This is the fable of the thirsty crow
Long ago in a southern country there lived a crow of determined character. One hot summer's day this crow was flying over the baking land of that country and felt the fire of thirst in its throat. It had flown this way many times before and knew of a river nearby where it could safely drink. But when it landed beside the river it found not even a trickle of water for its need, the river had not flowed there for many weeks.
The land about was so hot and dry, nobody could hope to find even a drop of water there, but the thirsty aow had to drink or it would die from the heat of the day. It hopped desperately about the river bank in search of water, if only it could find just one drop, one drop in that terrible desert, one drop to keep it alive.
The thirsty crow was about to give up its search when it saw with its black eye a stone jar set on a wall beneath an olive tree. At once the aow flew to the lowest branch of the tree so it could look down into the jar, and with excitement it found that the jar did indeed hold some water.
Quickly the bird hopped onto the wall and thrust its head into the stone jar but, alas, the water was too shallow and the jar too deep, the water was just out of reach.
Luckily the thirsty crow was an intellectual, it knew that if it knocked the jar over, the water would soon be absorbed into the dusty earth. So it became the crafty crow and performed an old trick known since the beginning of the world by all the aafty, thirsty crows. In its beak it carried small pebbles from the ground to the jar. By dropping the pebbles into the jar it would make the level of the water rise and when the water had risen high enough the crow would be able to drink. The industrious aow dropped one, two, several stones into the water, again it tried to drink from the jar but still its beak did not reach the water. So, it brought more stones, many more stones, each of them was patiently carried in the thirsty crow's beak and dropped hopefully into the jar. The crow was at a loss. It had no explanation. The water did not increase, the trick of the pebbles did not work. Was it not well known that the stones always made the water rise? In accordance with this law it had brought stones. Had the law been suspended? If not then why had the water not risen? The silly crow could make no sense of it. Crows may be crafty, industrious, credulous and even thirsty but they know only one trick on hot, waterless, sun-blistering days. So the stubborn crow brought more stones. Many more stones. In fact, so many stones that soon the jar was overflowing with stones and they began building up beside it but never did one drop of water rise up to meet that dry and eager beak.
Angry and despairing, the thirsty crow looked ever further afield for more stones to pile around the jar, it was determined not to give in. Soon its desire for water was forgotten, it cared for nothing but the bringing of stones to that jar. In this way the wall beneath the olive tree grew taller.
It is not certain if this unfortunate crow died of thirst, or if it is how religion first began.
Introducing Monsieur Dupont
We are two communists who, for several years, have been engaging with the anarchist and communist milieu in Britain.
Monsieur Dupont is the name we have decided to use for our joint theoretical activity.
This book is a composite of texts that attempt to outline our discontent with the concept of consciousness and in particular the way this concept is generally used by those who regard themselves as revolutionaries. It follows that these texts are also a critique of the roles that 'revolutionary experts' and activists have given themselves.
Unsurprisingly our criticisms of the gestures made by pro-revolutionary activists (those who are, like us, for communist revolution) and the assumptions on which they have been based have caused us to become completely isolated in regard to that milieu. For undermining the practice and status of political activism we have been vilified for being ridiculous and slanderous and insincere; indeed this name-calling has spread like village gossip, and no contemplation of our ideas is possible without the unintelligent repetition of the exact wording of this judgement on our moral lapse and our outsider status before any consideration of our actual ideas is begun. It is enough to say that there have been sporadic attempts to have us 'expelled', shut up, and calls for others not to read our wicked ideas. These disparate communist tendencies (they rarely agree with each other) are at least united in their opposition to our critique of all of them!
Most of what appears below was developed in discussions with the Anarchist Federation (of the UK) and later posted to an international internet discussion list of communists; both groups adopted an attitude of hostility towards us; there may be the occasional reference to these groups in the texts.
It is likely that that there are small contradictions in our text, this is because our ideas are not fixed but float about within a set frame; we have encountered people who have expressed their hatred of us by trawling our texts in the hope of 'exposing' us, we do not think this is useful, we are, however, happy to attempt to clarify anything that seems self-contradictory in correspondence, but equally, we hope that our correspondents will put some effort in themselves and think beyond whatever problems they find.
We see ideas as a process and make no claims for the status of our writing other than it being a 'work in progress'.
Finally, although we have a postal address in Cambridge, UK, we have nothing to do with the academia there, or the dreadful bohemians who grow like fungi outside its hallowed halls.
We start, as we end, in simplicity
The closest that the world has ever been to communism (it probably wasn't that close) was at the end of the First World War; lere has never been a time before or since when the world was о open to the possible. But what are we to make of the nscrutable events of this near miss? How applicable are those acts now? And what of the context? What value should we place in our pro-revolutionary theory on the part played by objective conditions, that is, the conditions not created by revolutionaries? Or put another way, how much of what happens in revolutions is not designed or led by revolutionaries?
Many pro-revolutionaries argue that there can be no revolutionary attempt without the significant input of a revolutionary consciousness, but we are not so sure. In fact we are so unsure hat we cannot grasp the precise meaning that they project onto he terms 'revolutionary consciousness' and 'working class consciousness'. We are also unsure whether these pro-evolutionaries really have a grip on the concepts they perceive to bе indispensable. We try to keep an open mind about the events hat will make up the revolution but we fail to see a revolutionary role for any form of political consciousness, revolutionary or otherwise. Quite the contrary, when we consider past "evolutionary attempts and pro-revolutionary organisation and their political interventions we see in the function of consciousness only an inhibiting influence.
In our opinion a great number of pro-revolutionaries hold onto the 'consciousness' model as part of the habit of being a pro-revolutionary, it is woven into their being: they must sell their paper, perform actions that are designed to inspire others, and defend the integrity of their group. However, we also think that most of them (and this also includes most of those who do not belong to an official group, and who don't produce a regular paper) do not have a properly formed conception of what working class consciousness really is, or a working knowledge of how it is to be transmitted to those who do not have it.
Some formulations of consciousness by pro-revolutionaries are extremely naive, one recently informed us that it was 'being awake', we chose to consider and investigate this statement seriously even though it was intended as a piece of malicious flippancy. (To illustrate the tendency to move towards absurdity in the pro-revolutionary milieu, we were then condemned by one of his colleagues for formulating revolutionary consciousness as merely 'being awake'). As a consequence of all this confusion we intend to formulate our critique of the communist objective of consciousness as slowly as we can, without, of course, abandoning the graphic and passionate qualities of our prose that so many people have told us they really enjoy...
We think revolutionary expertise, which bases itself in organisational certainty and theoretical rigidity, measures only pro-revolutionary fabrication, it has but one relation to actual social conditions, which is that it is wholly unable to escape its determinations. Predictions for the future that are hypothesised out of past happenings mistake the very nature of revolution, which we all agree is an event that is precisely not conditioned by the past and is characterised as a complete transformation of human existence out of the economic mode. If we cannot recognise the future in the present then we cannot decide which pro-revolutionary activity or value of the present should be promoted or carried through to the future. It is our contention that most pro-revolutionary activity extends existing conditions and acts to prevent the future. We think many pro-revolutionaries rather enjoy the antagonism of capitalist society and the part they play by supporting a 'side'.
We cannot say for certain what is to be done. What we do know is that the past appears, in one form or another, in the present, before our eyes, and from this appearance of dead forms we can identify what we think is counter-revolutionary. For example we see that consciousness is a concept that has been consistently deployed in past revolutionary attempts and because those attempts all failed the concept of consciousness and its role must be questioned. Our critique of consciousness begins with our understanding of the failure of revolutions: we see that consciousness, as an organising principle, has always been deployed by a certain section of the bourgeoisie which seeks to use working class muscle to gain political power for itself.
As an alternative to the consciousness, which is, of course, also a 'recruiting' model, we argue that once factories have been seized by workers and capitalist production halted then through the resulting crack opened up in the structure of capitalist society humanity may find it possible to assert itself for itself. We therefore see revolution in two stages: (1) the seizure of production by the working class pursuing its self-interest; (2) the collapse of existing forms of power brought on by the contradiction of working class ownership. The collapse of established power will bring a new material base of human society into existence, drawing from this base the mass of humanity will have the opportunity to remake itself.
How the working class goes about the first stage of the revolution we can only guess at, but we can surmise that things will follow similar patterns (positive and negative) to events that have happened before, and those who have studied such things (pro-revolutionaries) will bring their ideas (for good or ill - but it will happen, as we can see in history) to the frontline of communist activity during such times.
It may appear to some readers that our consideration of the question of consciousness becomes a little obscure in places, a complete refutation of the concept is quite complex, but it should always be kept in mind that we are concerned with the second most basic activity of pro-revolutionaries: the communication of ideas and the explanation of actions taken. It may also seem that we are only concerned with old left formations and theories, and that anti-capitalism as it has recently appeared already outflanks us by its very modernity. It is true that this text does not attempt to engage anti-capitalism in the modality of its own language but our project was begun as an explicit critique of present day anti-capitalism, and has been continued as a critique with its left-communist supporters. At all times in our critique, when we refer to the concept of consciousness we are in fact addressing the actions of pro-revolutionaries on consciousness: we could equally use the words 'organisation' or propaganda', the meaning of the deployment of which is a conjecture concerning the profound effect on directionless bodies made by the application of externally organised catalysts. What we have in our sights are the underlying motivations and assumptions of pro-revolutionary activists.
The working class, as the revolutionary body, do not require consciousness but a peculiar alignment of events, and a series of causes and effects which produces a specific economic crisis that ends up with workers holding the levers of production.
