Burnt Bookmobile

What ‘if…’?


7pm September 18th at the CCC

…we didn’t have to become our parents and in fact we realized we were at war with the world which makes up become them.

From the synopsis on Wikipedia:

If…. is a 1968 British feature film by director Lindsay Anderson satirising English public school life. Famous for its depiction of a savage insurrection at a public school, the film is associated with the 1960s counterculture movement because it was filmed by a long-standing counter-culture director at the time of the student uprisings in Paris in May 1968. It includes controversial statements, such as: “There’s no such thing as a wrong war. Violence and revolution are the only pure acts”. It features surrealist sequences throughout the film. Upon release in the UK, it received an X certificate.


Letters #4 (announcement)

“On the heels of a week-long tour of the Midwest, we present the fourth issue of LETTERS , our anti-political communist journal. Issue four includes a beautifully illustrated journal as well as a literary supplement, both printed and bound by our friends at Eberhardt Press. The journal and the supplement are presented in a screen-printed envelope.

In the journal, we explore topics outside of the usual focus of communist analysis: fate, friendship, theology, and being. The supplement features original poetry and fiction, as well as literary discussion, a film script, and interviews with novelist Horacio Castellanos Moya and translator Tim Wilkinson. As with previous issues, we present installments from the novel The Unseen.

From the introduction:

The first sin of the pro-revolutionary is to frame everything on a scale inversely proportionate to her significance. As she becomes more insignificant, her vision grows in grandeur. The whole of history is flowing towards her, however slowly, however imperceptibly. She waits to shoot down the partridges that do not come. As she waits, she speaks of the coming partridges as if their coming was like the expected arrival of a clown to a child’s party, not the Mashiach to the world. She waits and speaks, never taking an account of herself, devoted, as ever, for such a short time.

Another world does not exist anymore; nor the movement; nor the community. The young can say: when the movement is there pretend it is not there, and when it’s not there, pretend it is. And so we move and pretend and move to pretend, tracing our outlines in the street as detectives to our own disappearances. It’s still OK to leave. It’s still OK to stay. That much hasn’t changed. I remain with nothing and nothing but so much to say. In the absence and weight of absent community I write what I cannot speak, trace maps where I cannot walk, cutting flesh of imaginary enemies.


Arguments: parts 1 and 2
Fate: parts 1, 2, 3, and 4
Friendship: parts 1, 2, and 3
Letters: parts 1, 2, and 3
Novelty: parts 1, 2, and 3
The Parallax Few

Literary Supplement:

The Parrot Cycle
Other Poems
Short Fiction
Howls in Favor of Sadie
Unfinished Discussion: Franz Kafka’s The Great Wall of China
Interview: Horacio Castellanos Moya
Interview: Tim Wilkinson
The Unseen”

(The bookmobile currently has about 5 copies left. They are $7.)


Release Us to the Field
08/26/2010, 8:01 PM
Filed under: war-machine

In his consideration of Tiqqun’s Introduction to Civil War, Frére Dupont identifies the group’s self-perceived ‘radical subjectivity’ as an elitist trap which has long plagued ultra-left and avant garde movements. As an ‘anti-political communist’ writer often identified with Tiqqun, he explores how their construction of a we/they polarity represents a crucial difference between them

“Mary said to Jesus, ‘Whom are your disciples like?’

He said, ‘They are like children who are playing in a field which is not theirs. When the owner of the field comes, the children will say, “Release to us our field”‘

- Monsieur Dupont’s parable of the children in a field

There is a sect called the disciples. Of all the things in the world, they are most like a group of children playing in a field. And so it is that such children most resemble, of all things in the world, a militant religious sect. When it is demanded by the ‘owner’ of the field that the children remove themselves, they make a preternatural counter-demand, ‘The field is ours because we are playing here; do not dispute with us the ownership of the field. Our continued playing takes precedence over your right to formal ownership.’ The owner of the field has authority but is isolated. The children are a collectivity and that clinches the dispute in their favour (from their perspective). The power of the children’s argument is derived from the exigency of their collective activity. And all this seems to fall into line with the romance-utilitarianism of ‘communisation’.

[Image: still from Leslie Daiken's film, One Potato, Two Potato, 1957]

Tiqqun also resemble a group of children. That is, they would resemble some children if those children also happened to resemble players in the game of Tiqqun. Perhaps Tiqqun play somewhere in a field near the rural centre of France and their rough and tumble has given rise to a set of demands relating to the ownership of their field. It is a natural progression for them to translate the rules of their play into the real world and thus demand that the field of play itself be released to them. It is a natural progression, within the terms of their play, to assume that the field is theirs because they are there. And, by virtue of their presence in their space, this field of theirs, they are constituted as a collectivity. By a process of circular self-legitimation, Tiqqun has the power to enforce the parameters of its play, which thus takes the form of further, externally directed demands.

