Filed under: update
Our apologies, this is the last post for at least a little while regarding
The Coming Insurrection by the Invisible Committee…
We’ve received 25 copies in the mail and are charging $7 dollars per copy for the book. If you’re interested in obtaining one, let us know and we’ll sort something out or find us on the street (we know this is obviously problematic).
There have been some conversations about discussing this text as part of a dinner party maybe sometime within the next month. This should give people enough time to read, take notes, reread and digest some of the ideas. Until then this post could serve as a virtual “dinner party” for those who can’t wait or can’t make a dinner party in Milwaukee. If you have any critiques, reviews or ideas to share, please do.
For people who can’t afford this or would prefer not to you can also find this available for printing as 11 x 8.5 booklet (the most common size for zines or pamphlets) here.
If people who are interested in having a deeper understanding of the conceptual genealogy of these ideas from their context to agamben, and Tiqqun to the Invisible Committee here are some other helpful texts and links as well.
Filed under: Uncategorized
““In the early 1970s there was an advertisement shown in Paris movie theaters that promoted a well-known brand of stockings, “Dim” stockings… Anyone who watched even a few minutes of its images, however distractedly, would have a hard time forgetting the special impression of synchrony and dissonance, of confusion and singularity, of communication and estrangement from the bodies of the smiling dancers…Each dancer was filmed separately and later the single pieces were brought together over a single sound track. But the facile trick, that calculated asymetry of the movement of long legs sheathed in the same inexpensive commodity, that slight disjunction between gestures, wafted over the audience a promise of happiness unequivocally related to the human body.”
– Giorgio Agamben, Dim Stockings
“The young girl makes love in the same way she washes her car”
– Tiqqun, First Materials for a Theory of the Young Girl
“The Spectacle is capital accumulated to the point that it becomes image”
– Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
This is not a time for fight club, is it? The cynicism of the ’90s appeared to have reached some sort of apex of anomie near the end of the decade. We could no longer choke down our own image as bored consumers, pathetic workers, and depressed youth. The course of action became disturbingly clear: one could either kill everyone in their vicinity, or learn how to fight with others. With some dumb luck, the anti-globalization movement made an appearance and gave so many bullied children, computer nerds, and petty sociopaths a new collective house alongside the indigenous people of wherever, the left, and the lesbian avengers. Then, as goes the activist version of Revelations, Osama Bin Laden came long and ruined all our fun—returning the image of darker skinned people who believe in stuff to a more scarier position than people with masks breaking stuff. The banality of cinema (exceptions included: Children of Men, JCVD, Let the Right One in, and Paradise Now) analogizes this trite world of false good vs false evil. In the bad ol’ days, we didn’t know it could be better, we tried to believe in things, and now, silence.
Steven Soderbergh’s new cinematic trauma, The Girlfriend Experience, captures the world after the world ended—and History is as banal and horrifying as ever. The Obama election and the economic crisis are a less than subtle background to an everyday life that reflects each and every shameful ounce of the emotional and material poverty of our times.
Sasha Grey, self-described existential porn star in “real life,” stars as Chelsea, a high-end escort. We follow her lukewarm calculated performances through all echelons of bourgeois society. We can thank Soderbergh for the most amazing, boring, and frustrating scenes of something like sex. Chelsea spends scene after scene talking to her agents and her website and brand development teams. Questions of anonymity are brought up alongside meaningless gestures of affect: “hows the family?”
We are reflected our own image—running into an old friend, a business acquaintance, a sister, having an interesting conversation, performing being-amicable. We press the “hows the family” button, a response. We press the “Ha! Remember when you…” button, a response. We poke fun at one friend’s less than charming qualities, multiple responses from the crowd. Others come to dine or get drinks at such a charming, lively, or “funky place.” This isn’t simply the shameful cultural habits of late capital, it is capital. Chelsea knows this, and would prefer to get paid for it.
The relationship between immaterial labor, care taking, and sex work, is illuminated in The Girlfriend Experience. Soderbergh, oscillates between scenes of Chelsea talking to men about their financial predictions, Google-ratings, and Obama as they undress revealing underwear with diaper-like qualities and scenes of her boyfriend, Chris, working as personal trainer with men and women in a gym, referred to as a “boutique.”
Nothing new to the seasoned craigslist whore, there is still an element of provocation in Soderbergh’s elucidation of the current postionality of workers in our biopolitical hell. The incredibly wealthy men with families could not function as such without their high-end escorts who play at being-the girlfriend. The friendly performances of Chris follow succinctly. The gay men need someone to hit on at the gym to function as gay men, the petty bourgeois woman needs someone to touch her, and encourage her to do her best. These John’s and Janes don’t even desire the sex-object anymore; they desire “the real thing.”
