What Kind of Fuckery is This?
Against the Left (and the Right) and Politics and Government
The government is the model for political activity. Politicians representing different countries, regions or “communities” battle with each other. We are encouraged to support the leaders we disagree with least, and we’re never really surprised when they screw us over.
All a politician’s working class background or radical ideals are worthless once they begin to govern. No matter who is in government, government has its own logic.
The fact that this society is divided into classes with opposing interests means that it is always at risk of tearing itself apart. The government is there to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Whether the government is a dictatorship or a democracy, it holds all the guns and will use them against its own population to make sure that we keep going to work.
Not that long ago, an extremely unstable situation in a particular country could be diffused by nationalizing all of a country’s industries, creating a police state, and calling it “communism.” This kind of capitalism proved to be less efficient and less flexible than good old-fashioned free market capitalism. With the fall of the Soviet Union, there is no longer a Red Army to march in and stabilize countries in this way, and Communist parties around the world are becoming simple social democrats.
Unfortunately, politics also exists outside of government. Community leaders, professional activists and unions want to place themselves between workers and bosses and be the mediators, the negotiators, the means of communication, the representatives, and ultimately the peacemakers. They fight to keep this position. In order to do that, they need to mobilize the working class in controlled ways to put pressure on more business-oriented politicians, at the same time offering business a workforce that is ready to work. This means that they have to disperse us when we start to fight back. Sometimes they do this by negotiating concessions, other times by selling us out.
Politicians always call on us to vote, to sit back and let the organizer negotiate, to fall in line behind the leaders and the specialists in a kind of passive participation. These non-governmental politicians offer the government a way to maintain the status quo peacefully, and in return they get jobs managing our misery.
Leftists like to point out that the Republican and Democratic parties are not each other’s adversaries but rather they are “two sides to the same coin,” that they both invariably represent the capitalist state, that they are merely a façade to the State, that they are a false dichotomy to mask true contradictions. But Leftists fail, or refuse, to see that they too are a “side” to that same “coin,” that they in fact are merely the loyal opposition. They do not realize that they too are a part of that same political spectrum that defines politics, because whenever anybody engages with the political system, even if they simply make demands of it, they become a player in that wretched game of politics, they become dependent on the rules and strictures of political hierarchy.
Leftists are ignorant in that they see the mainstream political parties as the sole exploiters of society. They seek the same political power that governments wield and in turn, whether intentionally or unintentionally, they present themselves as heirs to the capitalist state rather than its sworn enemies; they argue that those who currently hold power govern poorly and that it would be best if they instead controlled the State. In giving such credence to the false legitimacy of the State, Leftists are only perpetuating the falsehood that is the State despite its inherent and contradictory flaws. Through hyperbolic rhetoric, scant with esoteric terms and phrases, Leftists are arguing that we would best submit to another wolf in sheep’s clothing in the name of Democracy, Social Democracy or Socialism or Communism or Liberalism or Libertarianism, etc., etc.
Against (Political) Organizations
There is a clear distinction between organization and organizations, between an act and its abstract yet object manifestation, between processes and structures.
The purpose of any organization or organism is to survive then thrive. A political organization primarily concerns itself with maintaining its existence, an existence that requires only ideology and partisans where practice and adaptable political theory is neglected—resulting in dead theory.
If an organization secures its own survival, it then proceeds to expand itself by increasing its influence and by inflating its membership. That’s it: survive, then thrive (a nucleic, core membership or cadre, then recruitment); just wait for the means to get organized in that utopian “right moment”—which never arrives— or when conditions are perfect—which they never are.
Political groups are bureaucratic. They tend to mirror the structures of work, where activity is controlled from the outside. They create specialists in politics. They are built on a division between the leaders and the led, between representatives and represented, between organizers and organized. This is not a bad choice of how to set up organizations to be remedied with a large dose of participatory democracy. It is a direct result of what political groups and activists are trying to do—to manage a part of capitalism.