The collectivity of Tiqqun is the ‘us’ formation which they propose universally as a contradiction to the owners of fields (who constitute an aggregate of isolated ‘them’). As a collective ‘us’, Tiqqun is condensed in its own field and contemplates itself both as the recomposition of its own ‘radical singularity’ and as the autonomous progenitor of its own identity.i The self-fulfilling prophecy of radical subjectivity, that all ‘theys’ will either be initiated into a condition of Tiqqun by means of ‘contagion’ or they will ‘stay where [they] are’, amounts to the self-imposition of a quarantine.ii The problem of self-isolation, set out as the objective limit on influence for all radical subjectivities, is thus re-encountered by Tiqqun. Even where the owner of the field accedes to the collectivity’s demands and releases the field to the self-defined radical subjectivity, ‘they’ (i.e. everyone else) remain unmoved, and see no reason not to stay where they are. Without the tension of demand and counter-demand to sustain it, and whilst it recruits no others in order to expand its territory, the radical subject as soon as it successfully achieves its first demand, must then pass into a rapid state of decline; its radical example passing unconsumed by the indifferent masses. Tiqqun have achieved the status of life in a commune, and every ‘smallest detail’ of their practice is a ‘heroic’ victory and yet none of it makes any difference. It has no meaning for anyone but themselves.iii

Have Tiqqun forgotten that only the tragic hero is in possession of his own line of flight, and that the cost to him is utter isolation? As soon as they define the problem of the capitalist social relation in terms of the difference between what ‘we’ do and what ‘they’ do and infer from this that ‘we’ are set against what ‘they’ are, they initiate a tragic sequence of associations which end with their manifesting the conventions of everything they supposedly oppose.

Don’t they, or do they, see how this invocation of ‘us’, manifesting in the field of ‘them’, sets Tiqqun neatly within the history of every other recuperated avant garde of radical subjectivity which has first set out to propose itself as an example? They foresee that their engagement by the Bloom (those who know no ‘community’iv), on Tiqqun’s own terms as a radically singular form, will never exceed ‘predictable chatter’.v However, by means of this chatter, Tiqqun, as a singular formation, are already in the process of becoming Bloomesque. It is as though by making the initial separation of themselves as a singular ‘form-of-life’, they condemn themselves to an abject state of defeat which the Bloom never have to suffer.vi

However, before this ritual submerging of the avant garde occurs, the isolation of ‘us’ from them is constituted first in terms of the rejection of the Bloom:

How can we extract ourselves from this dispersive mass of Bloomesque bodies, from this global Brownian motion where the most vital bodies proceed from one petty abandonment to the next, from one attenuated form-of-life to another, consistently following a principle of prudence…vii

But why would we want to extract ourselves from ‘them’ in the first place? As if in answer, Tiqqun exult in themselves as ‘us’:

Us – it is neither a subject, nor something formed, nor a multitude. Us – it is a heap of worlds, of sub-spectacular and interstitial worlds, whose existence is unmentionable, woven together with the kind of solidarity and dissent that power cannot penetrate; and there are the strays, the poor, the prisoners, etc., etc.. In short all those who, following their own line of flight, do not fit into Empire’s stale, air-conditioned paradise. Us – this is the fragmented plane of consistency of the Imaginary Party.viii

But this is not a community. It is a gang. Or a congregation: ‘When I encounter a body affected by the same form-of-life as I am, this is community, and it puts me in contact with my own power.’ix Community is not electively asserted from the compatibility of its parts. Instead, the always secondary recognition of an ‘us’ emerging in common struggle with similar others is just one formation amongst numerous other subject-fragments which, aggregated together, presuppose an earlier process. Always, just before the appearance of a recognisable community, the cumulative laying down and part-forgetting of earlier conflicts reaches a critical mass only to be dispersed by a representation of an ‘us’, by the very ideology of community which Tiqqun affirm in this book. Community never exceeds the ideological representation of itself wherever it is proposed as people agreeing with each other.

