The Optimism of Revolutionaries
Long ago I felt the utter weariness that religion induced in me. So I abandoned all respect for it. Later in my life I came to other conclusions: that ghosts did not exist, that there was no such thing as magic or miracles, and that aliens have never visited planet earth. It took a great weight off my shoulders to come to these conclusions. I was reminded of my earlier disbelief, when I had given up allowing for the possibility that a god existed. It is common sense that permits one to come to such decisions. A while ago I read this quote, used by Guy Debord in his reminisce (which no doubt partly inspired my reminisce), Panegyric, "the only true histories are those that have been written by men who have been sincere enough to speak truly about themselves". Shakespeare said, "This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man". If we can look out from our own eyes and judge the world with our own feelings, our own experiences, then we will get closer to the truth about things than in any other way. The point of religion, the belief in ghosts or the supernatural, the belief in aliens, all ideology in fact, is to distract people from thinking about, and from, themselves and to make them feel humble and powerless. Instead of basing our world-view on our own experience we are coerced into looking out onto the world through a filter of hope and fear.
When I was young, after I had passed through a period of reading that started with tales about King Arthur and ended with the Conan the Barbarian books, I began reading 'serious' and 'great' literature. I did not read everything by any means, but I read enough. As a young man I read less, I was now in the search for how to actually live my life, which for me meant doing as little 'work' as possible. However, if I had to work I preferred manual labour to anything else. I was a student for a while, to put off inevitabilities. Here I met many Marxist lecturers. In fact, in those days every academic seemed to be a Marxist of some sort. One of them, a man whose thinning black hair and full, unkempt beard suited his passion for the French Revolutions, once said to me that he had given up reading fiction a long time ago. I remember him saying this but do not remember exactly why he said it. Probably it was because I had asked him if he had read some novel or other. Being of an impressionable age and, indeed, nature, I resolved to abandon my silly novel reading. What use was fiction when there were so many factual books around that could tell you more about real life and the forces that shape the world? But I was unsuccessful, I could rarely read factual books, they hung like a dead weight on my hands (there are a few exceptions to this rule, I remember, for example, reading with great gusto an academic book I had borrowed from Sydney Library, while lazing by a pool in Fiji, on the Ruhr and its role in the German Revolution). One of the problems with factual books is that the reader cannot tell if they are telling the truth. For this reason it is no good reading one version of events, you have to read all of them and only then can you attempt to form your own opinion on matters, or give up in despair. This is too tiresome a task for the likes of me, so I tried to find the right interpretations of events by only reading writers I thought were close to my way of thinking. So I read a few obscure political works, anarchist, ultra-left, council communist, Marxist, Situationist, etc. I did not read everything by any means, but I read enough. As I said, I read much less in general than when I was a teenager, but still I was drawn to 'great’ novels, and I continued to read them, slowly.
The political works I read, the people I was involved with, and the texts I produced myself, although often having some worthy characteristics, were imbued with an optimism and a faith that bore no relation to the real world that I saw around me. I had become a kind of political animal, I had joined a 'club', I had become a 'believer’. However, since I never actually lived for any length of time in any political social scene I was always able to critique it from outside. Macho gestures (by no means the preserve of men, by the way); lack of serious thought; lack of self-reflection; insularity; condescending and do-good impulses better suited to the rigorously alienated world of social work - these were elements I became aware of in the 'revolutionary' social scene. It seemed to me to be a grave error to see your personal lifestyle, your personal politics, as evidence of genuine revolt, it is also tragically egotistical and, in the end, comic. After a short while all bohemias become restrictive, moralistic and deadly boring. We cannot escape this society while the fundamental aspects of its continuation are still functioning, we cannot come up with any real alternatives, beyond half-told dreams, until the economy comes crashing to a halt. It is the way the economy of the world works -this is not to say that it always works perfectly of course - that makes it possible for the ruling class to exercise its power. And the ruling ideas of society are the ideas of the ruling class. And in this democratic and mass world the ruling class provides us with many differing and even competing ideas. By providing us with these false opposites (globalisation/anti-globalisation, imperialism/anti-imperialism, vegan cafe/McDonalds, etc) the ruling classes can ensure that debates are kept on their terrain, that those with a sense of self-righteousness are kept busy playing the tiresome political games of good versus evil. These political movements, naturally, never threaten to destroy the economy (how could they?), they only 'threaten' to refine it or save it. History shows us that it is not movements that lead to genuinely revolutionary events, it is only complete economic failure and mismanagement If this occurs, and it was close to happening at the time of World War One, then it may be that the workers in those essential industries that keep the economy running will be forced to take them over. It is at this point that the material basis of society will have altered, and it is now that humanity has the chance to assert itself, and prevent the re-imposition of economics. Where movements are the dominant force in events one will only see a hasty replacement of effective government, a coup d'etat, one will not see the collapse of all sections of the ruling class as all these sections lose control, however temporarily, of the economy. There is a difference between the toppling of political parties in, for example, Serbia in 2001, and the turmoil in society in Europe at the end of WW1. There is a difference, for example, between the toppling of political parties in recent years in the Philippines and the limited, but very significant, events in France in 1968.