Chelsea and Chris as images being-images, are able to perform their way across the bridge of fiction into a whole regime of playing at being. In one montage, Chelsea negotiates with a web developer about how to increase her rates and hits. She poses questions in a pseudo-web speak, referencing “that thing that makes me show up in Google searches” which are fielded by the developer playing at being professional, who makes up pay-rate on the spot. He is clearly doing this labor through an expropriation of his work’s facilities which we see in the background. Chris, on the other hand, is searching around to increase his rate as well. He talks with a miserable gym owner about its faculties using synergy and nu-speak. They share laughs. The next scene he is trying to use his subtle transgression as leverage to get a raise. He’s been shopping around. The economic crisis is an ace card for Chris’s current boss, and of course, some blabbering about being a team player. Unfortunately Chris is not a “t-shirt kind of guy” By the end of the scene it, would appear Chris’s Boss’s sentimental maneuver—“you’ve been working here for years, man”—pays off.
The liberal project of neutralization is made no more clear than in the non-violent communication between workers and bosses, employers and potential employees, and contractors and who ever the fuck pays them. Only one thing can be communicated: a gesture in every direction, the total domination of capital. We can hear anyone of our assistant managers “If you have any problems, just come talk to me, as two individuals. Nothing is more pathetic than facing an enemy alone, as an individual.
At some point in the film Chelsea’s mystical “personology” books inform her that a John, a happily married John with children, might be the one. She is invited to go away with him for the weekend. Chelsea is perhaps confused about “this feeling that I have, ya know.” She’s convinced “it’s just something she has to do.” We wonder if she has never had a crush or if we have said such dumb shit in our lives too. Unfortunately, its probably both. It proves to be a surefire way to defeat her boyfriend’s hold on their previous positions about dating Johns. She goes. Rupture. Fizzle.
The Girlfriend Experience will not seduce everyone to smash windows across the world. It is not an action movie. Life is not action packed. However, intentionally or not, the film lays the terrain for some of the biopolitical conflicts of our time. If the concept of history as a history of social war is going to mean anything it must be understood as an elaboration of a concept of the history as class struggle. Soderbergh’s film presents us with just this cinematic gift. Through our lens of insurrection we can make total sense of the banal and horrifying life presented in The Girlfriend Experience. And perhaps, through our proletarian techné, we can profane the film’s status as a philosophical commodity form. If Sasha Grey wishes to make existential porn, and ruminate on yet another meta-character in a movie, so be it. It is her real positionality, played by Chelsea, that ought interest us. It is in the fact that the so-called existential porn-stars of the alt porn genre cannot be made separate from the material worlds they are attached to. Thus, Sasha Grey, alongside some Senator, alongside our high-school friend, share in a practice of increasing their facebook rates by any means necessary. The youth in France and Greece use their social capital the wrong way, and territories light up. Mousavi declares a stolen election from twitter and accidentally becomes complicit in a revolt against the fabric of theocratic society. And Oakland? Make hyphy a threat again? Social war.
“they’re doing…being totally out of control”
– a police officer speaking over police radio about rioters in St. Paul at the Republican National Convention
Capitalism is a system of the flows of capital. It dominates all relationships. All relationships become relations of the flows of the capital. Capitalism is tautological. Everything is included, even the excluded. Capitalism functions by each circuit of capital having its proper place. If something severs or impedes the flows of capital, in any relationship, then capitalism can begin to not-function. If humankind, like a vegan slop of multiculturalism, constitutes a whole (a subject, a multitude, whatever), then it is how we produce a whole, how we function which must be examined, and interrupted.
To block any given artery of the metropolis, to block a road with burning objects, we interrupt the flow of capital from the center of the metropolis (the city) with its margins (rural areas) and in-betweens. After the fire goes out, the metropolis functions again, and perhaps prepares itself to manage such interruptions in the future. However, what is interrupted is not merely the relationship of commodities flowing through the metropolis, but the relationship between us and commodities. The generation of affects and sharing of complicity is of far more interest to an isolated and disempowered proletariat, than the imposition of punishment on this or that evil business.
The new subjectivities of the metropolis are just as miserable as the old ones: the high-end escort, the bike messenger, the craigslist whore, the anarchist, the graphics-designer, the web programmer, the hip hop artist, the DJ, the personal trainer, the private mercenary, the alt-porn artist, the transfeminist academic, the gay landlord. Our task is to locate these subjectivities, locate our being, and practice an ethics beyond suicide.
Self-abolition is realized as the pure means of the human strike. Positioned as high-end escorts to the super rich, we can imagine how such biopolitical assaults could interrupt the economy. In Q.libet’s upcoming essay “The Heart of War” a form of combat dubbed “heartwar” is theorized. Its means, the heart; its object, the heart. Imagine if, rather than merely taking money from elites for a job well done, Chelsea’s character, alongside others, practiced the same destructive love we practice with each other, ambitiously. Collective emotional strikes, either through disruptions of the normal structure of the family and escorts, or through a refusal to do care labor, can cause rifts that would stretch out in their affects. One can imagine making demands, or just expropriating and making attacks. A well situated group of escorts can gain access to far more resources and capital then currently situated insurgents in the anarchist milieu. Escorts can find common desire with other sex workers or care workers. The beautiful can go on strike against being beautiful—become disfigured. The streetwalkers can do being-in-love with entire police precincts. The entire industry of care and desire, can go on strike against their very being. Human strike after human strike.
