The only obvious move for the would-be revolutionary is to apply effort to acquire positions in essential industries and thereby replace the current inactive and indolent proletariat here at home. As odd as this may seem, it will be necessary to put the proletariat out on the street. With six applicants for every job opening, this may not be as difficult as it appears as long as we are willing to demonstrate our competency together with a secure physical address.
It is therefore time to research these essential industries from an hostile position. It is clear marketing research has reached its creative peak in producing desire for luxuries in the appearance of necessities. It is time to concentrate on what indispensible niceties we do have and this will be sufficient to establish a provisional list of essential occupations toward which we should apply our efforts. The first step once this list is formulated will be employment as a prelude to occupation and self-management. No amount of propaganda has historically moved the prole toward these ends, except along lines easily co-opted by capital. We have given them far too many chances. It is time they are dealt out of the game once and for all. Full employment for pro-revolutionaries will signal our first victory and set a message by example of the ends one can achieve by hard work and dedication. To achieve this, we must disguise our workplace sabotage by producing better products and providing better services, no matter the pay-level returned. Our reward will come with revolutionary success. Our reward will be our success. The great error of the Situationists was their call for refusal and their slogan, "Never work!" Who on earth, I ask you, could afford that commodity?
The first type of employment on which to concentrate our efforts will be in cellular telecommunications. The second will be the educational industry, and the third will be game design and manufacture from both the hard- and soft-ware flanks. Development and innovation have gone the same road as marketing research, so construction work will be aimed toward improving what we already have. What remains of critical industries we think essential are in the food, transportation, energy and health fields. All these can be subsumed within the areas of chemical and mechanical engineering. Again, the focus is on field application rather than development of new fields. We are through with theory; it's time for action! We can turn the sciences away from their current theoretical biases toward application only by ensconcing ourselves within these institutions, providing the next generation of teachers. This is the only way our numbers will grow in proportion to the reticent and reluctant.
The importance of education is even more relevant in this day in which nearly all manufacturing has become robotic- rather than labor-intensive. What are manufactured on the assembly lines are illusions and deceptions stripped even of their former use-value. The new commodity is the old one made larger, smaller, or of a different color and most important, comparatively functionless, thus guaranteeing its high turnover. The assembly lines of note live between lecture halls and the cafeteria.
The ruling class no longer relies on the unskilled worker, even a formerly essential worker such as a toilet scrubber. D.I.Y. is all the latest fashion. Capital's new manifestation is an I.O.U. and today's proletariat is a highly trained data-entry operater with a joystick and a zoloft chaser. Any employee working below this level is entirely disposable and easily replaceable. The superstructure rests on bankers, lawyers and security personel, formerly known as police. The beat cop only maintains an illusion – s/he is a dupe with no jurisdiction inside corporate headquarters. But s/he is still important in the distribution of product on to the more prestigious positions in the department of corrections, staffed by private mercenaries in a holding pattern between Third World revolutions.
A long examination of our history as well as archaeology illustrates that as species go, while we are capable of greatness, we have been basically lazy and despicable in its material and social distribution. Of concern to many when they think about post-revolution scenarios, is what to do about malcontents and miscreants afterward. We already have the infrastructure and manpower available to handle these ongoing problems. Police and correctional institutions will be prime targets for infiltration. There is no reason to believe problems will simply vanish after the revolution. We must remain vigilant to ensure these lotus-eaters do not again gain access to jobs where they can sabotage our own efforts. Still, we are not inhuman. Again, we already have institutions to house and care for these types of people. Our own diligence and compassion will set such an example that the numbers of trouble-makers will not only cease to grow, but possibly even diminish.
This same tactical logic will necessarily apply to the current ruling class. Only by becoming political ourselves within their own game can we supplant the capitalist class from their positions. We must aspire toward political office before the chance for communisation can be said to have arrived. We must not only learn their techniques, but absorb them. We will then be in a position to finally dictate to the corporate executives remaining rather than be dictated by them. Capitalism can become a thing of the past when we become our own bosses, and theirs!
Military strategists have long known that to defeat any enemy, one must endeavor to become them. Only then can one out-play them at their own game and emerge with a truly fair redistributive economy. The distinction between reform and revolution is indeterminant. The very distinction sets one up for failure. One thing, however, is certain. Should we decide to do nothing, nothing will be what we get.
On the other hand ...
In four thousand years, not excluding the global revolution against "Empire" which occurred between 2,000 b.c. and 1,200 b.c. (the so-called "Iron Age"), there has never been a reform which put an end to oppressive/repressive conditions. Forward progress is always tolerated when sufficient backward steps have been taken or which divert one's attention from "worse" oppression elsewhere. The city is the perfect place to sequester perception of that which occurs beyond the city gates. So teachers no longer beat testy students. This is humane progress. They pass them off to another institution for a chemical lobotomy or penal incarceration in the name of philanthropic concern. When an institution makes demands, they have the means to follow through. There has never been a successful revolution which did not retain enough of the revolting to reproduce the pre-existing conditions which had initiated revolution in the first place (referring of course to the break-up of empires into semi-autonomous city-states – we all know where that led), albeit in a different guise and under a new name.
Sacrifice is thought to be eliminated with the slogan, "Demand everything". But this is ultimately a plea for negotiated settlement. Movement, I would think, is by definition, antithetical to settlement. On the other hand, mobile guerrilla actions entail disruption and deflection. Turning an opponent's advances (strength) against them. As such, disruption and sabotage should entail surprise. Do you really want to announce your presence with a list of demands? It may be safer to "Demand nothing". Unfortunately, this stance also invites amnesia. How soon we forgot that the Iron Age rednecks and mutineers following the slogan, "Destroy the totality", only ended up destroying the pretties held by the aristocrats of empires. Unwieldy and lackluster iron has no mortal efficiency over bronze slicing and stabbing implements. They had confused withholding with the things withheld. The Iron age became a revolution against 'refinement' inhibiting movement with hegemonic power so made no dent in power itself: status and expansive political economy. And then the revolutionaries stopped moving altogether, until they realised they were insufficient unto themselves and made war on the mobile island hoppers as well as each other. The Peloponesean war is a classic example of post-revolutionary social conditions, eight hundred years after the fact.
Sea people and nomadic pastoralists did not all settle, but attempted to revive an old extralocal distributive economy (if I can use that term), now unfettered by imperial meddling and predictable atrocity. In this situation, the port or oasis is merely a node in a mobile community of navigated flux. It is not what we would call "home". More like rest stops and turning points. Unfortunately, the revolution which resulted in the city-state and its feudal relations with neighbors had introduced the cost-benefit ratio to travelers bearing gifts, who once again were forced to resort to piracy and raids just to maintain a mobile lifestyle. The receptivity of ports of call became managed and regulated. The revolution had only defeated an appearance. The New Persian Empire was replaced by sons of Macedonian goat herders, and the seafaring Trojan refugees who escaped to Italy put an end to their wandering Phoenician cousins once and for all, by building the greatest military empire west of the Pecos.
There have, therefore, been insurrections which, sometimes for long periods, were regionally successful. To call the Phoenician sailors or Bedouins and Berbers "trade empires" is only a matter of linguistic inertia. There is no evidence of imperial conquest, and trade itself is a matter of antagonism – an "impolite" social relation between enemies sublimating outright war – the negotiated settlement. That came later. Necessarily emerging right alongside civilisation, the movement is itself indefeatable, even when circumscribed to the imagination. It is the human trying to come out of the closet, coming out from between the contradiction of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a utopian re-incarnation. If it emerges somewhat neurotic or meandering, who's to say that's not better than a kick in the ass or re-incarceration?
The task of the antipolitical pro-insurrectionist would seem to be the same as that for any criminal or pro-revolutionist: a program not so much of recruitment and militant organisation (this stance assumes we already have the answers and are willing to enforce and hegemonize/democratize them) but research into those revolting practices and social relations we wish to avoid, and a degree of vigilance to keep them at bay. This is a matter of aesthetics if it is anything. Not ironically, while this research must begin at home – that is, within a local focus – isolation or enclosure (compartmentalisation) and amnesia do no one any good at all, particularly should we have no wish to re-invent the wheel who's inertia always seems to stop, reverse direction and roll right back over us when it is seen that gravity is always more persuasive than pushing a heavy weight up steep hills.
The clique is the most natural transgressive expression when socially isolated individuals are assembled in collective confinement, which is to say, a city with hidy-holes rather than a high school auditorium where there are monitors and continual surveilance by those democratic/xenophobic types (or homunculi) who insist on monotones, monologues and monopolies, "in time" to create a singular totality, an ordered mass, hegemony, the Borgish clairvoyant collective. I think it was Schopenhauer (or was it Goethe?) who said the only condition of freedom is found in total islotion or seclusion. But most folks consider solitary confinement a form of extreme punishment. The social instinct does not preclude the desire for privacy.
I imagine even a purist anarcho-communist community will include an enclosure for the public pissing place. We can call it that, an instinct, since it appears to emerge in most every context and, in fact, reproduction could not exist without it for species such as ourselves which possess gonads or the ability of pantomime (both mimicry and elaboration). The social instinct is the quest for the other, for others, not to appropriate but with whom to affiliate. Affiliation is provided with a shared aesthetic (even if it is a negative aesthetic, an acidic). Existing within a mass, it requires some sort of badge or mask to facilitate recognition. It may be the most superficial or meaningless device or collection, but it is important nevertheless. Because of the perceived superficiality of identifiers, and of course, attending to those "indices" as if they were the extent of the social relation (fetished), such groups are perceived (even by some emotionally asleep members) as fadish but empty and insulted with such terms as "subculture" or "scenester".