The revolution is in two stages. The first is this naked, non-conscious holding of productive power by the working class (that is to say, of course, it is conscious and some consequences are foreseen, there is a clearness of perception and a definite awareness of relative forces but there is no alignment with the archetypal codes of political consciousness: liberty, equality, fraternity"). We see that the working class arrive at this first level of revolution by force of circumstance. In defending their own interest in an increasingly unpredictable world, and with capitalists bailing out, they end up, almost by chance, in charge of the productive economy. We say that their brief period of ownership will occur by chance because it will not have been actively, or consciously pursued - the proletariat will have consistently asserted its own interest and this steady course, when taken with general economic breakdown, will be enough to cause a proletarian dictatorship.
A new material base will begin to come into existence at this point, and all human activity will be determined by, and be reflective of these different conditions. The second stage of revolution is made by the vast mass of humanity realising what the essential proletariat have achieved and then escaping through the hole created by events. The second phase is about becoming human and throwing off the economic model entirely, during this period the working class will cease to exist, as will all social categorisations, and humanity will organise both itself and its relationship to the material base by itself and for itself.
On the role of consciousness, of course, there is reflection and understanding of what is happening but it is not consciousness in the Marxist/Hegelian sense, which we characterise as the coordination of pre-set values among a great many people as a preliminary stage for engaging with the world. Therefore it is possible that a world-wide consciousness could come into existence because of revolution because consciousness is not a precondition of revolutionary action but a consequence of revolution accomplished.
Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious. 1984
Many pro-revolutionaries argue that revolution cannot happen without a revolutionary will propelling the revolutionary body forward. For them the revolutionary body must be conscious of its goal and of the connection between its actions and the goal, it must be aware of the consequences of what it is doing when it is engaging in revolutionary activity. For many pro-revolutionaries this means the revolutionary body must consciously embody both explicit revolutionary and post-revolutionary values. The question of consciousness is therefore absolutely central to the revolutionary project and to pro-revolutionary practice. But certain problems become apparent when consideration is paid to the specific formulations of consciousness and the means of its arrival or manifestation in the revolutionary body. The first of these is the relative but objective separation of pro-revolutionaries from the revolutionary body, there seems little in common between the political values of the pro-revolutionaries and the economic struggles of the revolutionary body. This separation is most clearly stated in class terms: all too few pro-revolutionaries are proletarians, this immediate distance calls for solutions to the problem of how to reach out to the workers, what language to use, which short terms goals may be pursued without compromising the revolutionary project, which revolutionary values are appropriate for expression in this situation, and so on. Most crucially there is the problem of reproducing class relations within the revolutionary movement: middle class intellectuals as leaders and workers as, well, workers. From our experience of the current pro-revolutionary milieu, we have found no serious theoretical address of this problem. Most pro-revolutionaries have no clear-cut definitions of what revolutionary consciousness is, or how it is to be transmitted by pro-revolutionaries to the revolutionary body without the contamination of class domination. We have found that pro-revolutionaries are simply not prepared to discuss why ft is that revolutionary consciousness has been steadily leaking out of the proletariat since 1945, and why after fifty years of pro-revolutionaries 'speaking the workers language' this drift has not been reversed. They have been busily dropping pebbles in the jar but the level of the water has not risen. Why has the pro-revolutionary movement had no success in conveying its message? Why has the working class not listened to its educators?
Consciousness is a political category. A world-wide or even national conscious proletarian identity would involve a high degree of organisation, which is another word for consciousness. There is no objectively existing, separate sphere of revolutionary consciousness and certainly none that is owned by a particular section of humanity; the working class especially do not own consciousness, they do not own anything (except their playstations). So, if revolutionary consciousness does not exist objectively, that is, as an immediate determination of the material base, then organisations must bring it into the world. Organisation carries consciousness into the world; as consciousness is not present 'naturally' it must be transmitted by an organising agency, but which organisation?
It is the pro-revolutionaries themselves who contribute consciousness to the revolution, but unless we understand pro-revolutionaries as being an objective expression of the negation of capitalist society then we are bound to see both their antagonism to all aspects of the existing order (and not just to some political issues) and their role of transmitting to the working class values that transcend existing conditions, as being more than a little subjective and therefore fallible. Most pro-revolutionary groups view themselves as being objectively constituted by the need of society to overthrow capital and therefore they see themselves as qualified to prescribe values and strategies to the proletariat. We completely refute this assumption; all pro-revolutionary groups are subjective bodies, created by the subjective will of their participants, their perspective therefore never escapes their subjectivity (if this were not so, then there would not be many small pro-revolutionary groups competing against each other, but only one organisation. Of course, most pro-consciousness organisations have a tendency to see themselves as the one true faith, and on this basis launch their critiques of each other). Pro-revolutionary groups are not the historic party, they have not been thrown up by the economic bаsе, they are not an inescapable result of capitalism's contradictions. In most cases pro-revolutionary groups are created in response to purely political events and have little connection to workers' struggles. Those who argue for the transmission of revolutionary consciousness to the working class by pro-revolutionaries see their role, effectively, as one of leadership. It is interesting for us to observe how those who argue for the 'transmission of consciousness' model do not practically escape from the confines of their milieu and do not reach the working class, they seem content to exhort each other to be more realistic, speak in a language the workers will understand, etc etc. But nothing ever happens, if these activists were any good then they would surely be locally recruiting five or more new adherents every week. The fact that the message is not getting through is, for us, the final critique of the concept of 'messages'. To set in advance what ideological requirements are to be met by the proletariat, despite all experience of the failure of this method, is putting the cart before the horse and is a good example of impatience, this is as true for 'councilists' as it is for vanguardists.
Because pro-revolutionaries have not learned how to wait, have not learned to engage at the level of their experience - they are always wanting to lead the way, wishing to push forward their hot-brained solutions - they are forever looking back and wondering why nobody is following them. Theories of consciousness and organisation are always attempts to impose past reflective forms onto living struggles - consciousness in these schemes becomes a stage, a precondition for the revolution. These pro-conscious/pro-revolutionaries think that no matter how intense a specific struggle might be, if it is not explicitly political then it is lacking in essence and therefore not wholly real — to the struggle they bring always the political dimension but never consider how the political dimension may, in reality, be lagging behind the economic struggle.
Echanges et Mouvement, from their tentative Basic Principles:
"In capitalist society the true contradiction is not one of ideas -revolutionary, reformist, conservative reactionary, etc. - but one of interests. No kind of will or desire can overthrow commodity production or abolish the wage system. This will only break down as a result of class struggle arising from the very position of the working class in the system of capitalist production. According to a widespread opinion "class consciousness" and "unity" are seen to be the main and necessary conditions for what is considered as "revolutionary behaviour" or as "working class action". This view overlooks or misinterprets how action and consciousness are influencing each other. Workers don't act as a "revolutionary class" because first of all they are or become "conscious" of what they want. "Unity" is not a precondition for, but is created in, and as a result of, struggle. Workers are a "revolutionary class" because their position as a class inside the capitalist system makes it inevitable that the mere defence of their own interests brings them into direct opposition to the fundamentals of the existing order. Such struggles are fought continuously in the factories and elsewhere, and potentially they are revolutionary. The development of class struggle with all its changing forms is therefore far more important than the development of the so-called "revolutionary movement", regardless of the meaning given to this word. The break with any form of exploitation or political practice and thought (reformism, etc.) is not a matter of theoretical discussion and conceptions but a matter of class struggle and workers' practice, a practice which is the result of their daily conditions of exploitation."
The text continues elsewhere:
"The bulletin [Echanges] was started as a means of spreading and receiving information. Those participating in this project decided not to bother with the clarification of standpoints held in common (which usually accompanies the birth of a new group) but to accept the existing tacit agreement. The basic implicit agreement which underlay the content and form of the information published was still badly defined at the start, but as the project developed, it revealed a sufficiently unified approach among participants even if participants were very diverse as explained above.
This tacit agreement expressed itself in the analysis of various phenomena of the class struggle taking place every day and placed in the context of a more general understanding of the world. These phenomena include what many other people think to be individual forms of protest which are in fact part of a collective movement ( e.g. absenteeism, turnover, refusal of work, etc.) This is necessarily linked to the critique of the existing theories of modem society.
To do this, we must have information about these conflicts and theories. If inside Echanges we sometimes draw different conclusions from a specific fact or from a set of facts, we still think that the information which describes these facts should have certain qualities. Here too, a few simple principles guide our way of selecting the information published in the bulletin... "The raison d'etre of the bulletin is directly determined by the double inadequacy of the official means of information: lack of information on class conflicts, exaggeration of the importance of political and economic information (two ways of masking realfty). "Hence the double task of looking for information concerning the experience of struggle of all sorts and of making a meaningful choice from the mass of political, diplomatic and economical news.
"Class struggle exists and develops independently of these "revolutionary groups" or "movements". The level and size of the so-called "intervention of revolutionary groups in the struggles" never determine or fundamentally influence the level and size of working class struggle. We may be individually involved in such struggles either because we belong to the collectivity involved in a particular struggle or because we participate in one or another of the host of temporary organisms created during a particular struggle and for that struggle alone. We consider that outside these struggles the exchange of information, discussions and the seeking of theoretical insights are an essential instrument of our own activity which eventually might serve others as well."