Being well positioned, means being well positioned to interrupt. The revolts of ’68 taught us that even the privileged have become decomposed by capital. The revolts of today, will show us what life which has endured all the horrors of psychology, medicalization, miserable wages, irreversible time, rape, policing, war, biotechnologies, and cybernetics is capable of. The modern subject is dead. May we be so fortunate that subjectivity can finally be undone as well. Our being is on life support. Unplug it.”
Filed under: war-machine
“As protesters confronted the full force of the regime’s crackdown at the weekend, Iranian academic Besandiar Poorgiv in Tehran describes how anger and euphoria in the crowd evaporated into bewilderment and despair amid growing uncertainties over the opposition’s next move
On Saturday, we got together with my students and tried to keep up our morale. We are determined but scared, like most people at the demonstration. After [Ayatollah Khamenei's] fierce speech at Friday prayers, we knew that today we would be treated differently. We felt vulnerable, but at the same time were aware of our power. But no matter how influential it is collectively, it would have done little to protect us today.
Then comes another student to have lunch with us, but who is not coming to the demonstration. She’s too scared and while pretending to be in control bursts into tears. She says she hates to see people suffer. We tell her we have suffered for years. She says she doesn’t want people to die. I tell her tens of thousands die each year on the roads in Iran; at least this time it would be for a good cause.
In the bus, everybody goes to the same destination. All streets to Engelab are blocked. In front of Tehran University, you see the students inside, clutching the rails. They shout. But you can’t hear. In front of the students, on the other side of the bars, are two rows of anti-riot police and a row of basij militia holding posters insulting the demonstrators of the previous days. One says, “The trouble-makers pertain to MI6″.
Then comes one of the main attractions: two water-spraying machines. They’re huge, the size of a bus but taller, with fenced windows and two water-guns on top of each. We burst into laughter. They don’t know how to use it. They shoot second floor windows, riot police and the people, if they do at all, and these including girls in tight manteaus. It’s more Zurich than Tehran. One machine is stuck. They don’t know how to drive it. It’s a hot day, and it feels good to become wet. Much of the time, the sprays are not very powerful. It’s as if they’re watering the grass.
And it just does not fit the horror that’s in the air, the aggression with which the people are hit with batons. A beautiful day. It has been beautiful throughout the past week; you wonder whether nature is ironical.
They push the crowd back and forth, but soon realise people are on all sides. In a couple of minutes, the crowd goes away, the anti-riot police leave, and the students are gone. We don’t know why. Deprived of communication, you never see the big picture. Maybe they have attacked the university from behind.
At Towhid Square the scene changes. The streets to Azadi are blocked. But this time, people don’t change their path. They fight for it. There’s a shower of stones. Tear gas. Fire. The battle extends to nearby streets. People are shouting, “Down with the dictator”. Riot police throw back stones. I also grab a broken brick and throw. I’m amazed. Never thought I’d do it. But I need practice: it was a very bad shot. I grab another one, the size of a pomegranate and hide it behind my back. I am part university teacher, part hooligan.
We get a lift to avoid the teargas. Then there is the attack. A woman is beaten. She’s hysterical but so is the anti-riot police officer facing her. She shrieks, “Where can I go? You tell me go down the street and you beat me. Then you come up from the other side and beat me again. Where can I go?” In sheer frustration, the officer hits his helmet hard several times with his baton.
A couple of minutes later we get off. Here’s a true battleground. This time it is vast. Columns of smoke touch the sky. You can hardly see the asphalt. It’s covered with bricks and stones. Here people have the upper hand. The street consists of three lanes, the middle one separated by opaque fences, under construction for the metro. The workers have climbed up the fence and show the V sign. They start throwing stones and timber to the street to supply needed armament.
I tell myself, “Look at the poor, the ones Ahmadinejad speaks of”. But the president’s name is no longer in fashion. This time the slogans target the leader, something unheard of for three decades.
Two basijis’ motorbikes are burning. People have learned how to do it fast. They lie the motor on its side, make a small fire, then spray it to a point where it becomes inextinguishable. We climb up a bridge and watch. People shout from the bridge, “Down with Khamenei”. A basiji is caught: he soon disappears under the crowd beating him. As if in a Roman coliseum, those on the bridge shout, “Beat him up!” I shout with them before coming to my senses. What is with me? He staggers away as a group of 10 kick and punch him all over.
You can get on any car to go back home. People trust one another now. The woman in the seat next to me says: “It’s no longer about Mousavi or election results. We have suffered for 30 years. We didn’t live a life.” An old man next to her offers me fresh bread. They tell jokes about the political figures and laugh out loud. They feel victorious.
