Ajouté: au sujet de la Catalogne
france: the CGT – sheepdogs in wolves’ clothing On Macron’s new reform of the “work code”, the CGT union’s pseudo-opposition and its history, and the complicity of lots of “anti-authoritarians” in their support for the CGT.
frankenstein’s monster Brief, and rather general, outline of a critique of science and its ideology of objectivism
…the return of…aaaaghfhebengate & the libconartists My response to the recent revival of Aufhebengate on libcom
an attempt at dialogue with a marxist An exchange of emails with S.Artesian, who broke with libcom in the summer, covering libcom, Marx, Bakunin, Michael Schmidt, Abraham Lincoln, the Russian Revolution and other stuff.
Added: Homage to Catatonia (temporarily withdrawn, awaiting update)
poetry in motion (2009 – 2010) – Contributions to the supersession of poetry (a reproduction of part of a discussion on libcom that I had between November 2009 and February 2010)
New text by TPTG – “asylum seekers in greece and germany” (my title)
This is taken from pages 24 – 37 of TPTG’s “The Social Crisis in Greece”
I have only published this part of the text as it’s the part that’s most interesting and original. The rest (although available on my site as a pdf) is mostly stodgy stuff excessively saturated with statistics and seems to add nothing new to what TPTG and others have said elsewhere (other than the precise detailed minutae of how screwed the Greek proletariat has become). I have a couple of queries about the text, which I’ve addressed to TPTG, and which will be answered eventually in the comments box below the text.
Quote: “…any analysis which is dominated by a discourse on “anti-immigrant” or “pro-immigrant” state policies is quite misleading and irrelevant – in the same way that it would be misleading and pointless to claim that the state could be either “anti-worker” or “pro-worker”….if it is true that each capitalist state needs and breeds divisive or even racist ideologies (that may also emanate from below) to keep the working class fragmented and trapped within national, racial or gender categories, it is equally true that it cannot allow civil wars among the separated parts of the working class. That is why it uses unifying, integrationist and anti-racist practices to further the accumulation process….while the vast majority of the left and anti-authoritarian analyses regarding the state management of immigration focuses on physical or geographical exclusion… we are more inclined to look into the differentiated capitalist strategies adopted for the inclusion, control, regulation and exploitation of those migratory populations who are superfluous in the countries of origin to suit the needs of capital accumulation in the countries of their destination.”
Recommended: The privatization of nature and the enclosure of life by Colectivo ETCÉTERA. This is an outline of some of the relatively recent developments in science; it doesn’t go into any detail, but is useful as an introduction to further research and critique of modern science. “Once again we see ideologues who call for the implementation of a policy of eugenics—similar to the one practiced by the Nazis, and not just the Nazis, for eugenics was also popular in the U.S., and even one of its presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, openly supported it—whose spokespersons loudly proclaim a future in which there will be only two clearly differentiated classes: the “genetically well-endowed”—about 10% of the world’s population, which will hold power—and the natives whose vocation is to “obey without complaining”. Other, more pragmatic biotechnologists speak of beings with “good genes” and others with “bad genes” and it is obvious that they are trying to manufacture a being that is fully equipped with “good genes”: submissive, hard-working, disciplined.”
Recommended: Political repression beyond the baton – on the interaction between hard and soft repression during the Occupy Oakland movement of 2011, including the element of self-sabotage played within the occupation movement itself.
Added: a discussion on the riots in France in the comments section at the bottom of the “France” page.
Recommended: brief leaflet from Indonesia calling for “Death to Duterte” “Many drug users are terrified for their safety and are attempting to escape the slaughter by voluntarily reporting themselves to State authorities in an attempt to preempt visits from the death squads. Subsequently, thousands of people been detained in overcrowded disease infested disused Filipino military camps deemed “rehabilitation centers”. There are no release dates for people detained in these barbaric “rehabilitation” centers which function as ad-hoc prisons, complete with screws who subject drug users to torturous “character building” practices” to “atone for their sins” and activities designed to instill (by force) nationalist pride as a “rehabilitation” strategy.”
A correction to the previous incorrect link to this: on sexual abuse in the ANC camps (1993) and this addition: INSIDE QUADRO, an article about mutiny in the “people´s army” of the ANC/CP and the torture-camps where dissidents were mutilated (some to death) with the latests methods learned from their sponsors (at that time) the USSR (United Stalinists for the Suppression of Revolution). It´s importance, among other things, lies in the link it makes between the formalised state (in-waiting)-terrorism of the ANC´s insecurity apparatus (convincingly described as an extension of the KGB in Africa) outside the borders of the country, and the informalised para-state terrorism inside South Africa during what is presented by the spectacle as a miraculously peaceful transition — the 18,000 killed in massacres and political violence during this period have literally been wiped out of the history books (the ones I remember reading at school in the New South Africa, in any case). [note by SK] Both have been added to the South Africa page. But they can also be accessed through the links above.
Added: Some writings by Jack Common These were almost all written in the 1930s and, as far as I can see, are the best of proletarian writing of this period, looking at such things as the cinema, the streets and the birth of consumerism and advertising, written in an unusual mix of theory and direct everyday working class language which far outshines, for instance, the heavy-handed writings of the Frankfurt School, on the one hand, or the somewhat contrived “working class”-stylised writings of the UK’s Class War, on the other.
The texts, followed by brief excerpts, are as follows:
The freedom of the street (1938)
“There are men in the street and of it. In fact you can usually deduce your fellow-Briton’s class status from the way he regards the street. To some it is merely a. communication between one spot or another, a channel or runway to guide your feet or your wheels when you are going places. To others it’s where you live. The average working-class house is a small and inconvenient place. Nobody wants to put up with the noise of children in it more than they have to – out they go, then, into the street. Similarly, a man can’t do any casual entertaining there, not so as to suit him. If his pals call, they all go out together – down the street, that is, to the boozer. Even the women find it a pleasanter change if they want company to go and stand on the doorstep. Add these up and you get a most characteristic working-class scene: crowds of kids flying here and there across the road; boys and youths by the shop windows and the corner-ends; men strolling the pavements or sitting shirt-sleeved by the doors; and the women in their aprons taking a breather in a bit of gossip with “next-door.”
Leave the Bairns A-Be (October, 1935)
“Education seeks merely to multiply the numbers of the uselessly conscious. More scholarships and more years at school are the slogans of self-seeking benevolence. The brutality of it is appalling. By god, they’ll pile you up with learning till you’re like a clerical fish-porter; and they’ll tell you all the time that what you’ve got is not only values but prices, too, profits if you’re lucky. It’s so clumsy and wanting in any sense of what’s holy. Look now, anybody can see by glancing at our public schools, that if you extend education beyond the age of puberty you are likely to produce narcissists.”
You Can Keep Your Christmas Pudding (December , 1934)
“0, the apathy of the working-classes! 0, the non-militancy of the bastards! They’ve been pauperised and beaten down and robbed and tricked, betrayed and doped – and do they upsurge? Do they curdle in a revolutionary mass about the rods of their oppressors? Do they storm heaven? October after October (or November after November, new time) goes, and not a surge. All around us capitalism is crumbling and collapsing and getting fantastically unstable but still the final shove of proletarian revolution is lacking. The masses continue to play in and out the window at the Labour Exchange and the Time Office, standing themselves a drink when the Time Office is open to them, and being content with a spit when on the Buroo. 0 hopeless mass! 0 unhistoric apaths!”
Fake Left (March , 1933)
“We must blame leaders and their followers both. The real answer must be looked for in the nature of Socialist parties. … The system we live by is Capitalism. We cannot put ourselves artificially in vacuo because we are Socialists and wish to change the world. We continue to live in it. And it continues to make use of us. It continues to make use of our organisations. The only begetter of Socialism is Capitalism, and the child ways tends to take after its parent. What was to have been an instrument for building the new era becomes a prop for the old.”
Hegel and the Blue Bottle (April, 1934)
”Our clinging to ill-defined freedoms is always tying us up to tyranny. Actually now we are not free to buy any object unless we agree to buy the same thing as several millions of our fellows are buying. It is the price of mass-production that you become a mass-consumer. Now look how pathetic the business of buying has become. All the hesitation, and marshalling of one’s odds and ends of taste, and anxious searching for bargains – the ghost of free standardisation only because we don’t accept its necessity. We believe we are different from everybody else. We are, but only boredom of this age proceeds from the fact that people are always agitating like hell to be different from the fellow next door, and out of their ignorance always achieving a sickening sameness. We climb painstakingly from Woolworth’s to Harrod’s, from the fifty-shilling suit to the five guinea – and this process is called individualism, the freedom to be different from our fellows.”
lntrospective Capitalism (September, 1932)
“Many people have discussed the resemblance between the Roman Empire and our own civilisation. The important thing, however, is that the resemblance stops at one point. For us there is nothing outside. We live in a world-civilisation which really embraces the whole world, and has therefore its special problems which could never arise in the past. It is neither a world–empire, a world-republic, nor a world-church. As a civilisation it is universal, and as nothing else. It imposes the same manners, the same dress, and the same tools upon each of the clumsily contrived economic nuclei composing it. Beyond its bounds no race of men exist, and whoever wishes to live outside of it cannot, for it is inside of him. In a few centuries its energies have swept the globe; it has built and mined and blasted its way to dominion, unleashing with miraculous divination powers known to no previous culture. Its advances in the discovery of power are so rapid that it is only with difficulty we can survey them. Yet there results from these conquests no golden age. The silly progress-anthems which the nineteenth century piped are the only attempt at that sort of thing, and their fatuity is patent.”
A Heckle at Hoardings (April 24th, 1935)
“…the special articles now and much of the news is advertising disguised. The Woman’s Page, the Healthy Child, Gardening Hints, are almost always pure puffery. So is any article mentioning meat, milk, or Ramsay MacDonald. In fact to be plain with you, in a little while now the discerning newspaper reader will simply tear off the football results and leave the rest to the winds. Then when Arsenal has succeeded in buying up everybody else’s players, we’ll all take to knitting. The Press of this country will be confined to the fish and chip saloons, and our type-soaked eyes will get a welcome rinse.”
Fire with No Smoke (July , 1941)
“Words which are never spoken have only a spectral existence. It is poetry which keeps a tongue alive because poetry demands that someone speak it. As long as there is plenty of spoken poetry about, people can write well even if they haven’t a fag to bless themselves with. Their ears are all right, so they soon know that if you put words in a mentally constructed order, you’ve said nothing until they make their chiming. If they are toneless, standing only in the rank of logic, no one will want to speak them. It is melancholy to be covering paper with the hieroglyphics of a dead language. Better to make a firm rule, a real tobaccoless self-denial, and resolve to say all you’ve got to say in words, in pubs and in gardens. Not in lecture-halls, mind you, lest you perpetrate the worst crime of all by actually speaking a dead language in a place where you are pretty safe from interruption. Speak to people who can answer back, and don’t listen to anybody longer than they’ll listen to you.”
