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While we’re waiting for Nihilist Communism to come out as a book from Ardent press a friend has formatted one section of the book into a beautiful new zine.
An excerpt from the text:
“State capitalism doesn’t do splendor like the old monarchs did, even though it has the means to do it better. Power has found that it cannot safely parade its power without giving natural enemies a target to aim at, so it secures itself by staging shows where factions of the ruling class compete to expose their rivals weaknesses — the least wicked, corrupt inept, foolish is the winner. Nevertheless a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid, it must show some light through its curtains. And whilst critical attention may be directed away sufficiently for that to become the normal run of things, pet journalists and heated debates about renewable energy, all that politics circus, there are occasions when a searching look will be turned back upon itself, something of the something going on shines through. Enough of a something to crack the city walls.
Capitalism as a totality only appears out of the corner of the mouth, over the shoulder, a whisper in a crowded room. If you look capitalism straight in the face you will see nothing but an issue, a spectacle, a side-show, an ideology, what you get is politics. What is made for the eye is not there. Where you look, power isn’t. What you debate does not touch the matter.
What we live in, what we live through, is not a society organized on the basis of principles, nor on beliefs or opinions. Capitalism, like all forms of social dominion, boils down to position, interest, ownership and those sustained by force. You can’t debate with capitalism, nor dispute with it, nor take it through the courts. All engagement at the level of political agenda, social aspiration and cultural value no matter what the content, no matter what the content, takes place within the world as it is, the world organized by capital. At the level of values, ideas and beliefs, there is nothing outside of capitalism.
Capitalism is defined in its perfection of domination by a characteristic of disguising itself, making its workings invisible but showing something else. We look at the screen not the projector. What happens, what interests us, what is put on for us, is fatally unimportant.
Capitalism is a general rule or law for social relations that determines and is made up of many small and boring gestures, the banality of which we could not look at even if we thought it vital, but which nonetheless are organized around the centralizing configuration of power, the immense gravity of ownership.
The truth of our moment is like staying awake in the garden of Gethsemene: sleep and politics are more desirable, more inevitable. And even in the pure will of revolt, or especially there, the gaze that would hunt out the ugly truth to slay it in righteous anger, chooses, in the end, to settle for surface disturbances. And all that time, like the bureaucrats of Dennis Potter, the figureheads sing, Look not at us but at the events unfolding, we are only the administrators of what is inevitable. The world is made to appear as a machine running itself and its owners nothing but its minders.
In crisis power looms over its enemies. In crisis everyone is an enemy. Crisis is the one time power can show itself imposing itself, without fear of usurpation. But even here, there is a current trend to manufacture crisis as a representation, we are passing into a time when crises exist only at the level of the screen. You could say capitalism is now concerned primarily with the orchestration of crisis and its theatrical overcoming. The UN have recently linked the ‘most powerful supercomputers in the world’ to generate predictions of global weather collapse, sea inundations, life amongst twisters, and melting polar icecaps: set eighty years in the future, this virtual crisis forms the ground conditions for capital investment in technologies of anti-crisis. Communications technologies are being superseded by anti-crisis industries as capital’s preferred futurological modality. In crisis, power manifests itself up close, not as itself, not naked, but in the manner of the Wizard of Oz, a roaring face. Noise is the proper medium of contemporary power, it occupies all wavelengths and prevents other sounds, you can feel it pinning you against the wall, but it is careful never to form any discernible words.
Crisis and noise. All crises of the economy are manifested at last in terms of crowds and the control of crowds. A couple of years back, protesting students were forced out of their occupation of a Canadian university by the authorities’ deployment of a Backstreet Boys album which was played at them repeatedly and without break for days on end (why not a Backstreet Boys single, or one, unending, note? Perhaps this marks the qualitative difference between democratic and totalitarian torture methods?). The inferno of Waco was preceded by ‘psy-war’ techniques in the form of Wall Of Jericho style directional noise artillery, the groundwork for which was laid during the US blast, bang, blare, siege of Noriega. We recall stun grenades in the Iranian embassy. New wave, anti-crisis, crowd control strategies advocate the necessity of targeting social dissonance with immediate and maximum use of unbloody force, this accepting the given that ‘a videotape’ of what happens will surface eventually, (stun technologies, microwave pulse weapons — everything is permitted so long as it doesn’t make blood and bone appear, a technological version of, ‘don’t touch his face’).
Noise is also circumstantial. The thud of DU tipped entertainment pierces privacy. Objective background hubbub, motor traffic. Whirr. Throb. No peace from purchased communications. Bleep. Noises forming alliances; informal blocks of techniques and applications of sound acting as deterrent to drift; bodies channeled, persuaded, funneled into designated areas. Behind the soundstage readies of the commodity organize popular distraction. A woman has to be restrained by court order from playing Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you” all day and all night, the neighbors become crazed precisely because there is no agenda other than the routinization of this figure of unbearable proximity: walls, ears, noise technique. The generators in the dark of the funfair. An orchestrated Babel of diverting news issues. Chime. Everybody addresses the appearance of crisis, all anybody is concerned about is its alleviation. Throw a cloth over it. CRASH. ‘Over there, animal epidemic! Sigh, nothing can be done.’ Plastic tape across the roads. Bing bong broadcast.”
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