Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Contemporary Nihilism" an essay On Innocence Organised / by ADILKNO, the foundation for the Advancement of Illegal Knowledge

With the emergence of a privileged mediocrity, the innocent life became accessible to the masses. No longer was joe average part of a class striving to historical ends, e.g. revolution or fascism; enter a cold era, now devoid of passion. While outside, storms raged and change
rapidly followed change, one's own life was left to grind to a halt.
Time, regardless of history, fashion, politics, sex and the media, was to take its due course. The innocent made no fuss, they despised it.
'Come what may'. Average folks considered themselves cogs in some giant machine, and were proud to admit it. They saw to it the trains ran on schedule, and returned home at night in time for supper. Instead of the
old barriers, such as caste, sex, and religion, innocence introduced such bromidae as tolerance, openness, and harmony. Positivism become lifestyle. Positivist critique served the reconstruction of politics and culture. Good times were had, one was busily and dynamically
engaged and abundantly employed. Reigned a clear and simple view on reality. The innocent did not incorporate the Good, they just hadn't a clue, though not lacking in standards. Crime was not for them.
 Thus, they involuntarily became the objects of strategies of Good and Evil.

We are talking a life without drama, immediacy, 'Entscheidung'. Things will never get hot. Nothing will ever have to be decided on. You don't need to break out, in order to be just you. Rock ye no boats. The innocent thrive on everyday ritual, it's what makes them happy. 
A failing washing machine suffices to drive one up the wall: the bloody thing just has to function. The plight against materiality is that it's always breaking down, failing, malfunctioning and generally behaving in
odd ways, and that it cannot be quietly replaced. Untrammeled consumption holds a promise that from now on, nothing will ever happen.
In this undisturbed existence, luxury becomes so natural it goes unnoticed. The innocent conscience is distinguished by its air of cramped grass-rootsiness, evoking a universe where personal irritations may explode without warning: time and again, streetlights, traffic jams and delays, bureaucratic hassles, bad weather, construction noises,
diseases, accidents, unexpected guests and ditto incidents, comprise an assault on innocent existence. Nonetheless, one is caught up in uncalled for events. This attitude of disturbance-deterrence, devoted
to job and professional affairs, excludes all risk and has relegated to the attainable the status of sole criterion. The summum of happiness consists of soft porn, moped, the new medium-priced car, one's own house and mortgage, interesting hobbies, club life, kids, elaborate
birthdays of family members and friends, book clubs, christmas cards, cross-stitched embroideries, ikebana, tending the garden, clean clothes, the biosphere of pets and indoor plants, guinea pigs, the rabbit in the yard, the pigeons in the attic, holiday destinations,
dinners out, a bit of catching up or a general chat, Greenpeace membership or tele-adoption through Foster Parents Plan. This ideal of an unrippled and spotless life is characterized by an endearing pretence of being literally everybody's goal. Innocence is under constant treatment from doctors, therapists, beauticians, accupuncturalists, and garage keepers. Innocence likes to be tinkered
at. It considers it its duty to further develop and, if necessary, re-educate. Courses are taken, adilkno sessions participated in, the theater, concert halls, expos visited, books read, directions to forest walks followed, and martial arts actively engaged in. Innocence as a
universal human right encompasses animals, plant life, architecture, landscapes and cultural expression. This is the condition under which the world may be ultimately salvaged: neither utopian nor fatalistic,
but smoothly functioning.

