WHY WAR INSTEAD OF POLITICS
WAR, IF YOU WANT IT
War is war
War then, if that’s what you want
Next time, when you’re still standing around commemorating something that you’ve lost, and all you see around you are the walking wounded and a fading brand struggling to stay relevant, hopefully there will come a point when you realize that whatever it was that started last fall, it wasn’t a movement. A year without follow-up, of nothing happening, of was-it-just-a-dream confusion, and the mudslinging background music of election-year politics: everything points to a staggering emptiness. It’s as if something abnormally huge has been swept away.
We all know what domestic violence is when it happens to someone else. From within, it’s another story: it doesn’t matter if someone burns down your house and tries to tear you apart, there’s always an excuse, a rationalization of the abuse as something else. It’s just a crisis, you need to work harder on the relationship, things will get better, because after all you need the love, the security, and the companionship that you were once feeling before. Besides, how could you survive out there alone? And yet, there is something wildly empowering once you acknowledge the ways you’ve been hurt, recognize the consistent plans that are drawn up to shut you down, the attacks that happen because you’re the one always starting the problems, raising a fuss. You’re the one bringing the repression down on yourself because it’s your fault that you’re stupid, undisciplined, spoiled, lazy, an imbecile, an animal? This is when you realize how thick-skinned you really are, knowing that every time the dust settles you’re still standing, now you won’t do this anymore, you have nothing left to lose, they can try and hurt you, but you’ll come back for more.
Here’s where the fun begins: you’re not alone, you pick out your friends, take your position… now you’re ready for war.
1. The normal state is the isolation of everyone in their private cubicle. This is where they return tirelessly, however great the encounters they make elsewhere, however strong the repulsion they feel.
We have known these conditions of existence, and never again will we return to them. They weaken us too much. Make us too vulnerable. Make us waste away.
This world is a canvas of cynicism, separation, aesthetics, and stupidity, held together by forms of existence which destroy us: the necessity of selling ourselves to our workplace and to each other, the pathetic desire for recognition; the infantile inability to do anything, even feed ourselves, without a supermarket; the isolation of a life that moves from cubicle, to bar, to apartment, and back again. Those of us who didn’t fit into this arrangement, we consider it an individual problem, our problem and spend much of our lives trying to solve it with Zoloft, Xanex, hobbies, careers, heroin, alcohol, therapy, the gym, a computer screen, or a hookup. Best case scenario, we get a little Jeff Johnson action, POP POP. In reality, the stupid isolation and cynicism of this world is not “our problem” – rather, it is the very way we are governed, and all the medications, hobbies, clothes, and styles that we try are all just apparatuses that seek to prevent, at any cost, this world’s collapse.
Everything at your fingertips, carefree, without lifting a finger, worry-free, hands-off, hassle-free, peace of mind, rest-assured… one only has to string together some of the guidelines of 20th century consumer satisfaction to understand the sedative aspects of our private lives that are held out as a promise (the one thing we can strive for) in the face of the enormous efforts required to sustain oneself, earn enough money, enjoy a social life, receive physical and mental care…
2. Let’s get this straight, government does not repress or oppress life; it shapes and recreates life itself.
It shapes possibility, determines what we see, what we eat, what we have to like or hate, how we fuck or don’t fuck.
Those who say they rule us, the politicians and corporate execs among so many others, do nothing of the sort; just like us they are replaceable nodes in a vast self-ordering machine that seeks to order and keep on ordering the world just to keep it going.
We are governed at the level of our very lives by myriad apparatuses that instantiate a particular reality, producing us as subjects in a world of objects. From the division of labor and isolation produced in the workplace to the social networking site’s endless injunctions to update and perform, to the car and credit score, apparatuses create and hold us in our weakest state, throwing us back to ourselves, to our individuality, as an act of preemptive counter-insurrection. We are made atomized individuals and materially exist that way, and there is no authentic self or community beneath the grip of some external power: they are its very products.
So the empty throne is therefore the image of government today, and the moron or idiot is the idea of the citizen it must produce. Children in a padded cell. Government for the Infantile, and along with that all the hollowed out terms such as democracy, freedom, free speech, suffrage, community, welfare, opportunity, jobs. What is happiness to a quadriplegic baby raised in a cold dank cave without heat or fresh water?
