Sunday, September 26, 2010

Doing In-Against-and-Beyond Labour , By John Holloway

Doing In-Against-and-Beyond Labour ,

By John Holloway

At the heart of the social movements of recent years, at least in their more radical variants, is a drive against the logic of capitalist society. The so-called social movements are not organised as parties: their aim is not to take state power. The goal is rather to reverse the movement of a society gone mad, systematically mad. The movements say in effect "No, we refuse to go in that direction, we refuse to accept the mad logic of the capitalist system, we shall go in a different direction, or in different directions."
The anti-capitalist movements of recent years give a new meaning to revolution. Revolution is no longer about taking power, but about breaking the insane dynamic that is embedded in the social cohesion of capitalism. The only way of thinking of this is as a movement from the particular, as the puncturing of that cohesion, as the creation of cracks in the texture of capitalist social relations, spaces or moments of refusal-and-creation. Revolution, then, becomes the creation, expansion, multiplication and confluence of these cracks.(1)
How do we conceptualise this sort of revolution? By going back to a category that was of central importance for Marx, but has been almost completely forgotten by his followers. This is the dual character of labour, the distinction between abstract and concrete labour.
The social cohesion of capitalism against which we revolt is constituted by abstract labour: not by money, not by value, but by the activity that generates the value and money forms, namely abstract labour. To crack the social cohesion of capitalism is to confront the cohesive force of abstract labour with a different sort of activity, an activity that does not fit in to abstract labour, that is not wholly contained within abstract labour.
This is not a dry theoretical point, for the starting point for considering the relationship between abstract and concrete labour is and must be rage, the scream. This is empirically true: that is actually where we start from. And also, rage is key to theory. It is rage which turns complaint into critique because it reminds us all the time that we do not fit, that we are not exhausted in that which we criticise. Rage is the voice of non-identity, of that which does not fit. The criticism of capitalism is absolutely boring if it is not critique ad hominem: if we do not open the categories and try to understand them, not just as fetishised expressions of human creative power, but as categories into which we do not fit, categories from which we overflow. Our creativity is contained and not contained in the social forms that negate it. The form is never adequate to the content. The content misfits the form: that is our rage, and that is our hope. This is crucial theoretically and politically.
In recent years, it has become more common to cite Marx's key statement in the opening pages of Capital. "this point [the two-fold nature of the labour contained in commodities] is the pivot on which a clear comprehension of Political Economy turns" (1867/1965:41). After the publication of the first volume, he wrote to Engels (Marx, 1867/1987:407): "The best points in my book are: 1) the two-fold character of labour, according to whether it is expressed as use value or exchange value. (All understanding of the facts depends upon this. It is emphasised immediately in the first chapter)."
It is important to emphasise this statement, against the Marxist tradition which buried it for so long, and with quite extraordinary success. It is important to emphasise it because it takes us to the core of Marx's critique ad hominem, understanding the world in terms of human action and its contradictions. The two-fold nature of labour refers to abstract and concrete or useful labour. Concrete labour, according to Marx, is the activity that exists in any form of society, the activity that is necessary for human reproduction. Arguably, Marx was mistaken in referring to this as labour, since labour as an activity distinct from other activities is not common to all societies, so it seems more accurate to speak of concrete doing rather than concrete labour. In capitalist society, concrete doing (what Marx calls concrete labour) exists in the historically specific form of abstract labour. Concrete labours are brought into relation with other concrete labours through a process which abstracts from their concrete characteristics, a process of quantitative commensuration effected normally through the medium of money, and this process of abstraction rebounds upon the concrete labour transforming it into an activity abstracted from (or alienated from) the person performing the activity.
It is thus the abstraction of our activity into abstract labour that constitutes the social cohesion of capitalist society. This is an important advance on the concept of alienated labour developed in the 1844 manuscripts: capitalist labour is not only an activity alienated from us, but it is this alienation or abstraction that constitutes the social nexus in capitalism. The key to understanding the cohesion (and functioning) of capitalist society is not money or value, but that which constitutes value and money, namely abstract labour. In other words we create the society that is destroying us, and that is what makes us think that we can stop making it.
Abstract labour as a form of activity did not always exist. It is a historically specific form of concrete doing that is established as the socially dominant form through the historical process generally referred to as primitive accumulation. The metamorphosis of human activity into abstract labour is not restricted to the workplace but involves the reorganisation of all aspects of human sociality: crucially, the objectification of nature, the homogenisation of time, the dimorphisation of sexuality, the separation of the political from the economic and the constitution of the state, and so on.
If we say that revolution is the breaking of the social cohesion of capitalism and that that cohesion is constituted by abstract labour, the question then is how we understand the solidity of that cohesion. In other words, how opaque is the social form of abstract labour? 
Or, rephrasing the same question in other Holloway - Crack Capitalismwords, is primitive accumulation to be understood simply as a historical phase that preceded capitalism?  If we say (as Postone (1996) does) that labour is the central fetish of capitalist society, then how do we understand that fetish?
Marx, in the passage quoted above, refers to the dual character of labour as the key to an understanding of political economy. He does not refer just to abstract labour but to the dual character of labour as abstract and concrete labour, and yet the commentaries that focus on this point concentrate almost exclusively on abstract labour, assuming that concrete labour (concrete doing) is unproblematic since it is entirely subsumed within abstract labour, and can simply be discussed as productivity. This implies that primitive accumulation is to be understood as a historical phase that was completed in the past, effectively establishing abstract labour as the dominant form of concrete labour, thus separating the constitution of capitalism from its existence. It implies the understanding of form and content as a relation of identity in which content is completely subordinated to form until the moment of revolution. This establishes a clear separation between the past (in which concrete doing existed independent of its abstraction) and the present (in which doing is entirely subsumed within its form), effectively enclosing the analysis of the relation between concrete doing and abstract labour within the homogenous concept of time that is itself a moment of abstract labour. This takes us inevitably to a view of capital as a relation of domination (rather than a contested relation of struggle) and therefore to a view of revolution as something that would have to come from outside the capital relation (from the Party, for example).
