Ideas for setting >oir mind in a condition of
This pamph let-journal was originally conceived as a collective letter from the four of us to different friends, individuals, and groups whom we felt might share some of the ideas, feelings and insights expressed here. As such we would like some response, in whatever form you consider appropriate, before we send you a second issue, which we'll likely be producing at some point, but we're not promising anything beyond that. Any money received will be used towards the cost which we have borne in these efforts.
The roots of this "object" lie in the process of encounter/sharing and clarification in which we have been involved in the recent past. Dii-'tust is born from the will to "make the point" of the situation in order to move further, and from the need to share with others (in order not to suffocate) the working materials that we have been accumulating during this process
Most of the material presented here is, at least for me, dated: it describes the situation at the moment we decided to publish Disease, but not what has happened since. When you live (not just survive), you move (mentally and otherwise) in space and time. During this interval of time. I have been moving very quickly, and so have the others.
The above statement should be read as a warning: don't try to categorize any of u*. Categories, labels and any kind of formal links define only those who use them. Any statement Js contingent and should be viewed as such; after all, the power of words is still the word of power.
Welcome to an attempt at going beyond screaming in the wilderness.
Screams arise from the fact that the tons of media material produced by the Left seem no more useful than the CM* and Mail, and more and more an attempt to compete with the dominant media There are screams that come from being bogged down in issue*, screams from conversations that reflect the desire for an extended critique of capital but get boxed into frustrating cross-purposes and differently assumed assumptions
Then an urge erupts to project some words into the world that express one's own feelings about how rotten things are and why. And when that's done, or at least begun, then we can sift through the ashes and find the morsels of real pleasure that are left.
But there's also pleasure to be had from this negativity, from bashing the ideas that reinforce the society of capital, especially those that purport to be in opposition but are nothing more than the disguise some gang uses in their maneouvres towards power. There's pleasure in the release of the frustration of wanting to take a critical stab at something and not having a particular target to zero in on.
Everywhere, the best critical minds of yesterday scramble for the scraps that tumble their way from the table of the spoils of the earth. Have the minds weakened because the stomachs and the passions have been neglected for too long? Have the voices of the "prophets" been bought off by dieap nourishment after years of self-sacrifice on the fringe of bourgeois society? But we're fed up with prophets anyway; and we're still starved by half-measures.
Well no longer deny our desires for the »*ke of any revolutionary method that borrows from the dominant society's form* of communication, object fetishes, hierarchy, technological fixes or work-ethics. We'll no longer be fooled by any device that gives breathing space to capital's non-life. Realizing the power of the human imagination and that it's denial is at the root of our inhuman society, we react with angry frustration when people invest their minds in T.V. sets and in
the belief systems espoused by the biological delegates of those machines
In such an era of n on-communication, when the only words Ihat people want .ire thoie that soothe the wound* opened up by the skirmishes of an average day. we would only add to the cover-up by sug^r-coatmgour phrases. If it's anger at the further incursion of capital into our live*., or mockery at people's acceptance of it, or excitement at someone's resistance to it, we can only express such feelings In' the means of communication which we have validated among ourselves. For those of us who have put this pamphlet together it is our mutual experiences which Rive meaning to what we present here. Hopefully Mime of vour experiences will lend similar insights.
will need to be exhausted and atomic lion completed
• struggle is futile
• hope is waning
i am now:
- living a dose existence with a dozen others on an abandoned farm in backwoods Ontario
- participating in the building of a community
- we plant, we swim, we argue, we build, we protest f we grow
J hit phU'f mms pfudtKniln/ fim Gimpbvtt, ttrotfj Smrjiw, Mtiv JjMbltfiirf Siu Vuim. V<ui am j&tff:
i dream of:
* casting off those fessons of history th.it have taught us to hedge all bets
* rending asunder the pragmatism that leaves no scope lor the visions engendered by the Utopian socialists and millenarian prophets of previous eras
• partaking of the apocalyptic transformation to communism that will dissolve all classes, remove a If divisions between us
* dancing in the streets
• loving without limits
i fear that:
• we are doomed to wait as unwilling victims of Capital's omnipotent hegemony, flotsam in the inexorable movement towards its total domination
• differences will be exacerbated until all bonds and connections are destroyed, until community is negated
♦ every possibility' for change within this system
Falling Sky Books 47 Victoria Street North, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2H 5C1
Black Rat, Box 1817
Bancroft, Ontario, Canada KOI. ICO
introduction • . •
On the Destruction of Communication:
Against the Language Of Self-defeat
The following rs excerpted from a text found in a Montreal library. We are reproducing a part of it that uv found interesting. The author of the original uvrk is Bnowyr Ahouys.
j hen we read a mass marketed or - mass-produced book (i.e. one that is > being s*nt out to the market place to fbe sold to unknown person*) we 'almost invariably accept a kind of ^(authority in that book We read the book knowing that powerful people have approved it — people with money to invest en knowledge to sell in an advisory capacity have agreed that the book would have enough meaning to enough people to make it worth producing. These kind of people do not allow what they consider to be gibberish to be published. Economic feasibility has now become the only common denominator in print-media.
This can be further understood by posting an opposite to commercial publishing: letter-writing, for example. In writing a letter to a friend, one does not normally intend to extract wealth from that friend No one else has approved the letter as being a "valid" or coherent expression. It is solely up to the person who receives the letter to judge how meaningful it is for him/herself How much easier it is to take a line or phrase from a letter and say: "that's all wrong, it doesn't make any sense", or, on the other liand to be touched more deeply by what the other person has said. Letters between friends are much more tied to real, mutual experiences than are books where the persons on either side of the page - on either side of the production/consumption wall — have no real way of encountering cacti other. Th«»sc who read books and end up thinking they know the person who wrote the book are suffering from the serious delusions of a commodity society: they have taken the representation of the person — the person reproduced and mediated thousands to millions of times — to be the real experience of that person. At best, it b a minute fragment of an experience of that person. It is like saying one knows someone from the intonation of their "Hello" on the other end of the telephone line
2 Dis ease
The problem is that we are so frequently fooled by this "authority" in what we read. Our critical abilities are muted by our naivety of the process of publishing, a naivety reinforced by an educational system that lays its emphasis on the power of words We begin to believe that it is groups of words that are communicating with each other and not people.... One's credibility becomes based on one's ability to use words, on the extent of one's study ot language One's sanity becomes based on how he or she can use words coherency. What one becomes incapable of doing is understanding people who use words awkwardly (by far the majority of people alive today) or who use words in an intentionally distorted way (as a protest or out of conscious or unconscious frustration) or who don't use words at all to communicate. We negate the multi-faceted humanity of these people because they either are incapable of or refuse to reduce their self-expression to the one-dimensionality of words....
i]hus once wc realize that a book ha* J gone through the iontt.il procrw of editing, we begin to be intimidated by it. The more pmfioous a , publisher, the more copies that .1 I t\«ok has sold, then the more it is our knowledge. sanity eh.it is judged by the book, and not the other way around
Some of us have skirted this contradiction by believing in the incompetence of this or that editor or writer: "they do not properly understand the subject matter"; "thev have the wrong historical or political perspective"; "their desire to cash in on sensationalism ear outweighs their interest in decent journalism" While these factors are often enough true, they miss a very crucial problem: people in large numbers will believe such writings
The ashes of the dreams Can he found w the magazines
regardless ot such criticism tor they believe in the power of words to replace experience in bringing "reality" to them.
