance. Direct action, gangs, terrorism exist only through the propaganda of their enemies. Do not rush straight into the wall when you can choose the easy way out of pleasure and play with others, seeking resonance and synchronicity, available at the new emerging context, appropriating unforeseen contingencies become conducive.
Multiple possible deviations are within our reach. Small changes result in still others. Make living together a new concrete experience leads us to have a different perception of reality, to construct a new equilibrium based on this perception, making available a new situation within which the change in perceptions and reaction becomes inevitable. That way we can opt for surgical observations that allow us to know our problems through their solutions. This learning process is an evolutionary experiment in which we find our way with others, forming a living tissue of relationships that includes us, where correspondences are conjunctions, and where synchronies resonate.
A small change in the behavior of some individuals can lead to profound differences, far-reaching in the behavior of all.
"Here we are floating in a world that is changing while we speak as if there was a static element in this world."
Gregory Bateson, A few more steps toward an ecology of mind, a sacred unity, 1991.
The diversion is practiced by the Situationist practice of using a predefined framework, which can allow a reversal unexpected crop, leaving the starting situation. Its recovery in the commercial fields of advertising, politics and art, has gradually transformed its capacity drift poetic and subversive marketing techniques in ostentatious.
It is now abandoned ownership relations appearances Prefabricated diverting situations directly experienced, that went beyond the objects of textual and visual communication. When he is not the direct trace of a situation experienced in a radical change of perspective, the diversion is limited to a particular phenomenon of communication lost in the spectacular appearance of widespread bid.
When all seems predetermined, calculated in advance, that time is running out and planned use any offset in the drift changes in perspective, playing rules with no respect, making choices and unpredictable potential changes.
When we are involved in the riots, we in appropriating the movements, we must never despise or condemn certain behaviors because they seem naive, limited, ineffective and inefficient. These behaviors adopted in attempts to revolt are, like us, the problem inherent in change. These behaviors, like ours, is the environment within which our desire for change arise.
Our strategy must be anchored to be operational in the use of these events oddly repetitive failures in their stupid, absurd in the reproduction of patterns without a market, irrational and contradictory in the accumulation of losses. Using resistance to change will enable us to understand the virtues of our faults by pushing in the direction of the facility.
The simple recognition of existing conditions and is based on full respect for autonomous individuals. Our tactic is to be prepared to respond to all and any aspect of the revolt and its surroundings, trimmed to get hold of a moment, an event, we are appropriating with others what is happening. We construct a willingness to discern and use with minimal dexterity behaviors and aspects of the situation yet undetected, unrecognized facets of the ongoing experimentation. We take elements of immediate events and return them in a constructive direction, a direction effective for a change indeed possible, in a total reversal of perspective.
If we derive actively in this process of co-creation of change, whose origin lies in the collective experiment of rebellion, so our contributions can not be taken as informed solutions to reproduce. There pipeline to follow in the submission and resignation. There is no agenda for change, only of more or less operational.
We offer no program, no course of action to be followed slavishly, we chose the resources each brings to his rebellion. We can help to realize the virtues of our faults.
In practice, it is encouraging these acts of resistance to oppression, inappropriate change, to divert them in a subtly shifted perspective to the broader context of opportunities for change, which stemmed from our common desires of the moment. This brings everyone is the life energy that will allow us to soar in an unexpected situation and experience in co-creating with the complicity of the moment. These creative processes are not caused by divine intuition from the sky, but always occur by accident, where the unexpected pushes us to a reaction that may make us regain some balance. The creation of situation does not come from a higher inspiration, but the use of unpredictable events in unstable collective ownership in search for harmony and synchrony.
Depending on the specificity of blocking change, copy the structure but by altering the sense that it be granted, can put the strength of this persistence in the service of an operational change. We can change our perceptual and reactive without our really being aware account. In this perspective, the emphasis is more focused on the problem, but on how it is maintained, and still feeds. To build a rapid change, this is to alter the persistence of the problem, block by block away.
The attempted solutions, dysfunctional in their enactment redundant, eventually building literally a vicious circle within which what the individuals or groups of individuals to tackle their problems, keeps making them more complex. The release is to introduce small changes in the attempted solutions. This always leads to new operational capabilities.
Is the deviation which is the engine of change because it alters the difficulty, or ineffective way to achieve it. It can reveal alternative possibilities that make possible a different experiment.
We can transform the meaning given to the problem generated by a desire to change ineffective in a process in action, each party event becomes a possibility available. Change the usual sequential behavior can be done by adding a few steps, unforeseen but achievable in the current process. Each component can become feasible.
We start from the standpoint that we shifted each in its specificity and its own history, have already shown a proper and efficient functioning. This does not teach how to become operational in the process of change, but only promotes the use of certain schemes that allow us to release ourselves from our history constructive asleep. We are the processes involved in stimulation of resources involved, resources that are too long remained stuck in ineffective operation.
Everything is used according to the terms of possible change. When not limited to corporate resistance, strikes may become an effective tool of social upheaval. The parallel economies based on exchange or cooperative apart to free small "little" end of this period of rule by the exchange gain in constant competition. Enjoy life by playing the morality dissolves barriers of sacrifice and guilt that supports slavery activity through work. Across the system is challenged. It remains to put these actions by shifting in a shift in perspective. There is no way but to an infinity.
The revolutionary life already know what to do to overcome the problems that are blocking. But they do not know they know because they believe themselves ineffective. We can invent a whole new use of the knowledge we already have, in different balances that no longer need to be unique and perfect.
There was an unattainable ideal way but, at present there are a multitude of possible experiments.
Excerpt from "Stratagems of change, the illusion of the improbable to the invention of the possible", Chapter VIII.
Publishing Éditions Libertaires, 2008.
TRANSLATION ON LINE (we seek a good free translator)
ON PUBLIC INSECURITY AND A FEW POSSIBLE REMEDIES FOR IT
The text entitled "On Public Insecurity and a few Possible Remedies for it" was first published in 2002. The hijacked images in this film come from trailers, news extracts, and videos collected from the internet.
Insecurity isn't an objective fact, but a feeling. It isn't measurable by statistics or government survey. Ever difficult to grasp, the feeling of insecurity arises from confused, displeasing impressions accumulated over time. In any case, it's a sign that things are going badly. One feels threatened, disturbed; as if one were being harassed by overdose of upsetting encounters, annoyances, fears, humiliations. Life in modern society is more like life in hell than life in the paradise it pretends to be.
What factors contribute to this? Not so much the impertinence of youth, its "wild" side, which has always simultaneously exasperated and charmed the adults. No, it's rather the repetition of imbecilic, unkind acts, even more irritating because of the fact that their authors are also harassed, uncomfortable in their skin, and made wicked by a dissatisfying society. There's nothing reassuring in the observation that the unhappiness of some increases the unhappiness of others.
Part of the acts that give rise to the feeling of insecurity are committed by youths from the rank and file, sometimes issued from the immigration system. It's generally a set of attitudes, things to say, or gestures that show a refusal to respect what has been called 'the elementary rules of life in society." In other words, that courtesy, civility, urbanity that make it possible for people to live together in a city and be totally different from each other. This is a sign that the city has ceased being a place where people live together, whatever the culture.
For the most part, there are aggressive acts, whether verbal or physical, that justify the right of the strong to crush the weak. It's the logic of competition pushed to the extreme. The capitalist spirit in a pure state, expressed by those with no chance of possessing any capital.
Often it's a group mentality, where union makes strength, the use of which allows one to avenge one's past humiliations by humiliating those who, isolated before the group, are momentarily in a weak position. A perverse effect of lived solidarity on the mode of exclusion, which overrides the feeling of fraternity which is the basis for all real democracy. Those who are excluded from the system thus practice the very logic they suffer from to exclude in turn the victims they find in their way. In this sense, the delinquents are good students, merely having blindly followed the principles inculcated in them, but in whom the spirit of competition has found no outlet. Their behavior is similar to that of the winners of capitalist enterprise, but without an economic terrain to implement it in. And so they do so at random, repurposing the terrain.
Among the groups that behave in this way, there are some very perverse ones, who are otherwise supposed to be defenders of the weak. For instance, certain of the forces of order, functioning according to the same logic that the thugs they're supposed to be "dealing with" use. The revenge of the humiliated, humiliating others in turn, is also seen quite often among minor and major bureaucrats, though they are armed of course with proxies through which to exercise their violence. Instead of acting like helpful brothers, they act like cruel fathers, and increase the people's feelings of insecurity.
In the face of such situations, if one thinks that war would be a good response and that the repression must be increased, even at the risk of inciting to even more violent counter-responses, it would then be only logical to elect right wing or extreme right politicians, whose political role is to defend order at all costs. With fascism in power, violence becomes the central institution, brushing democracy aside. There is no more a simple feeling of insecurity, since then all individuals, totally deprived of their rights as citizens, are forced to stand in total insecurity before the fascist State. Terror becomes the only sovereign. The classical right wing has always been the expression of the perspective of a minority of owners for whom security comes from the work of other people and insecurity from the risk that they might revolt. Propaganda and authority are in such a realm the necessary tools for the maintenance of social peace.
The primacy of the economy over all other considerations is part of the logic of capitalism, for which all social life must be subject to the need to conserve the disparity between the owners and the rest. In this logic, the feeling of insecurity is a motor for the elimination of the weak. That's doubtless the reason why the right pushes it so much, and proposes means of struggle that in fact only reinforce it. In emergencies it can even recruit street thugs and give provisional power to fascist gangs.
The left, in principle, is the carrier of a project of social justice, wherein the economy would be made to obey other imperatives. In any case, that's the argument it presents to the people. The ideal behind it is supposed to be attached to some envisioned utopia where equality, justice, and brotherhood would reign. But of course, in reality, two diversions have distanced it from that goal. First is its attachment to soviet ideology, which proposes State capitalism as an intermediate stage before the advent of a just society. People are to have no more autonomy, and become the peons in an easily manipulated Mass. History has shown that this system was in fact no more than dreadful dictatorship. The second, more modern diversion puts the left in charge of regulating capitalism's social tensions. It's not about changing Life anymore, it's just about properly adjusting the system. The promises of brotherhood then become no more than an advertising campaign aimed at the people. And careers are made out of that on the left as well as on the right, and people don't see any difference between the two anymore.
As the sociologists have observed, the fluctuation of unemployment rates and other economic indicators only have a very slight influence on the generalized feeling of insecurity, and the religious procession of petty delinquency that accompanies it wherever it may go. The impression of unease depends more on the supremacy itself of the economy than on its little fluctuations. Youth suicide; absurd, desperate murders; irrational, malicious acts; these are the manifestations of a general loss of trust in society. Human beings are definitely social. When we forget our sense of others, we lose our humanity. All kinds of aberrations are then possible.
When the left sells its soul to capitalism, it's just doing the dirty job in the right's stead. So we saw the leftist government of Lionel Jospin give "national security" (the official name of the "public safety" bureau) more attention than the well-being of the people, including in school. In the absence of an effectively fraternal and social politics, caste solidarity took over. Reactionary laws were passed to give more power to the police, to punish playful or deviant behaviors even more brutally. Even the reopening of the old children's prisons was proposed, and sexual relations hunted out in the name of protecting childhood. Freedom hid behind the judges and brotherhood wasn't even something for politicians to grin about anymore.