However, it is not adequate to understand the relation between abstract labour and concrete doing as one of domination. Rather, abstract labour is a constant struggle to contain concrete doing, to subject our daily activity to the logic of capital. Concrete doing exists not just in but also against and beyond abstract labour, in constant revolt against abstract labour. This is not to say that there is some transhistorical entity called concrete doing, but that in capitalist society concrete doing is constituted by its misfitting, by its non-identity with abstract labour, by its opposition to and overflowing from abstract labour.
This means that there can be no clear separation between the constitution and the existence of the capitalist social relations. It is not the case that capitalist social relations were first constituted in the period of primitive accumulation or the transition from feudalism, and that then they simply exist as closed social relations. If concrete doing constantly rebels against and overflows beyond abstract labour, if (in other words) our attempt to live like humans constantly clashes with and ruptures the logic of capitalist cohesion, then this means that the existence of capitalist social relations depends on their constant reconstitution, and that therefore primitive accumulation is not just an episode in the past. If capitalism exists today, it is because we constitute it today, not because it was constituted two or three hundred years ago. If this is so, then the question of revolution is radically transformed. It is not: how do we abolish capitalism? But rather, how do we cease to reconstitute capitalism, how do we stop creating capitalism? The answer is clear (but not easy): by ceasing to allow the daily transformation of our doing, our concrete activity, into abstract labour, by developing an activity that does not recreate capitalist social relations, an activity that does not fit in with the logic of the social cohesion of capitalism.
This might seem absurd, were it not for the fact that the revolt of concrete doing against abstract labour is all around us. Sometimes it takes dramatic proportions when a group like the Zapatistas says "no, we will not act according to the logic of capital, we shall do what we consider important at the rhythm that we consider appropriate." But of course it does not have to be on such a large scale: the revolt of doing against abstract labour and the determinations and rhythms that it imposes upon us is deeply rooted in our everyday lives. Pannekoek said of the workplace that "every shop, every enterprise, even outside of times of sharp conflict, of strikes and wage reductions, is the scene of a constant silent war, of a perpetual struggle, of pressure and counter-pressure" (2005:5).(2) But it is not just in the workplace: life itself is a constant struggle to break through the connections forged by abstract labour to create other sorts of social relations: when we refuse to go to work so that we can stay and play with the children, when we read (or write) an article like this, when we choose to do something not because it will bring us money but just because we enjoy it or consider it important. All the time we oppose use value to value, concrete doing to abstract labour. It is from these revolts of everyday existence, and not from the struggles of activists or parties that we must pose the question of the possibility of ceasing to create capitalism and creating a different sort of society.
Not only is there a constant revolt of concrete against abstract labour, but there is now a crisis of abstract labour. Abstract labour cannot be understood as something stable: its rhythms are shaped by socially necessary labour time. Since abstract labour is value-producing labour and value production is determined by socially necessary labour time, there is a constant redefinition of abstract labour: abstract labour is a constant compulsion to go faster, faster, faster. Abstract labour constantly undermines its own existence: an activity that produced value a hundred (or ten, or five) years ago no longer produces value today. Abstraction becomes a more and more exigent process, and it becomes harder and harder for people to keep pace with it: more and more of us misfit, and more and more of us consciously revolt against abstract labour. Abstraction becomes an ever greater pressure, but at the same time it becomes a more and more inadequate form of organising human activity: abstraction is not able to channel effectively the activities of a large part of humanity.
The dynamic of abstraction comes up increasingly against a resistance that splits open the apparently unitary concept of labour and poses the struggle against abstract labour at the centre of anti-capitalist struggle. Anti-capitalist struggle becomes the assertion of a different way of doing, a different way of living; or rather, the simple assertion of a different way of doing (I want to spend time with my friends, with my children, I want to be a good teacher, carpenter, doctor and work at a slower pace, I want to cultivate my garden) becomes converted into anti-capitalist struggle. The survival of capital depends on its ability to impose (and constantly redefine) abstract labour. The survival of humanity depends on our ability to stop performing abstract labour and do something sensible instead. Humanity is simply the struggle of doing against labour.
It is in the context of the crisis of abstract labour that the discussion of abstract labour acquires importance. It is important, that is, if we focus not just on abstract labour, but on the dual character of labour, the antagonism between doing and labour. If we focus just on abstract labour and forget concrete doing, then we just develop a more sophisticated picture of capitalist domination, of how capitalism works. Our problem, however, is not to understand how capitalism works but to stop creating and recreating it. And that means strengthening doing in its struggle against labour.
It is not theory that brings about the splitting of the unitary concept of labour. The splitting of the unitary concept has been the result of struggle. It is a multitude of struggles, large and small, that have made it clear that it makes little sense to speak just of "labour", that we have to open up "labour" and see that the category conceals the constant tension-antagonism between concrete doing (doing what we want, what we consider necessary or enjoyable) and abstract labour (value-producing, capital-producing labour). It is struggle that splits open the category, but theoretical reflection (understood as a moment of struggle) has an important role to play in keeping the distinction open.
This is important at the moment when there are so many pressures to close the category, to forget about the antagonism the category conceals, to dismiss the notion that there could be some form of activity other than abstract labour as silly, romantic, irresponsible. In capitalist society, access to the means of production and survival usually depends upon our converting our activity, our doing, into labour in the service of capital, abstract labour. We are now at a moment in all the world in which capital is unable to convert the activity of millions and millions of people (especially young people) into labour, other than on a very precarious basis. Given that exclusion from labour is generally associated with material poverty, do we now say to capital "please give us more employment, please convert our doing into labour, we will happily labour faster-faster-faster"?  This is the position of the trade unions and many left political parties, as it must be, for they are organisations based on abstract labour, on the suppression of the distinction between labour and doing. Or do we say "no, we cannot go that way (and we do not ask anything of capital). We know that the logic of faster-faster-faster will lead to ever bigger crises, and we know that, if it continues, it will probably destroy human existence altogether. For this reason we see crisis and unemployment and precariousness as a stimulus to strengthen other forms of doing, to strengthen the struggle of doing against labour." There is no easy answer here, and no pure solution, because our material survival depends, for most of us, on subordinating our activity to some degree to the logic of abstraction. But it is essential to keep the distinction open and find ways forward, to strengthen the insubmission of doing to labour, to extend the rupture of labour by doing. That is the only way in which we can stop reproducing the system that is killing us.

