English translations of articles from the anarchist aperiodical from Italy, Machete. This site is anti-copyright. Use what you like freely as you see fit.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

LETTER TO ASPIRING SUICIDES

If we address ourselves to you, men and women who have reached the point of essential revulsion and who nothing and no one could any longer rescue from a tragic destiny, it is not to remind you of a non-existent duty in the face of a life that isn’t worth living. We don’t lack respect for your decision, because you and you alone know the precise extent of the pain and anguish that poison your existence. Those who do not feel that pain and anguish, those who have never even come close to this because they are kissed by fortune or soft in the head due to faith, have no reason to censure your fatal decision.


So we don’t want to preach you any sermon or keep you from acting on your decision. We only intend to ask a favor of you, a small favor for you who have decided to abandon this world, but one that would give great joy to those of us who have decided, for the moment, to stay here. Since you are resolved to embark on the Great Voyage, while you are at it, could you maybe bring a few of the known calamities, that made your days on this earth unbearable with, you? Wanting to take the last step in solitude is understandable, it is human. But to do it in company is sublime; it is godlike. Besides, what do you have to fear? For once, no one will get to harass you, throwing the consequences of your gesture in your face. To give an example, you could swallow your poison after making the congressman, who has given you the poison of his lies to drink for years, taste it. Do you want to add a bit of weight to your brain? Very good, but not before supplying some of it to the bank manager who ruined you. If instead you want to squeeze a noose around your neck, it would be good if you first got some practice on the neck of the industrialist who fired you. Before going into the beyond, you could give the bishop who excommunicated your consciousness a surprise by arranging an immediate meeting for him with the Supreme Boss. And why not drag the cop who is standing beside you waiting for the train or subway with you onto the rails? He will finally lose his ugly habit of imprisoning other people’s freedom. Not to offend you, but we have never understood why courthouses and stock exchanges don’t excite the fantasies of you desperate ones in the way schools seem to in the United States: Target practice on judges and financial speculators would be a stirring goodbye gift to your companions in misfortune.


Imagine what might happen if only a fifth of the inflexible suicides of all countries were to associate their last breath with that of a despicable person in power? Thanks to you – you suicides who are usually reviled – we would be witness to a great ethical awakening. On high, anyone who managed to avoid you would think twice before casting other human beings into desperation. At the bottom, we cowards who aren’t capable of making a revolution might find the strength to bring the work that you have started so generously to term.


We ask you, we beg you, if we may, great desperate ones of five continents, have heart one last time. Don’t die alone and ignored, a sardonic conclusion to a life already lacking in joy. Select an institutional celebrity and knock him off allong with yourself.

Friday, September 25, 2009

PISS IN THE BALLOT BOXES

"At the crossroads in Rome, there were pots and bowls to allow passersby to piss."

In those days, Chigalev told his followers: "One man in a thousand enjoys an absolute freedom and exercises boundless authority over the other nine hundred and ninety-nine. The others have to give up all individuality, become a herd and through total submission, by means of a series of regenerations, reach a state of primitive innocence, something like Eden, even though they will still all have to work."

In our day, the vote is in real danger of becoming mandatory. Along public buildings, we are ordered to vot for Dick because Dick is Harry and Harry is Dick. Yesterday evening, Sunday, in a certain place in the capital, near an old church, in a place where school didn't last long enough to spread the idiocy of candidates, panels in the shape of Chinese screens were made available. In the darkness, this formed a toothed fortress. On this fine spring night, lovers occupied the polling stations and a vagrant snored by his litre of red wine.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

INDIVIDUALS OR CITIZENS?

"[Worldless men] were and still are those who are forced to live in a world that is not their own, (...) in a world for which they are present, on whose terms they are considered and used, but whose models, aims, language and taste are still not their own, and are not granted to them."--
Günther Anders

Worldless individuals, we are alone with ourselves. Our critics shake their heads before our meager results and scold us for our lack of willingness. But in the end, let's admit it, one gets bored. Is it possible that there isn't some small place in the sun for us as well? If many consider extremism an infantile disorder, it is by virtue of this banality: only in youth do we feel capable of refusing the world, this world that is not our own. When we are full of strength, with the entire future before us, we fear nothing, neither police charges nor sleeping under the stars, and so even less, disdaining compromises. In this perpetual childhood, everything seems possible and within reach. This is why we refuse to throw our life to the bookkeepers of survival. We love with passion, we hate with fury. And if this exuberance, this proud love of ourselves, has the consequence of exiling us with our solitude, so be it! But then as the years pass, something intervenes. Energy is used up, stockpiles are reduced, ammunition is lacking, we notice that we have very little within reach for confronting what is left of the future.

Meanwhile, the social winter advances, covering the landscape with frost. In some way, it is necessary to put forth a remedy. Then staying at the margin of this world is not so very comfortable; perhaps at times the heart warms up, not the bones. Community will even be a therapeutic place, curing and removing "deviance", but that torpor within it, the guaranteed meals, the dry beds! And so, bit by bit, with almost unnoticed movement, we approach the polis. If earlier this world could not count on our sympathy, if earlier it drew all our hostility, now it can rely on our understanding: the critical eye has given way to the entranced gaze, the biting word has been replaced by persuasive discourse. And once one has entered the polis, it is necessary to lose all the old habits and acquire new ones. Life in community requires respect for schedules and good manners. It is necessary to know how to tolerate if one wants to be tolerated. It becomes indispensible to to avoid behaviors that might provoke public indignation and to close one's eyes before the unwelcomed behavior of others. "The one who does is always right," says a widespread commonplace. It is like maintaining that "the one who speaks is always right". What is valued is not the intrinsic quality of the movement or speech, but their mere existence. And yet silence is revealed to be golden when you don't know what to say: better to remain silent than to let yourself go on in endless, idiotic babbling. If this is so, then why fret so much when one doesn't know what to do? Why dedicate oneself to activism, to this compulsory doing, to this constant, omnipresent mobilization, which, indeed, fills the emptiness of our existence, but without giving it a meaning that our own, that is autonomous, that bears the mark of the difference, the uniqueness, that stands at the origin of every true action?

