Crowd Controlling Cop Consultant:
The Strange Case Of
Dr. Johnny And Mr. Drury
(see also the later text “Cop-Out…“)
(Originally published by me, in a bowdlerised form, on Libcom Blog, in mid-October 2011; this final version was produced as a pdf on October 23rd. 2011)
A Case Study In Strange Contradictions – being also a pretext for developing a critique of Psychologism, Academia, Theoreticians and other aspects of the contradictions we live…
“…whichever of one’s multiple identities is salient in relation to the identities of others present.”
– Dr. John Drury: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/affiliates/panic .
Johnny, involved in the publication of Aufheben ever since its inception in the early ’90s, is openly giving lectures on crowd control to the British cops and has written for Jane’s Police Review (see “Chaos Theory”) giving them advice on controlling political demonstrations. This guy also proudly states that his insights, and that of his fellow social psychologists, have been used by the Cabinet Office and by NATO
Life Is What You Fake It
Johnny, to those who know him, defended by Aufheben (http://libcom.org/library/response-tptg) – has probably lied to his Aufheben comrades (footnote 1) – who have been willing dupes – who have then passed on his lies to libcom, who have also been willing dupes – both of them not seriously checking the facts, basically taking Dr.Johnny’s word for it all. When someone is asked if they’re doing something utterly repugnant they innocently reply, putting on their most wide-eyed angelic face and shrugging, “What? Me? I’m as pure as the driven snow, guv – honest”. Now most people wouldn’t take that any more at face value than they would if it was Tony Blair who said it. But, amazingly, it seems that some of those with the pretension to having a well-developed radical critique of this world in fact have the naivety of a 5-year-old.
The proof is here in the ‘Chaos Theory’ article. No need to know the hearsay evidence, the private emails and secret gossip that Aufheben, and libcom admin in their blind faith, have had the pretentious nerve to attribute to others (particularly the TPTG): the facts are all here on the internet.
There is no way that this article can be passed off (as Dr.Johnny has tried to do with other articles) as something written for an academic journal in which his name appeared just because he happened to be part of the research team and naively failed to ask for it to be removed. This was clearly written for Jane’s Police Review to provide advice on how to improve cop crowd control.
So now we know that not only has Dr.Johnny openly given lectures on crowd control to the British cops in Knowledge-based Public Order Policing: Principles and Practice (also available here if you pay for it) but he has also written for Jane’s Police Review (http://www.policereview.com/) designed mainly for cops and those who work with them, giving them advice on controlling political demonstrations. This guy, as the TPTG have pointed out, also proudly states (http://www.sussex.ac.uk/profiles/92858) that his insights, and that of his fellow social psychologists, have been used by the Cabinet Office (interim.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/…/supportingdocumentation1.pdf) and by NATO (footnote 3)
The objectively available facts of the matter are now available from the previously mentioned articles:
He and his fellow cop consultants link specialising in “Crowd Psychology” suggest things like policing demonstrations with tactics such as:
• embedding frontline cops within crowds (whilst keeping riot cops out of sight) who would work in pairs, interacting with the crowd to encourage legal behaviour and discourage illegal actions, gathering information so as to monitor for and quickly react to any risk of illegal acts
• avoiding indiscriminate attacks on crowds so as to divide the violent disorderly sections from the generally more legalistic majority, thus giving the cops an image of legitimacy
• using a ‘dialogue police’ unit, whose officers work before, during and after risky situations to communicate with radical groups and getting the crowd to “self-police” by actively undermining those trying to initiate “trouble” or at the very least making it easier for the cops to deal with them.
In this way they openly declare that they hope to help the cops alleviate their need to use force, particularly by promoting a self-policing culture within demonstrations.
The most explicit article in which this is elaborated is “Chaos Theory”, which appeared in the April 24th 2009 edition of Jane’s Police Review (Volume 117, No. 6026) as the cover story – in response to the uproar over the G20 protests in the City of London, in which newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson was killed by a cop. It starts like this: “Where have the G20 protests left public order policing? Clifford Stott, Stephen Reicher and Dr. John Drury look at how new research into crowd control could have helped officers police the G20 protests.”.
It then goes on to say: “In the leading up to the 2004 European Championships in Portugal, the Home Office provided us with funding to conduct research on the effective management of English fans travelling to continental Europe…
….By collaborating with the Portuguese Public Security Police, this model was implemented for the tournaments in all of Portugal’s major cities.
A central feature of the Portuguese approach was the strategic facilitation of lawful behaviour. The graded tactical model that grew from this strategy began with officers in normal uniform. Riot police were on hand, but were deliberately kept out of sight. Frontline officers were then embedded within crowds (even during events categorised as high risk), working in pairs, interacting and encouraging legitimate behaviour.
As a result, police officers were able to gather information and constantly monitor for, and then react quickly to, emergent risk. By using modern crowd theory and principles in this way the police were able to avoid indiscriminate interventions against large crowds, although they still maintained this as a tactical option.
What was also evident was that in this context of perceived police legitimacy, fans began to ‘self-police’ by actively undermining those trying to initiate trouble or at the very least making it easier for the police to deal with them.
But most important of all, there was an almost total absence of disorder in match cities.
The success of this approach has now been recognised internationally. The research-led model has been adopted by the European Council Working Group in International Police Co-operation and continues to be used across Europe….
… But the approach has implications far wider than football. The Stockholm Police Department has been using this theory to develop their tactics for public order management following the widespread disorder and the death of a protestor during an international summit in Gothenburg in 2001.
Rather than focussing on techniques of corralling crowds, their tactical approach uses a ‘dialogue police’ unit, whose officers work before, during and after high-risk events to communicate with radical groups. What they have found is that this tactical option helps to alleviate the need to use force and promotes a self-policing culture within high-risk crowds.
This unit is already achieving great success. For example, it was used during the recent anti-war demos in Stockholm following Israel’s assault on Gaza in January. The tense demonstrations passed without major incident and the tactic bodes well for any forthcoming international summits in the city.”
And further on the article talks of “the need to move away from the idea that the way to control crowds is to repress them. Crowds can and do contain people who seek to be violent and break the law. But our research suggests that the best way to manage these people is to create environments where they are isolated because the majority of the crowd identifies with police goals.”
The opening paragraphs are as follows:
“Mass containment of crowds during public order incidents may be legally justifiable, but how effective it is in managing crowd dynamics remains open to question….
In the High Court on 23 March 2005, the judge Mr. Justice Tugendhat concluded that the police tactic of surrounding and holding large crowds was legal where it could be justified that there was a threat of violence or damage to property”,(Police Review, 1 April 2005).
The judgement was critical because it freed the way for the Met to use mass containment as a formal part of tactical planning for future incidents, including this month’s G20 protests.
Once intelligence was received that there was a threat to public order at G20, it was therefore almost inevitable that some form of crowd corralling would occur.
Despite widespread predictions of impending chaos, there were no major riots and relatively minor criminal damage. There was even the initial sense that the tactic of forceful containment had been very successful. But within days, the police handling of the G20 protest was the subject of ongoing negative national news headlines.
As Police Review was going to press, police officers’ use of force has been implicated in the death of a member of the public, and two territorial support group officers have been suspended and may face criminal charges. The media has also begun to question the relationship between the police service and society. An IPCC inquiry has begun and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary has been invited to conduct a review of public order tactics.
What is clear is that policing a major event in central London has turned into another critical incident for the service, and the more positive aspects of the operation will be widely ignored.” (emphasis mine).
Dr.Johnny has also written for Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice (http://journals2.scholarsportal.info/details.xqy?uri=/17524512/v01i0004/403_kpoppap.xml) (”A leading policy and practice publication aimed at senior police officers, policy makers, and academics”) as well as Business Continuity Journal (http://www.sussex.ac.uk/affiliates/panic/businesscontinuityjournalvolthreeissuethreeUKstandard.pdf) (“This paper describes some of the latest ideas in the field of mass emergency psychology, and how they can inform best practice in business continuity”)[/i] amongst several other seemingly less controversial publications like The British Journal of Social Psychology (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1348/014466604X18523/abstract), for instance.
Mr. Drury denies co-authoring the article in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice. In the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies, “Well, he would, wouldn’t he?” (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Mandy_Rice-Davies).
Here he says : ”We challenge traditional assumptions about crowd psychology and demonstrate how widespread conflict derives from the interactions between police and crowds. From this, we develop general guidelines as to how policing can reduce crowd violence and lead crowd members themselves to self-police violent groupings in their midst. We then use examples from anti-globalisation protests and the Euro 2004 football championships to show how these guidelines can be applied in practice and how effective they can be. We conclude by arguing that such knowledge-based crowd policing can turn crowd events into opportunities to overcome seemingly intractable conflicts between the police and groups within our society.” [bolded emphases mine].
Well, we’re all forced to produce, or do, crap for our money, but some of us think getting paid for directly giving the State ideas about how to undermine our side in the war against it is not quite cricket. There’s nothing “seemingly intractable” about our conflicts with the State, though all opposition for Dr. Johnny is just seemingly. This garbage is quite the worst bit of recuperative self-contradiction we’ve heard about from “the radical milieu” during our lifetime (footnote 4).
So why are libcom admin and Dr. Johnny’s cohorts in and close to Aufheben so incredibly – wilfully – gullible? It’s not just love and faith that are blind: friendship, abstractly theoretical closeness, the political gang mentality of circling the wagons – all these also, it seems. On reading this, they might well be writhing in acute embarrassment and choking on their own nausea; but the essential lesson to learn is what is it in these “radicals”’ ideological practice that they took the self-assurances of this scumbag for his word? This is undoubtedly a big scandal in a small pond, but if we are to make waves, then we have to begin with the radical current in which we’re mired.