Despite their brilliant, simple and clear wariness of "consciousness" a problem remains with the approach of Echanges. This is that they are too, as it were, polite, and they seem hesitant about the possible concrete role of left and pro-revolutionary individuals and groups in moments of intense class struggle (and even revolution). In their introductory text and elsewhere Echanges appear coy about what they are doing themselves and what practical effect they might have. It is clear that their journals are only read by those who might understand them, that is, a thin scattering of radicals across various countries. Their journals are read by people who are like themselves, and not by the working class in general or even by the workers involved in the struggles that Echanges report and analyse. Echanges are absolutely right about how the working class might become revolutionary, but they seem to fail to acknowledge the role that their readership and themselves (those who might understand what they are talking about) could have in present class struggles and future ones.
Because their modesty forbids them to give this scattering of radicals, themselves included, any real importance in the development of events they fail to see, or explain, just what it is they are doing, or think they are doing. Of course, they are right to understand that they have no (or extremely little) effect on class struggle in the present time, but their modesty seems to have led them to deny the role they have now and might have in future.
What we have to understand is that the effect that we might have on left radicals (that is, the only people who are able to listen to us) is very important because, whether we like it or not, many of these individuals will come to the fore in times of revolutionary upheaval. This will be due to their prolonged interest in "changing the world", their knowledge of what might happen in certain situations and their general silver-tongue-edness. Thus it is most important and a matter of constant urgency that we engage this disparate group in dialogue in order to get as many of them as possible to ditch their leftist/liberalist/statist/managerial, etc, convictions and take on communist positions. This process of development must be done by engaging people both on paper, in journals, and at discussion meetings, and also in areas of practical struggles. [It goes without saying that we can also engage, as a separate activity from "political" work, with our fellow workers in struggles at our workplaces, in the knowledge that we may also be listened to in these situations, where rather than trying to install "consciousness" we will provide, or suggest, concrete tactics and strategies.]
Echanges say that their "activity... eventually might serve others as well", but they do not explore what this means in any real depth. One reason why Echanges do not seem to explore this aspect of their activity might be because the truth of what they must do, by their own logic, is to actually go against most of the "revolutionary" communist and anarchist milieu. The difference between Echanges and the rest of the communist milieu is over the concept of "consciousness", which Echanges almost completely reject. To take the logic of their position into the arena of the communist milieu, as an explicit argument, creates the risk of being totally rejected by that milieu. To examine the concept of consciousness in any depth leads to the equating of that concept, with leadership and organisation of the working class by "revolutionary experts". To go down this theoretical road leads to the realisation that in an important aspect there is little real difference between the projects of anarchism and most of communism and their supposedly deadly enemy, Leninism. If one is going to make this conclusion then one is going to lose most of ones "friends" in the political milieu. Echanges seem to have tried to avoid this, and, indeed, because of this they have had some limited continuing respect amongst the communist milieu down the years. [ Monsieur Dupont have no wish to be so circumspect.]
"Working class consciousness"?
1) The reason MD advocate the possibility of revolution via the intervention of a relatively, numerically, small section of the proletariat is very simple, we see that only a relatively small section (a vast minority) of the proletariat have potential power over the process of capitalist production.
The acts of most people do not effect the world but function at a level of wholly contained effects of the world's turning. In contrast the proletariat's anti-act, the act of non-production or of ceasing work, instantly has effect (like in a dream) on capitalism as a whole (in the past few months, lorry drivers, postmen, tube workers and now railway guards have stopped sectors of the British economy). Most workers are now employed in sectors that are peripheral to the economy's well-being, if they take industrial action it causes inconvenience only to the immediate employer and perhaps a few companies up and down the supply chain. In contrast the essential proletariat is that group of workers who can halt vast areas of the economy by stopping their work.
These workers are employed in the economy's core industries, industries that can only operate with a relatively high level of labour input into their processes, which gives to those workers an already existing control over process; core workers' latent power can be demonstrated immediately in industrial action which spreads its knock-on effect to all businesses in the locality and beyond, producing spiralling repercussions in society. Core-workers include factory workers, dustmen, power workers, distribution workers (post, rail, road haulage, ferries, dockers, etc); in all of these examples the cessation of work causes immediate and widespread problems for the economy, and this is why it is precisely in these industries that wildcat action is most frequent, quite simply, industrial action in these industries has a history of success.
Our certainty concerning the revolutionary potential of the essential proletariat is not at all founded upon a presumption of the superiority of life lived as a proletarian, or that working class existence is an end itself that should be pursued by pro-revolutionaries. We do not see the modes of working class organisation as an indicator of a possible, post-revolutionary future, nor as an inherently preferable, that is, more morally pure, existence in the present, as compared with middle class life. We say this because these are the pretended presumptions of many inverted snobs in the 'class struggle' movement, they tick off proletarian characteristics like naturalists identifying a separate species. We do not pointedly prefer football to opera, we do not think it is better, more pure, more human to be poor than to be rich. We do not think it is inevitable that human kindness is more likely to be encountered in working class individuals than in middle class individuals. We do not think working class people are better than anybody else because they have been defined as belonging to one or other social category. We are not interested in working class culture. We do not accept that you can be working class if you are not employed as a worker no matter what your family history (this is not intended as an insult or slight on people's sense of themselves and where they come from, but we are bored with university lecturers who use 'life was hard back then' as a means of asserting their authority). Quite simply, we see the working class as being an economic function organised as part of capitalism and not an ethnic identity, if you are no longer employed as an industrial worker then you are not an industrial worker. The same goes for industrial workers when they are on holiday, off sick, in the pub, or indeed any time when they are not present on the actual production line, that is, any time they are not working or having an effect on their work (in official or unofficial industrial action, when they are preventing production).
We are not interested in theoretically expanding the working class to include all militant formations from blacks, gays, women, disabled to peasants; we are not interested in the working class becoming more human (that is, more political) by means of a raising up through consciousness. We do not celebrate the working class: working class life is rubbish, it is not a condition to be aspired to, and the past thirty years of pro-revolutionary fetishisation of the proletariat as a thing in itself (the legend has it that the leftist group Militant, used to force its activists to wear flat caps and donkey jackets on their paper sells so as to 'fit in') has mistaken and confused the actual power of the working class and reduced the proletariat to the status of just another oppressed minority. Finally we do not endorse the delinquency of the underclass or interpret it as rebelliousness, we see permanent delinquency as the psychological absorption of dehumanisation, no more than a v-sign offered by one who is standing in quicksand. Underclass delinquency fulfils the function ascribed to it by the state: it causes life, particularly that lived on the housing schemes, to be even more constrained than it is already by employment.
The working class is nothing but the collective position of those who are brought closest to the machinery of the capitalist system; a human function in the capitalist machine; the working class are the revolutionary body because of, and only because of, their position in the capitalist economy, they are the one social body that can close the system down.
From our experience we see the proletariat as being made up of many individuals, all different, and with just one thing shared by all of them - they have the same economic position, they all have the same functional status (labour) and all have the same economic value (wages). If general circumstances force you to work in an essential industry (and by essential we mean those industries that will make the continuation of capitalist society impossible by their absence) then you are a proletarian, this social status is not something to be fetishised, it's just a fact The working class is merely a function of the capitalist economy. We are interested in the proletariat only to the measure that the proletariat literally has in its hands the levers of capitalism's power. Only those who can be effective will be effective.
As for the left, everywhere we see unresurrectable and useless acts, which no matter the intention connect only with institutions that were formed ages ago: revolution has become, for too many, the smashing of mirrors - at the moment this is called anti-capitalism. There are no revolutionary means of connecting to society, there are no means of escaping absolute containment by institutional determinations, except in the locus of production; factory production is where society's power originates and it is the only place where it can be directly engaged for certain; outside the factories all is spectacle, all is mirrors. Every non-productive social form is more or less unreal and engaging with them in political terms is always a move into falsity. How is an anti-capitalist protester going to change the world? Bу what means exactly? We have given our formula, yes it is simplistic, it is materialistic, mechanistic even, but even so, everything in the world is made, and power derives from the control of this making, if the making is stopped then the source of this power is interrupted, that is our formula. So now let us hear the plans of the anti-capitalists, what for them is the source of capitalist power, how is ownership maintained? How are the anti-capitalists to engage the power they have theorised, and how to overthrow it? If it is a good recipe then we shall use it, if however, it begins: first take several million assorted people over the world and get them all angry about the conditions of their life, and induce them to catch a plane to some foreign city to march down the main thoroughfare, perhaps breaking a few windows, then we say this is not a good recipe but the continuation of miragic democracy by means other than the vote.
The world will not be changed by millions of people voting for change, or demonstrating for change, because capitalist power is not constituted with reference to human feelings: political desires and demonstrations, which are the social forms consciousness takes, cannot touch capitalist domination but are merely determined by it. We have no place for consciousness in our scheme, we see no need for a generalised formulated desire for revolution. Revolution belongs to the mute body and its resistance to, and its giving out to, the imposition of work, what is needed in the revolutionary struggle is precedence given to the needs of the body (consumer culture is a contemporary echo of this). The slogans are not inspiring or romantic: more rest, more pay, less work, no deals on productivity. However, once this demand-regime is set in motion it cannot be side-tracked except by counterfeit political demands, or formulations of radical consciousness made by those who seek to lead it. Once the body tends toward rest, it cannot rid itself of that inclination unless it is roused again to work for some political vision. In short the struggle of industrial workers against capital will be conducted entirely in selfish terms, which in the end describes itself as the struggle against work in the interest of highly paid sleep. In the present nothing has significance but the desire to extend half-hour lunch breaks into hour lunch breaks. If all pro-revolutionaries grasp this they will stop worrying about the precondition of consciousness. It is within the political-economic figure of the imposition of work and its negation, which is comfort, that pro-revolutionaries could make a contribution to their workplace struggles. The struggle is against the maximisation of productivity and for the maximisation of rest, if workers could win their struggle in these terms then they will have broken up the basic mechanism of the capitalist system.
