We find ourselves fighting a virtual revolution on line - in internet blogs and forums where we find "real" anarchists and "real" revolutionaries openly discussing their plans for the overthrow of the state. The players consist of experienced "regulars" (excluding, of course, nestled "detractors") who guide us in developing our game characters. We must be true to the role we are playing, consistent with the mask we are wearing, coherent in our game moves. We have these enlightened experts in radical theory, assorted "detractors" (who not only don't play their roles correctly, but don't even follow the rules formulated by the game developers), and the occasional players and unparticipating spectators or NPC's (Is that 'non-player character' or 'not politically correct'?) presumably soaking in insurrectionary right-think. The detractors don't play rEVoLution, the RPG.® according to the rules set out by the master-control-program / operating system, (sometimes called the "spectacle" by situationists). These detractors include lifestylists and dropouts and other assorted criminals of thought. Individualists, to a tee - radically uninformed people wanting to steal back their everyday lives. The correct method of play is to derive a coherent theory which would guarantee insurrectionary success and spur on the revolution.
Crime thinkers ("Think crime and you won't have to do crime") and "primitivists" (not that any actually play this game) are easily handled with ridicule and flame. Marx himself demonstrated this tactic in his critique of Stirner in Saint Max in his German Ideology. People who have actually read Max Stirner are so few, "egoists" can be easily identified and isolated. But recently, situationism has resurfaced in "The Game". The first attempts to deal with this were ad hominem attacks and accusations of SI for "asking the impossible" (remember, you cannot live anarchy 'til capital™ is defeated, which is also to say that we should not even aspire to live - struggle and survival should be quite enough for anyone until after the revolution. Sounds like heaven!). rEVoLution, the RPG.® is worker struggle. 'It's those nasty authoritarian drunks and misusers of drugs "on the fringes of wage-labor...street gangs and ghetto blacks" [Gilles Duavé, Critique of the Situationist International], who interfere with our revolutionary praxis and impede revolutionary solidarity'. We have to appeal to a higher authority. Msg. Gilles acknowledges the strengths of SI, we simply can't disagree with/detourne its most enduring/endearing points. But then it is announced that these very strengths are the source of its ambiguity and the essential source of the downfall of the Situationist International: Got Illusion? Try Contusion®! Debord and his crew had simply drifted too far from the marxian tradition of class (and race and gender, I might add) struggle in setting up revolutionary soviets *er, I mean* councils. Situationist techniques (themselves expropriated from the public relations industry) were used against the 'movement' itself. The critique of SI now comes down to this:
Thus spoke the great Oz, "Pay no attention to that little man behind the curtain".
The spectacle is not the totality. It is produced by capital™. Debord's big error was to confuse the part for the whole. Don't read between the lines - there is no hidden message. Spectacular Illusion/diversion is no longer pertinent to our analysis. We can now get past this little crisis and back to playing "rEVoLution, the RPG.®"
The object of this role-playing game is to establish collectivism. The collection in this case, is public opinion, and the process of collectivization is the detournement of (minority) opinion along certain prescribed avenues deemed safe for the project of civilization (often referred to in the game as "the anarchist project"). This is nothing new. The Jesuits taught aspiring bishops and popes the metaphysics of Spinoza (not at all in keeping with catholic theology) in their seminaries not for the purpose of a liberal education, but to understand and deflect potential critique. Counterarguements were perfected and "the faith" was maintained. It is a dangerous game and in fact produces 'dropouts' from time to time, but they are shown to demonstrate character defects - the "weak in faith". The danger of the game provides a monstrously successful screen which traps the devout and produces the next generation of theological authorities.
In the same fashion, the virtual revolution preserves the ideas of property, authority and sacrificial labor, and places them in the beneficent hands of the collective's central committee / intellectual avant guarde / technocratic bureaucracy, while the post-revolutionary workers brew up another nice pot of tea or pour them another glass of guiness or microbrew. On default settings, the game is set up to win by alienating it's players from spilling into "real life". It is an unbeatable game banking on an ubiquitous "addictive personality disorder" (the derivation of 'pleasure-seeking' behavior). This concern is unwarranted. If there ever was a spill-over into real life, all the players would narc on (or even kill) each other, each suspecting the other of being part of the plot or part of the counter-plot. The failure of an internet-derived revolution in the "real world" is thus assured. But then, this is the message of all 'unbeatable' games: "You can not win!"