In reality, any community is the unlooked for, accidental and arbitrarily accumulated depositing of long histories of different human traffics which have all passed through this same narrowing in the river. Tiqqun’s urgent need for group consummation inhibits their grasp of the essential truth of community, which is that it is never achieved. Every subject-fragment which sticks to this place rather than another, proceeds to disrupt the ‘us’ which might just then have been about to formalise. The presence of the new arrival causes the community as an aggregate to reorient towards a deferred and greater ‘us’, the conditions for which are still not present and are always deferred. In short, a community is a positive representation of the binding together of conflicting interests in close proximity over long periods of time but it is never a community as such.

Whenever a ‘we group’ such as Tiqqun condenses itself in the field, becoming the spectral embodiment of the project named ‘how is it to be done?’, anti-political communists are made to feel uneasy.x ‘Tiqqun is, [...] the action that restores to each fact its how, of holding this how to be the only real there is.’xi But how can it be, anti-political communists ask, that this group is not only capable of locating the errors of all history as it manifests itself as Tiqqun in its field, but that the truth of the world is also already in its grasp? What likelihood is there, anti-political communists ask ask, given the expanse of what is and what has been, that the awareness of both error and truth should converge at the same moment in the same location and identify itself as that which could be?

Tiqqun means that ‘each act, conduct, and statement as event [...] spontaneously manifests its own metaphysics, its own community, its own party.’xii

Following a different ‘inclination’ to Tiqqun’s constant movement towards self-reference, certain ‘anti-political’ communists have developed a theology of ‘they’. It is assumed in the propositions of this theology that if the communists have the capacity to spot radical flaws and snags in the present ordering of things, then this knowledge is sufficiently damaging and compromising to the communist formations themselves that it must necessarily inhibit the communists’ capacity to approach the innocent question of ‘how it is to be done’. And so, these communists conclude, the how of things must be addressed by an appropriate ‘they’, or even an ‘it’, which is organised, yes in part perhaps derived from the communists’ findings, at an altogether higher order of recursion.

…we are the pariahs of Empire. Anchored somewhere within us, there is a lightless spot, a mark of Cain filling citizens with terror if not outright hatred.xiii

The ‘we’ of Tiqqun, even as it denounces subjective formations and identity politics, nonetheless still locates in its own practice a transcendent alternative to the lives of the ‘them’, the herd, the spectators, the sometimes silk but usually plastic and always contemptible Blooms of conventional existence: ‘They are born collaborators.’xiv Tiqqun belong to the tradition of that greater ‘we’ which has descended through time as the small group, as the sect, which extrapolates from the fragment of the world which is itself into a potentially generalisable condition. With Hellfire Club style exultations in images of ‘abandoning ourselves to our inclinations’, Tiqqun set themselves qualitatively against the masses who are to be understood in terms of ‘Fake self-control, restraint, self-regulation of the passions…’.xv Tiqqun define the ‘us’ form-of-life, their civil war, as an exponential increase of excitations, a contagious sense of their ‘being carried away’. Grand gestures of relinquishment sets their ‘us’ apart from the acquisitiveness of others.

It is not difficult to identify the presence of historical traces of modernist misanthropy by which previous subject formations in the multiple traditions of Nietzsche, Lenin, Heidegger, the Surrealists, Sartre and Vaneigem (amongst so many others) have all constructed small-group, avant-garde leadership ethics in contradistinction to the cracked and passive masses of the many.

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,

I had not thought death had undone so many.

Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,

And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.

- T.S. Eliot, ‘The Waste Land’

‘… the resentful ones, the intellectual, the immunodeficient, the humanist, the transplant patient, the neurotic are Empire’s model citizens’

- Tiqqun, Introduction to Civil Warxvi

Hatred of the weak and sick is a crude rhetorical device which has also been deployed by the Futurists, Lawrence, H.G. Wells, Nietzsche, Leiris. In fact it has become a Bloomesque commonplace.

Tiqqun do not produce the field in which they appear, it produces them. They are not able to reach behind themselves and release either themselves or the relations that have strangely caused them to burst into life here, in this field of dreams. They are characters in a tableau vivant, they are a fragment within a clockwork scene – they are very far from their self-representation as singular. It has been arranged that an avant garde will appear, and it is set in motion by the gesture of a hand seen from the windows of the chateau. It has been arranged that the avant garde always appear as themselves to function within their landscaped role. It seems that they are condemned by the wider relations of the field to demand perpetually that it be released to them. They are stuck at the point where they propose abandonment to inclinations and yet find that this recipe for extremity has become the epitome of ‘fake self-control, restraint, etc.’ Don’t they, or do they, know that release will never be theirs – no matter how contagious they are?