Apart from my distance from 'the revolutionary lifestyle' I also had an enlightening experience in a rank-and-file postal workers group. This was not really a rank-and-file group, it was really a political group of political postal workers who wanted to gain some influence over other postal workers and increase tensions at work (attempting to expose all anti-worker tendencies at ones workplace is the nihilist communist's daily fare - "Cheer up, folks, in a hundred years we'll all be dead and forgotten!"). It wasnt long after I joined it that the group began to fall apart. My experiences in this group and at work for years in the delivery office convinced me of certain things. I became aware of how those who are for communist revolution should act and behave in workplaces, I also became aware that most of my political associates did not work, and would not ever work, in any essential industry. This, I felt, helped sustain the current and general misunderstanding of where the power of the working class lies. On the other hand, simply working in essential industries does not in any way guarantee clarity of observation for 'revolutionaries'. Anyway, I can see now that it was this experience that helped me move away from more liberal, leftist, anarchist convictions and take on more communist positions. It was from this point that much of my political writing became aimed at the whole of the political milieu that I associated with. Over the years my critique of this milieu has deepened, and indeed my critique of my own actions and texts has also become sharper. For example, I used to do a small magazine called Proletarian Gob. While there is much in this magazine that is still useful there is also much that relies on a kind of religious faith. A while ago I thought about re-issuing the whole set, but now I realise that it could only be re-issued with heavy annotation. Better, in fact, that the whole minor work is left in the oblivion (my loft) in which it now lies.
The optimism of 'revolutionaries' now produces an utter weariness in me. And I have abandoned all respect for the various self-appointed midwives of communism; all those who talk about what sort of movement is needed to destroy capital, they who insist on purring their ideological and restricting cart before the horse of material events. It has been like a weight lifted from my shoulders. Recently my critique of 'revolutionary' experts and activists has sharpened to the point that I am now no longer much welcome in 'revolutionary' circles. People don't like to have their bubbles threatened by little pricks like me. I am now in the group Monsieur Dupont. The two of us in this group are generally despised. We see a common fault across the whole of the communist and anarchist milieu, it is one of a faith in the concept of consciousness, particularly working class consciousness' and the general belief that consciousness in 'the masses' can be raised by 'revolutionaries'.
We have come to the conclusion that the useful proletariat only consist of those workers who work in the essential sectors of the economy. Those who produce things without which the economy would crumble and those who distribute things without which the economy would crumble. And these proletarians are only useful when they are actually at the point of production, that is, actually at work, whether it be working normally or preventing work through strikes and similar. We have also come to the conclusion that people will only be able to decide on new ways of living when the old ways have been broken materially. The concept of 'consciousness' is mistaken. There is no way that millions of people across the world will eventually arrive at a communist perspective and then overthrow the economy. It is common sense that permits one to come to such conclusions. It was once said that "the only true histories are those that have been written by men who have been sincere enough to speak truly about themselves." If we can look out from our own eyes and judge the world with our own feelings then we will get closer to the truth about things than in any other way. One major factor in 'revolutionary' politics is this optimism that workers will 'wake up'. But the only way workers will be considered to have 'woken up' is when they have become organised by 'revolutionary' experts, this leadership of experts will then end up killing workers the same way Lenin did. Steve Biko of South Africa was a proponent of 'consciousness-raising', and the ANC was successful in organising workers through this process, they started killing them routinely even before they got into power. These 'revolutionaries' who tell us that one day people will change their minds because they will realise the sinfulness of present society, these 'revolutionaries' are trying to make us see the world through a filter of hope, they have put common sense aside, they are offering us that same old pie in the sky that the clerics used to sell.
