Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Elsewhere", by H.T. from Diavolo in Corpo (Italian anarchist mag)

“Real life is absent. We are not in the world.”—A. Rimbaud

Existence is elsewhere. By now, we know this much too well. We cannot find the fullness capable of giving any meaning to our time on this earth either in a job that sends us traveling along through the crossroads of the career or in a daily life from that no longer holds any wonder for us. We may be able to have, but we no longer know how to be. All the things that surround us and are within our reach in the form of disposable merchandise to be accumulated are only scented balms for mortal wounds, for festering open sores caused be the renunciation of the vital minimum. The vital minimum is the possibility of creating and acting with authentic meaning, in other words, autonomy.

The critique of the miserable daily life that people lead today cannot be separated from the critique of the social order that determines it: capitalism. Our whole world has been shaped by exchange value; it has been built according to the principles of interchangeability, of quantity, of passivity, of irresponsibility. Our thoughts retrace the commonplaces dear to public opinion. Our desires are measured in terms of what can be realized thanks to a current bank account. Our dreams pursue models taken on loan from television and movie screens. Our words are inspired by advertising slogans. The very environment that surrounds us is constrained to assume the form most suited to the needs of the market as metropolitan architecture or the massacre of the surroundings brought about for industrial purposes shows. This has reached the point that soon, the very boundary between what is natural and what is artificial will dissolve.

Our identification with a world constructed to the measurement of the bank that even the project of an other world doesn’t seem to escape the blind alley into which we are forced. Even the activity of one who wants to put an end to a social system based on money doesn’t manage to avoid prolonging it, crashing against the reef of social reproduction.

Against a politics that was always a tool in the hands of the ruling class, a new parliament (however alternative) is elected. Against an economy preoccupied exclusively with its profits, new credit institutions (however ethical) are founded. Against a technology that does not facilitate life but rather renders it superfluous, one demands its mass distribution (however democratic). Against work that does not realize the individual but rather alienates her, one asks for its multiplication (however minimal). Against a power that causes infinite harm, one calls for its renewal (however revocable). Against this world one demands…this world (whatever small changes may be made).
Round and round in circles. The intolerable world in which we live is also the only world that we know, the only one we have experienced. Every project of social transformation is based on knowledge—on that with which we are familiar. Starting from these premises, we analyze, we criticize, we denounce every sort of social poison present on our planet. But even though we are aware of the necessity to spew the poison out of our organism, we are seized with doubts: will we survive such a drastic treatment? What will become of us afterwards? In order to avert the risk that such an eventuality allows, we go in search of the formula for a painless antidote. Medical science rushes to our aid: the antidote to poison is a minimal dose of the poison itself (and the “cure” very quickly reveals itself to be not only useless but harmful, because it has no other effect than that of rendering the poison itself still more virulent). Thus, the critique of this world ends by proposing its models once again. Round and round in circles. But this is the surest way not to bring this world down.
Until recently, it seemed certain that the realm of freedom could find no place within the realm of necessity. The latter was limited to predicting and preparing the conditions for the advent of the former (from this we derive all the eulogies to the “development of the productive forces” and other pleasantries that favored “the mysterious identification of the capitalist economy with social revolution”). Under the rule of capital, happiness is elsewhere; this is impossible to doubt in view of the chains that leave their mark on our flesh, but its seed still had to hatch under the snow and one only needed to wait for the end of winter to see it blossom. This was what we were taught until recently. But now this certainty in the spontaneous succession of seasons has frozen to death along with the sporadic swallow that was occasionally seen on the horizon. And the weather becomes ever harsher. One cannot keep waiting for the spring. It is necessary to create this spring, but the task is not easy. So why not just say that it has already started?

This is the way that some frozen victims of the social ice age have decided to get around this obstacle. A new ideological creed has replaced the old one; it is decided that the realm of freedom no longer comes after the realm of necessity, but rather flanks it, exists together with it. Freedom is no longer built on the ruins of the palaces of power, something that would first require their toilsome destruction. Instead it is built on their margins. The elsewhere in which one can finally be oneself is no longer an absent totality that is realized in the future, as soon as possible, but a partiality, already operating in the present. The state is not destroyed, but ignored, deserted, abandoned in favor of a “bipolar society”—in the stalinist version—or a “non-state public sphere”—in the libertarian version—into which one can enter, passing through the “crevices” of the capitalist mega-machine.