The struggle of the body for rest is not the revolution, it is merely the crisis of capital. A crisis because it brings the massed, accumulated, fossilised acts of the past and the sedimenting/accumulating dead acts of the present, along with the possible conditions for the future, together in collision and in this standstill all value ceases to be enforced, leaving the world in a kind of zero hour/2ero place where everything is contestable (when the traffic stopped last September during the Fuel Protests, a man on a bicycle passed me and said, 'I can hear the birds singing' - we have heard what economic collapse sounds like). When industry stops everything in society, otherwise absolutely determined by it, floats free from its gravity. In this particular crisis of capital all hell breaks loose; then comes the time for organisation, you can call that consciousness if you want. We don't care.
2) The question of consciousness is central because of the ease by which it is defined and thus counterfeited. The proximity of consciousness to ideology is undeniable, a change in conditions renders a truth false. Because that is what we are talking about isn't it? Truth and Falsity, consciousness and ideology?
Our position is simple: all consciousness is in fact, by a roundabout route, ideology. Consciousness is the appearance in thought of the forms and content of objective conditions. We know that objective conditions are capitalist and are anti-human, therefore it would be naive to place any faith in the transformative properties of consciousness if it fails so easily under the command of, and exploitation by, the owners of material conditions.
Everything that appears (even the struggle against capital) is mediated through infinite filters, nothing political has a direct relation to the base. The truths and values that pro-revolutionaries assert are equally subject to the distorting pressures of the economy as are Religions, entertainments and reformist politics (does not the 'party' or group have to be preserved as a thing in itself, kept going by small clerical acts and cash raised? The acts that uphold the group are not in themselves revolutionary and have no connection to the revolution, they are dead acts, they are labour; the group is maintained as the church is maintained: by accumulation). All pretensions to consciousness are determined by the same forces as ideology, they cannot escape their determinate conditions, and so cannot be identified except as ideology (more or less true, more or less false), these are not grounds for building a reliable foundation for revolutionary practice. In practice, the revolutionary subject (the working class) cannot recognise consciousness, or it cannot distinguish it from ideology: why, it may ask itself, is the truth of this agitator before me more true than the truth of that last one which was proved by my experience to be a lie, (and proved objectively in the ideological co-option of every revolutionary body that has so far existed).
We are interested in the critique of the concept of consciousness because many messiahs and spoonbenders are currently standing up and demanding participation in the struggle against capital on their terms (for example, the English website for the 2001 Barcelona anti-capitalist protests claimed the possibility of a pre-revolutionary situation; this has proved to be, and was always anyway, completely false). Our self-appointed task is to go around pricking these millenarian bubbles if only to save gullible individuals the costs of air travel and involvement with opportunistic and exploitative groups (Globalise Resistance, for example, rented a train - as you do - and ran an excursion down to Genoa, thus the reinvention of the package holiday, or is it the International Brigades? But this group or any other similar has no presence in the estates where we live or our workplaces, it does not touch real life; recruitment of those with disposable incomes goes on, as does the process of accumulation in the name of revolution).
No amount of anti-capitalist protest can lead to a 'pre-revolutionary situation' (by what mechanism would it force itself into a position of revolutionary subject?) but the protests are called for in terms of 'raising consciousness' or, as some say, 'political radicalisation', but if the call to arms is false (that this is some pre-revolutionary preliminary, and a stage in building consciousness) then surely the consciousness raising aspect is, in fact, a lie and is therefore a bomb-the-village-to-save-the-village ideology, which is something we cannot accept. Even for buffoons like us in MD intelligence is always negative, critical, so it is politically vital that our first reaction to pro-revolutionary manifestations is one of cynicism. Praise and affirmation of the pro-revolutionary milieu is the greatest sin of the pro-revolutionary; it is not our job to affirm anything.
One defensive definition of revolutionary consciousness we have recently encountered is 'a definition or a tendency to action on the part of the working class' (meaning: consciousness arises within the workers in their daily struggles). We agree with the sentiments of this 'definition' but we do not call it consciousness - for us consciousness also includes a concept of overcoming present conditions, of having a map of where everything is going to end up, it therefore describes a position of objective authority which we do not think is possible without a lapse into ideology - we do not think the proletariat can possess consciousness until capitalism is finished, otherwise it becomes reified and establishes specific rules of behaviour where certain interests are surreptitiously maintained in present conditions, the stability of which become the end of those who claim to desire their overthrow.
Consciousness, or overcoming the present situation with a 'strategy' or an intent to reorganise society as communism, must come at some second stage of revolution, after the conflagration, and from new material conditions. We said we agreed totally with the definition above but that we do not call it 'consciousness', we prefer the term 'interest'. In our scheme the working class act out of solidarity in opposition to capital because they must defend their interest, it is possible that the working class will never escape 'trade union' consciousness (ie. being selfish and without transformative vision), that is, they will never stop seeking to defend their interest, never get past wanting more pieces of pie. This is fine by us, it is possible that the working class could drive capitalism into collapse and effect their own erasure and never get beyond a bodily, single-minded pursuit of their own selfish interest. So long as the proletariat's demands stay within 'economic' terms, that is, so long as they remain impervious to political temptation then so long do they stay on course for naked conflict with the bourgeoisie in the factories: political demands obscure the clarity of self-interest, political compromise in times of crisis can easily be reached: it doesn't cost the owners anything, which owner lost out when workers got the vote?
It is possible that the dictatorship of the proletariat itserf would be organised (and then left behind as unsatisfactory and self-contradictory) as a more developed form of interest. This will develop, perhaps, along a line of the social institution of efficiency and use value, basically establishing a supplier-interest by getting needed products to the populace (but then, of course, technology is not neutral and much of what it produces is not useful and will be necessarily abandoned - so the dictatorship will temporarily be over a materially much more basic standard of living).
In short we see no need to marry the proletariat to consciousness and therefore see no need to theoretically expand the proletariat to include everyone (that is everyone paid 'a wage' regardless of social status), which is the traditional means by which pro-revolutionaries can inject consciousness: industrial workers can use their revolutionary muscle and teachers and social workers can bring the ideas (as if!).
For us the revolutionary function of the proletariat is very mechanical, and only a relatively small number of people will be significant in the mechanism. On the other hand we think it is important that other groups also act selfishly (the disabled for example, or local communities) and so drain energy from the authorities: these other social and political struggles are marginal and cannot finish the job (they cannot seize the means of production) but they are never-ending in that they are concerned with the articulation of needs which cannot be satisfied. However, we think the damage caused to capital by the anti-capitalists is outweighed by their falsification of their own role, that is their false representations of, and hopes for, consciousness and the political sphere in general and their neglect of production.
Incidentally, it may seem that our formulations of how a revolution could take place are rather dystopian, a-human; certainly it gives us little pleasure to slowly erase our previously held leftist tendencies but at least our concepts are clear and lay down precise criteria. This cannot be said of most pro-revolutionaries, who get extremely vague when discussing how such-and-such of their gestures will engage with, let alone overthrow, present conditions. We would, perhaps, place more trust in pro-revolutionaries and thus in a human-based, participatory revolution, if it were not for the lamentable history of ideas-led revolutions. Pro-revolutionary practice is synonymous with rivalry, personal ambition, corruption, stupidity and failure. If the supporters of these groups did not continue to predict imminent revolution because of what they are doing and did not adopt a slavishly affirmative attitude towards their groups, and if they could maintain a sceptical and critical perspective then the meaning of themselves might amount to more than the feeble attempts to alleviate their personal experiences of alienation by universalising their rebellions and resentments. It is our lot to be bequeathed a legacy of bad acts, which forecloses the possibility of all acts. It is our personal experience that 'revolutionaries', as often as not, behave very badly in ethical terms (the surrendering of the Mayday 2001 crowd to the police in London being the latest example of losses and defeats incurred through ridiculous stunts), as if their heightened political consciousness gives them the right to neglect ordinary decency; this degeneracy is characteristic as much of anarchists as Trotskyites, anybody, in fact, who thinks they have consciousness and cannot bring themselves to reflect critically upon it. So there it is, revolution cannot be left to 'conscious' human actions and our only hope lies in the structural conflict of social forces created by capitalism/the economy - again, the blind mole tunnelling in the dark.
Note, aside, interjection: We do not pretend articulacy in any specialised language, our position is developed through our personal experience. We, as MD, are not interested in explaining capitalism as a totality of processes and forces, which we feel is beyond our capabilities, we are content to describe capitalism as we experience it directly. This is probably the source of our 'difference' to other pro-revolutionary groups. For example, the theoretical conception of the working class in pro-conscious and political terms by many pro-revolutionaries is unacceptable to us, and we fail to see the purpose in these fantastical conjectures if the pro-revolutionaries are in good faith. How can anyone say the working class should act politically? Surely this goes to the heart of the problem of consciousness and the function of the working class; it is not for the working class to support or oppose nations, fascism, democracy, or any other political form; how could this opposrtion organise itself? How could the Kosovan proletariat oppose Serbia, or the Serbian proletariat oppose Slobbo, or indeed the proletariat of the West oppose NATO? To live in a European slum is surely better than dying in a concentration camp but how could the proletariat intervene and make a choice in such an alternative? The working class is not a politically constituted body, it cannot make final judgements on political questions by making a bloc intervention - political strategies are more likely to divide the working class than unify it, which is the purpose of democracy. Politics always functions to obscure self-knowledge of self-interest.