Marx and the Vultures (April 11th, 1934)
“…economic individualism, protestantism, liberalism, and its pseudo-democracy. These “isms” one can discuss as though they were merely a part of the landscape, environmental, and capable of external adjustment. Most of us have experienced those barren discussions and know how they end in the questioning impulse being temporarily pacified by a plan – a plan which seeks to change anything but us, and which would result therefore in an augmentation of existing life, an extra gable on the old villa in the same execrable style as the one we’ve got, more dividends, more wages or more gadgets. In short, more boredom, a bigger helping of existing belly-ache. That is the result of pretending that a social synthesis lives only in its external structure. But essentially, of course, its life is inside of us. Its life, and its death. This death looks stony-eyed from the faces you meet in the streets, from the masks you see performing on the films; the stench of it comes sickeningly from every newspaper and magazine (including this one); its rattle shakes in the throat of every jazz band. You cannot escape it. The ordinary man seeks it blatantly, allowing his desire for power to dwindle into a haphazard piling together of inessential possessions or into a mechanical interest in sport, betting, and sweepstakes; letting his sensuality feast timorously on the ghostly blooms of Hollywood faces, his competitive impulse fall wearily into the form of being as like as possible to his best-off neighbour down to the very dog and lawn-mower.”
Money Talks Nonsense Now (December 12th 1934)
“Hearing all the discussion which constantly goes on about what’s wrong with the world and how to put it right, you would naturally get the idea that this is a problem for specialists, and its answer will be found in one of the sciences (so-called), preferably economics. Either wise-planning will do the trick, or nationalisation of banking. Though these devices inspire any amount of argument, sheets and sheets of it, there’s is not in the whole howling cacophony any encouragement to the non-specialists to do anything more than stand around and wait. “
Pease-pudding Men (July, 1935)
“Essentially, the freedom, the equal opportunity which the liberals achieved was a freedom to buy and sell. You took what talent God gave you and sold that; then you practised the virtue of Thrift, got a little Capital, so you could buy – what? Labour, ultimately. The bourgeois delusion was that any man can buy and sell, and if all bought and sold, things would go like wildfire. Any man can buy and sell after a fashion, yet in a world that’s doing that and nothing but, the poorest salesmen get bought and sold themselves. Which is what happened to the workers. Individualism worked for everyone but them. If they individualised they were lost. They became commodities themselves. And with scarcely any shame the democrats calmly went about buying and selling this human commodity as though it were cattle or cotton and not the very stuff of their own faith.”
Reel One (May , 1936)
“One day it dawns on many almost at once that that kind of life, the one forged in their struggle and sweetened by it, is the basis for a better fulfilment. It is then they find what they were struggling against, the very facts they fought, chime very nicely with the life they made in order to live at all in the conflict. In our own lives it is obvious. The part that matters in most cases, is not your job, your place as citizen of a community, as subscriber to a newspaper, as rank and filer in a political party, no. Whatever your class, whatever your job, it’s nearly always safe to bet that the highest point of vital interest in your life is not the same point at which you impact on the community and find yourself in the records. The community behaves towards you like a passport photographer: it forms a low estimate of you and puts that estimate on record. As there is no other record to go by, everybody thinks that is you, and you will yourself if you are not careful. Thus are we all libelled, comrades. And thus we are each of us compelled to create a surreptitious and socially unrecognised life along with the registered one. An immense amount of potential social effort is frittered away in dreams and half-realised hobbies, in half thought-out creeds and criticisms. But you don’t know of that except privately. You know that you yourself are struggling with something, more or less without help, but you feel that beyond the tiny swirl of your effort there is everywhere a glassy, blank and anonymous lake of humanity”
Thinking in Prose (November, 1930)
“It is good to think, and then to write; for the discipline of words dispels many vacuous thoughts and straightens the backs of others. But it is harmful to be able to think only with a pen in one’s hand, to find that one’s opinions do not crystallise until they are written down, and that the necessities of a final paragraph flog the thought into producing a conclusion. Between thought and the written expression of it goes on a continual conflict. The need of language is to be flowing, progressive, and above all communicative, and to these ends it has habitual and invariable forms; the need of thought is only to get somewhere, to a solution or a conclusion, to enable a mind floundering in perplexity to arrive safely at some belief. Stages and order do not matter: it will plunge back forty years without apology to find a parallel instance, start off on quite a different track without transition, or leap a hurdle by an act of intuition and leave no record of the way it came. If the two processes thus in conflict are mutually corrective the result is good. But if one thinks only as one is writing, thought while still in the malleable stage tends to take the shape of those forms and devices necessary to language. We get opinions paradoxical and antithetical, beliefs which are overflows of different sentimental reactions easily concreting in a colourful phrase, but in strict logic cancelling out. It is very good fun if the writer is highly-skilled, but very far from being the real thing.”
A Turn at the Trance (April, 1941)
“The factory-worker… starts as a boy usually, and he comes at once into a focus of regard which sees in him nothing more than another human taxi or clock-puncher….Now for years the boy will run to the clock-routine. His imagination will dwindle and dwindle, unfed in the tiring hours, the monotonous work, the oath-bound talk, until the number of things he thinks he cannot be will become far too long for him to remember. In all that time, not one bit of the factory comes under his control; he never has to think where the products are going, or to join with his mates in schemes for the improvement of the premises; he never makes a responsible decision. That is why the process is trance-like and unreal, a round like that of the thresher’s horse. It disenfranchises a man completely. He is not responsible.”
Christmas Carol (December, 1934)
“The proverb which warns us that one-half of society doesn’t know how the other half lives is quite accurate. It is only one half that doesn’t know; the submerged half knows too well, to a boring extent in fact. The working-man, and missus, finds his newspaper crammed full with financial news for investors, how to bring up babies when you’ve got a nurse, the way to dress an anchovy with charm or how to prevent one’s lobster clashing with the art-furniture. Most of the unemployed know perfectly well how to carry on if you’re a big business man; they know his life from the peak of noon when he answers half-a-dozen telephones to the hour he takes his mistress back to her flat. What business man, though, could be trusted to attend an impromptu proletarian ding-dong some drunken Saturday night and know infallibly how to behave?”
A Dictionary For Underdogs (Unpublished mimeo)
Why Work? (October 27th, 1930)
Honours in Spades (September , 1934)
Brief Excerpts From Various Publications:
– “Military necessity of pacifism”, The Adelphi, 1936
– “A Matter of Meridians”, The Eleventh Hour, May 8th, 1935
– “More Stern Stuff”, The Adelphi, August, 1934.
– “The Eno’s of the People”, New Britain, July 4th, 1934.
Added: U.SS.A. A chronology of events in the USA taken from the News of Opposition page, followed by various links to relevant articles.
Added: notes on the riots for all those who want to change the world (2005) This refers to the 10 or so days of riots in the banlieux of France in November 2005, written shortly after the events.
Added: “something from nothing” …a critique of cynicism by Isaac Cronin (1975)
om sweet om (1989) – Red Marriott, traduit en francais par Andre Drean
Recommended: “…how Aufheben learned to stop worrying and love the EU“
For those trying to get their heads around the madness of the US election, these 2 pieces indicate many of the falsehoods being thrown out about Trump’s base, though since I live far away from the US, it’s hard to make my mind up about these contradictions. This is from “The Wolf Report”, critiquing an editorial in Insurgent Notes; and this is an older, less obviously radical, criticism published in mid-October in The Guardian.
Added: a comment by me on an insane attempt to destroy discussion of the text, translated on this site as “So far – so good”, in Marseille on 28th October.
Interesting comments on nuances in relation to France’s banlieux attacks on cops by Pi:
“[We should] be more careful about the news on French attacks in estates, suburbs, poor neighborhoods, etc. Some comrades who manage other sites choose to put them all, but I think it contributes to giving priority to form over content.
These attacks are generally of two types : those linked to local anger against cops, and those linked to drug-dealing. Of course, those who deal drugs in the estates can as well feel anger against cops, which is of course justified.
I don’t even want to engage in endless researchs about each attack. Drugdealing in french estates is pretty antisocial and often prevails over fair relationships between people, but it’s not even the case in every place. And the presence of “gangs” is often an argument used by the cops to justify their actions…clearly, very organized gangs such as those in the US don’t exist in France. The estates’ population is in general pretty mixed, and lots of elements of foreign culture and traditions’ remain. Even those who deal drugs are usually just groups with loose ties between “members”…they don’t have particular rules, identity, etc and even their territory claim is pretty light.
What happens for a few weeks in “La Grande Borne” (a big estate in Grigny and its neighbour town), with the recent molotov cocktail attacks against cops, seems to be linked to groups protecting their trade from police. Some elements indicate it…and so far I haven’t found anything indicating that the attacks were made out of pure rebellion. Which is enough I think to be careful, and certainly not to engage in such glorifying as calling all this “Insurrectionary France” (https://fireonthehorizon.noblogs.org/post/2016/10/15/meanwhile-in-insurrectionary-france-four-cops-get-burnt-in-molotov-attack/).
To give another example…a prostitute was arrested in Lyon, a group of guys intervened and clashed with cops :
Given the pretty machist culture in french estates, I doubt this group did such a thing as engaging in a battle out of pure solidarity with unfairness, even less with a prostitute ! Never heard of estate guys engaging in “pimping” either…so I really don’t have a clue what happened there. But it’s also enough to be careful about it.
What happened in La Seyne sur Mer on 17-10 was linked to a drug raid.