The advertisement campaigns accompanying this way of life, appeal to the childlike joy of having one's accomplishments rewarded. Scenes of
smiling dads and mums who can afford just anything. A reference to the authoritarian circumstances under which the child is raised to maturity and learns to talk. Innocence presupposes the enclosed security of
family, school, company, and sports club. Under 'infantile capitalism' (Asada), desire is tempted by the offer of a secure existence. By displaying good behaviour, the ongoing changes in the vast world outside are assured not to cause any catastrophes. Rebellion is punished and virtually pointless. The household comprises a fortified
oasis. The others are just like you, and moving from one cell to another you get the impression that life is swell. Surprises are solely permissible within well acquainted constellations. The crush alone makes for a composed exception to the rule. In sex there may yet be
room for assaults, with all that may imply. This is why the personal ad is such an innocent medium, having nothing to do with prostitution or moral decline whatsoever. The highlight of innocent existence consists of wedding day, the happiest day of your life. Marriage is the one occasion in his/her existence on which joe/jill average may dress up in
all his/her decorations, and show themselves to the world at large. The ordering of the wedding gown, the white or red worn for all to see, the bouquet, the bridegroom's shoes, the orchestra outside, the cabriolet
or carriage, the cheering onlookers, the historical wedding room, the moving clergyman's speechlet, the standing ovation and gifts, the
dinner at some fashionable restaurant, the subsequent feast till the small hours: no trouble or expenses are spared to create a surroundings in which everybody ends up getting terribly pissed, yet never severely
disgracing themselves. A day to remember in horror for the rest of your life, yet forever impossible to forget, a wound in your life, a mental tattoo ruthlessly inflicted by family members. Millions of couples shack up forever, just so they won't have to cope with this. The pressure lies in the fact that there is no option but for the whole thing to proceed smoothly, so that even if it does, any fun that might
have been there is definitely out. The greater misery the night before, the bigger joy come wedding night. Afterwards, it's safe havens forever.

As innocence to a substantial degree consists of defence, it cannot remain neutral under the continuous outside threat facing it (thieves, rapists, hackers, counterfeiters, the incestuous, psychopaths, renegades, bacteria, missiles, toxic clouds, aliens, etc.). Neither can it summon any childlike curiosity concerning events in the outside
world. Innocence's protective coating mirrors any threat posed by its environment, thus causing it to take on an aura of organisation. The mafia, youth gangs, criminal conspirators, sects, drug cartels, banditry, pirates, are all thought to be after mediocrity's naivit.
They're omnipresent spooks. Before you know you may be involved, guilty of, or victimised by, fraud. Innocence, desperate to turn its head, to pretend that nothing's the matter, threatens to succumb. Ignorance may
prove fatal, a more practical strategy consists of localising and channeling attacks. Hand out to each individual an electronic guarantee
of innocence and sooner or later any felon will end up in some specialist jail. In fact, innocence shouldn't need any legitimisation, all this registration and surveillance merely causes it to lose its ura. Everyone is a potential illegal immigrant; even though the cntrary be proven, one remains a risk factor. At the present phase, ecape in anonymity becomes daily more dangerous and undesirable.
Neutrality thus appears a chosen isolation, the final outcome of which is grotesque exclusion. Those who aren't thoroughly on line can make no
appeals to organised innocence's compassion.

Organised innocence is obsessed with Evil, gazing at and dissecting it, categorizing and exposing it, in order to finally bypass it altogether. Innocence owes its existence to its seeming opposite. One cannot confess innocence, for every confession must needs be one of guilt, any
gesture a false pose pertaining to goodness itself. Everybody is informed to start with, everyone knows all about the next person and there's a silent agreement that some things are best left unsaid. The innocent are discreet and do not interfere with certain hidden domains
(of power, of lust, of death). No boundary violations here. Holidays may offer some compensation, but everything has its season. Next of kin are those causing maximum annoyance. They are parsimonious neighbours,
noisy kids, funny couples. First annoyances are quickly made emblems, forever there to fall back on. The others are scrutinized distrustingly, a form of surveillance which it is impossible to sanctionize since there no longer exists any common intercourse defining a norm. Normality can no longer define any aberration. Only drug related nuisance, streetwalkers' districts and cribs, travellers'
sites and refugees' centers may now temporarily unite citizens in mobs, for fear of declining property values. This neighbourhood resistance is
not ideologically motivated, one simply never gets down to the point of formulation of transferable ideas. The neighbours are doing model
airplanes, one self preferring Pierre Boulez, what room is left for any exchange? There is more to separate us than mere garden fences.
Therefore, too, accusals of racism or discrimination are off the mark here. There isn't any moral order to deteriorate into bigotry.