A working class political party is a contradiction in terms—not because the membership of a particular party can’t be largely working class, but because the most it can do is give the working class a voice in politics. It lets representatives put forward ideas on how our bosses should run this society—how they can make money and keep us under control. Whether they are advocating nationalization or privatization, more welfare or more police (or both), the programs of political parties are different strategies for managing capitalism.
Don’t fall prey. For many, many reasons, political organizations flourish in times of crises. Political organizations use hard times to inflate their membership, opportunistically promising change. In effect, an organization’s stated goals and aims (whether the passage of a bill or some kind of revolution) are used as rhetoric, lofty language and histrionics used as a means to garner membership, influence, foot soldiers, fodder, and chumps—well-meaning people who get bogged down in bureaucracy, mired in the tar pits of politics and hierarchy and activism, extinguishing the sparks of creativity before ever becoming the flames of direct action and self-determination.
Among members of organizations, one may even find individuals who are sincere—if a little desperate—who are enthusiastic—if a little conniving. Organizations are attractive due to their apparent consistency—they may have a history, a name, resources, leader(s), a strategy and a discourse. They are nonetheless empty structures, which, in spite of their ‘grand’ origins, can never be filled. In all their affairs, at every level, these organizations are concerned above all with their own survival as organizations, and little else. Their repeated betrayals have often alienated the commitment of their own rank and file. And this is why one can, on occasion, run into worthy beings within them. But the promise of the encounter can only be realized outside the organization and, unavoidably, at odds with it.
Organizations are obstacles to organizing ourselves. Organizations are not needed when we organize ourselves.
In truth, there is no gap between what we are, what we do, and what we are becoming. Organizations—political or labor, fascist or anarchist—always begin by separating, practically these aspects of existence. It’s then easy for them to present their idiotic formalism as the sole remedy to this separation. To organize is not to give a structure to weakness. It is above all to form bonds—bonds that are by no means neutral—terrible bonds. The degree of organization is measured by the intensity of sharing—material and spiritual.
Far more dreadful, though, are social milieus, with their supple texture, their gossip, and their informal hierarchies. Flee all milieus. Each and every milieu is oriented toward the neutralization of some truth. Literary circles exist to smother the clarity of writing; anarchist milieus to blunt the directness of direct action; scientific milieus to withhold the implications of their research from the majority of people today; sport milieus to contain in their gyms the various forms of life they should create. Particularly to be avoided are the cultural and activist circles. They are the old people’s homes where all revolutionary desires traditionally go to die. The task of cultural circles is to spot nascent intensities and to explain away the sense of whatever it is you’re doing, while the task of activist circles is to sap your energy for doing it. Activist milieus spread their diffuse web throughout the country, and are encountered on the path of every revolutionary development. They offer nothing but the story of their many defeats and the bitterness these have produced. Their exhaustion has made them incapable of seizing the possibilities of the present. Besides, to nurture their wretched passivity they talk far too much and this makes them unreliable when it comes to the police. Just as it’s useless to expect anything from them, it’s stupid to be disappointed by their sclerosis. It’s best to just abandon this dead weight.
All milieus are counter-revolutionary because they are only concerned with the preservation of their sad comfort.
Against Leftist (and other Political) Student Organizations
The student is passively content to be politicized. In this sphere, the student readily accepts the same alienated, spectacular participation. Seizing upon all the tattered remnants of a Left which was annihilated more than ninety years ago by ‘”socialist” reformism and Leninist/Trotskyite counter-revolution; the student is guilty of an amazing ignorance. The Right is well aware of the defeat of the workers’ movement, and so are the workers themselves, though more confusedly. But the students continue heedlessly to organize demonstrations that mobilize students and students only. This is a political false consciousness in its virgin state, a fact which naturally makes the University a happy hunting ground for the manipulators of the declining bureaucratic organizations. For them, it is child’s play to program the student’s political options. Occasionally there are deviating tendencies and cries of “(fill in the blank)!” but after a period of token resistance the dissidents are reincorporated into a status quo which they have never really radically opposed.