The power of words not only distorts real knowledge, it covets up the actual and tremendous incoherence and non-mutuality which is the reality of communication today. People find a comfort and a community in words which are at best superficial but. more critically, represent the acceptance and the reinforcement of the destruction of their traditional communities. These communities contained historical contradictions which would have forced changes in their methods of expression anyway. Howev er, instead of the kind of historical development occurring of which people could become more and more conscious (a possibility allowed only by real communication) and. thus, over which they become able to take more and more self-exerted control, we find that education, rights of language and the organization of daily life intricately involved with these elements have been systematically taken out of the hands of the community and centralized by the state.,.. Thus the announcers and performers of national ith the destruction of community there is little basis for resistance to this process. At the same time that the commodity society imposes a mass identity on everyone it makes each person a fragment rather than an individual; individuality is taken away or reduced to a fantasy or a perversion. People lose, in large and small ways, their sense of pe<ulunty which is a necessary basis for the kind of communication which increases knowledge. For only if I can describe to you the contrast of my experience to yours can we begin to build a multi-dimensional and dialectical understanding of our mutual world. Only when 1 can outline the limits jnd the exceptions to what you say can we push our knowledge through synthesis. Conversely, a person without this ability ha* no way of seeing him or herself as distinct and indepenedent. One ih left only with a feeling, a dangerous feeling desperately suppressed, that one is jlnne. not independent but cut off, isolated. Thus we have the corresponding developments of mass identity and individual separation ...
s there any longer any surpri^f to the fact of our easy submission to the authority of mediated knowledge, of one-way communication, of communication from the centre, of "knowledge" so alien to our own experiences? Yet even if we glimpse these problems, how can we begin to communicate if we are surrounded by the mechanisms of anti-communication? It would seem that our only hope tor communication, apart from dircct. mutual actum, 15 to avoid print-media altogether and vigorously write letters to each other. But this is a minority opinion which, as you can see. we do not exclusively hold to. Perhaps the least we can do. then, is to grapple with this critique, and test out its relevance in our everyday lives.... «)£
broadcasting systems in any one country speak a uniform language and dialect, and even with uniform intonations that are "foreign" to most parts ot the country----
Language of Setf-Defeat 3
I am sending thi-v letter to Totatfy Eclipsed and the Toronto .Anarchist Group* to explain why I chose not to join the anarchist contingent during the rccent International Women's Day march in Toronto. The reasons boil down to a basic disagreement with the Anarchist Communist Federation (ACF) over what constitutes anarchism and what relationship anarchists should have with the feminist movement. I no longer call myself an anarchist and this goes for most of the people m our rural collective. Certainly we maintain an identification with anarchism, we read the anarchist press, we are interested in communicating and being involved with anarchists and our goals remain a stateless-free society There is no doubt that tliere is a need for a revolutionary transformation of this society. Nor can we simply wait for this transformation to take place. Such a transformation mu5t serve as a mA\or reference point in determining our collective living activity. And this transformation can only come through the conscious and free activity of the vast majority of peopJe on this continent. A revolutionary transformation will be the negation of old ways and the creation of new ways of
thinking, feeling, working and relating. It is not a freeing of the economic fetters nor can the goal be limited to some concept of a self-managed society. To repeat the rhetoric, the revolution is total or it is nothing.
Moving to the country and becoming more intimately involved with plants, animals, the so«f and nature in general does have an influence on my ideas. But as a group we resist the influence of hippy-spiritualist thought though we share some of these ideas. Bur we differ with this spiritualism in that we recognise that there can be no separation between inner and outer transformation. There are reaJ economic and political forces which must be struggled against and destroyed. In spite of all our efforts we will not create "anarchism in one commune".
So I hope I made it clear that I do not reject the idea of "revolutionary struggle". And I don't wish to denigrate the authenticity of your desires for revolution. What 1 do disagree with is some of the basic assumptions that underlie the politics of ACF. There is a major crisis within the anarchist movement in North Amenca. And failure to adcnowlcdgc this crisis will relegate us to histoncal irrelevancy. The problem stems from the almost
complete absence of discussion and debate within the movement over what is going on within North America today. The press, whether it be Ope>i Raarf or the SW/-Mffmrgt'iftrrff Neaafeffcr is of little help since there i* no over-all perspective within which to understand .ill this information. Analysis of different strikes may be all well and good but it is primarily descriptive and the anarchist perspective is limited to discussing power struggle* within the
I was pissed at myself tor having hitc hed to Toronto (earlier in the winter) and mis^ng * farewell supper for a friend leaving for Europe in order to hear Dmitri Rossopoulis (of Montreal Black Rose) Speaking on Quebec. Although the talk was entitled "An anarchist perspective on Quebec" I did not hear anything which I had not heard from a trotskyist friend in Vancouver two years ago. Rossopoulis' talk was slightly more personal hot
J / THE NiWBi improxid r^ ■treatment, fo^ indigestion
QUEASY STOMACH and HEADACHE resulting from
in a NEW, EASY-TO- / TAKE FORM ] }
union and of union success vs.management. Strategies are limited to suggesting anarchist participation in these power struggles within the union. There is no discussion as how to integrate the "revolt against work" perspective into union activity- nor is there even a critical evaluation of this much-touted new torm of struggle. I do not recognize myself as a waged-worker (which I certainly am as little as possible) in anarc hist material on the workplace nor does the material help me relate to those with whom 1 work.
th.it was all. How fortunate wc are that the Canadian and Quebec states have given us an opportunity to do a bit of propaganda because in general we are certainly unable to create our own issues and opportunities The trots had been waiting or such an opportunity for years I suppose that the anarchists have as well To suggest that a military intervention in Quebec would be the spark that sets off the rest of North America is dangerous. As well I would like some historical basis for such ideas Perhaps we would be better off if we were able to add .mother heroic defeat to our list: Quebec l<*?, Portugal, Chile, Hungry etc. If it wasn't for our defeats we wouldn't have anything at ail. Roussopoulis' evidence was primarily media orientated, that is, he would luck up hi* point by saying "everyone was reading this book", "everyone went to see that play" or " this newspaper has a distribution of this much " Such evidence may be good history but it doesn't make it I did like his acknowledgement of the feminist and ecology movements in Quebec but again they were primarily defined in media terms.
He acknowledged that the ecology movement had gone beyond the issues of language and culture so why does he insist that that the Mru^gle for these issues, however important they may be. will clarify the "social question". Where are the historical precedents? The history I've read indicates that when we fight on the terrain created by bourgeois*state rivalries we end up providing the shock troops but it is not our victory Dmitri can tight the tanks on the Streets of Montreal but he didn't convince me that it was worth it.
Again back to the ecology movement. Dmitri talked of its internationalism but bnked it to the crushing of Chile. Is it not obvious that people develop not because of external events, though thev might integrate this information, but that they change through personal experience' If the youth
of Quebec is internationalist it is because the youth of the western world has become an international class segment. It is the experience of the young qucbeccts as they hitch-hiked thioughout Canada, the U.S. and Europe which has broadened their horizons. Youth culture, ie sex, drugs and rock and roll as the punk* say. leads to an understanding that state borders and even language are artificial and an imposition 011 our free movement. It is to the Metropolitan Indians of Italy, the freex in Vancouver and ecologists all over to whom the French freex relate. Not to the crushing of Alfende nor even through *ome hroadlv based magazine.?