The worst is to come if a new generation of left leaning people doesn't come up for whom a feeling of insecurity is resolved by the development of social, fraternal, cultural, and loving practice. Before proposing the power to say "no," the freedom to be able to say "yes" has to be affirmed. No more directing, assisting, monitoring; rather the opening of free spaces, giving favor to autonomy, letting differences be expressed.
While we await the abolition of capitalism, we can chew away at its wings. We can push to impose democracy within companies, denying their power to feed investors. And above all we can pay attention to other things besides the economy. We can set up spaces for free dialogue, festival, and brotherhood. We can create a climate of trust and love among people, with no power to vie for. Develop everywhere possible structures for participatory democracy. Cooperate instead oof competing. Stop sustaining professional politicians. Put in place a real human ecology. Make public spaces communal. Let those who have something to say speak. Let those who wish to do so make love. Put an end to the attacks on our freedom to do what we please with our bodies. Let all those who have the desire to express themselves sing, dance, paint, write, play music, without having to have some imperative of salability put on them. Let those who wish to smoke pot. Take control of the media from the politicians and corporations. Denounce the ugliness of the various urbanisms and come up with remedies for them. Create discussion spaces to decide together what to do with our society, etc.
But above all, don't invent a new party.
MAI 68 HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN
Raoul Vaneigem, an interview by Guy Duplat, 2008
Translated by Jordan
Forty years after May 68, one of the gurus of the era, Raoul Vaneigem, situationist author of the cult book, "The Revolution of Everyday Life" (Treatise on Good Manners for Youth), has come out with a new book. In this explosive interview, he retains the spirit of May 68.
If anyone still fully incarnates the spirit of May 68, its revolt, its hopes, the choice made then for life and enjoyment, for a refusal of all oppressions, it is certainly Raoul Vaneigem. Born in Lessines in 1934, and still living in Belgium, he was one of the leaders of the Situationist International, along with Guy Debord, from 1961 to 1969. It is to him that we owe the existence of the book "the Revolution of Everyday Life," read by many a rebel in those times, as were books such as "One Dimensional Man" by Marcuse, or the books of [Ivan] Illich. Vaneigem hasn't changed a bit, unlike many of the leaders of May 68. He still calls for "life, not survival," and enjoyment rather than alienation at some job. He invites his readers to fight for a world where solidarity, respect for nature, that which is human, and freedom would finally win out over the society of the spectacle, economy-above-all-else, and the "reification" of persons.
If there's such a thing anymore as a libertarian, anarchist voice in this world, free, subversive and joyous, his is certainly one.
We talked for a long while, and readers will find a breath of fresh 1968 in the content of our interview here, a magnificent and torrential use of language worthy of a Bossuet, with curses, cries, and loves. If some may reproach him for his utopianism or "leftism," his voice certainly has the merit of being a voice that liberates and forces us to shake up our neurons. He is personally completely indifferent to the media society and to whatever may be said about him and his thoughts.
In his new book, "Between Mourning the World and the Joy of Life" (Gallimard), he gives a impassioning breakdown of May 68 and what's left of it. And he repeats that as for what anyone might say about his thinking or his actions, he is as indifferent to it as "a downpour washing traces of puke off a sidewalk." He refuses all normal interview requests. But he did accept to answer our questions by email, as long as we promised not to edit his answers at all... and to have a drink or two with him afterwards. In the name of Life.
We've been celebrating the 40 year anniversary of May 68 in a kind of art restoration-type atmosphere. You say though that May 68 was a "first scream of alarm" that changed the world in a durable way. What's left of May 68 now?
Nothing for the trotskisto-maoist sixty-eighters that even then already had all the qualities required to recycle themselves into the business world. But everything, on the other hand, for those who saw the beginning of a revolution in the May 1968 occupations movement, in its early infancy. We have still not been able to measure to what extent we are in the very heart of a mutation, in which the perilous passage from a millenarian commodity civilization to a human civilization is taking place, a human civilization quite often sketched out and always repressed (the French Revolution, the Paris Commune, the workers councils of 1917, the Spanish Anarchist Collectives of 1936). What was expressed with the lucidity of a brusque and brutal revelation in 1968 was no less than the refusal of survival in the name of Life. The sacrosanct table of patriarchal values was definitively smashed: it was the end of the exploitation of nature, work, exchange, predation, separation from the self, sacrifice, guilt, the renunciation of happiness, the fetishism of money, power, hierarchical authority, scorn and fear of women, the subordination of children, intellectual ascension, military and police despotism, religions, ideologies, repression and its mortifying releases. I'm not reporting this from history, this is something that's going on now. And that experience has no need of commemorations. It only demands more vigilance, more consciousness, and more solidarity with the Living. We need to regain our foundations in order to rebuild on a more human footing this world ruined by an inhumanity spreading everywhere the commodity spirit and the cult of short-term profits.
But commodity society, "debraining," the "society of the spectacle" have triumphed over everyone, even including the old sixty-eighters. It's the reign of money still.
We are witnessing the bankruptcy of a system founded on the greedy exploitation of man and nature. We are in an economy that's destroying itself while it destroys the planet. Instead of investing in the modernization of primary sectors, capitalism sacrifices to stock market speculation the very industry and public services that it only yesterday glorified itself by promoting. The predominance of salability and the urgency of profit have given rise to a nihilism where the wrong side is worth the same as the right side, and to a despair that the consumerist frenzy accrues and exorcises simultaneously while buying power goes down more and more. The cult of money, more than merely giving rise to complicity, establishes a kind of spiritual communion between the crooks that attack the poor and burn schools and libraries, and the brutal businessmen that accrue profits while destroying the public good and social gains that have been won over the years. Those who give themselves the title of director have never before attained such a high degree of incompetence and stupidity, and never has the "less than nothing" that they're so infatuated with ever been so easily passed off as "something," so much does the prejudice that people aren't capable of acting autonomously and creating their own destiny perpetuate itself. Political clientelism has corrupted the democracies, which are all now firmly under the iron heel of the multinationals. There aren't any ideas or beliefs left anymore that aren't stripped of their meaning, eviscerated, reduced to carrion for the masses, blinded by resentment and despair, to feast upon; the ultimate predation, the anguished search for some slave job, an impression that existence is absurd, and ever propitious for the development of many-varied suicidal behaviors (the Columbine killings, massacres in Rwanda and in the former Yugoslavia, islamist barbarity). But in spite of a stylish obscurantism propagating a total insensitivity, servility, fatalism, the law of might makes right, and the law of most fooled makes right, nothing will keep radical thought from making progress and clandestinely undermining the spectacle where existential misery is set up as a virtue. How could what was already so intolerable in 1968, when the economy was flourishing, not be even more so today? Do we really need to be some kind of prophets to foresee that the will to live will soon sweep away this ruined world, where everyone feels like they're just vegetating in the very absurdity of their non-existence? The criteria of life (love, friendship, generosity, solidarity, creativity, a desire for happiness and enjoyment, an avidity for knowledge) absolutely must replace the old criteria of the patriarchal power of days past!
Can recuperation be avoided? What does situationism still offer us today?
Situationism is an ideology, and the situationists always refused that term. Whoever refuses all power, and doesn't accept governing or being governed, doesn't enter into the "spectacle of life wherein life is denied," and does not separate his or her ideas from his or her own everyday existence, prefers being to having, and prefers the authenticity of his or her desires to their consumerist falsification; and that is irrecuperable.
You have criticized a certain aspect of ecological movements that, you say, would replace one kind of capitalism for another...?
Even the promoters of financial capitalism know that it's doomed to implode sooner or later. However, from beneath its sclerotic form one can see a capitalism that's been re-dynamized, that is making big plans to commodify renewable energies and make us pay a high price for them even though they're free. We are "offered" bio-fuels on the condition that we accept genetically engineered rape(seed); ecotourism will facilitate the pillage of the biosphere; wind-generating complexes are set up with no real advantage given to consumers. And it's in that realm that an intervention is possible. The earth's natural resources belong to us, they're free, and they should be put in the service of the freeness of life. It will have to be the responsibility of individual groups of people to ensure their food- and energy-indepedence, in order to stay out of the grip of the multinationals, and of the States that they're subjugating everywhere. Now we've got our chance to appropriate natural energies for ourselves, while simultaneously reappropriating our own existence.
Are people now more than ever trying to survive rather than to truly live, and, at least, are they now confusing these two concepts more than ever?
Survival is a part of the animal condition. Truly Living is a specific characteristic of humanity. By distancing ourselves from animalness we acquire the ability to create our own destiny and to constantly recreate the world. Of course the need to work lowers us back to the level of beasts of burden.
Consumerism only permits us to survive if we live less. But the price of consumer goods never stops going up. The survival of the planet's various species, humanity included, is being threatened. That's why I'm counting on a great leap by the will to live. There's never been any society in history, no matter how devastated, that hasn't been able to lift itself back up out of its own ruins.
Revolt has become difficult, since the authorities already appear rather weak. Alienation, to use a marxist concept, has become internalized. Without even any bosses, priests, gurus, or "despots," everyone seems to think "there's no alternative" to a world that everyone nonetheless is feeling the mortifying downward spiral of (environment, inequalities, the pressure of work, etc.)
Voluntary servitude has certainly never been so immense. The business mafias profit off the visceral fear they give rise to, which curbs the masses as if they were being shot at by an imaginary military platoon. There are however certain collectives and individual initiatives that attest to the presence of creative forces, but outside of boutique interest they are kept under a veil of silence. Individual creativity and the will to live better can give birth to a self-managed democracy capable of revoking the democratic imposture gives us the tyranny of free trade, claims the right to pillage the public good, and pulls off a clientelist manipulation of the electorate, and dares to call it "freedom." On the walls of existential dullness that the fellow travelers of global business build all around us, I would like to see painted the words spoken by Loustalot in the times of the French Revolution, which have lost none of their insolent novelty: "The great only appear great because we're on our knees! Let us rise!"
Can commodity labor be escaped?
It certainly must, because it's escaping us more and more. Those who call upon us to work ever more and harder are the same that close down the factories in order to play around with them on the stock market. They give favor to parasitic work, proliferating useless services, and bankrupt the primarysectors (schools, hospitals, metallurgy, textiles, lodging, transportation). Only a creativity that develops natural energies and puts them in the service of the people through a network of self-managed collectives will make possible the end of exploitative work and the recovery of both human and earthly nature.
What do you hope for? Another May 68? What should the youth of today do?
They should learn to live, not to sell themselves. And they'll manage to do so by themselves when they realize what slavery awaits them on the job-dupe market. When they refuse competition (the economic mechanisms that make robots out of us), ambition, and the worship of money at all costs, they'll at last give priority to the love of Life and to their love lives, to getting to know what is Living, to improving their environment, to coming up to their potential, to the only real wealth there is: the wealth of being and not of having. When they realize that it's not a question of being the best but of living better. When they refuse to support governments that build prisons, and suppress schools instead of proliferating them. When they rise up against a concentration camp educational system that favors violence and goes against the very meaning of a truly human education: learning in order to give your knowledge to others. Life has every right, predation has none... Don't be surprised that the battle has only just begun.