It is only by hearing these two bells—the stalinist bell and the libertarian bell—at the same time that one can clearly perceive the identity of their ringing. Here the first one tolls: “It is necessary first of all to tend to the construction of these experiments in liberation, rather than tending to the organization of the proletarian masses to the end of the rupture or supercession of the general arrangements of the system, because it is possible to carve out spaces of liberation even in the absence of this rupture or supercession, or precisely because liberation will come to pass through the gradual, molecular and interwoven expansion of these spaces. Thus, in this case, the state and the market would not be ‘overthrown’, but rather ‘marginalized’, ‘extinguished’.” And now let’s listen to the second: “Self-government submerges action tending to organize moments of collective participation extraneous to the presence of the state starting with a simulation in effect: 'as if’ it were not there'. The erosion of the aspects of existence ruled by the state mortgage can become a collective practice that makes participation trenchant if these moments are really laboratories of unheard-of resolutions for problems tied to social life…the spreading of moments of self-government acquires a sense of opposition that, from a phenomenon that is antagonistic or subordinately reactive to a temporary lack of institutional services, is posed as an unpublished rough draft of projected organizations of society.” The prose varies in its range of expression, but isn’t the refrain really the same?

And so the smaller one’s desires are, the greater the possibility of satisfying them. The successes obtained through a realist politics cannot hide the naked reality that they have been paid for with the coin of renunciation. The “happy isle” carved out by an ocean of denials is not a free world. The “socially useful” job carried out in a small enterprise (no matter how collectively it is run) is not communism. The life passed inside the walls of “self-managed” spaces is not anarchy. Whatever their colors may be, flowers cultivated in an artificial hothouse are not the spring. The “experiments in liberation”, the “moments of self-government”, all these instances in which we feel that we are protagonists can certainly take place and perhaps even increase, but only to the extent to which they are granted. Only to the extent to which they would not constitute a danger to the social order that they would like to weaken. Only to the extent to which they represent the crumbs that fall at our feet from the table of those who rule us. A warning to insurgents: the state is not going to fade away on its own and it certainly has no intention of killing itself.

Until recently, revolutionary hope expressed the secular disguise of a messianic vision. The great dusk represented a kind of Final Judgment capable of splitting history in two, with the world before the revelation quickly disappearing as freedom, which has finally been acquired, erases the last traces of original sin. The disappearance of such millenarian assurances will never be adequately toasted. Only now we would be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire if we were to replace it with the old Marxist idea of a freedom that “can only bloom on this reign of necessity.” With its blackmail, necessity renders only the terrain of constraint fertile, certainly not the terrain of autonomy. If freedom is elsewhere, we cease to experience shame when we do not know what will arise on the ashes of the prison in which we are presently enclosed.

If we want to be realists, we are finally such at bottom. A utopia cannot exist with both feet on the ground. What makes utopia subversive is the tension that it generates, the insatiability that leads it to never be contented and to never be resigned. To not look where one is going because one does not want to remain where the gaze reaches. On the other hand, the utopia that claims to be concrete, the one of modest practical reason, the one that is revealed in the contrast between the grandiosity of the ends and the cringing mediocrity of the means, the utopia of shopkeepers who want to subvert the world while still remaining at peace with every Christian neighbor, this utopia is only a reformist lie.

What else could reformism be if not the endeavor to find an artificial bridge—parties, conferences, social centers, nonprofit enterprises, rural communes, municipal lists…—capable of uniting means and ends, a supposedly unchangeable reality and the designated ideal, after having abandoned the real forces of revolution? Is not its psychological origin perhaps exposed by observation of the partial possibility of modifying social organization? Isn’t its stimulus possibly born from the need for victory, the need to say goodbye to the long trail of defeats that the revolutionary idea has known? Couldn’t its fortune derive from the radical opposition to extremism? It is of little importance to know whether its supporters sit in parliament in double-breasted suits or march in the streets in white overalls.