Stereotypes get blurred. Noone knows what a Jew might look like, or what distinguishes Turks from Moroccans ('All Turks go by the name of Ali').  The other's features don't stick, because one has no sense of
identity oneself. So much for pc advertising, public information campaigns, even cookbook recipes. Multiculturalist society is a clash
of featureless citizens and the heirs to identities. There is a severe misunderstanding with the Innocent concerning the Other come from afar.
There is a great readiness to accept the concept of differing cultures.
They're assumed to function in the same type of isolation as ours. Who would wish to visit upon another a dull life like our own, culminating
as it does in likewise padded solitude? Tolerance means envy of the other's simplicity. Friday rounds are not considered backward (as were
once the strictly Reformed), but as proof of a devotion and consistency no longer available to oneself. The suburbs are polytheistic: everything is believed in. There is more than what's been taught you at school - but what? Seeking, one has found, but anxiety remains as to
what more is gonna show up. Gurus, healing stones, skyward apparitions, voodoo, and encounters all slip past, without one having ever a chance of sharing these experiences. For a moment, one gets the impression
that there's quite a bit going on, that the surrounding world is full of deep acquaintances, of promises and optimistic prospects. Before long, one finds oneself alone with all the acquired experiential cross-country attributes, the textbooks, perfumed oils, the dandy windbreaker the two of us bought together remember, the empty personal
organizer and holiday pictures' albums. What macro-social guiding principle may dissolve all this weeny human suffering, will resolve our confusion? Where are they, the builders of this new state of affairs, amidst and around us? The refugee, as a cultural carrier, may prove
prophetic. Ultimately, it is they who reintroduce to us our exiled spirituality, so sought after in the West.

Innocence may be lost through committing murder, participating in a little S&M, joining a bikers' club, opting for art, going under cover, yet the underworld of entertainment offers no consolation. One final option much in vogue consists of defecting to the war or genocide.
There can, however, be no refuge from the conglomerate and its diktata. The Mountain Bike, T-shirt, Olilly clothing, compu games, graffiti, bumper sticker, spoiler, cap, sloppy casual wear, hair gel, are all the 'objets nomades' of Jacques Attali's Europe heading for a stylised
uniformity. Innocence cannot be negated, or compensated for, by its opposite. The one thing it can't stand is party poopers. This process of decomposition within normality offers no alternative and puts up no fight, nor even does it make a point. Through it, innocence is exhausted. One cannot be sprite and happy all day, forever tearing
asunder the grime by constructive thinking. Innocence is not in danger of being wiped out by either revolution or reaction. It can only wither, go under in poverty, slowly vanish out of sight, as though meant to waste away. Grounded love affairs are resolved by ordering a
dumpster in which one's accumulated innocence is disposed of, in order to make a cleaner, wilder start after interior redecoration procedures.
A generation before, the politicization of the private managed to get some innocence out the front door, but it's regrouped with a vengeance and now has grunge rockers, generation X'ists, trance freaks and other
youth categories all searching in vain for some firm footing they can react against in some other format than that of fashion or the media, innocence's latest organisational modi. Government itself is now the most outspoken anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-fascist, anti-homelessness, and generally anti- anything the well-intended
insurrectionist are liable to oppose. The one thing left for innocent younger generations to vent their anger, are all forms of organised innocence itself. Abundant material for grounding an enormous social movement, to start working at innumerable separate issues, in order to
discover a common grounds in all those disparate little divisions.
Boycott insurance companies, raid those self-assured infant clothings' shops, torch them redundant gift stores - we've a consumers' paradise
to destroy! But let's not get excited. We'll have innocence fade away, see it quiet down, tell you what, we'll not even mention it.

ADILKNO, the foundation for the Advancement of Illegal Knowledge

(a.k.a. BILWET), Amsterdam, 1995

translated from the Dutch @ Sakhra Bey la-Bey/Ziekend Zoeltjes

Produkties, Amsterdam, 1995

Monday, July 29, 2013

"The Walls of the City" by C.G. from Diavolo in Corpo, a magazine of anarchist social critique from Italy