Lukas Stella, Stratagems of change
The illusion of invraissemblable to the invention of possible, Chapter VI, August 2008.
Any intentional behavior depends on the beliefs or views of its authors, because they run their interpretations of situations and relationships that result. In libertarian circles, alternative, rebellious, or revolutionary communist pretenders, it is implicitly agreed that the claims of group affiliation, taken together, constitute the logic of the unified nature of the problems and their resolutions. These ideas are regarded as established things, naturally. They guide their thinking and behavior. Their influences are even more important as they are less open to criticism and a possible challenge.
Conflicting views on the change, which blends the personal and collective interests, are ineffective confrontations that maintain and exacerbate the problems. Talk to determine who is right only leads to an exchange of recriminations after which each hardens his convictions and everyone ends up in deadlock.
These points of view built on certain conceptions of history, consider this as a repetition of the past, resulting in linear chains of causes and effects from the origins of the consequences. They prefer what is beneath, behind and far in time, rather than what is happening here and now in its uncertain future. This backward-looking view of things tends to consider the problems of change as the result of deficits on individual behaviors that are deviant behavior, ignoring the individual and collective relations to the present situation, in evolutionary drift. Any proposal and any behavior can be understood in their actual interaction with a relational system behavior, larger operation.
The analytical approach builds the objective of this thinking in a bid to past experiences. This linear view of reality is built on a deterministic creed, that the past determines the present, that the future can only repeat indefinitely. The future is a prisoner of absurd logic of prediction-prediction rather than prospective and uncertainties. It is an idea that becomes a predetermined absolute truth, based on the belief in an eternal return of things and ideas as commodities. This joke makes us believe that we are totally determined by history and we can only endure it and repeat. Using the past as a reservoir of resources diverted by our learning involved in the prospect of a desirable future reinvented, we change our vision of the past. Imagining the future application of letting go with the certainties of the past. The invention becomes subversive because it begins to disrupt reconstruction.
A conflict begins with mutual negation, which can not be resolved if the protagonists are clinging to their beliefs. Through the experience of a new conflict unusual point of view of each found it and changed their perception of the situation becomes different. The opposition and conflict may be exceeded in the emergence of a new field where the necessary coexistence becomes possible.
It is now to invest and take ownership of this new social space free from the constraints partisan politicians or trade union in a collective movement varied and uncertain where anything can happen. It becomes possible to use these gatherings cooperative in order to develop practices and libertarians to experiment during the experience of these relationships unpredictable, exciting games of direct democracy on a human scale.
Autonomy finding its own nature, raises new possibilities. Living in this history continues, more is taken to release the frozen our certainties, allow himself liberties, to fight against the objects of our representations.
When we no longer have to choose to cling to his convictions, it becomes possible to cooperate with others, without predetermined program without knowing where we go in search of synchrony where multiple libertarian tendencies become feasible . Rather than confront hopeless forces of destruction, it is here to initiate a process of constructive solution. Our tactic is to invent freedoms, appropriating the problems without being influenced by the theories deterministic and authoritarian, to alter the difficulty or how to overcome inefficient. This perspective makes it possible unintended experiment differently the situation in motion.
The difficulties inherent in the change of perspective shown as unwanted behaviors that persist and persist. To transform the situation, factors and a possible increased awareness are of little importance. Here and now it is to understand how certain behaviors are the problem in context. For a problem persists, it must be repeated within the system of interactions, behavior triggers. A problem becomes a real problem if it is overcome so inefficient and ineffective solution that is repeated. Then the problem is intensifying a process of vicious circle that creates a problem whose scope and nature differ from the first difficulty. This persistence to act to maintain the problem is done through ignorance, while thinking to do well. It is a standard solution that works logically, based on hidden assumptions that are never questioned, according to a blind belief in "more of the same logic. The persistence of this vicious circle is built on repetition of inappropriate solutions. The confidence placed in these maps, based on beliefs inaccessible, impossible to perceive that they are not effective and operational guides, as they present themselves as quite logical, strongly endorsed by tradition and conventional morality.
We do not perceive the position of our point of view because we believe that our position is key because our perception of reality is partial and biased. The objectivity of some becomes the obligation of others to act according to determinations that are foreign to them. We must think differently to act otherwise, see what is old with a fresh eye by a distance that emerges from different angles. This crop is not truth but the effectiveness of another point of view that can allow use of the possibilities compatible with a new meaning to the situation. It is a game of diversion of context and relationships.
The reframing of the situation does not change the perception of reality, but only its meaning. By placing an act within a context of meaning different point of view is reflected and changed the value given to the situation, quite different. The reality is a function of the worldview of its interpretation and meaning accorded to it. If this perspective changes, the reality is also changing. Induce some changes in the sense given to his inappropriate behavior by a reframing of the situation built on a change of perspective, can disrupt and even transform the functioning of this vicious cycle and initiate effective change. The introduction of a small change in the interaction form of vicious circle, can bring about a positive cycle in which a smaller solution leads to an ineffective unless the problem, leading to a less solution and so on ...
Prisoner of a difficult, sometimes unbearable, the more one tries to solve the larger problem persists with the insistence of the impossibility of change. A strategy for change must break this loop effect endless qu'entretient the problem. This is to introduce elements of break in this dysfunctional equilibrium, which can alter the meaning given to the perception of the situation and thereby altering the response inadequate. This can afford to give the perspective of a rigid obsessive idealized solution and inefficient, leading to see more opportunities where new facts emerge. The problem of change is maintained by inappropriate attempts to resolve who is the feed. So the solution that attempts to become the problem.
Reframing is already changing a little perspective. Take an offbeat perspective and uncertain in a different context allows to upgrade relations with the others who must adapt to the new situation. Exit unexpectedly space preconceived and simplistic separations specialized roles formatted to run, allows to build a new network of relationships in evolution. When one stops to shut himself in his solitary beliefs, it becomes possible to invent small utopias open to other, more manageable, in a fictional point of view that allows slightly out of dramatic context conditioning.
It is when we depend on each other that we can increase our autonomy. We then take an active part in the construction of interactive links, rather than simply to endure. Interdependence does not grow with judgments and exclusions, but using the utility value of our differences. Human relationships built on interdependence and cooperation are always more productive and more satisfying for all, that reports on the subordination, domination and submission.
A strategy to be effective, will take place where it will be easy to practice and experiment, where it will be understood without resistance by applying it on minor problems, quite mundane, details which apparently did not matter and yet challenge us curiously. Changes in the system malfunction, even such small, can trigger a chain reaction capable of altering the meaning given to the perception of reality, and making a crop that can transform the meaning given to a research effort of solution change.
The change comes more easily as they do not try to master it, control it. The passion for discovery, a taste for adventure, fun drift will this letting go at the base of any radical change.
These are some tactics do not offer anything more than a few tools to try to induce some changes needed, focusing on what we can do and how we can do to contribute operative, to solve some persistent problems inherent in our society, both individual and collective. These tactics possible changes are neither definitive nor absolute truth as a high or an ultimate reality, but are instead a collection of useful perspectives to integrate into a social system, elements of the Observation and the action. This is nothing more than a conceptual map of how we can understand and change the problems will change. As a tool, the provisional map is not reality. It can only help us not get lost in blind alleys or roads chimerical.
TRANSLATION ON LINE (we seek a good free translator)
ON THE POVERTY OF STUDENT LIFE
Sidered in its economic, political, psychological, sexual, and particularly intellectual aspects, and a modest proposal for its remedy
First published in 1966 at the University of Strasbourg by students of the university and members of the Internationale Situationniste.
We might very well say, and no one would disagree with us, that the student is the most universally despised creature in France, apart from the priest and the policeman. Naturally he is usually attacked from the wrong point of view, with specious reasons derived from the ruling ideology. He may be worth the contempt of a true revolutionary, yet a revolutionary critique of the student situation is currently taboo on the official Left. The licensed and impotent opponents of capitalism repress the obvious--that what is wrong with the students is also what is wrong with them. They convert their unconscious contempt into a blind enthusiasm. The radical intelligentsia (from Les Temps Modernes to L'Express) prostrates itself before the so-called "rise of the student" and the declining bureaucracies of the Left (from the "Communist" party to the Stalinist National Union of Students) bids noisily for his moral and material support.
There are reasons for this sudden enthusiasm, but they are all provided by the present form of capitalism, in its overdeveloped state. We shall use this pamphlet for denunciation. We shall expose these reasons one by one, on the principle that the end of alienation is only reached by the straight and narrow path of alienation itself.
Up to now, studies of student life have ignored the essential issue. The surveys and analyses have all been psychological or sociological or economic: in other words, academic exercises, content with the false categories of one specialization or another. None of them can achieve what is most needed--a view of modern society as a whole. Fourier denounced their error long ago as the attempt to apply scientific laws to the basic assumptions of the science ("porter régulièrement sur les questions primordiales"). Everything is said about our society except what it is, and the nature of its two basic principles--the commodity and the spectacle. The fetishism of facts masks the essential category, and the details consign the totality to oblivion.
Modern capitalism and its spectacle allot everyone a specific role in a general passivity. The student is no exception to the rule. He has a provisional part to play, a rehearsal for his final role as an element in market society as conservative as the rest. Being a student is a form of initiation. An initiation which echoes the rites of more primitive societies with bizarre precision. It goes on outside of history, cut off from social reality. The student leads a double life, poised between his present status and his future role. The two are absolutely separate, and the journey from one to the other is a mechanical event "in the future." Meanwhile, he basks in a schizophrenic consciousness, withdrawing into his initiation group to hide from that future. Protected from history, the present is a mystic trance.
At least in consciousness, the student can exist apart from the official truths of "economic life." But for very simple reasons: looked at economically, student life is a hard one. In our society of abundance," he is still a pauper. 80% of students come from income groups well above the working class, yet 90% have less money than the meanest laborer Student poverty is an anachronism, a throw-back from an earlier age of capitalism; it does not share in the new poverties of the spectacular societies; it has yet to attain the new poverty of the new proletariat. Nowadays the teenager shuffles off the moral prejudices and authority of the family to become part of the market even before he is adolescent: at fifteen he has all the delights of being directly exploited. In contrast the student covets his protracted infancy as an irresponsible and docile paradise. Adolescence and its crises may bring occasional brushes with his family, but in essence he is not troublesome: he agrees to be treated as a baby by the institutions which provide his education. (If ever they stop screwing his arse off, it's only to come round and kick him in the balls.)
"There is no student problem." Student passivity is only the most obvious symptom of a general state of affairs, for each sector of social life has been subdued by a similar imperialism.
Our social thinkers have a bad conscience about the student problem, but only because the real problem is the poverty and servitude of all. But we have different reasons to despise the student and all his works. What is unforgivable is not so much his actual misery but his complaisance in the face of the misery of others. For him there is only one real alienation: his own. He is a full-time and happy consumer of that commodity, hoping to arouse at least our pity, since he cannot claim our interest. By the logic of modern capitalism, most students can only become mere petits cadres (with the same function in neo-capitalism as the skilled worker had in the nineteenth-century economy). The student really knows how miserable will be that golden future which is supposed to make up for the shameful poverty of the present. In the face of that knowledge, he prefers to dote on the present and invent an imaginary prestige for himself. After all, there will be no magical compensation for present drabness: tomorrow will be like yesterday, lighting these fools the way to dusty death. Not unnaturally he takes refuge in an unreal present.