Of course, where emotional attachments are lacking or sublimated, such assessments are correct. The point is, there is an experiment of sociality underway among those who've been placed in solitary confinement en massé. It's hard to see the content -- the process of experimental affiliation -- when one attends only to the representative objectivity of the box, whether one is an internal participant or an external observer. The millieu is a circle of friends not existing in euclidean space. Euclidean circles share a certain aesthetic. Otherwise it is a work-group whose only shared aesthetic is projectuality. Entering and leaving is a matter of identifying an interest. The decision depends on how one defines friendship. The Tiqqun writings suggest friendship is always political and the non-euclidean circle of friends is the party. I disagree. Friendship is the sharing of an aesthetic and a party occurs when friends assemble in hidy-holes, betwixt and between (in the limen or margins of) the polity.
The category of the ‘lived’ permits us to rehabilitate the category of spontaneity, which has long been disparaged, thanks to the attitude both of rationalist and of transcendentalist philosophy. Neither culturalism nor structuralism can admit the spontaneous and the unformed.
However, the rehabilitation of the ‘spontaneous’ does not rob critique of its rights. Quite the opposite. Are we about to make an apology for the spontaneous which would fetishize it? Certainly not. Spontaneity has no privileges in any domain, be it everyday life or politics. When it is lacking, ‘something’ fundamental is missing; there is a gap, like a sterile little vacuum in the tissue of life. However, spontaneity is not always creative every time, with every risk it takes. It makes mistakes, and it fails more frequently than rational prognostication and calculation. Neither the idea of it nor its reality offers a criterion for existence or for value. Authentic per se (but how can we know this?), it eludes control and integration. And yet it imitates and mimics itself. In the spontaneous, it is difficult to make out what are dramas, dramatizations, de-dramatizations or super-dramatizations (which procedures of social control and integration encourage, and then repress). In periods of intense ideological control, the spontaneous and the non-spontaneous become merged, as do the natural and the artificial. This means the members of a particular group discover ideologically saturated values, norms and symbols ‘spontaneously’.
To put it another way, whether it be in our consciousness or in the outside world, we never attain pure nature or an unconditional ‘being’. The spontaneous is already part of the social, although it is not the social per se. Everyday life gives it a place and a consistency and is the level on which it expresses itself. The spontaneous is nothing more than an element of the social, on a certain level. As such, it exists. It is active, it grows, it withers away, and as such it dies, in everyday life.– Henri Lefebvre
Pre-ww2 neighborhoods are bulldozed, flat evicting poor folk, who may now either take out new home-mortgage loans to move to the Korean-war era suburbs or to tent cities outside the neo no-go zones of bulldozer destruction, an easy stroll to the land-fill. Suburb dwellers will be extracted from the "affordable-home" mindset with the influx of "those lower types" into their "communities", as long as social-health premiums are paid, up to date but still in debt. They will be forced to invest themselves into the still vacant modern housing created by the last "bubble". It's all a retaliation to the growing tendency of folks snipping their own credit cards and walking away from permanent debts hermetically recorded on magnetic identity strips. Leeches and parasites. In the US, suburb will finally take on the meaning it enjoys in Paris – banlieue – all under the guise of "Bussing for equality". How avant garde! But still no public toilets!
genetically modified ceo
Meanwhile, increased productivity. The deconstructive trade, formally known as the "construction sector" will boom with employment for displaced farmers eager to get back on the tractor, dozing, plowing, disking, harrowing, and planting the newest in MS-Monsanto gm seeds and seedlings coinciding with a boom in sales of "Next Generation" pesticides and herbicides, just to give nature a helping hand back to its pristine health as predicted by simulated computer animators. Diversity is the key. Police ranks will, of course, increase right alongside a growing diversity in IDF-approved nonlethal urban eradication technology in order that tent cities do not sprout up in the no-go zones. They will be called "The Gaia Abatement Patrol", with GAP emblazoned on their black jerseys and matching baseball caps tilted downward in a non-chalant pose over black Gucci shades assembled in Zimbabwe to avoid the public connotation with the nihilist uniforms of Anarcho Chaos trouble-makers. AC is out. PC's all around. Tresspassers will be labelled "Earth Haters" and duly rounded up. Roundup Ready®: the latest avant in anti-vagrant weed control. Divert the waters. The city must have its gardens!
Meanwhile, psychogenic effects of the flying pig flew will increase revenues for big pharma. F. D. Roosevelt, the man who gave us the ever-leaking Hanford weaponised nuclear facility euphamised as the "Columbia Basin Irrigation Project", will be forgotten to liberal history in favour of the present administration. Thank goodness for freedom, democracy & the public health, er relations service! We are all so looking forward to the roaring twenties.
So what's new? Didn't they aready do this sort of thing the last time?[ ... ]
In reply to a discussion on libcom concerning the lack of a public reaction to oppression (ie., revolution) as a resultant of learned helplessness on the part of victims of abuse , u.s.red wrote:
"Radical movements are mired in everything but working-class struggles. Primitivism and anti-civilization tendencies show up with all too much frequency"In another thread concerning the prevalence and causes of suicide, someone suggested they would prefer suicide over the prospect of becoming a peasant. No one seemed bothered in the least by this response. Could we have read it wrong? Otherwise, it is an astonishing demonstration of conservative, text-messaged "proletarian" snobbery! Or is that the sound of the cosmopolitan bourgeoisie auto-shifted down into belch drive? This answer should sufficiently fit the initial question: 'even this despicable life is preferable to being 'responsible' for providing one's own food, like some unsophisticated rural hick'.
And they label those in the general movement for the abolition of work "lazy"![ ... ]
On behalf of mired radical movements, wouldn't you think that worker struggle is the impetus, the mother, the root and stock of these tendencies? That it was a working public who attended the birth and growth of modern civilisation so that select anti-social ne'er-do-wells could accumulate power without any personal activity beyond threatening gestures with a bull-whip (predecessor to the alarm clock and iphone), locating mathematicians to quantify their personal value, and conscripting artists to create an exchangable token to symbolize it? That some workers get a little pissed about the whole scene and no longer desire the shimmering erections of useless pyramids and cell-towers? Glass towers. Anal-ytic probes. Up yours!
That others are equally pissed, but prefer the activity construction work gives them, having come to know no other kind of activity? That they have come to define themselves by their productivity? That they can do a cell-tower sit (a working class version of the hippy tree-sit) so the bosses will go away but they can keep working their jobs in peace? (For heaven's sake, don't blow the fucker up! Don't you appreciate the work which went into it? The jobs it provides? The fact that we don't even need to see who we're talking to? That we can pay our debts on-line?)
That many think this stand is reformist, whereas revolution addresses totalities? That self-sacrifice for the greater good may be a psychological disorder when slavery persists after the masters have gone extinct? That the desire for the extinction of masters so that workers can perform the same tasks unimpeded seems to some reminiscent of lab rats returning to the cage for the illusion of security after the animal liberation front has released them? That they are in fact, already self-managed as far as their product is concerned? That it is a bit strange but really only demonstrates a learned helplessness after a life-time of struggle within a locked cage and not only do they no longer know how to live free of confinement, the very thought of it fills them with dread and they die of starvation wishing for the old days of predictable injections of carcinogen with their well-deserved meal, provided by others on completion of a successful performance on the treadmill? That self-management and capitalist management still produce a managed life? That "Feed me!" is the demand of both slave and master? We're only askin'.
On behalf of mired radical movements promoting a bit more spontaneity, free-play, sex, disorder in our lives (chance & uncertainty, or adventure to replace a banal, hum-drum existence where the idea of precarity only means the loss of one's job and indicates certain death), some are coming to appreciate the logic of past labour movements and are calling for a universal general strike. A vigilant strike. An enduring organisation. A social organisation.
Vigilancy, to prevent the renewed activity of scabs. The permanent revolution whose patron saint is not today's Marxist, but Marx' favourite son-in-law who really understood "the master's" [in the full ironic sense] notion of the self-abolition of the proletariat residing in the abolition of work itself. A universal permanent organisation set out to round up labour and put it back into fairy-tales where it belongs with the other monsters so our children will know of their existence and be prepared should said monsters return to everyday living. The universal, durable organisation is nothing if not a new opus corpus of old folklore – a living theatre. We're only sayin'.[ ... ]
Still, it is our opinion that all the various groupuscles (clubs, organisings or party-building efforts, the counter-ABC groups, etc.) are doing precisely what they should be doing. Every new splinter group is an instance & assertion of spontaneous self-organisation. Every new recruit is not drafted, but sees some aesthetic value in belonging. In other words, it looks like fun, it may be useful, it may be necessary, it makes the other groups look incompetent, whatever. A group organised around inter-nasal [I think they meant to say "internascene" – ed] warfare, the exclusive fight club, is self-annihilating. Folks just don't like war except against the bad guys. So for groups to be at war with, or oppress, or exploit each other, those whose very common enemy is war, oppression and exploitation, is at the very least an absurdity. So we're all absurd. To call for the elimination of this condition and "harmonise" in the spirit of unity is also absurd. "We" are "we" precisely because "we" are not "you"!