There is no hope (but this does not mean I need not be enthusiastic in my life, or a participant in events. My negativity, which is at last written through me like rock, does not make me unhappy). A famous 'revolutionary' once said, "Nihilists, one more effort if you want to be revolutionaries!" This was a slogan of the generally remarkable Situationists. But this is the optimism of the Christian missionaries, "Be positive about the future of the world, if we work hard enough then the rest of the people will see the truth of what we say and the world will be saved," not forgetting the stage whisper, the secret goal: "And then we will get a place in government!" Someone once said, "Nobody speaks the truth when there is something they must have," this maxim seems to apply to the majority of the 'revolutionary milieu' across the world, they who want to preserve their sense of self-importance above all else.
We would reverse the slogan and say, "Revolutionaries, one more effort to become nihilists!" And we would say that from your critique of everything, from your non-belief, it may be possible for you to connect with your own humanity. My criticisms of 'revolutionism' have always been based in my attempts to establish a personal perspective and experience. This has not been an easy task, and it is ongoing, it is easy to on holy mantras. It is easier to promote dogma, to let dogma rise to the surface like the scum it is, than it is to engage with the world through ones own experience.
These days I have almost completely abandoned reading factual books because I have discovered that there is more truth in one page of good fiction than there is in a shelf of academic or political works.
I am for communism now more than ever. I am against religious faith, intolerance, hidden agendas, and machismo now more than ever.
Monsieur Dupont 18th December 2001
Language and consciousness
[This was part of a letter to someone, it was stated that this part of the letter was an 'official' reply rather than a personal one, this way the writing effort could be used again, and in the event that the person did not endeavour to continue the correspondence (as occurred) then the writing was not completely 'wasted']
Let's talk about language. I will quote your question concerning my use of language in full:
"... can I ask you what sort of audience you had in mind when you wrote the piece [an article on the English Civil War]? Was it produced in any kind of academic situation? 1 just feet that your language seemed to be just that little bit denser than it needed to be in places. Of course, you were making some quite intricate points, but I do feel that you could make those points, at some places, in plainer English and thus be read by more people, or at least be more likely to convince those you do reach."
This is the question I am asked most often; whether it is Reclaim The Streets activists, the Anarchist Federation, anarcho-communist interlocutors from America and even relatives scoring points against my character by asking for simplification, or more charitably, clarification. The same question but different motives. I understand that you are genuinely perplexed by my methods and my motives and the question you have asked is quite appropriate, I am not offended by it and I shall honestly (but no doubt obscurely) answer you by and by. The same question is raised but with hostile intent by the so-called revolutionary movement, for them it is a matter of scratching me out of the picture, creating a situation where they do not have to respond to what I am saying, dismissing the form so they do not have to address the content. They don't want to be bothered with it, but sometimes too difficult" means only that it is too difficult - I do not understand some people's difficulty with difficulty, I've never been intimidated by it, what I don't understand I skip, otherwise I am always on the look out for ideas or phrases I can refashion or steal outright, and if a text defies all efforts at comprehension, as in Beckett, I just set myself the task of reading every word from beginning to end, that way at least I can claim to have got through it alive.