Prison is only apparently the exception to the rule: crime given vent to or innocence punished is in fact the totality of society where everyone punishes each other for the offense of being there and where anyone who thinks is pierced by this question at least once a day: “Why have they put me here? What have I done?” and the terribly obsessive desire for escape is just like that of prisoners. Maybe even more intense.
The evolution of the penitentiary system with the construction of so many new spaces for punishment has a significance beyond that of “more humanity and reeducation” rather than retributive suffering. The distance, the separation between the city and its prison—which has always been very great—decreases, because the inhabitants of the city increasingly resemble (through work, family, universities, hospitals, discotheques, theaters, stadiums) prisoners of a model prison who are granted occasional leaves (weekends, holidays, “white” weeks) with the obligation of returning on specific days with no room for error.
Even the “promenade” is a mirror of the city within the prison and of the prison within the city. The people guarded on their pedestrian islands, enclosed by flowering bushes as walls, going sadly and monotonously in and out of shopping centers, loaded with useless but obligatory purchases. The people watched by video cameras in the shops and outside, forced to pass through metal detectors to enter a bank, constrained to stamp a railway ticket, whispering at every instant that ignoble secretion of personal identity that is the fiscal code, invention of the gulag. Do you believe this is very different from a prison?
I can see the courtyard of Newgate—where the prisoners in pajamas march around in rows in a circle in the famous Doré incision—once again every time I walk through any pedestrian island, special project of mayors preoccupied with having an aromatic aroma, an edenic glade, within the immense urban prison they administer. Have we really emerged from the courtyard of Newgate? Have we completely given it up, or only taken that marked pajama to the laundry?
The edenic model inspired the providential inclusion of parks—which in name still carry the memory of Paradise (park is a contraction of paradise, Persian pardesh =garden)—in the emerging urban hell. These parks would later be degraded with the name of “green zone”. But what did these deceptive patches of paradise really change anyway? The urban glade (avenue or public garden) is not forest, freedom, refuge, free play of the spirit among lives different from the human; it is nothing but human images and, in an increasingly brutal manner, human images signify that which we most abhor: walls that enclose and constrain, jail.
The new prison construction (less somber, sometimes more breathable) was begun by the fascist regime (experimentally, in small cities) in order to reduce the distance between city and prison, destined to form a single, compact, totalitarian poison. We see the prison of Orvieto, built in 1936, the year of the greatest fascist triumph, no different from the Italian Bar, the University of Rome or any youth hostel…But the model totalitarian city, with urban envoys lined up in exchange for liberation from malarial anopheles, was Littoria (Latina) where the prison, built in 1939, is an anonymous service building, a true and proper outpost of the future outskirts. And a modern condominium on the outskirts endures widespread prison conditions. From the ground floor to the penthouse, the cooking is the same everywhere: spaghetti—steak—salad—dessert, just like in a regular prison.
The difference is that the family in the condominium doesn’t throw away much food, preserves the leftovers, cooks with more intelligence. The prison, like the barracks or the hospice, wastes a great deal and cooks the same things in a vile manner. No one would ever lick those plates, so often returned full.
Among the traits of liberal democracies at the beginning of this century, this marvel still exists: though specific prison conditions may change in any possible way, in the unstoppable degradation of life in common and of sociality in general on the outside, in the abandonment of the city to degenerative cities, nothing can be done to impede this inevitable transformation of the totality of the urban environment into a prison that has been immersed in the electronic for sometime, filled with typical prison slavery like rape, sexual extortion, the exchange of favors that ends up being more important than monetary exchange.
At any place in the city, at any hour of the day, millions of urban prisoners watch the same things on television as those prisoners who have been sentenced in a trial and those who are held in custody awaiting trial. The judges themselves do the same, cheering in the same way for a goal by their soccer team.
Today all urban space is watched, controlled, patrolled, feared, distrusted, perpetually threatened. In the name of security, it has gradually reached the point of the creation of an absolute technological-military prison. One can say that this long war will only cease in order to abandon its place to a kind of monstrous prison as an extreme form of “necessary” protection. And this is happening under a democracy that tries to appear powerless, under the egalitarian rhetoric with which it cloaks itself, to prevent—since this is what it wants and needs in order to conserve itself—every city of its dreams from becoming a maximum-security prison space (thus without respite) where the circulation of individuals increasingly resembles the circling of the prisoners round and round that courtyard with the high windowless walls where the poor exhausted footsteps resound in cadence.


Friday, July 12, 2013

"Discussion paper for a new Breakout into the Frosts of Freedom" by Reformgroup

breakout read – PDF

This text was written as a discussion text for the Autonomous Congress in Hamburg in October 2009, the first in 15 years. ..