But Kick to ACF. The main reasons why I did not go to Toronto for the march was because I did not wish my participation to aid A CP's recruitment drive. I hope that the feminists successfully resist the attempts by anarchists to infiltrate the women's movement for their own purposes. They have successfully avoided the enticements of the leninists and trotskyists; there is only a difference in degree and not in kind between the trot's infiltration and that of the anarchists I foil to see what anarchism as organization or as ideology has to offer feminists since the practice and theory of the teminists seem so much more developed. I do not deny that many women could gam a broader understanding of their own struggle-* through discussion with anarchists but only if this is done in an attitude of mutuality. As long as ACF tries to win "feminists over to anarchism". I can give the organization no support A phrase such as "winning people over to anarchism" (which Ls trotskyist) reveals a vanguards** and elitist attitude Rather than frying to learn from the success that women have had in propagating their ideas and experiences, ACF wishes to recruit new members and divert their revolutionary energy into a stale ideology Our task as anarchists can not be to reproduce ourselves but to turn our critical and creative energies in on our own situation in order to go beyond Its stifling confines.
Steve El lams, writing in issue number 5 of The Toronto Anarchist refers to feminism as a "single issue project". To reduce feminism to this is to demonstrate an almost complete lack of comprehension as to what feminism is. The term "feminist" refers to a multitude of perspectives and understandings. There .ire orrtainly women for whom equal pay and access to traditional male jobs would constitute victory. There are others for whom building a separatist lesbian culture is the goal. For others, men as well as women, feminism is a living, expanding set of ideas, feelings and experiences through which we can begin to understand the ways in which patriarchy and capitalism cripples and limits us as social individuals. These feminists are very conccmed with human relations which after all is the essence of politics I should again stress that "human relations" are not to be understood in o liberal "we're all humans" sense. Class relations are primary but not the only relations which count. To use an extreme example, rape, wife-beating, and child abuse are all very important social and political issues. Unless we as men are prepared to raise and deal with these issues within any political and social context within which we may be working, ie unions, collectives and organizations, it is little wonder that there remains a major separatist tendency. When a woman is being beaten or raped it is riduculou* to expect her to remember that "capitalism" is the enemy.
1 don't wish to suggest that there aren't serious deficiencies and contradictions within feminism. But taken as a whole and because it starts from ''lived reality", it offers a beginning point for understanding what it means to live under advanced capitalism. Anarchism, with its dogged and abstract insistence on doing away with the state, coupled with continual references to struggles that happened in different countries under vastly different conditions is much more of a single issue. And that can be summed up as the seizure of "non-state power".
Fortunately we do not have to choose between anarchism and feminism. The connection between the two becomes contentious only when it is posed as an organizational problem, the problem being seen as how to reach potential recruits. 1 do hope that those women who have brought out the common elements between the two perspectives
continue their efforts But I would also hope that they do not lend themselves to efforts to institutionalise these links.
1 like that HDams brnught up the concept of autonomous collectives in his article. But unless he disagrees vehemently with other ACFers then I would suggest that ACF by its very nature cannot bring about the development of such collectives even though collectives within its structure may maintain "autonomy". 1 don't oppose ACF as a network of people who share certain ideas and interests. But ACF claims to be more. Since Ellams describes the task of a conscious anarchist group as bringing "together and co-ordinating the many libertarian trends in this society" I must conclude that he concurs that ACF is more than one particular organization amongst others. But no organization can be the embodiment of some unifying truth or principle. No matter how "representative" or "democratic", no group of people can synthesize the needs and interests of even all the libertarian curTcnts.
Autonomous collectives are created and co-ordinate themselves through the very slow process of personal interaction and communication. To be sure, this "personal" interaction needs activity as its basis. By working
To communicate is both our fxission and our despair
•VilBam Goto win
letters of F >ant$ 9
together on certain projects whether they be newspapers, food co-ops or even study groups, communities develop, networks expand, and isolation is broken down.
I don't think that wc can speed up this process without short-circuting it. We may not h e the
time but we have no choice if we do not want to sec our nwn social creations turn on us. ACF* approach is simply an advertising campaign for itself. As Rochester Black Rose pointed out, if people were attracted by such a campaign then I probably wouldn't want them in my collective. And people attracted by such a campaign arc-probably much loo passive to start their own collective.
The problem is that even though anarchists have verbally rejected the "seizure of state-power", they continue to devekip strategy as though that wcTe the goal. VV'e have virtually no idea what a non-leninist revolution would be. The struggle today must be against social reality a* a whole, our lives are dominated almost entirely The state b only one particular element in this colonization of daily life. I could sec the possibility of the state becoming incrcasinly irrelevant as we begin to create the means of our own survival. It is the energy of people trying to overcome their own situation and not the propaganda that is put out that attracts others. Everyone; politicos, spiritualists, christians and even liberals know that capitalism is in severe crises and they're all offering solutions Anarchists are faring poorly in thi* highly competitive market because they refer to abstract problems and otfer remote solutions.
The continual concentration by anarchists on attacking the trots and maoisls indicate to me that we have failed to go beyond their models The vehemence with which these other political groups are attacked .show that it is the resembfence rather than the difference to other political groups that we find infuriating. Thb rather commonplace pcycholgical observation is equally applicable to groups or to individuals. The suggestion that came out of Regina that we organise counter-demo* to those of leninists so that people "could clearly distinguish between them and us" is what every leninist group does as they turn out virtually ndistinguishable papers and posters. For myself, :he leninist groups are as irrelevant as the nind-development groups. I have a vague interest n these groupings whether they be spiritual or >otitica) from a sociological point of view. But! see them as absurd and can't grant them enough credibility to take them seriously. But foe the anarchists, the leninists in their various forms are seen as competitors tor a scarce commodity and hence must be taken seriously.
1. I certainly don't mean that we should aid unions in integrating and recuperating the "revolt against work" as it exists as a living struggle against production and against management It is ironic that anarchists fail to see in thi* struggle the most advanced embodiment of their theory. This resistance is decentralised and entirely without Icadcrshipor formalized organization. This "passive struggle" has been one of the major
elements in precipitating the current crisis. Yet other than my own poorly written article in Open Raid number 5 I have seen no mention of this perspective in the anarchist press. I find it hard to see how any anarchist could paiticipate in union activity since unions implicitly acxx'pt the logjc of the workplace; their role in stabilising and recuperating workers' protest seems too well documented to bo denied. But as a minimum, anarchists who see a need to be involved with workplace organizations should be able to provide some thcorctkal and strategic basis for such activity other than the "workers need some protection". Certainly having workers unorganised is no solution. I prefer to work in union place* because I make more monev. Unfortunately. I rarely get the opportunity since I am amongst one of the marginalised sectors of the working class.
2. I do not wish to advance this as a "politics of partying". But in the orchards of the Okanagan Valley where both English and French tree* provide a migrant labour force it is through music and smoking dope that the language barriers are transcended The good relations between the french and english youth as they work and play together in the orchards is in stark contrast to the racism that the french workers face from the regular residents who are the ones benefiting from their labour.
