The Coming Insurrection

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clootz
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Jul 12 2009 17:14

To each his or her own, but I find this a silly thing to say. The first two-thirds of that book (particularly the "first" through "seventh" circles) are an analysis of the contemporary "world": on the idea of the "self," work, the economy, the environment, the metropolis, the attempts to reform capitalism (degrowth movement, green capitalism, etc.) on the Left, and so on. If your argument is that these analyses are not convincing, or derivative (they owe a lot, I think, to Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello's book The New Spirit of Capitalism), fine, we can debate that. But this nonsense about poetry and passion is ridiculous, and it seems to me that you simply have not read the book. Which is your right, but it's waste of everyone's time to hold forth on a book one hasn't read.

Feel free to point out why, then, why their chapter on the nature of work in the contemporary regime of accumulation--"third circle"--does not offer some insight, if that is what we are looking for, into the way things are today.

--C

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Django
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Jul 12 2009 20:38

I have read it actually. I don't really agree with any of it, but I'll mention briefly the parts I found particularly bad. I know it claims to be an analysis of the world, but theres very little argument, reasoning or evidence, just a lot of assertions, some of which are pretty inaccurate:

the invisible committee wrote:
Here lies the present paradox: work has totally triumphed over all other ways of existing, at the very moment when workers have become superfluous. Gains in productivity, outsourcing, mechanization, automated and digital production have so progressed that they have almost reduced to zero the quantity of living labor necessary in the manufacture of any product.

If this, for example, is a factual statement then it is patently false.

the invisible committee wrote:
The need to assemble is as constant among humans as the necessity of making decisions is rare. Assembling corresponds to the joy of feeling a common power. Decisions are vital only in emergency situations, where the exercise of democracy is already compromised. The rest of the time, “the democratic character of decision making” is only a problem for the fanatics of process. It’s not a matter of critiquing assemblies or abandoning them, but of liberating the speech, gestures, and interplay of beings that take place within them. We just have to see that each person comes to an assembly not only with a point of view or a motion, but with desires, attachments, capacities, forces, sadnesses and a certain disposition toward others, an openness. If we manage to set aside the fantasy of the General Assembly and replace it with an assembly of presences, if we manage to foil the constantly renewed temptation of hegemony, if we stop making the decision our final aim, then there is a chance for a kind of massification, one of those moments of collective crystallization where a decision suddenly takes hold of beings, completely or only in part.

This just seems like mostly gibberish too I'm afraid, but is basically saying that we don't need to make decisions in open, formal ways, but just happen on whatever feels right, throwing 'presences' at each other, and when information is circulated sufficiently the right course of action will fall from the sky:

the Invisible Committee wrote:
As for deciding on actions, the principle could be as follows: each person should do their own reconnaissance, the information would then be put together, and the decision will occur to us rather than being made by us. The circulation of knowledge cancels hierarchy; it equalizes by raising up

Not very convincing, to say the least.

I found that it used generally useful terms - communes, base committees etc in such a vague way as to be pretty useless, as vague affinities of people involved in vaguely defined activities -scams through to large scale upsurges, making it pretty useless.It doesn't really propose anything concrete at all, just makes lots of vague, cool sounding assertions.

And theres all kinds of other catchwords, "flows", "presences" for instance, which are never properly defined so don't really mean very much.

Perhaps you could say what parts of the pamphlet you thought were useful or original and which can't be found in more straightforward language elsewhere?

sharer123
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Jul 30 2009 18:14

As a New Yorker, and as an activist recently intrigued by The Invisible Committee's "The Coming Insurrection," as well as by the announcement of another round of obscene profits by a large New York investment bank (yes, it's business as usual), is there anyone who might inform me of any New York metropolitan area like-thinkers/blogs/websites besides this one? While not able to define myself as anarchist/communist (I'm more a communalist), I discern a most leftward tilting of my moral axis as 've grown older, and desire to associate with those of like persuasion. Personally, I tend to be fairly activist as opposed to intellectually inclined and am not averse to "taking it to the streets," as it were.

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Joseph Kay
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Jul 30 2009 18:31

i think the Workers Solidarity Alliance are based in New York, drop them a line. At least one of them posts on here.

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BNB
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Jul 30 2009 18:35

we used to be based in New York and return at least twice a year.

http://www.notbored.org

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888
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Jul 30 2009 18:59
Django wrote:
the Invisible Committee wrote:
As for deciding on actions, the principle could be as follows: each person should do their own reconnaissance, the information would then be put together, and the decision will occur to us rather than being made by us. The circulation of knowledge cancels hierarchy; it equalizes by raising up
...
if we stop making the decision our final aim, then there is a chance for a kind of massification, one of those moments of collective crystallization where a decision suddenly takes hold of beings, completely or only in part.

Not very convincing, to say the least.