John Holloway
is a Professor in the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla in Mexico. His publications include Crack Capitalism (Pluto, 2010), Change the World Without Taking Power (Pluto, 2005), Zapatista! Reinventing Revolution in Mexico (co-editor, Pluto, 1998) and Global Capital, National State and the Politics of Money
(co-editor, Palgrave Macmillan, 1994).

(1) For a development of this argument, see my forthcoming book, Crack Capitalism.
(2) I take the quote from Shukaitis (2009:15).

Holloway, John (2010) Crack Capitalism (London: Pluto Press)
Marx, Karl (1867/1965), Capital, Vol. 1 (Moscow: Progress Publishers)
Marx, Karl (1867/1987), 'Letter of Marx to Engels, 24.8.1867', in Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, Collected Works vol. 42 (London: Lawrence & Wishart), p. 407
Pannekoek, Anton (2005) Workers' Councils (Oakland: AK Press)
Postone, Moishe (1996) Time, Labour, and Social Domination: A reinterpretation of Marx's critical theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
Shukaitis, Stevphen (2009) Imaginal Machines: Autonomy and Self-Organisation in the Revolutions of Everyday Life (New York: Autonomedia)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Raw Materials for a Theory of the "YoungGirl." by Tiqqun

Raw Materials for a Theory of the "YoungGirl." by Tiqqun


I did love you once.