The first contribution of these sleepwalkers to the social movements beginning to wake up from the stupor of the spectacle is to consider and subvert the social relations they directly tolerated themselves, the daily life that led them to believe that with Dr. Johnny what you see is what you get. Like all forms of false consciousness, such a degree of denial, of naivety, stems from a persistently repeated self-repression of what is semi-conscious: the niggling questioning at the back of each individual’s mind that says “doubt everything” (and doubt everything not just through some, often arbitrary intellectual negativism but through practical experiment and enquiry with clear goals). And such doubt should firstly be for yourself, not necessarily with the immediate support of all those you have automatically trusted up until now. In this case, such a doubt should lead to the recognition that the unbelievable truth is stranger than fiction – the absurdity that an “anti-state communist” is – like the Alec Guinness character in “Bridge on the River Kwai” – giving what he claims are his enemies ideas to help them repress his ostensible antagonistic perspective.
Much of the content of the articles for The British Journal of Social Psychology are simply petty recuperation for academics of the most obvious aspects of social movements, which anybody who participates in such movements is well aware of – that they provide a feeling of empowerment, for example – ”empowerment” being a typical socio-psychological buzz word. Or such inoffensive pretentious waffle as: ”I have sought to problematize such accounts and hence suggest a language for the crowd that recognizes and indeed celebrates its positive role in the social world.”
This social psychological discourse is indicative of the fundamental use of all forms of psychology (whether ”crowd psychology” or some other category): the reform of, and adaptation to, the objective forces maintaining the misery of social relationships. When this misery appears to be inevitable and unresolvable – because the whole notion of a revolutionary attack on hierarchical social relations seems unrealistically utopian – psychology functions as an apparent individualised solace and mode of reconciliation to these ”seemingly intractable” contradictions, and in this process gives the individual the illusion of progress. Yet, as many a psychoanalyst has discovered, the ‘patient’ even when s/he seems to be making a breakthrough, falls back into their separate misery, the progress they seemed to be making falling into a vast void. Because all “psychological” explanations maintain the individual as an isolated separate individual facing the material basis of this separation as if it was beyond contestation. In this, pacifism and psychologism – both reducing furious expressions against the existing world to mere individual &/or ideological pathology – are allies (footnote 5).
In the past, “psychology as a serious academic or professional discipline – as a field with credible pretensions to being a science – could only exist as long as private life could be studied as a self-contained entity…As soon as the misery of private life becomes something social – not something you hide – therapy becomes a mass commodity, as vulgar in its manifestations as different styles of shoes and equally prolific…The mass proliferation of therapies-for-sale has less to do with ideas than with the general recognition of the social misery of private life, and the concomitant search for individual solutions which are less demanding than a full scale attack on the objective bases of that misery” – Chris Shutes, “On the Poverty of Berkeley Life”, 1983. But given the explosive return of a revolutionary answer to the social question, provoked by a fundamentally irrational system on the verge of an even Greater Depression than that of the 30s, driving those who submit to it increasingly mad, people are beginning to discover that confronting the social bases of their neuroses, depressions, suicidal tendencies and creeping insanity means participating in crowds involved in sometimes violent attacks on some of the symptoms of their misery. Here “crowd psychology” enters the fray to calm the hotheads. And to try to reinforce the material basis for depression, neurosis, etc.
Reformist psychology speaks of ”empowerment” as just a momentary feeling of power, which derives from being part of a crowd. The crowd having departed, the task is then to get into some other immediate feeling. This is a bit like the dominant taming of the originally fundamentally critical concept of “alienation”: in this now common usage, it has nothing to do with an objectively imposed social relation, merely an individual feeling. In the same way, the struggle against alienation is reduced to merely a feeling of empowerment, not a subjective force against the alien world where proletarians refuse to alienate their powers to an external authority. So it aims to limit this ”empowerment” to firstly fitting into the social straitjacket of this society’s notion of social acceptability and only then loosening some of the belts so as to be able to wriggle around within the tiny margin of freedom this loosened straitjacket gives you. This is the social acceptability that represses rage – e.g. those in demonstrations who are just there to have a particular notion of fun little different from what they’d try to get at a music festival.
In this margin of separate ”freedom”, art therapy, music therapy, primal scream therapy become forms of anger management: painting, playing with ones musical talents, screaming etc. have to be compartmentalised by this society because this society – sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously – represses all tendencies to break out of separations. These aspects of self-expression only become forces of a tendency to a unified expression when people overcome their avoidance of confronting the material social relations that make them depressed and isolated. The best graffiti, the best music, the best screams are in uprisings.
Outside the moments when contestation becomes a mass movement, we all are forced to adapt most of the time, and there’s an increasingly strict limit to how much as an individual one can refuse such adaptation. But within the fragment of freedom that bourgeois ”democracy” permits, one can act in a way that is both individually therapeutic and helps advance one’s understanding of the world we’re up against, in a way which is a practical critique of reformist psychologism and its constraints. Subverting the tendency to reformism and psychologism in one’s social relations involves subverting one’s own resistances to rational practical analysis. It involves advancing into the unknown, struggling to break with the past. An element of ”freedom of speech” in a bourgeois democracy allows individuals to express, at least verbally, the violence (as well as the affection) they’d like, given possible circumstances, to express against this stupid world more passionately. What could seriously happen from subverting some spectacle or other, from expressing to other proletarians (though not to your boss), in angry words and some non-violent acts, your point of view unsupported by external authority? What could seriously happen in directly, even if within socially constraining circumscribed boundaries, articulating your desires and hatred of the system? For the moment at least, for most of the time, the worst that could happen is to get into a bit of a fight. However, beyond that necessary margin of pre-revolutionary experimentation, all practical expressions of a ”nothing left to lose” desperation on a mass scale seriously threaten the powers-that-be, who have good reason to imagine that their world is unquestionable. Mr. Drury’s “guidelines as to how policing can reduce crowd violence and lead crowd members themselves to self-police violent groupings in their midst.” is inseparable from the psychological jargon of ”empowerment”, ”empowerment” defined as being within the prescribed notions of repressive power that acceptance or reform of this society’s roles and rules provide. This analysis should clarify why writing for The British Journal of Social Psychology or Business Continuity Journal and Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice or Jane’s Police Review are utterly compatible, mutually reinforcing each other.
In February 2009, Dr. Johnny participated in a 2-day conference-cum-training course ”Designed Specifically for Operational Police Officers” called ”Policing major incidents: major events, public disorder and mass emergencies”. (footnote 6)
Each day was singly available for £350 per person or both as a two day block at the knock-down price of £550. Your guess is as good as mine as to how much of this small change went to Dr. Johnny.
But you might have a better chance of guessing that the following advice to our enemies could put more than just food on the table:
‘With the dangers posed by terrorism and global warming the effective management of public order during major incidents and events is perhaps one of the primary policing challenges of the twenty first century. This professional development course is designed to respond to this challenge by bringing together leading academics and police practitioners to outline the latest knowledge, research and practice. …Block one focuses upon theory and research and involves a series of lectures from the world’s leading scientific researchers on the psychology of crowd events as this relates to the policing of political demonstrations, urban riots, football, mass emergencies and disasters. These include Prof Stephen Reicher (St Andrews University), Dr. Clifford Stott (University of Liverpool) and Dr. John Drury (University of Sussex). There will also be presentations from Kenny Scott ex-Supt Strathclyde Police and now UEFA delegate and Stadium Manager for Ibrox.
…Block two concentrates on police practice and will contain presentations from Dr. Clifford Stott, James Hogget and police officers who hold unprecedented levels of experience with respect to policing public order in the U.K. These include: Supt. Roger Evans Deputy Commander of the Met Police Territorial Support Group; Chief Inspector Richard Woolford, Police Commander at the Emirates Stadium; Supt. Alan King CBRN [Samotnaf note:check out this link: http://www.icbrnevents.com/past-events/the-hague-2009] policy co- ordinator in London and from South Wales Police on the role of FIOs in the management of high risk fan groups. …
For further details please contact Dr. Clifford Stott, School of Psychology, Bedford Street South, Liverpool. L69 7ZA.
Tel +44 (0)151 794 1417 email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the course website : http://www.majorincidents.org.uk.”
A letter, from Clifford Stott of Liverpool University, the aforementioned guy Mr. Drury often does research with, writes papers and shares ‘crowd psychology/control’ lecture platforms with, who obviously feed off each others’ research, appeared in the London Evening Standard on 29 March 2011. Commenting on the March 26th demo and a story the previous day about “ring of steel” security preparations for the royal wedding, he advises:
“UK public order policing remains limited in its reliance on arrest, dispersal or containment tactics. If research on crowd behaviour is anything to go by, the way to avoid “anarchy” during the royal wedding is not to increase already draconian stop and search powers but to focus on developing the police capability to work with potentially hostile crowds through dialogue.
This “graded” approach was central to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary recommendations following the G20 protests and has a proven track record. Liaison officers were deployed for protests at this month’s Lib-Dem spring conference who were trained negotiators able to deal effectively with emerging tensions. It is unlikely we can avoid scenes of confrontation in the “age of austerity” but at least we should try to learn from past mistakes.” (footnote 7)
The cops in the UK follow a very long tradition of ruling class 2-faced hypocrisy – the diplomacy that stole whole countries and at one time had the biggest Empire in the world, the white men that talked with forked tongue, aided now by social psychologists specialising in crowd control. UK cops have always presented themselves, and been presented by the dominant ideology, as “the best police in the world”, apparently unarmed and always ready for a chat. The best PR in the world. Generally speaking on demos they’ll have the nice polite police saying in charming dulcet tones, “Will you please move back now”, whilst the riot pigs are ready behind these front lines, ready to do their worst if you don’t move back.