It is a cliché, but one worth remembering: the world in which we live is one. It is the world of authority, of money, of the market, of the state. It is the realm of necessity. Today in its pervasive presence, there is no elsewhere. There is no realm of freedom, miraculously preserved from the genocide in course, in which to find refuge. So if we are persuaded that existence is elsewhere, then we must realize that elsewhere here. Without deluding ourselves that the process of social becoming is automatic and irresistible, and that it will spontaneously understand all of the obstacles blocking its interests. On a practical level, this delusional perspective would work itself out in the renunciation of all active and conscious intervention aimed at fighting against the activities of domination. Without deluding ourselves that those who built this world in their image and likeness will turn it over to us without a fight in the face of our supposed greater “technical competence” in formulating adequate solutions to social problems. The nightmare in which we live will not end in a peaceful sunset.

Although the idea is no longer fashionable, the great game of freedom cannot do without a radical break, a social upheaval. Simply because its realization has all the characteristics of a wager: it is a risk that depends to great extent on chance. On her behalf, the player only has the passion for the game and the determination of his will. We leave the reassuring promises to advertisements. It is true that we may never experience the enchantment of being in the world. It is true that we may never live our existence here, feeling instead that it is elsewhere. But why not try it? Is there really anything better for which it is worthwhile to take the trouble of living?

Monday, February 20, 2012

To Everyone Feeling Screwed Over by the Economy! Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Economics, Population, Society, Village Development — by Kyle Chamberlain