Under the hypnotic grimaces of official pacification, a war is being waged.  A war that can no longer be called simply economic, social, or humanitarian, because it is total.  And though each of us senses that our existence has become a battlefield where neuroses, phobias, somatizations, depression, and anguish are but a kind of defeated retreat, no one can grasp the trajectory of the battle or understand what's at stake in it.  Paradoxically, it's because of the total character of this war - total in its means no less than in its ends - that it could be invisible in the first place.   

To open force the empire prefers underhanded methods, chronic prevention, and the spread of molecules of constraint through everyday life.  Its internal (endo) cop-ization clearly relays the general cop-ization, as individual self-control does social control.  The new police are imperceptible because they're omnipresent.


What's at stake in the ongoing war are "forms of life," which, for the Empire, means the selection, management, and attenuation of those forms of life.  The spectacle's grip on the state of the public expression of desires, the bio-political monopoly on all medical knowledge-power, the containment of all deviance by an ever more psychiatrist-laden army, "coaches," and other "facilitators" and counselors, the aesthetic-policelike filing away of everyone's biological data, the ever more imperative and closer surveillance of behavior, the plebiscites' proscriptions against "violence": it's all part of the Empire's anthropological, or rather, anthropotechnical project.  It's about profiling the citizens.  

Obviously, a pure politics of repression can't do away with people's expression of their "forms of life" (lifestyles) - not in the sense of a form of life as something molding a certain material, from the outside, without which it would be formless "bare life," but on the contrary, a form of life in the sense of what gives rise to a particular penchant, an intimate movement in a given body in a given situation.  There's a whole imperial project to  divert, fog, and polarize bodies with absences and impossibilities. Its reach is not so immediate, but it's durable.  With time and by so many combined effects, the desired disarmament of bodies is obtained, in particular in terms of their immunities.

Citizens are less the vanquished in this war than are those who, denying its reality, give up in it right off the bat; what is left to them in the guise of an "existence" is no longer anything but a life long effort to make oneself compatible with the Empire.  But for the others, for us, each gesture, each desire, each affect eventually boils down to the need to annihilate the Empire and its citizens.  It's a matter of breathing, of the amplitude of passions.  We have time to go down this criminal road; nothing's rushing us to seek out direct confrontations.  Rushing would even be a proof of our weakness.  Assaults will be launched, however, and that will be less important than the position they're launched from, since our assaults undermine the Empire's forces while our position undermines its strategy.  So, the more it appears to be accumulating victories, the more deeply it will sink into defeat, and the more its defeat will become irreparable.  The imperial strategy first of all consists in organizing blindness to forms of life; illiteracy to ethical differences; making the battlefront unrecognizable, if not invisible; and, in the most critical cases, disguising the real war with all kinds of false conflicts.

The retaking of the offensive from our side, then, requires us to make the battlefront clear again.  The figure of the YoungGirl is a gazing machine, designed for that purpose.  Certain people will use it to affirm the solidity of the hostile forces occupying our existences; others, more vigorous, will use it to decide on the speed and direction of their progress.  Everyone will make of it what they deserve.


let's be clear: the concept of the YoungGirl is obviously not a gendered concept.  the nightclub-going jock conforms to it just as much as the second-generation north african girl painted up to look pornstar old.  The spirited telecom retiree that splits his leisure time between the Cote d'Azur and the Parisian offices where he's kept a foot in the door, and the metropolitan single too caught up in her career in consulting to realize that she's already lost fifteen years of her life to it - both obey the concept.  After all, how would it be so easy to see the secret connection linking the plugged-in, puffed-up, civil-unioned humanity from the hip neighborhood and the petty-bourgeois americanized girl in the suburbs with her plastic family, if it were a gendered concept?     

in reality, the YoungGirl is only the model citizen such as commodity society has defined it since world war one, as an explicit response to revolutionary threats against it.  As such, she is a polar figure, guiding becoming more than predominating in it.  

At the beginning of the 20s, in effect, capitalism noticed that it couldn't maintain itself as the exploitation of human labor without also colonizing everything found beyond strictly the sphere of production.  Faced with the socialists' challenge to its dominance, it too needed to socialize itself.  It thus had to create its own culture, leisure, medicine, urbanism, sentimental education, and morals, and also create a disposition towards their perpetual renewal.  This would become the fordist compromise, the welfare state, family planning: social-democracy capitalism.  And now, submission by work, limited because the worker is still separate from his or her work, has been replaced by integration through subjective and existential conformity, meaning, at root, by consumption.  

from being merely formal, Capital's domination has become little by little real.  the commodity society now seeks to find its best supports in the marginalized elements of traditional society themselves - women and youths first, then homosexuals and immigrants.