The student is a stoic slave: the more chains authority heaps upon him, the freer he is in phantasy. He shares with his new family, the University, a belief in a curious kind of autonomy. Real independence, apparently, lies in a direct subservience to the two most powerful systems of social control: the family and the State. He is their well-behaved and grateful child, and like the submissive child he is overeager to please. He celebrates all the values and mystifications of the system, devouring them with all the anxiety of the infant at the breast. Once, the old illusions had to be imposed on an aristocracy of labour; the petits cadres-to-be ingest them willingly under the guise of culture.
There are various forms of compensation for poverty. The total poverty of ancient societies produced the grandiose compensation of religion. The student's poverty by contrast is a marginal phenomenon, and he casts around for compensations among the most down-at-heel images of the ruling class. He is a bore who repairs the old jokes of an alienated culture. Even as an ideologist, he is always out of date. One and all, his latest enthusiasms were ridiculous thirty years ago.
Once upon a time the universities were respected; the student persists in the belief that he is lucky to be there. But he arrived too late. The bygone excellence of bourgeois culture (By this we mean the culture of a Hegel or of the encyclopédistes, rather than the Sorbonne and the Ecole Normale Supérieure.) has vanished. A mechanically produced specialist is now the goal of the "educational system." A modern economic system demands mass production of students who are not educated and have been rendered incapable of thinking. Hence the decline of the universities and the automatic nullity of the student once he enters its portals. The university has become a society for the propagation of ignorance; "high culture" has taken on the rhythm of the production line; without exception, university teachers are cretins, men who would get the bird from any audience of schoolboys. But all this hardly matters: the important thing is to go on listening respectfully. In time, if critical thinking is repressed with enough conscientiousness, the student will come to partake of the wafer of knowledge, the professor will tell him the final truths of the world. Till then--a menopause of the spirit. As a matter of course the future revolutionary society will condemn the doings of lecture theatre and faculty as mere noise--socially undesirable. The student is already a very bad joke.
The student is blind to the obvious--that even his closed world is changing. The "crisis of the university"--that detail of a more general crisis of modern capitalism--is the latest fodder for the deaf-mute dialogue of the specialists. This "crisis" is simple to understand: the difficulties of a specialised sector which is adjusting(too late) to a general change in the relations of production. There was once a vision--if an ideological one--of a liberal bourgeois university. But as its social base disappeared, the vision became banality. In the age of free-trade capitalism, when the "liberal" state left it its marginal freedoms, the university could still think of itself as an independent power. Of course it was a pure and narrow product of that society's needs--particularly the need to give the privileged minority an adequate general culture before they rejoined the ruling class (not that going up to university was straying very far from class confines). But the bitterness of the nostalgic don (No one dares any longer to speak in the name of nineteenth century liberalism; so they reminisce about the "free" and "popular" universities of the middle ages--that "democracy of "liberal".) is understandable: better, after all, to be the bloodhound of the haute bourgeoisie than sheepdog to the world's white-collars. Better to stand guard on privilege than harry the flock into their allotted factories and bureaux, according to the whims of the "planned economy". The university is becoming, fairly smoothly, the honest broker of technocracy and its spectacle. In the process, the purists of the academic Right become a pitiful sideshow, purveying their " universal" cultural goods to a bewildered audience of specialists.
More serious, and thus more dangerous, are the modernists of the Left and the Students' Union, with their talk of a "reform of University structure" and a "reinsertion of the University into social and economic life", i.e., its adaptation to the needs of modern capitalism. The one-time suppliers of general culture to the ruling classes, though still guarding their old prestige, must be converted into the forcing-house of a new labor aristocracy. Far from contesting the historical process which subordinates one of the last relatively autonomous social groups to the demands of the market, the progressives complain of delays and inefficiency in its completion. They are the standard-bearers of the cybernetic university of the future ( which has already reared its ugly head in some unlikely quarters). And they are the enemy: the fight against the market, which is starting again in earnest, means the fight against its latest lackeys.
As for the student, this struggle is fought out entirely over his head, somewhere in the heavenly realm of his masters. The whole of his life is beyond his control, and for all he sees of the world he might as well be on another planet. His acute economic poverty condemns him to a paltry form of survival. But, being a complacent creature, he parades his very ordinary indigence as if it were an original lifestyle: self-indulgently, he affects to be a Bohemian. The Bohemian solution is hardly viable at the best of times, and the notion that it could be achieved without a complete and final break with the university milieu is quite ludicrous. But the student Bohemian (and every student likes to pretend that he is a Bohemian at heart) clings to his false and degraded version of individual revolt. He is so "eccentric" that he continues--thirty years after Reich's excellent lessons--to entertain the most traditional forms of erotic behavior, reproducing at this level the general relations of class society. Where sex is concerned, we have learnt better tricks from elderly provincial ladies. His rent-a-crowd militancy for the latest good cause is an aspect of his real impotence.
The student's old-fashioned poverty, however, does put him at a potential advantage-if only he could see it. He does have marginal freedoms, a small area of liberty which as yet escapes the totalitarian control of the spectacle. His flexible working-hours permit him adventure and experiment. But he is a sucker for punishment and freedom scares him to death: he feels safer in the straight-jacketed space-time of lecture hall and weekly "essay . He is quite happy with this open prison organized for his "benefit", and, though not constrained, as are most people, to separate work and leisure, he does so of his own accord--hypocritically proclaiming all the while his contempt for assiduity and grey men. He embraces every available contradiction and then mutters darkly about the "difficulties of communication" from the uterine warmth of his religious, artistic or political clique.
Driven by his freely-chosen depression, he submits himself to the subsidiary police force of psychiatrists set up by the avant-garde of repression. The university mental health clinics are run by the student mutual organization, which sees this institution as a grand victory for student unionism and social progress. Like the Aztecs who ran to greet Cortes's sharpshooters, and then wondered what made the thunder and why men fell down, the students flock to the psycho-police stations with their "problems".
The real poverty of his everyday life finds its immediate, phantastic compensation in the opium of cultural commodities. In the cultural spectacle he is allotted his habitual role of the dutiful disciple. Although he is close to the production-point, access to the Sanctuary of Thought is forbidden, and he is obliged to discover "modern culture" as an admiring spectator. Art is dead, but the student is necrophiliac. He peeks at the corpse in cine-clubs and theaters, buys its fish-fingers from the cultural supermarket. Consuming unreservedly, he is in his element: he is the living proof of all the platitudes of American market research: a conspicuous consumer, complete with induced irrational preference for Brand X (Camus, for example), and irrational prejudice against Brand Y (Sartre, perhaps).
Impervious to real passions, he seeks titillation in the battles between his anaemic gods, the stars of a vacuous heaven: AIthusser - Garaudy-Barthes - Picard - Lefebvre - Levi-Strauss - Halliday-deChardin - Brassens... and between their rival theologies, designed like all theologies to mask the real problems by creating false ones: humanism - existentialism - scientism - structuralism - cyberneticism - new criticism - dialectics-of-naturism - meta-philosophism...
He thinks he is avant-garde if he has seen the latest happening. He discovers "modernity" as fast as the market can produce its ersatz version of long outmoded (though once important) ideas; for him, every rehash is a cultural revolution. His principal concern is status, and he eagerly snaps up all the paperback editions of important and "difficult" texts with which mass culture has filled the bookstores. (If he had an atom of self-respect or lucidity, he would knock them off. But no: conspicuous consumers always pay!). Unfortunately, he cannot read, so he devours them with his gaze, and enjoys them vicariously through the gaze of his friends. He is an other-directed voyeur.
His favorite reading matter is the kitsch press, whose task it is to orchestrate the consumption of cultural nothing-boxes. Docile as ever, the student accepts its commercial ukases and makes them the only measuring-rod of his tastes. Typically, he is a compulsive reader of weeklies like le Nouvel Observateur and l'Express (whose nearest English equivalents are the posh Sundays and New Society). He generally feels that le Monde--whose style he finds somewhat difficult--is a truly objective newspaper. And it is with such guides that he hopes to gain an understanding of the modern world and become a political initiate!
In France more than anywhere else, the student is passively content to be politicized. In this sphere too, he readily accepts the same alienated, spectacular participation. Seizing upon all the tattered remnants of a Left which was annihilated more than forty years ago by "socialist" reformism and Stalinist counter-revolution, he is once more guilty of an amazing ignorance. The Right is well aware of the defeat of the workers' movement, and so are the workers themselves, though more confusedly. But the students continue blithely to organize demonstrations which mobilize students and students only. This is political false consciousness in its virgin state, a fact which naturally makes the universities a happy hunting ground for the manipulators of the declining bureaucratic organizations. For them, it is child's play to program the student's political options. Occasionally there are deviationary tendencies and cries of "Independence!" but after a period of token resistance the dissidents are reincorporated into a status quo which they have never really radically opposed. The "Jeunesses Communistes Révolutionnaires," whose title is a case of ideological falsification gone mad (they are neither young, nor communist, nor revolutionary), have with much brio and accompanying publicity defied the iron hand of the Party... but only to rally cheerily to the pontifical battle-cry, "Peace in Vietnam!"
The student prides himself on his opposition to the "archaic" Gaullist régime. But he justifies his criticism by appealing--without realizing it-to older and far worse crimes. His radicalism prolongs the life of the different currents of edulcorated Stalinism: Togliatti's, Garaudy's, Krushchev's, Mao's, etc. His youth is synonymous with appalling naiveté, and his attitudes are in reality far more archaic than the régime's-the Gaullists do after all understand modern society well enough to administer it.
But the student, sad to say, is not deterred by the odd anachronism. He feels obliged to have general ideas on everything, to unearth a coherent world-view capable of lending meaning to his need for activism and asexual promiscuity. As a result, he falls prey to the last doddering missionary efforts of the churches. He rushes with atavistic ardor to adore the putrescent carcass of God, and cherishes all the stinking detritus of prehistoric religions in the tender belief that they enrich him and his time. Along with their sexual rivals, those elderly provincial ladies, the students form the social category with the highest percentage of admitted adherents to these archaic cults. Everywhere else, the priests have been either beaten off or devoured, but university clerics shamelessly continue to bugger thousands of students in their spiritual shithouses.
We must add in all fairness that there do exist students of a tolerable intellectual level, who without difficulty dominate the controls designed to check the mediocre capacity demanded from the others. They do so for the simple reason that they have understood the system, and so despise it and know themselves to be its enemies. They are in the system for what they can get out of it-particularly grants. Exploiting the contradiction which, for the moment at least, ensures the maintenance of a small sector-"research"-still governed by a liberal-academic rather than a technocratic rationality, they calmly carry the germs of sedition to the highest level: their open contempt for the organization is the counterpart of a lucidity which enables them to outdo the system's lackeys, intellectually and otherwise. Such students cannot fail to become theorists of the coming revolutionary movement. For the moment, they make no secret of the fact that what they take so easily from the system shall be used for its overthrow.