To everyone feeling screwed over by the economy,
We are told that our problem is that there aren’t enough jobs. This message is everywhere. The media gauges our plight with regularly updated unemployment statistics. Politicians debate theatrically over who can create more work. People everywhere clamor for scarce positions at factories and corporations.
I’d like to point out the great irony of this situation — people hate their jobs. How many people do you know who love their job? The truth is, most of us who have ordinary jobs can barely tolerate them. All else being equal, we’d rather not do them.
Work ethic is something this society takes pride in. But, if we are honest, we will confess that we call ourselves ‘hard working’ primarily to rationalize the daily abuses, deprivations, and indignities of the workplace. Work ethic is the only ethic most of us satisfy at our jobs. I think we can agree that most of our jobs aren’t making the world a better place.
So here we are, bickering and begging to fill roles we hate.
We should remember, that ‘employed’ is just another word for ‘used’. Just as you might employ a hammer and nails, your employer employs, or uses, you. The term ‘used’ very aptly describes our relationship with our employers. Like prostitutes, we resign ourselves to fake relationships for an empty cash return. In a healthy relationship, our devotions are reciprocated in kind. But in a relationship of use and abuse, the best you can expect is a cash settlement.
It should not surprise us, then, that politicians and other powerful people will laud our enthusiasm for employment and champion that cause. To the elite, unemployment is a crises because it means that the population is insufficiently used. An unused population is unprofitable, and potentially unruly. So, when the wealthy come to our rescue, they do it with jobs. As the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation slogan goes, "We believe that all people deserve the chance to lead healthy productive lives." (emphasis mine)
Employment has become almost inseparable from other values like responsibility and human welfare. In our culture, promoting employment has become synonymous with supporting families, communities, and countries. At a time when we are so utterly reliant on employment and the economy for our survival, being anti-job is like being anti-life. Who but the laziest and most unrealistic sort of hippie would oppose jobs?
But let us not forget; people were not always so dependent on employment or the economy for survival. In fact, we’ve been hunter/gatherers for most of our existence. Money, the economy, and even farming are relatively recent contrivances. We made them up. And, until very recent history, jobs were merely part of a mixed strategy used by families to make a living. Hunting, gathering, gardening, crafting, gifting, cooperation, trade, and self-employment, are all perfectly viable ways to make a living. Our grandparents recognized that money wasn’t always the most effective way to meet a need. Living by paycheck alone was a thing for the urban wealthy.
At periods in history, it’s been possible for some people to use currency to maintain an affluence disproportionate to the real value of their work. We may be nearing the close of such a period. Unfortunately, alternatives to employment are growing scarce.
It’s not something taught in history class, but our reliance on employment stems ultimately from the destruction and monopolization of our environment. People once relied exclusively on free natural resources. The trend toward universal employment has followed in lock step with the destruction of those resources. When the things we need are no longer freely available in nature, we’re forced to labor at ever more complicated and dubious methods of resource extraction. The story of our culture’s relationship with American Indians and other indigenous cultures, illustrates the common pattern.
My young men shall never work. Men who work cannot dream; and wisdom comes to us in dreams. You ask me to plow the ground. Shall I take a knife and tear my mother’s breast? Then when I die she will not take me to her bosom to rest. You ask me to dig for stone. Shall I dig under her skin for her bones? Then when I die I cannot enter her body to be born again. You ask me to cut grass and make hay and sell it, and be rich like white men. But how dare I cut off my mother’s hair? — Smohala, Wanapum spiritual leader, 1851
Time and time again, indigenous resistance to work, as we know it, only broke when traditional resources failed.
My people did not farm and had no use for crops until the salmon runs began to disappear from the streams and rivers. White activities causing pollution, and commercial fishing projects were the cause of this. Every year, the Colville found fewer salmon to take, not enough to live on, and so began to farm to stay alive. Finally, dams were built on the Columbia and the salmon were stopped altogether from coming above Grand Coulee. The salmon were gone, and high powered rifles are doing about the same to our game animals. By the time we saw the need to farm, the younger generations realized their ancestors had let the whites have the richest and most fertile bottomland. And it was too late to get it back. — Mourning Dove, Colville author, 1888-1936
The indigenous haven’t been the only people forced to deal with resource destruction and monopolization. Corporations and governments are actively marginalizing our access to clean water, healthy food, safe shelter, and social support. All of these things, once provided freely by our environment, are now increasingly expensive.
It’s not just our physical environment that is being destroyed. Our social and psychological environments are also under attack. Economic pressures, advertising, and propaganda have undermined the self-reliance of families and communities. Perhaps the ultimate victory of consumerism is that many people have lost their ability to find meaning outside of work. Many people will tell you they simply wouldn’t know how to spend their time without a job. Can they really see no higher value in their lives? Without respect for ourselves, and the support of others, there’s no climbing out of this abusive system.
The influence of the world’s powerful minority should not be underestimated. But those of us in privileged countries need to understand that this economic ‘crisis’ is largely due to the world, and perhaps mother nature herself, finally calling our bluff. The fact that our economic prosperity can falter so rapidly is proof that our wealth is not based on the real value of our work, but our success in a deceptive and exploitative game. We owe our declining wealth to mountains of debt and our lucky political position, and we’ve milked them for all they’re worth. We’ve been cheating people out of real value, for novelties and speculation, since the fur trade era. And now, bubbles are bursting.
Our way of life has also depended on finite fossil energy resources. This is not to mention threatened soils, waters, and forests. And the world is getting more crowded. It might be time to figure out what it actually looks like to live within our means.
But let’s be clear. We don’t need more jobs. We need access to the basics of survival. We don’t need more money. We need to heal our environment. We don’t need employers to keep us busy. We need time to make our communities into healthy habitats for people again.
The less we participate in this abusive economy, the better. 10% unemployment is deplorable. We need 90% unemployment. If we really resent this system, let’s earn less, buy less, and own less. Let’s invest our time, energy, and resources in things that can’t be taxed or parisitized by corporations. Let’s deal not in dollars, but in energy, nutrients, materials, local currencies, and relationships. Let’s not expand, let’s stabilize. Let’s enjoy art, culture, and leisure. Perhaps we can topple the pyramid by shrinking the bottom.
Our work is this: We’ve got to make clean water available wherever rain falls. We’ve got to make food grow so rampantly that you can’t give it away. We need to build affordable and debt free housing. We need to start creating opportunities where we live so we don’t have to drive. We need to wrest control of land and resources away from powerful minorities. We need integrative, sustainable methods for managing land. We need to ranch in a way that makes game more abundant. We need to farm in a way that makes forests grow. We need to use energy in a way that generates peace and stability. We need to strengthen our social bonds.
If you still have a job, get everything in order, and quit. Do it as soon as you can, because we’ve never had a more important work to do. 