So basically I’d give priority to news in which elements indicate that actions have to do with a feeling of rebellion with possibilities of anti-autoritarian developments (to put it very simply)…”
Added to the text on recent struggles in China:
Critical notes on ethnicity in China
Beyond the interesting information it provides on strikes in rural areas, this article about the district of Yangshuo, Guangxi, should, however, be subject to some clarifications. Because it implicitly accepts, in passing, the widely believed, hardly ever criticised, myth arising from the foundation of the Republican state in China, dating back to the 1911 revolution, attributed to Sun Yixian (Sun Yat-sen in Cantonese), and adopted by Mao Zedong. A myth that the basis of “Chinese civilization” has, for thousands of years, been driven by the Han, “the ultra-majority ethnic group,” surrounded by multitudes of “ethnic minorities”, to which the current state, in the “best case scenario”, confers local cultural and administrative autonomy. However, Jean-François Billeter, one of the few critical Sinologists today, like Simon Leys was in the past, said: “In the historical sources, which were almost all written by Confucian literati, ie by empire officials, the Chinese people appear not in their true diversity, but as a population subject to the emperor. This state was enough to define it. Revolutionaries, at the dawn of the twentieth century have transformed this administrative definition into an ethnic or racial definition. They needed a Han people as the foundation of their nationalism. The socialist system completed this idea by extending it to the national minorities. Ethnology could be of some service in the study of these “ethnic groups” because they were non-Han and “backward” but there was no question that it be used for studying the Han, a “revolutionary” people whose unity should never be the object of suspicion. That’s why researchers who nowadays go to the countryside sometimes feel like they’re discovering unknown continents.”– Jean-François Billeter, « Chine trois fois muette » (“China three times dumb”), Edition Allia, 2000. I recall that on Chinese identity cards, it indicated which “ethnic group” Chinese citizens are supposed to belong to. But there is no more an ethnic Chinese Han group than there is a Capetian ethnicity in France, a Tudor ethnicity in England, etc. The Han were there for over two thousand years, having succeeded the short-lived imperial dynasty, the Qin. The fame of the Han is because they consolidated and extended the centralizing statist process put in place by the Qin, in particular by crushing the great feudal families and not hesitating to place commoners throughout all the levels of the massive “celestial bureaucracy” being established. They even went on to nationalise the ground!
To return to Guangxi, I travelled there over twenty years ago, at the time when tourism was still limited. The reality of the local “unknown continent” was far removed from its official representation. The province, with 50 million inhabitants, has the status of an autonomous region – even its official name is the Autonomous Region of Guangxi Zhang. For although the Han officially constitute the “majority” (30 million), the Zhang constitute up to 15 million, the “majority” of the “minorities” in the province – the Yao, Dong, etc. Having moved around the region, I was, within the terms of specific local conditions, faced with customs, rituals, religions, more precisely with various pragmatic and more or less syncretic mixtures that did not match up with official classifications. I even met, not far from Yangshuo, a retired teacher who, to my question about his “ethnic” origin, had replied, like Woody Allen, “I am zhang when it suits me!” As with those Chinese who are more critical than the average, he did not believe in the founding myths of the national state, the creator of “market socialism “.
Lao She, October 2016
Added: Recent struggles in China (October 2016) Comprises a translation of 2 short texts – one on the recent revolts in Guandong, the other about resistance to nuclear power, followed by a list of some of this year’s events.
Added to the entry on News of Opposition for 13/9/16 about Wukan and the resistance to the brutal repression there, a short text called “Wukan: strength and weaknesses of the opposition to the expropriations in rural China” (scroll down to 13/9/16).
Received this about a translation into German of part of the France page:
“…we’ve finally managed to publish a brochure with translated texts from the recent French movement around the loi travail:
We included your intro to the “France – a reader” site as a general assessment of the movement:
Once more about the Haredi:
I spoke yesterday to a guy I know from Lebanon, who’s been to Palestine, and he tended to confirm that this group is a lot more interesting than the anarchist guy had made out (though the anarchist did admit he ‘s not “a big connaiseur of jewish theology and branches”).
For one, they oppose all forms of colonisation of the occupied areas and in a fairly practical way, though for me this is somewhat strange given I’m not religious – they go out at night and do what they can to destroy the cemetries and graves of the colons. Also those amongst them who are lawyers defend Palestinians for things like throwing molotov cocktails at the military, which has now been defined there as a terrorist act. And one of the leaders is a Nietzschean, somewhat unorthodox for an Orthodox Jew. Nevertheless, some of them have been involved in horrendous homophobic acts like knifing people at the Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv.
Added: a chronology of resistance in the USA going back to August 2014 – USA
Comments on the riots of Haredi Jews in Israel:
On 21/8/16 we posted this up on the News of Opposition page for August 2016:
“Several dozen ultra-Orthodox protesters clashed with police Sunday as they demonstrated outside the Jerusalem army recruitment office against the arrest of a yeshiva student who failed to show up for his enlistment…Later on Sunday evening, Haredi protesters in Jerusalem blocked off the Mea Shearim neighborhood, while demonstrators in Beit Shemesh pushed dumpsters into the street, blocking traffic, and hurled stones at police officers. Last Thursday, hundreds of demonstrators in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh torched dumpsters and threw rocks at police officers in protest against the same arrest. Seven were detained in the capital and one in Beit Shemesh. Many in the ultra-Orthodox (“Haredi”) community shun the mandatory national service that applies to most Israelis, and the community has historically enjoyed blanket exemptions from the army, in favor of religious seminary studies.
Police have sporadically detained ultra-Orthodox draft-dodgers in the past year. In July, five Haredi demonstrators protesting the IDF draft outside a Jaffa courthouse were arrested. At the end of the mostly peaceful protest, some of the demonstrators attacked policemen, overturned garbage cans, blocked traffic, hurled eggs and stones at cops, and flipped over two motorcycles, damaging them, police said at the time. There were no reports of injuries. Reforms passed in the Knesset in 2014 that sought to do away with the exemptions and gradually increase ultra-Orthodox recruitment met fierce opposition from many in the community.“
“The Ben Torah, as they call themselves, are a very interesting phenomenon in the region. To clarify the terminology: Haredi Judaism, Hasidic Judaism, and Orthodox Judaism are all names for different religious movements within the Jewish faith. The three can be looked at as a family, with Haredi Judaism existing as a subset of Orthodox Judaism, and Hasidic Judaism existing as a further subset of the subset. Hasidim, the mystic branch of the religion, share similarities with Sufism in Islam: an emphasis on mysticism as a communistic social-relation (e.g. the dreadlocked Baye Faal Sufi order of Senegambia) rather than an individualistic head-trip, a certain anti-authoritarianism, and a certain literary quality (tales of the Sufis and of the Hasidim are both often humorous and supra-logical).
Besides resisting conscription and denouncing the existence of the State of Israel as idolatrous (which it is, like EVERY other state), the Haredim also have the highest unemployment and birth rates of Israeli citizens, and their constituency plays a swing-vote role between the two major political parties in the electoral system. Other practical opposition to the state manifests in their refusal to send their children into the secular compulsory miseducation system, and the refusal of their own schools to impose standardised testing on their children. It is hardly surprising therefore that “A study in late 2006 claimed that just over a third of Israelis considered Haredim the most hated group in Israel.”
Their estimated global population currently numbers 1.3–1.5 million and, due to a virtual absence of interfaith marriage and a high birth rate, their numbers are growing rapidly. Their numbers have also been boosted by a substantial number of secular Jews adopting a Haredi lifestyle. The chief political division among Haredim has been in their approach to the State of Israel. As with most radical movements, one branch is made of sell-outs who collaborate with the state blubbering about moderation and pragmatism in excuse for spinelessness, and the other is made of those who refuse to prostitute themselves out as hypocrites for the sake of an ease and comfort suitable to courtesans rather than free men and women.
As of 2012 it was estimated that 37% of Haredi men and 49% of Haredi women were employed. The most recent figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics on employment rates place Haredi women at 69.3% comparable to 71% for the women’s national figure, whilst working Haredi men have increased to 44.5% but still fall far below the 81.5% for the national picture.
It is estimated that half as many of the Haredi community are in employment as the rest of population. This has led to increasing financial deprivation and 50% of children within the community live below the poverty line.
There are, of course, plenty of less than exemplary, not to mention plain reactionary tendencies at work among every existing social sub-category of the human species. Maybe most glaringly among the Haredim and many other religious traditions, the patriarchal sexual morality at play here seems more than a little outdated. Far from a move that liberates women from the bonds of domestic slavery to leap into the mystically superior shackles of wage-slavery (as in the Gospel of mainstream feminists), the dramatic decrease in the percentage of unemployed women relative to that of men more likely means that young women are increasingly being sent off as breadwinners (maternal duties devolving onto grandmothers, as is often the case among the poor in South Africa) while males remain at leisure to commune with THE LORD.
Other than their solidarity, bravery, consistency, voluntary poverty & spiritually employed economic unemployment, what is possibly most outstanding about these admirable people is the fact that they are able to marshal enough buying-power to dictate business policies, despite their poverty (more than 50 percent live below the poverty line and get state allowances) and their statistical minority (7% of the population). For this reason, some companies and organizations in Israel refrain from including women or other images deemed immodest in their advertisements to avoid Haredi consumer boycotts (very widely used — and often effective — tactic in the South African struggles of the 1980s). Through the organisation of volunteer medical associations they make a major contribution to the healthcare services of the state — and so benefit themselves, considering the poorest rely most on state facilities.”
A Jewish woman I know objected to this verbally over the phone and I got in contact with a Jewish guy (who wrote this about the riots of Ethiopian Jews last year), who said:
“I have to say i’m not a big connaiseur of jewish theology and branches,
yet i have to say that presenting the hasidic movement as a subversive
movement is a mistake. They are ultra-orthodox and intolerant like the
others. Their only real difference is that for them religious practices
have to be done as a party (dancing, chanting, etc.), but that doesn’t
make them more friendly at all !
About the Haredim in general, they are not ALL against the state of
israel, it’s more complicated and diversified than that. Also, the reason
why some of them are against the state of israel is not a good reason from
an anti autoritarian point of view. They are against the state of israel
because it was created by man and should be created by god with the
arrival of the messiah, wich stays unclear in SK’s note.
The whole note seems like an apology of the haredim, this is very weird
Also, most of the haredi are forbiden to work, because they have to study
and focus themselves on Talmud everyday. That’s why, most of the time,
only women works (several jobs at a time… treated like slaves while
giving birth almost every year…). The statistics in the note may be
true, but they should be verified.
But the most important thing, is that unemployment in the Haredi community
is volontary, its not for economic reasons, like the note would leave us
guessing. Also they receive a shitload of money from orthodox around the
world and evangelists from america.
Most of the bullshit said in the last paragraph of the note about the
haredi could be applied to an anti-capitalist support of Daesh!!”
“My sympathies are with the militant atheism of your/our comrade. There is every reason to oppose religious sects especially in countries like Israel, Iran and the Spain of the 1930s, etc, where clerical authority also involves real political authority. However I try not to react against these things in a way that just becomes an equal and opposite dogma….
If my comments seem to present the hasidic movement as subversive that would indeed be a mistake. All I wanted to do was to contextualise those particular riots as a specific, contradictory an by no means totally subversive MOMENT, alongside all other such equally contradictory moments we document on this site.