Added, 20/10/2011: Drury & co.s work appears like something obvious to those of us who aren’t cops, but cops are not known for their grasp of the obvious. The results of their research, as applied to the more culturally embedded two-faced mentality amongst cops in the UK, is a slight extension of what UK cops have often done up to now – but by making explictly conscious what has been bit by bit partly and haphazardly practiced spontaneously and only semi-consciously over the last 20 years, it helps give a mildly original focus to UK cop training (though it would take some intensified training for such ideas to be applied consistently). But their suggested future application for many countries, such as Greece, are far more overtly innovative. Incidentally, a current expression of the institutionalised hypocrisy of the British police is the fact that loads of cops are saying how they support the strikes and are against the cuts, etc: if they apparently support the cause – at least until their own position is secured – it’s better than a riot shield, deflecting any anger before it’s even begun to be expressed, disarming the flak8 ; similarly, Aufheben occasionally declares itself critical of the University, particularly of academic recuperators9
Dr.Nice and Mr.Nasty
“Though so profound a double-dealer, I was in no sense a hypocrite; both sides of me were in dead earnest; I was no more myself when I laid aside restraint and plunged in shame, than when I laboured, in the eye of day, at the furtherance of knowledge or the relief of sorrow and suffering. And it chanced that the direction of my scientific studies, which led wholly towards the mystic and the transcendental, reacted and shed a strong light on this consciousness of the perennieal war among my members. With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two. I say two, because the state of my own knowledge does not pass beyond that point…..I hazard the guess that man will be ultimately known for a mere polity of multifarious incongruous and independent denizens. I, for my part, from the nature of my life, advanced infallibly in one direction and in one direction only. It was on the moral side, and in my own person, that I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both; and from an early date, even before the course of my scientific discoveries had begun to suggest the most naked possibility of such a miracle, I had learned to dwell with pleasure, as a beloved daydream, on the thought of the separation of the elements. If each, I told myself, could but be housed in separate identities, life would be relieved of all that was unbearable; the unjust might go his own way, delivered from the aspirations and remorse of his more upright twin; and the just could walk steadfastly and securely on his upward path, doing the good things in which he found his pleasure, and no longer exposed to disgrace and penitence by the hands of this extraneous evil.” – R.L.Stevenson, The Strange Case Of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde .
“In order to communicate their critique…revolutionaries will have to come to terms with the roots of their own alienation, their own production and consumption of the society of the spectacle. They can no longer talk only of the work and leisure of others without first comprehending what they themselves do and observe, and not simply as a necessary evil, but as the essential raw material of their revolt. This does not entail an acceptance of the equality of alienation. On the contrary, it is based on a comprehension of the overriding criterion by which individual action must be judged: its impact on class society.” – Isaac Cronin, ”The American Situationists”, 1978.
Within everyone there’s a Jekyll and Hyde which is the superficial fictionalised expression of the contradiction of bourgeois normality: the respectable face hiding the brutal reality. Business(wo)men and other gangsters justify some repugnant act or other with “Nothing personal…”. Whilst the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie is both a result and part of the culture of their easier life, it is essentially an image, a role, a way for the ruling class to hide from itself and from others its fundamental inhumanity, its reification of human beings: ”No one likes to think of themselves as a bad person” says Ripley in the movie The Talented Mr.Ripley, after he’s murdered a couple of people. It has been said that Dr. Johnny is a nice guy and one may wonder if this is one of the reasons why his ‘comrades’ and former comrades-in-the-know have repressed their denunciation of his other persona – Mr. Drury, his overtly inhuman side, have trusted his version of events, taken it at 2-faced value.
‘Niceness’ is a part of the spectacle if it’s not a genuine expression of affection, of a struggle for friendly recognition against this world which, in reducing people to commodities (or obsolete commodities), represses warmth, consideration, generosity and empathy. “Empathy” becomes something you remind yourself you really ought to show. ‘Niceness’, when it lacks a basic integrity, is a facade, the path of least resistance, a way of getting by with the least aggravation as possible. Encouraged by capital objectively, which needs an increasing chameleon-like malleability of its ‘flexible’ workforce, subjectively it’s expressive of an increasing absence of any point of view and of the will to hold to it. On the other hand, people react to the social pressure to be nicely masochistic by being nastily sadistic. Here, Mr.Hyde takes the form of spiteful, resentful malice, embittered put-downs, bottomless contempt, deceitful distortions of those you fall out with or just plain psychotic viciousness that are as much part of the petty soul-destroying exhaustion of the war of each against all as the more obviously recognised hierarchical attitudes such as racism, homophobia, mysogeny or its ideological feminist anti-male equivalent. ‘Nice’ & ‘Nasty’ are just different aspects of character, in Reich’s sense of the term (footnote 10) – a defence against communication, a will to separation. Going beyond an indiscriminate niceness, wanting to pretend separations don’t exist, and a directionless nastiness, wanting to intensify separations, involves confronting the contradictions and their material base, constantly recognising them within yourself and recognising how the alien forces of the commodity inevitably produces and encourages this just so long as one doesn’t attempt to develop one’s authentic humanity against these forces. Mr. Drury’s well-paid unnecessary compromises, if accepted, intensify the contradiction, and justify it in social psychological jargon: ‘We have used an original experimental paradigm to explore the way that one’s ‘tolerance’ for crowding, or ‘personal space’, isn’t a given of situation, person or culture, but is variable depending on whichever of one’s multiple identities is salient in relation to the identities of others present.” (from: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/affiliates/panic ). Or, to be succinct, ”Our research shows us how to be 2-faced bastards”. But a constantly renewed struggle against the ”multiple” totality of ones alien and contradictory identities is also one against the alienated 2-faceted nature of spectacular society: the exhausting repression of its constraints, and the glittering
falsity of its seductions. We are partly complicit in these miseries, partly by unnecessary choice, on top of the fact that we’re unavoidably forced to repress and distort our real desires. Within the given varying margins of freedom any particular social situation allows us, this struggle develops inseparably a “nice” generous warmth and critical openness towards one’s fellow proletarians as well the “nasty” violent raging ”monster” of proletarian violence against our enemies and a usually less physical expression of this rage against the reproduction of our enemies’ attitudes amongst our friends and fellow proletarians. This is a way of defining the proletarian expression of the process ofsuperceding the Jekyll and Hyde contradiction, of a struggle for suppressing our own ”multiple identities” in the struggle for unity, for mutual recognition.
Academia: Product & Producer of The Division of Labour
”The need for money is thus the real need produced by political economy and the only need it produces” – Marx (Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts).
”The only need produced by the spectacle is the need for submission” – The Situationist International.
The only need created by the spectacle of rebellion is the need to preserve the thrill of refusal and the security of submission at one and the same time. 20 years or so of counter-revolution, which is only now beginning to be challenged, has nurtured this contradiction to the point where the dominant TV shows for teenagers, the dominant spectacle of rebellion, (The Simpsons, Misfits, Skins, etc.) continue to try recuperating, often with a great deal of genuine wit, almost everything of radical critique that has ever popped up through innovative experiment and adolescent audacity.
Unlike TV shows, academia, however, recuperates in a way that has the appearance of a serious challenge to society. Academic Marxians have merely interpreted the struggle against this world; the point, however, is to help change and advance these struggles. Frederick the Great said : ”Complain all you want but do as you’re told”. Not much has changed since then – the democratic spectacle, of which the spectacle of theory as represented by Dr. Johnny has become a part, says, ”Critique all you want – but collaborate like fuck – you need the money”.
Since the 90s academics and journalists have been uncritically tolerated by some younger politicos/activists far more than previously. Critiques of processes of recuperation are ignored, shrugged off. The vast decline of class struggle in the UK since the 80s has encouraged the emergence of activists (many from university) for whom class struggle, in its marginality, has remained largely intellectual and abstract. These activists often reacted to the limitations of activism by turning to its flip-side – theorism, without recognising the basis of their previous activism as being the fact that the practical critique of daily life at work and elsewhere was being greatly repressed by the increasing atomisation and defeat at the hands of the neo-liberal project (”Thatcherism”/”Blairism”) of the seriously consequential class revolts that had been contesting it. With the project of the self-emancipation of the working class greatly repressed for a generation, the appearance of radical critique seemed compatible with the ultra-left of the University ivory tower. In the 60s a critique of the University (http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/poverty.htm) (footnote 11) significantly contributed to the social explosions in France, May ’68 (e.g. 11http://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/enrages.html. ) There were a few leftist academics who supported and participated in student movements and consequently were fired (eg Robin Blackburn of New Left Review fame, who got the sack from his job at LSE for supporting the ”vandalistic” dismantling of gates designed to suppress and control student occupations). Anglophone academia certainly produced some interesting historians and social critics on the Left (e.g. Zinn, Chomsky, Portis from the USA, E.P.Thompson, Christopher Hill, Tom Nairn and others in the UK) but what they had to say about immediate history and social contradictions that was any independent use to the movement of social contestation could have mostly been written on the back of a postage stamp. Admittedly there are occasional exceptions to this – e.g. Mike Davies – but their need for an acceptable image of radicality, their alternative celebrity status as social critics, generally , though not always, obviated any direct participation in concrete social contestation.
(Unlike these professionals, Aufheben, as a project not directly linked to a career, has clearly made at times some very interesting analyses of contemporary social movements, though often with an eye to being the ultra-ultra-left for University students, in rivalry with the less ”radical” marxists, and particularly with an eye to gathering together a following of devotees admiring hierarchically the intellectual versatility of these theoreticians – rather than genuinely influencing subversive activity).