Pataphysics recognises the equality of all absurdities. In this respect, even using our brains in such matters is not frowned upon. Occidental warriors (aka, mediastic militants & their emulators) would have us segregate if we can't unify. This is the very logic of ghettoisation we should all resist. We should continue our efforts of spying on one another, even bouts of mockery or defecation, defection, but rather than accumulating potential to annihilate or incorporate the other, turn those weapons on ourselves. Only this can exorcise the phantom state from our bodies. There is nothing more purifying than immolation [immersion? – ed] nor a higher source of mutual solidarity (except maybe sex). It is not just a matter of self-critique. To extend the sex analogy a bit further, self-critique is not the best tactic to ensure a successful mutual engagement. In fact, it's a bit of a turn off.[ ... ]
The buddhist koan says "kill the buddha if you see him on the street" (just so we can free him). It is metaphoric, get over it! It is selfhood which needs annihilated, and that – the "ego" – only means our contradictory stand against the other. It does not suggest we become the other in altruistic sacrifice (which would be "otherhood") nor literally kill it in an egoistic turf battle (that is equally "monarchy" and "parliamentary debate").[ ... ]
When one can see a bit of one's self in the other, the other in one's self, the contradiction is dissolved. What is left is a free flowing of gifts, also known as mutual influence and indistinguishable from mutual aid. One is then in a position to disclaim or disown those bits and pieces of superego, the detritous of other others still in habitation, in habituation, in habits. One may as well retain them when we think of them as original, creations, art. In fact, they are so once in the context we've provided them – they've found themselves in a new perspective, a novel niche.
Their source perhaps uncertain, we must leave it for taste to decide. We are finally in a position where we can truly take it or leave it. So there is no merging but a pantomime of consumption or waste, sublation or exhalation. It is the perspective that one's uniqueness is just that, a perspective, and that itself sends dialectical self-other oppositions to the place where Plato and Hegel self-immolate in a grand copulation. The hyphen itself disappears in a puf of logic as it becomes neither necessary to bind nor to oppose. Attachment and disengagement are always situational, hence provisional, variable and therefore, free. Bits and pieces gathered or left behind are matters of influence, that is all, proof of life, pantomime in the theatre of the absurd.[ ... ]
The P.O.U.M. was attractive to Orwell simply because 1) it was handy, 2) there were no ranks, 3) if there was an avant garde political theory or platform behind it, none of the membership seemed to know or care. Everyday trenches always seem to over-ride calculated esoterica. Such is comradery. A situation is a trench, equally at home in the form of a gravity-fed (nourished & nourishing) irrigation channel or a ditch in the battlefield distributing fire between opposing forces.
The System recruits by persuasion, promissory note, elimination of alternative clubs (more often than not, the elimination of choice altogether), insidious diversion or dissimulation. We should avoid these tactics (unless they are reflected back on their authors in a strategically placed detour) to avoid re-enforcing and reproducing the state within (the political "exchange" paradigm, the contest, the transaction) and the space between us.
The potential of personal aesthetics to social organisation is something corporate thugs and government spies will never fathom. It is beyond their cognitive domain because they are already dead. The amygdala is the hyphen to the soul, the only organ The System needs to amputate in order to function properly, always at our expense. For us, its transgression is essential. It is a bridge, not a mad dash nor a swift slash!
As the old Southern Baptist preacher said at Granny's funeral, "The hyphen is just a life lived between two numbers on a gravestone ... The numbers mean nothing, it's all in that little dash!"[ ... ]
All your base are belong to us!
Should there be a generalised "collapse" (ie., the cops say 'fuck it' and go home), self-management will be almost unavoidable. It's a sink or swim proposition. If worker self-management were to be initiated prior to a collapse, the general (lopsided) economy could become superfluous and lose its hold. This, I think, was always the gist of at least the radical element of the workers' movement, and someone somewhere must have anticipated this possibility early on, hence the predictable military and police response whenever "management" of the workplace is questioned. In the seventies when workers bought their struggling plants, they tried to compete with the big boys and were themselves eaten up. To sink or swim is irrelevant to the flow and direction of the river. They had only maintained things till the economy recovered; they ironically helped along the renewal of existing conditions they had historically struggled against. By the eighties, entrepreneurship and cottage industry were promoted because the corporate state had learned such could not become a threat and in fact could be seen as further isolating moves in the guise of self-management – the panacea of 'self-employment' ensures the continuation of struggle. Hence, the nineties were a period of capitalist overconfidence. But even the illusion of self-management maintains the idea of the authentic. It is by definition a concept of locality – 'sovereignty'.
In this rural "community" centered around an economically dying town of about 900 (of course, many more are scattered across the countryside), there is quite a movement of worker-owned business. I include small-scale farmers in this as well as welders and mechanics and shop keepers and artists who do not publish/perform/produce in the mainstream. One could call much of the activity hobbyism, but even the 'productive' earners seem motivated more and more by "getting by" rather than "getting ahead" (accumulating wealth) like used to be the prevalent motivation. Progress seems to have become just another dead fish. There doesn't seem to be an accompanying attitude of "despair" or even "loss". Barter is a perfectly acceptable means of transaction here, and there is no rhyme to it. No theorizing or calculating beyond what seems subjectively fair at the time. In other words, value is becoming provisional and subjective. It is also subjected to habit when a transaction is repeated on a regular basis, like a cord of wood for a ton of hay. Both take up about the same 'space' or capacity in the back of a '63 chev half-ton pick-up. I'm talking about spontaneity producing patterns which are not necessarily generalised beyond a specific situation. No one here is well- (if at all) read in political-economic theory, particularly radical or marxist or situationist theory. I'm talking about "folks" rather than bankers, tax consultants and real estate brokers, but even they have farm chores to tend to 'off the job' to supplement a diminishing income.
There will be no worker's councils in the countryside.
There are no "councils" unless you count the food coop "central committee" of hip ('we're so cool') leftists who are quite into money and profits and even more importantly, prestige. Even this is starting to change as some are beginning to remember where their heads were at back in the day, before amnesia and tunnel-vision set in. The 'workers', on the other hand, got into the business as apprentices to some authentic craftsmen who had been pretty radical in their day (1930's & '40's). Folks here are consequently very proficient in older macro-technology and haywire fixes. Computerized cars just don't sell here. The used market is not a matter of vintage nostalgia as-an-aesthetic so much as it is something which does the job and can be repaired or rebuilt at home or close by. If there is nostalgia, it is for a time when quality accompanied appearance. If there is a general aesthetic, it is for dirt under the fingernails. If there is a collective acknowledgement, it is for the fact that our fellows stick around by choice. The idea of a home-place is less tied to historical tradition – many residents are urban renegades who previously felt no sense of home.
There are a growing number of farmers off the grid, farming with horses instead of fifty year old tractors. The marines are not called in to "restore order" precisely because, from the point of view of capital, this area is already dead. There is little mass agricultural (productive) potential here since the family-run cattle herds and apple orchards were forced out of operation to make way for the global market. The urban renegades, themselves fugitives from a failed revolution in the middle of the last century, arrived here because ranches were breaking up in the late seventies and desparation brought down land prices. The land the renegades settled on was barely fit for knapweed. This is quite another thing from the gentrification at the turn of this century. That was a process of carpetbagging in the name of rural economic development little different from the rape of the South after the civil war.
Food would not be a problem should the general economy collapse. But folks resist too much change everywhere. The grocery stores are under no pressure from lack of customers even with increasingly bare spaces on the shelves. What I'm saying is that despite the state of the general economy, folks here are wealthy in that the 'mass-produced' groceries bought are luxury items. Few are concerned about starving should they disappear. Petroleum-based fuel is not quite the luxury, but it is not a critical matter of life & death. The welders here are metallurgists, so would not be lost without regular shipments of acetylene. There are still a number of 19th century forges, some still in use by ranchers.
These are the same ranchers who had sent Junior off to the agricultural college to return and modernise production and allow the old man to retire from active duty. For every returned graduate, a rancher lost the retirement option. In this country, the tried and true was ridiculed but the new and improved created a disaster. Even the orchardists who were growing sympathetic to chemical-based high-tech farming returned to more traditional practices prior to losing the farm to globalisation. The idea from the first Bush regime for natural selection (a euphamism for Market Forces) to weed out incompetent (read poor or "uncompetitive") farmers did just that and devastated local families.
The reaction has been a core of old die-hards building a local economy, which is to say "autonomy" or "self-management" necessitating a return to older technological traditions. The idea of "smaller scale" is superseding the idea of "more" along with a knowledge of "user-friendly" technology more ammenable to demonstration or oral tradition than to specialisation and delegation.
The thing is that the kind of technology I'm talking works on a localised basis. You'd get yourself into some real trouble should you call anyone here a proto-communist or revolutionary. But that's what I'm seeing. Gifting. Helping out neighbors without regard to payback. Free concerts or arts are already appearing on a weekly basis. Self-managed 'workers' who actually enjoy what they do and take pride in their craft. Older folks teaching youngsters without pay. The sorts of skills being passed on have little value in the capitalist market. On the other hand, a former neighbor used to exploit the wealthy by removing functional engine components, charging for replacement parts and labor so he could fix our own rigs for free. Pretty despicable way to "pay the rent", eh? But in our case, it is merely sabotage and reapproriation.