The primary goal for any organization is to maintain its existence. Organizations are held together by ideologies, or sets of ideas and aims. In order for an organization to keep itself together, its members must submit to a shared ideology.
Dead theory is then of primary importance for any organization because of the requisite of having to submit to an ideology. This stifles creativity and hopes and optimism because members have to collectively submit to a static ideology. Rather than have the immediacy of life fuel the actions of organizational members, theory prevents them from taking initiative and action, for the benefit of keeping together the organization.
It is not enough for theory to seek its realization in practice; practice must seek theory.
For organizations then, theory becomes the progenitor of practice, and because the ideology of an organization must remain static, the development of practice is stunted at best, since it is restrained by lifeless and abstract theory based on the semblances of ideology. As a result, organizations repeat the same disproven tactics in vain attempts to make their ideologies a reality.
In fact, they repeatedly use the same strategies and tactics expecting different results every time; this is an outward manifestation of insanity.
(Student) Debacle as Spectacle
Political organizations are entities of the politics that keep people alienated as only observers or often times as complacent actors in the spectacle that is politics defined by the State.
Political organizations may label themselves revolutionary but are in fact completely working within the framework of dissent allowed by the State. Such groups are more than happy to convince students to participate in rallies that in reality serve no other purpose but to provide images of resistance that alienate students in the same way as their bosses do: by rejecting creativity and thus empowerment—real subversion.
All is planned for one who wishes to express dissent; the roles of most are to hold signs and be an extra, or rather a prop, in the images that organizers wish to present to the media, who in turn portray the images in a way that the State wishes to present to the masses.
Boredom is exactly what the student suffers from. Boredom is the effect of the suppression of desire; it is the effect of the lack of participation and control we have over the conditions of our lives.
Political organizations and the actions they take are similar to the actions of the institutions they claim to oppose.
To put the role of the masses as observers, or passive participants, in spectacularly self-contradictory activities without substance, organizations further reinforce the conditioning of impotence that dominates our logic and acts as a conscience in service to the State and our further alienation.
It is absolutely no wonder, then, that students and workers are at best skeptical or at worst completely apathetic toward University political organizations and movements. This will continue until students and workers take charge of their selves and refuse to delegate power to others. Because once we stop fighting our own battles, we lose the war.
The struggle against capitalism and the State is a struggle for freedom and self-determination; its objectives cannot be achieved through the collaboration with bureaucratic organizations whose very structures are designed to thwart the achievement of those objectives.
The student/worker struggle against exploitation is automatically a struggle against bureaucratic organizations, including but not limited to student organizations and teachers’ unions, because they all invariably work together in collusion with and within the confines of the State regardless of intentions.
Throughout the course of student life you’ll be implored to “engage,” to “express yourself,” to “have your voice heard,” to “stand up and be counted.”
The politicians and organizers will try and pull you into their orbit, to vote for them, to organize others or to join student government or organizations yourself.
Chances are you’ll feel uncomfortable and, ultimately, apathetic. You’ll dodge them in the hallways. You may feel (but most likely not) like you’re shirking your duty to your fellow students and soiling the participatory tradition of the University.
The truth is that non-participation in student government is no cause for shame. In fact, it is an entirely rational reaction to the shameful conditions of being a student.
It’s hardly a surprise that student government mirrors the form of national government, because both serve the same function. The committees, the assemblies, the senate and the vote all function to tamp down on expectations, diffuse and wait out struggles, foster a deference to unaccountable institutions, and separate us into atomized social actors. This is a form of mediation: the insertion of an institutional structure between desires and the means to meet them.
Moreover, these forms of government are based on a fundamental illusion. Students and citizens have no power over the content of their general conditions. The so-called “right” to choose between one and another unaccountable leader is merely the right to give up the only true power that people may have: the power to self-organize and directly struggle for their lives without the mediation of leaders. This holds just as true in the classroom as it does on the streets.