Editor’s Note: If you enjoy the article below, and you missed Kyle’s past 3-part series, amongst others, be sure to check them out! (Part I, Part II, and Part III.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

"Eight Simple Steps towards Revolution" by Crimethinc

Over the winter, the social momentum that picked up with the occupation of Zuccotti Park has predictably cooled. We can be sure that conflict will intensify again soon, whether with the coming of spring or later; if overseas examples are any indication, we should anticipate new waves of unrest, each sweeping in new sectors of the population. In hopes of helping to prepare for the next phase, we present an eight-point program distilled from the experiences of the last several months.

Once again, please forward this and print out copies to distribute in your community!

• Eight Simple Steps [online viewing version, 195 KB]

• Eight Simple Steps [print version, 496 KB]
A two-sided flier to be folded down the middle, longways.

Cast a spell. 
People in North America are already under a spell: the spell of private property, of the legitimacy of government, of hopelessness. None of these are inherently real; they derive their reality from our collective belief and activity. You have to be hypnotized indeed to believe that property is more sacred than the needs of human beings—that the decisions of the government are more legitimate than your own judgment.

To break this spell, cast another. When a few people invest themselves entirely in another vision of reality, they open up space for others to invest in it as well. It doesn’t have to be realistic at first—it just has to spread until it creates the conditions of its possibility. The original call to occupy Wall Street on September 17 was an example of such a spell. What could take us further?

Find each other
Facebook and Twitter notwithstanding, we’re more isolated today than ever. There is a fundamental difference between merely circulating information and making connections that enable people to act together. In an era when social networks are effectively mapped and contained, it’s subversive to make these connections beyond your usual social milieu; some of your friends may not have much fight in them after all, while others with goals complementary to yours might be very different from you. You can’t expect other people to leave their comfort zones unless you’re prepared to leave your own.

Together we can do anything. 
Preparing a revolution isn’t a matter of a radical minority building up the skills and resources to change the world; when enough of us get together, we have access to the knowledge and resources of our whole society. It’s not our job to orchestrate every aspect of the struggle, nor could we; we just have to create conduits through which subversive practices and momentum can flow. Preparation could go on endlessly, as the world goes on changing—circulation is what counts.

The secret is to really begin.
Until there’s something new happening, something that interrupts the status quo, there’s no reason for anyone to pay attention. It’s not enough to try to start a dialogue in a vacuum; for people to take the dialogue seriously, there has to be something to talk about. Don’t just chant that another world is possible; manifest it, so everyone who might believe in it can. Don’t just talk about abolishing capitalism; pick a pressure point, have a go at it, and see who joins in.

Build the will. 
Nowadays most of us don’t know our own strength. We’re not used to relying on our own capabilities; we assume we can always be defeated. Most of the strength of those who hold power is founded on this defeatism. But a little courage can be infectious, and once people get used to wielding power together they won’t quickly give it up.

The first compromise is the last one.
Over and over, our occupations and movements are undermined one compromise at a time. Whenever we concede anything, we set a precedent that will be repeated again and again, emboldening those for whom it is more convenient for us to remain passive. If police don’t arrest us when we stand up for ourselves, it isn’t because they support us, or because we’re within our legal rights—it’s because we’ve mobilized enough social power to make them back down. Timidity, placation, and obedience only detract from this leverage.

Address the 99%, not the 1%. 
Demands oriented towards those in power direct the focus away from what we can do ourselves; joint action, on the other hand, empowers us and creates a space where we can weave our differences into collective strength. To put this in the language of the Occupy movement, why address demands to the 1% at the top of the capitalist pyramid, who will never share our priorities? Why not instead address proposals to the rest of the 99%, whose combined power could render the authority of the 1% meaningless?