The tension created by the field’s boundaries are productive, and constraining, of Tiqqun’s specific (not singular) form-of-life. Without the tension of exterior relations through which their call resonates, there is no Tiqqun. As with every other form-of-life, Tiqqun appears at that curious edge of a capacity to face up to the problems which it alone brings into focus, and of which it is the unique expression. The ‘anti-political’ communist notes that every form-of-life is capable of inhabiting its comfort zone and thereby recognises the edges of itself…, but it is rare, so rare, for a form-of-life to accept that it is also the embodiment of other problems which it will never master, or, that it is the very problem which must be faced up to by unknown others.

For a ‘how to’ manual, Introduction To Civil War is surprisingly biased towards the framing of an abstract ethical theory rather than to the description of practical techniques which might be deployed in the field. There is a lengthy description of what we are expected to recognise as an unprecedented form of power which Tiqqun describes as ‘Empire’ and which should be understood as an immanent mode of governance, or an infinite, depthless network of discreet normalising techniques which realise the categories of biopower and spectacle. Empire, as Tiqqun describe it, permits no ‘outside’.xvii They insist that this Empire defines our reality and that it has supplanted the state (which it has ‘turned inside out’).xviii They also helpfully indicate that the ‘Manichaeist’ Empire which they oppose bears no more than a passing resemblance to the historically ambivalent Empire of Hardt and Negri.xix ‘…imperial domination can be described as neotaoist…’xx

The tendency for conceptual reframing of power relations obviously has its libidinal rewards; there is always a fetishistic kick to be derived from a fevered portrayal of the exquisite degree of totality. But there is also a long post-Enlightenment precedence for describing power in terms other than those which power itself deploys, and Tiqqun’s metaphor for current productive relations does enable them to conjure some just-so assertions worthy of Rousseau. And yet, the usefulness to others of the term Empire is uncertain as plainly what Tiqqun describes is not actually an ‘empire’ in any historical sense. It is a metaphorical empire of interconnectivity which has as much conceptual grip as the term ‘Multitude’.

As an alternative to Tiqqun’s category-collapsing hyper-manichaeism, social critics, using a phenomenological approach, are still able to bring social relations clearly into focus without resorting to immediatist myths of Empires and Multitudes. As an alternative to the collapsism, metaphorical periodisations and lack of recursion (rendered as ‘immanence’) within Tiqqun’s concepts, the ‘anti-political’ communists perceive the social relation as fundamentally unchanging in nature throughout the period of real domination by capital (even though this domination has often undergone periodic exacerbations). In opposition to this frozen world, social critique has continued to make fragmentary conceptual tools available (even where these tools are encrusted with reifications) which make it possible to grasp and reveal the stations of capitalised existence without lapsing into either immediatist metaphor or objectivist ‘explanation’. It is still possible to get one’s bearings.

There is no Empire as such, only a continuing social relation based on the mechanism of commodity production which is subjected to fluctuating internal pressures: the rising organic composition of capital; the tendency of the rate of profit to fall; the increasingly complicated process of extracting surplus value from a shrinking industrial proletariat; the resetting of the productive relation via value destruction, crises and write-offs. These pressures, alongside resource depletion and proletarian disenchantment, require the intervention within the productive apparatus of a hyper-vigilant governance and a corresponding planned integration of all productive functions. There has been no shift in regime from state to Empire, only a cycle where phases of hyper-intensification of process are followed by periods of laissez-faire drift.

To this relatively simple understanding of the pressures inherent within the capitalist system the ‘anti-political’ communists could add a correspondingly simple therapeutic approach based, to use some currently useful examples, on: Stephen Jay Gould’s account of how different laws apply to different scales of (in Tiqqun’s terms) forms-of-life (Size and Shape); Stafford Beer’s theory of recursion and viability (Think Before You Think); Maturana and Varela’s theory of autopoietic cognition (The Tree of Knowledge); and Gregory Bateson’s theory of binds, correctors, reinforcers and releases (Steps to an Ecology of Mind).

None of these are anti-political – or communist texts, they belong to what Tiqqun consider a ‘they’ practice. However, these texts illuminate in their different ways (as do millions of other fragments of accumulated insight) aspects of the nature of the world and how it might be changed. They are therefore more useful than compromising to us. It is important for pro-revolutionaries to overcome the rudimentary error of radical subjectivity (that Tiqqun fall into) which assumes that both the problem, and the solution to the problem, must be formulated by the same subject formation and that there is some sort of mission failure if there is not produced a unified general ‘theory of everything’.