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energies primarily into the political and economic struggle for liberation — the class struggle, I do not want to denigrate the "lifestyle" anarchisU, I just feel that they and I would be much happier working separately. To me the real crisis in the ar*archist movement revolves around the question of revolutionary organization. The "lifestyle" anarchists, such as yourself, have a basic antipathy towards building an anarchist organization capable Ot challenging State authority. By this I do not mean that I favour the creation of an anarchist 'vanguard' to storm the citadels of power. I mean that we build an organization that is large enough, cohesive enough and sophisticated enough to effectively present the anarchist alternative to the masses during an insurrectionary period. The melancholy experience of the Russian anarchists graphically illustrates the consequence* of arvrchist underdevelopment when pitted against the ruthless discipline and organization of the lemnists. (See: Avnch; The Russian Anarchists, Voline,TV Unknown Revolution; Htston/ of the Makhnootet .towni, etc.) The task we face as revolutionary anarchists is the creation of an effective organization that avoids the authoritarianism of the leninists. Again: I am not suggesting the creation of an authoritarian, centralist structure. What I am suggesting is a multitude of autonomous organizations that recognize the need for co-ordination of their efforts towards the goal of anarchist revolution. This would obviously involve some sort of centralized co-ordinating body capable of allocating revolutionary resources in the most efficient way. Such a body to me seems vital if a North American revolution, in several hundred Petrograds, is to have any hope ot success. Of course, this exmrse of action has its dangers. These co-ordinating bodies could easily become authoritarian if people allow this to happen. I feel, though, that most anarchists are aware enough to know shit if they smell it. If they abrograte their duty to keep close watch over these co-ordinating bodies, if they sink into apathy and begin to merely follow orders then we might as well close up shop right now. The essence of anarchism is participation and any body which militated against participation should and hopefully would be destroyed. The anarchist revolution consists of making known theposstbllitet of revolution. We are good at that. We are not good at seizing State power, and tor that we can be thankful.
Your comments regarding Dimitri's forum have some merit. I thought his presentation could have been much better. I have real objections to some of the practices of the Montreal anarchists. For them, it seems. Quebec has already seceded. It is very difficult to maintain communications with them as they seem to believe that they are in the soon-to-be revolutionary heartland. This insular attitude is abhorrent to me as also were Dimitri's statements that he would encourage anarchists to vote "yes" in the referendum. The minute an anarchist starts to talk about voting in a bourgeois parliamentary fraud 1 begin to smell a big, fat reformist rat. Aside from that, however, the Quebec situation has real possibilities.We in Canada need our 'baptism of fire' The development of every real revolutionary movement has always been predicated on a history of violent, often losing, battles with the State. Spain, Russia
and Franco spring mcnl readily to mind. Since the hapless rebellions of 1K37 there has been no armed confrontations with the State. Such a confrontation would most likely would not be the spark which started the conflagration but it would sure provide a lot of kindling wood.
Nationalism, as the saying goes, makes a good breakfast but a lousy supper. The task of anarchists in the event of a revolutionary upheaval in Quebec is to make this point as forcefully as possible We might not succeed, nothing is guaranteed, but the effort must be made. We are not the first revolutionaries and we are certainly not the List. The important thing is to do what is possible and to a!tempi the impossible.
Your view's on the 'Youth Culture' strike me as so much mtantile garbage What was created in the Sixties was not a "counter-culture" but a counter-establishment. The power ebte will be quite content to let you do all the fucking, tokeing and Rock-n-Rolling you desire. Such things do not even nibble at their class pnvilegc or power. F:or every 'hippy' that drop* out there are three power-fieaks ready to scramble over him/her without even a thank you for being so good as to clear his/her road to power The 'Youth Culture' leads to a resentment against the particular laws that inhibit its expression. Its real revolutionary-potential is nil.
Your decision not to participate in the Women's Day March was your* to make. I myself, was glad to participate and 1 participated as an anarchist interested in supporting radical feminism and spreading the anarchist message. I am totally in favour of "recruitment" if by this you mean making known the anarchist movement and offering people the opportunity to participate "Winning people over" to anarchism may be a Trotskyist slogan but if it means presenting anarchism as a living reality and a real possibility to people who might otherwise reject it and by our efforts convincing them of its viability then 1 have absolutely no qualms about expropnating it.
As far as attacking the leninists is concerned 1 feel that to be a major if not the task of anarchism. (As well as presenting the anarchist alternative of course } The k*ninists, if anything, are even more our enemies than the capitalists. At least the capitalists are fairly up-front with their slime. Rut, to drape authoritananism and repression in the name of socialism is to me the supreme crime and one which I, and I hope all anarchists will ceaselessly and unequivocably condemn and attack.
To conclude. Jim. this letter is intended as a reply to your stated opinions and not as a personal attack. If living on a rural commune in (xft Testicle. Arkansas is your idea of how the social revolution will be realised I can only beg to differ. The struggle for an anarchistic society will be fought and won in the industrial heartland of capitalism. Tliis struggle should be fought with the help of anarchist* who have a clear and reasoned alternative to offer to the masses and a strong, united organization to fight with and for them. To me the ACF seems to have the greatest potential for evolving into such an organization and as such I will support it with all my energies. It the anarchist movement cannot overcome its anti-organizational fetish and move beyond the kind of intellectual masturbation so prevalent today then we are all |ust pissing into the wind.
Militantly Yours Steve Ellams
Letters of Regurgitant* 13
The first of the preceding letters represents .1 particular moment in my growing disillusionment with anarchism We have included that letter and the response from Steve Ellams of TAG (POB2, Sta O. Toronto, Ont.) because we see a need to clarify the different approaches toward a non-leninist politics. There was a further exchange of letters between EUamsand myself in which we elaborated on our ditference* but which we decided not to include since this section would have been lengthened beyond the point of interest. Both Ellams and myself woutd be interested in corresponding with anyone who may wish to take up some of the points raised here.
The two footnote* were included in the original letter. I had hoped to ensure by including the <econd footnote that t was not suggesting that "sex. drugs, and rock and roll" were revolutionary in and of themselves What I disagreed with in Rossopoulis' talk was that the development of "political consciousness" was dependent upon events in the symbolic universe of state politics where the crucial element* are the alignment of forces between opposing groups and the relative strength of the left within these struggle*.
Nationalist stiuggJes such as is going on in Quebec can act as a catalysing force enabling people to more clearly understand the nature of thin society. But any social breakdown creates possibilities for going beyond the present situation. What I oppose is the suggestion made by anarchists that somehow we will be helping to bring about an anarchist society if we participate in struggle* >uch as helping to determine which state will have the right to dominate all Quebecois regardless of their mother tongue. I am not at all sure that exacerbating divisions between people — whether they are based on language and culture or anvthing else — is necessarily a development in a positive direction. This is particularly true when apparently opposing states can so readily recuperate the released energy.
Another point ot disagreement between Ellams and myself is his suggestion that it Is some quirk of the individual psychological make-up which results In myself and others being "anti-organizational". In one sense this is patently untrue since I am involved in a wide variety of organizations, networks and associations. Hence it is our opposition to explicitly "revolutionsreorganizations" that is being referred to This opposition is bas«*d on our political experience and a theoretical understanding of previous attempts at insurgency. I have too realistic-pessimistic a view of the human character to trust our will alone to allow us to avoid a degeneracy of our revolutionary organizations
14 letters o( Regurgitants
Anarchism for me has never been simply another political tendency. Rather it signified what was a further devek>pment and clarification of a "passion for bving" that grew out of my counter-cultural awakenings. The politics of anarchism were less compromised than the social-democratic politic* with which I had previously been involved. Moieover It had a sense of history and struggle that the counter-culture had long since lost.
As the political collective with whom I lived gradually became more and more identified with anarchism, we did so in relative isolation. We wore unaware of continental organizations such as the Social Revolutionary Anarchist Fedeiation (SRAF), we did not read Goldman, Bakunin or Kropotkin, the kxat maoists were only a penpheral and abstract influence. We never distinguished between anarchism and a variety of other influences; feminism, existentialism, marxism and radical psychology Anarchism was a way of understanding our own lives and was an acceptance of a spirit of resistance which gave a certain focus to our efforts.
