There will be no revolution until the Cossacks descend
Play is also enigmatic and contradictory in the logic of capital, which uses it as part of the commodity spectacle. It acquires an ambiguity that it does not in itself possess. This ambiguity comes from the illusory structure of capitalist production. In this way the game simply becomes a suspension of production, a parenthesis of ‘peace’ in everyday life. So play comes to be programmed and used scenically.
When it is outside the dominion of capital, play is harmoniously structured by its own creative impulse. It is not linked to this or that performance required by the forces of the world of production but develops autonomously. It is only in this reality that play is cheerful, that it gives joy. It does not ‘suspend’ the unhappiness of the laceration caused by exploitation but realises it to the full, making it become a participant in the reality of life. In this way it opposes itself to the tricks put into act by the reality of death — even through play — to make the gloominess less gloomy.
The destroyers of the death reality are struggling against the mythical reign of capitalist illusion, a reign which although it aspires to eternity rolls in the dust of the contingent. Joy emerges from the play of destructive action, from the recognition of the profound tragedy that this implies and an awareness of the strength of enthusiasm that is capable of slaying the cobwebs of death. It is not a question of opposing horror with horror, tragedy with tragedy, death with death. It is a confrontation between joy and horror, joy and tragedy, joy and death.
To kill a policeman it is not necessary to don the judge’s robes hastily cleansed of the blood of previous sentences. Courts and sentences are always part of the spectacle of capital, even when it is revolutionaries who act them out. When a policeman is killed his responsibility is not weighed on the scales, the clash does not become a question of arithmetic. One is not programming a vision of the relationship between revolutionary movement and exploiters. One is responding at the immediate level to a need that has come to be structured within the revolutionary movement, a need that all the analyses and justifications of this world would never have succeeded in imposing on their own.
This need is the attack on the enemy, the exploiters and their servants. It matures slowly within the structures of the movement. Only when it comes out into the open does the movement pass from the defensive phase to attack. Analysis and moral justification are upstream at the source not downstream at the feet of those who come out into the streets, poised to make them stumble. They exist in the centuries of systematic violence that capital has exercised over the exploited. But they do not necessarily come to light in a form that is complete and ready for use. That would be a further rationalisation of intentions, our dream of imposing a model on reality that does not belong to it.
Let’s have these Cossacks come down. We do not support the role of reaction, that is not for us. We refuse to accept capital’s ambiguous invitation. Rather than shoot our comrades or each other it is always better to shoot policemen.
There are times in history when science exists in the consciousness of those who are struggling. At such times there is no need for interpreters of truth. It emerges from things as they are. It is the reality of the struggle that produces theory.
The birth of the commodity market marked the formation of capital, the passage from feudal forms of production to the capitalist one. With the entrance of production into its spectacular phase the commodity form has extended to everything that exists: love, science, feelings, consciousness, etc. The spectacle has widened. The second phase does not, as the marxists maintain, constitute a corruption of the first. It is a different phase altogether. Capital devours everything, even the revolution. If the latter does not break from the model of production, if it merely claims to impose alternative forms, capitalism will swallow it up within the commodity spectacle.
Only the struggle cannot be swallowed up. Some of its forms, crystallising in precise organisational entities, can end up being drawn into the spectacle. But when they break away from the deep significance that capital gives to production this becomes extremely difficult.
In the second phase questions of arithmetic and revenge do not make sense. If they are mentioned, they take on a metaphorical significance.
The illusory game of capital (the commodity spectacle) must be substituted with the real game of the armed attack against it for the destruction of the unreal and the spectacle.