But this morning I was so depressed. Some friends came around, but there has been no announcement about any protest. There were rumours it would be in Hafteh-Tir square, but a friend has called to say there’s nothing going on there. On Saturday there was a sense of victory – many people were happy expressing what they couldn’t express for 30 years. But today there wasn’t any. It’s bewildering. There is disappointment at Mousavi’s latest statement. For me, I wouldn’t die for someone like Mousavi. But if there’s greater change at stake, then it’s worth it.”
-Besandiar Poorgiv (is a pseudonym)
Filed under: war-machine
“No one is waiting any longer: Iran has exploded and not even the Islamic regime is surprised.
Years of student strikes, militant street battles, workplace struggles, constant repression and then a spark. One spark to unleash the tidal wave of rage and despair that was once confined to barely audible whispers behind closed doors. Now the fury is here and everyone is in the streets, young and old, men and women, militant and pacifist.
The specter of ‘79 is colliding with the insurrections of Europe, but the flames of Iran burn far brighter than the 2005 uprising in metropolitan France or the Greek insurrection in December. Everywhere the normal functioning of things has been paralyzed: people refuse to just simply go back to work, squares and streets are blockaded, universities are not functioning, police stations are looted, and everyday social relations are negated. The human gears that everywhere allow any regime to function are now engaged in a total war that points beyond just stolen elections.
All of the established organizations within the conflict (whether in Iran or in exile) are exploiting it to build their own political power, for their own place at the roundtable.
But when has it ever been different? Their “politics” are always more of the same. Some wear green like they wear the “Yes We Can” in America.
Is that all we want?
Can the world we want ever be expressed simply by a vote?
Some complain that there are no leaders, no one to direct the insurrection, but this is to the revolt’s credit. Its spontaneous and uncontrollable nature is exactly what has allowed it to spread so quickly and resonate so widely.
This is not about an identity, a minority, an issue, or a stolen election. It’s about everything! As Anonymous Sinners (Iranian hip-hop group) asked, “What is it that we want other than freedom?”
THE DEMOCRATIC LIE
They have no future to offer us; the democratic lie can’t hide this.
The children of the metropolis are everywhere bound by common conditions, by lived experience; no more so in the West than in Iran. It takes the uproar and rage of an entire generation born outside of the democratic process to expose its illusions and false hopes. There could be so much more than a regime change.
What if the insurrection doesn’t end?
What if the fires keep burning, and spread to the whole of society?
This is the real threat, the potential for revolution: that the return to the university, the workplace, and the home might not ever take place. That the paralysis becomes total, that finally there is no going back…
Fundamentally, we must reach this point of no return.”
See also this blog called Insurrection_IRAN
“insurrection_IRAN is a blog with news and analysis for those who want more than to simply watch the world pass them by. The insurrection in Iran resonates across the entire metropolitan terrain, giving us signal, yet again, that this is not the time for waiting.”
Filed under: Uncategorized
This text was written by some wonky shit journalist who is in obvious need of a good yapping, but a hilarious situation can be pieced together from out of all the garbage analysis and slander slopped together by this imbecile.
From the New York Times:
“They arrived at the Barnes & Noble at Union Square in small groups on Sunday afternoon, proceeding two and three at a time to the fourth floor, where they browsed among shelves holding books by authors like Jacques Derrida and Martin Heidegger.
By 5 o’clock a crowd of more than 100 had gathered. Their purpose: to celebrate the publication of an English translation of a book called “The Coming Insurrection,” which was written two years ago by an anonymous group of French authors who call themselves the Invisible Committee. More recently, the volume has been at the center of an unusual criminal investigation in France that has become something of a cause célèbre among leftists and civil libertarians.
The book, which predicts the imminent collapse of capitalist culture, was inspired by disruptive demonstrations that took place over the last few years in France and Greece. It was influenced stylistically by Guy Debord, a French writer and filmmaker who was a leader of the Situationist International, a group of intellectuals and artists who encouraged the Paris protests of 1968.
In keeping with the anarchistic spirit of the text, the bookstore event was organized without the knowledge or permission of Barnes & Noble. The gathering was intended partly as a show of solidarity with nine young people — including one suspected of writing “The Coming Insurrection” —whom in November the French police accused of forming a dangerous “ultraleftist” group and sabotaging train lines.
As a bookstore employee announced to the milling crowd that there was no reading scheduled for that night, a man jumped onto a stage and began loudly reciting the opening words of the book’s recent introduction: “Everyone agrees. It’s about to explode.”
A security guard tried to halt the unsanctioned reading, but the man continued for about five minutes, until the police arrived. The crowd, mostly people in their 20s and 30s, including some graduate students, then adjourned, clapping and yelling, to East 17th Street. There they formed a rebellious spectacle, crowding into shops and loudly shouting bits of political theory, to the amusement of some onlookers and store employees and the irritation of others.