After moving to Vancouver I started to understand that anarchism had quite different meanings for other people. Image and illusion are necessary elements in any social process. Yet anytime that we fail to understand the tension and separation between illusion and reality we only deceive ourselves. The intial optimistic energy of Open Rih?J catalysed and reflected a regeneration of anarchism in North America But the collective never examined the obvious contrast between the myth and reality; we were content to mirror the
What is despair but passionate apathy?
Image that moat of the movement wanted to see. The joyful and spontaneous politics of theGroucho-Marxists was on many levels onlv part of a strategy directed towards building a movement using media as a primary tool. However, the strategist's cynical u*e of the more militant and active people offered little hope that such a movement would avoid the peoplo-as-pawns jnd self-sacrifice syndrome that is an indication ot the most vulgar sort ot politics.
Judging from the letters we recieved at the paper, a self-critical and searching attitude did not seem to be a necessary requisite for identifying oneself as an anarchist. Many anarchists seamed to lead very orthodox lives yet this orthodoxy was seldom a basis for breaking out of the isolation of the small political grouping. Associating with others on the bast* of being "anarchists" seemed to be no more socially significant than relating through other intere<ts such as bridge, vegetarianism or mathematics Traveling aero** Canada and into the U.S. confirmed my doubts and hesitations about anarchism and anarchists.
We do a disservice to anarchy to deny its link with chaos Chaos is no more rape, murder and mayhem than is anarchy. Every political, religous, and philosophical system is an abstraction that forces the richness and diversity of our lives into categories and presuppositions. Experience always seeps and surges beyond the limited emotional and intellectual concepts with which we try to contain it. Anarchism should be a recognition of the chaotic and uncontrollable nature of human affairs.
The ironic tragedy of bourgeois society and its very resihence to change is due to the fact that we all attempt to keep chaos at bay through the routines of work, family, consumption and
"meaningful activity". The existence of a bureaucratic potice-state is an ideological cover for this self-imposed order. Jt is very superficial to define anarchy as meaning "without government" in order to reassure others that we aren't such terrible people after all We cannot offer systematic alternatives to the "chaos" of the libera I-capitalist systems Fundamental change can onty come when individuals have fined up to the responsibility for their own lives and are prepared to take a step into the unknown regardless of their fears for the possible consequences. Thi* is not individualism; we must collectively shatter the prescribed order.
As anaichtsts we must be honest. We arc the mad-ones, the outsiders, the run-aways, the malcontents, the poets and the prophets. Anarchy is the highest level of disorder and not order. We cannot make it easy for anyone else. As Dispose suggests, wc are a symptom and not the cure for the malaise strangling western civilization. ^
The Movement Toward the Total Domination of
will fill your every waking moment with dread until even sleep will not remove you from this constant
the movie that grips you in its iron grasp and does not end when you leave the theatre.
The fotUxring artkie is based on an Italian text entitled "Transition" written by Gianni Cotfu and telen ty us from Apocilisstf e Rivokuaum? <Apocalypse and Revolution), a larger work by ColUi and Giorgi? Ccsarano published r.n 1973. The ortgtrtol of Transition" tm written in 1969 in French for the journal "Jnvanancr". Our direct translation, which appear* an an appendix aI the end of this artkie, 19 based cot the Italian Version Another English Version has been produced in a pamphlet entUied "On Organization" by Camatte and Cotlu, pnnted in the U.S. a few yean agotaoaitabie from' Bests Memorial Library, P.O Box 609. Ann Arbor. Mi. 4S107. or from Falling Sky Book). This uerwn apparently originated o»t the U. $ west coast and differs from ours tn a feu• dehiiis as uelt as in that it mating a couple of lengthy parages, possibiy due to »t being based an a different version of the text that our a/tide is bared on.
The mam part of our article awse from our discussions of the translation. We desired to elaborate on the direct translation noI only out of the excitement of recognizing that many detail* in our own lives corresponded with (he general theoretical points of the original, but also because wr preferred to expma our ideas direiity (notjusi through CoUu) to our friends and correspondents using uvrds and images appn*priate to our (supposedly) mutual North American experiences.
18 Di$ *ea$e
he starting point for the critique of f the society of capital (of which both L capitalist and socialist societies are [ manifestations) must be to j elaborate the concepts of the formal I domination of capital and erf the real domination of capital: these axe the two phases of the history of the development of capital._
While the left spends most of its time tracing back explanations of modern phenomena to the analyses of lMth century .socialists, and continually finds itself trapped into positions easily-recuperated by capital what Is lacking is a clear understanding of how capital has changed the world in the last one hundred years, indeed, throughout the history of civilization.
The world studied by theorists one hundred years ago was the world of capital in its formative years, a world where capital still had a great deal of territory to transgress. However, in this century we have experienced the real and total domination of capital, where it pervades every corner of the earth and every level of our lives. Today, no one lives directly; everyone's survival is mediated by the production and exchange of commodities. Behind this society of commodities is capital's need to create value. 10 continue Its own cycle; in fact it must constantly be developing, bringing more and then finally all of the world into this process: the valorization process of capital. It is this development and its effects on us that must be seen, felt, and analysed.
Capital achieves its total domination when it can substitute its own forms of organization for all social processes that predated it. Its own forms become ever more suited to meet its own needs for valorization, displacing all previous routines and rationales and bringing all of life into the domain of the production of value. Conse<juently. today, more than ever before, capital finds its; real strength not in the state or even in politics, but in the inertia of this process whereby everyone is convinced that production for the sake of value ts the same as production for the satisfaction of human needs.
The Left gets sucked in
(us historical process is the process of the autonomization of value, of value being produced for its own sake. The theory of the proletariat, that set of critical ideas which correspond to the aspirations of the dUpcKw^ed striving for a fully human life, cannot be limited by discussions within political economy, but must be a critique of political economy itself, of the assumptions that political economy makes about human and natural reality. It is a fallacy to understand this historical development of capital merely in terms of "competitive capitalism", "monopoly capitalism" "state capitalism", "bureaucratic capitalism" etc. Such perspectives belong to the reformists of social democracy and leninism who focus their weak critiques only on the inefficiencies of capital, but not on the basic-nature of capital itself
In fact all the phraseology which has been used by these ideologues as a pretense to explaining "new" phenomena, "new" transformations of capitalism, has only the effect of mystifying the more fundamental transition — the transition of value to a situation of its complete autonomy. This transition is a movement from value as an abstract quantity arising out of the production of goods to value as an objectified ehing in itself, for the sake of which all goods are produced, and in respect to which all human activities are fudged. The traditional "left" (old and new) does not argue against such a system of value but only against the failure of capitalism to overcome the petty squabbles within production and within social relations They see, in common with the bourgeoisie, that these squabbles prevent the smooth movement of society toward its total domination by value, towards a society in which all things can be evaluated in terms of numbers, where quantity demolishes quality. Since the left questions not the production of value but the way In which value is produced it shares with the bourgeoisie the same project: making the _ production of value more and more efficient
The defeat of the revolutionary movement in France in May 1968 — a movement which began to express the negation of value itself — has been the clearest manifestation of this "hidden" power of capital, for it was the force* of the Left itself whkh, in reverence to production, suppressed the development of the critique of value.
Politics and ideologies of fragmentation
otitic* (the ancient "art" of organizing) is reduced by the movement of the economy to merely an instrument dependent on the economy itself. It leaves politics to survive In that museum of horrors, the parliament, with all its farces, or else in the rancorous undergrowth of small "extra-parliamentary" rackets and gang*. These groups are all identical as far as their internal organization — formal or not — is concerned, but all engage in an obscene competition for supposedly "strategic" political positions, positions that are nothing more than the right to "run off at the mouth".