Further thoughts and explanations
We do not say that consciousness is impossible although we suspect it is (otherwise why has it been forgotten? How did it pass into non-existence so that we must talk about it being resurrected before a revolution can take place?), we simply cannot see consciousness competing with ideology under present conditions. Therefore, we suspect that all pretences at consciousness in the past show themselves to be ideology; that is, we suspect that all ideas-led revolutions in the past were not a realisation of working class consciousness in society but seizures of state power by the bourgeoisie, who used 'revolutionary consciousness' as an ideology. The ruse of higher imperatives masked the illegality of their appropriations. None of this necessarily forecloses the possibility of an authentic consciousness, it is possible that the great spirit of enlightenment will descend into the clayish heads of the masses and they will at last see the truth. But we should all be very sceptical when it is claimed that this is actually occurring. It seems to us that every half-definition of consciousness given to us during the months we have been formulating our critique is precisely what we define as a leadership impulse - we have been disappointed to discover such disagreeable codes flashing through the texts of our comrades.
We think everyone we have so far encountered and who supports the consciousness figure means exactly what we accuse them of: there is always present in their theoretical models the fundamentals of force and of hierarchy, even when they abase themselves before the proletariat muttering, "we must learn from the struggle itself." The pedagogic relation of revolutionary to worker is downwardly directed. Even among, or especially among, those who appreciate the centrality of the workers to the revolution it is a given that the workers' struggles must be politicised.
And then among the anarchists there is outright contempt for the working class, 'the willing slaves' who comply with their bosses and do not rebel, for these passive and useless automatons, the pro-revolutionary group substitutes itself and its direct action; the struggle becomes that of active groups against the state and so, even in the heart of libertarianism, the concept of a vanguard and substituted elite takes hold. Because they have not addressed the issue of what consciousness is, anti-capitalist groups model themselves on and crudely reproduce previous authoritarian forms based upon a conceptualisation of passive masses and active elites.
One of our critics wrote: "We must insist on 'opening up specific struggles', on calling for their extension, generalisation, on fighting corporatism which wants to enclose workers in their little corner with their specific demands...". These sentiments form the dreary end of almost every single leaflet that emerges from the communist camp. The game is given away: the role for expanding struggles fails on those who have the vision, the owners of consciousness. But the deliberate expansions and connections of struggle always follow the lines set by those doing the expanding and connecting, the lines deployed by these revolutionaries are not purely objective but are developed subjectively and therefore carry their own cultural/political baggage (you still meet anarchists who go on about the struggles of the Irish and Palestinian 'peoples' despite anarchism's explicit refutation of national liberation struggles); in other words it is easy to vaguely call for the expansion of struggles but that expansion has to have a specific content and it is this political content which we reject - if this were not a problem then there would not be thousands of tiny revolutionary groups in the world, there would only be one all inclusive revolutionary party; the fact that we all disagree with each other even though we are all more or less saying the same thing is the finaf disproof for consciousness, in the same way all the various religious sects in the world are the final disproof for the universal message of The Word of God.
Summary and counter-interpretation
Our main critique of pro-revolutionary groups is simple and is the form of a question: what do pro-revolutionaries do (and what is the use of consciousness) when there is no revolution? The answer, 'make revolution', recreates the separation of 'the movement' from 'the people', the cycle of representation, leadership, the reinstitution of particular cultures as universal objectives begins again. Whilst the answer, 'build the movement up so it can force conditions of revolution' merely initiates a cycle of accumulation.
From one perspective it could be argued that we, at MD, are among the most conscious, or the most pro-consciousness in the pro-revolutionary milieu: we are against the reification of consciousness, against its every political manifestation, against its ownership and definition, against its subjective organisation by small groups that have no relation to the revolutionary body but are related to, determined by, and cannot escape from the economic base (as is the case for all social entities).
We are pro-consciousness if you understand our arguments as being carried by the Hegelian stream: from simplicity towards higher simplicity by route of the complexities of alienation; just as in Marx, history rises from simple communism, and ends in communism proper. We are certainly pro-human, and wish to see the return of humanity to its essence as a simple, that is as a non-alienated existence. Like Battaille said, as water moving through water.
The dictatorship of the proletariat
We would re-emphasise that we do not see the working class take over of the factories as a revolution as such but simply the downfall of capital, we see the revolution (and communist consciousness) arising after this period of crisis when a new material base of reality is coming into existence: we see revolution as being in two stages (as, we believe, did Marx) and it is in the second stage, the becoming human stage, that the vast mass of human beings participate (via consciousness by which we mean organisation/common values, etc, which is determined by the new material conditions). The occupations of the factories are only a means and not an end, therefore we are not 'ultra-councilist' as those who would marginalise us would have it; we do not propose workers' councils at all, we do not presume to call for any specific political institution, we leave that to the participants at the time. We say only that, for capitalist process to be suspended, the ownership of production must directly pass to the workers, without any mediation by political institutions or bodies.
Incidentally, by factory workers we mean those employed under factory conditions and this includes distribution staff etc, we mean those workers who have the power to stop the economy (this excludes shop-workers, teachers, politicised groups, the unemployed, ethnicities and other marginal categories).
Our experience, and the experience of proletarians, is that there is always more going on in revolutionary groups than the stated aims and principles and it is this which has so thoroughly cheesed everyone off with revolutionary consciousness (the reproduction of leadership structures and authoritarian tendencies). The nonappearance of consciousness in the working class is its critique of consciousness.
The absolute refusal of pro-revolutionary groops to recognise the failure of all pro-revolutionary groops in communicating their message can only be explained if the communication of messages is secondary to a leadership impulse. We see Lenin everywhere, yes like Banquo's ghost, and a line of kings rising up. We cannot bury him deep enough and no matter how we pile the dirt on his head he reappears in every tuppenny-hapenny anarchist group and communist sect. We are obsessed, that is the job we have awarded ourselves.
Given the terrible history of the revolutionary movement and its betrayals of the working class surely it is imperative that every pro-revolutionary groop reaches the level of integrity whereby it is able to recognise and denounce its organising tendencies and look for other ways of acting. We do not say what pro-revolutionary groops should do, we only say what they should not do; we also say what we do, we are open to critique for this, and welcome it.
Is Lenin on sale again?
When the way is lost the traveller looks up to the heavens, worlds without number.
When the nightstorm wrecks the ship, the waterspouting survivor embraces dawn's wavelapping shore.
When the gods fail and the harvest is lost, the good soul stares into the totem's eyes.
We are searching for signs.
We are waiting for the mute and closed face of the objective to speak to us.
We desire the affirmation of external forces, let the authority of history affirm the Tightness of our actions, for are our acts not historical?
But the only sound is the winter wind singing in the wire, we are alone and rudderless.
But what is really going on when pro-revolutionaries begin their back to basics campaigns? Our engagements with other pro-revolutionaries on the issue of consciousness are always re-routed in a "going back to see what Lenin (and Kautsky) said". The search for legitimising authorities happens when there is nothing else to say, when the most important thing is to silence those people whose proposals are taking the issue terrifyingly beyond the confines of the sacred tradition. The star is Lenin, the shore is Lenin, the fetish is Lenin.
We are slightly disorientated by the need for Lenin, we do not share it, we cannot empathise. In this deity, this heavenly body, this mariners' dreamed for horizon, we see only a gaudy statue, a hole in the sky, a treacherous reef. It seems, in moments of crisis and doubt, that many communists turn for home, to where they feel most comfortable. They on the fortifications of previous positions. Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be. The comfort, the authority, the harbour's arms. When communist theory degenerates it does so always along the same lines, like in timelapse films of fruit rotting in a bowl. The ecstatic, rebellious moment is one thing but how long can it be sustained against the onslaught of ceaseless experience?
Is not all 'movement' the progress of decay?
Retreat is the removal of oneself under pressure of hostile circumstance to a place of relative safety. In ideological terms it is more than this: retreat is falling back onto the political frames that really shape the 'revolutionaries' ambition - retreat is the stripping away of ideological gloss and becoming what you really are. Thus the common practices of right and left totalitarianisms in the 1930's; 1960's radicals becoming stockbrokers or youthful rebels turning out like their conservative fathers; we hear the radical talk of anti-capitalists but we see in their actions the creation of alternative markets: we have seen many pro-revolutionary groups and individuals retreat into personal nastiness in response to our critique and thus exposing their true characters. During critical events, or over time, we see who people really are, the radical guise is dropped because of a perceived urgency or simple exhaustion at maintaining the pretence, the false prole accent adopted by Brighton activists is given up when they give up and get on with their career.
In the fuel protests of 2000 the left and the greens forgot about 'the police state' and eagerly called for a clampdown on fascist/polluting lorry drivers who were "undemocratically holding us all to ransom". And during war there are an embarrassing many who lose their cynical attitude and find a reason to become patriotic. Which is the worse spectacle, leftwingers berating the working class for their lack of enthusiasm for leftwing politics or leftwingers berating the working class for their lack of enthusiasm for war? The most repulsive attribute of the left is that first they have to blah blah blah about how radical they are and then they have to blah blah blah about their conversion to the right. They never shut up. It is possible to perceive a common driving force in apparent political adversaries: behind the rhetoric of political left and right is the orchestrating interest of the owning class. So, when we talk about consciousness and, in response, others look for quotes in the collected works of Lenin, we see them as being in retreat, both refusing to engage with our ideas and refusing to engage with the failure to achieve the purpose of their groops. We see in the retreat to Lenin a revelation of many authoritarian characteristics in small groop life, the dominant motive of which is a search for a means to shut us up. This is one source of our anti-consciousness position; consciousness, and the owners of consciousness, cannot be trusted because, quite rightly, under pressure 'beliefs' will be dropped in favour of underlying class interest. Middle class radicals will always revert to class affiliation, no matter the political content of their values. The reality of the world is that of defending the class-interests created by capitalism, the only way to get beyond 'interest' is the collapse of its determining frame.