In short, there are whole other literatures of social transformation quite different in character to that presented by ‘revolutionary’ theory. The examples given above are derived from clinical and economic practice and have been developed so as to place utilisable conceptual tools in the hands of others. They do not offer an explicit critique of the problems of capitalism as such but are applicable to that end. In the hands of the ‘anti-political’ communists such ideas have been moulded together into a therapeutic form of knowledge which looks for the release of bound phenomena from frozen social relations. Within this frame it is understood that reified phenomena do not constitute Blooms (‘creatures of imperial society’xxi) who are complicit with capital so much as expressions of higher order relational contradictions. It is this higher field of relations that must be modified in order to release what has become so contemptibly frozen from the perspective of Tiqqun.

It is this form of practical knowledge of releases and triggers, rather than the military blowback metaphors of Tiqqun and their insurrectionist contemporaries, which the anti-political communists orient themselves towards. And yet, and it is so strange to observe this, as it falls into the hands of the anti-political communists, this practical knowledge developed by systems theorists and biologists is once again translated into parables and metaphors representing frozen confrontations and insurmountable obstacles. Do the anti-political communists also resemble most of all, the recalcitrant children playing against the owner of a field? Is the avant garde formalisation of radical subjectivity the fate of all who seek to oppose the state of things?

It is so strange to observe how this transformational effect, this becoming before parables, in which our writing has come to resemble, above all, that of Tiqqun’s. So strange then, this process by which we, the self-identified anti-political communists, are condensed into a ‘we’, and by means of that identification have become associated in the minds of others, with the ‘we’ of Tiqqun. On anecdotal evidence, we understand that, by force of some unknown-to-us readership, we are read with them; and that for this readership, Tiqqun and anti-political communism have become a recognisable form-of-life.

It must often occur to such readers of experimental works that the massive conceptual machinery which has to be deployed in order to achieve a break from conventionality, the pages and pages of re-definitions and descriptive shadings, are productive only of a small output of practical and communicable knowledge of divergence. Tiqqun’s findings, and we must not doubt the great expenditure of their energies on the project, have about as much relevance to most people’s lives as, for an equivalent, Bataille’s concept of ‘The Accursed Share’. True, a few people to my knowledge have directly quoted variations on the theme of, ‘The state of exception is the normal regime of the Law’, but where that gets them, I am still not sure.xxii

This tireless work of early adopters should not be underestimated, and even now these will be redeploying such conceptual formulations as, ‘The Imaginary Party is the Outside of the world without Outside’, in sometimes more and sometimes less directly practicable frameworks.xxiii But it is difficult not to conclude that Introduction to Civil War, despite the efforts of its authors to the contrary, is still too much a permissible, even exemplary, work in the style of Anti-Oedipus and (of all the fields of applicability in the world) it is probably most fitting to the radical philosophy departments of French academe. Even so, and beyond theories of redundancy, signal to noise ratios and interpellation, Tiqqun are in the same place as other pro-revolutionaries. They accurately describe some of the disconnections that constitute our radical subjectivity even as we seek to oppose that formalisation.

Bound by incompatible inclinations, our milieu is still not a community as such but rather recycles its gang-like forms which are grounded in primitive, pseudo-elective, unreflexive, non-dialectical and bewilderingly arbitrary allegiances. Historically, like anti-political communism, Tiqqun’s purpose condensed within the anti-capitalist spectacle of the late 1990s whilst, and like anti-political communism, belonging to earlier (and perhaps played out) tendencies within the milieu. This historical dimension alone suggests that, despite what are for us their misinterpretations of the milieu’s field, they are to the anti-political communists, as primary school children a few weeks ago were in the habit of saying, a brother from another mother – and as such, we cannot completely sever the ties of community with them.

A woman stepped out from the multitude and said to Jesus, ‘fortunate is the womb that conceived you and the breasts that suckled you.’ He said to her, ‘There will be another day when you will say; “fortunate is the womb that did not carry me and the breasts which did not nourish me”.

- Monsieur Dupont’s parable of the woman from the multitude

-Frere Dupont


Anti-Anarchist Repression – Immediate Freedom to the 14 (Chile)
08/19/2010, 4:35 PM
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: , , , , ,

From 325 quoting mainstream media from Chile:

“Breaking news coming in from Chile about a wave of repression aimed at dismantling the anarchist movement. International solidarity and resistance – Spread this information and take action!

mainstream media:

Raids Lead To Arrest Of 14 Alleged Members Of Chilean Anarchist Group.

