Two editorials from Argelaga - Revista Argelaga

Two editorials from Argelaga - Revista Argelaga

The two lead editorials from the first two issues (2013) of the Barcelona periodical, Argelaga: An Anti-Developmentalist Libertarian Journal, introducing the journal and declaring its perspectives and goals, which are summed up as the creation of “an atmosphere of dissidence and desertion in which the historical subject, which is nothing but the anti-capitalist community, can be constituted and consolidated” (Argelaga no. 1) in a struggle that is not just rural but aimed also at “a return to the city, that is, to the self-governed and de-capitalized space where liberty and history originated” (Argelaga no. 2).

Editorial (Argelaga, no. 1)—Revista Argelaga

Aliaga, also known as aulaga or tojo [“gorse” in English: a “genus of thorny evergreen shrubs”—Translator’s note], is a Mediterranean shrub that is extremely flammable: “a fire made with aliaga, that’s a real fire”, as the old Catalan saying goes. It can survive a fire and sprout afterwards from its root. Although the above-ground part of the plant is damaged by the fire, the buds that are just below ground escape intact and sprout. An obligatory metaphor for the resistance to the commodification of the territory, one that is all the more apt when we consider that aliaga was used to tan pigs before skinning them. Nor is that all. Since it is a very spiny plant, it is said of people who are not afraid of plain speaking, that their words are “as smooth as the aliaga”. So that this would be our message: full of barbs, like the aliaga.

Our starting point is the conviction that the social revolution is necessary and possible. Necessary because it is the only solution that is suggested to us by common sense in a world that is caught in a techno-political maze that is causing it to become increasingly more uninhabitable. Possible because the capitalist domination that subjects mass society to the imperatives of the global economy has feet of clay. The contradictions between its need to grow and the financial impossibility of stimulating demand, and between growth and the scarcity of available resources, especially energy resources, condemn developmentalist policies to the most resounding failure. Domination, however, cannot pursue any other kind of policy; indeed, it is forced to devote all its efforts to the pursuit of economic development, even though by doing so it plunges society into an abyss of destruction and will go down with society in its fall. Capitalism has ceased to be an alternative to catastrophe, and since catastrophe is inevitable, the sooner it takes place the less bloody it will be. Humanity is therefore directly confronted by the choice between revolution or barbarism. By revolution we mean a historical process of radical change that cannot be reduced to just one of its moments, that of the confrontation with the forces of order, nor can it avoid that confrontation by resorting to an economic or political formula. The process has begun but the social forces that have to spearhead it have yet to form. If hostilities have now been declared, the battles must also be waged on the terrain of ideas, which is a very swampy terrain. The inevitable decomposition of a system ridden with insoluble antagonisms is the source of conflicts in the territory and the city, which recompose the links of solidarity that had become extinct and provide them with valuable materials for the acquisition of consciousness concerning modern oppression. The revolutionary subject will take shape precisely in the heat of combat thanks to his understanding of the epoch in which he is immersed, because its contradictions reveal to him the immensity of the task that must be accomplished.

By publishing Argelaga, our objective is none other than to foment, with the analysis and debate of territorial and urban struggles, an atmosphere of dissidence and desertion in which the historical subject, which is nothing but the anti-capitalist community, can be constituted and consolidated. By reflecting the echo of the reasons of the combatants, and by giving them a few when they do not find them, we want to contribute to the resurgence of a practical critique that will provide that community with the strategic vision necessary to execute the death sentence of a world without any reason to exist, a world that is historically condemned.

We are aware of the fact that we cannot demand from our collaborators total conformity with our general point of view, but we believe that the conviction that we are on the same terrain and are going in the same direction allows us to walk a long way together, if not as associated comrades, then at least as allied friends.

Miquel Amorós

Editorial published in the first issue of the journal, Argelaga, February 2013 (Barcelona).

Translated in January 2014 from a copy of the Spanish text provided by the author.

Editorial (Argelaga, no. 2) – Miquel Amorós

Understanding the nature of the forces that are convulsing industrial civilization, we emphatically reject the principles upon which they are based: progress, development, the monopoly of force and manipulated desire. We do not believe in reforms, and instead expect that the contradictions of this civilization will give way to a subversive movement, one that will be capable of creating a new de-industrialized society on its ruins.

Total industrialization, the generalization of wage labor and hierarchy—the development of the productive forces and the state—as remedies for social inequalities, have been nothing but illusions and fallacies. Industrialization and job creation have not ceased to advance under every kind of government. The leading positions in the state have even passed into the hands of socialists, communists or populists, without any reduction in social oppression, even if it is disguised as “welfare state” or “socialism”. What is more, new forms of servitude have emerged to join the old ones: humanity is increasingly forced to live in precarious conditions in a devastated territory monitored by an apparatus of repression.