The fact is that outside the philosophical fogs, there is a horror of the "creative nothing", in which we do not see the opportunity for reaching our fullness, but only the promise of falling headlong into the void. Better then to trust in the perpetual motion of the urgency of things where there is no time to reflect on ends because it is necessary to think about how to organize means. Utopia is beautiful, but it really isn't practical.

THE PRACTICE

In France, it is called citizenism, a term that indicates a movement made up of a vast and multiform achipelago of associations, unions, collectives, press organs and political currents, whose aim is to fight for the restoration of "democracy betrayed". The fact that our planet is at the end of its rope from the social, political, economic and ecological point of view, is now not hidden from anyone. The citizenists trace the cause of this situation back to a lack of respect for the "popular will" which--once it has fallen into the hands of politicians hungry only for power, in cahoots with businessmen greedy only for profit--would be disregarded, manipulated, denied.

Enemies of these politicians and businessmen (more than of the social system of which they are mere expressions), the citizenists are convinced that democracy--in its most genuine, roughest form--is effectively the best of all possible worlds and that it is possible to improve and moralize capitalism and the state, by opposing their obvious harmfulness and abuses effectively. But on two conditions: that this democracy expresses itself through a political rebirth that is modelled more after Pericles' Athens than Machiavelli's Florence, or with greater direct participation of the citizens, who should not just elect their representatives, but should also constantly act to put pressure on them so that they truly stick to what they were elected to do. This pressure can be exercized in the most varied manner, including those acts of "civil disobedience" that make the most loutish reactionaries spit venom and that cause so much admiration in the movement.

One could say, in a certain sense, that citizenism is born of disappointment. In its most reformist variant, disappointment about the distance that increasingly separates those who are sent to the Palace from those who remain on the streets. There are many respectable people--to be clear, those who are convinced that it is power that creates and safeguards freedom, that the market should be based on ethical principles or that the military should respect a moral code--that no longer feel that they are represented by a ruling class which is openly accused of forming a privileged caste, of being deaf to the interests of the common people, of being concerned only with maintaining their positions. These respectable people firmly believe in the state, in the necessity of the state, in the usefulness of the state, in the justice inherent to the state, but they are temporarily disappointed with it, holding that today it isn't guided by competent, honest, upright, loyal politicians. This is the source of their distrust for professional politicians, parties or unions, while still not abandoning their search for someone who will meet their highest demands.

Feeling neglected, the citizenists find themselves constrained to go down into the streets to defend their "rights". Their struggles always have precise objectives, are limited to saying a sharp NO to a specific state project that jeopardizes their health, without in the least wanting to call the social organization that produced it into question. They don't concern themselves with radical moments, subversive tensions. They are honest citizens, not "hooligans" or "terrorists". It goes without saying that, though they are ready to carry out formally illegal acts like street blockades, they are declared enemies of violence. They don't support the truncheon of the riot cop that suppresses any more than the sabotage of the rebel who rises up. The only acts of force that they accept are the controlled, minimal, integrated ones that they occasionally carry out to draw the attention of the adversary, or rather of the authorities. The acts of force can sometimes even be quite spectacular, but that wouldn't prevent the one who carries them out from competing in presidential elections in the future. In its less reformist variant, citizenism is the fruit of disappointment in a revolution whose historical project has been revealed as bankrupt. Despite different expressions, in its principles, this project aimed at a reappropriation of the capitalist means of production by the proletariat. In this perspective, the proletariat is seen as the authentic crator of social wealth, which is, nonetheless, is enjoyed exclusively by the bourgeoisie; to the proletariat the effort of sowing, to the bourgeoisie the fruit of the harvest. With such a premise, social change could only be considered as a mere suppression of the usurping class. Therefore, the expansion of the production forces was seen as a step forward on the road to revolution, going along with the real movement through which the proletariat was constituted as the future revolutionary subject that would have realized communism and anarchy. The bankruptcy of this perspective began to peek out in the first half of the twentieth century, with the defeat s of the revolutions in Russia, Germany and Spain. The final shock was the French may of 1968, which opened another decade of bitter conflict. The 1980s put an end to the last great assault on the heavens, marking the irretrievable decline and disappearance of this project of social liberation in conjunction with the restructuring of capital, which, through the introduction of automation, set up the end of the centrality of the factory and the myths linked to it. The orphans of proletarian revolution found a form of protest in citizenism that could console them in their mourning. Some of the ideas that circulate in it, like those about the "redistribution of wealth", come directly from the old workers'movement that planned to manage the capitalist world on their own behalf. In such concepts, one can glimpse a return , a continuity and even a highjacking of former ideals by citizenism. This is what is called "the art of arranging the remains".

Whether it is enlightened members of the bourgeoisie demanding more transparency in public affairs or disppointed proletarians wanting to fill the void left by the fall of the Berlin Wall, the fact remains that citizenists, incapable of having a unique thought, at least have a common thought: another state is possible. If in this vast cloud, it is possible to find so many minds, sometimes even in contradiction, it is because citizenism expresses an integrated form of protest that hopes to be able to put the malfunctions of the economic system back into balance or to readjust its drifts through greater citizen participation. In this way, citizenism manages to cut across party lines, keeping protest and collaboration together. The protest spurs the collaboration; the collaboration satisfies the protest.This explains its success and its certain future. It is the only mediation that allows you to obtain immediate "victories", however partial, through coming to terms with the institutions.