The possible moral stand on the reproduction of "cheating" misses the point that the behaviour resides in the complex technology itself and the specialised knowledge which maintains it. Capitalism itself is only a system of progressive "cheating"; "no one's the wiser", as the saying goes. In our case, we like to think of it as a détournement rather than reproduction. Rather than labour put forth to transform nature, it transforms ready-made commodities and in the process, destroys the commodity relation by universally accessifying it.
So my theory is that nothing happens as a totally isolated or unique phenomenon. For example, every time I think I come up with a good, new idea, I discover some old dead guy said it a hundred years earlier. I think this sort of trend must be happening in economically stressed rural areas across the west. Even more to the point, it is a predictable "retrogression" from a historical materialist point of view. It's not about turning back time but making use of what's available to do the same tasks one would do with modern technology and its crazy system of functional specialisation and accompanying bureaucracy resulting in the total fragmentation of social life. And they wonder why our personalities seem to match!
I must also say I don't mean to imply this is a ubiquitous condition here. It's always been present, but only among what were considered "oddballs". Now it is no oddity at all, it is a trend. There are already ads in the local media for "free-cycle". When the so-called law of value goes by the wayside, it could be that the exchange paradigm will follow through its becoming superfluous to everyday life. If that is the case, product will no longer mediate social relations and I'd call this situation the emergence of a communist tendency. (I may be a bit more 'historical materialist' than I thought!) My theory of 'evolution' is that rarities or even absurdities become normal (valorise) and the normal becomes rare. Nothing is actually added to the system which goes on to present novel patterns. This, the idea of flip-flopping statistical distributions, is about as mathematical as I like to get.
Note that this is not a prediction of "success". We just can't know precisely what curve-balls the future will throw, but this should not be grounds for despair. That is the nature of existence and the very source of the idea of freedom: something of interest always comes along and there are always choices to be made. Novel arrangements arise among the known and expected all the time. We call this directionality. Imagine the options available when we turn our eye to the absurdities coming up from between the lines. The unexpected and unknown. Yet we call this orientation chaos and shy away! I don't think the sort of scenario I've described can easily apply to the cities until folks stop adding the qualifier, "permanent residence". But conditions are just too different. In ancient history, cities formed precisely because they were not self-sufficient and required an extralocal peasantry to survive, if one at all accepts the "refugee-camp" theory of the rise of urbanisation. But that is the point. Decisions must take account of the local terrain. We navigate by local perturbation, but we still navigate.
I would only hope Kropotkin's description of the Paris Commune's demands on the local peasantry isn't played out again. I can guarantee the same results will follow. From the 'peasant's' point of view, there is little difference between the "altruistic" sacrifice for the sake of 'someone else's' revolution and royal tribute handed over to the tax collector. I think the city folks could do well to convert lots to garden space, to have dairy goats and free ranging chickens running amock in the neighborhoods. A bit of cattle rustling from over-grazed pastures on the outskirts of town, for those more inclined to hunting meat than growing it in fenced enclosures like our current pepperoni farms. Children could have easter-egg hunts every day. But of course, the democratic tradition of delegation and relegation is probably strongest in the cities. As copacetic as trade networks might be on paper, they are rarely engineered except by those in need. The countryside has always had the potential for self-sufficiency. Setting up trade is problematic to begin with.
However, the distribution of goods comes about spontaneously when all areas achieve a degree of autonomy (the gradual elimination of local scarcity), particularly when betwixt and between the "cosmopolis" and the "peasant village" are nomads such as open range herders (no fences means no boundaries or ultimately, no property) traveling to and fro. Hollywood has always portrayed a nomadism as either evil bikers, bloodthirsty Comancheros or Mad Max hoodlums. But it was the enclosure laws which initiated the destruction of the commons. Historically (and prehistorically) or prior to and outside the invention of property rights, nomads functioned to distribute "goods", be they stories from afar, glass beads or technological innovations. There is no teleology implied. It is simply a side effect of the lifestyle.
The ecological perspective fits well with a literal reading of the word, "situationism". Solutions to local "problems" are best dealt with at the local level. Anything else brings back the logic of empire and the exploitation that implies. The resistance to localism I've seen among the so-called pro-revolutionary milieu over the years seems to me reducible to the desire for the maintenance of the modern world. Like, how could we have ipods and gameboys and all the rest of industrial production without, somehow, federated workers councils and democratic institutions. Of course, I'm exaggerating, but...
A boycot is as effective whether intentionally planned or a result of amnesia, and I've found that amnesia comes most readily when someone changes the subject. In this case, the subject I'm speaking of is the future as the result of a universal planned action (always the action of hypothetical 'others') being interupted by the everyday activities taking place in the here and now. It may be that good theory is only ever contemplated after-the-fact. It may be that gazing so intently at the big picture, we lose sight of the little clues popping up which might actually resonate with the pattern we have in mind, or in fact, change it. To put expectation to the test must illustrate something attractive or dissonant with our desires, with our intentions to move. For me, revolutionary theory is incomplete without discussion of aesthetics.
Deleuze' Nietzschean mistake is merely a repetition of Napoleon's and Hitler's, assuming a universality of the city mentality. The reason the Nomads let the noblemen of Rome and Istanbul flee to Mediterranian bunkers is precisely because they did not share the democratic will to power and it's hegemonic ambitions. It was enough "to hit the enemy with a little stick. Humiliate 'em. That's how you teach a coward a lesson and win a war" (– Thomas Berger).
Even Ghengis Khan made no significant impact on the peasantry. Like Jessie James, he understood they were kindred spirits. Even Vikings pretty much limited their pillaging rampages to the churches and their supporters. Why not hurl a brick through a bank window if you're pissed off at money, religious currency, the current religion? That's not war, it's a poetic expression! What history failed to record was that hardly any peasants lived on the farm year round. They farmed during planting and harvest. They moved on to fishing villages during fish runs. They hunted or herded during the interregnum in seasonal rounds of movement. A more-or-less permanent village was habitation for the less ambulatory and a Winter-long party place, meeting place, party meating. The attribute, "war machine", does not come into being until the authentic war machine, the civil relation, the legal sanction against movement, is encountered. The birth of permanent disgruntlement extruded from beneath heavy slabs of meddlement.
(I recently saw an intellectual property warning: "Unauthorised use is strictly unauthorised!" Pretty smart language for a college professor!).
Warriors. In fact, "Warrior" is just a bad translation of various terms for cross-cutting indigenous youth societies, adopted by city boy historians or bureaucratic administrators because something of the concept is so familiar: police and the military. It was, after all, these societies (see Lana Lowe & Taiaiake Alfred, Warrior Societies) of youngsters who presented the effective resistance on the battle fields, fields of civilised encroachment. Deleuze would have us believe the military police are immanent whenever young and old adolescents get together, given a "purpose" by "elders", by tradition, just to get them out of their own hair or encourage adventure, to travel around making sure everyone has sufficient help and feel important in the process. The U.S. military has ironically used the same tactic in their advertisements: "See the world! Get an Education". What they don't tell you is this:
You're paid to stop a bullet.
'It's a soldier's job', they say.
And so you stop the bullet...
And then they stop your pay.– Chad Mitchel Trio
But every drop-out from town has made the same mistake, the expectation of familiar sedentism to be represented merely on a smaller ("simpler") scale. To this day, we hear "If I could just get enough bread together, I'd buy a place in the country and start a commune". This is gentrification, nothing more. A squatter, on the other hand, holds no allusions toward permanent settlement.
What was Napoleon's & Hitler's mistake in their attempt to take on the Russian Steppe? Bad Anthropology. Wrong Destination. Inappropriate Strategy. Too much planning. Not enough Terror. Fear of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Operating without a supply line, appropriating the nomad's technique of the raid, they were annihilated, not by the winter as we've been led to believe, but by peasant movement itself. Under the Romanoff Czar (a Roman tax collector par excellent), the folks had no stores to leave behind and were free to form local 'partisan' or insurrectionary guerrilla resistance. The invaders could not resupply along the road to Moscow. Napoleon and Hitler had a bit of Roman in them as well. Dense like the lettuce. Extending exploitation in the process of mastering their domain, they could not match the terrorism of the U.S. Cavalry out west.
They needed workers and farmers.
There were plenty of European dropouts arriving daily to U.S. Shores. Migrant labor power come to settle down. If they did not come as a response to invitation, they were 'shanghaied'. Nothing has really changed, though it is considered much progressive over the slave-ships now outlawed by international "agreement". It is the same virtual reserve army of workers. Back in the day, there was no destination out west but destiny itself. What did they do when they reached the coast? Nuked the American Southwest to prevent communist infiltration! I am told there were dead sheep everywhere! Today what life survives there are arrogant but sexually ambiguous two-headed toads with, not romaine, but cabbage growing between their ears.