In this context, the revolution is not a locomotive of history, but an emergency brake that interrupts its course in order to avoid catastrophe. In opposition to the current social model based on the concentration of resources, people and capital in great urban aggregates ruled by a political-financial class, we must endeavor to create non-capitalist and egalitarian ways of life, small agricultural and artisanal units scattered throughout the territory and in balance with it. This does not, however, mean a spontaneous return to the countryside, or a simple process of de-urbanization, but of a return to the city, that is, to the self-governed and de-capitalized space where liberty and history originated.

The social struggle thus presents two different aspects: on the one hand, it is a defense of the territory and a reconstruction of the self-managed peasant community that made it habitable; on the other hand, it is an urban struggle that in the name of Reason proclaims the right to the city, to the agora and to the barricade, against the political leaders and technocratic experts of the business-megalopolis who invoke Progress, particratic democracy and the Market. This struggle has to be waged in an anomic, uniform and obsolete society, which lacks the structures of both city and agrarian life, properly speaking, and instead features an undifferentiated urban magma parasitically overrunning a suburbanized territory. The forms of coexistence that it nourishes are rigid and empty, decomposed and uninspired, the kind that are prone to produce solitary, fragmented and uprooted, dispirited and asocial individuals.

It is therefore not at all strange that, in the circles of resistance, a certain kind of pseudo-rebellious narcissism prevails, or else a nihilist pose, which claims a monopoly on the meaning of “anarchism”, when its proponents are themselves nothing but a mere reflection of the individualism that is the outcome of their disappointment with organic anarchism. In an apocalyptic perspective, this individualism is transformed into a “violentist”, rather than a violent activism, predictable and disoriented. In a defeatist perspective it places us on the road to enlightened passivity or, even worse, to that of opportunism. Revolutionary action is not equivalent to either violence or theory; it is not intrinsically aggressive, nor is it esthetically contemplative. It does not exclusively pursue the elaboration of a theoretical corpus, which in the manner of a resplendent revelation would reveal to the inhabitants of the planet the indisputable truth before which they must bow. Nor does it rely on an obsessive gymnastics of confrontation, which, by following the familiar road of the “offensive” would awaken in the subject masses a certain taste for community and liberty.

While it is true that one cannot speak of revolution without content or conflict, without purpose or strategy of struggle, today the foundations for revolutionary change are based on the arduous labor of cultivating and forming relations, which would guarantee the assemblyist and horizontal functioning of the organized resistance—which consolidates direct democracy as an instrument of social management and transformation—and, at the same time, in the battle of ideas that prepares the necessary change of mentality—so that the concrete struggles are not only contemplated in their immediacy. As the “Theses on Feuerbach” noted: “It is not enough for thought to strive for realization, reality must itself strive towards thought.”1

With respect to the scene of resistance, we have passed from a rural sea with urban enclaves, to an urbanized ocean with rural enclaves, with all the consequences of such a shift. The accumulation of capital is based more than ever before on the transformation of the territory, which is divided into densely populated zones and large reserve areas or dumping zones. This means that the social question is becoming, above all, the desertion of the capitalist way of life and the defense of the territory. This defense has two sides, one positive and one negative. The former involves the attempt to establish practical modes of segregation; the attempt to restore the peasant way of life by starting from the local, to reconstruct city society by way of the occupation and collectivization of lands and housing, self-managed and non-monetized networks of production and consumption, alternative technologies, the use of renewable energies on a small scale…. In general, by opening up ways of direct cooperation between the urban and rural resistance forces, since it is also an attempt, although in this respect proceeding more slowly, to reconstitute city life by relying on this cooperative solidarity, thanks to the recovery of public spaces, the creation of urban gardens and artisanal workshops, the holding of neighborhood assemblies…. Self-defense applies to both the countryside and the city.

However, the intention that lies behind all defense is to stop the attacks, attacks that you see coming. But if self-defense is only employed to stop attacks, without counterattacking, resistance would be as absurd as a battle where passivity is the rule. Clausewitz, the theoretician of war, says: “Defense is nothing but an advantageous form of war, by means of which one seeks to procure victory in order to be able, with the help of the dominance so acquired, to go on the offensive, that is, to pursue a positive goal.” And this is where the negative side comes into play, the struggle against the process of urbanization and the construction of vast infrastructure projects, the sabotage of industrial crops, the mobilization against nuclear power plants and industrial bio-fuels, the opposition to authoritarianism and social control, the front against the commodification of consumption, leisure and culture, and, finally, the skirmishes for the destabilization of the developmentalist model.

The two aspects, the convivial and the combative, are necessary, but they must proceed in tandem. If they are separated, the rules of the market will integrate the creative experiences and the game of politics will dissolve the social antagonisms. If one builds on the air, one fights for nothing.

Revista Argelaga

Editorial published in the second issue of the journal, Argelaga, June 2013 (Barcelona).

Translated in January 2014 from a copy of the Spanish text provided by Revista Argelaga.

  • 1. This quotation is from Marx’s “Introduction to a Contribution to Hegel’s Philosophy of Right” (1844) [Translator’s note].