3. Events mother fucker
All dressed up, nowhere to go
So what is an apparatus? Any operation that separates us from the world and from each other, which works by isolation, recombination, and predication. When this separation is broken, the result is an event, and in the end, the broadest strategic imperative of an apparatus is to manage these events, the possible irruption of too much –too much intensity,
too much attachment, too much enduring. Apparatuses try to mute the event, tame its partisans, and order its appearance, hoping to prevent the breaking of a certain limit that we can’t normally get beyond: the insurrectionary limit.
Thus government works everywhere that we return to normal, everywhere that we choose the aesthetic over the situation. Everywhere the state of exception is not habitable. Everywhere the insurrection doesn’t become a revolution.
4. THE KEY TO THE FUTURE IS A TOTAL BREAK WITH POLITICS
The reign of classical politics stands as one of the greatest triumphs of the separation enacted by apparatuses. Politics is pure administration, a ‘neutral’ set of ideas and proposals to discuss between individuals abstracted from their worlds. No longer are we made up of all of things around us as much as we make them up, and no longer do thought and action have any relation to one another. What is thought has been relegated to the private realm, and the forces one is carried by are reduced to the realm of silly emotions. Over and over there is the injunction to be realistic, to accept the limitations set down upon us, to not get too carried away. Delay and deferment, neutralization and suppression of conflict, these are politics. In short, politics is our enemy, the enemy of insurrection and of revolution.
Gloss: While the general assembly is, on the one hand, a perfect image of this pointellistic gathering of individuals, its possibilities are not so foreclosed. Little compares to the sight of 2,000 people gathered in an occupied park repeating “I’m a gangsta” four times in succession amidst the darkness of downtown Manhattan. It’s the kind of communication that broke the social molds, that broke hipster, that broke even New York —if just for a moment.
5. What can we say about the radicals® that hasn’t already been said about pop music?
WE DONT BELIEVE IN THE AVANT-GARDE, WE BELIEVE IN THE REVOLUTION
Looking at the last several decades worth of what calls itself revolutionary —anarchism, Marxism, any politics at all— we are struck by its extreme material, spiritual and combative impoverishment. Nearly any politics that claims to oppose this world begins from this utter poverty, and is in the end defined by it.
Gloss: While anarchism historically may have involved building a revolutionary force, today it brings only an indignant outcry against hierarchy in a world long past such a model, a bizarre obsession with windows, and the occasional fun of participating in a riots. For quite a while, it hasn’t given itself the material means to make a revolution. This is why the French love Blanqui, and why we prefer John Brown, the Apache warriors, and today, Anonymous. Because they give themselves a world —different every time— and therefore a means of waging war.
But its not the radicals’ fault really (we were born this way). Looking at history it isn’t hard to see a process of taming whereby all that revolts and all that maintains connection with the world beyond itself was taken from us. The way we eat (supermarket); the way we love (couple only); the way we fight (militarized, pacified, separate from existence). These are the very order of the world; in short we were made, and made governable. We’ve brought these separations and weakness into our efforts to fight but to become ungovernable will mean breaking the order of the world, not repeating it.
To conceive of a possible orchestration that can federate people of extremely opposing practices and ideas, in short, to do away with the political classifications of the left and the right will be a task even more arduous than the severing of the ties between counter-cultures of the past and the revolt of the present. It is this idea of history, or memory, as nursery for the radicalization of consciousness that must be abandoned because there is another lesson out there, one that hasn’t been taught as much in schools: revolutions make revolutionaries.
6. The revolutionary strategy today consists of building the party
// UR CHUMS R FIGHTING
Simply put - we are interested in taking over.
Apparatuses try to deny us all connection to that which make us powerful and continually attempt to smooth over anything that breaks the modes. Today then, it is only by building an insurrectional force, an insurrectional material force in the world that we can make revolution. This is called ‘building the party.’ Being party to something has always meant the embrace of the political, recognizing the enemy and taking sides in the war in progress. But let’s not be confused by its associations with electoral delusions or Leninist idiocy; we aren’t trying to build senile organizations that hope to lead the working class or get out the vote, and we aren’t trying to mimic the latest infantile iterations that govern through consensus and extreme boredom.