Those who weren’t leftists or anarcho-leftists (in the sense of having very definite positions either as paid ideologues or as political organisers) recognised that theory and an ideological career were incompatible, and at the very least, should be kept clearly separate. Those who thought you could combine the two became ”radical sociologists”, ”radical psychologists”, ”radical architects”, ”radical social workers”, ”radical philosophers”, etc. No-one, however, suggested you could combine bricklaying as a means of survival and that the work itself could be radical. Anyone thinking they could consistently make money out of building walls in the form of an ”A” in a circle, or chiselling ”Abolish wage slavery!” into their bricks would have been seen as slightly eccentric and virtually unempoyable (except if they’d defined themselves as “artists”). When the more obviously proletarian workers revolted it was usually against their work, not an attempt to dress it up as something subversive in itself. The few genuine radicals who briefly flirted with a career in academia, particularly those from more proletarianised backgrounds, quickly gave it up because it was doing their head in. The domination by intellectual concepts (as opposed to dominating and applying such concepts where subversively useful) and by having to endure the artificial up-in-the-air conversations, the teaching of people who you knew would expropriate your ideas and turn them against you – all this just tore them away from the reality they still wanted to challenge and change, and not justtalk about challenging and changing.
(One very unpleasant example of a “radical” academic was a woman who got her street cred from squatting and participating in things radical before embarking on her career lecturing in this radical past experience much to the admiration of many a naive student; when she decided to totally prevent the father of her kid, from whom she’d separated, from having any access to him she went to court showing the judge all the terrible radical things he’d written and participated in, hoping the judge would thereby deem him an unsuitable father and banish him from all chance of having such a terrible influence over his own child; fortunately the ploy didn’t work, but she still continued giving lectures in “radical” stuff; but this personally disgusting hypocrisy is easily dwarfed by Mr. Drury’s far more socially consequential vocational activity).
The spectacle’s division of labour allots to its most precocious intellectual strata the task of presenting its image of struggle (footnote 12) in order to preserve the reality of the division of labour, of proletarian misery. One graphic concrete example of this comes to mind. There’s a film of Chomsky giving an ok lecture deconstructing the contradictions of US foreign policy, surrounded by fawning fans avid for his autograph. He leaves with his wife, who both step into a smart black limousine, driven by his chauffeur. Nevertheless, in saying that we need to keep theory and one’s mode of survival separate (except insofar as we subvert this mode of survival), we think the utter schizophrenia of Dr. Johnny and Mr. Drury is carrying such an insight a little too far. This sitting on the very spikey fence slices him in two (footnote14). Even highly compromised academics like Chomsky would most definitely balk at such crude hypocrisy. Even Adorno, who famously called the cops on students who’d occupied his faculty and disrupted his lectures (and then later complained that the students had taken seriously and practically what he’d merely intended to be philosophical constructs), would have probably felt a little uncomfortable making a career out of helping the cops.
There are building workers who refuse to participate in the building of prisons. There are building workers who help build prisons but put sugar or something else in the cement so that the walls crumble. And there are building workers, with far less integrity, who participate in the building of prisons and don’t sabotage their shitty job. But even amongst the latter, not one of them publicly puts their name to it, not one of them inscribes their signature onto the prison bars. Intellectual cadres, however, are always proud of their alienated labour, and wholly identify with it, even when it’s so alienated it goes totally against everything they claim to stand for.
Let no-one say ideological work is the same as building work or working in a hospital or a call centre: the hierarchical division of labour has always meant that capitalism, even in its initial development, wasn’t just capital but was also an “ism”. It meant that, as well as an armed and economic force, it was also an ideology brutally materialised. Ideas for the ruling class, developed by professional intellectuals, were not “merely” ideas any more than religion, developed by the priesthood before the bourgeoisie, was “merely” religion. The threats to this hierarchical division of labour since WWl has resulted in ideology, colonising the potential destroyers of class society with self-policing, becoming a far more useful force, especially for the richer capitalist countries, than bullets or truncheons, a necessary support for the physical, mental and financial pain and death inflicted by capital.
In all the debate about Stott, Reicher and Drury’s critical insights into how better to divide and rule potentially subversive crowds, there’s an ideology that says their ideas are simply “idealist” without concrete effect. Various police forces throughout Europe differ: they claim that their ideas have helped them, though one could disingenuously put this down to just politeness. They asked and paid these researchers to do this, so they have to pretend what they’ve done is useful. Be that as it may, all “idealism” takes time to have an influence: rank and file cops may not find it easy to control their power-mad desires indiscriminately, but, given time and training, their commanders could bring them into line. Besides, even if it had no material influence whatsoever, if I were to publish “all blacks, homosexuals and anti-capitalists should be sent to the gas chamber”, forced to do it as part of my wage labour for The University Of Goebellstadt, it’s not something that should endear me to “communists”.
In fact, this dismissal of this so-called “liberal-reformist” ideology as idealist without material influence is more likely to be a projection of the feeling of these “libertarian communists” of the utter inconsequence of their own ideas.
Moreover, how “liberal/reformist” are these ideas? They’re not just there to stop cops being violent – on the contrary, this team don’t care about them being violent towards “troublemakers” – what they want is for the cops to discriminate between the troublemakers and the rest so that the rest don’t then take up a more radical attitude, so they say, like so many did after March 26th in London, “the troublemakers deserve what they get because they hijack our nice A to B demo and bring us peaceful protesters into disrepute.” They want the cops to act softly softly to those softies who pose no threat, to divide them violently from those who do.
There’s a great deal of repetition of the same good cop/bad cop theme in Dr. Johnny’s word production assembly line, with hardly even a nuance of style to tell them apart. Bad cop: batter the crowd indiscriminately/Good cop: distinguish between the Angelic and the Devilish demonstrators – word muzak endlessly duplicated. Academia demands of its professional ideologists that they churn out a certain amount of publications per annum. So what better way to earn a professional’s salary than to cut and paste, change a word or two here and there, and then present this accumulated rearrangement of the same text as lots of different original contributions. Looks great on his CV.
As with much academic research, academics are paid vast amounts to provide discourses with fashionable vocabulary which, if they say anything at all, in fact say what everybody with a little suss has known for years. The contradiction for this guy though, is Aufheben’s constant attacks on academic recuperators. It takes one to know one, I suppose. Now how much of this charming advice to our enemies ”can be applied in practice and how effective they can be” (from “Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice”) remains to be seen: generally speaking, the intellectual is paid to supply the rulers with remedies for their sick world, but in fact, they usually, up until this epoch, have got very little from their investment which is of directly concrete value. Often, academics are subsidised because, if nothing else, they demonstrate the well-paid rewards of thought without consequence, consequence being a hazardous risk, which could quite upset the security of their niche. Nevertheless, in this case the ideas such creeps have provided do help cop spokesmen with articulating a recuperative discourse, and in the case of some of these particular articles, will have helped practically, and will continue to help practically, the rulers’ divide and rule tactics, leading ”crowd members themselves to self-police violent groupings in their midst” . Fluffies against spikeys. Divide and rule. Conflicts reduced to the “seemingly intractable”.
Gone are the days when researchers were funded for such whimsical questions as why the Dutch tend to lose left foot shoes at sea as compared to the Scots who tend to lose right foot shoes at sea. The kind of questions that gave rise to phrases such as “It’s purely academic”. Academics will less and less be paid to display their eccentric impotence, asking a thousand more questions than they can answer, but will increasingly have to justify their inflated salaries by providing this society with at least temporary answers to its intensified contradictions, and will find less and less career opportunities if they don’t. Academics like Drury who mix amongst radical scenes and feed off what’s original there help academia shake off its musty cobwebs of irrelevance and clothe themselves with innovative insights, to help spawn an even more nuanced repression than before.
Such as this, for the most part, suffocating socio-psychobabble : http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=_TYat3j1VMUC&oi=fnd&pg=PA229#v=onepage&q&f=false It’s innovative insofar as it clearly expresses an ideological valorisation of the professional revolutionary researcher. The text, written by Dr. John Drury and Carla Willig, is about the resistance to the M11 link road in Wanstead in London, 1993. Take a look at this part of the article (where he refers to himself in the 3rd person – as “the researcher”), the only bit that doesn’t make you feel your brain, throat and thyroids have rapidly clogged up with quick-drying plaster: “One of the criteria for choosing the anti-road campaign for the research project was that it was one for which the researcher already had sympathies. As a ‘political subject’ he would not have chosen to research a movement in which he would not have taken part anyway…The researcher had already been participating in campaign actions and collecting material for over a month previously. He participated in resisting…by sitting down with the rest of the crowd and being forcibly ejected by the police. He then remained with the crowd, which attempted to block the road contractors’ vehicles and breach police lines for most of the rest of the event, which lasted around 12 hours… It was precisely because Dr. Drury was known personally to the anti-road participants as “one of that campaign” that people were willing to cooperate with him in these ways…So many participants were willing to donate their time: 56 people were interviewed in relation to the event… The researcher could not have expected people who were making such a commitment to the anti-road campaign to cooperate with him in these ways unless he was on their side…If he were simply in it for his career, he would have been seen (correctly) as a parasite.”
History is full of people who participated and risked themselves in radical activity even as they transformed this (or already were) into a professional radical role: Bolsheviks, trade union leaders, artists, musicians, etc. The point is not whether their insights or ‘creative expressions’ had some quality or not (look at what Aufheben wrote about this particular anti-roads protest : http://libcom.org/library/m11-anti-road-aufheben – it’s pretty excellent); the point is that they were expressive of an acceptance of the contradiction of wanting their cake and eating it, wanting their critique and swallowing it. Imagine going along to a confrontation with the state with the express purpose of writing about it as part of your job at the same time as identifying with it – seeing it as necessary to get stuck in, in part to maintain credibility with those who were the object of your study. It’s a form of self-recuperation – and, indeed, at that time a couple of radicals got angry with Aufheben because Dr. Johnny was doing just that; unfortunately they didn’t take this to a more public level; otherwise, the result might have been that Drury would have thought twice about the later development of his career.