SOMETHING HAS BEEN LOST

In Italy, citizenism took its first step in Val Susa, with the struggle against the high speed train (TAV). To tell the truth, the struggle aginst the TAV in the Piedmontese valley began more than ten years ago in a completely differetn way, with some acts of sabotage against the earliest construction sites. Small actions brought into the limelight of the newspapers with the arrest of those presumed responsible, three anarchists who later proved to be unconnected to the events. In the course of the investigation, two of them committed suicide. The clamor these events provoked at the time, sufficiently well-known that we don't need to go over them, drew attention to the state project in Val Susa. This gave birth to a protest movement that--though it met with quite a bit of sympathy--remained limited, for the most part, to the militant milieu for several years. But starting in November 2005, when the real work on the TAV line began, this movement managed to break the dam, assuming a mass character. What happened in Val Susa provoked a general enthusiasm that led many to think that they had finally discovered the magic formula that merely had to be repeated in other contexts to get the same results. From this came the spread of committees, assemblies, popular initiatives against "harmfulness" that are filling the agenda of the movement throughout Italy. But what is behind all this unbridled activism that in July 2006 was coordinating in the Pact of Solidarity and Mutual Aid? The primary discourse is that of creating a "new" and "real" democracy, i.e., the citizenist discourse. The Pact is presented by many as a liberatarian text, but its text is a perfect example of a political document, marked by the ambiguity of those who have a foot in each camp in order to satisfy all palates (and if seeing that so many citizens have taken a step outside the institutions can only bring us joy, what are we to think of those rebels who, in solidarity, take a step into the institutions?). There are anarchists who exult in reading "The National Pact of Solidarity and Mutual Aid is certainly not an attempt to stealthily infiltrate into the politics of the palace, nor does it intend to get hosted in the palaces of politics. It has no friendly governments to which to look with trust. It has no parties to which to give a blank slate delegation, and it certainly has no intention of going down a road that would lead it to becoming a part itself", without noticing that this merely affirms the cross-party and lobbyist nature of citizenism. Citizenists are balanced people, they don't want to become a party, but rather to put a certain type of pressure on parties. They are well aware that fighting in the political arena is not exempt from unpleasant consequences. And the way to avoid this risk is to assume the form of a pressure group that is careful not to directly exercise power. This is why they cannot present "blank slate delegations", since they don't want to talk with a favored few. Anybody who listens to them may be okay. This is why it is pointed out immediately afterwards that the Pact "does not, for this reason, avoid politics and confrontation, and is able to distinguish those who operate with transparency from those who try to contain struggles. The model that it proposes is at the same time the only method that it is willing to accept; that of the active participation of citizens". In fact, citizenists don't avoid politics, not at all; they simply no longer want to be made fun of: clear understandings... Far from supporting abstentionism, they preach participation. So it is no accident if the anti-TAV protest in Val Susa is clearly still too rooted in the old world, if after having clashed with the forces of order and devastated the unborn construction sit at Venaus (a moment of rupture that later vanished in the pro-Val Susa narratives, which preferred to dwell on the more presentable popular assemblies), this protest later flowed into the ballot box where the high turnout at the polling stations recorded there in the last elections saw the triumph of the left that was most present. Thus, clashes and barricades (for now?) have not fueled the revolt against all parties, but has rather favored some of them.

And if the large presence of subversives in Val Susa has given the opposition a particularly lively color, the struggles that followed elsewhere mostly seem to be fed by the nonsense of the Grillo boys*. For example, in Vicenza, where the struggle against the expansion of the US military base is going on. The No to Molin Committees expressly state that they demand "respect for the Union** program" and are coming out against "the project that from the environmental point of view violates the directives already acknowledged by our regulation 2003/35/CE," all in order to "promote change and affirm a new alternative project in defense of the values and common good of the collectivity". Their nature as aspiring governors is such as to cause them to sponsor their initiatives under the aegis of "AltroComune" ["Other Municipality"--translator]. With such a premise, it is no surprise that these Committees, having designated themselves as the only legitimate representatives of the struggle against the US military base, have excommunicated the authors of some acts of sabotage that were carried out against the base last April. Distancing themselves from the acts was clearly not enough. Nor is it strange that any scum with an institutional pedigree gets invited into their paid campgrounds to babble in the name of democracy. Even less, one can get indignant if during the periodic protest marches that parade through the Paladin city, like the one of last December 15 [2007], they play the role of firefighters, coming to openly block demonstrators who intend to sabotage the expected walk. If anything, it is astounding that, after having maintained the No to Molin Committees (with a court-registered trademark!), published their initiatives, expressed their solidarity, spread their slogans--clearly having lost confidence in the possibility of an autonomous intervention in what is a struggle against the US military base and not the No to Molin struggle, which is merely the reformist expression of the larger struggle--is the hope to provoke a sudden radical "turn" with regard to their objectives (among which is the demand for a moratorium, whose principle has been valorized within the movement precisely by thePact of Solidarity and Mutual Aid, part of which will be translated below).

THE MISUNDERSTANDING

As was already said, citizenism starts out as a political reaction from below to the so-called "crisis of representation". A reaction that aims to overcome and cure this crisis through new forms of representation. From this point of view, it arises as a natural heir to the parties and unions in the recuperation of more radical and subversive tensions. But this doesn't take away from the fact that the contexts in which it is manifested present elements of extreme interest, because they are potentially pregnant with favorable opportunities. The citizenist doctor appears where the political invalid is in the throes of agony. Its presence alone is a surefire indication of the opportunity for action. In fact, while the doctor is busy prescribing remedies, couldn't one take advantage of the confusion to carry out a healthy euthanasia on this patient? So it is understandable that many subversives have decided to intervene in these situations of struggle with the intent of exploiting the occasions, of radicalizing citizenist objectives, of getting beyond them and making them face their contradictions. But how?