When the French publisher La Fabrique first issued “The Coming Insurrection” in 2007, it received comparatively little attention. But among those who did take notice were the French police, who began monitoring a group of people, mostly graduate students, living in the tiny mountain village of Tarnac in central France.
Last November nine of those men and women, ages 22 to 34, were arrested and accused of “associating with a terrorist enterprise” and disabling power lines that left 40,000 passengers stranded for several hours on high-speed trains. A spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutors’ office said that one of the nine, Julien Coupat, was believed to have written “The Coming Insurrection.” He has denied being the author but told interviewers in France that he admired the book.
The government eventually released the group — who have come to be known as the Tarnac Nine — pending further investigation, with some opponents of the official action accusing the police of carrying out arrests without sufficient evidence.
Meanwhile, the book Mr. Coupat was accused of writing has developed a small but devoted following. Dozens of anonymous translators have posted the text on Web sites. And Semiotext(e), a Los Angeles publisher that specializes in works by French theorists like Jean Baudrillard and Michel Foucault, published an English-language edition of the book at the end of last month with a print run of 3,000.
Hedi El Kholti, an editor at Semiotext(e), said that the book’s winding up as a key part of a controversial case added to the historical value of its message.
“Everyone is dancing around this notion that publishing a book can take you to jail,” he said recently by telephone. “That a book is an element that can involve you in a trial.”
The slender text is part antimaterialist manifesto and part manual for revolution. The writers expound at length on what they see as a diseased and dehumanizing civilization that cannot be reformed but must, they contend, be torn apart and replaced. To that end the authors direct their readers to sabotage authority, form self-sufficient communes and learn how to “support a conspiracy against commodity society.”
Like the authors of “The Coming Insurrection,” most of those observing its publication on Sunday night refused to identify themselves by name.
“The book is important because it speaks to the total bankruptcy of pretty much everything,” one man said after the group left the bookstore. “We’re living in a high-end aesthetic with zero content.”
Inside the Sephora cosmetics shop on East 17th Street, the crowd chanted, “All power to the communes,” as security guards wearing black T-shirts ordered them back outside. A few minutes later the cry was taken up again as the group marched into Starbucks on Union Square West.
Emile Olea, 28, a customer at the coffee shop who was visiting from San Diego, closed his laptop computer and gazed at the crowd.
“I have no idea what’s going on,” he said. “But I like the excitement.””
Other articles and info about this:
Filed under: Uncategorized
A newish text on the current financial crisis by the End Notes Collective:
“The history of the capitalist mode of production is punctuated by crises. One could say that crisis is the modus operandi of capital, or of the capital-labor relation. This is true insofar as capital, the self-valorization of value, the self-expansion of abstract wealth, is at any given time a claim on future surplus-value extraction: the accumulation of capital today is a bet on tomorrow’s exploitation of the proletariat.
The crisis today has taken the form of a financial crisis, while the prospect of a full-blown economic crisis looms ever larger. These two crises do not merely stand in a relation of cause and effect, however (whichever way one were to posit the relation). Rather they are the different manifestations of the same underlying crisis – the crisis of accumulation of capital, which is at the same time the crisis in the relation of exploitation between capital and proletariat.
Finance capital is the form of capital which most closely corresponds to its pure concept, in that the plethora of byzantine forms of finance capital can be reduced to the process whereby money begets more money or value begets more value. The relation between finance capital and productive capital, or between finance and the real economy, is marked, on the one hand, by the discipline which finance capital imposes on productive capital, and on the other, by the possibility and indeed tendency for finance capital to “run away with itself” – to run too far ahead of the possibilities of valorisation which are ultimately given by the profitable exploitation of labour-power in production.
This relation between finance and productive capital, or between finance and the real economy, while it has always existed in some form in the capitalist mode of production, has not remained unaltered. Since the global crisis of profitability of capital, or looked at another way since the crisis in the capitalist class relation in the late 60s and early 70s (marked by a wave of class struggle, industrial and social unrest), financialisation has been an integral element of the capitalist restructuring and counter-offensive – i.e. of the global restructuring of the relation between capital and proletariat. On the one hand, financialisation has been a vehicle by which the exploitation of labour-power has been integrated on a global scale (with the emergence and integration into the world economy of new poles of accumulation in the emerging “BRICS” economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa etc); on the other, it has been a means by which the entrenched position of the high-wage proletariat in the advanced capitalist economies could be weakened. These two aspects of financialisation together correspond to the integration of the circuit of reproduction of labour-power with the circuit of reproduction of capital. With the increasing financialisation of the relation between capital and proletariat, workers’ wages in the advanced economies have stagnated, and the reproduction of their labour-power has been increasingly mediated through finance (mortgages, loans, credit cards, and the investment of pension funds in the stock and money markets). This new configuration of the class relation has offered to many, but not all, strata of the proletariat in the advanced economies rising living standards, tied to asset-price inflation. The capitalist counter-attack and restructuring has involved fundamental alterations in the class relation through the defeat of the old workers’ movement and the obsolescence of its institutions (trade unions and parties) which promoted the rising power of the proletariat within capitalist society; the new shape of the class relation and the financialisation of this relation depend ultimately on the ability of capital to extract sufficient surplus-value in the global economy (by increasing productivity and by the intensification of labour).