The student, if he rebels at all, must first rebel against his studies, though the necessity of this initial move is felt less spontaneously by him than by the worker, who intuitively identifies his work with his total condition. At the same time, since the student is a product of modern society just like Godard or Coca-Cola, his extreme alienation can only be fought through the struggle against this whole society. It is clear that the university can in no circumstances become the battlefield; the student, insofar as he defines himself as such, manufactures a pseudo-value which must become an obstacle to any clear consciousness of the reality of his dispossession. The best criticism of student life is the behavior of the rest of youth, who have already started to revolt. Their rebellion has become one of the signs of a fresh struggle against modern society.
After years of slumber and permanent counterrevolution, there are signs of a new period of struggle, with youth as the new carriers of revolutionary infection. But the society of the spectacle paints its own picture of itself and its enemies, imposes its own ideological categories on the world and its history. Fear is the very last response. For everything that happens is reassuringly part of the natural order of things. Real historical changes, which show that this society can be superseded, are reduced to the status of novelties, processed for mere consumption. The revolt of youth against an imposed and "given" way of life is the first sign of a total subversion. It is the prelude to a period of revolt--the revolt of those who can no longer live in our society. Faced with a danger, ideology and its daily machinery perform the usual inversion of reality. An historical process becomes a pseudo-category of some socio-natural science: the Idea of Youth.
Youth is in revolt, but this is only the eternal revolt of youth; every generation espouses "good causes," only to forget them when "the young man begins the serious business of production and is given concrete and real social aims," After the social scientists come the journalists with their verbal inflation. The revolt is contained by overexposure: we are given it to contemplate so that we shall forget to participate. In the spectacle, a revolution becomes a social aberration--in other words a social safety valve--which has its part to play in the smooth working of the system. It reassures because it remains a marginal phenomenon, in the apartheid of the temporary problems of a healthy pluralism (compare and contrast the "woman question" and the "problem of racialism"). In reality, if there is a problem of youth in modern capitalism it is part of the total crisis of that society. It is just that youth feels the crisis most acutely.
Youth and its mock freedoms are the purest products of modern society. Their modernity consists in the choice they are offered and are already making: total integration to neo-capitalism, or the most radical refusal. What is surprising is not that youth is in revolt but that its elders are so soporific. But the reason is history, not biology-- the previous generation lived through the defeats and were sold the lies of the long, shameful disintegration of the revolutionary movement.
In itself Youth is a publicity myth, and as part of the new "social dynamism" it is the potential ally of the capitalist mode of production. The illusory primacy of youth began with the economic recovery after the second world war. Capital was able to strike a new bargain with labor: in return for the mass production of a new class of manipulable consumers, the worker was offered a role which gave him full membership of the spectacular society. This at least was the ideal social model, though as usual it bore little relation to socio-economic reality (which lagged behind the consumer ideology). The revolt of youth was the first burst of anger at the persistent realities of the new world -the boredom of everyday existence, the dead life which is still the essential product of modern capitalism, in spite of all its modernizations. A small section of youth is able to refuse that society and its products, but without any idea that this society can be superseded. They opt for a nihilist present. Yet the destruction of capitalism is once again a real issue, an event in history, a process which has already begun. Dissident youth must achieve the coherence of a critical theory, and the practical organization of that coherence.
At the most primitive level, the "delinquents" (blousons noirs) of the world use violence to express their rejection of society and its sterile options, But their refusal is an abstract one: it gives them no chance of actually escaping the contradictions of the system. They are its products--negative, spontaneous, but none the less exploitable, All the experiments of the new social order produce them: they are the first side-effects of the new urbanism; of the disintegration of all values; of the extension of an increasingly boring consumer leisure; of the growing control of every aspect of everyday life by the psycho-humanist po- lice force; and of the economic survival of a family unit which has lost all significance.
The "young thug" despises work but accepts the goods. He wants what the spectacle offers him-- but now, with no down payment. This is the essential contradiction of the delinquent's existence. He may try for a real freedom in the use of his time, in an individual assertiveness, even in the construction of a kind of community. But the contradiction remains, and kills. (On the fringe of society, where poverty reigns, the gang develops its own hierarchy, which can only fulfill itself in a war with other gangs, isolating each group and each individual within the group.) In the end the contradiction proves unbearable. Either the lure of the product world proves too strong, and the hooligan decides to do his honest day's work: to this end a whole sector of production is devoted specifically to his recuperation. Clothes, records, guitars, scooters, transistors, purple hearts beckon him to the land of the consumer. Or else he is forced to attack the laws of the market itself--either in the primary sense, by stealing, or by a move towards a conscious revolutionary critique of commodity society. For the delinquent only two futures are possible: revolutionary consciousness, or blind obedience on the shop floor.
The Provos are the first organization of delinquency--they have given the delinquent experience its first political form. They are an alliance of two distinct elements: a handful of careerists from the degenerate world of "art," and a mass of beatniks looking for a new activity. The artists contributed the idea of the game, though still dressed up in various threadbare ideological garments. The delinquents had nothing to offer but the violence of their rebellion. From the start the two tendencies hardly mixed: the pre-ideological mass found itself under the Bolshevik "guidance" of the artistic ruling class, who justified and maintained their power by an ideology of provo-democracy. At the moment when the sheer violence of the delinquent had become an idea--an attempt to destroy art and go beyond it--the violence was channeled into the crassest neo-artistic reformism. The Proves are an aspect of the last reformism produced by modern capitalism: the reformism of everyday life. Like Bernstein, with his vision of socialism built by tinkering with capitalism, the Provo hierarchy think they can change everyday life by a few well-chosen improvements. What they fail to realize is that the banality of everyday life is not incidental, but the central mechanism and product of modern capitalism. To destroy it, nothing less is needed than all-out revolution. The Proves choose the fragmentary and end by accepting the totality.
To give themselves a base, the leaders have concocted the paltry ideology of the provotariat (a politico-artistic salad knocked up from the leftovers of a feast they had never known). The new provotariat is supposed to oppose the passive and "bourgeois" proletariat, still worshipped in obscure Leftist shrines. Because they despair of the fight for a total change in society, they despair of the only forces which can bring about that change. The proletariat is the motor of capitalist society, and thus its mortal enemy: everything is designed for its suppression (parties; trade union bureaucracies; the police; the colonization of all aspects of everyday life) because it is the only really menacing force. The Proves hardly try to understand any of this; and without a critique of the system of production, they remain its servants. In the end an' anti-union workers demonstration sparked off the real conflict. The Prove base went back to direct violence, leaving their bewildered leaders to denounce "excesses" and appeal to pacifist sentiments. The Proves, who had talked of provoking authority to reveal its repressive character, finished by complaining that they had been provoked by the police. So much for their pallid anarchism.
It is true that the Provo base became revolutionary in practice. But to invent a revolutionary consciousness their first task is to destroy their leaders, to rally the objective revolutionary forces of the proletariat, and to drop the Constants and deVries of this world (one the favorite artist of the Dutch royal family, the ether a failed M.P. and admirer of the English police). There is a modern revolution, and one of its bases could be the Proves--but only without their leaders and ideology. If they want to change the world, they must get rid of these who are content to paint it white.
Idle reader, your cry of "What about Berkeley?" escapes us not. True, American society needs its students; and by revolting against their studies they have automatically called that society in question. From the start they have seen their revolt against the university hierarchy as a revolt against the whole hierarchical system, the dictatorship of the economy and the State. Their refusal to become an integrated part of the commodity economy, to put their specialized studies to their obvious and inevitable use, is a revolutionary gesture. It puts in doubt that whole system of production which alienates activity and its products from their creators. For all its confusion and hesitancy, the American student movement has discovered one truth of the new refusal: that a coherent revolutionary alternative can and must be found within the "affluent society." The movement is still fixated on two relatively accidental aspects of the American crisis--the Negroes and Vietnam--and the mini-groups of the New Left suffer from the fact. There is an authentic whiff of democracy in their chaotic organization, but what they lack is a genuine subversive content. Without it they continually fall into dangerous contradictions. They may be hostile to the traditional politics of the old parties; but the hostility is futile, and will be recuperated, so long as it is based on ignorance of the political system and naive illusions about the world situation. Abstract opposition to their own society produces facile sympathy with its apparent enemies-- the so-called Socialist bureaucracies of China and Cuba. A group like Resurgence Youth Movement can in the same breath condemn the State and praise the "Cultural Revolution"--that pseudo-revolt directed by the most elephantine bureaucracy of modern times.
At the same time, these organizations, with their blend of libertarian, political and religious tendencies, are always liable to the obsession with "group dynamics" which leads to the closed world of the sect. The mass consumption of drugs is the expression of a real poverty and a protest against it; but it remains a false search for "freedom" within a world dedicated to repression, a religious critique of a world that has no need for religion, least of all a new one. The beatniks--that right wing of the youth revolt--are the main purveyors of an ideological "refusal" combined with an acceptance of the most fantastic superstitions (Zen, spiritualism, "New Church" mysticism, and the stale porridge of Ghandi-ism and humanism). Worse still, in their search for a revolutionary program the American students fall into the same bad faith as the Provos, and proclaim themselves "the most exploited class in our society." They must understand one thing: there are no "special" student interests in revolution. Revolution will be made by all the victims of encroaching repression and the tyranny of the market.
An for the East, bureaucratic totalitarianism is beginning to produce its own forces of negation. Nowhere is the revolt of youth more violent and more savagely repressed--the rising tide of press denunciation and the new police measures against "hooliganism" are proof enough. A section of youth, so the right-minded "socialist" functionaries tell us, have no respect for moral and family order (which still flourishes there in its most detestable bourgeois forms). They prefer "debauchery," despise work and even disobey the party police. The USSR has set up a special ministry to fight the new delinquency.
Alongside this diffuse revolt a more specific opposition is emerging. Groups and clandestine reviews rise and fall with the barometer of police repression. So far the most important has been the publication of the "open letter to the Polish Workers Party" by the young Poles Kuron and Modzelewski, which affirmed the necessity of "abolishing the present system of production and social relations" and that to do this "revolution is unavoidable." The Eastern intellectuals have one great task--to make conscious the concrete critical action of the workers of East Berlin, Warsaw and Budapest: the proletarian critique of the dictatorship of the bureaucracy. In the East the problem is not to define the aims of revolution, but to learn how to fight for them. In the West struggle may be easy, but the goals are left obscure or ideological; in the Eastern bureaucracies there are no illusions about what is being fought for: hence the bitterness of the struggle. What is difficult is to devise the forms revolution must take in the immediate future.
In Britain, the revolt of youth found its first expression in the peace movement. It was never a whole-hearted struggle, with the misty non-violence of the Committee of 100 as its most daring program, At its strongest the Committee could call 300,000 demonstrators on to the streets, It had its finest hour in Spring 1963 with the "Spies for Peace" scandal. But it had already entered on a definitive decline: for want of a theory the unilateralists fell among the traditional Left or were recuperated by the Pacifist conscience.