It seemed particularly important to do so as the assumption might
otherwise be (I myself thought this before looking into it) that these
were people who supported the state of Israel (and by extension its
army) but just wanted to get out conscription for some reason. If such were the case, I don’t think such opposition would belong on this site at all.
There was also a fair bit of irony in my comments which could easily be mistaken for unqualified praise. My note does not leave anyone guessing about the reasons for unemployment — it specifically lists their ‘voluntary unemployment’ as one of their admirable qualities. Obviously, for those of us who believe in ‘the right to be lazy’ and the abolition of work, it is ironic that some of those who practice it should do so from perspectives so different to our own in many ways. But fundamentalism of all sorts, including the atheistic variety, unfortunately anaesthetises people to the subtleties, ironies, and humor of such ‘ruses of history’. Probably the Haredim themselves would be scandalised to be associated with the louts, layabouts, and other lumpen elements praised by anarchists for their indolent contempt of alienated labour.
Then again anarchists themselves are often far too rigidly schematic to appreciate how often more congenial versions of apparently religious unemployment can be to their own perspectives. The beauty expressed by Rumi, a Sufi Muslim (as I pointed out there are certain similarities between the some Sufis and some Hasidim) in the following poem is wasted on them, simply because it’s made from the (clearly tongue in cheek) viewpoint of religious mysticism:
As for us, He has appointed the job of permanent unemployment.
If He wanted us to work, after all,
He would not have created this wine.
With a skinfull of this, Sir,
would you rush out to commit economics?
Now, I myself am as ‘Muslim’ as our comrade is ‘Jewish’, yet I don’t
feel the need to express haughty and automatic contempt for all those
who take Allah seriously just because they may not be very tolerant or friendly towards me and my ideas. Maybe that’s one reason why many anarchists aren’t particularly friendly towards me and my ideas either, for that matter. As a matter of fact, militant activists in general have hardly got a sterling record when it comes to tolerance, even (especially!) for each other.
Again, my note specifically pointed out the inevitably problematic aspects of sexual division of labour among those who subscribe to a patriarchal ideology. Yes, the Haredim men’s contemplation of God is supported by female drudgery, just as the radical academic’s contemplation of her own navel is supported by the intellectual and manual drudgery of her inferiors. The point is not to condemn the idle from our moral high-horses, but abolish a world based on hierarchy and useless drudgery altogether. Unfortunately, the latter being so daunting a task, too many comrades prefer the former pastime, which is as easy as farting downwind.
The Jewish woman I mentioned at the beginning eventually wrote the following: ” there is nothing subversive about trying to force all men to spend their time studying God – I exclude women because they don’t have to bother their little heads with such weighty philosophical debate. Their place is in the maternity hospital and making chicken soup in any spare moment.”
I [SF] finally wrote:
“Whilst the actions of the Haredi come over as a subversive moment (I myself sent the original link, if I remember correctly), it’s not like most of the subversive moments we talk about on the site. As I said in the original “News of Opposition” preamble: ” What I automatically exclude here, given the attempt to focus on ”independent opposition”, are clashes in which either ethnic or religious or sport team or political faction fights seem to dominate.” And there’s a vast difference between a riot by an organisation of Orthodox Jews that has been going for over 150 years (and was originally set up to oppose any tendency towards secularism) which has a very rigid and entrenched hierarchy and riots involving people from very diverse tendencies, who could go beyond their very specific identities and experiences of alienation. So it’s not like ” all other such equally contradictory moments we document on this site. “
As for the ” fair bit of irony in my comments which could easily be mistaken for unqualified praise. ” – well, the irony passed me by as it did at least 2 other people I know, so it really was mistaken for unqualified praise. And the support for unemployment on the part of the men is a bit like support for unemployment amongst any aristocracy or royalty, since it depends on the intensification of exploitation of those lower in the hierarchy. I’m sure, like me, you’ve known people whose assertion of the “right to be lazy” meant refusing to do the housework and leaving it to others (usually women). I don’t see “tolerance” for this kind of use of religion is at all haughty or expressing some automatic contempt. Criticising such attitudes, or ignoring them, is hardly some “fundamentalism of …the atheistic variety”. It’s fundamental, but hardly an ism.
You say, “the Haredim men’s contemplation of God is supported by female drudgery, just as the radical academic’s contemplation of her own navel is supported by the intellectual and manual drudgery of her inferiors. The point is not to condemn the idle from our moral high-horses, but abolish a world based on hierarchy and useless drudgery altogether. Unfortunately, the latter being so daunting a task, too many comrades prefer the former pastime, which is as easy as farting downwind. “
I would most definitely “condemn” such academics, and it’s certainly not from a moral high-horse, but from a need to critique social relations, although that also presupposes some kind of “moral” attitude that’s not at all like the hypocritical self-contradictory dominant “morality”. This is a prerequisite for participating in a movement that tends towards abolishing a “world based on hierarchy and useless drudgery altogether. ” And this task is not so daunting if one sees it not in terms of the final result but first of all as something which can immediately involve a refusal of tolerance towards those people who maintain hierarchical relations in areas of life where they don’t at all have to. (When I say “immediately” I don’t mean literally from one second to the next, but over a period of time between critique and the possibility of change arising from such critique, ie progress over time) . Moreover, it’s not in any way as easy as farting downwind and dismissing it as a”pastime” comes over as a bit like condemning from a moral high-horse.
There’s a bit of defensive intellectual contortionism in your reply. And it’s rather ungenerous towards to the 2 people who felt angry enough to respond to the bit you wrote, to dismiss their attitudes as “fundamentalism”. We who wish to oppose this world certainly need to develop a critique of religion not from some crude atheism but from a recognition that all entrenched ideologies and theologies maintain individuals in their complicity with this society, with their misery, whilst at the same time recognising that religion, as well as dogmas of other varieties, contain elements of subversive desire in an utterly conservative and miserable form: ” the heart of a heartless world…the soul of soulless conditions….Critique has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower.”
I think in future it might be best when putting up something about things we don’t know very much about that we make clear that any remarks are tentative and coming from a distant relation to the subject, that we are prepared to admit that we might have got things wrong. For the moment I’ll put up the various remarks about this under the entry for the 21/8/16 and on the “What’s New?” page. But I don’t seriously want to continue with this discussion unless you or others provide some new insights or research into this particular religious grouping .”
A comment by SK has been added to the comments box (you have to scroll down to the bottom to get the latest comment) of the prisons page.
Added to the south africa… page: Letter from Iranian Workers, written in 1991 in solidarity with the South African working class, warning them against having illusions in the ANC. Also, some comments on rape and unwanted pregnancies in South Africa (added to the entry for 8/8/16).
Revealed at last! A special gift for the 100s of readers here desperate to know what the password is for all the hidden texts: it’s ambiguous
Ajouté: quelques calomnies grotesques
2 textes :
1.Une mise au point anti-politique
Une réponse au texte « Une mise au point politique », un texte de la commission féministe de Nuit Debout, par N, la personne qui a été soupçonné d´être mysogine et accusé de sexisme sans faits réels existants : http://nuitdeboutmontpellier.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/sexisme-en-milieu-militant.pdf
2.Un tentative de censure sur IACAM
(liste mail pour des personnes qui s’interessent dans les aspects de la lutte sociale dans la region de Languedoc-Roussillon)
Added: a link to a chapter on the South Africa page – Transition From Below Chapter 7, a chapter from the book on steel-worker’s struggles in the 80s/90s. The first chapter demonstrates the way nationalism, socialism and worker’s-control combined to instantly integrate the most militant unions into the new bourgeois order — and the disorder this created when the unions then came into conflict with the rank and file. Some of the statements and attitudes expressed by the shop stewards are truly astonishing. Probably the best one is ‘socialism and capitalism are basically the same’. On that note I’ve also included an excerpt from the previous chapter describing the formation of the strike committee as an autonomous entity within the union, and the emergence of conflict between it and the stewards – Strike committee at Witbank. All of which is of immediate interest as Marikana and the subsequent events are clearly a continuation of the dynamics outlined in these pages. [SK]
Recommendé: pourquoi les nuits debout m’emmerdent
Recommended: Account of May 1, 2016 in Paris: Anarchists defile libertarian procession
Recommended: Paris – Imposing moral order with a sledgehammer: Communiqué from La Discordia A response to the 3rd attack on this anarchist library-cum-meeting place when all the windows were smashed by gang mentality anarcho-sickos who don’t like the critique of religion and of the whole notion of race developed in meetings and texts at this library.
Recommended: A DISSEMBLING ASSEMBLE and the fatuous Turner Prize
Ajouté: Solidarité avec « La Discordia (“Imposer l’ordre moral à coup de marteau – Communiqué de La Discordia, et ajouté le 7 mai 2016 ( écrit par André Dréan ): “Solidarité active avec « La Discordia » !”
“France: a reader” has had its title changed to “France: the latest on the rumbling revolt”, with an additional note on the current movement, plus a personal account of a wild day in Montpellier for the entry of 14/4/16 has been modified to include most recently discovered facts and subjective analysis.
Added in the comments section below “Cop-Out – the significance of Aufhebengate” this translation of a dire put-down of the whole affair published by Echanges et Mouvement. It’s translated from here:
Added in the comments section below the text “on German guilt” – a quote from Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem” showing Eichmann’s pro-Zionist sympathies and his contacts with Zionist organisations in the run-up to WWII.
Added to “South Africa: a reader”, 2 new links to texts about the movement of subversion under apartheid: The story of a South African revolutionary (1992) and Transition from below, Chapter 5 – “It was just chaotic” The apartheid workplace regime, political challenge and ‘ungovernability’ in the workplace.
Added: Reflections on German guilt
Added: The Myths of DNA….
A short course in overproduction part 3 and A short course in overproduction part 4 These are just to remind people of the looming crisis of 2016, with no pretnsion to being anything more than that. Limited but informative. “People hate banks and they want to see them suffer,” said Dick Bove, analyst at Rafferty Capital Markets. Yeah, ain’t that the truth? Me, I’m a humanist. I don’t want to see them suffer. I just want to see them dead.” Note 29/1/16: this short course is getting longer – see this site for parts 5,6,7…
Some site statistics:
A correct hit counter was installed on this site a year ago on January 14th 2015, registering hits of only those not directly connected to the site. Previously the hit counter was totally inaccurate and registered every time I personally went from page to page or when I just looked at my own site.