commodity society can now give an air of emancipation to those that in the past it treated as minorities, who were the most foreign and most spontaneously hostile to commodity society, not having been folded into its dominant norms of integration.  "the youth and their mothers," acknowledges Stuart Ewen, "will supply the social principles of consumer ethics to the lifestyles offered by advertising."  the youth, because adolescence is "a period of life defined by a relationship of pure consumption with civil society." (Stuart Ewen, Captains of Consciousness ).  and women, because at the time it was the sphere of reproduction, over which women still held sway, that they needed to colonize.  Youth and Femininity, hypostatized, abstract, and recoded into youthitude and feminitude, are then elevated to the rank of ideal regulators of empire-citizen integration.  and the figure of the YoungGirl thus realizes an immediate, spontaneous, and perfectly desirable unity between those two variables.

the tomboy is indispensable as a kind of modernity, much more thrilling than all the stars and starlets so quickly invading the globalized imagination.  Albertine, found on the wall around a seaside resort, exhausts the whole collapsing world of [Proust's] "in search of lost time" with her relaxed, pansexual vitality.  The high school girl makes her will the law in Ferdydurke.  And a new authority figure is born, one that out-classes them all.   


Now, humanity, reformatted in the spectacle and biopolitically neutralized, thinks it's defying someone by proclaiming itself to be made up of "citizens."  The women's magazines correct a nearly hundred-year-old mistake by finally making equivalent magazines available to men.   all the past patriarchal authority figures, from politicians to the boss by way of the cop, are YoungGirlized, even the last of them, the pope.  

there are many signs that the new physiognomy of Capital, merely sketched out in the interbellum period, has now been perfected.  "The 'anthropomorphosis' of Capital is complete when its fictitious character is generalized.  Then the mysterious spell is cast thanks to which generalized credit, ruling all exchange (from the bank check to the bill, from the work or marriage contract to 'human' and family relationships, the schooling, diplomas, and careers following the promises of all ideologies: all exchanges are now mere exchanges of dilatory appearances), hammers out, in the image of its own uniform emptiness, the 'heart of darkness' of all 'personalities' and all 'characters.'  that's how Capital's people grow up, with all ancestral distinctions, all class and ethnic specificity seemingly gone.  that fact endlessly fascinates many naive people who still 'think' with their eyes lost in the past." (Giorgio Cesarano, chronicle of a masked ball).  The YoungGirl emerges as the culmination point of this anthropomorphosis of Capital.  The valuation process, in the imperial phase, is no longer just capitalist: IT COINCIDES WITH THE SOCIAL.  The integration of that process, which is no longer distinct from integration into imperial "society," and which no longer rests on any "objective" basis, demands of each person that she self-valorize endlessly.

The final moment of society's socialization, Empire, is thus also the moment when each person is called upon to relate to herself as a value, that is, by following the central mediation of a series of controlled abstractions.  The YoungGirl, thus, would be that being that has no more intimacy with itself except as a value, and all of whose activity, in all of its details, will finally come down to self-valuation.  At each instant, she affirms herself as the sovereign subject of her reification.  All the unquestionable character of her power, all the crushing self-confidence of this blueprint-person, comprised exclusively of the conventions, codes, and representations fleetingly in force, all the authority that the least of her gestures contains -- all that is immediately cross-indexed to her absolute transparency to "society."

and precisely because of her nothingness, each of her judgements has the imperative weight of the whole organization of society -- and she knows it.


It's not by chance that the theory of the YoungGirl has come into being at the moment when the genesis of the imperial order is being completed, and when it has begun to be understood as such.  all things come to their end.  and the party of the YoungGirls will have to split up as well, in turn.

To the extent that YoungGirlist formatting becomes generalized, competition will get tougher and the satisfaction tied to conformity will decrease.  got to take some qualitative leap; got to take on new and unexpected attributes; got to get away to some still-virgin space.  a hollywood despair, a t.v. journal political consciousness, a vague spirituality of a neo-buddhist character, an engagement in whatever collective conscience cleaning enterprise gets the job done.  and so, feature by feature, the eco-YoungGirl is hatched.  the YoungGirls' struggle to survive is then connected to the need to transcend the industrial YoungGirl, and the need to pass over to the eco YoungGirl.  contrary to its ancestor, the eco YoungGirl no longer displays a surge of some emancipation or other, but a security-crazed obsession with conservation.   The Empire's been fundamentally undermined and it's got to defend itself from entropy.  having arrived at full hegemony, it can't do anything but crumble any more.  the eco-YoungGirl will therefore be responsible, "in solidarity," ecological, maternal, reasonable, "natural," respectful, more self-controlled than falsely liberated, in brief: biopolitical as hell.  she'll no longer be miming excess, but, on the contrary, moderation, in everything.

