To avoid technical problems, this page has been split, so that everything before 2016 is now here: what’s new? 2013 – 2015
Added: an old (2012) text – academia, sociology & the muddle class
Ajouté: Fukushima Paradise
Added: death-CND 50th anniversary coming up of “the death of CND as performed by the Grosvenor Square demonstrators under the direction of themselves alone” (a Solidarity pamphlet)
Added: The double-helixir of life, my translation of La vie en double-hélice A critique focused on the whole notion of predictive medicine – a critique of the accelerating growth of scientific ideology that claims to be able to predict potential “devastating and incurable genetic diseases” and its social function. “Saying what we are has never been an easy task, but the so-called sciences of life have now been able to specialize their language and methods to the point where one has to be a graduate to be officially entitled to try saying what we are. The different aspects of our bodies, our minds and the bridges we build between them, are increasingly concentrated in the hands of laboratory technicians – the only graduates to master them, or to claim they can…Today, everyone is supposed to know that love, intelligence, attention, aggressiveness and a good many other of the innermost depths of human beings are just entities that correspond to this or that part of the brain, this or that flow of molecules, this or that gene. And the scientists themselves know that the “corresponding connections” in question correspond in fact only to the need to organize the stew of vocabulary of the computer technicians, biologists and behaviorists who write the lexicon of the sciences of life…the drive, so assiduously studied and exploited by journalists, to simplify what is fundamentally complex, is shared by almost all people. Among the few things that today’s proles still share is the feeling that the earth is no longer under our feet. Even the largest of illusions last no more than one season. The slightest idea that we manage to create no longer holds true as soon as it is drenched in the cold light of day. As uncertainty grows, the comfort of easy certainties becomes a valuable commodity. The most accessible are the answers of those who busy themselves with asking questions. We ask questions that we have been taught to ask and we get the answers we deserve. Scientific communication is good for this purpose and one feels almost consoled to know that if one is clumsy, it is because we lack a little dopamine to oil the synapses where the brain deals with such sensorimotor functions. It’s always good to know that someone is taking care of us…”
Visitors & visits (the latter seems unreliable: visits here contradict a considerably lower figure for each day given in the form of a chart) in the 3 years since I’ve had a proper hit counter (ie since mid-January 2015; the site began at the end of 2012):
|Last 7 Days (Week):||3,049||76,860|
|Last 30 Days (Month):||13,127||327,292|
|Last 365 Days (Year):||167,644||4,715,578|
Added: the most incisive critique of everything ever (2013) – something I cobbled together on a wet lonely Sunday.
Added to the page on the revolt in Iraqi Kurdistan – information sent by a Kurdish contact by email.
Owing to technical problems, the chronology on the “prisons” page has had to be divided into 2 pages; December 2015 to March 2013, is now here. Some people may find themselves here, the original page which has had to be discarded because, for technical reasons, it can’t be updated.
Another disaster looming? – US military agency invests $100m in genetic extinction technologies
In the comments box below “Suicide or Revolution”, I put this about suicides in China (probably need to scroll down to the bottom to see this).
Number of visitors to this site since January 15th 2015 has now surpassed half a million. For what it’s worth. Visits (to different pages) are over 11 million – but that has no worth whatsoever. Though this site has been running since the very end of December 2012, I didn’t get a visit/visitor counter that worked properly until mid-January 2015.
Added: “Only 28 Shoplifting Days Till…” A celebration of all that’s best at this time of year.
Added: comment by me on “…the return of aaaaghebengate & the libconartists” Scroll down to the last comment if this link somehow doesn’t link directly to it.
More comments on “homage to catatonia” from here onwards (November 5th to 15th)
31/10/17 – 1/11/17:
More comments on “homage to catatonia” from here onwards.
Added to “homage to catatonia”, another load of insults from S.Artesian
Added: a summary of events and attitudes in Catalonia below the text “Homage to Catatonia”
Added: homage to catatonia A reflection on the history of Catalonia and aspects of current events, translated from the French
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
Visits as of 9/1/18: 11675 (visits since 15/1/15)