The 'revolutionary movement' is a racket dominated by groups of aggressive robber barons who want to protect their booty, they do not, on the whole, create/produce/generate theory or ideas but stick religiously to a code of morality which they consider suitable for all occasions, and because this code is simple, they claim it is intelligible to the working class (if this is so why then have the numbers of these revolutionary groups not increased over the years?). It is more true to say that difficult theory is of less use to them than simple morality even if theory is more closely related to their values. Moral codes are easily enforceable, they do not need to be 'interpreted' by any budding revolutionary rabbi, and therefore they function to defend the structural integrity of the group), preventing it from changing, preserving the internal, non-explicit power apparati. Pro-revolutionary organisations want easy ideas for public consumption in the same way factories seek to cut costs, simplify processes and speed up production, the objective of the factory is not to produce objects but to make money by producing objects, what then is the objective of pro-revolutionary groups? When we ask, 'what is the opposite of difficulty in pro-revolutionary texts?' texts which, in the final analysis, attempt to realise in the most radical form what is not present to everyday experience, what is not capitalism, what is not totality, the answer too often comes back as: laziness, morality, incompetence, that which lacks internal rigour - in other words, an ugly, bullying, stupidity. Not all pro-revolutionary texts need be as complicatedly written as I write, in fact none of them do, I do not advocate a style. As well as difficulty there is clarity, there is rigour, there is discipline, there is passion, there is intensity, there is imagination, there is commitment - pro-revolutionary writing should aim for these.
I am not a particularly educated individual, I have not practised writing in an academic environment, I have not passed through enough tubes and every ability I have I have come to late and only half-prepared, this has some influence on how I write. What I am capable of, the forms, the connections between concepts do not come from official education but from surrealism which is the only expressive form to put readymade creative techniques into the hands of otherwise unschooled individuals. It is also true that the hare I am chasing is elusive, quick and well-camouflaged, in other words my quarry is difficult and my mind is easily distracted by shiny things, sweat drips in my eyes, my hand is not steady, I'm not as young as I was, the terrain is uneven, oh and I am tired, so, so tired but I keep on (with my pockets empty).
If you desire contemplation of the category difficulty I suggest reading Winstanley, a pro-revolutionary all admire but none read. In reading Winstanley I discovered that difficulty of expression is evidence of a struggle against socially imposed silence; difficulty, when it is not a cloak of expertise thrown by the scholar over his professional interest, indicates the inappropriateness not only of what is being said but of who is saying it; if a worker says 'the earth is a common treasury for all' it has more profundity and difficulty (it is more open to doubt and interpretation) than if a middle class drop-out scrawls it on a banner hung across the streets in the City of London, the latter being merely an act of appropriation - for the worker even a simple truth is difficult to fix with the right words because truth and words are not workers' business.
I did not include your query as a way of criticising you, as a weapon to beat you with. It merely put neatly what so many others have been saying - because it was so succinctly put it becomes very useful to me. Certainly I would prefer to engage in discussion on the content of what I am saying instead of having to go right back to the beginning and justify my privilege to write what I like and how I like. But any point is an equally good place to start an exposition of what we have to say, and in addressing writing style we will consider in passing all other matters of vital importance. And to begin immediately, you make two assumptions which I would like to investigate, '...you could make those points.... in plainer English and thus be read by more people, or at least be more likely to convince those you do reach'. I think you think that I want to convince people of my opinions, and from this I think that you think that I, along with most socialists, prioritise the manipulation of consciousness as a means of realising social transformation (if people's values are not altered how can the project of a new society be begun with sincerity? And if we are not seeking mere totalitarianism then had we better not try to convince as many people as possible of our ideas and had we better not move social consciousness towards our goal as deeply and significantly as we are able?). For me to say that I am not particularly interested in persuading people of my opinions and neither do I place a premium on the role of consciousness in history would perhaps appear perverse to you but that is indeed what I do say. It is not your fault if you are at this point bewildered by my aims and motives, after ail it is the convention for most pro-revolutionary groups in history to seek a realisation of the ideas they possess. It must seem like I am hopping from one boulder to the next and proclaiming each to be the kingdom of truth and all the rest to be mere products of your imagination.