at the moment when the evidence for the YoungGirl is so obvious it becomes a cliche, the YoungGirl is already transcended, at least in its primitive, crudely sophisticated mass production aspect.   It is this critical transitional situation we are going to leverage ourselves on.


except incorrectly speaking - which may be our intention - the jumble of fragments that follows in no way comprise a theory.  they are materials accumulated randomly in encounters with, visits with, and observation of YoungGirls; pearls extracted from their newspapers and magazines; expressions gleaned in sometimes dubious circumstances, arranged into no particular order.  They are gathered here under approximate headings, as they were published in Tiqqun 1; a bit of order had to be given them.  The decision to put them out like this, in all their incompleteness, their contingent origins, with all the ordinary excess of elements that would have comprised a nicely presentable theory if they were polished, cleaned out, and whittled down, means choosing trash theory for once.  The cardinal ruse of theoreticians in general is that they present the result of their elaborations in such a way as to make the elaboration process itself no longer appear in them.  In our estimation, this ruse doesn't work any more in the face of today's bloom-esque attention span fragmentation.  We've chosen a different one. minds looking for moral comfort or for vice to condemn will find in these scattered pages but roads that will lead them nowhere.  in fact we're not so much trying to convert YoungGirls as we are trying to trace out all the corners of a fractalized battlefront of YoungGirlization. And to supply the weapons for a hand to hand, blow by blow fight, wherever you may find yourself.

Void Network invites you to read all this influential book here:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Psychopathology Of Work by Penelope Rosemont





The Psychopathology Of Work
by Penelope Rosemont

Work, now? Never, never. I'm on strike. - Arthur Rimbaud
Depersonalization and alienation from our deepest desires is implanted during childhood via school, church, movies, and TV, and soon reaches the point where an individual's desire is not only a net of contradictions, but also a commodity like all the others. "True life" always seems to be just a bit beyond what a weekly paycheck and credit card can afford, and is thus indefinitely postponed. And each postponement contributes to the reproduction of a social system that practically everyone who is not a multimillionaire or a masochist has come to loathe.

That is the problem facing us all: How to break the pattern of work - of week-to-week slavery, that habit of habits, that addiction of addictions; how to detach ourselves from the grip of Self-Defeating Illusions For Sale, Inc., a.k.a, the corporate consumer State.

Especially ingrained is that pattern of working for someone else: making someone else's "goods", producing the wealth that someone else enjoys, thinking someone else's thoughts (sometimes actually believing them one's own), and even dreaming someone else's dreams - in short, living someone else's life, for one's own life, and one's own dream of life, have long since been lost in the shuffle.

The systematic suppression of a person's real desires - and that is largely what work consists of - is exacerbated by capitalism's incessant manipulation of artificial desires, "as advertised." This gives daily life the character of mass neurosis, with increasingly frequent psychotic episodes. To relieve the all-embracing boredom of daily life, society offers an endless array of distractions and stupefactions, most of them "available at a store near you". The trouble is, these distractions and stupefactions, legal or illegal, soon become part of the boredom, for they satisfy no authentic desire.

When the news reports horrible crimes committed by children or teenagers trying to be satanists, or superheroes, or terrorists, or just "bad guys", we can be sure that these kids lived lives of intolerable dullness, that they were so isolated from their own desires and from the larger society that they didn't even know how or where to look for something different, or how to rebel in such a way that it might actually make a difference. Instead, they picked up some trashy notions from bible school, Hollywood and TV which promised a few minutes of meaningless "excitement" followed by lots of publicity - also meaningless. Each time something like this happens we hear cries to "monitor" films more closely, and to ban "violence" on TV. Rarely, however, does anyone criticize the Bible or the Christian churches, despite the fact that Christianity - by far the bloodiest of the "world's great religions" - is far more to be blamed. Similarly, one rarely hears criticism of the armed forces - a gang of professional killers whose influence on children cannot be anything other than baleful.
And even less often does one encounter criticism of another intrinsically violent institution: the nuclear family. Indeed, at this late date in human history, this relic of patriarchy is still held up as some sort of ideal. Replacing the extended family as we know it today is an invention of the nineteenth century. Constructed by white bourgeois Europeans to meet the needs of expanding industrialization, it reflects capitalism's model of the "chain of command". It continues the sanction of male supremacy as a time-honored tradition dating back to a mandate of God, no less. In the nuclear family, he works at a job, and she works in the home (and increasingly also at a job). As for the children, they are the family's private property, and remain so for years after they reach bilogical maturity.