Aufheben have criticised Harry Cleaver for his desire to be “a radical academic” but here comes Mr Drury precisely advocating this role. On his official blog, The Crowd (http://drury-sussex-the-crowd.blogspot.com/2011/01/psychology-and-politics-of-going-native.html ) Drury refers, at the beginning of this year, to this activity in Wanstead in his comments about the cop informer Mark Kennedy “going native”: “I was reminded on hearing this story of an episode in my ethnographic research study of the ‘No M11’ campaign…Here too I was studying a type of psychological change that occurred in people involved in an environmental direct action campaign. Wanstead residents objected to their local green being dug up for the construction of a trunk road. They changed on a number of levels. They came to see themselves as in the ‘same group’ as the ‘activists’ who had come to the area for the protest…They therefore came to see themselves as different from their local neighbours who stood passively by and watched the loss of green space. They also adopted a much more critical view of the police force: when previously the police had been seen as neutral or a protector of their individual rights, now they were seen as agents of unpopular government policy and hence ‘political.’…The (unintended) consequence of the ‘locals’ acting ‘with’ the rest of the crowd was police action which served to impose a common experience (of ‘illegitimate attack’) on all, such that the distinction between ‘activist’ and ‘local’ could no longer be easily sustained.” On its own, this observation might seem as neutral as the cops in this conflict seemed to the locals before their role became clear. In the light of Mr. Drury’s social function as a cop consultant, the implication, yet again, is that the cops should be more careful in future if they want to maintain a divide and rule. But the point in quoting all this is to show how from little acorns of fairly minor self-contradictory forms of self-recuperation, mighty oaks of nasty collaboration with the state grow. We should be very vigilant with today’s self-recuperators, particularly when we see ourselves and our friends or comrades doing some minor form of recuperation. And we should nip these acorns in the bud.
Interestingly in this The Crowd blog of his, he compares himself with Mark Kennedy, who he speculates possibly “went native”: “What about me? When I carried out my ethnographic study, did I come to adopt the worldview of those I studied? Before answering this directly, let’s point out the two most obvious differences between undercover police officers and ethnographers in the environmental direct action movement. First and most obviously, the police officer is undercover for a reason – because his or her aim is to find (or, it is alleged, create) ‘intelligence’ for the purposes of disruption…The social scientific ethnographer is usually neutral or sympathetic…is not usually covert…There are practical as well as ethical reasons why most declare themselves to those whose worlds they are researching. For one thing, trying to hide one’s true aims or identity risks discovery, anger and physical assault [my emphasis]…So did I ‘go native’ in my analysis?…For my research, I wanted to understand something of the police view of ‘the crowd’ just as much as I wanted to document and analyse the protesters’ views. By adoption of an ethnographic framework – involving interviews, observations, soundtrack recordings, and collection of archive material – I was able to achieve both things.” I’ll leave it to the reader to develop some reflections on this very peculiar reflection by Drury of himself, of how he gives a positive value to his contradictions. (footnote Oct16).
Is it really extraordinary that, even after the end of the cold war, the State continues to spend millions on academic marxism? Certainly there may well be several reasons, but probably a significant one is because it helps some sections of the State develop a certain apparently sympathetic discourse, seemingly critical of aspects of its policies, and so gives people some illusions in some external saviour – hope and confidence that at least some of those at the top (top cops, journalists, even politicians, maybe) aren’t as out-of-touch as the toffs who used to go to Eton.
The End Of Theory
Theory As An End
Theory As A Means To An End?
”The question can only be posed in terms of a sufficient critique of everyday life, when activity no longer separates itself from this critique…critical activity…is envisioned…in a narrow manner, as essentially written and public production. This written production is considered not as one necessary and natural moment in the ensemble of the work of the negative… but as its whole. Even those who in speaking and writing pose the critique of everyday life as central can ignore the critique of their everyday lives. And it is only because it is envisioned as separate activity – by its spectators and all too often by its producers – that theoretical activity is considered prestigious” – Nadine Bloch, ”All Things Considered”, 1976.
Aufheben have certainly produced some good analysis – particularly the stuff during the 1990s – e.g the really excellent text on the Rodney King uprising in the USA in 1992 or the insights into the intifadas in Palestine, and much of the texts on social movements, like the anti-globalisation protest, or, as I’ve already said, the roads protests of the 1990s.
Yet I have increasingly found, as it settled into a regular annual journal, that it’s become ”interesting in a boring way” (i.e. factually informative, even with some clear accurate analysis considered in “objective” terms, but stylistically tiring).
What is the basis for this doggedly pedantically correct research, this almost anally obsessive fear of being caught out in some minor infringement of theoretical imprecision or imperfection, constantly turning in on itself? It’s often a ”self” that is so fearfully conservative it is incapable of taking risks even in writing. This is not to imply one shouldn’t aim to be accurate in one’s research and analysis, just that pedantry misses the aim of analysis – to push discussion and activity further, to agitate – oneself, others and inseparably ones relation to others. Their focus almost entirely on the ”objective” even to the point that the ”subjective” is treated merely as a Marxian category (”the proletarian subject”) in order to critique the more vulgar marxist ”materialists”, hides the most basic absence of personal integrity on the part of Mr. Drury, presumably because ”personal integrity” is not a historically materialist concept, certainly not one which Marx ever mentioned and can be smugly dismissed as “moralism”. On the part of the rest of the Aufheben crew, this absence of subjectivity comes from a standardised “house-style” imposed collectively. Here, a long-entrenched family based on familiar routine unemotional theorising has become a fixed unquestioned reference point draining the confidence of all individual initiative. The result is an increasingly tedious way of writing, complete with a heavy manner which summarises the rest of the article before you’ve got to it, and then even after just in case you’ve forgotten what came before. It’s a style expressive, in written form, of the monologue of the lecture hall, where largely passive students have to be told what’s just been said and what’s going to be said in order to make them understand the point of what’s being said, to hold their attention, to keep them obediently taking notes and not falling asleep. In a radical dialogue such a “perfectionist” way of expressing oneself is impossible, because both sides are learning and teaching at one and the same time. This is not to say that subversive writing should be like speech, obviously; but it should be open-ended, subject to correction by acts and discussion, launching into the unknown. Not defined by the need to be “definitive” in a way that freezes the flow of movements into as yet unfathomed waters.
For the most part, Aufheben’s increasingly uniform style of reminding you of what’s just been said and signalling what’s to come is an intellectual representation which hides a very real absence of trying to know where they’re going, and where they’ve been, in fact. Here, the theoreticianist absence of any experimental practice based on a confrontation with past limitations and a strategy for the future which is more than just ”what shall we produce in time for the bookfair this October ?” is coupled with the absence of even the most basic simple honest communication in everyday life. ”Everyday life” becomes a concept, not a reality where the struggles and contradictions are argued about and played out. No wonder they were so sneeringly dismissive of Vaneigem’s ”The Revolution of Everyday Life”: despite its weaknesses and limitations, its excessive rhetoric and elements of mysticism, partly arising from the limited struggles of its epoch (it was completed in 1965), it at least posed things in terms of the basics of daily life experience, of isolation and humiliation, of the critique of roles and the subjective experience of separation, etc. And the notion of “reversing perspective” – beginning again and again with the relentless struggle to see the world through one’s own eyes – is perceived by these arrogantly petrified perfectionists as useless.
Probably, none of Dr. Drury’s co-participants knew a thing about his other life. It’s not even as though it was kept secret – like Poe’s ”Purloined Letter ”, it’s all on public display where you least expect it , out there ready to be perused by the likes of me or you (footnote 13). The fact that these people are so uncommunicative that they obviously hardly even discussed their work, the labour they bang on about when it comes to analysing others, says much for their ”communism”. And the fact that, unlike the letter purloined in Poe’s short story, almost certainly Dr. Johnny had no intention of ”hiding” himself so publicly indicates a blissful lack of awareness of his virtually unprecedented betrayal. It kind of elevates Gabel’s notion of false consciousness into a category exclusively reserved for this pathology, Drurophrenia – though obviously it also fits perfectly into this very general take on it by Debord:
”The parallel between ideology and schizophrenia demonstrated in Gabel’s False Consciousness should be considered in the context of this economic materialization of ideology. Society has become what ideology already was. The repression of practice and the antidialectical false consciousness that results from that repression are imposed at every moment of everyday life subjected to the spectacle — a subjection that systematically destroys the “faculty of encounter” and replaces it with a socialhallucination: a false consciousness of encounter, an “illusion of encounter.” In a society where no one can any longer be recognized by others, each individual becomes incapable of recognizing his own reality. Ideology is at home; separation has built its own world.” – Society of the Spectacle, Thesis 217, 1967.
The difference between this very general insight and Drurophrenia is that the Drurophrenics have read Debord and would probably ”agree” with him whilst desperately repressing the consciousness of how much this take applies to them. Doubtless there will be those who will say, ”Well – that shows you where all that egg-head theory gets you”’; and they will be partly right. If ”theory’ is seen as something specialised and separate from ones’ daily attitudes, even as a distraction from them, it can very easily fall into a schizophrenic support for the division of labour, to the point where what one writes is like the board game of “Class Struggle“ which has no concrete meaning whatsoever. And if the English working class has traditionally been ”anti-theory” it’s partly because, rightly or wrongly (and usually partly rightly, partly wrongly), ”theory” is seen as part of ”them”, as a Middle Class method of being superior and not taking a single risk, as part of the very entrenched social apartheid that is the UK. However, it’d be wrong to describe the people at Aufheben as fitting neatly into this categorisation: Dr. Johnny himself, back in the 90s at least, was directly involved in more obviously practical anti-State activity;
and some of the others continue to be involved in certain local practical struggles. But, as with all activity against this world, if the centre of such activity isn’t also a struggle against alienation in ones daily personal relations, then it’s often just a change of roles, from theoretician to activist and back again.