The amount of visitors has been: 189,447. Obviously those who visited the site several times are not registered as one visitor, but are registered every time they click onto the site if they have not beforehand clicked onto the site; in other words “visits” are much higher than this – 3,225,816. This figure is totally misleading, as it clearly includes people (the state, maybe) clicking onto several different pages or even just one page several times. For instance, one day I got 55,000 visits, but less than a thousand visitors.
The following were the top 10 most popular pages (I have not included the various “news of opposition” pages here, though many of them proved more popular than some of the following; nor have I included this page). For the reason above, it doesn’t seem worthwhile pointing out the number of visits:
- The homepage – an introduction
- cop-out – the significance of aufhebengate
- ve haf vays of making you happy
- novembre 2015 This, in French, got 13,000 visits over 2 days, but it’s obvious that almost all of these was from one visitor, probably someone working for the state (a link to it had just been given out on an email list).
- dear london forum Since this is from 1997 and is not particularly interesting, I can only assume that people got it confused with another “London Forum”.
- minister of sic
- kurdish uprising This is possibly because there have been many people who’d assumed it referred to the current situation in the Kurdish areas of Syria/Iraq, though in fact it refers to the uprising following the Gulf War of 1991.
- on syriza …by the tptg
- mexico: a compilation
Very brief interesting report: A short course in overproduction part 1 – a brief reminder of imminent financial crisis (published 13/1/16)
Recommended: a neat summary of last year from the neatly named “Cautiously Pessimistic” site: A year in the shadow of bullets and ballots: looking back at 2015
A further comment on French racism
Recommended: Open letter to the proletarians in Greece, which, though fairly dry standard stuff, critiques the Argentinian experience of self-management from some of those who participated in it. “If someone tells us that occupied worker-run factories in Argentina are a liberating “empowering” experience for the workers, we can only say that the exploitation of human beings continues in these places of production even if they are run by assemblies, and they do not in any way call into question the development of capital. …The outgoing president Cristina Kirchner understood this well when she said, “Argentina is one big occupied factory.”…Tonight as the wind warns of an approaching storm, the need we feel for a full life makes us certain that there is no time to discover new ways to manage this world of death. We feel the need for a life free from everything that oppresses and destroys us, a life full of possibilities contradictions and desires. “
Ajouté: La lutte contre les prisons – une chronologie Ma contribution à la semaine contre l’enfermement à Montpellier.
Recommended: The Clash of “Communities;” the State of the Occupation at the 4th Precinct On the cop murder of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis and the ideology of “community”.
About the Greek conscript statement (see this ) – SK asked the following questions about this: “I’m especially curious to know whether this statement actually meant the signatories are engaged in some form of mutiny/insubordination and what the response to this has been. It does seem a bit crazy to enter into the army to attempt to stir up some sort of mutiny considering that these things have always been successful only when part of a spontaneous social movement connected to large-scale upheaval in the larger society. Still, it would be interesting to know if the anarchists at least attempted to make contact and agitate amongst conscripts? Is there not some sort of alternative community service type option to conscription as is the case, I think, in Germany? If not, surely there must be some movement to resist the draft, considering how unpopular the state has become in Greece in recent years? Then again, as Onselen pointed out re. SA, conscription can be an effective means of absorbing a population of young proletarians who would otherwise be in situations of desperate poverty, so maybe with things as fucked as they are in that country military service is actually seen by many as a lesser evil to unemployment or super-exploitative wage-slavery?”
Just got a response to this from a Greek friend –
1. I don’t think that the conscripts are involved in a act of specific
insubordination with regard to specific orders to hunt down
immigrants, because the Greek army is not so much involved in policing
immigrants during the last years. This is the job of the coast guard
and FRONTEX. Before some years drafted soldiers were used for the
policing of land borders but since the building of the fence the flows
through the land border with Turkey are much lower.
However, the act of signing such a statement itself constitutes a
violation of the army law and in that sense it is a respectable act of
2. Anarchists with maybe a few individual exceptions are campaining
against military service as such and therefore do not attempt to
contact and agitate amongst military conscripts.
3. There is alternative community service but it lasts for 24 months
(or 18 I have to check the legislation changes) and nobody opts for
that. Most of the anarchists, as I told you in the phone, get examined
by psychiatrists friendly to the milieu and get false medical papers
with which they can avoid service after 3 examinations within a period
of 2-3 years.
4. There are also a significant number of anarchists (maybe 20, maybe
more) which made a political statement of refusing the draft and face
legal persecution. For example, N. Maziotis started his political
trajectory in the milieu with such an act.
5. There is no social movement to resist the draft. There is a quite
big part of young people who avod the draft through the use of
psychiatric exams. Its completely unconnected with the crisis of the
6. I believe that nobody wants to go to the army to avoid poverty and
unemployment. First of all, a conscript needs money to have a not
completely miserable life there. Money provided by the state is a joke
(something like 5 euros per month).
That’s all for now. I think that this act should not be taken out of
its proportions which are rather narrow.
Recommended: this text on the situation in Rojava, but particularly the post by Anti War for November 2nd 2015.
Announcement: from November 2015, the News of Opposition will mainly be organised by various people from different countries; I shall take a back seat for a few months.
Recommended: Fuck Work. Fuck My Job. Fuck All Jobs. But Fuck Mine in Particular. By a 24-year-old working the night shift in a women’s shelter in Oregon, USA, mainly for homeless addicts. “Because “helping people” is the form of labor I am compelled to squeeze out of myself for money, I sometimes resent myself if I ever go out of my way for anyone: for working for free. I already don’t get paid enough for the work that I do. Why do I keep doing more? For fucking free? Naw. Fuck that. Being a professional “good person” is literally making me a bad person. If there’s any merit to categories like those in the first place, they’ve utterly inverted themselves through the imposition of labor in my life.”
Got this from a guy in South Africa about the current Michael Schmidt “scandal”:
As for Schmidt my immediate reaction was that he is going to be getting a
lot of flak for at least trying to address consciously the exact same
dynamics that are simply taken for granted in pretty much every anarchist
and leftist organisation. The way he did so was obviously completely wrong
but hardly ‘fascist’ as the allegations state. What better explanations do
all the members of these little groupscules that are jumping to condemn him
have to offer for the fact that you can observe exactly the same sort of
shit in their own relations? The division between unofficial leaders and
followers seen in all leftist scenes around the world often takes a
uniquely racial form in SA, and Schmidt is one of the few who dares to face
up to it. Sure, he does so in a pretty stupid way, but how different is his
attempt “to have this divide [of] explicitly recognized (white) rearward
collectives …[from] (black) frontline collectives” from Bakunin’s invisible
dictatorship? What stands out with Bakunin and Schmidt is not that they
accepted the existence of hierarchical practice despite their professed
anti-authoritarian theories, but that they did so “explicitly” whereas most
anti-authoritarians are either too delusional or too cowardly to do this
and prefer to accept it “implicitly”.
It seems to me that Schmidt’s position regarding blacks is similar to what
you considered the reactionary position of Knabb towards women: if they
have thus far been unable to participate fully as equals it is their
responsibility to try harder rather than expecting the more capable to
stoop down to their level. The difference being that (in theory) Knabb
adopted this position so as to “refuse” any hierarchical relation whereas
for Schmidt it was a means to adopt such a vanguard role “consciously” rather
than attempt to “paper over the cracks between members’ vastly disparate
levels” (of understanding, competence, activity, participation, etc) as
most anti-authoritarians prefer to do.
In general much of this has to do with the entirely ahistorical attitude
most leftists adopt towards questions of organisation. To be able to ask a
question as stupid as “whether the black proletariat is more “politico-culturally” inclined towards Marxist-Leninist or African socialist
authoritarianism” you have to completely ignore the question of whether the
present society is more historically inclined towards conditions favourable
to forms of organisation dominated by passive and spectacular relations –
conditions that can and must be consciously subverted. Indeed for most
leftists, anti-authoritarian or otherwise, such a question will be the last
one ever to enter their heads. And it shows.
As long as leftists remain determined to keep the relation between
themselves and their own practice at the level of the unconscious their associations will remain fundamentally reactionary both internally and externally. This is what happens when you try to imagine revolutionary activity can carve a niche for itself outside the spectacle. It is the inevitable result of separating subversion from everyday life. Don’t expect 99% of these self-righteous libtards to benefit in the slightest from this latest in the long list of pseudo-scandals.
One half of them will simply use it to score points in the usual sectarian
way (‘libertarian communists’ yapping about how this proves the inadequacy
of ‘platformism’, etc) while the other half will try to say that this bears
no reflection whatsoever on anything beyond the ‘purely individual’
attitudes of Schmidt and anyone that says otherwise is sectarian.
I must admit that his talk about “the physical and intellectual rigours of
the anarchist communist organisation” made me smile. The fact that this
person can even mention “in the case of the SACP/YCL, the sale of branded
communist gear’ in the context of serious ‘attempts to (re)build a
popular-class counterculture through something other than toyi-toyi” says a lot about what his idea of “physical and intellectual rigours” might be.