In reply I do not particularly want to make an exhaustive study of consciousness, or consider the means by which revolutionary theory becomes translated into social life so I will content myself by rehearsing a few rhetorical jibes and unsupported assertions and leave it at that:
The historical background to my remarks is this: socialism and socialist theory has been, in the most part, decaying for about a hundred years, the betrayals that were Bolshevism and social democracy had fatal effect It became impossible' to think or act within the terms initially envisaged by the working class movement without subordinating that thought to an allegiance to some interim political party, state or cause. Those who advocated shipping political consciousness into the hearts and minds of people were in reality only using the alleged stubbornness of consciousness in sticking to old ways of thinking as a shield for postponing social revolution and protecting the existing powers of those organisations which found that they rather enjoyed recognition from, negotiation with, and containment by the state. Freud tells us that all defined structure seeks stasis and so it is with pro-revolutionary organisations, most of which rapidly discovered the principle pleasures to be had from society when playing the pantomime villain but which off-stage collaborated in the maintenance of balanced, apparently oppositional, but otherwise motionless deployments of force (the cold war of capital and labour). Who are the transmitters in the consciousness model, who are they really? And who are the receivers, who is the haulier with his cargo of beliefs and who plays the depot hanging on desperately with forklift and docket pad? Is revolution no more than the shifting of containerised units of theory from our warehouse to local corner shops? Are we to use the internet, shall we call the workers on their mobile phones? Will the white moths of the proletariat be sucked out of the darkness and into the bum of our candle?
Conversion is the ugliest technique. Elmer Gantry is not a figure to be emulated. Consciousness, for those who advocate its raising, for those who sell it in their papers, is just a euphemism for the scalps of new recruits hanging on their belts, it is the demo placard numbers game; consciousness for them is allegiance to the party, to the function of the party within society and thus to reality as it is presently organised. Once you've got it, you've got it in full, you don't play with it, you don't change it. The party has been good enough to supply you with the truth so don't pay it back by asking damnfool questions. In short, for its raisers and recruiters, consciousness is not consciousness at all if by that term we mean the principle evidence of human alienation from the world, that which resists organisation.
Here is a question, if an individual converts his faith from Protestantism to Catholicism is that individual altered, and via what means does this alteration have effect on society? I think the individual considers the conversion to be important but his character has probably changed very little and I think his essential beliefs and values are probably not decisive in the way he lives his life, I think there are other, preconscious, factors with more pull on his being and I think that his values and beliefs are of infinitely small importance to the world (seventy million people, as I write are participating in the greatest demonstration of alienated consciousness the world has ever seen, Kumbha Mela; the consciousness of seventy million Hindus does not alter the geographical truth of the origins of the flowing Ganges let alone the historical truth of capital's flows towards cheap labour and unrestricted exploitation. And nor does the 'revolutionary movement' have to take up the white man's burden to prove to this seventy million that they are in error, to convert these believers into non-belief, their beliefs and their values are irrelevant to the revolution). My conclusion from this is that there seems no necessity in persuading random individuals of the Tightness of my values when it can only gain for me an increase of earthly power.
What comes before consciousness? Material events.
Individual testimony as to the meteor-like impact of matter on their lives is to be observed in how certain discreet objects crater their being, agitising them. It is all absurdrty, the other name of facts, that mobile phones, which are now owned by sixty per cent of the population, have had, in five years, a more profound impact on consciousness by agitising the preconscious than has a hundred and fifty years of socialist propaganda. Those who presume that the role of the pro-revolutionary is to be convincing to The People disregard the phenomena of mobile phones (and the commodity as an abstract generality) and how they have replaced cigarettes as principle fetish objects of anxiety (everybody has found a reason for owning one), head tumour threats replace lung tumour warnings, the train's not moving they give you something to do with your hands, secure you in emergency. How are The People to be convinced when so many thousands of receptor consciousnesses are scrambled by tamazipan and prozac, when adolescence is prolonged past forty by computerised amusements and dashboard gadgets, when thoughts are filled with resentment of time consuming children and iritating spouses (let me be alone, I want no-one here in my womb to provoke me, leave me the plug in appliances and I'll be ok)?