This problem has perhaps been underestimated. One hypothesis of this sort is a reposing of the old theory of "accidents along the way". Even though a movement is born on reformist bases, it can always jump tracks and change course. After all, it has been noted time and again how banality has been the calling card of revolutions throughout history. This is certainly true, but... it isn't a good reason to begin supporting banality. As to accidents along the way, historical experience teaches that subversives are often the ones to willingly suffer them. These subversive, frantic to take part in reformist movements with the aim of radicalizing them, have often ended up changing course themselves. And this is inevitable when one adapts to events instead of trying to force them by maintaining one's ideas (at the risk of remaining at the margins of the "mass"). Unfortunately, this aspect leaps before our eyes now as never before. Laying aside individual insurrection, one now supports the direct democracy of the people, takes part in more or less massive political demonstrations that one used to call others to desert, hosts the academic professionals of separated knowledge, who one used to despise, in one's intiatives. One is no longer proud of one's qualitative difference, but of one's quantitative identity. One no longer launches radical critiques with the intent of provoking conflict; instead one silences blasphemies to find harmony.

In Val Susa, for once, after such a long time, subversives weren't chasing after the struggles of the "common people", but rather the common people were joining with subversives in their struggle. The presence of the "masses" must have gone a bit to the heads of the subversives since, after they had maintained for years the necessity of keeping hold of the critical aspect in every situation of struggle with the aim of strengthening, in Val Susa this did not happen. Instead, the subversives allowed some conceptual corpses like "the people" and "direct democracy", in their various ideological adulterations, to be put back in circulation.

And what is the people? It is an ensemble of subjects characterized by the will to live under a single legal system. The geographical element is not enough to define the concept of the people, which requires the consent to the same rights and a community of interests. The people is a political and historical identity, which has access to stories and memories, the right to commemorations, demonstrations and marble gravestones. The people is visible and speakable. structured in its organization, represented by its delegates, its martyrs and its heroes. It is no accident that its myth has been embraced by authorities of every stripe, or that it was abandoned decades ago by libertarians (at least by the less lobotomized ones). Its uninhibited exaltation in Val Susa has had the consequence of the immediate appearance of the syndrome of populism. Generally, this term is used to refer to any political formulation based on the premise that virtue resides in the people--considered as a homogeneous social aggregate, the sole agent of positive specific and permanent values--and in its collective tradition (Val Susa as land of the partisans...). In populism, often the rural element is predominant since those who have remained in contact with the land, with the mountains, look with some suspicion and hostility on those who live in an urban environment. Populism is ecumenical. It excludes any class conflict since it considers the people as a homogeneous mass. From the historical viewpoint, it tends to spread ideologically in periods of transition, as well as those of strong tensions between metropolis and province when processes of industrialization are going on, because they offer a reason for cohesion and at the same time for warning and coagulation. Populist formulas revive whenever a rapid mobilization of vast social sectors and an intense politicization outside of existing institutional channels is seen. The appeal to the regenerating force of myth is lurking even in the most articulate and complex society, ready to materialize in the moment of struggle. And the myth of the people is the most appealing and the most obscure at the same time, the most groundless and the most functional in the struggle for power.

All these characteristics are very much present in Val Susa, exploited by the many sides involved that don't want to let the delicious occasion of a general mobilization with certain potentialities escape them. Even from the anarchist side, there are those who have not flinched, placing confidence in libertarian populism that knows its distinguished theorists and has its best expression in popular assemblies. Starting from Val Susa, the feeling has spread that every individual can have control over the decisions that determine the destiny of our society: it is enough to know how to discuss with others. This conviction has led to the revival of direct democracy, of politika in the Hellenic sense, of the myth of the agora--the civic space in which citizens can gather informally to discuss, exchange ideas and involve themselves in useful relationships, in view of those popular assemblies where they will confront the common questions with the aim of reaching agreement in a direct, face-to-face way. In short, what the flabbiest, sorriest anarchist militants have describes for years as "non-state public spheres".

It is certainly no accident that the Greek word for assembly is ecclesia***. If the most perfect organization in the universe can be called God, then the link between politics and religion is emphasized. Less obvious is the attractive force it exercises over those who intend to subvert this world from top to bottom. The monstrous aberration that causes men and women to believe that language is born to facilitate and resolve their mutual relationships leads them to these collective gatherings,where they debate how to face the affairs of life. That theses affairs are experienced in different ways among those present, that the debate cannot be equal since capacities will not be equal (those who know more and speak better dominate the assembly), that the minority has no reason to accept the decision of the majority... all this gets noted only when one doesn't frequent the agora. As soon as one sets foot there, perhaps prodded by events, old perplexities dissipate; a miracle that occurs much more easily if one discovers that he has a fine "capacity for oratory". And yet there are still those who go on thinking that this effort to unite individuals into a community, to supply them with something to share, to render them equal, is odious. Because it is dripping with hypocrisy. The same hypocrisy that, after ignoring the slaves that allowed the ancient Greeks to deliberate non-stop, after removing the amorphous and anonymous plebeian unworthy of being a part of the people, is now prepared to overlook the fact that human beings can join together only if they renounce their respective worlds--sensitive worlds, without supermarkets and highways, but rich in dreams, thoughts, relationships, words and loves.

