The final part of Midnight Notes' "The Work/Energy Crisis and the Apocalypse".
We began with the end of the world, the Apocalypse. All the noise of capitalist prophets has taken as the cause of the impending catastrophe the problem of energy: either too little (the anti- limitationists) or too much (the interactionists).
Even the “revival” of “nuclear holocaust” thinking of the unthinkable takes energy as the trigger of the Bomb, for invariably it is seen as the most pressing Natural scarcity. The scenarios of nuclear war obsessively turn to the Gulf of Hormoz, for there appears here an inevitable source of international antagonism. When faced with a fundamental scarcity the only way to move, according to the anti-limitationists, is to face the possibility of a military confrontation and prepare for it. On the other side, the interactionists warn that if we want to escape the threat of nuclear war we must retreat to a “clean”, “stable state” economy autarchic enough to remove the need for such a confrontation. Both sides accept the “problem” as a collection of, at base, “natural, brute facts”.
Now the facts might be brute enough, but they are not “natural”. Whenever capital announces a new apocalypse, we must see that the culprit is not Nature, the Bomb or some autonomous bureaucratic drive to “exterminism”. Capital’s Apocalypse is the inverse image of the struggle against it, as it reaches critical proportions. For you don’t fight shadows with shadows, you don’t walk about “delicately and non-provocatively” for fear of setting off the irrational Beast. At the root of all the missies, bombs, atomic power plants, all the “idols of the theatre” that capital displays so provocatively, is the struggle against capitalist accumulation, against a life dominated by work and exploitation. This struggle is the source of the current Apocalyptic Rumors and this struggle can end them. What ended the Bomb Apocalyptics in the early 60s? It was by no means the rhetorical battle between pro- and anti-bomb movements.
Capital had to demote the Bomb because the class movements in the early 60s made it clear that they would not be intimidated by all this nuclear rattling. The riots in Watts, the revival of wildcats in coal, the refusal to accept Civil Defense regimentation even after the exercise of the Cuban crisis, made it clear to the Kennedy and Johnson administrations that the Bomb had begun to loose its hold. The^ip of terror could not constrict the new class movements, their desires and disgusts.
The same holds for the present. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, “given a fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts”, can only be stopped by the development of the very struggles that unleashed them. Any “solutions” to the Energy crisis that attempt to by-pass the struggle, whether Teller’s electronuclear path ringed with missle silos or the Odum’s “alternativist” path of agricultural homeostasis and defensivism, merely repropose the crisis. As we have shown, capital can not do with either Teller or the Odums alone. The seemingly opposing utopias of High and Low organic composition necessarily complement each other, indeed, they potentiate each other.
Capital has turned the world upside down to deal with the struggle against work, against the muscle, heart, nerve and asshole of capital.
Against the four levels of work:
- the relative exploitation of the factory;
- the absolute exploitation of the housework;
- the reduction of entropy via smoothing of the work process with the detection of low entropic pools
- the reduction of entropy via the expulsion of high entropic wastes
we have seen the corresponding levels of struggle:
- refusal of “productivity deals” on the assembly lines
- disintegration of the family and the reproductive apparatus that keys workers into the production process
- refusal to accept the entropy sorters of capital e.g., in ._.the education system and through the intensification of “crime”
- refusal to passively absorb the expulsion of capital’s shit into the bio-social process of reproduction, e.g., the struggle against prisons and radioactive dumps
All these forms of refusal directly caused the profits crisis and the subsequent “Energy Crisis” Restoration of profitability. These struggles, however, remain intractible whatever the total “apocalyptic” attack that capital has confronted them with. As Polish workers have shown, the only way to confront the missiles is to demand more and juicier sausages: “Only those who strike eat meat.”