What is left is the enduring (quintessentially English) archaisms in the control of everyday life, and the accelerating decomposition of the old secular values. These could still produce a total critique of the new life; but the revolt of youth needs allies. The British working class remains one of the most militant in the world. Its struggles--the shop stewards movement and the growing tempo and bitterness of wildcat strikes--will be a permanent sore on an equally permanent capitalism until it regains its revolutionary perspective, and seeks common cause with the new opposition. The débâcle of Laborism makes that alliance all the more possible and all the more necessary. If it came about, the explosion could destroy the old society--the Amsterdam riots would be child's play in comparison. Without it, both sides of the revolution can only be stillborn: practical needs will find no genuine revolutionary form, and rebellious discharge will ignore the only forces that drive and can therefore destroy modern capitalism.
Japan is the only industrialized country where this fusion of student youth and working class militants has already taken place.
Zengakuren, the organization of revolutionary students, and the League of Young Marxist Workers joined to form the backbone of the Communist Revolutionary League. The movement is already setting and solving the new problems of revolutionary organization. Without illusions, it fights both western capitalism and the bureaucracies of the so-called socialist states. Without hierarchies, it groups together several thousand students and workers on a democratic basis, and aims at the participation of every member in all the activities of the organization.
They are the first to carry the struggle on to the streets, holding fast to a real revolutionary program, and with a mass participation. Thousands of workers and students have waged a violent struggle with the Japanese police. In many ways the C.R.L. lacks a complete and concrete theory of the two systems it fights with such ferocity. It has not yet defined the precise nature of bureaucratic exploitation, and it has hardly formulated the character of modern capitalism, the critique of everyday life and the critique of the spectacle. The Communist Revolutionary League is still fundamentally an avant-garde political organization, the heir of the best features of the classic proletarian movement. But it is at present the most important group in the world--and should henceforth be one of the poles of discussion and a rallying point for the new proletarian critique.
"To be avant-garde means to keep abreast of reality" (Internationale Situationniste 8). A radical critique of the modern world must have the totality as its object and objective. Its searchlight must reveal the world's real past, its present existence and the prospects for its transformation as an indivisible whole. If we are to reach the whole truth about the modern world--and a fortori if we are to formulate the project of its total subversion--we must be able to expose its hidden history; in concrete terms this means subjecting the history of the international revolutionary movement, as set in motion over a century ago by the western proletariat, to a demystified and critical scrutiny.
"This movement against the total organization of the old world came to a stop long ago" (Internationale Situationniste 1). It failed. Its last historical appearance was in the Spanish social revolution, crushed in the Barcelona "May Days" of 1937. Yet its so-called "victories" and "defeats," if judged in the light of their historical consequences, tend to confirm Liebknecht's remark, the day before his assassination, that "some defeats are really victories, while some victories are more shameful than any defeat." Thus the first great "failure" of workers' power, the Paris Commune, is in fact its first great success, whereby the primitive proletariat proclaimed its historical capacity to organize all aspects of social life freely. And the Bolshevik revolution, hailed as the proletariat's first great triumph, turns out in the last analysis to be its most disastrous defeat.
The installation of the Bolshevik order coincides with the crushing of the Spartakists by the German "Social-Democrats." The joint victory of Bolshevism and reformism constitutes a unity masked by an apparent incompatibility, for the Bolshevik order too, as it transpired, was to be a variation on the old theme. The effects of the Russian counter-revolution were, internally, the institution and development of a new mode of exploitation, bureaucratic state capitalism, and externally, the growth of the "Communist" International, whose spreading branches served the unique purpose of defending and reproducing the rotten trunk. Capitalism, under its bourgeois and bureaucratic guises, won a new lease of life--over the dead bodies of the sailors of Kronstadt, the Ukrainian peasants, and the workers of Berlin, Kiel, Turin, Shanghai, and Barcelona.
The Third International, apparently created by the Bolsheviks to combat the degenerate reformism of its predecessor, and to unite the avant-garde of the proletariat in "revolutionary communist parties," was too closely linked to the interests of its founders ever to serve an authentic socialist revolution. Despite all its polemics, the third International was a chip off the old block. The Russian model was rapidly imposed on the Western workers' organizations, and the evolution of both was thenceforward one and the same thing. The totalitarian dictatorship of the bureaucratic class over the Russian proletariat found its echo in the subjection of the great mass of workers in other countries to castes of trade union and political functionaries, with their own private interests in repression. While the Stalinist monster haunted the working-class consciousness, old-fashioned capitalism was becoming bureaucratized and overdeveloped, resolving its famous internal contradictions and proudly claiming this victory to be decisive, Today, though the unity is obscured by apparent variations and oppositions, a single social form is coming to dominate the world--this modern world which it proposes to govern with the principles of a world long dead and gone. The tradition of the dead generations still weighs like a nightmare on the minds of the living.
Opposition to the world offered from within--and in its own terms--by supposedly revolutionary organisations, can only be spurious. Such opposition, depending on the worst mystifications and calling on more or less reified ideologies, helps consolidate the social order. Trade unions and political parties created by the working class as tools of its emancipation are now no more than the "checks and balances" of the system. Their leaders have made these organizations their private property; their stepping stone to a role within the ruling class. The party program or the trade union statute may contain vestiges of revolutionary phraseology, but their practice is everywhere reformist--and doubly so now that official capitalist ideology mouths the same reformist slogans. Where the unions have seized power--in countries more backward than Russia in 1917--the Stalinist model of counterrevolutionary totalitarianism has been faithfully reproduced. Elsewhere, they have become a static complement to the self-regulation of managerial capitalism. The official organizations have become the best guarantee of repression--without this "opposition" the humanist-democratic facade of the system would collapse and its essential violence would be laid bare.
In the struggle with the militant proletariat, these organizations are the unfailing defenders of the bureaucratic counter-revolution, and the docile creatures of its foreign policy. They are the bearers of the most blatant falsehood in a world of lies, working diligently for the perennial and universal dictatorship of the State and the Economy. As the situationists put it, "a universally dominant social system, tending toward totalitarian self-regulation, is apparently being resisted--but only apparently-- by false forms of opposition which remain trapped on the battlefield ordained by the system itself. Such illusory resistance can only serve to reinforce what it pretends to attack. Bureaucratic pseudo-socialism is only the most grandiose of these guises of the old world of hierarchy and alienated labor."
As for student unionism, it is nothing but the travesty of a travesty, the useless burlesque of a trade unionism itself long totally degenerate.
The principal platitude of all future revolutionary organization must be the theoretical and practical denunciation of Stalinism in all its forms. In France at least, where economic backwardness has slowed down the consciousness of crisis, the only possible road is over the ruins of Stalinism. It must become the delenda est Carthago of the last revolution of prehistory.
Revolution must break with its past, and derive all its poetry from the future. little groups of "militants" who claim to represent the authentic Bolshevik heritage are voices from beyond the grave. These angels come to avenge the "betrayal" of the October Revolution will always support the defense of the USSR--if only "in the last instance." The "under- developed" nations are their promised land. They can scarcely sustain their illusions outside this context, where their objective role is to buttress theoretical underdevelopment. They struggle for the dead body of "Trotsky," invent a thousand variations on the same ideological theme, and end up with the same brand of practical and theoretical impotence. Forty years of counter-revolution separate these groups from the Revolution; since this is not 192O they can only be wrong (and they were already wrong in 192O).
Consider the fate of an ultra-Leftist group like Socialisme ou Barbarie, where after the departure of a "traditional Marxist" faction (the impotent Pouvoir Ouvrier) a core of revolutionary "modernists" under Cardan disintegrated and disappeared within 18 months. While the old categories are no longer revolutionary, a rejection of Marxism à la Cardan is no substitute for the reinvention of a total critique. The Scylla and Charybdis of present revolutionary action are the museum of revolutionary prehistory and the modernism of the system itself.
As for the various anarchist groups, they possess nothing beyond a pathetic and ideological faith in this label. They justify every kind of self-contradiction in liberal terms: freedom of speech, of opinion, and other such bric-a-brac. Since they tolerate each other, they would tolerate anything.
The predominant social system, which flatters itself on its modernization and its permanence, must now be confronted with a worthy enemy: the equally modern negative forces which it produces. Let the dead bury their dead, The advance of history has a practical demystifying effect--it helps exorcise the ghosts which haunt the revolutionary consciousness, Thus the revolution of everyday life comes face to face with the enormity of its task. The revolutionary project must be reinvented, as much as the life it announces. If the project is still essentially the abolition of class society, it is because the material conditions upon which revolution was based are still with us. But revolution must be conceived with a new coherence and a new radicalism, starting with a clear grasp of the failure of those who first began it. Otherwise its fragmentary realization will bring about only a new division of society.
The fight between the powers-that-be and the new proletariat can only be in terms of the totality. And for this reason the future revolutionary movement must be purged of any tendency to reproduce within itself the alienation produced by the commodity system; it must be the living critique of that system and the negation of it, carrying all the elements essential for its transcendence. As Lukacs correctly showed, revolutionary organization is this necessary mediation between theory and practice, between men and history, between the Dams of workers and the proletariat constituted as a class (Lukacs' mistake was to believe that the Boleheviks fulfilled this role). If they are to be real- iced in practice "theoretical" tendencies or differences must be translated into organizational problems, It is by its present organization that a new revolutionary movement will stand or fall. The final criterion of its coherence will be the compatibility of its actual form with its essential project--the international and absolute power of Workers' Councils as foreshadowed by the proletarian revolutions of the last hundred years. There can be no compromise with the foundations of existing society--the system of commodity production; ideology in all its guises; the State; and the imposed division of labor from leisure.
The rock on which the old revolutionary movement foundered was the separation of theory and practice. Only at the supreme moments of struggle did the proletariat supersede this division and attain their truth. As a rule the principle seems to have been hic Rhodus hic non salta. Ideology, however "revolutionary," always serves the ruling class; false consciousness is the alarm signal revealing the presence of the enemy fifth column. The lie is the essential produce of the world of alienation, and the most effective killer of revolutions: once an organization which claims the social truth adopts the lie as a tactic, its revolutionary career is finished.
All the positive aspects of the Workers' Councils must be already there in an organization which aims at their realization. All relics of the Leninist theory of organization must be fought and destroyed. The spontaneous creation of Soviets by the Russian workers in 1905 was in itself a practical critique of that baneful theory, yet the Bolsheviks continued to claim that working-class spontaneity could not go beyond "trade union consciousness" and would be unable to grasp the "totality." This was no less than a decapitation of the proletariat so that the Party could place itself "at the head" of the Revolution. If once you dispute the proletariat's capacity to emancipate itself, as Lenin did so ruthlessly, then you deny its capacity to organize all aspects of a post-revolutionary society. In such a context, the slogan "All Power to the Soviets" meant nothing more then the subjection of the Soviets to the Party, and the installation of the Party State in place of the temporary "State" of the armed masses.
"All Power to the Soviets" is still the slogan, but this time without the Bolshevik afterthoughts. The proletariat can only play the game of revolution if the stakes are the whole world, for the only possible form of workers' power--generalized and complete autogestion--can be shared with nobody. Workers' control is the abolition of all authority: it can abide no limitation, geographical or otherwise: any compromise amounts to surrender, "Workers' control must be the means and the end of the struggle: it is at once the goal of that struggle end its adequate form."