Children too learn to work, or at least how to suffer boredom. From the earliest age they are taught to obey orders. School and church teach them the necessity of going to and staying at a particular place for a prolonged period, even when they would rather be anywhere else. All the classic parental admonitions - "Sit still!", "Do what I tell you!", "Don't talk back!", "Stop behaving like a bunch of wild Indians!" - are part of the education of the well-behaved, uncomplaining wage-slave...
The world today is confronted by greater, more earth-shaking, more life-threatening problems than ever before: wars all over, massive pollution, global warming, the return of slavery, white supremacy, oppression of women, ecological disaster, neocolonialism, state terrorism, the prison industry, genocide, cancer, AIDS, the traffic death-toll, zenophobia, pesticides, genetic engineering - the list goes on and on. Ceaselessly bombarded by news reports and sound bytes of one catastrophe after another, most people have no idea what to do, and laps into paralysis. On the ideological front, this widespread passivity, itself a major social problem, is maintained by Andre Breton called miserabilism, the cynical rationalization of misery, suffering and corruption - the dominant ideology of Power in our time.
Every hour, moreover, countless billions are spent on propaganda, advertising and other mystifications to sustain the delusion that the crisis-strewn society we live in today is the best and only one possible.
What is most important to grasp is that work is at the center of all these problems. It is work that keeps the whole miserabilist system going. Without work, the death-dealing juggernaut that proclaims itself the "free market" would grind to a halt. "Free market" means freedom for Capital, and unfreedom for those who work. Until the problem of work is solved - that is, until work is abolished - all other problems will not only remain, but will keep getting worse...In a world too busy to live, work itself has become toxic, a form of "digging your own grave".

Renewed scarcities and engineered economic crises notwithstanding, society today ahs the capacity to reduce work to a tiny fraction of what it is now, while continuing to meet all human needs. It is obvious that if people really want paradise on Earth, they can have it - practically overnight. Of course, they will have to overcome the immense and multinational "false consciousness" industry, which works very hard to make sure that very few working people know what they really want...
Work kills the spirit, damages the body, insults the mind, keeps everyone confused and demoralized, distracts its victims from all the things that really matter in life...Our struggle calls for labor organizers of a new kind...To bring about the meltdown of miserabilism, we need awakeners of latent desires, fomentors of marvelous humour, stimulators of ardent dreams, provokers of the deepest possible yearning for a life of poetic adventure.  

- From "A Brief Rant Against Work", in Surrealist Experiences: 1001 Dawns, 221 Midnights (2000)

Green Anarchy #15
Winter 2004

Friday, September 3, 2010

International Solidarity with the 14 kidnapped by the Chilean 'democracy'

This is a message from Chile
Thursday, September 02 2010 @ 08:20 PM UTC

This past Saturday the 14th of August, in the cities of Santiago and Valparaiso, an action coordinated by police of all types (special task forces) violently raided three squatted social centers and many private homes in fives communes. The police intimidated people with weapons of war, broke windows and doors, and took many personal items with them from all of the houses.

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY with the 14 kidnapped by the Chilean 'democracy'