 The time to always assure ourselves of our own certainties has to come to an end 

 To some our words might sound harsh. This happens easily if it´s the people you love that are at stake, those with whom we have discovered many liberating thoughts in the past, those with whom we have tried out ways of changing both ourselves and the world. Shared attempts, that, as small as they may have been, we still hold more than close to our hearts. If one or the other critique hits you, try to keep this in mind and don´t immediately jump into a defensive position. We want to keep going together, otherwise this text would not exist.

We want to take the effort to overcome our differences and join forces. We want to have a collective debate at the beginning of the meeting to find out what ideas, critiques and proposals there are concerning the question of »What’s Next?«, and how we can practically tie them together in a discussion. If some of the positions really are mutually exclusive, we should state this and draw conclusions from it: this could also mean splitting from each other. There might be a point when our common ground falls through our fingers like sand or when common discussion leads nowhere anymore except to the same sad desert. The comrades who prepared the congress made it clear that they don´t want only experts meeting in circles on certain issues, and no panels. We would like to add, above all, no putting next to each other all the little inconsequential contradictions in some unrelated fashion, only to discover them again and again. Nearly 20 years after the text »3:1 – class contradiction, racism, sexism« introduced the problem of triple oppression to our circles, we can no longer rest in constantly describing anew that there is no single contradiction that determines every other contradiction. That knowledge alone is not enough. The problem stems partly from the splitting into single-issue politics and the development of specialization that stems from it, as well as from not piecing these jigsaw pieces back together again to form an overall picture. But somehow that still isn´t everything.

 We will only manage to scratch the surface of a few difficulties here. Also, we are too few to do even that in a comprehensive way. At the congress in Hamburg there will be more of us and if things go well we could in some moments develop something like a collective intelligence. Only in this way can it function to include all the many different experiences and perspectives. But a weekend is too short to really sort out a comprehensive strategy. What is a critique that keeps up with the time? How do some of us fool ourselves by simply stating »Destroy everything!«, ignoring the fact that state and capital do not want to abolish sociability as such, but wish to smash all uncontrolled collectivity into little pieces so that the fragments can be reconfigured afterwards by the logic of capital and the state. Transformation. How do others of us, in no less one-sided manner, fool ourselves with ever more elaborate and overly-complicated decodings of these processes, yet avoid to act according to our own findings?

The aim of the congress could be to agree on two or three questions that we will all discuss in the coming year. Linked to that, to develop a concrete structure for this discussion that would lead to a proposal for organizing ourselves: local and supra-regional meetings, loads of discussion circles, critical feedback of the discussion of our actions, agreement on a channel for the debate. How do we generalize the discussion? How do we spread our ideas and the texts we find important: to come to a common basis, to collectivize our knowledge, to make it possible to discuss about the same topic in the first place? Our idea is, for example, to regularly publish texts and discussion papers coming from these circles – and other circles as well – in our own media. We are of the opinion anyway, that we should invest more time and energy into creating our own ways and means of expression, instead of becoming chummy with the coverage of the bourgeois news.

Such a proposal to organize also includes thinking about potential comrades. There are various people we meet in the streets, but whom we do not find in our structures. They do not relate to them. Our self-organized structures are often closed and appear to be elitist. One has to have »proper knowledge« about a lot of things, know the codes and adhere to them, to be accepted. Also, we assume that there are people we would like to have in our discussions that do not feel attracted to the term “autonomen”. We are swayed back and forth as well: the autonomen are characterized by a far-reaching removal from society into our own bubble – yet at the same time, paradoxically, the autonomen are characterized by lively contacts to the Green Party and the Left Party, by press conferences and being entangled with the NGO-government complex. On the other hand, the autonomen still stand for a certain determination and irreconcilability against the state and capital, for confrontation in the streets, visible to anyone as part of the black bloc or invisible during the night. They stand for strategies of provocation and a perspective of bringing the social reality to a head – and yet they are always on the search for the entirely different entirety, too. For the creation and combative re-appropriation of relationships, free spaces and structures, that defy state control as much as possible, with the perspective of building from these threads a different social fabric. If it is still these things that people link to the term “autonomen”, then we like it.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Social violence and anti-social violence: Emma Goldman

"To analyze the psychology of political violence is not only extremely difficult, but also very dangerous. If such acts are treated with understanding, one is immediately accused of eulogizing them. If, on the other hand, human sympathy is expressed with the Attentäter, one risks being considered a possible accomplice. Yet it is only intelligence and sympathy that can bring us closer to the source of human suffering, and teach us the ultimate way out of it.”