A total critique of the world is the guarantee of the realism and reality of a revolutionary organization. To tolerate the existence of an oppressive social system in one place or another, simply because it is packaged and sold as revolutionary, is to condone universal oppression. To accept alienation as inevitable in any one domain of social life is to resign oneself to reification in all its forms. It is not enough to favor Workers' Councils in the abstract; in concrete terms they mean the abolition of commodities and therefore of the proletariat. Despite their superficial disparities, all existing societies are governed by the logic of commodities-- and the commodity is the basis of their dreams of self-regulation. This famous fetishism is still the essential obstacle to a total emancipation, to the free construction of social life. In the world of commodities, external and invisible forces direct men's actions; autonomous action directed towards clearly perceived goals is impossible. The strength of economic laws lies in their ability to take on the appearance of natural ones, but it is also their weakness, for their effectiveness thus depends only on "the lack of consciousness of those who help create them."
The market has one central principle--the loss of self in the aimless and unconscious creation of a world beyond the control of its creators. The revolutionary core of autogestion is the attack on this principle. Autogestion is conscious direction by all of their whole existence, It is not some vision of a workers' control of the market, which is merely to choose one's own alienation, to program one's own survival (squaring the capitalist circle". The task of the Workers' Councils will not be the autogestion of the world which exists, but its continual qualitative transformation. The commodity and its laws (that vast detour in the history of man's production of him- self) will be superseded by a new social form.
With autogestion ends one of the fundamental splits in modern society--between a labor which becomes increasingly reified end a "leisure" consumed in passivity. The death of the commodity naturally means the suppression of work and its replacement by a new type of free activity. Without this firm intention, socialist groups like Socialisme ou Barbarie or Pouvoir Ouvrier fell back on a reformism of labor couched in demands for its "humanization." But it is work itself which must be called in question. Far from being a "Utopia," its suppression is the first condition for a break with the market. The everyday division between "free time" end "working hours," those complementary sectors of alienated life is an expression of the internal contradiction between the use- value and exchange-value of the commodity. It has become the strongest point of the commodity ideology, the one contradiction which intensifies with the rise of the consumer. To destroy it, no strategy short of the abolition of work will do. It is only beyond the contradiction of use-value and exchange-value that history begins, that men make their activity an object of their will and their consciousness, and see themselves in the world they have created. The democracy of Workers' Councils is the resolution of all previous contradictions. It makes "everything which exists apart from individuals impossible."
What is the revolutionary project? The conscious domination of history by the men who make it. Modern history, like all past history, is the product of social praxis, the unconscious result of human action. In the epoch of totalitarian control, capitalism has produced its own religion: the spectacle. In the spectacle, ideology becomes flesh of our flesh, is realized here on earth. The world itself walks upside down. And like the "critique of religion" in Marx's day, the critique of the spectacle is now the essential precondition of any critique.
The problem of revolution is once again a concrete issue. On one side the grandiose structures of technology and material production; on the other a dissatisfaction which can only grow more profound. The bourgeoisie end its Eastern heirs, the bureaucracy; cannot devise the means to use their own overdevelopment, which will be the basis of the poetry of the future, simply because they both depend on the preservation of the old order. At most they harness over-development to invent new repressions. For they know only one trick, the accumulation of Capital and hence of the proletariat--a proletarian being a man with no power over the use of his life, and who knows it. The new proletariat inherits the riches of the bourgeois world and this gives it its historical chance. Its task is to transform and destroy these riches, to constitute them as part of a human project: the total appropriation of nature and of human nature by man.
A realized human nature can only mean the infinite multiplication of real desires and their gratification. These real desires are the underlife of present society, crammed by the spectacle into the darkest corners of the revolutionary unconscious, realized by the spectacle only in the dreamlike delirium of its own publicity. We must destroy the spectacle itself, the whole apparatus of commodity society, if we are to realize human needs. We must abolish those pseudo-needs and false desires which the system manufactures daily in order to preserve its power.
The liberation of modern history, and the free use of its hoarded acquisition, can come only from the forces it represses. In the nineteenth century the proletariat was already the inheritor of philosophy; now it inherits modern art and the first conscious critique of everyday life, With the self-destruction of the working class art and philosophy shall be realized. To transform the world and to change the structure of life are one and the same thing for the proletariat--they are the passwords to its destruction as a class, its dissolution of the present reign of necessity, and its accession to the realm of liberty. As its maximum program it has the radical critique and free reconstruction of all the values and patterns of behavior imposed by an alienated reality. The only poetry it can acknowledge is the creativity released in the making of history, the free invention of each moment and each event: Lautréamont's poésie faite par tous--the beginning of the revolutionary celebration. For proletarian revolt is a festival or it is nothing; in revolution the road of excess leads once and for all to the palace of wisdom. A palace which knows only one rationality: the game. The rules are simple: to live instead of devising a lingering death, and to indulge untrammelled desire.
DEPHASING, the machine to be reduced
Lukas Stella, 2002
(extracted the booklet “data-processing Boardings”, published with the Éditions du Monde Libertaire et Alternative Libertaire)
“Reality is business of faith” Gregory Bateson - Convention of communication
The funeral ceremony completes its representation. The advertizing megalomaniac shouts victory!
At this point in time information business to liquidate the memory and that the political buffooneries play nice moderators. The population gives a death rattle and draws on its fate, thus reality undertaken collects the dividends. It was written in the program.
This belief mystical, which consists in believing that all is determined by a cause allowing a prediction of its effect, solidifies any alive process in an order of preconceived things. This dominant thought, reduced to the data-processing logic of the law of causality, determines our perceptions while imposing, as being the only possible one, an interpretation of the world starting from the components supposed to constitute it; reductionistic belief founded on the presupposition which one can explain any phenomenon by reducing it to his parts. This cutting which slices in the sharp one, imposes its separations of all shares, convinced that no interaction can change its rules of the game. This generalized obscurantism, based on the mystical separation of the spirit and the matter, is acceptance without condition of a schizophrenic design of a fragmented man.
This belief in causality starts from an assumption which one believes true, thus creating reality that one supposed at the beginning. This invented reality of the kind becomes “real” reality, i.e. indisputable, only if the subject which invents believes in its invention. When the element of faith or blind conviction misses, then no effect occurs. A prediction that we know to be only one prediction cannot check itself any more. The possibility of making a different choice and of disobeying always exists. To seize this possibility can release us from this restrictive logic, tender alienating with the order of the things such as it is.
Let us be wary of our beliefs because they are unknown for us. They condition our perceptions and our actions, in spite of us, like something of naturalness. Their control systems remain completely unconscious as a long time as the program proceeds as envisaged. Our beliefs define for us the experiment because of their alleged perfections. Our beliefs are right truths to which everyone must be subjected, us transforming into fanatic dictator.
They are contradicted while being reinforced by mutual opposition. But when one realizes that these are the beliefs which make us believe that all is thus and not differently, and that the order of the things is such as it is, blocked and without exit; at this point in time the personal invention can emerge, auto--being built in the situational dimension of a social life moving, reversing the restrictive context of the state of affairs, by shifting it in the new prospects of a subversive play. The fall of the économico-financial dictatorship is inevitable. The multi-billionaires and their flunkeies will end up paying the misery which they produce with large scales.
The fluctuations and mobilities of uncertainties which are sought, generally make fear with the objective thoughts, reflections of a world which carries out its subjects like objects suitable for the lucrative exchange. The certainty which reality is single and true, would be only one belief based on uncertainties. This can appear insupportable to a specialist in the knowledge, clutched with its objective certainty, servile expert of the separate thought of its own history. Doctrinary claims to follow servilely, the single truths are completely separated from the experiments from lived incarnated in its situational drift. These pretentious truths are competitive and warlike, they clash and are haggled over, consumed by consumption. We do not have a directive right to impose like reductionistic constraint. Anti-authoritarianism is not a flattering label, but an essential experimental practice. We build our autonomy far from the dictators of the perfect thought, far from the preachers of the absolute truth, while inventing, in the course of the wished chances, the unbeliefs from where one emerges lived which forgot its reducing practices.
The will of change is not enough any more. The ideal receipt rests on the belief to have found the truth, the single one, apart from any context. This myth is accompanied by the mission of preaching the truth in order to change the world, with the hope that she is recognized by more a large number of followers. Those which do not want to convert from this point of view become obligatorily insincerely, i.e. of evil belief and it is a question of exterminating them for the good of humanity. The solution with the problem of the change passes by the rejection of the choice of a solution. Instead of seeking an effective solution, it is a question of seeking a problem which corresponds to the possible actions. Thus the situation shifts in a context extended to a prospect for change, in a play with situational bounces. Without objective base, this spontaneous change does not produce a drift but awakening, in the unforeseen ones in situational synchrony, outgoing of the problematic framework of reference, released of the constraint of an authoritative realistic solution.
Knowledge of a thought incarnated in its lived situation, is not business of specialists. They relate to well each one in its structural drift with the others, thus building new prospects, released of the restrictive certainty.
Autonomy finding its own nature, causing new possibilities, cannot in no case to be essential, to spread itself, as a truth to which must subject the nonbelievers. To live the present in its continuous history, consists in more releasing the catches of our fixed certainty that to fight against the objects of our representations.
Ils' acts by way of building situations liberators starting from proposals for a possible future. These assumptions are only possibilities wished among so many others. They cannot thus be comparable with a prediction or a Utopia which would require a blind belief, without faults and other possible exits. The practical experiment and activates what can arrive, so that the number of the possible choices is increased, composes one lived engendror of freedoms, necessary to any radical change, during one time when the reductionistic pressures of the integrated spectacle post the image of the virtual paradise of the économico-financial dictatorship. The action carried out according to the chances of the pressing desires, modifies the subjects in their common intrigues, which rebuilds their mutual reports thus réappropriés. At this point in time by inventing practical unbeliefs, in synchrony with others, one can carry out a change of the lived situations. It seems to me that, only general meetings on the initiative of the populations, organizing themselves spontaneously a little everywhere, will be able to return to each one the power on its own life in emergence of multiple libertarian drifts.
This text does not have the claim to be essential as the enlightened catch of an objective truth which should be accepted, but it falls under a complex and confused situation like a point of view located obstinately and passionately in a radical change of prospect. The belief in true and single reality created by the spectacle is completely separated from the experimental worlds from lived. When one does not believe any more in the data-processing miracle delivered by publicity, the magic does not operate any more, it becomes grotesque and especially unbearable. It is then advisable not to support.
The advertizing pleas in favor of the new communication controlled by computers are hardly any more credible.
The religious belief with the spectacle of the calculable and cumulable objects is exhausted by places with the back of the decoration, and some realize that one would like to make us believe that there are no more other choices, that all elsewhere is blocked and without exit.
During their drifts, certain heretics give up themselves to dream and invent situational unbeliefs, because when nothing any more is true, all becomes possible.
TRANSLATION ON LINE (we seek a good free translator)
"But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, the appearance to the essence... illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness."
Feuerbach, Preface to the second edition of The Essence of Christianity
In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.