One might wonder why playing the game of overthrowing government/politics is even tolerated on the internet. The web is thought of as some kind of de-centralized anarchist space, uncontrollable by 'the powers that be'. This is a mistake. It is a game of bait and switch. Attractive and unquestionably profound critiques by irreconcilable opponents to the establishment are presented in various "Anarchist" sites to entice a readership encouraged to discuss matters in the safety of internet anonymity, where their understanding can be manipulated/detourned by esoteric double-speak and (politico-economic) theoretical razzle-dazzle by (even unwitting) provacateurs. Arguments are encouraged so that, upon their resolution - that is, the realization of the absurdity of fighting among ourselves and the resulting collapse of "revolutionary solidarity" - everyone now knows that if there are any new objections, there will be accusations of "derailment" and "breaking the peace". 'Real' revolutionaries are informed by 'real' revolutionary theoretical constructions as are only fully appreciated and expounded by the intellectual elite - our gurus of the revolution.
We are encouraged to imagine the abolition of government, we can spew anti-capitalist rhetoric, but where is there talk of abolishing the whole system of production and consumption ("the corporation") under which we toil? Surely "crime-thought"! Why, that might lead to Kazinskyan "primitivism"! The mainstream media itself informs us that the idea of national government is antiquated by the global economy. From the point of view of the corporate entity (capital™), there has never been anything controversial about abolishing government. Sure, we say we are anti-capitalist, but we would only reform the corporate entity after doing away with the state. This is called maintaining the infrastructure so that civilization can proceed along on its path with as few bumps as might be perceived. If we can change the name of AT&T to RFCW - "The Revolutionary Federation of Cell-Tech Workers' Collectives", and institute some work-place reforms, that should just about do it. Over the years, this could progress to FAVOWIT (Freely Associated Volunteer-Workers in Telecommunications). Power to the people! Abolish work! Volunteer! Remember, it's a collective effort and it's your civic duty! This is a game scenario that is never discussed.
It is thought there are experts in the operation of the machine (capitalist geeks) we can entice over to the side of communism. What we have missed is the fact that the capitalists already approach communist social relations (called "sharing the wealth" among themselves). We talk of abolishing class distinctions, but do not consider that unless we do away with the whole show, a "communist" revolution will require a class of "intelligentsia" - the technocracy. This is how the spectacle/diversion of production maintains the "ruling class"; it is the spectacle of consumption which maintains the workers. But let's not talk of illusory forces of consumption, it is production we must concentrate on. We have forgotten (or indeed, never understood) that the modern government is only an interface between the "Public" and "The Corporation" (those who control the resources we need to live), just as "The Company" (C.I.A.) has since its inception, been the interface between the corporation and the government. If we eliminate the spectacle of government, we have not touched the spectacle (the illusion of perceived necessity) of productive growth and progressive consumption, security maintenance, the "welfare state", environmental rape and other issues which transcend governments but saturate the realm of "productive relations". But discussion of these problems in anarcho-communist circles is buried by the phrase "leftist special-interest groups of no use to the revolution...Pay them no mind".
Mussolini told us that fascism is the merging of government ("authority") and industry ("capital™"). Vaneigam used the term "power" rather than "capital". Those who only accumulate capital are merely 'wanna-be's', "minor players" in the game of capital™. They are caught up in the illusion of the shape of the world of Marx's day - the birth of the great banker/industrialist monopolist pioneers such as J. P. Morgan and Carnegie, and the opportunity for certain 'enterprising' persons (the nouveau riche) to join their ranks despite a lack of 'blue-blood' family connection. That world has shifted. It is power and control which 'real' capitalists accumulate. Democratized 'wealth' is only a matter of manipulating digital information, and accumulated wealth is only one means to more power. It is by far not the only means.
What will we have when we do away with the government interface altogether? We are still well within the realm of the spectacle (illusion, diversion, alienation, domestication). Direct control in the guise of self-management, but realistically run by the technocratic bureaucracy - those providing no function other than their own maintenance free from toil by coordinating the toil of others. This is the end point of the Bourgeois Revolution - power to the middleman. Bureaucrats are the most ridiculously incompetent members of society precisely because of their overspecialized and alienated functions. Without the means of seeing a bigger picture, how can we place our hope for conscientiously responsible behavior from bureaucrats? Bottom-up democratic consensus? We have seen the usefulness of democracy in the rift between the "need" for lumber and jobs and the protection of endangered species such as the spotted owl. Local economies were allowed to collapse until talk of animal extinctions left the semantic realm of "responsible" government and industrial practices and moved into the realm of "domestic terrorism". At this point, logging has come to surpass the levels existing prior to the issue of animal habitat destruction, and we even endorse controlled burns (napalming entire forests) which open up vast areas for salvage logging and future development as a means of stopping the spread of small wildfires. This has become the new method of combating "wild" fires on "public" lands since the traditional fire-fighters, the national guard are off fire-fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. No spectacle here, boys and girls...Move along.