Clearly all this is very far from the justification for the dismissal of theory by those who don’t want to clarify and confront the contradictions of their lives, their relationships and their world. Everyone is a mix of theory and ideology, of experience-based critique and of untested fixed dogmas or of theory congealed into dogmas (past experience-based ideas that have not been re-tested in the light of differing circumstances). But to say ”I’m not very good at theory” or ”Me – I’m practical – fuck theory” only means you communicate ideologically, you allow others to do your thinking for you, constantly referring to this or that text which will explain your perspectives for you; you don’t try to express your repressed semi-consciousness, and end up borrowing other people’s ideas unsifted through your own point of view, or unnuanced ideas you formed some time ago but haven’t subjected to re-examination or renewal in the light of current history. You always end up sliding in a little word or opinion which isn’t yours, or no longer is, and which bothers you by the memory it awakens.
”Theory” as exemplified by Aufheben, tends to become an expression of the dominant division of labour, where writing is seen as an end-in-itself, a method of valorising oneself in the eyes of others with how well-read one is in the world of Marxisms, not as a means to a practical end. In fact, there’s a lot of the old Bolshevik mentality in their Marxist/Marxian theorising, not certainly in relation to the more obvious crap of Leninism, but that of Bolshevik intellectuals who posed analysis in terms of ”What would Marx have to say about this?” .
When theory is seen as practical theory, then the question is one of direction, of movement, of becoming by making and correcting mistakes, of stepping back, reflecting and distanciating oneself from the contradictions of daily life, in order then to go forward and choose to change or challenge social relations. Unless one explicitly and consciously puts oneself in a position of testing, and re-testing, beginning again and questioning, ones ideas on the basis of what ones wants and doesn’t want against the hierarchical forces that separate us (insofar as one can within the tiny margin of freedom, of radical choice, that always exists), ”theory” just becomes yet another standard discourse expressing what one happens to think at the time, but given some appearance of a ”correct” Marxian (or whatever) material base. This is not to say that all aspects of theory have an immediate applicability. The abolition of money, for instance, is not on the agenda this week. But recognising this evident truth can’t become a justification for meanness or for becoming a banker. Likewise, the destruction of the State is not going to happen tomorrow; but recognising this, is hardly a justification for becoming a cop consultant. Long-term perspectives must have some current implication or else such perspectives are mere ideals, nothing to do with the real movement that abolishes the present order of things, nothing to do with the struggle to become human.
Beyond the rigid notion of theory compatible with such chronic alienated relations that enable the sociopathological split personality of a Dr. Johnny and a Mr. Drury, and the intellectual ‘theoreticianist’ notion of communication that has allowed the
rest of Aufheben to block it out, practical theory is still essential if we are to consciously determine our struggles and supercede their limits.
Theory still remains to be developed as an analysis of the obstacles facing us in all aspects of our lives and the world, as a tool to help support the enormity of the tasks of the struggles that are beginning to develop internationally against an assault by capital on the verge of probably its worst crisis ever. Reflections on Marx, Bakunin, Korsch or Debord or whoever remain safely philosophical if they’re not precisely applied and extended to current developments. Arguments about the minutiae of the origins of the crisis are usually (though not always) as useless in the struggle to go forward as psychology’s constant need to look for the origins of an individual’s current misery in some unalterable childhood trauma. Critiques of some aspects of past uprisings remain abstract historicism unless they help clear the way for what is NOT to be done in the present. Articles about parts of the world people have no direct connection to can certainly be helpful in informing us of other people’s situations and struggles, and so encourage us in our own attempts to subvert the meaninglessness of our own situation. Yet it’s only in this latter perspective that their truth, and the insights we can bring to them, make sense – in the dialectic between personal struggle, local struggle and global struggle. If we can’t be clear about our own misery and contradictions and their historical connections, and our attempts to confront and/or modify them, and how we are sometimes unnecessarily complicit in them, then trying to be clear about other people’s miseries etc. is often a distraction, compensation and pretension, a foil for yourself and others to convince you that you are making your contribution to the struggle against capitalism, another form of representation. It’s also not very useful as it doesn’t help us connect to the aspects of these very different situations that are similar and so contribute to their struggle against them. It’s not just a question of solidarity beginning at home, but also clarity beginning at home. And this obviously applies as much to me as to those reading this.
Many of those who claim to want a significant opposition to this society – ”revolutionaries” for want of a better word – seem to just want to continue in the same old way, ignoring how at least 20 years of counter-revolution have effected them themselves, as well as others. They just want to continue writing or organising in the way they’ve always done, even though the consequences of their ‘good intentions’ has fallen far short of their apparent desires. It’s not for nothing that it’s in countries like Greece, which have had ongoing forms of mass social contestation over decades, that there are people who express, in very different ways, their critique of this society with a passionate urgency which, so far, is, generally speaking, all too absent in places like the UK. Despite the enormity of the social movements, particularly post-Tunisia, that are tentatively beginning to erupt in different parts of the world, there’s also an enormous amount of complacency towards the rulers’ onslaughts. Some people, despite their claims to a radical critique, are often resigned to an abstract emotionless specialism, often continuing with the reflexes of a passive detached ‘critique’ which is often little better than a “theorised” version of the complaints of the majority of spectators whose passivity supports this world. Far too few want to do anything other than sleepily switch off the persistent alarm that could wake them up from the comatose nightmare of the sleep of practically subversive reason. Outside of fragmentary moments of mass contestation, most seem so habituated and resigned to an ever-desperate irrational daily life that they accept as almost inevitable the future logical capitalist end product of this: environmental collapse accompanied by a technologically-equipped totalitarian marriage of State and market-imposed poverty and psychotic separation, a future of ever-intensifying depression and war till death us do part. And many adopt an individualist consciousness that, however disastrous the world will become, they personally will be able to ride out the storm even if they don’t seriously commit practically to the struggle against the disaster.
For theory to become once again both a dangerous and adventurous endeavour, as dangerous and as adventurous as the class struggle it hopes to contribute to, we must overcome the risk-free familiarity of our characterological routines.
Written by Samotnaf, October 2011, with the help, support, encouragement and collaboration of the TPTG, who contributed some of these insights (although they obviously do not share the same views on all the issues outlined in the text) – along with others, a few of whose words I’ve plagiarised.
NOTE: Originally, back in late January when the TPTG discovered this about Dr. Johnny (no-one I know has ever heard about it being “10 year old gossip”), I wanted to write an article about this guy, but for various reasons (personal crises, financial problems, discouraging attitudes, etc.) this was put aside for the moment. Then in late July I started to write, prompted partly by renewed concerns of friends in the TPTG. An earlier version, a first draft, of this text – fairly different from this final version – was given to 2 former members of Aufheben in early August, clearly indicating it was not the final version. This got into the hands of Aufheben and some of their friends, who, fearful of making this public, responded disparagingly, to say the least. Worse, so did a few friends (though not all) in London. A later draft was sent to libcom in private because, having heard about it from Aufheben, they wanted to see it before it was put up – an unusual practice involving pre-moderation. Clearly under pressure from Aufheben, they decided after looking at it that if I were to put it up, it would be taken down immediately afterwards, mainly for the ostensible reason that he could possibly lose his job. If he loses his sinecure as a cop consultant, I’d regard that as a result (though, sadly, such a sacking is unlikely, as it could discourage others from helping the state). The chances of him losing his job in the University, which quite possibly have already known about his connections with Aufheben for some time, seem unlikely because it would cause the University more problems (uproar from lefty academics, who might turn him into a cause celebre and liken it to lefties losing their jobs under Hitler) than it solves – and even the idea of solving the problem of the University’s possible image would be fraught with the contradiction of exacerbating their bad image (in, say, The Daily Mail’s eyes). This final version follows further research made from the beginning of September onwards. Originally, we wanted to put up the first text mid-September (we wanted Aufheben to openly state what they’d said in private to us, which they did last week; when it comes to such things as this, publicity is the best way to have things out; in privacy, gossip, hearsay, Chinese whispers – all the things attributed
to the TPTG, of which they are the least guilty – dominate and nothing gets clarified). However, the trivial distraction of the class war in Greece, plus a few other things, slowed us down. I would like to thank all those contributors to the relevant threads (mainly this one) who, over the last week, have shown a healthy scepticism towards the Aufheben “critique” and libcom’s attacks on the TPTG, contributors who were not privy to the recent material we have gathered; special thanks go to the contributors who have pointed out internet pages which we hadn’t paid attention to. Apologies for not putting up this new material earlier, but these things take time. And though there’s been an element of coordination with the TPTG, these texts are meant to stand on their own, independent of each other, and hence there’s inevitably some element of repetition of the same points between the different texts. Finally, in order to not get too distracted from our goals into concentrating too much on Dr.Who?, we should all also focus on the explicit motives of the TPTG in their “Open Letter”, namely to look into how ideological and practical development of crowd control techniques are developing internationally (which some of the posters have already begun to contribute towards): “We would urgently like to appeal to the British internationalist/anti-authoritarian milieu so that a more thorough proletarian counter-inquiry is carried out. This may include (but should not be limited to): newspaper articles, cop consultant university research-projects (especially those related to the faculties of sociology/psychology etc.), cop blogs and websites and/or the vast literature on the subject of crowd management, just to name a few obvious steps. By doing so, we hope that information (e.g. scientific papers, articles, police guidelines, reports or other details regarding seminars to cops, field-research projects, activist interviews conducted by sociologists etc.) related to the knowledge-based crowd psychology and modern policing strategies the cops are using against us will be disclosed, disseminated and discussed among the internationalist milieu, facilitating the development of our own counter-strategies. Personal witnessing of the implementation of such policing strategies in demonstrations or riots needs to be recorded, circulated and then discussed amongst us. Attempts by various sociologists to gain access to the milieu and conduct interviews have to be met with firm rejection, to say the least. [See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/sep/07/england-riots-researchers-wanted ] We all know perfectly well that what they try to do is to understand us, our temporary communities of struggle, our thoughts, the way we organize against this decomposing world of capital and its spectacle and, then put this valuable knowledge into practice against us, tearing us apart. Our response should equally be collective and knowledgeable ! ” The information here has also been gathered from the following websites and the various links off them: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/profiles/92858 http://www.sussex.ac.uk/affiliates/panic/CDP%20psych%20of%20crowd%20management.html http://drury.socialpsychology.org/#overview
http://policing.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2007/01/01/police.pam067 http://www.sussex.ac.uk/affiliates/panic/Publications.html http://www.sussex.ac.uk/affiliates/panic/Other%20research%20on%20crowds.html http://drury-sussex-the-crowd.blogspot.com/ http://www.sussex.ac.uk/newsandevents/?id=2567 http://www.hmic.gov.uk/media/adapting-to-protest-nurturing-the-british-model-of-policing-20091125.pdf http://www.liv.ac.uk/Psychology/cpd/Reicher_et_al_%282007%29.pdf http://www.liv.ac.uk/Psychology/cpd/Reicher_et_al_%282007%29.pdf
Some of John Drury’s other, previously unmentioned, publications include :
Drury, J., Reicher, S. & Stott, C. (2003) Transforming the boundaries of collective identity: From the ‘local’ anti-road campaign to ‘global’ resistance? Social Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest, 2, 191-212.