The present financial crisis has its roots partly in the subprime loans and mortgages which were predicated on the continual upward trend of the housing market, and the inflation of asset prices (after the collapse of the previous asset bubble – the dot.com boom), with vast amounts of fictitious capital being generated by the leveraging practised by financial institutions (banks, investment funds, private equity funds etc). The finance-led boom ultimately outran the ability of the real economy – i.e. productive capital – to extract surplus value through the exploitation of workers in production (whether this production is ‘material’ or ‘immaterial’). As a consequence we are witnessing a massive ‘correction’ – the falling stock markets, housing market – in Marxian terms the devalorisation of capital (expressed in write-downs, defaults, bankruptcies, mergers and fire-sales of financial institutions, and now their part-nationalisation by capitalist states across the board).
Thus the pre-existing tendency towards the overaccumulation of capital (whether this tendency is to be understood as cyclical or secular), such that the productive investment of capital can no longer meet its valorisation requirements, is exacerbated by finance capital’s penchant for generating fictitious capital (through leveraging, debt financing, futures, options, derivatives and an increasing plethora of complex and arcane financial instruments). Even though finance capital disciplines productive capital (and productive capital is increasingly financialised), the extraction of surplus value through the exploitation of the proletariat can not keep pace with the demands for valorisation which are made by finance capital.
Capital is in crisis. The crisis asserts itself as devalorisation. Devalorisation is the only way that capital can lay for itself the basis of a new round of accumulation, and involves the disciplining of the working-class to accept new terms of exploitation; however, this means that it also places the very reproduction of the capital-labour relation at stake. To avert the crisis, the nationalisation of the banks is not sufficient. The economy is facing recession or depression, and the spectre of deflation. The state managers of capital are caught in a double bind: with huge budget deficits increased by the financing of the bail-out of the financial system (through the purchase of toxic securities, the recapitalisation of banks and the guaranteeing of new loans), the deficit-spending that capitalist states would need to engage in to maintain levels of effective demand in the economy will be increasingly difficult to finance. The question of the credit-worthiness of banks now asserts itself at a higher level as the dubious credit-worthiness of capitalist states (central banks and state treasuries).
Capital might find a way out of the crisis: it will seek to maintain or increase profitability in the real economy through pressure on wages (although this will perversely have a deflationary effect) and the intensification of labor (the increased exploitation of workers) – i.e. strategies to increase both relative and absolute surplus value. The way out of the financial and economic crisis involves the intensification of exploitation on a planetary scale and a crisis of the relation between capital and proletariat. In the 19th and 20th centuries up to the capitalist restructuring of the 1970s and 80s, the proletariat could assert itself as a positive pole in the relation of exploitation. Now, as the reproduction of the proletariat is increasingly mediated through finance, and is thus immediately entwined with the reproduction of capital (with the effect that the reproduction of growing swathes of the proletariat is increasingly precarious, as shown by the current wave of foreclosures and repossessions), and financialization enables the integration of the capitalist exploitation of labor-power on a planetary scale, the very means which on one level enable capital to fight its way out of crisis threaten crisis on a higher level – the level of the reproduction of the class relation itself.”
They now have their entire first volume of texts online for reading. The introduction (bring out your dead) to the issue is especially excellent as a summary and critique of the situationists as well as an introduction to the concept of communization.
Filed under: reviews
From the book:
“It’s useless to wait—for a breakthrough, for the revolution, the nuclear apocalypse or a social movement. To go on waiting is madness. The catastrophe is not coming, it is here. We are already situated within the collapse of a civilization. It is within this reality that we must choose sides.”
We will be getting copies of this as a book very soon, but for those interested in reading the text you can find a zine version to print here.
“The Coming Insurrection is an eloquent call to arms arising from the recent waves of social contestation in France and Europe. Written by the anonymous Invisible Committee in the vein of Guy Debord—and with comparable elegance—it has been proclaimed a manual for terrorism by the French government (who recently arrested its alleged authors). One of its members more adequately described the group as “the name given to a collective voice bent on denouncing contemporary cynicism and reality.” The Coming Insurrection is a strategic prescription for an emergent war-machine to “spread anarchy and live communism
Written in the wake of the riots that erupted throughout the Paris suburbs in the fall of 2005 and presaging more recent riots and general strikes in France and Greece, The Coming Insurrection articulates a rejection of the official Left and its reformist agenda, aligning itself instead with the younger, wilder forms of resistance that have emerged in Europe around recent struggles against immigration control and the “war on terror.”