In political reason as in religious faith, the leading idea is that equality comes from identity, from common adherence to one vision of the world. We are all equal because we are all children of God, or citizens of Society. The opposite possibility, which has also cropped up in the course of history, is never considered. That general harmony of humanity might originate in the division of individuals pushed to infinity. Individuals are equal either when they are all identical or when they are all different. In the assembly that unites everyone, reason--the Logos--is evoked through discussion. Speaking, reasoning,arguing, this is where problems melt like snow in the sun, conflicts are settled, agreements are made. But how many compromises, how moderation, how much realism are necessary to reach a common agreement, to suddenly discover we are all brothers?

Thus, after having so thoroughly criticized the conviction that one can return to a science of social transformation, after having affirmed that there are no laws that control social events, after having refuted the illusion of an objective historical mechanism, after having cleared the field of all the fetters that get in the way of free will, after having sung the excess that repudiates every form of calculation, one goes back and takes a yardstick in hand to measure the steps carried out. The participants at initiatives get counted, the media coverage received is controlled, continuous forecasts of the balance are made. Clearly then, the passions were not so wicked, the desires were not so wild, interests were not so distant.

Nor is it understood why direct democracy, as a mediation between various forces in the field that arises in the course of an insurrectional rupture (as has happened historically) should become an ideal to realize here and now in collaboration with various mayors, local authorities and politicians put on the spot by disillusioned citizens. Direct democracy is a sham good idea, It shares with its big sister, Democracy in the broad sense, the fetishism of form. It holds that the manner of organizing a collective pre-exists the discussion itself, and that this method is valid everywhere, at all times, and for every kind of question. Defending direct democracy, counterposing--as "real" democracy--to "false" representative democracy, means believing that our authentic nature can finally be revealed when it liberates from the constraints that weigh on us. But being liberated from these constraints supposes a transformation such that at the end of the process we will no longer be the same, or better, we will no longer be what we are in this civilization based on domination and money. The unknown cannot be reached by known routes, just as freedom cannot be reached through authority. Finally, even in accepting the possibilities of establishing an effective direct democracy, there would still be an objection: why should a minority ever adapt itself to the desires of the majority? Who knows, perhaps it is true that we are living in an ongoing and terrible state of exception. However, it is not the one decreed by power in the face of its own rules--rights are a pure lie invented by the sovereign who is not held to be consistent with this lie--but rather that of the individual in the face of his own aspirations. It is not living as one would like to live. It is not saying what one would like to say. It is not acting as one would like to act. It is not loving who one would like to love. It is having to lower oneself, day after day, to compromises with the tyranny that condemns our dreams to death. Because here it is not about winning or losing (a typical obsession of militants), but of living the only life one has available, and living it in one's own way. Small gestures and common words can hold crowds and crowded streets together, but can we only seek these gestures, these words, outside ourselves to satisfy a new sense of belonging to a community? Not unless we want to give the individual a blank check, only in order to later let them know that it was really toilet paper.
___________________________
* The Grillo boys are similar to Michael Moore--translator
** The old name of the Democratic Party of Italy, before the Rifondazione Communista split off--translator
*** Which also means "church", hence, the word "ecclesiastical".--translator
_______________________________
EXCERPT FROM THE "NATIONAL PACT OF SOLIDARITY AND MUTUAL AID":

At the end of the Venuas-Rome NO-TAV Caravan, the Committees, Networks, Movements and Groups assembled here in the room of the Protomoteca of the Municipality of Rome, on this day of July 14, 2006, in common agreement, determine to create a PERMANENT NATIONAL NETWORK AND A NATIONAL PACT OF SOLIDARITY AND MUTUAL AID in order to affirm in our country:

  • The right to precautionary information and active participation of the citizens with regard to every intervention that wants to operate on the territory on which they live, sharing the common goods (water, air, land, energy);
  • The use of systems of promotion and consumption that valorize territorial resources, minimize environmental impact and the movement of merchandise and people, and that are not based on exploitation, particularly of the South of the world.
  • The beginning of a national moratorium on the carrying out of large public works and on the localization of energy plants [...here I left out a list of specific types of energy plants, because I couldn't find translations for most of the Italian words in any of my dictionaries...] both due to the lack of a national energy plan and to prevent the business logic of the few from devouring the resources of the many.
  • The urgency of the cancellation of the Objective Law, the Environmental Proxy Law, the Central Release Law, Green Certifcates for incinerators and the radical modification of the Design Law on Energy.

On these bases, we are giving life to a National Coordination (with website and e-mail) constituted of a representative from every participating otganization and we invite all other Committees, Networks, Movements and Groups to join together in this National Pact of Solidarity and Mutual Aid.

THE ABSOLUTE

Of course, man invented God so that someone greater than him could defend his misery. God is the dialectical antithesis of human imperfections. Ideal entities serve as compensations for misery. Thus, the qualities given to gods describe through contradiction the defects and sordidness of those who create the gods.


The absolute is the sum of compensations for human misery. To create such a perfect notion, man had to renounce his own miserable content. The absolute is potent because it is perfectly empty. This characteristic is what allows it to represent the ultimate truth. Nothing can be demonstrated through the absolute: the absolute is precisely the highest truth which cannot by demonstrated. Only the details, the pauses, can be demonstrated. But the impossibility of testing the absolute is what makes it unassailable. It is impossible to budge a lie that has no object and so cannot be related to anything. The lie can only be effectively seen if an object that is easily grasped at a glance doesn’t seem to fit, in other words, in cases that don’t matter. The lie that is limited by an object that may be tested, but never the artifice of a construction, because this excludes the object. And so works of art cannot be demonstrated, because, like the absolute, they are separate from the object.