The most manifest act of terror is total extermination. Nothing can stop that but an equal counterforce resulting in permanent ("cold") war until there is achieved mutual annihilation. The Soviets merely stood down in exchange for key positions in Western governments and supernational corporations when both sides realised the military technology had grown beyond anyone's control. Class struggle itself is a recapitulated and permanent condition of the permanent city. To exterminate the workers means they have to clean their own toilettes! There can be no resolution, with or without game pods and cell phones. When total extermination is not desired, one side generally stands down (that would be the side without police) in order to preserve civilisation itself: the eternal return of sedentary life. Peace.
The Allies, Hirohito and Churchill, Mussolini and Roosevelt, Hitler and Stalin, pretty much put an end to peasantry as mobile or mobilizing living with the second big war fought for mass industrial agriculture to replace antiquated feudal remnants and pockets of local autonomy. A war of global modernisation – homogenised, pasteurized. As a result, no one today remembers how to eat. That was always the idea, to plasticize food in manufacturing plants in the industrial sections of every big city, interconnected by cloverleafed rhyzomes to distant oil derricks. If there has been a war machine inherent in the "working class", it has been an ongoing resistance to synthetic food or petroleum-based diapers (there's a gallon of gas in every package) and digital alarm clocks. But how would victory appear? Refining life itself, Sustainably! (Tired of red? Now comes in green for your viewing delight! Soylent Green™!) With even earlier weaning, artificial milk (presumably from soy- and lentil-based proteins grown hydroponically in petroleum vats) and genetically accelerated dental development, we should encourage more pregnancies. Jet fuel could be processed directly from breast-milk at the local rubber plant. Hey, where's your civic pride? From each according to her ability to each according to his need! Right?
The real clash was always between the gods and the titans. The outcome of this war was assured by 1848, 200 years after the first modern battle was fought in Britain (when the house of gods and house of titans were brought under the same roof with the construction of the permanent parliament – there was nothing common about it!), a little over seventy after the second fought in the Americas (the gentleman's empire "won" in both cases, despite the entries in history books), but very likely six thousand years after the hostilities first broke out.
The S.S. Titanic was to be the triumphal symbol of the Bureaucratic technological (that is, industrial) domain over the planet. The future had finally arrived. When 'she' sank off the coast of new-found land, global war was waged against dada. Absurdity was all the craze when more bellies were empty than full, despite the promises of the new century. Steam was suddenly out of vogue. Diesel was the new bread, whose fields would not flourish but for another global clash, this time unprovoked (unless you consider that fuel oil had as yet failed to provide a suitable replacement for food), and folks were grumbling again. Today we hear again the familiar call, this time for global civil war.
Local tradition has always presented an obstacle to progress. The aim had therefore been the annihilation of the totality of social relations. The last little war in Indochina was the eighth extension of the French-English war, during which British Petroleum, under the colonial euphamism, Standard Oil, waged a fierce battle against Michelin Tire and Rubber for control of the historic materials of production, not thirty years after Sherwin & Williams, operators of the biggest canibis plantations on the planet, were persuaded to replace hemp oil with lead and petroleum in their paints. Like hemp, rubber means peasants and tree farms. Oil means Industrial engineers and machinery – automation provides autonomy from the soil and the soiled. When the last rubber-tree plant burned in orange napalm, France surrendered once and for all. It was a total victory for burgeoise oil, camouflaged as an insurrectionary route by local guerrilla forces.
Aware that perfection, if at all attainable, is far distant, and that every generation of men, and therefore also the living, have a claim; perhaps not so much a claim to be made happy, for there are no institutional means of making a man happy, but a claim not to be made unhappy, where it can be avoided. ... the piecemeal engineer can claim that a systematic fight against suffering and injustice and war is more likely to be supported by the approval and agreement of a great number of people than the fight for the establishment of some ideal. The existence of social evils, that is to say, of social conditions under which many men were suffering, can be comparatively well established. Those who suffer can judge for themselves, and the others can hardly deny that they would not like to change places. It is infinitely more difficult to reason about an ideal society. Social life is so complicated that few men, or none at all, could judge a blueprint for social engineering on the grand scale; whether it be practicable; whether it would result in a real improvement; what kind of suffering it may involve; and what may be the means for its realization. As opposed to this, blueprints for piecemeal engineering are comparatively simple ... If they go wrong, the damage is not very great.The Iron Age revolution exhibited a pattern we find still familiar: a nihilist destruction of anything associated with the aristocracy of empires (all their "pretties") set right alongside movements to expropriate them. What entered the void of amnesia were those non-state cultures whose now-artifactual remains only resembled empires by virtue of their widespread material accouterments, victims of the confusion of appearance or form with structure, parts implying a whole, yet with the materialist attitude that "parts" can be regarded autonomous to the synergy of its original matrix. It is the epistemology of extraction reflecting the inconsequentiality of our own action, birthing a sorts, parts and stages approach to a mechanistic universe.– Karl Popper
In putting an end to empires once and for all (I refer you, for example, to the demise of the Hittites), the nihilists had a safer approach (destroy it all) – safe that is, if you didn't find yourself in their path. The appropriators played a riskier game. Transgeographic communication systems (social organisations) with economic implications were nevertheless destroyed right alongside the empire's political-economic organisation which had communicative implications, a political/colonial structure which likely "borrowed" all its pretties in the first place from those it destroyed in its expansions. Today we call this process "friendly fire" or "collateral damage", but how often is that just a euphamism for "business as usual"?
The Iron Age Miceneans did not emerge from the Bronze Age Minoans but discovered the ruins on a long-abandoned island, liked what they saw and moved right in. The hierarchic city-state (with almost feudal obligations between them) which had started the empires in the first place was re-incarnated. "Barbarian" warlords easily fit the ancient thrones. To this day, we confuse chiefs with kings: we always become our enemies if we fight them long enough. The Egyptian empire contracted, but became only stronger till the days of Alexander. Athens, Persia and its Macedonian replacement bring us up to a more well-documented historical continuity with the present. Clear into the nineteenth century, westerners thought Egypt was the origin point of humanity, being the last imperial survivor of the revolution. In the twentieth, it was pushed back to Sumeria. It would be just too controversial to suggest that Sumerians learned all their celestial "science" as a gift from nomadic Malay seafarers en route to Madagascar. But it's probably true! Unless we recognise the civilised state, we are likely to consider any other relations nonhuman. Our species being is always interpreted through the lens of the familiar.
In more recent times, the replacement of the religious with secular states had only modified the internal structure of the former. One would be hard pressed to ignore the theocratic and mystical structure of the Masonic organisations and later Knights of Labor, not to mention the Ku Klux Klan. The International Workingmen's Association patterned a more Protestant structure. In less industrialised regions, anarchist organisations resembled their medieval social counterparts with democratic assemblies or councils and cross-cutting guilds. Russian Mir, a peasant adaptation to feudal and later state obligations (extractions), have been used as a model for the pure "democratic" communes and collectives focussing strictly on labour relations over all other concerns. God had only been replaced with Labour in the same organisational structures, whether pushing for vertical or horizontal exchange-relations in the service of increasing production. The Socialists and syndicalists equally maintained an age-old hierarchic organizational structure to impose a horizontal distribution of the products of labour. Up to this day, there is still a Trinity whose immunity to question is almost inviolable: Labour, Industry and Democracy. That about puts a lid on all our questions!
The first step in refusing the totality is questioning each and every bit of it. The gestalt is already disgusting, but there is just so much of it to let go and so much to miss (in both senses). The really big picture is inaccessible, and the really small are generally well-hidden within our perceptual horizon. Collaboration and comparison are essential. A systematized critique is not rejection piece by piece, a technique so many critics seem to employ (Aristo(eu)clidean methodology), but an exploration and examination, producing aesthetic choices at every turn, positions to reject or retain outright, hand off or set aside for later consideration. Some content entirely loses its positive or negative aesthetic effect when removed from the constraints of its categorical form. Removal of the spatio-temporal dimension exposes everything, where neither chicken nor egg can precede the other.
The category itself is never neutral if it is set in stone or non-provisional, which is also to say, rigidly structured. And as well, some "liberated" content are virtually fertilized eggs waiting to sprout in the same ground should the parent category crumble. Legumes reproduce in this fashion. Should the fertile seeds not be transported to a novel context, they are inhibited from sprouting. It is not a competition of mother against daughter over local earthly resources, but the method of distributing its own duration (life as alfalfa) across the environment. Fecundity must always exceed fertility, as movement always depends on chance distributivity. To participate in this process is hay farming with the gatherer's attitude to "keep it living". It is also the natural distributivity of the potlatch, the potlatch in natural distributivity. Eliminating chance and movement is the death of any species. Distributivity is as necessary as food and water. Distributivity in Northwest Coast Indian artwork is no different than a Picasso canvas. No matter it's appearance or politics, both spread over the medium. Maybe that's something to put in the "keep" pile.
Unlike surrealism, Native American design is well-ordered yet meaningless outside its narrative or dramatic context. This does not mean it will be inconsistent in any other context and generate new meaning, like a viral infection. We must remember it is a different narrative, a different show. What those artists understood, that which Surrealists who rallied to Stalin or Madison Avenue forgot is the difference between organic and structural-mechanical organisation: the former is adaptive.
The activities of a machine are determined by its structure, but the relation is reversed in organisms – organic structure is determined by its processes...