There's no one left alive to convince of 'the revolutionary project', the city is deserted like a beach washed out by the storms.
Consciousness died seventy years ago. It has been replaced by electronic media.
No one is listening now, we leave messages on voice mail but our addressees never get back to us, no one can hear us above tempest sounding alienation.
No one reads what we write, and rf they do then tomorrow they'll read someone else's webpage (we can make the message as simple as you like, write it in single syllable words a foot high on the walls of the amphitheatre or scribble it on origami paper and fold it seven times, slip it in the menu at a truckers' caff, 'capitalism is rubbish, communism is good, you alone have the power of transformation'. Our Prospero spell binds nothing to our will).
On the couch, the neurotic prattles on, matching hats to heads in the psychoanalytic rigmarole, a-ha I am Oedipus, a-ha here is the castrating father, a-ha the phallus. It soon became evident to Freud's gang that the recognition of formulas was part of the problem and in the same way but at the risk of appearing ridiculous we have discovered that consciousness, that is knowledge, does not equal power. Every worker-unit understands its own exploitation but how significant is understanding when all proposed alternatives are as unconvincingly schematised as the ghosts of Christmas's past, present and future? What sane person would jeopardise their wage packet and mortgage for creased blueprints of socialism's fairground rides when capitalism supplies dvd players, Thai restaurants and central heating? By what means, precisely, would an analysis of alienation and a promise of eventual redemption through revolutionary transformation change anything should a worker choose to commit itself to that routine? I know I am held in a vice, I can feel it closing, it hurts, but how do I help myself by thinking about it? Isn't it better to be distracted by beer and art? How many worker-believers with fully articulated consciousness would it take before reality jumps its tracks? (On the internet individuals band together to buy in bulk and get those prices down, is this solidarity?) The structure of the pro-revolutionary party is such that no amount of recruits is enough, there is always some circumstance that will convince it that playing the resistance game and thereby retaining its organisational integrity is preferable to risking all in a revolutionary gambit. All defined structures seek stasis. So tell me one more time of how Israel crushes Palestine, or why Nike dumps on Malaysian workers, sing me the song of the Zapatista's and maybe at last I'll get patriotic for our common cause, but it's more likely you'll be asking me for contributions to finance the 'struggle' (one Trotskyite group in the early Nineties used to stop shoppers in the street to ask them if they had a bank account before trying to get them to subscribe to their glossy mag by direct debit, if you replied no to their first question they immediately lost interest).
Is consciousness Our Side in This World? Joschka Fischer has passed across the spectrum of political consciousness from pro-RAF crash helmeted street fighter to K/For-ist German Foreign Minister, but through those thirty years he never ceased to be a bourgeois. Back then he was in the vanguard of the revolution and now he leads a nation state - now Fischer has come to accept his class status (achieved transference), consciousness had pushed him into falsity, into rebellion against his essence but now he does not feel guilty, he has come home, he was young, it was all those years ago, now he regrets only being held to account for what he did back then. What difference is there between the anti-capitalist spectacular events and a Benetton advertising campaign, both compete in the pit of quick ideas and branded distinction? Knowledge, information, communication, consciousness, are held by, and do not hold, the world; those middle class individuals who revolt against capital for political reasons always seem to to earth indistinguishable from what they oppose (groovy protest, a product of groovy capitalism); for them revolution loses its appeal, they find that when their energy is spent they have been in error, their revolt was no more than their energy. Their subsequent understanding, that revolution is impossible because it did not happen under their stewardship, is really only an insight into their typically bourgeois ambitions, that and the realisation of the structural impossibility of revolution as a mere continuing of the intensification of protest politics. Earth First! grasped this point by declaring that the London First of May demonstrations in 2000 were not protests at all but were expressions of capability, like IRA promo video's and shots over coffins. But there was no self-examination as to what kind of collectivity was present on that day and how it related to the wider public, what was it expressive of? No doubt the organisers would prefer it if we focused on the political consciousness of the crowd rather than, say, its class identity, ie., an informal leadership showing us the way to revolution. If these were not protesters, if they were not representative of a wide section of the populace then who were they and by what right and under what terms did they make the presumption that we should go and join them? Seventy million Hindus, ten thousand anti-capitalists, historical dust.