Then again in the very same breath he says that because “logical process,
self-discipline and autonomous strategic thinking has been strangled at
birth” (of course this strangulation is in fact perpetrated by the
spectacle against “all” individuals “on a continuous basis”) every
rebellion “naturally” reverts to authoritarian, leader-led,
anti-autonomous modes of behaviour. Thus, a libertarian socialist
Revolution is impossible in SA under current and foreseeable internal
Now, you might as well stop here. What more is there to say for a vanguard
that puts itself at the head of a revolution pre-emptively condemned to
abortion by its own leading theorist? What is there to say for a
self-professed anti-capitalist who believes the propaganda that capitalism,
conflated with human nature, ‘naturally’ renders all attempts at revolution
impossible? In that case, as the surrealists suggested, why not try
suicide? It’s precisely due to his ahistorical perspective that he adopts
this self-defeating determinism. The idea that unfavourable historical
tendencies can be strategically and practically subverted in the everyday
lives of the masses – masses of individuals who are no more or less
stupefied than their self-proclaimed vanguards, vanguards composed of those
who were once just as ‘unconscious’ as the masses but came to adopt
revolutionary positions in an “unnatural” historical process that might
equally embrace masses of individuals, and has done so before – such an
idea has clearly never occurred to this physically and intellectually
Lastly, it should be pointed out that the various reactionary aspects of
this guy have everything to do with a tunnel vision where the point of
reference is shifted from “the real movement” to a ‘revolutionary’
subculture/scene/organisation. It was as if the real problem were the
absence of black cadres in his groupscule rather than the fact that his
‘movement’ is not now nor ever has been even slightly significant to the
actually existing class struggle in this country. The international furore
produced by this entire scandal is equally symptomatic. The amount of
attention, emotion and verbiage expended on this non-event is exponentially
greater than the amount of interest displayed, judging from the written
evidence, towards the real developments fraught with possibility blossoming
in countless interesting actions among millions of people on the ground all
around the world. For all the condemnation of ‘substitutionism’ among
these supposedly ‘theoretically advanced’ people it is undeniable that idle
gossip and inconsequential scandal is today a substitute for anything
resembling intelligent and informed discussion and debate about real social
I see from here that there is apparently much more to the fascist allegations than is
mentioned in chapter one ‘from the author of the forthcoming book Against
the Fascist Creep (AK Press) [pre-order your copy now!]’… basically that
he created facebook accounts and a ‘white supremacy’ website called
Stormfront posting apparently very racist content as well as formed some
sort of national-anarchist group. His explanation being that he was
infiltrating NA networks, rather than working as a NA infiltrator of
anarchist-communist networks. Since I’ve yet to see any evidence that NA =
fascism even this information is hardly serious. If he were an undercover
fascist obviously that potentially puts a lot of people in danger so I can
understand why a lot of the anarchist ‘community’ would be very concerned
by it, but I have yet to see evidence for anything of the kind. Also, his
comrades from Zabalaza have apparently already seen all this NA
infiltration stuff and believe his story. Then again the fact that Zabalaza
could recieve a discussion paper like that and make no comment certainly
demonstrates a more than questionable judgement. So I guess we’ll have to
wait for this promised definitively damning evidence. How pathetic it all
Just read ‘Anarchism as Spectacle’ and pleasantly surprised that somebody beat me to the punch saying this stuff, some of it, like the bit about gossip v. news of opposition, almost word for word!
Recommended: Bounded Revolt (chapter 4 of Theatres of Struggle and the End of Apartheid). Mainly about the “6 day war” in Alexandra at the beginning of their 6-month struggle in South Africa, 1986.“Old-style African Nationalism faded. A new kind of violence emerged…the young rebels reimagined Alexandra in bold and inventive ways…They reinvented “good” and “bad” spaces…They delineated private spaces such as homes and public spaces such as streets. They recast the meaning of official boundaries…The burning of houses had begun in earnest…the houses were those of the South African black policemen themselves…at eight in the morning they stabbed a policeman and set him alight …This was the first case of a mob burning of a human being that had occurred in Alexandra. Minutes later…a second policeman was found burnt to death…”
Recommended: All the way to the Bank(sy)…, which, despite a few deeply irritating aspects, has a generally very good critique of Banksy and other aspects of neoliberalism.
Recommended: Gangs, Truces, and Recent US Riots: “Bellum pauperum contra pauperes”? (published in September) – on gangs in the USA, their history since the 1960s and their interaction with sections of the state; and similarly Baltimore’s “Fire Next Time”, which looks at gangs and the cops etc. in Baltimore (published in June this year; translated into French here). This excellent text, on aspects of black history and culture since the 1960s, from 1993 is still very relevant.
Added: an addendum on the south african militant student at the bottom of this text
Added: addendum to South Africa: street-sweepers “arrest” mayor…& MORE!!! (at bottom)
Added: South Africa: street-sweepers “arrest” mayor…& MORE!!! – written by SK about recent events in South Africa
Added – in comment box, this from “Justice for Keith Lamar” ‘s Facebook page (prisoner facing death penalty on death row)
Added: translation of a French text on JCDecaux, the ubiquitous advertising-cum–bike-rent company also involved in exploitation of prisoners.
Added: translation of a French text on attacks on a prison construction company and a link to a text on prison struggles in Spain
Recommended: Another Word for White Ally is Coward – about the attitudes of whites and official black leaders in the anti-cop/anti-state movement in the USA
Recommended: Since the End of the Movement of the Squares: The Return of The Invisible Committee by Jason E. Smith. This is an interesting critique of Tiqqun and its latest text “To Our Friends” (for some obscure, or possibly simply commercial, reason only 2 chapters of this book by Tiqqun have so far appeared translated online)( amended 25/8/15: just found out that there IS a full English translation online here ). However, it’s perhaps overly dismissive of some social movements over the last few years – for example it says “ the North American Occupy movement …, with the exception of some aspects of Occupy Oakland, was a largely toothless affair, swept away brusquely after a few weeks or months at most.” Not all of what happened in the US in 2011 can be simplistically dismissed this way (see, for instance, this). After long years of sleep, it was a tentative moment of awakening that encouraged the participants to learn from its weaknesses and, to a certain extent, apply the lessons in the movements that followed the Ferguson uprising of just over a year ago.
As for Tiqqun, the following from Pi is pertinent:
Here are some texts that I know about the Invisible Committee/Tiqqun, or those who are called the “appellistes” from their text “The Call” in 2005 ( the term “insurrectionists” to refer to them seems very exaggerated to me, especially as it’s used for one or more tendencies that have very little to do with them).
There are fairly few written critiques about the concrete practices of this current in the movements.
Regarding their texts, which bring together fairly diverse revolutionary references, especially philosophical or sociological (a specialized academic thought and its concepts), we must recognize that they have had some success, perhaps during a certain empty epoch, but also in the wake of the anti-CPE movement.
But some contradictions were quick to emerge (which were already present in the texts), especially around their associations (after the affair when they were charged with terrorism), the defense strategy used, their relationships with the media, with money. See, for example, this text: http://www.notbored.org/cuckoo-papa.html, and the incredible appeal for donations in 2010 (90,000 euros, with a proposal for tax exemption) to fund community projects in Tarnac, in the fairly isolated countryside (but obviously not isolated from capitalist relations): http://juralibertaire.over-blog.com/article-les-amis-de-la-commune-de-tarnac-62731387.html.
This obviously shows a huge disconnection from the reality of proletarians and people who slave away. And call for donations in an entirely conventional financing logic (to the point of thinking that people have the means to provide the sum of 500 euros), while calling for people to prepare for the uprising, came over as manipulation. There was a relevant critique of this call in French here:
I know three good reviews written about the Invisible Committee, which are:
– http: //www.palim-psao.fr/article-34659700.html
This new text, on the new site linked to this tendency, is a good illustration of their current positions: especially the central idea amongst them that the revolution will happen through alternative projects and the construction of autonomy against the system. The text also adopts the concept of the “commons” (updated according to the taste-of-the-day in recent years by various academic thinkers and quickly adopted by activists from various sides). The text brings together various proposals, with ambiguous formulas (as in all their texts) as “So Commons also means to be able, when all forms of mediation are exhausted and there are no other choices, to constitute a force able to override private interest for the common good. “
That may be why they have quite a sizeable audience in all the fashionable journals, magazines and newspapers, such as Libération, Les Inrockuptibles, etc. There are also a lot of critiques that have been made about Editions La Fabrique, founded by Eric Hazan, surgeon and editor, which is part of the independent publishing houses ‘traditional’ publishing of critical texts (mostly academic), including those of the Invisible Committee. They publish, for example, Blanqui, which the Invisible Committee uses as a reference. There is a good text on the vision and insurrectional (and state) strategy of Blanqui: http://atabularasa.org/library/blanqui-ou-l-insurrection-d-etat-fr, and we can use its arguments to criticize the writings of the Invisible Committee.
Furthermore, here are a few of the latest appearances of these “friends”:
In the latter link, some biographical elements of an alleged “invisible” appeared in the main newspaper of the institutional left (Liberation), which we saw already appear in a report in 2008 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v= EceiGC0vhbQ) and was highlighted recently on a public television channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ts4d-V6XwX8. Talk about invisibility!
And another guy I know wrote this about Tiqqun: “Behind the famous WE (our friends, our here, our there …) is hidden the idea of the leading Organisation, the “historic party”, as the Bordigists used to say …”. “We”, though it can mean identification with a global community of struggle with very diverse histories and contradictions, is usually an uncritical shortcut that wishes to assume a representation of this community of struggle. “We” is almost invariably problematic – a subject to be proved rather than be asserted.
Recommended: REFLECTIONS ON THE FERGUSON UPRISING Really interesting conversation, in particular about the contradictions of being an anarchist living in the area and not wanting to be in the activist role yet wanting to have an influence (whilst, obviously, being influenced). “… that led to one of Antonio Martin’s family members reading stuff that we had written and stuff that other people had written about Ferguson, like, critiquing the police. And apparently the cousin was like, “I can’t believe white people think this, I can’t believe a white person wrote this.” So they actually made this worthwhile connection….. we got to act not as anarchists. We got to act as part of a larger social force. It was really refreshing not to be the ones to bring the fight. And so it’s interesting to think… do we have any ability to push that further than it went? I don’t know. It was a tide unto itself that we got to be a part of.”
Added: The Big Deception a new text by the TPTG
Added: information on Greece
Added: Site hits – a list of visitor hits and the top 40 favourite pages on this site
Added: Greece: 2008 – the present
Ajouté: la communisation et le Grand bond en arrière (2015)
Ajouté: nos positions (1987)
Mexico fucks the elections updated in relation to various questions about Mexican teachers and their organisations.
Ajouté: dans le ventre de l’ogre. Texte sur l’education et la jeunesse
Recommended: It don’t mean a thing….unless you’re ready to swing. On Greece’s rock and a hard place pseudo-choice.
Brief dialogue about trends in global expressions of opposition here at the bottom in the comments box, on the preamble to the News of Oppostion page
Afterword about the CNTE teachers’ organisation in Mexico, added to “mexico fucks the elections”
English translation of text “communisation does not move in mysterious ways” (with an afterword by me)
Also added to “how to vote” – The best and most recent critique of elections for a long time: the anti-election movement in Mexico, June 2015…(to be continued…)
A translation of a leaflet on the German train drivers strike written by Dortmund Anarchist Group on May 6th.