Caught in the same destiny are other ideologies, techniques, and specialized activities: philosophy, art, science, sports, leisure, nutrition, etc., that, because of thetr survival from previous age* enjoyed an apparent autonomy, i.e. seemed relatively untouched, during the formal domination of capital. These ideologies no longer have any actual independence from the organization of production. They have all become colonized by capital; they have been brought into the market place to be bought and sold like all other commodities, and their practice, even in private hands, is a spin-off of the techniques, equipment and formal organization of the production of value.
They become a means by whkh people are integrated into the production of value. For example, in the U.S.S.R., sports activities are part of the work process: factories have their own stadiums and their own teams. In the west, all sports aim towards the production of value and have become a business in themselves. In this sense the arguments which attempt to distinguish between "amateur" and "professional" sports are absurd: those who create value for either their owners or the organizers of their events are supported regardless of whether or not they receive a salary. The same is true tor producers of art, regardless ot their degree of success, in respect to art suppliers, museum owners, etc.
All these ideologies have become nothing more than fragments of the ideology of value; they have lost all their opposition, and are re-united. Value, as capital, becomes the only autonomous ideology.
The reshaping ot productive life
| uring the early stages of the I transition from partial to absolute | domination ot value, capital, in its [movement towards total i colonisation (and, thus. ! expropriation) of life, destroyed all traditional techniques and social relations in the work process. Workers no longer owned their own tools and no longer anfted goods through various stages of production, but, rather, found their work Incoming increasingly reduced to a fragment of its former complexity. And, of course, as the environment of work changed, so did the relations among workers: no longer were one's relationships with other people; increasingly, one related only to the machine and to the dock.
All this occurs because of capital's forced imposition of its own social and technical forms — forms developed by people out ot a necessity which is "natural" only in terms of the continued expansion of capital The new requirements of capital — large scale production, transportation in larger quantities and further afield, massive energy needs, etc. — forced a reshaping of the technology ot production as well as of the people who operate the technology. Not only are their actual work routines altered, but also their rationale for operating the machines. Their use of machines no longer ha^ anything to do with improving the quality of life but is now merely an activity one submits to in exchange tor a means to survival; one works for a quantity of value in a world which makes quantity seem interchangeable with quality. Thus people deny the horrendous quality of their work-life for the sjke of filling the gaps in their lives with quantities of commodities. It is a whole new way of thinking which takes hold of us at our work and then extend* to our whole way of conceiving the world.
This contrasts in the extreme with the situation ot primitive communities, a situation well hidden from us by most of our studies of history. In these communities/ objects were made not for the sake of a market value but as part of a mutual use within a community where producers and consumers were more or less the same people. The production of objects was therefore seen as part of a relationship among people and not merely as an amount of time invested in an object so as to gain a monetary return. It is at fust only the "excess" products that were assigned value for exchange outside the community. A* communities engaged more and more in external exchange, production for the sake of this exchange became increasingly a basic activity of the community. Thus circulation and production bccome interdependent: circulation becomes an integral part of production and production constantly needs circulation for competing its valonzation. In this ever-aLScen ding whirlpool the movement of capital captures more and more of these "community products", increasingly fragmenting them into marketable commodities.
The reshaping of social life
apital's expropviuhon of this "technical" sphere of production is analagous to its contemporary expropriation ot all social relationships Capital's present transition to total social power involves on one hand the disintegration ot all previous social life (including previous ways ot thinking) and those aspects of technical life not yet under its control, and on the other hand the re assembling of these fragments into a new delirious unity.
Everything is reduced to degraded ingredients of this unity, yet the unity take1 on the appearance of being natural and admirable, just as people see progress and civilization as an unquestionable attribute of human development. Thus the real domination of capital means more than just the fact that the time and mental capacity of labour are exploited, all of life for everyone becomcs subjected to its domination. Since it now takes much longer to circulate (I.e. market) a commodity than it doe* to produce it, the socicty of capital has created a "non-productive" population of a vast scale. Thus, despite the fact that production of objects takes less time now than under previous forms of production, the general amount of labour-time has not decreased Rather, this excess time as well as time that previously was spent completely outside the production process (e.g creative art, travelling) rs absorbed Into jobs created by capital's need to increase value through the process ot circulation (creative art becomes advertising, travelling becomes transportation). Besides this, consumption itself, which was at one time merely a part of diiect social relationships within a community, is completely depersonalized to the point where the thing to be consumed dominates all personal interactions (e g creative expression becomes fetishized in galleries or theatres, visiting become* tourism, etc.)
Capital completely severs the link between producer and user. Consumption, disintegrated, is subordinated to capital because one's needs can only be met by the market-place. This kind of consumption immediately justifies not only the
production and circulation of a new commodity to replace the consumed one. but also the entire
process, including our acquiescent way of thinking about it
This cycle of valorization generates an equation: "everyone's lifetime is time socially netded for the creation and circulation-realization of surplus value; everything is measurable by the clock".* This abstract quannty — value — has become a mode of production and a whole way of life
The fetish ization of the state
f all previous attempts to come to grips in a theoretical way with this deterioration of the human social environment, the working-dass movement came the closest, but nonetheless its theories ended up mystifying this process. Instead of understanding the state's subordinate role and its insertion as a particular moment in the valorization process, the strategists of this movement have taken it as the way that capital is to be dominated. They see capital not as a mode of production and bfe but merely as a mode of management; therefore the only crucial political difference for them is a difference in the form of management of society- Thus they can distinguish between "bureaucratic", dem4»cratic". etc. forms of management From this point of view "it is inevitable that the revolution is no longer the destruction of a way of 'being' and the achievement of a different one, it becomes instead a state political process, and the organization of revolution appears to be the real problem, or, better yet, the panacea for all social evils".*
Within this perspective there is only a short step to the idea of revolution being brought about by the corroct "form" or "model" of organization. Revolution for these kinds of theonsts no longer has anything to do with a globjl, powerful confrontation between tho*e whose lives are immiserated by capital and capital itself This must be a confrontation against all aspects of the society of capital, not just against those categories of opital which the burcacrats would use as bait for us: "state capitalism", "monopoly capitalism" etc. These categones only hide the totality of capital, and elevate the secondary aspects of capital to central positions, e.g. "the highest stage", "the new stage" etc.
On the contrary, we need to understand how the many events and dimensions of social life can constitute an organic wholeness — the negation of the delirious unity created by capital. The latter has been obtained through the re-integration of all the fragments of social life into a dependency on the productive process, the former can only oe obtained by ending all separation, all fragmentation. We need to criticize the essence of capital; this is the only way to assert communism We need to understand how extensively social life is being divided up and reduced to mere instruments of the production process. Obvious symptoms of the unnaturalness of this division are those urges to communicate and to fully express oneself that are still experienced in everyday life in spite of the isolation and separation imposed by capital. We need to understand that all divisions of human life (of which specializations in work are
22 Dis ease
the dearest aspect) are artificial, super-imposed by capital and sttictly dependent an the social division of work.
The poverty of specialized knowledge
niversities are a clear example of the institutional separation of knowledge. They divide up knowledge and prac tice into highly fragmented and apparently opposing fields, a fact barely hidden by the physical juxtaposition of these pieces on one campus under one administration. While originally the urge to learn is an urge that encompasses all of sensed reality, as industrial processes developed they exerted a demand for knowledge to be br\>ken down into units fixed upon specific aspects and needs of production. Thus Engineering, a fragment of social knowledge and practice in itself, is reduced further into minute fragments of specialization. Tht %0-callcd social sciences, themselves artificially set off from the rest of life and thus continuing the destruction of its unity, become the policing tool of the industrial process with their self-styled humanitarian codes that resemble the real needs of humanity as much as the putrid remains of a corpse torn apart by a horde of scavengers resembles a healthy living person. The same applies to mathematics, sciences, economics, kinesiolgy, etc.