The opening lines of Emma Goldman’s essay The Psychology Of Political Violence are as resonant and applicable now, as they were when she wrote them nearly one hundred years ago. When looking at political writing pre-dating much of the bloodshed of the 20th century, it has become common to complain that they are written from a naive point of view, a point of view unacquainted with the results of the evils of Nazism and Stalinism; the two most oft cited examples of violent régimes associated with politically motivated violence. The 20th century was a violent century (though no more so than other centuries in context), but film and television allowed it to be seen and then seen again repeatedly; to confirm this for us and remind us of things and events that are apt to disappear into obscure textbooks and the fallible memories of people .

In addition the scope of history, which is now wider and deeper than previously, recalls far more than the “official histories” fed to schoolboys for generations. Despite the reluctance of historians to completely give themselves up to a proletarian view of history, the view of history from the other side; the history minus the double-barrelled names and powdered wigs, has permeated the subject to a considerable degree, so that instead of French history only being recalled in the guise of Napoleon’s “greatness”, we can learn instead about the uprising of the weavers of Lyon, or the Paris commune without it being considered non-history and the seditious behaviour of dangerous people trying to bring down the government. Indeed the possibilities are there, the histories can be read, but they are also muted by the very fact that they have become “official histories”. They have been assimilated (to some degree) into the mainstream and thereby blunted and rendered less radical than they might otherwise be. The other element is the great plan of the 20th century rulers: the calming and hypnotizing of peoples likely to rise up to rebellion, by means of force, propaganda and the drug of consumption.

Political violence has gone out of fashion only in a partisan respect: sixty years of, chiefly American, propaganda has associated political violence with anarchists, Marxist rebels, left-wing rogue elements, South American and Arab terrorists and every other movement to some degree associated with political uprisings. As certain newspapers and televisions have pumped out stories of the ‘horrors’ committed by ‘dangerous revolutionaries’ trying to enslave free-people and every other supposed anti-American element, it has taken much longer for a different picture to emerge of the widespread terror and murder and wholesale destruction of countries and peoples perpetrated by the neo-conservative/neo-liberal consensus of the United States and its allies. It is a picture sketched-out in declassified documents and the alternative histories, all of which is either mildly to vigorously suppressed or spun into a vortex of double-think by consummate and accomplished liars.

Within the left of politics, some of this has managed to filter through. As a method of dissociation from condemned régimes (Stalin’s USSR, Nazism and neo-fascism, the Khmer Rouge, the Iranian regime) dozens of socialist, communist and anarchist parties and groupings have declared themselves essentially non-violent. It is as if this act renders them more legitimate in a political climate that condemns one man’s violence on the one hand and presses the button to release cluster bombs on the other. The argument from sections of the official left is a product of anti-hypocrisy, or the fear of hypocrisy: that condemning violence from one quarter whilst perpetrating one’s own violence is the height of hypocrisy. They are wrong. They miss a crucial point: namely that there is a difference between violence used to oppress and keep oppressed, and violence used to break the cycle of oppression. It is the difference between anti-social violence and social violence.

The horrors and miseries of the 20th century have long been used as a powerful talisman to discourage what comes naturally to people under the pressure of too much social control and too much economic injustice. The neo-conservative/neo-liberal machine has used the results of its own crimes to discourage people from reaching for everything these crimes have suppressed. It has worked, the world sighs at the murderous horror of South American coups and counter coups; at the ceaseless bombings in Israeli-occupied territories. At this very moment, as street battles rage in Greece, there are condemnations of violence from the very quarters whose regimes and policies have made the situation the untenable one that it is, and anything else impossible. The mantras of “ballot over bullet” and “peaceful change” conceal régimes that sustain themselves on the very violence they condemn.

Reading Emma Goldman’s The Psychology Of Political Violence, puts vigour back into the idea of revolt and rebellion, and also the righteousness of rising up to take back humanity from minorities of people who dehumanize and oppress and hypnotize with lies and false freedoms. All the struggles remain essentially the same in character, only names and dates are different. Restoring the difference between glorified indiscriminate killing and violence in the name of freedom is long overdue.

Download and read: 
The Psychology Of Politcal Violence: