ANARCHOS 13 published by a group of people in New York City who seek to Advance nonauthontarian approaches lo revolutionary theory and practice.
Most of us regard ourselves as anarchists. Others feel that their views do not fit into any category in the traditional spectrum of political ideas. WTtat we hold in common, however, is the firm conviction that revolutionary theory and practicc must now look primarily to the future, rather than to the past .for inspiration and clarity; that a qualitatively new order of possibility faces our generation - the possibility of a free, nonrepressive, stateless and decentralized .society based on face-to-face democracy, community, spontaneity, and new. meaningful sense of human solidarity.
We believe that technology has now advanced to a point where Uieburdcnof toil and material necessity could be removed from the shoulders of humanity, opening an era of unprecedented freedom in every aspect of life, a nonrepres-sive civilization and human condition In which man could fulfill all hts poten • tialities as a ruunded, universal lieing. We submit, furthermore, that there can be r>o abstract liberation of society without the concrete liberation of life in all its intimate, everyday facets. Revolution cannot end with the traditional goal of the "seizure of power"; It must culminate in tne here and now with the dissolution of power us such — the power of the state over society, of centralized political entities over community.of the older generation over the younger. of bureaucracy over the individual. of parental authoritarianism over youthful spontaneity, *A bourgeois routine over daily creativity, of sexual, racial. cultural, and national privilege over the unfettered development of human personality.
Revolutionary movement*, we believe, can no longer limit their tasks of spreading consciousness simply to the critique of society. Critique must also pass over to the visum of a sweeping reconstruction of a nonrepressive civilization. Ui a developing utopianism based on the objective, material possibilities at hand. The future must take on a palpable life in the present. Thus, revolutionary movements can no longer attack the misery of the ghetto and modern urbamsm without offering a liberating vision of a free human community, of a new polls. They can no longer attack the spectacle of a false existence — the rule of men by commodities, of real human relations by bureaucratic., hierarchical ones - without evoking a new vision of daily experience and social solidarity. They can no longer attack the repressive quality
continued on inside of back cover
PRECONDITIONS AND POSSIBILITIES
AH llie successful social revolutions of the past have been particularistic revolutions of minority classes .seeking to assert their specific interests over those of society as a whole* The great bourgeois revolutions of modem times offered an ideology of sweeping political reconsticution, but in reality they merely certified the social dominance of the bourgeoisie, giving formal political expression to the economic ascendancy of capital. The lofty notions of the "nation," of the "free citizen," of "equality before the law," concealed the mundane reality of the centralized state, the atomized, isolated man, the dominance of bourgeois interest* Despite their sweeping ideological claims, these particularistic revolutions replaced the rule of one class by another, one system of exploitation by another, one system of toil by another, one system of psychological repression by another.
What is unique about our era is that the particularistic revolution has now been subsumed by the possibility of the generalized revolution: complete and totalistic. If it has achieved nothing else, bourgeois society at least revolutionized the means of production on a scale unprecedented in history. This technological revolution, culminating in cybernation, has created the objective, quantitative bases for a world without class rule, exploitation, toil and material want. The means now exist for the development of the rounded man, the total man, freed of guilt, the workings of autlkorltarian modes of training, and given over to Desire, to the sensuous apprehension of the marvelous. It is possible to conceive of future experience in terms of a coherent process: a process in which the bifurcation of thought and activity, mind and scn^iousness, discipline and spontaneity, individuality and community, man and nature, town and country, education and life, work and play — all, are resolved, harmonized, and organically wedded in a qualitatively new realm of freedom. Just as the particularized revolution produced a particularized, bifurcated society, so the generalized revolution can produce an organically unified, many-sided community. The great wound opened by propertied society in the form of the "social question" can now be healed.
That freedom must bo conceived in human terms, not in animal terms — In terms of life, not of survival — is clear enough. Men do not remove their ties of bondage and become fully human merely by divesting themselves of social domination* by obtaining freedom in its abstract form. They must also be free Concretely: free from material want, from toil, from the burden of devoting the greater part of their time, indeed the greater part of their lives, to the struggle with neoessity. To have seen these material preconditions for human freedom, to have emphasized that freedom presupposes free time and the material abundance for alx>lishing free time as a social privilege, is the great contribution of Karl Marx to modem revolutionary theory.
By the same token, the preconditions for freedom must not be mistaken for the conditions of freedom. The possibility of liberation does not constitute its reality. Along with its positive aspects, technological advance lias a distinctly negative, socially regressive side. If it is true that technological progress? enlarges the historical potentiality for freedom, it is also true that the bourgeois control of technology reinforces the established organization of society and everyday life. Technology and the resources of abundance furnish capitalism with the means for assimilating large soctions of society to the established system of hierarchy and authority. They provide the system with the weaponry, the detecting devioes, and the propaganda modia for the threat as well as the reality of massive repression. By their ccntralistlc nature, they reinforce the monopolistic, centralists, bureaucratic tendencies in the political apparatus. In short, they furnish the state with historically unprecedented means for manipulating and mobilizing the entire environment of life, for perpetuating hierarchy, exploitation, and unfroodom.
It must be emphasized, however, that this manipulation and mobilization of the environment is extremely problematical and laden with crises. Far from leading to pacification (one can hardly speak, here, of harmonization), the attempt of bourgeois society to control and exploit its environment, natural as well as social, has devastating consequeoccs. Volumes have been written on the pollution of the atmosphere and waterways, on the destruction of tree com and soil, on toxic materials in foods and liquids. Even more threatening in their final results are pollution and destruction of a kind that involves the very ecology required for a complex organism like man. The changing ratio of carbon dioxide to other atmospheric gases, a product of the mindless combustion activities for domestic and industrial purposes, threatens the entire climatology of the planet. The concentration of radioactive wastes in living things is a menaoe to the health and genetic endowment of nearly all species. Worldwide contamination by pesticides that inhibit oxygon production in plankton or by near-toxlo levels of lead from gasoline exhaust arc examples of an enduring pollution that threatens the biological integrity of advanced life-forms, including man.
The human environment is being simplified to the danger-point. The inorganic, synthetic, and elemental are replacing the organic, the natural, and the complex. This is most clearly «een In the sweeping urban belts of America and Europe, where materials such as concrete, metals, glass — and smog — tend to completely replace every livtng feature of the environment. The same process of simplification occurs in the countryside, where the mass production of food transforms the traditional, variegated farmstead into an agricultural factory, based on monoculture, chemical controls, and insensate, large-scale mechanization, often in savage disregard of an area's natural ecology and the possibility of irreparable damage to the land.
But these changes are not limited to the biological realm alone. They are carricd directly into every facet of daily life. In the great citios, swollen to the bursting point by masses of humans, only a ma*s concept of life can prevail. The need to employ, feed, educate, and transport millions of people reinforces the centraJistic, totalitarian, and bureaucratic tendencies that inhere in modern inductrial capitalism. The bureaucratic scale, reared on urban gigantism and the logistics of mass control, replaces the human scale. Life becomes as faceless, as homogenized as the maniinilative apparatus itself. The wealth of social experience that marked curlier periods of history falls away and reveals man as an objoct, 04 a mass-manufactured commodity — the product of social factories euphemistically callcd the "family,'1 the "school,M the "home," the "ohnxoh," and the "community."
Eooioglcally, bourgeois exploitation and manipulation are literally reversing organic evolution* By creating vast urban agglomerations of concrete, metal, awl glass, by overriding and undermining the complcx, often subtly organi/.ed ecosystems that constitute local differences in the natural world — in short* by replacing a highly complex, organic environment by a simplified, inorganic one, the prevailing society is disassembling the biotic pyramid that supported humanity for countless mlllenia. In the oourse of replacing the complcx ecological relationships on which all advanced living things depend for more elementary relationships, the prevailing society is steadily restoring the biosphere to a stage which will be able to support only simpler forms of life. If this great reversal of the evolutionary proccss continues, it is by no means fanciful to suppose that the preconditions for higher forms of life will be Irreparably destroyed and the earth will be incapable of supporting man himself.
Socially, bourgeois exploitation and manipulation have brought everyday life to the most excruciating point of vacuity and boredom. In converting society into a factory and market placc, the very rationale of life is reduced to production for its own sake — and consumption for its own sake. * For all Its different historical forma and combinations, capitalism has never transcended the commodity nexus and the banalization of experience to the level of "business as usual." Hence everyday life bocomes a business, marriage a partnership, children an investment. One budgets time and saves space. The reasons for the simplification of the natural world, of the city, indcod, of experience itself, cease to be a mystery if one bears in mind that the very essence of bourgeois society is the mediation of social relations by object*, the reduction of <|uality to quantity, the reduction of man himself to a commodity. It is from the commodity nexus, from the "free exchange" of objects of "equal value," that capitalism produced not only its great juridical fictions of the "free citizen" with "equality before the law," but also the bureaucratization of life, the statification of society, aivd the perversion of technology with the same inexorable force that "free competition" turns into monopoly. This commodity mode of society is beyond reform. For what is at stake is its very dialectic — the Jaw of motion that inheres in its constitution as a social organism,
THE REDEMPTIVE DIALECTIC
I* there a redemptive dialectic that can transform social development from its negative, destructive side into the positive condition* for an anarchic society, where men will attain full control over their daily live*? Or does the social dialectic come to an end with capitalism, its possibilities scaled off by the use of a highly advanced technology for repressive and co-optative purposes?
We must learn, here, from the limits of Marxism, a project which, in a period of material scarcity, understandably anchored the social dialectic and the contradictions of capitalism in the economic realm. Marx, it has been emphasized, examined the preconditions for liberation, not the conditions of liberation. The Marxian critique is rootod in the past, in the era of material want
♦ It is worth noting, here, that the emergence of the "consumer society" provides us with remarkable evidence of the difference between the industrial capitalism of Marx's time and state capitalism today. When Marx spoke of capitalism as a system organized around "production for the sake of production," he regarded this an based on the economic im mi aeration of the proletariat. By contrast, "production for the sake of production" restw today on "consumption for the sake of consumption," Immiseration primarily takes on a spiritual rather than an economic form — a starvation of life.
and relatively limited technological development. Even its humanistic theory of alienation turns primarily around the issue of work and man's alienation from the product of his labor. Today, however, capitalism la a parasite on Uie future, a vampire that survives on tho technology and resources of freedom. The industrial capitalism of Marx's time organized its commodity relations around a prevailing system of material scarcity; the state capitalism of our time organizes its commodity relations around a prevailing system of material abundance. A century ago, scarcity had to be endured; today, it has to be enforced — hence tho importance of the state in the present era. It is not that modem capitalism has resolved its contradictions and annuled the social dialectic, but rather that the social dialectic and the contradictions ol capitalism have been tr.insferred from the economic realm to the hierarchical forms of propertied society, from the abstract "historic" domain to tho concrete minutia of everyday experience, from the arena of survival to the arena of life. 1
The dialectic of burejiucratic state capitalism originates in the contradiction between the repressive character of commodity society and the enormous potential for freedom opened by technological advance, between the exploitative organization of society and the natural world — a world that includes not only the natural environment, but also man's "nature" — his Eros-derived impulses. The contradiction between the exploitative organization of society and the natural environment is beyond co-optation: tho atmosphere, the waterways, the soil, and the ecology recjuirod for human survival are not redeemable by reforms, concession.*, or by modifications of strategic policy. There is no technology that can reproduce atmospheric oxygen in sufficient quantities to sustain life on this planet. There is no substitute for the hydrologic systems of the earth. There is no technique for removing massive environmental pollutionby radioactive isotopes, pesticides, lead, and petroleum wastes. Nor Is there the faintest evidence that bourgeois society will relent at any time in the foreseeable future in its disruption of vital ecological processes, in its exploitation of natural rosouroes, in its use of the atmosphere and waterways as dumping areas for wastes, in its cancerous mode of urbanization and land abuse.
Even more immediate is the contradiction between the exploitative organization of society and man's Fros-derived impulses, a contradiction that manifests itself as tho banalization and impoverishment of experience in a mass, bureau-cratically manipulated, impersonal society. The Eros-derived impulses in man
can be repressed, sublimated, but they can never be eliminated. They arc renewed with every birth of a human being, with every genex*ation of youth* It is not surprising that tiie young, tcday, more than any economic class or stratum, articulate the life-impulses in man1* nature — the urging* of Desire, sensuousness, and the lure of the marvelous. Thus the biological matrix, from which propertied society emerged ages ago, reappears at a new level with the era that maxics the end of property, only now this matrix is *atur:Uod with social phenomena. Short of manipulating humanity's germ plasm these life-impulses can be annuled only with the annihilation of man himself.
The contradictions within bureaucratic state capitalism permeate all the hierarchical forms developed and overdeveloped by bourgeois society. The hierarchical forms which nurtured propertied society for ages and promoted its development — the state, city, centralized economy, bureaucracy, patriarchal family, and market place — have reached their historic limits. They have exhausted their social functions as modes of stabilization* It is not a question of whether these hierarchical forms were ever '•progressive'' in the Marxian sense of the term. As Raoul Vaneigem has observed: "Perhaps it isn't enough to say that hierarchical power has preserved humanity for thousands of years as alcohol preserves a fetus, by arresting either growth or decay.11 For the present it is enough to say that these forms now constitute the target ol all the revolutionary forces that arc generated by modern capitalism andt whether one chooses to invoke the threat of nuclear catastrophe or ecological disaster, they now threaten the very survival of humanity.
With the development of hierarchical forms into a threat to the very existence of humanity, the social dialectic, far from being annuled, acquires a new dimension. It poses the "social question" in an entirely new way: if man had to acquire the conditions of survival in order to live (as Marx emphasized), now he must acquire the conditions of life in order to survive. By this inversion of the relationship between survival and life, revolution acquires a new sense of urgency. No longer are we facod with Marx's famous choice of socialism or barbarism; we are confronted with the more drastic alternatives of anarchy or annihilation. The problems of necessity and survival become comment with the problems of freedom and life. They cease to require the theoretical mediation, "transitional" stages, and centralized organizations to bridge the gap between the existing and the possible. The possible, in fact, is all that continues to exist. Hence the problems of "transition," which occupied the Marxists for nearly a century, are eliminated not only by the advance of technology, but by the social dialectic itself. The problems ol social reconstruction are reduced to practical tasks that can be solved spontaneously by scli-liberatory acts of society.
Revolution, in fact, acquires not only a new sense of urgency, ImiI a new sen so of promise. In the hippy's tribalism, the Dingers1 free food, in the dropout life-styles and free sexuality of millions ol youth, in the spontaneous affinity groups of the anarchists, we already find those forms of affirmation that follow from acts of negation* With the inversion of the "social question" there is also an inversion of tho social dialectic, a "yea" that emerges automatically and simultaneously with a "nay." The solutions take their point ol departure from the problems. When the time has arrived in history that the state, city, bureaucracy, centralized economy, patriarchal family, anil marled place have reached their historic limits, what is posed is no longer a change in form but the absolute negation of all hierarel ileal forms as suclu The absolute negation ol the state is anarchy — a situation where men liberate not only "hi story," luit all the immediate circumstances of tlieir everyday lives. The absolute negation o4 the city is community — a situation where tlie social environment is decentralized into rounded, ecologically balanced communes. The absolute negation ol bureaucracy is immediate as distfoguishod from mediated relations — a situation where representation is replaced by face-to-face relations In a general assembly oJ£ free individuals* The absolute negation of the centralized economy is regional biotocluioloixy — a situation where the instalments of production are molded to the resources of the ecological hiomc. The absolute negation of the patriarchal family is free sexuality — a situation where all forms of sexual regulation are transcended by the spontaneous, untrammeled expression of eroticism among equals* T:ic absolute negation of the market place is communism — a situation whore collective abundance and cooperation transform labor into play and need into Desire,
SPONTANEITY AND UTOPIA
It is not accidental that at a point in history, when luerarchical power and in;iuipulation have reached their most threatening pro|K>rtlons, the very con-concepts of hierarchy, power, and manipulation are being brought into question. The challenge to these concepts comes from a rediscovery of the importance of spontaneity — a rediscovery nourished by ecology, by a heightened conception of self-development, and by a new unricrstniulinit of the revolutionary process in society.
What ecology luis shown is that in nature, balance is achieved by organic differentiation and complexity, not by homogeneity and simplification. In the case of pest control, for example, the more varied the flora and fauna of a biome, the more stable the population of a potential pest. The more environmental diversity is diminished, the greater will tlie population of a potential pest fluctuate, with the probability that it will get ou* of control. Left to itsell, a biome tends spontaneously toward organic differentiation, greater variety of flora and
fauna, and diversity in the number of prey and predators. This does not mean that interference by man must be avoided. The need for a productive agriculture — itself a form of interference in nature — must always remain in the foreground of an ecological approach to food cultivation and forest management. No leas important is Ihe fact that man can often produce change* in a biome that would vastly improve its ecological duality. But these efforts involve insight and understanding, not the exercise of brute power and manipulation. As Charles Elton, an outstanding English ccologist, puts it: "The world1* iuture has to be managed, but this management would not be Just like a game of chess — (twt) more like steering a l*>at.,r
This concept of management, this new regard for the importance of spontaneity, has far-reacliing implications lor technology, community, Indeed, tor the very image of man in a liberated society. It challenges the capitalist ideal of agriculture as a factory operation, organized around immense, centrally controlled laixi-holdln^s, highly specialized forms of monoeuiturc, the reduction of the terrain to a factory floor, the substitution oi organic by chemical processes, the use of gang-labor, etc. II food cultivation is to lie more like "steering a boat" than a contest between ojjponents, the agriculturist must become thorougldy familiar with the ecology of the land; he must acquire a new sensitivity to its needs and possibilities. Tills presupposes the reduction of agriculture to a human scale, the restoration of moderate-si zed agricultural units, the diversification oi the agricultural situation, in short, a decentralized, ecological system of food cultivation.
The same reasoning applies to industry in connection with |K>llution control. The development of giant factory complexes and the use of single- or dual-energy resources to the near exclusion of all other resources rank as major sources of atmospheric pollution. Only by developing smaller industrial units and diversi-# fying energy sources by the extensive use of clean power (solar, wind, and water), will it be possible to significantly reduce industrial i>ollution, The means for this radical technological change are now at hand. Technologists have developed "miniturized" substitutes for large-scale industrial operations, small versatile machines, and sophisticated methods for converting solar, wind, and water energy into power usable in industry and the home. These substitutes arc often more productive and less wasteful than the large-scale facilities that exist today. *
A "miniturized" technology, highly adaptable to regional production, lias very
♦ For a discussion of tlus "miniturized" technology, sec "Towards a Liberatery Technology" in Anarchy 78 (August, 1967; London) or in two parts in Anarchos #2 and #3.
little place in a centralized economy, bused on a national division of labor and large-scale production. The small packets of energy which can be delivered by solar collectors, wind turbines, and small-stream dams, are nearly valueless for meeting the gargantuan demands of immense industrial complexes und mcg-alopolitan cities. The extensive use of small-scale tccliniques and diversified forms o( pollutant-free energy resources presupposes decentralized small or moderate-sized communities. The same conclusion Applies to the use of the pollutant-free, nearly noiseless electric car (a vehicle that is excellent for local lran»|>oriation, Ixit of limited use lor long journeys). It applies to the use of local resources, which are not large enough to meet the needs of giant industrial facilities, to microchcmistry, and to many other related techniques and systems of technology.
The implications ol small-scale agriculture and industry for community arc obvious: if man is to u.*> the principles needed to manage an ecosystem, the basic unit of social life must itself become an ecosystem — an ecological community. It too must become diversified, i>alanced, and well-rounded. By no mean* is this conrcpt of community motivated exclusively by the need for a lasting balance between man and the natural world: it Is also anchored in the Utopian ideal ol the rounded man, the individual whose sensibilities, range of experience, and life-style arc nourished by a wide range of stimuli, by a diversity of activities, and by a social scale that alwayrf remains within the comprehension of ft single human being. Thus the mean* and conditions of survival bocome the means and conditions of life; need becomes Desire and Desire becomcs need. The point is reached where the greatest social decomposition provides the source of the highest form of social integration, bringing the most pressing ecological necessities Into a common Cocus with the highest Utopian ideals.
We may |»ause, at tiiis point, to form some vision of the new community:
We suppose the community has been established after careful study has boen made of Its naUirai ecology — its air and water resources, its climate, its geological formations, its raw materials, its soils, and its natural flora and fauna. The population of the community hi consciously limited to the ecological carrying capacity ol the region. Land management is guided entirely by ccological principles so that an equilibrium is maintained between the environment and its human inhabitants, industrially rounded, the community forms a distinct unit within a natural matrix, socially and artistically in balance with the area it occupies.
Agriculture is higlily mechanized, to be sure, but as mixed as possible with respect to crops, livestock, and timber. Florul and faunai variety is promoted as a means of controlling pest infestations and enhancing scenic beauty. Large-scale farming is permitted only where it does not conflict with the ecology of the region. Owing to the generally mixed character of food cultivation, agriculture is pursued by small farming units, each demarcated from the other by tree belts, shrubs, and where possible, by pastures and meadows. In rolling, hilly, or mountainous country, land with sharp gradients is covered by timber to prevent erosion and conserve water. The soil on each aero is studied carefully and committed only to those crops for which it is most suited*
Every effort is made to blend town and country without sacrificing the distinctive contribution that cach has to offer to the human experience. The ecological region forms the living social, cultural, and biotic bouivlaries of the community or of the several communities that share its resources. Each community contains many vegetable and flower gardens, attractive arbors, park land, squares, even streams and ponds which support fish and aquatic bird*. The Countryside from which food and raw materials are acquired, constitutes not only the immediate environs of tlws community, accessible to all by foot, but also invades the community. Although town and country retain their identity and the uniqueness of each is prized and fostered, nature appears everywhere in the town, and the town seems to have caressed and left a gentle, human imprint on nature.
Social decisions are made in a general assembly, where all members of the community have an opportunity to acquire the full measure of anyone who addresses them. They are in a position to absorb his attitudes ami demeanor, to explore his motives as well as Ills ideas in a direct personal encounter and through thorough debate, facc-to-facc discussion and closc inquiry. The execution of public tasks is left to committees, formed of volunteers or selected by lot. Where specialized knowledge is required, the tasks arc apportioned among technical groups, each member of which is subject to immediate recall. These committees and groups remain under consUnt public purview. Their work is limited exclusively to administrative tasks and they are answerable in every detail of their res|K>nsibilities to the assembly.
As a sense of regionalism grows in the community, every resource finds its place in a natural, stable balance, a truly organic unity of sociat, technological, and natural elements. Art assimilates technology in the deepest sense that art can exist: as social art, evokt*! by everyday human relationships. Small or moderate In size, the free community is able to rcscale the tempo of life,the work patterns of its members, its buildings, architecture, systems of transportation, and communication, to completely human dimensions. Crafts regain their honored position as supplements to the factory; they become u form of domestic, day-to-day artistry. A high standard of excellence, based on a respect for the durability of goods and on the need to conserve raw materials, replaces the strictly quantitative, exploitative criteria of production that prevail today. The community Incomes a beautifully molded arena of life, a vitalizing source
of culture and a deeply personal, ever-nourishing sourcc of human solidarity. From this point onward, the community ceases to be a structural concept and becomes a deeply human process — the process of communizing. It enters the still unexplored realm of the marvelous, a realm that no imagination of this era, however bold, can hope to encompass.
8PONTANEITY AND REVOLUTION
If it is true, as Guy Dcbord observes, thai "Daily life is the measure of everything: of the fulfillment or rather the non-fulfillment of human relationships, of the use we make of our time," a question arises: who ore "we" whose daily lives are to fulfilled? Or put differently; how doee the liberated Self emerge that is capable of turning time into life, space into community, are! human relationships into the marvelous?
The liberation of the Self involves, above all, a social process. In u society tiiat has shriveled the Self into a commodity, into an object manufactured for excliange, there can be no fulfilled Self. There can only bo the beginnings of Selfhood, the emergence of a Self that socks fulfillment, a Self that is defined by the obstacles it must overcome to achieve realization. In a society whose belly is distended to the liursting jwint with revolution, whose chrome sfcite is an unending scries of labor pains, whose real condition is a mounting emergency — only one thought and act is relevant: giving birth. Any environment, private or social, that does not make this fact the center of human experience is a sham and diminishes whatever Self remains to us after we have absorbed our daily poison of everyday life in bourgeois society.
It is plain that the goal of revolution, today, must be the liberation of daily life. Any revolution tltat fails to achieve this goal is counterrevolution. Above all, It is we who have to be liberated, coir daily lives with all their moments, hours, and days, not universala like "history" and "society."2
The Self must always be identifiable in the revolution, not overwhelmed by it. The Self must always be perceivable in the revolutionary process, not submerged by it. Thore is no word that is more sinister in the "revolutionary" vocabulary than "masses.'1 Revolutionary liberation must be Self-liberation that reaches
social dimensions, not "mass liberation" or "class liberation" behind which lurks the rule of an elite, a hierarchy, and a slate. II a revolution fails to produce a new society by the Self-activity arxi Self-mobilization of revolutionaries, if it does not involve t!ie forging of a Self in the revolutionary process, the revolution will once again circumvent those whose lives arc to be lived everyday and leave daily life unaffected. Out of the revolution must emerge a Self that takes full possession of daily life, not a daily life that oncc again takes full possession of the Self.
If for this reason alone, the involutional^ movement is profoundly concerned with life-style. It must try to live the revolution in all its totality, not only participate in it. It must be deeply concerned with the way the revolutionist lives, his relations With the surrounding environment, his degree of Self-emancipation. In seeking to change society, the revolutionist in turn cannot avoid those changes in himself that Involve the i*econquest oc ids own l>oiiuj. Like the movement in which he participates, the revolutionist must try to reflect the conditions of the society he is trying to achieve — at least to the degree that this is possible today.
Thc treachery and failures of the past half century have made it axiomatic that there can be no sqxinUion of the revolutionary process from Uio revolutionary Koal. A society whose fundamental aim is Self-administration in all "facets of life can bo achieved only by Self-activity. This implies a mode of administration that is always possessed by the Self. If we define "powor" as the j\>wcr of man over man, power can be destroyed only by the very process in which man acquires power over lus own life and in which he not only "discovers" himself but, more meaningfully, in which he formulates lus Selfhood in all its social dimensions.
The point is that a libertarian society can be achieved only by a libertarian revolution. Freedom cannot be "delivered" to the individual as the "cnd-product" of a "revolution"; the assembly and community cannot be legislated or decreed into existence, A revolutionary group can seek, purposively and consciously, to promote the creation of those forms; but if assembly and community are not allowed to emerge organically, If their growth is not matured by (he process of demassification, by Self-activity and by Self-realization, they will remain nothing but forms, like the soviets in post-revolutionary Russia. Assembly and community must arise witiiin the revolutionary process; indeed, the revolutionary process must b* the formation of assembly and community and, with the?**, the destruction of power, property, and exploitation.
Kcvolution as Sclf-activity is not unique to our time, it constitutes the paramount feature of all the great revolutions in modern history* It marked the journoes of the sans culottes In 1702 and 1703, the famous "Five Days'4 of February, 1017, in Petrograd, the uprising oi the Barcelona proletariat in 1036, the early day* ot the Hungarian Revolution in 195G, and the May-June events in Paris, 1068. Nearly every revolutionary uprising in the history of our time has been initiated spontaneously by the Self-activity of "masses," often in flat defiance of the hesitant programs advanced by the revolutionary organizations. Everyone of these revolutions lias been marked by extraordinary individuation, by a joyousness and solidarity that turned everyday life into a festival. This surreal dimension of the revolutionary process, with its explosion of dccp-scotcd libidirud forces, grins irascibly through the page* of history like the face of a satyr on shimmering water. It is not without reason that the Bolshevik commissars smashed the wine bottles in the Winter Palace on the night of November 7, 1917.
The puritanism and work ethic of the traditional Left reflects one of the most critical problems in revolution today: the capacity of the bourgeois environment to infiltrate the revolutionary framework. The origins of this power lie in the commodity nature of man under capitalism, a quality that is almost automatically transferred to the organized group — awl which the group, in turn, reinforces in its members. As the late Josef Weber emphasized, all organized groups "have the tendency to render themselves autonomous, i.e., to alienate themselves from their originM aim and to become an end in themselves in the hawlfj oi tiio:>e administoring them." This phenomenon is as true of revolutionary organizations as it is oi State and semi- state institutions, official parties, and trade unions.
The problem of alienation can never be completely resolved apart from the revolutionary process itself. It can be mitigated, partly by an acute awareness that the problem exists, partly by a voluntary but drastic remaking of the revolutionary and his group. This remaking can only begin when the revolutionary group reeognizes that it is a catalyst in the revolutionary process, not a "vanguard." The revolutionary group must dearly see that its goal is not the "seizure of power," but the dissolution of power — indeed, that the entire problem of power, of control from below and control from above, can be solved only if there is no above or below.
Above all things, the revolutionary group must divest itself of the forms of power — statutes, hierarchies, property, px*esci*ibed opinions, fetishes, para-pJvanalia, official etiquette — in short, the subtlest as well as the most obvious of hureaucraUc and bourgeois traits that reinforce authority ajid hierarchy, not only consciously, but unconsciously. It must remain open to public scrutiny not only in its formulated decisions, but in their very formulation. It must be coherent in the profound sense that its theory is its practice and its practice its theory. It must do away with all commodity relations in its day-to-day existence ;uui constitute It&ell along the decentralized organizational principles of tho very society it seeks to achieve: oomnuinity, assembly, spontaneity. It must, in Josef Weber's superb words, ho "marked always by simplicity and clarity, always thousands of unprepared people can enter uiul direct it, always it remains transparent to and controlled by all." (Xily then, when the revolutionary movement is congruent with the decentralized community it seeks to achieve, can it avoid becoming another elitist obstacle to the social development and dissolve into tiie revolution like surgical thread into a healing wound.
The most important processs going on in America today is the sweeping deinstitutionalization of the bourgeois social structure. A baste, far-reaching disrespect and a profound disloyalty is developing toward the values, the forms, the aspirations, and above all, the institutions of the established order. On a scale unprecedented in American history, millions of people are shedding their commitment to tho society in which they live. They no longer believe In its claims. They no longer respect iUi symbols* They no longer accept its goals, and most significantly, tltey rciuse almost intuitively to live by its institutional and social codes.
This growing refusal runs very deep. It extends from an opposition to war into a hatred of political maiuinUation in all its forms;. Starting irorn a rejection of racial discrimination, it brings into question the very existence of hierarchical power us such. In 11b detestation ot middle class values and lite-styles, it rapidly evolves into a rejection ot the commodity system; from an irritation with environmental pollution, it passes into a rejection ol the American city and modem urbaniittcu l" short, it tends to transcend every particularistic critique of the society and evolve into a generalized opposition to the bourgeois order or. an ever-broadening scale.
In tlus respect* the period in which we live closely resembles the revolutionary Enlightenment that swept through France in the eighteenth century — a period that completely reworked French consciousncas and prepared the conditions for the Great Revolution of 1789. In both cases, the old institutions are slowly pulverized by molecular action from below, long before they are toppled by mass revolutionary action. This molecular movement creates on atmosphere of general lawlessness: a growing personal, day-to-day disobedience, a tendency not to "go along" with the existing system, a seemingly "petty" but nevertheless critical attempt to circumvent restriction in every facct of daily life. The society, iii effect, becomes disorderly, undisciplined, Dionysian — a condition that reveals itself most dramatically in an increasing rate of official crimes. A vast critique develops of the system — the actual Knlightenment itself, two omtfuriei a^o, iuxi the sweeping critique that exists today — which seeps downward and accelerates the molecular movement at the base. Be It an angry gesture, a "riot" or a conscious change in life-style, an ever-increasing number of people — who liave no more of a. commitment to an organized revolutionary movement than they have to the society itself — begin to spontaneously engage in their own defiant propaganda of the deed.
ln its concrete details, this disintegrating social process is nourished by many sources. It develops with all the unevenness, Indeed all the contradictions, that mark every revolutionary trend. In eighteenth century France, radical ideology oscillated between a rigid scientism and a sloppy romanticism. New forms of dress were patterned on austere Roman republicans and colorful Italian shepherds. Notions of freedom were anchored in a precise, logical ideal of self-control and a vague, instinctive norm of spontaneity. Rousseau stood at odds with d'Hoibtch, Diderot at odds with Voltaire; yet, in retrospect, we can see that one not only transcended but also presupposed the other in a cumulative development toward revolution.
The same uneven, contradictory, ai*l cumulative development exists today, and, in many cases, it follows a remarkably direct course. The beat movement created the most important breach in the solid, middle-class values of the 1950's, a breach that was widened enormously by the illegalities of pacifists, civil rights w rkers, and most recently, hippies. The merely reactive responses of rebellious American youth, moreover, liave produced invaluable forms of libertarian and Utopian affirmation: the right to make love without restriction, the goal of community, the disavowal of money and commodities, tho belief in mutual aid, a new respect for spontaneity. Easy as it is for revolutionaries to criticirc certain pitfalls within this orientation of personal and social values, the fact remains that it has played a preparatory role of decisive importance in forming the present atmosphere of indiscipline, spontaneity, radicalism, and freedom.
A second parallel between the revolutionary Enlightenment and our own period is the emergence of the crowd, the so-called "mob,11 as a major vehicle of social protest. The typical institutionalized forms of public dissatisfaction — in our own day: orderly elections, demonstrations, mass meetings — tend to giro way to direct action by crowds. This shift from predictable, hijhlj organized protests within the institutionalized framework of the existing society to sporadic, spontaneous, near-insurrectionary assaults from outside (and even against) socially acceptable forms reflects a profound change in popular psychology. The "rioter" and the "Prove" have begun to break, however partially and intuitively, with those deep-seated norms of behavior which traditionally, weld the masses to the established order. They actively shod the internalized structure of authority, the long-cultivated body of conditioned reflexes, the pattern of
submission sustained by guilt tiiat tie them to the system even more effectively than any fear of police violence and juridical reprisal. Contrary to social psychologists, who see in these modes of direct action the submission of tlie individual to a terrifying collective entity called the "mob," the truth is that "riots'1 and crowd actions represent the first groping* of the mass toward individuation. The mass tends to become demassified in the critical sense that it begins to assert itself against the really massifying, automatic responses produced by the bourgeois family, the school, and the mass media. By the same token, crowd actions involve the rediscovery of the streets and the effort to liberate them. Ultimately, it is in the streets that power must be dissolved—for the streets, where daily life is endured, suffered, and eroded, where power is confronted and fought, must be turned into the domain where daily life is enjoyed, created, and nourished. The rebellious crow! marked the beginning not only of a spontaneous transmutation of private into social revolt, but a return from the abstractions of social revolt to tfie issues of everyday life.
Finally, another close parallel is the emergence of an immense and evergrowing dcclasscs , a body of lumpenizod individuals drawn from every stratum of society. The chronically indebted and socially insecure upper and middle classes of our period compare loosely with the chronically insolvent and flighty nobility of prcrcvolutionary Prance. A vast flotsam of educated people emerges in both epochs, livings at loose ends without fixed careers and established social rooU. At the bottom of the structure we find a large number of chronic poor: vagal>onds, drifters, people with part-time jobs or no jobs at all surviving on public aid and on the garbage thrown off by society, a threatening, unruly sans culottes—the i>oor of the Parisian slums, the blacks of the American ghettoes.
But here ;ill the parallels end. The French Enlightenment belongs to a period of revolutionary transition from feudalism to capitalism — both, societies based on economic scarcity, class rule, exploitation, social hierarchy, and state power. The day-to-day popular resistance which marked the eighteenth century and culminated in open revolution was soon disciplined by the newly emerging industrial order as well as by naked force. The vast mass of docLasscs and sans culottes were largely absorbed into the factory system and timed by Industrial discipline. Formerly rootless intellectuals and footloose nobles found secure places in the economic, political, social and cultural hierarchy of the new bourgeois order. From a socially and culturally fluid condition, highly generalized in its structure and relations, society hardened again into rigid, particularized class and institutional forms — the classical Victorian lira which apj>eared not only in England but, to one degree or another, in all of western Europe and America. Critique was reoonsolidated into apologia, revolt into reform, declasses into clearly defined classes,
"mobs" into political constituencies, "riots'1 into the well-behaved processionals wo call "demonstrations," spontaneous direct action into electoral rituals.
CXir own era, too, is a transitional one, but with a profound and quallta-tively new difference. In tlie last of their great insurrections, the sans culottes of the French Revolution rose under the flory cry: Bread and the Constitution of '931" The black .sans culottes of the American ghettoes rise under the slogan: " Black is beautiful!" Between these two slogans lies a development of unprecedented importance. The declasscs of the eighteenth century were formed during a slow transition from an agricultural to an industrial era; they were created out of a pause in the historical transition from one regime of toil to another. The demand for bread could have been heard at any time in the evolution of propertied socicty. The new de-classes of the twentieth century are being created as a result of the bankruptcy of all social forms based on toil. They are the product of the end process of propertied society itself and the social problems of material survival. In the era when technological advances and cybernation have brought into question the exploitation of man by man, of toil, of material want in any form whatever, the cry — be it "Black is beautiful" or "Make love, not war" — marks the transformation of the traditional demand for survival into a historically new demand for life, • What underpin* every social conflict in the United States, today, is the demand for the Self-realization of all human potentialities in a fully rounded, balanced, totalistic way of life. In short, the potentialities for revolution in America are now anchored in the potentialities of man himself.
What we are witnessing is the breakdown of a century and a half of em-bourgeoismcnt and a pulverization of all bourgeois institutions at a point in history when the boldest consccpts of Utopia are realizable. And there is nothing that the present bourgeois order can »ibt;titutc for the destruction of its traditional institutions but bureaucratic manipulation and state capitalism. Tills process is unfolding most dramatically in the United States. Within a period of little more than two decades, we have seen the collapse of the "American Dream,M or what amounts to the same thing, the steady elim-
♦ The above lines were written nearly a year ago. Since then, we have the example of the gralfitti on the walls of Paris, painted during the May-June revolution: "Imagination to power," "I take my desires to be reality, because I believe in the reality of my desires," "Never work," "The more 1 make love, the more I want to make revolution," "Life without dead times," "The more you consume, the less you live," "Culture is the inversion of life," "One does not buy happiness, one steals it," "Society is a carnivorous flower." These are not gralfitti; they arc a program for Life and Desire.
ination in the United States of the myth that material abundance, based on commodity relations between men, can conceal the inherent poverty of bourgeois life. Whether this process will culminate in revolution or in annihilation will depend in great part on the ability ol revolutionists to extend social consciousness and defend tlie spontaneity of the revolutionary development from authoritarian ideologies, both of the "left" and the right.
ADDENDA: THE AFFINITY GROUP
What form of revolutionary organination is the most suitable to the social development described in the foregoing work?
A revolutionary organization that socks to act eatalytically on the development, that seeks to add its fund of consciousness without trying to manipulate the development, is best represented by the "affinity group" — a small group of revolutionary brothers and sisters who know each other Intimately, who combine revolutionary life-style with consciousness, whose theory and practice are in concordance who are not burdened by "leaders" and bureaucrats, who are autonomous, communal, directly democratic, and anarchic. The "seeding11 of the social environment with these revolutionary groups, their cellular growth and proliferation, are vitally important today.
Much has already been written about this mode of organization in underground newspapers (see The Rat, Au&. 9-22, 1968 and Marvin Carson'* articles in San Francisco Express-Times during July, 1066). A few point* deserve emphasis here:
Affinity groups exist on a molecular level and haw their own "Brownlan movement. M Whether they coalesce or separate (locally, regionally, or even nationally) depends entirely on living situations, not on bureaucratic fiat from a distant "center.11 Superbly resistant to infiltration by the state, they are suited for conditions of repression. As intensely intimate groups, they offer serious barriers to police penetration. Even where there is penetration, the police infiltrator is localized and isolated in the scale of his activities by the single group and does not have access to a centralized apparatus — a position from which he can not only acquire vital information but determine policy for a nationwide movement.
Affinity groups are also ideally suited for revolutionary conditions, that is, for revolution seen as a spontaneous movement from below. In these conditions,
notliing prevents the groups fx"om collaborating closely on any scale required by the living situation, indeed, establishing wide contacts with each other and organizing comir.oci, selt-disciplined activities* Yet these activities arc rooted in the base of the revolution; tlKJir strong localism and autonomy provide them with tho means for a sensitive appreciation of immediate possibilities in their area ai*l, in the absence of a bureaucracy ami an apparatus, they can preserve their revolutionary elan and spontaneity* Emerging and proliferating in the pores of society, they ex|Kind or contract, separate or coalesce, entirely according to tho needs of the situation in which they exist. Intensely experimental and varie-gatod In life-style and ideas, they act as a fermenting agent on each other, on every social situation that emerges, and range widely over all spheres of social itnd personal action. Each has its own resources to function completely on its own* Each seeks complete roundedness in experience, knowledge, and action — in itself trying to overcome the bifurcations that distort all individuals and groups in bourgeois society into one-sided organisms. Each continually enlarges its knowledge of the arena within its purview and stands ready to act in every change of situation. Each constitutes a nuclcus ol consciousness, experience, and action, serving to reinforce and advance the spontaneous revolutionary movement.
''Post-Scarcity Anarchy" is representative of a larger body of works available from ANARCHOS:
"Ecology and Revolutionary Thought" "Desire and Need" (English or French) ANARCHOS No. 2 containing:
Eighteen Bounds of Total Revolution Forms of Freedom
Towards a Liberatory Technology (Part 1) ANARCHOS No. 3 containing: Post-Scarcity Anarchy Guerrilla Theatre, the Esthetic, and
Technology The Return of the Proletariat Towards a Liberatory Technology (Part II) A scries of articlos on the rcccnt French revolution
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of private lilt- - the patriarch ftcal l-uiiily, the authoritarian socialization of the young, the .substitution of learning hy conditioning - without offering a new vision of free association between sexes, generations, and the fullest self-management of personal life U well as social I lie.
Revolutionary theory can no longer tie separated from revolutionary practice. The revolutionist, we believe, must viol only tight for the revolution; he must Iiv«- the revolution to the extent that it is possible within the limitations of the existing society In seeking to change society, he can no longer avoid nuking the changes Uut arc needed in the reconquest of his »>wn being and his own relation with other human beings. By the same token, the revolutionary movement must try to mirror the society it seeks to achieve — internally and in its relations with the external world - if only because it cannot separate itself from the society it seeks to achieve and must dissolve into that society when its particular organizational function* become general social functions. There can be no separation of the revolutionary movement from the revolution. There can be no "theory" that rises above the living realities of action. There can to no reiuge for ideas that avoids the mundane efforts of nodal struggle. The revolution must be lived not only in theory but in practice, in private life as well as social life, in the possibililies of the future as well as the actualities of the present.
The immensity of future possibilities evokes irom the established order comensuratile reactions in defense of the pust Just as the situation today is posed with a revolutionary advancc Into a liberated, nonrepressive civilization, so too it edges on a return to a savage, totalitarian barbarism. The revolutionary movement must recognize the need to obtain the highest decree of consciousness in every unfolding situation; it must guage its activity with the utmost sensitivity. Never before has there been a greater need for coordinating day-to-day practice with a probing insight; for anticipating developments, for spreading consciousness, above all for achieving a clear sense of direction — theoretically and practically — in events to come. It is to this urgent task that we address ourselves in ANARCHOS and in which we invite your support and participation.
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1 This is not to say that the economic contradictions of capitalism have disappeared, but, in principle at least, they are no longer beyond resolution by the system. They are not "inherent" or "inexorable" features of state capitalism, and they persist us a product of the unevenness of the development, of the "impurities" in the system, and of the social influences that linger on from earlier periods.
2 Despite its lip service to the dialectic, the traditional J-oft has yet to take old Hegel's "concrete universal" seriously, to see it not merely as a philosophical conccpt but as a social program. This has been done only in Marx's early writings, in the writings of the great Utopians (Fourier and William Morris) — and, in our own time, by the drop-out youth.