The influence of the university as an "authority of knowledge" extends Into all of daily life, not as the cause of the fragmentation of knowledge but as a visible justification of it. Meanwhile, the valorization process, which encompasses not just the production of commodities but also all of the support and distribution mechanisms of this system, moves and expands behind a curtain thrown up like a cloud of dust from our vigorous pursuits of the piecemeal details of the system. Alt specialized theories merely choose a detail, fetishize it, and enter it into the competition of the marketplace.
Seen in this light, the competition of these theories with each other is especially repugnant
because it acts as an obstacle to any attempt at an integrated understanding of the world. The pursuit of these specialized theories ts nothing more than an excuse for people who seek glory in a corner of the teirain of capital It is a competition where the theorists maintain a loyalty to their theory as in the dulk^t of employer/employee relations
Th^end of the "revolutionary class '
5 ven the critical theories of various (Marxist and other left-wing groups I are ironic attempts to "valorize" a | specific slogan or a specific "field" [of struggle The fate of these \ theories in their attempts to explain the contradicbons of everyday life is to construct grand formulae using subjects and object* unrecognizable to anyone.
The inevitable subject of left-wing theory ts the "proletanat": the class of industrial workers whose ultimate life and death struggle with the ruling or owning class will lead to the destruction of capitalist society and the establishment of communism. However, in this era of the real domination of capital — where no individual or class controls anything more than the execution of functional details of the process — the only thing that one class can take from another is the privileged position as rn.in.iger> of capital This kind of "revolution" is an activity that very often results in the more effective embedding of the valorization prcvess in society, as the "revolutionary" class weeds out corruption in the process, "purifying" it. Besides this, the proletariat, as a designation of workers at the point of production, loses its significance in as much as the numbers of people in this category arc-decreasing in the most developed areas of the world Only the left and the most chauvinistic members of the trade union movement can any longer identify these people as "the revolutionary class".
If in these left-wing theories the notion of proletariat k extended to include the new working-class (i.e. technicians, office workers, all wage-earners or even salaried workers in those most devek>ped areas of capital) the characterization ot such a "class" of workers becomes so general as to be meaningless. In the cases of most of these workers it is impossible to make a distinction between those who take orders and those who give them because these job categories express hierarchy only to some degree; but they express much more clearly the specialization and separation of knowledge and action imposed by capital on everyone (e.g.
because of these specializations, everyone has orders of some sort to give to others, no one is allowed to share responsibility for a field or decision they are not "qualified" for). As responsibility for production is increasingly spread so that nearly all workers have their own piece of it, the traditional notion of dass as a group of people coerccd and corralled by another becomes more and more irrelevant. What was once a hieraichy of enslavement becomes now only a hierarchy of privilege as more and more people accept the "naturalness" of the production process. Most certainly, the notion that the proletarian class is central to the revolutionary process is not a revolutionary idea nor even a "correct" one.
At the same time these specialized theories can no longer name an object for proletarian attack without ending up with reformist or counter-revolutionary demands When the object is seen as the take-over of the state, a class, the means of production or any sub-structure of capital or even the notion of the complete control of capital itself, the groundwork that is laid is nothing more than for the changing of the guard. If the object is seen as smashing this or that nothing more can be accomplished than temporary relief until the valorization process recuperates from its wound, stronger than before because its previously vulnerable area will be more effectively protected.
noticn of "industrial society"
iSt^fc®*1' imFKvss^e Situate the fS^I valorization process in any one L^^fl P*ace or any one concrete thing
iM&Ji els* vve would have done so at
Qy^jf vS^^Afthe beginning of this article, or, at S^JBft^^i tried to do so to save us all some time). The social relations that it has created have so permeated our lives that it is nearly impossible to stand back and see these relations in contrast to those of either pre-capitalist or post-capitalist epochs.
However, as more and more of the contradictions of our everyday lite can be seen to link up with each other, that concept which next comes under our scrutiny as the "source of all evil" is the concept of "the industrial society" and its relation, "the consumer society". Despite the fact that these concepts lay bare some core aspects of the society of capital, they also aeate further mystifications.
These concepts are very tempting for both those who are proud to members of the society of capital and those who are critical of it. For the former, industrialization and its counterpart, consumerism, stand as the grand distinction between us and barbarism. For the latter, these are the characteristics that seem crucial to a description of the rise of capital in modern society. For both gr«»up>. the concepts become possible components of their "global" theories only because all labouring processes (or all those that are considered important) have become integrated into the system of capital. Historically, this process of integration has moved gradually, that is. mure anil more of life's activities become labour and more and more of labour activity occurs for the sake of producing value rather than lor its immediate sake of eating, making toots, having fun, etc But from our present p»>int of view, the situation seem? completely defined by labour: everything to be done that is "useful" necessitates waged (or salaried) labour — either you do it for a wage or else pay others to do it; everything unwaged is petty or irrelevant. The nexus of this seems to be industrialization-consumption; we see the machine — the mechanisms — and we ignore all the less tangible relations that make the machine go. Thus the modern mechanism which merely aids capital's reproduction more efficiently than any previous machine is seen as being synonomous with capital In fact the movement of capital is often reduced to the movement of industrialization
24 Drs rav
However, behind all this, more and finally all of lite is Conquered. More and more of life comes to depend seemingly on deriftons relating to production and consumption' where to work, how close to work to live, how to get to work, how to cat without wasting labour time, how to buy things so as not to waste one's precious "spare" time. But all of these decisions in leality relate to the accumulation and reproduction of value; our systems of industrialization and consumption are merely the modern forms by which abstract value comcs to be instilled into all of the world and all of our activity In the system of capital there is mi "spare" lime, as all of it and all of one's energies are colonized so as to contribute to what the apologists of capital would describe as the great pool erf modern society's wealth.
I'hc illusion does not end here, for the pool is no pool at all; there is no time for rest, not even tor the symbol of capital, the wealth must flow, must constantly be sucking in more and more human energy. For this wealth includes not just money and machines but all of our social existence, which
all becomes a means to this end: our customs, and festivals. cKir entertainment and culture, our interpersonal relations, our language and knowledge All of this is exploitable and all new creations, innovations and deviations are in existence only momentarily before they arc exploited.
Hnd so capital comes to dominate everything; it shadows every object, every motion. It becomes so much a part of everything that it disappears; it no longer is something unique or distinctive because it has abolished everything that was previously not a part of it. Nothing remains in our memory or experience to contrast with it.
So enraptured are we by a world which is at List unified that we can no longer distinguish between the abstract labour and consumptive activities which in our everyday life give lite to capital and those activities which dunng the pre-capitalist era were directly related to real human needs and passions.
Appendix: Direct translation of "Transition"
The poont of departure h* the cntftque ot contemj*»rary fooety must be the reaffirmation of the concepts of forma! rfcv»?ir«/*M» and mrf dwiuuban a* historical phases of capitalist development.
Any other characterization of the process of autonomuarton of value, such a* competitive, monopolistic, state, bureiiucratic.clc. capitalism. moves Itselt outside o4 the theorv of the proletariat, that is, outside of the critique of political economy, to become part of the vocabulary and pram of sonal democracy or of the lofumst ideology formalised by Stalinism.