Although the organism as a whole exhibits well-defined regularities and behaviour patterns, the relationships between its parts are not rigidly determined. As Weiss has shown with many impressive examples, the behaviour of the individual parts can, in fact, be so unique and irregular that it bears no sign of relevance to the order or the whole system. This order is achieved by co-ordinating activities that do not rigidly constrain the parts but leave room for variation and flexibility, and it is this flexibility that enables living organisms to adapt to new circumstances.– Fritjof Capra
Meaning is constrained or gone altogether outside of an organic matrix; there is no surreal rupture if the real structure is maintained. Apocalypse is the emergence from a box, a lifting of lids. Whether this is interpreted as a jail-break or fall from grace is what is to be determined. In any case, it may involve a falling into the pit prior to climbing out the other side. Chaos is just a pool of possibility, and that is always neutral (though not undangerous) ground, but necessary for any emergence of order, be it beauty or terror. Without the aesthetic sense, where is there to be found a turning point, let alone the option to transgress? One comes instead to discover transgression for the sake of transgression. Often destructive, occasionally we find it the source of a beautiful discovery. Like listening to the Imp of the Perverse:
Examine these and similar actions as we will, we shall find them resulting solely from the spirit of the Perverse. We perpetrate them merely because we feel that we should not. Beyond or behind this, there is no intelligible principle. And we might, indeed, deem this perverseness a direct instigation of the Arch-Fiend, were it not occasionally known to operate in furtherance of good.– Edgar Poe, 1845
What the original Iron-Agers and more recent nihilist insurrectionaries (burn it all!) missed is that ideas are not destroyed by sabotage or assassination. Survivors can always emerge here or there to reinfect, reinvent or reproduce the ugly past by virtue of their invisibility (insubstantiation) and therefore, appear harmless and innocent, even beautiful once noticed. Nothing should avoid our scrutiny. In fact, they are inconsequential until metastasization has taken hold, like the radium which ate up Marie Currie and proceeded to eat children wearing glow-in-the-dark wrist-watches for years and years. If there is a tipping point or fail-safe zone, it is usually not recognized until it is past. If it is recognized and disseminated, that process of systematization can proceed at no greater rate (being the same process) as that it seeks to negate. It is a perpetual game of catch up. This was a principle early known to agents and masters of the state: antagonism below pushes forward the antagonists above. It took two more wars to accomplish what Napoleon and the Catholic church had failed, with England twice pushing Germany eastward toward Siberia for the industrialisation of the Russian Steppes. Whether war, revolution or insurrection, progress is guaranteed. The winning side is irrevalent to the process. Even so, it does not produce system immortality, as everyone is now beginning to see.
Completion of the singular, driven project of Ironing out the wrinkles (to apply hot iron) is never achieved if one ever intends to wear the fabric. Eventually, there is nothing left due to wear and tear. Iron-ware itself is a commodity with a shelf-life. This is the chief irony of all iron age or Euclidean thinking. The coincidence of spot removal and despotism illuminates more than metaphoric connection to Iron-fisted rule. Unruly behaviour may well break rulers, but as the royalship is always immune to its own impositions, it usually survives unscathed, even when fragmented into oligarchy and that to a representative democracy emanating in the royal egos it composes. I learned this as a child in catholic school where the measuring stick was also a weapon, equally and simultaneously in the metaphysical, physical and metaphorical sense. Linearity. And I am here to tell you it stings like hell – that said to be the iron forge of the underworld is reserved especially for sinners like myself.
On the other hand is the epistemological insurrection made possible by query. The more that is put to question or taken out of context and juxtaposed in such a fashion as to inspire a repellent/revolting/repugnant aesthetic reaction (the very possibility in dada to generate questions and truancy), the more choices are opened up, the more possibilities emerge or are extracted from the impossible. The epistemological insurrection can in fact, produce a chaos of possibility such that Bakunin's thesis on the equality or simultaneity of creation and destruction is proved. Every refusal is a turning point. Every weird juxtaposition is a possible etymology: salvation may have once referred to the distribution of salt just as forgiving may have emerged from that which is saved or set aside for giving, for distribution. Take time and descartean space out of the picture, introduce a little magic by association, and even the standardised etymology points to the potlatch! The counter-argument for traditional linearity and hierarchic taxonomy only exposes itself as religious dogma, the truth of unquestioned custom, enforced by a rod to prevent spoilage.
While the method is poetic, the basics of insurrectionary epistemology is Rasputnik Philosophy, a rascal's exploratory transgression. As the bearded fellow said, "should you wish forgiveness, it is first necessary to sin". There is no choice until one explores the options as well as "urges" (instincts and intuitions). Rasputin's root, "-put-" can refer to a way or path as well as entanglement or immersion. How Tao of it!
Like our Grammatical term, "but", it refers one to numerous possibilities, as when a child says "But it just ain't fair!" and proceeds to discover Aristotle's excluded middle and set it free. She puts those horrid peas in her panties while mom's looking elsewhere. Mom says "I see you've cleaned your plate, now you may have some desert".
On analogy from archery, that a bail is the arched handle of a pail, which is a bucket or tub, or that in old Norse, bátr is a boat rather than butter-churn, or that a but displays a certain cleavage, like a blade parting the waters, or that a boot and a boat may equally have a protective cover of skin, "but", then, refers to a boat double emphasized in Russian "baidarka". Ark as borrowed and interpreted from scriptures has the additional metaphoric entendres of 'council' (passengers in a tub) or 'top dog' (captain – see patriarch) or 'elder', a term which doesn't necessarily transliterate to Greek, "Archon". In the beginning was El. Thence came Moses and his bark in all manner of rush: "Kahai! Kahai!" Which brings us back to the Siberian kayak parting the waters from Alaska to Norway and the golden horde of Khan by way east of Kazakhstan, while from the South and West, Baidar is an Arabian gathering of grain in a barn, to be scattered again for four-legged boats.
"Rasput-" may also refer to a place where two rivers meet or a road too muddy for travel (the intersection of season and place). Rasputat contains both the way and its transgression, all suggesting a meandering rather than a straight line, an immersion as well as clarification. Any word taken from its context must exhibit the quality of multiple entendre – an implication rather than intention. The boat ever dry-docked in front of the house is a mere status symbol: Fuerbach's separation of being (doing) from essence (behavioural context) like a fish out of water.
Exploring all entendres (if they are "urges", we call them "sin" when not implying "work") eliminates the seductive entrapment of any one of them. On a straight path, the line takes you to self-righteousness, excess and arrogance, that is to say, "authority". Collective engagement, an agreement by implication, is thought to prevent the emergence of the repressed psychopath. If the ceremony or dance ends in orgy, well, so be it. The possibility of antagonism or jealous retaliation has been swept from the table. One of the first sacraments many Russian "Old Believers" rejected was marriage! Soon enough, it became a "sin" to pray for the czar.
There is an interesting resonance between Rasputin and the Khlysky priestless "sect" he met up with but diverged from. They were unfortunately taken in by their detractors' imposed etymology – "whip" – and became, rather than pleasurably snake-like or meandering, self-flagellating, some said to avoid future whippings from others. Why beat a dog that's beating itself? Seems reasonable to some. The previous designitaion was Khrysky [from Greek Khristos "anointed" < khriein "anoint" and possibly khrestomatheia "useful learning"], implying salve: "if it's a bit of a sticky wicket, apply generous amounts of oil" – a useful message twisted right off the page by early patriarchs of the church (or their lawyers). Likewise, asceticism originally referred to aesthetic acts of rejection and abandonment, not sacrifice and masochism for one's own salvation nor that of any greater good. "Salve" is a pretty good medicine for a wound or mistaken judgement. It should not be confused with its stinging linguistic cousin, "pouring salt on a wound".
Rasputin either came with or changed to (the distinction is really unimportant) the name "Novykh", meaning 'novice, new, novel'. That seems not the type of name an authoritarian out to mesmerise the world would pick. (In fact, the wealth he is said to have extorted was distributed to the proles and folks on the street!) It suggests the aesthetic interest in the new and different.
The par excellent entendre as well as point of origin dismisses all other interpretations and creates lines and the belief in shortcuts (landlubbers can't really go as the crow flies! Orthodox bureaucrats proclaim "that is the function of technology and its beneficent ruler", the transgression against nature with the aid of nature's physic, the ultimately self-annihilating law). It is the method of writing histories by erasure, just to stay within the lines. To wit: Rasputin has become more evil than even Bakunin, de Sade or Charles Manson, all of whom still have their apologists. Who has spoken up for Rasputin but Alexandra, who the nihilists shot, or his beautiful daughter, Maria, who escaped guilt-by-association, joining up with a travelling circus on the west side of the Atlantic? "Oh sure", you say, as if only another agent of Satan would suggest such a thing! Did you forget Lucifer was an angel of light associated with Venus before she questioned patriarchal authority?
The so-called "Dark Ages" must remain in the shadows, lest it re-emerge at the most obscene junctures. There was a time sin referred to that agreeable to the senses, just as scene still means for some "within the visual horizon". Rasputin merely represented the corruption of the Orthodox project of empire once exposed to the overwhelming "peasant" sentiments resulting in the Old Believers. Had their pseudo-emancipation in 1905 been authentic, the local concern would have stripped away embedded hierarchy altogether (see also rasp, scrape, red).