The spectacle is not merely a leviathon, but a shape-shifter as well. What does not change is the imposition of scarcity and toil on some for the sake of the comfort and leisure of others. The theory is that a hungry enough belly will always volunteer to trim your toe-nails, if that is what you wish. Yowsa, sho'nuff, and yes sir, boss - the egalitarian social relation of the ante-bellum plantation worker. No player of rEVoLution, the RPG.® has adequately explained how this game scenario would be avoided. I guess Marxian Utopia will just magically happen when the workers take power (think Soviet Union). But I ask again, who will scrub their toilets and pick their fruit? What if farm and service workers became the "revolutionary subject" by just up and quitting? Maybe there's something to be said for DIY afterall! Beloved and respected comrade-chairman Mao had to confront this very problem, and his solution was to force the bureaucrat to do occasional time as pitchfork operator back on the farm. His title thereafter changed to "Enemy of the State" and "Traitor to the Revolution".
For those wanting "real" change in the "real world", not to worry. The revolution is a hydra. New heads grow daily. As the spectacle grows more meaningless to folks' everyday life, every day acts of resistance become more out-of-control. There are revolutionaries and anarchists and radical wanderers and other detractors and dissidents unaffiliated with any political or anti-political organization or philosophy already out there (in the world outside of the game). You will not find support for (or even much acknowledgment of) them in "The Game" - they are not easily pigeon-holed. They are helping compatriots find squats, setting up free clinics, free stores, free tickets, free fares, distributing food and blankets to the homeless, writing letters of support or encouragement to prisoners, performing free concerts or provocative street theatre, opening themselves up to wisdom from traditionalist tribal elders, building spaces within the spectacle more sheltered from attack by the spectacle (eg., t.v.-free zones, home-schooling, community drop-in centers), and even engaging in activities most would consider "criminal", like burning GMO fields. Acts of destruction become increasingly difficult with the expanding police state, but then we see expanding acts of creation and spontaneity in response. The key word is "free": shackle-breakers get in free of charge, despite the charges freely filed against them.
All of this and more, despite the fact that most are not fluent in 18th and 19th century 'radical' theory or the histories of failed workers' struggles. It is a disorganized anti-movement unconsciously modeling the pattern of naturally occurring wild-fires. As to the value of 'radically unaware' youth to the revolution, it was my 'goth' step-daughter who brought me back to my own roots (adolescent anarchy, as in "I'm getting damn sick of everybody telling me what to do and what to think, and I'm gonna start saying 'no!") in pointing out (in a discussion of religion) how Marx had merely replaced god in my own "revolutionary" ideology. This was two years before reading Max Stirner. No matter how much effort we place into "education", there will always be disaffected youth who would spit upon even the most radical of revolutionary theorists, and rightly so when those ideologies come to dominate us. Is it not time to reclaim the bait and annihilate the switch? This is not to promote anti-intellectualism, but I'd have to agree with Eric Idle on the possibility of intelligent life in outer space: One would certainly hope so "'cause there's buggerall down here on earth". Are the disorganized and unaffiliated bringing down the evil empire? Not perceptively, but they are actually living the revolution rather than master-debating around readings of archaic "revolutionary" political economists and calling this PC "antipolitical discussion". The controlled burn initiated to eliminate ever-growing dissent will also consume the spectacle itself, but this time there will be little left to salvage. End of game.
The slightly Irreverent,
Sub-commandant Snide Edelgraff, IFINSITURCON - PAC (SS)
(The Inconsistent Federation of Inaccessibles, Scornful Icononclasts, Tramps, Unique Ones, Rulers Over the Ideal and Conquerors of the Nothing - Persistent Anti-Collective of Spontaneous Subversives)
Act now! You too can get an on-line degree from the Anarchist Graduate School! Send blank cheques to K-Marx Educational Systems, LLC @ paypal dot ru. Free DVD of rEVoLution, the RPG.® to the first 100 enrollees.
p.s. Eh!!!! watch it with that brick, mate! Ain't cha got a f'in sense of hummer?
"Perhaps in this unhappy world of ours, a worse madness is better than a foolish sanity."
- Cervantes, 16th century A.D.