Ah, so Bisc was right after all... some of these "critique of democracy" types really do believe in telepathic decision making...

sharer123
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Jul 31 2009 17:15

Timeliness...illiterateness...and, of course, the lit fuse.

A number of critiques, blogs, analyses and so forth, of The Coming Insurrection
have criticized the quasi-illiterateness of substantial chunks of the book. Specifically, how inarticulate sections of the book appear to be with lack of coherency and poor writing style. Even reading the somewhat better "authorised[i]" Semiotext(e) version leaves one wishing the author(s) had exercised a more coherent approach, eschewed the constant apposition of opposites (apparently done for maximal "shock effect," which did little more than confuse this reader), and consider a more thought-out approach to the blunt (and sometimes blatantly incorrect) averrals, conclusions, and statements posited therein.

That having been said, the time is right (nay, even [i]ripe) for insurrection, and thus, irrespective of its lack of articulateness and paucity of well-bred intonations, this slim volume makes for a powerful ignition source in the struggle for freedom from the oppresiveness of societies whose inbred greed and self-interest, moral corruptness, and lack of compassion or true concern for the sufferings of its constituents, eat away and devour the souls and flesh of those it was designed to serve, succor and sustain.

If the book be writ, the fire lit, then may we not say, flawed scribbles and all, it served us well...?

anarchymonkey
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Jul 31 2009 18:59

I agree with everything you've said Bisc. Further, before I became part of a post left, insurrectionary affinity group I was in a formal anarchist group, a federation, for some time, and I became aware that not only did it have a formal hierarchy aimed at preventing hierarchy, but, paradxically, and funnily given they say this about us, it also had a very clear informal hierarchy that was responsible for most of the decissions, and that warped decissions that had been made to suit its own ends.

Mass organisation, even small mass organisations, suit their own ends and create inertia for the maintenance of their ideology which they try to perpetrate on the whole group. Representation is delegated and therefore alienated. Theory is also alienated because it is a product of the ideology of the group ,probably set in stone, not the fruits of someones own discoveries. I don't think these groups are anarchist in any real way because they try to impose their ideas and discipline, they seem to have a complette blind spot to beurocracy and disregard for peoples autonomy.

As I said this isn't theory, its personal experience.

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Joseph Kay
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Jul 31 2009 19:36
anarchymonkey wrote:
As I said this isn't theory, its personal experience.

and i suggest therein lies the problem. generalising from particular dysfunctional organisations to formal organisation per se is problematic. i think members of the feds would be the first to admit they're not shining examples of organisational dynamism. i'm national treasurer of one, and i certainly will. i don't think our particular organisational problems are characteristic of formal organisation per se though. certainly in the case of infomal hierarchies, these exist everywhere - we at least have the formal, transparent decision-making structures to mitigate them (both at a local and national level). and we have no formal hierarchy at all - mandated positions are all responsibility and very little power.

delegation is not representation, and so is not alienation. discussing something, reaching a decision and then appointing someone to convey it is the opposite of alienation. again, there's no inherent reason why theory should be 'set in stone'. finally, i don't think the feds 'impose their ideas and discipline' - of course they have defined politics and seek to act according to them, so if you don't agree with them then don't join. there's plenty of scope for autonomy (in fact if anything the weakness of the feds is they rarely act as one, since local autonomy predominates). but autonomy is of course excercised within the aims and principles of the organisations, otherwise it would be an incoherent synthesist muddle.

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saya-jin
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Dec 26 2009 12:57

I think, you're quite misinterpreting the text. In my reading it's rather about the practical approach of organisation. It has to be clear that in the present times it has a great danger "being visible" since as a person we became totally naked for the state power. It is because of two major reasons.
1. The state control forms based on personal identification and on taking the "troublemakers" out. This is the tactics of the riot police as well as the political separation executed by political era. Any subversive programme or action can be vulnerable if we expose our personal identity to the public. It just makes their job easier but doesn't make us stronger. We have to learn that the "class hero" attitude is only weakening us.

2. We, communists-anarchists are divided in to small groups that represents the current position of the communism as a movement. As such we're representing in this way how disorganised we are in the face of the capitalist repression. And we need to recognize that the current characteristics of the class war is rather an "insurrectionist" since there is no chance for growing a class based mass-movement regarding the condition of the worker class. The recent clashes between the present order and the fractions of our class is localized, therefore more intensive and militant, than a slowly growing resistance. When it comes to a spot of resistance it rapidly forms an actual battle between the armed forces and the masses. You can check out the events in Albania or the hunger riots in Slovakia as well the South Korean strikes. This militancy can not be introduced with the revealing of the identities of those proles who are actually prepare these strikes against the authorities.

In conclusion, you can see the anonymity as a practical cover for the present organisation (remember, we at war: class war!!) and on the other hand serves the means of organisation because it states what actually communism is: we are a class, our self-organisation makes us a revolutionary class, where there is no need for empty self-proving and identification, we're not making heroes and symbols for our movement, but an impenetrable block against the class violence.