We are getting organized, binding our vision with material force and assembling a power that refuses the distinction between living and fighting or attacking and building power.
7. Limits, or, Less bubbles, more champagne.
What leads us to build the party isn’t critique, it’s our need: the need for worlds, and therefore revolution. In the last decade alone, from the Río de la Plata to the Nile, this world has seen its movements, riots, and insurrections. So has the United States with riots in places like Cincinnati and Oakland and movements like anti-globalization, the immigrant mega-marches, and Occupy. But none of these went beyond a certain limit, never making a full leap to revolution, and in the end everything went back to normal –however new that normal might be. But if we want to prevent the return to normality, if we want to move beyond a certain limit, if we want a revolution, we have to be capable of actually doing it.
Gloss: Returning to this feeling that we’re commemorating something today that ended. Last Fall many of us walked away from our regular lives for a moment, and felt ready to completely defect from them –it seemed possible, in a sense, to really walk away. Yet today so many of us feel that we’ve been returned back to normal not by choice but by necessity, and that the possibilities we experienced have been cut short.
This is because we lack the material means to make the return to normality UNNECESSARY, to make the event of last Fall —the scrambling of social roles and our defection from life as usual, the event of war— irrevocable.
Imagine instead: the event just keeps going, non-stop event, you don’t wake up and it’s back to normal.
Escalation of the event is a decision. It utterly goes against the myth of freedom. Oh shit!
8. War is a force that gives us MEANing.
There’s no better way to prevent us from going beyond a certain limit than to make it impossible for us to fight. We’ve been sold a set of lies that paint the art of war as morally wrong and oppressive or as a militarized or militant act. But let’s be frank, it’s only by fighting that we can bury the old order, but war has never been just the taking of life or the aesthetic of the guerrilla. Building a collective intelligence is just as much an act of war as burning a financial district to the ground, or conversely, freeing our friends from the grip of the police is just as much an act of war as being able to heal their injuries. Strategy, speed, and the unexpected are our friends, and in each of these, there is building the party.
Gloss: The militants like to go on about negation, but negation is the amputated false opposition to a politics of affirmation that just wants to build. The separation of the two was ultimately an operation performed against us, that left us deciding between two impoverished choices or putting them together in some stupid bricolage. WE REFUSE THE POLITICS OF NEGATION; WE ALSO REFUSE THE POLITICS OF AFFIRMATION. WHAT MATTERS FOR US IS ONLY THE UNITY OF LIFE AND WAR.
9. JUST TAKE IT
There’s no better way of preventing us from going beyond a certain limit than to make it impossible for us to survive beyond it. Building the party must be a material act and the assembling of the necessary constellation of people, skills, resources, spaces, and knowledge, putting them in common and aligning them within a trajectory of growing power. This reorients the field of battle. No longer does the conflict take place in a separate sphere –the streets or the moment— instead it runs through everything, encompassing the need to break control and build power at the level of our lives. Thus there is building the party when we overcome the limits imposed upon us by work, time, and money, when we move beyond the myriad debilitating dependencies that weaken us, or when we live like the Barefoot Bandit, but as a whole gang.
When we talk about building the party as a material force, there are some —the simpleminded— who will say we just want to create alternatives, mistaking us for those who advocate a politics of pure affirmation. But as one of the freaks of Occupy wrote, “in the end, control’s grip will be broken as much through destructive force as constructive secession.”
Gloss: Escaped slaves immediately established new bases of power –maroons— in the swamps along the East Coast of the United States, creating an area for future escapees and arming themselves with the means to survive and a place from which to launch devastating attacks. Or take the Juggalos, the ICP fans who’ve built a nationwide family of maniacs —many of whom have moved to New Mexico “because they are attracted to the tribal and cultural traditions of the Native Americans residing nearby.” They’ve built a pole of secession, and that they have recently been classified by the FBI as a gang should come as no surprise.
