A blogpost about various 'zines, underground comics and alternative publications I was exposed to during the late 1980s and 1990s.
If you've been on the radical left for any amount of time, you've probably heard of ‘zines’. A shortening of the word ‘magazine, zines are described by Wikipedia as “most commonly a small circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images usually reproduced via photocopier”. Usually they are the size of what were once, and are now more frequently called, pamphlets.
Notes on the current crisis, considered in accordance with its ancient medical definition as “the culminating point of an illness” (Hippocrates) whose symptoms are “loss of memory, dissolution of classes, individualism, narcissism, degradation of language, functional illiteracy, fear [and] domestication”, along with ecological, urban and political crises on a planetary scale, which cannot be overcome by traditional political or trade union means but require the constitution of neighborhood communities resulting from “desertion or exclusion”, and a dual urban/rural focus, at first dominated by the urban struggle, that aims at “de-urbanization” and defense of “territory”.
Capitalism, Therefore Crisis - Miguel Amorós
“Life is short, and Art long; the crisis fleeting; experience perilous, and decision difficult.”
An examination of the history and significance of the concept of “progress”, its origins as an expression of the Enlightenment’s battle against religious bigotry and ignorance, its transformation into a “new [scientific] superstition” characterized by indifference to nature and the worship of technological change, and its current status as “a threat to the survival of the human species”.
Midnight in the Century – Notes against Progress – Miguel Amorós
A transcript of a 1995 talk in which Michéa discusses the continuing relevance of the ideas of the self-proclaimed “tory anarchist”, George Orwell, featuring: Orwell’s concepts of “generous anger” and “common decency”; the moral bankruptcy of the “totalitarian intellectuals” whose desire for power was rooted in resentment; the left’s disastrous “uncritical approval” of “the mechanization” and “unlimited modernization of the world”; and concludes the talk with a call for a “critical conservatism”, which Michéa characterizes as “one of the necessary pillars for any radical critique of supermodernity and the synthetic ways of life” it is imposing on us.
Rebellion and Conservatism: The Lessons of 1984 – Jean-Claude Michéa
In this 1997 essay, contemporary educational reform is offered as an illustration of not only the destructive effects of capitalist modernization, but also of the ambiguity of a “libertarian” concept of progress (exemplified by “the recuperable side” of May ‘68) that often only serves to facilitate and justify capitalism’s elimination of traditional structures of human society (customs, family, etc.) that once shielded humanity from the noxious effects of the ongoing realization of capitalism’s “negative utopia” (an “anthropological impossibility”) that reduces humans to “monads” of “enlightened self-interest”.
The School of Ignorance and Its Modern Conditions – Jean-Claude Michéa
“Nowadays we everywhere seek to propagate wisdom: who knows whether in a couple of centuries there may not exist universities for restoring the old ignorance.”
Miguel Amorós discusses the French riots of 2005, which he considers in the context of deindustrialization and the permanent exclusion of the underclass from the labor market, who were then stigmatized as a “public enemy” “in order to obtain the absolute submission” of the rest of the population, observing that the slums are “the laboratory for spectacular domination where the social management of the future was tested” and “political experiments were carried out in vivo that were later applied to all domains of society, when all of society had been transformed into a slum” and “the cities were being evacuated to provide accommodations only to tourists and elites”.
The Rage of the Slums – Miguel Amorós
"How long can this go on?
When are you going to blow it up?
You wanted the war of the worlds and here it is
What do you expect to achieve by setting fires?"
Lyrics of the hip hop group, Nique Ta Mère, from the 1995 album, "Paris sous les bombes"
A collection of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s observations and aphorisms on religion, politics and culture, based on transcripts of unpublished interviews held over a six-year period and revised by the controversial Italian poet, novelist, filmmaker and all-around political-cultural celebrity, in which Pasolini, who once notoriously proclaimed his sympathy for the “working class” policemen in their clashes with spoiled “middle class” students, expresses his eccentric views on America, Third World nationalism, China, Russia, a pope or two, his favorite filmmakers and poets, hippies, NATO’s involvement in the attempted coup d’état in Italy in 1964, etc.
Almost a Testament: Encounters with Pasolini1 - Peter Dragazde
- 1. Published in Gente, November 17, 1975.
In this 2006 lecture, Miguel Amorós depicts the previous twenty years as a period of radical changes for the emancipatory project, beginning with “the disappearance of the workers milieu” in the 1980s and the simultaneous rise of a new youth movement which, because it “started from zero” as a result of its lack of historical memory, was in part drawn to violence (“immediate confrontation”), and in part to the practice of “neo-contestatory”, “festive” forms of simulated struggle (“In the society of the spectacle protest is a form of leisure”), only to be “absorbed by the dynamic of survival in a hostile environment” as “the fifth wheel of the electoral bandwagon of social democracy”.
The Last Twenty Years of Social Liquidation – Miguel Amorós
Concerning the Degeneration of Revolutionary Ideals after the End of the Working Class in the West
A short summary of the history of the Situationist International, with brief discussions of its artistic origins, its significance as the “the most political artistic vanguard and the most artistic political vanguard” of its time, the role of the critique of everyday life in the development of its project, and the recuperation of many situationist themes by capitalism since May ’68, whose achievements with regard to individual freedom "were nothing but the pale reflection of the freedom of the market”.
Notes on “The Situationist International: The Art of Historical Intervention” – Miguel Amorós
Anselm Jappe discusses the life and works of Celine and their relation to the populist politics of resentment, Nazi propaganda, and the mass culture of the postwar era, noting that Celine’s lauded style, in its consonance with his “ideological delusions”, meets Hitler’s definition of propaganda (“it is not about convincing, but about the power of suggestion” and emotions) and that, while Celine’s “… endless succession of fragments, almost devoid of meaning if one takes them in isolation, which are intended to stimulate immediate impulses, recall the techniques of Goebbels, they also prefigure a totalitarian technique that would only make its appearance a few decades later: the videoclip.”
From Céline to the Videoclip – Anselm Jappe