Police say financing likely came from Italy, Greece, Mexico and Argentina. Police on Saturday led simultaneous raids that resulted in the arrests of 14 people suspected of belonging to a Chilean anarchist group accused of more than 100 bombings. 14 Suspects accused of 23 Bomb Attacks nabbed in Chile.

SANTIAGO – Fourteen people were arrested Saturday on suspicion of taking part in at least 23 bomb attacks on various districts of Santiago, officials said. The capture of the suspects, known to have ties to anarchist groups, took place in three simultaneous raids carried out in the small hours of Saturday in Santiago and Valparaiso. Most of the suspects were arrested in downtown Santiago, while others were nabbed in other districts of Santiago and in the nearby city of Valparaiso. Besides detailing the number of arrests, the prosecutor of the case, Alejandro Peña, also said that another hideout was raided in the Santiago suburb of Pudahuel. According to Gen. Bruno Villalobos of the intelligence agency of the Carabineros militarized police force, “scientific” evidence exists of the connection between those in custody and the succession of attacks that for several years have been perpetrated in Santiago and other cities. Among the evidence pointing to their guilt were traces of TNT on the hands and clothing of three of those under arrest, according to the prosecutor, who added that there is other proof that implicates “six” of the suspects as perpetrators of the attacks.

The raids were carried out by Carabineros agents with helicopter support. Only three of the detainees have been identified up to now: Pablo Morales, Rodolfo Retamales and Andrea Urzua. The first two are former members of the Lautaro Group, a far-left organization that fought against the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, while the woman was caught several years ago trying to smuggle explosives into a jail in the Argentine city of Neuquen, where some of her friends were imprisoned. “This culminates a long, wide-ranging work of investigation that allowed us to catch a significant number of those involved in assembling and installing explosive devices,” Gen. Villalobos told reporters.

For several years, Chile has been hit by attacks with low-power homemade bombs using fire extinguishers filled with explosives and claimed in many cases to have been the work of anarchist groups under different names.

The most recent bombs, which were defused by police before exploding, were planted in a restaurant on Aug. 6 in the affluent Santiago neighborhood of Vitacura and, the day before, in a plaza near the summer residence of Chile’s presidents in the city of Viña del Mar. Some time ago a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate the attacks, which up to now have taken the life of a young anarchist, (Maurico Morales) who was blown up and killed last year by a bomb he was carrying in his backpack while bicycling down a street in Santiago.

Those in custody were taken to a police station and are to appear before a court that will define the procedure for their trials. According to Peña, the detainees will be accused “of the crime of illicit terrorist association and of planting explosive devices in order to spread fear among the population.”

Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter considered the operations “very good news for the government and principally for Chilean men and women.””


New (mostly insurrectionary) Translation Collective
08/17/2010, 12:06 PM
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: , , ,

“Over the past months a new translation collective has started based in Berlin. So far there are many texts translated into a fair few languages. The focus so far has been “insurrectionary” texts but not exclusively. If anyone is interested in translating texts or laying out texts into an imposed pdf format (hint hint) get in touch.”


Letters Journal Tour

August 18th at Woodland Pattern Book Center, 6 PM

“Daring as never before, wastage as never before.
Young blood and high blood,
Fair cheeks, and fine bodies;

fortitude as never before

frankness as never before, disillusions as never told in the old days, hysterias, trench confessions, laughter out of dead bellies.

Our tour will be nothing like that, but we promise debate and poetry.”

What don’t know what all this will mean exactly in terms of what will actually happen at the event, but we’re excited because they are our friends and they put a lot of work into what they do.

The first two issues of Letters Journal are also now available to download:

Issue 1

Issue 2

80 Blocks from Tiffany’s (FREE FILM SCREENING)
08/05/2010, 3:15 PM
Filed under: Milwaukee area | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday the 21st 7pm at the CCC (732 E Clarke St.)

Some random description:

“An intimate look at life on the streets for young teens gang members. Black and Latino teenagers of the South Bronx struggle to make it on the streets. This is Pre Hip – Hop, Pre Rap, and before Break Dancing took over the youth culture of the Bronx. It is right before the advent of Graffiti writers/bombers and Break Dance Crews that took off and became the new black culture a few years later. The film takes place in the summer of 1979. Shockingly realistic interviews with gang members of the infamous Savage Nomads and the savage skulls. Amazingly this authentic documentary does not contain any of the normal pitfalls that befuddle today’s more exploitative investigative reports on gangs of the ” 60mins.” type. Filmmaker Gary Weiss of SNL manages to let the kids speak for themselves. Most of the footage are real interviews. A few scenes are reenactments of stories as told by some of the younger street kids. A rare glimpse into late 70′s New York towards the end of the infamous South Bronx Gangs. Anyone who is a fan of “The Warriors” would appreciate this film. The documentary shows many sides of the mainly Puerto Rican / Latino community of the South Bronx including. reformed gang members, current gang members, the police, and the community leaders who try and reach out to them.”