Drury, J. & Reicher, S. (2005). Explaining enduring empowerment: A comparative study of collective action and psychological outcomes. European Journal of Social Psychology, 35, 35-58.
Barr, D. & Drury, J. (2007). ‘Activist’ identity as a motivational resource: Dynamics of (dis)empowerment at the G8 direct actions, Gleneagles, 2005. Twelfth annual ‘Alternative futures and popular protest’ conference. Manchester Metropolitan University, April.
Drury, J. (2009). Managing crowds in emergencies: Psychology for business continuity. Business Continuity Journal, 3, 14-24.
Drury, J., Cocking, C., & Reicher, S. (2009). Everyone for themselves? A comparative study of crowd solidarity among emergency survivors. British Journal of Social Psychology, 48, 487-506. DOI:10.1348/014466608X357893
Drury, J., Cocking, C., & Reicher, S. (2009). The nature of collective resilience: Survivor reactions to the 2005 London bombings. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 27, 66-95.
Drury, J., Cocking, C., Reicher, S., Burton, A., Schofield, D., Hardwick, A., Graham, D., & Langston, P. (2009). Cooperation versus competition in a mass emergency evacuation: A new laboratory simulation and a new theoretical model. Behavior Research Methods, 41, 957-970. doi:10.3758/BRM.41.3.957
Drury, J., & Reicher, S. (2009). Collective psychological empowerment as a model of social change: Researching crowds and power. Journal of Social Issues, 65, 707-725. DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.2009.01622.x
Singha, H., Arter, R., Dodd, L., Langston, P., Lester, E., & Drury, J. (2009). Modelling Subgroup Behaviour in Crowd Dynamics DEM Simulation. Applied Mathematical Modelling, 33, 4408-4423. doi:10.1016/j.apm.2009.03.020
Smith, A., James, C., Jones, R., Langston, P., Lester, E., & Drury, J. (2009). Modelling contra-flow in crowd dynamics DEM simulation. Safety Science, 47, 395-404. doi:10.1016/j.ssci.2008.05.006
Williams, R., & Drury, J. (2009). Psychosocial resilience and its influence on managing mass emergencies and disasters. Psychiatry, 8, 293-296. doi:10.1016/j.mppsy.2009.04.019
Cocking, C., & Drury, J. (2008). The mass psychology of disasters and emergency evacuations: A research report and implications for the Fire and Rescue Service. Fire Safety, Technology and Management, 10, 13-19.
Reicher, S., Stott, C., Drury, J., Adang, O., Cronin, P., & Livingstone, A. (2007). Knowledge-based public order policing: Principles and practice. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 1, 403-415.
Reicher, S., Stott, C., Drury, J., Adang, O., Cronin, P., & Livingstone, A. (2007). Knowledge-based public order policing: Principles and practice. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 1, 403-415. doi:10.1093/police/pam067
Use by practitioners of his ideas and materials :
Psychosocial care for people affected by disasters and major incidents. NATO: Brussels (Department of Health Emergency Preparedness Division NATO consultancy report: consultation on crowd behaviour and collective resilience, 2008)
”A MODEL FOR DESIGNING, DELIVERING AND MANAGING PSYCHOSOCIAL SERVICES FOR PEOPLE INVOLVED IN MAJOR INCIDENTS, CONFLICT, DISASTERS AND TERRORISM”
Understanding crowd behaviours. Cabinet Office/Emergency Planning College (2009). (Cabinet Office review of research on crowd behaviour, 2008)
Police National CBRN centre training seminar, 2008-9
1.I think I’m doing Johnny’s comrades a favour here: the idea that they have known all along how much this guy is up to his eyelids in decomposed diarrhoea makes them look far worse than I suspect they are. They claimed, in response to the first draft of this, that they did know – but if true, and I very much doubt it, that indicts them even more.
3.Various people have emphasised that Dr.Johnny is “only” involved in supplying advice on how NATO should deal with emergencies, such as earthquakes or hurricane-induced disasters. Though this help might be slightly better than directly supplying NATO with ideas on how to bomb Kosovo or wherever, there’s nothing “neutral” or “humane” about it – Hurricane Katrina shows how ‘neutral’, ‘humane’ etc. State-organised responses to ‘natural’ disasters are. When ‘natural’ disasters strike often people develop forms of self-organisation and solidarity utterly independent of State control. NATO, and other state bodies, need, as part of their aim in such situations, to rein in these autonomous aspects in case they get too far out of the State’s control. Ideologists, like Dr.Johnny, are there to give them a justificatory discourse to present their forms of social control to “the public”. And possibly some practical ideas on how to deal with such emergencies through the military. It’s not as if he is out there giving practical help, like, say, nurses or even Christian charities: no – he’s an “ideas man”.
4.Herbert Marcuse worked for the OSS (the precursor to the CIA) up until 1945, and then for the US Department of State until 1951, but at least he’d left by the time he wrote his most interesting work, Eros and Civilisation. Paul Mattick was also offered work by the OSS shortly after Hitler came to power – he refused point blank. Phil Cohen, who was around King Mob in the late 60s and initiated the massive 144 Piccadilly “London Street Commune” squat in 1969, escaping from the cops over the roof, later – in the early 80s – gave lectures to the cops in Hendon on “Youth Culture”; obviously a sell-out – but at least by that time he’d given up his radical pretensions.
5.Psychologism becomes a way of dismissing someone’s protests against misery by saying it’s just a displacement for some other misery – like Brecht’s brief allegory of a psychoanalyst saying that a beggar’s dream about a millionaire expressed a problem the beggar had with his father.
6.I’ve heard from people who believe that Dr.Johnny is a grossly unfairly maligned innocent angel, that he “only” participated in this CPD course by giving lectures on crowd reactions to emergencies or disasters, not the controlling of protests. Yet all the quotes that we’ve got from him online (check them
out for yourself) don’t at all imply this limited focus (see, for instance: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/affiliates/panic/CPD%20further%20details.html ). But even if you can’t be bothered to look at all these various links, giving a lecture to loads of top cops, whether about emergencies, disasters, riots or helping little old ladies across the road, still stinks of collaboration. It’s not at all like, say, a nurse having to sometimes work with cops.