Every 15 year old pro-revolutionary is disgusted by the figure of Lenin, only later do they learn 'realpolitik' and swallowing their bile, assert in the face of their own political defeats and disappointments, 'at least he was right', he was right because he won: and it is this achieved power, this victory, that excites admiration. The seizure of state power seems real enough, real in the sense that it appears to escape the determination of events by conditions; by force of arms he did what he meant to do, and that is the definition, is it not, of revolution? Or is it really? Wasn't this just a case of inter-bourgeois strife, just spectacle played around the shifting techniques of exploitation?
And so it is that every year some downhearted groop, lost in the desert, must turn to Lenin's writings for inspiration, so that they can cut through the mess that surrounds them, so that they can start again from the source. But there is no determinate connection between Lenin's dullard writing and his Machiavellian genius for political action. There is no example of Leninism that is not simple Garibaldism, or Robespierreism, no example that does not finish up in nationalism, does not end with lesser Lenins like Gerry Adams or Nelson Mandela, Carlos, the RAF and E. Germany and Syria, anybody for the heroic PLO against the fascist Jewish state?
In the Russian Revolution we see two movements, one the spontaneous abandonment of war and the nation, the dropping of weapons and the seizing of land and factories; the other the re-territorialisation of the existent Russian revolutionary movement onto the model of 1789 via an ideology that fetishises state power as a neutral, objective technique. Lenin belongs in world history books because he was deployed by Germany as a weapon in the Great War, without that aid he would be another Herzen, so what can he say to us now?
For Monsieur Dupont, Lenin is as far away in time as Robespierre, whereas we find Marx modern. This is because Marx failed, that is, he remains human, he did not merge himself with an existent political power, did not link into the carousel of ruling class forms. Hegel observed that falsity is a moment in truth, the ideas of Marx did not coincide with reality and therefore were in error and so fix themselves to truth because they negated actual conditions. In the same way, we are not so harsh on pro-Leninists like Luxembourg, Gramsci or Lukacs, who failed in the manner of Marx, and not that of Lenin. They were quite wrong in their attempt to fuse their theories with Bolshevik practice, and so, regardless of their intent, and even in their affirmations of falsity, we can uncover some viable negation, something useful. The actions of Lenin on the other hand were very appropriate for the moment, being affirmational, they belong to falsity.
What is the motive for the return to Lenin? it is a noted historical phenomenon that religions are revitalised, become fundamentalist, immediately preceding their abandonment: there is always one last great bonfire, cathedral built, sacrifice of innocents, before indifference. Groops and ideas decay always along the same lines because they always encounter the same boundaries to their effectiveness. The typical pro-revolutionary response to this frustration is to bring in an element from the outside which is intended to trump the impasse of present conditions but serves only to suppress the function of the group. A better response would be a clear eyed evaluation of failure and the limits of groop effectiveness, at that point you will find the end of the expediency of consciousness. We see the return to Lenin in people's responses to us as, on the one hand, an affirmation of the need for a 'revolutionary movement' independent of the working class with the Bolsheviks as the model (because they were the winners, they are our example - there are some people who have tried to shut us up, or expel us from debate, who perhaps are our own little contemporary Lenin's. Bless them), and on the other hand it seems to 'revitalise', previously subdued, Trotskyist (Leninist) roots. More vaguely, but influencing every move the internet discussion forum of communists where we have had much of this debate, there is a Leninist urge to get to a stage of defined position; the idea of the final word and supra-historical principle are the great temptation. If we have not numbers then at least we can have truth?
MD think not. Truth is always in numbers - curse the working class - all they do is drop their guns, go home and start ploughing the landlord's land again, damn them, it's so easy for them, and here we are, revolutionary heroes, brooding on our non-connection. The defeat of the revolutionary working class, their enclosure and extermination is the truth of the Russian Revolution, and not Lenin 3t all: why didn't they leave any writings that we could go back to vhen we are presented with our own defeat?
We see the retreat by pro-revolutionaries to previous theoretical fortifications as a complete loss of nerve, and an ugly conservatism. When all pro-revolutionary theory of the Twentieth Century was about leaving Lenin, we see this absurd return to Kremlinism as anti-historical. The truth of our situation is precisely the impossibility of the return to Lenin. The ambitions of a few in seeking this reinvention of marxist-leninism, or even the pursuit of their own taking leave of Lenin, is an attempt to escape addressing actual historical conditions: it is a mad-eyed flight, a nervous taking hold of neglected idols. There are no atheists in foxholes indeed. The point is this: every year, dozens of pro-revolutionary groops expire, they go from theorising themselves as revolutionary vanguard, bringer of truth, to simple non-existence in months and get this: the world neither registered their presence nor placed a stone over their demise. Nobody took any notice, let alone cared.
We are not Lenin, the vari-determined Lenin, (who was only Lenin because of a long-lived Russian pro-revolutionary milieu which gave him his meaning and status, and, who was only Lenin because of the intervention of the German state). Fortunately we, the pro-revolutionary milieu, are more than Lenin, or less than Lenin, we can never repeat his entrepreneurial audacity, that market has been cornered and exhausted. It is possible that we are nothing but the dying echo of that Bolshevik, that we are figments of his cross-sectioned mind, we are becoming an exaggerated periphery, further and further removed from reality, sent on long ago issued orders now irrelevant to the situation, and as his significance fades and he becomes just another Black Prince, we find ourselves mere archaeological curiosities. The pro-revolutionary milieu is becoming irrelevant and we think that this is a good thing. Our ineffectiveness means we escape the damnation incurred by all those who impose themselves and do not understand that they have been imposed upon by conditions they have not considered. We, this political milieu, are destined to become all those groups of the past that laid down and died because in their vainglorious aspirations to be an historic party they became irrelevant.
Some talk of "when such a ('revolutionary') movement gets off the ground", and in this very affirmation demonstrate their reluctance to engage with the 'why' this movement has not got off the ground since 1939; they want to go back to a time when such movements were possible because political revolutions are the only revolutions that they can conceive.
We shall put this simply: there is no revolutionary movement. There was a revolutionary movement but it collapsed because it turned out not to be a revolutionary movement at all but an ideological mystification of social and economic relations and processes (ie., a political interpretation of capitalist social mechanisms which saw itself as the mystified solution to the mystified problem); it is possible that there will be, in the near future, a revolutionary movement of the kind some hope for but it will not really be revolutionary, even though, or especially because, it says it is.
We view revolutionary and anti-capitalist movements not as mistaken forms of otherwise correct positions but as capitalist movements in themselves; revolutionary movements effect only the reorganisation of capitalism and as such, at the end of their acts, words and breath, are pro-capitalist. To be a Leninist is to be as much a capitalist as a Keynesian, Trotsky was as capitalist as Ford; to be an 'anti-capitalist' is to be as much a capitalist as any other libera! reformer. There are different forms and interpretations but the theoretical maintenance of the working class as workers (whether for state owners or green collectives) and the emphasis on the re-organisation of production (whether in terms of nationalisation or with reference to the environment) means they are always within the capitalist frame of definition.
Do these 'revolutionary experts' with their vague appeals to 'consciousness' think that nobody else has tried to build exactly what they desire to build? They want to go back to Lenin but there have been thousands of revolutionary groups, parties and individuals in the eight decades since 1917, all of which failed. Do they think their personal ardour is enough to bring billions into line? These billions have not come for Lenin, or any other 'socialism' for fifty years and nor will they. There is nothing any of us can do to bring them to consciousness. Some of us, beginning with MD, do not even wish for the 'movement', that means to an end which always becomes the end. We wish for the opposite, for the movement not to come into existence.
Let's accept it: the pro-revolutionary groups that exist and that will come into existence will never escape the smallness of their numbers, there will never be a mass revolutionary movement. Now it is for us to understand precisely our smallness by contemplating the smallness of all the other small groups that thought of themselves as a 'party', who equally awarded themselves the right to talk turkey with the objective, just as we do, those who called for the masses to join them or for the masses to join some organisation not yet in existence but to be forged out of our consciousness and their numbers.
Let us contemplate that call for revolution in the terms it has been set, and the deafness of the ears to which it was intended. If the conditions of present reality allowed for a revolutionary movement it would come into existence because a base of mass social militancy would produce a receptivity for political messages. Even so, a self-proclaimed mass revolutionary movement would still be counter-revolutionary, but we are content that present conditions have slammed the door on the possibility of such an eventuality. There is not now and there will not be in the future a revolutionary movement that is really revolutionary, and to look for it, plan for it, or organise it is futile and wilfully ignores all past pro-revolutionary forms and their fate.