In eflcd.alt the phraseology which hat been used to pretend to explain "new" phenomena has done nothing except to mystify the transition of value to its complete autonomy, that is. the objectihcation of the abstract quantity in process in the material community.
Capital as a social mode or production rcali7.es its own real domination when it comes to Substitute all the social o» natural presupposition* that existed before it with organizational forms, specifically of its own. that mediat** the submission of all physical and sorial life co its own . valorization needs; the essence of the "Cemeimchaft" of
capital is realised as organization.
In the phase of real domination, politic* disappears as an instrument of mediation <»4 the despotism of Capital. After using it fully in the period of formal domination, it can be disposed of when Capital becomes total being, organizing life, experience and It* subordinates rigidly. The state, from rigid and authoritarian manager of the expansion of equivalence in the social relationships (Urtext), become* an elastic U%A of mediation in the sphere of business Consequently, less than ever, the Slate, or even "polities" are the sub|ect of economy and therefore "owner" of capital. Instead, today more than ever, capital find% its own tea! strength in the incrtv* of the process that produces and reproduces its own valorization needs in the guise ol generally human needs.(Hie defeat of the revolutionary movement in France in May '68 has been the clearest manifestation of this "hidden" power of capital.)
The economy reduccs politics <the ancient art of organizing) to a mere epiphenomenon of its own process. It (eaves politics ro survive in that museum of horrors — the parliament — with all Ms favces or in the rancorous underground of small "extra-parliamentary" rackets all identical, as far as the "organization". formal or not. of themselves b concerned, but in obscene competition for the "strategic" blabbering positionv
There is no different appearance to the destiny of othei means or ideologies that, because of their survival from previous ages, enjoyed an apparent autonomy dunng the formal domain: philosophy, art etc.. Any apparent gjp between ideology and the social mode ol production has been dosed and today value, become autonomous, is its own ideology.
During the transition from relative to absolute surplus value, capital (the movement of which always aims towards total expropriation) has cut all the soc^l and technical connections of the working process in order to reunify them as an intellectual power of its own valorization proces*. In the same way we witness, during the transition of capital to total social power, the disintegration of all the intra-aoctal relationships, even the mental connections of the past, and their re-assembling into the delirious unity. vrga»ard by the ever-taster metamorphosis of capital
Everything is reduced to degraded ingredients of the impressive synthesis of the valorizing value. Thus the rear domination of capital means more than just the fact lhat the life-time and the mental capacity of the proletariat are exploited: Since circulation time u today prevailing over production time (in a spatial meaning), the society of ca$*tal creates an "unproductive" population on a vast scale - that is it creates "life" itself
as a function of its needs - and then sets them [the "unproductive" populatx>n) into the sphere of circulation and metamorphosis of Ok* accumulated surplus value.
The cycle closer with an equation: everyone's lifetime is time yxuiJi'y n.vrtVJ for the creation and circulation/realization of surplus value; everything is measurable by the clock. "Time is everything, the man is not anything anymore, he becomes at most the carcass of time" (Anti-Proudhon)
The abstrac t quantity in process (value) presents itself as a social rruxJe of production and of life (material
the theories of the working cbtf movement grasped this process only to mystify it For example, the absolute subordination of the state and its insertion as a pi'tataVrr moment in the valorization process bccomes just its opposiU?. that is a "state capitalism". In this way capita? Is seen not as a social mode of production and life but a mode of management: bur»-aui ratic. democratic, etc. At this p<*nt it is inevitable that the revolution is no longer seen as the destruction of a way of "being" and the affirmation of a different one; it is viewed instead as a state political process, and the organization of revolution appears to be the real probk-m or. better yet. the panacea for all social evil*.
It is only a very short step from this position to the degraded Idea of revolution as a matter of "forms" or "models" of organisation and not as a world-w*de forceful confrontation between proletariat and capital. This explains the prevalence in the working class movements of the above categories: state capitalism, bureaucratic capitalism, etc. Those categories do nothing more than put the real essence of capital between parenthesis in order to affirm the centrality of some of its
epiphenomena (theorized .is the higest stage, the new stage. etc I
On the contrary we need to remain on the ground of the critique 0f political economy (the critique of the essence of capital ts the affirmation of communism) in order to understand thr totality ot social Ufe in the period in which it is being reduced to a means of the poxes* of development of the autonomi/ed productive forwi.
In effect, the society of sapital, on the surface, looks divided into apparently opposing fields. «o th.it separate descriptions ol it have originated, sociology, economy psychology, etc
The existence of all these "research fields" expresses, mystifying it. the unitary, dtfaf reality realized by value (the modern "sacrament") through a process started with the decompostion of a pre-exMent organic reality and ended with the re-assembly of the divided elements These element* are then recomposed and activated only by the growing soda I inertia created by the opaque and despotic movement* of the productive forces - forces that grow on themselves and whose needs represent the very moment ot cohesion of the whole social assembly.
Thus it obvious that any "critical theory ", willing to find a basis by valorising this or that "field", ends up being without subject and without object
Without subject because, as the proletariat diminishes as a percentage of the population in the areas of extensive development of capital — diminishes both in a relative and in an absolute sense - the proletariats' specific traits tend to disolve in the general sea of the "wxtfking people", a category that expresses the real tendency of capital to negate classes (fascism/social democracy) From this tendency follows the numerical prevalence of the new working population Then it Is logical, according to these appearances, that the centrality of the proletanat in the revolutionary process disappears instead of being confirmed.
Without object because value, as abstract being objectified in material being (Crundisse), escapes any immediate determination of itself. We must say. about this urvseizabtUty of the real traits of capital in the time of its totalitarian domination that the most uncovered and blinding manifestation of the fctishizaticn and of the mystiScatton of the social relationships created by its (Capitals') development b offered by the concept, accepted by all the "innovating"' theories, cither critical or apologetic, of "industrial society" and by its subcategory "the consumer sooety".
This concept becomes possible when the valoruation process (therefore, the vital needs of capital) dominates In a growing and always more exclusive way the labouring process, that isr that process defined by Marx as the
organic interchange between people and nature, an activity which results in the creation of use value The concept of "industrial society" is an expression of a mystification generated by Capital in the social relationship
As an increasing identity between these two processes is produced, as capital tends to present all its needs as immediately and exclusively identical to the needs of the real domajn of capital i.e. of tho*a within the reol domain ol Capital, this mystification comes to appear rationally based In fact sc<ulity. co-existence, customs, language, desires and needs, in a word, the uhmjI existence ol people have become nothing more than the need of capital to valorize; these become internal components of the enlarged reproduction itself.
If capital dominates everything to the point of being able to identity iSelf with social existence then it seems, because of this, to disappear.
TtlH IS the most blinding febsh that has ever been produced by value in the history of its autonumizatton. on this haws such a "neutral" category as industrial society can effectively me. and in the same way there can be the disappearance (and in fact this happens) of any pc*sible distinction between abstract labour that valorizes capital (undertaken by the proletariat) or makes possible the totality of its existence (undertaken by the new working classes) and "useful" human activities as occured dunng the precapitalist epoch.
My life was once a flag to me So I waved it and I behaved like /
was told; My life was once a drag to me So I proudly and I loudly lost
control. I was run by a dream, I wis loved l/y a lit, Every serf on the scene Begged me to buy Bui I slipped through tht scheme, So lucky to fail, My life was not for sale!
J J J Phil Ochs
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1 QuoLitions marked with an aitcnsk ref<* to dJrecl quotes from the translation See appendix