The absolute is the greatest expenditure of energy that man makes. He then tries to recover this lost energy through prayer, where we can see that man doesn’t sustain his energy, since he is forced to separate it from himself to maintain balance. In addition, man first of all fears himself and his creations, imaginary entities that he has separated from himself. This is why he does all that he can to forget his dreams since he fears his wandering mind. I believe that man is less afraid when facing the universe than when facing himself, because he doesn’t know the world, just one tiny corner.


The absolute has been man’s greatest endeavor, thanks to which he has gone beyond the mythological stage. But at the same time, it has been his greatest defeat, because he invented something greater than himself. He created his own servitude. This absolute is identical to the void and to that which has no object. That is how man dies through the absolute, which is at the same time his means of freedom. Man murders himself, killed by his own fetishes, which exist more or less in the absolute.


It seems that philosophy is the degeneration of the mythological state. In fact, in the philosophical epoch the absolute is weakened so much that it needs to be demonstrated. When something is so weak that, after having accepted it without thinking, we still have to prove it, it is defined as a fact of science or knowledge.


In the beginning, absolute gods were the ancestors of rulers who deified themselves in order to increase servitude and fear. The neutral absolute, like money, is a tool of power: both can be changed into anything since they have no precise qualities. The absolute belongs to leaders, priests, lunatics, animals and plants. On the one hand, the powerful and kings, on the other hand, beings without any power, entirely separated from objects and free through their own poverty.


The power of the absolute is shown in its identity with the unconditional. It has been assimilated in essence and in its own being, and it is through the absolute that one becomes immortal. So much fear of death! Words are supposed to begin to be seen through death so that people can become immortal spirits like them. Words, created by man, become his nightmares, and notions are the isolation chambers of logic. It is through notions that duration gets tangled.


The absolute belongs to tectonic, ecstatic sorts. The “snake-man” of today believes only in his banal and flat “I”. Thus, he has found the most vulgar form of the absolute and a freedom that, after forgetting death, has ceased to be limited by “taboos” and is merely petty and vulgar.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

TEN TIPS FOR HOW TO STOP WORKING

1. Want to stop. Make use of everything that can strengthen your desire: slavery, a lack of excitement, and a wage are dangers to the health of all, and particularly to creativity.


2. Stop completely. Because the worker increases his or her dose of work with the slightest desire to consume, half-measures are ineffective. Experience shows that it is easier to stop abruptly all at once, rather than progressively.


3. Choose the right moment. Preferably right away. The present period, with its living conditions of interchangeable misery, is particularly favorable. Following a holiday, when the need often disappears spontaneously, you can decide not to start again.


4. Immerse yourself in a favorable atmosphere. Stopping at the same time as the person you are living with, friends or work colleagues and helping each other psychologically is effective. Often, at the same time, this permits not living in an atmosphere of fear (one to be avoided to the utmost during work detoxification). Making the people that you know aware that you're stopping can be of help.


5. Get rid of temptation. Make work and its accessories (car, television, alarm clock) vanish from your environment. No longer wear a watch or have a clock at home. Avoid getting into situations where you are used to occupying spare time with your preferred activities (puttering, dull reading material, films, shopping). Avoid public transport and certain festivities, such as political meetings, during which docile renunciation is habitual.


6. Influence your conscious and unconscious mind by affirming your decision to stop working and by insisting positively on the expected benefits. Do not hesitate to repeat out loud several times each day, "I choose to stop working and my health is improving every day," or any other positive formula of your choice.


7. Breathe deeply in order to relax and to feed oxygen to your nervous system. Nerve cells, in effect, consume four times as much oxygen as the cells of the rest of the body, meaning that they are particularly damaged by a lack of air. Breathe deeply three or four times, slowly and emptying your lungs properly, the moment you feel the need to breathe. Departures and changes of atmosphere are highly recommended.


8. Refuse all improvements in order to keep your sights fixed on nothing but the totality. Don't beat around the bush. Pump in the enthusiasm, especially the first days. Look for stimulants (breaking free from all social restraints) and heavy, convoluted arguments with your ex-bosses. Drink between meals in order to activate the elimination of moroseness. Give priority to the healthiest activities – the ones you participate in directly – and to natural, vital needs which are rich in pleasure (love) and to full moments which are rich in satisfaction (departures, parties). To avoid nervousness, which frequently occurs during proletarian detoxification, naps are important. Certain subversive readings can be added to respond to the particularly important need to destroy the system during the detoxification cure. Reduce stress, fear and hesitation in order to avoid losing weight.


9. Get enough sleep. Because the hours when everything is possible are those after midnight, go to bed late.


10. Get the most radical ideas and what goes beyond them flowing in order to fight uncertainty, which occurs frequently when wage labor ceases.


And if you wish to remain successful, always be sure to refuse the first job offer.

Friday, September 18, 2009

NATURE DEVOURS PROGRESS AND EXCEEDS IT

The midday sun skins the specters that couldn’t hide in time alive. Their bones turn into violins and grate on the ears of adventurous men lost in the forest, imitating a Roman emperor’s decadent court.

Tongues of fire, flashes of breasts, reflections of blue pass through the half-light full of vampires. One can walk. The ground has the air of a brain that would like to appear as a sponge. Silence weighs on the ears like a gold nugget on the hand, but the gold is softer than an orange. And yet, the man is from that side. He has opened a corridor in the green, and all along this corridor he has stretched a telegraph wire. But the forest quickly grows tired of embracing this cord that gives nothing back but a human voice, and the plants, thousands of plants, more enthusiastic and insatiable than the others, have rushed to smother this voice under their kiss; then silence falls back over the forest like a rescuing parachute.