The communist milieu will never be more than a few dozen and each of us in our agitating will never contact more than a few hundred. The structure of capitalism determines that only a few dozen people will have revolutionary consciousness under these conditions. The distribution of, and possibility for, communist consciousness is something never adequately explored by the left-communist milieu, which assumes a priori that all may acquire consciousness as the Catholics believe we might all be saved, or in the same way as the American dream says we can all be millionaires. If this were not so, in our everyday lives without even trying, we would meet at least five people every week who we could recruit into our organisations (or informal groupings), every week our organisations would be growing. That is the necessary ground in a world of billions of people for revolutionary consciousness to form. It is because this ground does not exist, because each of us are not spontaneously encountering hundreds of would-be revolutionaries every year that the problem is not one of 'getting' a message across. Information has removed the meaning from all 'messages' and this is why we must consider concepts of crisis, collapse and economic struggle within the sphere of production, in other words, concepts that do not rely upon political forms and their distribution. [The archived contents of this discussion list should be available to anyone with internet access if they contact the group Internationalist Perspective, or the web page of Wage Slave X, or contact R&B Notes]
We do not know what anyone means when they describe the proletariat as a social category. If they are implying that the working class as a social body have something between themselves, other than their experience of work then we utterly reject this. MD have a penchant for Champagne and Tarkovsky movies whereas our neighbours prefer White Lightening and WWF wrestling, our economic position, however, is identical. We refute all identity politics as ideology and we absolutely refuse to view the proletariat as a political/sociological constituency equivalent to ethnicity, gender or sexual preference. The proletariat has no existence independent of capitalism.
There is no space in the world that is not ultimately dominated by capitalism - the proletariat is always collectively determined by capitalist pressures. When/if the proletariat abolishes capitalism it will be driven into that position by capitalist imperatives. There is nothing outside the dominion of capital, perhaps occasional fleeting moments, but not culture nor social form, how could there be? To assert that there are other, as Autonomists do, processes by which value is generated independent of capital is to mystify the nature of exploitation. Activists go looking for signs, they create narratives whereby discreet events are connected together in a totalised movement towards revolution, they tend towards an uncritical acceptance of liberationist politics which they see as part of that movement, such fateful soothesayings lead negation back into contained forms of engagement.
What there is in the world that is not determined by capitalism is the entirely mute but donkey-stubborn a-historical resistance of human flesh; ft is the body and its desire not to be productive that resists capitalism; ok, this is a completely negative formulation, but we have seen how pro-consciousness values always end by flipping into their opposite. The body remains unchanged, enslaved but fundamentally unhelpful. Bodyresistance is a drag on maximisation, in its unmediated form it cannot become articulate other than in times of crisis - when production stops then the body speaks and production stops when the body speaks; all other representations of the working class in political form serve only to keep productivity going - one way or another improving messages arrive always from above. The proletariat is a mute and ugly body that has been electric-prodded into existence, it has no worth other than its integration into the productive machinery from which capital is generated. It is this integration of the human body (and its tendency towards rest) with the productive form (and its tendency towards maximisation) that gives the proletariat its revolutionary thrill. The body's impulse is to shrink from the machine and the machine's impulse is to shrink from the body, no other intimacy was ever so frigid. And no other socially defined category has the capacity to engage so up-close with the productive process. All other social movements and categories end by floundering in the drying mudflats under the burning rays of a merciless sun.
The proletariat will not be motivated by political values in its resistance to work but by its selfish interest to assert its species being; its bodily desire to be human floods across the barriers of its separation. There is nothing nice or noble or heroic about the working class, it is essential to the productive process which constitutes the structure of our reality and therefore essential to. revolution and the abolition of reality based upon production.
Militants and otherness
As mere anecdotal evidence, and briefly touching on the matter of pro-revolutionary consciousness which we understand to be a proposed solution to the problem of engagement and organisation, we should like it to go on the record that we have met with several workplace milrtante and for the most part they have no political consciousness. Many of these militants are very anti-political, we would say they were post-political, but how did they become militants if they did not receive political instruction? Their condition is one of absolute refusal of the legitimacy of the manager, an absolute intransigence over specific workplace issues and a kind of terrifying site-specificity producing in them an absolute refusal to look at the wider picture (like Ahab on the back of the white whale they are consumed with a madness for not escaping). We do not endorse such milrtante, we see them as being stuck in a loop of restricted gestures which their identity seems to depend upon, what would they do if they had not their struggle? It is a fact of our experience that most workplace militants are quite mad and/or not especially very nice people to know; it is important not to get wrapped up in their personal feuds but still we would argue that these mad-eyed prophets are in advance of those who are politically motivated, in advance and waiting in the desert, gone mad with waiting, gnawing at locusts, sitting on poles. Some of them, and of a certain age, cite Pink Floyd, and not Marx, as the biggest influence on their lives. They required only a narrative of otherness, something that was not contained in the usual cause and effects of everyday life to legitimise their dispute. Will the misty master break me, will the key unlock my mind? For such people, the A to В thinking of most pro-revolutionary activists is too basic and not even appropriate to the situation. To them it means nothing to 'speak in a language the workers understand' because nobody has ever spoken such a language.
Political priorities and consciousness
The absurdity of pro-revolutionary consciousness is its content (its beautiful form, a cloud softly crackling as it passes behind the eyes, and behold: enlightenment!), if it were a commodity of high use value then those who possessed it would have a capacity for establishing political priorities and getting to the heart of the matter - and yet they faff about, getting nowhere. All those who pursue consciousness are completely at odds with one another over its content and the means of its transmission; those who have no power and continue to pursue political consciousness fail to understand that political consciousness is something deployed by those who have power as a mask of their power.
If the workers were to have consciousness, then what would its content be in non-revolutionary situations? What precisely is the most radical position for workers to take on Northern Ireland, to support the UFF, or the Real IRA or the Peace Process, or not to get involved at all? What is the most radical position for workers to take on the recent riots in the north of England, to support the ethnic identity of the Pakistan nationalists, to understand the riots as working class resistance to fascism and not, say, the entrenchment of the leadership of particular forms of primitive accumulation (drug gangs, the expulsion of Hindu's, protection rackets, etc, accumulation of national capitals in Pakistan), to support the integration of both 'communities' in a harmony of 'different' identities, to support the white working class who have no polrtical representation, or not to get involved at all? What is the most radical position the working class could take on asylum seekers and how would this be demonstrated? What is the most radical position the working class could take on policing, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, CCTV, and how should that be demonstrated? How would the working class express these politics if it decided on them? If these questions could be parachuted into the workplace by activists as ideological issues then at best it could wind everybody up into camps of conservatives and radicals, with the radicals being no more revolutionary than the conservatives, but it is more likely that most people would continue to be uninterested.
It is a simple fact that the working class have no power over these issues and therefore to hold opinions on them would be a form of self-tantalising torture. It is impossible to know what is the most radical opinion to be held, because every opinion may be undermined by further facts. Just as feminism, black power and gay rights have been de-radicalised by a capitalism that has not only tolerated them but fostered them as niche markets.
As private individuals we have our ethical opinions and values but in our public guise as Monsieur Dupont we have learnt that it is a waste of energy to hold ecological, anti-fascist or anti-nuclear opinions, we have no power over these things and even if we could mobilise enough support for them we think the apparent radicality of such causes is very suspect and possibly less radical than the current situation of instability of pressures and forces - possibly less radical but we don't really know, so it is better for us to stick to what we da know until someone comes along with a model of urgent consciousness that really works.
It seems as nice as pie to advocate the transmission of revolutionary ideas to workers in struggle so that they have a wider perspective on the world and are therefore more prepared to engage with society at a higher level, but when you get to the nuts and bolts of it, the actual details of how it should be done, then there are immediate problems: the most glaring of which is that in this transmission of ideas and goals the pro-revolutionary 'party' also imports into the very heart of the revolutionary project a reproduction of the capitalist social relation: workers organised by revolutionary experts. We see this missionary work, this hierarchical relation, replicated in everything from the support for rebellion in Chiapas to the handing out of leaflets by activists visiting picket lines. We see it in the vague pronouncements which usually appear at the end of such leaflets: where calls are made to the working class, or it is stated that some kind of leap of intellectual faith and working class solidarity (consciousness) is needed before capitalism can be threatened: "When will you workers wake up?" We see it also in the cosy social and political world that the 'revolutionary experts' and activists have built for themselves, where they can create their own importance through their political activism.
On economic determinism and autonomism
One 'comrade' writes to us, in opposition to our mechanistic concepts which he characterises as, "economic determinism that denies the complexities of social processes etc" and supersedes them by advocating "the development of the class struggle and the autonomous organisation of the class in it, a condition for the consciousness of the possibility (for revolution)". Harry Cleaver writes in Reading Capital Politically, "With the working class understood as being within capital yet capable of autonomous power to disrupt the accumulation process and thus break out of capital, crisis can no longer be thought of as a blind 'breakdown' generated by the mysteriously invisible laws of competition".
There is a lot of dust blown up in these statements and nothing is very clear, but what is common to them is the use of the term 'autonomous' which we find very interesting. We would like to expand the discussion of consciousness to include both these ideas on the 'complexity of social processes' and the use of the concept of autonomy.
Many of the arguments we have come up against from communists are stated in Cleaver's book (which we recommend very highly but with which we disagree in almost every detail beginning with the title and its Phd thesis style), however there is no reference in the otherwise complete index for the concept of autonomy. So, how can the working class be both inside and autonomous of capitalism, by autonomy we understand 'not determined"? Cleaver appears to argue it becomes so when it gets politicised, which we immediately and emphatically disagree with, as we think politics is always a manoeuvre away from the issue of the ownership of production. But then he goes even further and says that reality is not simply imposed by the ruling class but is a matter of response and counter-response within the class struggle, this seems fair enough on one level until we remember that we still live in capitalism, that all of the reforms won in the political struggles of the working class have helped capitalism run more effectively.