Welcome to Chile, society of jails and jailers.
This past Saturday the 14th of August, in the cities of Santiago and Valparaiso, an action coordinated by police of all types (special task forces) violently raided three squatted social centers and many private homes in fives communes. The police intimidated people with weapons of war, broke windows and doors, and took many personal items with them from all of the houses.
14 people were detained being informed of the reason for their detention for three hours.
Later? Six people were released on probation for lack of evidence against them. As for the people that remained imprisoned, they were put in isolation cells in maximum security jails where they were awaiting a 180 day long investigation process and potentially a 20 year sentence for alleged illegal terrorist association. They have alleged that these people were involved in making and blowing up the bombs that have erupted lately in the capital. According to the prosecutor, this association was a hierarchical organization directed by key ringleaders.
This supposition is in absolute contradiction with anarchist ideology - most of the kidnapped people have been labeled as anarchists- which is opposed to the concepts of “leaders” and “hierarchies”…
Furthermore, this charade, a perfect outcome for the puppeteers and jailers who desire to keep their power. Above all, this has been the result of those citizens, who like their peace so much and through their deafness and silence, are helping to erase the oppressed, the masquerades, jails, and resignations.....
"The bombs case" is the title that keeps appearing in the headlines of the newspapers like a bad novel, in which the main characters, the Minister/Secretary of the Interior, the prosecutor and his police henchmen are trying to catch the 'undesirable' anarchists. The beginning of the 'bombs case' is a police persecutions saga that dates back to the 10th of September, the eve of a historic date in Chile, on which people mourn their dead and disappeared ones from the dictatorship, while others display their discontent with the falseness of a democracy that has not changed much from a dictatorship.
In this context, a molotov bomb was thrown at the house of the government. The images went around the world; the symbol of the concord of democratic parties was blown into pieces; the fraternal unifying factor of the left has been altered. Two weeks later, a vast police contingent raided the squat "la mansión siniestra" and arrested 6 people, who, to their own surprise had become, thanks to the distorting role of the press, an illegal association of "molotov bombs makers", "violent criminals", "vandals". This scenario is the one that the 14 accused comrades were facing.
Back then, the police never thought that evidence was necessary, because the things they seized as alleged bomb making materials were no more than common domestic utensils. These molotovs never existed. During the judiciary process, the 6 antagonists of this story were allegedly the worst moral aberrations; public opinion has given legitimacy to the sentence of up to five years in jail … But OOPS...'mistake'! The accusations were fake, the police’s masquerade had been revealed. Finally, these 6 people did not serve the time they were sentenced. But that’s only after spending 11 days in a high security prison. Just as expected, no institution was held accountable for the irreversible physical and psychological punishments and damages inflicted on the detainees, nor for the personal belongings that were seized from their them and their comrades.
Four years have gone by since this incident, and with its passing, the travesty of justice, the inequalities and the repressions remain the order of the day.
Only to talk about JUST A FEW concrete examples:
According to the survey of "national socio-economic characterization" (CASEN) the economic gap has increased from 13% to 15% since 2006. Meanwhile the administration of the government wants to spend 135 thousand millions of pesos to build, starting this year, 10 new prisons, which would add to the total of more than 16,500 new vacancies in the prison system. It is important to note, according to the sources of the mideplan, that 64% of the prison population are illiterate or have not finished their basic studies and are the poorest and the most marginalized people in Chilean society. This illustrates that the interest of the system is to imprison the most marginal instead of educating them and providing them with the tools for a better life.
These prisons need jailers…
The alliance of 'democratic' parties was in charge of the government for a decade after the dictatorship, killing 42 people, and helping, instead of changing, the development of the 'political constitution of Chile' that was created by the dictatorship, strengthening it with reforms and continuing with its tradition of criminalizing social movements and perfecting the Anti-terrorism Law. One of the modifications to the Anti-Terrorism Law was to give policemen a status of 'witnesses of faith', whereby they frequently do not have to present concrete evidence against the accused, which gives the legal support to the masquerade/ setups for those who represent a threat to the system. Among other barbarities, now in 2010, the turn of the 'coalition for change' with Sebastian Piñera in power. This regime is pro-dictatorship and a huge collaborator with the establishment of the neoliberal model. Let’s not forget that he was also the one that gave the Chileans the opportunity of having credit cards to live working in order to pay their debts. But above all, nowadays M. Piñera is famous for his campaign 'the Battle against Delinquency', in which he shows us his support for a policy of more 'security', in other words, and to be less moderate with the term, jailers that secure the power of their friends the businessmen and capitalists. To make sure that things proceed smoothly, the president will reinforce the repression against historically repressed populations, increasing police personnel to 15000 carabineros and increasing the salaries of civilian police, who have had in the last few months their salaries increased by 18%.
This is how, the 'Battle against Delinquency', is an exemplary example that shows how the inefficacy of the alliance of political parties has erupted tragically in our lives. Today we become its scapegoats, displayed like pariahs in an outlandish play, in order to legitimize their ventures and win 'moral sympathies' among the spectators and the right. In this hunt to cover up facts, which have been intentionally invisible in the media, the hunger strike of 32 Mapuche political prisoners, who fight the adversity of Chilean justice and demand their natural rights, is being hidden. Or another omission, the use of cheap, insufficient equipment to attempt the 'rescue' of 33 miners trapped only a few days earlier this week.
Today, these 14 comrades, among them, anarchists, communicators and social fighters, show solidarity to unjust causes, are involved in open squatted social centers where they sustain libraries, video libraries, gardens, and people who exchange and question ideas and actions in forums and activities conducted in a horizontal manner. These people are automatically criminalized; prosecutors have enough ambiguous evidence to take their freedom away from them. For example, a tapped telephone call where a mother demanded that one of the accused people be taken care of; this was used as evidence against her. The open squatted spaces and the people who are committed to denouncing and transforming on a daily basis their own lives and their society have become more vulnerable to the apprehensions of the state and its prosecutions, which illustrates that this prosecution is also ideological.
Now...Who are the terrorists? .
We make a call to build an international support network for the people imprisoned on the 14th of August. Today more than ever! Internationalists of the world to solidarity and action, to face the kidnappings and lies of the Chilean state!.