We’ve been taught by a thousand classes, newspapers, and job interviews to present everything in the language and logic of our superiors. We must finally learn to speak each other’s languages, to make proposals that are relevant to our own needs rather than “realistic” in the framework of our rulers. This means dispensing with every conception of legitimacy we inherited from the prevailing order—not just the authority of the politicians and the courts, but also academic prestige and middle-class “common sense” and activist credentials—in favor of value systems that legitimize our voices and our resistance on our own terms.

Aim beyond the target.  
Often, to accomplish small concrete objectives, we have to set our sites much higher. Conversely, it sometimes happens that we accomplish what we set out to easily enough, but have no idea what to do with the new opportunities that open up next. Every time we act, let’s act in a way that points towards the world we want and equips us to go on moving towards it. The most important thing is not whether we achieve our immediate goals, but how each engagement positions us for the next round.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

TAKE THE CITY! (What´s new in Spanish Revolution)

Hi comrades!

We write you to spread a Spanish´ (Mallorca) iniciative called "take the town" (tomalaciudad). It´s about take empty places (private or statal properties) and make them squares, communitary gardens, places to meet each other and work togeter (Exarhia´s way).

It is a political action based in assamblies, a critic of urban design, building a common space for the people.

Sorry my english is not enough to describe but this is the video with english subtitles and this is the manifest

Hope you like it. We ask you to make diffusion.


It has been a long time decisions are taken for us but without us.
Once upon a time, there were collective spaces where people lived together and took decisions amongst equals, cultivated dialogue, fraternal cooperation and work for the common benefit.
Nowadays, our lives have been mortgaged to a political and economical system that has impoverished us and made us more dependent.
They called the political irresponsibility of putting in someone else’s hands the affairs that matter to us “freedom”.
We were educated within a childish and selfish outlook, articulating society in closed compartments where ruthlessness and mistrust prevail, rather than collaboration and respect.
We were “the people” and they made us “the public”, we gave up being actors to become dejected spectators of a life managed from above.
The design of our cities is also a purely political issue: the arrangement of gardens, fenced by barriers, closed by night; flowers lined up like paving stones, bushes pruned like walls.
Urban space was thought up for a mute transit of vehicles, persons and merchandising. The stage is sterile and the flow never stops - because, if we stop, order is in danger.
We have realized business and state production ways do not respond to either our wishes or our needs, and, instead, it generates corrupt and unjust structures and is hugely damaging for the environment.
What would happen if we started managing the world ourselves, from below, in a different way?
Let’s imagine, for instance, a transformed city, more natural, where, instead of so much tarmac, paving stones and sterile gardens, we grew aromatic herbs or plants from which we could extract natural remedies; where, instead of ornamental parks, we had orchards and ecological vegetable gardens, looked after by all together, children, grown ups, elders and youths.
What would happen if, instead of maintaining a highly expensive and often inefficient state public sector, we built a network of people’s services, autonomous, where the labour that supported it was managed by people’s assemblies and not according to the profit of a few; where each of us would contribute as we can and where we can; where we could develop in a wholly way as persons, both to give and to receive, not being mere passive consumers anymore?
It is not hard to imagine if we take into account that social state services are suffering ongoing cuts and the model of welfare state appears unviable, judging by the heavily indebted economical situation.
Today, our streets overflow with closed spaces: empty houses, unused plots, unfinished buildings. We start to see the ruins that reveal the decadent state of a society in crisis. A society that we do not choose but that we pay dearly.
Thus, we will take those unused spaces, previously usurped by the logics of private profit and public loss, giving them new uses for the benefit of all. So, we invite you all to participate into the new society we are constructing in those places.
We are not here to do abstract demands, it is not enough to be indignant, we are here to meet each other, populate a space and take life in our hands. We are the inhabitants, not mere passers-by, of a world that is our home, and it is our responsibility to build it.
Our strength will be measured by what we do, which, moreover, will be an example of what we are able to.
So, let’s do it, we shall not wait anymore.