This screening is free. Bring snacks to share. Tell yer friends.

Letters Journal Tour in Milwaukee August 18th

“Bent resolutely on wringing lilies from the acorn, Letters Journal presents an evening of communism, theology, and water color painting (plus the brand new issue of the journal!).

August 16th – Cincinnati, Ohio at the Sidewinder Cafe, 6:30 PM
August 17th – Chicago, Illinois at Ubuntu, 7 PM
August 18th – Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Woodland Pattern 6PM
August 19th – Champaign-Urbana, Illinois at the IMC, 7 PM
August 20th – St. Louis, Missouri at the Black Bear Bakery, 7 PM
August 21st – Bloomington, Indiana at TBA

Please drop us a line if you plan to attend an event and want promotional materials.”


(plus the Burnt Bookmobile will have copies of Letters #3 very soon as well… Even though #4 just came out.)

Signals of Disorder
08/02/2010, 2:03 PM
Filed under: war-machine

Posted to Anarchist News:

“Sowing Anarchy in the Metropolis

In an article in the recent book, We Are an Image from the Future: the Greek Revolt of December 2008, I briefly made a point that a friend convinced me needs to be elaborated. The idea is that of “signals of disorder,” and their importance in spreading rebellion.

As far as Greece is concerned, the argument is that by carrying out attacks—primarily smashings and molotov attacks against banks and police stations, which constitute the most obvious symbols of capitalist exploitation and State violence for Greek society—insurrectionary anarchists created signals of disorder that acted as subversive seeds. Even though most people did not agree with these attacks at the time, they lodged in their consciousness, and at a moment of social rupture, people adopted these forms as their own tools, to express their rage when all the traditionally valid forms of political activity were inadequate.

An interesting feature of these signals is that they will be met with fear and disapproval by the same people who may later participate in creating them. This is no surprise. In the news polls of democracy, the majority always cast their vote against the mob. In the day to day of normality, people have to betray themselves to survive. They have to follow those they disbelieve, and support what they cannot abide. From the safety of their couch they cheer for Bonny and Clyde, and on the roadside they say “Thank you, officer” to the policeman who writes them a speeding ticket. This well managed schizophrenia is the rational response to life under capitalism. The fact that our means of survival make living impossible necessitates a permanent cognitive dissonance.

Thus, the sensible behavior is not to reason with the masses, to share the facts that will disprove the foundations of capitalism, facts they already have at their fingertips, and it is not to act appropriately, to put on a smiley face, and expect our popularity to increase incrementally. The sensible thing to do is to attack Authority whenever we can.

Attacking is not distinct from communicating the reasons for our attacks, or building the means to survive, because we survive in order to attack, and we attack in order to live, and we communicate because communicating attacks the isolation, and isolation makes living impossible.

Why do signals of disorder constitute attacks on capitalism and the State? After all, the police are basically the punching bag, the shock absorbers, for the State, and one of the limitations of the insurrection in Greece was that anarchists focused too much on police, rather than on the State in all its manifestations. And what about smashing insured bank windows? Creating a signal of disorder could even involve mere spraypainting, or hanging out on street corners. Isn’t this just the ritualization of aimless and impotent rebellion, as the naysayers are so quick to say?

Turns out, the devil is in the details.

In a way, the idea of signals of disorder is an inversion of the Broken Windows Theory of policing. Wilson and Kelling’s article, “Broken Windows,” first advanced the policing theory of the same name in 1982, but it wasn’t until Kelling was hired by the NYC Transit Authority later in the decade that this flagship of minute social control was launched. When Rudolph Giuliani was elected mayor of New York in 1993, Broken Windows policing took on city-wide dimensions, and it soon spread to the rest of the country. By the early ’00s, Broken Windows was being adapted for the social democracies of Europe.

Among the technocrats, Broken Windows is controversial, because it easily blurs causation with correlation: just because broken windows and other signals of disorder often accompany higher crime rates does not mean they are the cause of crime. Occasionally, you’ll hear a whimper that without proper sensitivity training, Broken Windows policing encourages harrassment of minorities.