Philology and Etymology of our own languages had to be removed from academic study in the nineteenth and early twentieth century precisely because they were discovering continuities previously erased by victors who had written our histories. Aesthetic theory shared this fate. They were said to be superseded, rendered inconsequential dead-ends by the emergence of science and its use-value concerning industrial progress. In England and Germany, scientific sociology co-opted the diffused revolution and set it straight. What was diffuse became defused.
But the past and our place in it had begun to expose bits and pieces of the mythic golden age right here and right now, stripped of temporal value, alive in our language. There was found beauty prior to the Dutch Masters! We could begin to appreciate a spatio-physical connection to ancient poetry relevant to the here and now, something Shakespearian scholars have always been eager to expose: a timelessness unperturbed by politico-economics. At this same time, the emerging science of Anthropology expropriated philological methodology, now deemed harmless because the subject of inquiry was considered quaint, exotic, other, inferior. Literary and art history were likewise tolerated with the successful growth of the emotional attachments pushing science forward toward a technological future. That looked like a good idea even to the Russian futurist poets! Unfortunately, the new science's search for truth, exactitude and correctness only creates absolutes or perpetual antagonism, putting an end to questions and their exploration all together.
Science came to represent an iron-fisted victory over art, an interest reserved for the "gentle" sex and her "effete" male counterparts. It did not eliminate religion, it became it, and in the most pathetic patriarchal fashion. Since the two big wars, "science" has nearly lost itself to political-economic interventions and industrial inventions. "Pure science" is for pansies and geeks. Interest is no longer a sufficient justification for exploration, unless it is restricted to security, advancement and recompense. We have re-discovered Iron-age machismo, the patriarchal saturation liberated from its former and purely politico-economic considerations. Today it's an equal opportunity employer: women are welcomed into every church (as long as they resemble Hillary Clinton). The ancient nihilist insurrectionists have become us, and are still becoming: the top and bottom of anarchy representing class war is just top-down or bottom-up destruction and ressentiment. Either way, we think it's completion will be the end of the world – the first is literal, the second only a provisional set-back. Is it time yet for a change in these four thousand year old tactics? Could that be found in pataphysics? Still need proof? Look at the dada!
Poetry, Ecology, Nomadology:"My connection with the world is like that of a traveler resting for a while underneath the shade of a tree and then moving on."– Muhammad
"...nothing should own you."– Ali ibn Abi Talib
Ascetic: 1640s, from Gk. asketikos "rigorously self-disciplined," from asketes "monk, hermit," from askein "to exercise, train," originally "to train for athletic competition, practice gymnastics, exercise." The noun meaning "one of the early Christians who retired to the desert to live solitary lives of meditation and prayer" is from 1670s. Prior to this, they were referred to as "deserters". – etymology online
From the Greek, we get 'practice' and 'preparation'. In other words, should one wish to quit an ingrained habit like school or work, it may take a bit of practice to be comfortable with even the idea of it; we start with baby steps: untimely arrival, truancy, dropout. Likely, enforcers of forced habits will speed up the process for you. It provides for the resolution of an internal contradiction and prevention of the stress of a rupture. Should one wish to sculpt a statue or run a race, there is a prior period of training muscles and their coordination. Should one desire to travel to town even though suffering from flu, one sets it aside, acquiring patience with one's self. It is not to be confused with a cost-benefit calculation, as that is a principle which makes choices for you rather than the other way around, and in fact, removes the necessity of consciousness once the calculation is made. Paradoxically, it is the acquisition of habits such that, while diverting during the learning period, interruptions are not distracting after proficiency is accomplished. It allows one to walk and chew gum simultaneously. Wikipedia will tell you aesceticism is the opposite of aestheticism. On the contrary, in the sense I am portraying, not unlike Epicurus' commentaries, it may be essential to it. Feel constrained by ritual observances? How 'bout a nice bowl of rabbit stew without its preparatory ritualised cooking?
The confusion of aesthetics and aescetics is understandable. It could be that the semantic difference between them is as small as the phonetical distinction of "sce" and "sthe", the matter of a barely perceptible whisper. Not identical, but related. Certainly not opposite until the very idea (or perception) of process is stripped away. Such stripping or rasping provides the distinction between form (skin) and structure (skeleton). In lieu of writing, it could be that the preservation of rites observed or iterated each feastday, the maintenance of the forms without the hierarchic structure imposed by orthodoxy helped prevent the influence of eternally returning, bible thumping skeletons for the Middle Agers after the fall of Rome (it took feudal lords five hundred years to retake Europe for the return of empire). Called conservative or intractable, "peasants" were inveterate only by virtue of becoming invertebrate. Removing an imposed structure allows the emergence of an organic organisation. The search for replacement parts suggested by the questions, "Ok, so what's the alternative?" and "What is to be done?" only reproduce a mechanical structure, removing the continued necessity of forceful enforcers. Once the structure (or its facsimile) is back in place, self-management is always encouraged during any period of crisis!
Among the Russian Old Believers, particularly the priestless variety which had rejected all the sacraments but baptismal immersion, slippery, snake-like horizontal plasticity had replaced the vertical trusswork. In the same way, confession had been stripped of any association of guilt or apology by calling it a public or community agreement. A public sharing of perspective and experience, schism was actually encouraged, since there would always be other sects (or Arks) scattered from Siberia to Germany one might find more agreeable. Antagonism is eliminated by encouraged movement. A sect for almost any interest, someone always has an acquaintance or relative in a community which might match. The schism is the presentation of options and aid in finding them, not a system of punishment or ostracism. It is anti-meddlesome, only resembling organised religion by virtue of the common rites and ceremonies performed. Same form, different structure, movable contents.
During the twelve years between 1905 and 1917, it is said there were upwards of 40,000 old believers in the revolutionary soviets, made up 25% of the population at large, and was becoming fashionable even among the aristocracy, as caught up as they were between the anal anglo-german protestantism and despotic eastern orthodoxy. Hence, wandering Rasputin's attachment to the innermost circle of Romanovs. The British Secret Intelligence Service obviously thought this "corrupting influence" a greater threat than even Bakunin and his anarchists. The Bolsheviks concurred. Documents revealed since the collapse of USSR point specifically to British rather than Russian assasins of Rasputin. Both sides perpetuated the myths of demonic association.
Vladimer I (namesake for Vlad the Impaler – aka, Count Dracula?), brought orthodox christianity to the western Slav's in 988 AD. We still hate blood-sucking vampires, whether the religion of state or the state religion (but oh, don't diss the ideology of organised labour!) As much official or state religion the deserters of the Roman and Byzantium Empires took with them to the forests and steppes of Europe, safe within the protective midst of so-called Barbarian Hordes, the peasant lifestyle had completely corrupted it. Such is the nature of culture contact when restraints are removed or the bosses escape to Mediterrean bunkers or gated communities. There is a weaving or blending but also a deal of discarding. Contrary to Senior Chomsky, linguists are beginning to discover that grammar (morphology) is easier shed than phonology. Diffusion is always a matter of internal adaptation. If it don't fit, you throw it out. By 1666, the state had to introduce religious reforms to bring the Russian peasants back into the fold, which is to say, under control. It took 250 yrs, and that was not accomplished till the Stalinist purges, initiated by Lenin and Trotsky against any anarchist elements or "religious" hold-overs (read "peasant autonomy"). It just produced a greater scattering, as had the earlier actions of despotic czars, despite their grand tortures and public executions. Did you ever wonder about the etymological connection between vampire and empire?
Rasputin, of course, was a miracle worker. His greatest feat, so goes our official history, was using his evil magnetism to persuade the Czarina to question her imperial culture and its god-given tradition, largely, that property and rule equally follow bloodlines for divine ends. She became his apprentice and accomplice, manipulated to persuade the Czar to reconsider the Russian people and put an end to poverty and its discontent by separating from his British and German relatives and their absurd squabbles. Bakunin had already tried such persuasion by logic. Little did anyone suspect that, along with the Ottoman Turks blocking the Central Asian steppes, the Russian steppe was the real target of World War I, being the last grand frontier for industrial development once the Americans had achieved their own manifest destiny subduing the Great Plains. The transcontinental railways brought god, law and civilisation to their own backward and unruly "old West" settlements, where outlaws, freerangers and Indians seemed to be getting on just fine. Kropotkin first gave me the idea that the accelerated war against the Natives was just a cover to erect calvary posts to bring the settlers back under control and protect a new wave of temperance ladies and fire-and-brimstone preachers in the service of progress – the development of the forces of production. Americans had to one-up their British and German cousins and their confounded contraptions.
But that is another story, and I digress.
Rasputin's second demonstration involved miracle cures. He had a telegram sent advising against the administration of aspirin (then touted by the College of Medicine as the newest miracle cure-all) to her young haemophiliac son. The good doctors should have known an anti-coagulant would be contraindicated. Pure long-distance magic! His evil incantations were "The boy needs rest!" Despite the "reforms" he set in place after the 1905 insurrections, demonstrating his sense of compassion, Nikolas remained devoted to the divine plan and his sacrificial place in the grand scheme of futurism and industrial development as the universal panacea. Science still wins all god's wars with their bigger bulldozers. Dowsing is oh, so passé. Rods must be restricted to either surveyor's measurings or commercial and recreational fishing. History proves, material profits kill superstitious prophets in any antagonistic engagement. It's human nature, after all.