An old text which was included in “So Near – So Far” (a history of the British miners), but which I decided to put up on a drink and hash-inspired whim on my birthday as a separate text: The true story of a true boat
Recommended text on Baltimore: Rites of Passage
Put this up ( May 17, 2015 ) to the comments section of this text:
Just seen – this text on how the cops value crowd psychology for their policies on demonstrations etc.: Policing crowds without force
New brief text on this site, translated from the French: Ethiopian Jews riot in Israel
New text: To be or not to be a communisateur…
Different Boy, Same Game – more on Syriza from “The Wolf Report”
Strictly for bulimics who can’t bring themselves to stick their fingers down their throats: “…plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming” …but also revealing about the top 0.1%’s thinking and the development of a semi-Keynesian discourse – not only to save their own skins but also to show at least how to talk in a way that gives the poor some ideology of reformist hope, and give capital a little hope of a boost by once again thinking their way to maybe having to start spreading the “wealth” so the plebs can consume more and so produce more and so consume more and so produce more and can consume more and so produce more and consume more and produce more and can consume more and so produce more and consume more and produce more and can consume more and so produce more and consume more and produce more and can consume more and so produce more and consume more and produce more so consume more and so produce more and can consume more and so produce more and consume more and produce more and can consume more and so produce more and consume more and produce more and can consume more and so produce more and consume and. How much this is a possibility, along with war and terror, as a way of staving off revolution is yet to be seen and not as predictable as determinists would like to dismiss and ridicule the very idea of.
Text in French on the “Minister of Sic” affair, and communisation theory: les voies de la communisation ne sont pas impénétrables
New article on an ultra-leftist adherent to communisation ideology becoming a minister in the new Syriza government: The Minister of Sic
A discussion on the origins of football in the comments section of “Ve haf vays of making you happy” can be found from this comment onwards
On the 25th anniversary of the start of the riot at Strangeways prison in Manchester, UK (the “disturbances”, in particular – fires, the virtual destruction of the prison and a rooftop occupation, continued for over 3 weeks), it seems worth recommending this book: Strangeways 1990: A serious disturbance which, despite being co-written by a member of a dreadful Leftist organisation (the Bolshevik organisation Revolutionary Communist Group) is an excellent read; its other author is an ex-prisoner.
Mexico: a compilation A collection of brief texts and links to texts concerning the movements in Mexico, comprising the following sections: a brief text on the current movement of day labourers and related matters in Mexico (March 24th 2015), a reversed chronology of events in Mexico (present day to April 2013), a brief text and a couple of links to texts about the Zapatistas, and other links to texts about significant social movements in Mexico.
Recommended: The Political Economy of Things (about Greece and Syriza etc.) from The Wolf Report: Nonconfidential analysis for the anti-investor
Also recommended: Dining With Vultures: Bristol Anarchists & the UK Media Also look at this critique of UK Anarcho-Leftism
Recommended: Fields ripe with calamity – a critique of capitalist “ecology”, with specific reference to a project in Todmorden, UK
“Kindness comes to Todmorden, as pure appearance.
For those not blinded by billboards, the writing is on the wall; and the word is “catastrophe.”…
…Even in these darkest of times, we can also find inspiration in the present. In July 2014, Trevor Lewis, an employee at the Eastwood waste recycling plant that serves Todmorden, used a digger to destroy the facility. Like any other honest man, woman and child, he “hated his job” and knew that “his work place destroyed him” (Todmorden News, 2 October 2014, page 1). His sublime blow against alienated labour, that daily horror in which we lose ourselves and create a bad world not of our choosing,deserves to be celebrated, refined and extended.”
Recommended: letter from anarchist prisoner Emma Shepherd
Recommended: “Yani and the Hand Jive”, an article about Greece, Syriza, privatisation and the Troika
Recommended: Words for Winter – a chronology of the anti-cop events in the USA September to December, plus some really good anecedotes from the end of November from StLouis and Ferguson.
Various things added:
Comment from Charles Reeve on the Charlie Hebdo murders: http://dialectical-delinquents.com/?page_id=8339#comment-176025
2 comments (one by myself) on Syriza:
Comment from South Africa on the general strike in Malamulele (added to News of Opposition for 30/1/15):
A while ago I wrote you about the increasing importance of blockades as a current form of social contestation in SA and elsewhere. The situation in Malamulele, a town of 13 000 people (also the name of the wider area of around half a million people in which the town is situated) in Limpopo province, furnishes support for this thesis in abundance. Since 2014 proletarians of this district have joined their fellows elsewhere around the country in their demand to dissolve the local government, which has failed utterly in its task to administer the basic municipal utilities essential to survival in the modern world, and reconstitute it according to their own desires. When the ANC had an electioneering rally the people booed President Zuma and burned the party flags after their demands were addressed in the usual language of bureacratic-democratic procedure. Shops at the local mall were looted and burnt, causing millions of rands in damage. At the beginning of 2015 they took things further and imposed a general strike which has, at the time of writing, been 100 percent effective for four weeks. All schools and businesses have been shut down, all major roads leading into and out of the area have been barricaded from 6am to 6pm. The local mall has been closed, Police have according to their own account maintained a heavy presence in the area but remained powerless to break the strike. Appeals by state officials for residents to return to work and school have fallen on deaf ears. In response to a finding by the Municipal Demarcation Board that their demands do not qualify to be met, they shut down an entrance to the famous Kruger National park. Two days later two schools were damaged by arson attacks; a day later another school was burnt out. It is claimed that school children themselves are leading the struggle, and talking about a 'new June 16'. These claims are lent credence by the fact that school pupils were among those arrested for attacks on the shopping mall in 2014 (doubtless this would have been called 'xenophobic' had these shops not been owned by South African citizens). Due to its exceptional efficiency and ferocity, which has far exceeded anything previously achieved in recent years (eg. the one-day social-strike in Langa late last year); the struggle in Malamulele expresses in an unusually clear way the contradictions inherent everywhere the new tactics of modern revolution make their appearance. To phrase the question in the language of the bourgeois: “Why do these people destroy their 'own' businesses and services?” Whereas trade unionists, racists and state bureacrats can only answer: 'ignorance'; liberals and leftists can do no better with their own half-arsed apology of 'desperation', which implies such actions, while unfortunate and generally harmful, are excusable as the only means to get the attention of government fat-cats. This justification represents only one part of the picture, but the reality is that the destruction unleashed by proletarian struggle only involves an appeal to the state, a reformist demand, and a servile relationship of political patronage inasmuch as *all* working-class struggle has to do with *both* the 'bread and butter' fight for a few more crumbs from the table of capital *as well as* the fight to destroy capital and the working-class itself which always necessarily *begins* with bread and butter issues, always lies *beyond* them, and is always implicitly *contained within *them. That implication starts to become* explicit* the moment that struggle over bread and butter issues* itself *destabilises the normal hustle for daily bread; traditionally this took place in the form of the strike, where workers confronted capital by withdrawing their labour, bringing capitalist production to a standstill only to confront starvation themselves, unless they restarted production under their own control. As the strike in Malamulele demonstrates, the basic process today remains the same now as it has always been. For proletarians to act as a class is to have as a horizon only capital and the categories of its reproduction, and, on the other hand it is, for the same reason, to be in contradiction with one's own class reproduction, to call it into question. It is only the technical aspects of this process that have changed; the *meaning* of 'strike' – the *means* of a potentially revolutionary strike – is different today than the traditional definition. Although workers participate in this strike through the withdrawal of labour as before, the principal site of struggle is no longer the workplace but the street. The principal actors are not proletarians as *workers* but as *the dispossessed *(now including housewives, the unemployed, and school kids) as *proletarians* in the precise definition of those who have nothing* (niether jobs, nor 'education', nor 'services') *to lose *and know it*, those who own nothing and are therefore tied to nothing. So it is that proletarian self-activity primarily has to do with the organisation of destruction, and moreover the destruction of their 'own' equipment and buildings on the job, their 'own' schools and state services, their 'own' businesses, precisely because all of these things, presented to them as their 'own' and 'for their own benefit' by the spectacle, are produced and reproduced without them and against them. *Organisation of destruction* is precisely the correct term here, since it is exactly in the realm of organisation that the positive aspect of proletarian self-activity develops hand in hand with the negative aspect; to organise a force capable of sweeping aside the poverty of everything that exists is simultaneously to organise a force capable of transforming everything that exists, and vice versa. To recognise that one does not build socialism, one only destroys the obstacles that prevent its development is precisely to recognise that under capitalism the passion for destruction is the only creative passion. We live today in the era of the *social strike, *which primarily targets the circuits of commodity circulation rather than the points of production*. The effect, however, is almost identical. Just as a normal strike either collapses or moves further in a revolutionary because its disorganisation of production soon threatens the ability of the strikers themselves to survive, the disorganisation of reproduction caused by a social strike involves the same dynamic. This is clearly illustrated by the desperate measures taken by residents of Malamulele to circumvent the blockade they themselves imposed. According to one newspaper report, around 50 people a day are forced to undertake an arduous journey on foot through thick bush, during which they must cross a crocodile infested river, in order to buy basic necessities. One of these people stated in an interview: "It's not that we don't support the strike. We want our own municipality but desperate times call for desperate measures. We have to eat”. Clearly, strikes like these must either move further in a radical direction, communicating and co-ordinating with neighboring areas to prevent such desperate strike-breaking evasions, organising the production and circulation of basic necessities on their own terms – and the self-defense necessary to resist the inevitable repression that will result from such steps – or it will continue to be undermined by more and more of its own participants until it collapses. Considering the consciously imposed self-limitations of the current struggle, and the unfortunate attitude of its most combattive participants towards its internal contradictions (one person who braved the crocodiles to evade the strike blockades said "Going through the access point with plastic grocery bags is risky. The people who patrol there will confiscate your food and spill it on the ground as punishment for defying the shutdown") such a development seems unlikely in this particular case. What is certain, however, is that the Malamulele strike has been an exemplary moment in that arduous process which remains 'the task of the world and of us... the self-clarification (critical philosophy) of the struggles and wishes of the age'. Meanwhile, an area supposedly involved in the so-called Xenophobic violence has been occupied by riot police after four trucks and two cars -- none of which were reportedly owned by 'foreigners' -- were torched last night. The actions of Majakaneng residents, who on Monday looted 'foreign owned' shops (when last year residents of Langa looted the local supermarket, which is owned by Wallmart, it was not reported as an attack on a 'foreign owned' shop) in addition to burning a bus, can in no way be catagorically separated from those of proletarians in revolt around the country, such as the residents of Mohlakeng who yesterday torched the house of 'their' mayor, as well as 'their' library and municipal hall, but were not reported to have attacked any 'foreign owned' shops. It should be noted, lastly, that the victims in the current so-called Xenophobic violence were overwhelmingly* private property*; there have been more South African citizens killed (whether by petty-bourgeois defending their property from looting, or police doing the same, or unknown causes) in the unrest this year than foreign nationals. This is in stark contrast to the unequivocally Xenophobic pogroms of 2008 where scores of *human beings*, most of whom did not hold the priveledge of SA citizenship, were attacked and killed simply for speaking the wrong language in the wrong place at the wrong time. As usual, the bourgeois press has an active interest in a definition of violence which conflates attacks on commodities with attacks on people.