All this misses the point: the State is not interested in reducing crime, the State is interested in increasing social control, and Broken Windows policing is a critical expansion of its arsenal. Giuliani’s reign of “zero tolerance” didn’t just go after fare-dodgers, graffiti writers, and the squeegee men. Under his stewardship, the NYPD became the first ever police department in the history of the world to log more arrests than reported crimes. Entire neighborhoods became depopulated of certain demographics as young black men were shipped to the prisons upstate. A policing that targets the petty details of every day life, that criminalizes our minor strategies to cope with the impossibilities of life under capitalism, is part and parcel of an expansion of police power as a whole.

Why does the city government in San Francisco want to criminalize sitting or lying in the streets? Why did the city government in Barcelona ban playing music in the streets without a license? Why did the government of the UK prohibit a detailed list of “anti-social behaviors”?

Because the goal of the State is total social control. Because the trajectory of capitalism is towards the total commercialization of public space. Every time we identify another invasion of State and capitalism into the minutiae of daily life, every time we confront that invasion, we are potentially fighting for revolution. As Authority increasingly manages us at the nano level, the can of spraypaint, the rock, the molotov, deserve the same significance as the AK-47.

Spreading signals of disorder accomplishes a number of things. It increases our tactical strength, as we hone a practice of vandalism, property destruction, public occupation, and rowdiness.

It interrupts the narrative of social peace, and creates the indisputable fact of people opposed to the present system and fighting against it. It means the reason for this fight, the anarchist critiques, have to be taken more seriously because they already exist in the streets. In this way, the attacks create the struggle as a fact in a way that would otherwise only be possible in times of greater social upheaval and movement. To have this effect, the signals of disorder need to explicitly link themselves to a recognizable social practice, one that would otherwise be ignored or chopped up into disconnected eccentricities of lifestyle. People in the neighborhood must know that the graffiti and broken windows are the doing of “the anarchists” or some other group that has a public existence, because signals of disorder that can be isolated as phenomena of urban white noise can be legitimately and popularly policed with techniques reserved for inanimate objects and aesthetic aberrations; they would rub us off the streets with the same chemical rigor as they clean graffiti off the walls.

Signals of disorder are contagious. They attract people who also want to be able to touch and alter their world rather than just passing through it. They are easy to replicate and at times, generally beyond our control or prediction, they spread far beyond our circles. They allow us, and anyone else, to reassert ourselves in public space, to reverse commercialization, to make neighborhoods that belong to us, to create the ground on which society will be reborn.

In a neighborhood where the walls are covered with anarchist posters, beautiful radical graffiti stands alongside all the usual tags, advertisements never stay up for long, the windows of luxury cars, banks, and gentrifying apartments or restaurants are never safe, and people hang out drinking and talking on the street corners and in the parks, our ideas will be seriously discussed outside our own narrow circles, and the state would need a major counterinsurgency operation to have just the hope of uprooting us.

Whenever we can break their little laws with impunity, we show that the State is weak. When advertising is defaced and public space is liberated, we show that capitalism is not absolute.

But at the same time, we cannot make the mistake of exaggerating the importance of the attack, of signals of disorder. At times it may be necessary to be a gang, but if we are ever only a gang, if at any point only our antisocial side is visible, we are vulnerable to total repression. There is a lot of rage circulating, without an adequate outlet, which we resonate with through our attacks. But there is equally a lot of love that is even more lacking in possibilities for true expression. People desire the community and solidarity that capitalism deprives them of, and our way out of this laberinth of isolation is to go looking for the others and meet them where they’re at. To encounter people, in our search for accomplices.

Except in the magical space of the riot, we cannot safely find spontaneous accomplices for the attack. But in the stultifying oppression of everyday, we can find accomplices to share in the little gestures of defiance, the small tastes of the commune we are building—a random conversation, a flyer someone is actually interested to read, the passing around of a stolen meal, collaboration in a community garden, the giving of gifts.

The anarchists must simultaneously be those who are blamed for acts of startling indecency, of inappropriate extremism in all the right causes (“they burned four police cars at our peaceful march!”) and those who are around town cooking and sharing free communal meals, holding street parties, projecting pirated movies on the sides of buildings, running libraries and bicycle repair shops, and appearing at protests (“oh look, it’s those lovely anarchists again!”).

We will be safest from the right hand of repression and the left hand of recuperation when everyone is thoroughly confused as to whether we are frightening or lovable.”

A.G. Schwarz


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