So when the politicians and organizers come and try and pull you in, embrace your apathy and your discomfort!
There are a thousand ways to make positive changes at the University. Talk with your fellow students and friends, figure out what you want, then organize and take it!
Direct Action and Organization
Do not hold direct action as a holy principle; there is an inherent stupidity of this type of mentality in organizations such as those seeking to recruit you, those organizations that stubbornly defend ideology and analysis from the rotting corpses of past movements. What should be held as a “holy principle” is: nothing is holy.
When we start to fight against the conditions of our lives, a completely different kind of activity appears. We do not look for a politician to come change things for us. We do it ourselves, with other working class people. Whenever this kind of resistance breaks out, politicians try to extinguish it in a flood of petitions, lobbying and election campaigns. But when we are fighting for ourselves, our activity looks completely different from theirs. We take property away from landlords and use it for ourselves. We use militant tactics against our bosses and end up fighting with the police.
From now on, to materially organize for survival is to materially organize for attack. When we go on the offensive we begin to recognize each other and fight collectively. We use the ways that society depends on us to disrupt it. We strike, sabotage, riot, desert, mutiny and take over property. We amplify and coordinate our activities. All kinds of new possibilities open up.
We form groups where everyone takes part in the activity, and there is no division between leaders and followers. We do not fight for our leaders, for our bosses or for our countries. We fight for ourselves.
P.S. On General Assemblies
A group of power-hungry students and organizations have come together to constitute a general assembly at San Francisco State University. These students (some that just won’t graduate) are making attempts to centralize everything before anything has materialized. In short, they are centralizing nothing. And, that is what they will get: nothing. They are incubating a stillborn movement, and they don’t care, or they are just that stupid, so long as the nascent stillborn is theirs.
This is beyond ridiculous, it is absurd, it is to be expected, and it is what is to be done.
A common reflex is to call a general assembly at the slightest sign of movement, and vote. This is a mistake. The business of voting and deciding a winner is enough to turn the assembly into a nightmare, into a theater where all the various little pretenders to power confront each other. Here, we suffer from the bad example of bourgeois parliaments. An assembly is not a place for decisions but for talk, for free speech exercised without a goal.
The need to assemble is as constant among humans as the necessity of making decisions is rare. Assembling corresponds to the joy of feeling a common power. Decisions are vital only in emergency situations, where the exercise of democracy is already compromised. The rest of the time, “the democratic character of decision making” is only a problem for the fanatics of process.
It’s not a matter of critiquing assemblies or abandoning them, but of liberating the speech, gestures, and the interplay of beings that take place within them. We just have to see that each person comes to an assembly not only with a point of view or a motion, but with desires, attachments, capacities, forces, sadnesses and a certain disposition toward others, openness.
If we manage to set aside the fantasy of a General Assembly and replace it with an assembly of presences, if we manage to foil the constantly renewed temptation of hegemony, if we stop making the decision our final aim, then there is a chance for a kind of critical mass, one of those moments of collective crystallization where a decision suddenly takes hold of beings, completely or only in part.
The same goes for deciding on actions. By starting from the principle that “the action in question should govern the assembly’s agenda,” we make both vigorous debate and effective action impossible. A large assembly made up of people who don’t know each other is obliged to call on action specialists, that is, to abandon action for the sake of its control. On the one hand, people with mandates are by definition hindered in their actions, on the other hand, nothing hinders them from deceiving everyone.
There’s no ideal form of action. What’s essential is that action assume a certain form, that it give rise to a form instead of having one imposed on it—like dead theory imposing itself on those who give it life. This presupposes a shared political and geographical position as well as the circulation of a shared knowledge.
As for deciding on actions, the principle could be as follows: each person should do their own reconnaissance, the information would then be put together, and the decision will occur to us rather than being made by us. The circulation of knowledge cancels hierarchy; it equalizes by raising up. Proliferating horizontal communication is also the best form of coordination among different people, the best way to put an end to hegemony.