Got the following interesting comments from SK, about this libcom article: http://libcom.org/library/you-say-you-want-build-solidarity-network :
“Inasmuch as it details successful means of struggle worked out by the collective practice of the authors, the libcom text makes a useful contribution to the literature of the revolutionary press. Unfortunately the project it describes relies on a relation towards the working-class that the experiences of the past century have led the most lucid revolutionaries to abandon a long time ago, namely, that of the militant. Unsurprisingly for those who do not find any embarrasment by claiming membership in an organisation that is not only dead and buried, but totally decomposed and transfigured into an entirely etherial existence, these 21st century wobblies base their practice not on means that have any plausible chance of encouraging the extensive and intensive development of self-activity and self-organisation among proletarians, but have taken it upon themselves to go among proletarians and organise them through their own activity. Even when it is dressed up in the language of working-class autonomy, direct-democracy and direct-action — in other words, in the anarchist ideology — the perspective of the militant activist has always appeared foreign to me — both to my temperament and my understanding of revolutionary theory. It is an attitude that’s always seemed to carry the repulsive stench of the bureaucrat — the manager and organiser of other people — a role for whose pleasures and compensations, even when given a revolutionary anti-capitalist flavour, I have never, in my shiftless self-centredness, managed to develop the slightest taste.
Although this attitude permeates every aspect of this project and the text which expresses it; its most characteristic qualities are most clearly revealed in the discussion that follows the main article. In the discussion, the authors admit that the form of organisation detailed in the text 1) needs a ‘critical mass of anarchists’ in order to work 2) is ‘not anti-capitalist’ 3) involves propaganda directed from the critical mass to the lay members ‘who are not already as politically educated’ 4) is considered by the critical mass as a means for recruitment into the anarcho-syndicalist union to which they belong 5) cannot keep its participants involved ‘except out of a sense of obligation or duty’. In all of this, one sees the hallmarks of a relation to the working-class far too close to that of the revolutionary bureaucrat for comfort.
It is probable that this sort of project, and the attitude of which it is an expression, is partially a product of conditions where working-class self-activity has itself as yet attained a relatively low level of visible expression. When nobody except you seems to be doing anything nearly revolutionary, when you seem to be the only one even remotely interested in the overthrow of society, it is easy to mistake the task of revolutionary praxis — that of the unification of dispersed struggles and the articulation of a theory adequate to this unification — for some sort of disembodied unionism accompanied by demagogic propaganda rendered no less inadequate by having the label ‘political education’ stuck onto it. In other words, it is easy to imagine the task of the revolutionist as involving the importation of self-activity and class-consciousness into an apathetic, disorganised and helpless working-class. Those, such as myself and the Faridabad comrades, fortunate enough to find themselves in circumstances where masses of people are already visibly engaged in subversive activity far beyond anything we might hope to initiate ourselves, can more easily see the humility demanded of us by the reality of the situation.
Consideration of certain conducive material conditions can make the confusion of revolutionary bureaucrats understandible, but circumstances alone by no means make delusional perspectives excusable. The perspective revealed by the Seattle anarcho-syndicalists inclines me to think that even where class struggle is at a stage where revolutionary forms of proletarian self-organisation is quite visibly seeking its adequate expression, their abstract desire for immediate results would lead them (as it led their comrades from the past to join the Stalino-bourgeois government during the Spanish revolution) towards actions like those of the Trotskyists who, during the massive wave of wildcat strikes that swept through the mining industry following the Marikana massacre, organised (or helped organised, I’m not sure how much real participation there was from the miners but from the context it seems the Trots ran the show from beginning to end) a meeting for the establishment of a co-ordinating committee that would allow the independent workers councils that conducted the strike at each mine to make united action, but then had their own bureaucrats (who is no miner) elected President, and turn the whole initiative into a charade whose sole aim was to drum up support for their own political party. Even a minion of the bourgeois press could note that as this honourable proletarian President ‘concluded Saturday’s meeting with a press conference in front of a swelling media crowd, he appeared to be speaking more for himself and his organisation than for the crowd of strikers.’ This kind of unification of scattered struggles, like the similar unity achieved in their own organisation, which they persist in all earnestness in calling The Industrial Workers of the World, certainly cuts a more impressive figure on the level of appearancesthan that attempted, for example, by O Journal Combate in Portugal during a period where worker’s councils were similarly groping towards forms of action appropriate to their ends. Such True Socialists have, from the time of Engels, condemned those less content to undertake action without a thought to the complex web of interrelations through which its consequences will necessarily reverbirate as mere intellectual doctrinaires, armchair revolutionists and academics carrying out, as Weitling said of Marx, ‘closet analysis and criticism far from the suffering world and oppression of the people’. No doubt their Portuguese variants asked of the O Journal Combate comrades, as is still asked of the Situationists and even of Marx ‘But what practical activity did they actually do?’ despite the fact that, through the activities surrounding the publications they practically did more to advance the revolutionary struggle of their time than every little anarcho-trotskyist union official on every continent combined.”
Half-recommended: Series of texts about ecological actions and critiques around the Bradford (UK) area . It should be pointed out that much of this, which potentially covers some vital “lessons” about phoney ecologists, is difficult to understand as the authors don’t seem able or willing to imagine how what they write is going to be read; they don’t want to try to imagine the enormity of questions that arise whilst reading this – in particular, what precisely – concretely – happened in the conflict between them and the eco careerists, Bradford council, and all the rest of the professional genocidal bullshitters, what exactly was said on both sides of this conflict. Without this, quite a bit of this just comes over as someone expressing their anger and some very general aspects of the reasons why they’re angry, but leaving out essentials that make you feel that – yes – they’re almost certainly right, but what in fact happened? Clearly they just aren’t doing what is necessary when writing something public and which one considers important – show it to other people for comments and then, in answering their queries, revising it before publishing it. It’s certainly not a question of “good writing” in the traditional sense of writing something that makes the reader appreciate the aesthetics of style and structure, but of giving the reader the necessary information to clarify things for themselves, striving to achieve some incisive communication that could have some subversive influence.
And also – just to correct something – the pamphlet about the UK’s Winter of Discontent (1978-79) “To Delightful Measures, Changed“ was put together by Red Marriott, not whom they said it was (though he took much of it from other people, including me, as he acknowledges).
This is from a friend living in Bradford who used to know the authors of the article here:
I read much of the Revolt Against Plenty stuff on Shipley, though not all as it was quite hard to follow. I’m afraid they seem to suffer from a disconnectedness that leads to the obvious separation between their struggle for that land and pretty much everyone else in Shipley. So much so that they describe Shipley as “a better off area” or something like that, while the land sits in the poorest, most fucked up and fucked over neighbourhood of the town, and in fact Windhill (East Shipley) is in one of the most deprived 10% of wards in the UK.
They also totally miss what is pretty much the only interesting, important thing about struggle – the relationships that develop within it and its subsequent dynamic relationship with the wider social reality. There were, it seems, no relationships? Just two guys against the world. Losing perspective. The loss of a piece of land is horrendous, but this tale falls outside the realm of social movements and into the realm of atomised individuals angry at the world. Given their long, long experience of struggles, I’m pretty amazed they never attempted to really engage with local people beyond (albeit very good) sloganeering around the site itself. No one I know in Shipley knew this was happening at the time. Would I have collaborated with them over this? Of course. So would many, many people I know. There was a full-on anti-supermarket campaign that defeated two other simultaneous developments in Shipley, including a much tougher council-backed developer, but stepped back on this supermarket and housing proposal because Local people genuinely saw it as jobs, somewhere to buy food etc and half-decent housing in an area desperate for all three. Had we all known the story was more complex, we may have all tried harder to change minds and stuck it out to fight this last one off.
Their documentation of the wildlife and environment was much more interesting and inspiring, though without diminishing the beauty they found, their claims about it being the most biodiverse space in the North are wildly off. The city (and the whole of the industrial north) is littered with these beautiful, fragile and threatened new wildernesses.
Recommended (not on this site): interesting article on squatting and the media
the third day of september – sebokeng, south africa, 30 years ago (an eyewitness account of the Sebokeng Rebellion of 1984, by Johannes Rantete, written in September 1984)
Video of young Israeli refusenik (added to News of Opposition page on 14/8/14, but put under 27/7/14, when video was released)
A radical film about Brazil over the last year has been put up on the “Brazil against the world cup” page, amongst other updates on the situation there.
nous avons les moyens de vous rendre heureux (juillet 2014) – football – le but d’un monde sans but, d’une vie sans but (traduction francaise de “Ve haf vays of making you happy” )
A really interesting comment from a friend about football, below “ve haf vays of making you happy”.
A proper translation (not by me) from the French of “Genocide & Spectacle” is now available as an addendum on the “Brazil against the world cup“ page
soweto ’76 (1978/9) For the 38th anniversary of the uprising that began in Soweto, a previously little-known account of what happened, not before put online; plus a more analytical account taken from “Reflections on the black consciousness movement”
2 comments by “madman”, mainly about Marx and marxists, have been put up on the “you make plans – WE MAKE HISTORY” page.
11/6/14: brazil against the world cup
Recommended articles: “Why I am not an anarchist”, “Have you ever slapped a corpse in the face?” (a different – and differently illustrated – version of South Africa & Some Anarchist Responses to Mandela’s Death, the joint text we wrote here on this site) and a differently illustrated version of “Mandela can go to hell!” (also here on this site) – all available on Siddiq Khan’s “Love Letters Journal” site.
Some comments, probably from Ian Bone, have been put up in the comments section under South Africa & Some Anarchist Responses to Mandela’s Death, with my response.
20/12/13: happy saturnalia and all that! (2013)
13/12/13: mandela can go to hell! (2013)
6/6/13: definitive recuperation of the man who, post-68, made such a spectacle of himself (not a page, but a link)
7/5/13: news of disalienation (1973)
29/4/13: contradictions (1972)
17/4/13: nouvellles de l’opposition (le présent)
6/4/13: comme un été avec mille juillets (1982) (sur les émeutes en royaume-uni en 1981)
16/3/13: aufhebengate again: a response to responses (2013) (this has just been modified – on 18th March – because apparently the “Nihilst Communist” who supposedly posted the links to my text on UK Indymedia wasn’t the person he deliberately, with a deceitful malicious intent, implied he was. My apologies to the Nihilist Communist who I thought it was.)
13/3/13: why we should occupy! (1972)
8/3/13: re-fuse (1978)
6/3/13: call it sleep (1982)
5/3/13: daily riot (1981)
5/3/13: death of john lennon (1981)