10. the DREAM act
There’s no better way to prevent us from going beyond a certain limit than to make it impossible for us to imagine anything different. Ecstatic vision once connected us to the realm of dreams, predicting war, guiding our travels, and attaching us to our power. Through the operation of apparatuses, however, boundaries have been set down on experience, imposing a fixed reality that looms over us as an insurmountable distance between our aspirations and the horizon of possibility. But every revolutionary force has been animated by a visionary element that binds power to its dreams and desires. And in a world that imposes itself like a dead weight, vision becomes all the more important as a force that carries us forward and beyond.
Gloss: There is an extreme poverty of vision in the political milieus. It’s always more of the same and sad smallness, a true conservatism of spirit. When we hear our friends, after all these years, still talking about broken windows, we hear only weakness.
11. Building the party means a new temporality.
For far too long, we have wasted our time with the typical practices of politics: inciting riots, protesting, putting our best words to paper, waiting or throwing ourselves into this or that event only to return to the banality and isolation of life as usual. “You know I’ll be too busy soon with work/school/boyfriend/makeup,” the refrain always goes as the counter-insurrection reestablishes itself. But imagine a different temporality in which there is the building of a force that doesn’t just live and die with each event, but which continues and grows in power. Imagine the dissolution of the split between periodic ‘actions’ and daily life. Imagine vision and patience in an age that says there is never enough time so you may as well just leave things alone. Building the party takes on this temporality and makes it manifest in the world.
Gloss: We wonder, for example, what those of the Oakland Commune, or the Atlanta commune, are doing to combat the general tendency toward dissipation post-Occupy. We hear from friends that many are ‘taking some time off,’ ‘catching up on work,’ and so forth. This is a sad repetition of all that’s come before, where everything falls apart in the aftermath of movements. Yet we are certain that this cannot be true for all those who came together in the occupations and streets last year, we are certain that others are getting organized, just as we are. We would like, as a beginning, to meet each other
12. Building the Party Means #%$$@
Apparatuses may govern life, but they are also a mess of lines that are open to myriad avenues of escape. But these escapes –expropriating things at work, beating the fare, learning ‘forgotten’ skills, or home food production— are worthless unless they go beyond the limits of simple opposition or the solitary confinement of the individual.
Gloss: Anonymous LulzSec ups the anti for revolutionaries today by using their detailed familiarity with apparatuses to fundamentally radical ends: to circulate data on enemies and operations underway against us, get revenge for the imprisonment of friends, teach lessons to collaborators, and create languages and techniques in common, while scrambling identities and finding one another beneath the radar of surveillance.
The revolutionary strategy today consists not of taking power, nor merely in negation or affirmation; but rather in building worlds, imbuing them with life and an intentionality, reuniting life and war. In turning everything available to our own ends. Of building a force. By putting life in common. By reconnecting what we are with what we do, what we say with what we live.
How is it to be done? Find each other, put life in common, and get organized. Gather together what you’ve found in the movement or the moment: new and old friends, passions, material means, the blackness in your heart shared by all. Find ways to be together, put life in common, to refuse the life required by this world: being born alone and dying alone, along the way connecting only via a romance or fleeting experience, a lonely ass existence down to the end.
On the one hand, to utilize all that is typically employed to make this world function —cash, infrastructures, our energies, passions, bodies, and time—and turn them to new directions. All of this, while also —that is, in the very same motion— building a force capable of bringing about this world’s demise. For revolutionaries are nothing without places, friendships, complicities, homes. And all together, to quite literally constitute a new reality. Make the sociality we experienced, the commonness, in the movement irrevocable. This doesn’t mean stasis. It means, rather, a refusal to return to normal.
The Latin root of conjure, coniuratio, means to conspire, evoking the alchemy by which different elements are bound together as a power and transform the world around them. To conjure a force between would mean to make our ability to grow food a weapon, to play old instruments a new language, to devastate a city an act of life. Anyone getting organized as a force within and against this world is building the party. We want to meet you, and to join up what we’re doing. This will only make us stronger, and it is the only way we will win. As an anon said, “So now my dear friends, it’s your turn to decide where you belong, and what you are made of.”