The idea of a world that is not simply imposed from above is quite appealing at first but then we have to address the idea of escape from that dialectic; the model Cleaver argues for is one in which working class struggle wins its victories on the terrain of the ruling class, in other words it is a dialectic in which the antithesis operates as a function of the way things are, every resistance feeds into domination, and allows It to penetrate further and more effectively. Every victory of this apparent autonomy is manifested in the world of capitalist determination. Perhaps Cleaver is, in effect, making a case for the autonomy of political values and principles that float free of economics, he wants to salvage the political ideals of the 1960's, it is the same kind of argument used by those who advocate 'real' democracy, like Castoriadis or Bookchin. The questions begin with: is autonomy an ideological mirage generated by capital in the heads of its rebels; how does this politicised set of practices, called autonomy, escape economic determination? How should the working class be organised when they are already organised by capital?
Capitalism itself has given the revolutionary role to the working class, so what need is there for another tier of middle management politico's?
The autonomist mode of struggle seems to argue for acts that will register only in the world the way it is but how is it possible to judge them as advances for the revolutionary tendency when they also become weapons of the ruling class against us (equal opportunities policies, for example, which have facilitated the idea of worker participation in management, touchy-feely personnel strategies and anti-racist and anti-sexist capitalism generally), how is it possible to escape the conditions set by the unofficial dialogue that this sort of struggle becomes?
Much of the argument from communists against us has come from this 'autonomist' direction. We think it would be helpful if some of these claims were made more explicit, for example one communist has argued to us that white workers must come to respect black workers before there can be a revolution, it is the sort of position Cleaver takes in his book, where he argues white workers' racism oppresses black workers and impedes the communist movement.
We think this mistakes the symptom for the cause. If all the symptoms are put right, that is, if all the nastiness in capitalism is removed, would that in any way affect capitalism itself? It is a question that takes us right back to the origin of this discussion on consciousness. If it is truly believed that before revolution can occur certain political-institutional refonns have to be set in place then there is no purpose in being a pro-revolutionary, better to work to get the reforms done first. We should not hold onto illusions about the nature of capitalist power, capitalism is fundamentally not racist, sexist or prejudiced in any form. Anti-racism is now a specific project of all capitalist political institutions, autonomists would argue that this is because militant self-organisation has forced this reform onto the capitalists, in fact such militancy has merely opened up possibilities for capitalist becoming and its breaking free from traditional social forms. Prejudice and bigotry impedes the smooth running of production, it, like national borders, must be altered to serve capital more efficiently (the reduction of people to ethnic identities which has been the project of identity militants is a new form of racism which works much more effectively within the distributive, state-funded, sphere).
It is not the role of pro-revolutionaries to take up a political position on prejudice, it is not for us to improve life conditions within the capitalist form and obscure with side issues the tyranny of the commodity which goes unchallenged in the competition of identity markets for funding. However, as individuals, of course it is our ethical responsibility as human beings to oppose bigotry whenever we encounter it, but we must not confuse our personal ethics with revolutionary 'movements'.
Another communist has said that, "the socialist revolution has to be a conscious act which could be described as the people involved as having 'socialist consciousness'". We certainly agree that the working class are conscious, that is, awake for 16 out of 24 hours a day, we agree that the people involved in the revolution are likely not to be asleep. But to be conscious and to have 'socialist consciousness' is not the same thing. To be conscious means to have your senses fully engaged with your brain and your mind filled with any old nonsense, socialist consciousness implies the implementation of a shared set of principles, we think there are practical problems with this implementation, we think there are problems because we look at the history of revolution and we see a history of failure, if consciousness were enough then the revolution would have happened a century ago when many millions were 'socialists', at the moment, it could be argued, only a tiny minority has this consciousness. If the revolution must be initiated by the participation of the working class, then the absence of their socialist consciousness is cause for comment.
We, on the contrary (based on our tiny experiences and our readings of the histories of these failed revolutions), think it likely that the revolution will spread like insects caught in the wind, we think that many people involved will not know what they are doing beyond the practical task at hand which will be an impulse to take power, to take control of their immediate working environment; it is likely that there will be many causes and ideas running through people's heads at this moment, reformist political, religious fervour, trade unionist, this revolutionary party, that revolutionary tendency, revengist against the boss or society, whatever. As the working class takes power there will be any number of ideas appearing in their heads and these will be echoes of the capitalist form, many of these ideas will be seriously discussed and will seem to have the utmost urgency but as soon as occupation of the factories is fully secured then a new material base will begin to configure and at that point new ideas, the ideas appropriate to collective ownership and collective dictatorship over events will begin to form. What matters is the event itself, the seizure of production, and not the idea that motivates it, because the act itself, if it is on sufficient scale, will collapse capital and from that moment other forces take hold.
The revolutionary subject
We 'recognise' the industrial proletariat as the revolutionary subject not because we are romantically attached to its way of life, we do not think in terms of "salt of the earth', or even that, in some dark way, the workers' 'know' how society really works. We are not interested in setting 'our gladiator" against the pet subjectivities of other theorists, we have simply reached our conclusions because we can see no other; for us, everything 'political' is contained, politics as a practice is itself a technique for relating the social back to the economic without antagonism.
The questions we have asked have been hard for us: 'How are women, organised as women, going to stop capital?' 'How are blacks, organised as blacks, going to stop capital?' 'How are women organised as workers going to stop capital?' 'How are blacks organised as workers going to stop capital?' Many theorists have tried to expand the definition of the working class to include political elements within it, thus the struggle of women by themselves for their position in the workplace is viewed positively because they are struggling 'consciously', that is, politically, for a defined political end. We, contrarily, see in this politicisation of struggle precisely the route by which it will be utilised to improve productivity, because political consciousness is precisely the factor that tricks workers into forgetting where their real power lies. Women do not harm capitalism by establishing themselves as equals to men in the workplace, blacks do not harm capitalism because they establish themselves as equals to whites; equal opportunity legislation is a source of great pride in capital's civilisation of itself, the ongoing victory of women and of blacks in this area is proclaimed by capital as its own victory, its own self-civilising progress towards a free, happy, equal society. Political demands may be satisfied under capitalist terms and used as a ground for further exploitation, this is the function of politics, and radical politics in particular.
The truth of the workers struggle against capital is not political, it is the truth of capitalism itself: the capitalist economy depends upon the exploitation of workers to reproduce itself and its conditions, therefore the workers alone, because of their centrality to the productive process, have the capacity to stop production, only they can reach past the roaring engines and press the off switch. It may seem that they would never desire to do this, and it is true they may never want to stop 'capitalism', they may never even conceptualise to themselves what capitalism is, but desire and consciousness do not come into it; the workers are forced into struggle by the very conditions in which they work, it is in their interest to go against capital because although capital is dependent on them, it is also hostile to them, that is, it is driven to cut their wages in real terms (either by redundancies, relocations, or increased productivity deals). To survive, workers have to improve or simply maintain their interest within production, so they are forced into conflict with capital, which has the opposite intention. This blind pursuit of interest, if followed to its limit, is enough to bring capital to a crisis.
A recap of our perspective
(1) We do not think there is any role for class 'consciousness', that is the leadership of the working class by politically motivated groups in the revolution.
(2) We think pro-revolutionaries do have a role but it is not generally the role they award to themselves (for example, waving flags, masking their faces, travelling to international cities, exhibiting the most extreme gestures in the parade of gestures that are political demonstrations); we see one of our tasks as to inhibit those who would lead the revolution, especially those who are closest to us and claim not to want to lead; other tasks we have set ourselves are the creation of tools, tactics and perspectives for use by others in various critical events, for which we claim no intellectual property rights.
(3) Our concept of the revolution involves the working class engaging in a struggle that goes no further than maintaining its own interest. We advocate the struggle of self-interest because it cannot fail, we think if it is followed through to its end it will in itself bring capital down because this struggle is situated within production and the ownership of production is the basis of capitalist existence; if this direct struggle is not side-tracked by political mediations it will discover everything Monsieur Dupont has attempted to articulate over months and years in five minutes and many times over in many places of the world. The proletariat is organised by capital, in every place, its situation is always, everywhere, the same; in direct struggle it will always uncover the same truths, therefore any further organisation would be superfluous and potentially exploitative.
(4) Our mechanical schemes are not nineteenth century as some have argued, they are much older than that. We think the revolution will be in two stages, the first will involve the destruction of the capitalist system by the working class as it seizes production (which it might do without even formulating a desire to do so. Many factories will be occupied because many other factories are occupied - we oppose to the 'consciousness' model, the virus model, to 'intent’ we oppose infection - finally, objectively, always mechanistic even if in every instance there are many motivations and beliefs in play), the second stage of revolution will involve the participation of all humanity in its becoming human.
No way out
It was not our intention to promote alternatives to the consciousness-raising model but we have met with such (wilful) incomprehension and misinterpretation that we should conclude, for the sake of good form, by stating our continued support for pro-revolutionary positions and actions. It is absurd that we should have to make this declaration, we should not be participating as we do if we were against revolution. Vaguely, our intention is to talk to those who are able listen to us, we hope to influence only those who are already pro-revolutionary, it is our hope that if we can connect with anyone then our influence will help to curtail the mystifications that activists and experts promote. The specifics of any particular action are dependent on ability to act and the situation itself, this can be addressed in correspondence between interested groups and individuals, we have no set formula as such and we are prepared, much to the annoyance of activists, to condone the strategy of doing nothing and disengagement
Monsieur Dupont September 2001