RedHughs
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Dec 27 2009 23:35

One thing I'll give TCI is it sketches some of the conditions of the present world fairly well.

Quote:
No question is more confused, in France, than the question of work. No relation is more disfigured than the one between the French and work. Go to Andalusia, to Algeria, to Naples. They despise work, profoundly. Go to Germany, to the United States, to Japan. They revere work. Things are changing, it’s true. There are plenty of otaku in Japan, frohe Arbeitslose in Germany and workaholics in Andalusia. But for the time being these are only curiosities. In France, we get down on all fours to climb the ladders of hierarchy, but privately flatter ourselves that we don’t really give a shit. We stay at work until ten o’clock in the evening when we’re swamped, but we’ve never had any scruples about stealing office supplies here and there, or carting off the inventory in order to resell it later. We hate bosses, but we want to be employed at any cost. To have a job is an honor, yet working is a sign of servility. In short: the perfect clinical illustration of hysteria. We love while hating, we hate while loving. And we all know the stupor and confusion that strike the hysteric when he loses his victim – his master. Most of the time he never recovers.

Even in America, It feels like more and more people at least affect an awareness that everything is shit but still continue with their private shit.

Indeed, I'd say the next stage after this is the understanding that your life is a complete contradiction and that only be various psychological devices do you keep yourself sane. Hence the popularity of yoga, psychiatric drug, fundamentalist Christianity and other "coping mechanisms" (I know Christianity aims to blot-out the contradiction while Yoga aims to let you balance within them, but still).

I suppose that kind of description is "Situationist". But if it is, then I think all honest descriptions of the world have become Situationist.

---

Of course all the collective-organizing stuff is idiotic but that's to be expected.

confusionboats
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Feb 10 2015 07:50
Boris Badenov wrote:

I'm sure that's just an extreme example of ridiculousness but it's emblematic of this whole anti-democratic ultra-individualist stance.

and one that TCI was formed in partial opposition to
that's why they go on so long about that reebok ad

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sabot
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Feb 10 2015 09:22
confusionboats wrote:
Boris Badenov wrote:

I'm sure that's just an extreme example of ridiculousness but it's emblematic of this whole anti-democratic ultra-individualist stance.

and one that TCI was formed in partial opposition to
that's why they go on so long about that reebok ad

Fwiw, Boris hasn't posted on libcom for years now as far as I know so I wouldn't expect a proper response anytime soon.

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vermelho
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Feb 19 2015 12:27

http://www.signandsight.com/features/2112.html

confusionboats
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Feb 19 2015 15:10

almost all of Agamben's work is written against Carl Schmitt...
he's also stated that Walter Benjamin was the antidote that allowed him survive Heidegger

from what I understand of his concept of the State is that it kindof already exists within a 'state of exception'

I think its totally fine to be dismissive of hyper-intellectual left-wing posturing but dude is like way antifascist and that article is very misleading/ doesn't appear to have done its research...

besides I don't think I should need to point out the irony in an article titled elitist revolutionary strutting from a page who's tagline is "Let's Talk European"

while we're on this, the TCI stuff came in response/ opposition to the stuff that came out of de Benoist's think tank imo

Anarcho
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Feb 28 2015 16:43

I'm surprised the booklet is still being discussed -- I don't think much of it, as my review of a few years ago suggested...

radicalgraffiti
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Feb 28 2015 22:20

this thread has had 6 posts in the last 5 years idk if that counts as being discussed

bastarx
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Mar 1 2015 11:06
sabot wrote:
confusionboats wrote:
Boris Badenov wrote:

I'm sure that's just an extreme example of ridiculousness but it's emblematic of this whole anti-democratic ultra-individualist stance.

and one that TCI was formed in partial opposition to
that's why they go on so long about that reebok ad

Fwiw, Boris hasn't posted on libcom for years now as far as I know so I wouldn't expect a proper response anytime soon.

He left in embarrassment after he admitted he had crossed a picket line. Had he merely admitted he helped the cops develop better crowd control techniques he would have been staunchly defended here.

satawal
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Mar 11 2015 22:27

Folk with questions, objections or interest in 'The Coming Insurrection' may want to know that a rep from The Invisible Committee is presenting their new book. 'A nos Amis (To Our Friends)', in Brighton later this month. As far as I can tell this is the only planned presentation of the book in either France or the UK. 'A nos Amis' has sold very well in France and is due out soon from Semiotext in English.

Sat 21st March 2015
Full details at: https://libcom.org/forums/announcements/invisible-committee-nos-amis-our...

The event is being put on by Sussex Anarchists, (which I am not a part of, they are good people but a bit left-activisty for my tastes), so if people have practical questions you can ask them: https://www.anarchistaction.net/about-us/local-groups/sussexanarchists/