There, more than anyplace else, death is merely a temporary way of being of life, which disguises one side of its prism so that the light is concentrated more brilliantly on its other faces.

The skulls of the ruminants offer cover, among the great trees threatened by thousands of creeper vines, to the nests of birds that reflect the sun on their wings, the leaves on their throats. And fleck of blue sky throb on corpses that metamorphose into a mound of butterflies.

Life fights with all its might, in all its time, marked by swarms of mosquitoes on the water’s face. Life loves and kills, caresses what it adores with a murderous hand. Seeds sprout like trip-hammers, implacably nailing the ants that devoured them, and to which they may owe their terrible power of germination, to the ground. Blood calls the sobbing flowers back, and the flowers kill better than a pistol. They kill the pistol.

Where genesis has not yet said its final word, where earth only separates from water to generate fire in the air, earth and water, but especially where earth and water, terrorized by celestial fire, make love night and day, in equatorial America, the rifle drives away the bird that it doesn’t kill, and the snake crushes the rifle like a rabbit.

The forest has fallen back before the ax and dynamite, but between two railway crossings, it has thrown itself on the tracks, addressing the train’s engineer with flirtatious gestures and tantalizing glances. Once, twice, he will resist the temptation that will follow him all along the route, from a verdant railroad tie to a signal hidden by a swarm of bees, but one day he will hear the call of the enchantress who has the look of a beloved woman. He will stop the engine for an embrace that he desires in passing, but the embrace will be endlessly prolonged in accordance with the perpetually renewed desire of the seductress. Though mute, the siren still knows how to draw her victims irretrievably into the abyss of no return.

Thus, the slow absorption begins: piston rod after piston rod, lever after lever, the locomotive goes back into the forest’s bed, and from voluptuousness to voluptuousness, it moistens, quivers, moans like a lioness in heat. It blackens orchids, its boilers give shelter to crocodiles’ playthings that blossomed the day before while legions of tiny birds live in the whistle, giving it a chimerical and temporary life, since quite quickly the forest’s flame will swallow it up like an oyster, after having licked its prey for so long.

In the distance, slow skyscrapers of trees will erect themselves to express a challenge impossible to gather.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

LONG LIVE FREEDOM

--I really don’t understand why you have bad things to say about the Republic. Don’t you appreciate the extreme freedom that it offers?

--Unquestionably, but…

--Me too, sir. I am utterly aware of my complete freedom. I was born into a modest family, my father was a road worker. In other regimes, I would have been immediately assimilated as a slave, and might have become the property of some country gentleman. Instead, sir, even though I come from a poor background, I am born a free citizen. Instead of being looked upon as a beast of burden, I have freely chosen my profession. Or better, my father chose the boss, who was supposed to live off my work, for me. I was quite wretched, sir, in the material sense of the word; my wages were ridiculous and expenses were quite high. But when the evening came, I looked in the mirror and said, “Here is a free man”, and this made me proud. At the age of 18, I freely enlisted in the military force that I liked best, and I very much appreciated this freedom that allowed me to go on missions in foreign countries and earn this medal, which is my life’s honor.

I will not tell you the freedoms that were granted on those missions. The newspapers talk about it enough.

Since then, I have done nothing but bless the Republic. Now, I am a salaried employee, and I don’t earn high pay, but I know that I am an honest person and have the dignity of being a free citizen. In other times, under the empire, you’d be defrauded by a gang of aristocrats that sprung up from who knows where. But today we have the freedom to choose who to obey ourselves, and if we don’t like them, we can change them every four years. Don’t you appreciate this advantage?

--Very much.

--We have freedom to speak, to write, to drink, to smoke, even to get drunk, except, obviously, in circumstance barred by the law that is the contract that free citizens have freely accepted.

--Yes, but don’t you find certain freedoms to be less pleasant? For example the freedom to sleep under bridges if you can’t pay the rent…

He made an indignant gesture.

--Perhaps for vagabonds, the homeless, the jobless, misfits.

--But, in short – I replied, rather enraged – there are quite a few circumstances… for instance, disease, unemployment, that leave you with no freedom except that of croaking from hunger.

--Wrong, sir – he said, sententiously – honest people have nothing to fear from such eventualities. Where I come from, for example, there is no unemployment, and the people you are talking about are those who make a bad use of freedom.

--Excuse me, but you who go on and on about freedom, what do you do?

--I, sir, am a prison guard.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

THE HONEST WORKER

It is the incurable enervation of the mass of the exploited that creates the growing and logical ambition of the exploiters.

The Kings of the mine, of coal and gold, would be quite wrong to worry. The resignation of their slaves consecrates their authority. Their power no longer needs to appeal to divine right, that decorative nonsense; their sovereignty is legitimated through popular consent. A workers' plebiscite made of fanatically patriotic adherence, declamatory banality or silent acquiescence, ensures the empire of the employers and the rule of the bourgeoisie.

The artisan of this work is identified.

Whether in the mine or the factory, the Honest Worker, that sheep, has given mange to the herd.

A counter-owner ideal perverts the instincts of the people . A Sunday overcoat, talking politicians, voting... it is the hope that replaces everything. The odious daily work awakens neither hatred nor rancor. The great party of workers despises the loafer who earns the money granted by the boss poorly.

They are passionately dedicated to work.

They are proud of their calloused hands.

However deformed their fingers are, the yoke has done worse to their heads: with the continuous rubbing of the harness on their scalps, the lumps of resignation, cowardice and respect have swelled up. Old conceited workers brandish their certificates: forty years in the same company! You hear them talking about this as they beg for bread in the courtyards.