'Proletarian consciousness' too is always earthbound, it is constituted under a star of diversion, we look elsewhere, we hold on to the things we can; what motive is there for contemplating what's over the rainbow when history indicates that here might be Oz and there might be Kansas?
All political consciousness is bourgeois.
Workers cannot believe, as belief is a betrayal of experience; who can believe and get up before dawn?
Have I fired off enough bombast to take away your will to live? Have I won because I'm the last one talking? Stacked enough pancakes to make a... stack. But what is this, what is it really? Don't I do the consciousness thing as much as anyone else, but dishonestly and with suspect motive? I don't know. But it doesn't concern me if hypothetical readers cannot understand what I'm saying because in literature I think the writer must dictate and the reader must follow, the writer must determine the rules of reading otherwise a democracy takes hold like that of Hollywood's preview performances and the demand of producers for happy endings. Writers create readers and not the opposite. I did not demand that Hegel, Kafka, Carroll, ought to exist, and out there, there is no 'market' of readers which demands particular products before they have been written. I do not see my task as a theorist of revolution to either convince or explain to people who wouldn't read what I had to say even if I did. My aim is to write as well as I am able within certain formal bounds, I have no time to explain and only just enough to describe what I find out. Description must precede explanation. I explore and discover, I experiment; if this finds any readers then I am pleased, then I may not have completely misjudged my object; my object being the nature of human beings and the possibility for social revolution. If any part of what I have written is of use to somebody else who shares the same object then that gives me a sense of achievement, I have escaped solipsism - I think I have to write out a lot of slag to find a good bit of coal but I also think there are adequate sentences and concepts hidden within my work, if that demands effort of the reader in finding them then I think it might be worth their while, what else have they got to do? It takes a lot of grind to set up a true sentence and I think it is reasonable that the difficult workings-out remain in the finished text to demonstrate to the reader how a truth was uncovered (Burroughs used pages of cut-up sentences to get one great line, perhaps the effort of reading the indifferent is rewarding because brilliance shines out so much more intensely). This is not to say that I endorse every media studies professor who's read a bit of Debord and thinks they have a duty to inflict on us their black roll-necked research (what did come after postmodernism? and are we still in the time of Deleuze and Guattari?).
Who are these people who write to me and say the proletariat will never understand me? Am I paid a salary by the clarity council? Do I have to produce graphs of my effectiveness? In what way am I responsible, to who am I subordinate? If my work is rubbish, if all these pages are to go unread, well then in what way have I harmed their 'revolution'? In truth, what our comrades fear is that my writing calls into question their organisations (or their individual projects) which is another matter entirely. I do not say that it is my aim to bring down Trotskyism (for example) as I am not competing with it, I think it is irrelevant to the revolution. Whilst I know there are many decent but mistaken individuals who pride themselves on their party membership I consider that the best job pro-revolutionary organisations do is to contain all the idiots in one place, permitting to everybody else the luxury of avoiding them. Revolutionary activists denounce me, but in their denouncements they condemn themselves, when they talk of clarity what they mean is that nothing should obstruct the flight-path of new acolytes and nothing should obscure their trademarked embodiment of the revolutionary subject, that is, their authority. Look, to hand 1 have a child's umbrella, a collection of postage stamps and a ravioli machine - from these meagre resources I make what you see before you, certainly it is done to the best of my abilities and in that sense is authentic, but if what I do finds no readers and gains no positive response then so what? I think, of course,'that that would be a pity because I am as right as any individual can be and my writing is as real as writing can be, but I would say that.
If consciousness - that is: voting for alternatives - does not bring on social change then what makes things happen? Change is instituted by immediate massed human reflex to unexpected but unavoidable events, in some cases the reflex is one of abandonment, that is, to be swept out by the tide, and this is called crisis. On other occasions the reflex is to seize hold of the event and use its power to alter conditions, this is called revolution.
[MD, 10th January 2001]