7.Whilst Mr. Drury might be a little ill-at-ease writing or talking like his friend and cohort Mr.Stott, he still feeds him ideas that help the cops, and has been doing so for years and years. By your friends shall ye be known. Some may conveniently dismiss this as “guilt by association”. But we are the sum total of the relations we’re forced and/or we choose to have. If either Marx or Engels, who collaborated over most of their adult lives, suddenly said, without denouncing each other for their words, “I’m not at all implicated in that reformist State capitalist determinist crap my mate wrote – he’s an autonomous individual like me” , you’d think that dismissing this as ‘guilt-by-association’ would be an evasive expression of individualist ideology to hide the fact of being over tolerant towards a dangerously counter-revolutionary perspective. Drury cites Stott constantly in his work, just as Stott cites Drury. We are our social relations, and we are particularly the social relations we choose to have. In the world of ideological production that academia is, who people directly work with over years involves a far greater degree of choice than other work situations. It’s very different from, say, the fact that one might find oneself next to a mysogenist Islamic fundamentalist anti-semite stacking shelves in a supermarket: the collaboration is close, involving developing ideas and is pretty much mutually self-organised, even if it’s within the framework of the University’s policy over which they have no control. 8.In the current “Occupy#” movement in the USA, there are quite a few who, when espousing the 99% ideology, claim that the cops are part of this 99% (revealingly, there are some who also declare that Nazis are part of this 99%). There are even a few old hands from the traditional workers’ movement who still declare that cops are workers in uniform. For instance, the SPGB (Small Party of Good Boys, as they used to be known), stuck as they are in a past before they were born, who point to the 1919 Police Strike, which has gone down in mythology as an example of the proletarian nature of the cops. What these ridiculous people, who try to use the past to justify their present conservative attitudes, show in this is “their inability to understand the present. The radical point of view…starts rather with a disabused analysis of the present and works backwards. It turns pitilessly on the compatibility of the results of past struggles with the present brutality of human reification, and the inordinate support that insufficient rebellion in the past gives to the glorification of the status quo.” (Chris Shutes, [ http://libcom.org/library/two-local-chapters-spectacle-decomposition-chris-shutes]Two Local Chapters In The Spectacle Of Decomposition). So what was this insufficient rebellion in the case of the 1919 police strike? Simply put, in 1919 less than 4% of UK cops went on strike. Previous to 1919 – at the end of August 1918, when Europe was still at war – a 36-hour police strike, whose history is virtually unknown, took place; a couple of thousand cops went on strike for a wage increase – this at a time when the average copper was getting less than an unskilled labourer and only a third of the take-home pay of a munitions worker. With the mutiny at Verdun a recent terrifying memory for the ruling class, along with the revolutionary upheaval in Russia, plus other revolutionary rumblings, the Lloyd George government quickly gave the cops a pay rise and hinted that they might allow them to have a union after the war, which of course, was denied them later on. From then on, until the more famous failed strike a year later, both sides in this battle tried to prepare for what they knew was coming, though the state exploited best the contradictions of the cops wanting the rest of the working class to support them in the struggle for union recognition. At the beginning of June 1919 there was to be a rally of all the big unions alongside of the nascent illegal police union struggling for recognition. But just 6 days before, on 27th May, there was a bloody clash between members of the
Discharged Soldiers and Sailors and the Met, when the latter tried to stop the former marching on Parliament. In a battle that raged along the entire length of Victoria Street, the demonstrators used scaffolding poles and paving stones to inflict more than 150 casualties on the cops, over 20 of them serious. The cops, of course, did their usual beating and batoning, as usual (so far) giving worse than they got. The leader of the would-be union, the NUPPO (National Union of Police and Prison Officers), J.L.Hayes, issued a press statement on behalf of the NUPPO apologising for the cops’ behaviour, putting the responsibility purely onto the government : ‘We appeal to the discharged soldiers and sailors not to judge the union on yesterday’s happenings. Let them blame the Government, the Home Secretary, the Commissioner of Police, and the military system against which we are strenuously fighting. As a union we look upon our comrades in the workshops and from the army as comrades.’ Here we see the socialist ideology of a movement which still had illusions in a hierarchical specialism in the maintenance of a Law’n’Order that could somehow be on the side of the proletariat, whilst at the same time playing their role of defending the bourgeoisie’s precious Parliament. Today, one can hardly imagine the Police Federation nowadays participating in a TUC conference using such rhetoric as Hayes to attack the government, even if the TUC is known as the Tories’ Unofficial Cops, and even if the Police Federation is pressurising the government for more cop funding. At that time, both seemed to be very openly antagonistic to the government using a “solidarity with our comrades”-type vocabulary. Yet, although at the beginning of June, the vote for striking was over 90% in favour (44,539 for, 4,324 against) when it came to actually striking in August, the government having given wage, and social wage, increases to the cops, only just over 3% went on strike. 2300 strikers were consequently sacked (of whom 955 were in Liverpool) and the Liberal government instituted a very clear anti-strike clause in the police’s contracts. No sector of the working class had come out in support of them. Liverpool workers still remembered “Bloody Sunday” of 8 years previously when in 1911 a Protestant carter and a Catholic docker were shot dead, the funeral becoming an occasion for sectarianism to be swept aside in a massive display of working-class solidarity Since then, the strike has been so passed into the land of misty myths that, at the London march against the more modern Bloody Sunday, the Derry massacre in 1972, I found myself next to someone who screamed at the cops “Remember the 1919 strike!”, as the cops ran out between the towering horses truncheoning people left, right and centre. Clearly the guy himself had no memory of it other than what his Trotskyist party had taught him to believe.
9.On the level of the immediate content of their written stuff, and even in terms of their professions as well-known academics, people like Harry Cleaver or Moishe Postone, get accurately critiqued. But this is the classic hypocritical contradiction of those who don’t firstly begin critiques with their own practical lives, with the need to subvert their own complicity with this world, the need to struggle to liberate themselves insofar as one can – another banal case of “do as I say, not as I do”.
10.”As a result of his practical and theoretical struggle against resistances in analysis, Reich came to conceive of character (character neurosis) as the very form of those resistances. (see Character Analysis). In contrast to a symptom — which must be considered as a production and concentration of character and which is felt as a foreign body, giving rise to an awareness of illness — a character trait is organically embedded in the personality. Unawareness of the illness is a fundamental symptom of character neurosis. An explanation of this degradation of individuality cannot appear except within an attempt to communicate, in this case within the analytic technique itself. However unilateral this technique may be, it rapidly revealed character for what it is: a defence against communication, a failure of the faculty of encounter. This is the price paid for the primary function of character, the defence against anxiety (The critical situation in which the magnitude of this price is fully revealed is love. It remains Reich’s merit to have shown that character defence against anxiety is paid for in this situation by an incapacity for tenderness, which he labels, unfortunately, “orgastic impotence.” At this
level character is itself a symptom). There’s no need to dwell on the origin of anxiety, on its causes and their permanence. Let us simply note the obvious fact that the particular form of one’s character is a pattern that takes shape before the tenth year . The discretion of this arrangement explains why it is not recognized as a social plague, and thus why it is lastingly effective. This setup produces damaged individuals, as stripped as possible of intelligence, sociability and sexuality, and consequently truly isolated from one another; which is ideal for the optimum functioning of the automatic system of commodity circulation. The energy which the individual could use to recognize and be recognized is [i]harnessed to his character, i.e. employed to neutralize itself. In all societies in which modern conditions of production prevail the impossibility of living takes individually the form of death, madness or character. With the intrepid Dr. Reich, and against his horrified recuperators and vilifiers, we postulate the pathological nature of all character traits, i.e. of all chronicity in human behaviour. What is important to us is neither the individual structure of our character nor the explanation of its formation, but the impossibility of applying it toward the creation of situations. Character is thus not simply an unhealthy excrescence which could be treated separately, but at the same time an individual remedy in a globally ill society, a remedy that enables us to bear the illness while aggravating it. People are to a great extent accomplices in the reigning spectacle. Character is the form of this complicity. We maintain that people can dissolve their character only by contesting the entire society (this is in opposition to Reich insofar as he envisages character analysis from a specialized point of view). On the other hand, since the function of character is to accommodate us to the state of things, its dissolution is a prerequisite to the total critique of society. We must destroy this vicious circle.” J.-P.Voyer – Reich: How to Use (1971).
11.At that time, the University in the UK (and in France, where this text was first produced) was a far more privileged place than it later became: despite the notion of upward mobility, only about 15% of British students came from working class backgrounds. Obviously it would be ridiculous to apply the same critique of student poverty as was made in the 60s to the period since (although the recent vast rise in tuition fees is already clearly telling those from working class backgrounds not to be too uppity mobile).
12.What is this image of struggle? It’s simply a struggle over different interpretations of the world of struggle separated from the reality of struggle in which interpretation becomes part of a consequential attack. The worst of these, for the most part, purely intellectual attitudes born from the University, is certainly not Aufheben, which has sometimes been excellent. One can see, for example, in most of Théorie Communiste a dreadful superior abstraction which looks down from on high upon the whole history of class struggle and concludes that it was doomed to failure up until the present epoch. This determinism, predicated on a fear of making mistakes, on a perfectionist model of revolution which has never existed and can never exist, is largely expressed in convoluted verbiage which gives the impression of saying something new, but in fact hides the fact that it’s simply a repetition of what Marx said more simply and directly some 150 years ago or so, and even repeats some of his worst aspects. “The radical critique of Marx has always presented the two dominant ideological tendencies of his activity as separate. On the one hand he is attacked for his determinism, for presenting proletarian revolution as the inevitable product of economic decay; on the other hand he is seen as a hierarch because of his Machiavellian practices within the international revolutionary movement….those who have created their own “good reasons” to see revolution as inevitable invariably create a hierarchy in which the partisans who recognise their explanation are placed at the top; the as yet neutral masses are in the middle, and their opponents who may have competing reasons or no reason at all, are at the bottom. Determinism, in turn, is a natural outcome of the separation created by revolutionaries between themselves and the proletariat. If one cannot conceive of the masses as individuals capable of determining the conditions of their existence through revolution, then it is necessary for a special enlightened group to supply them with an external motivation they can’t resist”. – Isaac Cronin, ‘The American Situationists’. The rivalrous and manipulative practices of ‘Théorie Communiste’ confirm this insight, which was written as long ago as 1978.
13.Or was, until he realised that some people who take their desire for a movement against this world seriously had discovered this public secret and so did his best to sweep it all under the carpet.
14.In this post : http://libcom.org/forums/feedback-content/why-article-has-been-removed-07102011?page=7#comment- lurdan quotes Drury: “It may be hard to think of yourself as exactly ‘the same person’ if you have in effect changed the social environment that gives you your self-definition! ” Lurdan added: ‘The problem is that this really does cut both ways’. Yeah – cut both sides of the fence, and cuts you off.
Oct16. L.Bird, commenting on The Crowd blog article quoted above says, “The ‘non-perspective’ method of academia is an ideological lie. If one doesn’t ‘go native’, one by necessity ‘remains imperialist’.There is no ‘outside of the exploitative system’. ”
“life” is what you fake it
“…he thought of Hyde, for all his energy of life, as of something not only hellish but inorganic. This was the shocking thing…that what was dead, and had no shape, should usurp the offices of life. ”
– Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
– Marx, Capital
“The spectacle in general, as the concrete inversion of life, is the autonomous movement of the non-living.”
– Debord, Society of the Spectacle
The spectacle of “theory”, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living struggles……