I'm beginning to think of all the so-called "prophets" as Druids. Not a historical or spatial connection between any particular peoples, but of kindred spirit nevertheless, a behavioural pattern sharing at least three qualities: 1) wandering, 2) news of distant lands or events, 3) teachers of histories and warnings of future events deduced from historical or geographical trends. Any historical recitation can be received as an auspice or omen regarding what is to come (future). Within my memory, our own historians were taught that "we study the past in order to carry it forward or avoid past mistakes". History can give one a sense of hope or foreboding, hence I juxtapose past and future in the third option. It is an option because one can take it either way.
By virtue of their wandering, they are carriers of culture. It is not spreading the "Word", but "words". There are at least two ways you can take this too. No doubt some were lone, such as Rasputin or the shamans called "ascetes" by the propertied. The settled are amazed at the idea that a lack of material accumulation could represent anything but sacrifice, while the wanderer would likely see them as tied down and constrained by their heavy load. Among most indigenous 'wanderers', movement gives them the world, property represents lack. Their "discourse" concerns novelties, wonders. We read novels illustrating "wonders of the world". What is considered the first modern novel (Don Quixote – as well, the first best seller out-doing the bible) concerned the exploits of a wandering knight errant set in a then, quite recent bygone era.
The engagement of spreading words is not unidirectional. Others' words are picked up all along the way. An invitation for a game of comparative linguistics? Historical linguists still think areas of greatest diversty represent a point of origin, the greatest antiquity (the myth of Babel) and that diffused phonological commonalities represent an original language attributed to that place. Taken to absurdity, this is the theory that life starts in the settled city and spreads out from there! They miss out on the possibility that common words might only represent what was most talked about for the longest time between diverse and not always contiguous peoples.
Movement is a participation in a meandering global communication network. Linguistic uniformity is not necessary. It is not even possible! Distributivity does not always imply "from one (an originary simple) to many (a future complex)". The more we study an event or process, the more we witness entanglement and produce theortical diversity in perpetual competition. Theoretic heroes produced conventional lines of thought by speaking the loudest. Today, this is the function of specialists in publishing. Distribution. Dissemination. Education. Money talks. Monologue. In the beginning was the word. Like hell it was!
As I suggested, outside of institutions, "the engagement of spreading words is not unidirectional." Very likely, there was quite a bit of medicinal knowledge picked up along the way. We called them healers as well as teachers, and in their context of adventures, usually traveling in the service of some Trickster or other. Functioning as distributors of "wisdoms", they were also people of El (aka, Al, Allah, Ba'al, Illinois, elbow – 'that which bends'). In the later Middle ages, the practice was taken up by young adventurers seeking fortune and journeymen, looking for an opportunity to ply their new skills prior to retirement, the time to teach others.
Dev El: godly (enormous, complete) devotion in the spirit of distributivity, flow. Property-worship and settlement changed the designation to devil. Ill became unhealthy, deviation. The ark became a warship. Worship is impossible without an archon. And who were the good guys in this story? The traditional etymology of devil, from Greek diaballein "to slander, attack," lit. "throw across," from dia- "across, through" + ballein "to throw", could equally translate to "through Ba'al" or even "revolutionary". In Proto-Indoeuropean, *al- has a double entendre: "to grow, nourish", "to bend, meander". Ba'al was essentially an ancient potlatch chief, "lord el", Ba (like Dev) once being a title of respect, as it still is in Hindi baba. Diabolical: 'a rolling forth'! Or is that "rowing"? There is also the connection of Babel to consider, but that leads us off our current path towards evil elves and baleful devils producing malignant ills. (O.E. bealu-full, from bealu "harm, injury, ruin, evil, mischief, wickedness, a noxious thing") Unless, of course, one is Scandinavian and can easily see the same "beau-" showing up in "beautiful" and "beaudacious". Beowulf was a poet-hero, elves were kindly, and the belfry was no seige-tower or clock temple, but a shelter of peace and freedom.
proper names, cf. Ælfræd "Elf-counsel" (Alfred), Ælfwine "Elf-friend" (Alvin), Ælfric "Elf-ruler" (Eldridge), also women's names such as Ælfflæd "Elf-beauty." Elf Lock hair tangled, especially by Queen Mab, "which it was not fortunate to disentangle"– etymology online
Those nasty Vikings, turning everything wrongside out. Maybe this is one time where the question of the precedence of the chicken and egg might be illuminating, since all the other etymological schemes trace to the dastardly Hittite Empire! Wasn't Hitler a Hittite?
Some wanderers had what we called "a following". It may be likely that the hero was only a personification of a gathering. The biblical "Elohim" were the dudes and dudettes who taught us navigation in the first place (the same metaphor of a boat "cleaving" the water shows up in Polynesia). Are the followers companions or blind sheep? Or perhaps a processional confessional in the sense of old Russian "public agreement"? Could they be affinity groups? The same root shows up in "gregarious" and "gratis" (free). Agreeable is both pleasurable and free – grace. Rasputin's first name? Grigori.
Welsh Druids often traveled in troupes we might call "theatrical companies". It is said they could kill a British soldier with a well crafted insult. The Italian L'arte del Commedia, essentially a traveling guerrilla theatre or pantomime troupe was an example from the middle ages (circa 12th cent). We still witness Shakespearian troupes wandering from theatre to theatre, town to town reading from their sacred books presenting a drama meant to be used critically, but as a mirror to our own place and time. Why Shakespeare if the production was only a matter of entertainment? As early as Beowulf, we are presented with a lone, and in this case, christian "druid" extemporising from his own book to those who did not read. Not an anti-hero set against Beowulf, but a counterpart: monk set beside poet-hero, fatalism next to adventure. Faced with one crisis after another, the chief is offered another sort of magic where tradition has failed. Curiously, it is the par excellent religion of guilt detourned to salve his own shame in instigating the crises in the first place. In a fit of despair, the chief gets baptised when it appears the hero will be unsuccessful. Obviously, there is more to this story than "How us Geetlanders got religion".
More importantly, Beowulf illustrates the folly of our acts and intentions when we choose to impose order on a backdrop of chance events which produce their own order, despite our best efforts or 'posture'. The story always reminds me of Albert Camus' The Plague, written when Camus discovered Antonin Artaud. Chance and absurdity overcome plan and destiny. Despair is a quality only of the righteous with divine plans. Only chaos can produce order; it feeds on ordered meddling, almost to the point of predictability. Since Arthurian legend (our sham histories), we now equate the unknown or unsubdued other with shamanism and magic. This applies equally to children and our own 'subconscious', still full of mystical portent. The Singularity: The king unifies Britain for the sake of the future; the past is voided; the present is hereafter named "No-wheresville". A covenant is rarely agreeable and never free; warships still protect workship.
God unifies all gods in the interest of good, orderly direction, labour, industry and democracy – the elimination of chance (and therefore, interest) in the universe. God is Adam Smih's "Invisible Hand" creating permanent structures like the skeletons we place in museums to make room for a new development. Of course, natural "gods" are only the personification of a local synergy. Death to the infidels! Todays cosmic blueprint is just a new way of saying "divine plan". Science is hoped to unravel all mystery with a proper economic analysis. Poetic divination is definitely the wrong approach, as it depends entirely on chance and indeterminacy generating intuited patterns useful for autonomous agency, free movement, aesthetically informed decision, adventure.
Bad idea! As there is a par excellent cause for each perceived effect, an origin and a terminous, there is the correct word for each utterance. That word is "politic". Deadspeak. Einstein said god does not play with dice. I'd ask 'what other kind of game is there'? Academic instruction or mindless ritual leading forth with somnambulant navigation? Where's the fun in sleepwalking?
Form, Structure, Content, Function. These are all concepts of machinery. In semantics, par excellence is provisional! Meaning is apropos to the situation and disipates with movement, else we would keep walking into the same wall. Meaning occurs at turning or stopping points. Ending movement brings sleep or trance. Prolonged, it brings catatonia or death. Established meaning is truth or dogma. One's only option when truth is found is to lead by the nose (the arch-fiend) or choose an archon to be-fiend you. The latter is an example of the modern or colloquial usage of aesceticism: self-sacrificing acquiescence.
But it is a fact that most people are neither dead nor catatonic, they only appear so. It is necessary, therefore, for power to narrow down ambiguity to two possibilities. There are always two par excellent qualities which gives birth to dualism and dialectics. As a language game, it is merely humorous. As a methodology or law of being (Aristotle's Law of the Excluded Middle), it provides morality, law, property and the endorsement of hypocrisy, as both Mikhail Bakunin and Mark Twain aptly illustrated. Only poetics can snap bold lines or crumble tight boxes. One must first engage in a little sin – transgression from the straight and narrow path or confinement in boxes of any sort. All common sense implies skin and what we do with it. It's an external matter. Inner feelings? What good are they unless expressed? The only option given is calcification. Unfortunately, the protruding chinbone acts like a barb when trying to extract yer head from yer asshole, lookin' fer god in the wrong place, par excellent! There is no pushing through to the other side except for the Ouroboros.
After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that has been banished returns. There is movement, but it is not brought about by force... The movement is natural, arising spontaneously. For this reason the transformation of the old becomes easy. The old is discarded and the new is introduced. Both measures accord with the time; therefore no harm results.– I Ching