Hot-wired to the movement of ’77 in Italy, its preferred historical reference point, The Coming Insurrection formulates an ethics that takes as its starting point theft, sabotage, the refusal to work, and the elaboration of collective, self-organized forms-of-life. It is a philosophical statement that addresses the growing number of those—in France, in the United States, and elsewhere—who refuse the idea that theory, politics, and life are separate realms.”
There should be a proper review coming soon after some discussion and rereading of the text. If you’ve already read this text, you’re more than welcome to discuss it here.
Filed under: Uncategorized
This is an excerpt from an interview with Julien Coupat, who the French authorities say is alleged to have written ‘the Coming Insurrection‘ deemed by them to be a manual for terrorism, and justification for his being under constant surveilance and months in prison.
“Here are the responses to the questions that we [Isabelle Mandraud and Caroline Monnot] posed in writing to Julien Coupat. Placed under investigation on 15 November 2008 for “terrorism,” along with eight other people interrogated in Tarnac (Correze) and Paris, he is suspected of having sabotaged the suspended electrical cables of the SNCF. He is the last one still incarcerated.
Q. How are you spending your time?
A. Very well, thank you. Chin-ups, jogging and reading.
Q. Can you recall the circumstances of your arrest for us?
A. A gang of youths, hooded and armed to the teeth, broke into our house. They threatened us, handcuffed us, and took us away, after having broken everything to pieces. They first took us into very fast cars capable of moving at more than 170 kilometers an hour on the highways. In their conversations, the name of a certain Mr Marion (former leader of the anti-terrorist police) came up often. His virile exploits amused them very much, such as the time he slapped one of his colleagues in the face, in good spirits and at a going-away party. They sequestered us for four days in one of their “people’s prisons,” where they stunned us with questions in which absurdity competed with obscenity.
The one who seemed to be the brains of the operation vaguely excused himself from this circus by explaining that it was the fault of the “services,” the higher-ups, all kinds of people who want [to talk to] us very much. Today, my kidnappers are still free. Certain recent and diverse facts attest to the fact that they continue to rage with total impunity.
Q. The sabotage of the SNCF cables in France was claimed [by someone] in Germany. What do you say about that?
A. At the moment of our arrest, the French police were already in possession of the communique that claimed, in addition to the acts of sabotage that they want to attribute to us, other simultaneous attacks in Germany. This communique is inconvenient to the police for a number of reasons: it was mailed from Hanover, drafted in German and sent to newspapers in the Outer Rhine area exclusively; but it is especially inconvenient because it does not fit the framework of the mediatic fable about us: a small nucleus of fanatics bringing the battle to the heart of the State by hanging three iron bars on the cables. From then on, they took care to not mention this communique too much, either in court or in the public lie.
It is true that the sabotage of the train lines lost much of its mysterious aura as a result: now it would be a matter of simple protest against the transportation of ultra-radioactive nuclear wastes to Germany over railroads and denunciations (made in passing) of the great rip-off known as “the crisis.” The communique concludes with a very SNCF-like “We thank the travelers on the trains concerned for their understanding.” What tact there is among these “terrorists”!
Q. Do you recognize yourself in the phrases “anarcho-autonomous circle of influence” and “ultra-left”?
A. Let me resume what I was saying. In France, we are currently living through the end of a period of historical freezing, the founding act of which was the accord reached in 1945 by the Gaullists and the Stalinists to disarm the people under the pretext of “avoiding a civil war.” The terms of this pact can be formulated thus: while the Right will renounce its overtly fascist accents, the Left will abandon all serious revolutionary perspectives. For four years, the advantage of Sarkozy’s clique has been the fact that it unilaterally took the initiative by breaking this pact and renewing “without apologies” the classics of pure reaction concerning the insane, religion, the West, Africa, work, the history of France and national identity.
Faced with a power at war that dares to think strategically and divide the world into “friends,” “enemies” and “negligible quantities,” the Left remains frozen, as if sick with tetanus. It is too cowardly, too compromised and, more than anything else, too discredited to offer the least resistance to a power that it doesn’t dare treat as an enemy and that, one by one, snatches away the sly devils [les malins] among its ranks. As for the extreme Left (Besancenot, for example): whatever its electoral results, and even if it has emerged from the groupuscular state in which it long vegetated, it hasn’t a more desirable perspective to offer than Soviet gray that has been slightly retouched in Photoshop. Its destiny is to deceive and disappoint.
Thus, in the sphere of political representation, the established power has nothing to fear from anyone. And certainly not the union bureaucracies, which are more corrupt than ever and now importune power [for help]. They do this, they who have danced an obscene ballet with the government for the last two years! In such conditions, the only force that can put a check on the Sarkozy gang, its only real enemy in this country, is the street, the street and its old revolutionary penchants. During the riots that followed the second part of the ritualized plebiscite of May 2007, only the street knew how to rise to the occasion. In the Antilles, during the recent occupations of companies and factories, it alone knew how to make another voice heard.