--Have pity, sir or madam, on an old invalid, a fine worker, a good patriot*, an old non-commissioned officer who fought in the war... Have pity, sir or madam.

It's cold; the windows remain shut. The old man doesn't understand...

Educate the people! What then is needed? Their misery has taught them nothing. As long as there are rich and poor, the latter will yoke themselves for service on order. The worker's spinal column is accustomed to the harness. In the time of youth and strength, the only ones not protesting are the slaves.

The special honor of the proletarian consists in accepting outright all the lies in whose name he is condemned to forced labor: duty, fatherland, etc. He accepts them, hoping in this way to raise himself to the bourgeois class. The victim becomes accomplice. The unfortunate talks of the flag, pounds his chest, takes off his cap and spits in the air:

--I am an honest worker.

The spit always falls back in his face.

(La Feuille #24, February 15, 1898)
___________________

*"a good Frenchman" in the original

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

ILLEGALIST

The revolutionary is the ultimate illegalist. The person whose actions always conform to the law will be, in the best of circumstances, a well-domesticated beast, never a revolutionary.

Law conserves; revolution regenerates.

If one wants change, it is thus necessary to start by breaking the law.

To claim that revolution can be made while respecting the law is an aberration, a contradiction. The law is a yoke and anyone who wants to be free has to break it.

Anyone who deceives the workers with the emancipation of the proletariat through legal means is a swindler, since the law forbids snatching wealth from the hands of the masters that robbed us. Their expropriation to the benefit of all is the essential condition for the emancipation of humanity.

The law is a brake and we don’t free ourselves with brakes.

Every freedom that humanity has conquered has been the work of illegalists who have mastered laws in order to smash them to bits.

Tyrants die, stabbed, and no article of the legal code could have gotten rid of them.

Expropriation can only come about by breaking the law, certainly not by submitting to it.

This is the real reason why if we want to be revolutionaries, we have to be illegalists. It is necessary to get off the beaten paths and open new paths to transgression.

Rebellion and legality are irreconcilable. Leave law and order to conservatives and hucksters.

Monday, September 7, 2009

AND YOU CALL THIS LIVING?

AND YOU CALL THIS LIVING?

Rising at dawn. Quickly going off to work, using some fast means of locomotion; in other words, getting locked up in a more or less spacious place, usually lacking air. Seated in front of a computer, typing without rest in order to transcribe letters, half of which wouldn’t even get written if you had to do it by hand. Or operating some mechanical device, manufacturing objects that are always identical. Or never moving more than a few steps away from an engine whose motion needs to be ensured or whose functioning needs to be monitored. Or, finally, standing in front of a loom continuously repeating the same gestures, the same movements, mechanically, automatically. And this for hours and hours without changing, without taking any recreation, without a change of atmosphere. Every day!

AND YOU CALL THIS LIVING?

Producing! Still producing! Always producing! Like yesterday, like the day before yesterday. Like tomorrow, if disease or death doesn’t strike you own. Producing what? Things that appear useless, but whose superfluity you aren’t allowed to discuss. Complex objects of which you only have one part, perhaps the lowest part, in your hand. So complex that you have no idea of all the phases necessary for its manufacture. Producing? Without knowing the destination of your product. Without being able to refuse to produce for someone you don’t like, without being able to show the least individual initiative. Producing: quickly, rapidly. Being a production tool that is spurred, prodded, overloaded, worn down to the point of total exhaustion, to the point where you can’t take anymore.

AND YOU CALL THIS LIVING?

Starting the hunt for customers in the morning. Pursuing, ensnaring the “good customer”. Jumping from the subway into a car, from the car onto a bus, from the bus onto the tram. Making fifty visits a day. Taking a great deal of trouble to overestimate your merchandise and shouting yourself hoarse belittling that of others. Heading back home late in the evening, overexcited, fed up, restless, making everyone around you unhappy, lacking any inner life, any impulse toward a better ethical existence.

AND YOU CALL THIS LIVING?

Rotting inside the four walls of a cell. Feeling the unknown future that separates you from your own, or that at least you consider your own, through affection or the community of risks. If sentenced, feeling the sensation that your life is escaping from you, that you can do nothing more to determine it. And this for months, for entire years. No longer being able to fight. Being no more than a number, a mockery, a wet rag, something regulated, monitored, spied on, exploited. All this to a much greater degree than the consequence of the crime.

AND YOU CALL THIS LIVING?

Wearing a uniform. For one, two, three years, endlessly repeating the act of killing other individuals. In the exuberance of youth, in the full explosion of virility, being locked up in immense edifices where you leave and enter at determined times. Consuming, walking, waking up, going to sleep, doing everything and nothing at fixed times. All this in order to learn how to handle tools intended to take life away from other being completely unknown to you. In order to prepare you to fall one day, killed by some projectile that comes from far away. Training yourself to die, or to cause death, a robotic tool in the hands of the privileged, the powerful, the monopolists, the hoarders. When you are not privileged, powerful, the possessor of anything.

AND YOU CALL THIS LIVING?

Not being able to learn, or love, or seclude yourself, or squander time at your pleasure. Having to stay inside when the sun shines and flowers send their fragrances into the air. Not being able to head toward the noonday sun when the north wind blows icy and snow beats on your windowpanes; nor to head north when the heat becomes sweltering and the grass dries in the fields. Always and everywhere, bumping into laws, into boundaries, into morals, into conventions, into rules, into judges, into workshops, into prisons, into barracks, into men and women in uniform that protect, maintain, defend, an order of things that is mortifying and gets in the way of the expansion of the individual. And you – you lovers of “life”, incense-bearers of “progress”, all of you who turn the wheels of the cart of “civilization”?—

YOU CALL THIS LIVING?