The images detached from every aspect of life fuse in a common stream in which the unity of this life can no longer be reestablished. Reality considered partially unfolds, in its own general unity, as a pseudo-world apart, an object of mere contemplation. The specialization of images of the world is completed in the world of the autonomous image, where the liar has lied to himself. The spectacle in general, as the concrete inversion of life, is the autonomous movement of the non-living.
The spectacle presents itself simultaneously as all of society, as part of society, and as instrument of unification. As a part of society it is specifically the sector which concentrates all gazing and all consciousness. Due to the very fact that this sector is separate, it is the common ground of the deceived gaze and of false consciousness, and the unification it achieves is nothing but an official language of generalized separation.
The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.
The spectacle cannot be understood as an abuse of the world of vision, as a product of the techniques of mass dissemination of images. It is, rather, a Weltanschauung which has become actual, materially translated. It is a world vision which has become objectified.
The spectacle grasped in its totality is both the result and the project of the existing mode of production. It is not a supplement to the real world, an additional decoration. It is the heart of the unrealism of the real society. In all its specific forms, as information or propaganda, as advertisement or direct entertainment consumption, the spectacle is the present model of socially dominant life. It is the omnipresent affirmation of the choice already made in production and its corollary consumption. The spectacle's form and content are identically the total justification of the existing system's conditions and goals. The spectacle is also the permanent presence of this justification, since it occupies the main part of the time lived outside of modern production.
Separation is itself part of the unity of the world, of the global social praxis split up into reality and image. The social practice which the autonomous spectacle confronts is also the real totality which contains the spectacle. But the split within this totality mutilates it to the point of making the spectacle appear as its goal. The language of the spectacle consists of signs of the ruling production, which at the same time are the ultimate goal of this production.
One cannot abstractly contrast the spectacle to actual social activity: such a division is itself divided. The spectacle which inverts the real is in fact produced. Lived reality is materially invaded by the contemplation of the spectacle while simultaneously absorbing the spectacular order, giving it positive cohesiveness. Objective reality is present on both sides. Every notion fixed this way has no other basis than its passage into the opposite: reality rises up within the spectacle, and the spectacle is real. This reciprocal alienation is the essence and the support of the existing society.
In a world which really is topsy-turvy, the true is a moment of the false.
The concept of spectacle unifies and explains a great diversity of apparent phenomena. The diversity and the contrasts are appearances of a socially organized appearance, the general truth of which must itself be recognized. Considered in its own terms, the spectacle is affirmation of appearance and affirmation of all human life, namely social life, as mere appearance. But the critique which reaches the truth of the spectacle exposes it as the visible negation of life, as a negation of life which has become visible.
To describe the spectacle, its formation, its functions and the forces which tend to dissolve it, one must artificially distinguish certain inseparable elements. When analyzing the spectacle one speaks, to some extent, the language of the spectacular itself in the sense that one moves through the methodological terrain of the very society which expresses itself in the spectacle. But the spectacle is nothing other than the sense of the total practice of a social-economic formation, its use of time. It is the historical movement in which we are caught.
The spectacle presents itself as something enormously positive, indisputable and inaccessible. It says nothing more than "that which appears is good, that which is good appears. The attitude which it demands in principle is passive acceptance which in fact it already obtained by its manner of appearing without reply, by its monopoly of appearance.
The basically tautological character of the spectacle flows from the simple fact that its means are simultaneously its ends. It is the sun which never sets over the empire of modern passivity. It covers the entire surface of the world and bathes endlessly in its own glory.
The society which rests on modern industry is not accidentally or superficially spectacular, it is fundamentally spectaclist. In the spectacle, which is the image of the ruling economy, the goal is nothing, development everything. The spectacle aims at nothing other than itself.
As the indispensable decoration of the objects produced today, as the general exposé of the rationality of the system, as the advanced economic sector which directly shapes a growing multitude of image-objects, the spectacle is the main production of present-day society.
The spectacle subjugates living men to itself to the extent that the economy has totally subjugated them. It is no more than the economy developing for itself. It is the true reflection of the production of things, and the false objectification of the producers.
The first phase of the domination of the economy over social life brought into the definition of all human realization the obvious degradation of being into having. The present phase of total occupation of social life by the accumulated results of the economy leads to a generalized sliding of having into appearing, from which all actual "having" must draw its immediate prestige and its ultimate function. At the same time all individual reality has become social reality directly dependent on social power and shaped by it. It is allowed to appear only to the extent that it is not.
Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple images become real beings and effective motivations of hypnotic behavior. The spectacle, as a tendency to make one see the world by means of various specialized mediations (it can no longer be grasped directly), naturally finds vision to be the privileged human sense which the sense of touch was for other epochs; the most abstract, the most mystifiable sense corresponds to the generalized abstraction of present-day society. But the spectacle is not identifiable with mere gazing, even combined with hearing. It is that which escapes the activity of men, that which escapes reconsideration and correction by their work. It is the opposite of dialogue. Wherever there is independent representation, the spectacle reconstitutes itself.
The spectacle inherits all the weaknesses of the Western philosophical project which undertook to comprehend activity in terms of the categories of seeing; furthermore, it is based on the incessant spread of the precise technical rationality which grew out of this thought. The spectacle does not realize philosophy, it philosophizes reality. The concrete life of everyone has been degraded into a speculative universe.
Philosophy, the power of separate thought and the thought of separate power, could never by itself supersede theology. The spectacle is the material reconstruction of the religious illusion. Spectacular technology has not dispelled the religious clouds where men had placed their own powers detached from themselves; it has only tied them to an earthly base. The most earthly life thus becomes opaque and unbreathable. It no longer projects into the sky but shelters within itself its absolute denial, its fallacious paradise. The spectacle is the technical realization of the exile of human powers into a beyond; it is separation perfected within the interior of man.
To the extent that necessity is socially dreamed, the dream becomes necessary. The spectacle is the nightmare of imprisoned modern society which ultimately expresses nothing more than its desire to sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of sleep.
The fact that the practical power of modern society detached itself and built an independent empire in the spectacle can be explained only by the fact that this practical power continued to lack cohesion and remained in contradiction with itself.
The oldest social specialization, the specialization of power, is at the root of the spectacle. The spectacle is thus a specialized activity which speaks for all the others. It is the diplomatic representation of hierarchic society to itself, where all other expression is banned. Here the most modern is also the most archaic.
The spectacle is the existing order's uninterrupted discourse about itself, its laudatory monologue. It is the self-portrait of power in the epoch of its totalitarian management of the conditions of existence. The fetishistic, purely objective appearance of spectacular relations conceals the fact that they are relations among men and classes: a second nature with its fatal laws seems to dominate our environment. But the spectacle is not the necessary product of technical development seen as a natural development. The society of the spectacle is on the contrary the form which chooses its own technical content. If the spectacle, taken in the limited sense of "mass media" which are its most glaring superficial manifestation, seems to invade society as mere equipment, this equipment is in no way neutral but is the very means suited to its total self-movement. If the social needs of the epoch in which such techniques are developed can only be satisfied through their mediation, if the administration of this society and all contact among men can no longer take place except through the intermediary of this power of instantaneous communication, it is because this "communication" is essentially unilateral. The concentration of "communication" is thus an accumulation, in the hands of the existing system s administration, of the means which allow it to carry on this particular administration. The generalized cleavage of the spectacle is inseparable from the modern State, namely from the general form of cleavage within society, the product of the division of social labor and the organ of class domination.
Separation is the alpha and omega of the spectacle. The institutionalization of the social division of labor, the formation of classes, had given rise to a first sacred contemplation, the mythical order with which every power shrouds itself from the beginning. The sacred has justified the cosmic and ontological order which corresponded to the interests of the masters; it has explained and embellished that which society could not do. Thus all separate power has been spectacular, but the adherence of all to an immobile image only signified the common acceptance of an imaginary prolongation of the poverty of real social activity, still largely felt as a unitary condition. The modern spectacle, on the contrary, expresses what society can do, but in this expression the permitted is absolutely opposed to the possible. The spectacle is the preservation of unconsciousness within the practical change of the conditions of existence. It is its own product, and it has made its own rules: it is a pseudo-sacred entity. It shows what it is: separate power developing in itself, in the growth of productivity by means of the incessant refinement of the division of labor into a parcellization of gestures which are then dominated by the independent movement of machines; and working for an ever-expanding market. All community and all critical sense are dissolved during this movement in which the forces that could grow by separating are not yet reunited.
With the generalized separation of the worker and his products, every unitary view of accomplished activity and all direct personal communication among producers are lost. Accompanying the progress of accumulation of separate products and the concentration of the productive process, unity and communication become the exclusive attribute of the system's management. The success of the economic system of separation is the proletarianization of the world.
Due to the success of separate production as production of the separate, the fundamental experience which in primitive societies is attached to a central task is in the process of being displaced, at the crest of the system's development. by non-work, by inactivity. But this inactivity is in no way liberated from productive activity: it depends on productive activity and is an uneasy and admiring submission to the necessities and results of production; it is itself a product of its rationality. There can be no freedom outside of activity, and in the context of the spectacle all activity is negated. just as real activity has been captured in its entirety for the global construction of this result. Thus the present "liberation from labor," the increase of leisure, is in no way a liberation within labor, nor a liberation from the world shaped by this labor. None of the activity lost in labor can be regained in the submission to its result.
The economic system founded on isolation is a circular production of isolation. The technology is based on isolation, and the technical process isolates in turn. From the automobile to television, all the goods selected by the spectacular system are also its weapons for a constant reinforcement of the conditions of isolation of "lonely crowds." The spectacle constantly rediscovers its own assumptions more concretely.
The spectacle originates in the loss of the unity of the world, and the gigantic expansion of the modern spectacle expresses the totality of this loss: the abstraction of all specific labor and the general abstraction of the entirety of production are perfectly rendered in the spectacle, whose mode of being concrete is precisely abstraction. In the spectacle, one part of the world represents itself to the world and is superior to it. The spectacle is nothing more than the common language of this separation. What binds the spectators together is no more than an irreversible relation at the very center which maintains their isolation. The spectacle reunites the separate, but reunites it as separate.
The alienation of the spectator to the profit of the contemplated object (which is the result of his own unconscious activity) is expressed in the following way: the more he contemplates the less he lives; the more he accepts recognizing himself in the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own existence and his own desires. The externality of the spectacle in relation to the active man appears in the fact that his own gestures are no longer his but those of another who represents them to him. This is why the spectator feels at home nowhere, because the spectacle is everywhere.
The worker does not produce himself; he produces an independent power. The success of this production, its abundance, returns to the producer as an abundance of dispossession. All the time and space of his world become foreign to him with the accumulation of his alienated products. The spectacle is the map of this new world, a map which exactly covers its territory. The very powers which escaped us show themselves to us in all their force.
The spectacle within society corresponds to a concrete manufacture of alienation. Economic expansion is mainly the expansion of this specific industrial production. What grows with the economy in motion for itself can only be the very alienation which was at its origin.
Separated from his product, man himself produces all the details of his world with ever increasing power, and thus finds himself ever more separated from his world. The more his life is now his product, the more lie is separated from his life.
The spectacle is capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes an image.
The Society of the Spectacle (pdf)
The revolution of everyday life (pdf)
Address to the living (pdf)