This summary analysis of the theater of operations was soon to be confirmed in June 2007, when the intelligence agencies published — under the bylines of journalists working under orders (notably for Le Monde) — the first articles bringing to light the terrible peril that is placed upon all social life by the “anarcho-autonomes.” To start, one attributed to them the organization of spontaneous riots, which, in so many towns, saluted the “electoral triumph” of the new president.
With this fable of “anarcho-autonomes,” one has sketched out the profile of the menace to which the Minister of the Interior is docilely committed to give a little flesh and a few faces by organizing targeted arrests in mediatic police raids. When one can no longer contain what overflows, one can still assign it a case number and incarcerate it. Thus, the case of the “rioter,” in which the workers of Clairoix, urban youths, student blockaders and anti-summit demonstrators are dumped pell-mell — this is certainly an effective move in the current management of social pacification — permits the State to criminalize actions, not existences. And it is indeed the intention of the new power to attack the enemy, as such, without waiting for him to declare himself. Such is the vocation of the new categories of repression.
Finally, it hardly matters than no one in France recognizes him or herself as “anarcho-autonomous” or that the ultra-left is a political current that had its moment of glory in the 1920s and that, subsequently, never produced anything other than inoffensive volumes of Marxology. Moreover, the recent fortunes of the term “ultra-left,” which have permitted some journalists to catalogue the Greek rioters of last December without striking a blow, speak to the fact that no one knows what the ultra-left was nor even that it ever existed.
At this point — and in the anticipation of outbursts that can only be systematized in the face of the provocations of a hard-pressed global and French oligarchy — the utility of these categories to the police must no longer be debated. Nevertheless, one cannot predict whether “anarcho-autonomous” or “ultra-left” will finally carry off the favors of the Spectacle and relegate a totally justified revolt to the inexplicable.
Q. The police consider you the leader of a group on the point of tipping over into terrorism. What do you think about that?
A. Such a pathetic allegation can only be the work of a regime that is on the point of tipping over into nothingness.”
Filed under: reviews
We recently received copies of this book in the mail from Ardent Press.
From the description on Little Black Cart:
“In this small and rich text, one of the authors of Nihilist Communism introduces an anti-political perspective in the form of letters, essays, and dialogs.
I think where the book is most successful is in its refusal of a defined revolutionary politics – it articulates a specific rejection of received political forms that tend to lapse into disputes of ownership of those forms by very small groups of individuals who are themselves defined by unexamined allegiances. I think the book expresses the potential for other modes of organising and other definitions of success beyond that of “sell the party, build the paper.” In this sense, it does not offer a set of arguments concerning what is or what must be the revolutionary structure so much as suggest a framework for assessing the claims of such structures.”
From a review in Mute Magazine:
“Over the past few years several publications have surfaced from what can loosely be called the non-Bolshevik revolutionary milieus. Ordinarily publications from such milieus can hardly be noted for their personal openness, play with form and stalwart exasperation with the seeming shrinkage of their circles. Such books as Call, Zones Of Proletarian Development (ZPD) and this one by Frére Dupont are noteworthy in that they seek, non-prescriptively, to provide grounds for optimism and fresh angles of approach for those milieus that will not rush to embrace them. A provocative theme in their approaches is the way that each reflects upon the modes of organisation of those milieus. Each has experimented with ‘phantom organisations’ – imaginary groupings of one or several that offer some means of conceptual secession, some means of supported self-exile from those hermetic orthodoxies for whom counter-cultural activists are, as ‘culturalists’, not to be taken seriously. From Call’s elaboration of a party of secession through to Mastaneh Shah-Shuja’s investigation of ‘reflexive joint activity’ in a ZPD, could it be that these books appeal to those distanced from the vestigially workerist revolutionary milieus, or to those convinced that capital’s efficacy is, to some degree, related to its instauration as a social relation? Are such approaches, with their accent upon relational congruence rather than ideological purity, more attractive and less threatening for those put off by the over erudite, the emotionally inarticulate and the suicidal militancy that non-revolutionary ‘others’ complain of? Frére Dupont frankly asks the question: ‘why is it that others feel no interest for us?’ (p.39).”
Filed under: update
There are 6 milk crates full of books sitting in my closet.
I haven’t checked the myspace and I won’t anymore. Or didn’t check it until today to steal information from it for this blog. There still seemed to be some sort of desire, as the bookmobile has been building in quantity and quality since it started 5 years ago or so, to communicate expansively that we exist as a resource (even if only this communication finds us more friends and people to share this secret language with).
I want to use this blog to update the conditions of our literary stock as well as encourage some critical engagement with the ideas and affections within texts, through notes, reviews or related information.
I’m still not certain that this blog even makes sense as a way to spend my time, yet I am entirely certain that I’ve been at work for 7 hours with nothing to do, so why not start a wordpress blog.